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Archive => Indie Game Design => Topic started by: TonyLB on September 15, 2004, 11:36:52 AM



Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: TonyLB on September 15, 2004, 11:36:52 AM
The current text of Capes is here (http://home.earthlink.net/~albasch/Capes/Capes%20Temp.pdf).

The system represents situations as a set of Complications.  Heroes and villains can place Stakes on these Complications, to represent their moral investment in how things turn out.  They benefit if they win the Complication, and suffer if they lose it, in direct proportion to their Stakes.

The current rules require all Complications to resolve.  A Scene doesn't end until the Complications have resolved.  Unfortunately this often means spending a lot of time resolving things after the Scene should (by all rights) have already ended.  It slows down the progress of the game.

We've had a lot of discussion (a lot) about the prospect of keeping unresolved Complications hanging around as Issues.  Nobody ever figured out how to make it work.

But Thomas brought up a point in discussing the possibility of adding a "neutral die" to the Complications, and I'd like to isolate it and explore it.  I propose that Complications don't need to resolve.  Specifically:
  • When a Page (essentially a Round) ends with the Victory Target for the scene met, no further pages occurs in that scene.
  • Any Complications that do not have Stakes resolve according to their current Control levels.
  • Any Complications with Stakes do not resolve.
  • Stakes are handed back, with neither benefit nor penalty accruing.
  • Nobody gains future advantage (i.e. Inspirations)
  • In the story this means that something interrupted the conflict before anything was decided.[/list:u]
    Quote from: Example #1
    Information complication resolves, ending the scene.  Romance complication (with Stakes) does not resolve:

    Marcus:  Why, when I saw you tied to that obelisk, Peggy Marie, I thought...
    Peggy Marie:  Yes?
    Marcus:  I realized that I... I...
    Peggy Marie:  YES???
    Marcus:  Peggy Marie, I lo...
    Professor:  Wait!  That's it!  The obelisk is the key!  Marcus, we must get to the mid-town museum immediately!  Time is of the essence!
    Marcus:  Now?  Prof, I was just in the middle of...
    Professor:  Of!  The!  Essence!
    Marcus:  Alright... <sigh>... let's go.

    Quote from: Example #2
    Red Menace and Captain Liberty break to open combat against each other (over ideology, of course) in the early game.  They both stake three Justice on Clobbering against each other.  

    Bystanders are endangered by the villain, and they both leap to help.  Resolving that Complication ends the scene, interrupting their super-powered slugfest in its tracks.

    Red Menace:  I will not waste my time upon you while the People need my strength!
    Captain Liberty:  Agreed!  There is plenty of time to show you the error of your ways after Nuclear Winter and his Isotope Band are defeated.
    Red Menace:  A truce, until then?
    Captain Liberty:  And not a moment longer.

    They take back their three tokens in Justice.  In the fight against Nuclear Winter's fiendish plot, both Red Menace and Captain Liberty work off these Tokens on other ideological battles.  When the Epilogue arrives, neither of them has a Justice Token to their name.

    Captain Liberty:  I misjudged you, Menace.  Whatever your mistaken ideals, you are a true friend of the people.  I would not fight someone that I have come to think I would be proud to call a friend.
    Red Menace:  Nor would I strike a man I would be glad to call comrade.
    Captain Liberty:  [wincing]  Don't use that word, alright?
    Red Menace: "Comrade"?  It's a perfectly normal word, everyone uses it.
    Captain Liberty:  But when you say it I know you're thinking something else.
    Red Menace:  Oh, so now you can read minds?  You just...

    fade to black


    So... is this crazy?  Or might it actually work as a way to both create unresolved tensions and to speed the end-game of a Scene?


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: LordSmerf on September 15, 2004, 03:31:19 PM
Very interesting.  I will go ahead an appoint myself as Devil's Advocate here.  What about Complications that demand immediate attention?  The burning orphanage, in which you have Staked 2 Hope is unresolved when i defeat the Villains plot to rob the bank...  I get those two Debt tokens back and we pretend the fire never happened?

Thomas


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: TonyLB on September 15, 2004, 05:37:43 PM
I really don't know.  That's the question that's been preying on my mind too.  Here's my initial thoughts.  I'm not at all sure I'm satisfied by them.

The downside on Bystanders is pretty obvious.  The question that's bouncing around in my mind is "What is the predicted upside to the hero winning the Complication, and what (therefore) can be done that permits neither the upside nor the downside to happen?"

Essentially, if any Complication becomes a situation where heroic victory is defined by nothing more than the absence of villainous victory, the "unresolved complication" system is going to take a beating.  But I think that story-drama takes a beating too.  I think most of the time heroic victory is about something more than "stopping the bad guys".  

If the heroes expected to be praised and respected for saving the orphans (for example) I could see the orphans being rescued by someone else as a suitable interruption.

Quote from: Example #3
Clobbering resolves, ending the scene.  Bystanders (with Stakes) is unresolved.

Newscaster:  In the midst of a superpowered combat in mid-town today, firefighters raced to rescue the occupants of the burning Santa Maria Orphanage.  While the children are all accounted for, five fire-fighters are in nearby Mount Sinai hospital, in critical condition.  The families of the fire-fighters have requested that any flowers and cards be coordinated through "Mundane Heroism Charities", at 1-800-....


Sydney (I'm pretty sure) recommended an explicit phase where this is defined for a Complication.  That would address some of these issues, but it also restrains people from realizing/discovering what the Complication is about during play, which is something I rather like.


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: LordSmerf on September 16, 2004, 09:43:56 AM
The question then becomes: how do you know which outcome happens?  Editor decision?  I can see that working, but it puts the power of "tone" very much in the Editor's hands.  Basically the Editor can influence (quite powerfully) how dark the world is since he can choose "The orphans die" vs. "The orphans are saved by someone else".

Not that it would not work, but it would change the narrative dynamic.

Thomas


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: TonyLB on September 16, 2004, 09:50:29 AM
No, I miscommunicated.  The issue is not "The orphans die" vs. "the orphans are rescued by someone else".

If the Complication is "The orphans die" vs. "Heroes rescue the orphans and become famous" then the trick is to provide neither of these options.  "The orphans are rescued by someone else" was an example of how you could do that.


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: Doug Ruff on September 16, 2004, 10:15:21 AM
I think there is a link here between this 'Bystanders complication unresolved' problem and the 'Conversational Dominance' problem from the Actual Play thread.

The Bystanders complication not resolving before the end of a scene is a problem; Conversational Dominance resolving too early in the other scene was also a problem.

If I may suggest, this is because there should be a clear difference between a Complication and a Goal. I think I've brought this up before, but it's especially pertinent here.

Let's assume that there is a bank raid in progress. The Goal of the Villains is to 'escape with the loot'. The aim of the Heroes is to 'arrest the Villains'. This is the key conflict of the Scene.

My feeling is that the Scene ends when this conflict resolves. Any other Complications are just that - Complications.

So, where does this leave the Bystanders? A truly evil Villain isn't going to care about whether bystanders get hurt or not, therefore a Bystanders Complication is only a Complication for the Heroes! If they fail to resolve the Complication before the key conflict (and therefore the Scene) resolves, then they have 'lost' the Complication. How they lose it (dead bystanders, or they rescue themselves, or they are rescued by a third party) is a matter of style.

Therefore the Villain should pay for this Complication. He's deliberately endangering the Bystanders, as a way of slowing down the Heroes.

I'm not sure yet how the Villain should pay for this (Prominence? Mayhem Points?) but as long as there is a way for the Villain to chuck stuff like this at the Heroes, then I'm sure he'll use it!

Would like opnions on whether this is a sound concept before I get all excited about it, though.

Regards,

Doug


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: TonyLB on September 16, 2004, 12:53:11 PM
What happens if the players decide they are less interested in stopping the villain from escaping than in saving the bystanders?

Is this a valid choice for them to make, leading to a story just as entertaining as if they view the villain as the most important thing and the bystanders as only a hindrance to arresting the villain?


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: Doug Ruff on September 16, 2004, 01:05:38 PM
Quote from: TonyLB
What happens if the players decide they are less interested in stopping the villain from escaping than in saving the bystanders?


That's exactly the point - there are now two conflicts (dice on each side of a card) for the Heroes to choose from. They can take their turn attempting to save the Bystanders (and roll up their side of this Complication) or they can further the main Goal of nabbing the Villains (and roll up their side of the 'key conflict') but they can't do both during the same action.

And IMHO, it's a totally valid choice. If the Villains get away as a result, then it's time to look for clues and track them back to their Secret Vilainous HQ - I don't see a problem with that!

Used this way, coplications are a way of extending the overall story, without necessarily extending an individual session of conflict (which still ends when the Goal resolves.)

Regards,

Doug


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: TonyLB on September 16, 2004, 02:00:23 PM
Yes, but if they're far behind on Bystanders, and they let the villain escape to try to save them... doesn't that resolve the Bystanders, fricaseeing all the orphans?


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: Doug Ruff on September 16, 2004, 10:31:10 PM
Very good point, Tony. I missed that consequence (Doh!)

Another way of considering this is if the Heroes decide that rescuing the Bystanders is more important, they have switched (or split) their Goal!

Maybe Staking becomes the answer now:

At the start of a Scene, define the Goal - this is a conflict between the Heroes and Villains, or Hero and GM. All parties to the Scene must stake on this conflict, because it's important to them.

If a complication is played against the Heroes (such as Bystanders) then each Hero must decide, whether or not it's important to them. If so, they must stake on that conflict as well, and spend their next turn attempting to control or resolve the new Complication.

If the Goal conflict resolves, all unresolved Complications end unless the Stake on a Complication is at least half the size of the Stake on the Goal. This means that the Heroes 'did enough' to keep the situation in check.

Extra rule: whenever a Goal or Complication resolves, the last player to control it wins all the tokens staked on it. If a Complication 'fades' because there wasn't enough staked on it, all these tokens are lost.

Is this better?

Regards,

Doug


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: TonyLB on September 17, 2004, 05:41:54 AM
Hard for me to say before I see it in action.  The dynamics are diverging enough from what I know that my intuition is flailing.  Sometime this afternoon (when I've a solid block of time) I will sit down and create a solo-playtest example using these rules.  I'll probably make a new thread for that, since Scene Goals have diverged a bit from unresolved complications.

In the meantime, I'd like to take another swing at unresolved complications.

The problem, as I see it, is that in the story some Complications are "Something has to happen" and some Complications are "Something could happen".  Interrupting the latter is easy (and often very good for the story), interrupting the former is hard.

I'd like to get the story goodness of interrupting Complications that beg for it, so I'm puzzling about whether the "interruption" (as described in the story) can be tweaked so that it does a good-enough job for Complications that don't take to it naturally.  This might not take much in the way of tweaking the mechanics, but rather in tweaking what they mean to the narrative.

The burning orphans are, in fact, not even the most explicit version of this.  The huge Thermo-Isotopic Doomsday Device with a giant digital countdown marching toward the destruction of the city is the one that sticks in my mind.  Only the heroes can stop it, and if they don't it goes off.

So, new angle:  Is "Thermo-Isotopic Doomsday Device" a legitimate Complication?  Or should it be "Villainous Plans of Destruction"?  Because if it's Villainous Plans of Destruction, and Doomsday Device is just the situation implied by that Complication then it can go unresolved... the heroes stop the bomb, but it turns out not to have been the full extent of the villains plans.

Likewise, for "Bystanders":  If the villains resolve the Complication then it is proven that Bystanders will get hurt in this town.  If the heroes resolve it then it goes toward proving that Bystanders will be protected.  If it is unresolved then the orphans manage to escape but in a way that leaves everyone filled with fear about the future.

So that's what I've got this morning.  As always, I may well be talking nonsense and not know it.


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: Doug Ruff on September 17, 2004, 01:18:07 PM
Quote from: TonyLB
So, new angle:  Is "Thermo-Isotopic Doomsday Device" a legitimate Complication?  Or should it be "Villainous Plans of Destruction"?  Because if it's Villainous Plans of Destruction, and Doomsday Device is just the situation implied by that Complication then it can go unresolved... the heroes stop the bomb, but it turns out not to have been the full extent of the villains plans.


I think it's a major Goal. This is the sort of thing that I would expect to see at the end of a Story (I see a Story of consisting of several Scenes;each Scene has a Goal; Complications to that Goal could be introduced during any Scene. That's my reference point, which may be different to yours, but that may be another topic!)

If the Heroes stop the Doomsday Device, time to wrap up this edition of the comic - but a good Villain is always going to come back with another evil plan, so the Series (colection of linked Stories?) isn't over yet.

As for the Complications/conflicts themselves, there appear to be several different categories at work here:

- Must resolve in this Scene (the ticking bomb, also IMHO Bystanders)
- Will resolve or 'fizzle' in this Scene (we've discussed this happening for less important Complications, but I'm stuck for an actual example right now of what a less important Complication would look like)
- May resolve over several scenes (we haven't talked about this much, but some 'relationship' Complications may take more time, for example, the relationship between Captain Liberty and the Red Menace.) These are 'interrupted' when a Goal is achieved (ending the Scene) but they carry over to the next Scene.
- Resolves over several scenes, and defines the story (this is what the Victory Point mechanic currently achieves. I think of this as a meta-complication)

Then it's mainly a trick of deciding which Complications fit which description. I think...

Regards,

Doug


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: TonyLB on September 17, 2004, 02:13:30 PM
Doug, I see a lot of potential in Scene Goals.  But I don't yet understand the dynamic they will create.  Given that four posts ago I had to point out a major consequence of the rule to you, I don't think you yet understand the dynamic they will create either.

Given that, I don't think we can profitably discuss how they'll impact other questions yet.  I'm going to ask again that we shelve discussion of them in theory until there is an example of play showing how they work in practice.  If you want to write up that example of play, go ahead.  You can probably do it more easily and more clearly than I.  Otherwise I'll get to it when I can get to it.

So assuming familiar old Complications with no rules changes...  if the Complication is "Villainous Plot of Destruction" and "Ticking Doomsday Device" is just the situation implied, does that seem more open to being interrupted and unresolved if necessary?


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on September 17, 2004, 02:18:42 PM
I think Tony's onto something, to whit, that the problems we're having with unresolved Complications might be resolved by defining Complications more clearly -- though I'm not sure the way sketched out in his post above is necessarily the right way to do it.

One thing that just struck me as I starting writing this, though, is that when we talk about burning buildings and ticking time-bombs being Complications that are impossible to interrupt, we're getting hung up on in-game time -- which is a classic Simulationist concern (see GURPS on study, or AD&D on spell research) but not necessarily relevant to a Narrativist game like Capes (or to put it differently, a game that simulates story structure rather than physics). After all, uncontrolled Complications start to resolve when the Victory Point total of a scene is reached: Utter nonsense in physical or tactical terms, pure logic in story terms.

Four score and twenty threads ago, someone (maybe me) said, 'of course the orphanage can't burn forever,' to which someone (maybe Tony) replied, 'are you sure'?

In story logic, the ticking time-bomb or the burning building can be interrupted by personal concerns -- essentially put on hold -- just as easily as vice versa (as in Tony's example of "Marcus was about to tell Peggie Marie that he loves her when the Professor said "we must go!"). Stories do this all the time. We've all heard of opera or stage characters who receive some mortal hurt, declare "I am dead!," and then keep talking/singing for 10 minutes before finally expiring (heck, no less an icon than Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, does this). American comic book characters (though not Japanese, as a rule) recite lengthy homilies on morals in between one punch and the next. And I used to pull out my watch whenever some TV or movie character declared, "the bomb / planet / inflamed goiter will explode in X minutes" to see if it really did take X minutes of screen time -- which of course it never, ever did. (Try this with the original Star Wars and the repeated line "The Death Star will be in firing position in ").  Sometimes it took less time, because of editing for dramatic compression; but sometimes it took more, because the story had things it needed to do first, darn it, and it wasn't going to be rushed.

So maybe the time bomb just keeps ticking. If the story is engaging enough, no one should be looking at their watch to say "gotcha" when X minutes are up. ("Dude, wasn't the bomb set for 20 minutes?" "Well, you got across town to Miss Darling's apartment, talked out your differences, made passionate love, and got back in time to defuse the bomb -- how long can that take? You're a superhero.") Stories are about characters: If a tree falls in a forest and there's no character around, it didn't make a sound; if a Complication is not resolved by a character, maybe it stays unresolved.

The burning orphanage is actually a little trickier in this paradigm, because it's an undeniable active process that keeps going of itself. A while back (in the same primordial Capes thread I referenced above, I think) I suggested a "trigger self-feeding process" Wonder (i.e. Effect in current terms) which would add a point of control every round (i.e. a bump up) until the Complication was resolved, one way or another. But now that Tony's come up with sample characters like "It's a Trap!" there's a much more elegant solution, far more in keeping with the idea of story being all about characters: The fire is a villain.

Thus when Captain Heroic and the Dark Dastard are fighting it out and a stray Cosmo-Blast sets the orphanage on fire, Dark Dastard isn't necessarily contesting that complication (as Doug suggested, the bad guys often don't care, although they should have the option to deliberately make matters worse): Instead, a new adversary has appeared on scene, The Blazing Inferno, with Powers like "Spread to adjoining building" and Tropes like "Wait! Where's little Timmy?"


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: TonyLB on September 17, 2004, 04:18:10 PM
Quote from: Sydney Freedberg
But now that Tony's come up with sample characters like "It's a Trap!" there's a much more elegant solution, far more in keeping with the idea of story being all about characters: The fire is a villain.

[fanboy raving] Jaw drops.  Did I say that?  No, I'm pretty sure you found that in a much less interesting bit of thought from me. [/fanboy raving]

So let me see if I grasp the implications.  Bystanders would still be a Complication.  "Orphanage Fire" would be an ad hoc villain acting on the Bystander Complication.

Orphanage Fire can then (according to the new rules (http://www.museoffire.com/Games/Capes%20Sept%2017.pdf) I just posted) claim the Complication and attempt to Resolve it.  Obviously if Orphanage Fire resolves the Complication then you have lots of kiddies in the burn ward.  If another villain resolves the Complication then the orphans might get rescued, but some other bystanders get hurt or terrorized or kidnapped... all according to that villain's intentions on Resolving it.  If the heroes resolve the Complication then everyone goes free.  And if nobody resolves the Complication.

Still a little stuck on that.  Nobody resolves the Complication means the orphans don't burn (because that would be victory for Orphanage Fire) but the heroes don't save the day...

Grrr... okay, I still don't have a solution to unresolved Complications.  But this does help make it easier to think about such things.  It makes explicit a lot of stuff that was sort of assumed, but not systematized.  I also have a neat little addition to Sydney's idea.

Specifically, Innocent Victims can also be a villain.  And a hero.  Simultaneously.  With Attitudes like "Run in terror" and Tropes like "Can anybody possibly save us now?" you've got a character that can equally well add to the villainous side or the heroic.  The villain threatens them and they run in terror... big villain points.  They call out "Can anybody possibly save us now?" and the hero arrives to save the day.  Hero points.

So if they get two points of Prominence, one from the Editor and one from the heroes then they act on two successive action turns, once for the villains and once for the heroes.  Which allows you to make the Innocent Victims a prominent feature of the game without causing them to imbalance anything toward one side or another.  They may, however, water down the import of the heroes themselves (since it's more rolls that are being called for by non-hero-characters, even if the players are the ones calling for them).

And for everybody who loved the aggressive grandmother beating on Cheshire Cat in a previous example:  This provides explicit mechanics for Victims beating on villains as a natural side effect.  You just have Victims rolling on Clobbering rather than on the Bystanders Complication.


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on September 17, 2004, 05:42:31 PM
Quote from: TonyLB
[fanboy raving] Jaw drops.  Did I say that?  No, I'm pretty sure you found that in a much less interesting bit of thought from me. [/fanboy raving]


Thank you. Flattery is the sincerest form of flattery.

Quote from: TonyLB
So let me see if I grasp the implications.  Bystanders would still be a Complication.  ....Innocent Victims can also be a villain.  And a hero.  Simultaneously.


That's lovely.

Quote from: TonyLB
Still a little stuck on that.  Nobody resolves the Complication means the orphans don't burn (because that would be victory for Orphanage Fire) but the heroes don't save the day...


It's probably harder for the Complication not to resolve when a villain (albeit an impersonal one) is working on it, but yeah, this doesn't solve the "unresolved" issue. That said, I'm not sure if "unresolved" is such a big problem anymore. So the fire burns for a few days, is that entirely implausible? I live in D.C.; that's what happened to 14th Street back in the sixties, after all.


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: TonyLB on September 17, 2004, 06:31:05 PM
But the fire is no longer something that's unresolved.  Once it's a character it no longer has to be linked to the fate of the Complication.

So it's not that the fire keeps burning, it's that the Bystanders are neither harmed nor made forcefully "safe", right?  The fire comes and goes like any other character in the story, according to its function vis-a-vis the complications and the scene.

Anyway, I think that's what it is.  

I have this image of the Editor taking a Story Token off of a villain with three Prominence and putting it on "Burning Building" to animate it, leaving the villain with only two Prominence.  Then the villain has less actions and less clout until they decide to reclaim their Prominence and stop using the burning building as a surrogate.


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: Doug Ruff on September 18, 2004, 01:08:59 AM
Firstly, apologies for the earlier thread-jack. I got excited and stopped listening to Tony - which was out of line, my bad.

I think this 'fire as Villain' idea might just work. By giving the fire Prominence, it also gains story 'focus' which seems fitting too.

So, in order to threaten the Bystanders, a Villain has to directly use a power, or must create a 'bad thing' that acts on it's own towards foiling the heroes.

Some questions and comments about this exciting new idea:

1) If the fire is a Villain, can it also affect other Complications? For example, the Heroes are attempting to resolve a Getaway Complication, can the 'fire-villain' activate a 'blocked by burning debris' Trope?

2) As a new character, the fire will have a fresh (unblocked) set of abilities (and possibly it's own 'Drives'?) - that's quite powerful. For that reason, I would suggest not allowing a Hero or Villain to create something like this using Prominence that they have already spent - but they can do this if they have an unspent Story Token.

3) What if no-one spends the cost to turn the fire into a Villain? Does it burn out, or get put out?

4) If Villains and Heores both invest in Bystanders, I think that's a character each. For example, 'Terrorised Hostages' vs. 'Have-a-go Heroes'. Or even 'Have-a-go Grandma'

The only concern I have about this is that it's going to increase 'handling time' again, because of the need to write up the Powers, Drives and Tropes. Is there some way these could be made up 'on the fly'? In other words, not name the ability until it's being used?

Regards,

Doug


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: TonyLB on September 18, 2004, 06:14:48 AM
(1)  Yes.

(2)  Yeah, it's a little powerful.  There's also an added benefit in being able to Claim more Complications each round (villain Claims Robbery, fire claims Bystanders... now your hero has a heck of a tough choice).  But there's a downside to reducing your Prominence, in that more people will act after your last action, which makes it substantially harder to actually resolve Complications.  I'll want to playtest that out to see how the balance works.

(3) Ah... unresolved Complications.  This doesn't solve them, it just gives us a new tool to clarify things.  The solution may still lie over the horizon... or maybe not.  More on that in a moment.

(4) That's a little clearer, but a lot less charming.  I like the idea that Lois Lane, Exemplar, has a "Reckless" Attitude that can both get her in trouble and help her save the day.  Plus it cuts down a little on prep-time (one character instead of two).

As for prep-time, I am concerned, but I think it can be managed.

IMHO, the key to doing this in any sane period of time is going to be taking "close enough" Complications and making do.  If you check out the Example Characters (http://www.museoffire.com/Games/Examples1.pdf) I made, for instance, I think "Man-made Disaster" (on the right, near the bottom) would do in a pinch for an orphanage fire.  It's not as evocative as a "Building on Fire" Complication, but you could bend it in play.  I'd want to give several pages of stock characters (each on a distinct "theme") for people to refer to at need.


Okay:  Unresolved Complications.  If this system is in place, are they needed?

I'll give two Spider-man-movie examples of the yummy goodness I was trying to get at with Unresolved Complications:
  • Goblin's glider goes out of control... "This isn't over, Spiderman!" he yells as he spirals away.  But Spidey can't pursue him because suddenly the building collapses and he has to save Mary Jane.  This clearly should reduce or eliminate his Inspiration from Clobbering (that's the choice he makes, and it has to have a consequence).
  • Peter and MJ are on the verge of romance in the hospital room when Harry steps in, ruining everything.[/list:u]These were sorta addressed by Unresolved Complications.  But here's how they could be addressed by character-skipping:
    • Goblin switches all but one point of Prominence to "Man-made Disaster".  He makes his monologue to try to gain the upper hand in Clobbering, then acts through the surrogate of the building to present Spiderman with the hard choice about which Complication to take.
    • MJ (as a character) no longer has Attitudes that are useful to oppose Peter, so the Editor switches all her Prominence to Harry, whose "Trusting Friend" Attitude is just what the doctor ordered to prevent Peter's goal of clarifying the relationship.[/list:u]My point being that being forced to resolve all the Complications might no longer be a chore, because people can skip around to the perfect character or abstract to do what they want.  Thoughts?


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: Doug Ruff on September 18, 2004, 12:42:10 PM
I think we're definitely at the 'suck it and see stage'. Do you want to add this to next week's playtest? If it can work over IRC, I'm sure it can work on the tabletop...


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: LordSmerf on September 19, 2004, 06:15:39 PM
Sorry for the absence...  Hurricanes make an especially large mess in areas that are not experienced with them...

So as i was reviewing this thread i hit upon an idea that "solves" the unresolved Complication problem.  Currently scenes end when the Scene Target is reached, and until that point Complications are continuously replaced.  Change the way Complications are generated.  Place a limit on the quantity of Complications in a single Scene instead of a number of Victory Points.  Perhaps some resource must be spent to generate them...?

This is a significant departure from the way things have been done, and i am not sure what problems it may generate.  However, sometimes problems are solved by simply looking at things from a different angle.

Thomas


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: TonyLB on September 19, 2004, 06:53:57 PM
So this is a different limit on when you replace a Complication versus not replacing.  I'm pretty sure I get that.  I'm still a little fuzzy on where it fits with what has already been discussed though.

Is this meant as a different way (as opposed to unresolved complications) to address the original issue that scenes can drag on for a long time?  

Or is it something that you see complementing and simplifying an unresolved complication rule?


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: LordSmerf on September 19, 2004, 07:05:16 PM
Sorry for the incoherence of my previous post, let me see if i can clarify:

Currently there is a problem with unresolved Complications and how to handle them.  One reason (by no means the only one) for this is that scenes end when a Victory Target is reached and all Complications need to be wrapped up quick, quick, quick!  I am basically proposing that instead of ending a scene when a Victory Target is reached, put a limit on the total number of Complications that can be introduced in a given scene.  End the scene when the last Complication is resolved.

As i see it this should help with unresolved Complications since there is no way to end the scene without resolving them all.  The hard limit on quantity means that even if you are not all that invested in a given Compplication you will eventually reach a point where it is the only one left and you will not have others competing for your time, attention, and in-game resources.

Again, i am not entirely sure that this is a good idea.  It seems to solve the problem of certain Complications not being dealt with, but i am not sure that it is the optimal (or even a good) solution.

Thomas


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: Doug Ruff on September 19, 2004, 10:42:49 PM
I think this comes down to the difference between Complications which are fought over (information, escape vs. capture, who's the coolest Hero/Villain) and Complications which hinder one side only (Wounded Man, Orphans in Danger, I'm Missing My Son's Birthday Party.)

I'm thinking that former should preferably be defined at the beginning of a scene (and not replaced?), the latter should be limited by resource (the side that gets the advantage should pay for them.)


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: TonyLB on September 20, 2004, 04:40:02 AM
Doug:  I'm uncertain what you mean by a Complication that hinders one side only.  What would this look like, in game terms?  Is this why you were excited about murphy's law, so that some impersonal force could replace the players narrating villains as opposition?


Thomas:  Having scene-closure based on number of Complications will mean that when people hotly contest a Complication it makes for a longer scene.  This could be a cool aspect in terms of adaptive pacing, but will it interfere with deliberate pacing?

Specifically, an eight-new-Compliation climax scene could be over very quickly if the Complications resolved are small, piddling things.  Or it could take hours and hours if every one of them is hard-fought.  And I don't know whether that's a good or a bad thing.  Is it an intentional thing?


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: LordSmerf on September 20, 2004, 06:35:06 AM
Non-intentional Tony.  Like i said, i have not really thought through all of the implications of this.  Personally i feel that the loss of deliberate pacing is probably a bad thing, maybe even a deal-breaker...  Hmm...

Thomas


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: Doug Ruff on September 20, 2004, 09:30:41 AM
Quote from: TonyLB
Doug:  I'm uncertain what you mean by a Complication that hinders one side only.  What would this look like, in game terms?  Is this why you were excited about murphy's law, so that some impersonal force could replace the players narrating villains as opposition?


Complications like Property Damage, Bystanders in Danger, or Public Relations will be irrelevant to a lot of (but not all) Villains. Therefore they have no narrative reason to win these complications.

(If the Villains are deliberately attempting to discredit the Heroes, they may have an interest in making the Heroes lose the Complication, but that's a different matter.)

However, by bringing these Complications into play in the first place, they "open up another front". The Heroes have much more reason to want to win the Complication, and it's relatively easy for the Villain to roll up their side of the Complication from a "1", and force the Heroes to do something about it - especially if it looks like the Villain is going to claim the Complication and hurt some innocent people.

So if I were a Villain, I'd be spending points to play "Kitten Walks Out Into Busy Street" and roll it up. I'd also make sure the Heroes never got to live it down if they didn't rescue that kitten!

And while they are wasting their time rescuing the kitten, I'd be using the breathing space to advance my Goals - and taunt them anyway!

And that is why I think that certain Complications are one-sided...*

As for Murphy, that was mainly a vehicle for dealing with scenes where there is no Villain. But if you decide to assign characteristics to non-Villains (as in 'the Fire is a Villain') then Murphy dice aren't necessary. It's a style thing again.

Regards,

Doug


*Of course, if I were Dr. Malevolent, this would not be a one-sided Complication. Dr. Malevolent loves cats, so he'd be just as keen to rescue the poor little keetoom. Which illustrates the point: it's not what the Complication is that's important; it's all about who the Complication is meaningful too.


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: TonyLB on September 20, 2004, 10:57:27 AM
Your "Dr. Malevolent" postscript makes me think that you're no longer arguing that there should be a rules distinction between "one-sided" Complications and all the rest.  Is that true, or am I reading too much into it?


Title: [Capes] Unresolved Complications
Post by: Doug Ruff on September 20, 2004, 12:29:09 PM
I think it's more a question of me trying to put too much into one post.

My feeling behind this is that playing a Complication can give you a significant tactical advantage in the Scene (beyond any bonus you may get for inspirations.)

If you can pick a 'one-sided' Complication - by which I mean a Complication that represents something you are indifferent too, but which has a real impact on the opposition - you are getting free turns while they attempt to control and resolve that Complication.

So if the Evil Exterminator (who doesn't give a damn about kittens) plays 'Kitten in Danger!' as a Complication, this gives him an edge in his conflict with Captain Liberty (who knows what bad PR he'll get if he doesn't save the kitten.)

However, Dr. Malevolent isn't going to choose the same Complication if he gets into a fight with Captain Liberty, because he loves cats just as much.

And if Max the Crime-Fighting Robot (who doesn't understand what all this fuss about small yowling creatures is about) ever gets into a conflict with Dr. Malevolent, Max's player could play 'Kitten in Danger!' as a distraction for the Villain

In other words, it's all about knowing your opponent, and pushing his buttons - and that's what Quality Villainy (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=12795) is all about, folks.


PS If you like the idea of this, I'm sure that I can expand on this in the Strategy thread, where it probably fits better.