*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
December 19, 2014, 05:40:16 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 66 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: [TSOY] Giant species design  (Read 8220 times)
shadowcourt
Member

Posts: 153


« on: March 03, 2008, 01:16:17 PM »

So, this is part 3 of the whole "populating the cold southern reaches of Near" series. Hopefully, it'll provoke similar interest to the vulfen and dwarf threads which have been going on recently.

Originally, when designing my homebrew version of Goren, I was really strongly drawn to play with the themes of Norse mythology. At one point, I was contemplating the inclusion of giants as a big local threat to the people of Goren, but I kept gravitating back towards the "No gods, no monsters, just people" creed of The Shadow of Yesterday. As such, though I had some fun ideas about them as local threats, and the interesting Secrets that could crop up in a culture that had to deal with giants, I decided it was a mistake I couldn't abide to have generic "baddie" monsters. Even if they were expressions of primal elemental force, they needed to be about something more interesting, for any number of reasons. Obviously, rampaging monsters simply don't contribute all that much to TSOY's narrative structure; they're no more or less interesting to a Key-bearing character than a hurricane or an avalanche or wildfire. Clearly, something had to be done. A lot of growth came out of the dwarf and vulfen ideas, but I don't feel the idea is quite done, so I'm offering it up here for scrutiny, criticism, or brainstorming.

In essence, I'm thinking of giants as being defined by two major mechanics: Volatility and Enormity. Volatility is the social/supernatural one, and I think the easier to phrase in 2nd edition TSOY terms, so I'll start by presenting that. Enormity takes care of the purely physical aspect of the giant's hugeness, and I don't know how well I'll do explaining it to a 2nd ed audience, so we'll see how that goes when we come to it. For right now, suffice to say that Enormity is their Species ability, and why that's the case will be explained below, in the appropriate section.

Volatility
These days, I conceive of giants as being part of the greater "human dilemma" on Near, meaning that its potentially possible for a human to become a giant and vice versa. The key emotional aspect which divides giants from everyone else is the raw unbridled passion they feel for everything around them. Giants find it impossible to have a "small" emotional response to things--that which makes them angry sends them into a killing fury, anything which makes them remorseful brings on uncontrolled weeping and maudlin antics, and things which please them leave them ecstatic and gushing. They are unbridled and passionate, and capable of vacillating wildly from one extreme to the next. With their hearts on their sleeves, giants are an unruly lot, but they typically think of themselves before anyone else.

Mechanically, I'm considering representing this through an oscillating pool point mechanic I call Volatility. At the beginning of any scene, a giant makes a Volatility check for any of his Pools which are not currently empty or full. Basically this involves rolling a Fudge Die for each pool, resulting in either a -1, +0, or +1 change to that pool's current points. (For those playing 1st edition TSOY, this is easily accomplished with a result of -1 on a "1" or "2", +o on a "3" or "4", and +1 on a "5" or "6", naturally).

When two or more giants are in the same scene together, this Volatility check happens twice (but only twice). Essentially, their giant egos rub up against each other, and can result in even more wild oscillation of the pools. The results are cumulative, with potentially anywhere from -2 to +2 being the final result (with -1, 0, and +1 still options).

This mechanic doesn't get used on any pool which is at 0 (which means you have to go for normal refreshes, and not just avoid that aspect of the game by hoping your Volatility will replenish your pool for you), nor on any pool which is currently full (I don't want to wildly penalize players who are refreshing before something important and already finding their pools dwindle as a result).

This idea of changing natures and shifting moods seemed to be a resonant one to play with when thinking about giants in classic mythology, which are often depicted as if they were incarnations of natural forces. It lends itself to a number of interesting comparisons, making the giants stormy by their very nature, which felt fun. Additionally, it leads to all sorts of interesting situations where you have giants consistently on the prowl, as their pools are sometimes depleting faster than other people's. If we assume that a giant seeking a Vigor refresh requires substantially more food than you or I, we can see why a mob of giants lends itself to raids on human and goblin communities, with giants tearing the place apart looking for the sustenance they require.

It lends itself to some fun Secret ideas. Here are some of the ones I'm kicking around.

Secret of the Baleful Eye
Your glare can manifest the power of your Volatility, dealing harm to others as they sizzle and burn, or even go mad under the deadly effects of your eye. This acts as a ranged attack resolved with your Enormity ability; however, a Volatility die is rolled to determine the pool associated with the Harm dealt: 1-2 is a Instinct-based ability, 3-4 is Reason-based, and 5-6 is Vigor-based. Cost: 1 Instinct per use.   

Secret of Friction<Cost: 2 Vigor per scene.

Secret of Shifting Moods<Cost: 1 Instinct, 1 Reason, 1 Vigor.

Secret of Shifting Emptiness
When you spend 1 Instinct, 1 Reason, and 1 Vigor to cycle your tempers with the Secret of Shifting Mood, you instead cycle the defecit in pool points, as opposed to the current amount. For instance, if your Reason and Instinct were at maximum but you had only 1 point left of Vigor, you would end up with your Vigor and Reason being one less than total, and your Instinct pool empty (due to the pool point cost of the Secret). Prerequisite: Secret of Shifting Moods. Cost: 1 Instinct, 1 Reason, 1 Vigor.

Secret of Volatile Health
You roll a Volatility die any time you would recover from Harm, affecting the total points of Harm you recover from the check. Your Volatility die cannot reduce the results of a successful recovery check to 0 points of Harm; any successful check means you always recover at least 1 point.

Secret of the Mogul
You are the chieftain of a giant mob, referred to as a mogul by your fellow giants. You receive a bonus die on Orate checks to lead the giants in your mob. Additionally, any time you and a giant in your mob make a Volatility check at the same time (such as at the beginning of a scene), you can swap the results of the Volatility check with that giant to take the more favorable one, if you wish.

Some of those may be a little confusing. If anyone has a suggestion for how to clean up the language on the Shifting secrets, I'm all ears.

The result of these Volatility issues, and particularly the second Volatility check required when a group of giants are present, leads some giants to solitary lives, as they try and avoid the chaotic presence of their kin. These giants pursue a state they call Serenity, wherein they leash their turbulent emotions to something else around them. Some giants decry this as the first step in a giant's diminishing towards the weak human state, but some Serene giants insist that the calm they find can endure indefinitely without a loss of their stature or strength.

Some examples of this mechanic are:

Secret of the Refuge
You can overcome your Volatility by forming a spiritual bond with a specific location, such as a grove of trees, a sprint or pool, a circle of standing stones, or even a human village. So long as you have visited your Refuge at least once during the day, you do not need to check your pools for Volatility at the beginning of each scene, and are considered Serene. If you are denied access to your Refuge for more than a day, you must make a special Will check each time you refresh a pool; if the Success Level of the check does not equal the number of points regained during the refresh, you become Volatile once more. Massive disruptions in your Refuge can shatter your Serenity, including violence, mass deaths, or other manifestations. Additionally, any time a Volatile giant enters your Refuge, you must make a contested Will check against that giant's Enormity, or you lose your Serenity and become Volatile once more. Special: While Serene, you cannot use any Secret which requires a Volatility die check, or any Secret which requires you to be Volatile.

Secret of the Steady Heart
You can overcome your Volatility by forming a spiritual bond with a non-giant character. So long as you have seen this individual at least once during the day, you do not need to check your pools for Volatility at the beginning of each scene, and are considered Serene. If you are denied access to this person for more than a day, you must make a special Will check each time you refresh a pool; if the Success Level of the check does not equal the number of points regained during the refresh, you become Volatile once more. If this person is harmed or endangered, you must make a Will check to resist becoming Volatile, losing your Serenity; this check takes a penalty die when the character you are bound to is Bloodied, and two if that character is Broken. Special: While Serene, you cannot use any Secret which requires a Volatility die check, or any Secret which requires you to be Volatile.

Hopefully, these provide interesting narrative hooks for giant characters, and become ways of stepping around the Volatility mechanic which can still be easily challenged by PC's and Storyguide alike, forcing those players who are interested in doing so to fight to maintain their Serenity. It hopefully also becomes another interesting link between giants and the natural world; if the chaotic giant embodies the storm or wildfire, then there's a feel that the contemplative giant becomes more like the mountain, forest, or lake. It also means that more social giants are a real possibility, allowing for great fun like playing the giant protector of a small community.

Volatility and the Giant Condition
Love and placing another before oneself provide one of the major ways to escape the giant condition, and a giant who truly falls in love may find himself diminishing towards the human state, though such things are the stuff of legend. Most giants find it simply impossible to maintain as constant and devoted as the human concept of love requires. Giants are capable of mating with each other, and produce litters of their offspring in the process, who inevitably squabble with their brothers and sisters, and argue with their parents. Giant mobs are sometimes little more than two parents and their children, or a group of giant brothers who argue with each other but can't stand to be without each other's company. Sooner or later, these mobs tear each other apart due to petty differences, resulting in giants who wander alone for years, or find their way into new mobs of their own.

It is also said that some humans become giants, typically because of unrestrained emotions which lead them to forsake the company of humans and go off into the wilds of Near. Just as often, these people are actually driven out by their communities rather than going willingly, and more than one fable tells of a wicked man or woman who became giants and brought terror and suffering upon their old villages.

Giant lifespans were once quite long, but something about the Year of Shadow has changed this. Giants who had lived for untold centuries before the coming of the Skyfire found themselves growing older and more frail. Shocked at the discovery that some of the eldest and most formidable of their kind were dying off, some giants railed at the settlements of smaller creatures around them, suspecting trickery or evil magics. Others seized the opportunities created by the power vacuum to claim new territory for themselves, or to take over mobs which had been run by their elders. Some giants simply banded together to face this new threat. The result has been a sudden rise in the birth rate among the species, even as some of the eldest fear for their long lives. No answer has yet been found to the increased decrepitude and shortened spans of giantkind. The wisest among the species fear that, for some reason, they are dying out.

May giants regard themselves as true "Children of Near," and believe in a personal link to the cycle of the world, including its seasons and changes. As such, their attitudes on smaller species such as humans, goblins, dwarves, and vulfen range from mild irritation with such tiny unimportant creatures to outright benevolent perception of themselves as "shepherds" for the small species of Near. Most giants have an instinctive dislike and intolerance for elves, however; even the most simple giant can sense that there is something alien and strange about an elf, and giant loremasters call the elves the "Children of Far" and regard them as dangerous invaders, an unwelcome presence in their lands. For their part, elves rarely look favorably upon giants, either, considering them undisciplined, boorish, and dangerous.


Enormity
Giants, by their very nature, ought to be large. I'm thinking that the species actually varies in height, with smaller ones coming in around the 10 feet mark, and the greatest (and most ancient) of their number pushing well over 20. Luckily, I don't think this is as hard to simulate in TSOY terms as one might believe. I think it can be done with their Species Ability and mandatory Species Secret, and just accomplished like this:

Species Ability: Enormity (V)<Secret of Massive Stature
You tower over human-sized beings, making you more formidable than other creatures. Your huge size and hardy lifestyle grants you a bonus die on all Endure checks. You can add your Enormity rating to your Endure for the purposes of figuring out how much harm prompts your first Stay Up check. For instance, if you have an Endure of 3, and an Enormity of 2, you never need to make a Stay Up check until your Harm reaches 8 or above (3 from Endurance, plus 2 from Enormity, plus 2 as the lowest possible result with two dice = 7, so harm checks begin at Cool. This provides no benefit when actually making the Stay Up check (though your bonus die for Endure checks does). Additionally, you have a bonus die on all Intimidate checks against smaller creatures.

However, you take penalty dice to your impressive size, on the following types of checks:
* being stealthy, unseen, or unheard
* handling small or delicate things
* fitting into small spaces or walking across small ledges
Special: This secret is mandatory for giant characters.

Here, of course, is where some thinking is in order. This is written with a slightly modified version of the scaling numerical harm system of 1st edition TSOY, which is what I and my group still play. In those situations, rather than Harm being tracked as it is currently, it was a number which increased, forcing you to make "Stay Up checks" that beat it. This means, for instance, that you'd have an Endure score between 1-10, and you'd be adding the results of two six-sided dice to the result. In general, you'd never need to make a Stay Up check when your Harm was anything lower than 2 + your appropriate innate ability, because there was just no way you could lose. You can't roll lower than "2" when adding two six-sided dice, naturally. The consequence of failing a Stay Up check is the Bloodied condition, followed the Broken condition.

So, a typical character with an Endurance of 3 never even bothers to check to Stay Up until his Harm reaches 6. This application of Enormity provides an additional "buffer", which means a giant character could worry less about Vigor-based Harm until it got up to more impressive ranges. Of course, it also means that at the level where he's finally forced to make a Stay Up check, he's increasingly likely to fail it, as the Harm has skyrocketed up to impressive levels. But that might make for a charming "The bigger they are, the harder they fall..." scenario, in which one lucky shot suddenly seems to finally stagger the giant.

The benefit of keeping the mechanics behind Enormity and Stature distinct from the Volatility stuff is that it allows a giant to pursue the Serenity options I discussed above and still seem like a great big formidable mountain of a being when it comes down to it. Benevolent giants can still carry cows around for their community, which would be a trickier thing to pull off if we moved Volatility to some sort of Species Ability, despite the temptation. But maybe someone will have some sort of breakthrough on this, and insist that I'm doing it all backwards and sideways, in which case I'm quite interested.

There's more fluff, naturally, and a bit more crunch, but I figure that's already a big amount of stuff for people to look at. If those two major aspects resolve themselves, I think the rest is pretty easy.

Comments? Questions? Criticisms? Suggestions?

-shadowcourt (aka Josh)
Logged
Troels
Member

Posts: 77


« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2008, 06:31:05 AM »

The idea of people with "larger-than-life" feelings potentially becoming, well, large, is one with a good deal of potential and nifty symbolism. However it does break with some of the principles governing species differentiation in Near that I like best.

Specifically, all the other species, including our shiny new dwarves and vulfen, are structured around the question, "what do they love, and how do they relate to it?" I'd love to see a gigantic angle that takes it's point of departure there.
Logged
shadowcourt
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2008, 08:13:50 AM »

Troels,

That's not quite an angle I'd ever really considered, when looking at the other species. I mean, I'd taken it for granted that romantic love was the domain of the human species, but the way you're extending it, does it work out something like this:

Dwarves love... their families, I'm guessing, or the greater goal their families are bent towards?
Goblins love... the thing they're addicted to?
Elves love... themselves? Their own ego?

And the ratkin and vulfen stand outside of this relationship, because of their inherent non-humanity? Or is the implication that the ratkin "loves" his litter, and the vulfen "loves" the social hierarchy of the pack?

It's an interesting way of thinking about it, I suppose, though it might diminish slightly what we mean by "love" when we talk about humans. Particularly from the goblin and elf write-ups, I'd always regarded "love" as the willingness to forsake yourself for the good of someone or something else. Which is why the religious aspect has always been an interesting element as well for humans, as its about commitment to something greater than yourself which is hard to always define in purely pragmatic terms. I'm not sure a goblin would forsake or sacrifice himself for an addiction in the same way that a human might for religion or love. And I don't know how one frame it in terms of the elf at all, in that case: can you sacrifice your ego for your ego? It's sort of a circular argument.

Or did you mean something else with the whole love aspect?

I definitely think you're on to something about the giants needing more focus and definition. I just want to make sure we're sharing the same terminology when discussing it.

-shadowcourt (aka Josh)
Logged
Troels
Member

Posts: 77


« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2008, 10:59:49 AM »

Dwarves love... their families, I'm guessing, or the greater goal their families are bent towards?
Goblins love... the thing they're addicted to?
Elves love... themselves? Their own ego?
<snip> ...is the implication that the ratkin "loves" his litter, and the vulfen "loves" the social hierarchy of the pack?

Yep. That is how I see it.

Quote
It's an interesting way of thinking about it, I suppose, though it might diminish slightly what we mean by "love" when we talk about humans.

The thing is, when dealing with humanoid-ish fantasy races (and yes, furries count too), we're dealing with humans, really. Humans, with one or a few traits brought out to an extreme degree and illuminated with fantastic elements. Humans can be (and in RL, frequently are) addicts, or self-obsessed, or indeed any of the above. So when we're talking about elves and dwarves and stuff, we're talking about ourselves.

Now, Clinton has staked out personal, romantic love to be humanity's shtick, and this is (I believe) for the nefarious narrativist purpose of enabling stories about how love transforms people, bring out the true humanity in people. All of the species specialties are about attraction and relations. One might argue that goblins are about non-relations, but take a second look at Key of the Affliction. That makes (player character) goblins about the struggle between relations and obsessions.

Hmm. An idea. Not sure if it's good, but it comes out of the fact that the nordic words for "fighter" and "giant" are the same. What if giants are about rivalry? If their default relations are adversarial? Giant society (insofar as they have one) would be insanely competitive, and they would be quite inclined to raid their neighbours and each other. They could be quite stormy and passionate that way, perhaps?

Yours, Troels

Logged
shadowcourt
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2008, 09:09:15 AM »

Troels,

I'm completely with you, re: "fantasy race as lens into some aspect of humanity", and ditto for the purposes of "romantic love transforms people" as one of TSOY's major conceits.

I like the adversarial/rivalry idea. Its sort of what I was driving at with some of the Volatility ideas, but it makes it more explicit right up front. It does raise some questions about giant characters/players and their interactions with other players and groups. I don't want to encourage players to play the lone wolf to the hilt, and need to be constantly corralled by others, even with the free-form/no-party play of TSOY. It does present some "No, I still have everyone, I just hate all of *you* guys less..." potential, I suppose, which can be amusing. Similarly, rivalry can also be a great motivator to interact with characters, if you want to prove that you're better than them and make them subordinate to yourself. There's something about that which seems to fit the "giant ego" side, as well. Then again, maybe that's drifting: mastery of others isn't exactly adversarial, though holding a superior stance might well be.

Is this the right approach? I'm still not sure. I don't want to engineer a situation where giant characters simply feel one-note, and are always in bruiser/fighting roles. I know they're going to attract some of that interest through raw physical might, which is fine, but just as its theoretically possible to play a highly competent goblin or an elf who has some benevolent side to them, I don't want to limit giants too much.

To bring it back to your "what do they love, and how do they relate to it?" question, would the idea be that they love rivalry and competition? Or that they're a strange antithesis, in that almost everything grates on them, and they find it difficult to "love" anything at all?

-shadowcourt (aka Josh)
Logged
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2008, 12:58:02 PM »

I thought you were going to do trolls next?

I find your conception of giants too fiddly in the rules department and too abstract in philosophy. Also, I want my giants to be primal, elemental beings. And I want them to have freaky magic like Balor of the Evil Eye. Having giant communities seems acceptable, though. I've been playing Shadow of the Colossus. That's just me, but here's how I'd do it:

Stature (V)
An Ability for a giant's physical size and using it. Usable for doing things that would be off-scale for humans, like reaching high places, lifting great weights, crushing puny things and breaking free of constraintment. Most giants have a pretty bad posture, which is why we're checking Stature for finding out case-by-case whether the giant is big enough: you never know how high he's going to reach when provoked. There just might be a supernatural aspect to this as well (perhaps the giant's size reflects his confidence or something, you know) in that we're just not going to be interested in a static measurement of a giant's large size when it comes to designing anti-giant weaponry or whatever; if the SG wants to say that something is "too large" for the giant, we should be talking of considerably larger scale than just a wall that's "high". You can't just measure a giant and build a wall that's just a bit higher, in other words; your craftsmanship has to go against his Stature in a normal conflict.

Secret of Gigantism
The species Secret. The giant is a force of primal, brutal, focused nature. When roused, he can cause horrible destruction: a giant may spend Vigor to infuse improvised weapons (trees, rocks, his body, whatever's handy) with weapon qualities. The bonus lasts until the giant's rampage ends. The rampage tears ligaments and breaks the giant's body, so any Harm he has at the end of the rampage goes up one level. Also, giants are fragile: a giant will only get to lower one Harm one level at the end of BDtP. Finally, the giant is prone to get caught up by his temper: whenever he is aggravated horribly or goes on a rampage, he is obligated to get the Key of Temper; if he already has that, he has to take Secret of Temper; cumulatively more successful Resist (R) checks are required to avoid the temper over time, although extended solitude and the sleep of seasons nulls the cumulative results. Cost: 1 Vigor per level of weapon quality.

Secret of Bulk
The character has one more level to his Harm track. This Secret can be gained several times as the seasons pass, but each time the character has to succeed in a Stature (V) check with penalty dice equal to the number of times he has gained this Secret. The first level is a Broken level, the second Wounded, the third Bashing (fuck me if I remember the English terms), and then repeat. Note that healing high-level Harm is often very difficult, if not impossible. Harm penalties from several levels of Broken accumulate normally, too. Requirements: Secret of Gigantism

Secret of the Soft Touch
Usually giants are relatively clumsy with other people due to their great size. Even being around them is prone to hurt a human, and frolicking with them is right out. A giant with this Secret has learned to act with care and gentleness among lesser creatures; he may use his Stature with Instinct instead of Vigor, and he may use a Stature (I) check as support for Abilities that require a soft touch. While the SG might normally well rule out certain kinds of interaction with smaller creatures altogether or require the target of such affections to make Ability checks against getting hurt, a giant with the gentle touch may instead check his Stature (I) to act with such care as necessary. The giant is still not going to pick human-sized locks, but he's not going to kill a child by hugging him, either, or break a door off its hinges by going through the doorway, both of which are all too common occurrences among people who have opted to withstand giants among themselves. Requirements: Secret of Gigantism

Secret of the Temper
The giant has awakened his temper, a horrid thing not long held in check, a temptation the giant might consider an alien being in himself in his more lucid moments. Giant legends speak of the First and the Ancient: the Ancient had no temper, while the First were born with it. As it stands now, young giants awaken their temper in some traumatic event that gashes their identity, potentially forever. Most giant societies would not consider a giant without his temper nothing but a child; the existence of the temper is obvious, for it externalizes as a slight aura a bit like what elves have, except more easily mistaken for body hair, grime or such. As for the effects: a giant with an awakened temper will cause Harm with a Stature (V) check to anybody he refreshes pools with (resistable with React (I) or such), but may also shake any effects of social conflicts by declaring rampage against any character who tries to influence the giant with social, psychological or magical means. (This latter effect negates the first-round advantage an opponent might have from the social conflict if the rampage results in BDtP.) Cost: Reason equal to check result difference to shake off social conflicts. Requirements: Key of Temper, Secret of Gigantism, rampage or other trauma.

Secret of Chaos
The character's very movement causes natural disturbance within his aura. Elven auras are suppressed in the presence of the giant, unless they succeed in a Resist (R) check against the giant's Stature (V). When the character rampages, any characters nearby have to make React (I) checks against his Stature (V) to regain their balance, akin to the effects of an earthquake. When the character is calm, other characters nearby need to succeed in React (I) or Stature (I) checks or suffer level 1 Harm per scene from accidental fits and starts of the giant. Requirements: Secret of the Temper

Secret of the Evil Eye
The character's eye holds such power that it kills on sight. Anybody seen by the eye is slain, unless he succeeds in Resist (R) against the giant's Stature (V). (BDtP might concern itself with hiding from the gaze, or with withstanding the image of the First and the insight it imparts.) The effect is in only one eye. Requirements: Secret of the Temper

Secret of Colossal Size
While we don't generally measure giants as mere mortals, this character is of an old breed, or perhaps one of the first himself: while other giants are reasonably small so as to interact with humans in many ways, this character's size is such that he strides over buildings, dams rivers with his arms and such. His fall causes the earth (and himself) to break, and so on. What this means in rules-terms is that for the most part the SG should stop stop considering issues of height, reach and size in a scene with this giant; if he's there, he can reach it. Likewise, the giant is eligible to have non-contested leverage, which means that some of his immediate actions simply cannot be averted on human scale: a human cannot wrestle him in any meaningful manner, for example, and couldn't have such stakes in conflict. However, such great size has its price: the character cannot heal Harm via natural healing or use of Abilities. Requirements: Secret of Temper, more Secret of Bulk than other characters in the game at the moment.

Secret of the Gifting Culture
The character has learned to stay unseen and unharmed among people who fear his presence. He may refresh one point from a pool by doing some unacknowledged, lonely labor for other people: hard physical work recovers Vigor, fine detail work or making craft items recovers Instinct and setting up wards or signs of instruction might give Reason, for example. If the character gets in trouble or has to sacrifice something of his own for his good deed, recover the whole pool in question. This Secret is very common in giant society, or communities that have accepted a giant in their midst, as giants have great difficulty with living in community.

Secret of Hunger
The character may regain some pool by gorging himself: a feast will replenish his Vigor, but gathering it is an arduous task. If Vigor is already filled, the other pools all gain one point. However, the character now needs to succeed in a Resist (R) check to not gorge himself when opportunity presents itself. Requirements: Key of Hunger, Secret of Gigantism

Secret of the Ancient
The character's aura has a calm frisson. A giant with temper has to overcome the character in a direct contest of wills (Resist vs. Resist) to act against his will. Requirements: Secret of Immortality

OK, that last one is just spoilage. Usually I'd leave this kind of stuff to be explored in game.

Secret of the Sleep of Seasons
The character may fall into the deep slumber of the First. The giant needs to be calm and comfortable to do this, and needs to succeed in a Resist (R) check to decide for himself to sleep or not (which might mean that a character with this Secret could fall into the Sleep of Seasons at the SG's call when he's tired). A sleeping giant will be considered a part of the landscape by any animals and vegetation, and will become like unto a mound of earth as time passes. Should he be recognized for a giant by the short generations of men, the character may be awakened easily enough by causing some harm to him. Figuring out whether a giant is dead or sleeping is far from certain, as the giant's breathing and heart are so shallow as to take a season or more to act. The giant needs not air, warmth, water nor sustenance in his sleep, and will not age, although he continues to grow slowly. When awakened, the giant will be hungry, but needs no sleep or rest for a time equal to how long he slept. The giant cannot awaken himself unless some disturbance is nearby, in which case the giant's player may try a Resist (R) check to awaken. (Assume a sufficient disturbance once per week for habitated areas, once per year for wilderness and once per decade for the far reaches, unless you have some other ideas.) A sleeping giant will recover from all Harm at the speed of 1 level per season of sleep, and may spend Advances on anything appropriate to his memories as he dreams, at the speed of one Advance per year. Stature and Vigor expenditures are explicitly allowed regardless of context as the giant grows in his sleep; anything mental learned during the dream may, however, be lost at the end of it: the character only regains Advances equal to a Resist (R) check in cultural and mental crunch when he awakens, while the rest of the Advances to return to him. Requirements: Secret of Gigantism, and not being a one-eye.

Secret of the Giant Dream
The character may, when sleeping a giant sleep (that is, a sleep caused by a giant Secret), have a scene framed for himself as he dreams. Everything in a giant dream is to scale with the giant himself as if he were human, and he has no Stature (V) or related Secrets in the dream. If other characters appear in the dream, their players play these dream figments; their own characters are not affected by the dream. The character may refresh pools normally and gain experience points in the dream, as well as learn new information, but may not heal Harm. However, any Harm he suffers will drain from appropriate pools instead of going to the Harm track, draining pool equal to Harm level. The giant dream is framed by the SG and will form a coherent narrative with the last dream scene only if the character succeeds in increasingly better Resist (R) checks. A dream shaman trying to manipulate the giant dream has the giant's Stature (V) as an additional hurdle. Dying in the dream just ends the scene. Cost: 1 pool, cumulative within the game session, split between the Pools any way the SG desires. Requirements: Secret of Gigantism, being in a giant dream.

Secret of Fitful Sleep
The character may gain Vigor equal to a Stature (V) check by turning in his sleep. This causes a Level 3 Harm, however, and may reveal the giant's resting place as he disturbs his environment. Failure in the check causes the character to awaken from his sleep, hungry and uncomfortable. Requirements: Secret of the Sleep of Seasons

Secret of the Encompassing Dream
The character's dreams influence the world in a subconscious manner. Each scene played in the giant dream causes at the end of the scene a pool of dice equal to any pool spent during the scene to form. The pool sticks around until the next dream by the giant, and may be spent by the player as either bonus or penalty dice for anything related to the dream in other scenes of the game. Even strenuous or symbolic connections are fine, but the SG may limit the pool expenditure to just one die if he doesn't like the connection. Mighty giants with this Secret might become something closest to a real god Near would know as they dream of the places and communities they knew in their awareness; one explanation of the inexplicable events surrounding Absolon's Tomb in far Maldor would certainly be that Absolon himself was a giant... Requirements: Secret of the Giant Dream, Secret of the Temper

The last three here are really just to make it feasible to play sleeping giants as PCs. Not that they can't learn to become dream shamans, even within their dreams, mind. Also, Near crunch without a contradictory Absolon legend I know not Wink

<CONTINUED IN NEXT POST>
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2008, 12:58:42 PM »

<CONTINUED FROM LAST POST>

Secret of the Sleep of Rebirth
The character's story is not at an end when his bulk stops breathing. The giant's corpse will slowly become part of the landscape of the earth where he lays, but his spirit still lives. The character may buy this Secret at the moment of his death (an instinctual flash of realization as it is), or may have learned it beforehand from somebody who has undergone the process of rebirth. Only giants who have awakened their temper (that is, Key of Temper) may be reborn, for only their spirit is strong enough. At the moment of death the character makes a Stature check, which needs to succeed for the rebirth to run its course. The rebirth happens within the soil of the giant's body, and thus might be stopped by completely destroying the body or the place it becomes; doing such would require knowledge of a rather esoteric kind, though, as well as destruction magic or a major work-force, due to the size of most giants.
  • If the character dies at peace and chooses to let go of his temper (as per the Key of Temper), and succeeds in his Stature check, then he will be reborn in human form: remove the Stature Ability and the Secret of Gigantism, leaving any other crunch dormant. It takes seasons, but the character will eventually come out of the hill that became of his former body, leaving his stony womb behind.
  • If the character dies on a rampage and succeeds in his Stature check, he will be reborn a one-eye: seasons pass, but his body cures, rising as a mould hard, grey and damp, breaking the hill of his rest. Replace Secret of Gigantism with Secret of the One-Eyed.
  • If the character dies on a rampage and fails his Stature check, the death is final.
  • If the character dies at peace and fails his Stature check, the character will not awaken, but will go into giant sleep forever or until his dying place is destroyed.
  • If the character is a one-eye, he may only use this Secret when dying on a rampage.
A character that reborns successfully loses this Secret. The character is in giant sleep until his rebirth actually happens, following the rules for the Sleep of Seasons (even one-eyes, who normally don't sleep). Specifically, his rebirth requires the successful Resist (R) check and some disturbance, or specific effort to injure him. Requirements: Key of Temper, Secret of Gigantism

Secret of the One-Eyed
The species Secret for a different strain of giant not of human-stock at all. The one-eyes apparently do not procreate or eat, and only rarely speak. They are immortal and require nothing to sustain them. They are normally not player characters, being closer to beasts, are not of flesh nor bone, knowing no regrets or fears. Interchangeable with Secret of Gigantism as regards pre-requisites for other stuff. One-eyes do not lower Harm at the end of BDtP at all, for they do not heal normally. The one-eye has a similar rampage as a giant, except that he suffers not of the aggravated Harm at the end of it.

Secret of Cyclopean Mysteries
The character blinds one of his eyes, and is thus eligible for learning one-eye secrets. He gains a bonus die for interacting with one-eyes, but suffers a penalty die for situations where depth-perception would be useful. He is considered to have the Secret of the One-Eye for the purposes of pre-requisites.

Secret of the Cyclopean Forge
The character may create stone- and metal works of great finesse and size, mostly with instinct. He may learn any craft Secrets without a teacher, for it runs in his veins. One-eyes working together on a craft project may combine Pools for the purposes of paying for the craft. The character with this Secret may pay any Reason costs for crafting from his Instinct pool. The character may create rated and masterwork items as if he had the appropriate Secrets. Requirements: Secret of the One-Eyed

Secret of Cyclopean Wisdom
The character may not speak without activating this Secret. When he does speak, however, his voice carries  penalty dice for anybody foolish enough to cross the emissary of the Ancient. The dice may be turned into reusable prophecy bonus dice for extra Reason, which then persist as long as the prophecy is pertinent and may be used for the purpose of fulfilling the prophecy by anybody aware of its utterance. The number of dice is found with a Resist (R) vs. Stature (V) check, with the resistance coming from a character who is not one-eye. Cost: 1 Instinct for speaking, 1 Reason more per die for true prophecy. Requirements: Secret of the One-Eyed

Key of Hunger
Gigantic appetites, almost uncontrollable, plague the character.
1xp - Satiate yourself.
3xp - Gorge to excess.
Buyoff - Moderate yourself.

Key of Temper
Giants suffer of volatile temperaments and often lose control of themselves.
1xp - Over-react to stimulus of any kind.
2xp - Under sway of your temper, act in ways that you'll regret later.
5xp - Go on a rampage.
Buyoff - A giant can only ever really get rid of his temper in death (and potential rebirth): if the character dies in peace and in control of his faculties (that is, not in a rampage), he may buy off this Key and be reborn a human as per the Secret of the Sleep of Rebirth; otherwise, his possible rebirth comes about as a giant or a one-eye.

--

So that's one version of giants. That's actually a bit too many Secrets for a species, almost: I'm not a big fan of these hugely intricate species, a species shouldn't have so much crunch as to encourage a player to create a character who is nothing but species. I guess that if I had written that setting guide I suggested, I'd have included revised chargen with some smart guidance to the topic.

Also, Josh: I suggest thinking carefully about the social environment of your southern Near: I think that you have too many non-human species if you're going to have everything from Near running around all mixed up. At least leave out ratkin (a remarkably Maldorean phenomenon) if you can't stand losing anything else.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Troels
Member

Posts: 77


« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2008, 04:57:40 PM »

To bring it back to your "what do they love, and how do they relate to it?" question, would the idea be that they love rivalry and competition? Or that they're a strange antithesis, in that almost everything grates on them, and they find it difficult to "love" anything at all?

Well, option A makes them PC material, option B makes them pretty much unplayable unless as someone already drifting towards humanity. I don't Know. Too negative? I like the competitive side. OK, not terribly optimised, and verging on the silly, but imagine the giant who wants to be the world's greatest chess player. He comes into town, the militia gather in a panic ...and he slams down a great big chessboard and growls: "So, which one of you puny humans will play?"

Eero:

Whoa, when you write, it pours! When I wrote "rivalry" as a suggestion, I almost went with "rage". And your giants are pretty well pissed off! Sounds like the key to succesful interaction with one of your giants would be... half a dozen crossbowmen at 200 paces. The "sleeping hills" stuff is cool.

You might have a point regarding species glut. There's something elegant about using elves and goblins (and humans, for that matter) to cover weird stuff. Like the goblin yeti of Vulfenland, and now that I think about it, goblin trolls of (South) Goren in Josh's version.
Logged
shadowcourt
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2008, 08:04:38 AM »

Troels,

I love your giant chess player so much. Ideas like that have got to be incorporated in this notion, even though I'm also drawn to the crazy primal energy version that Eero's kicking around. There's something very "Gawain and the Green Knight" about it. You're right in that the rivalry option is the far more playable choice, given the other option. "Oscar the Grouch" is all well and good, but it gets a little one-note. And even *he* loved trash.


Some stuff about other species first, since both Eero and Troels asked about it:

Quote
I thought you were going to do trolls next?

No, the plan was always that "troll" was a regional variant term for goblin, like "spriggan" is in Khale, or "yeti" is in Vulfland. I think that goblins, as is, handle what I need them to do in Goren as "trolls."

Quote
Also, Josh: I suggest thinking carefully about the social environment of your southern Near: I think that you have too many non-human species if you're going to have everything from Near running around all mixed up. At least leave out ratkin (a remarkably Maldorean phenomenon) if you can't stand losing anything else.

Yes, agreed. I'm sorry I hadn't made it more explicit. Troels basically articulated some of what I was thinking, as well, but let's make it more clear. The idea has always been pretty much the following:

Vulfland has a large human population, and is Near's center for the vulfen (not surprisingly). If you're going to find vulfen dwelling at the center of communities, with humans under their thumbs (err, paws...) its going to be here in Vulfland. There are yeti (goblins) living there in small clusters, and elves sometimes trek through in pursuit of a greater understanding of the dream. Rumors of elven enclaves (even elven cities!) exist, but are hard to validate, and strictly the stuff of individual Storyguide's and player's ambitions in games. Dwarves would be extremely unusual. There might be a few giants wandering around, but one is more fortunate if one interacts with them in the dream-scape than anywhere else. Ratkin are nonexistent; they've never penetrated so far south.

Goren, which is more northerly and more temperate (at least by comparison to the glaciers and tundra of Vulfland) is predominantly human, with an impressive and more aggressive troll (goblin) population, with individual members who sometimes urbanize more and become active citizens (though cultural mistrust of trolls as raiders, thieves, and non-persons remains high). Dwarven enclaves exist throughout Goren, both living in isolation and as parts of human communities, but there isn't easy diplomacy at any point, naturally. Giants are slightly more common than elves, and both species sometimes find a place in human settlements, or else end up as independent by nature. Vulfen packs move through Goren, but are largely creatures of the wilderness. The only ratkin are dwelling in port cities, and are immigrants from Maldor and other points north.

Outside of the frozen southern continent, dwarves are probably the most commonly encountered of the "new" species introduced here, as they sometimes take to the seas, and can be found in Maldor, Khale, Qek, and as recent visitors to Ammeni. In most cases, their isolationist ways mean that they're not encountered everyday, even when they are present in a culture.

Vulfen penetrated the northern lands when the seas froze during the Year of Shadow, but their numbers are dwindling. Rumors of radical adaptations in warm far north (hyena vulfen?!) remain rumors, and might be completely separate breeds of the same species who are only meeting just now, as opposed to offshoots of the southerners. Vulfen "mercenaries" have become a recent fad in Ammeni, but they're a curio piece, and hardly a cultural trend. Some Vulfen packs still find Maldor's southern reaches to be chilly enough to suit their tastes, and keep some woodland areas their demense, though they are constantly pressed by the rangers and soldiers of Maldorite lords.

And giants... well... they're still in progress, but I think they're not exactly "common" anywhere, much like elves. Of course, how many giants are sleeping in the earth remains to be seen.


And now, to the mechanical stuff, which Eero posted...

This stuff is super fun. I'm surprised, actually, as I was steering away from absolute earth-shaking elemental titans, as I figured that'd be too high magic, but the way you've done it is particularly lovely. The fomorians, including Balor of the Baleful Eye and some of his kin, the Green Knight, and a host of other sources have been on my mind, but I suspect that part of the reason I went so earthy and oafish with my first try is that I've been looking at Magic: the Gathering art for inspiration. I don't really play the game, but they churn out an epic amount of fantasy art, and I'm used to culling it for inspiration.

Shadow of the Colossus has been on my mind as well, but more in a Cultural sense. I'm sure I'll post that stuff way later, but its something I'm thinking of for the far north of Near. The giant stuff should tie in nicely with it, particularly if I end up heading in the direction you've gone in.

I'm all well and good about Stature--its basically what I was trying to get at with the Enormity ability. Sorry if I seemed to blur the issue with actually talking about relative heights. That was just so readers didn't think I was talking about giants who were hundreds of feet tall. The fact is that actually "measuring" things is a bad idea in general in TSOY; I tend to not want to know how many coins I'm getting paid, how far away the archery target is, or things like that. They're relative measurements which should communicate scope and that's all, and its best if they remain that way. So, we're on the same page about how an ability like this would work in conflicts. I'm notorious for saying that TSOY is the system in which I always want to play a talking pigeon, as I know I could get along fine in the system without stretching believability; its flexible enough to make it all make sense.

Quote
Secret of Gigantism
The species Secret. The giant is a force of primal, brutal, focused nature. When roused, he can cause horrible destruction: a giant may spend Vigor to infuse improvised weapons (trees, rocks, his body, whatever's handy) with weapon qualities. The bonus lasts until the giant's rampage ends. The rampage tears ligaments and breaks the giant's body, so any Harm he has at the end of the rampage goes up one level. Also, giants are fragile: a giant will only get to lower one Harm one level at the end of BDtP. Finally, the giant is prone to get caught up by his temper: whenever he is aggravated horribly or goes on a rampage, he is obligated to get the Key of Temper; if he already has that, he has to take Secret of Temper; cumulatively more successful Resist (R) checks are required to avoid the temper over time, although extended solitude and the sleep of seasons nulls the cumulative results. Cost: 1 Vigor per level of weapon quality.

Secret of the Temper
The giant has awakened his temper, a horrid thing not long held in check, a temptation the giant might consider an alien being in himself in his more lucid moments. Giant legends speak of the First and the Ancient: the Ancient had no temper, while the First were born with it. As it stands now, young giants awaken their temper in some traumatic event that gashes their identity, potentially forever. Most giant societies would not consider a giant without his temper nothing but a child; the existence of the temper is obvious, for it externalizes as a slight aura a bit like what elves have, except more easily mistaken for body hair, grime or such. As for the effects: a giant with an awakened temper will cause Harm with a Stature (V) check to anybody he refreshes pools with (resistable with React (I) or such), but may also shake any effects of social conflicts by declaring rampage against any character who tries to influence the giant with social, psychological or magical means. (This latter effect negates the first-round advantage an opponent might have from the social conflict if the rampage results in BDtP.) Cost: Reason equal to check result difference to shake off social conflicts. Requirements: Key of Temper, Secret of Gigantism, rampage or other trauma.

I like these, but wonder if their effects shouldn't almost be reversed, so that more Temper-like issues stand at the core of the species. That refresh mechanic is wild; you have a real gift for those, Eero.

I guess I feel a little unclear on what is and isn't a "rampage", though. We sort of drift in and out of mechanical and narrative ideas here, so I'm trying to wrap my head around what is and isn't supposed to happen.

The Secret of Gigantism makes it seem like a rampage is any time you activate the weapon imbuing options of the Secret (which are all Vigor-based). Once you've done this, if you also have the Secret of the Temper, you can ride the effects of that rampage to resist influence through "social, psychological, or magical means." Its effects negate the harm and bonus dice from your opponent winning a round of conflict which turns into BDTP. Does this mean a Storyguide character giant doesn't receive any benefit from rampaging unless the player triggers BDTP, and then again if its only a situation where the BDTP explicitly wasn't to resist the giant's win at a simple contest (because that harm and bonus dice from the opening round wouldn't be applied, anyhow, as the giant won that opening round)?

The combination of increased Harm at the end of conflict AND no easy Harm recovery mechanic makes giants seem a little brittle to me, though maybe I'm not envisioning just how great the Secret of Bulk can be to alleviate that. Coupled with an inevitability towards taking the Secret of Temper, which also makes your refresh mechanics more painful (if only for your friends), I feel like we're stacking the deck against giants, and perhaps overly so.

There are a couple of other instances where this trend seems to reappear, often in some of the Secrets which I think are really flavorful and great. But:

Quote
Secret of Chaos
<snip> [...] When the character is calm, other characters nearby need to succeed in React (I) or Stature (I) checks or suffer level 1 Harm per scene from accidental fits and starts of the giant.

This applies to allies and friends and such as well, I take it?

Is it possible, in your conception of TSOY, to refresh pools by oneself? Or is part of the fun here to force a giant to interact with other characters all the time, and that his refresh scenes are constantly endangering others, as he devours everything in sight messily, or makes crazy giant love with his new giant-bride, crushing houses and livestock in the process, not to mention potentially inflicting Harm on her? "I think you've got a church steeple in your back, dear..."

Quote
Secret of Colossal Size
<snip> [...] However, such great size has its price: the character cannot heal Harm via natural healing or use of Abilities.

Okay, so, how does he heal harm at all? Am I missing something? The other effects of the Secret are really cool, and I'm more clear on them. Is your only option for recovering Harm the Sleep of Seasons for you at that point? That's a fairly lengthy mechanic for coming back from Harm, and one which would presumably require years in some cases (presumably while the other players roll on without you?). If there isn't anything else, maybe the Secret of Hunger can be revised to permit this? But maybe I'm missing another obvious source of healing?

TSOY 2nd edition has a pool expenditure to reduce Harm that explicitly doesn't require an ability check, correct? Is that what you're pointing the giants towards?

Quote
Secret of the Ancient
The character's aura has a calm frisson. A giant with temper has to overcome the character in a direct contest of wills (Resist vs. Resist) to act against his will. Requirements: Secret of Immortality

OK, that last one is just spoilage. Usually I'd leave this kind of stuff to be explored in game.

You've lost me there, as well. Is this a Secret for elves, just stuck in here to combat some of the aura-suppressing powers of the giants? Or are you positing an elf who's become a giant?

Stuff like the Secret of the Gifting Culture, the Secret of the Sleep of Seasons (yay, giants as landforms!), and lots of the mechanical effects of Secrets I've breezed through are wicked fun. They've got a lot of style. Makes me sorry I started with the more complex mechanical stuff in my giant posts, as a lot of the stuff I had written was more like this, but I figured that both the Volatility and Enormity mechanics were hard to understand, so I should get them out of the way first.

The Sleep of Seasons really makes me want to write some fun Secrets which bounce off of that idea. I can totally envision a Secret or two with that as a pre-req, but for active giants, who are walking around with earth and trees on their backs, and even small ecologies (birds and insects and flowers and the like, all in orbit of the walking landform that is an active giant who was once asleep). But more on that later, when I get some of the groundwork stuff resolved.

Is the implication that the Secret of the Evil Eye breaks the normal BDTP mechanics for killing named characters? I'm assuming it doesn't, and that it kills unnamed characters on sight, and can be used as a way of a character triggering BDTP when they wish to kill, but that it just deals Harm as normal. Otherwise, you're thinking of this as some sort of Secret of the Sudden Knife? I'm hoping not; thats a Secret it could be paired with to deadly effect, but even if the Evil Eye is just doing what Maldor's Destruction ability does, its already plenty powerful.

Quote
Also, Near crunch without a contradictory Absolon legend I know not Wink

Yeah, I'm sensing that. That's fun, though; I definitely conceive of giants as being a Maldorite phenomenon, as well.

The Secret of the Rebirth stuff is beautiful. I love how the giant slumber mechanics can tie in to some of the southern Dream-telling stuff.

If I were to suggest cutting anything (as you remarked on the hugely intricate Species issue), it'd be the cyclopean stuff. Its neat, but I just don't get what its trying to emulate. I mean, it is referrential of cyclops mythology, don't get me wrong, I just don't know what it contributes to the species. I feel like the Secret of the One-Eyed is cagey about what's going on there, which is surprising, as the stuff you write is usually very forthcoming about story elements. What was the intention with them?

This is all really exciting stuff. I can't believe the intensity of our output sometimes.

-shadowcourt (aka Josh)
Logged
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2008, 10:34:48 AM »

Quote
Secret of Gigantism
Secret of the Temper

I like these, but wonder if their effects shouldn't almost be reversed, so that more Temper-like issues stand at the core of the species. That refresh mechanic is wild; you have a real gift for those, Eero.

Well, my logic here was to faciliate giants without temper as well. Or really, my logic was to pick the one thing I'd want giants to have over others, mechanically, and put that as the species Secret. That just happened to be the Secret that gives weapon bonuses and makes them slow to heal, which both do a fine job of representing their scale difference to humans.

The Secret of Temper as written is a bit untidy, as it was written as more of a necessary gateway Secret for the Secret of Rebirth and the more exotic giant magics; I'm happy with the pool refresh penalty, but the rest is very much under consideration.

Quote
I guess I feel a little unclear on what is and isn't a "rampage", though. We sort of drift in and out of mechanical and narrative ideas here, so I'm trying to wrap my head around what is and isn't supposed to happen.

I was thinking that rampage would be pretty much whatever the group considered a rampage, specifically including the effects of Secret of Gigantism. That's a thematic consideration: because the gigantic Secrets swing on whether the giant is at peace / on rampage and whether he has awakened his temper or not, that would faciliate interesting scenes in actual play, as the players have to make calls as to whether a giant is able to act in certain ways while at peace or on rampage; there might be situations where a giant wants to keep his temper under control, and situations where he wants to go on rampage, which might even lead to suitable Ability checks for the giant's capability to control himself. Very thematic when it comes to having a character who is like a child, unable to completely control himself.

Quote
The combination of increased Harm at the end of conflict AND no easy Harm recovery mechanic makes giants seem a little brittle to me, though maybe I'm not envisioning just how great the Secret of Bulk can be to alleviate that. Coupled with an inevitability towards taking the Secret of Temper, which also makes your refresh mechanics more painful (if only for your friends), I feel like we're stacking the deck against giants, and perhaps overly so.

The giants are pretty brittle, but that's a playtest issue; my intent was to make them formidable, but also make them get some epic injuries; when a giant breaks a bone, it's not a small thing. Falling down is very serious for something that large, and so on. That works to counteract the impression that a giant is the ultimate warrior character, which I dislike.

The point with the refresh penalty mechanic and the other anti-social penalties is simply that I want to make giants work for their community. I don't like the visual image of giant families sitting in their giant homes and eating their morning porridge, only to go out with their giant friends to farm the land... not working for me. A giant society should be a pained, careful and hostile thing wherein most giants spend most of their time alone in the wilds, only to meet others for important reasons and at great potential harm to themselves. (Although, I intend that refresh Harm check to be resistible; if two giants were refreshing together, I'd probably have them check their Statures against each other, so that only one took a small Harm from it.) Likewise, giants living with other folks doesn't work for me that well, either... so it's all just me plotting against happy giants, really.

Those alternative pool refreshment Secrets I designed were there specifically to allow giants to work around their problems with human intimacy; instead of interacting with others directly, give them gifts; instead of interacting at all, steal humongous amounts of foodstuffs and gorge yourself like a wild animal. Works for me.

Quote
Quote
Secret of Chaos
<snip> [...] When the character is calm, other characters nearby need to succeed in React (I) or Stature (I) checks or suffer level 1 Harm per scene from accidental fits and starts of the giant.

This applies to allies and friends and such as well, I take it?

Quite. I imagine that this would work in the fiction by having the giant fidget in non-conscious ways, or simply forget how frail other folks are, so that he's constantly doing things that are simply dangerous for anybody around him. It's just more of my anti-social giant agenda.

Quote
Is it possible, in your conception of TSOY, to refresh pools by oneself?

Explicitly and definitely not. The giant has some rather powerful racial abilities (the Secrets of Gigantism, Bulk and Colossal Size are some of the most powerful I've written), but gaining pool to fuel them takes some work for a giant whose temper has awakened. That's actually why the giant sleep is there: I'd like it to be a quite playable option for a giant to go to sleep and still participate in the game in a meaningful manner when he finally figures out that he wasn't meant to have any friends, family or even pets. I imagine that it would be rather interesting, actually, to have one player play a sleeping giant while others have more active characters.

Quote
Quote
Secret of Colossal Size
<snip> [...] However, such great size has its price: the character cannot heal Harm via natural healing or use of Abilities.

Okay, so, how does he heal harm at all? Am I missing something? The other effects of the Secret are really cool, and I'm more clear on them. Is your only option for recovering Harm the Sleep of Seasons for you at that point? That's a fairly lengthy mechanic for coming back from Harm, and one which would presumably require years in some cases (presumably while the other players roll on without you?). If there isn't anything else, maybe the Secret of Hunger can be revised to permit this? But maybe I'm missing another obvious source of healing?

TSOY 2nd edition has a pool expenditure to reduce Harm that explicitly doesn't require an ability check, correct? Is that what you're pointing the giants towards?

Hmm... good question. I vacillated quite a bit with the specific Harm and healing mechanics present in many of those Secrets, so I can't off-hand remember what was the final logic in that one. The idea, regardless, is that a colossal giant finds the healing sleep all the more useful, and perhaps the only way to heal himself. The "natural healing" referenced there is the pool healing mechanism you mention, so unless I made a mistake there, the intent is to disallow both pool-based and Ability-based healing here. That still leaves exceptional magical healing, of course, and sleeping for many seasons.

But mostly, the idea here is that a colossal giant shouldn't stay up and walking for long. Really, just imagine what such a being would do to Near and any other characters. The stuff about overbearing leverage in the text there means that a colossal giant can just traipse around and do anything he wants, while the other characters actually have to work to make the giant notice them. I wouldn't allow a single character with a sword to initiate a violent conflict with the giant, for instance, unless the giant was asleep on the ground or something. The sword-fighter would first have to create himself the necessary leverage for fighting the giant by, for example, climbing the giant in Shadow of the Colossus style Wink A character like that is pretty much unstoppable when played cunningly, so I find it rather reasonable that he has a fatal flaw that necessiates care and choosing his fights.

The way I envision a typical player character giant's story, assuming that the player doesn't seek to buck the system:
  • The character starts as your usual happy adventurer type, perhaps.
  • The SG uses the temper mechanics to annoy and cause sorrow for our giant.
  • The giant becomes a colossal thing as he grows.
  • Attrition forces the too-large-to-heal giant into the long sleep.
  • The giant continues in play via the Encompassing Dream. Perhaps his dreams start affecting the environment and humans build a city on him, which then proceeds to protect his interests. Or his dreams follow some other player characters, who then might come and wake the giant up at some point. The character is essentially an all-encompassing god who in turn affects the world and delves into his own subconscious being in his effort to solve his personal riddle. The character might even Transcend while in the giant sleep, which would be pretty fun.
Of course, there are other ways the game might go, but the above is not a problem for me, which means that giants not able to heal are not a problem for me; just go to sleep and become a different kind of character. The contrast between the extremely physical, club-wielding giant and his mysterious, spiritual, holly-hock god sleep form is funny to me.

Quote
Quote
Secret of the Ancient

You've lost me there, as well. Is this a Secret for elves, just stuck in here to combat some of the aura-suppressing powers of the giants? Or are you positing an elf who's become a giant?

Yeah, it's an Elven Secret. It might also imply something about the joint history of elves and giants, who knows. Apparently the two both have some kind of aura, at least.

Quote
The Sleep of Seasons really makes me want to write some fun Secrets which bounce off of that idea. I can totally envision a Secret or two with that as a pre-req, but for active giants, who are walking around with earth and trees on their backs, and even small ecologies (birds and insects and flowers and the like, all in orbit of the walking landform that is an active giant who was once asleep). But more on that later, when I get some of the groundwork stuff resolved.

Good idea, that.

Quote
Is the implication that the Secret of the Evil Eye breaks the normal BDTP mechanics for killing named characters? I'm assuming it doesn't, and that it kills unnamed characters on sight, and can be used as a way of a character triggering BDTP when they wish to kill, but that it just deals Harm as normal. Otherwise, you're thinking of this as some sort of Secret of the Sudden Knife? I'm hoping not; thats a Secret it could be paired with to deadly effect, but even if the Evil Eye is just doing what Maldor's Destruction ability does, its already plenty powerful.

I figured that the Secret would act according to however the group resolves deadly effects. In other words, the text about a character dying is a description of the effect in the fiction, not of a mechanical effect. You might wish to interpret it as a declaration of intent in conflict: the eye does not do and cannot do anything except kill, so if it's used, the stakes are whether you kill the target or not. The target may, of course, declare BDtP normally, in which case the giant also has an opportunity to close his eye and try something less drastic, perhaps changing his intent as well.

This situation is fully analogous to how it works when a player declares that his character is going to decapitate another character with his sword. The only difference is that while the sword could be used to imprison somebody or something, the eye can't be used for anything except killing. So the only mechanical effects I'd allow it would be initiation of a conflict with deadly stakes, or acting to kill a character in BDtP (which would then, of course, have the effect of causing Harm normally; perhaps the Harm would represent the fear and exhaustion brought about by darting behind trees and rocks in an effort to dodge the deadly gaze). Causing Harm outside BDtP seems outside the scope of the effect, unless we envision the eye's effect as somehow burning or injuring the target; personally, I like it better that success with the eye kills outright, just like success with a sword.

Quote
If I were to suggest cutting anything (as you remarked on the hugely intricate Species issue), it'd be the cyclopean stuff. Its neat, but I just don't get what its trying to emulate. I mean, it is referrential of cyclops mythology, don't get me wrong, I just don't know what it contributes to the species. I feel like the Secret of the One-Eyed is cagey about what's going on there, which is surprising, as the stuff you write is usually very forthcoming about story elements. What was the intention with them?

The one-eyes are pretty simply the "giant's giants", kinda like giants who have lost their humanity and the chance to become humans. They are made of fundamentally unliving matter, unlike real giants; as Secret of Rebirth describes, one way they come about is when a giant dies in rage and refuses to pass on, instead animating a bunch of scenery as the house of his spirit. As for the rest of it, it seems that the one-eyes have some mysterious force working within them, considering that they all have just the one, fat eye, and they have that affinity for crafts and such; apparently there's something more to them than just a giant refusing to die, but finding out what would be something to figure out in game.

I like the one-eyes for mechanical reasons, among other things: they provide an interesting mechanical platform for mysterious giant secrets that are not off-hand usable for normal giants, but that are also available for non-giants (note that Secret of Cyclopean Mysteries does not require being a giant, although some of those one-eye Secrets will be pretty weak without Stature... actually, I now notice that I forgot to mention in the Secret that a non-giant with it should be considered to have Stature untrained for the purposes of Secrets, so he can still check it).

Another reason why I like the one-eyes is that they put a giant into a quite difficult position when he dies: he can be reborn, but his rebirth will be either as a spirit in eternal slumber, a human, or a being of mysterious, non-human nature. As the conditions of the giant's death affect this process quite a bit, I'd imagine that giants would go to some lengths to die in the way they prefer; either as a raging focus of destruction, or in a peaceful manner, surrounded by their loved ones. The future of the giant in rebirth depends on that, after all.

Anyway, it's all just sketching at this point.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Rich F
Member

Posts: 20


« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2008, 09:13:12 AM »

Just want to say that this stuff is very helpful for my Shadow of Eberron stuff, especially as I'm planning on running it out of Stormreach.  I'm not sure I want player Giants, but it's great to flesh them out so I know how to run them.
Logged
shadowcourt
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2008, 10:05:32 AM »

Eero,

I agree that the Secret of Gigantism (which I might rename; I'm a little uncomfortable with its reference to an actual physical condition that some people are afflicted with) probably should be the core mechanic, and for the reasons you suggest.

I understand your concerns about the mechanics in Secret of the Temper; as written, I'm still not sure what it does, other than creating a refresh mechanic which is so good that it seems almost essential to the giant condition. Is its intent that a giant character, even a Storyguide one, can force BDTP by declaring a rampage when people are trying to dominate him? Essentially invoking a "guaranteed BDTP" option which is normally only reserved for a character's "death" in the narrative?

Quote
The combination of increased Harm at the end of conflict AND no easy Harm recovery mechanic makes giants seem a little brittle to me, though maybe I'm not envisioning just how great the Secret of Bulk can be to alleviate that. Coupled with an inevitability towards taking the Secret of Temper, which also makes your refresh mechanics more painful (if only for your friends), I feel like we're stacking the deck against giants, and perhaps overly so.

The giants are pretty brittle, but that's a playtest issue; my intent was to make them formidable, but also make them get some epic injuries; when a giant breaks a bone, it's not a small thing. Falling down is very serious for something that large, and so on. That works to counteract the impression that a giant is the ultimate warrior character, which I dislike.

Aha! Now I feel more clear on how to present this in a game! Its not that giants are fragile, per se, as much as they are slow-healers, whose injuries are truly tremendous in scope. They are simply operating on a different scale than humans, both in terms of size and time. Funny how even just dressing up the same mechanic in slightly different terms makes it feel more satisfying, but it definitely works for me in that capacity.

Quote
The point with the refresh penalty mechanic and the other anti-social penalties is simply that I want to make giants work for their community. I don't like the visual image of giant families sitting in their giant homes and eating their morning porridge, only to go out with their giant friends to farm the land... not working for me. A giant society should be a pained, careful and hostile thing wherein most giants spend most of their time alone in the wilds, only to meet others for important reasons and at great potential harm to themselves. (Although, I intend that refresh Harm check to be resistible; if two giants were refreshing together, I'd probably have them check their Statures against each other, so that only one took a small Harm from it.) Likewise, giants living with other folks doesn't work for me that well, either... so it's all just me plotting against happy giants, really.

Those alternative pool refreshment Secrets I designed were there specifically to allow giants to work around their problems with human intimacy; instead of interacting with others directly, give them gifts; instead of interacting at all, steal humongous amounts of foodstuffs and gorge yourself like a wild animal. Works for me.

Totally in agreement with all of this. I didn't want giants to be easily at peace, either, but was working at it from a different angle. I like the increased ante on all of this, though, so I'm pushing towards your mechanics.

So, bouncing off of some of the points we've discussed, I'm kicking around the following ideas:

Secret of the Slow Conversation
Human-sized creatures mistakenly believe that trees, mountains, clouds, and other natural features do not speak. This is not the case: it is simply that such small creatures are too tiny, and move too quickly, to hear these nature-forms or gain their attention for long. Spend 1 Reason, and make a Stature check to commune with natural manifestations around you, listening to the voice of rivers or hearing the slow grinding of mountains. Every Success Level you achieve grants you one fact about the surrounding environment or major events which have occurred there--trees and lakes do not concern themselves with petty events on the human scale, but wars, mass cataclysms, or new construction are all of interest. Trees know what is buried at their roots, mountains know what they contain, and oceans are dimly aware of the large vessels which sail them.
This check typically requires a week to perform successfully. A giant may expedite the process to a single day or less, but this requires actively grappling with the natural forms around him, and forcing them to divulge their secrets faster. In this case, the Stature check is opposed by the natural form the giant is addressing, and he takes a penalty die on future checks to deal with that nature form until some form of restitution is made. Prerequisite: Secret of Gigantism.

Secret of the Booming Voice
Your voice is loud and powerful, befitting you great size, and you find it easy to shout down smaller opponents. You can chain your Stature check to any Orate check for unrestricted bonus dice.

Secret of Death-Throes
You are at your most dangerous when you are wounded, as your destructive rampage boils forth to inflict untold harm upon any creatures nearby. When you are brought to the Broken harm level, you can make an automatic Stature check. The Success Level of this check equals a special pool of points which may be applied to any successful attacks you make in that scene. Each point can be used to raise the Harm dealt by a successful attack by 1, as if you were using the Secret of the Mighty Blow. Prerequisite: Secret of Gigantism, Secret of Temper. Cost: 1 Instinct, 1 Vigor.

Secret of Primordial Chaos
You are in touch with the raw elemental force which drives creation in the universe, and is bound up in matter and ideas so long as they exist. As such, you can refresh your pools by absorbing the raw energy released when something is utterly destroyed. You refresh Vigor from destroying an inanimate object, Instinct from a living thing, and Reason from destroying organizations, institutions, or beliefs. When the target is destroyed, the Storyguide uses its appropriate Innate Ability to make a final check. The amount of points recovered is equal to the SL of that check. Naturally, the more powerful a subject you take on, the more pool points you can reap.
The powerful forces you absorb and master when drawing in the raw energies of creation are dangerous to your physical existence, however. Whatever your current highest level of harm is, you take an additional level of Harm beyond that when using this Secret. Prerequisite: Secret of Gigantism, Secret of Temper.

Secret of Disaster
Nature responds to the raw fury of a giant; magma boils when he stomps his feet, and storms are torn from clouds when his hands rake the sky. While any giant could topple rocks to create a landslide, you can summon up a natural disaster by grappling with raw natural forces, resulting in flash fires, storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, or other unpredictable cataclysms. This requires 4 Vigor and a Stature ability check. This deals harm equal to the Success Level of your Stature check to entire communities, and can force mass evacuations or similar harrowing escapes. Individuals caught in the wake of the event you summon may be forced to make React checks to escape or take appropriate Harm, though other abilities may be appropriate (such as certain Outdoor Abilities to escape the worst effects of a disaster). Prerequisite: Secret of Gigantism, Secret of Temper, Secret of Chaos.

Secret of Biomass
Other living things grow and thrive on your body. This might be as simple as birds nesting in your hair or mice finding your beard a welcome burrow, or you might actually carry around earth on your stooped back, with trees and grass growing out of it. Insects, birds, small mammals, and plant life find your body to be a safe place to dwell, and you thrive while the life on top of you does. Your costs for healing Vigor-based Harm are reduced by -1 per level, to a minimum cost of 1 per level. While in slumber, you can make an Animal Ken or Woodscraft check once a month to refresh Instinct up to the Success Level of your check.
Prerequisite: Secret of Gigantism, Secret of Bulk, Secret of the Sleep of Seasons.

Is the bonus for this strange? I'd like there to be some altruistic benefit for hosting all of this life on your body, but wasn't quite sure if this was appropriate.

Also, I really need a better name for it, something with more of a Medieval feel. But I haven't come up with anything yet.


Secret of Greatness
Some giants legends claim that the first giants assumed their titanic height through superiority in a chosen field, becoming quite literally the "greatest" in a study or discipline. These titans are the product of a golden age, and their kind are rarely seen in the current day. Whether this is true or not, your ego and size are directly tied to your expertise in a chosen field. Choose one Ability; you can chain your Stature to any check with that ability where you are competing against another intelligent creature in formalized duel or challenge. Should you defeat an opponent with that Ability, you can immediately refresh your Reason pool. However, a defeat diminishes both your body and mind; your deflated ego results in a -1 reduction of your Stature ability. Should your Stature ever reach zero, you lose the Secret of Gigantism and all Secrets which rely on it as a prerequisite, and become simply human. Prerequisite: Secret of Gigantism.

That one is me kicking around Troels' giant chess master. I don't think its actually too much of a style conflict with the raw elemental giant ideas we're kicking around, but maybe you or someone else will disagree. I submit it as something which is on my mind, for public perusal.

Some Key ideas:

Key of Awkward Size
You find your size a hindrance as much as an asset. You inspire terror in smaller creatures when you don't mean to, and you can't easily conceal yourself or your existence. Sometimes, you even hurt tiny people you are trying to help, which causes you no end of grief.
1 XP: Any time your size makes your life more difficult (you are misperceived as a threat by people you hadn't intended any harm towards, or you can't participate in a human-sized endeavor).
3 XP: Any time your huge size puts you in danger or causes you harm (you hurt others without meaning to, you can't escape from a threat the way your small friends do, the village guard attacks you and calls you "monster!").

Key of Superiority
Other smaller creatures can get out of your way, and make room for their betters. You know you're the greatest, and your physical size is the proof.
1 XP: Boast about yourself, threaten your lessers, or upbraid an unworthy foe.
2 XP: Issue or accept a challenge to another.
5 XP: Defeat a worthy foe.
Buyoff: Refuse an opportunity to challenge yourself or prove your superiority.

--

The following is designed specifically as a Goren Cultural Secret, but I'm presenting it here, for completeness sake:

Secret of Giant Familiarity
You have spent time among giants though you're not one of them yourself, either as a traveling companion, emissary, or possibly simply as a giant-slayer. You receive a bonus die to React checks when avoiding giants and the side-effects they inflict on the world around them (such as the harm inflicted from the Secret of the Temper or Secret of Chaos). You can also gain the attention of giants more easily, or figure out where to strike them. You do not experience penalties when dealing with giants thanks to the Secret of Colossal Size or other issues of Stature.

---

I worry that some of the giant dream Secrets run into the "net-runner conundrum" of gaming. Simply put, you have one character who is always off in their own space, and never really appears on stage with the rest of the characters. This is less a problem in TSOY, admitedly, which doesn't have the "party up!" concerns that other games do, but it might serve as a limitation all the same. A slumbering giant's ability to write himself into a scene is negligible compared to that of other players; it seems a shame to lose out on one of the most interesting and empowering things I've seen as a TSOY gaming trend. It won't cause a problem in all games, of course, but it might be a good idea to redesign some of the Sleep of Seasons and related mechanics, so they don't pull people out of the game quite as fiercely.

So, perhaps...

Secret of the Speaking Sleep
While in slumber, you may project your dreaming consciousness to communicate with beings in the waking world. Your face manifests in some nature form around the intended target, so that it seems to appear in the clouds, or its shape is found on an old oak, or appears in the surface of an algae-covered lake. It costs 1 Reason to simply observe and communicate with your intended target for the duration of a scene. Active use of a social ability against any being (such as an attempt to intimidate, convince, seduce, or ferret out a secret) requires 1 Reason per additional ability check. Prerequisite: Secret of the Sleep of Seasons, Secret of the Giant Dream. Cost: 1 Reason to manifest, +1 Reason per each additional ability check.

This has got a fun Green Man vibe to it, and I think might help make a slumbering giant a bit more able to communicate with the rest of his fellow players.

I'm on the fence about whether it should have Secret of the Encompassing Dream as a prerequisite. I suppose it depends on whether one feels that slumbering giants should, by their very nature, have a tougher time interacting with their fellow players. I vote no; you're already stuck in the ground, and your manifestations in the game are pretty abstract. I think a third-order Secret and a fairly steep Reason cost suffice; the messages passed back and forth will be by necessity brief, and not involve too much interference with the mundane world, but others might disagree, depending on the kind of feel they're going for.

Similarly, I think the Secret of the Encompassing Dream's pre-reqs might be wonky. "Secret of the Temper" as a pre-req seems needless, as we're assuming that most giants will have picked it up sooner or later through rampage, and I don't know what it contributes to the overall feel of the giant-in-slumber, which strikes me as being more inherently passive and mellow than some of the Temper mechanics. Particularly as Secret of Fitful Sleep, arguably the most violent of the slumber Secrets, doesn't include Secret of the Temper as a pre-req, I think it might be better to just leave Secret of the Encompassing Dream as:
Prerequisites: Secret of Gigantism, Secret of the Sleep of Seasons, Secret of the Giant Dream.

---

I guess I'm still on the fence about the one-eyes because they feel like a hodge-podge of ideas. You said they're the "giant's giants" and they're all about Temper, but their Secrets have this huge focus on quiet and crafts, and keep throwing around terms like "wisdom" and "prophecy." They feel far more introspective than the giant presented in the other Secrets and Keys; by looking at their Secrets, they're arguably the only giants who implicitly work together (Secret of the Cyclopean Forge). Nonetheless, they are quiet, prophetic, and industrious. They don't really feel like "giant's giants" to me at all, but sort of "alien, remote giants." B
In a game whose focus is about humanity and human things, I don't know what they care about or why they matter. They feel awfully sterile.

Maybe there are really two ideas here. A giant who puts out his own eye heads down this cyclops road, which is all about avoiding Temper instead of embracing it. After all, he potentially denies himself access to the Evil Eye (or else he's got a hell of a time, as he destroys everyone he looks at, which makes cooperation a la Secret of the Cyclopean Forge sort of bizarre to begin with), and becomes increasingly stony and attuned to his mountainous ways. He has given up an eye; his vision narrows to a single focus. He speaks less and less and becomes contemplative, mysterious, prophetic. We play up the cryptic and alien side of the cyclops role.

For the giant who dies in rampage, we head for something furious, frightening, motivated by rage, and primal. Something more akin to the fomorian legends of Ireland gone twisted into horrible nightmare. Beings whose bodies are made of stone, flame, wind, wood, or the like, and who even giants are given pause by. These are the titans, giants who cannot ever know peace, lest their bodies discorporate into the elements they are pulled together from. Every fire inevitably burns out, and storms clear, and this is the thing a titan dreads the most, that loss of integrity when nature is done spending its rage. Maybe the Secret of Primordial Chaos (above) is exclusively theirs. Perhaps they're in danger of starting to come apart (taking harm accordingly) if they ever entirely run out of Vigor, making them all the more aggressive and appetitive. These, then, are the "giant's giants"-- destructive, restless, mad, incapable of any kind of peaceful interaction.


-shadowcourt (aka Josh)
Logged
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2008, 04:55:47 PM »

I understand your concerns about the mechanics in Secret of the Temper; as written, I'm still not sure what it does, other than creating a refresh mechanic which is so good that it seems almost essential to the giant condition. Is its intent that a giant character, even a Storyguide one, can force BDTP by declaring a rampage when people are trying to dominate him? Essentially invoking a "guaranteed BDTP" option which is normally only reserved for a character's "death" in the narrative?

The intent of the wording is specifically to allow a "perfect defense" against social abilities. Should a giant with the temper lose a simple social conflict, he may turn the result around by declaring that he's going on a rampage; this results in a failure for his opposition, but also requires the player of the giant to narrate the rampage, which might be the immediate cause of further conflicts. Alternatively, the losing side (which in this case is the party that tried to convince the giant) may declare BDtP, as that's their right if they're unhappy with the results of the conflict, but then the Secret allows the giant to ignore the first-round bonus dice the opposition would be getting for the conflict. So either the giant gets off free from a lost social conflict, or he gets to ignore the first-round bonus dice the opposition gets in BDtP, depending on whether the opposition wants to press the point.

In other words, the power is more powerful than you think: it really causes a successful simple conflict to fail, unless brought into BDtP, in which case it negates the initial advantage against the giant. This works for Storyguide characters as well: a SG giant still can't declare BDtP, but when a player giant declares rampage against social efforts by a SG character, the SG character is screwed; he can't even press the point further, unless the player of the giant also declares BDtP; the rampage and BDtP are mechanically separate and may manifest independent from each other, after all.

Re-reading that, I think the Secret is just fine as it is, except that it should be written in a bit clearer manner and with less fluff. I really should learn to write fluff like other people, instead of putting it in the crunch...

Secret of Temper
The giant's temper causes him to hurt people near him: whenever the giant refreshes pools with others, he causes Harm equal to a Stature (V) check to those people (which may be alleviated by resisting with React (I) or such) as he forgets to be careful or loses his patience. Additionally, the character may ignore the effects of social checks or magical compels against his will by declaring a rampage - the simple conflict against him is ignored as the giant flies into an inconsiderate, raging behavioral pattern. If the opposing party declares BDtP as a response, they don't gain the usual bonus dice for going into BDtP as the winner of the preceding simple conflict. Any efforts at calming the giant in his rage or using further magical enchantments against his spirit suffer penalty dice equal to his Stature (V). Requirements: Key of Temper, Secret of Gigantism, rampage or other trauma.

Quote
Secret of the Slow Conversation

Nice, although a bit mystical and therefore not everybody's cup of tea. I'd have this require Secret of the One-Eye myself, as they have special affinity with unliving things. Having performing this take a week is a nice touch, although I'd also require 1 Reason point; we should always remember to have anything and everything cost Pool, otherwise the pool mechanics don't work so well...

Quote
Secret of the Booming Voice

Excellent.

Quote
Secret of Death-Throes

Good, although highly situational and might be a bit too expensive. I like how this interacts with the Secret of Bulk. I suggest that the character should be able to use the points as Vigor as well; being broken is a bit hard on the guy as it is, after all, and it's a bit anticlimatic if he can't spend these points because he runs out of Vigor.

Quote
Secret of Primordial Chaos

At first a bit too easy, but the Harm penalty balances it nicely. Personally, I would add that this is done as a refreshment scene and the SG is within his pregorative to act on his usual vulpine instincts accordingly. Allowing refreshes without the accompanying plot complications / openings is not a good idea, after all, and it's always nice if some miners find the giant when he goes about bashing a mountain to pieces.

Quote
Secret of Disaster

Most excellent! I would require Secret of Chaos and Secret of Colossal Size, though; I like how something epic like this is only doable if you're really of epic size. After all, the giant without that Secret might be off-scale for humans, but breaking the earth's crust is still off-scale for him. Also, consider upping the cost to 5 Vigor.

Quote
Secret of Biomass

Again, require Secret of Colossal Size for this really off-scale stuff, I'd say... then again, it's not unreasonable to have a smaller giant also carry some biomass. Also, I love the refresh mechanic. Perhaps something like this:

Secret of Soil
The character has gathered soil and weeds in his long sleep, as well as some smaller animals and shrubbery, making him quite dirty. The character has a bonus die to stealth-related endeavours in the wild, as well as social situations with other giants (who respect the Sleep) and people who love small animals. If he bathes, trade this Secret for a free Advance. Prerequisites: Secret of Gigantism, Secret of the Sleep of Seasons.

Secret of the Grove
The character carries his own ecology on his broad shoulders. For the most part this is plants and animals. When the character gets up from giant slumber, check Stature (V) and spread the result in Advances into the ecology. The character may use any Pool bought this way himself, having it refresh at a rate of one point per day when he avoids strenuous exercise. Should the ecology include something more purposeful than plants and small animals, it might have Abilities and Secrets as well, used independently of the giant himself. Any Harm directed at the ecology will strip Advances off it or be suffered by the giant, at his choice. If the giant bathes or goes into inhospital environment, trade this Secret for a free Advance. Prerequisites: Secret of Soil, Secret of Colossal Size.

I removed the healing bonus mostly because colossal giants might not heal naturally. Not opposed to it per se, although I frown upon alleviating assigned weaknesses with more Secrets.

Quote
Secret of Greatness

This is a bit weird in that it completely redefines the giant, metaphysically. The human-becoming bit is especially worrysome. I'm not opposed to reinterpretation (and I like the idea), but perhaps something a bit more societal would be appropriate:

Secret of the Titan (Ability)
The character has found a sort of peace from his temper and may spend Reason to forgo temper-related Resist (R) checks. However, this is only possible because he has channeled all his anger to an obsession: pick one Ability, which defines the only activity the giant may use to refresh the Pool in question. The refreshment always requires a resisted Ability check and only happens if the giant wins. Luckily, the giant may support the Ability in question with hist Stature (V), thanks to the great concentration he brings to it. Cost: 1 Reason to automatically succeed in a temper-mandated Resist (R) check. Prerequisite: Secret of Gigantism, no Secret of Temper; gaining the latter removes this Secret, with no Advance kickback.

Quote
Key of Awkward Size
Key of Superiority

I like!

Quote
Secret of Giant Familiarity

Quite good.

<CONTINUES IN THE NEXT POST>
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2008, 04:56:18 PM »

<CONTINUED FROM THE LAST POST>

Quote
I worry that some of the giant dream Secrets run into the "net-runner conundrum" of gaming. Simply put, you have one character who is always off in their own space, and never really appears on stage with the rest of the characters. This is less a problem in TSOY, admitedly, which doesn't have the "party up!" concerns that other games do, but it might serve as a limitation all the same. A slumbering giant's ability to write himself into a scene is negligible compared to that of other players; it seems a shame to lose out on one of the most interesting and empowering things I've seen as a TSOY gaming trend. It won't cause a problem in all games, of course, but it might be a good idea to redesign some of the Sleep of Seasons and related mechanics, so they don't pull people out of the game quite as fiercely.

The way I figure it is that if a player decides to go for a giant character, he is OK with having his "character" quite possibly end up as a kind of abstract god-thing instead of a spirited and concrete companion to other adventurers. It's high stakes, but if that's not to a player's taste, perhaps he just should play a troll:

Secret of Great Size
The goblin grows to be quite large. He may now learn Stature (V) and the Secret of Bulk despite not being a giant. Requirements: Secret of Trollkind

Other than that, I find it interesting that the sleep stuff pretty much requires a player to re-evaluate his participation or work around the limitations. Specifically, this might be something in my play style, but I find it easy and fun to figure out ways to participate as a sleeping giant. As the SG I'd certainly have all kinds of wacky stuff happen close to the giant's resting place, perhaps allowing the giant to become a kind of overseer for the entire environment. Alternatively, the giant's player gets to wield progressively stronger godlike powers over the other characters. Some players would be quite happy with having their own character be a malicious, sleeping, cthulhoid giant under some nameless hill while he spends penalty dice to ruin everybody. From time to time the player would have the SG frame him a vignette about the alien and utterly incomprehensible dreams his character is having... actually, now I want to play something like that.

Quote
Secret of the Speaking Sleep

I kinda like this, although it also cheapens the remoteness of the giant when he as a character communicates directly with others. Definitely not a Secret that I'd allow a character to have without struggle. Well balanced, though, so no complaints. I'd suggest considering some form of symbolic communication, perhaps: it'd be much cooler if the giant's sleep visage only spoke in riddles or hummed, or perhaps spoke not at all. I like the idea that the giant himself is not a volitional being while in the sleeping state, as his volition is concerned with the marvelous dreams he's having. Which reminds me, a non-volitional alternative:

Secret of Heavy Dreaming
The giant's dream is so heavy that it affects the general area where he is sleeping. After each scene of the dream, the player describes shortly how the dream slowly seeps into the environment of his sleep. Thus new springs may open up, trees wilt, women bear triplets, skies grow dark as the giant's slow thoughts shape the landscape. If something pertinent is happening in the environs at the time, the SG discourses upon that shortly as well. (Normally the giant is not aware of his environs and the player is only aware of them if some other character's scene takes place nearby.) Cost: 1 Instinct Requirements: Secret of the Encompassing Dream

Also, I find it surprising that you don't discourse upon the obvious synergy this stuff has with the earlier dream shaman material. I would kinda assume that a giant intent on wielding his volition in the world once more would turn his dreams towards methods that allow him to control them and even pull others into his dreams. We should remember that the giant actually has quite a bit of opportunity in his hands, as the giant dream is so real in so many ways. Learning dream shamanism during the long sleep is far from impossible for the giant trapped in his own mind.

Quote
Similarly, I think the Secret of the Encompassing Dream's pre-reqs might be wonky. "Secret of the Temper" as a pre-req seems needless, as we're assuming that most giants will have picked it up sooner or later through rampage, and I don't know what it contributes to the overall feel of the giant-in-slumber, which strikes me as being more inherently passive and mellow than some of the Temper mechanics. Particularly as Secret of Fitful Sleep, arguably the most violent of the slumber Secrets, doesn't include Secret of the Temper as a pre-req, I think it might be better to just leave Secret of the Encompassing Dream as:
Prerequisites: Secret of Gigantism, Secret of the Sleep of Seasons, Secret of the Giant Dream.

(It's notable that I don't write out the list of prerequisite Secrets completely; instead I only mention the immediate prerequisites and leave their prerequisites out, as they're already implied by the further requirements.)

There's some reason to this particular madness: I wanted to continue with the thematic idea that giants gain their willpower and most mighty abilities from their temper, which is the fire burning in their soul. It is not wisdom that allows the Encompassing Dream to touch upon the waking world, but the burning spirit of the giant making its presence known. I could see it going the other way too, though, if you prefer. You could even have some sleep-related stuff that is only available to the titans, above.

Quote
I guess I'm still on the fence about the one-eyes because they feel like a hodge-podge of ideas. You said they're the "giant's giants" and they're all about Temper, but their Secrets have this huge focus on quiet and crafts, and keep throwing around terms like "wisdom" and "prophecy." They feel far more introspective than the giant presented in the other Secrets and Keys; by looking at their Secrets, they're arguably the only giants who implicitly work together (Secret of the Cyclopean Forge). Nonetheless, they are quiet, prophetic, and industrious. They don't really feel like "giant's giants" to me at all, but sort of "alien, remote giants." B
In a game whose focus is about humanity and human things, I don't know what they care about or why they matter. They feel awfully sterile.

The one-eyes are an enigma wrapped in a mystery, pretty much purposefully. They're not supposed to feel human or humane, for they are not living things, but rather something very close to undead monsters animated by the rage of the true giant. Their temper is turned into the earth like a lighting bolt might strike and be consumed, which makes them potentially more mellow, relatively speaking. That makes them a twisted mirror image of the true giant, a synthesis of a giant's image of himself and a pure human. Above all they are alien: their silence is the silence of unseen purpose, their prophecy speaks of natural law unknown, and their industry is turned to strange and incomprehensible undertakings. Their role in the game is to be seen and observed, interpreted so that the giant may make his decision when the time comes: is he willing to join their number when the alternative is death permanent?

Perhaps some further fine-tuning of the crunch is in order:

Secret of the One-Eyed
The species Secret for a different strain of giant not of human-stock at all. The one-eyes apparently do not procreate or eat, and only rarely speak. They are immortal and require nothing to sustain them. They are normally not player characters, being closer to beasts, are not of flesh nor bone, knowing no regrets or fears. Interchangeable with Secret of Gigantism as regards pre-requisites for other stuff. One-eyes do not lower Harm at the end of BDtP at all, for they do not heal normally. A one-eye may not learn new Keys, except for the Key of One-Eye, which he gains for free with this Secret. The one-eye needs to make increasingly more difficult passive ability checks to decide to act on a motivation comprehensible for humanity, which leads most of them to buy off their old Keys.

Key of One-Eye
The one-eye is gripped by uncomprehensible and mysterious yearnings.
1 xp: Act in a manner seemingly inexplicable to observers.
2 xp: Speak not for a scene.
5 xp: Cooperate with other one-eyes on a project.
Buyoff: Explain yourself and your being.

Secret of Calm
The character is finally in control of his temper, even if it is in death. The player may choose case-by-case whether to apply any of the effects of the Secret of Temper or its follow-up Secrets. He is also selectively immune to the same effects from other giants; basically, he controls the Temper Aura completely. Requirements: Secret of the One-Eyed

Secret of Throng
There are more one-eyes than one would think, for most of them feel no need to act when alone. However, when one has need, others will come: the character may make a Stature (V) check to summon one-eyes equal to the check result to him, at which point the one-eyes proceed to cooperate with a project incomprehensible to other beings. If not presented with such a project, the one-eyes will go to sleep or wander off, instead. The call, which takes the form of smoke in the sky or voice in the wind, is also provocation for true giants to try for a waking check, should any sense it in their sleep. A one-eye may resist the call with Resist (R), although most have little reason not to go. Cost: Instinct equal to the number of one-eyes summoned. Requirements: Secret of the One-Eyed

Note the requirement of incomprehensibility in this and other places; it's a strict rule, not a suggestion.

Secret of the Secret
All one-eyes at heart know the secret, but it swims deep and may only be realized with the utmost power of will. The character may, with a successful Resist (R) check, fully realize the secret, which he then proceeds to pronounce aloud soon afterwards; the character may delay for scenes equal to the result of the Resist (R) check. The secret, when realized, will strike dead any one-eyes who hear it, the character included, and turn to dust any works of theirs. If the Secret is not pronounced aloud, the character still realizes the Secret at the end of the allotted time and perishes himself with no recourse. The player of the character gets to decide what the Secret is when it's first uttered in the campaign; it might be something profound, obscure or simply trivial from human point of view. Cost: 5 Reason Requirements: Secret of Cyclopean Wisdom, or hear the Secret being uttered.

One-eyes are living on borrowed time, so it's OK to kill them off without a conflict. A one-eye might still be able to stop another from uttering the Secret out loud, even if he can't stop another from realizing it.

Secret of Opening the Eye
The character combines all of his pools, and may spend from the one pool instead of any of them. He may only refresh pools with other one-eyes from now on, however. Requirements: Secret of the One-Eyed

Quote
Maybe there are really two ideas here. A giant who puts out his own eye heads down this cyclops road, which is all about avoiding Temper instead of embracing it. After all, he potentially denies himself access to the Evil Eye (or else he's got a hell of a time, as he destroys everyone he looks at, which makes cooperation a la Secret of the Cyclopean Forge sort of bizarre to begin with), and becomes increasingly stony and attuned to his mountainous ways. He has given up an eye; his vision narrows to a single focus. He speaks less and less and becomes contemplative, mysterious, prophetic. We play up the cryptic and alien side of the cyclops role.

For the giant who dies in rampage, we head for something furious, frightening, motivated by rage, and primal. Something more akin to the fomorian legends of Ireland gone twisted into horrible nightmare. Beings whose bodies are made of stone, flame, wind, wood, or the like, and who even giants are given pause by. These are the titans, giants who cannot ever know peace, lest their bodies discorporate into the elements they are pulled together from. Every fire inevitably burns out, and storms clear, and this is the thing a titan dreads the most, that loss of integrity when nature is done spending its rage. Maybe the Secret of Primordial Chaos (above) is exclusively theirs. Perhaps they're in danger of starting to come apart (taking harm accordingly) if they ever entirely run out of Vigor, making them all the more aggressive and appetitive. These, then, are the "giant's giants"-- destructive, restless, mad, incapable of any kind of peaceful interaction.

Not bad at all, although I don't personally like having a lot of different archetypes to pick your character from, which is what you get if you predefine lots of splats like this. My choice of making the cyclops a creature of occluded, patient rage was mostly for contrast with the true giant, who already is quite tempestuous enough.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
oliof
Member

Posts: 449

Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


WWW
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2008, 07:17:30 PM »

Logged

Pages: [1] 2
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!