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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 88 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: The Pool; some concerns and question.  (Read 4382 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2006, 05:19:39 AM »

Hello,

Let's go all the way back to your original query then, about the numbers.

The issue is whether

Quote
the system was biased towards failiure, and that the huge punishments for failiure (loosing gambled dice) were not offset by the rewards for success (gaining a die or an MoV).

Well, in general I'm not even inclined to answer. The person hasn't played The Pool, it is possibly the single most likely system not to behave as one might expect at first reading, or any amount of reading in the absence of play. All my preliminary questions and points above are framed in order to show that what is being rolled about is totally different from what most role-players are use to. But since I'm taking this question in the spirit of you asking it, and in this case I really mean the real you, I'll see what I can do.

1. The system is generally biased toward success, assuming a couple of things which seem to be consistent from group to group. The first thing is that the GM tends to give out Gift Dice, and the second is that players reasonably gravitate toward conflicts which favor their characters' Traits. So with many rolls, there's often a few dice right there with their own intrinsic chance of showing at least one 1, without any gambling of Pool dice yet.

Side point - I've found that when I, as GM with this game, do not provide Gift dice, then the excitement level rises, mainly because I use 1-2 Gift dice as a default, and also because if something's not a conflict of interest among the characters, then we don't bother to roll. So a non-Gifted roll is quantitatively noteworthy, in the games I run.

2. If one is inclined to think specifically in terms of maximum chances for success for any given roll, then the correct tactic is to gamble all of one's Pool dice as well, maximally, with each roll (Mike Holmes pointed this out). If you start with a Pool of 4 or so dice, and gamble fully each time, then, in addition to the Gift dice, the system is actually heavily biased toward success.

Side point - the reason this tactic doesn't actually get applied as often as one might think is that not all conflicts are equal. Players reasonably and unpredictably judge when they want to reserve some or all of their Pool dice for later, relative to the conflict at hand. The decision-making about this is one of the great beauties of the game because it's not about maximizing the current microsecond of success.

Let me know if any of this makes sense.

Best, Ron
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Andrew Cooper
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Posts: 724


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« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2006, 06:45:37 AM »

Ron,

You and Temple are having a really cool two way conversation going.  I've got a couple of Actual Play examples that tie in to what you are saying but I don't want to interrupt if you and he are still in one on one mode.  Should I wait for another day or two or is it okay with you if I post right now?

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Temple
Member

Posts: 45

Skjalg Kreutzer


« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2006, 11:08:31 AM »

@Ron

Thanks, thats a really neat way of looking at The Pool and success that would have never occured to me. Seeing as youve played The Pool and I havent, Im trusting you on the issue of The Pool behaving differently than one might think upon first read; your examples seem very accurate, and they make sense base don how I understand and interpret The Pool. Still, its a breath of fresh air that has really renewed my interest in this novel system.
Seeing how the system is geaered towards conflict resolution instead of task resolution is very cool, and has really made me think about other systems I know and use (like the WoD). Im finding that I have been very inconcisten in the past, alternating between conflict- and task-based resolution almost at random. Now that Im aware of this, I can begin to analyze and change the way I play.
This is a very good feeling, and part of why I decided to start posting on the Forge to begin with.


@Andrew

I dont know about Ron, but I dont have anything against seeing additional examples of The Pool at work. Thats what this thread is about after all, and further examples could serve to heighten my understanding of The Pool. Additionally, I dont think Im the first person with questions like this, and so this thread can serve another educational purpose. *shrug*
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With regards,
Skjalg Kreutzer
Darren Hill
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Posts: 861


« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2006, 11:43:00 AM »

The Pool is one of my favouite systems. To add to Ron's comments about probability: you only need to be rolling 4 dice to have over 50% chance of success, but even if you're rolling 10 dice, you still have a reasonable chance of failure. There is a bias towards success.

However, there is another element to this. A lot of players are used to making rolls where each individual roll often decides very little, but the system is set up so that over a sequence of rolls, success is almost guaranteed. Take D&D, where the adventure guidelines indicate that the PCs should win nearly every fight, but the attrition over several encounters is what matters. Many GMs in many game systems set up routinely encounters which the players are expected to win, but it's playing through those encounters that provide the fun.
The Pool is very different to such systems - even if you bump the dice up to 10 and have only a 16% failure chance, the fact that that one roll will decide things one way or another can be nerve-wracking to many players, leading them to argue that the game is biased towards failure. Because for many players, any failure is unacceptable - or at least unfamiliar. Plus, their GMs might not be experienced in handling the 'failures' that the Pool will generate in interesting ways.

(I put 'failures' in quotes, because in The Pool, a failed roll is an opportunity - it's a good thing, not a bad thing.)
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Temple
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Posts: 45

Skjalg Kreutzer


« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2006, 12:55:18 PM »

[snip] in The Pool, a failed roll is an opportunity - it's a good thing, not a bad thing.

This is what I feel is the beauty of narrativist systems in general and The Pool specifically. To me, this is a whole new way of looking at and understanding roleplaying, and I am thoroughly loving it!
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With regards,
Skjalg Kreutzer
Andrew Cooper
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Posts: 724


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« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2006, 09:43:08 AM »

Skalg,

When I played The Pool with my group (all of whom are pretty serious D&D fans), here's what tended to happen.  When the game first started, they would roll and risk few or no dice.  If they won, they almost always took another die and let me narrate the outcomes.  As the game went on two things happened.  1.) The situation developed more and more and the players became more invested in it.  2.) The players saw that winning a Conflict really wasn't difficult but that they almost never got exactly what they wanted from the resolution when I narrated.  Thus, during the last half of the game my players tended to risk all but 1 or 2 of their pool of dice and then opted for MoV instead of more dice.  This tended to make them almost always win and they added cool stuff to the narration.  However, the one or two failures made for some pretty spectacular results too.  Losing 9 dice should be significant after all.

The key thing to remember about The Pool is that the dice don't really indicate anything about how powerful or skilled a character is or is not.  They indicate how important a given character is in determining the direction of the story at any given time.  This is a departure from most traditional games and requires and change in how the player thinks about his resources (dice).

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Temple
Member

Posts: 45

Skjalg Kreutzer


« Reply #21 on: November 22, 2006, 02:36:29 PM »

Skalg,

When I played The Pool with my group (all of whom are pretty serious D&D fans), here's what tended to happen.  When the game first started, they would roll and risk few or no dice.  If they won, they almost always took another die and let me narrate the outcomes.  As the game went on two things happened.  1.) The situation developed more and more and the players became more invested in it.  2.) The players saw that winning a Conflict really wasn't difficult but that they almost never got exactly what they wanted from the resolution when I narrated.  Thus, during the last half of the game my players tended to risk all but 1 or 2 of their pool of dice and then opted for MoV instead of more dice.  This tended to make them almost always win and they added cool stuff to the narration.  However, the one or two failures made for some pretty spectacular results too.  Losing 9 dice should be significant after all.

The key thing to remember about The Pool is that the dice don't really indicate anything about how powerful or skilled a character is or is not.  They indicate how important a given character is in determining the direction of the story at any given time.  This is a departure from most traditional games and requires and change in how the player thinks about his resources (dice).




Thanks for that reassuring insight Andrew. Its little tidbits like this that makes me so interested in The Pool. It seems the system reinforces the narrative wonderfully, encouraging participation in the story while at the same time regulating which players get to take centre stage. Im looking more and more forward to playing with it!
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With regards,
Skjalg Kreutzer
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