The products of brainstorming

28 10 2007

As I finish more of the actual rules for Addict, I’ll be adding them to their own page. The chargen rules I posted yesterday are already there for posterity’s sake.

I spent some time last night shooting the game around with the fine folks in #indierpgs, and I’m really pleased with the feedback I’ve gotten so far. Mostly, Addict has gotten a pretty warm reception– the only thematic concern someone raised is that it seems too close to the actual experience of addiction for it to appeal to people who have experienced any serious physical dependence. I’ll take that as a compliment too! Not every game is for everyone. If it’s a game about psychological and emotional exploration, and you’ve already tackled that territory in your own life, it makes sense that the game would not appeal to you.

I’ve also realized that I’m at a point where I need to make some big decisions on how the game progresses mechanically. The important thing about Addict is that it is both painful and hopeful; character creation is miserable because it is supposed to create someone who is desperate and broken. Once that’s done, the rest of the game becomes about fixing yourself.

Dependency Points are spent when your Dependencies fail you. When you feel the temptation of your Obsession, you can resist it by using a Dependency– going to church or smoking a cigarette or calling your girlfriend. PCs who are Dependencies can fail you– when you reach for a Dependency and it fails, you spend a Dependency Point. This leads to a question Liam had, which is the first mechanical issue I need to figure out: when Dependencies are not PCs, what decides when they succeed or fail? I’m not sure I want to go with a dice mechanic, and I’m definitely not sure I want to completely leave it up to player discretion. I’d like some kind of “loaded random” system, where depending on external factors, one outcome is more probable than the other, but there’s a chance it could go either way. I’m not sure how to make that work.

When you’re out of Dependency Points, you give in to your Obsession. Your points refill themselves, and your Obsession point is added into the pool; however, every point has to be spent resisting recovery before you can go back to trying to make yourself better and re-allot your Dependency Points. Whatever Dependency failed you and caused your recidivism is completely broken away; it can no longer be something you depend on, because it failed you when you needed it most. This leads to another thing: Liam told me that giving in to your Obsession should have more positive mechanical benefits. I’m not sure I agree; essentially, the way it works is that when your Obsession Point is in your Dependency pool, you feel completely fulfilled, even if you’re not. When the Obsession Point is the only point you haven’t spent, you hit rock bottom and you can return to fixing your life. Re-alloting your investment in your Dependencies and completely breaking free of one are, I guess, benefits; but I’m not sure how to express the fake fulfillment of recidivism. I also want it to be bad, but not too punish-y; recidivism is so common in all forms of dependency and addiction that it’s almost like an invisible 13th step.

Something else someone mentioned, which is a fairly common thing in reality that I’d like to somehow reflect mechanically: what happens when a Dependency becomes a second Obsession? Can you backslide and end up in the throes of two Obsessions at once? What determines when a Dependency becomes an Obsession?

Shreyas thinks this game would be even more awesome if the rules could somehow involve actual alcohol. I am already concerned that people will concentrate too heavily on the idea of substance abuse and not on the other, more hidden obsessions that ruin our lives, so I think I’ll let that suggestion slide. Also, most real life games I’ve been in started at 10 or 11 AM on weekends; that’s just a little early for booze for me, but whatever. It’s 5 PM somewhere in the world, right?