From desire to obsession

1 11 2007

I’ve been thinking about the mechanics for deciding how Dependencies fail, and how they can turn into obsessions in their own right. This is what I’ve got so far; it’s sort of sketchy, and needs refinement.

You have twelve Dependency points, which you divide between 2-4 Dependencies. When your Dependencies are allotted, choose your Triggers– the things which tempt you to indulge in your Obsession. Some Triggers can (should!) be based on your Dependencies– things which can happen regardless of whether you’re attempting to use them to resist Obsession or not. And keep in mind, the sensitivity of a Trigger should be in proportion to its importance to you– if you have “Best friend 2” and “Girlfriend 10,” you might be Triggered when your best friend stands you up for already established plans.. But you might be Triggered if your Girlfriend didn’t call to say good morning. The more you are invested in something, the more you expect from it.

When you face a Trigger, you have one of three choices:

  • Allow yourself to give in. If, for whatever reason, you feel it’s best for your character’s story to relapse, that’s fine.
  • Spend a point of Resolve. This allows you to automatically resist the Trigger without a roll, although you do lose the point of Resolve when you do this. The next time you complete a step, however, you get all your spent Resolve back.
  • Use a Dependency. Dependencies are a gambling mechanic, as outlined below:

Decide which Dependency you’re going to use, and declare it. Then, roll a d10; if you get between 1-3, your Dependency fails you somehow, and you lose your point of Dependency. If you get between 4-7, your Dependency succeeds, but not well enough; you keep your Dependency Point, but have to continue trying Dependencies until you get a real success or lose all of your points. If your roll is between 8-10, it succeeds; your Dependency gives you exactly what you need, and you gain an additional Dependency Point for that Dependency.

When you hit 12 points in any given Dependency, it becomes an Obsession. Treat the act of getting that 12th point the same way you’d treat losing your points and relapsing! All of your Obsession Points refill to twelve, and go back in the cup, and you have to spend everything in there resisting recovery and damaging relationships until you can finally come back and start recovery.

As you become more invested in your various Dependencies, keep track of the intensity of your Triggers and alter them accordingly.

It’s starting to look like this game is going to need a fancy character sheet, something at which I’m not particularly good. Hmmm..

Obsession, Dependency, and Resolve

29 10 2007

    Big thanks to my friend Char for letting me talk through some mechanical difficulties last night. We covered a lot of good ground! I am especially excited about the Breakthrough stuff. Oooh, and Triggers. But before I get to all of that good stuff, I should probably explain Resolve; it is the other big stat in the game.

Filling the Void

“Sometimes I know that it’s never enough
Survival is fine but satisfaction is rough”

-Melissa Etheridge: “Ain’t it Heavy”

There are three types of points in this game; all three can fill the emptiness inside of you, but they do it in different ways. Essentially, they correspond to three stages of recovery.

  • Obsession Points are how invested you are in your Obsession. You start out with twelve, and lose one every time you complete a step. When you give in to your Obsession, these points refill your cup, and replenish themselves to all twelve. The points in your cup must be spent resisting recovery, and/or damaging the things which are important to you, before you can get back to progressing. These points correspond with the stage Nothing Is Enough.
  • Dependency Points are plentiful, relatively speaking; you have more of them than of any other type of point. These points do the work of recovery for you by helping resist your Obsession. When you are tempted, you may call on a Dependency; if the Dependency fails you, you lose that point. If the Dependency allows you to resist the Obsession, you come incrementally closer to turning that Dependency into a second Obsession. These points correspond with the stage Why Aren’t You Enough?
  • Resolve Points are precious and rare. When you make tangible progress in your recovery by completing a step, you exchange a point of Obsession for Resolve. If Dependency Points work on a gambling mechanism, Resolve Points work on a purchasing mechanism; you can use a point of Resolve to automatically resist the temptation to give in to your Obsession, but– since stoicism is hard!– you also lose that point. When you complete another step, all Resolve Points you have previously used are replenished. These points correspond with the stage I Am Enough.

Chat with Jonathan: psychological issues and destructive Dependencies

28 10 2007

Jonathan: so i like character creation
but it’s hard to see how it works yet
are you going to be putting stones back into the glass?
basic things like that would be helpful to know
i don’t quite get the symbolism yet
though i guess i could read your newest post…

me: Yes, but I’m not sure how that’s going to work yet– I think adding the stones back are going to be part of recovery
hahahaha, well, I didn’t address that in it; the new post is basically the products of brainstorming last night and me jotting down the mechanical issues I need to figure out
I should add that to the post, actually, about adding stones back

Jonathan: also, i think you make it too easy to return to recover after giving into your obsession
giving into self-destructive behaviors often makes it easier to continue to give into them
it’s not always just a one-time deal in the midst of positive movement

me: right

Jonathan: so i don’t know what kind of timeline you want attached to things like this

me: Well, that’s why you have to spend all of your Dependency Points resisting recovery before you can try to improve

Jonathan: it could be semi-random but in a highly “exploding way” right?
roll a die, if you get 4-6, reroll
with each die extending things by a day or whatever
wait, i thought dependencies did help recovery; so how does recovery actually happen, then?

me: right
Here’s what happens
When you’re fighting your Obsession, Dependencies help you do that.
Dependency Points are spent when your Dependencies fail you.
When you run out of Dependency Points, you give in to your Obsession. All of your Dependency Points, including your Obsession Point, go into the glass
Mechanically speaking, all of those points are now dedicated to your Obsession
You spend them resisting treatment and ruining the things which were important to you, because nothing matters to you but your Obsession

Jonathan: right

me: Once your points are spent– once you’ve fucked up everything– then you have a moment of realization and can get back to recovery

Jonathan: how do you decide when you want your Obsession and need to use Dependencies?

me: I haven’t gotten that far– or rather, I sort of have, but I’m not sure how to mechanize it

Jonathan: also, can you put your Dependency points in, say, coping strategies?
whether healthy or unhealthy ones?
because that could get really ugly and you wouldn’t even need to make them a secondary Obsession
if you had strategies like burning yourself

me: Right
I think part of the game is going to involve replacing destructive dependencies with healthy alternatives, but uh, I haven’t mechanized that either

Jonathan: there could be a trade off or something
i think you need a health stat
or more than one, maybe
and you can trade some destructive beahaviors for others, but that still slowly kills you
maybe more slowly than before, though
but if you can start getting dependencies that don’t cause you damage, but are still affective
that’s clearly a step in the right direction
but less self-destructive dependencies aren’t as effective
they don’t FEEL as good

me: Right, yes

Jonathan: so you need more of them or need to have lessened your Obsession in order to really make use of them

me: Right
I’m starting to think that there needs to be more than one Obsession Point in the beginning

Jonathan: well, you need a way of tracking progress

me: So that you can lessen the hold the Obsession has

Jonathan: i was thinking, originally, that the cup represented how much you could be Obsessed without totally dying or flipping out or whatever
and you’d fill it with stones until it overflowed, at which point you were lost
but i guess that’s not what you intended

me: Ah, no, not really
It’s about the void that needs to be filled

Jonathan: ah, okay

me: And if you’re not allowing yourself to need your Obsession, you need SOMEthing
If it’s empty, the emptiness eats you alive

Jonathan: seems like you need to figure out the other end, not how people are saved, but how people are lost
you could model it, i guess, by having people put all their dependencies in really unhelthy things
and say, like, if you have Burning Myself 10, you end up in the hospital or something

me: Right

Jonathan: seems like the game is about hope, though
so maybe you don’t want to have absolute rules for destruction

me: right

Jonathan: but players can choose to stop playing if they grow tired of it, and narrate some kinda endgame for their character

me: But part of what I want is to show the realization that.. I mean, on the surface, it looks like the Dependency failure mechanism makes a character’s recidivism everyone/thing else’s fault, and not the character’s
Because the things the character trusted failed them
But there needs to be something to show the evolution that it’s not about the rest of the world failing the addict, it’s about the addict’s unrealistic expectations of the world

Jonathan: hmm, that sounds like a bone that’s especially important for you to pick

me: Part of the reason addicts blame the world initially is because it’s easier than blaming themselves; but once you realize the blame is on your shoulders, that can be overwhelming too
So then it becomes a struggle between giving in to destructive behavior or altering your expectations

Jonathan: right
that’ll be interesting to model