The Forge Archives

Inactive Forums => HeroQuest => Topic started by: NickHollingsworth on December 15, 2004, 06:05:51 AM



Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: NickHollingsworth on December 15, 2004, 06:05:51 AM
I have put my Agony Aunt hat on in order to provide you with a few helpful comments on meaningful relationships.

Relationships Must Be Well Named
A relationship is just an ability like any other and as such its name is what  tells us: where it is relevant to apply it, what effect it has and whether there should be a modifier.  An abilities descriptive name is essential to making these decisions and making play interesting, but for some reason this essential requirement of all abilities has not been highlighted for relationships.

Consider the bland relationship of PC Bob to Npc Ann:
*  Ann, Ally: 5w.

I strongly recommend you give that lazy player a good slapping! This tells us nothing. The implication is that Bob has an abstract feeling of connection to Ann and can use it as an augment in any and every situation involving her. This is unsatisfactory. Its also doing nothing to help us generate a good story.

The players round the table all probably know that (say) Ann is Bobs sister but they dont get on. So record this as:
*  Ann, Ally: I dont get on with her (5w).

This gives us enough to know that it probably augments in favour of protecting her but against having to spend time with her.

Names Dictate The Effective Strength Of An Ability
The rules say abilities names can be grandeous but do not themselves affect the strength of the ability. This is why its possible to have Kill With A Glance 14.

However the name tells us when to apply modifiers and how big to make them. As an extreme example:
*  Cathy, Ally: I do not reciprocate her feelings for me 10W
is going to give smaller augments under many circumstances than
*  Cathy, Ally: She is my soul mate 10W

Relationships Change
The player can freely change the description whenever the unfolding events or his understanding of his character supports it. This does not cost anything and has nothing to do with the strength of the relationship which is represented by the number.

This is true of all abilities anyway. But relationships are the things most likely to change, and probably are the most interestuing when they do.

A Relationship Can Have Several Aspects
The rules do not describe, but would support, a given character having several relationships to another character.

This makes no sense if you write down Bobs relationship to Ann in bland (and pointless) games speak. However as soon as you describe them properly this sort of thing becomes possible:
*  Ann, Ally: I should protect my sister (10w),  God I can't stand her (17).

Now Bob has two relationships to Ann, or one relationship with two parts. It doesn't matter what you call it, the important part is that he has two abilities and they are described with enough detail to allow us to work out how and when they apply.

For example:
    Bob hears that Anns life or livelyhood is under threat? I Should Protect My Sister applies in full to help him act.

    Bob is asked to travel with Ann? God I Can't Stand Her applies in full against him going with her.

    Bob is asked to travel with Ann because she is in danger? The two aspects oppose each other and apply in full.

    Bob considers spending a day with her to advise her on a delicate but hardly life shattering social situation? God I Can't Stand her applies in full against, I Should Protect My Sister applies in favour of going but at a penalty.
    [/list:u]
Asymmetric Relationships
OK. Enough of the advice. Here is a question.

I may have
* Ally, Drunken Master: unspoken admiration for, 10W.
But what does he have?

The rules say he must have a generic relationship 10w. They give us no way to describe it, which is an issue. They also give us no way to model the Drunken Master having a different strength of relationship - though it might be possible to handle this with a suitable description.


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: NickHollingsworth on December 16, 2004, 12:46:02 AM
[paranoia]
How did Lokarnos (http://lokarnos.com/article.pl?sid=04/12/16/0642235&mode=thread) find out about the bowl of fruit!
[/paranoia]


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 16, 2004, 12:33:30 PM
Good points, Nick.

There's another facet to the whole question of multiple relationships, one that Brand Robinson made me aware of. Often a relationship will be listed as: Loves Sheila 5W. The interesting thing is that this only applies to how the character feels about the NPC in question. There's a substantial question as to whether or not it should apply, say, to how the NPC feels about the PC.

Basically, what about unrequited love?

How do you represent that? Well, it seems to me that "Love's Sheila" works just fine for this, if we assume that the other character feels the same. But under relationships it does imply that these things can be, at least to some extent, a rating of how the NPC feels in return. That is, if you want to make sure that the love is requited, then wouldn't you have to take "Loved By Shiela" as well?

Or can this be indicated by one ability? Interestingly, I spent a lot of time and I can't think of a single descriptor that means "I love her, and she loves me." For other relationships they exist - Friends with X, Enemies with X - even Lover of X has to be reciporical. But, "In Love with X" could well, not be reciporicated.

So, how do people feel about these issues?
1. Should relationships say something about the NPCs feelings at all, or simply be restricted to the PC?
2. Should one be able to indicate a dual relationship in one long descriptor like "I Love Her, and She Loves Me" ?
3. If 2 is no, and it's OK by 1 to say something about NPCs, is it OK to take an ability that's really entirely an NPC quality, like "She Loves Me."

Personally, I think that the idea behind relationships is that they do give the player the ability to affect the NPC with a die-roll. In some ways this is simply like specializing in a social skill to the point where it only applies to one NPC. Like "Charming, but only to Shiela." Which seems pretty reasonable and traditional in terms of how control is broken down.

Mike


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: NickHollingsworth on December 17, 2004, 02:19:22 AM
Yep. Thats the nub of the problem I was trying to describe: how to represent an asymmetric relationship. A relationship is two way but only one side gets detailed on the character sheet. We have no where to describe or quantify the reciprical relationship.

Like you I have had several attempts at describing how this should work and got no where.

I think its ok for most relationships to start out only describing the PCs relationship to the other. For example 'Sheila: I love her 10W'. We can discover during play how the other feels in return. Much of the time we will find or assume that the other feels the same way and to the same degree, but occasionaly we wont and the difference will be important enough to bother recording.

We could write the additional information on the PC relationship once we discover it, so that it describes how the other feels about the character. This is just the normal rule that we can redescribe abilities when we find out more about them. So yes I think we could write 'Sheila: we love each other 10W' or 'Sheila: I love her,  but she sees me as a brother 10W'.

If we accept that a relationship can actually have several abilities as I suggested above, then we can assign different numbers to the two parts of the description on the rare occasions where we have decided it matters.  So we might have 'Sheila: I love her 10W, But she finds me a nuisance 17'.

This raises the question of whether there should be a cost for this additional ability. Our starting point should be that the normal rules apply - there is a cost to having a second ability, but not to having a longer description of the existing ability. Unless the new ability is a flaw from the characters point of view; and I suspect that if we are going to the trouble of recording it seperately it is probably in opposition to the PCs own descriptor and so is likely to count as a flaw and be free.

I dont think its a bad thing to have a relationship that asserts 'She loves me'. For a start thats what we tend to assume at the moment anyway when a character uses their 'I love her' ability to affect the behaviour of the other.  During play all new relationships or changes to descriptors must be justified anyway so its not like the player is going to get to take over all the npcs without the GMs agreement that its so. When creating new characters the GM should approve the reverse part of the relationship, But the GM needs to approve any relationships anyway.

The only bits of it that I dont care for are:
    I have this urge to have the new ability attached to the other. However I suspect this is just a desire to have an structured system and should take second place to keeping things simple and having them work.

    It feels bad to put the npcs inner feelings down - surely they should be a secret. However I think this is actually ok. For a start 'She loves me' actually only means 'She can be expected to act as if she loves me most of the time'. Secondly its 'She loves me 17' or something so that already shows the description is not absolute. Thirdly I would have no problem writting 'She loves him 17' on sheilas sheet and letting the player see it, so this is the same thing except the player potentially gets charged for it.
    [/list:u]

    So basically - 1) yes, 2) yes, 3) yes even though 2 was yes. I think its all good.

    Cheers,


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Doyce on December 17, 2004, 08:24:32 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Or can this be indicated by one ability? Interestingly, I spent a lot of time and I can't think of a single descriptor that means "I love her, and she loves me."


Married.

Yes, it could be another non-reciprocal, but I'd say that (statistically at least), it's a mutual thing about 50% of the time.  "Life-Partner" works to.

That said, I had a grand time with the relationships for my sidekick, where I got "partner of Breanna" for free, then bought "Friends with Breanna" additionally, then (when I laid out the sidekick points) gave her "Loves Gennadi".

All I need as a "clueless about women's feelings" attribute to wrap it all up. :)


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Snowden on December 17, 2004, 09:32:43 AM
As far as pricing asymmetrical relationships goes, I would probably go with making the player pay only for the higher of the two.

Essentially, taking "I love X madly" at 2W2 and "X kind of loves me" at 17 is like taking "X and I are madly in love" at 2W2 with a free flaw attached.  Making the player pay separately for the two halves of what they could easily get as a single ability will discourage them from splitting relationships; if you think unequal relationships will make for interesting play, don't penalize the players for taking them.


I'm also somewhat confused as to why "love" is being singled out in this thread when it seems like so many common relationship abilities assume that the connection is reciprocal unless specified otherwise.  Don't feel bad about writing an NPC's feelings on your character sheet -- that's exactly what HeroQuest says to do with friends, community, deities, spirits, and so on!


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 17, 2004, 09:41:05 AM
Yeah, I've been thinking about Gennadi in this context. Snowden, we're just looking trying to find a way to portray one problematic sort of relationship of which love is representative. (BTW, love and marriage can be related, sure, but it's not sensical to take marriage to represent a two-way love if the character are not, in fact, married - and even that or "life-partner" suggest something very different to me than love, even though they possibly subsume love into them. That is, one can love someone without being a life-partner, either).

I think I may have a solution. It seems to me that the intent of a Relationship trait is to allow the character to get support from the "target" NPC in some way, shape or form (may even be "negative support"). As such, I think that I'd leave all such relationships to be assumed to be reciporacal in some way. The player can still make up the details, but the player is "purchasing" a two-way thing here. Could even be Ragnar: Like him, but he hates me 17.

If the player wants a one-sided relationship, then they simply buy it as a personality trait. "Loves Sheila from Afar" or the like. "Loves Sheila" as a personality trait would simply leave the question of Shiela's reciporocation unanswered.

I think this works out neatly.

I have to come clean about why this interests me so much. I feel sorta guilty about something that I did to a character belonging to Chris Edwards in my game, Fahja. He'd taken a flaw "Madly in love with Foreign Girl 10W2." I allowed it as it sounded like fun. Then it occured to me that it would be fun to have the girl in question be the same character that Brand's character mentioned above was after. The difference was that Brand had taken the "Loves" and "Loved By" abilities. So if that was kosher, then certainly it meant that Fahja wasn't loved by her...

Well, the problem, of course, is that Chris expected the NPC to love his character back - that this was part and parcel of the purchase. Which is reasonable. Now Chris was a good sport about it, and it played out in an interesting fashion. But I still think that I somewhat "illegally" modified his ability.

So, what I'd say with the model above is that if you purchase something as a relationship, per se, you're buying reciporocation. If you purchase it as a Personality Trait, you're not. This leaves the option with the player, and they know what they're getting. And it seems pretty in line with the rules, in addition.

Mike


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Snowden on December 17, 2004, 10:15:06 AM
I like the distinction between Personality Traits and Relationships, if only as an informal way to keep things straight for myself.  To take it a step further, maybe "X loves Y" and "Y loves X" could be separate from "X and Y flirt constantly," "Passionate affair between X and Y," "X is formally courting Y," or "X and Y are married."  The relationships could be well-defined cultural constructs with clear expectations and even obligations, while the personality traits would cover the personal and emotional aspects.  If I were GM-ing, I'd give starting characters an HP break to avoid making well-rounded relationships prohibitively expensive!

This would probably only make sense in a game that was very focused on social interation and cultural roles.


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 17, 2004, 10:54:14 AM
I completely agree that the term relationship, and the connotation of the rules implies a social contract in the context of a culture. This is what I was trying to get around with the unequal relationships. Hence why I moved them from there to personality traits, which are obviously personal.

Mike


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on January 11, 2005, 10:28:16 PM
Hi Guys,

I have a question.  (It's not rhetorical at all; absolutely up-front don't get this...)

How does what the NPC think of the PC figure into a PC's Attributes at all?

It seems to me that all we're responsible for recording is what the PC feels/does/needs/is driven by and so on -- since the augmentation is for what the PC is trying to do.  That's what the rules cover, right?

Love or hatred or whatnot from an NPC is beyond the PC's Attributes.  A PC might use his hatred or love or whatnot to influence an NPC (whether with a swordpoint or words of love), but you know... that's it.  Or so it would seem to me?  Why would it be otherwise?

As for the fact of unbalanced relationships.... Well, thank god. They make for better stories. But isn't the recording keeping of this simply a matter of making notes on the back of the character sheet or in the GM's notebook?  

If Darth Vader wants me to join him as father and son against the Emperor, isn't that a Bang -- not an attribute for me to jot down?

I'm sure you guy had a good reason for going down this road, but for the life of me, I'm not seeing right now.

Notes would be great.

Christopher


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Peter Nordstrand on January 12, 2005, 12:35:55 AM
Hi Christopher,

Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
How does what the NPC think of the PC figure into a PC's Attributes at all?


I allow things like that in my games all the time. A few modest examples of actual PC "abilities" in my games:
    Distrusted by Villagers
    Well-liked by the Clanswomen
    Worshipped by Trollkin Allies
    Ignored by Superiors[/list:u]I agree that the term "ability" is probably misleading in these cases, but other than that I find it absolutely unproblematic in actual play.
    "Your hero is
disliked by the villagers, so you get a penalty to your roll equal to 1/10th of its rating." (die-rolling comences)

"My hero is well-liked by the clanswomen. Perhaps one of them will hide him from the Lunars?" (rolls dice)

"I'm actually worshipped by these trollkin. I bet they will give me total support on my quest." (roll, roll)

"In order to catch the general's attention you have to roll your Storm Voice ability against your Ignored by Superiors ability." (roll, roll, roll)[/list:u]In fact, I don't think I've ever disallowed an ability for rules reasons. If I find something uncool or unsuitable in the context of the upcoming game I will say so, of course. But that's something different altogether.  HeroQuest allows you to put ratings on everything, and I am happy to give the players an opportunity to affect the story. Allowing them a great deal of latitude when it comes to making up abilities is a way to do that. Power to the Players, I say, clenching my fist and raising my arm in a revolutionary stance.

Now here's a question for you, Christopher: Why shouldn't what the NPC thinks of the PC figure into a PC's abilities?

Cheers,


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Mike Holmes on January 12, 2005, 06:34:50 AM
What Peter said.

From another perspective, this isn't all that uncommon. Consider the "follower" rules from Hero System, for instance, which put an "NPC" in near complete control of the player. From a philospophical POV, in HS, it's just taking the powers as "independent" (per that limitation) from the PC, and the NPC is a "Special Effect." Just like a potion or magic sword that the character had.

Similarly, Hero Quest allows players to control things outside of their characters by spending points. Note that a magic sword can be "co-opted" in the short run, as can other NPCs, etc, by taking actions that would make them operate for you. You can have your character say something that spurs an NPC into action. You can pick up and use the magic sword. But the ratings on these things are temporary. Just like in Hero System, if you do no pay for something, it goes away when dramatically appropriate.

But if you do pay the points, then you permenantly have some control over the item in question. That magic sword continues to work for you indefinitely. An NPC selected as a follower does what you say when commanded to do something in his field (this is a wise rule, essentially the player controls only certain powers, and otherwise the Special Effect NPC is just another NPC). None of this is controvesial, right?

Well, relationships are similar. That is, they represent a character's ability to influence NPCs in some way. Not control of the NPC, but influence. It's really no different from certain skills. For example, I could cast an Oratory skill as "Speaks convincingly to Everyone." That's a relationship. If my character's relationship is "Member of Villlage" that perforce means that the villagers are affectable with this ability. Which says something about the villagers. This is not just how the PC feels about the village, because the rules say explicitly that "Member of Village" is the sort of thing you roll to get Community Support from that relationship. This is not just an augment, the ability is primary in the contest to get said support.

So relationships neccessarily say something about the NPCs that are listed. Again, if you don't want them to do so, then you can simply state that they are a personality trait, which doesn't imply reciprocity.

Anyhow, this is an important concept. Because I personally believe that encoded in the relationships are, potentially, the character's "Kickers." That is, just like in Sorcerer, where the player gets to choose the central conflict that he wants to explore for his character, the relationships that a HQ hero has can be a player's way of creating conflict for his character. One of the most common relationship types I see is "Estranged from X" for instance. That's something that's just begging to be resolved in play. If the player takes this as a personality trait, if it's just his own personal problem, that, too, can be kicker-ish, but it takes on a whole new cast to it.

This is not to say that the narrator can't assign more "temporary" relationships to a hero in terms of how an NPC feels about the character. He can decide that, though Luke has Hates Vader as a relationship, that Vader is conflicted about it, given that he knows that Luke is his son. As long as the primary relationship is still in effect, this isn't so much "tampering" as the normal additions to play made by the narrator. Remember that the player doesn't entirely control the NPC, not even close. Even less than the full control over a follower's specific powers, all the relationship does is to give the player an ability to influence that NPC in one way. Which doesn't exclude that NPC from having other feelings.

The more I think about this, the more it makes sense. Not neccessarily the idea of splitting them into relationships and personality traits (though I think that'll prove effective), but that relationships can be "two-way." Again, per the rules, they must say something about the target, or how could a relationship be the primary ability in gaining support?

Mike


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Brand_Robins on January 12, 2005, 09:07:12 AM
Hey Chris,

To add my small bit to Mike and Peter's much better bits: It's because it adds to players' ability to author their own characters and get the story they want.

To use the example Mike brought up well above, I had a character who had the abilities "Loves Alitia" and "Loved by Alitia the Amazon" -- splitting the relationship into two halves.

Why did I do this?

Because the ratings weren't equal.

That's right, my "Loves Her" was higher than her "Loves Me," and I was planning (at one point) to widen that gap through the campaign, especially as she found my character flirting with others and got pissed, then I realized my mistake and tried to fix it.

Why is this fair? Why shouldn't the GM have control of the NPC in all ways, and why should I be able to say what the NPC thinks?

Because it's my NPC, part of my story.

So, obviously, I should negotiate and talk with the GM about it, and we should work these things together in a way that makes sense -- but the fact remains that being able to control (to some degree) how the NPC feels about me is of critical importance to the story I was telling.

I'd also note that while I could control (to a limited extent) how the NPC felt about me, it was up to the dice and the GM how those feelings made her act. We all know from Shakespeare that love makes you do crazy things – and it’s fully possible that my “Loved by Alitia” was going to end up with Alitia killing my ass in a love-inspired rage. Or leaving me because our love was too painful. Or killing the other girls I was flirting with. Or going with the other guy who was in love with her because she decided that love made her weak.

And any of those outcomes would have been acceptable to me. The only one that wouldn’t have been would be that she just never loved me at all. And thus taking the ability was important to my ability to author my story.

Now when Mike crossed that up with another player, I became responsible to that player as well – it was his NPC too. But at that point having a game mechanic that we can turn to for fair resolution (as well as a pretty good social contract) is a good thing.


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Bankuei on January 12, 2005, 09:42:48 AM
Hi Chris,

Another neat thing to think about is that key relationships are often part of the character concept on the part of the player.  

Let's say that part of your character concept is to play someone who is in love, with a great relationship, but all the conflict comes from outside forces.  Then halfway through play, the GM has your love interest betray you out of left field.  The idea of your hero(ine) struggling for true love is shattered, just like that.

Now, generally, in Heroquest, if you have a rating, the narrator can't just up and take it away from you, or alter it- at least not without producing a conflict to do so.  Likewise, if you're willing to spend a Hero Point and cement it, you're saying to the GM, "This is important, I want this as part of my authority as a player."

If we compare this to Trollbabe, you can see in Trollbabe the equivalent action is to make a relationship, at which point the NPC becomes something the player controls, but the GM roleplays, with the understanding that relationships are part of character concept.

On the other side of things, by spending that Hero Point, you're cementing this fact as something that the narrator can't just run in and alter, which has been the source of many railroading issues in all sorts of games.  It reminds me of Jared's "Bar" scenario, where the character runs a bar, but it always gets burned down, destroyed, or whatever because the GM is trying to railroad the player.

At least for Narrativist play, this rule of defining NPC's attitudes is just a logical step from the rules as presented.  

Chris


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on January 12, 2005, 11:06:03 AM
Okay! Okay!  I got it!

Seriously, thanks for the reply, guys.

To answer Peter's question to me ("Why shouldn't what the NPC thinks of the PC figure into a PC's abilities?") I have a complicated answer.

I have no answer to that.  Everything everyone said makes sense to me.  And I would probably run things the same way.

My post came off of Doyce's Actual Play HeroQuest game thread, where he's got this passive character.  I was responding to the fact that the Player had relationships that were, in fact, meaningless in play.  And I thought, for this kind of player foisting a bunch of stuff onto the GM (via the NPCs) might look like building relationships and story-rich material.... But it's really of no use unless the player actually a) has an impulse to do something with it, and b) does.

This might seem obvious, but let's use the "Estranged from X."  For people like Mike and me, this seems obvious: we've got a situation that's waiting to be resolved.  But in the case of Doyce's game, the passive player with "Estrange from Father" on the character sheet is (as far as I can tell) drawing on the long standing RPG tradition of cutting all ties with anyone who might actually be emotionally engaging.

My point being that using traits Distrusted by Villagers or Well-like by Clanswomen or Estranged from Father are useless unless the Player actual is looking forward to engaging this stuff.  I know, I know, an obvious point.

But unless care is taken to make it clear to players what the purpose of these traits/relationships are (to play toward them, to address them, to make them something the player actually wants the sessions (at least in part) to be about -- they become glorified "backstory" baggage in the long tradition of RPG backstory baggage.  Usless, and, in a way, dysfunctional if the GM is planning on really engaging the player with it, while the player just sees it as color ("Okay, the GM told me I have to put something down.  So I'll have my guy be Estrange from His Father.")  Of course, it can go in the reverse direction, if the Player puts cool things down and the GM keeps handing them "missions" to go on that don't address these things.

Mike's right. All this suff can act like Kickers -- if its used as Kickers.  I was trying to sort out why sometimes (as in Doyce's case), it can be there on the sheet and still do nothing.  Duh!  Because the Player or the GM aren't using them!  

Specifically, I was curious about the special case writing down  "Dad Hates Me," and the player feeling free to ignore this if the GM tosses "dad stuff" at him.  Why would a player do this?  I thought one reason might be that since it was Dad who did the hating, the player would feel no responsibility to the matter.

But that's a matter of how the players at the table are using the relationship and traits -- not the rules for them themselves.

If all the players are on the same page as what to do with these relationships and traits, I think the suggestions so far on how to handle asymetrical relationships (a) two values for "dual" stats and "implied" values off off of one value) would work just spiffy.

I also think, if I were lucky enough to have a group to run the game with, I'd switch out the word "Abilities" -- which I think is an unfortunate hide-bound sim way of thinking of the stats -- and use "Qualities" for everything from Homeland, to battle prowess, to personality traits.  Qualities is squishy enough for me to say, "These are the qualities of the character, the things that make him, in one way or another, story worthy."

Best,

Christopher


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Doyce on January 12, 2005, 12:12:47 PM
Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
This might seem obvious, but let's use the "Estranged from X."  For people like Mike and me, this seems obvious: we've got a situation that's waiting to be resolved.  But in the case of Doyce's game, the passive player with "Estrange from Father" on the character sheet is (as far as I can tell) drawing on the long standing RPG tradition of cutting all ties with anyone who might actually be emotionally engaging.


Two points, since I seemed to have inadvertently prompted this part of the thread:

a) The character in question actually has a pretty strong interaction with her father -- he's there, she's there, and they snipe at each other quite a bit -- a minor goal for her (for all that she doesn't have one, officially), is "annoy Dad".   In this case, 'estranged' actually does mean 'involved actively in a dysfunctional relationship'.

b) While it's possible for a passive player to write down their relationships in a "what they think about me" way ("Dad hates me.  Village distrusts me.") and then simply ignore such things when they come up -- a truly passive player can write them from the PC's POV ("I hate Dad, I distrust the villagers") and ignore them or fail to engage them in exactly the same way.  If they're gonna do it, they're gonna do it.

Finally, a clarification -- that particular player isn't really the problem in that game -- not the big one, anyway -- she's got some bad habits, but we've talked, and I've reassured my self that my instincts were right -- while the *character* is trying to turtle, the *player* is digging what's going on.

Christopher's comments on the other thread did, however, start some good conversations about updating relationships and making sure they were meaningful and non-bland, though, which is great.


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on January 12, 2005, 12:35:22 PM
Hi Doyce,

Sorry I imposed so much on your player.

Nonetheless, the situations I describe, I believe still stand as possibilites.

I think the key point -- for me -- was a simple reiteration of the notion that every player approaches rules in their own fashion.  To assume that the HQ rules of relationships and traits are simply going to "work" because someone puts a number down on the character sheet is a tiny point compared to the bigger issue of how each player is "approaching" rpgs.

But, its sort of moot. I got a much better idea of how others are uses the relationship and trait attributes in their games in the last few posts and am much better informed for it.

Thanks all.

Christopher


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Bankuei on January 12, 2005, 12:45:14 PM
Hi Doyce,

As has been said, all these relationships can be produced into Bangs.  Also notice, though, that I said the narrator can't just change them, but can produce a conflict that changes the relationships.

A key point of the Well of Souls, and the way I play in general- is that all the subconflicts and nested problems are designed to conflict with one or more of each hero's relationships.  For me, this is the point of play with these sort of community based problems.  So, don't take someone's relationships, but feel free to produce in game conflicts that challenge the nature of the relationship.  The player will either try to augment and keep the relationship the way it is, or they will fold, and let it change.

So, if someone is estranged from their father, what if there is something that is going to change that?  For example, perhaps the father decides he wants to make up, and real fast("I'm deathly ill", or similar).  He might still be generally an ass to her, but at the same time, he might open the door for things to get fixed, perhaps only because of other influences(and link into other conflicts...).

Chris


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Mike Holmes on January 12, 2005, 01:05:07 PM
Once again, I'm of the "Club them over the head" school of thought here. Uh, like Chris says, if the character has an estranged father, then said individual shows up terminally ill. Heck torque that up a bit, and say he came to say his last goodby to his offspring, but finds that he's not going to have the strength to make it back. The hero is the last person family that he'll ever talk to. And the father, despite still holding a grudge, needs his offspring to take back his last words to the village.

The point is to provide the standard Bang quality to the situation here. I think I'm almost quoting Ron here when I say that the key to something being a Bang is that, even if they do walk away, even that is a thematic statement. Turtling, as Doyce is finding out, can be quite thematic for a character. It's player turtling that's the problem.

So, yeah, if dying dad shows up, and the character walks away. I dunno, gives me chills thinking about it. I mean, that's cold. And speaks volumes about the history of these characters. I mean, things had to have been really, really bad for a character to decide to walk on a dying father. It gives us a real insight into the character, and just how far he's willing to go to make a point.

Now, do you need to get that melodramatic to make a Bang stick? Hard to say. My method is to throw lots of less potent bangs at a character, and see what sticks best. Then you can go down that road.

I mean, with the Player in question in Doyce's game, it seems to me that she's exploring themes of family disharmony. Don't ruin that by having one character try and make up. Instead escallate it. Have the next exchange be the straw that breaks the camel's back, and have Dad actually physically assault the character. Or have him go off fuming, and concocting a plan, "I'll teach that impudent whelp!" In fact, see if you can get the player to raise their "Estranged from Father" (sounds like a flaw to me, I'd allow them to raise it for free). Tempt them to strike back.

Then when it reaches a crescendo, have mom show up. :-)

Mike


Title: Ban NonDescriptive Relationship!
Post by: Doyce on January 12, 2005, 01:45:41 PM
Quote from: Bankuei
A key point of the Well of Souls, and the way I play in general- is that all the subconflicts and nested problems are designed to conflict with one or more of each hero's relationships.  For me, this is the point of play with these sort of community based problems.  


And I'm having a grand time with this in the current game, and looking forward to it in the "Xian Quan" version upcoming.

Example:

* Emilile is Guilbert's squire.  He's a difficult guy to take care of on the best of days.
* Serge, whom she despises, AND whom is nominally in charge of the barony's squires, informs her that if she WILL NOT be Guilbert's squire if he becomes Baron, but if she keeps him out of trouble until then, he will actually assign her to another knight instead of kicking her out on her ear.
* Colette, whom she likes, asks her to "let Guilbert distract himself in his usual style"; if he's a worse Baronial candidate, then more people are interested in 'fixing' Eustef.

There is virtually no way to make everyone happy.  More to the point, it makes Emilie decide between 'doing my duty' or 'doing what's right' -- not to mention defining what 'right' is for her.

I think it's telling that I've come up with similar 'rock and a hard place' situations for most of the PCs -- hasn't even been a stretch in most cases.

Except Eilwen. :)  Luckily, the player and I are working on that.