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Inactive Forums => Random Order Creations => Topic started by: Zoetrope10 on May 13, 2002, 06:06:45 AM



Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Zoetrope10 on May 13, 2002, 06:06:45 AM
James

I see that in the latest version of The Pool, you ditched the rule about requiring a gamble on a player-requested roll. The updated rules don't make this clear, but---as I now understand them---a gamble will still be required if you ask for a roll + the GM doesn't give you any dice (like in the Damart example) + the trait you want to use doesn't have a bonus, e.g. Damart's Outcast trait.

"Egads!",

Z


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: James V. West on May 13, 2002, 06:55:40 PM
You don't have to gamble unless you want to, ever. There's no difference between rolls no matter who initiates them.

See this link for some possibly helpful explanations about why on earth I've confused the rules so much!

You know what? Writing a game (that makes sense) is frickin' hard.


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Zoetrope10 on May 16, 2002, 05:29:39 AM
Hrm.

James, when you say, 'there's no difference between rolls no matter who initiates them' do you mean only in the context of gambling, or more generally? The current rules still differentiate between GM offered and player-requested rolls. Frex, with the former, the GM has to offer you at least one dice whereas with the latter they don't.

In the context of my original question, I appreciate that a player is now no longer obligated to gamble. But in the case of a player-requested roll, if the GM doesn't offer any dice and the player wants to use a trait with no bonus dice, they will have to gamble at least one die, if they want to roll at all---won't they?

thanks, Z


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: James V. West on May 16, 2002, 03:42:17 PM
This is why I love The Forge--people ask questions about things you didn't think of and they point out inconsistencies you didn't know were there! I love it!

So, to answer your question, it is my sincerest intention to clarify in the rules that a GM should always offer a minimum of one die for any roll, no matter who initiates it. That should effectively eliminate any un-needed jargon and glass-walling between this or that type of roll. Its all just one happy roll.

How's that?


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Zoetrope10 on May 17, 2002, 04:31:56 AM
James

OK.

Are you also going to eliminate the other two distinctions between GM-offered and player-requested rolls?

The first distinction is that a GM-offered roll doesn't require the player to name a trait whereas a player-requested roll does.

The second distinction is that you can only add dice to your pool with a successful GM-offered roll whereas with a successful player-requested roll you have to take a MoV.

Conceptually speaking, I like these distinctions, including the one about optional and mandatory gambles. If the GM offers a roll then, of course, they should gift the player at least one dice. OTOH, if the player requests a roll I can see that the GM might not always want to offer a gift. If the GM offers a roll then I can see that the player shouldn't necessarily have to attach a trait to it, especially if the situation being tested is more general. OTOH, if the player asks for a roll, ostensibly because they want to take charge for a bit, then, well, they should nominate a trait and how they (generally) intend using it. If the GM offers a roll then it's up to the player if they want to step up to the plate and also gamble some dice. But by making it mandatory for a player to gamble at least one dice with a player-requested roll they are (presumably) going to think carefully about when and where to ask for such rolls---hopefully at least as carefully as the GM does when deciding to offer a GM-sponsored roll. Again, if the player is successful with a GM-offered roll then they should have the choice of whether or not to replenish their pool or take a MoV. But if the player requested a roll, ostensibly to move the story their way, then what else should they be able to do apart from a MoV? [pause to catch breath...]

I also like what I've read about the effect of the distinctions, which seems to be to make a game of The Pool a bit of a roller-coaster.

I see Ron doesn't like 'em though because, as I understand it, they seem clumsy-confusing-frustrating in actual play. I suspect that much of this angst---judging by some of the posts in this forum---can be attributed to the way this part of the rules has been presented i.e. not as clearly it could've been.

I'm going to give my players a reformatted version of the rules, with the differences in roll requirements and outcomes nicely laid out in a couple of tables. It all looks pretty clear to me---hopefully my players will agree. I'll post a report as to what happened.

thanks, Z


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 17, 2002, 07:24:48 AM
Hey,

I must say ...

"The first distinction is that a GM-offered roll doesn't require the player to name a trait whereas a player-requested roll does."

"The second distinction is that you can only add dice to your pool with a successful GM-offered roll whereas with a successful player-requested roll you have to take a MoV."

I hate both of these like poison and cannot imagine why or how they found their way into the rules at all.

I advocate that the Pool is the Pool, and the system is the system, under all circumstances of its use.

Best,
Ron


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: jburneko on May 17, 2002, 08:42:37 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards

"The first distinction is that a GM-offered roll doesn't require the player to name a trait whereas a player-requested roll does."


I've found myself in a position where I may be using The Pool for something.  So, just out of curiosity and clarity which don't you like?

a) The GM-offered roll doesn't require the player to name a trait?

OR

b) A player MUST name a trait to request a roll?

OR

c) Just that it should be one or the other but not both?

Jesse


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 17, 2002, 08:52:43 AM
OK, I'll run it down.

Every fucking roll in the game should work like this.

1) Somebody calls for the roll.

2) GM assigns 1-3 dice

3) Player chooses a relevant trait (cue input from everyone else) and adds the appropriate number of dice

4) Player decides whether to gamble and adds dice if he or she does

5) Roll - success or failure

6) Decisions: (a) success - get a new die for the Pool OR take an MoV; (b) failure - lose all gambled dice

7) Whoever narrates, narrate the outcome

That's it. Every damn roll works just like this. I see no room for if's, and's, or but's. I see no reason for any shred of change under any circumstances.

I truly see no reason why #3 seems to cause the trouble it does. If a trait applies, use it. If it doesn't, then don't. It really is that simple.

Best,
Ron

P.S. All profanity in this post is present to indicate my passion on the subject, and is not directed toward anyone in a pejorative sense. Jesse's question is a good one; I am not swearing at him.


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: James V. West on May 17, 2002, 04:37:26 PM
Hey

Yep, there are some weird rules additions in some of the versions of the game. But in the end Ron's breakdown sums up the core of the system--everything esle is just me feeling my way through it and then trimming all that shite off again.

I swear I'm working on getting the (final?) re-write finished. If at all possible I'll avoid confusing you folks any more than absolutely necessary.

On a side note, the writing of TQB has had its share of these fumbles. I find myself feeling like there aren't enough rules, than I add some. Then I realize they suck. Word to the wise: trust your first instincts, apply some common sense, then go with it.

Or, in the words of Neil Gaimen, "Finish it. Cringe later."


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Andrew Martin on May 18, 2002, 07:07:43 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards

6) Decisions: (a) success - get a new die for the Pool OR take an MoV; (b) failure - lose all gambled dice


Sorry to be picky, but is that one new die for the Pool as Ron writes, or two new dice for the Pool as James has written in a earlier thread? IIRC, James had written that he prefers two dice.


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Zoetrope10 on May 18, 2002, 07:58:30 AM
Hey Ron

I don’t understand your passion for this issue. I’m guessing when James originally distinguished between the different kinds of rolls he did so for what he thought were more or less good reasons, and not upon a whim.

For instance, with a successful player-requested roll, I don’t know for sure why a player could only get a MoV instead of, as an alternative, being able to add dice to their pool. But I could guess why (as outlined in my earlier post)---the player requested the roll, indicating their desire to engage in a bit of narrative stance so why the fuck (so to speak) would you give them the option of replenishing their pool?

I agree the system is the system. But I think I like the different ‘feel’ the distinctions appear to convey.

Z


Title: A REALLY CRAZY LONG POST
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on May 18, 2002, 08:49:41 AM
Hi Zeotrope,

Speaking for Ron (which I shouldn't do, but I haven't talked to him in a while and I miss the guy), I think the passion he's referring to is about this dice mechanic yes, but also mechanics in general, and The Pool in particular.

To be really honest, I grapsed The Pool concepts right off the bat reading James' rules on a web page months ago and was very excited.  But when I read Ron's summaries of his two Questing Beast sessions I thought, "and now I could play it without ever looking at the rules again."  Because he stripped everything out that was extranious and made the parts that made The Pool amazing shine brightest.  (In fact, I forgot all about the extra dohinkies in The Pool.  I thought those were the mechanics.)

****

As for your specific point of whether a player can try getting more dice  if he takes an action...  Why not?  It'll move the story forward -- for good or ill.  I always thought that was the point -- players needing to bump up their pools will make more story happen...  Which is the point of the game.

But this one issue misses the larger issue: one of the joys of The Pool is it's lack of "gaminess" (Not that Gamism is bad!").  But The Pool isn't.

Moreover, it's a got a kick-ass, fun-inducing, extremely simply, ready to apply, let's make up story mechanic tha can be used again and agian in all situations.  Why muck it up?

*****

Thus, if James is being forthright in his summary of his writing process ("I find myself feeling like there aren't enough rules, than I add some.") then I think Ron's impassioned reply might be translated along the lines of, "Stop IT!"

Of course, it's James' game, and if he thinks he needs more rules, that's... Fine... I guess...  But as even he's just acknowledged, he probably doesn't.

I understand the impulse, though.  When I was working on a similiar kind of design at Mayfair, I kept bumping into one big problem: I could sell the whole damn thing on one piece of paper.  Who the hell would buy that?

Well, the answer is (though I didn't think of it at the time): the kind of people who want that piece of paper.  

You can't please everybody all the time (Re: GNS essay), so you might as well do the thing you're trying to do as well as you can, with each piece involved balanced and in propper proportion to every other piece.

I'd offer that it's just as difficult to commit to something simple as it is to committ to something complex -- though for very different reasons.

In the RPG community, complex is often percieved to have more value, becuase a complex means more bang for the buck: you'll be chewing on those rules a while, and that means your $35 investment will last longer.  (By complex I simply mean anything from AD&D3 to Shadowrun to Hero to Gurps, TRoS -- in short, anything meaty enough in rules to keep you busy a while learning it without being so complex you declare it too complex and mock the game's players for being number crunchers.)

(Remember, the consuming, understanding, mastering and teaching of rules is a big chunk of what the hobby is based on.  It's not my passion, though, and one of the reasons I wandered away.)

Compare this to games like Sorcerer or The Pool (and there are others), with rules that almost dissolve when you read them.  The work in these games is not in the rules consumption but in the play.  What do you build with the rules.  (Go is another perfection example of simple rules, complex play.)

*******  

It's been interesting to read some of the Actual Play comments above dealing with HeroWars, Whispering Vault, TRoS and Sorcerer.  During the summations, people talking about their desire to improve their game from what they've learned and it's all about scene framing, relationship maps, premise and narrativist goals -- which has nothing to do with using the rules better, but everything to do wiht elements of art and craft that stand outside the rules.  

This is a big turn in how gaming sessions used to be reviewd, because before there'd be a) complaints about how the rules "get in the way" (but had to be accepted); b) efforts to tweak the rules to get the sessions to be more fun; c) discuss vague ideas about "characterization" or making "better" adventures (story maps instead of geographical maps, finding the right genre and so on).  

Now there's a whole new vocabulary and set of tools in place to gauge improvement of building more engaging sessions -- and again, it has nothing to do with tweaking the rules.

******

So, agian, I empathize with James' position -- because we've all got this idea that these "games" are best when there's enough "gaminess" to keep the gamist in us engaged. But if you look at the Actual Play posts above you'll discover new desirs are being engaged.

The Pool, I believe, helped crack that portion of our heads open real wide (just reading the damned thing does that, becuase it busts so many assumptions.)  

I, along with Ron, (fuck or no fuck) believes that uniqueness should be preserved.  Keep it simple.  Let the focus and energy be put toward the tale.

*****

James,

If someone wants to add more gizmos and wheels, let them house rule it.  But don't panic about not having enough rules.  Let it be what it should be.  You're an artist, right?  Do you add more lines cause you think there aren't enough there yet?  Of course not.  Same with the rules.

And, again, check out Ron's summaries of TQB in Actual Play.  You might find some inspiration there.

Take care.  Keep going on a great engine for a great time,

Christopher


Title: Re: A REALLY CRAZY LONG POST
Post by: James V. West on May 18, 2002, 10:05:24 AM
To answer Andrew's question, you get 2 dice for a successful roll instead of just one. It works better that way.


Christopher:

Thanks so much for the post. A little injection of clarity is often just what I need.

I think I certainly fall into the trap of feeling like I need to give more "bang for the buck" (even though there aren't any bucks involved here, are there?). I know I'm guilty of picking up books in the gaming store and checking them for great art, thickness, all that cool stuff to look at. Even charts and tables are sometimes cool to look at. But in the end if you can't play it, why pay for it?

Yeah, I'm an artist, but the truth is I sometimes DO add more lines cause I don't think there are enough. And then I look at it and say "Damn...didn't need that one.". But as time goes by I learn to trust that ole gut instinct more and more.

The Pool will remain simple. This recent discussion has prompted me to go forward with stripping it down and re-writing it--should have it done soon.


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on May 18, 2002, 10:59:43 AM
Wahooooo!


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Zoetrope10 on May 19, 2002, 03:58:10 AM
Chris

I plead no contest on the issue of gamism.

I didn't understand what you said here however:

Quote
As for your specific point of whether a player can try getting more dice if he takes an action... Why not? It'll move the story forward -- for good or ill. I always thought that was the point -- players needing to bump up their pools will make more story happen... Which is the point of the game.


How will a player opting to add dice to their pool make the story move forward? When the player does so, rather than taking an MoV and moving the story along, they're abrogating control of the game back to the GM. The GM may as well have been narrating the game all along---the player-requested roll (intrinsically) did nothing to move the game on.

As currently written, a successful player-requested roll only gives the player an MoV, which is exactly the point of a player requested roll---isn't it?

Z

PS: I read your articles about Fifth Business, a while back, and thoroughly enoyed them.


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: James V. West on May 19, 2002, 05:34:54 AM
Quote from: Zoetrope10
Chris

How will a player opting to add dice to their pool make the story move forward? When the player does so, rather than taking an MoV and moving the story along, they're abrogating control of the game back to the GM. The GM may as well have been narrating the game all along---the player-requested roll (intrinsically) did nothing to move the game on.

As currently written, a successful player-requested roll only gives the player an MoV, which is exactly the point of a player requested roll---isn't it?


I think what Chris was getting at is that when players increase their Pools, they also increase their ability to gain MoVs on future rolls. My only concern initially was that players would ask for rolls for no other reason than to get some dice, which *could* be abused. But, as I stated earlier, I like to think that people playing The Pool wouldn't want to do that.

When a GM "narrates" a conflict I don't think of it as "his" show since there should always be a back-and-forth cooperation between players and GM that drives the story forward (see the band metaphor). If you GM it from the standpoint that a player who opts out of the MoV deserves what he gets then the game isn't going to go well. The current language of the game isn't very clear about this, which I'm correcting now.

However, when a player gets a MoV, it really is their show. Well, at least for the most part--the GM always has the ability to nip it in the bud if someone is fucking the whole game up ;-).


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Fabrice G. on May 19, 2002, 06:07:45 AM
Hi James,

hurry up !!! please ;)

I definitely want to try The Pool...but I also want to know what rules (and wich version) to use.

Maybe you could sum it up here on your forum...before going all the way to re-write it with new terminology and brand new exemples.

You've done an incredible work, but know you have to live with that and assume it ! ;)


Fabrice.


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on May 19, 2002, 06:46:24 AM
Dear Z,

Re: Toolkit.  Thanks.

Re: Your question:

My apologies for not being clear.  At this point, however, I disagree a bit with James.

It seems to me that a player who NEEDS some dice in his pool will start making rolls -- on the chance he'll succeed.  He'll use his traits (of course, to increase his odds), whether for his scenes, or the scenes of other characters*, in an effort to roll a success.  This means the themes/focus of the characters and their stories are brought to bear in the narrative in an active way.

My point then, is not that getting a die for the pool moves the story forward, but making a roll does.  It's active, there are consequences, and it will be focused around the Traits.  I like the fact that there's a carrot for getting players to make rolls.  This is their job -- it makes them proactive (as players and characters) -- especially when things are bleakest.  

There's a pool cap on the number of dice, right?  So no matter what it tops out at some point, right?  So what's the problem in encouraging players do more for a while?

(That's not a rhetorical question by the way.  Is there a problem?  And "Players will try to hog up the story..." I don't think is a valid problem, since we all seemed to agree months ago that the game is about who gets to yak it up.  The player gets the die, but the GM gets to yak.  Seems like a fair trade to me.  I might be wrong.  Make me afraid and I'll believe you.)

So: extra die, not moving story forward.  Action in the attempt for the extra die: moving story forward.  It funnels into the game of The Pool: who gets to tell the tale. You only get the die if you give up that privilage.  Again, I may be missing something here, but these are all things I've been assuming for months.

(*James, is the ability to make rolls in other character's scenes a part of The Pool as it is in The Questing Beast?)

(And one more thing: at the risk of making your head just spin: why no MoD in The Pool rules?  Really, it seemed to me the whole system hit stride in TQB.  I know you wanted TQB to be "different" and MoD are part of this difference... But why?)

Take care all,

Christoher


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: joshua neff on May 19, 2002, 10:50:38 AM
What Christopher is saying puts me in mind of a conversation Ron & I had the other night. I was talking about how I've decided I like systems that hook the players--I don't want a "transparent" system that "doesn't get in the way", I want a system that's fun, where there are mechanics that come into play, that drive the narrative while at the same time are driven by the narrative. Things like the Drama Dice & Backgrounds in 7thSea, the bonus dice & resolution mechanic in Sorcerer, the cards in Castle Falkenstein, the Experience Dice in Over the Edge, Inspiration Points in Adventure, & so on--little engaging bits that make the game, as a "game", fun to play. And in playing, they introduce stuff into the narrative, in a feedback loop.

Take Humanity in Sorcerer. Whether your Humanity is 7 or 1, the character acts the same--it's not an in-game gauge like Humanity in Vampire. But a Player should look at his PC's Humanity of 1 & say, "Crap, I need to get my Humanity back up." So, the PC will start doing stuff in-game that allows for recover rolls for Humanity. It drives the narrative & in turn is driven by the narrative.

Now take rolls in The Pool. You're rolling to resolve conflict, not tasks. So, even if a Player requests a roll to get some more dice back into his/her pool, as Christopher said, it'll add to the narrative, give some dramatic oomph to the game. Which is what's cool about it.


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Zoetrope10 on May 20, 2002, 07:05:03 AM
James, Christopher

Yes! After my head too stopped spinning, I think it's all come together. I can now appreciate that mechanical distinctions between GM-offered and player-requested rolls serve little purpose.

I don't want to appear to be going over old ground but I need to do so in order to explore a follow-on question. Bear with me.

In instances of a success, where the player chooses to add dice to their pool, would you distinguish between the way the GM might narrate the outcome? That is, if the GM called for the roll, narrate the outcome in favour of the player. If the player called for the roll, narrate the outcome the same way but maybe throw in unwanted or secondary outcomes that add complexity.

You end up with a hiearchy of outcomes (S = success; F = fail):

S1: MoV
S2: GM-narration in favour of player
S3: GM-narration in favour of player, possibly with new complications and challenges
F1: GM-narrated outcome, usually unwanted

I suppose you could fit an MoD in there, at F2, although I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with the concept of a MoD, at least for The Pool (OK for TQB, but ).

Too convoluted/still too gamist?

Z


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 20, 2002, 07:15:35 AM
Hey Z,

In my view, what you propose is totally too convoluted and, for lack of a better word, too organized.

Playing The Pool in the manner I play it (original rules) is easily and quickly customized to the standards of the immediate group. Sometimes a GM's narration favors the player over and above the immediate success, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes MoV's have great big scenario-changing consequences, and sometimes they don't. No one worries about consistency in this regard. It's not a big deal.

As for the original rules, my numbered summary above covers them pretty thoroughly, and the character creation system is pretty much unchanged in the current version.

Best,
Ron


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 20, 2002, 10:29:33 AM
James,

You wrote,
"My only concern initially was that players would ask for rolls for no other reason than to get some dice, which *could* be abused."

I think this is fear talking, without justification. "Abuse" is impossible. There is absolutely nothing "wrong," or possibly wrong, with getting some dice during play of The Pool. Bottom out? Get low? Then waive your MoV's and get some dice. That was the point of the system, not an abuse of it.

As multiple examples in Actual Play have shown, that rules modification has destroyed people's enjoyment of the game. "Thrashing at the bottom," and similar threads all show that removing the players' ability to add dice back means that they bottom out and stay there. Their response is to back off and do nothing, to avoid rolling altogether. It cripples the game.

Best,
Ron

P.S. Whether it's one or two dice doesn't matter to me. It does seem to me that one die is enough, once the artificial constraints on players' ability to get it are removed.


Title: Bravo!
Post by: Buddha Nature on May 20, 2002, 03:07:21 PM
I whole-heartedly agree with Ron.  The "bottoming out" thing has been my sticking point to running The Pool.  I think What Ron is saying, in concert with his order above make the Pool much more appetizing for me to run.

The thing that has always facinated me with the Pool is its simplicity--its perfect simplicity.

-Shane

PS: I think soon I will run a Star Wars Pool game (easy in the prep realm) and toss in the MoV and have SW stuff for Hallows and Accordes (stolen from TQB--which I think is awesome mechanically (and setting-wise but I don't go in for romantacism too much))


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: James V. West on May 20, 2002, 06:12:42 PM
I'm with you, Buddha. Simplicity. Amen, my brother.

Ron, thanks for the clarity. You know how much I appreciate that.

It's been my experience that two dice works great, so that's staying in the rules. The other added junk is gone 'cause they've never proven useful in my games, and they seem to be mucking it up for others.

This has been a most helpful thread, thanks to everone!


Title: Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?
Post by: James V. West on May 20, 2002, 06:17:44 PM
Oh, yeah...

Someone asked why no MoD in The Pool. The straightest answer is that I don't want to add anything else to the game. I liked the idea for TQB (and it works there quite well), but not for The Pool. It's something you can add if you want to, but it won't be in the rules.