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Author Topic: [Stand Off!] Ronnies feedback  (Read 4228 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: December 30, 2005, 10:40:27 AM »

Stand Off! by Troy Costisick gets rated in the "Great non-RPG" category. Feedback time!

But first, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the supreme Ronnies champion of 2005, Troy Costisick. This man's publishing history prior to encountering the Forge needs to be described in Publishing, and his participation at the site, via the Ronnies and otherwise, is stellar. Newcomers! You want to learn what the Forge is all about? Click on Troy's profile and review his posting history here. You'll see.

All right onto the game. Basically, it's Reservoir Dogs with Soviet black-ops agents (or to use the KGB term, "active measures"). It starts with all the characters pointing guns at one another after a failed op; talk about not fucking around. Basically, this is a Token-based game to establish the back-story of what-went-wrong and who's-at-fault. It is not so much about what the characters do now, which is more-or-less an Endgame although it is dramatic (who gets shot) and there might be more than one.

I think it would be best suited to a non-role-playing context: a more nuanced, not-the-same-each-time version of Werewolf and its derivatives. In fact, I think it ought to be wholly a card game, including the characters (i.e. no options in making them up, you just get them).

In keeping with that point, all the "immersion text" in the current draft (appears three times) is total bullshit. This is just designer fear trying to force "It's an RPG" into what is patently not, and also the poisonous notion that "gee maybe people won't like it, so to make sure they do, I'll say they have to be it." Only a damaged gamer thinks you need to inject tension into a valid & fun competitive situation via "being there, feeling it." That's like looking at poker, and "fixing" it by saying the dealer should enforce "feeling like a cowboy" while playing.

Here are some of the more detailed comments from my notes, most of which are merely playtest & fix points.

1. I'm not at all sure the fact/lies distinction works. I recommend that all initial input is a lie, or perceived as such, and then has to be spent up (by anyone) to make it a fact, or to refute it. 

2. The Moderator role is totally unnecessary. Have a Complications deck, period, and give it tons & tons more cards.

3. Endgame seems remote - why not, upon hitting 0 or getting very close, switch the gun's target and buy more? Because you think you're right? OK, maybe. This works especially well (or I think it will) because maybe no one was at fault.

4. Consistent with the importance of that very issue, that maybe no one was at fault, I think that the At Fault card should be even rarer in fault-deal. As it stands, if you have five players, you deal five out from six cards (five no-faults, one at-fault). I suggest a few more no-faults, so it really is a toss-up whether the thing is even in there.

5. I don't like the Bleeder or the Adrenaline Addict cards; respectively, they reduce effectiveness too much and reduce crucial choices too much.

6. Most importantly for my own desire to playtest, I'm not at all sure I understand how Spy Cards are covered/revealed during play. Help!

Again, Troy, take a bow.

Best,
Ron
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TonyPace
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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2005, 08:40:52 AM »

My main worry about this one was that there didn't seem to be much connection between what happened during play and whether or not you were actually guilty of anything. You could just never look at your fault card and generally speaking it wouldn't make any difference. As a game, that kind of put me off trying it out. In Werewolf, you can catch the guy moving, but here there's no actual movement to catch.

There needs to be some sort of mechanism where the secrets of other players can be revealed, maybe by gambling tokens that a certain player is/is not some sort of spy? I can't quite figure out how that would work with the fault cards though. There has to some sort of hidden sign that the guy you're going to shoot is in fact actually guilty - otherwise what's the point of the cards?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2005, 12:14:11 PM »

Hi Tony,

My understanding is that it comes down to the decisions at the end, when guns have been fired and fault is revealed. If you shoot an innocent person, you get denounced ("lose"). And it is at least possible that everyone is innocent.

What I think you're objecting to is that you don't see the point of shooting anyone unless you're sure. ... Well, maybe that tells us that we need clearer Win conditions.

OK, here's are the tree basic Win conditions as it seems to me.

1. If you're not at fault, and somebody is, then the way to win is for anyone (possibly everyone) who's not at fault to shoot the at-fault guy. Whoever shot him all win, he loses. [Most extreme version is all the innocent ones shooting the guilty one all at once]

2. If you're at fault, then the way to win is for you to provoke everyone else except one to shoot the same innocent guy(s) ... he or they are dead, but not a hero; the shooters are all branded traitors; and you are the sole survivor - You win.

3. If no one's at fault, then the game ends when everyone agrees as much and "puts up the gun."

Can all these be reached equally effectively, with maximum fun? That's the next question.

Best,
Ron
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TonyPace
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« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2005, 10:51:09 PM »

It's not that I want or need to be sure - but there needs to be some sort of information hinting at the others' fault or lack of it. Otherwise it's the purest of no information gambles, the equivalent of betting on roulette. The process of the game has no impact on victory. The only meaningful goal as I see it is the second one you outline - but even there it's washed out by the lack of any pressure on your story from outside events.

I think something more like poker is appropriate, where there is a variety of information about the hands of the other players available, and some mechanism that can be used either to improve your position or send false signals to the other players.

One way around this would be to put certain types of vague instructions on the Fault and No Fault cards. They would take the form of a few Lies you are instructed to put into play. They should be made so that a given lie might fall into several categories, both at fault ones and no fault. Lies that successfully became facts would add perhaps three points, unchallenged lies would add one. Shooting a guilty party would net a lot of points, as would being shot when you were innocent.

That would add a fourth victory path - the goat, the person who was shot when they were not at fault. If he put enough of his lies on the table before going down, he could beat out the guilty party who just tried to go under the radar without ever sticking his neck out.

Finally, perhaps some of the Complications could refute certain types of lies that at fault players were instructed to put into play, or even reveal some of the unused Fault cards so that the players could try to figure out what the pattern of lies hinted at.
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Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2006, 06:12:03 PM »

Heya,

Ron Wrote:
Quote
But first, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the supreme Ronnies champion of 2005, Troy Costisick. This man's publishing history prior to encountering the Forge needs to be described in Publishing, and his participation at the site, via the Ronnies and otherwise, is stellar. Newcomers! You want to learn what the Forge is all about? Click on Troy's profile and review his posting history here. You'll see.

Again, Troy, take a bow.

-Damn. That's high praise. I'll take a bow, but I want you to know I am completely humbled by this. Thank you Ron for your compliments, and thank you even more for creating the Ronnies. Ill make a post in Publishing about my history someday, but Id like to get Cutthroat, Hierarchy, and Stand Off! out the door before I do. That way Id at least have a happy ending.

Ron Wrote:
Quote
In fact, I think it ought to be wholly a card game, including the characters (i.e. no options in making them up, you just get them).

That's pretty radical, but probably a good point. The whole game is in the cards anyway. Characters, Complications, and where the gun points are all written on the cards themselves. So yeah, good observation.

Ron Wrote:
Quote
In keeping with that point, all the "immersion text" in the current draft (appears three times) is total bullshit. This is just designer fear trying to force "It's an RPG" into what is patently not, and also the poisonous notion that "gee maybe people won't like it, so to make sure they do, I'll say they have to be it." Only a damaged gamer thinks you need to inject tension into a valid & fun competitive situation via "being there, feeling it." That's like looking at poker, and "fixing" it by saying the dealer should enforce "feeling like a cowboy" while playing.

-Bah, you caught me trying to just add in a bunch of crap to satisfy the Ronny requirements. You're totally right in that it's just a load of pooh. It'll be coming out in the revision.

Ron Wrote:
Quote
1. I'm not at all sure the fact/lies distinction works. I recommend that all initial input is a lie, or perceived as such, and then has to be spent up (by anyone) to make it a fact, or to refute it.


-Okay, but does that mean the person who initially submitted the Lie may also buy it up to be a Truth? Or does it have to be someone else?

Ron Wrote:
Quote
2. The Moderator role is totally unnecessary. Have a Complications deck, period, and give it tons & tons more cards.

-I was going back and forth on this. I ran out of time to really think it over, so the Moderator stayed. With the ditching of the BS "you really gotta pretend to be a spy" stuff, then the GM is pointless. The Complications deck will be expanded and given some sort of trigger mechanism that sets it off.

Ron Wrote:
Quote
3. Endgame seems remote - why not, upon hitting 0 or getting very close, switch the gun's target and buy more? Because you think you're right? OK, maybe. This works especially well (or I think it will) because maybe no one was at fault.

-Switching your gun now does give you one bonus chip, but I can see where if you're coming from. I just don't want the players to gain SO many chips that there's a greater incentive to switch your gun than pull the trigger. But that's the job of a designer, to manage a balancing act like that, eh?

Ron Wrote:
Quote
6. Most importantly for my own desire to playtest, I'm not at all sure I understand how Spy Cards are covered/revealed during play. Help!

-Okay, no prob :) All players start with their Personality cards face down. At any time on their turn, they may reveal them. If they do so, they gain a token. Some might want to reveal their Personality card because it gives them an advantage, some might because it doesn't matter one way or the other, and some would definitely NOT want to reveal their card as it would tag them as At Fault. Does that clear it up for you?


Ron Wrote:
Quote
1. If you're not at fault, and somebody is, then the way to win is for anyone (possibly everyone) who's not at fault to shoot the at-fault guy. Whoever shot him all win, he loses. [Most extreme version is all the innocent ones shooting the guilty one all at once]

2. If you're at fault, then the way to win is for you to provoke everyone else except one to shoot the same innocent guy(s) ... he or they are dead, but not a hero; the shooters are all branded traitors; and you are the sole survivor - You win.

3. If no one's at fault, then the game ends when everyone agrees as much and "puts up the gun."

-You nailed 'em. Except there can be multiple people At Fault if someone is dealt "The Fink" personality card.

Tony Wrote:
Quote
It's not that I want or need to be sure - but there needs to be some sort of information hinting at the others' fault or lack of it. Otherwise it's the purest of no information gambles, the equivalent of betting on roulette. The process of the game has no impact on victory.


-Heya, bro. Appreciate the feedback :) Anyway, the point of the game is to establish the "sort of information hinting at the others' fault or lack of it." You, the player, describe what happened on the caper. It is from that information that you will draw your conclusion as to the guilt or innocence of another character. Will you be wrong sometimes? Yeah, and mistakes like that are made every day in real life. That's the hard part that the players have to deal with, and really part of the fun as well- going over it and over it in your mind to see where you were wrong. Anyway, as I see it right now, there should be sufficient info entered into the game to tell the innocence or guilt of a character.

Tony Wrote:
Quote
That would add a fourth victory path - the goat, the person who was shot when they were not at fault. If he put enough of his lies on the table before going down, he could beat out the guilty party who just tried to go under the radar without ever sticking his neck out.

-That's an interesting idea. I'd have to think it over a great deal to see if it would work. In the way I have the game set up right now it might not. Have to see.

Tony Wrote:
Quote
Finally, perhaps some of the Complications could refute certain types of lies that at fault players were instructed to put into play, or even reveal some of the unused Fault cards so that the players could try to figure out what the pattern of lies hinted at.

-I like the idea of a Complication card refuting a Fact someone has added. That's something that I'll probably work in some way. As for revealing At Fault cards, I'll have to think about it some more :)

-Thanks all for the feedback, and expect to see this game released sometime this year. The rewrites in Cutthroat and Hierarchy are coming along nicely also. Happy new year!

Peace,

-Troy
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2006, 09:05:58 AM »

Hiya,

Looks like it's coming along well!

You asked,

Quote
does that mean the person who initially submitted the Lie may also buy it up to be a Truth?

Yeah, that's what I mean. I guess I'm seeing the terminology a little differently.

1. All input starts as a Claim by a given character.

2. A Claim may be bought "up" into either an Exposed Lie or a That's It Truth.

3. Anyone may buy up either way for #2 (but not both), including the original claimant.

4. I suggest that #2 is a one-way trip in ordinary play, without the possibility of reversal or downgrade through the normal rules. However, I do think that Complication cards for, respectively, reversal (Lie to Truth, Truth to Lie) and Downgrade (Lie to Claim, Truth to Claim) would be excellent.

Best,
Ron
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Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2006, 09:26:18 AM »

Heya,

I gotchya, Ron.  Thanks.  I think this game is going to end up really rocking.

Peace,

-Troy
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