levi-strauss the hedgehog's dilemma

i had the privilege of reading a draft by roz (@AllThingsTruly) for a diceless story game about mechas, and made my creativity go off the walls thinking about ways to model character relationships and pivotal character moments in dramatic stories. first i just wanna say this is such a fun sounding game i wish i could experience in person!

her resolution mechanic works as follows: either you fail, or you succeed but check off one drawback from a list. when all your drawbacks in that list are checked off, you erase all your checks and gain access to them again.

one feedback i offered was that it would be fun to be able to sacrifice your own drawbacks so another player can succeed without drawbacks, and this ability would be based on your relationship with that other player. i cannot speak to whether she will implement this, but the idea fleshed itself out in my imagination. i don't wanna burden her with more ideas for how she could compose her game, so i am putting them here.

let each player have a one-sided relation to every other player. this might be derived from a playbook or from a set of standard options. e.g., player A might consider player S a rival, while player S has a crush on player A. i think the one-sidedness is essential to ensure a sort of conflict between players' imagined relationships between each other.

a player can act upon their imaginary relation to another player to trigger moves of self-sacrifice (or other moves, the more variance the merrier). for example, player S can put themselves at stupid risk of danger so player A has a clearer shot. in another context, player A might put themselves under duress and leave an opening for player S to succeed--failing in order that, by the logic of the story, someone else succeeds. i think implementing initial story beats taken from characters' imagined relations is the best way to approach this.

whenever someone does a move like that, the benefactor receives 1 IOU. the IOU is a more abstract/symbolic thing, a fate point or whatever that allows the possessor to succeed without any drawbacks but only to benefit the person they owe. after player S saves player A's life, player A might return the favor by spending her IOU. or, after player A fails and gives her rival player S an opening (diegetically, player A 'fails' in surpassing player S; in the game logic itself, player A gives player S advantage), player S can spend the IOU to let player A 'win'.

i think the IOU should not be tied to imaginary relations since it should be instead a model of how in social reality we ought to give recompense for gifts. the roman grammarian diaconus says the following about the latin word munus, meaning either 'gift' or 'duty':

"munus means 'duty' when someone is said to perform a 'munus', likewise [it means] 'gift' because [a gift] is given for a duty" (munus significat officium cum dicitur quis munere fungi item donum quod officii causa datur Diaconus 140.12)

i think what this also does is it emphasizes the game-ness of story games, insofar as a game is a model of decision-making within like a symbolic system. what's more of a symbolic system than the symbolic system of relationships between people? big thanks to levi-strauss + freud + lacan

ALSO in hindsight of writing all this, i thiiink dungeon bitches by @dyingstylishly does something to this effect? if i unconsciously plagiarized this, need to give credit where credit is due.

anyway you should follow roz (@AllThingsTruly) to keep up to date with her mecha game! it looks really fun and cool


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