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Author Topic: When Heroes Fail  (Read 3376 times)
Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« on: February 21, 2002, 10:01:38 PM »

James,

Haven't yet played The Pool or TQB yet... But since it feels like a dream I had years ago made real, I believe I've got a handle on it.

I've been reading through the threads and wanted to make a suggestion.  

Some folks suggested that when a MoV means a conflict is *resolved* ? but how it's resolved is up to the speaker of the monologue.  (In this way, a knight *can* narrate the victory of the person he was jousting against ? because somebody was victorious and someone gets to choose.)

Then someone (forgive me, I forget who) suggested that the VoD is really a *complication* in the conflict.  The issue isn't yet resolved.  I think this is in the spirit of the rules, it seems to be what you want, and It's certainly the way I'd play it.

Because I think words are magical, and words placed in the right order can actually turn keys in the minds of those reading or hearing them, I'd offer you might want to think about changing the name of the VoD.  (That might be what's causing the discussion/confusion.)

If one were to call it the Monologue of Complication, well then, everyone would know right away it was a Monologue of ... Well, you know.

Then, I'd make the full blown Die Pool bet the MoDefeat.... Which, again, seems to be what it is actually is.  This way you keep a nice symmetry in the results.  Instead of having the possibility of:
   - Victory
or
   - Defeat
or
   - Really Defeated

You'd have
   - Victory (conflict completion: good for somebody)
or
   - Complication (conflict still open in one form or another)
or
   - Defeat (conflict completion: bad for the character)

In the example of the knight who's making the pass at the lady, but suddenly goes bug-eye for her her servant when he rolls a 6 with no 1s, we're not saying he'll never bed her ? we're saying she's pissed right now -- and who *is* that servant?

If a knight was trying to unseat a horse to pass a bridge, and he fails, well, let's face it, the winning the joust doesn't matter, crossing the bridge does.  He loses the joust, but the real fact of the matter is, the conflict is still open.  (They might draw swords, or the knight might swear loyalty to the winning knight in the hope of gaining favor and crossing later after doing service for the knight.  Let's remember: in Pool games, you don't fight just to fight, you fight for a reason in the story.)

A Defeat: if the knight put all the dice into the pool to propose marriage to the woman he's been secretly doing deeds for and finally has the never to profess his love.  He blows the bet. The lady says, "I am already planning to serve God in a covenant. I leave this night."  

Well, that's an end to the conflict in a big way, worthy of the dice pool loss, and really shuts things down in a big, unexpeted way. (Or at least, it's now been defined as in a big way (we know, because it's a MoD, she really means it and it's *over*, and if they do end up together is going to have to be one big, new friggin' romance.)

In the knights at the bridge example, with a VoD (my defintion) he kills the knight (that is, the player knight might actually win the joust, but kills him accidently in a combat for love), and seeing his hidden coat of arms realizes he's just killed his brother.  Big Bad Completion if he had been looking for his brother.  Perhaps just a MoComlication if he wasn't (now he's got the guy's brother after him.

To everyone:

Notice that in The Pool we've got to give up certain habits of thinking when it comes to what we mean by a win and and defeat.

I believe good and bad closure at either end of the results, with complication in the middle, really helps reshape that perspective.

Again, I haven't played it yet, so I'm probably missing something.  (But I hope not, since it seems just the way I want it.)

Christopher
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2002, 01:05:04 PM »

Hmmm... What's being worked into here is a system that resolves when a particular conflict continues and when it is, as Chris put it, "Shut down". Are they ever supposed to be shut down? Perhaps at the end of a story, but otherwise don't you want to keep the conflict going? We're talking two variables, Success/Failure and Conflict Ends/Conflict Continues. The current system only addresses two conminations, Success/Conflict Ends or Failure/Conflict Continues. Chris' adds Failure/Conflict Ends. What about Success/Conflict Continues?

What I'm saying is that I think that a player that wins a Monologue should get control of both elements. Why limit this in this fashion?

Mike
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Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2002, 01:24:31 PM »

I think I'm overcomplicating the matter in an attempt to simplify it.  (Ha!)

I was responding to the post about MoD on another thread, but the truth is, I think the players, all of them, should have the freedom to sort it out by circumstance.

And now, taking a page from Ron's book, I'll be quiet about rules till I play the darned thing.
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hardcoremoose
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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2002, 01:26:06 PM »

Interestingly, the idea of knowing when to push a conflict forward and when to bring it to a close has become a real issue for me, and it's something I'm trying to work through in my own game design.

There are plenty of games out there right now that deal with conflict resolution as a matter of a single die roll.  The original Pool, octaNe, InSpectres, and nearly all of my own games fall into this category.  It's simple and elegant.

On occasion, it's also proven unsatisfactory, and even a little anti-climatic.  

So now I'm looking at ways to extend the conflict.  I'm interested in seeing some cooperative narration of conflicts, a give and take between the GM and the player - an ebb and flow, as the inimitable Jim Henley puts it.

Hero Wars does this, I think, with its Action Points and dramatic resolutions.  Dying Earth too, to a certain degree.  My first feeble attempt at this sort of design resulted in Avant Guard, which although I like, doesn't quite hit the mark for me - the give and take isn't really a give and take, it's just the piling on of more adversity until the player either gives up or gets the dice to fall his way.

Does this mean I'm suddenly throwing my support to the MoD after having come out against in the past?  No.  I still think the Pool's basic rules are more elegant in their design and function well all on their own.  In fact, I wouldn't change a thing about The Pool.  But for my own purposes, I'm interested in finding mechanics that draw the conflict out beyond a single die roll without devolving into task resolution, so as to create a more tense, dramatically satisfying narrative.

- Scott
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James V. West
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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2002, 02:04:08 PM »

Better late than never.

Christopher said:

"Because I think words are magical, and words placed in the right order can actually turn keys in the minds of those reading or hearing them, I'd offer you might want to think about changing the name of the VoD. (That might be what's causing the discussion/confusion.)"

Interesting point.

In all honesty the rules in both The Pool and TQB are poorly written. I feel like the idea I have in mind for how Monologues work is somewhat different from what I present in the text. Plus I have my own confusions about the whole thing.

If you win a Monologue you narrate the event. If its a MoV, you narrate it any way you choose so long as it produces a positive result for your character's story. If its a MoD you narrate something that creates a negative result.

The problem is with the definitions of positive and negative relating to a story. How the hell do you define it? If you're telling a story then having your character break his butt-bone can be a "positive" result for the story if you want it to be. So why is there a need for a MoD at all?  

The point of having both is that I wanted to let narrate complicated monologues as well as pure victorious outcomes.

I suppose in the end its a matter of simply winning the right to narrate, period. That's the "victory" in MOV. By that token, "defeat" ought to mean the GM narrates the event (just like in the original The Pool).

Mike said:

"What I'm saying is that I think that a player that wins a Monologue should get control of both elements. Why limit this in this fashion?"

By this do you mean there's no need for a MoD? That a Monologue is all you need and you pretty much do it how you like?

Moose said:

"So now I'm looking at ways to extend the conflict. I'm interested in seeing some cooperative narration of conflicts, a give and take between the GM and the player - an ebb and flow, as the inimitable Jim Henley puts it."

Once again we think alike. I recently sketched out an idea for another Pool-based game in which the resolution of conflicts occurs in this way. Basically, when you win the MoV you get to narrate but the GM has points or dice he can spend to "alter" or "adjust" what you are narrating.

Also, instead of always gambling dice on a roll, you can opt for a drama-resolution in which no dice are cast, but you spend dice from your Pool to get short statements (exactly like "facts" in Donjon) while the GM doesn't have to spend any of his dice or points.

And I've always harbored this view of MoVs that go in a tit-for-tat sort of way. You narrate, but you promt the GM for responses like what's in the next room if you'd rather go with his view of what's there instead of making something up. Make sense? I want to mention this in the new TQB rules, but I don't want it to undermine the breadth of a Monologue.
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Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


MoD
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2002, 02:17:13 PM »

Yes.  That's the point I was trying to get at.  If it's just a defeat, well then what?

But sometimes, especially depending on the conflict specified by the player, it simply is a defeat.  ("I'm unseated from my horse, smacking the ground with a harsh clang of metal.  My lady looks away, ashamed, and though I cannot see it, she is already leaving the stands.")

What can I say.  That's a Defeat.  But it opens new possibilities.

This, I think, is where the Art comes into play in games like this more than others.  You *can't* have hard and fast rules, because it precludes the unexpected choices of the players that provide entertainment or even beauty that nobody could have seen coming.

I also know that if you try to push people to keep coming up with ideas that continue/open up the story, you'll soon have a nightmare on your hands.  I once made up a really thick deck of cards based on the old Lion Rampant Story Deck that came out around first edition Ars Magica.

I handed them out to players in an OtE game (if you can imagine doing such a frickin' thing to yourself), and told them....  Well, I actually can't remember the mechanic anymore, but basically, reality changed very minute and a half and we had forty unresolved subplots by the end of the session.

It was fun, but my brain has never been so tired by an RPG in my life.

What I'm reading in James' posts is a trust of the players.

I like that.  And that's the way I'd go with it in the long run.

The more comfortable they get, the more they'll know what kind of result to offer the story.

In terms of scaling the results in some kind of form, I think it's already in the TQB rules:

With DoV you're in charge to *almost* any result you want
With a Guided result, you've got no control
With a DoM you're charge, but only in terms of something bad happening
With a Dolorous result, it's bad and you've got no control

So,there are two scales overlapping each other to make the spectrum of results:

a) how much control you have over the result and b) how good to bad it is.

I suspect that's solid enough an explanation for any player who might like this sort of thing.

Christopher
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Lemonhead, The Shield
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2002, 02:35:48 PM »

We cross-posted, so let me add one more bit of confusion into the mix -- and then really, back to work!

Because of the lovely motif rules, I can be making rolls in a scene without having my character there!  What does a good result mean for my character in such circumstances?

Let's say the premise is "Is Faith Enough to Live in this World?"

And Ron's knight is lost in the woods.  His lady is gone.  His brother dead.  I've got Loneliness as a motif.  Ron's knight is lonely, ready to stay in the woods till he starves to death.  I say, "I'm going to make a roll to inspire him to keep going."  I roll.

I make it: "He looks up at the stars and sees in the pattern of silver light God's design.  And as the starlight falls on him, he feels himself part of that pattern.  He mounts up, riding through the night, the light of the stars almost magically guiding him past tree roots and stones so that he arrives at day break at the Kingdom of Carak, his enemy's castle in sight, not weary from the journey, not hungry at all, for he knows he must find his lady come what may."

Now let's say I fail: First, I think, "Ooops."  Then I say, "He stares up at the stars, the infinite spread of silver lights dwarfing his sense of self.  He knows he does not matter, and whatever dream he had of saving his lady's life, of serving a God who never seems to help when help is most needed, is shattered.  All faith is lost.  He lies down, not even removing his armor, not moving for three days time, barely awake, and nearly dead."

(First, am I getting this Motif thing right?)

Second, I don't know how that helps me or my character, but right now I had fun typing it.  When you roll, you're not only taking a chance on what will happen, but the responsibility for narrating the result, come what may.  I think the 1s and 6s only nudge you toward a certain tone, a certain type of result.  Anything else might start pushing this away from a Story Game back toward an RPG.  And as Ron has suggested, who needs that?
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James V. West
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Posts: 567


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« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2002, 02:46:25 PM »

Yep, you got Motifs down pat.

And, as seems to be the case arond here, you're explaining my game a little better than I do. MoV=positive tone, MoD=negative tone. Loosely put, that is.

What I seem to have forgotten in my previous post was the great and powerful Guided Event and the fact that you can only replenish your Pool by getting them. In a GE, the Guide's sense of what needs to happen next can be fully implemented. If you've been felling knights to your left and right and getting away unscathed phsycally and morally, perhaps a good solid kick in the spiritual nuts is what you need. A good Guided Event can do just that. And since you'll often want to roll only a couple of dice in the HOPES of getting a GE to get some dice built up again, GEs will happen. And that's a good thing.
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Bankuei
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« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2002, 03:13:21 PM »

Actually one of the big things I've been thinking about is the difference between success on a conflict level and authorial control.  The biggest jump that the Pool has made in design has been shifting the focus from conflict success to authorship by players being a success.

I doubt too many people would feel bad at failing conflict if they were allowed to narrate the failure according to their concept.  Chris, I think you are thinking along the same dual axis that I am, that on one level there is the success/failure factor and on the other who gets to narrate it.  This was some of what I was reaching for in the Narrativist Mishmash thread I had back in Indie Game Design.

Of course, part of success/failure is closure of the scenario.  Dead men tell no tales, unless of course, you later find a written diary, or have the ability to speak to the dead, or bring them back to life....Closure is based upon the setting, but in terms of conflict, its more interesting to have complications, setbacks, or advantage rather than a complete closure of a conflict.  Closure should be for a climax of a scene.

Just some thoughts,

Chris
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2002, 03:51:57 PM »

All right, this thread caused me to put together a very quick and rough summary of what I'm working on, undoubtedly with important pieces missing.  I posted it over in Design, but the thoughts in this thread are *exactly* what I'm working through . . . so I invite y'all to take a look at "System for multiple-roll scenes (and more)" (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1463), and comment away.

Gordon
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Rod Anderson
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Posts: 59


« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2002, 06:35:32 PM »

Hello, I don't post here very much, but I played the Pool (using TQB resolution rules) recently, and something came up that I thought was interesting, and I think relevant to the idea of pacing conflicts that has been brought up here.

See, I decided to use the TQB rules to get my friend Sean to work his narrative imagination, so he didn't have the option of demurring an MoV in favor of a purely mechanical reward (2 Pool dice, as in original Pool). But it turned out, when he was uncomfortable pushing an MoV too far, he was able to demur power anyway simply by narrating a very small victory, an edge in the conflict ("I slash his forehead -- blood trickles into his eyes"), rather than concluding the conflict ("I skewer him through the heart!"). So he sort of paced the conflicts the way he wanted them.

Hmm... what if you got a die into your Pool for delivering an "indecisive" MoV? Just a thought. . .

Another thought -- if a player delivers a conflict-ending MoV ("I skewer him") and another player, a third party wants to intercede ("No way -- I throw myself between you and him") -- would that be possible? Is it a fruitful line of inquiry?

Thinking about TQB makes me wonder all sorts of things -- like, if you're the Guide, how long do you have to be the Guide? Can you "tag out" in the middle of a session if someone else wants to take over? -- but I don't want to ramble too much. I've got to play this game some more, and get my thoughts together about it!

Rod Anderson
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James V. West
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« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2002, 06:48:31 PM »

Quote from: Rod Anderson

Hmm... what if you got a die into your Pool for delivering an "indecisive" MoV? Just a thought. . .


I'd have to give this some thought. I'm not sure exactly what you mean.

Quote

Another thought -- if a player delivers a conflict-ending MoV ("I skewer him") and another player, a third party wants to intercede ("No way -- I throw myself between you and him") -- would that be possible? Is it a fruitful line of inquiry?


I'm surprised this hasn't come up more in the past. I think the general rule is that when you're delivering a MoV, no one else can butt in. Only the Guide has that power. Which brings up the idea of a challenged roll. If you want to snag the MoV from someone before he gets it, you both make your gamble and roll. No one gets dice from the Guide. Whoever scores a 1 wins the MoV. If no one does, its a Guided Event. If you both do, its a Guided Event.

Quote

Thinking about TQB makes me wonder all sorts of things -- like, if you're the Guide, how long do you have to be the Guide? Can you "tag out" in the middle of a session if someone else wants to take over? -- but I don't want to ramble too much. I've got to play this game some more, and get my thoughts together about it!


I wanted to include Guide-switiching as a rule, but thought it was a bit too much too fast. Maybe. I am going to mention it as an option for those who otherwise wouldn't even consider it.

Thanks for playing the game!
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Bankuei
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« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2002, 12:07:18 AM »

I think we're finally getting to the point of really discussing what level of power does and MOV contain?  I love the fact that Narrative control is finally being discussed in detail :)

The idea of challenging someone's MOV for control is pretty much the basis behind my Narrative Mishmash thread in Indie Game Design.  I look forward to seeing where you guys take this.

Chris
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Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2002, 02:52:32 AM »

It's true.  To some degree the "game" part of The Pool is trying to get control of the chance to Yak It Up.
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James V. West
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« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2002, 06:28:55 AM »

Quote from: Christopher Kubasik

It's true.  To some degree the "game" part of The Pool is trying to get control of the chance to Yak It Up.


It certainly forces you to weigh the benefits/fun of 1)having plenty of dice or 2)getting the coveted MoV.

TQB's design was intended to give players more opportunities for narrative control--and I think it does that very well. It takes away the element of having to choose between dice and MoVs. You either get one or the other. The Pool is is probably a more nail-biting version of the system, which some people seem to like a lot.

And yeah, it is great to discuss the exact nature of Monologues like this. Helps me better understand how to describe them in the game text.
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