Tuesday 9 January 2024

Everything, everywhere—but not necessarily all at once

It's a New Year and (apparently) it's time for a new Universal Resolution Mechanic! At least that's the challenge set by Prismatic Wasteland. My favourite so far is over at friend-of-the-blog Semiurge's Archons March On who proposes a method definitely not suitable for serious practitioners of one of the world's largest religions

Never one to let a bandwagon sail by without sneering uncharitably before making a half-arsed effort to hitch a ride, I too have come up with my own mechanic: I call this Copenhagen Positioning aka Schrödinger's resolution mechanic...

We have quantum ogres and quantum inventory: isn't it time for a quantum twist on everything?

Pea-brained milquetoast softboy mode

You and your friends are sat around a table pretending to be elves or whatever (the PCs), except one of you is pretending to be the Rest of Reality (RoR). The Rest of Reality describes the scene, and the others describe what their imaginary half-orc ninjas do in response. Based on their own understanding of the shared fiction, life experience and the hours and hours they've spent watching Mythbusters, the RoR then describes the outcome of the actions.

So far so "randomless group storytelling", right?


Any—and I mean any—person at the table may DISPUTE this resolution! Players then spend as long as the RoR deems reasonable to debate the outcome. When everyone's patience is worn paper thin, the RoR assesses how many possible outcomes remain on the table, assigns each one a number and rolls a die to determine which one occurs in the fictive world.

and that's it, really, a democratization of—


While the world progresses along this established timeline, the next time the waveform collapses (any disagreement between players about the outcome of an action) and player may rewind play to the previous scene of disagreement, and follow that timeline along!

It is the RoR's job to manage all possible timelines for all possible outcomes in all possible worlds, and also to ensure games are scheduled in a way that appeals to everyone else except them.

Ultra-Megabrained Multiple Simultaneous Paradigm (aka. "hard") Mode

You already know where this is going, don't you?

In hard mode, players agree to play out every possible outcome from every disputed action simultaneously: in short, at every point where some tedious 20th century analogue RPG would have you roll a die or dice, you character sheet (and that of every other PC) splits into multiple versions of itself. This is why we don't have character sheets in Copenhagen Positioning.

I can confirm that I have fully playtested both versions of this game with other members of the Invisible College, drinking a fine tokay and twirling our preposterous moustaches aboard my dirigible, cruising at least 100 feet above the burning wreckage of civilisation.

Happy fucking New Year.


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