Archive for the ‘Save the Whales’ Category

Discovering probabilities

August 25, 2008

Someone on Story Games posted about Troll, so I decided to check it out.

Using it and Google Docs, I was able to generate the following curve for the dice mechanics of Save the Whales:

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“Save the Whales”

August 21, 2008

Long ago giant living spaceships, the Cetacea, came and rescued humanity from a dying Earth. Now the Cetacea are dying… Can you discover why and stop it before it’s too late?

Setting Up

To play you will need tokens, probably about 20 per player, index cards, 10-15 six sided dice, and some pens or pencils.

Characters

All of the characters are important to the mystery that surrounds the death of the Cetaceans, even if they don’t realize it. They are composed of three roles: Profession, Relationship, Personality. Choose one of each.

Profession: Scientist, Doctor, Pilot, Soldier, Politician, Reporter, Engineer, …

Relationship: Lover, Parent, Child, Sibling, Friend, Widower, …

Personality: Leader, Team Player, Loner, Bully, …

For each role that you choose for your character, write a simple descriptor. The descriptor has no mechanical power, but can help to clarify the character in your mind or distinguish them from another character with the same role. A descriptor can further describe the role, or it might identify something that is important about the role. Examples include “Scientist: Top in my field”, “Parent: spoiled daughter”, “Loner: never comfortable in crowds”.

Divide 6 tokens among your roles, placing at least one token in each.

Setting Up the Mystery

The mystery revolves around three questions chosen from: who, what, where, when, why, and how. The three questions that you choose should be written on index cards and placed on the table a reasonable distance from one another and so that everyone can see them.

Finding a Clue

The beginning portion of the game involves discovering the exact nature of the threat. In order to do this the characters need to unearth clues that point them in the right directions. Clues are directly linked to one of the questions on the table. At any time, you can create a clue linked to a particular question if you meet two conditions. The clue needs to have been revealed through play and an appropriate number of tokens needs to be spent.

The number of tokens needed to reveal a clue is equal to the current number of clues on a question plus one. So a question with no clues would have a cost of 1 token, and a question with 4 clues would have a cost of 5 tokens. The tokens can be contributed by any number of player’s whose characters are currently in a scene.

Answering a Question

To attempt to answer a question, a character or characters must be in a situation in which they are prepared to confront or reveal what they think the answer is. This could mean confronting the person or people involved, revealing the source of an illness, or …

At this point roll a number of the six-sided dice equal to the number of clues on the question. Every 5 or 6 rolled counts as a success. Every 1 rolled cancels a success. In order to answer the question, at least one success must be present after taking into account any ones.

If you fail to answer a question, then mark a strike on the card. The answer that you came up with is not the actual answer, and you must try again later. Remove one clue from the question, this clue was a red herring.

If the question is successfully answered, then write the answer on it’s card. All the previous strikes carry into trying to resolve the problem.

Making Preparations

Once a question has been answered, then the characters need to try to resolve the problem that it presents. This is done in exactly the same way that clues are generated and the question was answered, except now the characters are no longer uncovering clues, but they are making preparations to deal with the problem. Token costs are the same as they were for generating clues, 1 plus the number of preparations already generated.

Resolving a Problem

Once the characters have made sufficient preparations, they can attempt to resolve the problem. A character or characters must be in a situation in which they are prepared to resolve the problem.

Roll a number of the six-sided dice equal to the number of preparations on the problem. Every 5 or 6 rolled counts as a success. Every 1 rolled cancels a success. In order to answer the question, at least one success must be present after taking into account any ones.

If you fail to resolve the problem, then mark a strike on the card. The solution that you came up with will not work, and you must try again later. Remove one preparation from the problem, this preparation will not be able to help you solve the problem.

If the problem is successfully resolved, then you are done with that problem and can move on to the other questions or problems.

Strengthening a Role

At any point, you can use one of your character’s roles to strengthen another. As with clues the strengthening must be demonstrated in play. At that point spend a token in the role being used and place two in the role being strengthened. A role strengthening can take the form of encouraging words from a spouse, a promise made to a child, perhaps something seemingly unrelated that you will tie into a clue later.

Three Strikes

If a question or problem card ever has three strikes on it, then it can no longer be resolved within the story. The characters have failed to solve or fix this part of the mystery.

Ending

When all three questions have been sucessfully resolved or accumulated three strikes against them, the game ends. Feel free to play out the aftermath of the events in the game until you feel that you’ve reached an appropriate point of closure.