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Author Topic: Questions from a Pool newbie  (Read 3762 times)
Garth
Member

Posts: 16


« on: May 22, 2004, 08:57:09 PM »

Hey there.  This is my first post here at the Forge.

I'd been here once or twice before, reading some of the articles at the urging of a friend.  This time around the new(ish?) article on Narrativism absorbed me as the older one had not, and I realized all of a sudden that I'd been "doing story" for most of my life as a roleplayer, and increasingly in recent years.  I felt motivated to look into something new to check out other ways of doing things.

In so doing, I really came to the conclusion that The Pool is likely to be my cup of tea!  What a fantastic, yet simple, idea!  I do have a few questions before I dive right in, though.

1)  The number of variants is a little bewildering to the newcomer.  Could some kind soul give some sort of account of what difference the various changes make in actual play?  (Anti-Pool, in particular, seems likely to change things radically.)  Do people advise starting with the original version?

2)  I feel within me a burning temptation to create Stories and Traits for major recurring NPCs - whether as a GM, or for "sidekick" NPCs as a player.  I get the impression that this is not considered a good idea, so I'm wondering what it is I'm missing.  Is it just a hangover from the sort of games I'm used to?

3)  On a somewhat related note, how does one handle conflicts between PC's?  While I don't see this happening often, you can't tell me it never happens - at times the story may well demand it.  As things stand, whoever initiates the conflict seems to be in the driver's seat, which doesn't seem very fair.

4)  What is the motive behind the number of dice the GM gives to the player?  Some seem to imply it's to balance out the number of dice in the various pools, others that it depends on how plausible and/or fun the GM sees the event in question.  Is it both?  Neither?  Something else?

5)  Many of the variants remove the option of quantifying Traits.  How then does one differentiate between, say, an amateur swordsman and Benedict of Amber?  Is it all a matter of how many dice you're willing to commit to a particular type of conflict?  And/or how you intend to conduct your MOV's?  (ie, whether you depict winning a swordfight as a lot of work or as trivial.)  Either way, how is the GM supposed to respect that when he's narrating?  He might not even have a clear idea! (Those 50 words are, I'm finding, hard to maneuver in.  And by the way, the "Damart" example has 51! :)

6)  Am I correct in thinking that ANY new Traits added, whether in play or between sessions, have to be directly rooted in the Story?  One of the examples in The Puddle seems to go against this idea.  Or can you add an entirely new Trait, provided that you add it to the Story at the first opportunity?

7)  How well does this game hold up to repeated, serial play with the same characters?

That was a few more than I at first intended! :)  Please forgive the barrage;  I'm just feeling rather bouncy at the prospect of trying this game out!  Alas, I doubt I'll have an opportunity soon. :(  Matching schedules in the group is a killer these days.  Hey, that's another question:

8)  Has anybody come up with a workable PBEM version?
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Paganini
Member

Posts: 1049


WWW
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2004, 03:53:30 AM »

Hiya Grath. Welcome to the Forge! :)

Lots of good stuff here, lessee....

Quote from: Garth

1)  The number of variants is a little bewildering to the newcomer.  Could some kind soul give some sort of account of what difference the various changes make in actual play?  (Anti-Pool, in particular, seems likely to change things radically.)  Do people advise starting with the original version?


Yep. You can do a lot of interesting things with the Pool, but it's probably a good idea to get a feel for the standard game before you start playing any of the tweaked versions. Different people have different results using the Pool that mainly arise organically from intuitive play styles. Some people have a problem with running out of Pool dice and "thrashing at the bottom" of the Pool. Other people have different experiences. What variant (if any) you want to use will mainly depend on how you and your players spend dice.

Quote
2)  I feel within me a burning temptation to create Stories and Traits for major recurring NPCs - whether as a GM, or for "sidekick" NPCs as a player.  I get the impression that this is not considered a good idea, so I'm wondering what it is I'm missing.  Is it just a hangover from the sort of games I'm used to?


Well, there's no reason *not* to create stories and traits for major NPCs... just be aware that there's no mechanical function for NPC traits. The GM doesn't roll dice in the Pool.

Quote
3)  On a somewhat related note, how does one handle conflicts between PC's?  While I don't see this happening often, you can't tell me it never happens - at times the story may well demand it.  As things stand, whoever initiates the conflict seems to be in the driver's seat, which doesn't seem very fair.


Ummm... hmmmm. I don't think I've ever had this come up in a game, actually, but I'm pretty sure I remember James saying that PC vs. PC conflicts are always handled by the GM.

Quote
4)  What is the motive behind the number of dice the GM gives to the player?  Some seem to imply it's to balance out the number of dice in the various pools, others that it depends on how plausible and/or fun the GM sees the event in question.  Is it both?  Neither?  Something else?


It's undefined. :) So you can basically have it be whatever you want. This is where the "individual style" thing I was talking about before comes into play. Personally, I just give 2 dice out for everything pretty much all of the time. If something strikes me as particularly cool and dramatic, I'll give 3 dice. I don't give 1 die very often. The extremes (1 and 3 dice) are usefull for controlling Pool refreshment. If someone is thrashing, give them more dice more of the time. If someone seems to be dominating, give them 1 die more of the time. Mostly though, as a GM, you'll be rooting for the players to win die rolls so you don't have to narrate. :)

Quote
5)  Many of the variants remove the option of quantifying Traits.  How then does one differentiate between, say, an amateur swordsman and Benedict of Amber?  Is it all a matter of how many dice you're willing to commit to a particular type of conflict?  And/or how you intend to conduct your MOV's?  (ie, whether you depict winning a swordfight as a lot of work or as trivial.)  Either way, how is the GM supposed to respect that when he's narrating?  He might not even have a clear idea! (Those 50 words are, I'm finding, hard to maneuver in.  And by the way, the "Damart" example has 51! :)


Damart's name doesn't count. ;) I'm not really familiar with the variants you're talking about, but just a note about the 50 word limit. A lot of people don't use it. In The Questing Beast (the Pools offspring) you get a "page" instead of "50 words." So you might try that instead.

Quote
6)  Am I correct in thinking that ANY new Traits added, whether in play or between sessions, have to be directly rooted in the Story?  One of the examples in The Puddle seems to go against this idea.  Or can you add an entirely new Trait, provided that you add it to the Story at the first opportunity?


I don't remember this being a requirement of the rules, but it is a pretty natural thing to do. Mostly, if something is important enough to spend dice on, you're probably going to mention it in your extra 15 words.

Quote
7)  How well does this game hold up to repeated, serial play with the same characters?


Pretty well IME, although I've never done a seriously long-term campaign with it. The longest we've gone has been 5 sessions or so, I think. But as long as you don't get bored, there's no reason to stop! :)
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Bob McNamee
Member

Posts: 685


« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2004, 05:27:37 AM »

When it comes to player versus player conflict you could let both players create their pools of dice, with no GM dice available.

Let them use their usual one Trait, if it applies (GM call), and gamble as many dice out of their Pool as they want.

In this case you make a variation from regular Success rules. The Player that gets the most total successes gets the MOV (you don't normally care how many a Player gets). (I'd insist that the Players take the amounts of successes for each side into account during MOV i.e. no overwhelming victory if successes were 4 versus 5.)

If they tie, or neither gets a success, its GM narrated. (Personally, if neither got a success, I'd narrate a pair of failures of some sort. If they both got the same, I'd narrate a stalemate of some sort.)

Either way Conflict is over for now.

Anyway, that's how I'd handle the odd Player versus Player action.

I'm not sure how I'd handle gambled dice. You could give them back if they get successes. Perhaps lower for they loser.

Personally, I'd have them lose all their Gambled dice regardless of success. That would be due to my general desire to discourage Player versus Player mechanical conflicts.

[edited in: I wouldn't let them win any dice from a Player versus Player conflict, myself. If you wanted them to be able to you could say that the winner could get the difference between winner and loser in dice back for his Pool if he forgoes his MOV (in which case I'd let the loser get the MOV)]
Just my opinions as a  Pool player and GM though,
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Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!
Garth
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2004, 12:10:54 PM »

Quote from: Paganini
Hiya Grath. Welcome to the Forge! :)


Thanks!  And thanks also for your responses, they're a help.

Quote
Some people have a problem with running out of Pool dice and "thrashing at the bottom" of the Pool. Other people have different experiences. What variant (if any) you want to use will mainly depend on how you and your players spend dice.


Or how lucky they are in rolling.  ;)  I'm one of those people who is cursed by the dice anytime it's important!

Quote
Well, there's no reason *not* to create stories and traits for major NPCs... just be aware that there's no mechanical function for NPC traits. The GM doesn't roll dice in the Pool.


Right, I figured that out.  That's why I said it was "somewhat related" to PC vs. PC conflict.  Perhaps major NPC's can be like "PC's" of the GM.

But I think I'll give the vanilla version a try before I try tweaking anything, as you suggest.

Quote
Quote
(Those 50 words are, I'm finding, hard to maneuver in.  And by the way, the "Damart" example has 51! :)


Damart's name doesn't count. ;)


I know that.  There are 51 even with his name not counted! ;)  There's 53 total.

Quote
I'm not really familiar with the variants you're talking about, but just a note about the 50 word limit. A lot of people don't use it. In The Questing Beast (the Pools offspring) you get a "page" instead of "50 words." So you might try that instead.


I think I will.  As an old friend says of me and gaming - particularly involving fast-talking - "Garth's a wordy bastard."  :) It's the Irish in me, I can't help it. :)

Thanks again, you've been a big help.

And Bob, those are great ideas, and I think I'll use them if it ever comes up.
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aplath
Member

Posts: 63


« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2004, 04:12:38 AM »

Quote from: Garth
5)  Many of the variants remove the option of quantifying Traits.  How then does one differentiate between, say, an amateur swordsman and Benedict of Amber?  Is it all a matter of how many dice you're willing to commit to a particular type of conflict?  And/or how you intend to conduct your MOV's?  (ie, whether you depict winning a swordfight as a lot of work or as trivial.)  Either way, how is the GM supposed to respect that when he's narrating?  He might not even have a clear idea! (Those 50 words are, I'm finding, hard to maneuver in.  And by the way, the "Damart" example has 51! :)


One important point to notice is that the quantifying value in a trait isn't related to any sort of "skill level".

If one PC has "Swordsman 2" and another has "Swordsman 1", it doesn't mean that the first is a better swordsman than the second.

What it does mean is that the swordsman trait is more relevant to the first than to the second character. That is, the player wants to get potencialy more control to what happens in the story when that trait of the PC is involved.

In fact, you could have a PC who was a really lousy swordsman and assign a high value to a swordsman trait so that you would have more control over the "lousiness" in his swordsmanship. :-)

The variants that remove the quantifying aspect of the trait are simply saying that all traits listed are equally relevant. If I remember it correctly most of this variants also reduce the number of available traits.

So you should list as a trait something that really defines the character or what he is going on at one particular point in time. The variant I play with my group (some flavour on anti-pool I don't recall exactly which) allows us to change traits between sessions. That usually helps focusing the character in whatever is important at that point of the story.

Now, if a particular trait is related to a skill your character has and you want to say how good he is at that skill, just write it down like "master swordsman" or "really lousy swordsman".

Andreas

---- Edit ----

I've just realized after posting that this thread is a month old. Sorry for that. But since it is the most recent thread in the forum I hope no harm is done! :-)
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