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Author Topic: Small questions  (Read 4878 times)
Bankuei
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« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2005, 12:09:34 PM »

Hi Jason,

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The PCs were built with 8 lifepaths and no exponent cap - our plan is to make these guys the heroic ancestors of the eventual player characters.

The length of time behind character creation makes sense now.  Most PCs start in the 3-5 range...  And the instant kills make a lot of sense also.

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My co-GM and I ended the evening thinking the whole introduction had been a huge mistake. We reasoned that combat is so hellaciously complicated* that if we got that down, the rest would be gravy.

So you decided to jump in with advanced characters and a big fight?  I like to follow the "tutorial" method of videogames- you get a basic character, we highlight and show off the basic moves, and when you get the idea of that, we add more.  Even if you begin the demonstration with only 2 players- it can work if you stop after every round and comment on what worked, what didn't, why, and what options are open that people might want to try.  Also, there are many one-shot conventions scenarios that are available for free download that work well to show off BW's strong points.

My best recommendation to not earn a mutiny is to show off BW's highlights:

- Make sure the PCs have GOOD BITs
- Highlight those BITs during play, reward artha
- Remind people when they ought to be FoRK'ing and using Linked Tests (so they can be competant and cool)
- One Duel of Wits, over something that matters, not something pointless
- One Fight!  no more than 3 combatants total (PC or NPC).  Also remind people of their tactical options.

Chris
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Luke
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« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2005, 09:33:46 PM »

hi Jason,

to answer your question about Steel: Yes, that's how it works. It's also why fights in BW are so short. You're not ablating HP, you're going for a crippling injury that causes your opponent to be knocked out of the fight.

With such experienced characters, you likely have a lot of dice to play with and it's probably pretty easy to score killing blows. That's fine. But when those failed Steel tests come up, STOP THE FIGHT. It's over. Ask the player if they run or surrender, but either way the conflict is over. It's not a video game where you're locked until the clock runs down.

Speaking of videogames, you jumped in pretty deep. You went against just about everything I recommend for starting off with BW. If you want to back off and try again -- with equally powerful characters under a more controlled circumstance -- run the Gift.

But, as Chris said, a 5 on 5 fight in BW is a big deal. That'd be the climax of most of our games.

J/c what kind of game are you running? What are the players' Beliefs?

-L
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #17 on: October 14, 2005, 04:23:18 AM »

OK, all good to know.  We'll all have to wrap our heads around the notion that in an evenly-matched fight, you stand a good chance of having to retire your character.  I like that - fights should be scary.  It does leave me a little adrift as a GM, though, knowing that the line between a minor scuffle and a total party kill is so slender. 

Last Wednesday's session was just to try the system out.  Next week we'll begin the campaign in earnest.  The setting is pseudo-mythic Summer and Autumn period China, with the players starting as emissaries for the King of Ba.  No characters yet, so I don't know their BITs, but we want to stress themes of loyalty and sacrifice.  We're going to start off with a duel of wits and some mellow role-playing. 

A question on the "let it ride" rule - let's say the challenge at hand is crossing a raging river.  If I understand it, you either succeed or fail, and if you fail, you have to change the circumstances to try again, right?  How would this work with a static challenge?  Would the player have to narrate looking for a better ford, or waiting for the water level to go down, rather than just wading in to give it another try?  Or would failure mean a complication, like being swept downstream?  What if he wanted to try again with help?  I'm a little thrown by the blurring of task and conflict resolution. 

--Jason
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Thor Olavsrud
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« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2005, 05:11:10 AM »

A question on the "let it ride" rule - let's say the challenge at hand is crossing a raging river.  If I understand it, you either succeed or fail, and if you fail, you have to change the circumstances to try again, right?  How would this work with a static challenge?  Would the player have to narrate looking for a better ford, or waiting for the water level to go down, rather than just wading in to give it another try?  Or would failure mean a complication, like being swept downstream?  What if he wanted to try again with help?  I'm a little thrown by the blurring of task and conflict resolution.

What was the Intent? What were the stakes? How did the story change because they didn't cross the river?

Did they become late for an important meeting? Did their provisions get washed away? Did the villain escape?

Each situation where you decide to roll dice requires stakes and risk. The story MUST go in a different direction after the dice have been rolled, whether there's success or failure. That's why it's so important to establish intent and stake before the roll.

What follows should flow from the complication that arose due to the failure. They cannot simply retest, whether they have Help now or not. Instead, they must change the situation. They can use Orienteering to find a better ford (but this means that you'll need new intent and new stakes). They can call on Circles to find a guy with a boat to take them across (although they may invoke the Enmity Clause).

And so forth and so on. Embrace failure in Burning Wheel. Together with Let It Ride, it is one of the drivers of story.
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Luke
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« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2005, 06:00:28 AM »

OK, all good to know. We'll all have to wrap our heads around the notion that in an evenly-matched fight, you stand a good chance of having to retire your character. I like that - fights should be scary. It does leave me a little adrift as a GM, though, knowing that the line between a minor scuffle and a total party kill is so slender.

Last Wednesday's session was just to try the system out. Next week we'll begin the campaign in earnest. The setting is pseudo-mythic Summer and Autumn period China, with the players starting as emissaries for the King of Ba. No characters yet, so I don't know their BITs, but we want to stress themes of loyalty and sacrifice. We're going to start off with a duel of wits and some mellow role-playing.

my little earbrows perked up a bit from your comments here. Fights are dangerous, but there's just not going to be a TPK in your BW game. As the GM, you have WAY too much control for the game to slide into that morass. Not only can you control the exponent of your villains (Have you read the Burning Rogues section in the Burning Wheel?),  you control their every move. So unless you build monstrous exponent 8 demons who script strike/strike/strike/strike/strike/strike (etc), no slaughter is inevitable.

For example, I had a party of 5-6 LP characters fight a demon in the climax of one of my games. I knew that I could script endless strikes and kill the group, but I didn't do that. I used him in that grand final fight in a different way he used his Lawbreaker, Aura of Fear, Demon's Skin traits. He scripted Pushes, Throws and Locks. He was a blur of motion, in complete control of the battle, but no one died before he went down. Not him, not the PCs. Remember, you're in control of your decisions.

Also, I might have misread your last post, but I thought you said you had 8 LP characters for all the players? Don't tell me those were just test characters!
-L
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2005, 07:24:50 AM »

What was the Intent? What were the stakes? How did the story change because they didn't cross the river?
Thanks, Thor.

Not sure about "what's at stake?" - I don't know what that means in BW. 

Task is to cross the river where I stand.  Intent is to get to the other side.  I fail.  I am delayed.  I cannot try to cross the river in the same way again. 

New task is to find a ford to get across the river.  Intent remains to get across the river.  So I try again, with another skill?  What am I missing here?  What do you do when you run out of skills/abilities/etc to get across the river?    What do you do when one guy in your group can't get across? 

On a related note, could the players say "screw the river, our task is to arrive at the meeting on time and our intent is to enhance our reputation"?

Or could the players say, "screw the meeting, our task is to get there on time, breeze through it and impress everybody, and our intent is to eat well that night"?  I don't remember reading that GM has authority over task or intent. 

--Jason
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MetalBard
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« Reply #21 on: October 14, 2005, 07:40:08 AM »

Not sure about "what's at stake?" - I don't know what that means in BW. 

I think Thor's asking you to put the river-crossing in context.  Why does this river need to be crossed?  You could conceivably try to keep crossing it at many different points, but what is the risk of taking so much time to do so?

And really, if there is no time constraint or conflict here (no enemies hot on your tail or a meeting to make in time on the other side) why is the roll even being made?  By citing one of these or other reasons for the conflict, you're answering Thor's question of "what's at stake?"
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"If you've ever told someone how your day went, you can narrate." - Andrew Norris at the Forge on player narration

My name is also Andrew and I have a  blog
Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #22 on: October 14, 2005, 07:41:57 AM »

Fights are dangerous, but there's just not going to be a TPK in your BW game. As the GM, you have WAY too much control for the game to slide into that morass. Not only can you control the exponent of your villains (Have you read the Burning Rogues section in the Burning Wheel?),  you control their every move.

One set of bad rolls can bring a PC down, that much is pretty obvious.  There won't be any exponent 8 demons, but there could be exponent 4 swordsmen, and I'm not really seeing the difference once somebody takes a real hit.  From your comment, it sounds like as GM you have to nerf your NPCs so that Bad Things don't happen. 

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Also, I might have misread your last post, but I thought you said you had 8 LP characters for all the players? Don't tell me those were just test characters!

They were.  It was a mistake.  BTW I'll see you at MACE in November, and I'm very much looking forward to playing in a demo or two.  I bet it will straighten out a lot of my confusion!

--Jason
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Bankuei
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« Reply #23 on: October 14, 2005, 08:29:11 AM »

Hi Jason,

Fights are dangerous, though the dice are rarely what does people in- it's almost always bad choices in scripting or bad luck in how you chose to script them.  For instance, mostly you will miss a roll by a success or two, which usually doesn't end up in taking a heavy blow- but minor one.  But if you failed to script a Block or an Avoid when someone else scripted a Strike- then you take a full on hit with no defense!

As far as "Stakes" to put it in context of the game you're suggesting, "Crossing the river" doesn't mean jack, "crossing the river to tell Duke Wen that Chu is going to betray him during the next battle", that has stakes.  When people ask what's at stake- you ask yourself what happens if the player fails.  If you say "nothing", and the person can try again, no cost, then there's nothing at stake and no point in rolling the dice.  If there's nothing to really be gained or lost in serious context, then you might as well not roll the dice.  "Say yes or roll the dice".

Chris
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Luke
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« Reply #24 on: October 14, 2005, 08:43:06 AM »

Hi Jason,

this is slightly off-topic, but can you explain what "nerf" means? I don't understand.

-L
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #25 on: October 14, 2005, 09:11:21 AM »

Sorry Luke.  Nerf:  To arbitrarily underpower something for "game balance" purposes. 

"Oh crap, I've got these cool badass bandits that are going to own the road.  They ought to have stats and skills in the 4-5 range, because they are badass and that level of competency makes sense, but they will make mince-meat of the PCs.  So I'll make their stats 3's instead.  And they won't strike too much, just sort of avoid and block, even though they'd be down with killing these interlopers at the first sign of resistance."

Force/Illusionism in action, I guess. 
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #26 on: October 14, 2005, 09:19:00 AM »

Fights are dangerous, though the dice are rarely what does people in- it's almost always bad choices in scripting or bad luck in how you chose to script them.  For instance, mostly you will miss a roll by a success or two, which usually doesn't end up in taking a heavy blow- but minor one.  But if you failed to script a Block or an Avoid when someone else scripted a Strike- then you take a full on hit with no defense!
Guys, I really appreciate your time and attention and I'm sorry if I'm being a pedant or a pain.  I do want to get all this right.  I was using "dice" generally, so I get it - my point was a single bit of misfortune and you are down like a side of beef.  You put two maneuvers in the wrong order.  You rolled really bad.  Net effect = the death spiral begins. 

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"Say yes or roll the dice".
OK, that I get, big DitV fan, maybe that is why this all seems so bizarre to me.  But in Dogs when you use that phrase, you really can go for broke - try your hardest to win a conflict.  Anything less isn't fun.  I'm not getting that here.  I think what Luke was saying was "as GM you are in control, so have your NPCs back off if they are going to utterly hose the PCs."  Am I misinterpereting that? 
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Bankuei
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« Reply #27 on: October 14, 2005, 10:24:24 AM »

Hi Jason,

I used "Say yes or roll dice" specifically in regards to your question about stakes.  Rolling dice to cross the river is pointless as rolling dice to tie your shoelaces- unless something else is happening if the PCs don't make it across the river (being chased by bad guys, need to get somewhere in time), then don't bother.

Second, with regards to combat, a great deal of effectiveness depends on a person's skill in scripting.  Assuming you're the guy with the rulebooks, and had time to read them over, you have a significant advantage over the players with dealing with scripting.  It's not like you have to make the NPCs stupid or anything, but you do have to give the players a chance to learn the system.

Chris
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Thor Olavsrud
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« Reply #28 on: October 14, 2005, 11:10:41 AM »

I think others have  answered the question of the river much as I would have. I was using stakes as shorthand for: what is the conflict and what are the agreed upon consequences for failing?

I think that framing the conflict as simply crossing the river, with the consequences merely being that you don't cross the river, means there just isn't a conflict here. The group should narrate crossing the river and move on. Say yes or roll dice.

Think of it this way (and pardon me if this seems esoteric): When you decide to bring out the dice in Burning Wheel, you have made a decision to move something out of the realm of color into the realm of central importance to the narrative. Ideally, each test in Burning Wheel exists to put a character's Belief, Instinct, or Trait in opposition with a risk of some sort, a consequence. And this means that each test in Burning Wheel will ideally require a player to make a choice about the importance of that Belief, Instinct, or Trait in relation to that risk.

With that in mind, what purpose is the river serving in the SIS?

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"Say yes or roll the dice".
OK, that I get, big DitV fan, maybe that is why this all seems so bizarre to me.  But in Dogs when you use that phrase, you really can go for broke - try your hardest to win a conflict.  Anything less isn't fun.  I'm not getting that here.  I think what Luke was saying was "as GM you are in control, so have your NPCs back off if they are going to utterly hose the PCs."  Am I misinterpereting that?

Well, let's explore that a little. I agree that you get to go all out in Dogs. But. You ALWAYS choose when. Afterall, if all you want to do is beat the players, you establish conflict after conflict in which your NPCs always escalate. Trying to get information from a granny about what her daughter has been up to? She talks, then she stabs you with a knife and then she pulls out the big ass shotgun and starts blasting.

If you're going all out all the time, you'll do that for every conflict. Afterall, you're not really invested in these NPCs, right? You can just make more.

It's perfectly fair to challenge them with tough bandits with exponent 4 weapon skills, but do it when it's important, when beliefs are on the line. If beliefs are on the line, should they die, they will die making a thematic statement about their characters, and that's perfectly cool.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #29 on: October 14, 2005, 11:48:42 AM »

And this means that each test in Burning Wheel will ideally require a player to make a choice about the importance of that Belief, Instinct, or Trait in relation to that risk.  With that in mind, what purpose is the river serving in the SIS?

OK, that's pretty clear.  Weird, but clear.  "So you're all standing on the banks of the river, you gotta tell the Duke about those Chu bastards or it'll be disaster, and ... everybody make a swimming roll.  Anybody make it?  OK, one guy did, so the Duke knows.  The rest of you show up later - it doesn't matter any more how you got across."  Is that correct?

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Well, let's explore that a little. I agree that you get to go all out in Dogs. But. You ALWAYS choose when.

You force tough choices, right, like "do you smack the grandmother to the ground?  Because that's what it'll take to shut her up in front of the congregation.  You will?  A grandmother? How about now?"  What's the parallel in BW?

My bandits own the road the PCs desperately need to travel.  They are widely feared.  The PCs are stopped and shaken down, they refuse to give over because, hell, they are the PCs.  Fight ensues, bandits have no reason to give any quarter.  So is this about arrogance, with the result that the PCs are cut down like wheat?  Or am I supposed to not have bandits in the first place, since arrogance isn't what my game is about? 

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