Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Triffles (11) - A tense exchange

Following the theme of the last Triffle, today an attempt to exchange a high value item. It could even loosely describe an eventful Valentine's Day date.

            a cautious                     a fumbled handover / 
             approach                    misunderstood gesture

\             /

a tense exchange


an unseen tail / infiltrator /                                           

If you want to get this into a wargame, skirmish game or roleplaying game, you could do far worse than look at Necromunda which has a mechanism for simulating a cinematic wild west-style gunfight. You could also try something more like the tracks used in the latest Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, based on key elements which need to occur to ratchet up the tension. The situation seems to need a build-up to a moment at which nerves snap and a means of determining the order of reactions, assuming they'll not all be simultaneous. It's possible to imagine entire forces manoeuvring around the few specialists conducting the exchange, hands at weapons holstered or sheathed.

But maybe the breakdown doesn't come? It might be possible to hold it off or prevent it by diplomacy and avoid the loss of life on both sides. Would that ruin the game? Better question: could wargames do with more mechanisms for impromptu diplomacy?

In writing, as the Valentine's Day idea suggests, this could be the underlying idea in a situation apparently very different, within a comedy of errors at least. A fine web of taut interactions could be spun, more so if more than two parties are involved. This post at TalkToYoUniverse ought to be helpful if that sounds tricky.

Continuing the interest in applying these to music, we might expect a slow build-up, along the lines of "The Creep Out" by The Dandy Warhols or "Angel" by Massive Attack.


The Angry Lurker said...

This immeadiately reminds me of foggy spy exchanges on bridges in East Berlin during the cold war (but could be set anywhere or any period), while tense border guards nervously smoke and fingers rest on triggers. Double agents and double crossing are the standard requirement and you can trust no-one.

Porky said...

I'd not thought of that, but it's a very strong image and context. I like the idea of going deep into the motivations surrounding it all.

To add to the questions in the post, I wonder how well individual character purposes could be represented in a wargame or even skirmish game without becoming a burden on play?

The Angry Lurker said...

You give one player a goal (with the lure of a massive point bonus) which directly affects another player in the game, say by killing the other player's character or betraying them within the game at a crucial point but will real life friendship affect the player's willingness to do this.

Porky said...

There are some new secondary objective cards coming for Kill Zone which aim at exactly this kind of thing - preliminary discussion here. I'm especially interested in how something like this might avoid the usual combat mechanics, and what other means of interaction could be made available practically, speech for example.

Anonymous said...

Is it anything like "Dragons and Dungeons"?

Porky said...

It could be Dungeons & Dragons, but also many other games with a similar theme or style of play.

Dungeons & Dragons is generally thought of as a 'roleplaying game', but one which which plays up the combat elements, and there are many other such games which emphasise the playing of the role, more like acting.

While roleplaying games may use small models to represent the characters, the 'skirmish games' and 'wargames' mentioned are usually based fully on the use of models. Skirmish games can be seen as a step away from roleplaying and further in the direction of combat, usually which more, but less individual, characters than roleplaying. That said, they often have more narrative elements and more detailed rules than the larger wargames, which can involve tens or even hundreds of models per side.

Differences aside, they can all be seen as a form of cooperative fiction.

Von said...

Okay, so I want to say something more sensible than "wooo, Dandy Warhols!", so let's give it a go.

Inquisitor. A game which I REALLY need to give some more love to. A game which IS that tense encounter, of the 'two Inquisitors walk into a bar and only one of them walks out' variety, in which the pre-fight preamble builds up a strong narrative context and some form of roleplaying is almost inevitable before battle is joined. A game which I have the embarrassing tendency to break by playing an Inquisitor who really would rather just negotiate.

I tend to think of many of your triffles in Inquisitor terms, but this one is Inquisitor to me, or at least pickup Inquisitor, out of the box as it were.