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Inactive Forums => My Life With Master Playtest => Topic started by: Paul Czege on February 19, 2003, 09:50:09 AM



Title: your last chance for despair
Post by: Paul Czege on February 19, 2003, 09:50:09 AM
This week I began writing My Life with Master up for publication. So I've been working my way through feedback from private messages and threads in this forum to make sure I've thought carefully about people's suggestions and incorporated needed clarifications into the game text.

And I'm confident about all the decisions I've made...except one. Many folks have reported frustration from playtesters at how quickly Self-Loathing spiralled out of control, and have requested a mechanic for its reduction. I'm mostly unmoved. I think players are adopting too much of a lone-wolf style of play, largely ignoring the mechanics for minions aiding each other, and then feeling frustrated. There is, for instance, no reason a minion couldn't ask another minion for aid in making an overture to a Connection. "Ludwig, will you play the violin for me while I sing to her from the yard?"

Still, I feel compelled to consider the workability of mechanics that provide for the reduction of Self-Loathing, since I do think a natural, genre-appropriate mechanic would be a good thing for the game, as long as its usage was pretty infrequent. I don't want to allow for retrograde of the game's escalation, just for an occasional stutter-step. And so last night I found myself trying to rework the "shirking" mechanics that we discussed previously. This is what I came up with:
    Despair

    When a minion loses a Connection (i.e. the character dies), all the Love attached to that Connection is lost and the minion enters a state of Despair. While in Despair a minion is vulnerable to another player character minion using physical and verbal abuse to force a command issued to himself off onto the Despairing character. This is resolved by the acting minion rolling his own Self-Loathing minus Reason against the Despairing minion rolling Love plus his own Weariness. If successful, the acting minion reduces his Self-Loathing by one, and the target minion is considered responsible for the Command in question. It's delusional, of course, but the acting minion has just shrugged off a little bit of feeling icky about himself by getting someone else to do something he didn't want to do. If the acting minion fails, a point of Weariness is taken. The conflict with the Despairing minion has left the acting minion wrung out psychologically, or a bit roughed up physically. A minion emerges from Despair when either a point of Love or a point of Self-Loathing is gained.[/list:u]Anyway, I liked it a lot when I first thought it up yesterday. But I'm not going to use it. It's basically the same as the shirking mechanics, except constrained to working only on other minions when they've just lost a Connection. I like the shirking mechanics a lot, but I've come to believe they'll cause character vs. character conflicts to eclipse the character vs. master conflict in significance. And the Despair mechanics are, upon consideration, even worse. Now, in order to lower my Self-Loathing, I have to kill your Connection first. My intent was to restrict the occurrence of shirking so there would be less escalation of character vs. character, and what I did was create a mechanic that will actually provoke a more vicious escalation.

    Convince me otherwise? Any other suggestions on mechanics for infrequent reduction of Self-Loathing?

    Paul


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: quozl on February 19, 2003, 10:33:25 AM
    I'm going to look at this from a gamist viewpoint.  MLWM has a definite endpoint and a way to win the game.  Since the only way to win the game is to resolve the conflict with the master, it cannot be eclipsed by any amount of character conflict.  However, character conflict would still be important as it makes sure that no other players can win before you do.

    Now, if you do not want MLWM to support such a gamist outlook, you might want to not use the proposed shirking and despair rules.


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: xiombarg on February 19, 2003, 11:37:30 AM
    Quote
    I think players are adopting too much of a lone-wolf style of play, largely ignoring the mechanics for minions aiding each other, and then feeling frustrated. There is, for instance, no reason a minion couldn't ask another minion for aid in making an overture to a Connection. "Ludwig, will you play the violin for me while I sing to her from the yard?"
    Then you should be sure to highlight this in the rule, perhaps even with the example you just gave, as it sure isn't obvious at all that the players are supposed to be helping each other. There is very little that obviously encourages the party to work together, especially as each has his own individual issues to deal with, and the only thing that binds them together, generally, is the Master, and that binding is, by nature, disfunctional.

    You may want to consider adding the Despair/shirking mechanic as an optional rule, while explaining why it isn't in the default game. It might be nice to have a more lone-wolf style of game on occasion.


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Mike Holmes on March 12, 2003, 02:06:04 PM
    Damnit, the way the new message tags work, I sometimes miss this stuff. So here I am almost a month later replying.

    I'm still not seeing the idea at all. By telling you to do something bad, I feel better? I mean even if it's delusional, I still don't see the basis of the rationale. And, yes, this might foreground the character stuff too much. I'm agin it!

    What I think would work better is simply  finding a way to make Self-Loathing not spiral. I have an idea.

    Think of it this way, people talk about hitting bottom. There is a bedrock below which Self-Loathing cannot go it seems to me. IOW, instead of Self-Loathing making getting Self-Loathing more likely, make it less likely. This is cool because as one gains Self-Loathing it becomes a barrier to more. So from a player POV, you're being tempted to do things to gain more so that you're better in a fight. But at no point do you go so high that you are disempowered entirely to resist the Master. You're unlikely to ever be out of the running entirely for any endgame, either.

    This requires reworking, of the Getting the Love you want rule, of course:

    Current rule: The Minion rolls Reason minus Self-Loathing against the target of the Connection rolling Fear minus Reason. If the Minion fails the roll, in addition to the Love point, he also gets a point of Self-Loathing.

    New rule: The Minion rolls Self-Loathing minus Fear against the target of the Connection rolling Weariness minus reason. If the Minion fails the roll, in addition to the Love point, he also gets a point of Self-Loathing.

    Using this, as soon as Self-Loathing gets to a certain point it's unlikely to get higher unless his weariness gets higher. But that's unlikley as his Self-Loathing is already high. Still, there's always a chance, which is cool. Anyhow, this makes getting Love less painful in some ways, but then, in the original system what we're worried about is a similar phenomenon where the character just doesn't care anymore about Self-Loathing (and therefore has no impediment to going for Love in that case). Anyhow, when someone does sink to a new level of Self-Loathing it'll be all the more impressive.

    I think it works.

    Fear and Reason would both need to be lower, say about 1 or 2. But that's no biggie.

    So, what problems do people see?

    Mike


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Bankuei on March 12, 2003, 04:20:58 PM
    Paul and I have been tossing some ideas back and forth via PM.  One idea I had come up with is that should anyone get Self Loathing up beyond a certain point, each additional point ups the Reason in the game.

    My logic behind this idea was two-fold:  One, it increases the consequences of the actions of the minions, the townsfolk are becoming intolerant and starting to take more active measures, etc...

    Second, it makes Getting Love easier, which then leads to a quicker endgame.  The basic idea is that as one guy starts acting out more, the current relationships tend to grow stronger and get strained more("But you're not like the bad ones...you're good, I know it!"), and of course, that the one guy who is going down the hole is pretty much at the "end" of their story path(that is, its unlikely for them to turn around at this point).

    Typically in any story like this, the one guy who chooses to jump into the abyss serves as a catalyst for the other minions to fall or come forth triumphant.  At the point that someone is pushing the point of no return, the other minions should also be getting close to endgame as well.

    Does this idea jive with anyone?

    Chris


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Ron Edwards on March 13, 2003, 06:48:55 AM
    Spoink!

    What Chris said? Chalk me down as "me too." I am Chris' minion in this matter.

    Best,
    Ron


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Paul Czege on March 13, 2003, 07:04:20 AM
    Okay, so all the options I'm considering for the issue of Self-Loathing gone amok are on the table...

    Pain

    If a minion's Self-loathing ever grows greater than Love plus Fear, the character is lost briefly from gameplay, having been stricken with excruciating pain or psychological distress. The GM will describe a scene depicting the character's suffering, subsequent to which the character is back again under the control of the player, with Weariness elevated to the level of Self-Loathing.

    Paul


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Blake Hutchins on March 13, 2003, 10:30:19 AM
    Hello Paul,

    I like Chris's idea also, so chalk up my obsequious "Yesss" to Ron's.  I'm not so sure about the consequences of Pain, though.  Sounds a bit too grim, possibly deprotagonizing (though I'm not sure how much that's an issue with MLWM).  I do like the idea of a temporary removal and the suffering scene, but beyond that, Pain sounds like an instant ride to the bottom.

    Best,

    Blake


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Bankuei on March 13, 2003, 10:43:53 AM
    Hi Paul,

    I'm not clear on what the idea of the Pain mechanic is for...I'm assuming the goal is to stop folks from jumping into the abyss without a second thought... but...

    Quote
    If a minion's Self-loathing ever grows greater than Love plus Fear, the character is lost briefly from gameplay, having been stricken with excruciating pain or psychological distress. The GM will describe a scene depicting the character's suffering, subsequent to which the character is back again under the control of the player, with Weariness elevated to the level of Self-Loathing.


    ....means more Weariness....

    Resisting Master:
    Quote
    The Minion resists by rolling dice equal to the total of all his Love points, across all his Connections, minus his Weariness.

    ...means less likely to resist Master...

    Acting out
    Quote
    Outsiders and Townspeople resist by rolling Reason plus the Minion's Weariness. A Minion resists by rolling his own Fear plus Self-Loathing. If the attacking Minion is successful, his Self-Loathing increases. If he fails, he takes a wound, which is represented by an increase in Weariness.

    ...means weariness and self-loathing kind of stay in an "arms race", granted, it removes alot of one's ability to properly use self loathing, but then again, what good is the character at this point?....

    Capture
    Quote
    If a conflict resolution ever results in a Minion's Weariness being greater than Reason, the Minion is captured by the Townspeople or Outsiders. This is a temporary situation, however, basically a lead into the next scene.


    ...means gaining too high of a Weariness doesn't have much more than "color" consequences....

    Endgame
    Quote
    Mechanically, as described above, the Master controls the Minions with Fear, by rolling Fear plus the Minion's Self-Loathing against the Minion rolling Love minus Weariness. Endgame is triggered by a Minion whose total Love is greater than Fear plus his own Weariness rolling a successful resistance to a Master's command.


    ...means its harder to resist Master still...

    The only thing I see at the end of the affair is a character who is deprotagonized in every sense of the word, ineffective at anything, and unable to even play the part of the villian.

    The other option is to make character death a choice for those whose self loathing goes too high.  My biggest issue is, what happens if NO ONE gets enough Love to resist Master(all connections killed)?  When does the game end?  It seems to make sense to "force" the climax by upping the chance of endgame as the game goes on.

    Please let us know what you want Pain to do, game-wise and narratively, maybe we can give you suggestions closer to what you're looking for.

    Chris


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Ron Edwards on March 13, 2003, 11:07:20 AM
    Hi,

    Seems to me that Chris' idea about Reason makes Pain irrelevant. Why not just pop in the Reason rule, eliminate any and all other notions that have been brought up, and have done?

    Best,
    Ron


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Paul Czege on March 13, 2003, 12:16:51 PM
    Hey everyone,

    Thanks for all your thought on this...

    Please let us know what you want Pain to do, game-wise and narratively, maybe we can give you suggestions closer to what you're looking for.

    What happens in play when a character's Self-Loathing hits the low to mid double-digits, and Weariness is low, is that violent actions become no contest for the character. This is the near cousin to the Chalk Outlines/OctaNe issue. The GM frames the scene, and the player describes the atrocity he commits, with the dice effectively a non-factor. This is the source of deprotagonization. A character disengaged from his human side, who commits atrocity after atrocity absent meaningful antagonism is boring to watch. Protagonism is about audience interest in a character.

    I like the Reason solution conceptually. But what it represents is the play group turning its back on this character. Increasing Reason by a point, in parallel to a Self-Loathing score likely already more than five or six dice higher, is not meaningful antagonism. The rest of the play group will complete the game more quickly, and the character with Self-Loathing gone amok will continue to be boring.

    The Pain mechanic equalizes Self-Loathing and Weariness,  which resets the potential for audience interest in the character by re-injecting uncertainty. It is again possible for the character to fail at a violent act, because Self-Loathing and Weariness effectively cancel each other out.

    What do you think of the idea of combining both mechanics:

    Pain and Outrage

    If a minion's Self-loathing ever grows greater than Love plus Fear, the character is lost briefly from gameplay, having been stricken with excruciating pain or psychological distress. The GM will describe a scene depicting the character's suffering, subsequent to which the character is back again under the control of the player, with Weariness elevated to the level of Self-Loathing, and Reason increased by one point, representing the increasing outrage of the townspeople.

    Paul


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Mike Holmes on March 13, 2003, 12:35:00 PM
    My idea was that bad?

    Anyhow, I think we have a major disconect going here. Paul, the problem is not that high Self-Loathing makes the character succeed at violence more easily. It's that it makes violence about the only thing he can do successfully. See, at that point, he won't bother going for Love because what's the point? It'll only result in more Self-Loathing. And if you make Weariness catch up that just means that you've now also taken away the ability of that Love to enable the Minion to trigger endgame.

    And the Minion can't resist the master anyhow. With Self-Loathing that high, he's a pawn of the Master.

    That's a real deprotagonization problem right there.

    No, the problem isn't that violence becomes an easy option, it's that it becomes the only option. And the only way to stop that is too either never have Self-Loathing go that low, or for it to be reduceable in some way.

    Your Pain mechanic reminds me of the Time Out's that we give our two-year old. Except that when Time Out is over, Alex has something else to do, and can therefore do that instead of getting into trouble. In this game, as soon as you're done with you're Time Out, you're right back to where you were when you want into prison. See psychological papers on prisons and recidivism. This is no prevention at all.

    In fact with the increasing weariness option you're making the character less able to do anything. With all three, you cripple the character. Why play at all at that point.

    And why are we using punishment mechanics at all? Aren't we all in agreement that they are poor motivators? Wost of all, it's not like the player has a choice. You seem to assume that there is some behavior that the player has that leads to this problem that they can adjust in order to not spiral. But there isn't. The main way you get Self-Loathing is by attempting to get Love. Which is how you win. So, players are just going to fail occasionally and it's not their fault. The system is pushing them to get more Self-Loathing.

    And you want to punish them for it.

    Mike


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Paul Czege on March 13, 2003, 12:51:04 PM
    Hey Mike,

    ...the problem is not that high Self-Loathing makes the character succeed at violence more easily. It's that it makes violence about the only thing he can do successfully. See, at that point, he won't bother going for Love because what's the point? It'll only result in more Self-Loathing. And if you make Weariness catch up that just means that you've now also taken away the ability of that Love to enable the Minion to trigger endgame.

    And the Minion can't resist the master anyhow. With Self-Loathing that high, he's a pawn of the Master.


    This isn't true. The game mechanic for minions aiding each other is available. Like Christian de Neuvillette, a minion can ask another for help getting Love. And he can get help resisting the Master too. A minion always has the option of aid when trying to accomplish something.

    The only deprotagonizing certainty of outcome I've seen in play is violent actions when Self-Loathing is gone amok.

    Paul


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Bankuei on March 13, 2003, 01:29:59 PM
    Hi Paul,

    I think a key issue that we need to look at is this:

    Quote
    This is the source of deprotagonization. A character disengaged from his human side, who commits atrocity after atrocity absent meaningful antagonism is boring to watch. Protagonism is about audience interest in a character.


    Protagonism in roleplaying games is about the audience, but in this case, the audience is the players, and the players primary source of protagonism is their own character(the one which they see personally, as a protagonist, and identify with the most).

    The dice aren't the protagonizers/deprotagonizers, its the ability to make meaningful choice on the part of the players.  Using Sorcerer as an example, Humanity rolls come about through choices of the players, the dice are simply the gamble.  One could, theorhetically, play it safe the whole game and never make any Humanity rolls(which would be a boring game..but...) ultimately its the choices of the players which make that interesting or not.

    In the case of MLWM, the central theme is an inverse of Sorcerer:  you are the minions, being commanded by a crazed dysfunctional individual, and you are slaves.  These stories naturally follow the common examples of slavery:  Those who gladly pick up the role of overseer, those who rebel, those who get crushed in the struggle, and those who kill themselves to escape.  Depending on what the player desires, they might actively be pushing for any one of those endings.  I can certainly see some entertainment being had in pushing your character into oblivion.

    Being able to make that choice is protagonism.  Being unable to turn back, that's where it becomes deprotagonizing.  Through the mechanics, the player is no longer able to hope for redemption, so they can only spiral deeper into the hole.

    Bringing this all back to the subject at hand:

    Pain, basically increases Weariness, which makes it harder for a character to 1) commit violence, 2) Resist Master, and 3) Gain Love.  In a word, a character is no longer good at anything at all, including the option of violence for a player who wanted to take the plunge.  The player can no longer make that choice between damnation and redemption... seems deprotagonizing to me.

    It needs to either be easier to get Love, or harder to get Self-Loathing, which would make it harder to hit the point of no return, but still wouldn't stop players who actively want to play the villain.  You could also choose to simply cause a character to get removed from play upon hitting too high of Self Loathing, either through self destruction, the Master's doing, or the townspeople.  This would certainly limit how far players would want to go, although the unlucky schmuck might still just roll bad and get left out of play, waiting for someone to trigger endgame.

    The reason I suggested the Reason option is that a player is only going to hit that Self-Loathing mark under two conditions; either they simply rolled bad the whole game, or else they really do want to play the villian.  In the first case, the player wants the game to be over with, just like a sports game where its beyond the hope of a comeback.  In the second case, the player is looking to have the "bad end" and wants it to occur.  Meanwhile, the other players who are trying to redeem their characters, will have an easier time of getting Love(if they want it), or causing Endgame as they see fit.  

    Instead of simply being a race against Self Loathing, it becomes a race to get your character "aimed" for the ending you want as a player before someone decides to trigger Endgame.  It doesn't necessarily make it competition either.  My idea was that this way, you help enable the most players towards getting the ending they want, but never making it a "for sure" thing.  

    Perhaps I'm missing the mark on the premise of the game here:  You play minions, and you can tell stories of characters who redeem themselves and free themselves of the Master, go down tragically in the process, or become monsters as bad or worse than the Master...  To me, that seems to be the theme of those kinds of stories.

    Again, I recommend making it harder to hit the point of no return regarding redemption if you want to avoid the doom spiral.

    Chris


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Paul's Girl on March 14, 2003, 01:10:55 PM
    I will be the first one to admit that a lot of this stuff is over my head, but how about...

    What about when Love is achieved successfully, then the player loses one point of self loathing.

    Or, if a minion successfully gets another minion to help then with a point of Love, (...play the violin while I serenade) self loathing is reduced by one.  With the bonus dice, it could be done.

    In both of these cases, something goes in right, and a person would feel better about themselves and it should show in some respect.  Since love is harder to get then self loathing, you wouldn't be causing too much damage to the s-l score but may be keeping from not getting too high and letting (getting) the players work together.

    -Danielle


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Mike Holmes on March 14, 2003, 01:34:28 PM
    Danielle,

    Love already is the morale boost that one gets from getting love. You are never unsuccessful at getting love, anyhow, as it stands; all you risk is getting Self-Loathing right now. You could have it where success at the Self-Loathing roll makes it go down instead of staying the same. But then you have a spiraling up effect as well. And it would allow the game to go on much more interminably.

    Paul,

    What Chris said. You always have the option to get aid. The fact that you can only succeed with their aid later doesn't mean you have more options, it means you have less. And after a point even aid won't be able to save you. That's the problem with Self-Loathing increase. It takes away options. Worse, there's no effective way to avoid or reduce Self-Loathing. You can't win without Love, and you can't get Love without risking gaining Self-Loathing. It's a viscious circle that sends the unlucky player to a place of no protagonism. Descent into the monster status isn't even authored by the player, it is, from what I've seen, fought tooth and nail. It's only once there's nothing better to do that players start thinking, "Well, if killin's all I can do, might as well kill."

    Another option would be to somehow make high Self-Loathing open up new vistas of action. Though I can't imagine what they'd be (accumulating Pure Evil points to vie for becoming the next master?)*.

    Other than that, the options I see are:
    A. Make getting a high Self-Loathing more difficult, especially as it gets higher.

    or

    B. Make it so that you can reduce Self-Loathing.

    Mike


    *Hmm. Maybe there's an answer there. Allow a player to convert Self-Loathing to Evil or something with a roll. This lowers Self-Loathing, and allows the character to be effective again. But Evil points definitely affect the potential endgame that the character is going for. And can probably still be allowed to add to your killin rolls. Evil would represent the Minion rationalizing that he's not to blame for the nasty things he does, but instead that it's the world's fault. Meaning he doesn't have to be "right" anymore. Evil could also counteract Love making the character less able to kill the Master, though no more able to kill him. Hmmm. Lot's of possibilities.


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: xiombarg on March 17, 2003, 11:22:20 AM
    Quote from: Bankuei
    The reason I suggested the Reason option is that a player is only going to hit that Self-Loathing mark under two conditions; either they simply rolled bad the whole game, or else they really do want to play the villian.  In the first case, the player wants the game to be over with, just like a sports game where its beyond the hope of a comeback.  In the second case, the player is looking to have the "bad end" and wants it to occur.  Meanwhile, the other players who are trying to redeem their characters, will have an easier time of getting Love(if they want it), or causing Endgame as they see fit.  
    I'd like to reinforce this point, that I think Paul is ignoring. (No offense, Paul.) Bad rolls can get you to this point -- that's exactly what happened when we played. The player wasn't aiming at being a villian at all -- he just went that route because he didn't have any other choice due to bad rolls, and that's very deprotagonizing.

    In my ideal world, at least, bad rolls should make things more interesting, and give you DIFFERENT choices than good rolls, but it shouldn't LIMIT your choices.

    Now, Paul mentions the "helping people" mechanic, and if it's that important, then it needs to be emphasized very heavily in the rules. And Mike makes an excellent point -- there's a point at which even helping someone doesn't quite work, you've got so much Self-Loathing.

    I agree with Chris that slowing down the doom spiral is a good idea. Mike's proposed Evil mechanic might work.


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Paul Czege on March 19, 2003, 10:25:28 AM
    Hey Kirt,

    In my ideal world, at least, bad rolls should make things more interesting, and give you DIFFERENT choices than good rolls, but it shouldn't LIMIT your choices.

    I'm not sure I entirely agree, since I believe the cycle of pressure and release of limitations on player choices is part of the game. Constraints fuel creativity. But at the same time, the notion of putting the player in a different situation relative to gameplay is a pretty good one. What do you think of something like this:

    the Horror Revealed

    If a roll would ever result in a minion's Self-loathing growing greater than Love plus Fear (or perhaps Self-loathing minus Love growing greater than Fear plus Reason), a revelation of horror and consequences in the environment are triggered instead. Self-loathing remains the same, and the minion misses his next scene. Instead of that scene, the player of the minion narrates a scene of horror among NPCs, with two restrictions: neither the Master, nor other PC minions can be part of the scene, and no NPC carrying Love for one of the PC minions can be killed. It is as if the horrific psychological forces within the minion have overcome their containment and bled out into the environment. Reason is increased by one point after the narration, reflecting consequent outrage from the Towspeople.

    Paul

    Isn't it wack how I have to name these proposed mechanics for myself in order to understand them in the context of the game?


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Mike Holmes on March 19, 2003, 11:10:54 AM
    I believe the term is "whack", isn't it?  :-)

    I like it. Lesse how it affects each roll:

    Quote
    Master control
    the Master rolls Fear plus the Minion's Self-Loathing to command it. The Minion resists by rolling dice equal to the total of all his Love points, across all his Connections, minus his Weariness


    Self-Loathing no longer gets any worse, so the Minion doesn't get any worse at resisting the Master. Cool.

    Quote
    Self Loathing
    The Minion rolls Reason minus Self-Loathing against the target of the Connection rolling Fear minus Reason


    Since Self-Loathing stays he same, and Reason increases, this means that it'll happen less and less that "The Horror Revealed" will happen. This is good because otherwise it could get tedious, and wreck the game with too high Reason. Cool.

    Quote
    Violence
    the Minion rolls Fear plus Self-Loathing, Outsiders and Townspeople resist by rolling Reason plus the Minion's Weariness.


    Since Self-Loathing does not increase, but reason does this makes conflicts more dangerous, which leads away from the problem. Basically you'll see a peak of violence and then an avoidance of townspeople as they become enraged. Which seems in genre. Cool.

    Quote
    Killing Master
    the death of the Master is tested for by the Minion player rolling Love minus Weariness against the Master rolling Fear plus the Minion's Self-Loathing


    Since Self-Loathing does not increase, this again means that killing the Master never gets any further out of reach. Cool.


    Basically cool all around.

    What I see is an effect where the pressure early in the game comes from the Master, but then later shifts over to the restless townspeople. The GM can use them to pressurize things, as weariness they inflict (as well as incarcerations) can be good roadblocks to a too quick conclusion.

    Another cool thing this does is to counteract the increase in Fear from Innocents being killed. Means you can have more if you like, and that there will be a see-saw battle. A nifty little Gamist element may arise where contingents each try to raise either Fear of Reason in order to benefit their best strategy. Lots of tactics come in. Coolness.

    Damn, Paul, I think that does it.

    The only thing that I'd add is that the outrage could logically extend from the scene that would have produced the Self-Loathing. Minion A throws himself at Farmer's Daughter. Essentially instead of the minion recieving Self-Loathing, he is run off before that even has a chance to happen, fearing for his hide. No change to Minion (other than location), but the townsfolk are now on alert.



    Mike


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Paul Czege on March 20, 2003, 08:08:57 AM
    Thanks. I'd done some of that analysis myself mentally, informally, but seeing it laid out like that is nicely facilitative of my decisionmaking. And it leaves me with a few questions:

    1. What does "the horror revealed" do to the dynamics of play? Is there a likelihood players will willingly accept commands from the Master as opportunities for maxing out Self-loathing...just so they get to use "the horror revealed"? Is it likely players will initiate unprovoked atrocities just to get themselves to where they can use "the horror revealed"? I don't want to have tipped the scales with the mechanic so much that Self-loathing is no longer clearly undesirable.

    2. A question for everyone, but particularly those who've played the game: imagine being in a later stage of gameplay where "the horror revealed" is triggered for your character. What kind of scene would you have narrated? What would you try to accomplish story-wise with your chance to do this kind of narration?

    3. And finally, which of the two proposed conditions for triggering "the horror revealed" is best for the game: Self-loathing would grow greater than Love plus Fear, or Self-loathing minus Love would grow greater than Fear plus Reason? One concern here is that I don't want to inadvertently invalidate any of the endgames with the mechanic by somehow overly compressing its likelihood with the capping of Self-loathing and the increasing of Reason.

    Paul


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: xiombarg on March 20, 2003, 08:25:39 AM
    Well, it certainly needs playtesting, I think. Question: When you say a minion "misses his next scene", what does that mean? Do you envision some sort of round-robin where each player gets a turn at a scene? Because we didn't play that way at all.

    To answer Paul's questions:

    1. Yes, I think you might have someone accepting orders so he can do "the Horror Revealed". But I don't see this taking away from the idea of Self Loathing as a bad thing -- anyone who is doing that isn't being afflicted by bad rolls, but instead is going for the "I'm a villian" thing. This is cool, IMHO.

    2. I was gamemaster, but I imgaine my players probably would have narrated something surrounding the mess at the Mayor's house... Focus on the most crazy situation in the game and turn it up a notch.

    3.  That's a pretty subtle difference -- it's only a few points. I'd prefer the second one because "the Horror Revealed" shouldn't happen often -- only when someone blows a lot of rolls or is trying to be a villian.


    I should add that I really, really like the sound of "The Horror Revealed", of all the mechanics suggested so far.


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Mike Holmes on March 21, 2003, 11:59:42 AM
    Quote from: Paul Czege
    1. What does "the horror revealed" do to the dynamics of play? Is there a likelihood players will willingly accept commands from the Master as opportunities for maxing out Self-loathing...just so they get to use "the horror revealed"? Is it likely players will initiate unprovoked atrocities just to get themselves to where they can use "the horror revealed"? I don't want to have tipped the scales with the mechanic so much that Self-loathing is no longer clearly undesirable.
    This is a Narrativist game, right? Just checking. Why is Self-Loathing undesirable. First, it's thrust upon characters randomly, so it had better not be undesirable. Secondly, if a player wants to author that ending, they why not let him persue it.

    You seem to keep making all these statements about forcing players one way or another. That just seems wrong to me. Certainly not Narrativist. What you have is a framework for character change in the context of the dysfunctional relationship. It promotes the changes, and staying with the genre tropes. Why would you want players to have any less freedom within that framework?

    Quote
    2. A question for everyone, but particularly those who've played the game: imagine being in a later stage of gameplay where "the horror revealed" is triggered for your character. What kind of scene would you have narrated? What would you try to accomplish story-wise with your chance to do this kind of narration?
    Well, being fond of cliches, I'd have a mob assemble bearing torches. Next time, I'd have them start marching on the castle. Then I'd have them burn down the castle next time.

    How's that for presurizing?

    Quote
    3. And finally, which of the two proposed conditions for triggering "the horror revealed" is best for the game: Self-loathing would grow greater than Love plus Fear, or Self-loathing minus Love would grow greater than Fear plus Reason? One concern here is that I don't want to inadvertently invalidate any of the endgames with the mechanic by somehow overly compressing its likelihood with the capping of Self-loathing and the increasing of Reason.


    You really need to start thinking about these things as inequalities, Paul. You keep throwing around "options" that aren't any different from each other. It's just confusing.

    SL > LV+ FR

    is equivalent to

    SL - LV > FR

    So the only difference in these two examples is whether or not to include Reason.

    SL - LV > FR + RS

    A problem with both options is that as Love grows, it allows for greater Self-Loathing to occur. Basically as you always get a point of Love whenever you get Self-Loathing, you'll never max out until you lose Love due to a connection being killed.

    I'd drop the Love altogether from the formula. Love seems to be too small scale to affect the whole Town. I see the high SL as triggering the problem as the town basically becoming fed up with so miserable a set of creatures as the minions. Essentially the SL spills over into the town and becomes "Minion Loathing".

    SL > FR + RS is a good option, IMO. Still allows for considerable Self Loathing to build up, but less so than the first option. And as reason goes up, so too then can Self Loathing. Which is to say that the effect will occur at most every other time when a minion gets to this point. That's a pretty cool dynamic; slows it down and makes the player have other scenes in between. And it makes sense; as the reason pushes up it resists being pushed up more.

    Mike


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Paul Czege on March 21, 2003, 02:31:29 PM
    Hey Mike,

    A problem with both options is that as Love grows, it allows for greater Self-Loathing to occur. Basically as you always get a point of Love whenever you get Self-Loathing, you'll never max out until you lose Love due to a connection being killed.

    "Acting out" successfully, both violently and non-violently also results in Self-loathing. Does this affect your opinion on whether Love should be included in the formula?

    Paul


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Mike Holmes on March 24, 2003, 09:08:53 AM
    Quote from: Paul Czege
    Hey Mike,

    A problem with both options is that as Love grows, it allows for greater Self-Loathing to occur. Basically as you always get a point of Love whenever you get Self-Loathing, you'll never max out until you lose Love due to a connection being killed.

    "Acting out" successfully, both violently and non-violently also results in Self-loathing. Does this affect your opinion on whether Love should be included in the formula?
    Basically you can only trigger "Horror Revealed" on an acting out roll, then? I could buy that. But then I think the Self-Loathing score can get high enough, that acting out would be nigh automatically successful, and that Self-Loathing rolls will always fail. Which is what we sought to stop, right? How about if you remove fear, then. So:

    SL-LV > RS

    Stands to reason (pun not intended), IMO, that Fear would actually work both to prevent Horror Revealed, and cause it. On the one hand, it causes outrage itself, but on the other it's the buffer that already exists to feeling the horror. So, I'd drop it out. Then the limit on Self-Loathing is much lower.

    How's that sound?

    Mike


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Paul Czege on April 24, 2003, 10:38:30 AM
    Hey Mike,

    SL-LV > RS
    .
    .
    .
    How's that sound?


    I just spent my whole lunch working through permutations of Fear, Reason, Love, Self-loathing, and Weariness, assuring myself that this doesn't preclude any of the five Epilogues. And it sure doesn't.

    It's real tight too. It keeps the numbers hovering right where I think they should be to not irrelevantize the Intimacy/Desperation/Sincerity mechanics. It's going in as SL > RS + LV.

    Thanks,

    Paul


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Mike Holmes on April 24, 2003, 12:38:01 PM
    Woo-hooo!

    Was that the last detail? Are we due to see something complete out soon? Tell me I don't have to wait for GenCon!

    Mike


    Title: your last chance for despair
    Post by: Paul Czege on April 24, 2003, 12:51:57 PM
    Hey Mike,

    Yeah, GenCon, I'm sorry.

    Was that the last detail?

    Well, I'm still on the fence about whether to raise Reason after a "Horror Revealed"...and I wish I'd seen more use of the aiding mechanics in play...but neither of these are the same order of magnitude as the amok Self-loathing concern.

    Paul