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Inactive Forums => Random Order Creations => Topic started by: James V. West on October 05, 2002, 07:40:40 PM



Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: James V. West on October 05, 2002, 07:40:40 PM
Hey

What I want to do here is just sort of survery everyone interested in The Pool and find out what your idea of the game is. What rules tweaks do you use or would you like to try? What elements of the game as it stands irk you?

For clarity, here are the original rules of the game with changes and modifications in italics (some of the rules are not listed such as the Death's Door rules which I feel are pretty solid, though rarely needed in my experiences--if I leave anything important out that you can think of please let me know):

1) A character starts with a 50-word Story.

2) Players start with a Pool of 15 dice.

3) Traits are picked from the Story.

4) Bonuses can be assigned to Traits as desired.

5) Bonuses can be increased as desired by spending dice.

6) You spend dice from you Pool to assign or increase a Bonus. The cost is the desired Bonus times itself.

7) You get to add 12 words to your Story after each playing session.

8) Die rolls can be initiated by anyone.

9) You only need to roll a 1 to succeed, all other results are ignored.

10) The GM must award 1-3 extra dice to any roll.

At some point I think I had this rule stating that if a roll was initiated by a Player, the GM did not have to award any dice. That's an un-necessary complication, I think.

11) You can gamble up to 9 dice from your Pool on any roll.

Some people have suggested either reducing this limit or relaxing it. You could consider it a "dial" if you want, and turn it up or down for your own game but officially I doubt it will ever change.

12) By linking a Trait to an action you can add dice equal to that Trait's Bonus to your roll.

It's been suggested to allow players to use multiple Traits if they can link them. I prefer one.

13) Success means you get to add 1 die to your Pool or give a Monologue of Victory. If you choose the die, the GM then narrates the event.

The current rule grants 2 dice for a successful roll instead of 1. I prefer 2 dice because I think it provides a little more stability.

Nathan "Paganini" from The Forge suggests letting the GM award 1-3 dice for a successful roll when a MOV is not taken.

Note: I've suggested making a distinction between a GM-initiated roll and one initiated by a Player. A Player-initiated roll would mean you must make a MOV--you can't get dice for your Pool. This has been contested several times by different people and I tend to agree with them. It muddies things up.


14) Failure means you lose all the dice you gambled and the GM gets to narrate the event.

One suggestion was that any failure would result in gaining a die for your Pool. In this way by not gambling on a roll you'd always get the opportunity to add dice no matter what the result.

15) Dice are carried over from session to session.

New: every Pool is reset to 9 dice at the beginning of each session.


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Bob McNamee on October 06, 2002, 04:19:08 PM
In my Supers playtest using the Pool (with the MOD from QB) I was accidentally letting the characters use more than one trait bonus die.

This ending up being like giving out an extra couple of dice on every roll. I (GM) never did narrate... the few times the didn't get at least one success they had a 6 for a monologue of defeat.

I would definitely keep it to one trait bonus per roll. That,s how we did the Banana Republic game on Indie netgame mondays, it helps focus the narration in my experience. It also encourages gambling dice from your pool, when giving multiple trait bonuses is just giving a bunch of free dice they can use rather than gamble (which is how my playtest went).


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Paul Czege on October 06, 2002, 05:40:05 PM
Hey James,

What rules tweaks do you use or would you like to try?

The one modification I'm most interested in trying is Nathan's suggestion that whenever the GM gives dice, he chooses the number, from 1 to 3. This includes gift dice for Trait rolls, and reward dice for not taking the MoV.

"I'll give you two dice if you forego the MoV."

Paul


Title: Re: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Paganini on October 06, 2002, 08:20:46 PM
Quote

1) A character starts with a 50-word Story.


Mike didn't like them, so I let him write as much as he wanted. Worked good too; his giant r-map more or less took care of the game preparation.

:)

I personally feel *slightly* cramped by the 50 word limit. (Some of the guys actively loath it.) I told my players not to worry about it, but to try and describe the character as concisely and with as much focus as possible.

Quote

13) Success means you get to add 1 die to your Pool or give a Monologue of Victory. If you choose the die, the GM then narrates the event.

The current rule grants 2 dice for a successful roll instead of 1. I prefer 2 dice because I think it provides a little more stability.

Nathan "Paganini" from The Forge suggests letting the GM award 1-3 dice for a successful roll when a MOV is not taken.


Yup. I prefer to run the Pool using the "rule of three." Whenever the GM gives dice to a player, the GM decides the number - at least one die, but no more than three dice. I think this is an excellent rule, and should be the default. It tosses all the discussions about thrashing and pool exploding out on their collective ears. If someone's pool is getting to low, give them extra dice. If a pool is getting to big, give them fewer dice. Makes the dynamic... well... dynamic. I relied on it extensively during the Banana Republic game.

...

You need to add that dice are a player resource, not a character resource. Players with multiple characters still only have 1 pool.


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: James V. West on October 07, 2002, 02:35:53 PM
Nathan, sounds like you and Paul really like the 3-dice rule. I admit, I like it too but I've never tried it in play. Next game I will.

Bob, absolutely only one Trait Bonus allowed for a roll. No questions asked--as far as the core rules go that is.

Here's what I'm thinking (its a scary place up there):

I've re-written these rules I don't know how many times and it seems like what I'm looking for is the "perfect" Pool. It ain't gonna happen. People have different ideas about what it needs and what it doesn't need.

So I'm going to present the honest-and-for-reallies Hardcore Pool Rules just as they were originally invented (sans a couple of stupid things like clinging to GM power). That means one die reward, 1 to 3 gift dice, etc.. Then I'll present a series of rules variations and what they do (Mike's Anti-Pool, the MOD, Rule of Three, etc.).

Then....I'm going to leave it the fuck alone. When someone else comes up with an interesting spin on the rules, I'll add it as another variation.

So right now would be a great time for anyone with such an idea to step forward and weigh in...

That's the plan and I'm sticking to it.


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Paganini on October 07, 2002, 05:25:51 PM
Quote from: James V. West

I've re-written these rules I don't know how many times and it seems like what I'm looking for is the "perfect" Pool. It ain't gonna happen.


It is! It is! It can! Don't give up the vision. Elegant perfection in game design *is* possible (anyone here play Go?) and the Pool is very close to that. Stick with it.

Note: by "elegant perfection" I don't mean a game that's everything for everyone. Perfection in game design is a game that maintaines ultimate simplicity, yet achieves its goal so supremely that one can't think of a better alternative.

Nerdvana, to quote Dilbert. :)


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Paul Czege on October 07, 2002, 06:16:18 PM
Hey James,

Here's what I'm thinking...I'm going to present the honest-and-for-reallies Hardcore Pool Rules just as they were originally invented (sans a couple of stupid things like clinging to GM power). That means one die reward, 1 to 3 gift dice, etc.. Then I'll present a series of rules variations and what they do (Mike's Anti-Pool, the MOD, Rule of Three, etc.).

Someone really needs to playtest the Rule of Three. There are potential issues:

1) It's possible that for a lot of players the impact will be minimal on thrashing. A GM who offers two dice to a player to forego his MoV may find himself often confronted by the player holding out for an offer of three. And in that case, there's no net impact in thrashing. I gotta think players will push the GM that way, for a bigger offer. And my gut tells me the GM will need to reserve the offer of three for occasions when he absolutely wants to narrate the outcome, in order that it not become devalued, since he can't ever go higher.

2) A weak GM who too frequently gives in and offers three dice, may end up creating a player story-time dynamic, where the player consistently has enough resources to seize control over the narration whenever he wants...especially if the player group gets in the habit of lending large amounts of dice to each other. I don't recall a rule that limits the amount of dice lent. It's the kind of rule that might emerge from playtesting.

Paul


Title: Re: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Michael Bowman on October 07, 2002, 07:54:43 PM
Quote from: James V. West
1) A character starts with a 50-word Story.


Put me down as someone else who wonders why there's a 50-word limit. I prefer Hero Wars 100 word stories, myself. A longer story only gives you more potential traits, not actual traits, after all.

Quote
13) Success means you get to add 1 die to your Pool or give a Monologue of Victory. If you choose the die, the GM then narrates the event.

The current rule grants 2 dice for a successful roll instead of 1. I prefer 2 dice because I think it provides a little more stability.

Nathan "Paganini" from The Forge suggests letting the GM award 1-3 dice for a successful roll when a MOV is not taken.


I prefer 2. Awarding differential dice makes things a bit more complicated and requires more player-GM negotiation.

Quote
Note: I've suggested making a distinction between a GM-initiated roll and one initiated by a Player. A Player-initiated roll would mean you must make a MOV--you can't get dice for your Pool. This has been contested several times by different people and I tend to agree with them. It muddies things up.


Obviously I agree with this. There's no reason to make a distinction between the two. The GM's narrative power when a player takes dice would prevent any abuse.

Quote
14) Failure means you lose all the dice you gambled and the GM gets to narrate the event.

One suggestion was that any failure would result in gaining a die for your Pool. In this way by not gambling on a roll you'd always get the opportunity to add dice no matter what the result.


I found this suggestion interesting when it was suggested, but I'd really like to know how it works in actual play. Has anyone tried it out?

Quote
15) Dice are carried over from session to session.

New: every Pool is reset to 9 dice at the beginning of each session.


This is a great new rule.

Michael


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Zoetrope10 on October 08, 2002, 06:50:52 AM
James V. West wrote:

Quote
Note: I've suggested making a distinction between a GM-initiated roll and one initiated by a Player. A Player-initiated roll would mean you must make a MOV--you can't get dice for your Pool. This has been contested several times by different people and I tend to agree with them. It muddies things up.

Michael Bowman commented:

Quote
Obviously I agree with this. There's no reason to make a distinction between the two. The GM's narrative power when a player takes dice would prevent any abuse.

The reason for distinguishing between the two kinds of rolls has merit. I agree with James' earlier comment,

Quote
I can't see the logic in someone asking for a die roll and then just taking dice instead of a MOV. The whole point of asking for a roll is to get a MOV, in my opinion. Otherwise it seems like players could just nag the GM for dice rolls every 30 seconds and derail the game.

The notion that the GM's narrative power can be used as a kind of loaded gun, to keep players in check,  I find to be somewhat unpalatable. It, like, undermines The Pool's creative spirit.


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Valamir on October 08, 2002, 07:05:33 AM
Hey James...just wanted to say I 100% applaud your Hard Core Rules plus variants approach.

Changing the base rules based on who the squeakiest wheel is at the time is always dangerous and always means the game is in a state of incomplete playtestedness.  

Much better to get the core rules and allow players to pick and choose at their own risk.

Very much akin to the decision Mike and I made with Universalis to strip the game down to the core and make everything else Add-ons.  

Good Idea IMO.


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Blake Hutchins on October 08, 2002, 01:32:41 PM
I agree with Valamir.

I would say that the logic behind players nagging the GM for rolls applies just as much to MOVs as it does to gaining additional dice.  Either way, the players have to exercise a quantum of maturity.

Best,

Blake


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: James V. West on October 08, 2002, 06:01:02 PM
Blake: I certainly hope players have some maturity. These rules can so easily be abused.

Zoetrope sayeth: "The notion that the GM's narrative power can be used as a kind of loaded gun, to keep players in check, I find to be somewhat unpalatable. It, like, undermines The Pool's creative spirit."

I guess this goes back to the maturity thing. I really hate the notion of writing the game will all sorts of safety rules in place to reign in the jerks and jerk-offs. But, yeah, this is pretty much what I was thinkin' when I started messing with the idea of distinguishing the rolls.

Michael: I chose a 50-word limit because I like it much better. See, my idea of creating characters for The Pool is to keep the initial idea really slim. I like the idea of letting MOVs and the rest of the game build the characters--not just adding to their current state, but filling in background information too. With 50 words you really are forced to skim the cream off an idea.

But if you want 100...go for it.

Paul: I personally don't like the idea of the Rule of Three because it makes things easier. This is another aspect of the game that I wanted to capture--risk. If there are too many safeguards, the risk factor goes down. I think the Hardcore Rules are hard, but playable. Risky, but cool.

Well, I'm on vacation after this Saturday, so it'll be a couple of weeks before I can impliment the plan. Plenty of time for more suggestions, bitching, whining, insults, and genius thoughts...


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 09, 2002, 07:37:21 AM
Hi James,

PART ONE
My "preferred Pool" is pretty stripped-down.

Character creation is based on 50-word paragraphs, strictly enforced.

Either the GM or player can call for a roll, at any time. The GM provides 1 to 3 dice, although on very rare occasions he may provide none (I would not permit this if none of the players has a current Pool). One trait may be enlisted into the roll, for however many dice are associated with it (usually just one die). The player may gamble up to 9 dice from his or her Pool. Whether a given trait is "suitable" or not is left up to group dialogue.

A successful roll gets either an MoV or a single new Pool die, regardless of whether any dice were gambled from the Pool or not. A failed roll loses all gambled dice.

Other points: any player may simply give away dice from their Pool to any other player's Pool at any time, with no limits and no formal "debt." Failed rolls mean failed conflicts and the severity of the event, for the player-character, is entirely customized by whoever is doing the narrating.

At the end of a session, a new sentence or phrase is added to the character's paragraph, and Pool points may be spent to assign dice to any new traits in that new text, or spent to increase an existing trait. (Note that this latter tactic may be taken at any time during play).

I think that's pretty much it for "me and the Pool." One of the most important features of this mode of play is that when a player is out of dice in his or her Pool, it's quite simple to regain them: get your character into a conflict which is both easy and involves one of your traits, call for a roll, and use the trait; you'll have at least 3 or 4 dice. If you fail, big deal, do it again. When you do get a success (very high chance), then add a die to your Pool. Rinse, repeat.

Add to that the possibility of the "rich guys" donating dice once in a while, and I think the "thrashing at the bottom" phenomenon is ... gone.

PART TWO
James, you seem to be concerned with "abuse" a lot in playing the Pool. Bluntly, I have observed no instances whatsoever of abuse in system terms - not even from people who are notorious for bullying GMs or for intellectualizing their way through rules-systems. Can you explain, with examples, exactly what you mean by "abuse"?

It seems to me as if one accords with the above rules, then "getting more dice by any means necessary" is actually contributing to the fun and content of the game. If the conflict does entail three dice, and if a trait is involved, and if the player is abiding by the MoV and other standards of the group ... then what's the big deal? I can't imagine this event being abusive, by my understanding of the word.

PART THREE
A Pool variant I've been thinking over for a bit is to include a "group Pool" using dice of a specific color, which are only usable in conflicts that involve magic. I have a lot of notes on a setting to use for this gimmick, based in large part on the notion of ancient dragons who have taken on human form and walk the earth today, as the player-characters. I'll play with the idea a bit more and present on this forum soon.

Best,
Ron


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Blake Hutchins on October 09, 2002, 10:04:45 AM
A few quick comments:

1)  If you have magic in your world, best to be clear with the players on the scope and rules of use, i.e., ritual prerequisites, limits on spells, scale of effect, pool gambling requirements, and the like.  There's a big difference between flash-boom-pow deeds and the quieter, far more limited folklore examples from Hard Travellin'.  I suspect that magic in most worlds may require house rules of some sort tailored to the particular world.

2)  The 50 word limit is something my players differed on; some found it a constraint, others were fine with it.  Personally, I prefer 50 words, period.  The 100 word pieces I received weren't as focused and tended to ramble.  I think it's important to get the core character story down NOW, and not try to pull in every single peripheral detail.  I actually don't care for ten pages of backstory per character - hard to assimilate, and it's too easy to drop details the player wants.  Only way I'd try that is if the world was almost completely tabula rasa.

3)  Though I like the MoD, I think I'll only use it with specific groups.  The trouble is, not every player wants to go with narrating defeats, and there seems to have been great confusion in my group between narrating cataclysmic task failures versus conflict complication.

Best,

Blake


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 09, 2002, 10:36:20 AM
The problem I have with a fifty word character design is that I'd write more anyhow. I find it hard not to write a few hundred words about any character I play. If I didn't write it down, I'd be doing it in my head. I really don't hink that I'm capable of not doing this. So my point becomes, why prohibit the act of writing? What advantage does that limit have?

Is it about playing before you play? Well, I'm constantly doing that in my head anyhow. By the time I get to that first scene, I've got worked out all sorts of details on my character's particular school of martial arts or whatever. The sort of stuff that then comes out in play anyhow. Is it really that bad that I make up such fluff details before hand? I can only incorporate the most important 15 dice worth anyhow.

Mike


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Blake Hutchins on October 09, 2002, 10:45:19 AM
Hey Mike,

Nah, I don't care what someone makes up, so long as it doesn't pre-empt what develops in play.  I write a lot, too.  Problem is, a lot of those details become hard to get into play, or they inundate the GM with factoids it's hard to keep track of.

There's more elegance in starting with a limited, tersely stated backstory as what's on the table NOW, then adding the other details in as play progresses.  If you've worked out a lot in advance, that'd be cool in my game, so long as you were open to adjusting toward what happens in play.  I guess it is all about playing before you play, huh?

Best,

Blake


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 09, 2002, 01:10:43 PM
So the fifty words are the only thing that's objectively true before play begins, and anything else written is only true after it gets included somehw in play, or as part of after play write-up? I can hang with that. As a summary for the GM to hang on to it makes sense.

Mike


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Bob McNamee on October 09, 2002, 01:12:17 PM
As as far as folks holding out for high die amounts for sacrificing their MOV under the "rule of three" that we used in netgame.
Nathan, as far as I recall never told us how  many dice we would get for sacrificing our MOV.
You were always taking your chances... although I'm sure he had it in his mind the "boy that pool is low...lets give him three...or that one's full enough have one..."

and the way we were rolling, we would have been getting three...except we didn't want to waste the rare success... (Dicebot hates me...)


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 09, 2002, 01:25:17 PM
Hi there,

I should point out too that in my play of The Pool, "magic" or similarly-vague terms were not sufficient for traits - by specifying "soul magic" or "apprentice of the Holy Path" or some such thing, all issues with power or focus suddenly became non-issues.

Best,
Ron


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Blake Hutchins on October 09, 2002, 02:45:42 PM
Mike:  Exactly.  I know when I generated my Exalted character, I happily churned out a good three pages of intense backstory, adding characters, details of my guy's childhood, food preferences, fashion taste, etc.  All I really needed was:

Lian Khem is a Dynast veteran of the Legions now serving as customs magistrate in the port of Sequester.  One day his beloved Dragon-Blooded daughter returns from the South bearing a gift, a dagger that triggers in Khem a terrifying vision of a former life.  The details are murky, but he instantly knows two things:  first, the dagger was a wedding gift, and second, it was used to kill him.  Enraged at the memory of betrayal, he Exalts.

This is where I should have stopped, if you ask me.   80 words is plenty, and I could certainly trim it to 50 and leave the core content intact.  It's a plenty good place for a Kicker, as it sets up the core narrative thread for this guy, namely his daughter - whom he loves more than life itself - believes he's a demon and wants to kill him.  However, I belched out another four pages of dense prose, including journal entries from his daughter and other NPCs as well as commentary from the character himself.  Fun-fun-fun, but WAY too much for the GM to assimilate, especially given the already deeply fleshed out setting of Exalted.

Ron:  We had "Paladin magic" in my last game, which translated in MoV terms to sweeping fires of divine intervention scorching a besieging army off the map.  Scope and scale problems, which could have been mitigated by more pre-play discussion of what "Paladin magic" meant.  The particular player was jubilant and way over the top with her descriptions, and had a habit of solving all current problems any characters faced with a single blast of MoV.

In Everway, mage players making up their own magic systems by tiers seems to help players set appropriate boundaries.  My thought is the wide open narrative power of The Pool may tempt players to use magic or psi as deus ex machina solutions.  That was my experience with this one player, and I'm mulling over the best way to cope with it.  Thoughts or ideas much appreciated.

Best,

Blake


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Paganini on October 09, 2002, 07:14:57 PM
Quote from: Paul Czege
Someone really needs to playtest the Rule of Three.


They have. :)

Quote

1) It's possible that for a lot of players the impact will be minimal on thrashing. A GM who offers two dice to a player to forego his MoV may find himself often confronted by the player holding out for an offer of three. And in that case, there's no net impact in thrashing. I gotta think players will push the GM that way, for a bigger offer. And my gut tells me the GM will need to reserve the offer of three for occasions when he absolutely wants to narrate the outcome, in order that it not become devalued, since he can't ever go higher.


But that's not how it works. Well, I guess it could work that way, but the rule of three I use doesn't involve any kind of negotiation. The GM just decides how many dice to hand out in each instance to avoid the potential problems of thrashing / exploding.

Quote

2) A weak GM who too frequently gives in and offers three dice, may end up creating a player story-time dynamic, where the player consistently has enough resources to seize control over the narration whenever he wants...especially if the player group gets in the habit of lending large amounts of dice to each other. I don't recall a rule that limits the amount of dice lent. It's the kind of rule that might emerge from playtesting.


As far as I know, players can only lend dice to each other during a Death's Door check. In fact, the rule of three was invented indirectly to avoid the problem you're talking about:

1 - People were complaining about running out of dice ("thrashing").
2 - Number of reward dice was increased to 2 and / or 3.
3 - People are worried about players having too many dice to sieze control with.
4 - The rule of three let's the GM set the dynamic at a level appropriate for the way the dice seem to be falling in a particular session.

I can't stress enough that we used this rule through several sessions of gaming. It's been tested by fire to my satisfaction. Obviously James will have to try it himself to see if he likes it as well as I do. :)


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Paganini on October 09, 2002, 07:21:25 PM
Quote from: Bob McNamee
As as far as folks holding out for high die amounts for sacrificing their MOV under the "rule of three" that we used in netgame.
Nathan, as far as I recall never told us how  many dice we would get for sacrificing our MOV.
You were always taking your chances... although I'm sure he had it in his mind the "boy that pool is low...lets give him three...or that one's full enough have one..."

and the way we were rolling, we would have been getting three...except we didn't want to waste the rare success... (Dicebot hates me...)


Bob, exactly, you nailed it.

(And, you guys were rolling so bad, I was giving out 3 gift dice most of the time. :)


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: James V. West on October 09, 2002, 07:31:12 PM
Well, I wrote a really long, detailed response to some of these posts and then got an error regarding the database. Guess Clinton warned us about this. *sigh*

I'll try to reiterate some of it.

Ron: My fear of system abuse is a personal issue that goes way, way back to the days when this vapid moron I used to play with would play 70th level ranger-gods carrying +24 poleaxes that would shrink to toothpick size. In my sessions of The Pool I've experienced no system abuse. Toche.

Your "stripped down" Pool is pretty much on the money for me sans a couple of things. I prefer 2 dice instead of 1 (still I'm going to try the Rule of Three sometime). I don't like dice loaning because I feel like the game is loose enough already and I want to maintain a few rigid rules. But it's worth trying out ;-).

Blake: I've had problems with magic in other loose-goose games I've created and played. I pretty much go with what Ron said: a magic Trait needs some descriptors.

Mike: Right on the money with the 50 word thing. Those 50 words are simply the facts at the start of the game. You can add all the other stuff as play goes on.

Thanks for all these great posts, folks. Your opinions mean a hell of a lot to me.


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Paganini on October 10, 2002, 05:45:46 AM
Quote from: James V. West

Your "stripped down" Pool is pretty much on the money for me sans a couple of things. I prefer 2 dice instead of 1 (still I'm going to try the Rule of Three sometime). I don't like dice loaning because I feel like the game is loose enough already and I want to maintain a few rigid rules. But it's worth trying out ;-).


(Note: I don't want to seem like I'm pounding this into the ground, but I feel the urge to post more about the Rule of Three. Please take it as enthusiasm, cos that's really what it is. :)

This is another reason the Rule of Three is cool. You like 2 dice, Ron likes 1. The rule of three says "The GM gets to decide!" So, if you use the Rule of Three, there's no conflict between you and Ron on this point. It's just a matter of personal customization, the ability to do which is built into the game. There's no reason that the GM has to give a different number of dice every time with the Rule of Three. He can decide "Hey, I like giving out 2 dice, so that's what I'll do." But at the same time he has the freedom to give out more or less, if it seems like players pools are getting too large or too small.

That's how my Rule of Three works, anyway. It doesn't add any new elements to gameplay (that is, no negotiation or anything like that). I wanted to make this especially clear, since it seemed like there was some confusion about how we actually used the RoT (hehe) during play. I said at the beginning of the game that I was going to be using it, and that was all. During the game there was absolutely zero discussion of dice. Players don't have any idea how many dice the GM is going to hand them until he actually does it. (Since we were in IRC, I wrote it out with an action: *GM hands you 2 dice.) I did this for gift dice as well as for reward dice.


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Zoetrope10 on October 11, 2002, 05:40:40 AM
Mike Holmes said:

Quote
The problem I have with a fifty word character design is that I'd write more anyhow... What advantage does that limit have(?) ...I can only incorporate the most important 15 dice worth anyhow.

In the rules as currently written, if the player calls for a roll, they have to name an applicable trait. This need not necessarily be a trait with a bonus. So it would presumably be in a player's interest to have story with as many words as possible, so they could maximise their number of traits, so they could maximise their capacity to call for a roll (even though, with no bonus dice for many of these traits, they'd be pretty weeny rolls).

Although it's a dial thing, the focus and discipline of a 50-word limit surely serves as a good example of 'less is more'.


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Michael Bowman on October 11, 2002, 07:55:18 AM
Quote from: Zoetrope10
In the rules as currently written, if the player calls for a roll, they have to name an applicable trait. This need not necessarily be a trait with a bonus. So it would presumably be in a player's interest to have story with as many words as possible, so they could maximise their number of traits, so they could maximise their capacity to call for a roll (even though, with no bonus dice for many of these traits, they'd be pretty weeny rolls).


Ah. I hadn't thought of that. I always assumed it meant traits with a bonus.

I do agree that 50-words makes you focus on the core of your concept.

Michael


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 11, 2002, 08:10:24 AM
Hi Zoetrope,

That particular rules item (a player-called roll must include a trait) is my most hated element of one of the versions of the Pool; it was not present in the original version. My question to James about "abuse" early in this thread was actually rooted in this exact issue, as he had cited fear of abuse as his reason for including it in an earlier thread.

As I play, anyone can call for a roll regarding a conflict in-play at any time, and whether a trait is involved or not is entirely an independent issue.

The most recent version of The Pool, in James' just-released Random Orders Comics & Games comic, matches this earlier version and doesn't include the trait-stricture, for which I am very, very grateful.

Best,
Ron


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Zoetrope10 on October 18, 2002, 06:28:23 AM
Hey Ron

You said

Quote
As I play, anyone can call for a roll regarding a conflict in-play at any time, and whether a trait is involved or not is entirely an independent issue.

Earlier in the thread, you said

Quote
Failed rolls mean failed conflicts...

As you play it: (a) must there be a 'conflict' in order for a player to call for a roll? (b) may a player call for a roll if their character is not present in a scene? (c) if so, do they need a relevant trait?

Z


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 18, 2002, 07:26:12 AM
Hi Z,

Good questions.

As you play it: (a) must there be a 'conflict' in order for a player to call for a roll?

Sure. But who originates that conflict varies: it can be the GM, player whose character is most affected by the outcome, or another player. Since this particular feature is unstructured in The Pool (and in TQB), it requires some social contract discussion either before or during play. (I decided to provide extensive structure for it in Trollbabe.)

(b) may a player call for a roll if their character is not present in a scene?

Depends on the social contract. When I've played The Pool per se, it didn't come up, but I'd be disinclined to do that as the default (I like to play "heavy bass" in The Pool). Whereas in The Questing Beast, not only was it discussed and agreed upon beforehand, but people did it very often.

Notice that combining this point with (a), it means that an "observing" player is taking quite a mini-GM roll toward that scene, because he or she is not merely "calling for a roll" but perhaps introducing a whole realm of conflict into that scene.

(c) if so, do they need a relevant trait?

Nope. Trait addition is always an "add-on when relevant," never a requirement. In practice, people tend to play toward their traits, so it happens that every instance I can recall did use a Trait. I don't see any reason at all that they'd have to.

Best,
Ron


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Zoetrope10 on October 19, 2002, 07:56:36 AM
Thanks Ron

I'm wondering why there has to be a conflict before a player can call for a roll.

At face value, this seems to be as restrictive as requiring a player to have a relevant trait before they can call for a roll. Surely if a player wanted to engage in a bit of narrativisim, and develop the story in a particular direction, this need not be contingent upon a pre-existing conflict?

OTOH, if there is no conflict requirement and a player calls for but fails a roll, how does the GM narrate the outcome, unless the player somehow framed the general intent behind calling for a roll in the first place? Is that why there has to be a conflict before a player can call for a roll---so the GM can narrate a failed roll in the context of the conflict?

Or is that one of the reasons James originally tied a player-called roll to a relevant player trait---to give context to a failed roll when the player didn't specify their intent?

I'm a little confused.

Z


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: James V. West on October 19, 2002, 08:03:37 AM
Quote from: Zoetrope10
Thanks Ron

OTOH, if there is no conflict requirement and a player calls for but fails a roll, how does the GM narrate the outcome, unless the player somehow framed the general intent behind calling for a roll in the first place? Is that why there has to be a conflict before a player can call for a roll---so the GM can narrate a failed roll in the context of the conflict?

Or is that one of the reasons James originally tied a player-called roll to a relevant player trait---to give context to a failed roll when the player didn't specify their intent?

I'm a little confused.

Z


Yeah, that was sort of my thinking. But I'm not sure if a Trait requirement ought to be a rule.

Basically, before you can roll you need to state a general intent, or a generally understood intent needs to be apparant. That way the GM *does* have some context in which to work with a failed roll.

At least, that's how I play it.


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Zoetrope10 on October 19, 2002, 09:13:33 AM
I think where I'm going with this is:

o making a player-called roll contingent upon a conflict is as restrictive as making such a roll contingent on a relevant trait

o if you remove the conflict requirement but don't have a relevant trait requirement then I'm not sure why you would need a dice rolling mechanic at all.

If you retain the relevant trait requirement for a player-called roll then the whole thing kind of hangs together (doesn't it?)---the GM is the overall narrator but the player(s) have the capacity to influence the story in key character-related (i.e. trait-related) directions. That's kind of how character-focussed stories develop, isn't it(?)---around significators in the fictional lives of the characters of the story?

Maybe I'm hanging on to redundant gamist notions.


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 19, 2002, 09:31:17 AM
Hi Z,

Actually, I think what you're stumbling on is the term "conflict."

The way I'm using the term, no one rolls without a conflict brewing/occuring in-game. Or, since the GM never rolls in the Pool, to put it somewhat more clearly, no one calls for a roll without such a conflict happening, not a player, not the GM, no one.

So it's not a constraint on the player-as-opposed-to-GM, it's a constraint on play at all times.

But is it such a constraint? Look at The Pool - when and how are rolls to be made? To me, that's a quick and easy no-brainer based on my habits and preferences of play; to others, who are perhaps very used to the notion of task resolution being the occasion for a roll, it might require more processing. I'll try to explain my outlook a little.

Non-dice play makes conflicts arise. Conflicts mean anything that involves individuals who want different things or are performing contradictory actions. If that doesn't happen during play, then I frankly can't imagine playing at all, for any length of time at all. When that does happen, it's time to roll. Whoever says so (i.e. identifies that it's "roll time"), GM or player, seems quite irrelevant to me in The Pool.

Zoetrope, I'd be able to discuss this in more detail if you'd give me an example. Could you explain to me, using player-names, how "don't roll unless there's a conflict" acts as a constraint on play?

Best,
Ron


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Zoetrope10 on October 20, 2002, 04:48:30 AM
Hey Ron

Maybe I missed something between versions of The Pool.

A while back James wrote to the effect that:

In The Pool, rolling dice gives you a chance to gain story-power. This is different from most other role-playing games, where you roll dice to see if you beat an obstacle.

James then gave the example of Damart, who was travelling to an isolated monastery where he (Damart) suspected he'd find more information on his quest to resurrect his love. On the way there, inspiration strikes Damart's player, who calls for a roll linked to Damart's driven by love trait. The player wins the roll and uses their MoV to introduce some new plot developments.

Here, there are no individuals who want different things or are performing contradictory actions; there is no conflict at all. It's nevertheless a good example because it shows how, by calling for a roll, the player can chance their hand at a bit of story-telling power---with the proviso that such power is thematically linked to the things that define the character.

The latest version of The Pool, however, says:

'Dice are cast to determine the general outcome of conflicts.'

Ron, you seem to be taking a similar line. In addition, such rolls (when player-called) need have nothing to do with the very narrative hooks/significators/traits that give meaning to the character's quest. I find this to be extraordinary!

What's the appeal of making a player-called roll contingent upon a conflict (which option seems arbitrarily narrow in scope) rather than a trait (which option is broader in scope, because it doesn’t necessarily require a conflict, but is character-defining in focus)?

The elegant balance struck by giving a player the flexibility to call for a roll at any time, but requiring such a roll to be tied to a relevant character trait, is much closer (I feel) to the original spirit of the game.

Z (seeking enlightenment)


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 20, 2002, 06:34:57 AM
Hi Z,

The problem with requiring a trait to be involved is that, when a character has 0 Pool, it limits the way and extent that he or she can regain dice through rolls. Or rather, this is what happened a lot in several groups a while ago, as reported here on the Forge.

In the example with Damart, the key issue is that there is a consequence of failing the roll, as well as of making it. In my play of The Pool, such rolls are dysfunctional unless the GM and player(s) have some idea, even if vague, of what can happen if the roll is missed.

Thus, by calling for such a roll, the player is "bringing a conflict into existence" which needs to be verbalized to some extent prior to the dice hitting the table. Once you understand this, then James' two descriptions of the process/point of the roll are complementary.

My experiences with The Pool and The Questing Beast in exactly this regard are what led me to write Trollbabe, in which these issues are explicit.

Best,
Ron


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: James V. West on October 20, 2002, 01:34:48 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hi Z,

Thus, by calling for such a roll, the player is "bringing a conflict into existence" which needs to be verbalized to some extent prior to the dice hitting the table. Once you understand this, then James' two descriptions of the process/point of the roll are complementary.


Good point. I'm making an effort to pay attention to my language on that and get it clarified. It's always been my assumption that people were declaring a general intent before rolling so that the GM would know what to do with a failed roll. Never assume anything.

Rolls are always about conflicts becaue either a conflict already presented itself or one is created with the declaration of intent.

I used to think that a Trait ought to be required for any roll, but after giving it some serious thought I don't see why it has to be that way. The Traits are not there to set limits, but to add some flavor and some controls for the player. It doesn't really matter if you use one or not in any given situation because the outcome is still going to be that a conflict arose and was resolved either by the GM or by the player.


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 20, 2002, 04:25:45 PM
Hi James,

Exactly my thoughts.

Best,
Ron


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Blake Hutchins on October 21, 2002, 09:13:57 AM
Hmm.  My thought was that using Traits as a prerequisite for calling for roles was a way of making zero-point Traits relevant, a feature I thought pretty elegant.

I don't see any problem with leaving the Trait prerequisite in place, since it adds to character coherency in terms of the kinds of conflicts they ask for.  That'd be my preference, but other than the zero-point Trait element, nothing compels the rule.  Of course, I like focusing player options in places.

Best,

Blake


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Zoetrope10 on October 22, 2002, 06:20:26 AM
Ron wrote:
Quote
The problem with requiring a trait to be involved is that, when a character has 0 Pool, it limits the way and extent that he or she can regain dice through rolls.

Yes, I understand the 0 pool concern.

But I don't understand why requiring a trait to be involved is any more restrictive than requiring a conflict to be brought into existence. Why? Why does a conflict need to be brought into existence?

The implication of this requirement is that unless a player brings a conflict into existence they can never wield any story-telling power. This is a stifling implication.

Ron, is the reason why you play that a conflict must be brought into existence so that there is a clear context for extrapolating a failure? That would seem like a plausible explanation for this requirement. My difficulty with it though is that it implies that a failed roll is a failure. I thought that a failed roll, rather than representing a failure per se meant a GM-narrated outcome, usually unwanted, in that the story would not necessarily develop in the direction the player had envisaged (but sometimes it might, even so).

Are you suggesting that unless a player-called roll is tied to a conflict, it would sometimes be too hard for the GM to narrate a failed player-called roll? For example, in my previously mentioned example of Damart, Damart's player is struck by inspiration and asks for a die roll linked to Damart's driven by love trait. A successful roll is one thing. But what happens if they fail the roll? How is the GM supposed to narrate the outcome if all they have to go with is Damart's driven by love trait? Is that why you require a player-called roll to be tied to a conflict, to avoid lumbering the GM with the burden of narrating these kinds of nebulous decision points?

tx, Z


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Zoetrope10 on October 22, 2002, 06:51:37 AM
James said:
Quote
Rolls are always about conflicts because either a conflict already presented itself or one is created with the declaration of intent.

James, I thought that as The Pool was originally developed, the GM narrated things according to their GM's story telling preference, unless they offered the player a roll---usually, as I think you originally said it, 'at tense, uncertain or otherwise important moments.' Conversely, the player described what they were doing in response to the GM's narration, unless the player wanted to try their hand at a bit of story telling/plot development (in the context of their character's interests; not necessarily conflict related), in which case they called for a roll related to one of their character's traits.

Either way, a failed roll did not necessarily mean a failure in the sense of the loser of a conflict but rather, a GM narrated outcome that did not necessarily go the way the player originally had envisaged.

Are you also of the view that unless a conflict is involved it can sometimes to be too hard for the GM to narrate a failed die roll outcome?

Am I naive in thinking that limiting GM narrations of failed player-called rolls to conflict situations would needlessly cramp the GM's scope for innovative story telling?


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 22, 2002, 08:51:32 AM
Hello,

I apologize for taking a semi-line-by-line approach to responding, but with any luck, we'll stay in discussion mode rather than terse-snap mode.

You wrote,
"Ron, is the reason why you play that a conflict must be brought into existence so that there is a clear context for extrapolating a failure? That would seem like a plausible explanation for this requirement."

Yes, that's it exactly. However, please note that by "failure" I only mean "rolls no 1's." I am not referring to the character failing at anything; he might be or he might not be. In fact, deciding whether he does or doesn't is the part of the decision-making process that needs information most prior to the roll.

"My difficulty with it though is that it implies that a failed roll is a failure. I thought that a failed roll, rather than representing a failure per se meant a GM-narrated outcome, usually unwanted, in that the story would not necessarily develop in the direction the player had envisaged (but sometimes it might, even so)."

Your stated implication is actually an inference on your part. If you look at my previous post, you'll see that the implication is not present. I tried to explain it a little better above, in this post.

"Are you suggesting that unless a player-called roll is tied to a conflict, it would sometimes be too hard for the GM to narrate a failed player-called roll? ... Is that why you require a player-called roll to be tied to a conflict, to avoid lumbering the GM with the burden of narrating these kinds of nebulous decision points?"

Correct. However, I also maintain that the same "burden" or problem applies equally to the player who does get a 1 and decides to take the Monologue of Victory. He, too, is well served by a pre-roll shared understanding of "what's going on" in-game that is being handled or resolved by the roll. Therefore my point is not as GM-centric as your phrasing suggests; it applies to anyone who has narrative power during play.

A couple more points ...

1) Regarding your reply to James above, I don't think James is suggesting that the GM only narrates when the player fails a roll or decides not to take a Monologue of Victory. During the bulk of play, the GM does the bulk of narrating, or more accurately, when rolling isn't involved, everyone can talk freely and the GM says what happens. This process can account for a fair amount of play.

2) I'm still interested in how you perceive "don't roll unless there's a conflict" as a constraint on play, especially given that conflict can mean any sort of opposition-of-interests in the game-world.

Best,
Ron


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: James V. West on October 22, 2002, 03:40:21 PM
Ron said:

"However, please note that by "failure" I only mean "rolls no 1's." I am not referring to the character failing at anything; he might be or he might not be. In fact, deciding whether he does or doesn't is the part of the decision-making process that needs information most prior to the roll."

I suppose there is some potential confusion with the terminology I chose with "Victory" and "failed rolls" and all that. Ron nailed it here by pointing out that the victory or failure is with the player's roll and not the character's actions or intended actions.

Ron said:

"Regarding your reply to James above, I don't think James is suggesting that the GM only narrates when the player fails a roll or decides not to take a Monologue of Victory."

And this is where my bad habit of assuming gets me in trouble again. Its always been my assumption that player-to-gm dialogue is constant--even during a Monologue if need be (maybe you don't want to assume what's behind that door, maybe you'd rather find out what the gm had in mind--so you ask). When no dice are falling the game goes on and in my games there is a hell of a lot of chatter back and forth about what's happening, what people are doing, etc..

Zoetrope said:

"Am I naive in thinking that limiting GM narrations of failed player-called rolls to conflict situations would needlessly cramp the GM's scope for innovative story telling?"

No, but perhaps your idea of conflict is too narrow in this case. In the Damart example the player has an idea he wants to explore. The conflict, the way I see it, is with the dice. If they don't do well by him then the gm gets the duty of narration and the player's keen idea might not take seed.


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Zoetrope10 on October 23, 2002, 06:16:29 AM
Thanks Ron/James

I hope I understand now. The source of my confusion appears to lie with the use of the term "conflict" (as you originally surmised, Ron). Earlier, you described a conflict as meaning anything that involves individuals who want different things or are performing contradictory actions.

James, judging by your comment that my idea of a conflict was too narrow, I think what is really meant is that a player-called roll is contingent upon the GM and player(s) having some idea, even if vague, of what could happen if the roll is missed. This kind of roll could encompass more than an 'opposition of interests' situation, as in the Damart example, where the player instead wanted to engage in a bit of story development by exploring an idea.

Ron, if I have this right, then such a contingency would not be constraint on play.

I'll think some more about the merit or otherwise of making a player-called roll contingent upon a relevant trait.

René


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 23, 2002, 06:27:57 AM
Hi Rene,

I want to say "thanks" for being willing to thrash through this in so much detail, and for putting up with my inappropriate but all-too-ready semi-proprietorship over The Pool. I have no authority over this game, its contents, or its interpretations, but sometimes I get so fired up about it that I grade into an authoritative mode.

Best,
Ron


Title: Pool Party--everyone's invited!
Post by: James V. West on October 23, 2002, 06:17:25 PM
Ron:

Your enthusiasm about the game has been a tremendous boost for me as a very uncertain and very novice game designer. I thank you.

Rene:

I've been reading through the stuff you sent me. I like the way you've broken the game's elements down into a kind of chart-like flow. Very cool.

Everyone:

I'm adding a link on my website to this specific thread because I think it would be a great place for people to come and learn a bit about the game. So if you have anything to add--please do so! Remember, this is the Pool party.