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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 62 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Steel Shadows] The Power 19  (Read 13319 times)
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #30 on: February 28, 2006, 08:14:46 PM »

Quote
This room contains two guards and an alarm bell. Each guard has 2 hit points. You cannot cross this room without dealing with the guards.

If you attack, the GM rolls 1d6 Damage and 1d10 Alert (the Alert is high because of the bell, which the guards will attempt to set off.)

If you want to sneak through, the GM rolls 1d3 Damage and 1d12 Alert. (Two guards make it hard to sneak.)

If you have a better option, the guards are at 1d4/1d4.

I'm slightly worried about this.  Mainly, what if my better option is something that also carries a high alert risk (like, it might be 1d3 / 1d8) or whatever.

What if, instead, you do a thing like this:

Me: "Okay, so I'm going jump up onto the roof and drip poison into the guard's tea down a wire -- like that scene in James Bond.  They totally can't catch me, so that should be 1d3 Damage.  But if they notice, they'll ring the bell, so that's 1d8 Alert."

Other players: "Huh, it's cool, but I think it should be 1d10 Alert, because that wire is pretty obvious."

Ben,

You are a dirty hippie and were raised on the sweet milk of cooperation, my friend. Also, read the P19 for this thing - it specifically states that the GM's goal is to create challenges.

The players thinking up the mechanics of their own resolution! It is a fine jest.

---

In all seriousness, remember that I thought up the basic mechanics of this last night, and have doubled them just in this thread. There's lots of ways I can roll with this, including the fine idea of making the default different for each room, or making it a sliding scale, so that the GM can roll with your narration and turn 1d4/1d4 into 1d3/1d6.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Ben Lehman
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« Reply #31 on: February 28, 2006, 08:22:20 PM »

Basically, I just want there to be some way for the content of your creative idea to matter.  If every clever idea gets the same dice, then none of them are really different from each other.  I want "poisoning the tea" to be mechanically very different from "dressing up as a maid."  Or what have you.

yrs--
--Ben
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #32 on: March 01, 2006, 05:51:13 AM »

Oh, yeah, and what if, if your idea gets smacked down, you have to go with the basics.  So no wasting time with "okay, so maybe I'll disguise myself as a maid..." after someone says "I think that poison wire thing is lame.  You did that to the last 20 guards."

If the skills are in linear progression, than a smacked-down idea could default to the next-lamest thing, and so on.

"I do the wire thing to his tea again, using Master Poisoner"
"Lame"
"OK, I use Poisoner to poke him with a paralytic dart.  Again"
"Lame"
"Uh, that's it for poison skills, I guess I have to beat the crap out of him."

You get that desperation, but a highly skilled dude gets chances to recover and still do something cool.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #33 on: March 01, 2006, 06:59:25 AM »

This is one of those opinion questions I hate, not really believing in the wisdom of crowds, but honestly, I'm stymied:

As written above, you roll a stat + skill when doing something. So, for example, if I want to kill a samurai, I roll Wolf + Blades. If my Wolf is a d6 and my Blades a d8, that's what I'll roll. The threat - in this case, a samurai, rolls its Threat + Alert. If the samurai is a d8 Threat, but d4 Alert, that's what I'll roll against.

This is cool, and works well, and is very intuitive to a role-player. However, in character generation, it sucks. Each skill and stat has 6 levels it can be set at: d3, d4, d6, d8, d10, d12. That means I have to be extra careful to constrain advancement of these. I also have to really constrain GM choice in making challenges, too, so that he doesn't make something that's too hard for the characters with a high die on one side and a low die on the other, trouncing them because they can't be imbalanced.

There's a second idea rolling around in my head. What if I eliminated stats, and every skill had two sides? (Steel and Shadow, of course.) So, I might have a skill like this: Blades d10 / d4. My Steel is high with blades, but my Shadow is low - I'm powerful and loud. If I confront that samurai, I'll roll my Steel (d10) compared to his Threat (d8) and my Shadow (d4) compared to his Alert (d4).  If I win at Steel, he dies, but if he wins at Alert, I take Stealth damage. (If he won at Threat, I'd take Health damage.)

The big benefit - more tactical options, and 25 levels for each skill. I like this a whole lot, but I'm asking if anyone sees obvious problems.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Ben Lehman
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« Reply #34 on: March 01, 2006, 07:23:57 AM »

I think that the biggest problem with that is that it encourages, even further, having one skill that's really good and using it for everything.  I'm not sure how purchasing works yet, so I can't say, but if I could get Blades (1d10/1d10) then I just kill everything  with my cutty bits.

yrs--
--Ben
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Eric Provost
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« Reply #35 on: March 01, 2006, 07:24:40 AM »

Quote from: Clinton
I like this a whole lot, but I'm asking if anyone sees obvious problems.
I don't see any.  Seems pretty darned cool to me.

Quote from: Clinton
I'll roll my Steel (d10) compared to his Threat (d8) and my Shadow (d4) compared to his Alert (d4).  If I win at Steel, he dies, but if he wins at Alert, I take Stealth damage. (If he won at Threat, I'd take Health damage.)
This looks really cool.  But what if Steel and Shadows aren't automatically mapped to Threat and Alert?  Meaning, if the player rolls high on Steel and crap on Shadows he can choose to use his Steel to overcome the Alert.  This would reflect back on the idea of the player being able to sacrifice the character for the mission.

-Eric
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Blake T. Deakin
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« Reply #36 on: March 01, 2006, 07:26:38 AM »

I think that the biggest problem with that is that it encourages, even further, having one skill that's really good and using it for everything.  I'm not sure how purchasing works yet, so I can't say, but if I could get Blades (1d10/1d10) then I just kill everything  with my cutty bits.

Though spattering blood on shoji is certainly a staple of the genre, I don't know if its the safest assumption that everything can be solved with stabbin'.
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Dessert is a dish best served cold.
Jack Aidley
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« Reply #37 on: March 01, 2006, 07:30:19 AM »

I think that the biggest problem with that is that it encourages, even further, having one skill that's really good and using it for everything.  I'm not sure how purchasing works yet, so I can't say, but if I could get Blades (1d10/1d10) then I just kill everything  with my cutty bits.

But Clinton is controlling the training so could prevent this, I suspect.

Ooo - what if skills are a resource too? So everytime you use them (and win or and lose, perhaps?) they degrade? Then you've got a new tactical level: do I save my big hitters for the endgame, or use them early to ensure my vital resources are intact at the end?

Seriously, Clinton, this is a really cool concept. Plus, you've once again gone and invented something so similar to an idea I've been kicking around in my head for ages that everyone will think I'm ripping you off if I ever get round to doing it properly.
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- Jack Aidley, Great Ork Gods, Iron Game Chef (Fantasy): Chanter
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #38 on: March 01, 2006, 07:33:04 AM »

This looks really cool.  But what if Steel and Shadows aren't automatically mapped to Threat and Alert?  Meaning, if the player rolls high on Steel and crap on Shadows he can choose to use his Steel to overcome the Alert.  This would reflect back on the idea of the player being able to sacrifice the character for the mission.

Eric,

That would be a special power/usable resource. Which is really awesome - you can decide to do it, but only a few times.

Quote from: Ben
I think that the biggest problem with that is that it encourages, even further, having one skill that's really good and using it for everything.  I'm not sure how purchasing works yet, so I can't say, but if I could get Blades (1d10/1d10) then I just kill everything  with my cutty bits.

It's a good point, Ben, but avoidable via controlling trainings and also making sure that there's plenty of non-fighting challenges. I'm envisioning about a 50/50 split between combat and non-combat.

- Clinton
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Eric Provost
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« Reply #39 on: March 01, 2006, 07:34:50 AM »

Quote from: Ben
...but if I could get Blades (1d10/1d10) then I just kill everything  with my cutty bits.

Oh yeah.  That would kinda suck.  I was just assuming that a High/High combination wouldn't be possible.  Like, you'd have to have either Medium/Medium or High/Low.  

Ok, in that case, I've got another "What if" for ya'.  This was also partly inspired by the problem of being lame by poisoning every single turn.

Quote from: What if...?
Each skill has a box (or boxes?) that are checked off when the skill is tested.  You roll Poison, you put a check mark next to Poison.  If there aren't any un-checked boxes next to a skill, you can't use it in this scene.  Once all of your boxes are checked off then you can erase all the check marks and start over again.  I guess extra points in the build would provide extra boxes next to skills.

With that in play, using your uber-skills on crappy challenges would be a potential waste of a resource.  You'd want to use the lowest possible skill for the job.  Meaning that you'd be constantly either challenging yourself in the face of danger, or gambling away your resources early.

-Eric
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #40 on: March 01, 2006, 08:02:35 AM »

Ok, in that case, I've got another "What if" for ya'.  This was also partly inspired by the problem of being lame by poisoning every single turn.

Quote from: What if...?
Each skill has a box (or boxes?) that are checked off when the skill is tested.  You roll Poison, you put a check mark next to Poison.  If there aren't any un-checked boxes next to a skill, you can't use it in this scene.  Once all of your boxes are checked off then you can erase all the check marks and start over again.  I guess extra points in the build would provide extra boxes next to skills.

With that in play, using your uber-skills on crappy challenges would be a potential waste of a resource.  You'd want to use the lowest possible skill for the job.  Meaning that you'd be constantly either challenging yourself in the face of danger, or gambling away your resources early.

Eric (and the rest of ya worried),

Thanks for your input. I don't want to overthink this, which I think might be happening.

Example: I'm playing D&D. I'm awesome at fighting. I resolve most problems by fighting.

Example 2: I'm this guy's DM. I think, let's put a bunch of non-fighty challenges in this week.

Those are the ingredients, and we have cake.

I'll mitigate the "wow, this is boring, I've cut up 99 guys" issue by having non-fighting challenges, lots of challenges that can damage abilities, and a skill generation system that is exponential - it costs more to go from d8 -> d10 than d6 -> d8. You'll want to spread your abilities around.

The one thing I have brought from this, though, is it would be interesting to make it cost a lot more for d10/d10 than d12/d4.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Jack Aidley
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« Reply #41 on: March 01, 2006, 08:09:33 AM »

But in Steel Shadows I can't design challenges around the character skill set 'cos I don't know what it is yet. Also, and perhaps more applicably, how is it decided when a way of getting round a problem is valid?
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- Jack Aidley, Great Ork Gods, Iron Game Chef (Fantasy): Chanter
Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #42 on: March 01, 2006, 08:18:10 AM »

The steel/shadow dichotomy for skillz is really cool and you know you should keep it. 

Also, if skills are resources, you eliminate repetitive lameness, because you only get to do the wire-drip-teapot thing once.  I think the more boss the skill level, the rarer it is in play.  You can pummel a guy all you want, but Silent Mantis Pincer to his cervical vertebrae?  One time only, so choose wisely. 
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #43 on: March 01, 2006, 08:36:50 AM »

But in Steel Shadows I can't design challenges around the character skill set 'cos I don't know what it is yet. Also, and perhaps more applicably, how is it decided when a way of getting round a problem is valid?

I'm going to go back to my D&D example. People have been doing this for nigh on 20 years with that game. The GM designs an adventure based on not the characters in play, but the players in play. My friend Mike likes to play ass-kickers; my friend Paul enjoys being sneaky. Ok, that's all the knowledge i need.

In addition, this is a player skill, not GM skill - that is, the players are expected to design characters that can meet the challenges the GM drew up. Unlike a lot of games, where the shared content derives from characters, characters should derive from shared content in Steel Shadows.

Seriously, we can overthink this problem, which I see as a grave impediment to many designs on the Forge today. For example, if I make skills resource based - that is, you can only use them X number of times, then how to do stop a GM from making fighty challenge after fighty challenge? You add a new rule, which then has other repercussions, which you then have to make rules to eliminate. I'm trying to reach a balance here, where it is of course well designed, but at some point, you have to offload responsibility for fun to the group involved. Taking on full responsibility for someone else's fun is a back-breaking ordeal that will not succeed.



But, ok, skills as resources? Maybe. It was planned that your awesome stuff would work this way - you'd have 5 grenades, so Grenade could only be used that many times. I think that works, because of the waterfall of opposition - it will always be harder to use a base ability, like Blades, but you can use Blades all you like. It will be much easier to Poison Rice Ball someone, but you'll only have a few of those.

The idea of all skills as resources is sorely tempting, but it's a giant design box I don't want, where I've got to make sure players have enough resources to get through a mission, so I have to either design a mathematical limit to number of challenges, or invent a new fictional element which refreshes resources, and that just gets insane. I think special abilities being resource-based will be enough.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #44 on: March 01, 2006, 09:31:33 AM »

OK, I get you, but constraints can be really fun too.  If I have a really cool gun with only one bullet, where and how I pull the trigger becomes a fun decision to make.  From a design standpoint I think it would be easier to commoditize skills - you have grenade skill, moderately useful, and you can use it five times.  You have "climb on the fucking ceiling" skill, which is super useful, and you get to do it exactly once per mission, the end.  The causality is essentially cinematic - the really cool stuff only happens in limited, show-stopping quantities.  Since the GM does not know how you are going to outfit your team, I don't think challenge balance is a huge issue - if it is all fighty all the way down, you're hosed if you outfitted wrong, but that's always true. 

If levels max out, the number of uses could be inversely proportional.  I'll stop talking about this now!

It'd be interesting if there was a formal briefing component where the GM laid out the general nature of the challenges ahead, like "for every 50 points, you have to describe all the challenges of a single room and sketch out the challenges of two others" or whatever.  So the ninjas could outfit accordingly. 
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