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Author Topic: TROS & GNS (split)  (Read 7464 times)
Balbinus
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Posts: 290


« on: August 19, 2005, 04:49:28 AM »

Hi there,

Apologies if it is inappropriate to post to a thread on page 4, I checked the rules and couldn't see anything and unfortunately since it's been a while since I posted here wasn't quite certain if past a certain point it's preferred just to let a thread lie.

That said, I wanted to comment since I'm quoted in the original post and I think without a real understanding of what I was getting at.  If my comments were inadvertently taken out of context it's possible others were too in which case there may be erroneous assumptions underlying this debate.

In short, my objection to player skill mattering more than character skill wasn't really a creative agenda issue.  Or rather, in part it was as I tend to prefer sim actual play and it is hard to reconcile a greater emphasis on player skill with that but it was more a practical concern - that my ability to run a good game (whether in terms of tactical challenge, player focussed thematic play or exploration of setting and character) would be severely hampered if in actual play the combats didn't work out because the players always won through player skill.

That's not really a creative agenda issue, from a narrativist perspective for example I'm not really sure how it protagonises meaningful player choice if the player chooses to engage in a fight for reasons that matter but the outcome of that fight is predetermined by our personal tactical skills.  The player's choice ceases to be truly meaningful, because the fight itself has become an exercise of tactical skill between the people at the table.  I'm not saying a fight outcome must be uncertain to be dramatic, plenty of games permit dramatic and thematically important fights where the outcome is wholly within the player's control, but for a choice to matter there must be some meaning to that choice and my concern in part was that the mechanic undermined that meaning.

I'm sure this could be said better, and as a matter of actual play I could of course be quite wrong about how the mechanic works out, but I'm not persuaded this was a creative agenda question.  Rather my criticism was that the mechanic as written would interfere unduly with getting results in play that met player expectations, regardless of CA.

I didn't say all that, but I wasn't posting on the Forge or particularly expecting my post to be subjected to a Forge level of analysis.  Had I been I would have been far more detailed, I suspect the same may be true of many others quoted here.
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AKA max
Balbinus
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Posts: 290


« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2005, 07:19:18 AM »

Hi,

On further digging and some helpful PMs I find that I shouldn't have resurrected this thread.  Apologies and I will avoid repeating this error in future.
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AKA max
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2005, 02:29:34 PM »

Hello,

The above posts were split from TROS & GNS: NS? NG!.

No problem, Max. Um, by the way, please don't concern yourself with apologies. The cop who helps you out when you accidentally back into a concrete stanchion doesn't care if you're sorry.

The discussion may continue here, of course.

I would like to point out to everyone, though, that quoting from discussions on other websites is always a terrible idea. It is inevitably perceived as a continuation of that discussion.

Best,
Ron
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Alan
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2005, 05:43:59 PM »

Hi Balbinus,

In TROS tactics selection and player knoweldge have considerable influence on the outcome of battles.  However, the power of Spiritual Attributes dwarf these factors.  An experienced player with has to work pretty damn hard to defeat an inexperienced player with 5, 10, or 15 extra SA dice.  The easiest way to guarantee a character survives a fight, is to accumulate those SA bonuses.  This means that the player spends most of his time pursuing story and making thematic choices. 

TROS has a great reward system.  First, SAs give you the upper hand in any conflict (you can use them with skills too).  Second they are how you improve combat skills (and in the TROS revision, all skills).

The net result is that players are dogs doing narrativist tricks for all those nice dice snacks.

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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
M. J. Young
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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2005, 02:50:23 PM »

Greetings, Max; it's good to see you again.

I'm of the opinion that player skill is almost always involved in game outcomes. I have played in many D&D games in which my ability to outthink others at the table gave me success where I was clearly overmatched. Even simple decisions like knowing whether to press on or go back for supplies and rest involve player skill, testing how well you can assess your own situation.

Perhaps, though, you mean something else by this. I have not played The Riddle of Steel, but I am roughly familiar with the Spiritual Attributes aspect bonusing ability.  That does not seem more a matter of player skill to my mind than, say, the decision to attack at range because the opponent is powerful in melee but limited at range. To some degree it is less integrated into play, but to some degree perhaps it is more so. That is, I can say "my character would perceive that ranged attacks will be more advantageous in this situation" and so justify what is genuinely my decision on the best combat tactics. With a Spiritual Attribute, though, what I am saying is more on the lines of "my character would perceive that his family honor is at stake, and since that is one of the things that most concerns him he will be driven to fight more fiercely and keenly in this situation." It is in one sense the same sort of thing, a player decision concerning the best way to meet the in-game challenge. It is only different because in the decision to use ranged combat we are attributing it as a decision of the character, while in applying the spiritual attribute we are making a decision about the character. In the end, there's not much difference between "I use my plus three long bow here, because those bonuses will make a big difference in this combat" and "I call upon my spiritual attribute defends family honor, because those extra dice matter."  Deciding that it is appropriate in the present context is always player skill.

Did I misunderstand something?

--M. J. Young
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Alan
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« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2005, 03:46:39 PM »

M. J.,

My point is that player skill at generating SAs trumps player skill in the TROS combat system.  If you want to win a fight, developing your SAs offers better return for effort.
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2005, 06:32:16 PM »

Hello,

Mark/M.J., in addition to Alan's point, I should emphasize that the use of Spiritual Attributes in TROS is always assessed at the player level, rather than the character's motivational level. The rules are pretty explicit about this; SAs are applied from a bird's-eye-view perspective of what is really happening and what the character is doing, rather than "how he feels." This is especially important for the Destiny SA and automatically (if superficially) for Luck. If you look carefully at the Faith one, you'll see the same thing - it's not that the character is feeling Faithful; it's that he's defending the Faith.

Best,
Ron
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ewilen
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2005, 07:43:52 AM »

I'm of the opinion that player skill is almost always involved in game outcomes.

Hi, M.J. (and Ron). Okay, you've got the "almost always" in there but I think there's a tension if not contradiction between this statement and GNS. Isn't the application of player skill, particularly in manipulating a mechanical system, a gamist technique? And if it's done in the pursuit of Reward, isn't that part of a Gamist feedback loop?

Now, in D&D, both the applicaton of skill and the Reward (getting more stuff to strategize with) are typically Gamist. In TROS, I don't know--I only know about SA's and the combat system secondhand because I haven't read the rules.
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Elliot Wilen, Berkeley, CA
Marco
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« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2005, 07:57:18 AM »

Hello,

Mark/M.J., in addition to Alan's point, I should emphasize that the use of Spiritual Attributes in TROS is always assessed at the player level, rather than the character's motivational level. The rules are pretty explicit about this; SAs are applied from a bird's-eye-view perspective of what is really happening and what the character is doing, rather than "how he feels." This is especially important for the Destiny SA and automatically (if superficially) for Luck. If you look carefully at the Faith one, you'll see the same thing - it's not that the character is feeling Faithful; it's that he's defending the Faith.

Best,
Ron

On the other hand, I think that it's clear from the rules that Faith is about what the character is feeling: "Belief is an important issue in Weyrth, for a man without beleifs is not a man. Any character may posses a degree of Faith--even athiests, if they hold strongly to their atheism." I don't see how you could interpert the sentence to decide that the character isn't the primary holder of the faith.

Moreover, the rules don't disucss the *Player* at all and Conscience, for example, is described as "one's desire to do the right thing"--this is presumably the Character's conscience and not necessiarily the Player's (again: Drive is described as the character's drive).

It's true that SA's are used to *do* things, rather than to *feel* things--but if the character is not presented as feeling the things implied then I don't think the Senchal would likey grant the dice for *doing* the things they get SA's for (Drive being a really clear example here).

It's also, always (as in over and over) very explicit that SA's work at the Senchal's discretion. This is in opposition to the combat system which works more or less as the dice say they do. As such, I don't think that "Player skill" in getting SA's to work can be compared to player-skill in the combat system (where you can actually use tactics as the book describes).

Finally: in my edition, there is no example of SA's being used anywhere in the combat system although there are several examples showing tactics and strategy on the part of the players and characters.

-Marco
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2005, 08:23:09 AM »

Quick GNS note:

Quote
Isn't the application of player skill, particularly in manipulating a mechanical system, a gamist technique? And if it's done in the pursuit of Reward, isn't that part of a Gamist feedback loop?

No and no. "Skill" is a generic term and can be applied to anything in role-playing. Perhaps you are thinking of "personal strategy and guts," which are indeed Gamist variables of interest. Also, pursuit of Reward is fundamental to any social, creative activity. Reward is a very general term which includes happiness, satisfaction, catharsis, even stress in some cases, and more.

Marco, I'll chop rules-texts with you some other time. Long experience has taught me that you and I simply do not read them the same way. We split interpretations in exactly opposite directions.

Best,
Ron
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Marco
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« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2005, 09:00:08 AM »

Quick GNS note:

Marco, I'll chop rules-texts with you some other time. Long experience has taught me that you and I simply do not read them the same way. We split interpretations in exactly opposite directions.

Best,
Ron

Well, yes--we do: however my conclusion (and I should've been clearer about this in my post) is that you can't make the kind of statements we both made about the text without presenting them as an argument. TROS doesn't "work the way I say it does." TROS (and every other game or just about every other game) reads the way it reads and you get out of it what you get out of it.

I think what you get out of it says something about you (and me) as well as the game itself--and it makes the kind of analysis (the GNS analysis of mechanics) that is being presented here problematic for that very reason.

-Marco
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a free, high-quality, universal system at:
http://www.jagsrpg.org
Just Released: JAGS Wonderland
Roger
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« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2005, 02:29:14 PM »

I'm of the opinion that player skill is almost always involved in game outcomes.

This seems, to me at least, to be inherent in the definition of a game.

If player skill has no effect on game outcome, it's pure gambling, or a purely non-interactive movie, and not really a game in any meaningful sense of the word.

I may be mistaken, of course.



Cheers,
Roger
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ewilen
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« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2005, 09:44:15 AM »

Hey, Ron,

Quick GNS note:

Quote
Isn't the application of player skill, particularly in manipulating a mechanical system, a gamist technique? And if it's done in the pursuit of Reward, isn't that part of a Gamist feedback loop?

No and no. "Skill" is a generic term and can be applied to anything in role-playing. Perhaps you are thinking of "personal strategy and guts," which are indeed Gamist variables of interest. Also, pursuit of Reward is fundamental to any social, creative activity. Reward is a very general term which includes happiness, satisfaction, catharsis, even stress in some cases, and more.
No? What is M.J. talking about when he illustrates "player skill" for his purposes by
Quote
I have played in many D&D games in which my ability to outthink others at the table gave me success where I was clearly overmatched. Even simple decisions like knowing whether to press on or go back for supplies and rest involve player skill, testing how well you can assess your own situation.
If that's "personal strategy and guts", then we can substitute that term and move on. If it isn't, I'm in need of reviewing "personal strategy and guts".

I'll assume the former for the moment. What I'm trying to ask is, how is the activity related to the Reward, particularly when we're describing a CA-supporting rules text, as opposed to a CA in and of itself? By this I mean that one could play, e.g., D&D and never get jazzed on the tactics and resource management, only giving and appreciating props for Addressing Premise. But that isn't what the system supports, is it?

In this light, Alan's argument makes a great deal of sense--the surest way to get Rewards in TROS, he claims, is to develop Spiritual Attributes, which in turn fosters opportunities for Premise-Addressing.

For me this reduces the discussion to a debate between Alan and you, on the one hand, and Marco and (possibly) M.J. on the other. That is, where is the "real" action--what kind of enjoyment is the game trying to offer the playes--and if it's not in the employment of personal strategy and guts through the combat system, then what is the combat system doing there?
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Elliot Wilen, Berkeley, CA
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2005, 09:50:55 AM »

You know, you guys are just going to have to work all this out by yourselves. I have decided the orginal topic, started by Ben, was bogus, and that this continuation is equally bogus. The discussion itself has shaken into a debate which I don't think actually exists, and which is everything about this forum that I have grown to hate.

It's not possible for us to communicate about this stuff sensibly, in a public forum, with so many agendas and starting from a foundation of bogosity.

Go play 100 hours of TROS with at least three or four different groups. Talk with Jake. Talk with other people who've played it. Have fun. Then come back and we can maybe make some sense together.

Best,
Ron
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2005, 02:32:42 PM »

I think that Ron did not intend that last post exactly to close this thread, so I'm going to post just a couple of quick points.

The first is that the specific example I gave was indeed a gamist example of "player skill" impacting play. Gamism is pretty easy to use for such examples, because we have a clear notion of the kinds of player skills that matter and of the kinds of outcomes that are desireable. There is equally "player skill" involved in unlocking the mysteries of the world under exploration, or realizing (in the classical sense) the constraints of a character's worldview, or portraying a genre accurately--simulationist concepts, and different player skills. Similarly, working out how to make meaningful statements within the context of a premise which lead to desired themes emerging from play taps "player skills", again of a slightly different sort. In all cases, the ability to understand and utilize system, whatever it is, to reach agendum, whatever it is, involves the skill of the player.

As to The Riddle of Steel specifically, I did specify that I had not played it; I should be clearer in that I have not read it, either, as I do not know that many people who buy new games and cannot afford many myself. Ron and Marco have both played the game, with very different results. My inclination is that Marco is correct in this, that the decision to rely on a Spiritual Attribute for an in-game bonus is a decision about what the character feels, believes, or perceives, even if (as Ron asserts) it is done from a third-party perspective. Llewellyn gets the bonus because he believes the Queen's honor is at stake, even if in fact he is mistaken about that; he does not get the bonus if he does not perceive the insult to the Queen's honor even if that insult is real. That, at least, would be my expectation in the matter, but it's not important enough to this discussion to pursue in any detail. An argument has been made that the use of Spiritual Attributes entails player skill in a way that the use of ranged combat tactics do not, and without pushing the player/character distinction much further than I think viable I don't see this. Whether that was Max' original suggestion is unclear to me now, but he expressed concern that player skill at manipulating the system was more important than character skill within the game, and my point is that I believe that is frequently the case in every game.

I hope that clarified something.

--M. J. Young
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