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I gather the Smallville RPG has innovative mechanics. In what way are they innovative?

(Particularly, I've heard that they're like indie RPGs. That's what I'm interested in, but it's also harder to quantify, which is why I'm asking about innovation.)

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There are a number of elements in the Smallville RPG that are potentially derived from the indie scene and could be called "innovative."

  • Rather than physical or mental characteristics, the main attributes of a Smallville character are Values based on their dedication to certain theme elements — Duty, Glory, Love, Truth, Justice, and Power — and their Relationships to the other Lead or Feature characters. Clark Kent might find himself rolling Love + Lois Lane to save her from an oncoming truck, or Justice + Lex Luthor to try and capture him.
  • Players create characters together using a lifepath system combined with a mind-map, making connections to each other and to the campaign world as they go. It's pretty intricate.
  • Rather than dealing damage, characters inflict Stress on their opponents: Insecure, Afraid, Angry, Exhausted, and Injured. Stress leads to giving you extra dice in contests against them, and potentially being Stressed Out, which can take you from the scene. The other option is Giving In, which means you let the opposition have their way, possibly at a price or a cost.
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I believe that RPG.net had an interesting article about it -- basically, instead of the standard "attribute plus skill", it changed the focus to "attribute plus motive". If your character is about honor, then you do better at things that focus on honor.

So, it's less simulation and more story-telling -- instead of letting the best person win, it's more "this person should win, so she does."

I'm typing this from memory, so I'd suggest doing a google search on the RPG.net article.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This may be the review in question, but it covers a lot more territory than just what is asked for in this query. rpg.net/reviews/archive/15/15019.phtml \$\endgroup\$
    – Iszi
    Nov 19 '10 at 21:35

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