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Michael Bowman
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« on: October 03, 2002, 09:00:08 AM »

There's a lot of rewriting in this version of The Pool. I like the fuller descriptions of MoVs now. It makes things nice and clear.

Dice refreshing at the beginning of a session: this is a great idea! It really eliminates multi-session thrashing (which happened to us in Steve's pulp game). I think this is a great solution. I can't wait to try it out.

GM- and player-initiated rolls: I was surprised to see you kept the difference between these two rolls. I think it would be cleaner and more elegant if you eliminated the difference and just said that a successful roll enables you to add 2 dice to your Pool or take a MoV, regardless of who called for the roll. That way a player has a chance of pulling themselves up out of a Pool of 0. As it is now, the player has to rely on the GM to give him rolls to give him the chance to move up.

I'm going to be starting up a Middle-earth campaign using The Pool at the end of the month. I tried a session with a brand-new roleplayer this last Sunday. It didn't take him too long to get the hang of the system, and he was being pretty inventive by the end.

Michael
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James V. West
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« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2002, 04:14:21 AM »

Quote from: Michael Bowman
There's a lot of rewriting in this version of The Pool. I like the fuller descriptions of MoVs now. It makes things nice and clear.


Good. That was my goal.

Quote
Dice refreshing at the beginning of a session: this is a great idea! It really eliminates multi-session thrashing (which happened to us in Steve's pulp game). I think this is a great solution. I can't wait to try it out.


Yeah, I think that it was a needed change. And since we're only talking a max of 9 dice I don't foresee any problems with huge Pools.

Quote
GM- and player-initiated rolls: I was surprised to see you kept the difference between these two rolls. I think it would be cleaner and more elegant if you eliminated the difference and just said that a successful roll enables you to add 2 dice to your Pool or take a MoV, regardless of who called for the roll. That way a player has a chance of pulling themselves up out of a Pool of 0. As it is now, the player has to rely on the GM to give him rolls to give him the chance to move up.


You make a good argument here. My problem is that I can't see the logic in someone asking for a die roll and then just taking dice instead of a MOV. The whole point of asking for a roll is to get a MOV, in my opinion. Otherwise it seems like players could just nag the GM for dice rolls every 30 seconds and derail the game.

On the other hand, as you put it, a player with 0 dice would have to wait on the GM. But I don't really see this as a huge problem. If I was running the game, I'd make sure players with few or no dice would get rolls very frequently. I think that's one of the strengths of The Pool--it's free-form nature lets you tweak things during play at the drop of a hat.

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I'm going to be starting up a Middle-earth campaign using The Pool at the end of the month. I tried a session with a brand-new roleplayer this last Sunday. It didn't take him too long to get the hang of the system, and he was being pretty inventive by the end.


Coolness. Please let me know how that game goes! I'm very curious about other peoples' experiences with the game.
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Zoetrope10
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« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2002, 06:14:36 AM »

Hi James

You need an editor :)

No hurt intended but I found this version of The Pool confusing. Aspects of the rules are introduced without explaining what they mean. Rules from previous versions of The Pool have been omitted (no doubt unintentionally), to the detriment of clarity. Some of the surviving rules, also in terms of clarity, are the worse for being rewritten.

Here are my observations, questions and humble suggestions. I appreciate that, for space reasons, some of my suggestions may not pass muster.

Z

PS: I enjoyed tracking down the two changes you made to the rules namely, the thing about being able to refresh one’s pool at the start of each new session and being able to carry over new words across sessions.

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THE POOL

To play The Pool you’ll also need a lot of six-sided dice (d6s). The more the merrier. Some of the dice should look different from the others--you don’t need quite as many of these.

The last sentence would read clearer as follows: ‘The GM will also need several six-sided dice, distinguishable from those of the players.’

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One player in your group needs to be the Game Master (GM). This is the person who runs the game, sets the scenes, handles disputes, etc.. That person controls all the dice that look different and is responsible for tending the common pool as well.

In the last sentence, the term ‘common pool’ is introduced but not defined. This is confusing.

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1. CHARACTERS

Before you start making characters, take 15 dice from the common pool. This is your starting Pool.

Ditto re the first sentence. The reader is still in the dark about the concept of the ‘common pool’ (apart from knowing that they take dice from it).

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2. TRAITS

Once your Story is written, pick the things from it that you feel are most important. Since the Story is pretty short you’ll probably list everything.

The first sentence would read clearer as follows: ‘Now make a list of the parts of your story that you feel are important.’

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Traits can be anything at all, not just skills or abilities. People, items, ideas, passions...anything at all can be a Trait.

The second sentence would be conceptually more helpful if it said, ‘People, items, paths traveled, places visited, ideas, passions...anything at all can be a Trait.’

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You can list your Traits in any form you wish as long they are not in conflict with your Story. For example, let’s say you have a line in your story that says “he carries his father’s sword”. Your Trait can read “father’s sword” or anything like that, but it cannot say “father’s magical sword of teleportation” because that would not be in keeping with the idea presented in your Story.

The last sentence is awkward. It would read just as well without the ‘teleportation’ qualifier but with ‘magic’ in italics. Thus, ‘Your Trait can read “father’s sword” or anything like that, but it cannot say “father’s magic sword” because that would not be in keeping with the idea presented in your Story.’

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3. TRAIT BONUSES

Some Traits may be more important than others. For these you can assign permanent bonuses that let you add dice to any roll made on behalf of the Trait to which the Bonus is assigned.

This paragraph might be better written as, ‘You can assign bonuses to important traits, in the form of dice. Bonuses increase the effectiveness of traits during play.’

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To add a Bonus, spend dice from your starting Pool. The cost is the Bonus times itself. Thus, a +2 would cost 4 dice and a +3 would cost 9 dice and so on. It is important to leave some dice in your Pool--at least 3 or 4.

This paragraph refers to adding a bonus; the paragraph before it talks about ‘assigning a bonus’. The difference in terminology is confusing. It would be clearer to start this paragraph as ‘To assign a bonus…’

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Example:

These are the Bonuses I assign for Damart’s Traits. These Bonuses would cost a total of 9 dice, leaving 6 dice in my Pool.

-Elemental sorcerer of the Lost Land Order +2
-Outcast of the Lost Land Order
-He is driven by love +2
-Searching for the means to raise his love from the dead +1

Neither the rules in this section nor the example explain whether you have to assign bonuses to all of your traits.

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4. CASTING THE DICE

When you roll, your GM will give you 1-3 dice from her own pool to roll.

1. I understood that this was not always the case. For example, if a player calls for a roll then the  GM doesn’t have to give them any dice, si?

2. What does the expression ‘from her own pool’ mean? This expression implies that the concept of a ‘GM pool’ is a given. Up to now, however, there has been no explanation of such a concept.

3. James, you give the GM a gender only twice in all of the rules and each time it’s as a ‘her’.

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This isn’t based on difficulty, but is purely up to the GM to determine from one roll to another. In addition, if you can link your desired action to a Trait with a Bonus, you can add dice equal to that Bonus to your roll.

1. The use of the word ‘determine’ in the first sentence is meaningless. To determine implies some sort of basis by which the thing involved is determined. Yet no such basis is given. I like the idea mentioned earlier in this forum that, basically, the more the GM wants the player to succeed, the more dice they give.

2. Make clear that you can’t link your desired action to more than one bonus trait.
 
Quote
Example:
Damart wants to find a piece of secret lore in an ancient library. The GM asks me to make a die roll. I use the Trait “searching for the means to bring his love from the dead +1” on my die roll. The GM decides to give me 2 additional dice to roll. I now have a total of 3 dice to cast.

This example is confusing because it seems to imply that if a player wants to do something, the player needs to rely on the GM to ask the player to make a roll. Whereas it is explained later that the player can ask for a roll, rather than relying/waiting for the GM to do so.

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A successful roll occurs anytime a 1 is rolled on any die. If no 1s are rolled, it is a failed roll.  If you roll a 1 on a GM-initiated roll, you have a simple choice: you may add 2 dice to your Pool or you may make a Monologue of Victory (MOV--see below).

1. Important. In the second sentence, if the roll is failed, what happens next?

2. Important. In the third sentence, if the player takes the two dice, what happens next?

Quote
A die roll is made whenever the GM asks you to roll, or when you see an opportunity and would like to make a roll. The difference is this: when the GM asks you to roll and you win, you get the choice of 2 dice or a MOV. If you are the one requesting a die roll, you must name a Trait you want to use and if you win the roll you must make a MOV--there is no option for gaining dice.

1. In the first sentence can the player refuse the roll? If so, what happens then?

2. In the second sentence insert, ‘(from the common pool)’ after ‘2 dice’.

3. In the third sentence, make clear that the named trait doesn’t have to have a bonus.

4. Important. After the last sentence add, ‘You can ask for a roll even if your character isn’t present in a scene, as long as you have a relevant trait.’

Quote
7. CONTINUING YOUR SAGA

At the end of each session, you may add up to 15 new words to your character’s Story. They can be added in the form of new lines or additions to old lines. If the 15 words aren’t enough to add what you want, you can save them until the end of the next session and then write a total of 30 new words.

Add, ‘You can also opt to re-write parts or all of your story, as long as you keep within the established understanding of the character.’

Quote
As you add words, you may also add new Traits. You may add or increase Bonuses to Traits anytime you wish the same way you did when you created your character: the desired Bonus times itself (+2 costs 4 dice, +3 costs 9 dice, etc.)

1. Change the first sentence to, ‘As you add words to (or rewrite) your Story you can add or alter Traits.’

2. After the last sentence add, ‘You can’t skip paying for a bonus level. If you want to go from +1 to +3 you have to spend the four dice for +2 then nine more for +3. You can decrease a bonus at any time and add to your pool a number of dice equal to the amount of the decrease.’
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Zoetrope10
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« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2002, 06:29:06 AM »

Oh, James, one more suggestion.

At the front of section 7: Continuing your saga, insert, 'If you don't have any dice in your pool the only way you'll be able replenish it is by succeeding at GM-offered rolls (or waiting until the start of next session, as explained hereafter).
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James V. West
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« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2002, 07:23:24 AM »

Hey

You know, these are damn good suggestions.

I think I've made it abundantly clear in my time at The Forge that I am possibly the worst articulator (hell, is that even a word?) in the history of indie game design. Perhaps I assume far too much when I'm writing this stuff. In this case, The Pool was heavily edited by me over the course of a couple weeks culminating in a 4 am finalization. Go figure.

Anyway, as I said before of The Questing Beast, I never consider anything finished. That may or may not be a poor trait, but there it is. I'll probably re-write this game many times for a while to come.

There are a couple of things you mentioned that I want to address first:

1) GM gender. This really doesn't bother me. I prefer it when a writer mixes the gender references up a bit. I tried to keep the GM references consistently female. I just like it that way.

2) The GM-awarded dice rule. It has always been 1-3 dice and I've never seen a reason to change it. I don't really like the idea of having no cap on it. Seems to elminate a bit of structure that I feel the game needs. You know, 9 dice cap on gambling, 3 dice cap on GM awards. I don't think I'll change that.

After finishing it and actually putting it in Random Order #1 I started to notice some of these little glitches you're talking about--such as the fact that I omitted any mention of Trait Bonus improvements.

Thanks very much for your post. You obviously spent a bit of time reading it over and making these thoughtful suggestions and I really, really appreciate it--becuase dammit I do need an editor sometimes!

My plan is to fix some of these glitches over the next few weeks and make notes in the text about what I'm doing. When I seem to have it all worked out I'll reformat the whole thing, eliminate the little notes and (hopefully) have a much improved draft of the game that I can live with for a while.
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Michael Bowman
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Posts: 23


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« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2002, 08:00:17 AM »

Quote from: James V. West
Quote from: Michael Bowman
GM- and player-initiated rolls: I was surprised to see you kept the difference between these two rolls. I think it would be cleaner and more elegant if you eliminated the difference and just said that a successful roll enables you to add 2 dice to your Pool or take a MoV, regardless of who called for the roll. That way a player has a chance of pulling themselves up out of a Pool of 0. As it is now, the player has to rely on the GM to give him rolls to give him the chance to move up.


You make a good argument here. My problem is that I can't see the logic in someone asking for a die roll and then just taking dice instead of a MOV. The whole point of asking for a roll is to get a MOV, in my opinion. Otherwise it seems like players could just nag the GM for dice rolls every 30 seconds and derail the game.


Of course, if they're taking dice, the GM is narrating. I wouldn't go out of my way to annoy the person narrating my actions.

The biggest point for me is that the rules are much simpler if the two types of rolls aren't distinguished from each other. If you succeed on any roll, you have two choices. When we were playing the pulp game, some players frequently couldn't keep the options straight.

Michael
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Bob McNamee
Member

Posts: 685


« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2002, 07:23:21 PM »

Nathan (Paganini) came up with an alternate Pool rule-set for the Monday Indie Netgames that combined several of the things that were being discussed in the past...
Since the Pool is being discussed again I thought I'd post it here...

-----
The Pool can be found at the following URL, although this
version is not up to date. It's been superseded by some
discussions on the message board. I'll include an updated
summary of the rules below.

http://www.randomordercreations.com/thepool.html

Character Creation

1. The Story

Write a 50 word snapshot of the character that could serve as
the introduction of a protagonist in a novel. This is the
character's Story.

2. Traits

List all the important elements from the story. These are the
character's Traits.

3. Dice

Begin with 15 dice. Buy Trait bonuses with dice. Put leftover
dice in your Pool.

+1 costs 1 die
+2 costs 4 dice
+3 costs 9 dice

Mechanics

1. Rolls are made when you request one, or when the GM tells you
to make one.

2. The GM is the de-facto narrator, if no roll is made.

3. When you make a roll, the GM will give you 1 to 3 dice. If
you wish, you may add a number of dice equal to a Trait bonus.
Only one Trait may be used at a a time. You may also gamble up
to 9 dice from your Pool. Roll all of the dice. Your goal is to
roll a 1 (a success) on any die. You only need one success to
win the roll.

4. If you fail, you lose any dice you gambled, and the GM
narrates your character's failure.

5. If you win, you have a choice. You may take a Monologue of
Victory and narrate your character's success, or you may add
reward dice to your Pool. If you take this option, the GM will
give you 1 to 3 reward dice and narrate your character's
success.

6. If you take a MoV you may narrate until the action is
finished, or until the GM tells you to stop. If you used a Trait
in your die roll you must incorporate it into the narration.

Advancement

1. At the end of each session, you may add up to 15 words to
your character's story. From these new words you may alter or
add Traits. You may also rewrite the Story, as long as the new
Story is in keeping with the established understanding of the
character.

2. You may add or increase Trait bonuses at any time. To
increase a bonus, spend the new bonus times itself in dice from
your Pool.

3. A change seems obvious based on the story, no special
justification is needed. If you cannot link a change in bonus to
any recent activities in the game, you must give a MoV on the
spot explaining how and why the change took place.

Death

1. When the GM tells you that your character is at Death's Door,
you must make a roll to survive.

2. The GM will not give you any dice, nor may you use any Trait.
Only gambled dice from your Pool may be used.

3. Other players may help you by giving you gambled dice from
their Pools.

4. All gambled dice are lost, regardless of the outcome of the
roll.

5. Success means the character is alive (it does *not* mean that
he avoids the situation that put him at Death's Door), failure
means he's dead.

6. If your character survives a death's door roll, you do not
get a MoV or reward dice. The GM narrates the scene and explains
why the character lived.

7. If your character fails a death's door roll, you get to
narrate your character's death in a final, climactic MoV. James
says to make it a good one. :)

- --
Nathan E. Banks <Paganini>

---
The main changes were the so-called
"Rule of Three"
That Extra dice(from GM) and Reward dice(from declining an MOV) can vary from 1-3 in dice amounts. A good way to get folks out of the "bottom of the Pool"...

It worked well on our netgame Banana Republic game.
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Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!
James V. West
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« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2002, 07:43:21 PM »

Thanks for posting that, Bob. You don't think he'd mind if I posted it to my website? I want to create a "tweaks" page for The Pool to list all these different rules twists that people have come up with.

I've just posted a new thread http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=35807#35807">here. Please check it out and help me get one tiny step closer to writing the Be All End All rules for The Pool.
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Paganini
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« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2002, 05:50:22 AM »

Jame:

Quote from: James V. West
Thanks for posting that, Bob. You don't think he'd mind if I posted it to my website? I want to create a "tweaks" page for The Pool to list all these different rules twists that people have come up with.


No, I'd be delighted if you'd post it. Put a big ol' bold link pointing to it that says "THIS is the way Pag thinks the Pool should be played!" ;)
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