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Author Topic: [Sphear] Ronnies feedback  (Read 784 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: October 24, 2005, 08:37:31 AM »

Hello,

I'll say it again. Jared was robbed, or very nearly robbed, of a Ronny. Even if the game wasn't as good as it is, there's his blatant and accurate attempt to ensnare me back in the 1970s with a surrealistic, low-budget horror Tall Man setting, not to mention describing what $10 could pay for back then, and daring to use the 70s-ish kid's name of all 70s-ness: Jody (Jodie for girls). You'll have to be the judge of whether I am being unfair in self-defense. (Aarrghh, you shall not trap me in the first half of Boogie Nights, nooo!)

I have lots of questions about skills and their use. For example, I don't see any reason for the "basic" level or category; any possible use of a skill in this game seems to me to fall into Survival, Heroic, and Selfish, otherwise why bother rolling.

Also, why break them up into three sets anyway? Perhaps this is only a presentation issue, but it seems to me you should list them once, with three applications under each one. The only possible answer I can think of is if the +5's gained during play applies to specific categories only. In other words, my character's girlfriend is decapitated by a metallic sphere, so I get +5 to ... Fight, for any/all of the applications? Or +5 for Fight in one application only, such as Selfish or Survival?

Using age as a feature of the resolution ratings is interesting, coupled with the age-specific maxima for certain skills. I get the maxima; they come right out of the genre. I'm not as sure I see why the exact age-percentages matter during character creation. During play itself, I'm not at all confident that they matter at all.

For instance, say I make up (heh) Jodie at 9 years old. She purchases Fight, Move, Sneak, Search, Speak, and Think at 9 each, totalling to 36 points. Now she has 84 points left to beef up these skills, although she is capped at 50 each for Search, Speak, or Think. Is there some reason I couldn't have just divvied up 120 points with those caps in place? This feature only seems to matter for characters who are Younger, but older within that category, hence limiting their options for spending more points.

Jared, unless I'm reading totally incorrectly, this means your "no official Younger/Older cutoff" isn't flying ... the cutoff has to be 20 or less. Or am I mis-reading, and are you saying that anyone over 20 is going to have to put 20+ in as many skills as possible, then spend the weeny remainder on the other skills? Say Jodie is 72 ... does that mean 72 in one skill, then 48 points spread across the other skills? Oh, my poor brain - what do you mean? Again, I'm seeing that characters under 20 are mechanically different (more options) than characters 20 and over, but that's all.

Also, I'm assuming that the maxima apply throughout play - i.e., they cannot be exceeded by adding +5's as NPCs are killed? Is that right?

Speaking of NPCs being killed, I think the text is awfully vague, even confusing, about how and when an NPC can be killed, or abucted or whatever. Clearly, if the NPC is in the actual scene, then he or she is at risk. Plus, if the NPC is not in the scene, and his or her "number comes up" (heh, clever monkey, Jared), then he or she is killed.

But wait, killed? No, apparently not. Apparently the NPC is just disappeared or something. Well, when does the GM do which? And wait, it has to "make sense" that they reappear? In these movies? You must be kidding.

I do like the countdown effect of killin' off NPCs, but I'm thinking that the entire game might be better done with 1d20 (i.e. 5% increments, and starting with 24 skill points for player-characters), partly because the NPCs not in current scenes would be picked off considerably faster. I like my horror movies short and sweet. Then again, that fucks up the age-thing, possibly, unless you do 5-year increments.

Its procedures are so structured as to make the emulative experience more board-game like, a bit like what I called the Cheapass category in the last round.  Not so much as to be a problem, though; there are lots of choices for deciding between Heroic and Selfish, and similar.

Now for the final point, which is pretty much my only real leg to stand on for not awarding a Ronny, I think. Basically, Sphear is an emulative game - you get to "be in a horror flick of this type." Why is this an issue? Because emulation is potentially fun, but to me, it's not inspiring.

I don't hold other authors to this bar during the Ronnies, but you're hosed, my friend. Lacuna requires judgment in the course of playing "in" the spy/alienation genre; you can't play the game without finding moral ground and standing in it. Same goes for InSpectres regarding dot-coms, although most people only dip their toes in the game's potential. Where's the judgment of the 70s and splatter-weird horror in Sphear? At the moment, I'm just "in" it, and that's not enough for me. I know you can emulate the genre without breaking a sweat - I want you to sweat for a Ronny, though.

Best,
Ron
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2005, 12:12:21 PM »

I have lots of questions about skills and their use. For example, I don't see any reason for the "basic" level or category; any possible use of a skill in this game seems to me to fall into Survival, Heroic, and Selfish, otherwise why bother rolling. Also, why break them up into three sets anyway? Perhaps this is only a presentation issue, but it seems to me you should list them once, with three applications under each one. The only possible answer I can think of is if the +5's gained during play applies to specific categories only. In other words, my character's girlfriend is decapitated by a metallic sphere, so I get +5 to ... Fight, for any/all of the applications? Or +5 for Fight in one application only, such as Selfish or Survival?

Right. The Basic Skills should have been excised in the final edit -- but as there wasn't really a final edit, mea culpa.

And in hindsight (I was just talking about this with someone), I should have made it so that the +5% bonus is applied to one type of skill (so Selfish/Fight or Heroic/Move or whatever).


Quote
Jared, unless I'm reading totally incorrectly, this means your "no official Younger/Older cutoff" isn't flying ... the cutoff has to be 20 or less. Or am I mis-reading, and are you saying that anyone over 20 is going to have to put 20+ in as many skills as possible, then spend the weeny remainder on the other skills? Say Jodie is 72 ... does that mean 72 in one skill, then 48 points spread across the other skills? Oh, my poor brain - what do you mean? Again, I'm seeing that characters under 20 are mechanically different (more options) than characters 20 and over, but that's all.

Also, I'm assuming that the maxima apply throughout play - i.e., they cannot be exceeded by adding +5's as NPCs are killed? Is that right?

I didn't break out the math to figure out the age limit between elder and youngster. Your example with the 72 year old Jodie is spot on. An older character has less choice but higher skills.

Quote
Speaking of NPCs being killed, I think the text is awfully vague, even confusing, about how and when an NPC can be killed, or abucted or whatever. Clearly, if the NPC is in the actual scene, then he or she is at risk. Plus, if the NPC is not in the scene, and his or her "number comes up" (heh, clever monkey, Jared), then he or she is killed.

But wait, killed? No, apparently not. Apparently the NPC is just disappeared or something. Well, when does the GM do which? And wait, it has to "make sense" that they reappear? In these movies? You must be kidding.

I do like the countdown effect of killin' off NPCs, but I'm thinking that the entire game might be better done with 1d20 (i.e. 5% increments, and starting with 24 skill points for player-characters), partly because the NPCs not in current scenes would be picked off considerably faster. I like my horror movies short and sweet. Then again, that fucks up the age-thing, possibly, unless you do 5-year increments.

The countdown is the reason I did the game. That and the age things are what I wanted to get out there. I'm sure it can be tinkered with to be much better.

Quote
I don't hold other authors to this bar during the Ronnies, but you're hosed, my friend. Lacuna requires judgment in the course of playing "in" the spy/alienation genre; you can't play the game without finding moral ground and standing in it. Same goes for InSpectres regarding dot-coms, although most people only dip their toes in the game's potential. Where's the judgment of the 70s and splatter-weird horror in Sphear? At the moment, I'm just "in" it, and that's not enough for me. I know you can emulate the genre without breaking a sweat - I want you to sweat for a Ronny, though.

See you in Hell, Edwards.
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
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