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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 112 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Spycraft, Gamism, & Relationship-Maps  (Read 7741 times)
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2002, 11:17:59 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

The question with Spycraft is, are there Hit Point resources? Or is wounding more realistic? Is there a Sanity or other resources? Things that tend to throw you into Pawn mode as you play? Or does it keep you in "I'm a spy" mode, by emphasizing how things work in a consistent, yet non-"balanced" way?


That's an interesting set of questions and quite frankly I think there needs some more actual play before coming to a definite judgement.  My snap judgement of "Gamism" was produced through just READING the rules and seeing how things are pretty much balanced in that sort of inherent d20 way.

However, you bring up a good point with the Hitpoint resource system.

Spycraft uses the Hit/Wound point system from Star Wars with a few more modifications.

1) Rolling a 20 scores a "threat" like in the core d20 rules.

2) However, you do not reroll to see if you critical.  Instead you can choose to spend an Action Die to activate the critical.

3) Critical Hits go straight to wound points.

4) Any NPC designated as a minion type AUTOMATICALLY goes to 0 Wound Points when critically hit, no roll needed.

I think this set of rules already might greatly skew the game away from the "balance" mode towards the "I am a spy in an action movie" mode.

The net result is that much more control is given to the players and the GM about what actually goes down in combat.  When you roll a natural 20 you KNOW you've got a good chance of killing your target and it's up to the GM/Player decide if that's what they want to have happen at this time.  And of course, the faceless minions go down fairly rapidly.

But I don't know if that control moves the game into Simulationism or if it's just a different constraint on Gamist-style resource management.  Again, I think more actual play is needed.

Jesse
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2002, 11:50:42 AM »

Here I go with another likely to be wrong snap judgement.

The vitality system that we see in d20 designs is distinctly Simmy. Think about it. In D&D you have this pool of points that just doesn't make any sense in terms of the world. It's not ability to soak up damage, it's your ability to avoid damage due to experience. Yet, when it comes to healing, the time or spellpower it takes to heal is proportional to the points of damage "taken".

The vitality system attempts to fix these problems in Simulationist perception. The Gamist only cares how many he has. In general terms.

Yep, I think Spycraft is definitely headed towards Sim.

Anyone know if d20 Cthulhu uses the vitality system? Note that this would simply put it on par with old Cthulhu, in terms of Simmines. Cthulhu bases your HP on the realistic criteria of Sixe and Strength. Still HP, however. And, all in all, HP are still not particularly Simmy, especially when they still seem to be a ablative trait. Even in Cthulhu, you were pretty safe from that first gunshot taking you down in one blow. This ablative nature leads often to Gamist play. The classic example being the intentional cliff leap to avoid danger.

Mike
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hyphz
Member

Posts: 157


« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2002, 03:39:33 AM »

Quote from: jburneko
Spycraft uses the Hit/Wound point system from Star Wars with a few more modifications.
1) Rolling a 20 scores a "threat" like in the core d20 rules.
2) However, you do not reroll to see if you critical.  Instead you can choose to spend an Action Die to activate the critical.
3) Critical Hits go straight to wound points.
4) Any NPC designated as a minion type AUTOMATICALLY goes to 0 Wound Points when critically hit, no roll needed.
I think this set of rules already might greatly skew the game away from the "balance" mode towards the "I am a spy in an action movie" mode.


Erm. I'm not quite so sure.  In Star Wars, these rules seriously ruin the action movie feeling because the players know that against any foe with a decent fighting skill they have a good chance of dying in a single hit.  (I mentioned it elsewhere - if you run Luke vs. Darth lightsaber duel in those rules, Darth has a 25% chance to simply cut Luke in half every round.)

Spycraft, with the Action Dice system, somewhat offsets that provided it's only the players who use the Action Dice.  If the GM (GC, whatever) uses them, though, things get pretty nasty, especially since it makes it apparant that it was the GM's conscious whim that hosed the character rather than chance.  If the GM spent an action dice to critical a PC I could see major complaints.

(When I ran this the players were also complaining that even the lower minions were escaping - barely, but escaping - their attacks.  (This, as I understood it, is what vitality damage represents.))

By far the worst part of that is that the rules specify that whenever a PC is awarded an Action Dice for good play, the GM gets one too.  Problem is, GM action dice are bigger dice AND they're nastier because a) the GM only has a few people to use them against and b) the GM has expendable characters so he doesn't have to spend them defending.  This leads to people in a gamist situation avoiding good roleplaying in order to ensure the GM can't give them action dice and so can't gain any himself.

(We'll leave aside the example in the main rulebook that the GM spends an action dice because "he thinks an interesting plot twist could occur here".  The interesting plot twist is that the PC shoots himself in the hand.  Whoop.)
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2002, 05:39:04 AM »

Hyphz,

Well, that doesn't change any of what we've said. When I say that the system is leaning towards Sim, I didn't say that it was doing a good job. I've never been an advocate for the d20 system in any case. The point being that the intent of the Action system seems to be Simulationist (to simulate Action movies, no doubt), but I wouldn't be surprised if it is broken.

That said, Jesse's group's play is either so Sim as to ignore the effects that you note, or they hav just not played nough to notice them yet, and are playing by the intent of the rule still.

But you may be right, that the system ends up playing more Gamist later. For example, the problem that you point out between the "realism" of the Vitality system, and the "cinematic" nature of the Action Points and whatnot is well documented. But it's also an age-old quandry that we can't blame d20 for not solving. Few systems do. That quandry being how do you increase tenson by making the results of actions potentially dangerous, and yet still encourage heroism. TROS does a great job with this. Spycraft, apparently just puts a conflicting set of parameters in front of the players, and expects them to play in genre. Which as you report seems to produce more Gamism than Simulationism.

That said, I'm sure that the designers are not that concerned with what sort of play the game engenders. The apparent incoherency is evidence of that. The only question is whether or not the hybrid is acceptable or not. For Jesse's group, it seems that drift to Sim works just fine. With your play it seems to drift to Gamism. Did your group have fun? If so I think that we can say that the game plays well when drifted slightly.

Has anyone played with a very mixed result? Some Gamism, some Simulationism in near equal quantities?

Mike
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