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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Potpourri of Mechanical Questions (Injury, waiting, shapeshift)  (Read 4142 times)
dikaiosunh (Daniel)
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« on: July 30, 2007, 05:34:32 PM »

I have three (hopefully) boring and unrelated mechanics questions, but they're bugging me and a search of the forum didn't turn up answers (apologies if I missed them).  One came up in a game I've already run, and two are things that occurred to me when reading the rules and I haven't been able to figure out how to resolve.  So, any help would be appreciated.

1.  After a fight, characters recover half of their lasting penalties.  Does this apply to penalties only from that fight, or to all lasting penalties the character is carrying?

For example: Joe Sorcerer gets in a scuffle and takes four lasting penalties.  After the fight, he goes for a nice cup of hot tea and is now down to two.  Later, he has a bit of nastiness that results in four more lasting penalties (meaning he ends the fight with six).  After another chance to rest, is he left with three lasting penalties (all 6 are halved) or four (only the four new ones are halved)?

2.  Can characters elect to hold their actions in a conflict until another event "goes off?"  E.g., if someone is going to tackle the evil sorcerer so I can get a good kick in, but I roll higher than the tackler, can I say, "I wait until he's tackled" to get the bonus (thereby opening myself up to not being able to defend with full dice, etc.), or must I either go ahead with my kick without the bonus from the tackle or abort my action until next turn?

3.  I just really don't understand Shapeshift (I've read http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=6411.0, and I'm still thick about it).  In that thread, Ron says (if I understand correctly) that any powers linked to an alternate form should be there only as a "soft" limitation (basically, if the demon for some reason really wants to use them without changing shape, it can, or can roll Power to overcome the limitation), and that stat changes should be linked to things like Big (at least, I think that's what was meant by the reference to not needing Stamina increases).

This seems to reduce Shapeshift to a special effect with no real mechanical impact.  E.g., if I have a demon that grants me the ability to look like someone else (a la Morgan Le Fey), the right power would seem to be something like Cloak (- to perception rolls to tell I'm not who I'm trying to look like), Boost Will (if it lets me make people do things b/c they believe I'm someone trustworthy), or the like, depending on what I want the mechanical effect to be.  Whether we describe this as a physical change in form or an illusion or whatever seems to be color, and not in need of another ability.  Or, if I've got a demon that (e.g.) turns from an unassuming form into a big slavering monster, it seems like I'm giving it things like Big and Special Damage ("soft" limited to "only in slavering monster shape," but the limit itself is mostly color, and no different from a "soft" limit like "only at night," which wouldn't require another power), with the shape change just color again.  Not that color isn't important... I'm just utterly missing what Shapeshift is supposed to do as a *power*. 

That last one is a plea for help from genuine confusion, so please go sparingly with the big stick if the answer should be obvious.  Thanks in advance for any input.

- Daniel
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2007, 07:13:31 PM »

Ha! Everyone fears the stick now ...

However, no stick, partly because there isn't any, and mainly because these are perfectly good questions.

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1.  After a fight, characters recover half of their lasting penalties.  Does this apply to penalties only from that fight, or to all lasting penalties the character is carrying?

Excellent question. The answer is half of all lasting penalties that the character is currently carrying. Joe Sorcerer is ultimately left with three lasting penalties. This is, I trust, good news.

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2.  Can characters elect to hold their actions in a conflict until another event "goes off?"  E.g., if someone is going to tackle the evil sorcerer so I can get a good kick in, but I roll higher than the tackler, can I say, "I wait until he's tackled" to get the bonus (thereby opening myself up to not being able to defend with full dice, etc.), or must I either go ahead with my kick without the bonus from the tackle or abort my action until next turn?

No. Never. To play in such a fashion is not Sorcerer. There is no "holding an action" in this game.

1. If the player states "my guy waits until ..." then the result is that the character does nothing in that round and only gets a 1-die defense against anything targeting him. "I sit there" is a moronic thing to do.

2. If the player states "my guy does X right after he does Y, if he does Y," then he has a chance for it to work. Unlike the above case, character is in fact committed to doing X. To understand this well, you have to understand the abort rules fully. They're subtle. One of two things can happen.

i) The other guy does Y first, according to the turn order. That's good. Our character now performs X as planned, whether right away or after someone else goes depends on the turn order.

ii) The other guy either does Y after our character's turn (as is made obvious upon establishing the turn order), or aborts before then. In this case, our character typically aborts, or performs the action anyway if the player wants him to.

Does that make sense? I'll be happy to run some dice-driven examples for you, rolling the dice for real and explaining what happens. The whole point is that such stated actions are risks - if you end up going first in the turn order, for example, your plan is hosed - you were ready before you needed to be and lost your timing.

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3.  I just really don't understand Shapeshift ...

The only benefit of Shapeshift is that the user of the ability actually does turn into whatever the critter is that he wants. Sure, you can have the abilities Perception (keen smell), Special damage (bite), and Travel (fast loping run), but none of that actually turns your character into a wolf. And for some players, and some characters, and some demons, it's just plain desireable and fun to have your character turn into a wolf. This is the ability to do that.

So it's not a "power" in a stackable, additive way, but neither is it merely color. The character does change into a wolf, and as far as the Shared Imagined Space is concerned, that beats the shit out of not changing into a wolf.

Best, Ron
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dikaiosunh (Daniel)
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« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2007, 02:45:18 AM »

Ron,

Thanks.  Re: 1 - when I ran my game, I used the more charitable (and, as it turns out, correct) reading.  Re: 2 - that's what I thought.  Your answer makes perfect sense.

Re: Shapeshift.  I understand your answer, but it still causes a bit of a disconnect for me.  The tenor of most of the other discussions of demon powers seems to be "the powers define the mechanics, what happens in the SIS is largely your group's own business."  So, e.g., if I want a halo of flames that melts bullets and sears my enemies, that's Armor + Special Damage, and I don't need an additional "be on fire" ability. 

In the wolf example, my understanding was that, if one of my players wanted a demon that let her character change into a wolf, she couldn't get away with saying, "I take Shapeshift, and that means I have all reasonable abilities a wolf would have" (any more than a character could take Special Damage: Halo of Fire and say, "oh, it's reasonable that it would also melt bullets").  So she'd have to take Perception, Travel, etc. anyway.  But once she's loaded up on wolf abilities, I was under the impression that we could *already* say, "those are the abilities that define your demon's power to turn you into a wolf."

I'm not trying to weasel out of a point of demon power (especially since I'll be running, not playing).  I'm concerned that, since your answer about Shapeshift doesn't seem to fit nicely with my understanding of the relationship between demon powers and effects in the SIS, that my general understanding of that relationship is off.

- Daniel
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2007, 04:49:20 AM »

Hi Daniel,

Well, let's break down Shapeshift mechanically.

A wolf can do any number of things that a non-wolf can't. These aren't abilities, but rather capabilities inherent to the shape and identity of a wolf. It can, for instance, pass as a wolf among other wolves, animals, or people. It can howl in a scary fashion. It can move in a certain way.

The same applies for other creatures who might be better examples of this point than a wolf: a fish can breathe water, a snake can get through practically any opening, and

In other words, the shape and identity of the creature in question does have properties which are acquired via the ability Shapeshift and in no other way. You might buy all the abilities you associate with being a wolf, and even define it in-game as looking like a wolf, but without Shapeshift, your wolfy character will not be accepted as a wolf among wolves, or do anything else wolflike beyond those abilities.

Another way to look at it is, if the character bought Shapeshift and no other associated abilities, he or she would still be able to turn into a wolf - just not a very capable one, only able to smell as well as a human and only able to run as fast as a human. This wolf, though, is unmistakably a wolf - it is not disguised as a wolf, for instance. How about biting? The wolf would be able to bite, doing damage commensurate with bladed weapons, but not with a Power score, just the user's Stamina score.

How far does one take that concept? The other abilities all set a good conceptual limit. When someone wants a killer whale shape, the question is, you'll be quite big as a killer whale, and certain things (limits and advantages) do come with that automatically, but do you want the benefits to the extent of the ability Big? Do you want to bite "like a human" only with some sharp teeth, or do you want the benefits of the ability Special Damage? When someone wants a wolf shape, the question is, you'll be able to sniff other wolves and be sniffed, but do you want automatic wolfy-leadership over them, and hence the benefits to the extent of the ability Command?

Birds' flight is a grey area which allows further discussion - do you get the ability to fly with Shapeshift/bird, or not? I tend to err on the side of generosity. As long as we're not talking about the real benefits of Travel (which is to say, Power-based), and are only talking about moving without touching the ground, then the Shapeshift is probably enough ("probably" because the genre of play and the look-and-feel of sorcery do matter). We also have to look at what sort of bird: if it's a sparrow, then the flight probably isn't Travel-worthy; if it's a falcon, then the flight probably is, because I think shapeshifting into being a falcon carries "fly really fast" as part of the potential.

Does that help or make sense?

Best, Ron
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dikaiosunh (Daniel)
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« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2007, 09:19:04 AM »

Ron,

That helps... I think.  I don't want to go around on this too many times, since I think what may be going on is just that Shapeshift doesn't seem to "fit," intuitively, with the other powers... but that may be a matter of taste, and/or not having played with it yet.

In any event, the "fit" problem for me is that... to go back to a non-shapeshift example, if someone had "bullet melting halo of fire" as an Armor + Damage ability, then of course, well, he'd probably shed some light (though maybe not enough to see in the dark without Perception!), and people would feel hot around him, etc.  These sorts of things that didn't rise to the level of Power-based abilities would be freebies.  Similarly, if someone were to buy the suite of wolf-y powers, with the explanation that this was because of her demon-granted wolf-form (as opposed to "horrible wolf-like beast," say), I'd be inclined to say that, OK, wolves don't immediately attack her (though she can't necessarily Command them), her fur is warm (though no better than a coat unless she has Protection), etc. - *and* that, for purposes of the SIS, if she wants her power to be defined as actually turning into a wolf, that's how we can understand it (just like we can just decide that someone's Armor is represented by actually be wreathed in flames).  It sounds like what you're saying is that that inclination is incorrect.  I guess part of me just wants to say "what's the harm?"  But maybe I just don't see the harm since I've not played with a Shapeshifting character in the game yet...

I can see better the utility of having *just* Shapeshift.  Getting sharp (edged weapon) but not demonically powerful (Special Damage) teeth seems in line with, e.g., being able to craft blades out of things on the fly, which might just require an appropriate version of Warp, but which wouldn't do anything super-impressive without Special Damage.

- Daniel
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2007, 12:04:02 PM »

Hi Daniel,

I understand your logic. However, I am not sure whether you're seeing mine: that turning into a wolf is indeed a strong SIS-affecting phenomenon, stronger than merely a "glowing halo" or whatever. I've tried to explain it as best as I can. It's not just Color. It's an ability. It really affects play strongly, when someone turns into a bird and then flies through the open window or whatever.

Sorcerer outcomes are highly, highly contingent on the immediate location of any given conflict, and upon what people choose to do about various things and pieces and relative positions in that location. Shapeshift offers a "way into" that aspect of play that's not the same as simply racking up dice. It's not just Color. All I can say is that what I'm describing isn't my hope or imagination or some kind of zen realization; it's a feature of play.

Best, Ron
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greyorm
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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2007, 06:23:13 PM »

So it's not a "power" in a stackable, additive way, but neither is it merely color. The character does change into a wolf, and as far as the Shared Imagined Space is concerned, that beats the shit out of not changing into a wolf.

That sound was every Gamist in the audience stopping and staring because you completely lost them: "Is he speaking Klingon now?" Heh.

In all seriousness, I feel you are confusing the issue by stating "These aren't abilities, but rather capabilities inherent to the shape and identity of a wolf." and then saying "...he or she would still be able to turn into a wolf - just not a very capable one, only able to smell as well as a human and only able to run as fast as a human."

No! Bad Ron! {newspaper} Ok, bad joke, but my understanding from what you have said over the last eight-or-nine years is that the dice/scores in Sorcerer are not indicative of actual in-game "physics" or measurements/comparisons of "ability" per se. Rather, they are story-influencing mechanics in the same way Humanity is not a "measurement" of how "good" or "bad" you are, just how much it will take for you to snap...and also why Big isn't about HOW big you are, but how much influence that BIGness can have over the story, etc. (ex: the gigantic moon-sized space station with 1-die of Big: it blows up fairly easy; the same with 5-dice of Big: "There's a small exhaust port only 2-meters wide..." ie: the size of the station is a larger factor in the story).

So, with Shapeshift you are a wolf who can bite as hard as a wolf, and smell as good, and etc, except you the player will use your Stamina score to bite/smell/etc with. It isn't a "weak" wolf bite "by comparison" of scores -- rather, the effects of the bite are a narrative device whose importance in the narrative is determined by the scores. That is, the big deal isn't, "I'm a wolf and I can bite hard. Grr!" the big deal is "I'm a frickin' wolf. Grr!" Note the difference between them is that in the first "biting hard" is actually the important bit, and in the second the actually important bit is "being a wolf".

So I think you were being confusing by jumping from "You're a wolf with wolf-powers!" to "You're a wolf, but not with wolf powers!" and muddying understanding by trying to reconcile both statements. No, dude, you're a wolf, you can do what a wolf can do, but unless you have other dice for other stuff, your "wolf powers" won't influence the outcome of stuff more than your "human powers" would -- biting, running, smelling, it isn't the "important" thing narratively, "being a wolf" is and so you have more in-game effect with it.

So, Daniel, does it make more/any sense that way to you?
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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dikaiosunh (Daniel)
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« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2007, 05:57:44 AM »

Ron, Greyorm,

I didn't mean to denigrate the issue of becoming a wolf by calling it "color."  I just didn't have a better word ready to hand... all I meant is that it was an effect only on the way that players think about events in the fiction, rather than on the mechanics.

I think, Greyorm, I may be closer to your feelings, but not necessarily in the same place - since the mechanics in Sorcerer *are* tied to the story influence, I guess I'm in the grip of the intuition that if a "power" has no mechanical effect (i.e., carries with it no greater power to influence the story when push comes to shove) then it's in the realm of things that should be fine to do without powers (or as SIS explanations of other powers - you have Special Damage b/c you can turn into a wolf, e.g.).  And, the corollary: since Sorcerer is so heavily designed to get away from the kind of role-playing where we just talk about what our characters do without the rules, that it's odd to have something as seemingly-substantial as changing form carry no mechanical effect.

Anyway, I don't presume to have the power to shut the conversation down, but I fear that it's maybe gone as far as it can (for me, at least) in the abstract.  I think I understand where Ron is coming from, even if it still rubs me a bit the wrong way.  I'll wait to see Shapeshift in AP, and see if either it "clicks" for me or sharpens my feeling that it's an odd-man-out power.  At the very least, I think I understand how it's supposed to be used by the rules a bit better now.

(Incidentally, I'm not so sure I agree that becoming a wolf is necessarily more substantial than being able to walk around self-immolated... or, to take an example I feel is even more weighty - having in mind the "Ring of Gyges" section of Plato's Republic - turn invisible.  But that's probably a matter of personal taste, to a large degree.)

- Daniel
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2007, 07:04:20 AM »

Hello,

Daniel, I don't want to shut the conversation down. Most especially, I don't want you to back out because you think you're annoying me. You're not. Nor are you denigrating anything or saying anything that bugs or offends me. This isn't that kind of forum.

I'm going to try to convince you that I do understand your point, by paraphrasing it myself. Then I'm going to try to show you that you are right, but that you are right only in a particular direction and to a particular extent. I am not trying to say you're wrong. I'm trying to say that something else is right too, and that Shapeshift (and a couple of other abilities, especially Shadow) are oriented toward that something else.

Here's my paraphrase of your point:

In Sorcerer, the rules matter. Abilities are "paid for" with Lore points because they matter to play, specifically, to the mechanical aspects of play. The game does not waste its rules on fluff.

Given that, Shapeshift doesn't seem to fit, because it carries no explicit numerical outcome. In fact, it seems like a waste of "Lore slot," because you get the same abilities plus one, and hence mechanical effects, without it.


Assuming that this at least captures the core of what you're saying, then you have stated a real, very accurate distinction. Your intuition is correct in that Shapeshift is not like, for instance, Special Damage or Cloak, in which the demon's Power has quantitative impact on play.

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I guess I'm in the grip of the intuition that if a "power" has no mechanical effect (i.e., carries with it no greater power to influence the story when push comes to shove) then it's in the realm of things that should be fine to do without powers (or as SIS explanations of other powers - you have Special Damage b/c you can turn into a wolf, e.g.).  And, the corollary: since Sorcerer is so heavily designed to get away from the kind of role-playing where we just talk about what our characters do without the rules, that it's odd to have something as seemingly-substantial as changing form carry no mechanical effect.

The intuition is correct, but its "grip" is restricting your viewpoint to only one aspect of Sorcerer: dice and numbers. The dice and numbers of Sorcerer do not operate in a vacuum. They interact with narration in a way which is truly impossible to describe - or rather, it is describable if I wanted to write an 80,000 word essay interspersed with video clips for examples. It is not possible to play Sorcerer as a dice game alone, with narration just clipping along for the ride. What is said as part of a dice outcome is crucially important.

Well hell, I'll try: your character takes a savage leap at another character, and as the dice fall out, fails in the attack. You say (or someone says, whoever), "I crash into that table!" During play, this is so easy and straightforward that no one even notices the imagination and energy it took to say it.

But notice that you could also have said, "I land badly and sprawl." Or you could have said, "I go over his shoulder and right past him, doing a little 'skate' to keep my feet." Or you could have said, "He stiff'-arms me, stopping me dead."

All of these affect what can be announced next as the character's action, or even more significantly, anyone else's action.

In other words, the numbers and dice of Sorcerer are continually operating in a kind of "dance" with ongoing narration, both of announcements and of outcomes. It's a lot like the way words and pictures "dance" in creating comics, meaning that there are lots and lots of ways to do it, and that it's better not to force a particular dance-step but to let it happen anew each time.

Most of the abilities give weight (i.e. dice) to one of the partners in that dance. You are absolutely right, in your analysis, to perceive that effect.

Shapeshift and Shadow (if I think about it, probably other abilities) are oriented toward the other partner in that dance. It's subtler. However, it is indeed an equal partner in the dance and therefore those abilities carry unique impact on play. Yes, systematic impact, what you're calling mechanical impact.

What the "grip" is preventing you from seeing is that quantitative effects (numbers) are a dance partner in the overall system, they are not the totality of the system.

What are your thoughts on that?

Best, Ron
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dikaiosunh (Daniel)
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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2007, 09:21:35 AM »

Ron,

Re: denigration of color - I just didn't want you to think I was coming from a place of "if it doesn't give me a bonus I don't care."

Anyway, it wasn't that I thought I was annoying you (though the thought did cross my mind), but just because I felt we were maybe going around in circles a bit and that the problem was more one of differing reactions than of not understanding each other.

But I think your last post puts a finer point on the broader worry that my feelings about Shapeshift spark in me (I didn't have Shadow on my mind, but that's partly just a matter of which kind of power I'm more likely to want, I think).

Let me see if I can articulate it.  I understand what you're saying about the dance between dice and bits of the narrative.  I guess the question that Shapeshift raises for me is: where should the boundaries be?  When I read things like the explanations (I can dig for the thread refs if people want them) for how to use Boost Will to represent an addictive kiss, or Vitality to represent a Parasite's ability to animate a dead body, I think, "OK, this is how the dance goes - the powers are just there to nail down the dice effects of things, but what you can use those dice for and what they represent in the narrative is largely a matter of how your group understands the fiction."  It's very important to come to some understanding of what goes on in the fiction, but the powers are somewhat flexible regarding that.  In your metaphor (if I understand it aright), I saw specifying demon powers as all going on one side of the dance.  Similarly, setting your Stamina score tells you how many dice you can use in physical confrontations, but how that gets described (are you hulking and beefy?  Are you quick and speedy?) is a different matter (an important one, but one not tied to numbers on the sheet).

So, when I see Shapeshift, I realize that I don't know where the "line" is.  *Why* is there a power for changing form but not for animating the dead?  Or, why can't I just describe my demon's Cloak ability as the power to create illusions of everyday objects around itself, rather than using Shadow?  Or can I?  I just feel like, in some way, my intuitions about how to make that judgment call are out of line with yours/the game's.  It may be that we just have different ways of drawing the line that work for us - but part of my hesitancy about going around again in the abstract was a feeling that maybe the reason for separating the dance partners in the way that the game text does will make more sense once I've played a bit more.

- Daniel
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2007, 09:34:55 AM »

Hi Daniel,

I can't guarantee that it'll all snap into wonderful clarity "if only you'd play," because who knows ... maybe it's not clear and won't be. But I greatly appreciate your willingness to see whether it does as time goes by.

Another big part of this is whether you'll encounter a fellow player who simply says, "I want to change into a wolf," and wants a specific set of abilities that are rock-solid bracketed into that action and no other - and furthermore, refuses to accept approximating the change by accumulating abilities, or finds the "just don't use'em unless you turn into a wolf," not to be enough. Or more accurately, they want being the wolf to be formally accepted as a meaningful event, by the group, because it's been validated with a Lore point.

I guess I'm saying that the line you're talking about does exist in practice, and that Shapeshift is there for the person who wants it, because it does have mechanical (although not numerical) implications as I've tried to explain. I've never encountered that same line for anything else to speak of. Using Vitality to animate a corpse with a demon, for instance, doesn't provoke the demand in others that there must be an "animate dead" ability. But it's there for Shapeshift, and after playing it enough times, I've tried to articulate where that line is in my above posts. The person wants the character to become a wolf, with any number of unknown applications (e.g. the snake wriggling down a tiny hole) implicit in the narrational potential without pre-formed definition, and they want Lore to validate that potential.

So again, I do not think we're talking in circles because I do understand and give respect to your fundamental point. It's correct. I'm saying that it's not enough, but that's not the same as saying it's wrong. What I've tried to do is explain my reasoning from different directions, to see if any of them make sense to you. I'm not trying to beat it into your head through repetition, but trying to see whether any of the articulations can mesh with your understanding.

So far, I think it's been a productive conversation along those lines and I appreciate your attention to it.

Best, Ron
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dikaiosunh (Daniel)
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« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2007, 03:17:11 AM »

Ron,

I think it might be helpful to me to separate the two sides of the question - what Shapeshift does in *addition* to a suite of "wolfy" (or other-thing-y) powers, and what it does for the character who has it on its own (I know those are two applications of the same principle, but I think I might understand it better if I can nail them down separately).

So: let's say that a player wants her character to be able to change into a wolf, but have lots of wolf-related abilities.  So she takes (for her character's demon): Special Damage, Command, etc.  She asks, "do I need Shapeshift, too?"  My inclination is to say, "nah," and give her access to various incidental traits of wolf-ness (smaller size than humans, relatively warm fur coat) when appropriate as a "side effect" of her suite of defined powers, so long as she's already announced the change of form in the fiction (and, e.g., if she's exhausted her demon's Stamina using Special Damage attacks, say, "well, you're going to have to come out of wolf shape now...").  Is this a bad way to go?

I know I could just say, "take it, it's only one more point of demonic Lore, it won't kill you." ("heh heh")  But like I said, this is partly about my general concerns about how far to "stretch" powers.  And, I also have in mind certain classical (and not high-fantasy) uses of magic that I'm uncomfortable yoking to the relatively short duration of Shapeshift.  The kind of power that initially got me thinking about Shapeshift was Morgan Le Fey, who sleeps with both Lancelot and Arthur in the form of other women.  Even a demon with a pretty high power would have trouble maintaining Shapeshift for eight hours or so...

Alright, now the other case: the player just wants to be a wolf, no Special Damage, no nothing.  So he takes Shapeshift for his character's demon.  I understand (I think) the mechanical benefits of "I become a wolf now," even if there's no dice-crunchy power associated with it.  If, e.g., a human character's player says, "I chase the rabbit down the hole!", my response as GM is, "uh, no, that's not going to work, you're too big."  But the wolf-character can do it.  Ditto for moving unremarked among other wolves, etc.

Here's where my "line drawing" question comes in.  My impression from the rules and other discussions here was that powers with mechanical impact should be interpreted in a pretty restricted way.  So (to return to my much-maligned halo of fire), the flaming character's player can't get away with, "dude, I'm on fire, I should be able to light the darkness," he should have to have Perception: see in dark.  Given that, rather than too weak, on this new explanation (if I understand it now), Shapeshift seems very, very powerful.  It's more like a "be on fire" power that replicated Special Damage (of course you can burn things) and Perception (of course you shed light), and maybe some other incidentals, though at a lower dice level (using only, say Stamina to burn things rather than the demon's Power).  I can see why, given the setting, it's much more likely that a player will want "I can be a wolf" than "I can be on fire" as a single well-defined power, but I'm not sure exactly where to draw the line if someone *does* come to me and say that they want something that's not clearly on the power list and has mostly narrative implications (though that likelihood is why I mentioned waiting to get some more AP under my belt - I could see the answer being, "yeah... no one is really going to bother asking that, or for anything else not clearly within bounds").

In any event, I think I'm closer to understanding at least where *you* draw the line - an ability that mostly has narrative effects that change the parameters of what the character can do, but don't necessarily amplify something for which Power is appropriate is OK as its own power.  Is that gloss in the right ballpark?  So, Shapeshift is more like Perception when used for "new" senses - if my demon can see into the ultraviolet range, that's usually just treated as a way of expanding your possible field of view, and the "add Power" part doesn't come up as often.  And if someone wanted (this is off the cuff), a ventriloquism power, it would probably be fine to just let them have a new, sort of audio variant of Shadow, rather than trying to say, "OK, do you want it to be able to confuse people at a distance?  That's Daze + Ranged," if the player insisted that no, they just wanted to be able to throw their voice, dammit.

Autobiographically, part of my confusion initially was based on the fact that the general rule that emerged from discussions I'd read here (e.g., about animating dead) seemed to be "shoehorn any new power into the existing power list whenever possible."  Without that generally conservative approach to powers, I'd have been more comfortable (if I had a dead-animating demon to think about) just saying, OK, let's define a new power - "animate dead" - so long as it doesn't conflict with the feel of sorcery as we understand it here.  But my impression was that that would be a bad idea.

Thank you, too, for spending this much time on this issue with me.

- Daniel
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2007, 08:41:13 AM »

Hello,

I was going to let your excellent post be the final one for the thread, because it nailed everything down. But then I re-read and realized that you'd asked me a direct question which I'd failed to answer. So:

Quote
In any event, I think I'm closer to understanding at least where *you* draw the line - an ability that mostly has narrative effects that change the parameters of what the character can do, but don't necessarily amplify something for which Power is appropriate is OK as its own power.  Is that gloss in the right ballpark?


Yes! 100% exactly.

I know, it's not a complex or subtle answer to your question, but I figured it was rude to leave the question hanging.

Best, Ron
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dikaiosunh (Daniel)
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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2007, 06:06:09 PM »

Ron,

Thanks for the closure.  I'll be sure to post the AP when we get going (especially if someone actually takes Shapeshift, now...).

- Daniel
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