Passionate Game Design

Misunderstood: Friendship Against The Harsh Cruel World

Misunderstood: The RPG of Friendship against the Harsh Cruel World.

Misunderstood is a game about members of various fringe interest cultures trying to salvage their friendships as they seek understanding from the harsh cruel world. The game is GM-less so everyone will create a character.  The game uses d6s.

First the group must decide on a peer group age range for the characters to fall into: High School (14-17), College (18-21), or by decade 20s, 30s, 40s, etc.  The truly brave may want to take on Jr. High (12-13) or Elementary School (5-11).

After that, players each pick a Fringe Cultural Interest that “No One Really Understands.” No two players may share the same Fringe Culture Interest.  There is at least some truth to the statement that not even your friends really get you.

Next, each player distributes 10 points between the three main stats of “I Feel Your Pain”, “I Get Where You’re Coming From” and “WTF man?”.  No score may be less than 1.

Each player then writes down the names of the other characters and puts three points next to each name.  These points are referred to as Friendship Points.

Finally a pool of dice is put in the center of the table.  This pool is called The Harsh Cruel World and has a number of dice equal to15 times the number of players. If you don’t have enough dice just write the number down and keep track of it.

Play starts with the player whose character has the highest value in “I Feel Your Pain”.  Ties are broken with “I Get Where You’re Coming From”.  Double ties are broken with “WTF man?”.  Three way ties are broken by whichever player is willing to take on more of The Harsh Cruel World in their first scene (see scene types below).  Turns then proceed in strict order to the right of the first player.  The Acting Player or the Acting Character refers to the player whose turn it currently is.

On his turn a player chooses one of three types of scenes to have his character participate in.  The three scene types are “Taking on the World”, “Friendship”, and “Outreach.”  However, Outreach scenes may only be chosen if the player’s previous turn was a Taking on the World or a Friendship scene and MUST be chosen if the previous turn was a Taking on the World scene.  Note: As a consequence no player may choose an Outreach scene as their first scene of the game.

Taking on the World scenes are about the acting character either interacting with members of his Fringe Culture Interest or non-members about his Fringe Culture Interest.  The acting player first describes the general locale and situation of where his character is and a sketchy outline of what his character is trying to achieve.  Then the acting player declares how much of the Harsh Cruel World he wishes to try and take on and pulls that many dice from the Harsh Cruel World pile.  Another player must then volunteer to introduce adversity into the seen by introducing something that stands in the way of what the active character wants to achieve.  The active player hands the Harsh Cruel World dice to this player.

The acting player then decides if he wishes to tackle the adversity with “I Feel Your Pain” (genuinely knowing and feeling what is required of him socially),  “I Get Where You’re Coming From” (understanding what is required of him socially but not really feeling it or even resenting it) or “WTF man?” (having no idea what is appropriate and acting with 100% awkwardness).

Note: For Taking on the World and Friendship scenes a player may not choose his highest score two turns in a row.

The acting player then rolls a number of dice equal to the stat they chose and totals the result.  The other player rolls The Harsh Cruel World dice and totals those. If the acting player’s total is higher then he achieves his goal and is generally well received by the social environment.  The acting player narrates how this comes to pass.  The rolled Harsh Cruel World dice are removed from the game and the acting player gains a number of Understanding Points equal to the number of dice.  If the other player’s total is higher then he narrates how the acting player’s character fails at his goal and is generally poorly received by the social environment.  The rolled Harsh Cruel World dice are returned to the pile plus an additional die.

Friendship Scenes are about interacting with everything not related to the character’s Fringe Cultural Interest.  Like Taking on the World scenes the acting player describes the general circumstances and what he is trying to achieve.  He also decides how much The Harsh Cruel World he wants to take on and grabs that many dice out of the pile.

However, he also chooses a second player to be involved in the scene.  A player who has zero Friendship Points with the acting player can not be chosen.  This second player then briefly narrates how he is involved in the scene.

Similar to Taking on the World scenes a third player must volunteer to narrate adversity into the scene.  The acting player then decides if he will respond with “I Feel Your Pain”, “I Get Where You’re Coming From” or “WTF man?”.  Again, the acting player may not use his highest score two scenes in a row.

The second player now has the option of siding with the acting player or subverting the active character’s goals with his own goal. If he sides with the acting player the second player contributes a number of dice equal to his Friendship Score with the acting player to the active player’s die pool. If he wishes to subvert the active character’s goal with his own goal he chooses which of “I Feel Your Pain”, “I Get Where You’re Coming From” or “WTF man?” he will roll himself.

If the second player has chosen to subvert the active character’s goal with his own, the first player now has the option of spending points from his Friendship Points with the second character to add dice to his roll.

The two or three pools are rolled, totaled and compared.  If the acting player’s total is highest he narrates how he achieves his goal and thwarts whatever obstacles were put before him. If the second player had sided with the active player he narrates how his actions play into the active character’s success.  The Harsh Cruel World dice are removed from the game and either the active player adds the equivalent number to his Understanding Points or if the second player aided him the two players split the points between them.

If the second player chose to subvert the active character’s goal and his total is highest he narrates how his character’s actions subvert the active character’s goals to his own end. The Harsh Cruel World dice are removed from the game and the second player adds the equivalent number to his Understanding Points.

If the third player’s total is highest then he narrates how the active and second characters fail in their goals with attention to whether the second player was attempting to subvert or not. The Harsh Cruel World dice plus one are returned to the pile.  Another die is added to the pile if the second player tried to subvert the active character.

Outreach scenes are the active character venting about the outcome of the active character’s previous scene (the one that occurred on their last turn) to another character.  First the active character picks the character they wish to vent to.  Both characters must have positive Friendship scores with each other.  The active character then narrates the surroundings in which the venting is taking place (it should be somewhere relatively secluded) and summarizes the venting.

The active player then secretly chooses a Venting Mode, either Save Me (if the character is genuinely looking for advice and understanding from the second character) or Hate Me (if the character is being self-destructive and is looking to just be a pain to the second character).  Then the second character openly chooses if they responding with “I Feel Your Pain”, “I Get Where You’re Coming From” or “WTF man?”.

Apply the mechanical result from the following chart:

Save Me + “I Feel Your Pain” = Active and Second Character both gain a Friendship Point.
Save Me + “Get Where You’re Coming From” = Active Character gains a Friendship Point, Second Character loses a Friendship Point.
Save Me + “WTF man?” = Active Character loses a Friendship Point, Second Character gains a Friendship Point..

Hate Me + “I Feel Your Pain” = Active and Second Character both lose a Friendship Point.
Hate Me + “I Get Where You’re Coming From” = Active and Second Character both gain a Friendship Point.
Hate Me + “WTF man?” = Active Character gains a Friendship Point, Second Character loses a Friendship Point.

Once the Outreach Scene is mechanically resolved both players involved narrate how their characters exit the scene.

The game ends when either The Harsh Cruel World is completely wiped out or a player is forced to frame an Outreach scene and can’t (due to having no mutually positive Friendship Scores with the other characters).

If the game ends by wiping out The Harsh Cruel World then the player with the highest Understanding narrates how he achieves recognition and understanding within his Fringe Cultural Interest.  Each other player then narrates an epilogue for their character.  If the character has a Friendship Score with the character who has the highest Understanding greater than the number of players then that player may opt to give up his own Fringe Cultural Interest and join (and gain minor recognition and understanding within) the Fringe Cultural Interest of the player with the highest Understanding.  Otherwise they remain misunderstood among their own pursuits.

If the game ends because a player must and can not frame an Outreach scene than that player must narrate how his character is responsible for the disbanding of the peer group as friends.  The player with the highest Understanding then narrates and epilogue for his character and has the option of abandoning his Fringe Cultural Interest for the pursuit of something else. Each other player then takes turns narrating an epilogue for their character, most likely involving how they end up alone and still misunderstood.

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