The Forge Archives

Inactive Forums => The Riddle of Steel => Topic started by: Bankuei on December 05, 2002, 10:34:30 PM



Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Bankuei on December 05, 2002, 10:34:30 PM
TROS, like any good fighter, is sneaky.  It looks pretty straightforward, then folks starting finding out a lot of the rules and ideas in it are just a feint, counter and oops! What the hell was that!?!

First, let's start with some preconceptions that need to go:

•The planned adventure-
Players can raise or drop their SA's in the middle of the game, even change them to their complete opposite.  What happens to your "big villian" when one of the PC's decides to join up with him, because his "join the dark side" speech actually made sense?  Although you can start with preplanned SA's, you never know what someone is going to do with them.  You can come up with a strong set up, but you never know what the end is going to be.  Folks interested in better ways to play with this should search for Scene Framing, Kickers and Bangs, in Actual Play, RPG Theory, and the Sorcerer thread folders.

•Players are heroes, but just part of the world
If the players are the protagonists, the story revolves around them, not anyone else.  The players can't be heroes and not have input on how the story works.  You have to kill the overwhelming GM desire to "tell" a story, as opposed to "set up" a scene and let it play out.  Don't think of it as a book, or a tv show, think Sim City or the Sims.  You put the players in situations and see what happens, encouraging neither one nor the other.

•The climatic "fair fight"
You can have fights, you can have climatic ones.  You'll never have fair fights.  All fights are dangerous.  Even if you lowball the general opponents, a single cut can remove someone as a viable opponent, unless they've got their SA's stacked on high.  If your players are playing smart, there'll be no fair fights.

•Conflict is a fight
Fighting is a simple form of conflict, entertaining on one level.  It's a whole other thing when you realize that if you fail this fight, the evidence the king needs to know the identity of which of his 3 brothers tried to poison him doesn't make it through.  In TROS, all fights are for your life.  It's when you're fighting for more than just your life, that things get interesting.

To better state it, conflict is an issue that doesn't just die with one man, doesn't disappear with one clue, and can't be "ruined" or solved by players with one act of magic.  

If your one true love's soul is trapped in a seal holding back the demon masses, do you free her?  Do you search for another way to stop them?  Do you take her place?  No one spell makes that answer for you.  

If your father orders you to kill your sister, because she holds a terrible secret, do you obey?  If you kill her, can you trust your father?  Will he ask more from you?  If you don't, then what?  Would you kill him to protect your sister?  What if you do, and then it turns out he's right?

How do you do this kind of conflict, after measuring adventures in Challenge Ratings and Hitpoints?  Easy, SAs.  SAs are your greatest strength, and any GM worth their salt will focus the conflict on them, making them your weakness as well.  There's also the #1 way for you as a player to say, "This is what I want our game to be about"

•Big backstory, no actual ties

In too many games, you come with a rationale for why your character is the lone drifter, usually some story involving a demon king murdering/capturing/converting your family, being your father, drow, and some freaky prophecy about you being the chosen one, and someone giving you scars in such a manner so you look like a badass. Oh, yeah, and you make 2 to 20 pages of backstory no one ever sees.  Ever.

Screw that.  Here you get family and friends to fight for, against, alongside with, etc.  You wanna know my history, listen as I scream my lineage before I lop your dog-chewed Nemedian head off and throw it at your father.    Some folks fight cause they're lawful good, me, I fight cause I know if I fall, so does my wife, my son, my mother, and my best friend.  Go watch Braveheart and Gladiator.  You'll see the difference.

And you don't need to know everything about the culture or the area.  Sure, its fun to have the world shaking conspiracy every so often, but go see Seven Samurai for a 3 hour movie about one village, 42 bandits, and 7 samurai.  It don't have to be big to rock the casbah.

So where do these preconceptions come from?  Other games, habits, whatever that folks have picked up and assume apply to all rpgs in existance.  Good things to search for on the Forge are: Scene Framing, Bangs, Kickers, and read up in Ron's article on GNS about Narrativism.

Am I saying that this is the only way to play TROS? No, even Jake doesn't lay that kind of stuff down.  What I am going to say is, if you're play it like D&D, you'll get D&D with extra gore.  If you come in without the preconceptions, you'll see very quickly where the big "ooo-ahh!" comes from.

Anyone else have some unstated bits of TROS?

Chris


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: prophet118 on December 05, 2002, 10:54:09 PM
well combat can be quite a bit longer than in most other games i have seen, or it can end with one simple hit..

i ran the simulator using Geralt and Rapier Case... that fight lasted for about 25 minutes in real time, but ended with Geralt getting his temple and chest punctured at the same time..lol

i do like that though, its an unpredictable thing, and i honestly think thats what scares most D&D players... get some white wolf players, and they just say "well duh"...........then use some cheesy power.....lmfao


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Jake Norwood on December 05, 2002, 11:32:59 PM
I just wanted to chime in and thank Chris for a great thread topic/post/thingie. I for one would like to hear your other observations, guys.

Jake


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 05, 2002, 11:38:22 PM
Chris puts a lot of stuff out there. Wanna kow the real advantage to this style of play? Here's the big secret. It's much easier.

Know what, Shane? I'm a shitty GM, too! But even I can do Narrativist TROS. You say that when playing "freewilled" that your players lack guidance. Know what? This makes them just like every other player who's ever played. That's the normal situation. Every time a player takes the field with a character in Harn, if the GM doesn't have a plot, yes, it all just stands still.

"Um, I guess we go to the tavern and get some beer."

As Chris is trying to point out, TROS gives the players a place to start. If you work with them, and put in a little effort into ensuring that the SAs that they take are compelling to the players (not just the characters), then they will start with their own pre-defined guidance.

But that's not all. The GM does have to do something in Narrativism to get it all started. See, it's not completely "freewilled" play at all. The GM does have to do something that does look like railroading a bit. That is, they GM has to prepare a conflict for the PCs that links into their SAs.

But this is as easy as pie, for two reasons. First, if a player has "Protect the Princess" as an SA, then all you need for conflict is to threaten the Princess somehow. The players in their selection of the SAs are telling you what adventures to write them into. And secondly, since these hooks are going to take your whole session getting through, you don't have to prepare anything else, really. The players don't care that the Inn of the Five Wenches in Slachistan has gabled roofs. Describe the stuff up if you want for color, but you'll find that what the players are intersted in is solely that they man they are hunting is at the Inn. What's on the menu quickly becomes irrelevant when the guy who killed your sister is there.

Now, you say, what's different from this than from the typical railroad adventure? And the difference is that you only present[i/] the conflict. You don't as GM say anything about how the players resolve the issues. This is the only tricky part. You have to present conflicts that have many possible solutions. If the only way to save the Princess is to fight the dragon, then you have railroaded the solution. But if the "threat" to the princess is a marriage proposal from a neigboring principality, and the Princess does not want to be married, then the player has some decisions to make. And that's what's interesting.

Watch for that moment when your player gets that devious twinkle in his eye as he considers just how his character will deal with a merchant who he thinks might possibly have swindled him.

A great technique is to place the character in a situation where he has to decide between two priorities. Protect the Princess, or Duty to the king. One player may decide that duty to country and liege is more important. Another may decide to chuck the Duty SA, and take up a Passion SA for the princess, realizing that the character has fallen for her.  

Get the picture? You simply present a problem with many possible solutions, and the players create a plot by figuring out how their characters solve it, exactly. The cool thing about TROS, is that sooner or later somebody will draw blade, and blood will fly. Almost can't get around it as a solution at some point. The only question will be what they are fighting for.

As such, do not go to a dungeon. :-)

Make all the "opponents" just normal humans who have goals that are diffferent from the characters, or who's actions will instigate trouble. Make quite a few, and figure out some network by which they are entangled. People who, if hurt have people behind them who care. Bring the PCs into contact with these people, and, viola, instant adventure. Before you know it, someone's head will be rolling in the street, and everyone will be nodding, not only about how cool the fight was, but the nifty decision of who to fight in the first place.

To accomplish this all, check out the stuff Chris points out. Lots of cool techniques that make your job even easier. For example, using Bangs, the player basically writes the first session or two worth of conflict for the GM. Now you have literally nothing to do but describe cool scenes, and play the NPCs. Sweet.

Mike


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Lance D. Allen on December 06, 2002, 06:20:05 AM
Chris and Mike really put something into perspective for me here.. I think one of the problems I have as a player in most gaming groups is that my characters are either created with an agenda, or get one quickly, whereas most are content to go where the GM leads, even if it's away from the previously followed plot points.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: prophet118 on December 06, 2002, 06:58:07 AM
well the great part is that with the SA's... the players cant moan and complain if they are only saving princesses... especially if thats one of their SA's...lol

it does hand the player more control, saying that "yes this is what my character does, thinks and feels"... and of course the destiny SA adds alot... but can be dangerous

my wifes sorceror has a destiny, very interesting, but hardly something she really really really wants to happen soon in the game "to become to most powerful sorceror, after death".... i think thats about how its worded..lol


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: ShaneNINE on December 06, 2002, 07:27:38 AM
Ok! I keep hearing about narrativism and illusionism and a bunch of other stuff like that that you all use to refer to gaming. I need a primer. Where can I read about all that? Are there particularly good threads?

Quote
"Um, I guess we go to the tavern and get some beer."


That's funny. One of the players actually said that after they got to a town where they were supposed to find someone and question him. The guy wasn't there. So the leader says "Well, I guess we'll go to the tavern and get some ale." :) It was one of those staring at each other moments.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 06, 2002, 09:16:41 AM
Quote from: ShaneNINE
Ok! I keep hearing about narrativism and illusionism and a bunch of other stuff like that that you all use to refer to gaming. I need a primer. Where can I read about all that? Are there particularly good threads?

My first suggestion is kinda odd. Don't bother with those terms. Look up the stuff Chris talked about, and stick to the principles that we layed out, and it'll work.

But, if you're just the curious type, and want to get into the theory, well, there's the GNS article in the articles link. Any shorter definitions are as likely to get you into trouble as to help. Further research should be done on the GNS and Theory fora.

But, just to get you into trouble, here are the pat short definitions of the terms you mention. Narrativism involves players making decisions in play based on addressing questions of a moral or ethical nature that are relevant to them as players (not neccessarily to the characters). Illusionism is play where the players just decide PC action based on "what my character would do" thinking, and the GM then uses behind the scene methods to ensure that something resembling a story occurs. The classic example of an Illusionist technique is asking players which road they want to go down, and then having the encounter with the Gol fort happen no matter which they take.

Essentially the difference is that players realize that illusionism is occuring when it is (not the specific instances, neccessarily, but that the GM uses it overall), and some players don't like it. They would prefer to join with the GM in authoring the game's themes.

That all said, the reason I told you not to look them up is that there isn't any particular decision to be made here. Players prefer what they prefer, and it's best to just cater to them in the way that you feel will work best. As such, the methods that we've suggested, and described above will support all your play of either of these methods. TROS is designed well to support that range of styles.

The only difference in how you do each of these with respect to the methods sugested, is that in Illusionist play, you do make the decisions for how the characters will resolve conflicts. You just do it in inobvious ways. This is actually much more difficult, but if the players completely fail to be engaged by their SAs (likely a failure during chargen), and the conflicts that impact them, then you are forced back to illusionism.

Essentially, the narrativist rout co-opts the players efforts in creating the story. The only high effort parts are A) ensuring that the players really like their SAs in terms of the stories that can revolve about them, and B) coming up with Bangs: those conflicts which engage their SAs, but leave the decisions open for the players.

In the long run, however, this is about half as much work as figuring out before hand how it will all go, and then figuring out how to successfully drive the characters through it.

Mike


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Bankuei on December 06, 2002, 10:26:48 AM
Quote
Chris and Mike really put something into perspective for me here.. I think one of the problems I have as a player in most gaming groups is that my characters are either created with an agenda, or get one quickly, whereas most are content to go where the GM leads, even if it's away from the previously followed plot points.


Which really links into another piece of jargon, but one that is totally valid to TROS-protagonism.   To lay it out, the protagonist is the main character of the story, that is, the story is based around the actions and decisions of that character.   The opposite theme-deprotagonization, is when you strip the player characters(who should be the protagonists) of the ability to have input in the story, or even over their own characters' actions and reactions.

For a very basic idea, if I create a master fighter, he should be good at fighting.  It is deprotagonizing to curse him to be weak and unable to fight for the campaign.  It basically blows up my character idea without my permission.

Most players, have what I call an "unstated story" about their characters when the create them.  When you make a character, you typically envision the cool sorts of adventures you want to see them in.  Then in actual play, when railroading happens, you never see those adventures, and so, are left unfufilled.   Going back to my example, if my warrior is a barbaric raider who wanders the land, I don't want to be playing court intrigue.

The terrible thing is, when players are unfufilled, they don't know why they're not happy with the way things turn out, but then they come back for more, because "This time it'll be different!"  It is absolutely just like an abusive relationship, "Baby, I'll change!", etc.  Whether you're talking a new setting, more spells, different levels, and most systems out there, when you railroad, you railroad.  

The reason folks can't think of it otherwise is because few games have addressed actual play, improvising, or driving a game based on something other than challenge ratings and hit points.  Then you have videogames which can tell a great story, but it, too is railroaded.  With these examples to draw from, most gamers don't realize that there's more ways to play.  

When the GM tells the story, the players don't.  When everyone contributes/makes the story, then no one person is telling it.  For most GMs, it requires letting go of a lot of control and safety nets, and being willing to accept that anything could happen.

In the TROS game I played with Clinton Nixon, several things occurred that even he, as a GM, didn't plan for; A minor NPC became the major kickass sorcerer serving the wrong side, the King somehow survived what should have been a public assassination via magic    These were not small plot changes, these completely altered the way the story came out.

Either the GM's happy little story & prepackaged world lives, or the player characters live.  One has to be sacrificed for the other in terms of making a good story.

Chris


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Brian Leybourne on December 06, 2002, 04:48:41 PM
Quote from: prophet118
well combat can be quite a bit longer than in most other games i have seen, or it can end with one simple hit..

i ran the simulator using Geralt and Rapier Case... that fight lasted for about 25 minutes in real time, but ended with Geralt getting his temple and chest punctured at the same time..lol


Yeah, when/if I update the combat sim, I'm going to add the fatigue rules in there, that should speed up the long fights.

Brian.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: prophet118 on December 06, 2002, 09:06:43 PM
that would rock man, cuz right now im using the combat sim as a way to make sure i get the flow of it..lol


Title: Re: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: LordIvan on July 09, 2003, 07:50:53 PM
Ummm.... forgive me if I'm a little out of line here... But what makes this unique to TROS?

It seems to me that our gaming group has been doing this for years... irrespective of the system... Star wars d6, homegrown, white wolf, deadlands, amber, and, may the saints forgive me... D&D.

But obviously we weren't _really_ roleplaying, because we weren't playing TROS. You need a lethal combat system and spritual attributes to do that.

--
Sarcasm? Condescending Irony?
What? Me? Never.


Title: Re: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Ben Lehman on July 09, 2003, 08:18:02 PM
Quote from: LordIvan
Ummm.... forgive me if I'm a little out of line here... But what makes this unique to TROS?


BL>  Nothing at all.  Most of us have been doing it for years, too.  TROS, systematically, makes playing this type of game easier.
  I don't give a flying fuck about narrativism.  I really don't.  And I'm a theoryhead.  I run and play TROS because I like what it does for me -- it takes the headache out of playing the type of game that I want to play -- the type of game which generates real fear, moral doubt, and heroism amongst the players.

Quote

It seems to me that our gaming group has been doing this for years... irrespective of the system... Star wars d6, homegrown, white wolf, deadlands, amber, and, may the saints forgive me... D&D.
But obviously we weren't _really_ roleplaying, because we weren't playing TROS. You need a lethal combat system and spritual attributes to do that.


BL>  Hey, the two best games I've ever run were D&D (2nd and 3rd ed)  I just had to strain and twist to make them work under the awkward system.  (I should NOT have to give a serial killer a magical weapon just to make him dangerous, damnit!)
  You seem wildly predisposed against this game and its players, and there is probably nothing I can do about that.  But I don't think that anyone here is out to get other RPG players.  We play TRoS because we have fun with it.  And, if you're having fun, you're role-playing right.
  So many people here say "this is REALLY role-playing" because they have been wanting to play this sort of game for a long time, but haven't been able to, because the standardly available systems have not supported their style of play.  Finally, they are REALLY role-playing -- by which I mean that they are having fun with their games.  If you can support your style of play with other systems, go you.

  If you dislike dramatic stories and brutal combat in RPGs, you won't like the Riddle of Steel, and more power to you.  If you like those two things, this game will be good for you, and don't let the fans' enthusiasm get in the way of you enjoying it.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Bankuei on July 09, 2003, 08:47:50 PM
Hi Ivan,

I had thought this thread long dead, but if you'd like to continue discussion on it, that's cool by me.  By no means am I saying that TROS is the "only way to play".  What I AM saying though, is that what many folks consider "Standard Play" doesn't fly with TROS.  

If you and your group have been playing in a similar manner with whatever system, cool.  I'm sure you and your group would have similar issues with someone coming in who plays according to the mythical "Standard Play".

My initial post is aimed for folks who haven't considered that there is more than one style of play, and are coming to TROS and not understanding why it doesn't match up with what they're used to.  At no point do I say that TROS is the only way to roleplay, or that you have to get all that dramatic to be "roleplaying".

Chris


Title: Re: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: LordIvan on July 09, 2003, 09:34:06 PM
Quote
 You seem wildly predisposed against this game and its players, and there is probably nothing I can do about that.  


Sorry, my original comment was perhaps a tad over the top (at least the last line of it.
 I'm not wildly predisposed against the game - More bewildered and perhaps a little annoyed by the fact that most of the rhetoric I've seen on TROS seems to be aimed at telling me that I've not really roleplayed before until I've played TROS.
 Agree with you completely on the fact everyone likes a different style of game, and thus not every game is for everyone.
 My main source of contention/confusion/concern with TROS is the fact that half the folk seem to wildly claim that a characters goals and story is the most important thing about a ROS campaign, yet then they and the other half keep talking about this great complicated, realistic, and above all, deadly combat system.

 So - my question is this - granted, a little tension is good in a game and scene to keep you on your toes... BUT if combat is so dangerous - How the hell do you keep your character alive long enough to actually achieve any goal or storyline?

If you do it by avoiding combat, then whats the point of a complex combat system?

How have people been running it? In actual games, how does this _really_ pan out?
 Do you have so few combats, that character death is not an issue? (and - well, lets just say that I quite enjoy the odd combat in a game, and its a shame if you spend all your time avoiding a fight.)
 Or do your characters get in to many scraps, and lose characters left right and center? (I hate loosing a character, as my GM can attest :) )


 No theory, talk of how SA's change it all - I want to hear how a real, long term TROS campaign actually runs - Both combat, and what SA's do to characters decisions, and why it made it easier for you as a GM. How it affects the play.
  I personally don't want to play a game where I'm to worried about my character to actually ever DO anything to follow my characters goals, or anything remotely resembling fun.

Bankui - The thread isn't dead as long as someones trolling :) I wouldn't bother reading this if I didn't have some interest in the entire thing. It's not just to light peoples wicks. And thanks for the clarification of the intent of your original post - If I'd caused offence, I do apologise.

--
Sarcasm? Condescending Irony?
What? Me? Never.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Bankuei on July 09, 2003, 10:11:24 PM
Hi Ivan,

No offense taken, your initial post just seemed a bit, well, snippy.  I'll just chalk it up to usual internet miscommunication and get into the fun discussion stuff.

So, how do you keep your character alive with this nasty combat system?  There's two things that make it happen.  First, as a player, your strategy in play makes a bigger difference than getting a good or bad die roll.  If you're a good strategist, you can survive very well.  

Thankfully, TROS doesn't require that you go out and learn how swordsmanship works in real life in order to be able to play it.  You simply need to make a decision about how much do I risk now, and how much do I save, in terms of dice, for the next exchange?  Basically, good tactics keep your character alive, just like good tactics kept veteran warriors alive in real life.

Second, SAs provide bonuses to combat, so that its easier to stay alive when you're fighting for a reason your character believes in.  Obviously if you're fighing mooks, they don't get SAs, which gives your hero some level of Plot favoritism(not quite immunity).

So that's the combat bit.  You don't need to fear and quiver and never get into combat, you simply have to go into it with respect, and the very real idea of "If my ass is on the line, I'm stacking every odd, fair or not, in my favor", which, is not unlike most serious combatants are in real life.

You'll want to get some input from Brian L or Jake as far as the effects of long term campaigns, but consider this... I find TROS character death to happen a lot LESS than D&D 1-3rd level character death, even when you have 1 or 2 combats a session, again, if people are playing smart.

Chris


Title: Re: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Salamander on July 10, 2003, 01:37:55 AM
Quote from: LordIvan

 So - my question is this - granted, a little tension is good in a game and scene to keep you on your toes... BUT if combat is so dangerous - How the hell do you keep your character alive long enough to actually achieve any goal or storyline?


By playing your character well, whether a fighter or a lover they be, play them as well as you can, if you live, great! If not... well, it was a learning experience.

In my first session of TRoS set in the Renaissance, Rülf of Bern was called upon by his idiotic and romantic of a friend to be a second of his in a duel over a woman. Piece 'o' Cake, right? Wrong, the other fellow was a Fugger! Now Rülf did pause and wonder if his friend was good enough to kill the fellow, and it came up as a draw in his mind, if I recall... but good 'ole Rülf was thinking beyond that. "I have no intention of f*cking with the Fuggers" says he. So he formulated a plan to get his friend out of the city before the Fuggers found out. Well, after a bit of misadventure, the Fuggers found out... Guess what happened next? The Fugger said he would spare his friend the duel if he renounced any claim to the hand of the fair maiden in question. Only one blade was drawn and that was by the idiotic friend as he cut his own bonds to flee his friends who had abducted him in a bid to spirit him out of the city... Still conflict and this time no violence... All told it was good for a couple of SA awards.

Quote from: LordIvan

If you do it by avoiding combat, then whats the point of a complex combat system?


I don't avoid combat. Rülf figured he could do some damage, and his new friend Renatta could definitely kill a few of them if it came down to it... but they were looking beyond that. What good would it do to anger a massively powerful family for no real gain? They had a solution to the problem and try as he might, the idiot could not vex them and attend his duel with the Fugger.

Quote from: LordIvan

How have people been running it? In actual games, how does this _really_ pan out?
 Do you have so few combats, that character death is not an issue? (and - well, lets just say that I quite enjoy the odd combat in a game, and its a shame if you spend all your time avoiding a fight.)
 Or do your characters get in to many scraps, and lose characters left right and center? (I hate loosing a character, as my GM can attest :) )


I have told them to their faces, "play it smart, and you will become wealthy and powerful, make the wrong mistake and...well...".

They have taken the advice to heart. If they have a situation where they must fight, fight they will, but if they can go about it any other way, then they will. They are all pretty keen on the whole idea of following your desires and so on (SAs) to get the Character to grow. It is no longer a killing contest and they are liking the idea from what I can tell.

Quote from: LordIvan

 No theory, talk of how SA's change it all - I want to hear how a real, long term TROS campaign actually runs - Both combat, and what SA's do to characters decisions, and why it made it easier for you as a GM. How it affects the play.
  I personally don't want to play a game where I'm to worried about my character to actually ever DO anything to follow my characters goals, or anything remotely resembling fun.


I wouldn't want to play in such a game either. I am  trying hard to make sure the world is open before them, I give them a way of supporting themselves, they do what they must in order to pay the bills and the rest of the time is thier own! If they want to quit their jobs, fine... their choice. I will still provide a world for them. If they want to fight, I let them, if they want to try and find another way around it, I let them.

But at the same time, I think your boundaries are kind of unfair as the SAs are what make a character do what must be done in their eyes. SAs are the very most important things to them. What would the character fight and possibly die for? Remove the SA arguement and what have you got?


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Mike Holmes on July 10, 2003, 08:58:49 AM
Quote
No theory, talk of how SA's change it all - I want to hear how a real, long term TROS campaign actually runs - Both combat, and what SA's do to characters decisions, and why it made it easier for you as a GM. How it affects the play.


It's a given that if you play reasonably well, and if you have four more CP than your opponent that you will win with near certaintly. Given that, if a player has decided to fight in any situation in which he has only 4 points of SA working for him, less than he starts with in total, and given an opponent that's evenly matched otherwise, the character will win.

Note that it's still interesting because of that "If he plays well" comment. That is, the player still has to pay attention or lose.

So, as long as the GM is paying attention to the SAs in preparing for the game, aloowing for differing avenues along which the player can pursue the character's goals using SAs, character mortality is a non-issue, barring a ridiculous number of fights (at which point the long odds case of death due to bad rolling can come in; a situation unavoidable in almost any system). If you're worried about the random case, just give more SA rewards and the problem vanishes even more soundly. With no downside.

Basically if the GM designs adventures that deal with the character's issues, and the players play in a dramatic way that follows their characters issues as set out by their SAs, you'll have a reliable number of really interesting fights over the long haul that make sense in terms of the story that unfolds. No more or less fighting than makes dramatic sense.

This is pretty much what everybody has been saying. Have I helped to clarify at all? You seem skeptical.

Mike


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Jason Kottler on July 10, 2003, 12:15:45 PM
I've played lots of games where combat is dangerous, especially compared to what many people think of as RPG combat, that is, D&D.

Ars Magica had combat you could reasonable die from.
Pendragon - Ooh, and I do love the "my old wound is acting up" rules!
GURPS - if people start hitting each other with swords, someone is going to die. End of story. A perfectly "average" character (all stats = 10) will do 1d6+1 damage with a swung sword, which will hover around an average of 4 points of damage. Cutting damage that gets through armor gets a 1.5 multiplier, so two shirtless barbarians will do 6 points of damage to each other on completely average hits. Fight over in 2 hits.

Last week, for the first time in a long time, I really thought a PC was going to die. So did the player. His friends intervened - one because she had promised her alliance, another because his conscience (SA) forced him to take action against what he considered an unfair fight - despite the fact that the crowd would turn on him.

What system are we playing? TRoS.

I'm going to chime in on the side of, "You can run a good game with any system." However, TRoS drives home the point of player mortality. This has a major impact on the way the players perceive the characters, the way they have them act. Especially, I must say, two extremes of player types:

Really experienced players (especially if they harbor Gamist tendencies) would be foolish to ignore the leverage afforded them by the game system.

Really new players without SA's and a knowledge of their own vulnerabilities are a little lost anyhow, and are probably going to wait for adventure to come to them.

Highly Narrativist players play the TRoS way most of the time anyhow. It's all a matter of how hard you have to work for it. I, personally, like N and S, and really don't get into G.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Lance D. Allen on July 10, 2003, 02:49:53 PM
::pulls a Leybourne::

Quote from: Jason Kottler"
However, TRoS drives home the point of player mortality


Player mortality? Man, you've got to be a tough Seneschal to play with.. I don't think I've ever killed off a player yet due to stupid decisions in game. Out of game mistakes, such as drinking the Seneschal's Surge without asking, on the other hand...


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: LordIvan on July 10, 2003, 06:17:28 PM
Quote from: Wolfen
::pulls a Leybourne::
Player mortality? Man, you've got to be a tough Seneschal to play with.. I don't think I've ever killed off a player yet due to stupid decisions in game.


Well guys, thanks for all the detailed responses - Believe it or not, you've actually done a lot to relieve my concerns about what style of play TROS encourages. Wolfen, nice and simple - I think it says it all - It's always the GM that is the final arbitar of whether a PC dies, not the rules, or their actions. It's the GM.

I still stand by my comments that you can role play great stories in any system, but will grant that maybe TROS might not hamper my playing because of over the top lethality in combat - And might just add a little something. Of course, there's only one way to find out, and thats to play - So next time my GM suggests ROS to our group, I won't be quite so against it :)

Kudos to you all for responding so well to my original comment that was perhaps not as polite as I normally am. (hey, bad day at work or something?)

thnx


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: MattFW on July 10, 2003, 06:59:30 PM
Hi all,

Thought I'd chime in with some thoughts after reading the thread and a number of others on the game. Post started short, got long, apologies in advance :)

Quote from: Jason Kottler
Last week, for the first time in a long time, I really thought a PC was going to die. So did the player. His friends intervened - one because she had promised her alliance, another because his conscience (SA) forced him to take action against what he considered an unfair fight - despite the fact that the crowd would turn on him.

What system are we playing? TRoS.


While I appreciate that you're not saying TRoS is the only game that can do that, I do have to look at it and wonder why TRoS encourages it any more than any game with a good GM? That kind of scene is familiar from pretty much every game I've played in or run since leaving school, it would seem to me to be a style of play rather than a style of system.

As you say, engendering a feeling of mortality in the players regarding their characters encourages the avoidance of combat and often deeper play, but you can achieve the same effect simply by having characters who 'live' as characters. Few people want to go around killing, and I've found that few characters want it either when the players actually care enough to develop them and the GM doesn't force it through constant instantly hostile encounters. In fact, case in point, my current GURPS game has an explicitly stated 'you cannot die unless you choose to' rule and has benefitted enormously from it as characters do things that players would previously have avoided for fear of potentially getting in to a deadly combat situation. The 'narrative' has improved, the combats are far more interesting, and the game has shifted from being slightly about combat (it was never really heavily combat based even before that rule was introduced :) to being about playing a character.

Fear of death can be such a shallow motivation IMO. What about the other potential ramifications of a failed interaction with conflict (combat or otherwise)? If the outcome of a combat is victory or death then you're essentially limiting combat to something far simpler than it need be. Even if no death is possible, failure in combat can mean big changes to the way things work in the world and how the plot in general takes shape. That doesn't require anything more than a specific type of GM, and to me seems more flexible than trying to engender 'deeper play' through a dangerous combat system (because you have the choice to use dangerous combat as a motivator, or not, depending on the circumstance). I suppose that as far as I see it, a game that's about avoiding combat is still about combat. Combat is the motivator, or avoiding it, and that would distract from other things because the player is aware that it's often the GM that starts combats anyway, even if you're not going out of your way to do so :)

That's why I look at TRoS as a game that could definitely be good for a group that doesn't gravitate naturally towards that style of play (assuming they want to), but not really holding much for a group that already does that. The SA's are something I have only skirted around in reading, and my limited knowledge of them comes from reading forum posts, but they don't seem to be anything particularly inducive to a deeper game to me unless, as before, the group wasn't already doing it. I have a general distrust of putting character motivation in to game mechanics :) I treat Advantages/Disadvantages/Quirks in GURPS as guidelines, for example. When you whack numbers on movtivation you have to start ruling around human behaviour and that can be tricky.

Quick example, though I won't labour the point, I understand that SA's can't instantly change without being bought off? That strikes me as a rule that's needed to prevent 'bad' players abusing the bonuses (bonuses which are a nice idea), but limits 'good' players who would be quite happy to change motivation instantly in the appropriate circumstances and may be limited by it (feel free to correct my rules understanding :). I'd much rather add bonuses to dice rolls at GM discretion for characters following their 'SA's than apply rules to it. It does seem like another tool for people who don't do it all naturally.

And finally (well, nearly finally): I've not seen anyone comment on why the combat system is so detailed and complex if it's meant to discourage people from combat? As someone mentioned previously, GURPS combat can be pretty deadly, and it's not as detailed or complex (at least not until you add all the extra rules :), so shouldn't it be encouraging the same style of play?

When it comes down to it, and to clarify my position, I'm absolutely not saying that there is anything wrong with TRoS and its combat system. I am just wondering why it is the way it is, and if I'm disagreeing with anything it's the concept (not necessarily stated here so much as on other threads I've seen on other boards) that TRoS is any better at creating a deeper, grittier, more realistic game than any other reasonable product that's well presented by a GM who wants that style.

My personal preference is to go number-light, so naturally I'm not a fan of complex combat (and even the RoS combat sim app saw me quitting after about a round of combat (it was hard to tell :) because I just didn't want to get in to the numbers). I understand completely that my cup of tea isn't necessarily the next person's, and I say cool to those people who play TRoS and enjoy the freedom it gives them. I just have mumblings about the idea that the system is responsible for any of that, or perhaps rather that any other system couldn't do it with a group who wanted it and the right GM. It almost certainly encourages that style of play, but I believe that with the right group, that encouragement isn't necessary.

That was probably way too long...


Title: Re: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: LordIvan on July 10, 2003, 07:35:56 PM
Quote from: Salamander

But at the same time, I think your boundaries are kind of unfair as the SAs are what make a character do what must be done in their eyes. SAs are the very most important things to them. What would the character fight and possibly die for? Remove the SA arguement and what have you got?


Just one last brief comment - My last character in a game had something that he believed was worth dying for, and risked all to achieve. He didn't have SA's; he didn't get special bonuses; the rules didn't force him to choose a passion or a drive. I just told my GM what my character really, really wanted to do, when I first created him. And we finally resolved that in the last session we played. The game system? D&D - And yet the character was one of the deepest, most complex and compelling character's I'd ever played.
 how do you prevent SA's from becoming a crutch, and eventually something that gets in the way? How can you have character growth when their motivations are defined in the rules and their statistics?

And how have SA's made your life as a GM easier? By forcing some players who wouldn't normally, to define goals for their character? Is that the only benefit? or is there more? Does it promote deeper roleplaying from players? Even those who always had deep backgrounds and passions for their characters?

--
Sarcasm? Condescending Irony?
What? Me? Never.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Bankuei on July 10, 2003, 08:19:15 PM
Hi guys,

I just wanted to thank everyone for really pushing some good, good questions.  

First, yes, you can have this sort of stuff in any game, with the right GM, and right players.  But, here's the difference:  Most games, people are happy enough if the rules "stay out of the way".  Not enough people ask that the rules proactively push for what the game is supposed to be about.

Frankly, I look at what I call the Fudge/Fixin' Test.  The more times I have to modify, out and out ignor the rules, or fudge rolls for the game to do what I want, the less the game is designed for what I'm looking for.  So, yeah, you can play this sort of way using D&D, no problem.  How many D&D players are out there doing it?  The rules not only give you NO advice on how to make it happen, but also if you happen to be a stickler for some rules, they may, in fact, actively work against what you're trying to do.

For example, let's take the movie Unforgiven, where William Munny, once a cold blooded murderer, decides to change his ways, and settle down.  Of course, things down allow for that, and he returns to his dark side.  In D&D, that'd be 2 whole alignment changes, which are very much discouraged.  In GURPS, it'd be spending a LOT of points to shift around Advantages and Disadvantages to represent the character changes at hand.

So, how do SAs make the big difference with TROS?  Well, here's the multifaceted answer, going from simple to deep...

-SAs make what is more dramatically appropriate, MORE likely to succeed.  How many times have you had to fudge or GM fiat to have someone save the day?

-As Ivan points out, they make players define ACTIVE goals for their characters, and also provides obvious markers for the GM, as "what play should be about"

-SAs also serve as the character improvement pool, so it sets up a "vicious" cycle of Pavlovian reward mechanisms to encourage folks to play to their SAs.

-Changing SAs does involve spending them down, but by doing so, you improve your character, and very likely, at the point you've done it, you've probably earned an SA point or two while you were at it.

-Players can ignor, or change SAs at will.  They are never a box, or set in stone sort of thing.

-Folks who always have had similar things in mind now find that they are actively rewarded during play for playing that way.  If you reward killing monsters, players strategize towards the best monster killers.  If you reward immersion in character, and fulfilling character goals, players strategize towards that.  You're rewarded with bonus dice, as well as character improvement.

Does that help with the SA question?  Please feel free to fire away!

As far as TROS combat is concerned, its not about avoiding fighting, or being afraid for your character's life, its about 1) Not Fighting Stupid(TM), and 2) Is this worth risking your life over?

The first is basically, well, duh.  You can also find other games that have a similar mentality, although "deadliness" tends to be a greater function of critical hits and fumbles rather than good tactics.  The second point, really states a lot about your character as you play.  Consider the coward who decides to sacrifice himself for his true love.   Or the suicidal guy who steps in front of the blade.  Both are risking their lives, but WHY is the key point.

Chris


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: MattFW on July 10, 2003, 09:03:25 PM
Interesting comments, again. I think what I'm seeing (perhaps due to misunderstanding, I admit :) is that RoS is encouraging what I believe is 'good behaviour' (that's where personal preference steps in). However, I don't personally see a need to apply rules to the things that it's applied them to, and feel that with the groups I play with at least, applying rules to it is inappropriate.

As a GM, I provide bonuses when I feel they're appropriate, and applying rules to that could just end up leading to an expectation of bonuses in various situations, which is a bit too rigid for me. I don't tend to gel with the concept that rules should be applied to character personality in that manner.

The board game 'Scruples' has an odd rule whereby if you don't explain your motive for doing something clearly enough, you can be overruled and your reaction to a situation is deemed inappropriate for your own personality. It suits the game, but it's a gross oversimplification of human behaviour brought about by letting one person interpret someone else's motives. Applying rules to motivation seem similar to me. As a GM I can interpret people's actions, but I trust my players and I know that if someone tells me his character is going to do something, I know it fits the character. I don't really feel the need to try and use rules to enforce players playing their characters 'properly' because the player is the only one who really knows how to play the character.

Again, I guess I'm not really disagreeing with anything that's being said, I do feel that the way the combat system and SAs are presented will help encourage certain styles of play, but I also feel that they're a patched solution that would limit groups that handle all of that without hard and fast rules, so they suit some but not others (not a big surprise :).

The concept of the combat system helping to clarify what the character would risk his life over seems pretty similar to me: It's something that would help add depth for someone who didn't think about that kind of thing without it. Interesting how all I'm really saying is that everything depends on the group... I used too many words to say it :)

One potentiall controversial thought, just to throw it in to the melting pot while I'm pondering: Isn't it possible that the combat system could do exactly the opposite of helping a group play in this grittier style? In the hands of a good GM it can be used to remind players of character mortality and encourage a deeper approach to conflict. In the hands of a bad GM a deadly combat system can just end up ruining the game with constant deadly combats that the GM isn't capable of dealing with at a deeper level. I hasten to add that any game system could do that, it's all down to the GM, but I was thinking about the whole issue of what the combat system in RoS enables you to do, and that thought struck me. It's like a hand saw v. a high performance band saw, at least a slip with the hand saw can only give you a cut, not lop off your arm :)

That said, I'll reiterate that it's not something I'm actively suggesting is true, I haven't played the game and it may not be noticeably different to a combat-mad GM playing any other game.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Bankuei on July 10, 2003, 09:28:08 PM
Hi Matt,

Granted, as said before, you can always make rules to fit what you need, or simply play with a lot of loose, unstated rules.  For example, if you wanted to in D&D, there is a rule that says you could give a +2 bonus if there seems to be favorable odd for a character.  One could certainly say things such as fighting for your one true love is worth a +2 bonus, perhaps more if you're willing to swing it that way.

But, is there anything in D&D(or other games that have the 'open modifier' option) to suggest giving bonuses based on things such as motive, or dramatic appropriateness?  In a few games, yes.  In most games, no.

What actually prevents SAs from being a restrictive box(which is a fear I've heard from many people, none of who have used them...), is that as a player, you can choose to change or ignor them at will.

In other words, if I decide I no longer want to have Passion-Loyalty to the King, but instead want to switch it to Passion-Hate for the King, and change another to Passion-Love for the Princess, because I find out the King is a jerk, then that's completely within my rights as a player.  Or maybe I just don't want to play my Loyalty and don't care at all about getting or losing points by not changing it.  All within my control, all without any sort of restriction placed on me.  In the middle of the game.

A similar fear might be raised about stuff like rating "character intelligence" or "charisma" as limiting factors to folks who are very much into playing their character via immersion.  Someone might be very stupid, and receive a rude awakening, and become quite cunning.  Another person might be charming, but put under pressure, reveal a rather unpleasant persona.  

If you don't find stuff like rules for rating Intelligence, Charisma, or Alignment "crutches" or "boxing in" because you can choose to ignor them, SAs are even better, because its written in the rules for players to change or ignor them at will.

What makes them even more interesting, is that as a player, the choice to ignor, or change an SA is making a BIG statement.  The decision to go from Drive-Vow- Never Kill Again, to Drive-Vengeance for my friend's death, says a lot about a character.

Of course, really the only way to get a real view on SAs and ROS is to play it yourself.  Other than that, I've found most folks either have come to ROS with fear about the mechanics and rules, or else brought the attitude that "it's just like any other game" and gotten lost along the way.  This thread was initially started to attempt to clarify some of those issues, but really the best proof is in the play.

Chris


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: MattFW on July 11, 2003, 01:35:58 AM
(Posted with big quote by accident, see below :)


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: MattFW on July 11, 2003, 01:36:49 AM
(Oops, this may have been posted twice with the original quoted, if so, I'll endeavour to remove the first one...)

I'm not sure I'd agree with a comparison between internal attributes such as Intelligence and personal motivations like SAs or GURPS Disadvantages such as 'Sense of Duty'. Charisma has always been a dodgy one to my mind, but it is also an attribute that defines the limitations of the character, rather than an 'attribute' that defines the motivation. I'm certainly not going to claim that D&D has anything in the way of encouragement for deep play over anyone, either :) Even the Disadvantages characters in my GURPS game have are just guidelines however, because people are more complex than that. My point isn't really that 'other games have those rules too, or you can add them yourself' so much as that I don't feel the game needs those rules in the first place and wonder if perhaps those rules are putting in to game mechanics something that I don't feel numbers/notations/dice can deal with adequately.

I guess at a core level I'm not disagreeing that SAs can be great for some. I just don't feel that they're necessary for me or the groups I'm with. The decision to change a core motivation to deal with a desparate situation is something I've seen in my game without any need for codification of that motivation in an attribute, or rules that say this can be done. We've seen, for example, the personal vow never again to use a form of magic that cost the character enormous amounts of character points, and the sudden (pained) decision many months of game play later to use it once, when the entire group and an institution dear to them was threatened by an overwhelming force. We've also seen someone (who's reading this thread :) give up a large percentage of the point value of his character due to a decision to leave his past behind. It's all par for the course in the game without any attributes to govern it, and bonuses are given (in a less game mechanic way, admittedly) behind the scenes when the characters are striving in this manner for something they'd die for, but that's just a group/game style thing. I suppose it's not standard GURPS, we definitely don't keep a close track of character point value :)

I do applaud the idea of focusing on that style of play, and I'm certainly not against the concept of SAs, I just don't feel it brings anything to the table for my group so I was interested to know what use others get out of them.

It's actually a side note to my original concerns, to be honest. The reason I don't really want to play RoS is that I don't like the combat system (it's my aversion to rules again, I'd wager ;). The SA issue was really just me looking to see if it brought anything else that would make me change my mind.

Thanks for the reasoned discussion though, it's been interesting to hear people's take on it from the inside and I do like the way the game actively pushes to get away from traditional hack & slash. It's a different kettle of fish, I guess, it does its own thing while old school games like D&D do theirs, and there's a lot of room for both. I don't GM D&D, nor would I really want to outside the occasional one off parody sessions we do from time to time, I'm happy with my nebulous freewheeling game and I suspect from what I've heard that style wise it's very similar to a RoS game in terms of character depth and meaning. I'm also pleased that that kind of game has a codified approach out there and that people are taking an interest in it (wow, that sounds so elitist :).


Title: Re: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Salamander on July 11, 2003, 01:47:23 AM
Quote from: LordIvan

Just one last brief comment - My last character in a game had something that he believed was worth dying for, and risked all to achieve. He didn't have SA's; he didn't get special bonuses; the rules didn't force him to choose a passion or a drive. I just told my GM what my character really, really wanted to do, when I first created him. And we finally resolved that in the last session we played. The game system? D&D - And yet the character was one of the deepest, most complex and compelling character's I'd ever played.


Fisrt of all, kudos to you for having the desire and drive to play such a character. Also for asking such a good question.

Quote from: LordIvan

 how do you prevent SA's from becoming a crutch, and eventually something that gets in the way? How can you have character growth when their motivations are defined in the rules and their statistics?


Well, as the Character develops he changes, as he changes, so do his SA's. I find that they are not a crutch, but a guide for the player into true roleplaying of the Character. I am a big proponent for Character developement. The SA's create a way for the players to actually see them at work! To be able to really know what they are up to and what their Character (ergo the player to an extent) really cares about.

Quote from: LordIvan

And how have SA's made your life as a GM easier? By forcing some players who wouldn't normally, to define goals for their character? Is that the only benefit? or is there more? Does it promote deeper roleplaying from players? Even those who always had deep backgrounds and passions for their characters?


The SA's have made my life as a GM infinitely easier! It is not that they force a player to define and expound for their Character, but it aids them. I have a new roleplayer in my group and she has foundered a few times, but she shows great promise. She has always tried to come up with what her Character was all about, and has done an okay job, but she has struggled. This gives her tools she can use to great effect, I believe. As for those players who had a propensity for deep development of their Characters, this just rewards them for all their hard work, in my opinion.
 
Quote from: LordIvan

Sarcasm? Condescending Irony?
What? Me? Never.


I like the sig by the way.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Kaare_Berg on July 11, 2003, 03:47:56 AM
I will begin with admitting that I am lazy. At the same time I agree with MattFW on several of his points (notably the part where a good group does all of the above). But why have I the fallen into the TROS fan camp?

For me the great thing about TROS to me is "the feel" of the game.

Yet "the feel" is an emotional thing and is hard to quantify.

IMO "the feel" is about how the setting, the rules and the way it is all brought together. And more importantly how this makes my job as a GM easier, so that I can feed of my players enjoyment.

TROS does this by actually stimulating thinking in the players. Arguably one can say that all games rewards thinking in the players, but for example there are few games out there where a duel between to PCs isn't a dice-tossing competition won by he with the higest roll, most successes, etc.
Respons:
"So wow, now my thief can finally get back at joe's paladin without him giving me a solid beating with his Holy Thiefsmasher + X!"

What I am trying to say is that because of the thinking, the flavour of combat changes. Thus dramatic oppurtunities arise, and for a GM, experienced or not, this is gold.

As for the SA part. Well every character has five subplots included from the start. Every character has defined something that makes him tick, something that makes him draw his sword and charge into battle (figurativly speaking). This giving arise to more dramatic oppurtunities. And more gold to the GM.

Sure you get this in other systems, and sure if your group already does this with TOON, the hey all the power to you. But it is the combination of the two, along with the emphasis on character wich made me fall for TROS. And I found that unlike other games this character emphasis work.

No flame intended.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Jasper the Mimbo on July 11, 2003, 03:54:42 AM
it's simple, really. Combat is exiting because it's so dangerous. The times when charecters really shine is always when they're on the brink of disaster. I've run a number of very successful ROS games and i'm playing in another. I've seen one PC death due to combat, and his sacrifice allowed the group to overcome. When the knight had his shield arm broken while engaging in pointless combat it made the next few sessions of gameplay very tense. The deadlyness of the system forces creativity. If you want to survive don't fight fair. Know when to run away. Work togeather. This can be done in any other RPG with the right group of players, ROS just makes it easier.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Valamir on July 11, 2003, 06:57:42 AM
Hey Matt.  I think part of your struggle with TROS is misinterpreting some aspects of it which I'll endeavor to clarify.

Quote
That's why I look at TRoS as a game that could definitely be good for a group that doesn't gravitate naturally towards that style of play (assuming they want to), but not really holding much for a group that already does that.


I almost agree.  I do agree that having mechanical guidance for certain behaviors does help encourage those behavior in people who don't normally gravitate to such play(perhaps because they've never played with a group where such behavior was rewarded).  I do agree that a group who normally plays that way doesn't NEED mechanical encouragement to do so.

But I would disagree that that lack of need translates to such mechanics "not holding much".  There are great numbers of players of TROS here who normally play that way anyway and yet find a great deal of value to the mechanic for a variety of reasons.


Quote

The SA's are something I have only skirted around in reading, and my limited knowledge of them comes from reading forum posts, but they don't seem to be anything particularly inducive to a deeper game to me unless, as before, the group wasn't already doing it.


The key to SAs is that they match game play with game reward.

Take D&D as an example.  You can absolutely (and you'll find threads on the Forge discussing just this) play "this way" in D&D simply because all involved want to.  But that doesn't change the fact that your character improves by gaining experience that predominately comes from killing monsters.  You can as a player will yourself to ignore what the game is telling you to do (go out and kill monsters) but in TROS you don't have to.  What the game is telling you to do (act to your SAs) is exactly the activity that also leads to character improvement.

An added advantage is the ability to take players who would normally play "this way" and put them into a group with players who are looking to "level up" quickly and they can actually both play without disrupting each other.  


Quote
I have a general distrust of putting character motivation in to game mechanics :) I treat Advantages/Disadvantages/Quirks in GURPS as guidelines, for example. When you whack numbers on movtivation you have to start ruling around human behaviour and that can be tricky.


SAs are just guidelines.  In fact, they quite likely are less restrictive even than your reduced restrictive GURPs traits.  I can take "Hate the Duke of Evarton" as an SA.  During play...there is absolutely ZERO mechanical enforcement of that.  I can happily drink with the Duke, tell jokes with the Duke, save the Duke's life, and be best of friends with the Duke and theres not a dang thing either the rules or the GM can say different about it.  I'm still 100% in control of my character.

The thing is...if I'm not acting in a hateful way towards the Duke, I'm not earning any more SA points in that area.  Why would I take such an SA to begin with, if I have no intention of playing it out?  Unlike GURPs and many other "buy a disadvantage" systems you don't get points back by taking an SA that might get you into trouble.  There is no case where I'll take "Hate the Duke" as an SA just because I want the points and then try to avoid playing it out because I really only wanted the points and don't really have a problem with the Duke.

If I take Hate the Duke its because I want to play my Hatred of the Duke.  Its just like D&D where I can simply choose to hate the duke and play it accordingly...but in TROS when I do it, I get points.

Another related note that might help out...there is no connection between the numerical value of the SA and how "strongly" you feel it.  Having a Hate the Duke at 4 does NOT mean I hate the duke more than if I have Hate the Duke 1.  There are some good threads in the forum that discuss this concept, but it boils down to a pacing mechanism not an order of magitude mechanism.  Having Hate the Duke at 4 means I've been actively "Hating" recently and have built my points up.  Having more points means I can draw upon more dice when doing "Hating" things.  Drawing upon more dice means I can tackle bigger enemies than I could before because I've got more story mojo behind mehind.

Soooo....the SA serves to Pace the adventure.  I start off by doing a bunch of low grade hating and earn SA points.  When I have a high SA I can tackle the main enemy more easily.  If I can get several SAs involved at once (for instance, I also have "Love Jenny" and Jenny is about to be forced to marry the Duke tonight) I get LARGE numbers of SA powered story mojo working in my favor.  That means...I now have enough ability (i.e. large enough dice pool) to rush to the climax and hit it hard.  The SA numbers don't measure how much I hate the duke or how much I love Jenny...they simply pace the adventure.

In alot of ways its alot like "Leveling Up" without the effect being permanent.  In a typical D&D campaign you start low level, and have to level up to a higher level to beat the main villain.  But once you beat the villain, the next guy has to be even tougher, and the guys who were a threat before are wimps now, because you're permanently a higher level.

In TROS, you can go through a HUGE number of mini temporary story driven level ups.  1) get a collection of SAs that tie into the current adventure.  2) Do things to earn you more dice with those SAs.  3) When those SAs are maxed out you're ready to take on the big bad.  4) After the big bad is beaten, use those SA points on character improvement, and spend those SAs down to 0.  5) chose new SAs that tie to the next adventure hook.  6) repeat.

Quote
Quick example, though I won't labour the point, I understand that SA's can't instantly change without being bought off?


Not exactly.  You don't buy them off, you buy them down.  Buying them down means using the SA points like character points to improve your character.  This can be done at any time.   Pick an instant where your motivation changes.  Spend all of the accumulated points in that SA down to 0, change the SA to the new one, good to go.

(note, technically you do have to spend two SAs down to 0 in order to change one, but that's an easy rule to ignore).


Quote

And finally (well, nearly finally): I've not seen anyone comment on why the combat system is so detailed and complex if it's meant to discourage people from combat? As someone mentioned previously, GURPS combat can be pretty deadly, and it's not as detailed or complex (at least not until you add all the extra rules :), so shouldn't it be encouraging the same style of play?


People get the wrong impression about the deadliness of TROS combat.  

TROS combat is deadly...if you're stupid.  It is very difficult in TROS to get screwed simply by a lousy die roll (being a die pool game, lousy die combinations become more rare).  9 times in 10 in TROS if you die its because you chose to take a risk that you probably shouldn't have.

TROS will kill off characters from newbie players who haven't learned the need to evaluate the risk yet.  They make choices that a veteran player knows is dumb, and then they're shocked when they die.  D&D protects you against stupid decisions because only rarely is a single stupid decision likely to kill you in a melee.  Savage Worlds protects you against stupid decisions by giving you bennies to spend to save your butt after the fact.  TROS doesn't protect you from stupid decisions.  Hense, the deadly perception.

Fortuneately, a couple of mock combats is enough to teach most players to avoid the stupidest decisions.  After that you really have to try hard to get your character killed.


Hopefully that helps sort some issues out.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Jake Norwood on July 11, 2003, 08:59:06 AM
I'll add that "buying an SA down" means that you get to use the points for advancement. It doesn't cost anything--in fact it gives you points for character advancement--you just can't start a new SA out higher than 0.

Jake


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Lxndr on July 11, 2003, 10:22:19 AM
So it's really more like "Selling it down"?


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Bankuei on July 11, 2003, 10:33:59 AM
Hi Matt,

If the gritty combat or other stuff isn't your style, that's all cool.  Other games which promote SA type of play, in various ways include the Pool, Trollbabe, Hero Wars/Quest and Universalis.   You might want to look into those as other potential options or avenues which may help you out.  Also, it sounds as if the style of play you usually run with is very similar to Burning Wheel, you might also want to check out their use of BITS(Beliefs, Instincts, Traits).

Chris


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Jake Norwood on July 11, 2003, 02:07:02 PM
Quote from: Lxndr
So it's really more like "Selling it down"?


Yeah, I suppose so. Basically, all SA points are eventually used to permanently improve your character--they are never actually lost. So you use the SA points from the SA you're changing to buy up other parts of your character. When that SA "wallet" is empty, you can replace it. But no points are ever lost, only moved.

Jake


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Lance D. Allen on July 11, 2003, 04:41:35 PM
Good analogy, Jake.

It bugs me to see all the posts dismissing SAs. If you're not looking at SAs and thinking "Ooh..." then you're probably missing the point, and should look into another game, or just strap the portions of TRoS that you like on over your existing game, because it's NOT going to play right without them.

But then I think that maybe people don't get that "Ooh" feeling because they don't fully understand SAs. I know I certainly didn't at first. I was like "um.. okay." when I first read about them, and it wasn't until reading Ron's comments and the discussions engendered from them that I fully understood exactly how important and vital they are.

I can fully understand why people are hesitant about "personality mechanics". I had to deal with it running V:tM and people not liking Humanity/Path. In games like that your character's morality, desires and fears are at least partially defined for you, and that takes away from the sense of investment and ownership of your character. The difference with TRoS is that each player defines what's important, what matters, when they choose their SAs. They are not locked in by them at all once they begin play. You choose what you want to do, and you write it down on the page. It's not restricting, it's not confining, and it won't slow anything down.. If you have a Passion: love of country, and you attack the royal guards to save a friend, it's all good.

Any and all things which make SAs more understandable are much goodness.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Overdrive on July 12, 2003, 05:48:33 AM
This happened last night in my campaign:

The PCs stop at a small village that is just about to be attacked by invading enemy forces. There are only one knight (Friedrich) and three yeomen protecting the village, women and children crying, etc. According to a scout, 5 or 10 men are coming, so the PCs decide to fend them off.

The combat system forced the players to come up with a plan. I figured the *possible* fight would be risky, but with good tactics no PC would get killed.

The riders come, seven of them, PCs hiding. Their leader (Gottfried) wants to negotiate with Friedrich; he is actually the knight from "the next village", they are old friends. The enemy has invaded much of the land and the local lords have joined with them because they cannot defend against such a large force. Gottfried begs Friedrich to join the enemy, otherwise he has to kill him. When the time comes, he says, they can drive the invader from the country and reclaim the lands. People are warming to the idea.

At this point one of the PCs shoots an arrow through Gottfried's neck. Everyone is astonished! Friedrich waves his arms and shouts, "Noooo!", running to the dying man. The rest of the riders just leave. Combat over.

We felt pretty empty after the incident. It was cool though. One other PC said to Friedrich, "Had you joined them, we would have had to kill you all."

All of the PCs are warriors of some sort, but the players still avoid 'real' or 'fair' combat situations. Most of the fun comes from the tension that builds up _before_. And then there is the decision to go or let go.. From one of my friend's .sig, "Experts use their superior judgement to keep away from situations where they might have to demonstrate their excellent skills." That pretty much sums up the combat system thingie :)


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Jake Norwood on July 12, 2003, 08:35:42 AM
Quote
Most of the fun comes from the tension that builds up _before_.


Those of you that have seen the films of Akira Kurosawa, a definite TROS influence, know that this can be much, much more thrilling than "and we killed them all!"

Jake


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Judd on July 13, 2003, 03:28:43 AM
Hi, my name is Judd and I play D&D.

Hi, Judd!

I run brilliant narratavist games where the players are the center and their actions dictate the path the adventure takes.  We have fun and we role-play and XP isn't handed out merely for killing things but killings things happens and we dig that too.

I am running a game right now, will run a new game in the campaign this Wednesday.  I like D&D s'fun and my buddies and I role-play just fine with it.

That said, I love TROS.  Spiritual Attributes are my guide, they are the player's way of telling the GM, "HEY this is what interests ME about this character!"  SA's are where the player wants to take the character, they are the players putting sign posts along the road, telling the GM where they want to go.

The combat system is brutal.  A good hit with a good knife can take yer eye out and kill ya.  My Riddle players got into combats, though and every arrow shot at them caused everyone to hold their breath.  It was tense and intense and dramatic.

I like formulating my adventure ideas by looking at the player's character sheets and I like bare steel to be a wildly dramatic experience.

It is different from D&D but that's okay, I've got room on my shelf for both games.


Title: Oops, I'm dead.
Post by: LordIvan on July 13, 2003, 03:59:36 PM
Hey all, thanks for the great discussion - It's refreshing to come across a forum where people are actually willing to discuss things with outsiders rather than hurling insult and invective... so thanks again :)

First up, I must say, that unlike matt, I'm actually warming to the idea of SA's. I can imagine a couple of epic scenes where you character just does things that he shouldn't normally be able to do, things he's failed at previously, and achieving. Cool. I do like the sound of it all.

My only remaining concern is simply this - You all talk about the tension in combat. Ok, So you've been playing this character for 12 sessions. You've got your drive to kill your former friend who betrayed you and sent you to suffer in prison for 13 years, the Count Mondego. He married your girl, besmirched your honour, and made your father hang himself. You're angry. You've fought for it, suffered for it, burning with the fire of vengeance. Then final fight. Oops, the deadly combat system kicks in, you're dead.

Bugger. What now? What do you do? The very 'tension' that you've be raving about, the drama it generates has just killed your character you've poured so much of your time in to. What do you do?

Does this happen in you're group? If not, why not? Is it that you're secretly fudging things? Carefully making sure that fights actually aren't that deadly?
 Or do you and your players simply prefer this? Are they *happy* to lose characters, considering that tension well worth the trade off?

 - I know which one I prefer, but I'm curious to hear which one you and your players go for.

thanks again,

<edited to correct spilleng mistaek>

--
Sarcasm? Condescending Irony?
What? Me? Never.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Bankuei on July 13, 2003, 04:16:03 PM
Hi Ivan,

I think another thing to consider is that SAs play more than a "slight modifier" in terms of action.  Most PCs will have somewhere between 10-15 dice in their Combat Pool, and advanced PCs may have as many as up to 20.  Each SA that can apply adds anywhere from 0 to 5 more dice, up to a potential of 25 extra dice!(Exceedingly rare, but possible).

Depending on how fast you reward SA points, folks can max out their SAs over the course of a single combat...Now looking at your example above, your character probably has 3-4 SAs involved about.  That's probably going to equate to somewhere around 12-15 extra dice...  in a game where 4 extra dice is a BIG advantage.

So, likelihood of losing?  Very low.  If you play smart?  Lower still.  I haven't seen folks lose because of bad rolls, but more like bad rolls and risky(or simply bad) decisions together.  This isn't to say that its impossible, much in the same way winning the lotto isn't "impossible".  

Of course, you'll be best off to hear some input from folks who have run campaigns for a couple of years to hear the worst case scenario.

Chris


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Jake Norwood on July 13, 2003, 08:33:12 PM
This has come up several times, so I'll sum up.

This isn't rollmaster, where a bad roll will kill you. TROS combat is "real" because it's based on choices, not chance. That will preserve your PC's life for a long time.

Jake


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 14, 2003, 06:08:37 AM
Hello,

Ivan, Chris' point about the magnitude of the SAs' bonus is very important. When they're all firing at once, that's twenty-five dice added to your combat pool.

Forget maneuvers. Forget weapon choice. Forget all the crunchy combat bits. That's twenty-five dice. Once you develop the role-playing skills necessary to get them aligned together during a certain situation, and the TROS rules are very well-designed to permit one to do this, the SAs steamroll all the other rules and options in the book.

Now, let's talk some more about character death. Let's say you do roll an amazing amount of 1's and your character loses his leg and is bleeding out in the very next round.

No problem!! Spend the SA's now, reducing the character to 0, 0, 0 ,0, and 0 SAs. Yup, all 25 of them. That's a ton of Insight, added onto whatever you have already. Embrace the character's death; he's dying unfulfilled. Hit the music button.

... and use that Insight to build a character whose personal philosophy, conflicts, and SA's come straight out of the first character's death-scene.

Best,
Ron


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: LordIvan on July 14, 2003, 09:41:41 PM
Heyup all - Well, it seems to me that everyone is now telling me that ROS combat is _not_ actually that deadly at all, because you've got all those SA's ready for that final big boss fight.

Ok, cool. So the despite what some folks said earlier then, it's _not_ the danger, and the risk inherent in the combat system that adds the drama to these scenes, since you've all reassured me that it's near impossible to die.

So why are the scenes so intense? - It's all about the character, and the motivation, and the players involvement. So riddle of steel could be played just as well with a 'no death rule' then, as far as I can see - Since from what what you've told me, the outcome of a fight would almost certainly be the same.
What do you all think?
 Would the game would still be the same to you? Or do you prefer a 'fictious illusion' of death that seems to be the reality at the moment?

(I was going to mention my concerns about *player* knowledge of the combat systems tactics and intricacies affecting how good your actual *character* is in combat, but I don't think it's worth it - When it comes down to it, you guys like the combat system, and like playing it that way, so it's a meaningless point for me to question :) - And it's not as big a concern to me as it is to others. Though it seems a little unfair that another player in the group who is not at good as at tactics as another has to spend more points on combat to match him...  )

cheers all!
  - Ivan


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Bankuei on July 14, 2003, 10:01:30 PM
Hi Ivan,

Have you ever done anything like rock climbing?  Bungee jumping?  Maybe something really tame, like a rollercoaster?  All of these activities are comparatively "low-risk" activities, that is to say, most likely you'll survive to live the tale.  But, there is also the very, very slight chance that you will have a terrible accident.  It exists in the back of your head...

Still gives you a thrill, right?

There's so many if's involved in ROS.  IF you get your SAs going, IF you guesstimate how many dice to use, IF you plan your tactics right.  Even if you know your enemy, have them outnumbered 10-1, and catch them by surprise, there's still a chance that something could go wrong.  And if it does...if it does...if....

There's no fictiticous illusion of character death.  It is a real possibility.  But, the odds are up to you.  You can play dumb, and basically give yourself the "stoned hobo on the train tracks" odds, or play smart and give yourself the "indoor rock climbing with a Sumo wrestler as your belay partner" odds...  That's up to you.  There's a chance in both you could end up seriously hurt or dead, and that is part of the thrill.

The scenes are intense because you are playing odds, there is nothing that is "for sure".  In D&D, you know about the maximum amount of damage an orc is going to hand out every turn.  And you can know how many turns you can "possibly" take hits and keep going.  You also know the point where it becomes actually possible to drop your character.  Between that time, you can make all kinds of decisions to keep fighting or run, or whatever.  It's effectively a "safety zone" of time for you to decide your tactics.  

ROS, you don't have that.  Even if you have 35 more dice than the other guy, you don't screw around.  Until he's dead, you're in danger, even if it's .00001%, it's still very much a possibility of being an all-or-nothing affair.  And this character you've built up for a couple of months?  No way are you letting your guy get smashed by some knucklehead because you got overconfident...

The tension is even higher and uglier if you pull in your SAs to just MATCH a very skilled opponent...One example from actual play, a knight was about 6 dice less than his opponent, but made up the difference with SAs, putting him at a (bare) 2 dice advantage.  The opponent rushes in, throwing all his dice on offense, and the knight goes for a counter...  Everyone in the room is dead silent, on the edge of their chair, waiting to see what happens... Because we all KNOW, one or the other person is dying, right here, right now.

So, please understand, ROS is deadly, and it also FAVORS the PC who plays smart tactically, and dramatically.  These are NOT contradictory.

Chris


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Morfedel on July 15, 2003, 05:21:50 AM
The point being, the combat system is VERY potentially fatal. By that, it means you can die with one, single sword stroke. It doesn't matter if your character is a beginner, or a combat monger who has been around for 2 years of game time and is a god amongst men on the battlefield, a single sword stroke can still end your life.

There are many, many games where this isn't true.

And another thing: when your Spiritual Attributes trigger, you become far more deadly. WHEN they trigger. The game was intentionally designed to ask the questions, "What is important enough for you to kill for," and "What is important enough for you to die for."

In this, the system supports itself; the vast majority of people in real life, both then and now, didn't engage in casual, potentially fatal combats as a matter of course - these things could mean the end of your life, and you took such actions with as much care as we would now. But when it is important, when it truly matters, you will hurl yourself unto the brink.

For two examples: when I was in high school, I was cornered in a bathroom by this one guy who was the school bully - and he was also enormous. HUGE. And he humiliated me, forcing me to back down and leave, while others watched. My pride, my humilation, at the time, wasnt enough for me to stand up to him, I just turned around and left.

However, during that time, I was also a pizza delivery guy. I was waiting in at my car, the evening was pretty much done, it was late late at night, and through the parking lot, I suddenly heard a scream. Some guy had one arm wrapped around a woman's head and neck, walking towards a truck, with his other arm sorting through a wallet. This guy was in his 30s, was tough looking, etc. and I didnt hesitate to charge across the parking lot screaming for him to let the girl go, all ready to throw myself at him.

The guy calmly let her go, and continued counting money in the wallet. I wasnt sure if it was a man's or a woman's wallet, but he just said, "Hey, its mine, and this B-tch stole it from me."  The woman ran into the grocery store next store where there was lots of people while I, a stupid 16 year old kid, looked at the guy trying to figure out if he was telling the truth or not.

Regardless, the woman got away... apparently he was her boyfriend, and I never learned if she decided to call the police or not. But the point being, if I'd stood up to those thugs in the bathroom, I'd have gotten a beating. Yet who knows how dangerous that guy really was in the parking lot - who knows, maybe he was armed, and would have killed me.

But I wasnt about to just let a woman be potentially dragged away like that, and I took a stand when it really mattered. And Id have fought tooth and nail if necessary.

Thats what the SAs are all about. They represent whats truly important to your character; what will you really fight like a lion over, even if and when death is imminent; what will you risk it all, and throw yourself at full force, in order to win?

TRoS combat is potentially fatal. A big part of it is what your SAs are like, and if they are triggering; and what the DM is doing; and how smart you are playing. If you get into combats without reason and without the SAs triggering, you will likely die. IF you are fighting people as good as you are without SAs, or better than you are, you could be in serious danger. And if you are only brought up to their level after SAs trigger, you are in serious trouble.

Then again, SAs triggering when you were before equal with the guy will swing the combat in your favor... but who knows if you are fighting a mook, an equal, or a god of the battlefield. Build your character smart. Use your SAs when possible. And play/fight smart, like you would in real life. Thats what TRoS' combat is all about.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Morfedel on July 15, 2003, 05:29:03 AM
Quote from: Bankuei

The tension is even higher and uglier if you pull in your SAs to just MATCH a very skilled opponent...One example from actual play, a knight was about 6 dice less than his opponent, but made up the difference with SAs, putting him at a (bare) 2 dice advantage.  The opponent rushes in, throwing all his dice on offense, and the knight goes for a counter...  Everyone in the room is dead silent, on the edge of their chair, waiting to see what happens... Because we all KNOW, one or the other person is dying, right here, right now.


And? AND?!?!  Dont leave us in suspense, man!!!! :)


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Lebo77 on July 15, 2003, 05:34:29 AM
I am actualy a little confused on how SAs trigger. Specificly, when do these dice "refresh"?  From what I gather, diffrent types of SA refresh diffrently.  I know luck refresshes only at the start of a new "session", but what about the others?  Do they refresh once round, one a dice roll, once a "scene/combat", once a session?  Do diffrent types refresh diffrently?

What is the diffrence between:

Drive: defend my family,
Passion: my family?


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Morfedel on July 15, 2003, 05:44:01 AM
As I understand it, SAs trigger at any moment that it is appropriate, and remain triggered until the situation changes.

For example, if you have Passion: Hatred of Baron Morga, and you enter combat with his croonies, the GM may allow you the bonus. Then, during the entire conflict, any dice pool gets the SAs added as a bonus.

I believe that the SA dice pool is considered seperate for refresh, however. I mean, what if you are using missile combat, which refreshes X amount every round, versus melee, which COMPLETELY refreshes each round?

I believe that in most cases, excepting the SA of luck, etc, they effectively refresh each round as well, and add to whatever it is you are doing. In effect, you draw from that pool to add it to other pools.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Valamir on July 15, 2003, 07:16:01 AM
Quote from: Lebo77
I am actualy a little confused on how SAs trigger. Specificly, when do these dice "refresh"?  From what I gather, diffrent types of SA refresh diffrently.  I know luck refresshes only at the start of a new "session", but what about the others?  Do they refresh once round, one a dice roll, once a "scene/combat", once a session?  Do diffrent types refresh diffrently?

What is the diffrence between:

Drive: defend my family,
Passion: my family?



There is no "refresh".  Dice are not spent (except on character improvement).

If you have an SA to defend your family, than you get those dice each and every time you make a die roll where your family is at stake.  They aren't used in the first roll and then have to refresh later.  If you have the SA at 4...you get 4 dice...to EVERY roll.

The exception is Luck, which isn't really an SA at all but more like Savage World bennies.

The difference between the two examples above really depends.  As written there are some proceedural differences between drives and passions and destinies, but I believe Jake is on record as saying that if were to do it again, he'd make them all function the same.  Certainly in my experience there hasn't been any mechanical difference between a Passion and a Drive (though I seem to recall there are in the rules).

If I were GMing your game I'd interpret Drive as requiring a specific course of action with a definable outcome.  So if you came to me with "Drive: Defend my Family" I'd make you be more specific.

Who or what are you defending your family from and what course of action will qualify as successful.  To me a drive has to be able to have closure.

For instance:
Passion:  Love of Family
Drive:  Prevent the Marshon family from driving us off of our land

would be more acceptable to me as GM.  IIRC Passion requires a specific individual, but in this case I think the blood ties of family and the ability to specifically identify those family members would overrule that limitation.

Passion: Love the people of Gelure I might have more of a problem with.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Morfedel on July 15, 2003, 08:04:32 AM
Ralph: are you saying that an SA grants dice in both parts of an exchange, for instance? Because the way I was reading it, it grants the dice to the dice pool, which is then divided up between the two exchanges?


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Valamir on July 15, 2003, 08:09:17 AM
Quote from: Morfedel
Ralph: are you saying that an SA grants dice in both parts of an exchange, for instance? Because the way I was reading it, it grants the dice to the dice pool, which is then divided up between the two exchanges?


yeah, to the pool.  I generally refer to rolls because you can also use SAs for skill checks not just combat.  Those 4 extra dice can help you climb walls, track the villain, or heal a wound too.

I seem to recall some discussion on this though.  IIRC some folks add it to the rolls rather than the pool.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Morfedel on July 15, 2003, 08:16:51 AM
Man, if you add it to each ROLL, whew, talk about combat monsters! :)

I guess its better to say that SAs add to each POOL as its being checked (again, barring luck). So, it adds to your combat pools each round, for instance.

You know... enough SAs firing can have you firing credible arrow shots without bothering to refresh the missile combat pool....


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Valamir on July 15, 2003, 08:26:00 AM
Its all really in the bounds of GM control, since the GM is the one passing out the SA points.  I believe the text in the book suggests a nice sedate 3-4 points per session.  If you limit when players can spend those points on improvement to select downtime in the adventure than you have a situation where typical SA levels are 2-3 and often just one.  With a limit on when the points can be spent than SAs of 4 and 5 won't last long because players will be motivated to spend them down or risk losing future awards because they've capped out.

On the other hand if you play Blood Opera style and hand out SAs like candy and allow them to be spent down anytime...even in the midst of a combat, than your typical SA levels are going to hovering regularly around 4-5 and rarely go below 3.

Thats a pretty significant difference in the number of extra dice the player will have to sling around when 2 or 3 SAs start firing at the same time.  Very different style of game.  The first is much more gritty with a heroic flare at the climax feel.  The later is more of an over the top Conan / The Scorpion King sword and sorcery killing fest.

Play blood opera style and watch Conan cut down a small army of thugs and soldiers and goons until he confronts the villain who has SAs of his own.

Play as written (with added restrictions from the text like IIRC limits to the number of times you can draw upon a Passion each day) and you have a much grittier more Harn World feel to things.

Its an easy dial to adjust with a little practice.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Jake Norwood on July 15, 2003, 09:30:34 AM
Quote from: Morfedel
Man, if you add it to each ROLL, whew, talk about combat monsters! :)

I guess its better to say that SAs add to each POOL as its being checked (again, barring luck). So, it adds to your combat pools each round, for instance.

You know... enough SAs firing can have you firing credible arrow shots without bothering to refresh the missile combat pool....


I've seen it done both ways to great effect. It depends on what you want. I generally go with "pool," but when I play with Ron I go by "roll."

Jake


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: LordIvan on July 15, 2003, 05:38:52 PM
Quote from: Bankuei

So, please understand, ROS is deadly, and it also FAVORS the PC who plays smart tactically, and dramatically.  These are NOT contradictory.


Sorry if I gave that impression - It was never my intent - I'm quite happy to agree to this - if it works for you and your group, good stuff - A difference in play styles does not make it wrong :) I was trying to present a 'What if', however, to see your thoughts on the subject.

Quote from: Bankuei

Everyone in the room is dead silent, on the edge of their chair, waiting to see what happens... Because we all KNOW, one or the other person is dying, right here, right now.


Ok, it seems that we're in agreement for a lot of things that we like to see in a game - It's just that this is the point where we diverge. Sure, there is tension in the moments before those die rolls... but. If it were me? it would be - 'f**k. My characters dead. I liked him, I put a lot of time in to him. now what?" - I just don't like loosing characters. It seems that people in your group think that it's a trade off well worth making for the tension.

Me? I'm a 'character failure' vs 'character death' kind of guy. Character failure can be just as important as character death. Rather than death, you're left bleeding on the floor, as the grim knight walks over your body to those you were trying to protect. He smiles, a thin, cruel smile, as he strikes down your loved ones, and takes control of your lands. Your body is thrown outside to rot with the rest of the dead, but somehow, you manage to crawl away, and are found by friends, near dead, and nursed slowly back to health, pondering your vengeance.

 See what I mean? Failure can be just as grim, and to end it just on character death robs you of so many wonderful opporunities.

Still, I guess this is NOT at odds with the ROS combat system as such. You just adjudicate the 'death' result as 'mortally wounded'. Still all the tension in that fight, the lethality of the combat system - You just don't need to die to achieve that result.

Hi Everybody. My name is Ivan, and I'm a GM - Not a player killer:)

- Why don't you try it one day? The next time the character is fighting for something that is sooo important to him that he has all those SA's saved up, and is willing to risk all for it - Don't kill him. Make him fail. Let him lose what he was fighting for. I think you might be quite surprised at what results from this.

(Opinion guys, this is opinion, not an attack :) )

thanks,
   -- Ivan


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Bankuei on July 15, 2003, 07:36:13 PM
Hi Ivan,

You might also be pleased to find out that ROS, with the rules as is, can also give you just that.  Many of the worst wounds possible aren't "instant death" bur rather, bleeding very, very badly.  It is conceivable that someone with enough SAs, and raw luck, could survive, and perhaps come back for more(perhaps missing a limb or something...).

I think one aspect about really making ROS work though, is recognizing a real threat to your character, and being willing to accept character death if it occurs.  Of course, there is an SA known as Luck, which, for spending one point will earn you a single success(which is good against bloodloss), or by permanently spending it down, can earn you some "lucky" event, such as "Hah! Your arrow is stopped by my pendant, which hangs over my heart!" to the "Getting tossed out with the trash to survive" scenario you describe.

People hear words like "realistic", "deadly" and such, and all kinds of connotations pop up that just aren't in play.  PC killing isn't what its about, but neither is fudging dice to save your favorite NPC, or PCs.  ROS's rules, unlike many out there, do exactly what they're supposed to, and you'll find yourself without the "need" to fudge.  

Chris


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Jake Norwood on July 15, 2003, 08:05:51 PM
Quote
Ok, it seems that we're in agreement for a lot of things that we like to see in a game - It's just that this is the point where we diverge. Sure, there is tension in the moments before those die rolls... but. If it were me? it would be - 'f**k. My characters dead. I liked him, I put a lot of time in to him. now what?" - I just don't like loosing characters. It seems that people in your group think that it's a trade off well worth making for the tension.


Somebody explain Insight, please. I would, but I'm trying to finish OBAM.

Jake


Title: Re: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Spartan on July 17, 2003, 08:51:11 PM
Quote from: Salamander
In my first session of TRoS set in the Renaissance, Rülf of Bern was called upon by his idiotic and romantic of a friend to be a second of his in a duel over a woman. Piece 'o' Cake, right? Wrong, the other fellow was a Fugger! Now Rülf did pause and wonder if his friend was good enough to kill the fellow, and it came up as a draw in his mind, if I recall... but good 'ole Rülf was thinking beyond that. "I have no intention of f*cking with the Fuggers" says he. So he formulated a plan to get his friend out of the city before the Fuggers found out. Well, after a bit of misadventure, the Fuggers found out... Guess what happened next? The Fugger said he would spare his friend the duel if he renounced any claim to the hand of the fair maiden in question. Only one blade was drawn and that was by the idiotic friend as he cut his own bonds to flee his friends who had abducted him in a bid to spirit him out of the city... Still conflict and this time no violence... All told it was good for a couple of SA awards.


And a good time was had by all.  I've never played an rpg session with so much in-character dialogue.  Bless Heinrich, incurable romantic that he is.  I wonder how many times good ol' Rülf is going to have to bail him out.  I'm eagerly awaiting the interplay between Rülf and Renata... a sort of "dynamic duo" thingy could well evolve.  They're both competent fighters, and will be dangerous in tandem.  That's a good thing, since Rülf is a bit of a sh!t disturber.  I'm halfways amazed he didn't try to take on the Fuggers, but then I remembered he's scrappy, not suicidal.  Sh!t disturber, yes... but he knows what logs to poke at. ;)

And you never know... perhaps the Fuggers will make better allies than adversaries for a young swordsman with more secrets than connections. 8)

-Mark


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Spartan on July 17, 2003, 09:04:22 PM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
Somebody explain Insight, please. I would, but I'm trying to finish OBAM.

Jake


Otay.

Insight is like a downpayment on your next character.  It's also VERY cool.  How it works is like this:  For every SA point you SPEND (not merely use), you get a point of Insight.  When you generate your next character (evetually, the character will die or retire), the amount of Insight your previous character had gets bonus priorities (read: character points) with which to build your new character.  As long as you've spent even ONE SA point down, you get a bonus priority.  If you've gotten a very powerful character by building his up and spending lots of points, your next one will reflect this.  This is how you can end up generating characters who are (all at once) Landed Nobility, Gifted, and with 14 Proficiencies (normally impossible for starting characters).  Mind you, to get a character like that, you'll have retired a heck of a character to get it. :)  Even spending one point guarrantees a bonus E Priority, negating the crappy F Priority.  That's fairly significant.

All in all, the Insight system is one of my favourite parts of TROS.

-Mark


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Salamander on July 18, 2003, 05:09:36 AM
Quote from: Spartan
If you've gotten a very powerful character by building his up and spending lots of points, your next one will reflect this.  This is how you can end up generating characters who are (all at once) Landed Nobility, Gifted, and with 14 Proficiencies (normally impossible for starting characters).  Mind you, to get a character like that, you'll have retired a heck of a character to get it. :)  Even spending one point guarrantees a bonus E Priority, negating the crappy F Priority.  That's fairly significant.

All in all, the Insight system is one of my favourite parts of TROS.

-Mark


It also does wonders for the Seneschal in determining just how powerful the new PC should be.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: LordIvan on July 20, 2003, 05:32:21 PM
Quote from: Spartan

All in all, the Insight system is one of my favourite parts of TROS.


okay.
I must admit that this particular rule is not leaping out at me and saying 'hey, your character died, but it's ok' :)

I mean, it doesn't seem particularly different from the usual sort of house rule of 'create a new character a level below your old one', or 'create a character with the same XP as your old one, minus a few'.

There must be something more to it than this surely? Otherwise it's merely a formalisation of something most of us assume anyway. It also doesn't seem to serve to make the previous characters death any more dramatic or important or memorable. Just seems like 'cashing in'.

Still - as I've said before, you've managed to sway me with the idea of SA's - I _DO_ like the sound of those things. It's just that when it comes down it it, my play preference is to keep the same character through an entire campaign. Our whole group has gravitated towards that in the last couple of years - From high fatility, to no fatility. (Granted, in one of the more recent campaigns, we used D&D, and the longivity of the characters was sometimes assisted by 'raise dead', which DID cheapen the entire death thing significantly - But in another campaign, there was simply a 'no death rule' in place, and that worked really, really well.)

Well, I guess character death works for you lot, and if it does, great.
From the experience in our games, I find we can reach great depth of tension and dramatic power without it. (And believe me, there is something _very_ satisfying about finally reaching a story resolution after 40 or so sessions with the same character - having had this character for a year and a half or so. A long, long struggle :) )

Adieu.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on July 20, 2003, 08:27:22 PM
I haqve never had a character die, I do retire them though which is what makes insight worth while for me. Basically, I drop characters once they have fulfilled their driving purpose unless I can think of a good reason to keep him.
Insight allows me to then try a new complex idea and with TROS and Sa's there is an infinite number of possibilities.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Brian Leybourne on July 20, 2003, 09:14:06 PM
I guess it comes down to what a group wants from the game, right?

Some groups want gritty edge-of-your-seat with characters dying left, right and center. That doesn't really work for me anymore (after a certain Deadlands game that just got silly) but works great for some groups.

Some other groups like the "nobody dies unless they agree/want to" ideal. Contrary to popular belief this is very doable in TROS, it just requires some strategy on the part of the players and of course different interpretation on the part of the Seneschal (level 5 wounds incapacitate instead of killing, etc). 7th Sea paradigm basically. This works really well actually, and for some groups is also great.

Other groups like something in the middle. All of them can be played with TROS (IMO, anyway). It's even possible to still be very gritty without player deaths, although I would agree that for that the players need to think a little more, be more invested in their characters, and have a different mindset from games like D&D where there are hitpoints. It still works, though. I've seen it.

Versitility. Just another aspect I like about TROS. :-)

Brian.


Title: Unstated bits of TROS
Post by: Kaare_Berg on July 21, 2003, 12:52:08 AM
I'll put my two cents in here.

I am going to tell the story of a civil war. The first storyarc takes the characters into a struggle for control of one of the contenders to the throne. Some of them may die others may not, this does not really matter. When the arc is complete I plan to change over to other characters also involved in this war, but fighting on another front and maybe the other side.

Insight creates a continuity for the players, thus every time I start a new storyarc they are still in a sense of playing in the same campaign. To my players Insight makes this one campaign, not several different ones in the same setting. It also lets them take more and more significant parts in the war as their power grows.

Such is the power of Insight.