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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 162 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Misery Bubblegum] Stakes Resolution  (Read 6663 times)
Josh Roby

Posts: 1055

Category Three Forgite

« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2006, 05:08:40 PM »

Isn't that the ending of the first Spiderman movie? ;)

In any case, I was just throwing out different interpretations based on where the cards might go -- I think choosing "I gain control of this side, and the other side gets shuffled out randomly" could produce some interesting developments.  Why do you think that the losing side "must" go somewhere specific?  Or are you going with 'back to where it came from' which might be the middle of the table (and how is the middle of the table different than a random shuffle in terms of the narrative)?

Sydney Freedberg

Posts: 1293

« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2006, 01:12:19 PM »

The "where Stakes cards go" is a key thing to work out, yeah. But so is "where the dice go," because that determines who has the power to MAKE the cards go one way or another. If I'm following the economy:

[1. You can get dice to give out to other players at will, in unlimited quantities] "Misery Dice."  They start in a bowl in front of one of the players.  Other players, at the start of the game, can just grab a handful. ..."Passion Dice."  They start in a bowl in front of another player.  Again, other players can grab a handful to start with.

[2. You get dice into your own pools to use when the other players want to reward/bribe you:] If any player...is willing to give you one of their passion dice then you succeed.  Yay.  Likewise, if anyone (but especially the player holding the bowl of misery dice) is willing to give you one of their misery dice then there is some complication to your success or failure.  They can put these dice either straight into your pool or onto one of the trait-cards in front of you.

[3. Your Pool of Misery Dice impedes your use of Passion, Passion impedes Misery:] passion dice give you power to control the sort of decisions you have to face, misery dice give you power to force hard decisions on other people....using passion dice[, y]our base difficulty on any roll is going to be the number of misery dice you have in your pool. [SF: And conversely, using misery dice, you have to beat the number of dice in your passion pool -- right?]

[4. Dice placed on Trait/Stake cards BEFORE a conflict (in 1., above) do NOT make things more difficult (as in 3., above) but are only available when a specific card is put at stake:] "Reckless Curiosity" comes with a passion die.  You decide to roll that immediately.... add "Relationship with Amy" to side #2.  Because I'm evil that way, and I can do it essentially for free (using the misery die already on the card).

[5.  Dice placed on Trait/Stake cards DURING a conflict can be captured along with the card and go into the new owner's pool (I think):] I now take the two passion dice that you had holding down the card....

[6. All dice placed in cards involved in the conflict -- whether they were placed there before or during the conflict -- that aren't captured (as in 5.) drain from the economy, although they can easily be brought back (as in 1.):] All of the dice that are still out there holding down cards (or having tried and failed to regain initiative) go back into their respective bowls....

So, trying to apply my analysis of incentives and economies, the first-order incentive is very clear:

You want dice to use, you gotta do stuff the other players find interesting. Great; straight out of PTA.

The second-order effects -- way less obvious. But if I'm reading this right:

If I use a lot of one resource, e.g. Passion, it may go out of the system or it may go into another player, but it ain't comin' home to me. But that loss makes it easier to use the opposite resource, e.g. Misery. So that's double negative feedback: The more Passion I use, the harder it is to use Passion next time, but the easier it is to use Misery (and vice versa).
A lot of negative feedback loops make all victories inherntly phyrric and therefore encourage cautious play, but I think this one just makes you swing back and forth between Passion and Misery -- more or less, between "attacking" and "defending" -- which is probably a good way to get variation in play without punishing people from winning.

If I spend a lot of one resource, there's a good chance another player will take it from me as the Trait/Stake cards fly back and forth -- even if I ultimately recapture everything -- so that player will get stronger in that resource (although, conversely, have a harder time using the opposite resource).
3a. So that's more negative feedback, at one level: the more Passion (or Misery) I use, the more my opponents are likely to have to use against me.
3b. But at another level, it's positive feedback: the more dice I pour into a conflict, the more cards I'm likely to capture, which means the more dice I'll get back. This provides an incentive to fight instead of avoid conflict, which is generally a good thing.
I don't know how these two effects would interact, but this is the point I'm least confident I understand you on, anyway.

Giving someone dice into their pool, directly, encourages them to use that resource and makes it harder for them to use the other resource: It's an incentive to switch between Passion/action and Misery/reaction.
Putting dice on a card encourages people to put that specific card at stake in a specific way (either as Passion or Misery).

The big bowls of dice anyone can draw from -- that's a soft spot in the economy, you know that? It's like the GM position in early playtest versions of Capes: Infinite resources subject to purely arbitrary decisionmaking. I want to see some regulation of how many dice are in those pools and how many can come out per "turn," the way PTA does it.

And I bet I am missing or misconstruing at least one critical element.


Posts: 3702

« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2006, 07:22:12 AM »

Sydney, good analysis.  There's a few points I'll comment on later, but first I have to laugh on a totally unrelated topic.  The laughter is not directed at you.


Heehheeeehehhhhhh..  Bwahaha!  Heh.

Why am I laughing?  I had a really funny thought about the system.  You know how I was asking "What names do we apply to the guy who's holding the bowl of Passion dice and the guy who's holding the bowl of Misery dice"?  I thought of some.

Guy who is holding the bowl of Passion dice:  Game Master.
Guy who is holding the bowl of Misery dice:  Story Teller.

And yes part of the reason I love it so much is that it's parody.  But ... but, I think it has a kernel of very serious truth.  I think the Game Master and the Story Teller (as typified by D&D and Vampire) are different positions.  The Game Master is there to judge whether you succeed or fail, and to decide outcomes.  The Story Teller is there to help you tell your story, and to keep heaping hardship and adversity on you.

Those can be independent roles.  A game can benefit from having both.

Now here's the thing:  in Misery Bubblegum, as I've currently formulated it, the "judge whether you succeed or fail, and decide outcomes" bit is split into two places.  For simple conflicts the guy with the bowl decides.  For complex conflicts the guy who has been chosen to choose decides.  So here's the brainwave above and beyond the terms:  What if we combine those two ideas roles?

How about, whoever is currently holding the Passion dice bowl is the Game Master, and the Game Master is the one who chooses between Stake #1 and Stake #2.  Always.  The Game Master is the one calling the shots.  They decide whether you succeed or fail.  They are the ones who decide what happens with complicated stakes.  They make all the decisions.

Until they pass the bowl.

Why would they pass the bowl?  Because when you're the Game Master you have very few ways to gain Passion dice of your own.  Basically, you can only get them when somebody gives them to you.  But you can spend them, oh boy can you spend them.  Eventually you're just flat going to run out, while everyone else will be sitting there happily farming Passion dice off of you and Misery dice off of the Story Teller.  They'll never run out of resources to oppose you with.  But you don't have to stay the target forever.  You'll accumulate a great big pile of Misery, and then you can pass the large red bulls-eye to some other poor sap.

Okay, now that I've vented that.  Oh, wait.  Heh.  Heeheeeheehehehhh.  A GM and a Story Teller.  Heh.  I make myself happy.  Right ... now that I've vented that ...

Sydney, I think your analysis is solid, except for two things.

One is #1 where you assume the dice in the bowls are always available to all players.  That would, indeed, be a great big sucking chest wound in the tightness of the economy.  After that initial "Grab however much misery and passion you'd like to jump-start the game," people award misery and passion out of their own, personal pools.  The only people who can award from the bowls are the people holding the bowls.

So, for example, let's say you've got a ton of passion, and just a few dice of misery.  You get passed the GM bowl (because, dude, you clearly need it).  Someone takes an action ... and you award them a passion die from the bowl and a misery die from your personal pool.  Why?  Because that misery pool is setting your base difficulty.  As long as you're in the GM role, it's a hindrance.  You only want to build a great big pile of misery in the last instants before you pass the bowl.  Make sense?

The second is where you assume that the dice awarded to the card are the same as the dice rolled to control the fate of that card (sorta both #5 and #6).  The awards stay with the card (if they haven't been spent).  You could totally end up with a card in the uncontrolled pool that's just loaded with passion and misery dice.

I'm really fascinated, myself, by the interacton of the dice on the cards with the shifting of the GM bowl.  Passion dice on your cards are a huge pain in the ass when you're not the GM.  Misery dice are your friends.  Plus, so long as you don't have the GM bowl you're safe.  You can't choose anything, but nobody can force you to stake a card under your control.  You can only stake it voluntarily, to force the GM to a choice about it.  But, the moment you become the GM, that all flip-flops.  Now the passion dice are your friends, and the misery dice are your enemies.  What's more, the cards in your hand are not safe.  Anyone can stake them, as if they were in the uncontrolled area.

So what if you've got a ton of Passion dice in your pool, but also a ton of Misery dice on a card that you consider really important.  That's like a great big flag with a fireworks display behind it.  You need to be handed the GM bowl, and you need to have people trying to force you to make a really, really, really hard choice about that particular card, right the heck now.

Okay, I don't know about anyone else, but I'm suddenly getting very excited about the prospects here.

Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum
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