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[Mortal Coil] Conflicts, Actions, Rules Confusion

Started by Ice Cream Emperor, October 04, 2006, 06:25:59 AM

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Ice Cream Emperor

Just thought I'd chime in to say that these examples are definitely helping, and I look forward to the not-yet-complete Conflict example, since I think that was one of my main sticking points. Doyce's examples of situations where that might happen were illuminating, for sure.
~ Daniel

Brennan Taylor

I'm glad they are useful. Of course, I started from simplest to the most complex, so they are taking progressively more time to write up. More coming!

Brennan Taylor

Conflict 4: A One-Round Multiple Action Conflict between Three Characters where One Is Helping
OK, sometimes in a one-on-one conflict, a third character gets involved, but doesn't have a goal of their own. Instead, they are helping one side or the other.

In this scene, Michelle's supporting character, Sal, a weaselly informer, is trying to seize a letter from Jason's character Eckhardt. Krista's character Lucy will try to help Eckhardt.

Michelle: Sal says, "Give me the letter and I'll see to it that Mr. Wallace gets it."

Jason: "I think I'd rather give it to him in person."

Michelle: Sal sidles a bit closer than you'd like. "It's probably better if I take care of it."

Jason: Uncool. I'm going to put the letter back in my jacket pocket.

Michelle: I'm going to call this a conflict. Sal is lunging forward, trying to grab the letter. If he wins, he runs off with the letter.

Jason: Fine. If I win, I keep the letter, and Sal tells me who he's working for.

Michelle: Nice. Let's allocate.

Krista: Hang on. I'm right there. I'm not going to let Sal get away with grabbing the letter and running.

Michelle: OK. Do you have a goal?

Krista: No. I just want to help Eckhardt.

Michelle: Great. Everybody allocate.

Jason decides he's going to get physical, too. He allocates two action tokens in Force and Policeman to grab ahold of Sal, two in Grace and Policeman to dodge Sal's blows, and two in Will and Policeman to intimidate Sal into giving up his employer. Policeman is doing serious duty here.

Krista decides to load all of her action tokens, a total of five, in Grace, to trip Sal when he goes for Jason, helping Jason's defense. She doesn't really have an aptitude that applies.

Michelle allocates two of Sal's action tokens in Force and Dirty Fighter to grab the envelope, and three tokens in Grace and Coward for Sal to run away.

Michelle: Everybody ready? Let's reveal. Sal is going to use his Force action here to shove into Eckhardt and grab that envelope away from him. The Grace is to beat feet after.

Krista: I'm using Grace here to trip Sal and make it easier for Eckhardt to defend himself against the grab.

Jason: I'm using Grace to avoid that grab, Force to seize Sal, and Will to intimidate him into giving up his boss.

Michelle: Cool. Let's start with Lucy, since she's helping and the outcome of her action will affect your totals, Jason.

Krista: I didn't really have an aptitude that applied, so I'm just using Grace. I put six action tokens in it, though, so that plus Grace 3 equals 9.

Michelle: You're trying to stop him from grabbing, and since you aren't using an aptitude at all, he definitely gets the +2 bonus for having a more applicable aptitude. His Force is only 2, and his Dirty Fighter is also 2, and he had two action tokens in there for a total of 8. Even with the advantage of having an aptitude you get a success. His grab action is at a -1 against Eckhardt.

Krista: Good.

Michelle: OK, Eckhardt. Let's resolve the grab. Sal had a total of 6 against you, since you have an aptitude, and there's the additional -1, so you just need to beat a 5.

Jason: Eckhardt's Grace is 3 and Policeman is 3 and I put in two action tokens. That's 8.

Michelle: You beat him by 3, a complete success. Sal sidled forward and lunged at you, reaching for the envelope. You jerk your hand away, just as Lucy sticks her foot out to trip him, and he stumbles and misses the envelope. Seeing where this is going, he turns to flee. This is where we resolve your grab and his running action.

Jason: My Force is 2, and Policeman again at 3, plus two action tokens. That's 7 for the grab.

Michelle: Sal's Grace is 3, and his Coward aptitude is 1, and he put 3 tokens in to run for it. His total is also 7. That's a tie. Neither one of you gets what you want.

Jason: He can't run, and I can't grab him... but I still get my Will action because he didn't get away yet.

Michelle: That's right. Eckhardt grabs his jacket by the collar, but Sal is a slippery character. He ducks out of the jacket, leaving you holding his clothes, and he turns to run. He's off balance, though, and he only manages a few shaky steps. He looks back at you.

Jason: I put my cop face on and shout, "Stop!" My Will is 4, and Policeman is 3, along with two more action tokens is a total of 9.

Michelle: Yeah, and Sal's got no defense against that. He stops, quaking, obviously too terrified to run, or do anything else.

Jason: "I'm not going to hurt you, Sal, but you'd better tell me who sent you." I take a couple of menacing steps forward.

Michelle: "You gotta believe me, Eckhardt, I don't want any trouble with you! It was Duncan. He's the one who wants the letter!"

Brennan Taylor

Conflict 5: A One-Round Multiple Action Conflict between Three Characters
Up to now, all of the conflicts we've been looking at have been between two characters. Sometimes, more characters get involved, and that definitely makes things a bit more complicated. Here's a one-round conflict between three characters, all with goals of their own.

This time, Michelle, Jason, and Krista are joined by Bill in a different game. They are all playing gods: Krista is Prosperpine, Jason is Jupiter, and Bill is playing Pluto. Jupiter and Proserpine have just walked into a bar where Pluto is having a drink.

Michelle: Pluto looks up from the bar as the door swings open, and in walks Jupiter with Proserpine on his arm. They're both dressed for a night out.

Jason: I'm ignoring Pluto and finding a table for me and Proserpine.

Krista: I'm not looking at Pluto. I saw him over there, but I don't want to acknowledge his presence.

Bill: Oh, no. I'm not going to ignore this. I order up another stiff drink and down it, then I'm going to stand up, straighten out my tie and walk over to them.

Jason: "Oh, Pluto, I didn't notice you there. How are you, brother?"

Bill: I'm totally blowing Jupiter off. I'm talking to Proserpine. "I know we're through, but, really, him?" I wave my hand at Jupiter.

Krista: I dart an annoyed glance at Jupiter. I'm not happy about this. "It's not really any of your business, now, is it?"

Michelle: Bill, are you trying to get something out of this conversation?

Bill: Yeah. I don't think I can change her mind about me, I just want to make sure she doesn't go home with Jupiter.

Jason: I'm not going to put up with him ignoring me. I want to humiliate Pluto and leave with his girl.

Michelle: This is definitely a conflict, then.

Krista: His girl? Nice. I've got a goal here, too. I want Pluto to admit it was his fault we broke up.

Michelle: Interesting. This is a three-way conflict, then. Let's see who gets what they want, shall we? Everyone secretly allocate tokens for your actions.

Jason decides that he's going to try to get Pluto to back off by intimidating him, and allocates 4 tokens in Will and his King of the Gods aptitude toward that. He also wants to charm Proserpine, so uses his Wits and Ladies' Man aptitude, plus 2 action tokens for that action. Just in case Pluto decides to get rough, he allocates one token in Force plus his Boxer aptitude.

Bill knows Jason will try to block his attempt to peel Proserpine away from him, so he concentrates on that action with only a slight defense. He puts six action tokens in Wits plus his Huckster aptitude to persuade Proserpine that Jupiter's a loser, and then throws one in Will plus God of the Underworld to resist whatever Jupiter or Proserpine throw at him.

Krista decides to put most of her attention on Pluto, and allocates five tokens to her Will and Ingénue aptitude to get him to apologize. She also allocates two tokens to Wits and Goddess of the Underworld aptitude to ignore Jupiter.

Michelle: Everybody ready? OK, let's see what you've got.

Jason: My Will action here is to menace Pluto and get him to back off. Wits here is to charm Proserpine with my smooth manner. I had one in Force, too, in case Pluto got physical, but that doesn't seem to be happening.

Bill: I put just about everything here in Wits to make an argument to Proserpine that Jupiter is a philandering loser. The Will action is to defend against both the these two.

Krista: Oh, you're in trouble, Bill. My Will here is to get you to apologize. And the Wits is to fend off Jupiter.

Jason: "Fend me off?" Aw, man, that's cold.

Michelle: All right, let's match up all of these actions. Jupiter's Will is going against your Will, Pluto, and Jupiter's Wits is going against Proserpine's Wits. Proserpine's Will matches up against Pluto's Will. Proserpine, even though you only specified Jupiter, your Wits will defend against both these jokers. Let's add them all up and find out what happens! Let's start with Jupiter's attack on Pluto.

Jason: OK. My Will is 4, and I'm using King of the Gods, which is 2. Add the 4 action tokens, and I've got a total of 10.

Michelle: All right, Pluto, what have you got?

Bill: My Will is 3, and I have God of the Underworld as a defense here, which is also 3. That, plus the one action token, puts me at 7.

Michelle: That puts Jupiter up by three on this attack, a complete success. Let's figure out the rest of the results before I tell you how that turns out. Krista, Proserpine is defending against two moves, let's figure that out.

Krista: Proserpine's using Wits to defend. Her Wits is 3, her Goddess of the Underworld is 3, and I put two action tokens there. Total of 8.

Jason: Jupiter is using his Wits—2, definitely not his strong suit, and his aptitude Ladies' Man, which is 3. I put two tokens into that, which puts me at 7.

Michelle: Proserpine squeaks by on that one. A margin of 1, that's still a success.

Krista: Whew.

Bill: Pluto really poured himself into this one. He used Wits, his highest stat at 5, and Huckster is a 4, plus six action tokens comes to 15.

Krista: Fifteen?

Michelle: Yeah, that's pretty devastating. With an 8 for Proserpine's defense, we're looking at a margin of 7, a spectacular success.

Bill: Excellent. That's what I really cared about, anyway.

Michelle: Obviously. Now, you've got to defend yourself against Prosperpine's action, though.

Bill: Uh-oh.

Krista: So, Proserpine used her Will, a 4, and Ingénue, also at 4, along with five action tokens. That's 13.

Michelle: And Bill, your defense was 7. She beats you by six. That's a spectacular success for her.

Jason: Wait, I beat Pluto, Proserpine beat Pluto, and Pluto beat Proserpine? How does that work?

Michelle: Let's look at what everyone wanted out of the conflict. Pluto wanted Proserpine to ditch Jupiter, and with that spectacular success, it looks like that will work out. Proserpine wanted Pluto to admit it was his fault they broke up, and with a spectacular success, that's going to come to pass as well. Jupiter, you're only getting half of what you want, it seems. You wanted to humiliate Pluto, and with a complete success, that worked. But you also wanted to leave with Proserpine, and Pluto has convinced her to ditch you, so that's not going to work out.

Jason: Interesting.

Michelle: So let's play this out. Pluto, you convinced Proserpine that Jupiter is a big jerk.

Bill: "Listen, Proserpine, I know you came here to get at me. I get it. But really, him? You know what he's like. It's not like half the nymphs in this place haven't been home with him in the last six months. He's just using you to get at me."

Krista: "Maybe I'm using him to get at you. Ever thought of that?" She turns her head as if she's going to ignore Pluto.

Jason: Wait, what? No way. "Come on, baby, don't be like that."

Bill: "He's a complete slimeball. Look, you want me to say I'm sorry? OK, I'm sorry."

Krista: "Not good enough. You know it was your fault I left, why don't you admit it?"

Jason: I'm not going to sit here and take this from them. Jupiter rises up, seeming to grow too large for this little bar, and looms over Pluto. "Step away, little brother, or you're going to get hurt." Lightning crackles at the corners of his eyes.

Bill: Oh, yeah, I lost that intimidating fight with you. That's totally working. Pluto quails and looks around nervously, licking his lips. Everybody else in the bar turns away, smirks of pity and disgust on their faces, as Pluto takes a few steps back. He's still talking to Proserpine, though. "You're right. It was my fault. I was too controlling, I know that. I wish I could go back, but I can't." After that last comment, he's stepping quickly back over to the bar, hoping he hasn't pissed Jupiter off enough that he'll come after him.

Jason: That's more like it. Show some respect, I'm King of the Gods. Jupiter turns back to Proserpine. "Let's get out of here, baby. I'll show you a night on the town."

Krista: Proserpine is putting some things back in her handbag. "I don't think so. I'm pretty sure it was a mistake to go out with you in the first place. I'll get a cab home."

Jason: Ouch. Oh, you're going to pay for this one, Pluto.

Michelle: OK, I like how that played out. People lost conflicts here, so there is going to be some harm. Jupiter, Proserpine brushed you off, but she only beat you by one in that conflict, so you are only shaken. Spend an action token. Bill, that was rough. Jupiter beat you by three in his conflict, and you were humiliated in front of the whole bar. You're a regular here. That'll cost you. I think you're anguished, spend two action tokens for that. And then there's the little matter of having to admit you drove your wife away, also in front of the entire bar.

Bill: Oh, yeah, I think that broke him. I'm going to permanently reduce his Will by one.

Michelle: Harsher than I was going to go, but, yeah, broken it is.

Bill: And I know I beat Proserpine with a spectacular success, but I wasn't trying to hurt her, just influence her behavior. I don't think she should suffer any harm from that action. The harm would have been going home with Jupiter.
Michelle: I agree.

Jason: Hey!

Brennan Taylor

The long awaited multi-round conflict writeup! I took Jason, Remi, and Clinton's game as an inspiration. I'm sure the conflict below resembles the actual play not at all.

Conflict 6: A Multiple Round Conflict between Two Characters
Now we get down to it: the hardest part of the conflict system. What happens when everything doesn't neatly resolve when all the actions are worked out? That's when you have multiple action rounds.

In this conflict, we have two characters; an Inuit shaman, Ataninnuaq, and a white nurse, Emily. Michelle is running the game, Krista is playing Emily, and Jason is playing Ataninnuaq. The shaman has the ability, set by magic token, to smoke illness out of a person with a fiery ritual.

Jason: I have the fire built in the back of the orphanage and I set the platform over it. I'm going to go inside and get the kid to put him over the fire.

Krista: Oh, man, I've been watching this from inside. I'm not going to let this guy take any of the kids away.

Michelle: That sounds like a conflict. Jason, what's your goal?

Jason: I want to heal the kid with my fire cure.

Michelle: Fair enough. Krista?

Krista: No way he's putting a kid atop that fire. I want him scared off, afraid to come back to the orphanage.

Michelle: All right. Ataninnuaq forces his way in the back door and heads over to the bed where little Joseph is lying, shivering with fever. Emily has been tending to Joseph all day, and she now stands by the bed, defiantly. Allocate your tokens for the conflict.

Jason knows the nurse is going to try to stop him, but he isn't interested in physical violence. He allocates 3 action tokens to Force and his Hunter aptitude. To change the nurse's mind, he decides to allocate 2 action tokens to his Will and Shaman aptitude.

Krista is pretty sure she won't be able to win a physical conflict with the hard-bitten shaman, but she puts 2 tokens in her Grace along with Nurse to block him from the child. She also puts 4 tokens in Will and the Missionary aptitude to intimidate the shaman into backing off.

Michelle: Ready? Time to reveal.

Jason: Ataninnuaq's Force action here is to pick up Tiriaq and take him out to the fire.

Michelle: Tiriaq?

Jason: Yeah, that's Joseph's real name. Ataninnuaq certainly won't refer to him by his missionary name. All right, the Will action is to use his words to shake Emily's faith.

Krista: Emily is using this Grace action to block the shaman from reaching Joseph. She's also trying to get Ataninnuaq to back off, that's the Will action.

Michelle: OK, the two Will actions are opposed, and Ataninnuaq is testing his Force against Emily's Grace. Let's see how it shakes out. Let's start with the mental conflict. Jason, what have you got?

Jason: Ataninnuaq's Will is 3 and his Shaman aptitude is 4, combined with 2 action tokens, that's 9.

Krista: Emily is using Will, too, and her Will is 4. She is also using Missionary 3, which counters the Shaman aptitude nicely, I'd say. With the 4 action tokens I put in there, that's 11.

Michelle: A win for Emily. Yeah, no advantage on either side between Missionary and Shaman. OK, let's check that physical conflict.

Jason: Ataninnuaq's a wiry old bastard, Force 3, and his Hunter aptitude, also 3. With 3 actions allocated, that's another 9.

Krista: Emily's Grace is only 2, but she has Nurse at 3. Along with 2 action tokens, it's a 7.

Michelle: Hunter and Nurse are both stretches for this one, but since both are equally implausible, no advantage to either side again. This one's a win for Ataninnuaq.

Jason: So, Ataninnuaq will pick Tiriaq up and take him outside to the fire, but he can't shake Emily's faith? That works.

Krista: Not quite. Emily may have lost that physical conflict, but she's not done. No way is she going to let him put that kid over the fire, not while she can still move.

Michelle: OK, it sounds like this conflict isn't over. Let's describe what happened after the first conflict, though.

Jason: Ataninnuaq walks up to Emily and fixes her with a baleful gaze. "The ways of my people are long, and we know secrets you whites have forgotten. I can cure the boy." He stares at her for a long moment, something old and powerful revealing itself in his flinty eyes.

Krista: Emily looks at the old shaman for a long time, and it seems almost like she may shrink back and yield to his will, but then she reaches up and touches the cross hanging from her neck, and her uncertainty turns to horror. "You won't touch him, not while I live."

Jason: Ataninnuaq seems unmoved by her statement, and with nothing more than a grunt he roughly pushes her aside and picks up the shivering boy. He carries him briskly through the door, to where his fire and platform are prepared.

Michelle: But Emily's not done, right, Krista?

Krista: Right. Let's do another conflict round. He's going to have to really neutralize Emily if he wants to get away with this.

Michelle: OK, same goals as before. Allocate your tokens.

This time, Jason thinks he needs to get physical. The mental conflict didn't work. He puts in one token in Will and Shaman to resist anything Emily may throw against him, but dumps the rest (4 tokens) in Force and Hunter to overpower Emily and tie her up so she can't stop him.

Krista also decides to go physical this time. She decides to put 3 tokens into Force and Nurse to grab up Joseph, and 3 tokens in Grace and Frontierswoman to run away from Ataninnuaq with the boy in her arms.

Michelle: Everyone ready? Let's reveal.

Jason: I need to finish this ritual without interruption, now. The Force action here is to overpower Emily and tie her up. The Will is to resist any mental assault she might try on me.

Krista: I'm using Force to grab Joseph back and then Grace to run from Ataninnuaq.

Michelle: Jason, since Krista didn't use a mental action, your defense isn't too useful. It looks like your action is directly opposed to both of Krista's, though. Let's take her first step, which was to grab the kid away from you. What have you got, Krista?

Krista: My Force is just 2, but I have 3 in Nurse. With 3 action tokens, that's 8.

Jason: I've got a Force 3 and Hunter 3, and I put 4 action tokens in there. That's a 10.

Michelle: I'm sorry to do this to you, Krista, but Jason's Hunter aptitude is much better suited for the conflict at hand. He knows how to overpower and tie up things, and your Nurse aptitude isn't as applicable for snatching kids away from people. That gives Jason another +2, putting him at 12 to your 8. That's a complete success.

Krista: Oh, crud. Well, Emily is going to be damaged by this, for sure.

Jason: Yeah, Ataninnuaq isn't trying to hurt her. She'd be scratched at most.

Krista: I don't mean physical damage. She's going to be tied up and have to helplessly watch as this guy burns a kid in her care over a fire, at least that's how she sees it. She's going to be anguished by this, that's 2 action tokens spent.

Michelle: That makes sense. Of course, the shaman's ritual is actually going to work, and Joseph...

Jason: Tiriaq.

Michelle: Sorry, Tiriaq, is going to get well. Jason, why don't you describe what happens.

Jason: OK. Emily comes rushing out after Ataninnuaq, and she grabs Joseph, trying to wrestle him away from the shaman.

Krista: Tears are streaming down her face, she's clearly desperate.

Jason: Obviously annoyed, Ataninnuaq pulls the boy away, setting him on the ground. As Emily tries to dart around and pick him up, the wizened old shaman leaps at her like a wolverine, knocking her to the ground. He quickly overpowers her and binds her up with leather ties, putting a gag in her mouth so she can't scream for help. He has a sad, almost sympathetic expression on his face as he turns back to the boy. Taking him up, he lifts Tiriaq above his head, and begins chanting. He places the boy down on the platform and begins to sing.

Krista: Emily screams into her gag and struggles to reach her charge, but to no avail. She closes her eyes and turns away from what she expects will be the horrifying death of the sick little boy.


Awesome, Brennan.  Let me know if you want me to do the grunt work of transcribing the examples up to the wiki; I'd be happy to do that small bit of help.
Doyce Testerman ~
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.

Brennan Taylor

Thanks for the offer, Doyce, that would be great.


Doyce Testerman ~
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.

Brennan Taylor

That's great. Thanks, Doyce!

I am actually planning to write two more of these, as well, but it might be a little bit before I can get to it. I've got a lot on my plate!


No problem. They're a piece of cake to add to the wiki when you do.
Doyce Testerman ~
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.


Although I'm deadly and desperately interested in the questions I posed over here, in rereading these conflict examples, a question reared it's curious head.

In the "Multiple-round conflict between two characters" example (the missionary vs. the shaman), I noticed that neither of the characters take any kind of Harm (I almost typed Fallout, heh) as a result of the first 'round' of action -- it's only after the actual end of the conflict that they access harm taken, and they only seem to be paying attention to the results of the final (second) round to determine what kind of Harm they take.

Now, that totally works for me, but I wanted to make sure that that is, in fact, how it's meant to work before I run off into the uncharted wilderness of another game session this weekend.
Doyce Testerman ~
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.

Brennan Taylor

Harm is not mandatory. Players can choose not to cause harm in conflicts they win, as can the GM.


Hi again,
I tried this NTSC version too but I encountered the same problem: after the first image shows the supported controllers, console hangs off with a black screen
I use USB Loader with only Error 02 enabled and Language set to English.
Any ideas?