Chronologger Puzzle RPs

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by ☆Luna☆, May 30, 2016.

  1. Preface
    This thread details a new type of RP that I'm interested in making. I'm putting it here so that I can get feedback on the mechanics as well as gauge interest in the concept.

    As a sort of executive summary, a Chronologger RP is basically a massively difficult RP in which a player is thrown into a situation they are more likely than not to die. However, to compensate, whenever any player dies, they are allowed to go back in time with all the knowledge they had from the previous run to inform future attempts. This style of RP was inspired by Re:Zero, in which the main character has this power.

    Normally, these sorts of powers are avoided in media because it requires a character to experience the same things more than once. People would get bored of having to relive the same experiences. But Re:Zero gets around this by drastically changing how the main character interacts with the world on each iteration. In order to achieve the good ending, he generally has to spend several lives learning about what events will occur, learning about the major players involved, and altering his critical decisions.

    I thought this sort of experience would translate to a cool RP experience fairly easily. If you think about it, it is almost like the entire RP would be a puzzle for the RPers to solve. So, with my rambling out of the way, I'll start talking about the actual workings of the Chronologger.

    Story Description
    One of the first selling points of a Chronologger is that the RPers going into the story do not know much about what sort of situation they are getting into. Although a vague description describing what sort of genre and themes should be provided to help players decide if they would like to join, Chronologgers shouldn't go into detail about their lore, characters, setting, or anything else. The story is something which the players discover through their interactions. This sort of information should instead be obtained through interacting with the setting. For example, if a player wanted to know about a world's history, perhaps a library would be a good place to find that. If they wanted to know about a character, maybe they should interact with that character and the people around them.

    Chronologgers more so than other RP, tend to require preset characters. The reason for this is that, in a traditional RP, players are able to make a character sheet based on what they know about the world. This is fairly difficult when players don't know anything about the world as part of the RP's design. To get around this, players occupy the positions of people who already had a place in the world, but they aren't told exactly what sort of person they are occupying. That too is something they need to discover.

    This function is optional however since preset characters aren't the only way to get around the character sheet problem. You can also have the players enter the world as foreigners who need to make a place for themselves. Whatever solution you create, it is just important to realize that players don't have the tools to incorporate their character into the story from the onset.

    In order to make an interesting Chronologger, the GM needs to consider a lot of factors in advance. There isn't any one correct way to do this, but I'd like to share a list of considerations in building a Chronologger.

    First, you need to make a diverse set of dynamic NPCs that feel responsive to the player characters. These characters will be the backbone of your story. What makes a Chronologger interesting is that each iteration feels like a distinct experience. In order to make this happen, you must ensure that player characters are in a position where they can experience different aspects of these NPCs in a relatively short period of time.

    Second, you need to have a list of major events that are critical towards the players' ability to complete an objective. Some of these events need to remain outside the players' control so that they must act around them while others should be dependent on something the players can control. Independent events are important for anchoring the RP. They are essentially what gives the RP a sense of sameness regardless of how the iterations change. Without them, the RP doesn't feel like it is repeating the same period of time. Dependent events, on the other hand, serve as the puzzle pieces for the players to align. Linking these events to something the player can actually effect is what enables player agency over the trajectory of the story. It is especially important to link dependent events to NPCs so that players have a more powerful reason to interact with them. For example, maybe a character will only join as an ally if certain conditions are met.

    Thirdly, you need to have a strong sense of the setting that this RP takes place in. Because you aren't able to share a map of the world to the players at the start of the RP, for at least a brief period of time you will have to cope with the idea of players exploring the world. If you've ever seen someone take on a puzzle, you know that they will likely explore a large number of places that have nothing to do with ultimately solving the puzzle. I strongly suggest that the GM either fully fleshes out the setting or gives players a map early on so that there aren't slowdowns caused by the GM having to come up with a new description each time a player goes to look at something the GM didn't anticipate.

    Lastly, the GM needs to think about what will ultimately kill players. This is related to events, but this is of particular importance. When a player gets killed by something, the GM should think about what sort of information the death signals to the player. Players will quickly get frustrated if they continually get killed by the same obstacle, so the GM should ensure that the death gives some sort of clue towards what caused it to happen. Even if it is somewhat unrealistic, keeping control in the hands of the player is important. So for example, if a character gets shot in the back, you should give some sort of hint as to where the bullet was shot from so that in another iteration the characters can learn who the killer was.

    As stated in the preface, the defining feature of a Chronologger is the ability to go back in time to use new information in order to make more informed decisions. In order to create this effect, I'm recommending the use of google drives. Players will contribute to a google drive, making posts as usual until a player dies. At this point, the drive is saved, never to be touched again. The players decide on a particular line to return to. Then, a new drive is formed which includes the story starting from the beginning up to the point the players decide to return. Players then continue the RP from this point. Anything not written in the current google drive effectively didn't happen, but the old drives can still be referenced for information.

    Additionally, Chronologgers cannot tell anyone that they leap through time whenever they die. If they attempt to do so, they suddenly feel a sense of weakness and dread, and they become unable to speak. However, they can distinguish a Chronologger from normal people. This means that even if they get useful information, they still might need to jump through hoops to actually get to use that information. The players might even be hindered by something they learned in a previous iteration.

    Final Notes/Concerns
    This idea seems really interesting to me, but I'm also worried about a few limitations.

    Most notably, I'm worried that this sort of RP puts a large amount of pressure on the GM, especially as the number of players increase. This reasoning stems both from the effort needed to prep for the RP as well as the effort needed to maintain the RP.

    In order for this sort of RP to be successful, there needs to be enough content for all the players to never get bored of it for up until the point at which they manage to clear the objective of the RP. That means that there needs to be enough locations, characters, and events to satisfy the entire playerbase. Making up stuff on the spot is dangerous in this sort of RP because the characters and events need to behave consistantly and predictably, so the entire NPC cast would have to be a completely fleshed out character living in a fully fleshed out world before the RP begins. In addition, there would likely need to be at least as many NPCs as there are players in order for there to be enough to go around. If you wanted it to be really good, you'd likely need even more than that, or some sort of way to keep characters paired together for much of the story.

    Then you'd have to deal with the nightmare of keeping track of everything once the RP has begun. If the players go off on their own, then they might each be interacting with a completely different NPC. It seems unlikely that a GM would be able to keep proper track of such a large amount of characters in a timely manner. Especially if you consider the fact that they have to keep track of the how every single character is effected by entering a new itteration. Throw on top of that the need to keep track of events and keep track of where everyone is and what time it is, and you have a marvelous amount of work for just one person.

    And that is where I'm going with this. I don't think someone can run this sort of RP with just a single GM. I think the GM would need help making and maintaining something like this. If there is an interest in this sort of RP, it needs both players who are interested in the concept and players who are interested in being part of the set up.

    I would really love to make one of these, but I just don't know if I'll be able to find the interest for it. I've put this up in the form of a framework in the hopes that I can find people that are interested in making a Chronologger, as well as those who would be interested in playing one. If you think you can help me, would like help making one of your own, have tips for how to improve this concept, or anything... I'd really appreciate seeing what people have to say in the comments.
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  2. I have had some experience with people who wants to try out something completely new (for them) but aren't sure how it should be pulled off. My advice, try it in a smaller test group first or even a one x one just to see how much effort it takes and what works and what doesn't. That way you can have a better understanding of how to do it when you start the real thing.
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  3. Update

    I've decided to begin working on a 1x1 chronologger. The current basic layout includes 7 critical PCs and a small island town layout. I'm going to have plenty of time to think during vacation, so I'm hoping to use my time there to create my environment and narrative. I hope to have the entire thing ready by my birthday (July 16th).
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  4. Due to a bit of procrastination, I'm not quite as far as I'd like to have been by this time. I've only gotten about 8 hours worth of planning into the RP, and it is likely going to need at least another 5 before I have a complete product. Since I don't anticipate myself putting any work in on my birthday, I can't see myself finishing on my previous deadline. So instead, I'm just going to leave a checklist of everything that I want to get accomplished here so that I can stay organized and hold myself accountable. You might find these crossed off if you view at a later time.

    1. Flesh out character backstories and motivations
    2. Attach narrative to puzzle elements
    3. Create layout of island
    4. Create descriptions of various locations within the island
    5. Incorporate clues into the dead ends