Final Verse

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Final Verse (working title)
 Creator(s) Aldante Fax
 Base System None
 Genre(s) Musical
 Dice Required Songs

Introduction: They're Calling for You

The woods have gone quiet. It is never a good sign, for that means predators are lurking about. The rest of the group gathered behind me, warily drawing their weapons. "We should move faster, Caelan," says one of the younger, newer members of this party. He does not know that it is part of our life to meet conflict head-on, to stare bravely into the face of danger. A pack of dire wolves comes forth from the forest, the drool dripping from their snarling maws.

And then we break into song.

Final Verse is a game that came up one dark and rainy night in #partyhard with a simple premise: fuse karaoke and traditional games together. Sounds pretty lame, doesn't it? It gets better. This is a game specifically geared for a play by post (ie forum-based) environment, where people have the time to take as many cuts of their singing as they like. The mechanics of this game are straightforward! Whether or not your singing ability is up to snuff is a different matter altogether.

Only those with strong vocal chords survive in this world. This is Final Verse.

Gameplay Mechanics

The crux of Final Verse is getting both the players and the game master to sing. A large majority of the game is involved around singing - in fact, the entire game is based around singing. In order to execute actions, players must have to choose a song that is appropriate to the action they are performing. For example, someone attempting to climb a sheer cliff would invite their player to sing Ain't No Mountain High Enough, for example. If they have chutzpah, they could even try to invite disaster by composing their own tunes (not recommended unless they are seriously awesome at singing)!

What you need to play this game:

  • Access to a computer
  • Working microphone (any)
  • Recording software (any)
  • Connection to the internet!

Taking Actions

The only actions that a player in Final Verse need be worried about are cinematic actions of dramatic calibre. Getting out of bed, walking down the street, and sitting at the pub are too mundane. There is no explicit conflict or challenge in these activities! However, waking up and attempting to escape a burning building from the third story, shadowing an important maestro as he leaves his abode to go to a muzak club (the fiend!), or having a drinking contest with the local irongut are all things that qualify a skill check, and thus, a song!

Action Procedure

Actions are pretty easy in Final Verse (relatively speaking)! All you have to do is declare what action you wish to take (cast a magical spell which will cause a forest to come alive, take the advantage in a duel of blades, and so forth), find an appropriate song, and then record yourself singing that song! Your margin of success is on a sliding scale based on what the other players and the game master thinks of your performance - if it is entertaining, then you make it! If it is well-executed, you get a critical success! If you leave the other players speechless (in a good way), you have free reign over dictating the course of that action!

Some of you may be thinking, "I like playing RPGs, but I don't like singing! in fact, I hate singing!" Well, you can go play another game! People who enjoy singing need only apply to this game. If you are willing to put forth some effort and belt out some tunes, then you can play Final Verse. Just make sure you're playing with people who'll rate you nicely.

  1. Declare action
  2. Declare song
  3. Record song
  4. Other players and GM rate song
  5. Resolve action based on overall song rating

1. Declaring An Action

As mentioned above, only actions that would basically be awesome, outside of normal mundane actions, and so on apply here. You can sing about totally mundane things, but that's not making a skill check - that's just singing for the hell of it, and that's cool. An action in the context of the rules is something that is a conflict or challenge.

Ask yourself these questions if you are unsure:

  • Is there an opportunity for failure by taking this action? If yes, sing a song.
  • Is this action above and beyond the scope of normal, mundane actions? If yes, sing a song.
  • Would the inclusion of a song make this action more entertaining? If yes, you damn well better sing a song.

2. Declaring A Song

Once you have declared your action, you must find a song suitable in order to execute it. If you don't have a song to sing, then you're out of luck - your in-game persona does not have the energy to perform the action that you desire! You can ask for suggestions from your fellow players if you are desperate or out of ideas. Choosing songs that are in good taste or challenging may influence how people rate you - so choose wisely! Currying favor with your judges is something pretty awesome.

I Have Run Out of Songs

Well, that's a bummer. You can recycle songs if you want, but try to be creative with how you sing them! If you get better at singing a song, maybe your resulting score will be better in the long run! Practice makes perfect and all that. If everybody runs out of songs, you should end the game, or at least the session! Maybe in a week or two you will have people come back to your game with fresher songs or new ideas on how to use older, already used songs.

Reusing Songs

For the sake of going out on a limb, it is preferred that you look for new songs rather than constantly revisiting the same ones over and over again. On the other hand, there are only a finite amount of songs that are about stabbin' people and the like. If you honestly can't find another song covering the topic you are looking for and you can't stretch for another song that is tangentially related, perhaps you can turn it over to the community at large! You can also Russian Roulette it and choose the first song that comes up on your master playlist that has lyrics - or, better yet, someone else can choose a song for you! Experiment with different ways to approach choosing songs and you will find that it will be some time before you run out of ammunition for whatever topic you might need a song for.

3. Now, sing, damn you, sing

Of course, you can sing wherever you please, but you should have a recording device handy that will let you post your take on a song to the 'net - namely, a microphone and a sound recording program. Using a free program such as Audacity or something similar will yield acceptable results - however, your particular group may have more exacting standards. Nevertheless, this is one of the key parts of Final Verse - if you don't sing, you can't make your skill check! Once you have finished recording and done whatever you feel is necessary to the recording, upload it and share it with your gaming group (and quite possibly the internet at large) and see how you did.

4. Rating

Now, it sounds like this portion is self-serving, but we all know the truth - other people will tell you if you're a bad singer. Nicer people will tell you that you need some work, and give you some pointers. In any case, your song will be rated based on the following categories:

  • Theme: Does this song fit in theme with the game? Level of appropriateness (subject to the judges) will be rated accordingly. -2 to +2
  • Performance: Does the player sing good? Bad? Was s/he at the very least entertaining to listen to, or did you have to mute the song half the way through because it was just no good? Scale 1 - 11
  • Selection: This reflects the opinion of the judges' taste in music. If they feel you have made a suitable choice (or an excellent choice!) then you will be awarded accordingly. Note that if you make a choice in bad taste, the judges reserve the right to call you on it! -2 to +2
  • X-Factor: This is a catch-all category for any and all things that do not fall under the above categories. If the player really put forward effort or just didn't seem to be into it, you can choose to add or take away points based on that. Bonuses do not have to be explicitly justified, but if there was something that you liked about the song but quite couldn't put your finger on, then use this category to rate accordingly. -5 to +5

5. Margin of Success

After the song has been reviewed by the other players and the GM, the score is tallied and a group average will show what your overall score is. Really, if you guys want to not be fair and just give everybody the highest ratings ever, it doesn't matter so much. If you sang, you deserve at least a pat on the back. To that end, here is the success table!

  • 0 - 5: Failure. People have to unanimously think you didn't put any effort into this one for your rating to be so low! You fail the skill check, and get to contemplate why you suck so bad.
  • 6 - 10: Success! You did passably well, and even if you are a crumby singer, at least you have decent taste in music, right? At least, you have enough taste to apply appropriate music (if a bit cliche) to a situation. Your desired result happens.
  • 11 - 20: Critical success! Your taste in music and your tolerable singing win the day. Not only do you succeed in the action you are doing, you also get limited narrative control over what the action does - you can give bonuses to yourself, or penalties to the opponent, or whatever. You have the ability to use one minor effect to change the scene to your advantage.
  • 21+: Par excellence. You have chosen the right song at the right time, and it just so happens everybody thinks you put forth a splendid effort! This category is reserved for people who have gone above and beyond the normal rules and really put some effort into making their song of choice *work*: adding their own instrumental accompaniment, engaging other players in a duet or something similar, modifying a song's lyrics to more accurately fit your in character situation (and having it work!), recording a video of yourself doing a dramatic performance of the song; all these things deserve extra recognition, and show that at least some players are having a good time. The end result is you should let your players perform the actions they do and give them a fair to great amount of narrative control to dictate how the course of events goes. This may involve your story radically altering, but you should be all on board for that, because this guy just wowed your socks right off!

Setting, Fluff, etc.

Players are musical-type people who are in a fairy tale-esque world (be it Disney fairy tales or dark gritty fairy tales, your pick as the game master). In reality, it can be more akin to PDQ, where any setting is appropriate due to the way the game is structured - if there's a cool setting that your players would like to play in, such as being Space Pirates, Swashbucklers, Secret Agents, and so on, then by all means go with that! Nobody is going to stop you.

NOTE: Some settings may not be the most appropriate for a game of this type due to the difficulty of finding songs that are appropriate to sing. Use your best judgment when deciding what your setting will be.

That's It!

If you have any questions or comments, please use the discussion page and let me know what you think of this. Realistically speaking, it may not be viable on a more public forum like Something Awful, however in smaller communities it may be something that people might enjoy.