Hello, fellow members of Snafu. I realize I am still relatively new here, and have joined only one game so far. Thus, I can understand why you may not be interested in giving me your attention, much less your votes. I just thought this would be a decent time to propose an idea, since no others have taken off recently, and I just started my summer break. Also, I swear this was not inspired by the Scooby-Doo pitch. I was toying with the idea previously.
“Envy aims very high.” –Ovid
Short version: A group of random people from various walks of life are invited to a Halloween party by an eccentric billionaire. The host has promised to grant each guest a wish, either through his money or influence, if they manage to stay in a supposedly haunted house for one night. Unbeknownst to most of these guests, at least one murderer walks in their midst. Ooooooohhh, spooky.
Purpose: This game is an attempt to reemphasize the “Game” part of RPG. Rather than simply giving a setting for a few characters to bump around in until the players get bored, Envy has been planned with a short time frame in mind (one in-game night), and a definite win condition (if you survive, you win). Envy is also different in the number of rules I would like to employ. Since the main competition should be between players, and not the players against the GM, these rules are intended to maintain an equal playing field. It is my belief that the rules will make the overall experience more enjoyable, but they are open to some discussion if a significant number of potential players are dissuaded by them. Finally, I intend to maintain a level of mystery concerning some points of this game. This secrecy could easily be misinterpreted as a lack of planning. Hopefully the amount of information I provide here will suggest otherwise.
Location: Broadly, this will take place in a world closely resembling present-day Earth. Most geographical and historical information still applies. However, I would like to refrain from using real people, companies, and brands that currently, or up until recently, exist/existed. Substitutes will be used for important cultural icons. For example, World War Two still would have taken place, but McDonald's would be replaced by another massive, imaginary fast-food chain, like Burger Zone or Patty's or some other stupid thing. These don't have to be all that serious, and should only come up in conversations, so I'll leave it up to players to come up with these replacements whenever they need to mention one in conversation. However, once a substitute person or company is established, it continues to exist for the rest of the game.
The game will take place entirely within the grounds of a historical (fictional) property known as Thorpe Manor. It is a mansion built on North Fox Island, in Lake Michigan. There are usually no ferries that go back and forth to the island, but your host has made arrangements for your transportation. I (will) have a map of Thorpe Manor planned out, including plans for the functions of each room and the locations of various objects within said rooms. However, since no player character will have been in the mansion previously, you will only be provided with details from the sections of the map that your character discovers in-game.
Host: Peter Voland tries to avoid public scrutiny, though it's difficult for a billionaire. He manages it by being boring and reclusive most of the time. However, the man has had his streaks of strange behavior, primarily handing out large sums of money publicly in exchange for the completion of arbitrary tasks. This is the first Halloween party he has held, as far as any of the guests know. Peter is 38, relatively young for his wealth. Most of Voland's fortune is derived from the founding and control of SupraMorph Corporation, which specializes in genetically-engineering fungi or something. Varying levels of additional information will be provided for each player based on how closely his or her character follows current events, scientific publications, and/or business news.
The primary functions of the GM will be monitoring rule compliance and establishing atmosphere. To remain unbiased, the GM will control relatively few characters, and will not try to win. If I do, and nobody else does, at least one of us has done something wrong.
Players: Envy should have a minimum of four players. I would rather not accept votes from people simply wishing to observe. They won't get to see all that much, anyway, since I would like to use PMs heavily. I won't set a maximum number of players. The saying goes “the more, the merrier,” plus I don't think I'm popular enough that I will get too many applications to handle. That said, there will be a cut-off date for entry, the date we start the game at the latest. Once we begin, there just won't be any opportunities to introduce new characters.
Secrecy: As mentioned before, I want the players to be in the dark somewhat. There are two reasons for this. First, it is more fair. If everyone is omniscient, even if their characters aren't, they have an incentive, a temptation, to move their characters in the direction that conveniently happens to be the most favorable to their ends. These optimal actions can be often made with some sort of in-character justification, but they can make a game too much a cut-and-dry strategy competition. Second, I think it will be more fun. It's a new experience, at least for me, and it generates suspense.
Therefore, there will be two basic ways to classify actions: public actions and private actions. Public actions will only occur when all characters are in one area, and will be posted in an IC thread. The majority of actions, though, will be private, meaning they have some audience smaller than the total number of (living) characters. All private actions should be sent to the GM, not anyone else, via PM. Characters will only be alerted of others' private actions if they can perceive them, and then only to a limited extent. For example, if a character is a room over from two others, he might hear them having a conversation, but not the words they're saying. He can react by moving closer and trying to eavesdrop if he chooses, but if the others catch him sneaking up, they might stop talking, if the subject is delicate.
As the example above suggests, private actions can either be considered private due to characters simply being far apart (unintentional), or because a character actually don't want to be noticed (intentional). If you want to attempt a stealthy maneuver or whisper something to a confidant with potential witnesses around, mention the target audience in your PM to me.
Collusion: Cooperation amongst characters is expected. However, out-of-character cooperation, such as sharing secret information and carrying out complex strategies that have not been agreed upon in-game, is frowned upon. It would be difficult for me to identify violations of this rule, and I would have only limited available recourse, but the cheapening of your potential victory should be deterrent enough. Also, it may be within the interest of other players to lie to you.
Killers: I refuse to discuss the nature, number, and/or selection process of the antagonists of this game publicly, until the game ends. Player speculation is welcome, though.
Character Sheet: Initially, most of this information will not be public. I might want you to divulge one or two of the fields, just so players know how to describe your character's physical appearance, but most of the details below will not be readily apparent to everyone. If they are revealed through public actions or conversations, they should be added to your public profile.
A Note: Making your character a statistical anomaly or an extreme does not automatically make them interesting.
Name: The person’s actual name, including any nicknames or titles.
Gender: Pretty simple field.
Sexuality: I would be surprised if any characters managed to get freaky in the short amount of time, but it may become relevant in other, less graphic interactions.
Age: Not too young, not too old. Please include birthday. For reference, Envy will begin October 31, 2014, at 8:00 PM, in-game time.
Birthplace: I would like the characters to have spent at least a couple recent years in the United States, but you can be from almost anywhere in the world.
Appearance: Height, weight, body stuff. Include things like common tics or expressions.
Costume: Your character was invited to a Halloween party of moderate class. Costumes could be as simple as a suit/dress with a mask, or a little more elaborate.
Stats: See Stats Section for below more information.
Other Skills: Anything your character is specifically proficient in. Include a small explanation of how adept they are at each skill. I do not expect a single character to be an expert in a large number of non-correlated tasks. A couple is reasonable, but we don’t need a hang-gliding, kung fu hacker, who also happens to be an Olympian and a doctor.
Degree of Fame: Should be number between 0 (anonymous) and 10 (Oprah- or Jesus-level celebrity). A person that is famous will have more of their information made public initially. If your character is considerably famous, explain why.
Political Affiliation: This should be a simple description (conservative, liberal, etc.) and a number (0 through 10). The number represents how intensely the character holds these convictions. A person with a 0 wouldn't care at all about politics, and a 10 would be a fanatic. I don't expect big political debates between characters, but it is something you should consider for fleshing your character out.
Religious Affiliation: Again, I don't expect this type of aspect to be the focus of your character, but it could potentially add depth. A minimum of one word (Christian, atheist, etc.) and a value (0 still means you don't care, 10 still means you are a fanatic).
Personality: Rather than ask for a written description, I would like you to measure your character's personality using the Five Factor Model. For each factor, rate your character on a scale from 0 to 10. A 0 will represent an extreme on the left side of the “vs.” and a 10 will represent an extreme on the right.Here is a link to the Wikipedia article, which should be sufficient
Openness to Experience: consistent/cautious vs. inventive/curious
Conscientiousness: easy-going/careless vs. efficient/organized
Extraversion: solitary/reserved vs. outgoing/energetic
Agreeableness: cold/unkind vs. friendly/compassionate
Neuroticism: secure/confident vs. sensitive/nervous
Preferences: Likes and obsessions, dislikes and fears. Note that there are some really obvious things that most people like or dislike, so telling me that your character hates genocide is dumb.
Wish(es): Somewhat similar to ambitions or goals. Your character was invited to this event under the pretense that he/she could have a wish granted to you by a wealthy, influential man. What might your character be planning on wishing for? Also, it is important that your character has at least a vague desire in mind, because they would not attend without any motivation.
Background: I don't really need a childhood history, unless you think it would be important in shaping your character. Touch on key points that would impact what the person says or does.
Job(s): Current or most recent employment.
Relationships: Not just romances. Not everyone is a lone wolf. Briefly mention close family, friends, perhaps a significant pet. We will meet none of the people in this section, unless you collaborate with another player so that your characters know each other beforehand.
Notes: Anything you wanted to add, but didn’t fit into one of the other categories.
Interest in Being a Killer: This is not the interest of the character, but of the player. If you would like to be the, or one of the, killer(s) in the game, put something like “Interested” or “Yes.” I may take this into consideration, or I may ignore it.
You may distribute a total of 35 points per character in the attributes listed below. Values between 1 and 10 may be assigned, though more extreme values seem less likely. The values will then be used to determine your success in actions and challenges that require the use of those attributes. A simple example would be pushing a heavy object, which would only require Strength. A more complex example would be firing a gun, which would take Agility to handle properly and Perception to aim.
Make sure that your distribution makes sense for your background and appearance. Is an Olympian runner going to be slow? Is a detective going to be blind? If you answered both of these questions with “no,” then congratulations. You probably have a couple points in Intelligence. By extension, and if this was not clear already, zeroes are not allowed, as they are ridiculous. If you had a zero in Intelligence, you'd be brain-dead. If you had a zero in Agility, you'd be a flailing mass of limbs on the ground.
Strength: How much force you can apply to objects. If you're going to be lifting, pushing, pulling, jumping, or hitting, you're going to need Strength.
Endurance: How long you can sustain a challenging activity without rest, whether it be physical or mental. Whether it's jogging, standing completely still, resisting the effects of a drug, or listening to an annoying person speak, there's some toughness and willpower involved.
Speed: How quickly you can get to a given location, or get away from it. A character's top speed, regular walking speed, and perhaps even arm-swinging speed (for swimming?) would be based in this attribute. Pretty basic, but if you're planning on doing a lot of walking, it could come in handy.
Agility: How potent your balance, hand-eye coordination, and reaction time are. Sneaking requires Agility, as would technical skills like lock-picking, playing the piano, and handwriting.
Perception: How easily you notice sights, sounds, etc. The more points in Perception you have, the more easily little details will stick out for you, perhaps seem out of place. Noticing the right thing in the nick of time might just save your life. Sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste, and perhaps even ESP (admittedly a long-shot) would be based in Perception.
Intelligence: How much information you can mentally store, and already have, concerning a wide range of topics. Intelligence would include knowing facts concerning any number of fields of study, photographic memory, and/or critical thinking skills. I'd say “Knowledge is power,” but that's something a nerd would say. Nerd.
Personality: How generally likeable you are, and how easy it is for you to debate, persuade, and flat-out lie. You might not be the strongest person in the room, but with enough Personality you can convince the strong-man (or strong-woman, I'm not one to judge) to do your bidding. Of course, he (she) might be just as charismatic, or could figure out what you're up to.
That's all I've got for now. Of course I'm willing to answer questions about it, and I'm looking forward to some constructive feedback.