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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 83 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Pool Party--everyone's invited!  (Read 33509 times)
James V. West
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« on: October 05, 2002, 07:40:40 PM »

Hey

What I want to do here is just sort of survery everyone interested in The Pool and find out what your idea of the game is. What rules tweaks do you use or would you like to try? What elements of the game as it stands irk you?

For clarity, here are the original rules of the game with changes and modifications in italics (some of the rules are not listed such as the Death's Door rules which I feel are pretty solid, though rarely needed in my experiences--if I leave anything important out that you can think of please let me know):

1) A character starts with a 50-word Story.

2) Players start with a Pool of 15 dice.

3) Traits are picked from the Story.

4) Bonuses can be assigned to Traits as desired.

5) Bonuses can be increased as desired by spending dice.

6) You spend dice from you Pool to assign or increase a Bonus. The cost is the desired Bonus times itself.

7) You get to add 12 words to your Story after each playing session.

8) Die rolls can be initiated by anyone.

9) You only need to roll a 1 to succeed, all other results are ignored.

10) The GM must award 1-3 extra dice to any roll.

At some point I think I had this rule stating that if a roll was initiated by a Player, the GM did not have to award any dice. That's an un-necessary complication, I think.

11) You can gamble up to 9 dice from your Pool on any roll.

Some people have suggested either reducing this limit or relaxing it. You could consider it a "dial" if you want, and turn it up or down for your own game but officially I doubt it will ever change.

12) By linking a Trait to an action you can add dice equal to that Trait's Bonus to your roll.

It's been suggested to allow players to use multiple Traits if they can link them. I prefer one.

13) Success means you get to add 1 die to your Pool or give a Monologue of Victory. If you choose the die, the GM then narrates the event.

The current rule grants 2 dice for a successful roll instead of 1. I prefer 2 dice because I think it provides a little more stability.

Nathan "Paganini" from The Forge suggests letting the GM award 1-3 dice for a successful roll when a MOV is not taken.

Note: I've suggested making a distinction between a GM-initiated roll and one initiated by a Player. A Player-initiated roll would mean you must make a MOV--you can't get dice for your Pool. This has been contested several times by different people and I tend to agree with them. It muddies things up.


14) Failure means you lose all the dice you gambled and the GM gets to narrate the event.

One suggestion was that any failure would result in gaining a die for your Pool. In this way by not gambling on a roll you'd always get the opportunity to add dice no matter what the result.

15) Dice are carried over from session to session.

New: every Pool is reset to 9 dice at the beginning of each session.
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Bob McNamee
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Posts: 685


« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2002, 04:19:08 PM »

In my Supers playtest using the Pool (with the MOD from QB) I was accidentally letting the characters use more than one trait bonus die.

This ending up being like giving out an extra couple of dice on every roll. I (GM) never did narrate... the few times the didn't get at least one success they had a 6 for a monologue of defeat.

I would definitely keep it to one trait bonus per roll. That,s how we did the Banana Republic game on Indie netgame mondays, it helps focus the narration in my experience. It also encourages gambling dice from your pool, when giving multiple trait bonuses is just giving a bunch of free dice they can use rather than gamble (which is how my playtest went).
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Bob McNamee
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2002, 05:40:05 PM »

Hey James,

What rules tweaks do you use or would you like to try?

The one modification I'm most interested in trying is Nathan's suggestion that whenever the GM gives dice, he chooses the number, from 1 to 3. This includes gift dice for Trait rolls, and reward dice for not taking the MoV.

"I'll give you two dice if you forego the MoV."

Paul
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Paganini
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2002, 08:20:46 PM »

Quote

1) A character starts with a 50-word Story.


Mike didn't like them, so I let him write as much as he wanted. Worked good too; his giant r-map more or less took care of the game preparation.

:)

I personally feel *slightly* cramped by the 50 word limit. (Some of the guys actively loath it.) I told my players not to worry about it, but to try and describe the character as concisely and with as much focus as possible.

Quote

13) Success means you get to add 1 die to your Pool or give a Monologue of Victory. If you choose the die, the GM then narrates the event.

The current rule grants 2 dice for a successful roll instead of 1. I prefer 2 dice because I think it provides a little more stability.

Nathan "Paganini" from The Forge suggests letting the GM award 1-3 dice for a successful roll when a MOV is not taken.


Yup. I prefer to run the Pool using the "rule of three." Whenever the GM gives dice to a player, the GM decides the number - at least one die, but no more than three dice. I think this is an excellent rule, and should be the default. It tosses all the discussions about thrashing and pool exploding out on their collective ears. If someone's pool is getting to low, give them extra dice. If a pool is getting to big, give them fewer dice. Makes the dynamic... well... dynamic. I relied on it extensively during the Banana Republic game.

...

You need to add that dice are a player resource, not a character resource. Players with multiple characters still only have 1 pool.
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James V. West
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2002, 02:35:53 PM »

Nathan, sounds like you and Paul really like the 3-dice rule. I admit, I like it too but I've never tried it in play. Next game I will.

Bob, absolutely only one Trait Bonus allowed for a roll. No questions asked--as far as the core rules go that is.

Here's what I'm thinking (its a scary place up there):

I've re-written these rules I don't know how many times and it seems like what I'm looking for is the "perfect" Pool. It ain't gonna happen. People have different ideas about what it needs and what it doesn't need.

So I'm going to present the honest-and-for-reallies Hardcore Pool Rules just as they were originally invented (sans a couple of stupid things like clinging to GM power). That means one die reward, 1 to 3 gift dice, etc.. Then I'll present a series of rules variations and what they do (Mike's Anti-Pool, the MOD, Rule of Three, etc.).

Then....I'm going to leave it the fuck alone. When someone else comes up with an interesting spin on the rules, I'll add it as another variation.

So right now would be a great time for anyone with such an idea to step forward and weigh in...

That's the plan and I'm sticking to it.
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Paganini
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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2002, 05:25:51 PM »

Quote from: James V. West

I've re-written these rules I don't know how many times and it seems like what I'm looking for is the "perfect" Pool. It ain't gonna happen.


It is! It is! It can! Don't give up the vision. Elegant perfection in game design *is* possible (anyone here play Go?) and the Pool is very close to that. Stick with it.

Note: by "elegant perfection" I don't mean a game that's everything for everyone. Perfection in game design is a game that maintaines ultimate simplicity, yet achieves its goal so supremely that one can't think of a better alternative.

Nerdvana, to quote Dilbert. :)
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2002, 06:16:18 PM »

Hey James,

Here's what I'm thinking...I'm going to present the honest-and-for-reallies Hardcore Pool Rules just as they were originally invented (sans a couple of stupid things like clinging to GM power). That means one die reward, 1 to 3 gift dice, etc.. Then I'll present a series of rules variations and what they do (Mike's Anti-Pool, the MOD, Rule of Three, etc.).

Someone really needs to playtest the Rule of Three. There are potential issues:

1) It's possible that for a lot of players the impact will be minimal on thrashing. A GM who offers two dice to a player to forego his MoV may find himself often confronted by the player holding out for an offer of three. And in that case, there's no net impact in thrashing. I gotta think players will push the GM that way, for a bigger offer. And my gut tells me the GM will need to reserve the offer of three for occasions when he absolutely wants to narrate the outcome, in order that it not become devalued, since he can't ever go higher.

2) A weak GM who too frequently gives in and offers three dice, may end up creating a player story-time dynamic, where the player consistently has enough resources to seize control over the narration whenever he wants...especially if the player group gets in the habit of lending large amounts of dice to each other. I don't recall a rule that limits the amount of dice lent. It's the kind of rule that might emerge from playtesting.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Michael Bowman
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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2002, 07:54:43 PM »

Quote from: James V. West
1) A character starts with a 50-word Story.


Put me down as someone else who wonders why there's a 50-word limit. I prefer Hero Wars 100 word stories, myself. A longer story only gives you more potential traits, not actual traits, after all.

Quote
13) Success means you get to add 1 die to your Pool or give a Monologue of Victory. If you choose the die, the GM then narrates the event.

The current rule grants 2 dice for a successful roll instead of 1. I prefer 2 dice because I think it provides a little more stability.

Nathan "Paganini" from The Forge suggests letting the GM award 1-3 dice for a successful roll when a MOV is not taken.


I prefer 2. Awarding differential dice makes things a bit more complicated and requires more player-GM negotiation.

Quote
Note: I've suggested making a distinction between a GM-initiated roll and one initiated by a Player. A Player-initiated roll would mean you must make a MOV--you can't get dice for your Pool. This has been contested several times by different people and I tend to agree with them. It muddies things up.


Obviously I agree with this. There's no reason to make a distinction between the two. The GM's narrative power when a player takes dice would prevent any abuse.

Quote
14) Failure means you lose all the dice you gambled and the GM gets to narrate the event.

One suggestion was that any failure would result in gaining a die for your Pool. In this way by not gambling on a roll you'd always get the opportunity to add dice no matter what the result.


I found this suggestion interesting when it was suggested, but I'd really like to know how it works in actual play. Has anyone tried it out?

Quote
15) Dice are carried over from session to session.

New: every Pool is reset to 9 dice at the beginning of each session.


This is a great new rule.

Michael
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Zoetrope10
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« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2002, 06:50:52 AM »

James V. West wrote:

Quote
Note: I've suggested making a distinction between a GM-initiated roll and one initiated by a Player. A Player-initiated roll would mean you must make a MOV--you can't get dice for your Pool. This has been contested several times by different people and I tend to agree with them. It muddies things up.

Michael Bowman commented:

Quote
Obviously I agree with this. There's no reason to make a distinction between the two. The GM's narrative power when a player takes dice would prevent any abuse.

The reason for distinguishing between the two kinds of rolls has merit. I agree with James' earlier comment,

Quote
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.

The notion that the GM's narrative power can be used as a kind of loaded gun, to keep players in check,  I find to be somewhat unpalatable. It, like, undermines The Pool's creative spirit.
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Valamir
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« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2002, 07:05:33 AM »

Hey James...just wanted to say I 100% applaud your Hard Core Rules plus variants approach.

Changing the base rules based on who the squeakiest wheel is at the time is always dangerous and always means the game is in a state of incomplete playtestedness.  

Much better to get the core rules and allow players to pick and choose at their own risk.

Very much akin to the decision Mike and I made with Universalis to strip the game down to the core and make everything else Add-ons.  

Good Idea IMO.
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Blake Hutchins
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Posts: 614


« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2002, 01:32:41 PM »

I agree with Valamir.

I would say that the logic behind players nagging the GM for rolls applies just as much to MOVs as it does to gaining additional dice.  Either way, the players have to exercise a quantum of maturity.

Best,

Blake
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James V. West
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« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2002, 06:01:02 PM »

Blake: I certainly hope players have some maturity. These rules can so easily be abused.

Zoetrope sayeth: "The notion that the GM's narrative power can be used as a kind of loaded gun, to keep players in check, I find to be somewhat unpalatable. It, like, undermines The Pool's creative spirit."

I guess this goes back to the maturity thing. I really hate the notion of writing the game will all sorts of safety rules in place to reign in the jerks and jerk-offs. But, yeah, this is pretty much what I was thinkin' when I started messing with the idea of distinguishing the rolls.

Michael: I chose a 50-word limit because I like it much better. See, my idea of creating characters for The Pool is to keep the initial idea really slim. I like the idea of letting MOVs and the rest of the game build the characters--not just adding to their current state, but filling in background information too. With 50 words you really are forced to skim the cream off an idea.

But if you want 100...go for it.

Paul: I personally don't like the idea of the Rule of Three because it makes things easier. This is another aspect of the game that I wanted to capture--risk. If there are too many safeguards, the risk factor goes down. I think the Hardcore Rules are hard, but playable. Risky, but cool.

Well, I'm on vacation after this Saturday, so it'll be a couple of weeks before I can impliment the plan. Plenty of time for more suggestions, bitching, whining, insults, and genius thoughts...
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2002, 07:37:21 AM »

Hi James,

PART ONE
My "preferred Pool" is pretty stripped-down.

Character creation is based on 50-word paragraphs, strictly enforced.

Either the GM or player can call for a roll, at any time. The GM provides 1 to 3 dice, although on very rare occasions he may provide none (I would not permit this if none of the players has a current Pool). One trait may be enlisted into the roll, for however many dice are associated with it (usually just one die). The player may gamble up to 9 dice from his or her Pool. Whether a given trait is "suitable" or not is left up to group dialogue.

A successful roll gets either an MoV or a single new Pool die, regardless of whether any dice were gambled from the Pool or not. A failed roll loses all gambled dice.

Other points: any player may simply give away dice from their Pool to any other player's Pool at any time, with no limits and no formal "debt." Failed rolls mean failed conflicts and the severity of the event, for the player-character, is entirely customized by whoever is doing the narrating.

At the end of a session, a new sentence or phrase is added to the character's paragraph, and Pool points may be spent to assign dice to any new traits in that new text, or spent to increase an existing trait. (Note that this latter tactic may be taken at any time during play).

I think that's pretty much it for "me and the Pool." One of the most important features of this mode of play is that when a player is out of dice in his or her Pool, it's quite simple to regain them: get your character into a conflict which is both easy and involves one of your traits, call for a roll, and use the trait; you'll have at least 3 or 4 dice. If you fail, big deal, do it again. When you do get a success (very high chance), then add a die to your Pool. Rinse, repeat.

Add to that the possibility of the "rich guys" donating dice once in a while, and I think the "thrashing at the bottom" phenomenon is ... gone.

PART TWO
James, you seem to be concerned with "abuse" a lot in playing the Pool. Bluntly, I have observed no instances whatsoever of abuse in system terms - not even from people who are notorious for bullying GMs or for intellectualizing their way through rules-systems. Can you explain, with examples, exactly what you mean by "abuse"?

It seems to me as if one accords with the above rules, then "getting more dice by any means necessary" is actually contributing to the fun and content of the game. If the conflict does entail three dice, and if a trait is involved, and if the player is abiding by the MoV and other standards of the group ... then what's the big deal? I can't imagine this event being abusive, by my understanding of the word.

PART THREE
A Pool variant I've been thinking over for a bit is to include a "group Pool" using dice of a specific color, which are only usable in conflicts that involve magic. I have a lot of notes on a setting to use for this gimmick, based in large part on the notion of ancient dragons who have taken on human form and walk the earth today, as the player-characters. I'll play with the idea a bit more and present on this forum soon.

Best,
Ron
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Blake Hutchins
Member

Posts: 614


« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2002, 10:04:45 AM »

A few quick comments:

1)  If you have magic in your world, best to be clear with the players on the scope and rules of use, i.e., ritual prerequisites, limits on spells, scale of effect, pool gambling requirements, and the like.  There's a big difference between flash-boom-pow deeds and the quieter, far more limited folklore examples from Hard Travellin'.  I suspect that magic in most worlds may require house rules of some sort tailored to the particular world.

2)  The 50 word limit is something my players differed on; some found it a constraint, others were fine with it.  Personally, I prefer 50 words, period.  The 100 word pieces I received weren't as focused and tended to ramble.  I think it's important to get the core character story down NOW, and not try to pull in every single peripheral detail.  I actually don't care for ten pages of backstory per character - hard to assimilate, and it's too easy to drop details the player wants.  Only way I'd try that is if the world was almost completely tabula rasa.

3)  Though I like the MoD, I think I'll only use it with specific groups.  The trouble is, not every player wants to go with narrating defeats, and there seems to have been great confusion in my group between narrating cataclysmic task failures versus conflict complication.

Best,

Blake
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2002, 10:36:20 AM »

The problem I have with a fifty word character design is that I'd write more anyhow. I find it hard not to write a few hundred words about any character I play. If I didn't write it down, I'd be doing it in my head. I really don't hink that I'm capable of not doing this. So my point becomes, why prohibit the act of writing? What advantage does that limit have?

Is it about playing before you play? Well, I'm constantly doing that in my head anyhow. By the time I get to that first scene, I've got worked out all sorts of details on my character's particular school of martial arts or whatever. The sort of stuff that then comes out in play anyhow. Is it really that bad that I make up such fluff details before hand? I can only incorporate the most important 15 dice worth anyhow.

Mike
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