Thursday, February 11, 2010

M.A/C.C - Game Design Journal #5

So, a friend has offered to help me out by running M.A/C.C for me and letting me try it as a player meaning I can get a different look at how things work, and how they flow with other GMs running it. That being said, it means the revision process can finally begin (this being the very first run after the game hit Alpha).

That being said, today I wanted to talk about 2 "disadvantages", or as they're called in M.A/C.C "Restrictions" that I thought were rather novel for the game, and helps to show the assumption of very capable people.

#1 NOT Ambidextrous
This restriction means that your character, for whatever reason, is not completely physically coordinated. They have a 'main' hand, and when trying to do multiple things that use multiple limbs at the same time (especially in ways they're not supposed to be used for) it can get tricky, and thus is harder for you.

I like this one, because the inverse of this is normally an advantage you pay for. You normally pay for being ambidextrous, here you get points for not being it. This means the base line assumption is that characters have trained enough to be equally capable with both hands, and are very well coordinated. When you consider that maybe 1-2% are born ambidextrous, and how it can be challenging to train out of it, this becomes more interesting. If nothing else it shows that we're already skimming from a small percentage of very capable people for the characters.

#2 Unattractive
This one is less about the fact that since we're these very capable people, lets just assume that we're attractive and more that in almost any system I've seen played, even when there is an appearance stat, most people will just assume that a PC is attractive. Granted, most PCs are fit and healthy, and that is part of being attractive, but we're talking people claiming their Appearance: N/A nosferatu is 'cool' looking and not hideous. Add this to the taboo that seems to developed lately of saying someone is NOT beautiful, and well, most characters are just assumed to be hella attractive, no matter what the sheet (and sometimes player) says.

So, lets just do away with it why don't we? We assume that everyone is attractive, and if you really don't want to be attractive, you just want to be a Plain Jane or Tom, then you can be one. Hell, we'll give you points for it, go you! This also lets you tell the GM that you WANT to be unattractive, you are optionally taking it upon yourself to be so. This isn't "Oh I didn't have the points to buy up appearance too" this is "I chose to have my character be unattractive, hell, I got paid for it." So now everyone is happy, you are unattractive like you want to be, and the GM knows this is the case so he can call your character ugly. Yay you!

#3 Dangerously Beautiful
This one is the other side of being attractive. Since we're assusming everyone is attractive, then if you're beyond attractive we're probably entering into the realm where it becomes a problem for you. This is an aspect of beauty that not many games actually look into, but beauty can be a curse. If someone has Dangerous Beauty, it is probably as dangerous to them as anyone else. Sure they may be able to get into some places easier, but you know what else? They're going to stand out, they're going to draw attention to themselves. Someone that beautiful gets remembered, someone that beautiful gets noticed. Now try to sneak through the club with everyone trying to dance with you. What about when they start stalking you? Following you around? Sorting through your garbage? Beauty can cause problems, lots and lots of problems. So you can be angelically pretty if you want, once again, we'll pay you for it, but that doesn't mean it is all sugar and lollipops. Especially when dealing with the scum of humanity.

So that ended up being 3 not 2 of the Restrictions, but they all fall under the same vein in a way, and show a bit more of what I meant when I say "tailor your game to the assumptions about PCs you want to make". For M.A/C.C , we assume competence, capability, and a useful level of attractiveness. If you want to break those assumptions, well if it is mostly beneficial you pay for it, but if it has a healthy side effect, you get paid for it.

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