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Sussing out details of an Actual Play post

Started by TonyLB, December 19, 2005, 02:03:11 AM

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I had to pull out this rules-discussion from an actual play post, because Actual Play is not the right place for me to be doing detailed rules tutelage, given that I've got this handy-dandy forum sitting here.

Quote from: Arpie on December 18, 2005, 10:59:39 PM
Examples. Er... okay... Fair enough.

I'll take two specific moments from play that I can recall:

More recent game (without backroom deals) -
- Randy and Jake are playing opposed masterminds at an important demonstration of new flying powered armor for the Marine Corps. Due to some confusion on the part of the youngest player, who's playing the Godling/Crusader Kestral, things are going pretty well for Jake's sinister Dr. Moore (kind of Dabney Donovan-meets-Dr. Moreau) and we're all enjoying Jake's insane triumphant laughter.
Randy, playing a character known only as "C" - described by him as a sort of a goody-goody version of the X-file's Cigarette Smoking Man - puts out the goal: "Kill Dr. Moore" (in frustration, I think.) Jake has created Dr. Moore as a Scientist/Neurotic, as I recall. Neither Jake nor Randy have any story tolkens and neither have any debt (which the two younger players pretty much have monopolized.) Despite tremendous amounts of debt on their part, the story tolkens keep going to me (the high-powered armor simpleton lackey.)
Nobody but the Kestral and "C" really want to see Dr. Moore killed, especially so early in the story, and we try and support him. I spend story tolkens like mad, but I'm telling you, I got bad dice luck.
(Unless I cheat, but everyone at the table is a better cheater than me.)
Things get worse, Dr. Moore perishes (Jake takes it like a trooper, but Randy won't call "C" anything but a good guy, despite his sinister conspiratorial presence) the story kind of dies and we all want to kill the kid playing the Kestrel.
A problem with players? Perhaps, but one that we could have prevented if I thought to do a little negotiating.

Earlier game (with backroom deals) -
- Ryan, an avid fan of SJG's Illuminati (of course), is playing Ing, the brash and gulliable young mecha pilot. I'm playing Archcarnifex Vathek, his main opposition, (with no superpowers.) He's a Robot/Ex-Victim, I'm a Sycophantic Spook (closest I could come to grand vizier without being a puppet master - which someone else had already claimed - we were doing it quick with one set of clicksheets... anyway...)
Being superpowered, Ryan's generating tons of debt but all his story tolkens* are going to me. If he does not use his powers, he has little effect on the story and is running out of check boxes. Ryan is a master die roller, but I'm having my usual rotten die luck (they rolls are all going my way especially when I don't want them to.) The other players, even my villainous minion, have started to feel bad and are doing whatever they can to help out - but the plot points are beginning to spiral out of control.
I'm making random goals up to keep from rolling, as a matter of fact.
So I make a deal to Ryan - I specifically want Ing to keep playing the fool for me and attack the peaceful, misunderstood psychical aliens Vathek is setting up as "invaders" - so he can be proclaimed a military genius and squash all oppostion in the Temple of Science. Ryan just wants Ing to succeed at SOMETHING. Ing is the hero of the story, after all.
So, inbetween scenes, Ryan agrees that, during the climatic battle scene, he will "throw" two goals I present - not even claiming the side which ought to benefit him - and I'll give him four of my story tolkens.
A consumate master of manipulating the deal, Ryan then switches characters in order to become one of the invaders. We call all deals binding for at least a scene. Ryan's all-knowing, all-wise telepaths successfully invade and profer a better method of government to Vathek's fanatical Science Council (completely reversing the war allegory I was trying to establish.) A successful uprising kicks out Vathek and his forces become the insurgents (at least I had control of that bit.) Ing, of course, becomes a hero (I ended up playing Ing for the battle, by the way. Because of another deal I'd made.)

(Remember that some people play games to feel clever. Ryan, a staunch republican, often prefers to feel cleverer than my bleeding heart liberal pro-union Democratic self. That's fine. I'm really not all that clever anyway.)

(PS. A lot of the guys I currently play with proudly proclaim themselves to be powergamers and munchkins, incidentally**. I think it was a petty fair judgement on both sides. They don't like most of what I tell them about the Forge, either. Personally, I consider myself pretty artful when I can balance on the fence.)

*You don't know how badly I want to keep spelling that Tolkiens, but I was gently reminded of the difference. Just heard a JRR reading of original Frodo song at Prancing Pony.
**A reaction to five years of miserable WW experiences, mostly. Just hearing certain "storytelling" or "darkness" terms sends me right over the edge.

Okay, I'm genuinely perplexed by what you're describing as "bad dice luck."  We have got to be miscommunicating, somewhere, but I need more details before I can say exactly how.  Just to clarify what I think you're saying:  You are routinely encountering situations where you have the following:
  • Side A, has no debt staked (and therefore at most one die) and only a few people acting on it
  • Side B, has a large amount of debt staked ("everybody with debt wants this side to win"), multiple people reacting on each action, and people spending sizable sums of story tokens (so that there are several actions to react to)
... and Side A wins?

In all seriousness ... give me some details of how this can happen.  If this is what you're seeing then I have the strongest suspicion that you're misinterpreting the rules somehow, because the odds against that under the rules as written ... they're not just a million to one, they are substantially higher than that.  The word "astronomical" leaps to mind.
Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum


No, man, with bad dice luck, I'm talking about trying, for instance, to get the pro side of a goal amped up from, say, a 1 (currently showing on the die) and rolling a 1. That's bad luck. (All this "staked" terms stuff really threw me and my players. So, it's pretty conceivable that we may have misinterpreted the rules.)

Or a situation where I, narratively, don't want a goal to succeed and I want to give the other players a feel that I'm trying to promote my character's villainous agenda, and I roll a 6. That's bad dice luck, to me.

Let's try and explain this the way I experienced it:
On my action, I put out a goal that says
"Sabotage the Giant Robot Project."
Ryan wants to go up into space with his giant robot pilot character and uses his action to roll the con die on that goal. He uses one of his Ex-Victim traits (I forget which one.) He gets a 1. Argh!
So does the next person who tries to help him out. Double argh!
The next guy is allied with me, but feels kinda bad about the way the night's been going for Ryan, so he holds out on rolling (even though he could.)
Then my turn comes around. I'm Vathek, the archvillain. I feel like I should show willing, but why would I bother to roll? I'm supposed to want to sabotage the project.
Then, one the final reaction to Ryan's action, Ryan rolls ANOTHER 1. Frustrating.
Bad dice luck. You can't split a 1.

So we made some deals.

Besides, the point was that my fellow players like wheeling and dealing and I needed to add some element to get them interested.

Look, your rules are great. I wouldn't have even tried playing if I didn't like what I saw. (In fact, I made up a whole bunch of clicksheets with anime themes for the NEXT TIME I play - er, amittedly, with the first group.) The whole backroom deals thing I suggested in the other thread was just a neat side tool I thought would help other players kick start more reluctant groups.


Quote from: Arpie on December 19, 2005, 05:26:03 AM
Bad dice luck. You can't split a 1.

Wow, that is bad dice luck.  That's a thousand-to-one shot all on its own, and you say this happened several times in the same session?

I worried you were, I dunno, missing the rules for splitting dice.  But instead you were getting freak-of-nature die rolls.  That's rough, particularly when you're trying to demonstrate the system to the skeptical.  My sympathies go out to you.
Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum


That same example didn't happen several times in the same session, of course. And keep in mind that I'm not as good at cheating as my players, so they may have been playing tricks.

But, let's say someone distributed their dice with no 5s or 6s. Stuff happens and sometimes players need an example of cooperation before they actually cooperate.

Obviously, most of the groups in this arena would not do such a thing - but my mean old players needed it. Not just because of bad dice luck, but it helped (and it happens a lot with my groups.)

We're all cheaters. Some of the members of the group are amateur magicians. Some guys have been rolling dice since the late 70s. It's sometimes hard to tell if anyone at the table is rolling "honestly" at all - but even I can fix most rolls I have to make, if I try.

It's all in the wrist baby!