Hamsterprophecy: Prevision

It\’s All About Pen, Paper and People.

Carry Dev I

Posted by Nathan P. on August 28, 2005

So I reread Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried today. Goddamn but that is one awesome, powerful book. I wanted to go back to my inspirational material for Carry and see if I can inform myself on how I want the game to be played. Oh shit, do I still have Platoon, or did I leave it back home…one sec…

Ok, I do. Whew. Gotta rewatch it tonight.

Anyway. So, what do the things that they carry, in O’Briens book, mean? How do they contribute to the narrative? Well, they provide both metaphors and plot points, right – I mean, some guys carry lots of physical stuff, some carry lots of emotional stuff, all carry the war and Vietnam itself. Some of the stories revolve around the carried (Kiowa’s moccasins, O’Briens pain and humiliation and anger at the new medic). Some don’t.

All are true, and not true. Which I think is a pretty accurate thing to say about role playing itself, actually – but thats another post.

So, what does carrying something mean? It means that it’s something that can’t or won’t be put down. It’s something important. It’s not really a motivation, usually, but it’s something that:

  • makes someone feel better (vitamins high in carotene, tranquilizers, gfs pantyhose) or
  • makes someones life easier/safer (flak jacket, extra ammo, comic books) or
  • makes someone feel less human, for lack of a better phrase (anger, humiliation, shame)

Sometimes they are symbols (again, the moccasins), sometimes physical objects, sometimes emotions. Sometimes all of these.

What does this mean in the context of the game? God. I’m in one of those places where a bunch of ideas are mashing together, and I’m having a lot of trouble getting any of them out. Lets try one at a time.

  • Each Burden is linked to a Profile, and you have to change the Burden in order to change Profile. Change the pool refresh so that when you lose all your dice, you refill to your Months In – n, where n is the number of times you’ve run out of dice since your last Profile Shift. However, Burdens give some kind of bonus (reroll?) or have an advantageous effect in Endgame.
  • The only way to refresh your dice pool is to gain new Burdens from the non-played characters. At the end of the game you have authority over those characters in narration (though then there has to be less death, I suppose.)
  • Burdens control your die caps for each Approach. There needs to be some interplay with Profiles for this, though. Maybe something like transition Profiles cut you off from 1 Approach, and cardinel Profiles cut you off from 2 Approachs. This creates mad bookkeeping though. Well, maybe not. You put each Burden you gain into an Approach of your choice. 1 Burden caps it at d10, 2 at d8, etc. Then you revolve through the Profiles and have different Approaches cut off, so theres some kind of strategy there. Again, Burdens give you something at the end.

About the end – hrm. I think there’s definitely something to the idea that there should be more open narration at the end, about what ends up happening to these soldiers. I’m thinking about something like this (again inspired by my rereading of O’Brien, and also Polaris):

Everyone has to tell a story about one of the soldiers they got a Burden from. During this story, anyone can spend a Burden to say “But thats not how it happened. It happened like this.” and re-tell the story. Someone can spend a Burden to say “Thats not how it happened either. But anything else would be a lie.”, which ends that story. Once everyones told a story about a non-played character, then they each tell a story starting with “When people ask me ______, I can truthfully say yes. And I can truthfully say no.” Now, others can spend Burdens to make the narrator include them in the story (including the GM, in some fashion). Again, everyone gets one of these, maybe with the die roll (from the original Endgame mechanics) determining turn order.

So thats an idea.

Thoughts and comments welcome.


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