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Author Topic: [Capes] Conversation is combat  (Read 4011 times)
TonyLB
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« on: September 13, 2004, 09:02:22 PM »

Had another Capes session tonight, this time over IRC.  I've posted an in-character transcript and an interlaced transcript with both IC and OOC comments.

The experience of play itself was pretty mixed, unfortunately.  IRC was painfully, draggingly slow as a medium.  And we had to do a lot of rules explanation (as is common in a playtest), which really cut into our time for actual play.

That having been said, I had an awful lot of fun describing actions for my hero, the Gray Ghost.  I framed him into a talk with his once-compatriot, now retired and turned vaguely sleazy corporate lawyer.  We had one of the other players play the lawyer, which did a good job of making sure everyone was involved.

I had imagined that the relationship would be tense and fraught with tragic overtones.  But the first die-roll of the game pointed toward the old compatriot being genuinely happy to see my hero.  It was like throwing your whole weight against an unlatched door, and the Gray Ghost never quite regained his balance.

By the time we wrapped up for the night, my hero had started brow-beating this poor guy (who never did anything but offer the hand of friendship and decline to participate in illegal acts of vigilantism) to try to accomplish his goals.  

And I realized two things as I watched Gray Ghost take on a life of his own.  The first is that he dehumanizes his own friends, seeing them as sheep to be cajoled and persuaded onto the True Path that only he knows.  And the second is that I really wouldn't mind seeing him lose out in this conversation.  I put a decent amount of effort into getting him (barely) into a winning position... and I won't at all mind if it's all taken away.

I'm not really sure why that is... he's certainly not anything like the nastiest character I've played.  He is a hero, he's just an abrasive and somewhat broken one.  And I have a great deal of sympathy and respect for him.  And I'll still have that sympathy and respect if he gets smacked down something fierce.

I think that maybe what I'm experiencing is confidence that the system will support me in playing the loss as the first step along a road to him being forced to face some of his faults, rather than just a tactical set-back.
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Doug Ruff
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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2004, 10:21:06 PM »

Hi Tony,

IMHO, I think that the 'brow-beating' was a consequence of making 'Conversational Dominance' one of the Complications. Was this necessary?

It's also interesting to see how a lot of Powers and Tropes become unusable when the activity in question is 'mundane'.

This could be a good thing, if you want heroes to be less capable at relatin to mundane tasks, but to me it emphasises the unsuitability of using the combat rules for situations like this.

Having said that, the conversation transcript is excellent, a lot of good RP going on there. It just seems rather slow, and this is without the IRC delay.

By the way, would you be willing to IRC a session with me sometime? It might go a long way towards helping me to understand the scale at which you intend the game to be played at. I've not used IRC before, but if you are keen to run another session and can point me in the direction of some suitable freeware, I'll learn just to playtest with you.

I will understand fully if you don't have time to do this, just reply or PM me with your decision.

Regards,

Doug
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TonyLB
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« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2004, 04:09:47 AM »

I'm torn on Conversational Dominance.  It worked well, I think (though Bryan might certainly disagree) but strangely.

While the Complication was on the table, and Gray Ghost didn't have control, I found it very easy to play the hero as being off balance, unable to really speak effectively.  I think this was because I had the sense that if I wanted to dominate the conversation there was a rules outlet for me to try to do so.

But I observe (in retrospect) that once Dominance resolved, Gray Ghost went back on the offensive conversationally, even though Dominance had resolved against him.  It was no longer on the table, and I think what that said to me (on some level) is that it was no longer governed by the rules.  Which may very well be the way that the system should work.  

But if so I need to make it clear in the rules, and also make it very clear that there is a benefit in not resolving a Complication.  I do think that if Dominance had stayed on the table, and stayed controlled by Wise, the conversation would have played out very differently.


I actually found Gray Ghost much less hampered by his powers being inappropriate than by his Attitudes being inappropriate to a friendly conversation.  I'd built him to be abrasive, and damned if he didn't turn out to be just as unpleasant in practice as I'd constructed him in theory.
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LordSmerf
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2004, 04:12:41 AM »

Doug,

I believe that there is a very good balance going on.  If anyone is interested here is Dorian Wise's character sheet (sans Drives)  As you can see he is much better suited to conversational situations.  This strikes an interesting balance to me when creating a character.  Sure you can have tons of combat abilities, but it means that if you ever face someone in a social setting you will be at a disadvantage.

Thomas
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TonyLB
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« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2004, 04:30:48 AM »

Oh, clueless of me.  Character Sheet, right.

There's a lovely little conversation implied right there in the Attitudes for the characters, actually.  Wise's low (i.e. early) attitudes are things like Smooth and Nostalgic, and his high (i.e. later) ones are Sarcastic and Cynical.  Gray Ghost, starts out rueful and sarcastic and moves upward to confidence and full-blown superhero megalomania.

Looking at them side by side, with 20/20 hindsight, much of the spiral out of control seems to have been caused by the conversational weaponry we brought to the table.  Which gives the lovely implication that the characters next conversation will probably follow something recognizably similar in structure, though different in all details.
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Doug Ruff
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« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2004, 10:11:56 AM »

I've posted my 'balance' comments on the main design thread, as it's more about mechanics than actual play.

Having seen the character write-ups now, I'd agree that sparks would fly in most conversations - I guess you could say someone has an Attitude problem...

Re: Conversational Dominance - I don't think this is a bad call in itself, I guess that the main problem is that it was included alongside other conversational Complications. Realistically, you can't resolve Conversational Dominance until the rest of the conversation elements have also resolved, but the mechanics don't cover this.

If however, the Conversational Dominance had really been about Who's Got the Biggest Dick (metaphorically, of course) - then it doesn't matter if this resolves halfway during the conversation. It just means that the 'dickwaving' has ended and the real conversational issues are being resolved. If Grey Ghost loses, he feels bad because he couldn't match up, if he wins by being snarky, then the stage is set for an Apology complication (assuming he wants to!)

So if you're going to use conflict rules for stuff like this, then it still works, as long as you don't set 'overlapping' Complications.

Regards,

Doug
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'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'
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