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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 56 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Grey Ranks] The Thing You Hold Dear  (Read 2930 times)
Jason Morningstar
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« on: January 02, 2007, 01:12:12 PM »

OK, I need to make an important change in Grey Ranks (one of the last, I hope!) and I'd like some feedback. 

Right now each character has a Thing They Hold Dear ("My Country!"  "My Family!").  A player may introduce that Thing for a big material bonus, but once invoked, any player can destroy it for a second bonus.  So in the game you've got this tactical reserve of goodness to help you win conflicts - 2 bonuses per player character, mercilessly tied to thematic disaster.  And you will sure as hell need to use them.  Cool!

Right now the rule for invoking/destroying reads:

Invoking or destroying the Thing You Hold Dear allows you to replace your pool die for that Vignette, in advance, with a d12 (a die size that only shows up accompanied by very bad mojo), or to re-roll any die (any die, not necessarily your own).

In play this is both confusing and fiddly.  "Oh!  I forgot to swap it out for a d12!"  "Oh!  what die do I re-roll?"  I want to streamline this and make it a single thing that happens when you use up the Thing You Hold Dear.

Issues: 

1.  Adversity ramps up during the game, so early on you'll want a re-roll but late in the game you absolutely need a d12 if you want a prayer of succeeding.

2.  Sometimes you want to fail.  The re-roll handles this but the d12 doesn't.  Which is why they are both there.

3.  Fun choice is a good thing, confusing choice is not.

Clinton suggested that invoking/destroying granted you a d6 that added to your roll, a second die in a game that otherwise uses single die rolls to resolve stuff.  I'd amend this to allow the player to add or subtract, per #2 above.  This effectively guarantees success when used early in the game and will powerfully impact the third act as well - but that's not a bad thing. 

So I'm looking for some feedback on the shape of the mechanical bonus for the game's big sacrifice.  The thematic part is really solid, I just want to make the die handling simpler and more intuitive.  Thanks for your thoughts. 
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2007, 01:32:03 PM »

Hiya,

I'm kind of a simple guy when it comes to these things.

I suggest keeping the d12 and getting rid of the re-roll. Why?

1. In mechanics terms, the d12 means "more." The Thing You Hold Dear is your character's "more" or "deep well" or "squared," whatever you want to call it, which matches to the die's "more."

2. In this case, if someone wants to fail, then they're best off simply not using the Thing and rolling the smaller die. Frankly, I'm not especially sympathetic to the notion of "wanting to fail." I think a better model is "I'm OK with how it turns out, even if I momentarily shriek with anguish or catharsis if it goes a particular way." I think it's worth considering that control over how things turn out is simply and clearly incompatible with rolling for how things turn out.

Best, Ron
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2007, 01:47:34 PM »

Thanks Ron, the thing is "wanting to fail" is really shorthand for "preferring suicide to martyrdom".  The system will relentlessly move you toward martyrdom (reinforcing success) or, slightly more slowly, toward suicidal depression (reinforcing failure).  So failure and success aren't exactly the right terms, but I lack the language to frame it properly.  Maybe "there will be times when you want to roll real low, to drive your character in a particular direction".

A part of what I want here is a satisfying tactile experience, where rolling the dice is both meaningful and fun, because it is an important juncture and a rare one in Grey Ranks. 
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Hans
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2007, 03:59:27 PM »

Hi Jason:

I haven't gotten up to Act 3 in our playtest yet (where I think this will matter much more than it does in the earlier acts), but from my brief experience, I would suggest that you simply combine the two items into a rule that reads something like this:

Invoking or destroying a Thing You Hold Dear in a vignette allows you to re-roll the die in that vignette.  You may choose to use a d12 in this re-roll.

Does that make sense?  It simplifies the mechanic and it doesn't really change its affect.  In the later seens, when the scene number is already higher than the normal number you would roll, it is functionally the same as choosing to swap the die before the vignette.  All it does is simply let the decision always be made in the moment, instead of having it have to sometimes be planned.

Hans
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2007, 04:59:37 AM »

Hmm, interesting.  So with Hans' suggestion, if you invoke/destroy to help a mission, you almost always re-roll a d12.  But if you really don't like a positive outcome looming in a personal vignette, you can just re-roll your regular die size after a high roll. 

Player input: 

Choosing Reputation die size to add to the pool.  If you want to head for depression, you choose small and hope nobody grabs it.  If you want to head for martyrdom, you take big dice.

Choosing the two die sizes to allocate to the two conflicts initially.  If you want to head for depression, you choose small between your two dice. If you want to head for martyrdom, you choose big.

Invoke/destroy.  If you want to head for depression, you re-roll a high result with the same die.   If you want to head for martyrdom, you re-roll a low result with a d12. 

That retains the re-roll, which is more fun in play than the pre-roll replacement, but still allows some flexibility.
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Hans
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2007, 06:04:40 AM »

That's what I was thinking.
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Steve Segedy
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2007, 06:44:13 AM »

I tend to agree with Ron about the D12.  Much like with the Roach, the D12 is the gleaming icon of success- if you want a chance to "succeed" (win the roll), either early or late in the game- you'll instinctively sacrifice your Thing and grab the big dice. 

However, although I would consider the strategic maneuvering that you're talking about (pushing for either depression or martyrdom) a more advanced part of play, and not immediately obvious to players,  I can see how it would be important.  When we played even just a few scenes, I found myself trying to figure out how to move myself around on the grid consciously.

Perhaps you could split this into two different player actions.  The path to martyrdom calls for sacrificing something important to win conflicts.  What if a player could choose to restore or treasure (for lack of a better antonym) something they hold dear and then roll a D4 for the conflict, thus reaching for depression.  Or perhaps their action is "betrayal", and affects other players Things adversely.  I'm groping around here, but perhaps you get the idea.  This sort of thing might also inform the "MVP/Weakest Link" concept as well.



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