*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 28, 2014, 03:19:04 PM

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: 64 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: 1 [2]
Print
Author Topic: Points and abilities  (Read 5617 times)
Le Joueur
Member

Posts: 1367


WWW
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2002, 03:26:32 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
But my question still stands, which perhaps better phrased, is, "How is Scattershot presented in practical play such that its goals, rather than those of point-crunchers, are achieved?" But wait! Read the next paragraph.

I am perfectly willing to accept that the answer lies in the techniques rather than the mechanics and will wait patiently for all that to emerge. I hope that this thread has emphasized what specific issues "better be there" in those techniques.

Yes, sir!  Actually, this was always on the list (wherever that got to) of things to work out before play.

One thing that has emerged so far, that can be related sans example; nobody seems interested in 'crunching numbers' or munchkinism when there are no point cut-offs.  Sure you may get an uber-character or two at first, but I already have a practiced technique for that one; 'Give Them Enough Rope.'  After that, my experience has been they settle down.  (Well, technically there was that string of campaigns founded on that premise.  But since everyone bought into it, it never seemed a problem.  The other players went from having the uber-character save them to watching him 'get his just desserts' and back.)

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Of course, I would like to get a preview, especially in terms of instances of playtesting, whenever you get the time to present it.

I am looking forward to doing something this weekend.  Probably only one of the most recent games as my campaign notes are quite scattered (pun intended).

Quote from: Ron Edwards
One of the sub-issues that emerged in the discussion concerned spending Bruce Banner's points, and I agree with every argument Fang presented. I think it is very interesting that Champions, 1st-3rd editions only, required no point cost for scientific or any other professional expertise - only for their application to super-powered stuff like computer or sec-system hacking. It was one of my favorite features of the system which, among much else, was jettisoned for the uber-Sim 4th edition.

Believe it or not, I musta missed that rule.  (Or was that the one that read terribly patronizingly like 'not that it will matter....')  When I first conceived of Free Skills, I thought similarly.  But then later it seemed to imply that those same skills were of no value.  Kind of deprotagonizing way back during character creation, don't you think?

Because of the 'size' of Scattershot's points (read that, 'particles of character class'), I couldn't place as much weight on these skills as a single point would, nor could I make them worthless.  5-for-1 was the compromise we came up with.  (And later, when I extended it to the rest of the mechanics it seemed perfect for 'character' and inferior spells and useless powers and...you get the idea.)

The trick of it is Scattershot treats the Character Sheet as a contract with the group.  On the one hand, everyone expects you to 'play your character,' so it's there to prevent certain types of General play abuse.  On the other hand it not only tells the gamemaster what kinds of situations you desire to showcase your effectiveness (or where they can mine for narrative elements in a pinch), it also tells the other players what to expect from you.  (Scattershot's Character Sheet has more than just entries for the mechanics on it.)  On the third hand, because of the 'particles of character class' effect, anyone can immediately see your realms of efficacy and it makes negotiating 'niche protection' much easier.

Wait, that's three hands...

Fang Langford
Logged

Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
Marco
Member

Posts: 1741


WWW
« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2002, 09:24:49 AM »

Quote from: Le Joueur

I actually think it fails when it comes to how I understand Dramatists play.  From what I have read, I would expect them to want the gamemaster (the purveyor of story) to create the detail that arises as a result of a Telling Blow (to properly put it into their Dramatic context).  Sadly, I have not come to any ideas how to satisfy this type of desire (I can only hope that Dramatists feel fortunate in being empowered with their character's fate and don't feel left out.)


Man, those poor Dramatists ... (on The Forge, anyway)

The Dramatist (under GDS) *is* the Narrativist or the Simulationist under GNS. It's someone who is in the game for the story. They might want:

1. To pick what they think suits the story best (in terms of theme)
2. To pick what's most 'dramatic' to the other participants.
3. What explores the GM's story best (in which case many of the outcomes might be equally desirable).
4. Something that lets them demonstrate their character (which, being story-oriented, will fit the story)

What Dramatist doesn't do is prescribe *how* the player is interested in exploring story--it tends to assume that the player and the group has either figured that out (i.e. they're not dysfunctional) or should probably work on it more (which is why GDS *isn't* about game-design).

So the idea that it fails for the Dramatist would be like saying:

It fails for the Narrativist player.

--or--

It fails for the Sim-player who is interested in the experience of a story (rather than the Sim-player focused on simulation of a reality).

Since it does neither, it isn't Narrativist or Simulationist--it's both. It isn't just Narrativist (which is what I guess I was really getting at).

-Marco
[Note: a really GM-oriented dramatist might *ask* "hey, is it better for me to go down here--or have Stormbringer break?" If a player asking that sounds dysfunctional, I'm speechless. ]

Also Note: I'm talking about a character with Super Strength and Super Speed. (i.e. stronger and faster than Captain A.)

I'm not sure if your Exemplars are simply plotted points on a graph or something else.
Logged

---------------------------------------------
JAGS (Just Another Gaming System)
a free, high-quality, universal system at:
http://www.jagsrpg.org
Just Released: JAGS Wonderland
Marco
Member

Posts: 1741


WWW
« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2002, 09:36:37 AM »

Quote from: Le Joueur

One thing that has emerged so far, that can be related sans example; nobody seems interested in 'crunching numbers' or munchkinism when there are no point cut-offs.  Sure you may get an uber-character or two at first, but I already have a practiced technique for that one; 'Give Them Enough Rope.'  After that, my experience has been they settle down.  (Well, technically there was that string of campaigns founded on that premise.  But since everyone bought into it, it never seemed a problem.  The other players went from having the uber-character save them to watching him 'get his just desserts' and back.)


I'm unclear on this--I could play unlimited-pts Champions if I wanted to--with a social contract if that'll work for my group. What else does Scattershot bring the table that over Champs 4th with no-points?

Also: who is getting their "just deserts?"

Mind you: the techniques section might, alone, justify the existence of the game. Formalizing social contracts might well be a better balancing mechanism than point totals--but social contracts also have loopholes and the law doesn't work well on it's spirit but  rather its letter ...

-Marco
Logged

---------------------------------------------
JAGS (Just Another Gaming System)
a free, high-quality, universal system at:
http://www.jagsrpg.org
Just Released: JAGS Wonderland
Le Joueur
Member

Posts: 1367


WWW
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2002, 10:11:44 AM »

Quote from: Marco
Also Note: I'm talking about a character with Super Strength and Super Speed. (i.e. stronger and faster than Captain A.)

So we're talking about super soldiers?  Stronger, faster, better than everything than human without having 'powers?'  This isn't an archetype, its a group of them.  If the character focuses on implements, you get some of the various weaponsmiths.  If not, you get someone like Wonder Man.  Just saying that their stronger and faster, isn't enough information; I hate to point it out, but strength and speed are all the Hulk has.  (And I am ceasely tired of hearing his foes say, "how can anything so big, move so fast?")

Quote from: Marco
I'm not sure if your Exemplars are simply plotted points on a graph or something else.

If that's the case, then what is any pregenerated character?  I'm not sure where you're going with this.

Fang Langford
Logged

Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
Le Joueur
Member

Posts: 1367


WWW
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2002, 10:53:58 AM »

Quote from: Marco
I'm unclear on this--I could play unlimited-pts Champions if I wanted to--with a social contract if that'll work for my group. What else does Scattershot bring the table that over Champs 4th with no-points?

Well for one thing, a combat system that, by being simpler, doesn't become more important than the characters in it (or at least not as much).  I haven't seen the fourth edition, but it used to have a really sophisticated system for 'who goes when' with no attempt to look at 'who had the upper hand.'  When I've played it, the game's combat tended to be focused on phases, dice, and OCV/DCV, rather than what's going on in the gameworld.

Also, in Scattershot, there will be techniques that are unnecessary in Champions (because it has a point cut-off mechanism) to serve a player's interest in being valuable to the game (by doing it in ways other than attempting to give everyone equal efficacy mechanically).  Scattershot "[brings] to the table" the "social contract," instead of making you create your own.

Besides that, Champions is a 'superhero' game, Scattershot is a generalist system with accent on fusing genres.  And then there's all that Transition stuff.  If you have your own social contract and only want to play superheroes, Champions is fine.

Quote from: Marco
Quote from: Le Joueur
The other players went from having the uber-character save them to watching him 'get his just desserts' and back.)

Also: who is getting their "just desserts?"

The uber-character whose been given 'enough rope' (as in 'to hang themselves').

Quote from: Marco
Mind you: the techniques section might, alone, justify the existence of the game. Formalizing social contracts might well be a better balancing mechanism than point totals--but social contracts also have loopholes and the law doesn't work well on it's spirit but rather its letter ...

God I hope so (the 'justification').

The whole spirit/letter thing is chiefly why I call one thing mechanics (as in meant to be taken by the "letter") and another techniques (meaning to be taken by the "Spirit")

Fang Langford
Logged

Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #20 on: February 05, 2002, 03:04:15 PM »

Well, Fang,  I'm going to rain on the parade, sorry.

All I have read so far is that the points system is useful insofar as it indicates to the GM and other players what the character is about. How do the actual statistics not do this themselves? You say that throwing shurriken is hard, I say its easy. What does it matter? I can look at the character sheet and see that Will's got it at 14. He must be interested in using it I guess, seeing as he put it down. In fact, Marco's argument goes double here. What if I take a hard science skill just to round out the character? It'll have a lot of points in it, more than an easy skill.  How does the difficulty of the skill relate to my interest in using it in a game? I might feel that I should not take that skill so that the game doesn't accidentally go off in the wrong direction. You say that you'd confer with the player as to why it's on the sheet? Then why look at the points at all. Just mandate a chat about the character, and that will handle things better, anyhow.

Heck, what this argues for is a system where you rate your skill whatever you want and then assign a second value at whatever level you like to indicate how much you'd like to see the game revolve around that skill. If you have these" techniques" for allowing players to limit themselves reasonably, how do these points tell them when they've reached that limit? Seems like extra work for a dubious return.

Mike
Logged

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

Posts: 1741


WWW
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2002, 06:15:52 PM »

Hi Mike,

And if you decide to play with the option of limited points then you're going to be looking for some kind of "blance" no matter what.

It was mentioned that GURPS STR cost 10 for the first point but only 1pt in scattershot. That's fine so far as there are no limits--then everything might as well be 1pt--but if there are limits then you have to ask what stats are worth in relation to skills ... etc.

In a perfectly "balanced" system, points would be tokens of *relevance* in the game--that is--if nuclear science was never important--for the LIFETIME of the character--it'd be free. Obviously we don't have this kind of precience (and the players will try to use their skills anyway).

However, we can make guesses: In 1st Edition Champs there were no rules to be a phycist--all you did was bust up bank robberies (I'm being facetious--but making a point). The writiers knew (pretty well) how good the powers were *in a fight.*

That turned out to be a pretty good measure of what they were worth *in the game*--until you got to Mind Control. Mind Control is arguably more useful outside of combat than in--and it tends (IME) to wreck non-combat encounters if it's too subtle and powerful.

The idea that balance either can't be attained or isn't a worthy idea (I saw someone refer to it as an 80's-thing) is rediculous--if you pay points for something you should get what you pay for.

Mike is right--if points are tokens of relevance (not, as you said, particles of character class), then you should simply pay some percentage (out of 100, probably) based on how often you want it to come up.

-Marco

I may be in the vast minority--but I love points--I love crunchy chargen. There's something almost artistic in working out a character--working within a conception of give and take--and being rewarded for it with a cleverly made (IMO) character.
Logged

---------------------------------------------
JAGS (Just Another Gaming System)
a free, high-quality, universal system at:
http://www.jagsrpg.org
Just Released: JAGS Wonderland
Le Joueur
Member

Posts: 1367


WWW
« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2002, 08:17:48 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Well, Fang,  I'm going to rain on the parade, sorry.

First of all, to be utterly clear, I love rainy days!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled response.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
All I have read so far is that the points system is useful insofar as it indicates to the GM and other players what the character is about.

That and as generated for mechanical results from MIB numbers in resolution.  Does it need any further function?  (Personally, I think that if it had more function, it might begin to overshadow the gaming done with it.)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
How do the actual statistics not do this themselves?

How about them?  That would work except advantages and disadvantages don't have ratings.  As I will demonstrate below (and since we are using an illusion of 'compare a die roll to a number' type of mechanic), doing it this way offers a little obfuscation.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
You say that throwing shuriken is hard, I say its easy. What does it matter?

Not much really, the skills lists exist primarily for point challenges.  If desired, players could simply treat all skills as 'Intermediate' and buy from that point.  It has been suggested that in absense of the laundry lists, this would be Scattershot Light.  (And actually I suggested Shuriken was Intermediate, and it only matters a point either way.  Believe it or not, there is a fair market of people who find it difficult to make a character without something like a 'laundry list' to choose from.)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I can look at the character sheet and see that Will's got it at 14. He must be interested in using it I guess, seeing as he put it down.

It is true that at the 'low end,' points matter mostly in broad comparison (Will has a 15 point character, Xavier has a 20 point character; better be careful not to let Xavier's steal the show.)  Points become more of an issue in 'higher power' games (the shuriken example only costs 3 points).

Quote from: Mike Holmes
In fact, Marco's argument goes double here. What if I take a hard science skill just to round out the character?

Well, all of the 'hard science' skills fall onto the Free Skill list.  You could have 5 'hard sciences' for a single point.  Add to that the fact that (as far as we have determined) most people won't even bother taking it unless it comes at a high level, so even as Free Skills they begin with Ratings like 12 or 13, it doesn't take many points to reach 'expert levels.'

Quote from: Mike Holmes
It'll have a lot of points in it, more than an easy skill.  How does the difficulty of the skill relate to my interest in using it in a game?

It doesn't, difficulty is about Opportunity of use and efficacy.  Skills that 'get used' infrequently are 'cheaper;' skills that 'do more' are more expensive.  Calling them 'Easy,' 'Intermediate,' and 'Difficult,' is subterfuge for this kind of pricing.  It's the same as calling them target numbers; actually they are predetermined modifiers on a static number used for the comparison (as discussed elsewhere in this forum).

The limited Opportunity issues raised by Free Skills illustrate the other side of the issue.  You have 5 'hard sciences' for the same cost of a Shuriken skill of 11.  You must play carefully to get into situations where any of the 'hard sciences' come into play (offering a roll), whereas properly equipped, Shuriken is usable any time you have a target who needs hurting.

Mechanical items on the character sheet are (in our design-house jargon) player empowerment appliances.  A player may use them to 'take over' non-mechanical play where they apply.  Making oneself these opportunities is a challenge for the Gamist (I think).

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I might feel that I should not take that skill so that the game doesn't accidentally go off in the wrong direction.

Since these mechanics are player empowering appliances, they are to be used only as inspiration by the gamemaster.  If you are running the game specifically by the character's mechanical write-ups, you're 1) missing a lot of technique-based material also on the character sheet, and 2) placing perhaps more accent on the character's numerical efficacy than may be necessary (it depends on the group you are playing with).  Either way, if it becomes obvious very quickly it will also be obvious what you are doing; if not, it must suit the group.

All this will become much clearer when I delve into the Sine Qua Non character creation/management techniques shortly.  They discuss the process of actually making the character, what should be paid attention to and what to gloss over (these change depending on what kind of play you're looking for, hence they are 'techniques').

Quote from: Mike Holmes
You say that you'd confer with the player as to why it's on the sheet? Then why look at the points at all. Just mandate a chat about the character, and that will handle things better, anyhow.

Many people have frequently commented they do not have time for these kinds of conferences.  Having character points on a character sheet makes checking for the need (as opposed to compelling it) very quick.  Unexpected point concentrations become red flags and pursuing those alone cuts down on the handling time of character creation for the gamemaster.

One thing your 'use the actual statistics themselves' technique suffers from is, for example take eight skills; 10, 12, 11, 14, 9, 11, 10, and 15, all relatively close together.  In Scattershot they'd cost something like 1, 1, 2, 3, 1, 1, 1, and 6; ignore the 1s and you only need to look at the third, fourth, and last (and the list as a whole, hence the 1s).  The third is obviously Difficult, but worth spending up.  The fourth must be important even though Easy and the last near vital, both Difficult and expensive.  'Using just the statistics' adds a lot of 'noise' to the observation.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Heck, what this argues for is a system where you rate your skill whatever you want and then assign a second value at whatever level you like to indicate how much you'd like to see the game revolve around that skill.

You are a very good designer.  That's exactly what we've done.  Except due to Transition issues, the 'second value' was something we never managed to put a mechanic to.  Instead we have the Sine Qua Non technique.  Sine Qua Non means 'without which, not;' simply, it means the things so fundamental that, in changing them, you get something else.  In the technique's easiest form, you ask the player what are the first three things they thinks of when considering their character and what are the last three things that they would want anyone forget about the character.

In longer form, in breaks things into those things which 'define' the character and are intractable to any other than the player.  Those things important about the character that may be subject of change by external circumstances, and the rest is 'decoration.'  The first rank, the actual Sine Qua Non, while not simply being things only reflected by mechanics, must be addressed and respected; this would be a high 'second value.'  The last rank, the 'decorations,' would be the lowest 'second value.'  Doing it this way allows a player to place importance on things no mechanical system could hope to cover completely.  For example, in a romance novel game, the expectation of 'falling in love' can be in a character's Sine Qua Non, but a point-based mechanic of love would detract from the 'feel' of the game.

So yes, we do have a 'second value' placed on things reflecting how much the player wants play to revolve around them (it's just not limited to the mechanical aspects listed on the character sheet).

Quote from: Mike Holmes
If you have these "techniques" for allowing players to limit themselves reasonably, how do these points tell them when they've reached that limit? Seems like extra work for a dubious return.

Are you talking about the 'challenge limits?'  If the players, as a group, choose to have a challenge limit, it becomes a matter of (after the bidding) each making the best character they can within that limit (right now we are testing letting the gamemaster join, to making specific non-player characters who participate, but are limited to only the scenes the players orchestrate).

And you are quite right, it is of extremely dubious return.  Were it entirely a mechanical system, there would be so little justification for such that I almost couldn't justify it myself.  Heck, looking at it that way, you begin to see the argument for going totally systemless.  Play whatever you like, make up your abilities as you go.  You make a good argument for that.

But if you want consistency, then you're gonna need character write-ups.  Write-ups have limited value unless there's a way to ensure at least the appearance of impartial conflict resolution (between gamers, not game constructs).  One of the most familiar ways to that is dice.  When you have dice, you probably need ratings  This was laid at our feet at about Scattershot's birthday when a friend of mine said he couldn't play in my games; I said just make up a character.  He said he couldn't without a system.  Soon we were asking ourselves, "why couldn't we create our own game?"  'Beat me on a twenty-sided dice' became 'Fish or Sofa.'  'Fish or Sofa' became the most god-awful collection of optional rules and special exceptions that I couldn't even remember it all, and I was the creator/gamemaster.

Teaching new players about 'how to game,' illustrated a need for rules and not-rules.  These became the mechanics and techniques.  Differing play styles demanded mechanics to support the panoply and techniques to describe when they applied.  This lead to Transition.

This lead back to the original player (or rather to players like him, the traditionalists) who started us down this road.  It turned out that many of these traditional players were not very comfortable with a game where 'you just take whatever abilties you want' with total abandon.  Points (or as I think of them, fundamental particles of character class) became a 'comforting mechanism' for them and served as a passive niche protection system.  Does it have a huge value to the whole of the game system?  Not really.  What it does do is provide the most concrete of foundation upon which to illustrate the techniques.  It comforts traditional 'build your own character' players and yet provides them a 'runway' to launch them into new styles of gaming through Transition.  Would Scattershot suffer in the absense of them?

Only in my opinion.

Fang Langford
Logged

Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2002, 10:39:24 AM »

Still not buying it.

First, are difficulties based on learning difficulty or on  pertinence to the game? I can't see them being both. If they are the first, then they have the problem that I mentioned earlier. If they are the second then I still maintain that they are of very limited usefulness considering that one can just refer to the stats themselves.

Also, for either, aren't the difficulties or pertinences going to differ from game to game? I would assume that you would have different levels listed in each of your setting books, at he very least. But that still would not suffice as a game that was set in, say, a "modern" cops setting would have very different pertinences for a group that wanted to play sneaky detectives versus one that wanted to play a SWAT team.

You can't get away from the fact that a skill will be as pertinent in play as the scenario dictates, or, in shared play (BTW, stop throwing that out there like we don't get it, we do) as the players dictate. Either way, you do not know how important particular skills will be before hand. I can see those dirt cheap science skills being the most important skills in the game (I've certainly run games where that was true). By placing pertinence values on these things aren't you forcing these values on your players? "Oh, Bob has a lot of points in Rifle skill (which happens to cost a lot), he must want to do a lot of combat."

Then you backtrack and say that there will be techniques that will help define a character in terms of play direction. Great! Why need any mechanical method, then? Or, if one is needed, why not relate it to the players scores. I really find it hard to believe that a player or GM needs a statistic assigned to another statistic that is generated based on the game designers priorities to tell him that the statistic in question is important to the player. Either the player will say so, or the statistic should sufice.

And don't go off claiming that what I'm asking for is a systemless game. Not in the slightest. If I were into that crap I'd be off with the collaborative storytellers doing whatever it is that they do. All I'm saying is that if you're not going to limit spending they you should take advantage of the opportunity to reduce everyone's workload (and the potential dissaffection of those math haters out there) and just skip that step. It seems to me that the system would work just fine without it.

As far as niche-protection, the system doesn't actually limit players, so they can easily tromp on into each others niches. At least with a limited point game, you can only tromp so far. As to why "character types" show up in Champions, perhaps its becuse the books give tips on building those types, and suggest them. Informal archtypes. Nothing magic about how points work that make this happen. Even in a totally archtype-less game we'd still impose our own learned archtypes and make characters based on labels. Or, perhaps we could get beyond that and make more realistic characters. Either way, I don't see your particular granularity level as being any better than any other for this purpose.

But, then I'm sure that you'll tell me that I'm just not seeing it all together, and that the techniques will all make it clear. Sure. I guess we'll have to wait. But lets just say that I remain extremely skeptical.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Le Joueur
Member

Posts: 1367


WWW
« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2002, 01:59:23 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Still not buying it.

'atsa fine, we no selling it yet, boss.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
First, are difficulties based on learning difficulty or on pertinence to the game? I can't see them being both. If they are the first, then they have the problem that I mentioned earlier. If they are the second then I still maintain that they are of very limited usefulness considering that one can just refer to the stats themselves.

It's not both.  The first is an intentional illusion, a crutch for 'crusty old gamers.'  I don't know if I can explain this any better; they are intentionally of limited usefulness.  Expanded usefulness would have the mechanics begin to overshadow the rest of the game.  Likewise, if the usefulness of the point system were greater, it would overshadow people who will choose to refer to the stats.  It's actually supposed to play either way; one shouldn't overshadow the other, play it as you like.

This is how we handle some of the Transitional material; point-based games are often stereotyped as Gamist mechanisms.  Gamists can play by the points however it is comfortable, without trashing the system.  Simulationists (with some accent on verisimilitude) can, just as easily, play it by the ratings 'straight' without forgoing large chunks of 'usefulness.'

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Also, for either, aren't the difficulties or pertinences going to differ from game to game? I would assume that you would have different levels listed in each of your setting books, at the very least. But that still would not suffice as a game that was set in, say, a "modern" cops setting would have very different pertinences for a group that wanted to play sneaky detectives versus one that wanted to play a SWAT team.

At the least?  Yes, that's the plan.  The difference between "sneaky detectives" and "SWAT team" is more complicated than that.  I am not going to go into detail in a 'points' thread, but the "SWAT team" would be played out of either the cinematic or superhero products (and be shades different in both), and the "sneaky detectives" would be in either the 'consulting detective' or 'romance novel' products (or any supplements therefore designed).  "Modern cops" is too vague for us to base a single product in for exactly the reasons you list.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
You can't get away from the fact that a skill will be as pertinent in play as the scenario dictates, or, in shared play as the players dictate. Either way, you do not know how important particular skills will be before hand. I can see those dirt cheap science skills being the most important skills in the game (I've certainly run games where that was true). By placing pertinence values on these things aren't you forcing these values on your players? "Oh, Bob has a lot of points in Rifle skill (which happens to cost a lot), he must want to do a lot of combat."

I can't respond to this except to say that you seem to be oversimplifying.  This goes something like, Forcing: "These are the only skill costs, use them or buy someone else's game," Offering: "These are some skill costs we think are appropriate to the genre, don't forget to check out the section on customizing both the genre and the costs, if you want," and Abdicating: "Make up your own costs, we think you should do all the work."

We aren't pressed for space, so we have the luxury of not having to dictate costs or skip them entirely.  So much so that we include a solid list as a starting point for people who need it, as well as information about how the costs change when the genre does.  Even so, we are only talking about a single point cost difference of one either way (and by weight, few skills come out to either Easy or Difficult, the bulk - more than half - land in Intermediate range).

If a game seems like it is going to skew so that a few 'dirt cheap' skills will frequently carry the day, I should hope that the players realize this before play or they might feel betrayed.  When that can happen, I hope that, if specific point costs are important to the group, they will take the time to 'adjust' the genre (and point costs) to suit.  Really, it seems like you are making a big deal out of something that sounds quite unusual; a group of people who place a lot of personal value on point total mechanics who aren't willing to give the point cost-adjusting mechanics equal attention.

As I described in the Sine Qua Non vignette earlier, the mechanics and point totals alone are not meant to make such a potent message about the character.  (As I have said, this is of intentionally limited usefulness.)  On the other hand, I think that the point cost mechanics would be a disservice if they made no statement at all.  To me, a coherent game requires that all character creation/evolution mechanics should at least contribute (without dominating) to the statement of 'who the character is.'

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Then you backtrack and say that there will be techniques that will help define a character in terms of play direction. Great! Why need any mechanical method, then? Or, if one is needed, why not relate it to the players scores. I really find it hard to believe that a player or GM needs a statistic assigned to another statistic that is generated based on the game designers priorities to tell him that the statistic in question is important to the player. Either the player will say so, or the statistic should suffice.

I don't believe it should be all or nothing.  Your repetitive use of the term statistic makes this hard to respond to.  Let me assume you meant you "find it hard to believe that a player or GM needs a development point level assigned to player chosen ability that is generated based on the game designers priorities (suggested starting points for Ratings) to tell him that the player selected rating in question is important to the player."

You sound like you are assuming we are expecting people to play it both ways, we don't.  People who are most comfortable with point-based games have found the points a good system, people who look at things in absolute terms (full rating scores) won't probably be using the points to make characters anyway.  (And yes, basically we are including two separate and different techniques.)  The difficult part to explain is how the game will have each group focus in on one or the other.

This has to do with the principle of 'staying focused' during slow Transition.  A Transitional game could not be played in all its forms simultaneously, but neither should it 'skip' parts because they don't all work at the same time.  Our compromise is to make the different parts of no particular drastic importance so that groups not using them will not feel a gaping absense.  This forces our mechanics to look a little 'blurry' by themselves.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
And don't go off claiming that what I'm asking for is a systemless game. Not in the slightest. If I were into that crap I'd be off with the collaborative storytellers doing whatever it is that they do. All I'm saying is that if you're not going to limit spending they you should take advantage of the opportunity to reduce everyone's workload (and the potential dissaffection of those math haters out there) and just skip that step. It seems to me that the system would work just fine without it.

That's good.  That's how it's designed.  Out of the several 'points of focus' accomodated in Scattershot, we appear to be talking about two clearly designated groups.  The first group likes points, they will 'get into' the techniques about challenge limits, group limits, using point-based disadvantages caused in combat and so on.  The second are people who don't, and they won't even look at the suggestions about limiting points or counting them out during combat.

These two groups will have cues in the techniques sections for which things they might consider, I hardly think that one game can satisfy both groups at the same time.  Our mechanics are the 'platform' which all groups will have in common.  That means the mechanics alone cannot enforce point limits, nor can they require point use (but you can't write a mechanic that says "don't use any of the mechanics").

You may have noticed the reduced emphasis on point spending in the mechanics; I can understand that, as a member of one of these two groups, you might argue that the points are unnecessary altogether.  That would cut out a whole segment of our audience and severely limit the Tranistional flexibility we intend on.  Play it without the points; it is not only a valid way of playing it, we describe and promote it.

I'm sorry that I took a weak opportunity to 'step up on the soapbox,' with the systemless commentary.  I did not intend to put words into your mouth.  I am just quite fond of the reasoning that lead us to the place we are now, and I like to go on about it.  (You have noticed my pechant for useless designer note tangents?)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
As far as niche-protection, the system doesn't actually limit players, so they can easily tromp on into each others niches. At least with a limited point game, you can only tromp so far. As to why "character types" show up in Champions, perhaps its becuse the books give tips on building those types, and suggest them. Informal archtypes. Nothing magic about how points work that make this happen. Even in a totally archtype-less game we'd still impose our own learned archtypes and make characters based on labels. Or, perhaps we could get beyond that and make more realistic characters. Either way, I don't see your particular granularity level as being any better than any other for this purpose.

Our system does prevent niche invasion, but our mechanics are not the entirety of our system.  It is a system of mechanics and techniques.  Champions did hint at 'character types;' it did so in only the most informal way (back in the early editions, I have much to catch up on there), we formalize that in the techniques.  In early Champions there was magic in how the points did that, the guidelines were sparse, the examples possessed of maybe too much character, how the points were related to the "informal archetypes" in any way was subtle magic to me.

I believe you are right about the natural proclivity towards 'house archetypes.'  We just take it a step farther and provide suggestions (we even call the Exemplars to proclaim their relationship to actual archetypes).

And I agree, I don't see our "particular granularity level as being any better than any other for this purpose." Or any worse.  So what's the problem?  Does it bother you that there is additional material for other styles of play?  Perhaps because the mechanics are designed to be common to all styles we are promoting, that there isn't enough there for any individual style that you are familiar with.  I don't know.  I am not even sure I am putting this all that well.  Would it be clearer if I sidetracked the upcoming technique articles and instead began the thread on our design specifications and goals?

Quote from: Mike Holmes
But, then I'm sure that you'll tell me that I'm just not seeing it all together, and that the techniques will all make it clear. Sure. I guess we'll have to wait. But let's just say that I remain extremely skeptical.

Your skepticism is one of the most important tools I have for clarity of vision.  Without skeptics and nay-sayers, I would never have discovered half the theories I consider central to my works.  Please remain skeptical, it's for the best and I thank you for it.

I had to pull this aside:
Quote from: Mike Holmes
(BTW, stop throwing that out there like we don't get it, we do)

I know you do Mike.  I know most of the people currently reading the Forge do.  This is, so far, Scattershot's only home on the Web, and I am not going to let myself be surprised when people who are not familiar with these ideas are directed to this forum.  Forgive me for going into that kind of detail, I am not trying to demean anyone who is currently reading this.  I just tend to write with a wider audience in mind.

Fang Langford
Logged

Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
Pages: 1 [2]
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!