edited August 2007 in Pitch
I'm all for trying some cool, experimental games that are written specifically for play-by-post, but, for some reason I'm not sure of, from the moment that this place was discussed on Knife Fight, the thought that has stuck in my brain has been, "I really want to play a game of Don't Rest Your Head in a play-by-post. So, if that tickles anyone's fancy (particularly if you might like to GM...) sound off! If not, that's cool too. ^_^


  • edited 5:19AM
    Can you tell me more about DRYH? It sounds kind of interesting, but I don't have the book. Would I need the book to play, or is it relatively simple? How do you see it working in PBP?
  • edited 5:19AM
    Fancy Tickled! Simon, I'd be happy to help answer what questions you have about the game too, but it's bedtime right now...
  • edited August 2007
    I can write more about it later (along with Shreyas) if you want, but for now, here's the official synopsis from the Evil Hat website, which I think is also the text from the back cover:
    Don't Rest Your Head

    You can't sleep. It started like that for all of us, back when we were garden variety insomniacs. Maybe you had nightmares (God knows we all do now), or maybe you just had problems that wouldn't let you sleep. Hell, maybe you were just over-caffienated. But then something clicked.

    That was when you took a long walk down the streets of the Mad City, stopped being a Sleeper, and started being Awake. But that click you heard wasn't from the secret world snapping into place. It was the sound of the Nightmares flicking off the safety and pointing a gun at your head.

    They can smell you. The Paper Boys are closing in, and you'd better pray you don't become a headline. You're chum in the water, my friend, and it's time you got ready for it... before the clock chimes thirteen again. Now that you're one of us, there's just one simple rule left that must dominate your life.

    Stay Awake. Don't Rest Your Head.

    Don't Rest Your Head is a sleek, dangerous little game, where your players are all insomniac protagonists with superpowers, fighting -- and using -- exhaustion and madness to stay alive, and awake for just one more night, in a reality gone way wrong called the Mad City. It features its own system, and is contained entirely within one book.
    The system is relatively simple, though kind of unique, so I don't know if players would necessarily all need a copy of the game, though the GM certainly would; it's available as a pdf from IPR for only $8, though.

    EDIT: There's also a free pdf of the book's first 9 pages here.
  • edited 5:19AM
    Sure, I'd play DRYH. I'm not sure if I'm willing to commit to GMing, but I bet it could be modified to run GMless pretty easily. Or with rotating GMs at the very least.
  • edited 5:19AM
    Cool! I just did some reading around, and checked out a couple of reviews. A lot of people have good things to say about it. Here are some things I'd like to talk about before I commit, though.

    End Point: It's pretty hard to stay motivated in PBP sometimes, and especially if the game is dragging. What really helps, in my opinion, is having an end in sight. This doesn't have to be a close goal, or a formal mechanic, and it doesn't have to be the absolute end of the game, but I think I'd feel more comfortable about a game where there's something we're working towards completing, and at that point we can review where the game is going and what we want to do from there. My own preference is for short games, but I'm more flexible with that. What do you think?

    Narration: PBP can be really frustrating if everyone's waiting days for one person to post, and each interaction with the game is only a couple of lines of text. I think the ideal situation is one in which play can continue no matter who is posting, and in which players are free to narrate large amounts of in-game action without waiting for GM approval. I'm more happy interacting with the game only once every few days, if I'm able to get a lot of stuff done (i.e. narrate a lot of action) when I do. Now, I understand that it's not always possible to get the ideal, but how much do you think DRYH fits this? How much can we drift the normal procedure of play to make this happen?
  • edited August 2007
    I agree completely about the end point; never-ending games lost their appeal for me a long time ago, and with the time dilation inherent in a pbp, I think having that is a good idea.

    * * * * *

    I think it's relatively easy to run the game where you can do lots of narration in one go. When there are no conflicts going on, the only thing to really consider is group approval/cohesion. When conflicts do occur, they are resolved with a single roll by all parties involved, so there shouldn't be much waiting. DRYH also has a mechanic wherein, depending on how you roll, different types of dice "dominate", coloring the outcome of the conflict, and one method of running the game is that whoever's dice end up dominating narrates the outcome of the conflict.

    That said, part of what gaming is to me is interacting with other people, having them influence and limit where the story goes as a group, so I would be leary about just narrating everything without input from others. While it's great to be able to keep playing if someone is absent for a while, I don't want to invalidate the social dynamics of gaming completely, even in pbp.

    I think that, as Daniel said, it would definitely be possible to rotate "GM" type duties, assign each player to be "GM" (and when I say GM, I really just mean the person responsible for antagonism towards that character) for another player, or have the "GM" role be open to whoever is around and doesn't have a character actively involved in the scene.
  • edited 5:19AM
    I don't have the rulebook handy, but each character in DRYH has a particular arc or character goal defined during character generation. The most obvious end point would therefore be 'when the character reaches the end of this arc.' It's not a very solid pacing mechanic, however, since how quickly that will happen will depend entirely on what kind of goal it is and how fast the story pushes things in that direction.

    Alternately we could come up with some kind of group theme/event/timeline and then have everyone move things towards a final event in that sense. For example, 'the game will end with the destruction of the Mad City' or something less ambitious.
  • edited 5:19AM
    Awesome! It looks like we're more-or-less on the same page here. In terms of the end point, Daniel, you're spot on. I think that it would be cool if we stuck to the rules as written as much as possible, and if character goals are part of the character creation process, it would be a shame not to use them as part of the endgame. What you're saying about a group goal is good too. Perhaps we can agree on several concrete steps that need to be achieved in order for the goal to succeed? Or is that pre-writing the story too much? I feel like maybe part of the fun of the game is the sense of mystery about the Mad City, about discovering secrets, and the anticipation of not knowing what's next.

    I think "Destroy the Mad City" is an awesome goal, personally. Go big, I always say.

    Amnesiack, I see where you're coming from. Certainly, interacting with other players is the whole point. I guess the trouble is when you're waiting days for your chance to post, and then all you can write is "I attack". DRYH seems to have some natural advantages, in that it seems like a single dice roll covers a lot more in-game action than in some other games. What are the rules for narration? Who gets narration rights after the dice are rolled? If the player can declare what they're trying to do, roll the dice, and then describe the outcome of the scene, I think that it's fine waiting a while for your chance to do that.

    In terms of rotating GM, or GMless, I'm a little apprehensive. I guess I feel like the communication required to do that might be difficult in PBP, unless we have a formal mechanic for it set up first. It might be a good idea, on the other hand, since no-one at this stage seems keen on GMing.
  • edited 5:19AM
    Here's the basics of conflict resolution in DRYH, as I understand it:

    Player and GM both declare intent (i.e. set stakes for the conflict). Players have three types of dice: Discipline, Exhaustion, and Madness. Discipline dice are always rolled, Exhaustion and Madness increase and decrease in various ways, some voluntary, some not. Players normally have 3 Discipline dice, and Exhaustion and Madness can both range from 0 to 6. The GM has a number of Pain dice, determined by the strength of the opposing character or difficulty of the abstract situation. All of the above dice are d6s.

    All dice that come up as 1, 2, or 3 count as successes; Discipline, Exhaustion, and Madness dice all count together for determining successes for players. Whoever has the most successes wins his or her intent. However, the dice also affect the "color" of conflict's outcome. Whichever pool of dice has the highest die in it is said to "dominate" the outcome. If there is a tie for highest die, the tied dice are eliminated and the next die compared until one type of pool comes out on top. For this portion of resolution, Discipline, Exhaustion, and Madness are considered distinct. The dominant die type has both a mechanical effect on the PC (positive if it's Discipline, negative if it's anything else) and determines the nature of the narration of the outcome.

    If Discipline dominates, regardless of success or failure, the situation remains relatively controlled, and the skill and focus of the character are the primary determiners of the outcome.

    If Exhaustion dominates, the characters resources are sorely taxed, regardless of ouctome, and he/she comes face to face with growing weight of his/her insomnia.

    If Madness dominates, the situation mentally and psychologically straining or damaging to the player, and the general situation spirals into greater chaos, regardless of whether the player actually achieved his/her intent.

    If Pain dominates, a painful price is exacted on the character, even if he/she wins the conflict, often making the victory hollow or brief.

    Once all of this is determined, there are two ways of giving narration as outlined in the book. (1) Traditional: Player declares intent, GM narrates outcome. (2) Distributed: Whoever wins the conflict narrates OR whoever's dice pool dominates the outcome narrates.

    An example to follow, for clarity's sake...
  • edited 5:19AM
    Rick is on the run from a pair of Needle Nose Bloodhounds. They've harrowed him through the streets of the Mad City, cutting off his escape at every turn, wearing him down as they slowly close in. As Rick runs around the corner of a particularly filthy alley, he realizes he's being herded somewhere, and whatever waits at that destination is probably significantly worse than the needle-headed dogs chasing him.

    Rick declares intent: "I'm going to set up an ambush and take out the dogs so I can escape."

    GM declares intent: "Okay, if you lose, the hounds will sew you into place with their heads so that you can't escape before their master arrives."

    Rick currently has 2 Exhaustion and the normal 3 Discipline. His Madness Talent is "I can hear the voices of inanimate objects". He declares, "I'm going to listen to the voices in the walls around me, so that I can know exactly where the dogs are at all times while remaining completely hidden until I spring my trap." The GM agrees this is a good use of Rick's madness talent, but says that it requires the use of at least 3 Madness dice. Rick decides to use 4. The Needle Nose Hound is a Pain 3 creature; since there are two, the GM bumps it up to Pain 4.

    They both roll:
    Discipline #DiceRoller( 3d6 )
    Exhaustion #DiceRoller( 2d6 )
    Madness #DiceRoller( 4d6 )

    Pain #DiceRoller( 4d6 )
  • edited August 2007
    Rick has an amazing 7 successes, against only 2 for the GM, so Rick wins his intent. Unfortunately for him, however, Madness dominates the outcome with the only 6 in it's pool (this means that, mechanically, Rick now has to choose between a Fight or Flight response to the outcome of the situation). Rick and the GM are using the dominant pool narration method, so Rick's player narrates the outcome:

    The walls warn Rick just as the hounds tear around the corner, and Rick bursts forth from beneath a pile of garbage, swinging at them with a rusty length of pipe he found nearby. As the hounds collapse under the blows, Rick hears the voices in the walls grow louder; they seem pleased with his actions, leaning in over him to watch as he finishes his grisly work. Rick drops the pipe and flees the scene in terror, trying to get away as quickly as possible. When he comes to his senses a few minutes later, he realizes that while he has escaped the hounds, he is now deep in the Tacks Man's territory, and he doesn't know the way out...
  • edited 5:19AM
    That's cool! I'm definitely interested in this game. It sounds like there aren't too many steps to conflict resolution, but I wonder how many of them can be compressed into a single post? Breaking it down, it could work like this:

    Player: State intent
    GM (or maybe any other player?): State consequences of failure, and the number of pain dice to roll.
    Player: Roll all dice, including pain. If it's a successful outcome, the player can narrate what happens, maybe. We could do an interesting thing where each player is responsible for narrating a different type of outcome. Like, if discipline dominates, you narrate yourself. If madness or exhaustion dominate, any other player can narrate the outcome, and the GM narrates the pain outcome. That means that a quarter of the time you get to go right ahead and narrate the outcome, and half the time you only have to wait until the next player logs in. You only have to wait for one specific player (the GM), a quarter of the time.

    I like it. It looks like the whole process can be done in three or (usually) four posts, which is pretty quick, and it still has the vital factor that you're not setting your own challenges. How do you feel about the wa I've broken down narration rights?

    Also, let's talk about some more concrete things. How many players is a good number? Who's gonna GM this?
  • edited August 2007
    That seems like a decent flow to me. I'm still in favour of some kind of rotating or multiple-GM setup -- mostly because I definitely want to play a character, but I'm also willing to 'pitch in' in the GM role. I'd be fine with a single GM too, if someone wants to go for it. I do think the game benefits from a somewhat specific vision/scope vis-a-vis the madness, and a single GM is one way to accomplish that.

    Just to be clear, though, I'm not much of a fan of the setting included in the book, and strongly, strongly suggest we default to throwing it all out (with people welcome to bring some of it back, of course) and building our own ideas about what 'Mad City' is, as a world behind the world. In my (limited) experience, the choices made in Chargen can produce/inspire settings which are wildly different from the default, and there's no need to shoehorn them in when we could build on them instead.

    Similarly, the 'destroy Mad City' thing was a bit tongue-in-cheek, or at least I think that similar goals should be amended in a style closer to Capes -- which is to say, the final question that the story helps answer could be that kind of event, but with no guarantee that it will turn out one way or the other.
  • edited 5:19AM
    I think that would work really well. During the GM's Pain-setting post, he/she can also declare anything else necessary to the roll, like minimum number of Madness dice to use a Madness Talent, etc.

    I'm fine with the setting as is, but I don't mind drifting it either. I think the idea of the Mad City as a parallel world which only the Exhausted can see/enter is pretty essential to the game in a lot of ways, but as far as specific locations/denizens, I have no particular attachment.

    As for concrete details, I think 3, maybe 4, players plus a GM would be a good limit. I'm not very interested in being GM myself, but if we ended up deciding on a round-robin style, I would be willing to contribute.
  • edited 5:19AM
    This sounds incredibly intriguing.
  • edited 5:19AM
    Awesome! I was away over the weekend, but it's cool to see that things are progressing. How about we have a final sound-off for players? Elizabeth, if you're intrigued, you're welcome to play. If it looks like this is going to go ahead, I'll get myself a copy of the PDF. Like everyone else, I don't mind pitching in to GM, but I've not played the game before so I'm a bit nervous about running the thing. I'm sensitive to Daniel's suggestion that the game benefits from a "central vision" though. What if we have a "madness" player, who narrates those outcomes, an "exhaustion" player, who narrates them, and then a single "pain" player, who can also generate antagonism. I think it would be cool to start the game with each player just describing a situation that their character is in, staying up late or whatever. Then any other player can chip in with some extra adversity, or include their character in the scene, or whatever. For example:

    Chuck (Playing Kim): Kim's up late in her studio, working on the final piece for her gallery show. The colours are swimming in front of her face from her lack of sleep, but the pot of coffee on her table makes certain she's not sleeping tonight. Tongue between her teeth, she concentrates on drawing the fine, straight lines of her painting, an almost abstract work of vaguely architechtural lines and angles. Her pounding headache keeps time with the pounding music, another trick to keep her awake for all night painting.

    Drew: Kim hears a fist slamming against her wall. It's her neighbor, kept awake by the music. She turns back to her painting, and when she does she sees that the flat canvas has been rplaced with what looks like a window, a window into a twisting cyclopean city that looks something like her painting. But Kim never paints people, and there are people in there, or at least, things that look like people. As they draw closer Kim can see stitched shout mouths, and doll-like features. Each carries an enormous pair of scissors. Their eyes light up as they see Kim through the window, and they begin to run towards her.

    Anne (Playing Mitch): Mitch watches the Doll Killers run past the dumpster he's hiding behind. They've found some new victim. Keeping low, he ducks away and tries to run in the opposite direction, keeping out of sight. Whoever they're after, he's glad it's not him.

    Or something like that. I don't see that we need a specific GM for that. Will that work?
  • edited 5:19AM
    Sounds great. If shreyas is still interested, I think that's a total of five people (shreyas, Elizabeth, Daniel, Simon, me).
  • edited 5:19AM
    I'm still here! I just lost my bookmark briefly...
  • edited 5:19AM
    I'm going to go ahead and make an OOC thread for this game. Anyone who's expressed interest should go ahead and post in there. We can finalise our discussion of GMing, narration and so on in there, and get down to making characters. We might find that making characters clarifies some of the issues about having a concrete goal, and who's responsible for narrating what and so on.
  • edited 5:19AM
    I know I'm coming in late, but I'd be interested in giving this a shot as well.
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