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Author Topic: A bodiless, persona less character?  (Read 43879 times)
joshua neff
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« Reply #105 on: July 24, 2006, 08:28:25 AM »

No, Tony, I'm pretty much trying to say what you're saying. What I'm quiestioning is Sindyr's argument that playing a "persona-less character" means that if I put down an event "The Hand of Fate manifests in human form," the player of the "persona-less character" (Sindyr) can claim, "But that's not my Hand of Fate, it's a different one!" If you can use your character (a "persona" or a force of the universe) to do things to other players, other players can do things to your character. It doesn't matter whether your character has a personality of not, it's not "safe."

OK, so first off, you have agreed with me and Tony that I can play a PLC within the rules of Capes - Such as Kismet, or the Golden Path, or Poetic Justice, etc.

That's a very important point, and I guess from your words, you are granting that.

Well, I'm not granting anything. It's my understanding of the rules of Capes--which Tony also seems to be saying this, and I have no reason to doubt the creator of the game--that you can have a character be "Hogan Alley" or "Suicide Slum" or "The Hand of Fate."

Secondly, your idea of the Event, "The Hand of Fate manifests in human form" would never come off because in any event, no matter how we agree or disagree on the other stuff, any player may veto any event.  Any to keep things simple, that one gets vetoed.

So, for the sake of argument lets assume that you are either trying to free narrate my PLC becoming embodied, or you are making it a goal like "Nekro forces (insert PLC name here) into a body"

Problem is, my character concept for the PLC "Poetic Justice" for example, is not only that it does not have a human form, *it cannot*. 

Well, that's nice--but if it's a Capes character, it has to be treated like any other Capes character. That is, I can create a Goal that does something to your character--whether it has a "persona" or not. That's how Capes is played. The specifics of "But my force of nature can't be put into a human form" is irrelevant. (And in superhero comics, a force of naturing manifesting in human form isn't unusual at all.)

Consider this:
Let's say you play such a goal, and win it, and narrate Poetic Justice being pulled into a corporeal form.  Let's say through further won Conflicts that body is put into a coma, shut down, isolated, locked up.

Let me ask you two very important questions:
1) Is poetic justice gone from the world?  I would say that as long as a single good guy has a success of some kind, or a single bad guy has a failure of some kind, then poetic justice is present in some amount.  In order for it to be completely gone from the world than good guys could never have any joy and bad guys could never have any frustration - and that simply is not gonna to happen, no matter how close you get to eliminating poetic justice, there will always be some.
2) Am I as a player limited in any way from using the abilities on my Poetic Justice character sheet to influence the cause of poetic justice?  Of course not - nothing that happens narratively can ever affect my ability to use my character sheet and what is on it.

Now if you as a player want to think that you have my character locked up, that's fine.  As long as 1 and 2 are both yes's *I* am going to continue to think that the essential essence of poetic justice lies forever beyond your reach.

How can you make it otherwise?

Sure, you can make everyone in the narrative world believe that you are holding Poetic Justice hostage.

But you can't make *me* the *player* believe it, as long as it simply isn't true functionally.

And as long as I can use my character sheet abilities, I can always narrate a boy doing the right thing, getting a karmic reward, and slowly realizing that that wouldn't have been possible if the *real* poetic justice was on ice. :)

The way it would be handled is the same way it would be handled for any Capes character. In other words, your idea of playing Kismet is intriguing conceptually--but I don't see how it would work any differently from any other Capes character. A character is a character. If you can create the Goal "Kismet forces Omega Man to ask Kathy Kane to forgive him for missing their date last Tuesday," then I can create the Goal "Omega Man forces Kismet to piss off and leave him alone."
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #106 on: July 24, 2006, 09:06:33 AM »

OK, so first off, you have agreed with me and Tony that I can play a PLC within the rules of Capes - Such as Kismet, or the Golden Path, or Poetic Justice, etc.

That's a very important point, and I guess from your words, you are granting that.

Well, I'm not granting anything. It's my understanding of the rules of Capes--which Tony also seems to be saying this, and I have no reason to doubt the creator of the game--that you can have a character be "Hogan Alley" or "Suicide Slum" or "The Hand of Fate."

OK, then we agree on this, PLC's are valid Capes characters.

Quote
Secondly, your idea of the Event, "The Hand of Fate manifests in human form" would never come off because in any event, no matter how we agree or disagree on the other stuff, any player may veto any event.  Any to keep things simple, that one gets vetoed.

So, for the sake of argument lets assume that you are either trying to free narrate my PLC becoming embodied, or you are making it a goal like "Nekro forces (insert PLC name here) into a body"

Problem is, my character concept for the PLC "Poetic Justice" for example, is not only that it does not have a human form, *it cannot*. 

Well, that's nice--but if it's a Capes character, it has to be treated like any other Capes character. That is, I can create a Goal that does something to your character--whether it has a "persona" or not. That's how Capes is played. The specifics of "But my force of nature can't be put into a human form" is irrelevant. (And in superhero comics, a force of naturing manifesting in human form isn't unusual at all.)

Yes, *but*...  if you don't get me the player on board and believeing it, what is the point?

Quote
Consider this:
Let's say you play such a goal, and win it, and narrate Poetic Justice being pulled into a corporeal form.  Let's say through further won Conflicts that body is put into a coma, shut down, isolated, locked up.

Let me ask you two very important questions:
1) Is poetic justice gone from the world?  I would say that as long as a single good guy has a success of some kind, or a single bad guy has a failure of some kind, then poetic justice is present in some amount.  In order for it to be completely gone from the world than good guys could never have any joy and bad guys could never have any frustration - and that simply is not gonna to happen, no matter how close you get to eliminating poetic justice, there will always be some.
2) Am I as a player limited in any way from using the abilities on my Poetic Justice character sheet to influence the cause of poetic justice?  Of course not - nothing that happens narratively can ever affect my ability to use my character sheet and what is on it.

Now if you as a player want to think that you have my character locked up, that's fine.  As long as 1 and 2 are both yes's *I* am going to continue to think that the essential essence of poetic justice lies forever beyond your reach.

How can you make it otherwise?

Sure, you can make everyone in the narrative world believe that you are holding Poetic Justice hostage.

But you can't make *me* the *player* believe it, as long as it simply isn't true functionally.

And as long as I can use my character sheet abilities, I can always narrate a boy doing the right thing, getting a karmic reward, and slowly realizing that that wouldn't have been possible if the *real* poetic justice was on ice. :)

The way it would be handled is the same way it would be handled for any Capes character. In other words, your idea of playing Kismet is intriguing conceptually--but I don't see how it would work any differently from any other Capes character. A character is a character. If you can create the Goal "Kismet forces Omega Man to ask Kathy Kane to forgive him for missing their date last Tuesday," then I can create the Goal "Omega Man forces Kismet to piss off and leave him alone."

You have proven my point.  You can create the Goal "Omega Man forces Kismet to piss off and leave him alone." but is has zero, absolutely no effect on me the player.  I can still use my Kismet abilities to affect any Conflicts, including those that include Omega Man.

As long two things remain true, I am content:
1) No Conflict you play can impinge on my option to use the abilities on the character sheet - no matter what you do, no matter how it is portrayed, the force of my character sheet continues to be felt.  I will always be able to use my ability "The good guys prevail" no matter what you narrate, to try to make things works out.  I amy or may not succeed, but I can always apply the force of my PLC to try.
2) If the nature of the PLC remains in the world - and with certain PLC's its is impossible to remove - then I as a player may always consider my character to be out there.  I never have to agree with you on what your narration means to me.  I repeat:

Quote
Let's say you play such a goal, and win it, and narrate Poetic Justice being pulled into a corporeal form.  Let's say through further won Conflicts that body is put into a coma, shut down, isolated, locked up.

Is poetic justice gone from the world?  I would say that as long as a single good guy has a success of some kind, or a single bad guy has a failure of some kind, then poetic justice is present in some amount.  In order for it to be completely gone from the world than good guys could never have any joy and bad guys could never have any frustration - and that simply is not gonna to happen, no matter how close you get to eliminating poetic justice, there will always be some.

Can you see how you can never convince me as a player that Poetic Justice is gone from the world?

Now if you can deal with those two things, I see no reason why we couldn't have a lively and fun game.

I expect that in practice, you would have no issues with anything I did.
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-Sindyr
Tuxboy
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #107 on: July 24, 2006, 09:20:06 AM »

But what I can't understand is why you feel you can't you do that with a normal PC?

I've had characters that were dead, on the opposite side of the galaxy or just home in bed have a direct impact on Conflicts by use of their abilities, it is not really different than what you seem to be proposing for your PLCs.

Character focus here is a red herring surely. If you can look at a set of abilities and think in terms of other characters with Poetic Justice then what is stopping you doing the same with, say, Lucky Charm?

Does corporeal character ownership narrow your vision that much? I'm genuinely interested to know.
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Doug

"Besides the day I can't maim thirty radioactive teenagers is the day I hang up my coat for good!" ...Midnighter
Tuxboy
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #108 on: July 24, 2006, 09:39:08 AM »

and how about "Goal: Poetic Justice fails the orphans"...would you contest that?

The poor orphans faith in justice is shaken if you don't...
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Doug

"Besides the day I can't maim thirty radioactive teenagers is the day I hang up my coat for good!" ...Midnighter
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #109 on: July 24, 2006, 09:39:13 AM »

But what I can't understand is why you feel you can't you do that with a normal PC?

I've had characters that were dead, on the opposite side of the galaxy or just home in bed have a direct impact on Conflicts by use of their abilities, it is not really different than what you seem to be proposing for your PLCs.

Character focus here is a red herring surely. If you can look at a set of abilities and think in terms of other characters with Poetic Justice then what is stopping you doing the same with, say, Lucky Charm?

Does corporeal character ownership narrow your vision that much? I'm genuinely interested to know.

Very good questions, and very good points.  Yes, I do feel diferently about them, though I do know that functionally they are not.

If I play Spidey, and he is killed, I can continue to lay he to full effect, but my heart has gone out of it. I feel that Spidey has been eliminated from the world, despite his contintuing effects.  That instead of playing Spider, I am now playing "the spirit of Spidey."
If I play a PLC like Poetic Justice, I have no trouble embracing the idea that Poetic Justice can never be elimiated from the world.

Now perhaps if I started mentally playing the Spirit of Spidey, and not just "Spidey" at the start, then when he gets killed, I would not be as bummed and would see no fundamental shift in play.

I guess I cannot help personally identifying and linking with the character I am playing.  By playing a PLC I am linking directly to my own ideas about how the story should go.  I am affirming more my GM stance than my PC stance.

With a corporeal character I take personally what befalls him.  That doesn't happen with a PLC for me.  I guess it depends on how I interface with the gamespace, what mode I use internally.  If I am telling a story about someone, I don't want to *be* him.  I want to be "above" him, holding him in the third person an as a seperate party.

If I use the first person, if I wrap myself *in* the character, then I don't want to be telling the story, I want to be living it, experiencing it as if it were happening to me.  In that case I *wear* the character.

PLCs seem better for me in this game.  Though I plan to put in time trying it all.
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-Sindyr
joshua neff
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Posts: 949


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« Reply #110 on: July 24, 2006, 09:43:53 AM »

Tuxboy asked the question I would have. You haven't said anything about "PLCs" that isn't true for any other character in Capes--except in your head. Which is fine, but that's your problem. You can make your character a "persona-less character" if it works better for you in your head, but in play, it doesn't work any differently from any other character in the game. If it does, that goes to your "but what if the player doesn't buy it" question: frankly, I don't buy that a "persona-less character" is different from any other Capes character, and trying to treat it differently in the game is, I think, a real dodge, trying to avoid risk and responsibility in play.
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Bret Gillan
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Posts: 375

That's Bret with one 't' damn it.


« Reply #111 on: July 24, 2006, 09:44:07 AM »

If I play a PLC like Poetic Justice, I have no trouble embracing the idea that Poetic Justice can never be elimiated from the world.
"Until I, ANTI-POETIC JUSTICE MAN, was gifted with powers both terrible and amazing after my horrible, yet ironically appropriate, accident. Now, I have created a device that will wipe all poetic justice from the universe. I need only hit the switch on my ingenious device! No one will stop me now! Muahahaha!"
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Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #112 on: July 24, 2006, 09:44:42 AM »

and how about "Goal: Poetic Justice fails the orphans"...would you contest that?

The poor orphans faith in justice is shaken if you don't...

So the conflict is *really* about whether or not the orphan's faith in Poetic Justice remains - at least that what it means to me as a player.  Poetic Justice (to me as a player) is not a guarantee, its a universal tendency that *sometimes* manifests - but not always.  (Again, this is how I as a player feel about Poetic Justice)  So a conflict that threatens to have PJ fail the orphan doesn't necessarily have meaning for me.

As to a conflict that threatens to have the orphan lose hope in poetic justice - that I might indeed go after, with a LOT of might - unless this is the 4th orphan in a row with such a problem.  I mean, after a while, I begin to say, what is faith for if Poetic Justice has to continually prove itself without end.... grin.

But if you *really* want to game resources off of me, play an *enticing* goal, like "Goal: The orphan acquires a new found hope and faith in Poetic Justice."

How can I say no to that? Ever?
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-Sindyr
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #113 on: July 24, 2006, 09:50:11 AM »

If I play a PLC like Poetic Justice, I have no trouble embracing the idea that Poetic Justice can never be elimiated from the world.
"Until I, ANTI-POETIC JUSTICE MAN, was gifted with powers both terrible and amazing after my horrible, yet ironically appropriate, accident. Now, I have created a device that will wipe all poetic justice from the universe. I need only hit the switch on my ingenious device! No one will stop me now! Muahahaha!"

Heck, I won't even contest that conflict - flip the switch.  It is too boring and mondane to motivate me as a player.

However, if afterward I the player ever see one instance of a good guy finding some joy or a bad guy finding some frustration, I the player will believe that there is still Poetic Justice in the world.

Another example: Let's say I play the PLC "Life"  Unless your villain is willing to remove all living things from the world (and probably end the story completely) Life will remain.

Some concept are inherent to any story and to the existence of free-willed sentient beings.  You can narrate their removal, but you can't actually remove them - no matter what you do.
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-Sindyr
TonyLB
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« Reply #114 on: July 24, 2006, 10:35:46 AM »

On the other hand, if its good Capes play to tactically attack, it must be equally good Capes play to tactically dodge the attacks one doesn't find of value - which is one use of a PLC. :)

You might think so, but you'd be dead wrong.  Both sides (winner and loser) are rewarded for fighting.

So, yes, starting a fight is tactically sound.  Fleeing a fight is not.  Staying in the fight, especially when you're going to be utterly demolished, is tactically sound.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #115 on: July 24, 2006, 10:39:26 AM »

It's my understanding of the rules of Capes--which Tony also seems to be saying this, and I have no reason to doubt the creator of the game--

BWAHAHAHAAAAAAAA ... gasp ....

Irony ... causing me to ... suffocate laughing ... must not ... black out.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #116 on: July 24, 2006, 10:49:39 AM »

Oh, dude, I'm sorry.  I misread who was saying that.  I thought it was Sindyr.

It's the whole thing of Sindyr saying "Hey people!  Tony says it, so accept it without question!" that's got the comedic value for me.  I picked the wrong thing to quote there.  There's no humor value to you using me as an authority.

Stupid, stupid Tony.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #117 on: July 24, 2006, 10:53:03 AM »

No, Tony, I'm pretty much trying to say what you're saying. What I'm quiestioning is Sindyr's argument that playing a "persona-less character" means that if I put down an event "The Hand of Fate manifests in human form," the player of the "persona-less character" (Sindyr) can claim, "But that's not my Hand of Fate, it's a different one!" If you can use your character (a "persona" or a force of the universe) to do things to other players, other players can do things to your character. It doesn't matter whether your character has a personality of not, it's not "safe."

Rockin'.  We're on the same page then.

Sindyr's right, of course, that nobody can force him to care about ... well, anything.  They can't do it in Capes, and they can't do it in any other game, and they can't do it in life.  Apathy is the ultimate defense.

It is not, however, good strategy within the context of Capes.  In fact, I had a whole post about the importance of owning and engaging with the moments when your character gets stomped.
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #118 on: July 24, 2006, 10:56:38 AM »

Actually, you could introduce and win a conflict to eliminate poetic justice, or all living beings, or the color green, from the universe in any Capes game; either people would ignore it as soon as it was over or have some funky narration to do thereafter, but you don't have to have a specific character in the game representing a concept before you can attack it.

Let's say you play such a goal, and win it, and narrate Poetic Justice being pulled into a corporeal form.  Let's say through further won Conflicts that body is put into a coma, shut down, isolated, locked up......And as long as I can use my character sheet abilities, I can always narrate a boy doing the right thing, getting a karmic reward, and slowly realizing that that wouldn't have been possible if the *real* poetic justice was on ice.

Sindry, everything you've just said applies to any character in Capes. You can narrate my character being killed, put into a coma, or shot into space -- and I may well refrain from using my vast narrative power to say, as soon as the relevant Conflcit ends, "but I'm back!" -- but I can still narrate my character using any ability or drive in any scene I want. Is it other people's memory of my long-dead character influencing them? The strange stirrings of destiny affecting people in a time when my character is not yet born? Pure thematic echoes, with no pretence of a physical connection, between my character and other people who are entirely outside my guy's event horizon and vice versa? It doesn't matter.

(Conversely, my character can be right there in a scene, but not played as a game-mechanical entity. I realized this is one of the first playtests, when two characters were both trying to convince mine of something, and I decided to stay out of the scene and let them fight it out between themselves).

Now, I can call my character's abilities whatever I want. I can call my character whatever I want: "Bob, the relatively ordinary guy"; "Super Amazing Man"; "The Unstoppable Hand of Fate"; "A series of apparently unconnected coincidences." It doesn't matter. The rules treat them all exactly the same.

But of course the players treat them differently, because they're telling a story together, not just shuffling dice and tokens, so they come to care about "Bob" in a different way than about "Super Amazing" or "Fate" or "coincidences," and that emotional investment -- not strategy alone -- changes the way they play. In fact, that emotional investment is the point of play, since, as you may've noticed, Capes is not a game you can win: There are no victory conditions, no endgame mechanics, no way of keeping score (though Tony's experimented with add-on systems for con scenarios), and, most crucially, no objective way of valuing whether being defeated in one conflict is more or less important than being victorious in another.

So if the way you portray your characters makes it dramatically easier for you and the people you're playing with to have fun with "Kismet" than with any of the other infinite possibilities, that's great; if you have more freedom playing a disembodied presence than a specific person, go for it.

But if this kind of character is about making it easier for you not to care about things -- and primarily I've seen you talking, as with Bret's "Anti-Poetic Justice Man," about your ability to avoid being engaged -- then it strikes me as perverse. Why spend all this energy roleplaying something you don't want to care about, especially when you clearly do care about the characters in games you're roleplaying? Why start multiple threads and write innumerable posts defending the idea of not being emotionally invested, when you are clearly emotionally invested enough to write the posts in the first place?
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Sindyr
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Posts: 795


« Reply #119 on: July 24, 2006, 12:40:29 PM »

On the other hand, if its good Capes play to tactically attack, it must be equally good Capes play to tactically dodge the attacks one doesn't find of value - which is one use of a PLC. :)

You might think so, but you'd be dead wrong.  Both sides (winner and loser) are rewarded for fighting.

So, yes, starting a fight is tactically sound.  Fleeing a fight is not.  Staying in the fight, especially when you're going to be utterly demolished, is tactically sound.

I guess I will just have to trust you on this.

Oh wait - I don't.  (grin)
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-Sindyr
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