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Author Topic: Transitioning to Gamism (to answer a questi  (Read 3711 times)
Le Joueur
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« on: December 25, 2001, 09:26:00 PM »

While I wanted to start the this series of threads with a thread that was descriptive of the game itself, I could not really let this question founder.  So with apologies to Mr. Murphy (Broin)....

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Tor Erickson wrote:

Quoth Fang:
If you are free with the ‘during play’ rewards, it will almost guarantee that the players will have to resort to affecting the story in a fashion (because they understand about the ‘over-the-top’ genre) that almost can’t help but yield more of these ‘during play’ rewards, and so on.

So when you exceed the 'limit' that you've set (either positively or negatively) then you HAVE to describe some effect that goes beyond the result that the dice indicate.

That's right, when the 'hard limit' is exceeded a player is compelled to describe an effect that has implications beyond that moment.

I need to take a moment to describe something usual that has been in Scattershot since the earliest days.  In the above case, it is actually the recipient who is compelled to make this description.  That's right, if I 'score a critical hit' (to use older vernacular) on you, you are the one who describes the 'beyond combat' details.  In early playtest, we found that too many players felt their 'protagonism' was impugned by the whim of the person striking them.  Later we extended this to any die roll.

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So, say I get a success that indicates a bad wound to the leg, but in addition, I've gotten enough success to exceed our predetermined limit, so I need to narrate some other effect: say I knock him over backwards into the water trough.

Sort of.  If you had taken such a hit to the leg, you would make that effect.  In Scattershot though, we describe (and are looking for) consequences outside of the battle.

In this case, I might suggest that (even though adrenaline may allow the character to avoid it during the combat - player's discretion) an appropriate example would be deciding that you will everafter gain a characteristic limp.  You could also call your leg 'crippled' (for the short term, even for six weeks this can be quite vexing), or for a severed foot (peg-leg characters have to come from somewhere).

As has been described, this is an opportunity to garner further 'during play' rewards, playtester have been known to really ham it up.  What if the effect chosen by the recipient isn't 'severe enough?'  That is up to the group at large (or the gamemaster in a more 'managed' game) to decide.

Results like "[knocked] over backwards into the water trough" are more handled by what we use to emulate cinematic combat and is an actual mechanic (which unfortunately will have to wait for another thread, please be patient).  We felt limiting such to only cases where 'damage is done' was far too limiting for cinematic battles.

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But if I went below the limit, would that mean I have to narrate a negative effect?

Actually when an attacker has a roll below the 'hard limit' (a really 'negative' roll), being the 'victim' of the extreme they will be compelled to describe the results as above.

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And am I correct in understanding that 'experience points' as you've defined them could be used to generate an effect that would result from exceeding the limit?

I'm not sure what you are asking here.  Since Scattershot's 'experience dice' can be added to any roll (including your own attack rolls), this has the effect of raising the chances of getting a roll above the 'hard limit.'

There is one other thing I may not be making very clear here.  When Scattershot 'transitions to Narrativism' a player need not wait to be compelled to make these kinds of descriptions.  Everywhere else in this article, I have only spoken about the conditions that compel embellishment.  This in no way rules out doing the same as the mood strikes, without waiting.

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One further point of clarification:  say we're playing in a cinematic Robin Hood kind of game (thanks for the example), where we've set the 'limit' to be quite low.  So even "low quality of success" rolls will result in player narration of events in some sort of 'over the top' way?  But what if the limit is high, then would the same example above (I wound him in the leg!) yield ONLY that result (a wound to the leg) with no further player narration?

That's right.  This is an example of 'transition to Gamism' in Scattershot.  When the 'hard limit' is high (say 6 or higher), and 'during play' experience dice rewards are few, the game mechanic plays much more Gamist and has fewer "meta-plot" concerns (if I may borrow a Forge term).

On the other hand, where the 'hard limit' is lower (say 3 or 4) and say the 'during play' rewards are free and easy to get, play is compelled to go 'over the top.'  This is when Scattershot 'transitions to Narrativism' by design.

Now, if you hit the non-player character, Guy of Gisbourne [sp] in the leg for a 'telling blow' (sorry for the Scattershot terminology), the gamemaster is required to describe how the blow came to be known as the source of Guy's telltale limp (to be used for good dramatic effect later).  Since we are using a cinematic example, I am assuming a low 'hard limit' game.  Likewise because of the source material (depicting 'legends' as gameplay), a lot of storytelling panache is played upon (constant third person asides, embellishments that can yield more 'during game' rewards).

You'll note that in a high 'hard limit' game, it does get a bit more strategic (or so playtests are going).

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And is the purpose of this to create a scale that the group can adjust to its desired level of 'over-the-top'ness?

Absolutely!  Scattershot is a general system meant to be mated to a wide variety of genres.  It is almost required for us to not only have, but to also offer instruction in, how to 'adjust' these kinds of scale.  In fact we call it the 'Critical Juncture' and refer to it in a number of places in the mechanics.

Fang Langford

p. s. Please be patient, some of this will make more sense as I begin to post the interior mechanics of Scattershot.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2001, 06:48:00 AM »

Don't mean to be a Terminology Nazi, but I think there is a useful clarification that can be made here. You refer to certain things as drift. To be more precise, however, I think that drift is inapropriate, here. Drift refers to playing a game in a way other then it is designed. But in this case of Scattershot there seem to be rules that are set to play a certain way and the players presumably follow them, and play in the way that they lead.

What you have here, Fang, I would call a Dial (term taken from Fuzion but used a lot elsewhere). In this case it is a GNS Dial. Turn the mechanics one way to play more Narrativist. Turn it another to play more Gamist, etc. Interesting idea. The question is, of course, does the Dial in work.

Your "Over the Top" mechanic is a classic dial as well.

Mike
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2001, 08:46:00 PM »

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Mike Holmes wrote:

Don't mean to be a Terminology Nazi,

Don't apologize.  I fully said I expected as much over in 'Theory, when I worried about the difficulty presenting Scattershot over here.

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but I think there is a useful clarification that can be made here. You refer to certain things as drift. To be more precise, however, I think that drift is inapropriate, here.

Clearly: "here" at the Forge.  I defend the use of the term outside of this forum.

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Drift refers to playing a game in a way other then it is designed. But in this case of Scattershot there seems to be rules that are set to play a certain way and the players presumably follow them, and play in the way that they lead.

My turn to be a terminology nazi; as long as I write it, Scattershot will have no rules.  It has mechanics, it has techniques, but there will be nothing I will call a rule (too much implication of a binding nature).

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What you have here, Fang, I would call a Dial (term taken from Fuzion but used a lot elsewhere). In this case it is a GNS Dial. Turn the mechanics one way to play more Narrativist. Turn it another to play more Gamist, etc. Interesting idea. The question is, of course, does the Dial in work.

Your "Over the Top" mechanic is a classic dial as well.

Except I really hated that term.  It works well in the presentation motif of Fuzion (all the glitz), but to me it is as bad as spelling a word wrong to create a branding strategy.

How about 'transition?'  You comment is duly noted and the original has been changed to suit, see above.

Fang Langford

p. s. Can you explain what you wanted to know with "does the Dial in work?"
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2001, 11:47:00 AM »

Transition sounds good. Very good.

What I meant was "does the Dial work"; don't know where that "in" came from. Or in other words, I'd like to see it in action to see if the mechanics in question allow for effective Transition of GNS mode (to use your new term).

Mike
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2001, 12:49:00 PM »

Quote
Mike Holmes wrote:

What I meant was "does the Dial work"; don't know where that "in" came from. Or in other words, I'd like to see it in action to see if the mechanics in question allow for effective Transition of GNS mode (to use your new term).

Well, I think it would be rare to see marked during-session transition.  The 'room for transition' allows for a couple of things.  First, it lets participants change their play styles and preferences over time without the Scattershot becoming a 'bad fit' for them.  Second, it allows a wide variety of styles to be played within the game in general.  A significant portion of the technique instruction talks about playing with people whose styles are compatible with yours and how to find what that is.

In the first case, the potential for slow evolution allows for two things.  First, since the design specifications call for a lot of new-to-gaming players, it can help them 'find their place.'  And second, it allows existing groups to drift1 around until they settle on a style they like.

As far as "[seeing] it in action to see if the mechanics in question allow for effective Transition," you're more than welcome to playtest Scattershot once I get the whole core mechanic posted; everyone is.

Fang Langford

1 This use of word 'drift' is in the sense of "to move leisurely or sporadically from place to place, especially without purpose," and not the typical Forge sense.
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2001, 11:36:00 PM »

Quote
Garbanzo wrote:

I don't know if I've got it or not, but I *think* I do.  Let's see.


Ok, let's stick with the Robin Hood example,

[Example snipped.]

I was expecting the difference to be gamism vs narrativism, but it's not really.[Snip.]
 
And it's not really a change of Director Stance either, because a player could (or not) describe for each the way the external environment responds to his/her actions.

It seems more a change of "tone" - describing the way reality behaves.  Scaling the game mechanics to suit the desired *feel* of the game.

In my take, if a player falls below the limit, no big deal.  That's just a regular success, or a failure, or whatnot.

Low or high limits don't change the magnitude of the act, but determine how the benefits work out.  High limit = split the Goblin King in half with a mighty swing.  Low limit = deal "realistic" damage, with good news raining from above.

Comments?
Fang, is my interpretation about right?

Switch the high and low in the last example.  "'realistic' damage" when high, "with a mighty swing" when low.

Actually it used to be the right interpretation.  Once upon a time, when I was performing a level 1 diagnostic (which according to the manuals means taking the covers off and seeing if the machinery is still there) on Scattershot, I became sick of a bloated critical hit system that completely missed the point of improving play.  Out it went.

So what did I come up with as a replacement?  I decided that no list of crits could ever compare to the human imagination, better still no such list would suit many (if hardly any) gaming group.  I decided to make crits tailored to the group they were used by by making the players create that level of detail on the spot.

What a disaster!  Nobody like having their emotional investment so thoroughly stripped of value by subjecting it to the whims of whomever scored a crit against them.  So I turned the whole thing on its head.  The recipient became the party responsible for this detail.

What happened next could only be described as magic.  Since I had also only recently installed the 'during play' rewards system, players took to the combination like I never expected.  They really got into hamming up the descriptions and then the magic really took life.  They began (almost without thinking) adding detail that subsequently had larger impact on the game, outside of combat.

I quickly found that a 'shortcut' I had created to replace the venerable critical hit chart had become a tool that allowed players a great deal of leeway in exploring1 the presentation of their character.  Subsequently when I began extending all mechanics into all mechanical situations, 'crits' became quite the rage outside of combat as well.

I hope that (with my other response) this answers your questions.

Fang Langford

1 This is not 'exploring' in either Edwardian terminology or as used by the Scarlet Jester.  I mean the original meaning like 'feeling out' or 'testing the boundaries of.'

[ This Message was edited by: Le Joueur on 2001-12-28 02:39 ]
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