*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 23, 2014, 08:34:22 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 57 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Self-Loathing and More Than Human  (Read 3609 times)
Michael S. Miller
Member

Posts: 846


WWW
« on: September 24, 2004, 06:09:52 AM »

In another thread Erik Hanson wrote:

Quote from: Erik Hanson
I still dislike the notion that Minions only gain Self-Loathing through "successful" die rolls to perform Violence or Villainy. That means that a Minion's More Than Human trait doesn't just define a skill, but defines the Minion's personal moral code in life. By this logic, Otto would see nothing wrong in building toys that decapitated children, but would hate himself every time the Master commanded him to plant flowers in the local garden.

People hate themselves because they know what they are doing is wrong - not because they face some difficulty in what they're doing.


I've got to agree with this, though I'd like to hear others' views.

It also brings up a question that some of my games have barely sidestepped: If a minion is ordered to do something, and does not successfully resist, he is compelled to expend at least one die roll on carrying out the order. If his More Than Human trait takes care of the order without the need for a die roll, is the order considered to be fulfilled?
Logged

Serial Homicide Unit Hunt down a killer!
Incarnadine Press--The Redder, the Better!
Erik Hanson
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2004, 06:49:11 AM »

Quote from: Michael S. Miller

It also brings up a question that some of my games have barely sidestepped: If a minion is ordered to do something, and does not successfully resist, he is compelled to expend at least one die roll on carrying out the order. If his More Than Human trait takes care of the order without the need for a die roll, is the order considered to be fulfilled?


I suppose this would go to whether you're reading the letter or the spirit of the rules.  (Spirit of the rules always being open to interpretation.)  I would argue that the order is fulfilled if the More Than Human trait automatically allows success.  That simply makes common sense - the Minion has done exactly what the Master has commanded.
Logged
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2004, 11:55:16 AM »

The simple way that I think of all of this is that when a minion does automatically succeed at something (or fail), that they've essentially made the roll, and the result is ignored, success or failure being determined by the ability. IOW, if they automatically succeed at violence or villainy, they should get the Self-loathing appropriate for succeeding. And if the character uses an automatic success, then he's made the one die roll required by losing to the master's will.

Die roll here, basically substitutes for "conflict". He has to take appropriate action.

Now, interestingly, that means that a player who plays correctly into a minion's less than human can have their character fail the roll automatically. IOW, if the player displays how pathetic the character is, then they get to "succeed" at defying the master, more or less. Of course, if this is violence, then they'll get weariness, etc, so it's only so effective a way to proceed.

That's been my interpretation - I may well have missed something big here in how it's supposed to be done. But it's worked for me, FWIW.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Lisa Padol
Member

Posts: 365


« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2004, 09:36:49 PM »

Hm. Beth wasn't sure that it worked real well for Minions to get Self loathing without even a die roll. Josh tells me I'm worrying about it too much -- that Paul's rule is just fine.

But, asks I, what on earth would the Master ask of his Minions that wouldn't tie into their More than Human? Take Otto. What on earth can he possibly -do- for the master other than build Horrid Devices?

Josh said that it was really simple. Sure, the Master can order his Minion Inventor to, fr'ex, build the perfect DeathBot. But just because it works perfectly doesn't mean that it will succeed.

That is, Otto builds a fine DeathBot. No roll needed.

DeathBot goes off to kill someone, as per the Master's command.

But -- Erik, the player, still needs to roll to see if the DeathBot actually succeeds in killing its target. Maybe the target gets lucky or successfully evades the DeathBot. The Bot's functioning just fine, but that doesn't mean it will always succeed.

I think Josh is correct here, and that this is the sort of opening I should be looking for.

Lugosh is not really a problem. He's a brute strength guy, and there's ways around that. In fact, he kind of functions like the DeathBot, doesn't he? Sure, he's extremely strong, but that doesn't mean that he will win every fight.

Karl has the Hide ability, which I'm far more comfortable with than his previous Thief abilities. No problem.

Ms. Sarah Gray has the Persuade ability. This may take some thinking.

I;m still ambivalent on the rule, but I do see why it's there, and I'm beginning to have a sense of how to work with it.

-Lisa
Logged
Michael S. Miller
Member

Posts: 846


WWW
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2004, 12:40:02 PM »

I'm still trying to figure out for myself Paul's ruling that a Violence or Villany made automatically successful by a More Than Human does not accrue Self-Loathing, as put forth on the other thread. I think I hit upon something, although it's likely just me rephrasing things that others have said. When using his More Than Human, the minion is in his comfort zone. As far as he's concerned, this is the way things are supposed to be. His relationship with the Master, in these contexts, is normal to him (although dysfunctional to us, the players). He isn't fully conscious of the horror of what he's doing because it is so ordinary to him.

Only when he steps outside his proscribed role of More Than Human, is he open to Self-Loathing. By stepping outside his comfort zone, he's on edge, his antennae go up, and he's aware of himself and the world around him. Thus, when he harms that world, he feels bad about himself for it.

If this is the case, then the GM has to do some further DoubleThink, with the Master wanting continously to exploit the minions More Than Humans, but the GM wanting to exploit the exceptions to the More Than Human, to heighten the drama.

Paul, Ron, you guys get it, but I'm still flailing with the concept. Am I getting warmer?
Logged

Serial Homicide Unit Hunt down a killer!
Incarnadine Press--The Redder, the Better!
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2004, 07:58:21 AM »

I'd buy that, Mike.

Lisa, to follow up on what Mike said, the Master has every reason in the world to have the character do things outside of those which their More than Human would apply to. He doesn't want the minions to be in their "comfort zone," as Mike put it. Yeah, he'll use them that way sometimes, but just as often, he'll send them out to do somthing that their Less than Human will apply to. Just to remind them that they're Less than Human, and need him. So, when they fail, he can abuse them for failing. To keep them in line (of course this doesn't work, but that's the Master for ya).

And everything in between. That is, the Master will send whatever Minion is on hand to do whatever job needs doing. He won't wait for the "right" minion to come back, he'll send whomever is standing in front on him many times, given that he's impatient to have things done. The Master is an egomaniac. So he thinks that everyone should perform perfectly for him all the time. So he often thinks that merely by sending someone off to do somthing that they can't fail him, he's too important, they wouldn't dare fail. And this all leads right back into the whole dysfunctional relationship when they do.

I think that you have to explore all sorts of tasks from the Master.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Paul Czege
Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 2341


WWW
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2004, 12:44:14 PM »

Hey Mike,

Paul, Ron, you guys get it, but I'm still flailing with the concept. Am I getting warmer?

When I wrote "the game's conflict resolution system is not even consulted" in the More and Less Than Human section of rules, I was trying to encompass the whole scheme of dice rolls and stat fluctuations (without yet having described that scheme). Anyway, I don't have a problem with the Holmes interpretation (no dice rolls for More/Less Thans, just stat fluctuations). But here's why I wasn't intending it that way:
 
No one ever articulates the premise of My Life with Master: What makes you not a monster? It is the audience of players who will sit in judgement of that question. Is it deeds? Or words? Is it what you care about? I think the question is particularly more interesting when directed at a subject whose essence, and not just ability, problematizes his humanity. Cats don't get Self-loathing for killing birds. Otto doesn't get Self-loathing for fabricating a disembowling machine. Can Otto be anything but a monster?

Paul
Logged

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2004, 02:11:03 PM »

Hello,

I'm a rules purist in this case. When it says, "Must roll," in our games, it means Must Roll.

So if the minion uses his More Than Human, it's not good enough, in pure old rules terms. Oh, it might fulfill the command, sure. But something else has to happen; that player or the GM is obliged to bring more stuff into play in the relevant scenes, such that a roll is necessary.

Hardcore metagame, I know. But it works very, very well in play.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Paul Czege
Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 2341


WWW
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2004, 08:15:27 PM »

Hey Ron,

Hardcore metagame, I know. But it works very, very well in play.

Thank you. I greatly appreciate your hardcore stance on this. Just a few hours ago I was reading Galway Kinnell's Introduction to his The Essential Whitman:
    "All writers know this law: revision succeeds in inverse ratio to the amount of time passed since the work was written....One reason why delayed revision often fails is that the writer eventually loses track of what he or she was originally trying to do--or more likely, was doing without trying. Great works are often written more by exploration, by feel, by instinct, than by fixed intention; and so it is easy for an author to forget the reasons...."[/list:u]I've read emails and forum posts and weblog entries about so much awesome My Life with Master play that I'm coming to think I should trust the text as written, rather than my thoughts about what I was intending.

    Paul
Logged

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Michael S. Miller
Member

Posts: 846


WWW
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2004, 06:15:53 AM »

Only took two days for this to sink in, but now that it has... wow!

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I'm a rules purist in this case. When it says, "Must roll," in our games, it means Must Roll.


That's how I've been doing it, too. Now I understand why: It makes the GM's need for DoubleThink go away. The Master still wants to exploit the minions' More Than Humans (with Mike Holmes' caveats above in mind), but now the responsibility falls partially on the player to conceive of ways around the More Than Human's automatic success. This same phenomenon would apply to Commands that exploit the Less Than Human, as Mike suggests.

Thus, by enforcing the "an accepted Command requires at least one die roll" the game is forcing the players to find ways of expressing their minions' humanity--unenhanced by the More Than Humand and unencumbered by the Less Than Human. The brilliance of MLwM stuns me yet again. Wheels within wheels...
Logged

Serial Homicide Unit Hunt down a killer!
Incarnadine Press--The Redder, the Better!
Erik Hanson
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2004, 06:44:58 AM »

Quote from: Paul Czege
Anyway, I don't have a problem with the Holmes interpretation (no dice rolls for More/Less Thans, just stat fluctuations). But here's why I wasn't intending it that way:
 
No one ever articulates the premise of My Life with Master: What makes you not a monster? It is the audience of players who will sit in judgement of that question. Is it deeds? Or words? Is it what you care about? I think the question is particularly more interesting when directed at a subject whose essence, and not just ability, problematizes his humanity. Cats don't get Self-loathing for killing birds. Otto doesn't get Self-loathing for fabricating a disembowling machine. Can Otto be anything but a monster?
Paul


As the creator of Otto the Nearly Blind Mechanic, I feel compelled to respond.  The whole point of Otto's More Than Human trait is that he can build wondrous devices, but only when they are not appreciated by those who use them.  That means that if he, himself, is using them to their full capacity, he is not appreciating their given use.  The whole point to Otto as a character is that he's really good at making things that disgust and horrify him.  His own personal horror is the haunting question, "Am I damned to do nothing but make these horrible creations that can only hurt people?"

Now, from my understanding of the rules, Self-Loathing is a Very Bad Thing for the Minion who ultimately wants to gain Love and Acceptance, and possibly a Happy Ending.  The higher the Self-Loathing, the more the Minion has seemed to embrace the idea that he is, indeed, a Monster.  If Otto had a high Self-Loathing, then yes - he would be a Monster.  At the outset of the game, he is a weary old man who is in danger of becoming a Monster.  

If a character can do horrible things that are in his "comfort zone," and not feel Self-Loathing about it, then it remains easy for him to become loved by the townsfolk, and become accepted, and still do really nasty stuff.  That just seems counter-intuitive.
Logged
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2004, 08:17:00 AM »

I think there might be a problem with applying that more than human Erik.

Otto can build wonderous machines...except when they are appreciated by others.  Since the act of creating the machines is seperated in time from the act of a future potential user appreciating them there seems to be a disconnect.  If nobody appreciates the machine at the moment its built, but then someone suddenly begins to appreciate it...does it suddenly stop working?  If Otto is trying to build a machine that someone might appreciate in the future...does the exception kick in?

Ignoring the disconnect for the time being (actually working with it to your advantage) this last question might highlight the key area of conflict for Otto.

Consider:  The master knows Otto makes wondrous machines.  So the master has retained Otto's services.  The master REALLY appreciates Ottos machines for all of the nasty horrible things they can do that the master wants.  Otto knows the master appreciates his machines...

Bingo, the Exception Clause kicks in and Otto's More than Human stops functioning.  Now Otto CAN'T build any of the wondrous machines the master retained him for.  

Not only does this give the GM ample opportunity to have the master berate and belittle Otto for not giving him the machines he wants, but it also means that when Otto attempts to build such machines, his More Than doesn't apply and a roll is required (presumeably a Villainy roll).
Logged

Erik Hanson
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2004, 09:26:29 AM »

To further clarify on Otto - I did not say that his machines do not work when appreciated by others.  I said that they do not work when appreciated by those who are using them.  Of course the Master appreciates all of Otto's machines - but he's not the one using them.

The factory workers hate the assembly line machines that they use (which Otto built).

Otto hates using engines of destruction in service to the Master.  (He's the one that's using them, not the Master.)

This is why Otto could never be a successful toymaker - toys are meant to be appreciated by those who are using them - the kids.

If the person who is directly using one of Otto's devices actually likes what it is currently doing, then Something Bad happens.  At best, the item breaks down.  At worst, it starts doing something _else_ that the user Really Will Not Like.

That said, however, I now understand the importance and impact of having an actual, physical die roll for a Scene, regardless of whether More Than Human or Less Than Human traits come into play.  Without the die roll, the players could often automatically decide whether they succeed or fail in their task by invoking the More or Less Than Human Trait.  For example....

Master: Otto!  The Baron Wulfenbach will buy exclusively from my factory if I show him that we can make the deadliest Klank soldier the world has ever seen!  Build a prototype that will ravage the slums of the City when the Baron comes to visit!

There are two outcomes...

Successful Otto: I have built the Klank to your specifications, Master, and personally wound it up for the demonstration.  The Baron was most impressed when it... (*sob*) crushed the bodies of seven beggars beneath its iron-shod feet, just before it set fire to the... local orphanage.  (*whimper*)

Unsuccessful Otto: Er... Master?  You know how I can't see anything that's not right in front of my face?  Well, I set down the master wind-up key for the Klank as I was doing maintenance work this morning.  After I finished my work, I reached for the master key, but... well... I couldn't see it, and I accidentally knocked it into the shipment of cogs that was just sent out to Latveria...

The first example relies on the More Than Human Trait to explain the success, while the second example relies on the Less Than Human Trait to explain the failure.  Now - if the Game Master says that More or Less Than Human Traits allow for automatic successes or failures, you have more or less allowed the players to write their own destinies without ever needing to roll a die.  However, if the GM rules that a roll is always necessary, then the More or Less Than Human Traits are really nothing more than storytelling tools - they let you explain how your character succeeds or fails in a task, but they don't really have any effect on how the game turns out.
Logged
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!