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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 62 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [AGON] - The Poor, Over-worked GM  (Read 2098 times)
Darcy Burgess
Member

Posts: 476


« on: February 03, 2008, 06:18:59 AM »

Hi,

Ben's questions about armour got me to thinking a some more about my recent experiences with Agon (ap and questions).

The first issue is John's answer to my "Do NPCs suffer armour penalties?" question.  John's answer ("Yes") completely floored me.  Really?  That's a ton and a half of extra crap to track, John.  Now that I know that Minions are critical to the whole "Odysseus vs Achilles" dynamic, I'm picturing myself swamped under a ton of "oh shit, does this guy bother dropping his breastplate" decisions between exchanges.

In a non gamist-facilitating game, it wouldn't be as big an issue to not pay that decision the time it's due.  However, when my job is to provide the best, most level playing field for the players to step out on, man, that decision matters.  How could you, John Harper?  How could you?

I'll also point out that my surprise at your answer is also based in the fact that none of the NPC sheets (Major or Minion) have the penalty checkboxes on them.  For that matter, what about NPCs who don't wear actual breastplate-helmet-greaves armour?  Are they getting penalties too?

The second issue is really an extension of the first.  Does anyone have any solid, practical advice on how to keep the administrative end of running battles down?  Especially when lots of NPCs are involved, it's daunting.  My worst experience was running 3 major NPCs at once, and I was thankful when one of them was killed, and then our errant player showed up (so we each ran one apiece).

I know that GMing Agon requires a lot of GM skill -- the text is up front about that.  However, I'd rather be focusing on cool adventures and awesome opposition.  Not on accounting.

Cheers,
Darcy
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Mel White
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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2008, 10:00:49 AM »

In a non gamist-facilitating game, it wouldn't be as big an issue to not pay that decision the time it's due.  However, when my job is to provide the best, most level playing field for the players to step out on, man, that decision matters.  
 
I think if the GM is consistent in how 'things' work, then it is a level playing field.  In the end, the competition is not between the PCs versus the NPCs, the competition is between the PCs.  So whether or not armor penalties apply to NPCs doesn't matter as long as all the NPCs are following the same rules.   I was surprised by some of the armor answers, too, such as armor rolls not being affected by the Wound effects (-1 to next roll etc.,) I hate exceptions!   In play, my goal will be to use or not use that exception consistently so that things are fair between the heroes seeking glory. 

Mel
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Darren Hill
Member

Posts: 861


« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2008, 10:54:08 AM »

I've always assumed that NPCs do not pay armour penalties, and I'm not planning to change Smiley
NPCs pay for their armour with points, and in some cases, that armour might be worn armour like the heroes wear, or it might be supernatural protection or thick hide - which doesn't make sense to impose penalties for (simmy thinking, I know).
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Ben Robbins
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« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2008, 12:54:49 PM »

The first issue is John's answer to my "Do NPCs suffer armour penalties?" question.

Ooh, forgot that one for the FAQ. Thanks Darcy.

Now that I know that Minions are critical to the whole "Odysseus vs Achilles" dynamic, I'm picturing myself swamped under a ton of "oh shit, does this guy bother dropping his breastplate" decisions between exchanges.

Remember, Minions don't get armor, which makes things a little simpler.

Personally my group had a hard time remembering the negative the heroes got for armor, so it was fairly even. Now we've gotten the hang of it, and I can guarantee you the players are happy to remind me "Wait, he gets -1 for his breastplate right?"

As pure fiat I say that creatures that have armor dice but that aren't wearing armor per se (i.e. the rampaging Boar of Sirenica) do not get a negative, but that's just me. It's more important with NPC heroes because that way the the PC heroes feel they can compare themselves reasonably and see who's the better man ("okay, he's got d10 spear, but I've got d10 sword, we both get -1 so how do I take advantage of positioning...")

The rules don't directly address this, but I also _do not_ let heroes shed bits of armor and presume that was the damaged part. If you take two impairment, then shed your breastplate, you now have that smaller armor die with two impairment. That eliminates the problem of frantic armor shedding, though you do still get the cool "Well hell I'm down to a d4 armor, it's helping more than hurting, I'm just going to cast it aside and go bare!" So if you start off the fight with -1 to melee, ranged and positioning, you'll probably have it for the whole fight.

As a GM tip, I'd recommend writing -1 down next to spear/sword/aim as appropriate. No good place to put the positioning adjustment, except wherever you make marks for positioning bonuses after successful defense. For a starting GM I'd completely recommend writing out the full left hand / right hand dice sets for each NPC when they are doing their signature thing, just to make it easier to reference during play -- at the very least you have a baseline to fall back on in the heat of the moment.
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Ben Robbins
Lame Mage Productions / Beast of Kolkoris free Agon adventure
Ars Ludi / game theory blog
John Harper
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« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2008, 02:50:04 PM »

I hear ya, Darcy. If you have multiple NPCs in a battle, the GM has a lot of stuff to track. I personally rarely have more than 2 NPCs in a battle, and the rest are minions. That's still a fair bit to deal with, but when you start going up to 4+ NPCs, it gets tough.

If you don't want to bother with NPC armor penalties, you can ignore them. No biggie. Ben is right that creatures with "natural" armor probably shouldn't take the penalties, anyway. But for Men, it seems fair to apply the same penalties that the heroes take.

Minions don't get armor.

Thanks for the feedback! I'm thinking about some ways to streamline the rules a bit and get rid of exceptions, so it's good to hear your experience.
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Darcy Burgess
Member

Posts: 476


« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2008, 06:28:38 PM »

Hey John,

Especially if you're looking to streamline, don't do the double standard "men pay penalties, monsters and beasts don't".

If you keep the armour penalties for NPCs, please put the tick-boxes on the sheet!

Cheers,
Darcy
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Ben Robbins
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Posts: 60


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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2008, 06:36:43 PM »

Here's another solution: add a 1 Strife power called Natural Armor that lets an NPC ignore armor penalties.

That way you can buy it for your boars and walking statues if you want, but not for your adversary hoplites.
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Ben Robbins
Lame Mage Productions / Beast of Kolkoris free Agon adventure
Ars Ludi / game theory blog
Darren Hill
Member

Posts: 861


« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2008, 07:53:08 PM »

Heh, I was thinking of going the other way:
Worn Armour: reduce the cost of Armour if the wearer suffers penalties.
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