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Author Topic: Cover value vs description mass confusion  (Read 2154 times)

Posts: 26

Serial Inquirer

« on: February 25, 2007, 09:14:22 AM »

Is there any relation between the selected cover and its numerical value?

That is, is it possible to have cover 3 and be in a position of high power, like for example a Member of the Senate or a millionarie? Personally I have no issues with this, but I start getting some little doubts when you start driving this to extremes (say, supreme court judge or even something more concrete like president of the US or king)

What of these would be more appropriate?:

A) Cover 3: Supreme court judge
B) Cover 7: Lawyer (Supreme court judge) -- which basically means it has been Cover 3: Lawyer previously.

Now, assuming B is more appropriate, lets consider the case of Cover 3: king. This would, as per B, be an unusually crappy king that most likely wouldn't last much in the throne. The issue I have with a starting player with this is that they may feel very picked on as they are tossed around like a puppet, as if you were punishing him for chosing a cover with very high social power.

I remember seeing a sample Elric with something like cover 11: emperor and &Soul has the cardinal with a cover between 7 and 9, as well as specifically linking social standing and cover. Now, doesn't this coalesce both standing and "ability" in the same value, making it impossible to have puppet kings making everything too unidimensional? (higher social status going along with competence)

If this is another open "concept", I'd like to hear your comments and advice on whats most likely to work so I can settle my mind Smiley

Pseudonym, Not Persona
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2007, 09:47:34 AM »


Part one: the straightforward answer

Let's start with the Cardinal as presented in The Sorcerer's Soul. The reason he has a high Cover score is because he's good at being Cardinal, not because being the Cardinal requires or implies competence.

That's the logic - the score is not for being the described thing, but rather for how well one does it in conflict situations.

Therefore, yes, one could be President with a score of 1. The descriptor's name means the characer holds the office of President; the score's value shows us that he is uncommonly bad at it.

The reason that Cover scores are so high given the character creation rules is because Sorcerer player-characters are intended to be competent in the worldly sphere, even if that sphere is "crappy homeless guy." If you created a Sorcerer player-character with that Cover score, then by golly, he's going to be good at being a crappy homeless guy, if those skills or lifestyle-concerns are relevant to a conflict he faces.

Part two: Elric

That example of Elric certainly wasn't mine. Here's mine, from an old post in 2003:

Stamina 1 (sickly), Will 5 (inhuman aristocrat + unlucky in love), Lore 5 (inhuman), Past 4 (emperor of Melnibone), starting Humanity 3 (traded 1 up), Price -1 (gullible)

You'll notice he's written up as a starting character, and I don't see any special need to ramp him up from that. I figure if you want to pop on another point or two, here and there, that's OK ... maybe Stamina up to 2 for the novel Stormbringer, when he's not such a jellyfish without the sword to suck on (I mean! to draw energy from! that's what I meant).

How about Stormbringer itself?
Stamina 6, Will 7, Lore 6, Power 7

Abilities: Special Damage, Travel, Vitality (confers to Elric), Armor (for itself), Boost Lore, possibly Taint
Desire: Ruin, Need: Love
All the "soul-sucking" doesn't have to be quantified; it's just damage. The notion of a transfer from sucked-soul to the Vitality is dependent not on the amount stolen (as mis-understood by most gamers) but rather on Elric meeting the sword's Need (which he barely understands).

Wow, Stormbringer seems kind of piddly, doesn't it? Until you recognize that it's a Token as well as an Object demon, and has racked up a considerable score based on murders Elric commits with it. Note, not just deaths - murders, of those he cares about. I'm talking about Cymoril, Rackhir, Moonglum, and so on ... interestingly, since Zarozinia sacrifices herself to the sword, it gains nothing (and even complains about it). So that's a fair amount of dice you can add to the blade's Power too, at least 4 or 5 at any given moment.

I presented the example in full, but my purpose in doing so was to point at the Cover score of 4.

Part three: using Cover in the first place

Let's take a look at an Olympic athlete built using the Sorcerer rules, which is to say, a sorcerer character who is also an Olympic athlete. The Stamina score might be 5, 4 at the lowest I'd think, and if it's 5 he or she gets two descriptors. I'd say, oh, trained athlete and natural vigor. Then we add the Cover score, which presumably is the same value of 5, described as Olympic contender.

I'm not entirely confident that you understand all the ways these scores can factor into a variety of physical and social conflicts this character might face. I'll lay out some basics point by point.

1. None of this has anything to do with the routine acts of training and competing. If those acts are not involved in a conflict of interest relevant to the Kicker or scenario in general, you don't roll. That's right. If the character is competing for the gold, and it's not an issue to the Kicker or scenario in general, then don't roll. The dice are not involved. The score values are effectively irrelevant.

It may be that people want to roll in such a situation, and I contend that if it is, in most cases, this is because the character's success or failure is relevant to the scenario, i.e., how he deals with success or failure, and how that relates to later decisions during play. In which case, you do indeed roll, because it qualifies.

But it does not qualify merely because it is an imagined action in the developing fiction of the game-world. The Sorcerer dice rules are not the physics of the imagined game-world. They are the metaphysics of the developing story.

2. In many cases, overlap between Stamina or Will scores with Cover scores is an automatic bonus-generating pre-roll for conflicts. Our athlete may face a negotiation about marketing his image that qualifies as a real conflict-challenge, which boils down to a Will roll contest. Since his Cover score is obviously relevant to his Will in this situation, he can roll Cover first (yes, even though its value is derived from Stamina, doesn't matter) to see if he can get some bonus dice for the upcoming Will roll.

Or, our athlete may face an in-the-moment conflict right in the context of competing. So the basic roll is Cover, and in this case, he may use Stamina as the initial or bonus-generating roll.

So, all of these are conceptually available to cover an incredible range of conflicts in which the Cover is somehow relevant.

Cover by itself
Will augments Cover
Stamina augments Cover
Cover augments Stamina
Cover augments Will

So the descriptors of each term take on very, very powerful in-game significance, because among them, they create a three-dimensional "concept matrix" of what the character is good at rolling for. That is why descriptors are not "just Color," even though they do not provide quantitative bonuses to rolls.

That matrix is further defined and refined by the Price, which introduces a situational penalty from another conceptual angle slicing into the matrix.

Does that help, or make sense?

Best, Ron
« Last Edit: February 25, 2007, 09:49:10 AM by Ron Edwards » Logged

Posts: 26

Serial Inquirer

« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2007, 11:12:15 AM »

Does that help, or make sense?

Thank you. It does, and to the wiki it goes. (ew:)

While I had no troubles in as you put it, factoring the different ways the scores into conflicts, the gold medal example is particularly illustrative. Now, instinctively I wouldn't have thought of making the player roll because of a diffuse "thats fine, it doesn't matter" thought, but reading "because its not relevant to the story" (which I have read multiple times here but apparently isn't straightforward to absorb) helps clarify things and certainly avoids being swayed to rolls by other players comments ("hey everyone, look, he's gonna roll now for that medal, isn't he?").

Or, to sum it up, dice rolls = story; no story = no dice rolls. Hopefully this time it will sink it.
(By story I mean in the general sense as defined in your 3.1. reply)

Pseudonym, Not Persona
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