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[Balance of Power] Second SRTeens playtest session

Started by Mikael, July 23, 2005, 03:54:36 PM

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Mikael

Context

We played SRTeens again with the revised BoP rules. The SRTeens background, an earlier session and the link to Balance of Power rules can be found in an earlier thread.

This time I had prepared a simple character sheet and another sheet for tracking conflicts (buying dice, activating traits and convictions). We also used tokens for Power, which went a long way towards clearing the confusing jumble of dice as Power we had at the last time. We still did not have a written version of the rules available to all the players, but seemed to manage fine without.

We had a couple of real-world complications, both of which were at least partly resolved by the wondrous power of computing. First, one of our players was inconveniently located at a small and remote village. Luckily, he had a broadband connection, so we placed a laptop at one end of the table, then used Skype for audio and webcams for visuals. Second, our GM forgot the dice so we had to use a quickly contrived Excel dice-roller. Both of these did detract from the feel of sitting around the table, rolling some dice, but worked well enough for us to have a solid gaming session.

There were other disturbances, with players leaving and joining at various times. We knew that this would be the case, but wanted to play anyway. This, I think, is a telling indication of our group´s deep-seated need to play, regardless of whether we have ideal conditions, protaginizing rules or - even - anything really good to play... This time, of course, only the conditions were somewhat lacking.

Rules

In terms of a play-test of the BoP, we were reasonably faithful to the rules as found on Andrew´s website. We did use the following modfications:

1) In the one conflict that involved potential wound traits, I tried to describe the wound traits before rolling the dice, to be realized or not, based on the successes generated. The intention here was to heighten the tension during conflict.

2) Since our group has very rarely used the "gift dice" options in other games, we used a rule where, in each conflict, the winner receives one point of disposable "fan mail" Power, which could only be given to others, never used by the one who received it. The original gift dice construct might be appropriate for groups with a strong grasp of the narrative approach, but for ours - with a long tradition of resource optimizations in simulationist games - this variant seems more appealing.

Content

In terms of play content, I think that the rules served us well. We had conflicts both between the players and between the players and the GM, and all moved the story in significant if small steps. The rules essentially gave us a way out of the three-session rut of "oh no, our families have been stolen, what can we do" as one of the players initiated a conflict where his goal was to have the families returned after just two days of waiting - and the GM said "fine, simple conflict, are you willing to pay one Power for that?"

There was also a conflict which really went against the GM´s wishes but was important for the player, in order for him to realise his vision for the character. Player wanted his matrix deck illegally modified in order to do some real decking. GM felt that this was not "realistic" given the Shadowrun universe and the character´s capabilities - but that´s not really a significant point in a narrative game, is it?

Comments

Overall, I guess I have a small problem with the conflict resolution system in terms of tension and suspense. It seems that if the players really want to win the conflict, we very quickly max out on the dice that can be bought and the traits that can be activated - and then that´s that. There is nothing extra, no "extraordinary measures" that could be called upon at a prohibitively high cost, or nothing like that.

Calling out the potential wound traits during conflict did not work very well either. It can easily confuse as to what really happened and what didn´t. Also, it might be difficult to narrate a consistent resolution if the wound traits suggested are very disparate. On the other hand, I still suggest putting in something to build more tension in the spending phase, before rolling the dice.

By the end of our session and after winning all the conflicts I participated in, I had zero Power left. I think there is no provision for this in the current rules. I will not be able to participate in conflicts as the rules require spending at least 1 Power buying a die in each conflict. Thus other players cannot win conflicts with me and I will never gain any Power. What am I supposed to do in this situation?

Cheers,
Mikael
Playing Dogs over Skype? See everybody's rolls live with the browser-independent Remote Dogs Roller - mirrors: US, FIN

Ron Edwards

Hello!

I am really enjoying reading about the development of this game.

I'm chiming in with a theory-point:

QuoteThere was also a conflict which really went against the GM´s wishes but was important for the player, in order for him to realise his vision for the character. Player wanted his matrix deck illegally modified in order to do some real decking. GM felt that this was not "realistic" given the Shadowrun universe and the character´s capabilities - but that´s not really a significant point in a narrative game, is it?

Actually, it is a significant point. The "realism" issue at this point in play may have nothing to do with Simulationist vs. Narrativist desires. It may instead be about the agreed-upon, valued constraints that you guys want to share. Basically, the GM wanted to trust you guys to preserve the "Shadowrun universe" as a chassis for the thematic priorities, and this particular player didn't find that preservation to be a big deal.

If that's so, then the issue is mainly just Exploration - what features of what we're imagining are inviolate, or should be valued and preserved rather than made "story development bitch." All role-playing has to include some such features, which is why Exploration (better name: "Shared Imagined Space") is the foundation for it, the medium for Creative Agenda (when successful).

Oh well, enough theory. My real wish is that this point helps you develop the game better and maybe prevents some paragraph getting thrown in there about either (a) "The GM decides if a power is OK" or (b) "Anything a player decides is OK," both of which I think would cause problems.

Best,
Ron

Mikael

Quote from: Ron Edwards on July 23, 2005, 04:05:18 PM
QuoteThere was also a conflict which really went against the GM´s wishes but was important for the player, in order for him to realise his vision for the character. Player wanted his matrix deck illegally modified in order to do some real decking. GM felt that this was not "realistic" given the Shadowrun universe and the character´s capabilities - but that´s not really a significant point in a narrative game, is it?

Actually, it is a significant point. The "realism" issue at this point in play may have nothing to do with Simulationist vs. Narrativist desires. It may instead be about the agreed-upon, valued constraints that you guys want to share. Basically, the GM wanted to trust you guys to preserve the "Shadowrun universe" as a chassis for the thematic priorities, and this particular player didn't find that preservation to be a big deal.

If that's so, then the issue is mainly just Exploration - what features of what we're imagining are inviolate, or should be valued and preserved rather than made "story development bitch." All role-playing has to include some such features, which is why Exploration (better name: "Shared Imagined Space") is the foundation for it, the medium for Creative Agenda (when successful).

I think I fully agree with your point, Ron, but I guess I need to clarify my original description of the situation. It is clear that after the players have decided on some shared constraints, here in the form of the "official" Shadowrun universe, the GM should be able to trust the players to stick to those constraints, and within those constraints, the BoP conflict system is used to distribute narrative power. Of course, problems do arise when the understanding of the background is not shared 100% - which it never can be, in real world, and especially with Shadowrun, with its multitude of source books and several editions. Thus we agreed with the GM, pre-game, that there is always the option of voting when the flow of the play is disrupted by nitpicking. (If anyone gets bored with such a discussion, they can just say "vote for X". All in favor say yes. In case of a tie, GM vote decides.)

The situation I originally described did actually stay within the agreed-on constraints. It was fully feasible for the character's contact to be able to supply the character with an illegal deck - in return of a serious favor, of course, to be defined and collected later. However - and I hope I am interpreting our GM's feelings correctly - our GM felt that it was "too much of the good stuff too soon and too easily", in terms of character development and the overall story. And here, I hope, I get back to the Narr vs. Sim on a bit more solid ground: I think that in a game with a narrative bent it has to be ok for the player to take control of the character's development, if the player can achieve this within the conflict rules and the background constraints, even if the GM feels they should not. Thus my feeling that the rules did indeed work really well.

An aside, prompted by the above discussion:

In terms of narrative play overall, I think our group may have some kind of a problem, even if we happily use rules supporting a narrative CA. We might have a premise - something to do with growing up, facing the harsh realities of the adult world, and the changes those realities force upon the characters - but it has not been consciously stated nor is it overtly addressed. And without a common premise, I think it is only too easy to fall back to the mode of expecting the GM to do all the work.

Quote from: Ron Edwards on July 23, 2005, 04:05:18 PM
Oh well, enough theory. My real wish is that this point helps you develop the game better and maybe prevents some paragraph getting thrown in there about either (a) "The GM decides if a power is OK" or (b) "Anything a player decides is OK," both of which I think would cause problems.

I think I can speak for Andrew here in that neither of the above is going end up in the rules. At least not as long as the game is called "Balance of Power", and one of the design goals is:
Quote from: Balance of Power rules
I like the traditional role divisions of player and GM. However, I do want to clearly define the GM's role, limit his power, and avoid the old "Rule Zero" punt put into many rules texts.

Cheers,
Mikael
Playing Dogs over Skype? See everybody's rolls live with the browser-independent Remote Dogs Roller - mirrors: US, FIN

Andrew Cooper

Mikael,

Quote from: Everspinner on July 23, 2005, 03:54:36 PMBy the end of our session and after winning all the conflicts I participated in, I had zero Power left. I think there is no provision for this in the current rules. I will not be able to participate in conflicts as the rules require spending at least 1 Power buying a die in each conflict. Thus other players cannot win conflicts with me and I will never gain any Power. What am I supposed to do in this situation?

I'm going to start by fielding this question first.  The issue of a player spending all his Power and not having anything to buy into a Conflict has been a problem that I was aware of and was working on but hasn't made its way into the rules yet because I haven't found a solution I particularly like yet.  I have been kicking around some ideas though and I'll share them.  Perhaps this will generate some ideas from other folks here at the Forge.

1.) The first option is to always allow a player to join a Conflict with 1d4 to roll even if he doesn't have any Power.  In fact, I'd limit this option to ONLY when the player is out of Power.  This would at least allow the player to generate some Conflicts and regain a few Power points should he lose.  He obviously wouldn't be as effective rolling only 1d4 but that is keeping with the general tone of the game anyways.  If a player has spent all his Power in other Conflicts he should have to lose some somewhere in order to regenerate his Power.

2.) The other option is to allow the player to join via Gift Power from other players.  I don't really care for this option as a stand alone solution.  However, coupled with option #1 above, it isn't a bad idea.  Gift Power could allow a player to buy more dice and even activate Traits to increase the die size.

Anyway, that's the idea I've been kicking around but I haven't gotten to a point where I like it enough to include it in the rules.  I do admit that I NEED something to cover this situation.  Any ideas or help are welcome.

Quote from: Everspinner on July 23, 2005, 03:54:36 PMCalling out the potential wound traits during conflict did not work very well either. It can easily confuse as to what really happened and what didn´t. Also, it might be difficult to narrate a consistent resolution if the wound traits suggested are very disparate. On the other hand, I still suggest putting in something to build more tension in the spending phase, before rolling the dice.

Could you expand on this some more.  What specific situations came up and how were they handled and what didn't work well?  Also, could you remind me exactly how the rules you used worked?  I think they are different than what I have on my site and I'd like to get a good understanding of them and why they didn't seem to do the job.

Quote from: Everspinner on July 23, 2005, 03:54:36 PMOverall, I guess I have a small problem with the conflict resolution system in terms of tension and suspense. It seems that if the players really want to win the conflict, we very quickly max out on the dice that can be bought and the traits that can be activated - and then that´s that. There is nothing extra, no "extraordinary measures" that could be called upon at a prohibitively high cost, or nothing like that.

I'm having trouble understanding what exactly you mean here.  Don't take this as me blowing you off and saying "I don't think there's a problem."  There might very well be a problem with the rules as written.  I'm just having issues trying to pin down what you mean in order to analyze it.  Are you talking about there being no way to escalate the Conflict to make it inherently more dangerous like the Escalation rules in DitV?

Ron,

Thanks for the input!  I agree with you.  I'm trying very hard to make the game a sort of narrative tug-of-war both in the Player-Player and the Player-GM arenas.  You won't ever find the "GM decides everything." or "Anything a player wants is okay." in the text of this game.  If you do find something that sounds like that in there, let me know.  It would be completely unintentional and I'd definately need to rewrite it.  My philosophy for this game is more along the lines of, "Anything a player (or GM) wants is okay as long as he is willing and able to sacrifice enough Power to get his way (and he's lucky enough when he rolls)."

I appreciate the input for my game thus far.  Thanks to everyone who has participated!



Mikael

Hello

Looks like I need to rephrase nearly every significant statement in my original post. Shows you that Actual Play posts should not be typed on a mobile phone keyboard (not even the full-screen one on a PocketPC) - it is tiring and leads to overly tight sentences that try explain too much on one line.

Quote from: Gaerik on July 25, 2005, 01:15:00 PM
1.) The first option is to always allow a player to join a Conflict with 1d4 to roll even if he doesn't have any Power.  In fact, I'd limit this option to ONLY when the player is out of Power.  This would at least allow the player to generate some Conflicts and regain a few Power points should he lose.  He obviously wouldn't be as effective rolling only 1d4 but that is keeping with the general tone of the game anyways.  If a player has spent all his Power in other Conflicts he should have to lose some somewhere in order to regenerate his Power.

This seems like a feasible solution, at least for us. I hope it would not be a problem with our group, but the rule might provoke some "silly" conflicts by people without Power - as their whole (gamist) agenda at this point could be the accumulation of Power. Thus, one add-on to the rule might be: Powerless players may not initiate Conflicts. They are then tempting targets for conflict, but cannot initiate conflicts just for the sake of Power. Just a thought.

Quote from: Gaerik on July 25, 2005, 01:15:00 PM
2.) The other option is to allow the player to join via Gift Power from other players.  I don't really care for this option as a stand alone solution.  However, coupled with option #1 above, it isn't a bad idea.  Gift Power could allow a player to buy more dice and even activate Traits to increase the die size.

I do not much like this as a stand-alone rule, and combined with #1, it is really not a new rule at all.

I'll try to answer your other two questions, but in a different order, as your second question deals with the "official rules" and the first one with our "house rules".

Quote from: Gaerik on July 25, 2005, 01:15:00 PM
Quote from: Everspinner on July 23, 2005, 03:54:36 PMOverall, I guess I have a small problem with the conflict resolution system in terms of tension and suspense. It seems that if the players really want to win the conflict, we very quickly max out on the dice that can be bought and the traits that can be activated - and then that´s that. There is nothing extra, no "extraordinary measures" that could be called upon at a prohibitively high cost, or nothing like that.

I'm having trouble understanding what exactly you mean here.  Don't take this as me blowing you off and saying "I don't think there's a problem."  There might very well be a problem with the rules as written.  I'm just having issues trying to pin down what you mean in order to analyze it.  Are you talking about there being no way to escalate the Conflict to make it inherently more dangerous like the Escalation rules in DitV?

No worries, mate. No, I am not talking about Escalation here. I seemed to observe that when players really want to win a conflict - which should be most of the time, really - they buy their Attribute-limited maximum of dice on the first round of spending, then find one or two Traits to activate in the following rounds, then find one negative opponent Trait to activate. After this, the player is against a hard limit - they cannot spend more Power on this hugely important conflict even if they desperately want to. What I was thinking about was perhaps a way to relax this limit somehow - for example allowing the player to buy more dice, but at a higher cost - say 3 Power for 1 die, or 2 Power for the first die, 3 for the second, then 4 for the third etc.

Quote from: Gaerik on July 25, 2005, 01:15:00 PM
Quote from: Everspinner on July 23, 2005, 03:54:36 PMCalling out the potential wound traits during conflict did not work very well either. It can easily confuse as to what really happened and what didn´t. Also, it might be difficult to narrate a consistent resolution if the wound traits suggested are very disparate. On the other hand, I still suggest putting in something to build more tension in the spending phase, before rolling the dice.

Could you expand on this some more.  What specific situations came up and how were they handled and what didn't work well?  Also, could you remind me exactly how the rules you used worked?  I think they are different than what I have on my site and I'd like to get a good understanding of them and why they didn't seem to do the job.

Here we are talking about some kind of Escalation. We played according to the BoP rules in that the conflict successes are used to buy Wound Traits for opponent(s), and can be used to counter Wound Traits put forward by your opponent(s). The "house rule" here was that we stated the "potential" Wound Traits already in the spending phase, before the dice were rolled, as a sort of a threat and warning to the opponent. Then, after the dice were rolled, the successes would be used to "activate" Wound Traits in the order stated.

This was only partially tested in one conflict only, with no real problems, but I think there were no problems because it was not really "stress tested". One side just stated the Wound Traits, and the other side did not have any successes to counter them, or did not want to counter them, I forget. However, in an after-game discussion with a smaller - and really tired - part of our group we thought that this is not the way to go; "here be dragons". I'll try to formulate why:

First, stating specific Wound Traits before the dice are rolled affects the final resolution of the conflict, even if those Traits are never actually applied. The second, and more important point is that Wound Traits in many cases require a cause - as in a swing with a sword results in "Left arm cut off". This then leads to something that could be really confusing, namely pressure to change the kind of conflict partway into the spending phase, and confusion about the order of things.

Let's say we have a Spiritual conflict, one side trying to bully the other into doing something. The side being bullied might just decide that the character gets really scared, pulls a gun and starts shooting - and then the conflict really should be Physical, right? And there really is no graceful way to change the governing Attribute mid-conflict. The "official" rules do not have this problem, as the Spiritual bullying conflict is resolved first in the abstract, and then, if the side being bullied wins, they can just narrate the above - character gets scared, pulls a gun and the other side backs down, possibly gaining some appropriate Spiritual Wound Traits like "Scared of guns".

Thus, I think stating specific Wound Traits during spending was the wrong way to try and bring Escalation into BoP. This might have been obvious to everyone else from the very beginning, but I just had to go the hard route.


One comment that came up while writing the above:

While I understand that the rules give the Physical, Mental and Spiritual attributes as just one example set of Attributes, and appreciate their lack of granularity, it would be good if the rules included some sort of definition of the dominion of the Mental and Spiritual attributes: does Spirituality cover areas like willpower, or is willpower really part of the Mental attribute? Some other common hard-to-place human attributes would be empathy and awareness.


Ok, that's it from your Finnish correspondent for now. Hope I was at least a bit clearer this time around.

Cheers,
Mikael
Playing Dogs over Skype? See everybody's rolls live with the browser-independent Remote Dogs Roller - mirrors: US, FIN

Tube

Quote from: Everspinner on July 23, 2005, 07:57:50 PM
The situation I originally described did actually stay within the agreed-on constraints. It was fully feasible for the character's contact to be able to supply the character with an illegal deck - in return of a serious favor, of course, to be defined and collected later. However - and I hope I am interpreting our GM's feelings correctly - our GM felt that it was "too much of the good stuff too soon and too easily", in terms of character development and the overall story. And here, I hope, I get back to the Narr vs. Sim on a bit more solid ground: I think that in a game with a narrative bent it has to be ok for the player to take control of the character's development, if the player can achieve this within the conflict rules and the background constraints, even if the GM feels they should not. Thus my feeling that the rules did indeed work really well.

I didn't really have a problem with the character getting the deck (which is fine), but I did (and still do) have a problem with the player not really coming up with a solid narrative story to back it up. Basically he just initiated a conflict with his goal being "the decker contact gives me a proper deck", and IMHO failed to weave a plausible story why his contact would do it. Vague statements of favours to be collected later do not quite convince, and "no particular reason" doesn't convince either. Now I feel that I must fill in the missing plausibility, which is not a problem in practice, but does go against the idea of narrativism, IMHO.

I think it's perfectly ok for the players to take control of the characters' development as long as they remember their narrative responsibility while intoxicated by the narrative power. "With great power comes great responsibility" or something.

OTOH, one can think of the situation and the conflict as a means for the player to make his character what he wants to play (he wants to play a decker, so he needs a deck) - even with a bit of suspension of disbelief - and expend his power that way. This is IMHO fine as long as everybody realises what's it about, and uses it accordingly. Using the trick to solve almost any problem the characters encounter (which is technically possible) is just boring as we all know and realize.

IMHO no rule zero is needed, but the rules should have a paragraph or two about the narrative responsibility too. If your mates can't handle it, you can always play without them.


/t, the GM

Andrew Cooper

Tube,

I hear you loud and clear and understand exactly where your are coming from.  You want there to be a "reason" the contact gave him a deck.  Perfectly legitimate in my opinion and here's how I think the situation should be handled within the framework of these rules.  I definately need to put this in there though and not leave it to simple implication.  Let's assume Player A wants a deck from his contact.  The GM should frame a scene that could involve this happening... anything where it could happen works from just talking to the guy to run into him in the middle of some shady deal gone bad with the opportunity to steal the deck.  Then role-play should proceed until the point where the GM and/or Player A says, "Let's resolve this Conflict."  At that point, the Conflict Resolution System kicks in like normal and everything depends on the situation and how the Spending and Rolling goes.  Note that other Players can gift the GM with Power just as well as Player A, if they think his reasoning is bogus or they don't really want him to have that deck.

The scene/situation and then the Conflict Resolution should take care of the reasoning behind getting the deck.  The Player shouldn't say "I wanna deck!  Conflict!" without even framing a scene in order to get it.  That's not the intention of the rules at all.  Does that make sense?  Am I addressing the problem you were having at all or did I miss the mark?


Julle

On the SRTeens BoP game from a players view (the farvillager one)...

1) isn't it possible for all the players to take part on any opposing side in any conflict? Fe. the "deck getting" is wayyyyy too powerfull, let's join the frying and stop it...
2) no points to participate in a conflict - how about giving each player 1 point in the beginning of the next session? Basically - this being Balance of Power - player with no points to join a conflict has used his/her Narrative power "to the max" already, so... :-o

And to my "defence" :-) getting the deck has been my characters main goal since the beginning of the game. Too bad if my wording of the narration did not convey nicely to the others well enough in the story context... :-( Live and learn.

Julle, farvillager

Mikael

Quote from: Gaerik on July 25, 2005, 07:55:43 PM
Let's assume Player A wants a deck from his contact.  The GM should frame a scene that could involve this happening... anything where it could happen works from just talking to the guy to run into him in the middle of some shady deal gone bad with the opportunity to steal the deck.

Thanks, Andrew. That opened my eyes to the fact that we could utilize more aggressive scene framing in this game as well. By "aggressive" I do not mean drastic changes in location or situation, but more the players accepting responsibility for putting in some creative effort to set up an entertaining scene suitable for achieving their goals. Your example of a shady deal gone bad is a lot better in this sense than just phoning the guy up and saying "I wanna". I think that the latter is a good sample of the lazy, let-the-GM-find-the-justification type of gaming our group is occasionally guilty of.

Please note that this is definitely not criticism on Julle. He has shown himself to be a highly creative person, both as a GM and as a player - which makes this an even better reminder that even "the best of us" can stumble into the passivity trap if we are not careful. And perhaps that late games should be avoided.

Re scene framing: current rules do not say much about scenes and framing. Are you planning to include something about scenes later on?

One more thing that was left out from the original post: it seems that the cost of buying or modifying Convictions has not been defined. I suppose that this is merely an oversight and not a design decision, as changing Convictions seems an integral part of a living character.

Cheers,
Mikael
Playing Dogs over Skype? See everybody's rolls live with the browser-independent Remote Dogs Roller - mirrors: US, FIN

Tube

Quote from: Everspinner on July 26, 2005, 07:14:49 AM
Quote from: Gaerik on July 25, 2005, 07:55:43 PM
Let's assume Player A wants a deck from his contact.  The GM should frame a scene that could involve this happening... anything where it could happen works from just talking to the guy to run into him in the middle of some shady deal gone bad with the opportunity to steal the deck.

Thanks, Andrew. That opened my eyes to the fact that we could utilize more aggressive scene framing in this game as well. By "aggressive" I do not mean drastic changes in location or situation, but more the players accepting responsibility for putting in some creative effort to set up an entertaining scene suitable for achieving their goals. Your example of a shady deal gone bad is a lot better in this sense than just phoning the guy up and saying "I wanna". I think that the latter is a good sample of the lazy, let-the-GM-find-the-justification type of gaming our group is occasionally guilty of.

Right on the spot, I think too. Perhaps we should also pay more attention to framing the scenes and conflicts instead of concentrating on the resolution. We tend to have the conflicts span rather short times, and rarely resolve things built over a longer period of time.

Quote
Please note that this is definitely not criticism on Julle. He has shown himself to be a highly creative person, both as a GM and as a player - which makes this an even better reminder that even "the best of us" can stumble into the passivity trap if we are not careful. And perhaps that late games should be avoided.

Yep. And I'd like to stress the point that if a player wants to take the game and his character into a direction he wants, it's perfectly ok as long as the internal consistency and plausibility doesn't suffer. In a narrativistic game this is actually more difficult, as the players should justify the events somewhat openly, whereas in a GM-driven game the reasons can be left pretty vague or even defined as they are needed.

/tube

Andrew Cooper

Let's start with the easy stuff.

QuoteRe scene framing: current rules do not say much about scenes and framing. Are you planning to include something about scenes later on?

Yes.  Currently I am in the middle of a rewrite of the rules.  I was trying to shoehorn things into the rules as I thought of them but it wasn't working out like I wanted.  Too many ideas at once were just turning the text into a jumbled mess.  Rewriting is required.  Don't worry, the basics of the game are the same but with some additions and streamlining that will make it better and more playable.  Part of this is a good deal of text on how *I* envision the game being played, which includes things like framing and NPCs and preparation, etc.

QuoteOne more thing that was left out from the original post: it seems that the cost of buying or modifying Convictions has not been defined. I suppose that this is merely an oversight and not a design decision, as changing Convictions seems an integral part of a living character.

That was an oversight on my part.  Duh...  They are supposed to cost 10 points to change just like Traits.  I just started there and planned on tweeking the cost up or down as needed based on playtest.

Quote1) isn't it possible for all the players to take part on any opposing side in any conflict? Fe. the "deck getting" is wayyyyy too powerfull, let's join the frying and stop it...

Yes!  Players can come down on any side they like.  You can even play your character on one side of the Conflict and then activate your own (or your ally's)negative Traits or Gift Power to the opposing side.  Nothing in the rules limits any actions like that.

Quoteno points to participate in a conflict - how about giving each player 1 point in the beginning of the next session? Basically - this being Balance of Power - player with no points to join a conflict has used his/her Narrative power "to the max" already, so... :-o

My problem with this approach is that I don't want to punish spending Power down to 0 that harshly.  I still want the Player to be able to participate, even if he has to accept defeat in some Conflicts that normally he might win during the process.  In my estimation, doing something that takes a Player completely out of the game isn't a great design feature.