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Author Topic: [Mortal Coil] Frozen Alaska and serious rules questions  (Read 21147 times)
Clinton R. Nixon
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« on: August 22, 2006, 07:01:41 AM »

Brennan and all,

My group played Mortal Coil last night in an awesome setting (the Klondike gold rush + necromancy), and I want to say that the setting-building part of Mortal Coil is great.

We had a seriously major question, though. Multiple actions are talked about a lot in the book, but there is no example or explanation of multiple actions besides telling you you can do this and also that you can have an offensive and defensive action against another person.

So if I put 1 chip into a defensive action and add, say, my Will of 1 and an aptitude of 2, totalling 4, and then put 6 chips into an offensive action and add my Wits of 4 and an aptitude of 3, totalling 13; and my opponent just has an offensive action, totalling 14, what happens? Do two actions resolve, with the results being +10 (his offense - my defense) for his action and +13 (because of no defense on his part) for my action? That would mean we could both easily kill each other. Or do we figure out the difference again, which is +3 in my favor? Or what?

This is the thing we couldn't resolve. There were a lot of scenes where I, for example, try to intimidate someone while defending my soul against their lies, and they try to convince me of their ways while keeping a stiff upper lip. This is two separate actions - an offensive and defensive - for both of us, and we often both ended up winning, with, say +7 in one set of actions and +4 in another. What happens here?
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2006, 03:22:48 PM »

Each action should be resolved in a way that makes sense for the conflict. Offensive actions that are not opposed can easily be mutually lethal. If either player is not happy with the outcome, they can always trigger a reallocation round. I would say that two actions that cannot be mutually successful are actually opposed.

As always, an example from actual play would be quite useful for explanatory purposes.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2006, 03:33:32 PM »

Brennan,

That last example is from actual play.

We've got a character - a Christian nurse - whose actions are:

Offensive: Intimidate this Siwash shaman. (Body + Mountie)
Defensive: Defend my soul from his dirty lies (Will + Christian)

The shaman's actions were (I think):

Offensive: Steal a child (Body + ?)
Defensive: Break the lady's faith (Will + Shaman)

Ok, typing these out, I can already see the problem, but I'm not going to say we were just screw-ups: we play a lot of games with this sort of structure, and how to choose these was just not something that the book covered.

Anyway, we both won our offensive actions and then couldn't figure out what to do. I won driving him off, he won stealing this child to burn over a fire (don't ask.) These two are mutually exclusive. So, hm - what should we have done? Choose different actions is what I assume the answer will be, which makes a lot of sense, but almost all the textual examples choose one action against each other character, while the text told us to choose offensive and defensive actions.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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boredoom
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2006, 06:21:23 PM »

I ran into the same kind of problem - the ambiguity over what's an opposed action and what is not. I'm considering breaking each round into two phases. Side A attacks, B defends. Then Side B attacks and A defends. Much like Heroquest or TSOY. Not sure how to deal with the chits, though!
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boredoom
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« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2006, 06:23:00 PM »

.. and I should add that Brennan is right: logic can go a long way toward determining what are opposed actions. But figuring that out in every round is tough, especially if you have six characters in a conflict.
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Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2006, 02:18:48 AM »

We've got a character - a Christian nurse - whose actions are:

Offensive: Intimidate this Siwash shaman. (Body + Mountie)
Defensive: Defend my soul from his dirty lies (Will + Christian)

The shaman's actions were (I think):

Offensive: Steal a child (Body + ?)
Defensive: Break the lady's faith (Will + Shaman)

Ok, typing these out, I can already see the problem, but I'm not going to say we were just screw-ups: we play a lot of games with this sort of structure, and how to choose these was just not something that the book covered.

I think you are right, how to determine which actions oppose each other is a bit ambiguous in the written rules and could definitely stand to be explained better.

Here's how the situation you describe is solved:

Christian nurse:

Defensive: Intimidate this Siwash shaman. (Body + Mountie)
Defensive: Defend my soul from his dirty lies (Will + Christian)

The shaman's actions:

Offensive: Steal a child (Body + ?) (opposing Intimidate)
Offensive: Break the lady's faith (Will + Shaman) (opposing her Will action)

This does take a bit of sorting out, especially in multi-character conflicts as boredoom says. If you examine all of the actions, you can general find which ones are opposing each other, though.

Regarding breaking the rounds out, once it is clear which actions oppose which, I do resolve them one at a time, just so everyone remains clear on what is happening in the game.
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Doyce
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« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2006, 04:27:05 AM »


Here's how the situation you describe is solved:

Christian nurse:

Defensive: Intimidate this Siwash shaman. (Body + Mountie)
Defensive: Defend my soul from his dirty lies (Will + Christian)

The shaman's actions:

Offensive: Steal a child (Body + ?) (opposing Intimidate)
Offensive: Break the lady's faith (Will + Shaman) (opposing her Will action)

This does take a bit of sorting out, especially in multi-character conflicts as boredoom says. If you examine all of the actions, you can general find which ones are opposing each other, though.

Thinking like a player for a second, my immediate impression is that you would never want to call any of your actions 'defensive', such as the defensive action that the nurse is taking, because if the Shaman wins, she is damaged in some way, and if she wins, nothing happens to the shaman -- inequitable trade.  From what I suppose is a gamist point of view, she'd want to phrase her action in a way that would oppose the Shaman's action, *and* do something to him via the damage chart if he loses.

If that's simply the way it's already supposed to happen (if she wins, he's going be affected via the damage chart, regardless of whether or not we said it was defensive or offensive), then all a 'defensive' action is, is one specifically designed to oppose some other character's action, and designating actions as defensive or offensive is just muddying the waters..
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Doyce
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« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2006, 04:29:51 AM »

Dammit. I screwed up the quotes in the last one.   Final two paragraphs are mind, not a quote of Clinton or Brennans. First quote box is Brennan's.

And why is it, again, that we can't edit our [censored] posts anymore?  Someone PM me and explain, please: I was out of the loop for the last year, and this is friggin' annoying.
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2006, 05:00:00 AM »

Here's how the situation you describe is solved:

Christian nurse:

Defensive: Intimidate this Siwash shaman. (Body + Mountie)
Defensive: Defend my soul from his dirty lies (Will + Christian)

The shaman's actions:

Offensive: Steal a child (Body + ?) (opposing Intimidate)
Offensive: Break the lady's faith (Will + Shaman) (opposing her Will action)

Ok. I'm asking this for clarity: is this really kosher? The rules state you can have one offensive and one defensive action per character that you are in conflict with: that is, the way it reads to me, the nurse can only have one offensive action and one defensive action vs. the shaman, not two defensive actions.

- Clinton
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
coffeestain
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« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2006, 05:12:05 AM »

I think this is really my biggest sticking point with understanding the conflict resolution in Mortal Coil, too.  Since you have no idea what the action(s) of your opponent will be, it's difficult to determine what a reasonable offensive or defensive action might be when you're supposed to decide on it.

I wonder if it might work better to place tokens in offense and defense and then decide what the actual actions are after the reveal when everyone's got a bigger picture of how the conflict should play out.

Regards,
Daniel
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boredoom
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« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2006, 06:59:30 AM »

Quote

Ok. I'm asking this for clarity: is this really kosher? The rules state you can have one offensive and one defensive action per character that you are in conflict with: that is, the way it reads to me, the nurse can only have one offensive action and one defensive action vs. the shaman, not two defensive actions.

- Clinton

The rules don't read that way to me. It looks like you can target a character any number of times in a round, and Brennan supported that in this thread: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=20588.0
« Last Edit: August 23, 2006, 07:09:10 AM by Clinton R. Nixon » Logged
Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2006, 07:25:39 AM »

Thinking like a player for a second, my immediate impression is that you would never want to call any of your actions 'defensive', such as the defensive action that the nurse is taking, because if the Shaman wins, she is damaged in some way, and if she wins, nothing happens to the shaman -- inequitable trade.  From what I suppose is a gamist point of view, she'd want to phrase her action in a way that would oppose the Shaman's action, *and* do something to him via the damage chart if he loses.

If that's simply the way it's already supposed to happen (if she wins, he's going be affected via the damage chart, regardless of whether or not we said it was defensive or offensive), then all a 'defensive' action is, is one specifically designed to oppose some other character's action, and designating actions as defensive or offensive is just muddying the waters..

Defensive vs. Offensive is just a crutch for players to think about their actions in a conflict. If you beat your opponent with a defensive action that could injure him (like intimidate), he will take damage from it. If this dichotomy muddies the waters, then the defensive/offensive concept is fine to disregard. When I was first playing with the system, the defensive/offensive pairing seemed to make sense to me.
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Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2006, 07:27:39 AM »

Quote

Ok. I'm asking this for clarity: is this really kosher? The rules state you can have one offensive and one defensive action per character that you are in conflict with: that is, the way it reads to me, the nurse can only have one offensive action and one defensive action vs. the shaman, not two defensive actions.

- Clinton

The rules don't read that way to me. It looks like you can target a character any number of times in a round, and Brennan supported that in this thread: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=20588.0

Boredoom is right. You can target the same character with more than one offensive action. Each action needs to use a different faculty. You just can't normally target multiple characters with a single offensive action.
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Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2006, 07:28:41 AM »

I wonder if it might work better to place tokens in offense and defense and then decide what the actual actions are after the reveal when everyone's got a bigger picture of how the conflict should play out.

It's tricky, but that's what the reallocation round is for. If you seriously miscalculate, you have a second chance.
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Doyce
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« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2006, 07:34:41 AM »

Defensive vs. Offensive is just a crutch for players to think about their actions in a conflict. If you beat your opponent with a defensive action that could injure him (like intimidate), he will take damage from it. If this dichotomy muddies the waters, then the defensive/offensive concept is fine to disregard. When I was first playing with the system, the defensive/offensive pairing seemed to make sense to me.

I guess i like the word "countering" as opposed to 'defending' action. :)
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
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