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Author Topic: Alliances  (Read 6866 times)
LemmingLord
Member

Posts: 65


« on: July 14, 2006, 11:46:27 PM »

Ok, so I played my first game with more than two players today...  It went about as well as I could have imagined - with everyone a bit mentally sore, with some in game and out of game ego conflicts, and with some great questions.

Ben - Lackeyman
Dave - Xeros
Nick - Bachus (god of wine and partying, remember?)
Stephan - Paper Cut (a magneto villain with the power over paper)


I was playing lackeyman and established the goal: impress the boss (paper cut).

I figured that this would be something for my lackey to do while I waited for the big hitters to split their many sixes on the other conflicts already in play. 

Dave decides that with bigger fish to fry (Bachus has taken over the city and made it a drunken party... He also plans to bring the rest of the world here to join in drunken debauchery - much more of a problem then papercuts...) - Dave has Xeros use his techno gadgetry to narrate him handing Lackeyman a rocketpack, to help him impress my boss - so he rolls up one of the ones and gets a 4. 

Knowing Dave will be going first in the claiming order next, and not wanting him to narrate that the Lackeyman needed Xeros's help to impress his boss, I take the oppsing die and roll it up to a 6...

Now Nick is thinking I'm trying to pull something over on him... "That's not right; you two are on the same side.. You are allied in trying to meet Lackeyman's goal... I explain to him the rule that says that there is no defined "for" or "against" on the die... He brings up that what his character really wants to do at this point is foil Lackeyman's goal altogether, but cannot as both sides have narrated "for" the goal.

I see his point.  I tried to explain that it is the die you are allying with and not the player... That confused all of us, including me, to no end (probably because it was getting late).

What recourse does he have at this point? 

I know Bachus can do all manner of things to make Lackeyman look like a fool..

I also know that mechanically speaking he can ally with one of the existing sides and schism (assuming we both don't have 6s...)

If I understand Nick's point, he is having a problem with declaring himself as an ally to a side when clearly his character (and himself) are opposed to that side as it was narrated...   

Any insights?
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Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2006, 05:37:48 AM »

If I understand what you are describing, you have three people, person A wants to win a conflict that person B is allied to one side and person C is allied to another, and both person B and C are throwing in narrations regarding that conflict that person A doesn't like.

First of, the only way he can override B & C's narrations while the conflict is still in play and unresolved, is by use of the "and then" rule.  In order to employ this rule, and make sure no one else can use "and then" on him in this conflict, he needs to be allied to a side that is currently in control that no on else is allied to.  I think the only way to do this is for him to stake debt and split.  Once he has debt token under those dice that he has split, then he can at any time create a new side with his tokened dice (I think) - preventing people from allying with his side in order to usurp his "and then" power.

Ultimately, if he cares more about the resolution of the conflict, then he may want to skip worrying about the "and then" stuff in the middle, and just claim the conflict at the start of a page and try to win it - then he can outright narrate the final resolution, making all narrations of that conflict up to this point as moot and insignificant as he likes.

Let me go back to the first part, though and pose the question more specifically to see if my idea about it is right:

If I and another player are each allied to opposing sides of a conflict.  My dice are in control, meaning that whatever the other guy narrates, I can add "and then" to it.  A third guy, in cahoots with the second, gets himself allied to my side.  Now when the second guy narrates sometihng on this conflict, both I and the third guy want to narrate diametrically opposed "and then's" - me blocking the second guy, him aiding the second guy.  We are both allied to the controlling side, who gets the first "and then"?  Who gets the last?  How do the third guy and I effectively compete do be the most significant "and then'er" while the conflict is unresolved?

Thanks.
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-Sindyr
Andrew Cooper
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Posts: 724


WWW
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2006, 06:50:37 AM »

The other option that Player A has is to lay down another Conflict.  If Player B and C are narrating things that he doesn't like and those things are related in some way, then Player A plops down a Conflict related to the narration he doesn't like.  At that point, B and C can no longer narrate the stuff he doesn't like until the second Conflict is resolved.  This is the Not Yet rule.  As Player A, I simply do my best to see that the second Conflict never resolves until I want it to.

For example:

Paper Cut and Xeros have claimed the two sides to "Goal: Lackeyman impresses his boss."  Both seem to want him to impress his boss.  The issue is who is going to be the one who actually helps him.  Lackeyman's player doesn't want anyone to have helped him.  He wants to have done it himself.  So he lays down "Goal: Someone helps Lackeyman impress his boss."  Now, even if the first Goal is won, no one can narrate having helped Lackeyman impress his boss.  Until the second Conflict is resolved, he impressed the boss single-handedly.

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LemmingLord
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2006, 07:00:43 AM »

I'm not sure the "and then" rule is significant to my colleague's frustration.  He wants a chance to have his own side of the conflict without splitting from a side that, narratively speaking, his character isn't allying with..

We have an narrative creation, a character, allied with a game mechanic, a die on a conflict.  

So picture that there is a conflict between two characters; in another RPG a third player may enter that conflict however he'd like and die roles would help determine if he was successful.  In capes, if two sides have been defined, he has only the one recourse to add a third side, which is to ally and schism.  

The confusion and frustration is in conceptually divorcing the character's alliance or enemity with another character and the character allying with an undefined die in the sky...

Player A, B and C

Goal: A does X.

B goes first; B rolls up side of conflict; B's narration is pro "A does X."

A goes next; A rolls up other side of conflict; A's narration is also pro "A does X," but on his own terms.

Player C wants to narrate "A does NOT X" but cannot do so through narration unless he takes control of the conflict; which he can now only do by allying with one side or the other... Narratively, however, his character is not going to be allying with either of the positions on the table; it isn't like he's thinking A does X is a good idea and then later changes his mind; he doesn't want A to do X... He is opposed to it... So he doesn't think he can legitimately "ally" with one of the current sides unless he narrates that alliance.

Player C doesn't want to narrate his character's opposition to the positions taken by player A and B while simultaneously having his character using the game mechanic "ally with a side" on one of those player's side of the conflict.

This seems to pop up again and again on this forum - the confusion between players and characters.

I guess what my colleageues and I need to hear is "yes, you can say that Bachus is mechanically speaking allying with the die that just got upgraded to "help" the goal while simultaneously narrating his clear opposition to the character to with whom he is meechanically-speaking allying himself with...  I know he can schism; but while he is first "allying" with one of the positions; does his character have be narrated as using his abilities to further the position to which he is allied?

I dont' think he has to... I think he can go right ahead and say "my character uses ability q to do something that will reduce the chances that Lackeyman will impress his boss" roll up either die in the "goal: Lackeyman impresses his boss" and if he rolls it up he is now allied with a side to which his other ally is diametrically opposed.

Goal: Lackeyman impresses his boss:  

Player A, trying to impress boss all by himself, allied with die 1

Player B, trying to help A impress his boss by helping him along, allied with die 2
Player C, trying to make A look bad for his boss, allied also with die 2

More clear?
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LemmingLord
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2006, 07:04:31 AM »

The other option that Player A has is to lay down another Conflict.  If Player B and C are narrating things that he doesn't like and those things are related in some way, then Player A plops down a Conflict related to the narration he doesn't like...

That is actually quite enlightening..  Thanks!
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LemmingLord
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2006, 08:07:49 AM »

The other option that Player A has is to lay down another Conflict.  If Player B and C are narrating things that he doesn't like and those things are related in some way, then Player A plops down a Conflict related to the narration he doesn't like...

That is actually quite enlightening..  Thanks!

Having reread your suggestion, I wanted to point out that this particular preventative measure wouldn't work because both Xeros and Lackeyman where trying to make Lackeyman look good... Its just that Lackeyman wanted to be impressive all by himself...

It is interesting to discuss the "not yet" nature of this conflict...

There's nothing to say that Bachus can't make a complete fool out of Lackeyman while the conflct is up; afterall, making him look like a fool now does not mean in the end that Lackeyman won't come through and impress the boss in the end...Not to mention that the boss may very well be impressed with one element of the character and not another...

For example, perhaps the Boss ends up being impressed at: Lackeyman's incredible bravery despite being trampled by wildebeasts while wearing a tutu; or perhaps he is impressed that Lackeyman somehow managed to swipe Bachus's gem of power during while Bachus was making Lackeyman cry uncle as he spanked him over his knee with a host of girls laughing at him... 

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Hans
Member

Posts: 576


« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2006, 09:11:18 AM »

If I understand Nick's point, he is having a problem with declaring himself as an ally to a side when clearly his character (and himself) are opposed to that side as it was narrated...   

I have been in a similar situation, where "Goal: Humiliate Mr. Glitter (my character)" was on the table, claimed on both sides by people playing bad guys.  Mechanically, it seems clear to me that Nick has two options;

* Ally with a side, and schism from it to make his own side, and win narration with the new side, or
* Ensure that he can claim one existing side in the next scene and win narration with it.

I can't think of any other way, mechanically, for him to achieve his goal of winning narration on this conflict so he can narrate Lackeyman failing to impress Paper Cut. 

If Nick wins narration, it seems like you recognize all previous narration on the side limits him not at all in how he can narrate the resolution. Once I was playing in a game where "Goal: Character X gets the girl" was on the table.  The player of X narrated all kinds of ways X was working to get the girl, and then won narration.  He then, in a moment of artistic genius, narrated his own character X getting shot down big time and humiliated by the girl, much to the surprise of everyone around the table, including the people who had been working to help his side win!

So, the question is not WHAT Nick needs to do, the question is how Nick will justify what he needs to do to himself as a player within his vision of his character.  I have a few suggestions;

* Nick could roll down one side (in the process allying with the other side), and his mind justify this as a sort of "enemy of my enemy is my friend" kind of thing, and then immediately schism. 
* He could ally with a side, narrating Bacchus somehow temporarily being interested in that side (for example, impressed by Lackeyman's new rocket pack), and then immediately schism, narrating Bacchus saying something like "but your new rocket pack won't help you, Lackeman!"
* He can narrate his character opposing that the others and FAILING.  This is a backward way of being "allied"; I'm trying to stop you, but just doing a crappy job of it.  He could then schism, or continue to narrate his character's failure on that side if he has a chance to claim it; when he wins narration, he finally narrates his characters success!
* He could jump the conceptual hurdle that the sides of the conflict do not really directly represent any concept in the story, and just narrate whatever he wants and schism. 
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Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2006, 08:59:15 PM »

Hans, he can't wait for the next page.  With both sides claimed, it WILL resolve at the end of this turn unless he does something.  His ONLY option is to ally, split, and schism, and THEN hope that he can win narration in the next page.

As soon as you get people narrating success while rolling dice, and then narrating failure when it's time to resolve, or vice versa, then alliances will become less valuable.  Everyone who has a stake in the outcome of a contest will schism off their own sides in order to make sure that they come out the way they want.

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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Hans
Member

Posts: 576


« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2006, 05:03:11 AM »

Hans, he can't wait for the next page.  With both sides claimed, it WILL resolve at the end of this turn unless he does something.  His ONLY option is to ally, split, and schism, and THEN hope that he can win narration in the next page.
I didn't notice this in the original example, but I do see it in Andrew's follow on example.  My mistake.  Obviously my second solution doesn't work if both sides are claimed, unless, by some strange twist of fate, you can arrange for a tie.  I've seen it happen, but it takes a lot of work and a lot of luck.  I think my suggestions of how Nick can justify the momentary alliance for the schism to himself are still valid.

Quote
As soon as you get people narrating success while rolling dice, and then narrating failure when it's time to resolve, or vice versa, then alliances will become less valuable.  Everyone who has a stake in the outcome of a contest will schism off their own sides in order to make sure that they come out the way they want.

Narrating your own characters failure is probably never a problem, especially if it is really only your character that "suffers", regardless of what you narrated up until that point.  For example; if you are playing the only bad guy, and narrate your own guy getting captured off of a "Goal: Bad Guy escapes!", people are liable just to respect your willingness to screw your character for the fun/drama it creates.  Narrating another player's character's failure when you had been narrating successes up until that point is a bit dicier, socially.   In the right game group, it could be just fine, but I would want to know the people I was playing with fairly well first.

I think the last minute switch will always happen occasionally, as the inspiration hits the players.  Sometimes it might even be planned, because the player really wants to see that string of failures followed by success (or string of successes followed by failures) as their first choice of how the goal should be resolved.  Bluffing as an overt tactic just to win is fairly useless; be perceived as doing it even once and, as you say, you are unlikely to ever succeed at it again. 

 
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Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2006, 10:07:42 AM »

If you say, "This is the failure side" when you roll up the die, and start narrating successes, with the clear intention that the side you're on will, if it wins, cause a failure of the goal, is cool.

Doing the same thing with the SUCCESS side is NOT cool. I'd be pretty peeved if someone did that to me.  "Hey!  The only reason I didn't oppose you on that is because you were going to narrate a success!  If I had known you were going to fail it I would have played on that goal."

Dirty pool.

It's just as dirty as playing any of the other dirty tricks I've talked about in the past.

One of the core concepts of Capes, as I see it, is offering up play for other people to validate and encourage.  If you play with various tactics that abruptly change play after the validation has happened, then you're attacking one of the pillars that holds the game up.  Legal, but not a good idea.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Andrew Cooper
Member

Posts: 724


WWW
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2006, 10:44:08 AM »

That's interesting.  Often times when I play, I take a side and don't say which way I'm planning on jumping when the Conflict is finally resolved.  The rules don't indicate that I have to state my intentions.  Am I playing incorrectly (having missed something in the rules) or is this something that gets hammered out for each group.  I could see myself accidentally ticking Vaxalon off if we were playing and not intending to.
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Eric Sedlacek
Member

Posts: 135

TheCzech


« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2006, 10:56:10 AM »

That's interesting.  Often times when I play, I take a side and don't say which way I'm planning on jumping when the Conflict is finally resolved.  The rules don't indicate that I have to state my intentions.  Am I playing incorrectly (having missed something in the rules) or is this something that gets hammered out for each group.  I could see myself accidentally ticking Vaxalon off if we were playing and not intending to.

You don't have to state which side you are on, but your intentions tend to become pretty clear with your narration as you roll dice.  I don't know of anything preventing you from reversing yourself on the resolution narration, but you had best do so with aplomb lest you wind up in the story token doghouse.
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Andrew Cooper
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Posts: 724


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« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2006, 11:36:06 AM »

Yeah, Eric, I agree.  I don't do it just on a whim but I do like sudden reversals and interesting plot twists, so if I think of one I'll throw it in as a surprise.  I haven't gotten any bad reactions yet, so I must be doing something right.  I'll just keep it in mind when playing with people I don't know.
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Eric Sedlacek
Member

Posts: 135

TheCzech


« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2006, 12:12:17 PM »

Yeah, Eric, I agree.  I don't do it just on a whim but I do like sudden reversals and interesting plot twists, so if I think of one I'll throw it in as a surprise.  I haven't gotten any bad reactions yet, so I must be doing something right.  I'll just keep it in mind when playing with people I don't know.

As in any RPG, you can get away with almost anything as long as it is deemed cool.  Since people haven't been giving you the stare of lameness, you must indeed be doing something right.  I won't say a bad word about something that works.

The plot twist bag of tricks in Capes is actually quite bountiful.  You can pull one off in a lot of ways.  Just suddenly having a character come in on the opposite side of a conflict than people expect can do the trick nicely.  I mean seriously, tell me Darth Vader throwing the Emperor into the pit wasn't Vader staking a bunch of debt and cashing in a shitload of inspirations on "Goal: The Emperor Kills Luke".  I'm guessing Despair debt.  Of course, he stood silent through a page of gloating first, but maybe his player was the one raking in the story tokens.

This is not as jarring as a surprise reversal on the resolution narration of the conflict, but in my opinion, the truly great plot twists are the ones you either see coming, or could have seen coming if you had been paying attention.
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Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2006, 05:00:26 AM »

Oh, I definitely agree that coming IN on a side of a conflict that noone expects is not only fair play but GOOD play.

I just don't see the value of going OUT on the opposite side of a conflict than you had originally said you were on.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
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