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9:39 AM
wax eagle has unfrozen this room.
 
Woo, thanks again!
 
This place... It's full with ancient knowledge whirling through every single brick of the walls...
 
I think that's mould.
 
:D
Let's put the basics down : An event is set at a point of IG time, and kills the PCs. The PCs then "go back in time" (no duplication of the PCs), and have to alter the course of time to avoid the event. If they fail, the loop triggers again.
 
Okay, that's a semi-common scifi plot. Got it.
 
9:49 AM
Let's try to make it less common, and more surprising then.
 
Well, don't change it just for the sake of being different. It's common because it works and is fun!
 
We can keep the base, but discussing some tweeks might make it even better no?
 
Could do.
 
What is the difference between killing the PCs, and not killing them, but simply rewinding the time (Stargate SG1 time loop episode for reference)
 
Usually, inevitable death reset is the result of a cataclysmic event.
 
9:52 AM
Increase of drama, giving a clear target to the PCs
Rewinding time helps improving the mystery though
The PCs only have a last-state as a clue of what's happening
Increase the mystery, giving the PCs an investigation type of play
Let's say death reset fits more what I have in mind.
 
"If you don't stop the mad bomber before he sets off the nuke, the city gets wiped out, you die in the explosion, and you wake up 24 hours before the nuke goes off. Again."
 
That raises the issue of the world setting
 
(Except that in the first few iterations, it's not clear what the explosion is--then who sets it off--and so forth.)
@Saffron Well, as a quick and dirty example of the formula.
 
Yep
Let's continue with the theory, to see if it helps us finding a setting
 
It could just as easily be "someone drains the life from all creatures" or whatever. A cataclysm which cannot be escaped, only prevented.
 
9:58 AM
Is escape really not an option?
 
If escape is an option, it becomes Groundhog Day instead.
Hmm. Bad example.
 
Except if the PCs have a choice in whether flee, or solve the problem
 
At any rate, you need a hard inescapable reset or the first loop in which they flee is the loop in which they have removed themselves from the entire premise of the game.
The conceit of the game demands that you place hard walls around the edges of the plot.
 
Does it?
Yeah I guess
So no escape then
 
Hopefully the players won't try to bogart the game and they'll never find the walls.
 
10:01 AM
The walls could simply be something at stake too important for the PCs to give up
 
But implied walls like "massive cataclysm" have other purposes: they up the stakes, and provide a solid deadline to work against.
 
Yep
Do the PCs have entire recolection of the previous loops event, or only a sub set?
 
I'd say they remember at least as much as the players remember. Otherwise it gets way too complex.
 
Not necessarily
What about a piece of paper/other they get to keep when they "wake up"
 
Could do.
 
10:03 AM
It asks giving up metagaming from the PCs which is pretty hard in that setting thoudh
 
Memento-style notes could be interesting.
But yes, even in a group like mine which is VERY on-board with non-metagaming playstyles, that's asking a lot.
 
I have players that should be able to handle it
But it's a pretty big decision...
What are the pros and cons
For memento like notes
 
Pros: structure and tension, the audience-level "omnicient narrator" style awareness of the players contrasted with the narrow first-person awareness of the characters.
It introduces a kind of strategy: "what do I tell my next iteration?"
Oh, I remember where I'm getting such strong flashes of this! TNG did it!
"Cause and Effect": The Enterprise crashes and explodes, then everyone resets to 24 hours earlier with no memory of it.
But as the event repeats, particularly sensitive people start to get a bleedover effect from all the timelines on top of each other.
Eventually it comes down to this: what short word will Data send to himself subconsciously in the next time loop to stop the crash?
 
I like the "chat do I tell my next iteration" stuff.
 
That kind of tactical choice could be very interesting.
HOWEVER, it comes with a massive con-side for an RPG context, which the Star Trek version overcame through powerful and talented directing and camerawork:
The players have to endure figuring the same stuff over and over again.
It's new to the characters each time, but the players are going to get so. freaking. tired. of it.
 
10:10 AM
Erf yes
 
I'm not just speaking theoretically here; I've run games where that kind of "rediscovering what we already know" thing happens, and we gloss over it as fast as possible. Which pulls the teeth out of the tactical tension you're hoping for with this choice.
 
What if each loop had a timeline-break that change the course of event of everything, but slightly?
The PCs experience something similar yet different, and can introduce a "what changes next" exitation
 
C&E did that, and it helped a lot. But for an RPG I think that you need to focus on the accumulation of clues, rather than the rediscovery of them.
Because if the clues change each time, it stops being a mystery.
 
Yeah it might be complicating things too much if we want to make it work
So complete time recolection it is then ?
 
No, literally: if the clues change, it stops being solvable by investigation, and it's not a mystery. Not just "too complicated," but "the players will give it up as impossible."
@Saffron I think so, yes.
 
10:15 AM
I'm fine with it
 
You've got an interesting and engaging premise. It doesn't need extra bells and whistles to make it appealing.
 
We've* You are at least 50% of what we've come up with!
Do you think something like a 3-clue tree could be interesting, or something a bit more sandboxy with a relations diagram of the points of interest instead ?
 
I'm going to assume that what you just said would make sense if I paid more attention to RPG mystery structure guidance instead of doing it on my own.
It depends on the length of the game and the playstyle of your group.
A sandbox game requires proactive rather than reactive playstyles, and longer campaign duration.
 
My players are proactive for sure
 
If you don't have both of those, you're better off with a guided path. It can have branches, but it also has rails.
 
10:21 AM
Side note to make things clear :
3 clue tree : The players are expected to find 1-3 clues in their environment, which will lead them to a conclusion. this conclusion gets them to another enviroment, with again, 1-3 clues etc
 
So it's kinda like 's layers of Descent, but not cumulative.
 
Relation diagram : The environment is defined by objects (NPCs, things, places, events) that are linked to each others. The PCs follow a "string" that lead them inevitably towards the conclusion
Hum, actually none of these might fit the setting...
 
Okay, back up a bit.
Something catastrophic happens at a certain time. The endpoint of the game is to stop it from happening.
The characters can, however, accumulate knowledge and experience over multiple attempts.
This means: a) the pressure is lowered.
b) The problem can be made exponentially more difficult to solve.
c) Experimentation on the part of the characters is expected, and should be made a necessary part of the game's design in order to reach the endpoint.
Conclusion: this is not a game about accumulating clues, it is a game about accumulating experiences.
 
The players are expected to reach dead ends
And they are also expected to create the realtion by trying things out on their own
relations
 
Yes. Let's make it necessary to reach dead ends.
"By trying the wrong solutions, you discover the right one."
 
10:30 AM
So it would require either specifically putting wrong clues and red herrings
Or
Make the deductions towards conclusion so hard and buried that trying things is the only way to find it.
Or both :p
 
@Saffron This is already implied in the premise of your game, I think.
 
I really want to find a way to insert Chrono Trigger into this discussion, but it just doesn't fit.
 
Yes but stating things that way helps me building up ideas
 
Since there is no pressure to succeed within a particular time frame, the only limit on your ability to experiment and test is the duration of each loop.
 
Yes the duration of each loop is critical, good thing you mentionned it
 
10:33 AM
@Andy Hi! We're doing some brainstorming for a time loop campaign. You're welcome to hang out, but if you're looking for the main chat it's here.
 
A concern is that, since it's nearly impossible to manage 5 Pc split, we have to find a way to prevent spliting the group too much
Since that setting would encourage splitting to cover a maximum distance in space time
 
That's fairly easily done in the premise and by limiting chargen.
 
Limiting chargen?
 
Premade PCs to choose from, perhaps.
Each tailored specifically to the story.
 
Wait there's two issues there
1. The group needs to be formed at some point early on
2. The group needs to stick together
PCs needs to know that the whole group is experiencing the same phenomenon
 
10:40 AM
Premade characters let you start with the party already formed.
And they let you infuse the party with reasons to stick together--which could also be system-related.
Choose a system that heavily rewards party coherence.
...or let them go their separate ways and give 'em all radios.
 
Or, for them to make any progress in 'fixing' the loop, they need everyone for some reason.
 
@BESW I think the dimension "PCs don't know each other in the begining, but end up realizing they are stuck in the same mess" is fun though
 
@Saffron Then make it really easy and obvious--through the premades--how they come to meet each other.
 
Let me give you an example, I don't think we are on the same train of thoughts
Initial situation
 
At the end of the day, I think this is a concern which can be postponed until the rest of the game's conceit has more structure.
 
10:45 AM
Player create their PC before session, with the only constraint they are to be present at a Reception they have been invited to
After a couple minutes enjoying the music and food, they all die in a nuclear explosion
 
That's a very short loop
 
And that's a wrap, everybody! Goodnight, great session.
 
@Miniman It's the initial loop, that triggers the whole thing
@BESW Exactly ! Hahaha
 
But no, yeah, the first loop usually has to be the shortest.
Before they all die, nobody has any investment in what's going on because there's probably no plot yet.
 
Yes, but can they delay a nuclear explosion in a couple of minutes?
 
10:48 AM
@Miniman The loop starts much earlier.
But for the first iteration, most of the loop is so boring that we skip it entirely.
 
@Miniman After that, they "wake up" 24h before for exemple
 
@Saffron Right, with you. I assumed the reception was how you were getting them together
 
"Cause and Effect" started with the Enterprise main characters at the bridge, and the ship exploding before the credits, then came back after a commercial to a poker game 24 hours earlier.
The reception party is this game's version of the crew on the bridge just before the explosion.
However. Idea.
It's not quite the "realising we're all in it together" thing as you're envisioning it, but...
What if we start play with a subplot?
 
Yeah
 
Maybe they're a team of high-stakes thieves who are robbing the reception.
 
10:51 AM
A subplot that explains why only the PCs are feeling the loop for example?
 
Could work.
Although in my last "time is broken" plot, the reason they were subject to it turned out to be... that they were going to be there when it got broken.
So they felt the effects from the very first session, but not until the penultimate session did they get to the reason they felt the effects.
Time is weird that way.
 
Though it gets rid of the superb opening of "See you next week, thank you"
 
Only if the thing is obviously a cause for looping them before they get looped.
 
@BESW It could explain the all thing, but the PCs could understand that after investigation ofc
 
Have 'em handle the radioactive briefcase, or fondle the magical statue, or whatever, then blow 'em up and thank 'em for playing.
 
10:55 AM
@BESW But that would be a false clue right? So that they think they did it, but in facxt it wasn't them.
 
It could be.
Or--it could be one thing they did among a lot of others at the reception, so they don't know.
 
So many possibilities!
 
Meow. :o
 
Stealing a briefcase of industrial secrets doesn't usually ping on the "possible reasons I'm experiencing temporal recurrence" radar.
(Unless you're a Warehouse 13 agent.)
 
@BESW remember the plot for the PCs is not the temporal reset, but the explosion they have to prevent !
 
10:58 AM
Right.
 
Although, you have a point
 
But the reason they remember the loop is going to be asked.
 
Exactly
They will probably investigate the time loop before actually investigation the explosion (they don't know it will happen again)
*ing
 
Right.
 
But it's a good thing right?
 
11:00 AM
It's a predictable thing, which means you can safely build on it.
If you tie some crucial part of the plot to investigating the reason they remember the loop, you're basically guaranteed they'll find that part of the plot.
 
Yep
 
Players, in my experience, are generally very unpredictable. Anything you can truly rely on them to do is worth its weight in gold-plated pixie dust.
 
I'll be going for a couple hours soon, can we try to summarize things to know where to begin next brainstorming session (if you're still interested of course)
 
Good idea.
A cataclysm sends a group of PCs into a recurring time loop bounded at the far end by the cataclysm. Their only escape from the loop is to prevent the cataclysm.
Each PC can remember at least as much as their player can about all previous loops.
It's been suggested that the game begins with the group accomplishing an apparently tangential task --such as robbing a reception party-- just prior to the first iteration of the cataclysm.
The PCs will inevitably investigate the reason only they recall the loop, so that's a good hook to hang plot on.
 
The plot should take advantage of the setting, and put few clues, difficult deductions, red herrings, and encourage idea inputs from the players.
The time duration of the loop is critical to ensure a limitation to the players.
 
11:14 AM
I think 24 hours is too long, myself. Make 'em sweat.
(And have fewer things to keep track of.)
If it were me, I'd put 'em back at the beginning of the heist.
 
A special thought needs to be put to : Bring the PCs together to die in first iteration; Get the PCs to understand they are stuck together ; Keep the PCs as a group as much as possible.
Is that all ?
(I need to go)
 
I think so. The transcript is eternal anyway.
Enforced short leash idea: if any of them get more than X distance from any of the others, that loop terminates and they reset again.
(Distance to be discovered through trial and error.)
 
Nice idea!
See you later
Thanks a lot
 
ttfn
 
11:41 AM
@Saffron I would be using some system that has means to measure time with some in-game timer. The first thing coming to my mind is how, in Psi*Run, the characters are chased by the opposition and need to move faster than the chasers. In your case, the chasing entity could be time.
 
 
3 hours later…
2:58 PM
@Zachiel Why do you think time cannot be handled as usual ? (We search for the building! Ok it takes you about 1 hour to find ...)
 

« first day (1413 days earlier)