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Author Topic: Improving Scales  (Read 2530 times)
Moah
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« on: June 01, 2004, 09:27:07 AM »

*grumbles about computer crashing while typing long posts*

Hi all, I’m posting here about a game I am currently game mastering again, and that I love. However, there are a few problems that I perceive with it as described in the rules, and I would like to fix this problem, or update it to modern tastes. My modern tastes, that is ;)

The game is 10 year old French game, that’s as close to dead as you can be (and officially abandoned by its publisher, as far as support goes). That’s why I’m not too reluctant to describe the game, plus you probably can’t find it anywhere anymore, even if you’re French. I’m sorry that I won’t be using the whole Forge vocabulary, but I’m afraid I don’t master it, and haven’t had the courage to read all the articles yet.

So, Scales. The setting is the modern day except for a few details: dragons and hybrids live hidden amongst humans, and magical beings such as sprites, ogres, banshees, etc. are dormant amongst us. When a dragon meets a mythic being, there’s a chance they bond and form (or enter) a “gestalt:” a group of mythic beings based around a dragon. As they stay with the dragon, the myth in them emerges in both behaviour and power, and they become more and more magic.
Player groups are made of one dragon (a hybrid, really), and magical beings (humans, at first, they’ll evolve along the adventures). One of the interesting bits of the game is the fact there’s no set list of creatures, the GM is encouraged to read on the legends of the character’s country of origin and find something that fits the character’s behaviour.

The character is basically defined by two attributes: characteristics and occupations.
Characteristics can be anything the player chooses that is traditionally perceived as attribute (or characteristic) in other RPG. It goes from -2 to +2 for normal human beings (ie the players at first) and the human average is 0. Thus, a characteristic you don’t have is average.
On the other side of the character definition coin, there are the jobs and hobbies (or, termed by me “occupations”). Both jobs and hobbies determine what you know, and what you’re good at. There are 4 “levels” of occupations: don’t have, beginner, qualified, expert. Each occupation determines more or less an area of expertise used during the game to fix the difficulty of an action. In theories, jobs are broader than hobbies.

To solve an action, the GM must first determine if the character has an occupation related to the action, and the difficulty of the action for that occupation (or lack thereof). There are three difficulties possible: easy, average and hard. For someone who doesn’t have the job, these equal to 4, 2, 0 and for someone expert in the task at hand, they are 10, 8 and 6. To this difficulty you add an appropriate characteristic (if any). And then, you must roll a d10 under this target number, but the higher possible.

I find the action resolution generally a bit too fuzzy, making me more or less improvise numbers all the time. The specific difficulties I have with this system are:
1/ Jobs are twice as expensive (in XP) as hobbies to improve, but they have practically the same value: though hobbies are supposed to be more restricted, since there’s no written definition of what each occupation covers, during a game you generally agree that what a player does is part of his hobby if there’s a chance it’s covered. The difficulties are also the same.
2/ Since players start expert in a job, they will generally always succeed at what their job is. Your “difficult” TN is 6, to which you add a characteristic, which will probably be +2, ie something difficult has between 60 and 80% chances of succeeding!
3/ There’s no cultural abilities or base abilities for things everyone more or less knows how to do. So, you can’t just roll for noticing something (or have to use the “don’t have job” line of the table), or just to see if a player knows who’s the gang leader where he lives.

My solutions: I’m thinking of two ways to handle things. First would be adapting the HeroQuest system to Scales. There’s a few bump in the roads, though. I’d like to keep the characteristics they way they work, and the powers would be difficult to integrate. Also, the game is very deadly (a single bullet can kill), which I’d like to keep (it encourages the players to find non armed solutions to problem). However I could adapt occupations as keywords, and have them include specific skills. I could also add cultural keywords.
My other idea, is to change the job and hobby ratings to a number, and have them include specific traits with a relative number. To roll, you’d roll a d10 and add the occupation and the related trait. For example, if you have Spy 10, and under Spy “impersonate other -2”, you’d roll 1d10+8 to pretend to be someone else. The difficulty would be set by the GM according to circumstances (and no longer according to the skills of the character). I would give jobs something like three 0 traits, five -2 traits and ten -4 traits, and hobbies would get one 0 trait, three -2 traits and five -4 traits, restoring the balance in my eyes.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Thanks,
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Gwenael Tranvouez aka Moah, platypus powaaa!
Moah
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« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2004, 09:52:48 AM »

Another problem I have with the original system is the lack of circumstantial modifiers. If you're trying to fix your engine in the middle of the night, during a rainstorm, with your allergies coming up. It's still "difficult."

Of course, a half competent GM will add the circumstantial modifiers on his own, but it feels unnatural to have a table to solve things, then add modifiers to the table (if you see what i mean). Might as well go with a TN to begin with.
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Gwenael Tranvouez aka Moah, platypus powaaa!
clehrich
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« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2004, 10:47:36 AM »

The hobbies and jobs thing seems not unlike what I did in Shadows in the Fog (see weblink below for a first draft).  What I did was allow Jobs (I called them Knowledges) to overrule Hobbies in limited circumstances.  In addition, your Hobby had to be sort of semi-useless.  So if your hobby is skeet shooting, that doesn't translate directly into shooting people -- the idea is that you're good at skeet, and probably pretty good with a gun, but an actual firefight is really different from standing in a field aiming at a clay pigeon, because of all the blood and death involved, not to mention the possibility of someone shooting back (which clay pigeons don't do so much).  I don't think you need numbers for this, necessarily.  It's a conceptual division, not a mechanical one, at least for me.  But I may not be clearly understanding the problem.

The game sounds interesting.  Sort of like Zelazny's book Roadmarks, yes?  Can you say a bit more about this forgotten game?
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Chris Lehrich
Moah
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« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2004, 11:38:41 AM »

Sorry I haven't read roadmark (only Zelazny I read is Amber's first five book, and it was the translated version too).

What do you want to know? More about the systems, more about the background?
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Gwenael Tranvouez aka Moah, platypus powaaa!
M. J. Young
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« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2004, 05:52:21 PM »

Since Chris has already recommended comparing his design, I'll mention mine.

Actually, I was thinking that the skill levels you suggest are very similar to Multiverser, but that they are less granular. Multiverser puts skills at amateur, professional, and expert levels, but provides steps within each ("intensities") to make one amateur better or worse than another. Having amateur level skill automatically makes you at least 11% better than someone who doesn't have it. However, to avoid the problem of things that are obviously possible, the game includes the ability to teach yourself to do something at any moment, by rolling a skill learning check to become an amateur.

It also formalizes situation modifiers (sit-mods) as part of the process; but it uses a target number process rather than a table. Also, it's percentile based.

There are a lot of differences, of course; but you might find a perusal of it useful in your own modifications.

--M. J. Young
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2004, 11:58:07 AM »

I think that Chris generally has it right. Broadly construe Jobs - like keywords in Hero Quest - and narrowly construe hobbies - like abilities in Hero Quest. That is, apply an Improvisation Modifier for any activity that isn't the hobby itself.

Second, whether or not the job effectiveness is correct or not depends on a number of things, like what "difficult" means. Let's say that landing an airplane is difficult. Would you want to be in a plane with a pilot that crashes 20 to 40% of the time? So it must be a relatively difficult thing you're doing that makes a pro fail that often, right? So I'm not seeing a problem with "difficult" being that easy to accomplish. It means that the characters are competent at their jobs.

This all said, you should think about the HQ conversion. I can't see how you'd think that the powers wouldn't be easy to translate - just rate them as abilities like any other if you want the easy method. As for lethality, is that really a good thing in the game in question? HQ feels lethal, given that the dice can often go against you; which is usually the important thing. Actual death can be a pain in the ass, so isn't switching to HQ actually beneficial?

Mike
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Moah
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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2004, 12:54:38 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I think that Chris generally has it right. Broadly construe Jobs - like keywords in Hero Quest - and narrowly construe hobbies - like abilities in Hero Quest. That is, apply an Improvisation Modifier for any activity that isn't the hobby itself.


That's pretty much what i'm planning to do, but that's also why i'd rather have everything spelled out before we're in game, rather than keep it fuzzy on the character sheet and be annoyed in game. That way I know what to apply improvisation modifier to (whatever isn't on the sheet) and what to not apply an improvisation modifier to (what is on the sheet).
Would you consider that killing the player's creativity?

I could also simply remove the difference between jobs & hobbies. Just consider them "areas of expertise" and translate all hobies to areas of a lesser degree (specialist to average, average to beginner, etc.). That way i don't feel so guilty about the imbalance between the two?

Quote
Second, whether or not the job effectiveness is correct or not depends on a number of things, like what "difficult" means. Let's say that landing an airplane is difficult. Would you want to be in a plane with a pilot that crashes 20 to 40% of the time? So it must be a relatively difficult thing you're doing that makes a pro fail that often, right? So I'm not seeing a problem with "difficult" being that easy to accomplish. It means that the characters are competent at their jobs.

My problem is the difficulties are relative to the job (or hobby) at hand. So, I wouldn't consider "landing" difficult for a pilot. I'd consider it easy or average (that's something the person does every day, and has been specifically trained to do, after all). My problem is, if "cracking" is something difficult for a computer programmer, what is "cracking the NSA's most secret database, that they spent millions of dollars on"?

Here's a couple of (translated) examples from the book of both jobs and hobbies:

Quote
JOBS:
Actor
Easy: learn a text, know people important in the industry
Average: act, disguise oneself.
Difficult: discuss a contract.

PI
Easy: follow someone.
Average: brawl, find clues, disguise one self.
Difficult: use a firearm, know the police forces in the city where he works.

Airline Pilot
Easy: pilot a plane.
Average: know exotic countries.
Difficult: seduce. keep one's calm.

HOBBIES:
Artist
Easy: create a piece of art, play (in the case of theatre or music, for example)
Average: know the main pieces and their creators.
Difficult: know the masters of the genre, appreciate and judge a piece.

Collector
Easy: owning an important number of items.
Average: know the history of these items, using a library.
Difficult: use the items, knowing their exact worth.

Computers
Easy: using a computer, pirate software (i think they meant copying, cause cracking protections is in no way easy), Using a library.
Average: programming.
Difficult: hacking a computer network.


You can see exactly the problem I was telling you about: more "easy" examples are given for the hobbies than for the jobs, some of the easy for the hobbies make little sense when compared to similar jobs (it's easy for an amateur actor to play, while it's average for a professional one). You can also see that "landing" is considered "easy" for a professional airline pilot (i'd consider landing part of piloting).

Quote
This all said, you should think about the HQ conversion. I can't see how you'd think that the powers wouldn't be easy to translate - just rate them as abilities like any other if you want the easy method. As for lethality, is that really a good thing in the game in question? HQ feels lethal, given that the dice can often go against you; which is usually the important thing. Actual death can be a pain in the ass, so isn't switching to HQ actually beneficial?

I have thought about the HQ conversion. Some of the powers (such as "shell" which is a form of armor) would not translate easily into heroquest, unless you start complicating the system with using edges and things like that.
The system also uses a "combativity" modifier that would once again be (imo) hard to apply in HeroQuest. It would add an edge that applies to *all* fighting rolls.
Basically, what i'm afraid is that trying to translate this simple system into what is also (basically) a simple system would end up a very complicated mess, because of all the special cases that don't translate easily.
Finally, about the mortality: yes, I consider it's a big plus. Because when they get into a fight, they know they won't escape from it without a scrape. They know that a punk with a gun is a definite threat, and that they should try everything they can to avoid this fight. This is completely opposite the HQ heroic "we can take on everything and go through dozens of NPC at the same time" attitude.

There are also creatures that are *way* above the characters, and that they'll never play catch up to, which also against the "feel" of HQ (to me), which is "with enough work you can catch up to anyone".

I'm not saying it's not feasible, it certainly is, i'm just not sure the result would be interesting or carry the right mood for the game.

There are many things that would translate well, but that would take *imo* making a new game, rather than a tweaking. I'm not sure i'm willing to do that.
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Gwenael Tranvouez aka Moah, platypus powaaa!
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2004, 05:54:22 AM »

Quote from: Moah
That's pretty much what i'm planning to do, but that's also why i'd rather have everything spelled out before we're in game, rather than keep it fuzzy on the character sheet and be annoyed in game. That way I know what to apply improvisation modifier to (whatever isn't on the sheet) and what to not apply an improvisation modifier to (what is on the sheet).
Would you consider that killing the player's creativity?
I'm confused. My suggestion is to differentitate hobbies and jobs in this way before hand. How is that then "fuzzy"? Do you consider HQ "fuzzy" on this?

Quote
I could also simply remove the difference between jobs & hobbies. Just consider them "areas of expertise" and translate all hobies to areas of a lesser degree (specialist to average, average to beginner, etc.). That way i don't feel so guilty about the imbalance between the two?
I'm strongly against this personally. I've come very much to believe that different sorts of abilities should have different "widths". That is, some abilities should be large enough to consider as defaults for large amounts of action, and others should be specific to give the character highlights. This dual level of enumeration means that the character can be created without "holes" and that they can still be well defined.

Quote
My problem is the difficulties are relative to the job (or hobby) at hand. So, I wouldn't consider "landing" difficult for a pilot. I'd consider it easy or average (that's something the person does every day, and has been specifically trained to do, after all).
Read my post again. This is exactly what I was saying. Having a certain job means that you are competent enough that the everyday stuff should be very reliable, and that difficult things in the field should not be impossible (or even nearly so).

Quote
My problem is, if "cracking" is something difficult for a computer programmer, what is "cracking the NSA's most secret database, that they spent millions of dollars on"?
If it's simply granularity, add a few levels of difficulty in between.

Or, if that doesn't do it for you, move to an opposed system, where you can make things as difficult as you like.

OTOH, what's actually gained by this level of differentiation? How is it important to play of the game in question?

Quote
You can see exactly the problem I was telling you about: more "easy" examples are given for the hobbies than for the jobs, some of the easy for the hobbies make little sense when compared to similar jobs (it's easy for an amateur actor to play, while it's average for a professional one). You can also see that "landing" is considered "easy" for a professional airline pilot (i'd consider landing part of piloting).
Thrown out the examples entirely. When coming up with a difficulty, just go with the number that makes sense to you. Personally, for playing a role, I'd have the same diffuculty for the pro and amateur actors. Again, what I'd penalize more are the "stretches." The examples don't seem well thought out, so don't use them.

Quote
I have thought about the HQ conversion. Some of the powers (such as "shell" which is a form of armor) would not translate easily into heroquest, unless you start complicating the system with using edges and things like that.
???Just give "shell" a rating, and play like normal. How won't that work?

Quote
The system also uses a "combativity" modifier that would once again be (imo) hard to apply in HeroQuest. It would add an edge that applies to *all* fighting rolls.
Uh, sounds silly to me, and I'd just drop it. But, if you want to keep it, then give each character a Combatitvity ability and play like normal. What wouldn't work about that?

Quote
Basically, what i'm afraid is that trying to translate this simple system into what is also (basically) a simple system would end up a very complicated mess, because of all the special cases that don't translate easily.
The key is that HQ doesn't have special cases for the most part. When converting, just consider special cases to be mechanically non-special. Just use the normal rules.

In HQ, the ability to fly is rated just like everything else. It's not made less special because it's handled the same way as everything else mechanically. Is there something in the game you're playing that's more "special" than flying?

Quote
Finally, about the mortality: yes, I consider it's a big plus. Because when they get into a fight, they know they won't escape from it without a scrape. They know that a punk with a gun is a definite threat, and that they should try everything they can to avoid this fight. This is completely opposite the HQ heroic "we can take on everything and go through dozens of NPC at the same time" attitude.
So, rate guns with large bonuses (or actual ratings that can be used as the primary ability in contests). Guns can be precisely as dangerous as you like. The neat thing is that this will make guns still cause "scrapes" to PCs, but they won't die.

I'll go to the mat to defend this statement: the lethality of a combat system has zero to do with how often players decide to get into combat. More lethal combat systems merely mean that you'll have to fudge more often to keep PCs alive. Moreover, given that the HQ system allows anything to be a contest, allows players to resolve actions in all sorts of creative ways, combat tends to occur very little. So, if you're playing in a realistic world with bad, bad guns (which is actually unrealistic, but that's another issue), then playing HQ is definitely the way to go.

The RPG landscape is littered with the remains of PCs who's players were informed by systems that they were supposed to resolve issues via combat systems designed to kill them. That, and player dissatisfied because they know that the GM is fudging to keep them alive. HQ avoids this all very neatly.

Quote
There are also creatures that are *way* above the characters, and that they'll never play catch up to, which also against the "feel" of HQ (to me), which is "with enough work you can catch up to anyone".
Pardon my French, but bullshit. Just give the creature a high enough rating, and the PCs will never be able to challenge it. Seriously. If you throw a giant worm at the PCs that has a Large 10W6, they will not be able to defeat it. Period. Nor will they likely ever be able to do so. The best that they can hope coming away from an encounter with such a behemoth (and that's only with one ability rating, some beings will have more), is to come out alive, and not permenantly altered in some significant way. Like being given a Paralyzed 10W4 flaw, from having the PCs spine crushed.

I don't know where you get the idea from HQ that everything is beatable, but it's false. Even in the long run. As narrator, you can tell players that they can't take certain abilities - or rather you should be working to make sure that additions are appropriate to the genre. As such, players would not be allowed to stack abilities high enough to ever threaten the giant worm. So it's just not true that in HQ that PCs can "level up" to the point where they can take on creatures of a certain level of ability. (and even if you did allow them to do so, you can always just rate a creature at even higher level to put it further out of range.)

People miss this fact, but as narrator in HQ, it's very easy to hose the PCs if you need to do so for some reason.

Why do these creatures exist in the original game?

Quote
I'm not saying it's not feasible, it certainly is, i'm just not sure the result would be interesting or carry the right mood for the game.
Just what mood is it supposed to carry?

Quote
There are many things that would translate well, but that would take *imo* making a new game, rather than a tweaking. I'm not sure i'm willing to do that.
Even if this is true, I'm for it. I'm using the HQ rules to play the old Rolemaster campaign Shadow World, precisely because RM sucked for bringing out what I see as the best premise for that setting. I mean, if the original game worked as written you wouldn't have to "tweak" at all. So, you are creating a new game.

I guess the question is what is the idea of the new game? Tell us what you want the new game to do overall, and we can better judge whether or not HQ would be a good fit. It may be true that there's something about HQ that makes it not suitable. But none of your objections so far seem to be damning to me.

Mike
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Moah
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2004, 10:48:18 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm confused. My suggestion is to differentitate hobbies and jobs in this way before hand. How is that then "fuzzy"? Do you consider HQ "fuzzy" on this?

I guess I misunderstood you. I thought you meant to define jobs widely & hobbies in a more narrow way, but not in paper, just in theory. So that I’d still have to do the actual judgement call in-game.
And yes, I do find HQ fuzzy at times, and even darn fuzzy at the worst (still don't know when/where/how to use help [weapon]). Most of the time, it's clear enough, though.

Quote
I'm strongly against this personally. I've come very much to believe that different sorts of abilities should have different "widths". That is, some abilities should be large enough to consider as defaults for large amounts of action, and others should be specific to give the character highlights. This dual level of enumeration means that the character can be created without "holes" and that they can still be well defined.

Hmm. I don't know. I don't see the problem. That's more or less the situation the game is in right now (at least for me). The change would just make it "official” and fix the XP disparity seen so far.

Quote
Read my post again. This is exactly what I was saying. Having a certain job means that you are competent enough that the everyday stuff should be very reliable, and that difficult things in the field should not be impossible (or even nearly so).

I know, that's why I'm saying the difficulty shouldn't be "difficult."
I think the problem is in part, the fact that difficulty is supposed to be relative to the job at hand, and in part what you're talking about in the next quote: lack of granularity.
In a more generalized way, you could say the problem is that the authors wanted to make a "story driven" RPGs and assumed the best way to do that was to make minimalist, simplistic rules.

Quote
If it's simply granularity, add a few levels of difficulty in between.
It's part the lack of granularity, part the lack of accounting for external, non-job-related factors (such as rain, wind, etc).

Quote
OTOH, what's actually gained by this level of differentiation? How is it important to play of the game in question?

Depends what you consider important, I guess. As a conspiracy theory game (sort of), the feeling of fighting against hugely powerful opponents seem important to me. This could be perceived by the having to fight huge odds (like, for example, the unbreakable computer security) and not winning most of the time. The kind of fight where surviving is, in itself, a victory. I guess I could arbitrarily say this cannot be done (which is more or less what I’m doing now), but I’d rather have rules that cover all cases, than rules that need special cases for most of the background.

Quote
???Just give "shell" a rating, and play like normal. How won't that work?

Yes, I can give all names a power and a rating, that won’t make them “work” in the context of the game. If I give Shell 1M, how does shell apply? Is it just an ability that you use in a fight? That sucks, how is that different from Tough 1M? This is not Heroquest where everyone has magic and magic is “just another way to do things” this is a game where very few people have magic, and where it’s something wonderful and quite powerful. I want these abilities to be different and to bring something to the player that the normal abilities don’t.
I could have “Shell” add its whole rating in combat, but then it becomes too powerful. It could just add its standard “1/10th” rating, but we run into what I just described. I could make it an edge removed from APs the player loses or transfers, but that adds another layer of complexity to the HQ rules.

Quote
Uh, sounds silly to me, and I'd just drop it. But, if you want to keep it, then give each character a Combatitvity ability and play like normal. What wouldn't work about that?

I like the combativity, because it encourages the player to think about his character. “What would my character do in a real fight? Would he jump to the foremost and take risks to take down the opponents, or would he just try to stay covered, save his ass, and only shoot when only a good opportunity appears.” I believe this, in turn, will influence the player somewhat in his general character attitude.

Quote
The key is that HQ doesn't have special cases for the most part. When converting, just consider special cases to be mechanically non-special. Just use the normal rules.

In HQ, the ability to fly is rated just like everything else. It's not made less special because it's handled the same way as everything else mechanically. Is there something in the game you're playing that's more "special" than flying?

In HQ, everyone (and their dogs) fly. And if they don’t fly, they probably get to throw lightning, invoke demons or something else instead. In Scales, only a handful (ok let’s say something like a thousand) people fly. It’s kinda sucky to have all these wonderful powers and find out they’re just another stat like any other. It takes out all the magic to know that you can just get exactly the same thing by taking a normal ability.

Quote
So, rate guns with large bonuses (or actual ratings that can be used as the primary ability in contests). Guns can be precisely as dangerous as you like. The neat thing is that this will make guns still cause "scrapes" to PCs, but they won't die.

I haven’t thought about guns in that way. I haven’t thought about guns in HQ rules in any way, actually. I suppose they would give the same kind of problems that archery does. With about the same kind of frequency too. I need to think more about them.

Quote
I'll go to the mat to defend this statement: the lethality of a combat system has zero to do with how often players decide to get into combat. More lethal combat systems merely mean that you'll have to fudge more often to keep PCs alive.

Or not. the first time one of the PCs die, they’ll get to think about their actions, and their consequences. If you’re the kind of person who fudges, then I guess you’re right, using a lethal combat system doesn’t make sense. If you’re not the kind of person who fudges, or if you feel that in a given game fudging is counter productive, then it does make sense. You just have to make sure the players are on the same wavelength as you on this.

Quote
Moreover, given that the HQ system allows anything to be a contest, allows players to resolve actions in all sorts of creative ways, combat tends to occur very little. So, if you're playing in a realistic world with bad, bad guns (which is actually unrealistic, but that's another issue), then playing HQ is definitely the way to go.

That is definitely a valid point. More so since none of my players choose to pick fighters. It’s also the main reason why I considered HQ in the first place.

Quote
The RPG landscape is littered with the remains of PCs who's players were informed by systems that they were supposed to resolve issues via combat systems designed to kill them. That, and player dissatisfied because they know that the GM is fudging to keep them alive. HQ avoids this all very neatly.

But HQ was designed to recreate Conan or Buffy like epics: Fights are common, they’re generally about you vs dozen of them, and fights you win have no lasting consequences.
As for your other argument, the real world is also littered with the remains of people who have died stupidly. Just check the Darwin awards page.

Quote
I don't know where you get the idea from HQ that everything is beatable, but it's false. Even in the long run. As narrator, you can tell players that they can't take certain abilities - or rather you should be working to make sure that additions are appropriate to the genre. As such, players would not be allowed to stack abilities high enough to ever threaten the giant worm. So it's just not true that in HQ that PCs can "level up" to the point where they can take on creatures of a certain level of ability. (and even if you did allow them to do so, you can always just rate a creature at even higher level to put it further out of range.)

I get the idea from the game itself. The game is all about how the herowars are coming, and you’re going to decide them. About how you’re going to change the world in a huge and very definitive way. That suggests to me that you are destined to become one of these “bigger than life heroes.” And the rulebook is littered with such references, not to mention the other supplements.
I do not say that it makes it impossible to use the system in other ways, but I do say it makes the players associate the system with one style of gaming, and gives them specific expectations in any game using these rules.
If you look at the conversions of worlds to the HQ system so far (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bferrie/index.htm, for example), you’ll see they’re all heroic worlds, where the players are all more than human in a way, and where they get to overcome huge odds all the time: Buffy! Star Wars! Superheroes! It seems I’m not the only one thinking that way.

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Why do these creatures exist in the original game?

They’re kind of the basis of the game. Have you read the original post? Dragons live hidden amongst humans. Well these creatures are extra terrestrial dragons who’ve come on earth millions of years ago, then went to sleep and are now awakening and “playing” with the cute human toys (this is simplified). Their dad (who is much stronger than them) has come back recently and is pissed off at his children. All of them interact with the human culture by taking human form, and impregnating human females so they have hybrid children who will obey them. One of the players is one of these descendants (actually 3rd generation), his powers much weaker than those of his parents or, obviously, his one non-hybrid grandfather.

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Just what mood is it supposed to carry?

The mood of “reality gone wrong?” or any mood that’s specifically not heroic?

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Even if this is true, I'm for it. I'm using the HQ rules to play the old Rolemaster campaign Shadow World, precisely because RM sucked for bringing out what I see as the best premise for that setting. I mean, if the original game worked as written you wouldn't have to "tweak" at all. So, you are creating a new game.

Well I don’t know Shadow World at all, so correct me if I’m wrong, but it still is the same type of gaming HQ is? All about heroism, magic flying around, players being around generally saving the world from all sort of catastrophe, etc.?

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I guess the question is what is the idea of the new game? Tell us what you want the new game to do overall, and we can better judge whether or not HQ would be a good fit. It may be true that there's something about HQ that makes it not suitable. But none of your objections so far seem to be damning to me.

For most of the players, I think the most important feeling is that of “reality gone wrong.” what happened if tomorrow you started seeing tantalizing shapes of an ogre in one of the yahoos that moved in next door? What’s worse, you feel attracted to them for no reason you can find, and you’re starting to have dreams about sprites dancing in the grass under a full moon. It’s still the world as you know it, but there’s more to it than you know. Either that or you’re going insane.
As you progress, you also discover that specific people or specific groups of people have more power and influence than you’ll ever have. They manipulate the police forces, or big companies. Some of them hate you for no reason you can fathom, some of them ignore, and precious few think you’re just the coolest guy in the world. Yet, somehow, even though you’re somewhat insignificant, everything you do seem to impact them. Like you’re that one proverbial grain of sand.
Finally, the more you go, the more some of you inherent magic emerges. And it’s frightening, because you don’t know what you’re becoming, but it’s wonderful, because it’s stuff that’s goes way beyond normalcy. You’re not just Ben Johnson fast, you’re greased lightning fast. Yet, you’re still as fragile as ever, and you shouldn’t let your “magic” turn your head. Better to use it creatively than die because you were not quite *that* cool yet.
The world is quite deadly. Remember those guys who hate you? They don’t just hate you, they need some of your body parts so they can cast their spells. So to them you’re no longer someone. You’re just that “sprite heart” they need. Why would they care for parasites, anyway? And your new neighbours-turned-best-friends? Their families think of you in term of “tasty snacks.” And all of them know these things you don’t. They know what’s the real deal. Or so you think.

What’s the main difference between the HQ mood and the Scales mood, in my opinion? In HQ you change the world by being greater than life, fighting hordes and coming on top every time. In Scales you change the world (any game where you don’t have any influence on the world is hardly worth playing imo) by more or less just being there. Finding out stuff that you shouldn’t, being a minor nuisance to major players and getting them to fight each other, etc.
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Gwenael Tranvouez aka Moah, platypus powaaa!
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2004, 02:02:01 PM »

Quote from: Moah
Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm confused. My suggestion is to differentitate hobbies and jobs in this way before hand. How is that then "fuzzy"? Do you consider HQ "fuzzy" on this?

I guess I misunderstood you. I thought you meant to define jobs widely & hobbies in a more narrow way, but not in paper, just in theory. So that I’d still have to do the actual judgement call in-game.
Confused. What I'm saying is keep the difference between the two types of abilities, and construe them like HQ. Which is really quite clear, IMO. If it's broad, and it's related then it's at full ability level. If it's narrow, and it's directly related use the full ability level, or apply an Improv Mod if it's only related. That seems pretty straightforward to me. The only judgement call that you have to make that's different than any other game is how large an Improv Mod to use in the case of something related to a hobby.

[quoteI don't know. I don't see the problem. That's more or less the situation the game is in right now (at least for me). The change would just make it "official” and fix the XP disparity seen so far.[/quote]If you make everything equal in breadth, then either everything is narrow, in which case, you have holes, or everything is broad, in which case you have either largely undifferentiated characters, or characters who are competent in everything.

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In a more generalized way, you could say the problem is that the authors wanted to make a "story driven" RPGs and assumed the best way to do that was to make minimalist, simplistic rules.
I'd agree that this would be a bad thing, except that I'm not seeing the problem in general.

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It's part the lack of granularity, part the lack of accounting for external, non-job-related factors (such as rain, wind, etc).
Well, again, my suggestion is just to have the GM set whatever TN he likes. This would take into account things like rain and wind and whatever.

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Depends what you consider important, I guess. As a conspiracy theory game (sort of), the feeling of fighting against hugely powerful opponents seem important to me. This could be perceived by the having to fight huge odds (like, for example, the unbreakable computer security) and not winning most of the time. The kind of fight where surviving is, in itself, a victory. I guess I could arbitrarily say this cannot be done (which is more or less what I’m doing now), but I’d rather have rules that cover all cases, than rules that need special cases for most of the background.
The way to accomplish this is to have the resolution broken down into smaller chunks, all difficult. That is, if you want to take down the bad guys, you have to first find them, and then break in, and then avoid the security, and then ten other things. They'll fail at some point.

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Yes, I can give all names a power and a rating, that won’t make them “work” in the context of the game. If I give Shell 1M, how does shell apply? Is it just an ability that you use in a fight? That sucks, how is that different from Tough 1M? This is not Heroquest where everyone has magic and magic is “just another way to do things” this is a game where very few people have magic, and where it’s something wonderful and quite powerful. I want these abilities to be different and to bring something to the player that the normal abilities don’t.
You have a skewed view of Hero Quest. The magic abilities aren't rated the same as other abilities because "everyone has magic and it's just another way of doing things." They're rated the same because it's an efficient system to use. What makes a magic ability "different" than another is that it allows you to do things that a normal ability could not.

What is it that Shell can do that Toughness cannot? Well, whatever that is, is what having Shell does that Toughness cannot do. If it doesn't really do anything different, then why would I want a separate system to adjudicate it?

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...if you want to keep it, then give each character a Combatitvity ability and play like normal. What wouldn't work about that?

I like the combativity, because it encourages the player to think about his character. “What would my character do in a real fight? Would he jump to the foremost and take risks to take down the opponents, or would he just try to stay covered, save his ass, and only shoot when only a good opportunity appears.” I believe this, in turn, will influence the player somewhat in his general character attitude.
In HQ, this is replaced by many different abilities - actual combat ability, personality traits, whatever all covers it. So I'm not seeing the downside here.

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In HQ, the ability to fly is rated just like everything else. It's not made less special because it's handled the same way as everything else mechanically. Is there something in the game you're playing that's more "special" than flying?

In HQ, everyone (and their dogs) fly. And if they don’t fly, they probably get to throw lightning, invoke demons or something else instead. In Scales, only a handful (ok let’s say something like a thousand) people fly. It’s kinda sucky to have all these wonderful powers and find out they’re just another stat like any other. It takes out all the magic to know that you can just get exactly the same thing by taking a normal ability.
Actually flying is really rare in HQ. But that's not the real point. What makes flying special is that it allows your character to fly. When he uses it to fly up to the roof of the bad-guy's lair, are you telling me that because it's rated like running that it'll feel like running? Well, I can tell you from actual play that using magic in HQ feels more magical than any other game that I've played in, in which you have magic.

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I haven’t thought about guns in that way. I haven’t thought about guns in HQ rules in any way, actually. I suppose they would give the same kind of problems that archery does. With about the same kind of frequency too.
Which is never. I've never once had a problem with any ranged ability in HQ. Not in dozens of sessions of play with characters all of whom possess such abilities. The idea that it's problematic is a myth.

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Or not. the first time one of the PCs die, they’ll get to think about their actions, and their consequences.
No, they'll quit playing. It's not the player's actions, it's the characters actions. You seem to be in a tactical mindset. Are you aware of what GNS is all about?

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You just have to make sure the players are on the same wavelength as you on this.[/quite]But since there are no players who like to lose their characters, I'm fairly certain that I'm right in all cases.

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The RPG landscape is littered with the remains of PCs who's players were informed by systems that they were supposed to resolve issues via combat systems designed to kill them. That, and player dissatisfied because they know that the GM is fudging to keep them alive. HQ avoids this all very neatly.

But HQ was designed to recreate Conan or Buffy like epics: Fights are common, they’re generally about you vs dozen of them, and fights you win have no lasting consequences.
I don't know what version of HQ you've been playing - if you've been playing at all. But in general the foes are balanced. Yes, the GM can, if he likes set up situations where you can take on lots of weaker foes. But HQ characters actually start quite weak relative to the world at large and are going to get defeated regularly if they attempt things like you're claiming. Sure they might survive it, but only if the GM lets them. That is, if you want to be harsh to players with HQ, it's just as easy as being nice.

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I get the idea from the game itself. The game is all about how the herowars are coming, and you’re going to decide them. About how you’re going to change the world in a huge and very definitive way. That suggests to me that you are destined to become one of these “bigger than life heroes.” And the rulebook is littered with such references, not to mention the other supplements.
I don't have time to refute this in detail, but, in short characters start out very weak in HQ, and will only get to the world-shaking status if the GM lets them. That is, it's perfectly valid to play less powerful characters in this context. As you say, ones that change the world just by being there.

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If you look at the conversions of worlds to the HQ system so far (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/bferrie/index.htm, for example), you’ll see they’re all heroic worlds, where the players are all more than human in a way, and where they get to overcome huge odds all the time: Buffy! Star Wars! Superheroes! It seems I’m not the only one thinking that way.
I'm not saying it doesn't work well for those things. That's why people use it. But it works just as well at any power level. Even the default starting "seventeen year old apprentice" level.

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Dragons live hidden amongst humans. Well these creatures are extra terrestrial dragons who’ve come on earth millions of years ago, then went to sleep and are now awakening and “playing” with the cute human toys (this is simplified). Their dad (who is much stronger than them) has come back recently and is pissed off at his children. All of them interact with the human culture by taking human form, and impregnating human females so they have hybrid children who will obey them. One of the players is one of these descendants (actually 3rd generation), his powers much weaker than those of his parents or, obviously, his one non-hybrid grandfather.
So very "demigod" level in power. No PC is ever going to defeat one of these if you don't want them to be defeated. They might be able to compete with the 3rd generation or lower, but only as you see fit to rate them.

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Well I don’t know Shadow World at all, so correct me if I’m wrong, but it still is the same type of gaming HQ is? All about heroism, magic flying around, players being around generally saving the world from all sort of catastrophe, etc.?
I mean about the story, not about the tactics. In that way, it's very much not about what RM is about, but very much about HQ.

In fact, it seems to me that the only way to make such a dark game interesting would be to make it a story game, and not a tactical game.

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What’s the main difference between the HQ mood and the Scales mood, in my opinion? In HQ you change the world by being greater than life, fighting hordes and coming on top every time. In Scales you change the world (any game where you don’t have any influence on the world is hardly worth playing imo) by more or less just being there. Finding out stuff that you shouldn’t, being a minor nuisance to major players and getting them to fight each other, etc.
HQ doesn't support the grandiosity that you think it does, particularly, Glorantha does that, if at all. Take away Glorantha, and the HQ system supports any setting that has a need to be told in dramatic fashion. It's only "fantasy heroic" when PCs are given high levels of ability, or flashy magic. If your setting doesn't give those, then it won't be a problem.

Mike
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