Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

[Misery Bubblegum] Where do the dice all go?

Started by TonyLB, June 16, 2005, 07:40:42 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Doug Ruff

Quote from: TonyLBYes, that's pretty much what I'm saying.  But the model breaks down when your short-term goal is to affect transformative change.

Which, I suspect, means that the current mixed model is seductive but flawed.  But maybe I'm just missing an important piece.

Perhaps it means that the moral of this story is that you can't change the world all at once?

Dammit, Tony - this is a game about Misery. Where's the flaw?
'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'


There's no inherent flaw in the concept that it's hard to change people's emotional landscape.  The flaw is that, in order to do that, players have to make up some nonsense Task that they're nominally attempting, but which they care absolutely nothing about, because they don't intend to succeed at it.

"Okay, I want to bribe Cassandra with 'Threat:  Parental strictness.'  So... uh... I'll attempt to jump over the moon, at difficulty six, rolling three dice.  1, 5 and 3.  Oh darn, I failed to jump over the moon... lots of points to create the Threat-trait I wanted, though."

I'm tempted to say, instead, that rolling your own dice is for conflicts ("Do I get into the castle?", "Do I find the incriminating evidence?", "Do I look good at the dance?") but can never impact someone's emotions ("Do I get into the clique?", "Do I find the key to her heart?", "Do I impress her?")  When you're doing these sorts of things, you can give away dice as Influence to substantially better your chances (in the ways described already).

Then when you're rolling Influence dice against each other, you are (inherently) attempting to form an opinion of someone.  Winner gets to form an opinion, but has to give the Influence dice to the loser.  Loser gets their dice back (for conflict purposes), but doesn't get to form an opinion.

But that's two resolution systems, which doesn't really thrill me either.
Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum

Doug Ruff

OK, good point. But I don't think the problem is with the die-rolling mechanic; the problem is that you're allowing the 'nonsense' task to come into play in the first place.

This is awfully similar to some of those Capes discussions you, Fred and Ralph had a while back (well, mainly you guys, if I recall.) In Capes one of the issues raised was that there appeared to be little control over a player's narration of how they went about a task... this time, the issue is over controlling what tasks a player is allowed to choose to attempt in the first place.

I'm also going to suggest that even if you change the die-rolling part, this problem won't go away - so deal with it as it is now. Think about how the players are going to agree which tasks and/or conflicts are significant enough to require the dice to start moving.

Here's two options for starters: require agreement from other players before a player can start to roll dice for something, or require a payment of some resource before the dice can be rolled. Maybe both...
'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'


Yeah.  If you allow players to call for die-rolls then you've got to make sure that there's nothing broken about them calling for die rolls for everything, down to and including taking a breath, if that makes strategic sense according to the dice.

That is, in fact, some of why I was considering breaking it out into two sections, to make a system that will (itself) pace you nicely on what things should be challenges, and what shouldn't.  For a very rough draft of my thinking:
    [*]The GM has a set of dice to represent the "adventure" types of challenge, and how prevalent they currently are:  the Big Bad in Buffy terminology.  A-Plot by Sydney's definitions.
    [*]Players can give their dice away to other players as Influence in the course of dealing with the GM's adventure dice.  When the GM is (for the moment) out of adventure dice then there's no point in beating up on bad-guys any more.  You can do it, but it profits you nothing.  Generally you'll just cut away to a non-action scene.
    [*]Players gain traits by having other people spend their Influence dice.  However, as those dice are spent, the GM gains adventure-dice.  When you're all out of Influence dice then there's no point in engaging in character-definition scenes and emotional tension.  You can do it, but it profits you nothing.  Generally you'll cut away to an action scene.[/list:u]Now things aren't actually that simple, because it's never going to be as clean as "All the Influence dice are gone, now it's time to go achieve something" or "All the Adventure-dice are gone, now it's time to go brood and work on our relationships."  All of those things will be operating, to greater or lesser extents, all the time.  But the "greater or lesser extents" is quantifiable:  When the GM has more adventure dice you're encouraged to go out and try to achieve things.  When the PCs have more influence dice you're encouraged to help define and refine each other's identities.  In both cases, calling for a roll is spending a renewable resource, and if you do it in the same mode often enough you run out of that resource until the other mode plays out.

    If I can get it distilled into one mechanic, where the optimum choices under the mechanic change as a result of the different proportions of resources in the mix, however, that would be the best of both worlds.
    Just published: Capes
    New Project:  Misery Bubblegum

    Doug Ruff

    (I tried to post this at lunch today, but my employer's network ate it.)


    If you've got a GM involved, does this really require dice-based support? This might be awfully old fashioned, but I think the GM can take care of deciding whether or not a given task or conflict is worthy of a dice roll.

    I'm thinking of DiTV as I type this (for the second time) and Vincent's "say yes, or roll the dice" advice. Except in this case, it's "say yes, or say no, or roll the dice."

    I think that as long as the GM can be trusted to call when a conflict adds enough to the game to deserve breaking down into a series of rolls (or at least moderating the player's requests to initiate die-rolling), then this doesn't need to be a function of the dice themselves.

    In this case, the rules support would come in the form of advising the GM how to go about making that decision.

    Of course, if you also want to support GM-less play, then this isn't going to be enough; I can also see the attractiveness of having an "impartial" means of deciding when play should flow from narration to conflict and back again. But it may be easier - and more fruitful - to rely on the GM's ability to judge this for themselves, with appropriate guidance.

    The dice can still be used to add a tactical reward system for exposition or conflict, that's cool. But there still has to be a means for deciding authority to initiate either, and I'm not sure that leaving this to the dice is sufficient. For starters, there is nothing to ensure the quality of the exposition or conflict, just the frequency.

    I may be setting up a massive strawman here, as you haven't said much about how player/GM judgement applies to this. It's just that I'm not seeing the moment of decision amongst all of the (interesting) choices available.
    'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'