October Update

Spankers, Spankees, and Switches,

Haven’t been super productive this month, real life has been keeping me busy. But I’ve been chipping away at the next episode when I’ve got the time. Blubb2 over at AnimeOTK has been kindly helping me with some editing and feedback. Their suggestions have been very good, and very helpful, thanks Blubb2!

I’ve also been starting to give some thought to what comes after Scarlet Moon. I’ve been tight lipped about my longterm plans, mostly because they tend to change and I don’t want to set up false expectations. My current plan is to complete the first big myth arc (the “mysterious evil person”) in episode 10. So we’re getting pretty close. While I’ve been laying the foundation for some additional arcs, I think once I complete this arc I’ll slap a “Done!” sticker on it and call Scarlet Moon complete.

The question will be what comes after. Most likely, I’ll start up a Scarlet Moon 2. I still have plenty of story ideas, and I’m having lots of fun writing these characters. The advantage of starting a new game is that will give me the freedom to futz with things a little. In particular, I’m thinking that for a second game, I’ll move away from the current Wizardry-style RPG combat and to something more narrative. So “combat” will just be a sequence of narrative then skill check then more narrative then skill check. The player passes enough skill checks, they win. They fail enough checks, they lose.

This is mostly a time saving thing. As I get older, I have fewer large blocks of time. I can write prose a little bit here, and a little bit there. But writing and debugging code…for that I need a big chunk of time where I can’t be interrupted. So if I want to keep developing games (and I do!) I need to find a mechanically satisfying way of having less coding.

Fortunately, I think I have an idea! My inspiration is the Fate Roleplaying System. I think this is a *great* system for a spanking game for one very simple reason: It rewards the player for letting their character get in trouble! Basically, the only resource you have are “Fate Points” and you use fate points to help you pass skill checks. You get more fate points by taking “compels” which are basically “If you let this bad thing happen to your PC, you’ll get a Fate point that lets you be awesome later.”

This is actually really great, because I’ve struggled really hard to figure out how to incorporate PC spankings into the mechanics of a spanking game. The obvious thing to do is make the PC get spanked for failure, or doing something dumb, since spankings are punishments. This is more or less what happens in Pierce’s books (though you also get spanked for just existing). The problem is that this introduces clashing incentives: the player wants to do well at the game, but many also want to role play a brat whose constantly getting her ass smacked. That’s not satisfying. My approach for Scarlet Moon was to punt. Spankings have no mechanical impact, so you don’t have to play poorly to get your character spanked. However, that’s not satisfying either.

But if the player gets *rewarded* for letting the *PC* get punished…Hmm. Now your incentives align. You want to do well at the game, you’re gonna need Fate points. You want to get Fate points, gotta let your PC fail (or do something stupid) and get their ass smacked.

Furthermore, your character would also have “Aspects” that represent facets of your character, for example “Absent Minded Genius.” You need Aspects, because you can’t just spend and gain Fate points willy-nilly. There needs be an Aspect that justifies spending (or receiving) the Fate point. So for example, if you’re taking a test, you could spend a Fate point to “invoke” “Absent Minded Genius” to get a bonus on your roll to pass the test. If on the other hand, you’re in class, you can gain a Fate point by being “compelled” on “Absent Minded Genius” so that you’re not paying attention. These are really nice, because I’ve found that these aspects really get my creative juices flowing. If a possible aspect the player can have is “Absent Minded Genius” I find myself constantly asking the question “What kinds of challenges might the player encounter that an ‘Absent Minded Genius’ would excel at? What kind of situations would get such a person in trouble?”

To play around with the idea a bit, I started a side game that does what I have in mind. It’s nowhere near completion, but it should do a good job of giving people a taste: Samantha Stone. This is just a straight HTML file, so you’d have to track the state yourself. Obviously, for a Scarlet Moon sequel, I’d tweak the engine a bit (which won’t be hard) to track your Spankens and what not for you.

What are people’s thoughts? Does this seem like a fun idea? Any problems with it?

I know some people really like the combat, but my hope is that this system will allow me to give people a game that is both mechanically satisfying, and doesn’t require a ton of constant coding work on my end.

9 thoughts on “October Update

  1. I really like the concept presented with this. It reminds me of the karma thing from your other HTML game with the detective. I think it will work well with Scarlet Moon.

    The only thing i wasnt a fan of is how you can obviously tell which options lead to what outcomes. I enjoy in SM currently that you arent entirely sure what option is the good or bad one.

    But since each option here states that you gain or take a Spanken depending on your choice before you make it, I know how each action will play out. The “gain a spanken” one leads to that, a spanking. The “take a spanken” option leads to avoiding one.

    The only suggestion I can think of is putting the result of the action(gain or lose spankens) after the result of your choices so you can better mask the outcome of each action. Good work

    1. The tricky part here is that’s where the “game” part comes in. There are two elements to the gameplay if you want to be successful:

      1. Picking the choice that you think plays to your strengths.
      2. Deciding when to spend a Spanken, when to save a Spanken, and when to take a Spanken.

      So I feel like, hiding whether a given choice costs a Spanken, or nets you a Spanken would be like hiding your energy in the current game. It makes it impossible for you to properly manage your resources.

      That being said, there will still be choices with uncertainty . Those skill checks you don’t bypass (and there will be checks you don’t bypass, either because you don’t want to spend a Spanken, or none of your aspects apply) will be decided with a dice roll.

      Furthermore, the only thing I’ll make explicit will be gaining and spending Spankens. When you come up against an obstacle you need to overcome, which skill will be used will be hidden. So, let’s look at an example. Note that I’m assuming the player’s stats are Strength, Speed and Notice (Notice represents your situational awareness).

      START
      Buzzsaw tears a street light out of the concrete and swings it at Scarlet Moon.

      1. Invoke *Martial Artist*: Catch the street lamp, and roll with the momentum, using it to throw Buzzsaw through a wall.

      2. Catch the street lamp.

      3. Fling the street lamp sideways and lunge in to sock Buzzsaw in the face.

      4. Catch the street lamp and guide it into some power cords.
      END

      This is just one exchange (of probably three) in a fight. In the first choice, if the player has *Martial Artist*, they can spend a Spanken to win this exchange, no questions asked. If they don’t have this aspect, they don’t even see that option.

      Now, the other three all involve opposed skillchecks between you and Buzzsaw. *However* in all three the player is rolling their Strength. What varies is what skill Buzzsaw is rolling. In the second choice, it’s a straight Strength vs. Strength. This probably won’t end well for the player because Buzzsaw has a very high Strength. The third is your Strength vs. Buzzsaw’s Speed (how quickly can Buzzsaw swing the street lamp around to keep you from punching her?). Buzzsaw probably has decent Speed, so you’ll probably be ok here if your Strength is high. The third is your Strength vs her Notice (will she see what you’re trying to do before you do it?). She probably doesn’t good notice, so this one you only won’t have an advantage if you have a low strength.

      However, there’s some ambiguity in these choices. In the second case, it might be your strength or it might be your speed. The third case, again could be a potential Strength vs. Strength.

      So the player who wants to win has to decide which choice is most likely to give them an advantage, well aware that they might be misreading the situation. The rolls themselves will also be hidden, so it will never be clear from the game itself if the player chose “right” or if they got (un)lucky.

      Or if the player has *Martial Artist* they can spend a Spanken and remove that uncertainty.

      Would something like this give you what you want?

      1. Yes i think that seems intriguing. I also understand to desire to make it clear whether you are gaining or losing resources for strategy purposes. I guess the HTML version of your new game made it seem too transparent and I recognize that won’t necessarily be the case in the new game.

        Thanks. I appreciate the detailed response

        1. Yeah, the HTML game has to be super transparent, because the player is manually rolling dice and adding modifiers. Obviously, in a game with a proper engine, the computer will handle all the math, so that can be hidden from the player.

          In that sense, the HTML game isn’t a *great* example, but it was a quick and easy way for me to mess around with the concept.

  2. Seems like are really interesting idea, using the fate system sounds like a great way to create a fun and engaging story.
    While it’s hard to judge the idea as a whole yet, some problem I could see me having is.

    -I dislike random chances for success that you can’t overcome with strategy. A 4 of 6 chance for success on your good stat sometimes just feels like a 50% chance and not 66,6%.

    -It seem impossible to avoid being spanked in the long run which is something I enjoy trying to go for, like trying to go for a perfect score.

    But both those points might be completely moot, since a game build around Fate should focus on the story and not so much the “success” of the pc.

    -You might end up having people who wants the pc to get spanked, sitting on a whole bunch of Spanken points they aren’t using, and having the opposite happen to others.

    -Having the compel scenes unavoidable might lock some players out of big chunks of the game, for something chosen in character creation, like with the short playtest you made having Absent Minded Genius stop you from really playing any of the playtest.
    I do like that Fate allows players to spend a fate point to avoid being compelled, but it effectively costing 2 points since you could have gotten one by being compelled.

    But all in all, I think it would make a good game without any changes.
    Keep of the great work 🙂

    1. This is some great feedback. As far as your points:

      – Disliking random chance of success: So with a game based on Fate, you really have to approach the game with the mindset of “Failure is inevitable. My goal isn’t to avoid failure, but to decide when failure is acceptable and when it isn’t.” So your strategizing shouldn’t revolve around *avoiding* failure, but rather *controlling* it. At any given choice (where your aspects apply) you need to be asking yourself: Do I want to guarantee success here? Am I ok with failure here? Am I ok with letting the dice decide?

      Plus, I plan on making use of the various pacing tools Fate provides, especially contests (probably not conflict, those are too complex). I agree that a 66% chance isn’t much better than 50 for a single roll, but if you’re making three rolls, and need to succeed on two of them to win, I think a 66% chance of success becomes more significant. Especially if you can throw down a Spanken to guarantee you pass one of the checks.

      I can probably also include a setting in the options that remove the dice rolls. Basically, everyone always rolls a “0.” In this case, the game would be deterministic, and uncertainty would only stem from the player properly interpreting which skills will apply to a given choice, correctly guessing the relative stats of their opponents, and based on their hypothesis, deciding if it’s worth spending a Spanken or not.

      – Being impossible to avoid being spanked: Yeah, this one is tricky. I like the Fate system for a spanking game, because it rewards the player for failure, so you can have the PC get spanked for failure, without forcing the player to play poorly. On the other hand, Fate pretty much assumes that players will fail, so it’s really best for players who want to see their character get spanked at least some of the times, and turn the tables other times.

      That being said, I don’t expect that every compel will lead to a spanking, nor will every stat check failure. I will do my best to sprinkle enough spanking-less failures through the game that a spanking-less game is possible for somebody who knows the game really really well (or peeks at the transcript :P). So a spanking-less run will be a challenge game, intended for people replaying for the umpteenth time. The game really won’t be appropriate for exclusive tops.

      – People sitting on Spankens: This will probably happen. and I don’t know that it’s a bad thing? I could see it being fun playing a totally hapless heroine who just fails over and over again, and somehow things always work out in the end. My hope here is that the game will be compelling enough, and the villains dastardly/bratty enough that players will *want* to paddle them raw, at least the first time they play. So the players will have story-based incentives to spend Spankens, as opposed to gameplay-based incentives.

      I will probably also include a few invocations here and there that don’t necessarily let the player be a competent hero, but will let them see someone else spnaked (like say, convincing Juliana that this is her fault too, and she should get spanked, or successfully staying hidden and watching her get her big rump whapped). So even subby players will still have some incentive to spend their Spankens every now and then. In fact, considering how much delight every sub I know takes in seeing other people spanked, I think they would leap at the chance to spend some Spankens. 🙂

      I may also reset people’s Spankens between episodes, so they have a use-it-or-lose-it feel to them. That would incentive people to use them in the big climactic fight or whatever. This one’s very much up in the air though.

      – Unavoidable compel scenes: Compels will always be optional, and the player won’t have to spend a Spanken to avoid it. Keep in mind that there are actually two stages to a compel: First, everyone agrees that it is a reasonable compel. Second, players can choose to spend a Fate point to avoid it. If the table decides a compel isn’t reasonable, then the GM drops it, and Fate points are neither spent nor gained. Since I can’t discuss the compel with players to make sure they’re actually in-character, I’m not going to force them to take it, nor will I force them to spend a Spanken to avoid it. So in the playtest, even an Absent Minded Genius can remember the test, and sneak into the school if the player decides “No, this is important enough that even my space cadet character would remember it.”

      Also, gating content behind compels is actually probably a good thing. It encourages people to replay with different aspects, and it helps give their choice of aspects meaning.

      1. *Keep UP the great work* no idea how I misspelled that 😛

        –But yea, as I said the two first things are most likely moot points, was just my first thoughts, but I would need to try a bigger part of the game to really have an opinion in that regard.
        It seems like the kind of story where sometimes you need to sacrifice Scarlets butt for the greater good.
        And I do find it kinda funny that, my Scarlet goes from not having lost a fight or been spanked for months or however long the first game ends up having taken and then the universe shifts and now she is back to getting spanked.

        -Is it a bad thing people sit on spankens? I don’t think so, was just my first thought reading your post and just a reminder that those players should have something to use those points on.

        -Compel scenes: It was mostly from how that scene was worded “If you are an Absent Minded Genius you’ve already completely forgotten about the exam tomorrow. Take a Spanken, and dick around.” and the previous “If you are a Pretty Pampered Princess then the thought of anyone, but especially a teacher, smacking your bottom fills you with horrified, humiliated rage. Take a Spanken, leap to your feet, and shout angrily at Vivian.” I was afraid sometimes you would not have a choice.
        But I read the rules again and saw you wrote it was always optional.
        And I agree some content should only be reachable by having certain aspects, but losing out because of one you chose would suck.

  3. All of this is from someone who plays Scarlet Moon with combat turned off. I already view SM as a narrative adventure role-playing game, not a strategy game, but it’s still plenty a game. I play as both a hapless hero and a definitive defender, and already know wether I want to win or lose the skill checks and fights. When, for instance, I play “Peach Springs”, the object is not to find the perfect balance and master the game, but to excel (on easy) or fail miserably (on hard). Or to be frank, the object is to observe, dish out or receive spankings.

    So long as the game keeps track of stats and states, the Fate system could work really well. The idea of the MC having traits that affect the story (or at least how the story is presented) is a good one. My main concern is a selfish one: the games I enjoy the most are the ones where I put myself in place of the MC. Scarlet Moon is great for a variety of reasons, but important among those are that the protagonist has my name and characteristics. This is what really distinguishes it from being “just” a story I read. The MC looks like, acts like and thinks like me. I’m the one spanking Princess or surrendering to Midnight.

    To summarise, the system is really promising as a mechanic for still getting to the end of the story while being able to top and bottom your way through the challenges. I hope you find a great balance for all kinds of playing styles.

    1. That’s my goal! Certainly, all the customization that exist now isn’t going anywhere. Scarlet Moon 2 will use the same basic engine. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the only real change I’ll need to make is adding the ability to hide choices (i.e. hiding invocations and compels for aspects the PC doesn’t have). That and rip out the painfully complicated combat code. That will be nice.

      And if there are any personality traits, quirks, or whatever you have that you’d like me to capture with an aspect or two, let me know! You can either give me the aspect directly, or a vague sense of what you’d like the aspect to capture.

      To maintain my sanity, there will likely only be six aspects available, and the player chooses three. Crafting good aspects that capture a variety of different styles of Scarlet Moon, and that can be used for good and mischief will probably be the hardest part of the game (and the most important).

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