Stakes in Geiger Counter

January 1, 2009

Listening to Day 2 of Paul Tevis’ Have Games Will Travel: For a Few Games Moremas (really, Paul?) got me thinking about how stakes-setting works in Geiger Counter.

In Geiger, the stakes of a confrontation (which are intentionally not called “conflicts”) are pretty much always the same: does the character gain a condition? If you win the roll against the menace, your character does not get a condition and manages to escape somehow. If you lose, you gain a condition. The condition itself is currently not part of the stakes, but determined afterwards, by the character’s player.

Geiger uses what is basically “fortune at the beginning.” When the confrontation begins (i.e. someone is attacked or in danger), you roll to determine if a condition is gained by the end of the confrontation. If the character fails, their player picks an appropriate condition. Then, the players play out the scene, aiming for the result that has already been predetermined, but perhaps also surprising themselves along the way through their interactions.

Honestly, while this works pretty well in play, I’m not sure it’s the most interesting way to handle stakes. Could stakes be declared before rolling? Could both players have stakes that could both come to pass, similar to how ties damage both parties? Not sure yet, but I’m thinking about it.

EDIT: While walking the dog, I think I might have come across something. What if, before rolls happen, the attacking player(s) declared, um, hazards, potentially negative, condition-causing dangers that surround the interaction? So, if two players are arguing, I might declare: “Unbeknownst to both of us, but noticed by the camera, we’re standing next to an open mine shaft that drops down into the abyss.” Consequently, if we roll and I get a condition, I can pick “Trapped” or “Injured” with the idea that there’s a struggle and I end up falling down the mine shaft. That’s not 100% there, but it might make things flow a bit easier.

3 Responses to “Stakes in Geiger Counter”

  1. Mo Says:

    What if, before rolls happen, the attacking player(s) declared, um, hazards, potentially negative, condition-causing dangers that surround the interaction?

    Isn’t this like Otherkind?

    More pie, Walton.

  2. Jonathan Walton Says:

    A bit, but Otherkind is more fortune-in-the-middle, in that you roll dice and then place them based on your preferences for various positive and negative outcomes, which makes declaring the negative stuff beforehand important. This would be declaring them as a potential path for the fiction (so, in that it’s similar), but otherwise different.

    Pie is baking. Should have some more by tomorrow.

  3. Mo Says:

    Oh… hrm. I still don’t get it, but it is entirely possible that the Otherkind mechanic I think I know (from an experiment in a solo game with Brand) isn’t the actual Otherkind mechanic by the book.


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