Dustin was intrigued by my statements in our first consulting session about character improvement, as well as being suspicious that I would start maundering about relationships as reward enough. I was able to surprise him a little, and the discussion was able to expand quite sensibly into his more general design regarding character death.
A big part of my goal was not to throw out improvement as such, but to show how improvement is one component of change and is subject to design questions, and provocative game procedures, as much as any other mechanic.
- Part 1 provides two detailed examples using Zero and The Shadow of Yesterday, chosen for the reason stated above and also because playing these games is not on any imposed or emergent length-of-play schedule. (see the seminar How Long … for detailed discussion of that issue) In these, improvement is a distinctive moving-part within a system of change.
- Part 2 contines with examples using S/Lay w/Me, Trollbabe, and The Mountain Witch, to focus a bit on closed-play or ending-aware context, but still multi-session and not too over-scheduled, to match Heroic Dark‘s conceptual zone. The effectiveness-improving variables in this case ebb and flow, rather than building steadily.
- Part 3 is about dying characters and new ones to replace them. Change obviously includes not only various developments for/around the character, but also all the ouchie stuff like trauma of all sorts, depleted resources, decreased effectiveness, and, well, dying. In a relatively closed-play context like Heroic Dark, very different components of change can be tightened up nicely.
In part aided by the Design Curriculum discussions, this particular consulting project demonstrates theory as practice extremely well. The ideas, the conceptual framework, the specific framework, the prevailing aesthetic, and the touchpoints of procedural preferences all come together.
I’m still figuring out how you get YouTube to start the next video in a series automatically. Just putting them in a collection isn’t enough. If anyone knows, send me an email please.