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Author Topic: The Beast Released II  (Read 3754 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: January 23, 2002, 08:21:11 AM »

Hi James,

Here are some of my mechanics-concerns about The Questing Beast.

1) As I mention in the Actual Play forum, the Pool ends up being quite stable. One player, who'd played the earliest version of The Pool with me, was a little disappointed - he loved the mighty-mighty Pool swings and their effect on plot events.

2) I think the Beast definitely needs a powerful, explicit statement that either GM or player may call for a roll. This is a big deal; it permits conflict and change to occur as anyone at the table sees fit, on equal terms, yet with plenty of chance for the describer of that change to be either player or GM.

3) The Monologue of Defeat was tricky for players, on occasion, until they got the hang of introducing "now the story has to change" elements into play. One guy brought in the big bad-ass villain right into his scene on a failed roll, just to scare the crap out of his character and - basically - to be able to play that bad-ass more openly now. So that was great, and a couple similar effects were generated later. However, it was very hard for them to arrive at how much to hose themselves, and I think some examples in the text would be highly valuable.

4) A crucial instance of potential-problem in play was averted by a quick-thinking player - two knights got testy at each other and jousted; everyone (even the opposing player) kinda wanted one of them to win, but the other won instead. So that player - since he had the Monologue of Victory - actually narrated that the other character won! It was more of a lucky win, hence his character was not exactly "bested," but it was still using a Monologue of Victory to establish one's character's defeat. Thoughts on that? A system failure or a wonderful opportunity? It was especially important because the player who lost the roll (but as it turned out, not the joust) was right there in the "first roll whiff" position, and it was the other player who saved her from that.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2002, 08:52:23 AM »

Point 3.

Why is it more difficult for a player to know how much to hose themselves, but yet relatively easy to know how much to protagonize their character in a MoV? It seems that if a player can deal out their own success appropriately, that dealing out their failure should be just as easy. Is it association with the character? Or failure to see defeat as potentially protagonizing?

Point 4.
I 'd think that the player should still be required to create victory for their character in an MoV. But that does not mean that they cannot protagonize the other character simultaneously. You just need to create a win-win situation.

So, I want the knight opposing mine to succeed in the joust, but I get the MoV (just as happened in the game). I would narrate that the opposing knight knocks me clean off my horse in a brilliant display of technique (which is what I desired). Then, in order to satisfymy requirement for victory, my knight gets up and is so magnanimous in defeat that the surrounding crowd is impressed no end, and the legend of my character's honor is spread across the countryside.

Problem solved. The rule for MoV should be that you must protagonize all PCs inolved with the contest.

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2002, 09:58:36 AM »

Hey Mike,

I agree with you about #3, but the observation remains - it is harder to hose your character, especially when you're not sure what degree-of-hose is functional or fun. I'm not very interested in "why" so much as in methods of presentation to reduce the problem.

In #4, I think you're being overly glib and not considering real humans' interests in all their glory. It is quite likely that the one player was interested in being well-regarded by the other, in basic human terms. Thus he "diminished" his character to some extent, at least in terms of winning the immediate contest, in order - basically - to gain the personal favor of the other player. In terms of character, he didn't mind, as the knight (Sir Briant, if you read the post in Actual Play) was established by this encounter as being a bit over-concerned with the forms of chivalry rather than their content, and he wanted that too.

So, "wanting to win" the contest in-game is a very secondary thing. "Wanting to gain favor with other [female] player" was probably the main thing. Hence, he used his Pool to get what he wanted.

Therefore your fairly quick assumption that there is a problem, plus a solution for it, is premature in my opinion. It could be that this situation and outcome is a perfectly legit application of The Pool as a system and shouldn't be messed with at all.

(A lot of this harks back to your question about "Whose Pool is it?" and James' reply to that.)

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2002, 11:50:44 AM »

#3
Yes, I don't doubt your observation. I wondering if you could shed light on the probable reason, hence the question marks. Those weren't rhetorical. You've played the game and observed the behavior. If you could suggest a reason why it's a problem then we can suggest solutions.

#4
Sure, we could allow players to determine when their victories are defeats in the name of giving them what they want. While we're at it, why don't we allow them to narrate MoDs as victories if they like, thus eliminating all distinction? Well, obviously James felt that having them be split into victory and defeat situations by game control was important enough to pacing and suspense to put distinct mechnics in for each of them.

Interestingly, if your claim is that players are more objective when dealing with choosing whether or not to give up a victory for a defeat than switching defeats for victoies, then I think that might relate back to item number 3. This isn't a Gamist consideration slipping in, is it?

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2002, 12:14:06 PM »

Hi Mike,

For #3, suggestions? My call is for some examples in the rules. This is one of those instances in which the aesthetic recommendation of the creator might be very useful, at least as a starting point. Said rules might also say, "Hose-self like 'this' for a while, then feel free to adjust to taste."

For #4, I guess it's the opposite. I'm looking for suggestions, not offering them or even taking sides on the matter. I'm not saying it's good or bad, or with or against the rules, for the player to have done what he did. I'm interested in what James thinks in particular, specifically regarding the Beast, as it, unlike the Pool, has both kinds of Monologues.

Your argument about "if you can reverse Victories, you can reverse Defeats" seems specious to me. But let's not fight about that one, or at least I'd prefer not to. The issue at hand for me is what James or others think of the "use MoV to lose the contest, if that's what the player wants." Let's wait on solutions until others weigh in on whether there's a problem. Maybe there is; I'm willing to buy it. I just don't know yet.

Since the rolls in The Pool permit all manner of "stuff happening in play" following the rolls, via the Monologues, relying on pre-roll stated goals isn't enough to go by ...

Best,
Ron
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hardcoremoose
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2002, 01:08:54 PM »

In regards to question #4, since opinions were solicited...

This is one the reasons I was against the inclusion of a MoD rule.  In The Pool, the MoV indicated a Victory for the player in the form of narrative control.  Yeah, this often translated into good things for the character, but not always (not when I played anyway).  It was simple and elegant.

(Ron's example demonstrates this line of thinking.  The player achieved a MoV, and assumed complete, unlimited control of the narrative.)

The inclusion of the MoD muddies the waters a bit.  It seems like it's inclusion was meant to divvy up the narrative power of a MoV, maybe to get the players to deliver more adversity into the story than they normally would have.  It deliberately creates more structure to the giving of Monologues, and to be effective, should probably stick to that structure.

So I guess my answer is that if you are going to have a MoD and a MoV, one should deliver adversity into the story, and the other should be about overcoming it, with few or no exceptions.

I'm interested in how player dissonance between Bard and Character plays into this, but I haven't the time to get into it now.  Any thoughts?

- Moose
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Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2002, 04:44:17 PM »

My nickel:

The way I see it, the MoD should COMPLICATE the conflict at hand, whereas the MoV offers conflict RESOLUTION.  In both the MoD and MoV, the player can protagonize himself or others as he or she sees fit, so long as he or she adheres to those basic strictures.

Best,

Blake
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James V. West
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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2002, 06:36:26 PM »

Hey all, sorry I'm late.

1) I altered the rules of The Pool for TQB specifically for the purpose of achieving more stability. I'm seriously pleased it actually worked. Since TQB was going to lean toward the "craft" end of story creation and less toward the "random" end, then I felt like the game needed some stability.

2) My intention was that player and Gm alike could call for a roll, but I probably changed my mind about it so many times that the writing got muddy. So, yeah, that needs some serious clarification. (by the way, thanks for actually playing the game as it is--which is rough as hell).

3) Examples of how to do a MoD? Indeed, the game needs examples of lots of things. Thanks for pointing that one out. See below for more on it.

4) Ok, now to the intended purpose of MOV and MoD and wether or not you guys and gals think it works.

I never saw an MoV as limited to an accomplishment by the character. MoV meant the player got his way, period. With the introduction of a MoD, I can see where confusion might set in.

SO I think of it this way: The MoV means what you want to happen happens. MoD means something you didn't want to happen happens. Ok, I know that's about as clear as butter.

Take Ron's example. His player used a MoV to lose a contest but he gained favor with the other player. That's exactly what MoVs are for. Brilliant! It makes my heart soar to hear about someone using a MoV in this way.

So how about MoD? Well, if you name an intention before rolling ("I'm going to absolutely sweep her off her feet and make her mine"), then roll a failure....your MoD has to be what you didn't want to happen, so, she either hates you or pays no attention. The same holds true no matter what you announced.

I can see where a problem can come into this. In most cases in rpgs, if you actually want to fail at something, you don't have to roll for it. I certainly don't want to dictate that attempts to do anything require die rolls. But if you want narrative power, they do. So you annonce "I'm going to try to win her over because that's what this character would naturally do, but I don't want to succeed at it. I want to fail miserably." and roll for it. If you succeed, fail away. IF you fail the roll....narrate how you actually won her over??

Scott's got a point on this one. MOV gives you narrative power, which pretty much means whatever you want. So what is the purpse of a MoD? This is me, the author, asking the question. What is the purpose of a Monologue of Defeat?

At his moment, the only logical answer I can come up with is that MoV's should always be totally up to you. Do what you want. But MoDs should always be about putting your character in a deprotagonized light, or causing him serious complications.

Comments welcome and needed.
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James V. West
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« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2002, 06:47:44 PM »

Quote from: Blake Hutchins

My nickel:

The way I see it, the MoD should COMPLICATE the conflict at hand, whereas the MoV offers conflict RESOLUTION.  In both the MoD and MoV, the player can protagonize himself or others as he or she sees fit, so long as he or she adheres to those basic strictures.

Best,

Blake


Actually, I really like Blake's take on it. Resolution vs. Complication. So, in a MoD, the player cannot actually resolve a conflict? Perhaps just narrate a tragic series of mishaps or blunders or whatever and then the actual end to the conflict would come later? Am I missing your point here. Blake?
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2002, 07:17:13 PM »

Hey James,

But MoDs should always be about putting your character in a deprotagonized light, or causing him serious complications.

"Deprotagonized" is not synonymous with "having faced adversity." Protagonists are made interesting and significant by the adversity they face, and if anything, the MoD can be used to deliver that adversity.

Deprotagonization is the undermining and compromising of a character. It is the act of making the character less interesting, or rendering the character irrelevant to the narrative, or undercutting the foundational concept of the character. The whiff syndrome is deprotagonizing, the suave character drools and spills wine on himself when he fails a seduction attempt at a social gathering.

Use an MoD on Batman to deliver adversity, perhaps placing Robin in harm's way. Deprotagonize Batman by giving him chronic colitis. Make sense?

Paul
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Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2002, 07:17:36 PM »

In my experience with The Pool, the players did a fine job of declaring defeat during the MoD, while at the same time keeping themselves protagonized.  It's a great way to implement what Ron discussed in Sorcerer & Sword, the part about avoiding the whiff factor.  You let the player decide how the conflict is complicated by failure to achieve the stated objective, rather than simply requiring a description that amounts to "I failed."

The MoD lets a player introduce elements just as the MoV does, but the limits are narrower in that the conflict is not resolved, and in fact, grows more complicated.

In the effort to impress a lady, for example, a player may "deep six" a roll, and then use the MoD to declare that (1) the lady is impressed but cannot show her feelings because her tyrannical betrothed has entered the chamber, or (2) she is unimpressed, but the player's character falls in love with her, or (3) she is impressed, but in the wrong way ("How droll you are, Sir Gelaunt.  You display a certain crass wit with that jest..."), or (4) she is unimpressed because a witch has cast a spell on her and imprisoned her heart in a silver cage in a stronghold of mists, or (5) she is unimpressed because the character is rendered speechless by the beauty of her handmaiden....  There are a LOT of possibilities here, none of which need deprotagonize the player.

A delegation of directorial power that requires a player to narrate the terms and consequences of defeat can be just as liberating for that player as an MoV.

Thoughts?

Best,

Blake
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James V. West
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« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2002, 07:31:23 PM »

Paul: touche. I used the word "deprotagonizing" in a way I didn't mean. Thanks for pointing that out. The word I was probably looking for was "challenging" or something similar.

Quote from: Blake Hutchins

The MoD lets a player introduce elements just as the MoV does, but the limits are narrower in that the conflict is not resolved, and in fact, grows more complicated.

A delegation of directorial power that requires a player to narrate the terms and consequences of defeat can be just as liberating for that player as an MoV.

Blake


I'm into this, Blake. I'm liking it very much as its closer to what I was thinking in the first place, but lacked the mental puissance to nail. Thanks.

Ron: I know you only played one session, but was there anything in the game besides what's already been mentioned that you feel is questionable? For example, the Interlude idea. It doesn't really do much, and I feel like it should be more of a suggestion than an actual hard rule.

I take it everyone kept dice in their pools?
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Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2002, 07:52:42 PM »

Hey James,

Yeah, you're reading me spot on.  In fact, I'd add the player could just as easily choose to describe his/her failure as humorous instead of tragic or suspenseful, and could very easily choose to deprotagonize himself/herself.  For example (using the Impress-a-Lady attempt): "Ah, Sir Gelaunt, what a beautiful rose you bring me.  Sir Brizentes of the Golden Helm is your friend, is he not?  Tell me this rose comes to me from his blessed hand!" The player narrates how Sir Gelaunt flushes, stammers, and opens his mouth to admit his love, when the lady draws the wrong conclusion and gushes on....

Glad if my comments helped shed some light here.  The Pool and The Beast absolutely rock.

Best,

Blake

*edited to correct niggling grammatical error
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James V. West
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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2002, 10:16:38 AM »

Yes indeed, Blake. You're comments are certainly helping me understand my own mechinations. Again, I like your take on it and it's perfectly in keeping with the nature of the game.
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