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Author Topic: Example of HQ Play for A Newbie?  (Read 8638 times)
sebastianz
Member

Posts: 51


« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2006, 10:27:45 AM »

[Note! Cross-posted with Rob.]

Hmm. You do not want to pick modifiers, modifiers listed in the book. On the other hand you intend to use the numbers suggested in the book, at least as a baseline. This strikes me as a bit contradictory. Also, what about penalties? As for a logical mechanism: No, there is none. All the numbers are arbitrary, though they (probably) try to be consistent. As a guideline, look at the improv penalty suggestion in the narrator's chapter.
+/- 5 is the default you use if something should have impact but is nothing special,
+/- 10 is a solid advantage or disadvantage, but still nothing out of the ordinary,
+/-15 is a significant (dis)advantage and
+/- 20 is more or less the best single modification there is. Compare that to a surprise attack. Is there really time to react?

OK, now I will offer some more ideas. Why roll? You don't wanna pick the modifier? Then let your players do it.

GM: Ten knights are rushing you.
Player: Ah. I look for a rock to have high ground. What bonus will I get?
GM: What do you think?

One problem that I see with your approach and which I believe to be against what you want, is that it is "tactical" as you put it. All this tactics stuff is already in there. Just allow your players to narrate stuff and all the tactics they like. And give them a big bonus for that or, as suggested, let them do it. Otherwise they will remember D&D and roll for group tactical advantage just for the sake of getting that bonus. There lingers some kind of adversary. Also, most contests are simple contests. They take just one roll on all sides to be resolved. Making an extra roll tells your players, that this roll has some significance. If you roll for a variable augment, the player probably has chosen to do so himself and he escalates things a bit more. While he can get a higher bonus than automatically, he can also lose. So, if you want your players to roll for these modifiers, you tell them that this is important for the game. Suddenly it is less important why you have that contest but how you solve it.
I see that you want to give your players more tactical choices, but all you do is to add more rolling. This higher ground could be there and one step for the players could be to reach it before the opposition does. Or they can devise a cunning plan to use it for their advantage otherwise. Like shooting at them once they are up there. Anyway, if your players choose the number, you tell them that it is not about winning but about working together to get a fun story. That is what you want, right?
Now, if you want to have a bit more tactics but not that competition, you could set up two pools of points for modification. They get 100 points and you get 100 points.
You use your pool for penalties and they get their pool for a bonus. Set a limit of 20 points. If you penalize, they cannot use their pool, but they get your points in their pool. If they use their points you cannot penalize and do not get their points. With this method you get something of both. First, it is cool for them if you penalize, cause they get more points for later use. Second, they have a limited number for the whole adventure/session/what ever you want. So they have to do some strategizing of this resource. They also choose the number on what is important for them. So it's like.

GM: Ten knights are rushing you.
Player: Ah. I look for a rock to have high ground. What do you think of +15?
GM: Sound like a hell of a rock you got there!

That is just a rough idea and some further thoughts for you. I do not want to talk you out of your idea (well, perhaps a bit) but rather consider the consequences such a change has. Therefore again my advice: First try it as it is and then go and experiment. Or, make a few test sessions comparing different rules. Solely for that purpose.

Sebastian.
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aaronil
Member

Posts: 24

Aaron Infante-levy


« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2006, 07:38:12 PM »

Hmm. You do not want to pick modifiers, modifiers listed in the book. On the other hand you intend to use the numbers suggested in the book, at least as a baseline. This strikes me as a bit contradictory.
Sebastian, not at all. I have no problem with the simulationist aspect of consistent codified modifiers...if it were designed with some readily apparent logic and internal cohesion. Thus far I haven't seen and RPGs (HQ included) accomplish this. I like simulation, but I'd rather have no simulation than simulation that doesn't make enough sense to me that I could explain it to other players in my group.

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As a guideline, look at the improv penalty suggestion in the narrator's chapter.
Thanks for reminding me of those! HQ is very new for me. Of course, the guidelines you mention are tremendously vague and subject to player debate. "That's not a solid disadvantage, it's a significant disadvantage!"

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OK, now I will offer some more ideas. Why roll? You don't wanna pick the modifier? Then let your players do it.
Actually, for one of my players (an avid SCA participant and medieval recreationist) this makes a lot of sense. However, for the others it might not work too well (at least at first) because they're not familiar with the system and one is a firm gamist who would tend to max out his bonuses. Still, I like the spirit of the idea! Perhaps I will end up doing this if I can come up with simple readily comprehensible guidelines for creating modifiers.

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One problem that I see with your approach and which I believe to be against what you want, is that it is "tactical" as you put it. All this tactics stuff is already in there. Just allow your players to narrate stuff and all the tactics they like. And give them a big bonus for that or, as suggested, let them do it. Otherwise they will remember D&D and roll for group tactical advantage just for the sake of getting that bonus.
Point well taken. I'll add that arguing good-naturedly over poorly defined modifiers is not desirable either because it takes up more time than I want - and this is what I anticipate the HQ modifier system as written doing (at least in my group). To me, such arguments lead to gamism...And our goal is to shift more towards narrativism (at least as an experiment).

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Also, most contests are simple contests. They take just one roll on all sides to be resolved. Making an extra roll tells your players, that this roll has some significance. If you roll for a variable augment, the player probably has chosen to do so himself and he escalates things a bit more. While he can get a higher bonus than automatically, he can also lose. So, if you want your players to roll for these modifiers, you tell them that this is important for the game. Suddenly it is less important why you have that contest but how you solve it.
Just so I'm clear, what makes it so that the how is more important than the why?

Actually, for our games, in the midst of the conflict, it is the how precisely what matters to my group. I agree that the why is more important before the conflit begins (and in reflection afterwards), but during major conflicts (extended contests in HQ) my group focuses on the how. While many in my group like the tactical stuff, I like the moral dilemmas involved in, for example, "how to conduct a just war", or "how to be a devout worshipper while leading a heresy", or "how to respect the liege who mentored you while rebelling from him." Lots of opportunity to explore what a character believes in there.

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I see that you want to give your players more tactical choices, but all you do is to add more rolling.
I see what you mean about adding extra rolling for an augmented contest. Right now I'm inclined to use the augment rules as written, with the following proviso: You may declare you are taking advantage of an environmental condition suitable to the setting; if so, it becomes part of the scene (or possibly the ongoing saga) and may be used by allies and enemies alike. No major changes to rules, but keeps the spirit of what I'm shooting for. Of course, whether it provides the same advantage for anyone using it is up for debate. If it's a modifier then (according to HQ core) the bonus would be constant. If it's an augment the bonus would depend on the character's ability to take advantage of it (e.g. Know Tactics to use higher ground more effectively than a character without that ability).


 
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Now, if you want to have a bit more tactics but not that competition, you could set up two pools of points for modification. They get 100 points and you get 100 points.
Interesting idea, Sebastian. Did you just come up with this, is it a house rule in your games, or from another RPG?

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Therefore again my advice: First try it as it is and then go and experiment. Or, make a few test sessions comparing different rules. Solely for that purpose.
Crystal clear. :)
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Aaron Infante-Levy

Published: Tales of the Caliphate Nights
Working On: (as yet untitled)
sebastianz
Member

Posts: 51


« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2006, 12:47:17 AM »

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Actually, for one of my players (an avid SCA participant and medieval recreationist) this makes a lot of sense. However, for the others it might not work too well (at least at first) because they're not familiar with the system and one is a firm gamist who would tend to max out his bonuses. Still, I like the spirit of the idea! Perhaps I will end up doing this if I can come up with simple readily comprehensible guidelines for creating modifiers.
Point well taken. I'll add that arguing good-naturedly over poorly defined modifiers is not desirable either because it takes up more time than I want - and this is what I anticipate the HQ modifier system as written doing (at least in my group). To me, such arguments lead to gamism...And our goal is to shift more towards narrativism (at least as an experiment).
This is exactly why I brought this up. Let them max their bonus. Once they see that you do not argue about it, they understand that they are doing something “wrong”. It gets boring to max out after a while. Just tell them that any number up to +20 will be fine. After some time they will develop a feel for what is right. Oh, it is important for them to set the penalty, as well. Letting them set the modifiers helps to form a group consensus concerning modifiers. In the end, someone will just make a suggestion and there is no arguing because everyone knows that the modifier is not there to do them in but to add drama. What you want is that they say: "Well, my opponent is on higher ground. So the resistance should increase by +10." And with a big grin.

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Just so I'm clear, what makes it so that the how is more important than the why?
The extra rolling. When we roll, this is typically a sign that something important is going on. This is especially true for conflict resolution systems like in HQ. HQ offers two ways to resolve a conflict. If only the why is important, you use a simple contest. But if the how is also of interest: That is exactly what an extended contest is for. In an EC you roll lots of times for every single action (though this action could take years to resolve). This is all designed to put emphasis on how the characters perform. We still resolve the why but it is not enough in this situation for dramatic reasons. Like in a movie when something gets a lot of screen time. It is not enough to know the result then. We also want to know how the result comes to pass. Or at least that is what the director thinks we want to see.
This is, of course, a simplification. But by adding extra rolls for some (random) modifier, you give that modifier more weight. And this is exactly the opposite of what you claim to aim for. If you want more detail, use an EC!

Quote
I see what you mean about adding extra rolling for an augmented contest. Right now I'm inclined to use the augment rules as written, with the following proviso: You may declare you are taking advantage of an environmental condition suitable to the setting; if so, it becomes part of the scene (or possibly the ongoing saga) and may be used by allies and enemies alike. No major changes to rules, but keeps the spirit of what I'm shooting for. Of course, whether it provides the same advantage for anyone using it is up for debate. If it's a modifier then (according to HQ core) the bonus would be constant. If it's an augment the bonus would depend on the character's ability to take advantage of it (e.g. Know Tactics to use higher ground more effectively than a character without that ability).
This could work, of course. Just one thing. Environmental changes are there for everyone. If you give your players the power to add stuff to the situation, than you have just shared some GM powers. This is entirely different than allowing them to make use of that feature. So there is this big rock. (Sipposed you roll for a modifier) But not everyone can use it to the same advantage. Just because everyone can use it doesn't mean that everyone needs to get the same bonus. Note, though, that this is probably counter to the spirit of PCs being heroes. Would a self-respecting hero fail at using higher ground to his advantage?

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Interesting idea, Sebastian. Did you just come up with this, is it a house rule in your games, or from another RPG?
I just came up with it. It is inspired a bit by Prime Time Adventures. Just to keep at it. I think the original number is too high. Make that 50 (or 100) points total. Divide that up however you like between narrator and players. If the GM penalizes the players, they get the points in their pool and vice versa. In effect, you regulate use of modifiers. The GM is allowed to penalize the players. But they receive an advantage for later use. And they have to hope for penalties at the beginning so that they have lots of points for later use, when it is dramatically pleasing to win.

Sebastian.
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Lamorak33
Member

Posts: 183


« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2006, 12:53:54 AM »

Hi

This thread has got me reading some of my old e-mail's when I was learning the kind of play that you seem to b shooting for. I found an interesting passage that you might find helpful to consider,

"The process of altering a RPG to accommodate your mode is called "Drift." Basically I think that HQ supports Narrativism with the least amount of drift. I think it supports simulationism with a lot of drift. And I think it really doesn't support gamism at all without really altering the rules dramatically (might as well be playing something else). "

I didn't write that, but I agree with it wholeheartedly. Therefore I think you should be cautious about sending gamist signals to gamist players while using a game system that does not support that style of play at all/ very little.

Here is a gross example: If you run a dungeon bash using HQ then your players may well end wondering why you don't just use D&D, and they would be right in my opinion. D&D does that much better. But if you run a game where community and relationships matter, and the drama of combat is more important than the process of hacking cantels of one another, then Heroquest does it better, because it codifies what is important to the player about the character, and does not just create a generic type character. Think about it, the D&D Level 4 warrior is very similar in terms of numbers to the next D&D Level 4 warrior. The differences will be the superficial characterisation the player adds in terms of name and backstory (if any) and the kit which will be the 'badges' the player has earned through good play.

Therefore, if you want to get a different approach from your players, then I suggest don't present the same type of play they are used to with inferior mechanisms than they are used to. If they ask for a tactical bonus, enjoy their engagement with the game, give them a quick of hand bonus and move on. This signifies that its not a priority. If you dwell on it then they will probably see it as the way HQ should be played, when really it is your accommodation of their perceived preferred style of play.

Regards
Rob

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Lamorak33
Member

Posts: 183


« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2006, 04:04:49 AM »

Hi

I mentioned this before, but have you considered running 'Last Days at Skullpoint' from the Heroquest Gathering Thunder book? It was written by Ron Edwards, is Narratavism supporting. I started running it for my group just before we concluded our campaign due to external factors. It was developing nicely with a few interesting twists and turns. I have no hesitation in recommending it. Now that I have finished my degree I will be on the lookout for a group to run it for again. (if you live in London drop me a line!)

Regards
Rob
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2006, 09:24:33 AM »

I'm sorta ambivalent here. What you may find, what I've found, is that you end up using very few situational modifiers at all. That's whether or not you use your particular rule. So, that being the case, why bother? Basically I think you'll find it a non-issue in play.

That said, this isn't really a modification to the rules. You're simply applying a rather more radical standard on when to use Variable Augments. As long as you're applying some judgement to the process, it'll turn out fine. That said, we're all talking in circles here with regards to what level to set augments at. The problem is that you keep wanting to pander to the players' gamism. You say that they'll be disappointed by the lack of tactical options. That's completely intentional. Rather, if you want tactical play, I really don't suggest HQ.

Let me be clear by what I mean by tactical play. I mean that the player, through use of tactics, proves that he is good at playing the game. That's not the same as the character using tactics. If it's merely the player describing the tactics his character is using then it's just cool narrative color. Both can be fun. HQ supports only one (like Rob points out above).

For instance, if a player says, "My character is looking for high ground so I can get a bonus." This is the player trying to win the contest. Either there is high ground for him to get a bonus from, or there is not.

So the order of things for gamism is:
1. Contest is declared by narrator which describes the situation (or, for which the situation is known).
2. Abilities are declared along with aguments by player.
3. Player looks around for bonuses to pad his chances of success.

For narrativism:
1. Narrator declares contest.
2. Narrator suggests that player will have bonus for situation.
3. Player declares abilities and augments.

See the difference? Quite simply do not let the player have an opportunity to play tactically. Just do the contest.

Does the player disagree with some modifier? Well, how can he? Yes, the levels are sort vague. That's intentional. In step 2 above, you say that the player should get a +10 due to height? And the player says it should be +15? What does he base that on?

Player: "How high is the elevation difference?"
Narrator: "Enough to give you a +10."

Find this to lack consistency? Then just don't to situational modifiers in most cases. Make the contest all about the drama between his character and the opposition, and not about how high the hill is.

Players still going to use the gamism order of events above, and ask for modifiers? Do this:

Player: "Shouldn't his elevation give him an advantage?"
Narrator: "Is it important? If you think so, take a +5."

The point is to indicate to the player that you're adding the bonus based on making it an interesting contest, not based on him being clever.
Now, does this mean that tactics don't come into play at all? Nope, it means that they come into play as part of the resolution. Player have some interesting ideas for his character's tactics? Then let him narrate.

Narrator: "Hmm, Minor Victory. I think you run him off. Go ahead and narrate that."
Player: "Cool. OK, my character circles the opponent looking for a weak spot. When he finds it he feints right, and then dodges left taking advantage of a rock that he steps up on and leaps down at his opponent, hitting him right where he plans to."

Character looks good, the player gets to display his knowledge of tactics, but stays informed that HQ resolution is not about trying to win. This is important. If players are trying to win, personally (as opposed to simply adding things up because they sympathize with the character's goals), then they will find failure to be unfun. And the propensity for the HQ system to create failure becomes a problem for such a player (the usual response to which is the player saying that it's "unrealistic, which from his POV it is).


As far as narrating things in...I used to say that too, that players should have to narrate augments. Until I realized that sometimes when an augment is mentioned...it just makes sense. Like you're fighting to save your girlfriend and the player says, "In Love with Griselda +2" everyone just nods in a "well, of course" sort of way. You simply don't have to have the player say, "In the midst of the fight, he looks and sees his lady loves eyes, and is inspired to fight harder." I wouldn't stop any player who wanted to narrate that in, but I simply wouldn't require it, either.

Where I do require "work" on the part of the player is when they augment with something where I can't see the applicability. Instead of simply vetoing it, I'll ask, "Wait, wait. How does your character's Intimidating Beard help him with this cooking contest?"
Player: "He's browbeating the other kitchen help to do exactly what he says."
Me: "Oh, OK, that's +3 more."


Ian, great notes. On the subject of explicit stake setting...I think I beat Ron to the punch with his recent statements that explicit stake setting can be problematic, when I said a while back that I think you don't have to always do this. Oh, by the rules in HQ, you do have to get a goal statement from the player. And that's important, I'd agree. That actually frames the contest more than anything, I feel, however. Most importantly, I don't always actually negotiate the potential outcomes of contests. Yeah, if you need this as "training wheels" go for it. But I think you can move past it pretty quickly. Once players know that you as narrator are looking out to keep their characters protagonists and give them things to do as players even as a result of failure, then I think that you are free to assign any sort of failure you want.

Oh, I ask, "How does that sound?" after assigning a failure, in many cases. But I don't tell the player what's going to happen if they fail up front in 90% of cases. Heck, last night, as a side effect of a victory, I had the veil get knocked off of this elf maiden who has "Enrapturing Beauty 10W4" which caused all in the room to have to roll to see if they fell in love with her (two did). So I even reserve the right to meddle with victory narrations. To say nothing of defeats.

Perhaps surprisingly to some people, while I think that the term Narrator is lousy in general for the GM position in HQ, I do think that if it means, "He who narrates resolutions" that it's just fine. I like to keep that power for myself. That's supported by the rules (to say nothing of RPG tradition).

Does that mean that I don't let players narrate? No, I let them do that all the time. But it's a power that devolves from me, and I reserve the right to do the narration myself unless I specifically reliquish it. Because as the "story advocate" the narrator is in a unique position to move the story forward with narration of resolution. Players may do this as well, actually. But with the duty lying at the narrator's feet, he's just more likely to do a good job it seems to me.

So I mostly only devolve the power to a player if/when I have nothing special that I'm seeing as a way to drive the story forward as a result of the narration. In that case, the player can't do any worse than I would.

Mike
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Lamorak33
Member

Posts: 183


« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2006, 10:23:05 AM »

Hi

Sage words from Mike,


Perhaps surprisingly to some people, while I think that the term Narrator is lousy in general for the GM position in HQ, I do think that if it means, "He who narrates resolutions" that it's just fine. I like to keep that power for myself. That's supported by the rules (to say nothing of RPG tradition).

Does that mean that I don't let players narrate? No, I let them do that all the time. But it's a power that devolves from me, and I reserve the right to do the narration myself unless I specifically reliquish it. Because as the "story advocate" the narrator is in a unique position to move the story forward with narration of resolution. Players may do this as well, actually. But with the duty lying at the narrator's feet, he's just more likely to do a good job it seems to me.

So I mostly only devolve the power to a player if/when I have nothing special that I'm seeing as a way to drive the story forward as a result of the narration. In that case, the player can't do any worse than I would.


to which I would add, players like to be suprised and entertained by the GM. 'No shit Sherlock' I hear you cry. This is fundementally why I think Mike has hit the old nail square on the head. Thus do not get too carried away with giving away narrating powers. The GM has to be sensitive to the players who will appreciate it and those who will not. Not all folks are turned on by assuming Author stance regularly.

Regards
Rob
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