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Independent Game Forums => Galileo Games => Topic started by: Ice Cream Emperor on October 04, 2006, 02:25:59 AM

Title: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Ice Cream Emperor on October 04, 2006, 02:25:59 AM

I recently bought Mortal Coil, and while I am definitely interested in running or playing the game, I am extremely confused by the Conflict rules -- to the point that I don't feel comfortable running a game. In fact, every time I read the rules I seem to get more confused, which makes it fairly difficult for me to outline exactly what the problem is. I have read a few threads on these forums that obliquely address the same sort of issues I'm having, but for whatever reason they weren't quite enough. I suspect that most of my problems center around the interaction between Conflicts and Actions within those conflicts.

In short, I have no idea how the two interact.

Upon first reading, the system appears to be a straightforward conflict resolution system -- both parties declare their intent, stakes are set, and they test abilities against each other to determine who gets to resolve the situation in their favour.

This very quickly dissolves when confronted with the following passage, where my descent into madness begins:

"Often, after everyone involved in a conflict has taken an action, the outcome of the conflict is still not clear." (p.58, "Conflict Rounds")

Okay, so now we have actions (they're explained on the next page), which are specific comparisons of two characters' abilities. The text implies that sometimes these actions are conclusive vis-a-vis the conflict stakes, but sometimes they aren't. After several readings through the Conflict chapter looking for any point of contact between Actions and Conflicts, this is the only paragraph I've found that seems to address the issue. My impression is that the only point of contact between Conflicts and Actions is that, after awhile, the player group can arbitrarily decide that the Conflict is over. There is no mechanical interaction at all that I can find -- which is pretty confusing to me, since it's the Conflicts that are probably driving the story, and this suggests that they are more or less unconnected to the actual resource mechanics.

My confusion only deepens when I get into the sections on multiple actions, etc. Basically, everything about resource allocation and the specific comparison of values is crystal clear (complete with diagrams) -- but the scope of the actions and the interaction of the actions in the fiction itself is outside my grasp. At this point I'm going to list some questions, instead of trying to explain my own convaluted interpretations.

Let's start with the scope of an Action. Can a single successful Action win my stakes in a Conflict? The text describing stakes suggests that each handhold up a cliff is not an appropriate Conflict -- is each handhold up a cliff an appropriate Action? If I succeed with Climbing, does that mean I'm up the cliff? Even if it's a really big cliff? If not, who decides how many Actions are required, or what margin of success? Another example referenced in a previous thread is the 'one person wants to leave the room, the other wants to stop her'. Does it take more than one successful Action to leave the room? In short, what are the limits to the scope of narration that results from a single Action? Can I get my character elected president with a single Will+Statesman Action?

A related sub-question is: 'Can I skip over things which someone else might perform as Actions, in order to get to a part of the Conflict I want to pursue?' For example, if the Conflict involves my character climbing a cliff in time to stop the villain from throwing someone into the briny depths below, do I need to have a Climbing Action at all, or can I just start with Power+Fisticuffs and narrate how, after climbing the cliff, I am now trying to wrestle the villain's victim away?

Second set of questions relate to opposed Actions, and how you can tell if Actions are directly opposed or not. In another thread a lot of folks talk about how it's important to guess what someone else will do, so you can allocate Action Tokens to oppose them -- the implication is that if someone else takes an Action that I have not anticipated, they get a free crack at it (with my passive resistance, of course). It's very unclear to me what counts as opposed or not, and it seems to depend largely on the scope of the Actions vis-a-vis the Conflict. For example, two characters are engaged in a hectic barfight. I declare as my action 'I grab a pool ball off the table and throw it across the room, aiming at Frank's head'. Frank is meanwhile engaged with some NPC, but he has allocated tokens to the action 'I duck and weave, trying to avoid my opponent's blows.' Does this Action oppose my Action throwing the pool ball? What if Frank declared the same action, minus the last part about his opponent?

In another thread using the 'Character X wants to leave, Character Y wants to stop them' example, someone asks the same question, giving as an example Character X trying to dodge out of the room physically while Character Y tries to talk them into staying verbally. Based on all the other threads about the strategic importance of guessing your opponent's Actions in order to properly oppose them, it seems to me that Character X has just won the Conflict by doing something unanticipated -- Character X succeeds against her opponent's passive faculty and waltzes out of the room while Character Y finds himself talking to a wall. Similarly, if Character X decided to declare an Action where she verbally browbeats Character Y into letting her leave, and Character Y has declared some sort of wrestling move, then again he is caught off guard.

And yet, in that same thread, Brennan very clearly suggests that in fact these two Actions are opposed.

And here's the rub, for me -- when the scope is the Conflict, Brennan's response seems absolutely obvious. At the level of the stakes and the character's intents, these two approaches absolutely should be competing against each other to see who wins, with the winning side ending up as the main point of resolution in the narration (i.e. if the talker wins, then talking turns out to be what turns the tide; if the runner wins, then physical initiative takes it.)

But as far as I can tell nothing ever happens at the level of the stakes -- everything happens at the level of specific Actions, and if these two Actions are considered opposed than how could any two Actions not be opposed? They seem to be two different approaches to the Conflict at hand. And again, who is deciding what is and is not opposed? When I think of things at the level of the Conflict it seems easy to determine what Actions are opposed -- but from the point of view of the in-game reality (if that's even what I'm supposed to be looking at?) it's a lot harder.

The game seems to imply that there are conditions in which Actions are not opposed, even when two characters are in direct Conflict. This is mechanically very significant, and in fact there are several special maneuvers one can take to compensate for this problem -- but there's no mechanic in place that I can see to determine whether this is the case. Someone compared this interplay to the Fight scripting rules in Burning Wheel, but in BW there are very strict and straightforward rules about what scripted actions counter what other scripted actions. In this case, it seems that the players (or GM?) are meant to determine when Actions are and are not opposed through collective agreement. If this is the case, what guidelines would be useful to follow?


So, one possible solution to this is that when setting stakes you should never have directly opposing intents. If player X says they want to grab the Holy Grail then nobody is allowed to set their goal as a) grabbing the Holy Grail instead or b) stopping anybody from grabbing the Holy Grail. Then when every character enters into a conflict, they have their own stakes they are pursuing, and they must split off resources to stop other characters from achieving their own goals.

So in this case we might have:

Character X: I want to grab the Holy Grail.
Character Y: I want to push Character X into the chasm below.
Character Z: I want to convince Character X that I am the rightful owner of the Holy Grail.

Now there's an obvious tension for, say, Character X -- he can take Actions to get the Grail, or he can take Actions to avoid getting pushed into the Chasm, or he can take Actions to remain unconvinced by Character Z. Or he do all of the above at once (poor guy.)

But then, on top of that, there seems to be the possibility that he will declare the wrong sort of Action, and waste tokens defending against an attack that does not exist. If he decides to declare an Action where he uses his Grace+Athletics to keep his balance as he dashes for the Grail, should this be considered a blanket opposition to any of Character Y's actions? What if Character Y's Action is to use Wits+Mechanical Genius to construct an elaborate catapult that will destroy the ramp that leads to the Grail? If the option exists where Character X can "whiff" on a defensive Action, it seems like he's even more screwed than before.

Is this the solution? Orthagonal conflicts only? It doesn't seem to fit with most of the examples of Actions in the books, exactly -- but it does fit with the advice in the Setting Stakes section. However, even there it just seems to be advice -- like 'it would be cooler if you went further with your counter-stakes', not 'you must not have stakes which directly oppose those of another player'.

Anyways, I'm going to stop rambling here, since I suspect my remaining concerns are simply further elaborations on the above. I admit I cannot shake the feeling that Mortal Coil's conflict resolution system is the bastard lovechild of DitV and White Wolf, which associations may also be a source of confusion. I keep expecting to see DitV-like rules clearly laying out the connections between the individual Actions and the progress of the overall Conflict.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on October 04, 2006, 02:26:04 PM
Hey, Daniel. This issue I think is the main source of confusion over the rules, and definitely something where the text of the rules could stand to be a lot clearer. This, unfortunately, did not come out in playtest, only after I published the rules, and so just take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.

Anyway, I am going to answer your post in exhaustive detail, but because of this detail, please give me a day or so to get it all written out. My answer to your post is going to be a long description of the procedures of play in a sample conflict, and it will get posted to the wiki, as well as in PDF form as a sort of errata sheet to the rules as written.

We'll probably refine my initial post a bit with questions, and I want to invite everyone who has experience in play or has had trouble figuring the conflict system out to chime in.

More soon...

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on October 04, 2006, 04:51:24 PM
Well, I haven't played the game, but I read the rules just this Monday, and would like to explain how I see them. My particular interest here stems from the fact that the rules of Mortal Coil seem to actually be a re-take on the idea of "dynamic stakes" we know and love from games such as The Mountain Witch, Polaris, Sorcerer and Shadow of Yesterday.

In this context I wasn't particularly confused by the rules, but then again, I did pretty much ignore page 57 after reading the rest and seeing what was going on. If you're not familiar with this kind of mechanics, I can see how that page can totally confuse you as to what's what. Let me go over how I understood the rules to work, based on my single reading and experience with the games mentioned above.

First, realize that conflict procedure trumps stakes. That stake-setting text there is not to be taken really, really seriously as a mechanical constraint on the game, but rather as a social-level statement by the players on what is going on. It's just a reminder of why we're doing the conflict in the first place, but it's totally OK to extend, override or nullify the initial stakes through the process of play. This phenomenon is exactly the same one you have in the formal TSOY rule of "changing goals", wherein you restate your goal for the conflict in the middle of it and are forced to make a defensive action. Like TSOY, the MC rules allow you to end up resolving something totally different from what you declared at the beginning. Do I ignore page 57 to say this? Well, I think it's easier to interpret if you don't get yourself twisted over what Brennan might mean with "stakes". Just remember that ultimately the ability to declare actions makes it impossible to ensure that you'll end up resolving the stakes and only the stakes; if you ever declare something that's not stake A as your action B, then that effectively resolves B as a stake as well. Like DiV: if your narrated action concerns something important, you can still do it, and the opponent just has to decide if he wants to block it or not. In that sense each action is a small conflict. (Interestingly enough: TMW opts to use the nomenclature of "conflict rounds" instead of "conflict" and "action" for this same thing, recognizing that each action in this kind of extented conflict is potentially a small conflict itself. The TMW rules start by explaining the basic atomic technique, which is the simple conflict roll, and go on to discuss how you can string these rolls together to get a complex multi-participant multi-goal conflict. Some people get confused by this approach, too, so it's not apparently inherently superior pedagogically.)

(The stakes do, by the way, have an important function: they're a declaration of intent for the first round of conflict, which the other players can use as a basis of scripting their actions. Because you know what the opponent is ostensibly trying to do, you can try to pre-empt him, which is a large point here. We should note that socially the game does not give the option of lying about your supposed stakes; I think this is why Brennan opted to explain things the way he did, he wanted to make sure that stakes are declared and adhered to in intent, if not in the ultimate results. You declare truthfully and in whole at the beginning, but after that it's up to you how you get to those goals, or even if you decide to revise your goals all-together.)

Keeping all of the above in mind, how do you know who "gets the stakes" and when the conflict ends? The procedure is actually quite simple:
1) Declare stakes; this is the point where you discuss the fiction to make sure you all are on the same page as to what is the focal point of interest in the situation. It's crucial in many ways, not the least being that without it one player might script actions that take months to fulfill, while another works with split-second stuff.
2) Go through one loop of conflict resolution. Each player scripts whatever actions make sense for their character to do concretely in the fiction. Sometimes this is only a restatement of the stakes: "I want to push him over the cliff." can easily be imagined as both an appropriate action and appropriate stakes if it's been established that the characters are together near the cliff. If one of them, however, is still in the aeroplane, he should probably script a running action to get close to the other guy. What's appropriate and what's not is totally a matter of cinematics at this point: if it wouldn't make sense to cut an intervening step in a movie, don't cut it when you're scripting.
3) Deliver harm. This is the real conflict-meter in any situation where the characters are irrevocably involved in a complex and passionate conflict with one another. Ultimately harm will make it more sensible to back off, or it could even cause a character to become unable to continue the conflict. Unlike many similar games MC interestingly enough has an evaluation of both fiction and the mechanics in this stage: whether you take harm, and how much, depends primarily (that's how I read it) on your degree of failure, but can be bumbed up or down a bit by the GM if the situation warrants. (I'm not sure I like the vagueness here, but it's easy enough to fix with a rule of thumb if necessary.) This is completely identical otherwise to how TMW does the same thing.
4) Decide whether you want another round of conflict. I read it that this is ultimately about character interest, because if a player thinks that his character will and wants to continue, then a new round is played, even if the original declared stakes are long gone. (If it makes you more comfortable, think of it as a completely new conflict beginning right after the first one, with new stakes that are completely clear yet implicit to the players thanks to their involvement in the situation.) Many conflicts will be only one round long, because the characters only have one, simple goal, and the opposition is not protagonisly enough to escalate at this stage. Some conflict could even stop because characters decide to give up, and leave the stakes not resolved. But given a more important conflict, it could go a long ways, continuing on and on, even extending between scenes and so on, resolving numerous implicit side-conflicts on the way. This is easy in MC, because there is no overall-conflict framework like there is in DiV, for example; a MC conflict can easily be halted and resumed later with a new stakes declaration, because ultimately the first round and the second round of conflict are identical. You remember how DiV forbids simultaneous conflicts? This is why, and this is why MC supports it.

(One question I have: does the "Conflict rounds" bit on page 58 imply a new stakes declaration? In other words, if a player wants to continue the conflict, does he need to state the reason, that is, what stakes he is still hoping to accomplish? "If the group is unsure who has won the conflict, then it is not complete and another round of actions needs to be initiated." is not that useful in this, but I take it that referring to the group as the party that is uncertain implies that all the players need to know why the conflict still continues. This makes sense in other ways, too; even if we take it as granted that the game forbids a disingenious stakes declaration, it's still possible that a player recognizes a new goal in the middle of the conflict. Not telling the other players that your character is now trying for something else seems like a too easy way of getting around their scripts.)

Can you see from the above that all the stakes-related questions are ultimately answered by referring to the fiction and the concrete character actions? This is effective conflict resolution via task resolution, as it's necessary that any conflict is broken up into one or more well-defined tasks the character is both able and willing to do. Take the set of tasks one player chooses and the set the other chooses, fit them together, resolve, and you get a detailed narration of what happens in the next bit. If this didn't resolve everything to your satisfaction, repeat until it does.

Now that I've outlined the large-scale system, I'll answer some specific questions:

Action scale: the player decides action scale when he's scripting. He keeps actions within the declared stake scope, and does not group separate in-fiction activities into one scripted action. A good rule of thumb is to consider the situation in a movie: if you need to cut between shots to depict the action, then it's too complex, and should be separated into several actions. Another good rule of thumb is to consider the abilities and skills: only ever script actions that can be attained via the one ability and one skill. A third good rule of thumb is to only ever write simple sentences with no conjunctions, so you don't merge separate actions. An important point to remember is that as I'll explain below about action-fitting, a larger-scale action can be pre-empted by a lower-scale action. (This is all straight from my play of TMW, which works in a similar manner.)

Example: climbing a cliff is almost always one action, because you don't as a rule need several shots to establish that you are, indeed, climbing a cliff. The exception would be if it's been established that the cliff has very different parts, like when you get to the "Death-drop" after trecking the "Slopes" for three days.

Example: getting out of the room is almost always one action, as it's quite easy to script it as such. However, say your character is wrestling with another. In that case you probably should script freeing yourself, as otherwise you leave yourself open to an unresisted wrestling move from the other guy.

Example: becoming the president usually requires several actions, because you're easily pre-empted and it's difficult to depict the process logically with only one shot if it were a movie (which is not a rule, you know, only my rule of thumb for recognizing when a goal consists of several actions). Furthermore, "become the president" is not an action, because you're not doing anything. You could only script "win the election" if the scene had been established to include the whole election, and your opponent were in the scene. This is possible in theory (although horribly abstract and not really something you should be doing), but in practice you'd script actions like "stuff the Florida ballot" or "lie about your opposition in media" first, and when those are narrated and the situation tightens up, you'd follow up with "sway the Texans" and other such actions that ultimately end up with you becoming the president. You'd never script "win the election", instead focusing on lots of actions that ultimately end up with everybody agreeing that those actions do, indeed, mean that you become the president. Like, after you've won 50 actions of "sway the state X", the other players are being rather unreasonable if they don't agree that you've won the presidency.

Skipping actions: in general the answer is no, you can't skip actions, or at least you shouldn't. There's two reasons: the first one is that the actual scene framing and free play before the conflict is a consensual way of defining where the conflict of interest begins. If conflict is initiated when your character is still climbing the cliff, you're acting in bad faith towards your fellow players if you just skip this considerable obstacle because "that's not what you're interested in". If you're not interested in that, then suggest to the others that conflict be delayed a bit, and narrate your character up the cliff. Only start the conflict when you're eye-to-eye with the felon. Or at least, if you decide to skip it anyway, only do it if you're pretty sure based on your experience with your crew, that they won't mind.

The other reason to not skip actions is that it leaves you vulnerable to being pre-empted (about which I will, again, write more below): if you script a fisticuff when your character is still climbing, and the other player scripts "escape while he's still climbing", you're shit out of luck. He's getting in a free and unresisted blow, for which the game has quite exact rules, because you opted to ignore a rather obvious step in the fiction.

Action match-up: per the rules all your actions have to state a single opponent it's directed against. If the opponent has scripted an action that resists yours, then it's a resisted action. If not, it's an unresisted action. In the bar-fight example, only a physical fighting/dodging action directed at you will cause your ball-throwing to become a resisted action. If the player tried to use a social action, I'd rule it as pre-empted, because it's so much faster to throw the ball that I don't really see anybody intercepting it with words. The example about leaving the room is pretty similar in my mind, actually; if the other guy is not actively stopping you from leaving, then I have difficulty seeing how you'd stick around long enough to hear his social attack. But that's ultimately a GM call in this game (MC has GM-centric language in many places, so let's just go with it if that's how it's supposed to work).

I've referred to "pre-empting" actions several times, above. What I mean by that is that the adjucation about which action opposes which is done based on sensible evaluation of the fiction: if you're scripting "finish my engine of terror faster than you" and I script "punch you in the nose", then the latter happens without resistance, because your action happens on a fundamentally different scale. (While this kind of thing is alleviated by the stakes declaration and general scene framing, it seems to me that faster and slower actions will emerge in this system.) The interesting conundrum here is whether you're also getting your action as unresisted, because I "just" punched you, but didn't try to finish my own engine of destruction.

This is the part where I confess that it seems to me that there's a rule missing from the system, because it seems to me that you should be able to literally pre-empt an action with an action that invalidates the opponent's action. If I kill you in the first day of your six-month construction effort, you shouldn't get to finish just because I didn't script "win the race to finish my engine of destruction first" or whatever. It seems to me that this kind of thing is absolutely necessary for the system to work in an interesting manner, because if you're allowed to consider "I punch you" and "I construct an engine of terror" as resisted actions towards each other, it causes a huge disparity in action significance, not to mention that it doesn't make any sense. My fix is to simply decide that whenever an action is obviously dependant on something completely separate (like your finishing your construction effort is dependant on you not dying), the separate action has to succeed for the first action to succeed. Thus, if you want to script large-scale stakes-resolving actions, you better also script some defenses against possible simpler, faster actions that could pre-empt you.

(For the curious, compare this with how Sorcerer solves the same problem, which is quite interesting to my mind: the best roller acts first regardless of the scope of stated action. I can well imagine that an advanced utilization of the complex conflict system could use this principle to solve things like whether I can find you and punch you in the nose before you finish your terror engine construction.)

But other than the pre-empting thing I think the rules on action-matchup are pretty clear. You match up any two actions that are bilaterally targeted, resolve to cross-purposes and can interact meaningfully (the latter being the pre-empting scale issue I discuss in the above paragraph). I imagine that a given group will soon decide for themselves how some common activities are handled; for instance, I could see fighting done so that any fighting actions are automatically opposed, but I could also see how you might want to require a separate defensive action. The former is more realistic, perhaps, but the latter allows for dramatic ai-uchi strikes and offensive vs. defensive fighting styles. But these are all simple hashes, roleplayers do this all the time.

General answer to Daniel: finally, a general answer. You're absolutely correct that nothing is ever resolved on the level of stakes, everything is always resolved on the level of actions (which I suggest you start thinking of as small conflicts themselves). And I agree with you that dodging out vs. talking should not be a resisted situation, for the reasons of pre-empting I outline above. If you want the other guy to listen to you, by golly you should also script your intent to keep him there by force if necessary. Otherwise he's just walking out on you (which might or might not be OK with you, note). Interpreting it the other way around is a limp-wristed way of doing it, because it lets the "talker guy" off the hook as concerns that staple of drama, whether you grab the guy and punch some sense into him or not. Does ignoring Brennans position in this work for you, insofar as getting the system to work is concerned?

I think that interpreting the system in the manner I lay out here allows for both orthagonal and opposed stakes, as well as orthogonal and opposed actions. The trick is to remember to ignore the stakes as any kind of mechanical constraint on anything, and to focus on actions that make sense and are possible for the character at any given time. Situation in the fiction is a meaningful constraint on the means the characters can bring to bear, so as long as scripting honors the situation, everything should be fine.

I hope I didn't confuse things too much. Brennan: if I've understood this wrong, feel free to point out where I'm confused. I'm supposed to play the game a bit during the weekend or the beginning of next week, so I imagine I'll know for sure then.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Ice Cream Emperor on October 04, 2006, 06:46:19 PM
Brennan, that's fine -- there's no rush or deadline on the horizon. Please take your time.

Eero, your description and interpretation of the rules was definitely helpful -- but I think I'm going to hold off on any follow-up questions/replies until Brennan has a chance to reply as well.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on October 14, 2006, 03:14:37 PM
Eero is wise. I like his take on the conflict system.

As promised, here is the start of a more detailed procedure of play that will help explain the intricacies of the Mortal Coil conflict system. More than one group has had trouble with this, so it makes sense for me to write this out in a more detailed way. This text will be added to the game if there is ever a reissue, and it will be available for free on the Galileo Games web site once I'm done. I also plan to post it to the wiki.

Note that these are not new rules. This is a more detailed explanation of how to apply the existing rules.

So, youíve gotten into a conflict with another character. There are a lot of different ways this could fall out, and we will now go through them from the simplest scenario to the most complex.

Conflict 1: A Simple, One-Action Conflict between Two Characters
The most basic and most common sort of conflict is a quick head-to-head between two characters. In the example, Michelle is the GM, and she has two players, Jason and Krista.

Jasonís character Eckhardt has had it with the corrupt mine owner, and he gets a gun from his carís glove compartment and marches up to the mine ownerís trailer. Kristaís character Lucy steps in front of him.

Krista: Lucy says, ďYouíre not going in there with that gun.Ē

Jason: ďOh, yes, I am.Ē

Michelle: OK. This is definitely a conflict. Jason, whatís your goal?

Jason: Iím taking that gun with me when I go inside.

Michelle: Cool. Krista?

Krista: Heís going to give me the gun.

Michelle: All right. Thatís simple enough. Allocate your tokens, and weíll see whether Eckhardt gets to keep his gun.

Both Jason and Krista allocate their tokens secretly. Jason is using his Will of 4, plus Negotiator of 3, and puts all but one of his 7 action tokens in. Krista uses her Wits of 3, plus her Student of 2, and puts all but one of her 7 action tokens in as well.

Michelle: Ready? OK, letís reveal. Jason, whatís your action?

Jason: Eckhardt is a tough negotiator, so Iím using that, plus his will to get Lucy to step aside. Will 4 plus Negotiator 3 plus 6 action tokens is 13.

Krista: Lucy is going to appeal to reason and try to talk Eckhardt out of this. She has a Wits of 3, plus her Student of 2, and I put up 6 action tokens, too. My total is only 11.

Michelle: All right, that means Eckhardt is up by 2: a success. He gets to keep the gun. Jason, how does this go down?

Jason: Eckhardt says, ďGet out of my way, Lucy. This guy has refused to budge, and two people are dead because of it. Heís going to shut the mine down once and for all.Ē Eckhardt glares into Lucyís eyes, his resolve is clear.

Krista: ďEckhardt, youíre going to get arrested brandishing that thing. What if he has a gun, too? This can only end badly, you know that.Ē

Jason: With a curt shake of his head, Eckhardt brushes past her. She knows she canít change his mind.

Krista: ďDammit!Ē

Michelle: I think Lucyís shaken by this. Spend an action token, Krista.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on October 14, 2006, 03:16:07 PM
Conflict 2: A One-Round Multiple Action Conflict between Two Characters
OK, now weíve covered a really basic conflict. Now, letís get a bit more complicated. If two characters are in a conflict, they can try more than one tactic to get what they want.

In this scene, Michelle has the mine foreman confront Jasonís character Eckhardt, who is trying to enter the mine.

Michelle: A mine foreman comes out as you rush up to the mine. ďHold it right there!Ē

Jason: This is a conflict. Iím not letting him stop me.

Michelle: OK. Whatís your goal in the conflict? The mine foreman wants you to turn around and go back down to the office.

Jason: Iím getting into that mine, and I donít have much time. I donít want him to delay me.

Michelle: Sounds good. Letís allocate.

Michelle and Jason allocate secretly. Michelle decides the foreman is going to get rough with this strange character. She allocates 4 action tokens for the foreman to grab Eckhardt and give him the bumís rush, using Force 3 and his aptitude Redneck 2. Michelle figures Eckhardt might try to fight back, so she puts two action tokens in Grace 2 to dodge, again using Redneck 2.

Jason knows the foreman probably has the edge in a physical confrontation, so he decides to mix it up a bit. He doesnít want the foreman to get his hands on Eckhardt, so he allocates 3 tokens to defense, with Grace 3 and Policeman 3. He then allocates another 3 to Will 4 and Policeman 3, to show the foreman his gun and intimidate him into letting Eckhardt pass.

Michelle: Ready?

Jason: Ready. Letís reveal.

Michelle: The foreman is going to grab ahold of you, and give you the bumís rush out of here. ďI donít think you heard me, buddy. This mine is off-limits!Ē Thatís the Force action. The Grace action is to defend against you fighting back.

Jason: Good thing Iím not fighting back, then. My Grace action here is to resist any physical assault, and the Will action is to show the guy my gun and get him to back down.

Michelle: Nice! I didnít see that coming. Letís resolve. Your Grace is definitely opposing the foremanís Force. Iíve got a total of 9: 4 action tokens plus Force 3 plus Redneck 2. I figure as a redneck, he knows how to throw down.

Jason: All right, thatís fair. Iím using my Grace to resist, and I figure Iíve gotten in a few scraps as a cop. So, my total to resist is 9: 3 action tokens, plus Grace 3 and Policeman 3.

Michelle: Thatís dead even. That means each of you only gets a partial success. Hereís what happens: the foreman rushes up to, saying, ďThis mine is off-limits, buddy!Ē and he grabs hold of your jacket, trying to manhandle you back down the hill. Youíre light on your feet, and youíve been in some scraps before, so you resist, twisting away as he tries to force you to move. Heís got a grip, but he canít make you move.

Jason: Cool. Now the other action. Heís got no defense against Will. I pull out my gun. Iím not aiming it him, Iím just showing him I have it. ďIím more than you can handle, friend. Just step back, and we donít have a problem.Ē Iíve got 10 in that action: 3 action tokens, plus Will 4 and Policeman 3. Iím using the gun, too, so that gives me a +2, right?

Michelle: In this case itís a +1. A gunís purpose is to shoot people, and here youíre just using it to intimidate. Guns can certainly be used for that purpose, though, so you do get a bonus. Youíre total is 11. Heís resisting with Will only, and heís just got a 2. You beat him by 9 points, thatís a spectacular success. As soon as the gun comes out, he lets go of your jacket and puts his hands in the air, stepping back and shaking his head. ďI donít want any trouble, man. Take it easy.Ē

Jason: Good. I sprint for the mine entrance.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: coffeestain on October 14, 2006, 05:31:06 PM

This is awesome, thanks!  This is how I figured conflicts worked after a lot of confusion and trial/error, but it could certainly be clearer (as you identified).  I'm looking forward to the next installment(s) and I definitely feel this will be a valuable addition to the game's text.


Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on October 18, 2006, 02:32:31 AM
Glad this is helpful so far! Here's the next one:

Conflict 3: A One-Round Multiple Action Conflict between Two Characters with Reallocation
So, in the previous conflict, Jasonís character devastated the mine foreman because he hadnít anticipated Jasonís tactic. The mine foreman gave up and stepped back, because Michelle didnít think continuing the conflict was worth it. However, if something like this happens, there is another option to get out of terrible loss, and that is reallocation. Hereís an example of a conflict with reallocation.

In this scene, Jasonís character Eckhardt is ambushed by the villainous mine owner, and he has to defend herself.

Michelle: Youíve reached the breach, and you can see the head-sized hole that leads back into the magical dimension. Itís a swirl of darkness and fire, and an eerie howling that sounds nearly human is emerging from it.

Jason: OK, Iím stuffing the artifact back inside.

Michelle: Just as you approach, a figure looms from the darkness. Itís Jakkot, the mine owner, and he steps in your way. ďGive me the artifact, Eckhardt, and you wonít get hurt,Ē he says, in a menacing growl.

Jason: Like fun. Conflict. Iím putting the artifact in the hole.

Michelle: And heís going to get the artifact from you, by hook or by crook. Letís allocate.

Jason decides that Grace is the best faculty to use to get the artifact in the hole. Heíll throw it if need be. Heís backing that with Occult Investigator, and he drops all but one of his action tokens there. He decides to go all in on this one, and puts the last one into Will to resist whatever the foreman is dishing out. He sets his Policeman with that action.

Michelle looks at Jakkot, and drops his main action, for 5 action tokens, in his Grace associated with his Thug aptitude to shoot Eckhardt dead. She also drops two action tokens in his Force, to block Eckhardtís move for the hole, and uses Thug there again.

Michelle: OK. Letís reveal. Jakkotís using his Force action to physically block you from the hole, and Grace is going to him shooting you with his gun.

Jason: Heís shooting me? That bastard. My Grace action here is to throw the artifact back in the hole, and Iím using Will here to try to face down Jakkot, and stop him from shooting me, it looks like.

Michelle: I want to resolve the shooting action first, but whether or not you get plugged, the throwing action is still up against his Force to block. Jakkotís Grace is 4, and his Thug aptitude is also 4. He put five tokens toward this, so his total is 13.

Jason: My Will is 4, and Policeman is 3, and I had only one action token going toward this. My total is 8. Not good.

Michelle: Definitely not good. Heís beating you by 5, thatís a spectacular success. He will maim or kill you with this shot. Letís see how the toss turned out.

Jason: Iím using Grace of 3 and Occult Investigator of 2, and I put six action tokens behind this. Thatís a total of 11.

Michelle: Occult Investigator is pretty weak for this situation, but Jakkotís using Thug to counter, and thatís not any better. No bonus on either side. His Force is 3, Thug is 4, and he had two action tokens here. Thatís 9. You win a success by a margin of 2. So, youíll throw the artifact in the whole, but be possibly fatally shot by Jakkot.

Jason: The question is how bad do I want itÖ Iím not willing to take that hit, at this point. Iím going to reallocate.

Michelle: OK. That will cost you some action tokens.

Jason: I know, but itís worth it to get out of the way of this speeding bullet.

Jason and Michelle cover their allocation again. Jason decides to move four action tokens over to his Will action, bumping it well up out of the realm of serious harm. Michelle decides not to reallocate in order to save Jakkotís tokens for any follow-up conflicts.

Jason: Hereís how I reallocated. Now, the Will action is worth 12, and the Grace action is 7.

Michelle: OK. Jakkot gets the better of you in both actions now. He wins by one in the shooting action, so that means Eckhardt is scratched. He also gets a success in the block, by a margin of 2, so he steps forward and grabs the artifact, wrestling it away from you.

Jason: Iím not happy about that, but I am pleased to not be dead. Basically, Eckhardt canít stop the stronger man from taking the artifact, but a cold look from his eyes makes Jakkotís gun waver and the shot creases Eckhardtís chest and he stumbles back, losing his grip on the artifact.

Michelle: Jakkot, chuckling evilly, runs back up the mine shaft toward the entrance, the artifact tucked under his arm.

Jason: Now, Iíve got to bring my tokens back. I went all in, so I am fatigued. Thatís one spent action token. He winged me with the gun, for a scratch, so thatís a second action token spent. He would have scratched me when he seized the artifact, too, but two scratches donít increase the spent tokens and I donít have to worry about that. I also reallocated, so thatís a third action token spent. Iím down to four action tokens, and Jakkotís still at full. Iím not in good shape to stop him now. I hope Lucy is up there at the mine entrance, and I hope sheís got a gun!

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: coffeestain on October 18, 2006, 04:24:07 AM
Awesome!  Now, here's a question:

I thought that if only one side was reallocating, there was no need to cover the tokens again?  Only if both sides decide to reallocate, then another cover and reveal occur.  Am I misremembering?


Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Doyce on October 18, 2006, 11:50:25 AM
First: these examples are awesome, Brennan -- I'd love to see one with Multiple Actions Where the Outcome Is Not Clear After the First Round, just to see if what I think is right and what you're saying is right, agree.


"Often, after everyone involved in a conflict has taken an action, the outcome of the conflict is still not clear." (p.58, "Conflict Rounds")

My read on this is pretty darn simple.  (Maybe too simple, but it works for me):

"The final outcome of a conflict may not be clear after the end of one round of actions.  This usually happens when either (a) both sides take a single action and tie or (b) one or both sides of a conflict take multiple actions, but successful actions are split between both sides of a conflict in a such a way that agreeing who 'got their way' is not possible."

Example Intents:  She wants to leave, he wants her to stay and talk.

1. Single action tie between his talking and her graceful exit: His words get her to pause in the doorway, but she still isn't talking.
2. Multiple actions: his talking & grabbing vs. her obstinance & graceful exit, in which his talking fails, but his grab succeeds -- she's not gone yet, but neither is she listening.

Both of these would, I think, go to another round.  Examples when they wouldn't go to another round, because of the result:

3. Multiple actions: his talking & grabbing vs. her obstinance & graceful exit, in which his talking AND grab succeeds.

4. Multiple actions: his talking & grabbing vs. her obstinance & graceful exit, in which his grab fails, but his talking utterly obliterates her stubborn resistance.

5. Multiple actions: his talking & grabbing vs. her obstinance & graceful exit, in which his grab is totally obliterated, and his talking wins by only a bare margin: she's out the door and gone, with a small thoughtful frown at the point he made as she left.

-- It all is, as they say, kind of situational.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on October 18, 2006, 02:32:56 PM
I thought that if only one side was reallocating, there was no need to cover the tokens again?† Only if both sides decide to reallocate, then another cover and reveal occur.† Am I misremembering?

If that's clear from the outset, then you are correct. However, in the example it is possible that Michelle would have reallocated, and she may want to cover so that Jason has to guess at what her character might do. That's kind of judgement call on the part of the group. I've got no preference one way or the other as a designer.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on October 18, 2006, 02:35:20 PM
First: these examples are awesome, Brennan -- I'd love to see one with Multiple Actions Where the Outcome Is Not Clear After the First Round, just to see if what I think is right and what you're saying is right, agree.

I'm adding complexity with each example. The Multiple Actions/Multiple Rounds example is coming.

Regarding your second point, that's right. These are the situations where a second round of actions is generally required. It can also happen when everyone's actions, while moving toward their goals, don't quite get them there in a single reveal, if that makes sense.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Doyce on October 18, 2006, 03:20:24 PM
Regarding your second point, that's right. These are the situations where a second round of actions is generally required. It can also happen when everyone's actions, while moving toward their goals, don't quite get them there in a single reveal, if that makes sense.

Absolutely -- good stuff all around. :)

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: dyjoots on October 19, 2006, 12:31:37 AM
Are these examples going to be added to a wiki?  They're excellent.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on October 19, 2006, 02:34:36 AM
Are these examples going to be added to a wiki?† They're excellent.

Yes! I'll post a link later.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Ice Cream Emperor on October 21, 2006, 02:15:45 PM

Just thought I'd chime in to say that these examples are definitely helping, and I look forward to the not-yet-complete Conflict example, since I think that was one of my main sticking points. Doyce's examples of situations where that might happen were illuminating, for sure.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on October 22, 2006, 05:39:49 AM
I'm glad they are useful. Of course, I started from simplest to the most complex, so they are taking progressively more time to write up. More coming!

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on October 28, 2006, 02:34:37 AM
Conflict 4: A One-Round Multiple Action Conflict between Three Characters where One Is Helping
OK, sometimes in a one-on-one conflict, a third character gets involved, but doesnít have a goal of their own. Instead, they are helping one side or the other.

In this scene, Michelleís supporting character, Sal, a weaselly informer, is trying to seize a letter from Jasonís character Eckhardt. Kristaís character Lucy will try to help Eckhardt.

Michelle: Sal says, ďGive me the letter and Iíll see to it that Mr. Wallace gets it.Ē

Jason: ďI think Iíd rather give it to him in person.Ē

Michelle: Sal sidles a bit closer than youíd like. ďItís probably better if I take care of it.Ē

Jason: Uncool. Iím going to put the letter back in my jacket pocket.

Michelle: Iím going to call this a conflict. Sal is lunging forward, trying to grab the letter. If he wins, he runs off with the letter.

Jason: Fine. If I win, I keep the letter, and Sal tells me who heís working for.

Michelle: Nice. Letís allocate.

Krista: Hang on. Iím right there. Iím not going to let Sal get away with grabbing the letter and running.

Michelle: OK. Do you have a goal?

Krista: No. I just want to help Eckhardt.

Michelle: Great. Everybody allocate.

Jason decides heís going to get physical, too. He allocates two action tokens in Force and Policeman to grab ahold of Sal, two in Grace and Policeman to dodge Salís blows, and two in Will and Policeman to intimidate Sal into giving up his employer. Policeman is doing serious duty here.

Krista decides to load all of her action tokens, a total of five, in Grace, to trip Sal when he goes for Jason, helping Jasonís defense. She doesnít really have an aptitude that applies.

Michelle allocates two of Salís action tokens in Force and Dirty Fighter to grab the envelope, and three tokens in Grace and Coward for Sal to run away.

Michelle: Everybody ready? Letís reveal. Sal is going to use his Force action here to shove into Eckhardt and grab that envelope away from him. The Grace is to beat feet after.

Krista: Iím using Grace here to trip Sal and make it easier for Eckhardt to defend himself against the grab.

Jason: Iím using Grace to avoid that grab, Force to seize Sal, and Will to intimidate him into giving up his boss.

Michelle: Cool. Letís start with Lucy, since sheís helping and the outcome of her action will affect your totals, Jason.

Krista: I didnít really have an aptitude that applied, so Iím just using Grace. I put six action tokens in it, though, so that plus Grace 3 equals 9.

Michelle: Youíre trying to stop him from grabbing, and since you arenít using an aptitude at all, he definitely gets the +2 bonus for having a more applicable aptitude. His Force is only 2, and his Dirty Fighter is also 2, and he had two action tokens in there for a total of 8. Even with the advantage of having an aptitude you get a success. His grab action is at a -1 against Eckhardt.

Krista: Good.

Michelle: OK, Eckhardt. Letís resolve the grab. Sal had a total of 6 against you, since you have an aptitude, and thereís the additional -1, so you just need to beat a 5.

Jason: Eckhardtís Grace is 3 and Policeman is 3 and I put in two action tokens. Thatís 8.

Michelle: You beat him by 3, a complete success. Sal sidled forward and lunged at you, reaching for the envelope. You jerk your hand away, just as Lucy sticks her foot out to trip him, and he stumbles and misses the envelope. Seeing where this is going, he turns to flee. This is where we resolve your grab and his running action.

Jason: My Force is 2, and Policeman again at 3, plus two action tokens. Thatís 7 for the grab.

Michelle: Salís Grace is 3, and his Coward aptitude is 1, and he put 3 tokens in to run for it. His total is also 7. Thatís a tie. Neither one of you gets what you want.

Jason: He canít run, and I canít grab himÖ but I still get my Will action because he didnít get away yet.

Michelle: Thatís right. Eckhardt grabs his jacket by the collar, but Sal is a slippery character. He ducks out of the jacket, leaving you holding his clothes, and he turns to run. Heís off balance, though, and he only manages a few shaky steps. He looks back at you.

Jason: I put my cop face on and shout, ďStop!Ē My Will is 4, and Policeman is 3, along with two more action tokens is a total of 9.

Michelle: Yeah, and Salís got no defense against that. He stops, quaking, obviously too terrified to run, or do anything else.

Jason: ďIím not going to hurt you, Sal, but youíd better tell me who sent you.Ē I take a couple of menacing steps forward.

Michelle: ďYou gotta believe me, Eckhardt, I donít want any trouble with you! It was Duncan. Heís the one who wants the letter!Ē

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on October 28, 2006, 02:37:56 AM
Conflict 5: A One-Round Multiple Action Conflict between Three Characters
Up to now, all of the conflicts weíve been looking at have been between two characters. Sometimes, more characters get involved, and that definitely makes things a bit more complicated. Hereís a one-round conflict between three characters, all with goals of their own.

This time, Michelle, Jason, and Krista are joined by Bill in a different game. They are all playing gods: Krista is Prosperpine, Jason is Jupiter, and Bill is playing Pluto. Jupiter and Proserpine have just walked into a bar where Pluto is having a drink.

 Michelle: Pluto looks up from the bar as the door swings open, and in walks Jupiter with Proserpine on his arm. Theyíre both dressed for a night out.

Jason: Iím ignoring Pluto and finding a table for me and Proserpine.

Krista: Iím not looking at Pluto. I saw him over there, but I donít want to acknowledge his presence.

Bill: Oh, no. Iím not going to ignore this. I order up another stiff drink and down it, then Iím going to stand up, straighten out my tie and walk over to them.

Jason: ďOh, Pluto, I didnít notice you there. How are you, brother?Ē

Bill: Iím totally blowing Jupiter off. Iím talking to Proserpine. ďI know weíre through, but, really, him?Ē I wave my hand at Jupiter.

Krista: I dart an annoyed glance at Jupiter. Iím not happy about this. ďItís not really any of your business, now, is it?Ē

Michelle: Bill, are you trying to get something out of this conversation?

Bill: Yeah. I donít think I can change her mind about me, I just want to make sure she doesnít go home with Jupiter.

Jason: Iím not going to put up with him ignoring me. I want to humiliate Pluto and leave with his girl.

Michelle: This is definitely a conflict, then.

Krista: His girl? Nice. Iíve got a goal here, too. I want Pluto to admit it was his fault we broke up.

Michelle: Interesting. This is a three-way conflict, then. Letís see who gets what they want, shall we? Everyone secretly allocate tokens for your actions.

Jason decides that heís going to try to get Pluto to back off by intimidating him, and allocates 4 tokens in Will and his King of the Gods aptitude toward that. He also wants to charm Proserpine, so uses his Wits and Ladiesí Man aptitude, plus 2 action tokens for that action. Just in case Pluto decides to get rough, he allocates one token in Force plus his Boxer aptitude.

Bill knows Jason will try to block his attempt to peel Proserpine away from him, so he concentrates on that action with only a slight defense. He puts six action tokens in Wits plus his Huckster aptitude to persuade Proserpine that Jupiterís a loser, and then throws one in Will plus God of the Underworld to resist whatever Jupiter or Proserpine throw at him.

Krista decides to put most of her attention on Pluto, and allocates five tokens to her Will and Ingťnue aptitude to get him to apologize. She also allocates two tokens to Wits and Goddess of the Underworld aptitude to ignore Jupiter.

Michelle: Everybody ready? OK, letís see what youíve got.

Jason: My Will action here is to menace Pluto and get him to back off. Wits here is to charm Proserpine with my smooth manner. I had one in Force, too, in case Pluto got physical, but that doesnít seem to be happening.

Bill: I put just about everything here in Wits to make an argument to Proserpine that Jupiter is a philandering loser. The Will action is to defend against both the these two.

Krista: Oh, youíre in trouble, Bill. My Will here is to get you to apologize. And the Wits is to fend off Jupiter.

Jason: ďFend me off?Ē Aw, man, thatís cold.

Michelle: All right, letís match up all of these actions. Jupiterís Will is going against your Will, Pluto, and Jupiterís Wits is going against Proserpineís Wits. Proserpineís Will matches up against Plutoís Will. Proserpine, even though you only specified Jupiter, your Wits will defend against both these jokers. Letís add them all up and find out what happens! Letís start with Jupiterís attack on Pluto.

Jason: OK. My Will is 4, and Iím using King of the Gods, which is 2. Add the 4 action tokens, and Iíve got a total of 10.

Michelle: All right, Pluto, what have you got?

Bill: My Will is 3, and I have God of the Underworld as a defense here, which is also 3. That, plus the one action token, puts me at 7.

Michelle: That puts Jupiter up by three on this attack, a complete success. Letís figure out the rest of the results before I tell you how that turns out. Krista, Proserpine is defending against two moves, letís figure that out.

Krista: Proserpineís using Wits to defend. Her Wits is 3, her Goddess of the Underworld is 3, and I put two action tokens there. Total of 8.

Jason: Jupiter is using his Witsó2, definitely not his strong suit, and his aptitude Ladiesí Man, which is 3. I put two tokens into that, which puts me at 7.

Michelle: Proserpine squeaks by on that one. A margin of 1, thatís still a success.

Krista: Whew.

Bill: Pluto really poured himself into this one. He used Wits, his highest stat at 5, and Huckster is a 4, plus six action tokens comes to 15.

Krista: Fifteen?

Michelle: Yeah, thatís pretty devastating. With an 8 for Proserpineís defense, weíre looking at a margin of 7, a spectacular success.

Bill: Excellent. Thatís what I really cared about, anyway.

Michelle: Obviously. Now, youíve got to defend yourself against Prosperpineís action, though.

Bill: Uh-oh.

Krista: So, Proserpine used her Will, a 4, and Ingťnue, also at 4, along with five action tokens. Thatís 13.

Michelle: And Bill, your defense was 7. She beats you by six. Thatís a spectacular success for her.

Jason: Wait, I beat Pluto, Proserpine beat Pluto, and Pluto beat Proserpine? How does that work?

Michelle: Letís look at what everyone wanted out of the conflict. Pluto wanted Proserpine to ditch Jupiter, and with that spectacular success, it looks like that will work out. Proserpine wanted Pluto to admit it was his fault they broke up, and with a spectacular success, thatís going to come to pass as well. Jupiter, youíre only getting half of what you want, it seems. You wanted to humiliate Pluto, and with a complete success, that worked. But you also wanted to leave with Proserpine, and Pluto has convinced her to ditch you, so thatís not going to work out.

Jason: Interesting.

Michelle: So letís play this out. Pluto, you convinced Proserpine that Jupiter is a big jerk.

Bill: ďListen, Proserpine, I know you came here to get at me. I get it. But really, him? You know what heís like. Itís not like half the nymphs in this place havenít been home with him in the last six months. Heís just using you to get at me.Ē

Krista: ďMaybe Iím using him to get at you. Ever thought of that?Ē She turns her head as if sheís going to ignore Pluto.

Jason: Wait, what? No way. ďCome on, baby, donít be like that.Ē

Bill: ďHeís a complete slimeball. Look, you want me to say Iím sorry? OK, Iím sorry.Ē

Krista: ďNot good enough. You know it was your fault I left, why donít you admit it?Ē

Jason: Iím not going to sit here and take this from them. Jupiter rises up, seeming to grow too large for this little bar, and looms over Pluto. ďStep away, little brother, or youíre going to get hurt.Ē Lightning crackles at the corners of his eyes.

Bill: Oh, yeah, I lost that intimidating fight with you. Thatís totally working. Pluto quails and looks around nervously, licking his lips. Everybody else in the bar turns away, smirks of pity and disgust on their faces, as Pluto takes a few steps back. Heís still talking to Proserpine, though. ďYouíre right. It was my fault. I was too controlling, I know that. I wish I could go back, but I canít.Ē After that last comment, heís stepping quickly back over to the bar, hoping he hasnít pissed Jupiter off enough that heíll come after him.

Jason: Thatís more like it. Show some respect, Iím King of the Gods. Jupiter turns back to Proserpine. ďLetís get out of here, baby. Iíll show you a night on the town.Ē

Krista: Proserpine is putting some things back in her handbag. ďI donít think so. Iím pretty sure it was a mistake to go out with you in the first place. Iíll get a cab home.Ē

Jason: Ouch. Oh, youíre going to pay for this one, Pluto.

Michelle: OK, I like how that played out. People lost conflicts here, so there is going to be some harm. Jupiter, Proserpine brushed you off, but she only beat you by one in that conflict, so you are only shaken. Spend an action token. Bill, that was rough. Jupiter beat you by three in his conflict, and you were humiliated in front of the whole bar. Youíre a regular here. Thatíll cost you. I think youíre anguished, spend two action tokens for that. And then thereís the little matter of having to admit you drove your wife away, also in front of the entire bar.

Bill: Oh, yeah, I think that broke him. Iím going to permanently reduce his Will by one.

Michelle: Harsher than I was going to go, but, yeah, broken it is.

Bill: And I know I beat Proserpine with a spectacular success, but I wasnít trying to hurt her, just influence her behavior. I donít think she should suffer any harm from that action. The harm would have been going home with Jupiter.
Michelle: I agree.

Jason: Hey!

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on November 19, 2006, 08:50:24 AM
The long awaited multi-round conflict writeup! I took Jason, Remi, and Clinton's game as an inspiration. I'm sure the conflict below resembles the actual play not at all.

Conflict 6: A Multiple Round Conflict between Two Characters
Now we get down to it: the hardest part of the conflict system. What happens when everything doesnít neatly resolve when all the actions are worked out? Thatís when you have multiple action rounds.

In this conflict, we have two characters; an Inuit shaman, Ataninnuaq, and a white nurse, Emily. Michelle is running the game, Krista is playing Emily, and Jason is playing Ataninnuaq. The shaman has the ability, set by magic token, to smoke illness out of a person with a fiery ritual.

Jason: I have the fire built in the back of the orphanage and I set the platform over it. Iím going to go inside and get the kid to put him over the fire.

Krista: Oh, man, Iíve been watching this from inside. Iím not going to let this guy take any of the kids away.

Michelle: That sounds like a conflict. Jason, whatís your goal?

Jason: I want to heal the kid with my fire cure.

Michelle: Fair enough. Krista?

Krista: No way heís putting a kid atop that fire. I want him scared off, afraid to come back to the orphanage.

Michelle: All right. Ataninnuaq forces his way in the back door and heads over to the bed where little Joseph is lying, shivering with fever. Emily has been tending to Joseph all day, and she now stands by the bed, defiantly. Allocate your tokens for the conflict.

Jason knows the nurse is going to try to stop him, but he isnít interested in physical violence. He allocates 3 action tokens to Force and his Hunter aptitude. To change the nurseís mind, he decides to allocate 2 action tokens to his Will and Shaman aptitude.

Krista is pretty sure she wonít be able to win a physical conflict with the hard-bitten shaman, but she puts 2 tokens in her Grace along with Nurse to block him from the child. She also puts 4 tokens in Will and the Missionary aptitude to intimidate the shaman into backing off.

Michelle: Ready? Time to reveal.

Jason: Ataninnuaqís Force action here is to pick up Tiriaq and take him out to the fire.

Michelle: Tiriaq?

Jason: Yeah, thatís Josephís real name. Ataninnuaq certainly wonít refer to him by his missionary name. All right, the Will action is to use his words to shake Emilyís faith.

Krista: Emily is using this Grace action to block the shaman from reaching Joseph. Sheís also trying to get Ataninnuaq to back off, thatís the Will action.

Michelle: OK, the two Will actions are opposed, and Ataninnuaq is testing his Force against Emilyís Grace. Letís see how it shakes out. Letís start with the mental conflict. Jason, what have you got?

Jason: Ataninnuaqís Will is 3 and his Shaman aptitude is 4, combined with 2 action tokens, thatís 9.

Krista: Emily is using Will, too, and her Will is 4. She is also using Missionary 3, which counters the Shaman aptitude nicely, Iíd say. With the 4 action tokens I put in there, thatís 11.

Michelle: A win for Emily. Yeah, no advantage on either side between Missionary and Shaman. OK, letís check that physical conflict.

Jason: Ataninnuaqís a wiry old bastard, Force 3, and his Hunter aptitude, also 3. With 3 actions allocated, thatís another 9.

Krista: Emilyís Grace is only 2, but she has Nurse at 3. Along with 2 action tokens, itís a 7.

Michelle: Hunter and Nurse are both stretches for this one, but since both are equally implausible, no advantage to either side again. This oneís a win for Ataninnuaq.

Jason: So, Ataninnuaq will pick Tiriaq up and take him outside to the fire, but he canít shake Emilyís faith? That works.

Krista: Not quite. Emily may have lost that physical conflict, but sheís not done. No way is she going to let him put that kid over the fire, not while she can still move.

Michelle: OK, it sounds like this conflict isnít over. Letís describe what happened after the first conflict, though.

Jason: Ataninnuaq walks up to Emily and fixes her with a baleful gaze. ďThe ways of my people are long, and we know secrets you whites have forgotten. I can cure the boy.Ē He stares at her for a long moment, something old and powerful revealing itself in his flinty eyes.

Krista: Emily looks at the old shaman for a long time, and it seems almost like she may shrink back and yield to his will, but then she reaches up and touches the cross hanging from her neck, and her uncertainty turns to horror. ďYou wonít touch him, not while I live.Ē

Jason: Ataninnuaq seems unmoved by her statement, and with nothing more than a grunt he roughly pushes her aside and picks up the shivering boy. He carries him briskly through the door, to where his fire and platform are prepared.

Michelle: But Emilyís not done, right, Krista?

Krista: Right. Letís do another conflict round. Heís going to have to really neutralize Emily if he wants to get away with this.

Michelle: OK, same goals as before. Allocate your tokens.

This time, Jason thinks he needs to get physical. The mental conflict didnít work. He puts in one token in Will and Shaman to resist anything Emily may throw against him, but dumps the rest (4 tokens) in Force and Hunter to overpower Emily and tie her up so she canít stop him.

Krista also decides to go physical this time. She decides to put 3 tokens into Force and Nurse to grab up Joseph, and 3 tokens in Grace and Frontierswoman to run away from Ataninnuaq with the boy in her arms.

Michelle: Everyone ready? Letís reveal.

Jason: I need to finish this ritual without interruption, now. The Force action here is to overpower Emily and tie her up. The Will is to resist any mental assault she might try on me.

Krista: Iím using Force to grab Joseph back and then Grace to run from Ataninnuaq.

Michelle: Jason, since Krista didnít use a mental action, your defense isnít too useful. It looks like your action is directly opposed to both of Kristaís, though. Letís take her first step, which was to grab the kid away from you. What have you got, Krista?

Krista: My Force is just 2, but I have 3 in Nurse. With 3 action tokens, thatís 8.

Jason: Iíve got a Force 3 and Hunter 3, and I put 4 action tokens in there. Thatís a 10.

Michelle: Iím sorry to do this to you, Krista, but Jasonís Hunter aptitude is much better suited for the conflict at hand. He knows how to overpower and tie up things, and your Nurse aptitude isnít as applicable for snatching kids away from people. That gives Jason another +2, putting him at 12 to your 8. Thatís a complete success.

Krista: Oh, crud. Well, Emily is going to be damaged by this, for sure.

Jason: Yeah, Ataninnuaq isnít trying to hurt her. Sheíd be scratched at most.

Krista: I donít mean physical damage. Sheís going to be tied up and have to helplessly watch as this guy burns a kid in her care over a fire, at least thatís how she sees it. Sheís going to be anguished by this, thatís 2 action tokens spent.

Michelle: That makes sense. Of course, the shamanís ritual is actually going to work, and JosephÖ

Jason: Tiriaq.

Michelle: Sorry, Tiriaq, is going to get well. Jason, why donít you describe what happens.

Jason: OK. Emily comes rushing out after Ataninnuaq, and she grabs Joseph, trying to wrestle him away from the shaman.

Krista: Tears are streaming down her face, sheís clearly desperate.

Jason: Obviously annoyed, Ataninnuaq pulls the boy away, setting him on the ground. As Emily tries to dart around and pick him up, the wizened old shaman leaps at her like a wolverine, knocking her to the ground. He quickly overpowers her and binds her up with leather ties, putting a gag in her mouth so she canít scream for help. He has a sad, almost sympathetic expression on his face as he turns back to the boy. Taking him up, he lifts Tiriaq above his head, and begins chanting. He places the boy down on the platform and begins to sing.

Krista: Emily screams into her gag and struggles to reach her charge, but to no avail. She closes her eyes and turns away from what she expects will be the horrifying death of the sick little boy.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Doyce on November 20, 2006, 10:25:42 AM
Awesome, Brennan.  Let me know if you want me to do the grunt work of transcribing the examples up to the wiki; I'd be happy to do that small bit of help.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on November 20, 2006, 12:54:30 PM
Thanks for the offer, Doyce, that would be great.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Doyce on December 08, 2006, 11:17:11 AM
And, finally, these are all up and organized on the Wiki:

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on December 08, 2006, 06:59:57 PM
That's great. Thanks, Doyce!

I am actually planning to write two more of these, as well, but it might be a little bit before I can get to it. I've got a lot on my plate!

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Doyce on December 08, 2006, 09:47:02 PM
No problem. They're a piece of cake to add to the wiki when you do.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Doyce on March 21, 2007, 09:40:14 AM
Although I'm deadly and desperately interested in the questions I posed over here (, in rereading these conflict examples, a question reared it's curious head.

In the "Multiple-round conflict between two characters" example (the missionary vs. the shaman), I noticed that neither of the characters take any kind of Harm (I almost typed Fallout, heh) as a result of the first 'round' of action -- it's only after the actual end of the conflict that they access harm taken, and they only seem to be paying attention to the results of the final (second) round to determine what kind of Harm they take.

Now, that totally works for me, but I wanted to make sure that that is, in fact, how it's meant to work before I run off into the uncharted wilderness of another game session this weekend.

Title: Re: [Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion
Post by: Brennan Taylor on March 23, 2007, 12:07:42 PM
Harm is not mandatory. Players can choose not to cause harm in conflicts they win, as can the GM.

Title: Mortal Coil Conflicts Actions Rules Confusion
Post by: N.riweeni on September 22, 2009, 09:36:16 AM
Hi again,
I tried this NTSC version too but I encountered the same problem: after the first image shows the supported controllers, console hangs off with a black screen
I use USB Loader with only Error 02 enabled and Language set to English.
Any ideas?