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Author Topic: Pool Party--everyone's invited!  (Read 33743 times)
James V. West
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« Reply #30 on: October 19, 2002, 08:03:37 AM »

Quote from: Zoetrope10
Thanks Ron

OTOH, if there is no conflict requirement and a player calls for but fails a roll, how does the GM narrate the outcome, unless the player somehow framed the general intent behind calling for a roll in the first place? Is that why there has to be a conflict before a player can call for a roll---so the GM can narrate a failed roll in the context of the conflict?

Or is that one of the reasons James originally tied a player-called roll to a relevant player trait---to give context to a failed roll when the player didn't specify their intent?

I'm a little confused.

Z


Yeah, that was sort of my thinking. But I'm not sure if a Trait requirement ought to be a rule.

Basically, before you can roll you need to state a general intent, or a generally understood intent needs to be apparant. That way the GM *does* have some context in which to work with a failed roll.

At least, that's how I play it.
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Zoetrope10
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« Reply #31 on: October 19, 2002, 09:13:33 AM »

I think where I'm going with this is:

o making a player-called roll contingent upon a conflict is as restrictive as making such a roll contingent on a relevant trait

o if you remove the conflict requirement but don't have a relevant trait requirement then I'm not sure why you would need a dice rolling mechanic at all.

If you retain the relevant trait requirement for a player-called roll then the whole thing kind of hangs together (doesn't it?)---the GM is the overall narrator but the player(s) have the capacity to influence the story in key character-related (i.e. trait-related) directions. That's kind of how character-focussed stories develop, isn't it(?)---around significators in the fictional lives of the characters of the story?

Maybe I'm hanging on to redundant gamist notions.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #32 on: October 19, 2002, 09:31:17 AM »

Hi Z,

Actually, I think what you're stumbling on is the term "conflict."

The way I'm using the term, no one rolls without a conflict brewing/occuring in-game. Or, since the GM never rolls in the Pool, to put it somewhat more clearly, no one calls for a roll without such a conflict happening, not a player, not the GM, no one.

So it's not a constraint on the player-as-opposed-to-GM, it's a constraint on play at all times.

But is it such a constraint? Look at The Pool - when and how are rolls to be made? To me, that's a quick and easy no-brainer based on my habits and preferences of play; to others, who are perhaps very used to the notion of task resolution being the occasion for a roll, it might require more processing. I'll try to explain my outlook a little.

Non-dice play makes conflicts arise. Conflicts mean anything that involves individuals who want different things or are performing contradictory actions. If that doesn't happen during play, then I frankly can't imagine playing at all, for any length of time at all. When that does happen, it's time to roll. Whoever says so (i.e. identifies that it's "roll time"), GM or player, seems quite irrelevant to me in The Pool.

Zoetrope, I'd be able to discuss this in more detail if you'd give me an example. Could you explain to me, using player-names, how "don't roll unless there's a conflict" acts as a constraint on play?

Best,
Ron
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Zoetrope10
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« Reply #33 on: October 20, 2002, 04:48:30 AM »

Hey Ron

Maybe I missed something between versions of The Pool.

A while back James wrote to the effect that:

In The Pool, rolling dice gives you a chance to gain story-power. This is different from most other role-playing games, where you roll dice to see if you beat an obstacle.

James then gave the example of Damart, who was travelling to an isolated monastery where he (Damart) suspected he'd find more information on his quest to resurrect his love. On the way there, inspiration strikes Damart's player, who calls for a roll linked to Damart's driven by love trait. The player wins the roll and uses their MoV to introduce some new plot developments.

Here, there are no individuals who want different things or are performing contradictory actions; there is no conflict at all. It's nevertheless a good example because it shows how, by calling for a roll, the player can chance their hand at a bit of story-telling power---with the proviso that such power is thematically linked to the things that define the character.

The latest version of The Pool, however, says:

'Dice are cast to determine the general outcome of conflicts.'

Ron, you seem to be taking a similar line. In addition, such rolls (when player-called) need have nothing to do with the very narrative hooks/significators/traits that give meaning to the character's quest. I find this to be extraordinary!

What's the appeal of making a player-called roll contingent upon a conflict (which option seems arbitrarily narrow in scope) rather than a trait (which option is broader in scope, because it doesn’t necessarily require a conflict, but is character-defining in focus)?

The elegant balance struck by giving a player the flexibility to call for a roll at any time, but requiring such a roll to be tied to a relevant character trait, is much closer (I feel) to the original spirit of the game.

Z (seeking enlightenment)
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #34 on: October 20, 2002, 06:34:57 AM »

Hi Z,

The problem with requiring a trait to be involved is that, when a character has 0 Pool, it limits the way and extent that he or she can regain dice through rolls. Or rather, this is what happened a lot in several groups a while ago, as reported here on the Forge.

In the example with Damart, the key issue is that there is a consequence of failing the roll, as well as of making it. In my play of The Pool, such rolls are dysfunctional unless the GM and player(s) have some idea, even if vague, of what can happen if the roll is missed.

Thus, by calling for such a roll, the player is "bringing a conflict into existence" which needs to be verbalized to some extent prior to the dice hitting the table. Once you understand this, then James' two descriptions of the process/point of the roll are complementary.

My experiences with The Pool and The Questing Beast in exactly this regard are what led me to write Trollbabe, in which these issues are explicit.

Best,
Ron
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James V. West
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« Reply #35 on: October 20, 2002, 01:34:48 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hi Z,

Thus, by calling for such a roll, the player is "bringing a conflict into existence" which needs to be verbalized to some extent prior to the dice hitting the table. Once you understand this, then James' two descriptions of the process/point of the roll are complementary.


Good point. I'm making an effort to pay attention to my language on that and get it clarified. It's always been my assumption that people were declaring a general intent before rolling so that the GM would know what to do with a failed roll. Never assume anything.

Rolls are always about conflicts becaue either a conflict already presented itself or one is created with the declaration of intent.

I used to think that a Trait ought to be required for any roll, but after giving it some serious thought I don't see why it has to be that way. The Traits are not there to set limits, but to add some flavor and some controls for the player. It doesn't really matter if you use one or not in any given situation because the outcome is still going to be that a conflict arose and was resolved either by the GM or by the player.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #36 on: October 20, 2002, 04:25:45 PM »

Hi James,

Exactly my thoughts.

Best,
Ron
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Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #37 on: October 21, 2002, 09:13:57 AM »

Hmm.  My thought was that using Traits as a prerequisite for calling for roles was a way of making zero-point Traits relevant, a feature I thought pretty elegant.

I don't see any problem with leaving the Trait prerequisite in place, since it adds to character coherency in terms of the kinds of conflicts they ask for.  That'd be my preference, but other than the zero-point Trait element, nothing compels the rule.  Of course, I like focusing player options in places.

Best,

Blake
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Zoetrope10
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« Reply #38 on: October 22, 2002, 06:20:26 AM »

Ron wrote:
Quote
The problem with requiring a trait to be involved is that, when a character has 0 Pool, it limits the way and extent that he or she can regain dice through rolls.

Yes, I understand the 0 pool concern.

But I don't understand why requiring a trait to be involved is any more restrictive than requiring a conflict to be brought into existence. Why? Why does a conflict need to be brought into existence?

The implication of this requirement is that unless a player brings a conflict into existence they can never wield any story-telling power. This is a stifling implication.

Ron, is the reason why you play that a conflict must be brought into existence so that there is a clear context for extrapolating a failure? That would seem like a plausible explanation for this requirement. My difficulty with it though is that it implies that a failed roll is a failure. I thought that a failed roll, rather than representing a failure per se meant a GM-narrated outcome, usually unwanted, in that the story would not necessarily develop in the direction the player had envisaged (but sometimes it might, even so).

Are you suggesting that unless a player-called roll is tied to a conflict, it would sometimes be too hard for the GM to narrate a failed player-called roll? For example, in my previously mentioned example of Damart, Damart's player is struck by inspiration and asks for a die roll linked to Damart's driven by love trait. A successful roll is one thing. But what happens if they fail the roll? How is the GM supposed to narrate the outcome if all they have to go with is Damart's driven by love trait? Is that why you require a player-called roll to be tied to a conflict, to avoid lumbering the GM with the burden of narrating these kinds of nebulous decision points?

tx, Z
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Zoetrope10
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« Reply #39 on: October 22, 2002, 06:51:37 AM »

James said:
Quote
Rolls are always about conflicts because either a conflict already presented itself or one is created with the declaration of intent.

James, I thought that as The Pool was originally developed, the GM narrated things according to their GM's story telling preference, unless they offered the player a roll---usually, as I think you originally said it, 'at tense, uncertain or otherwise important moments.' Conversely, the player described what they were doing in response to the GM's narration, unless the player wanted to try their hand at a bit of story telling/plot development (in the context of their character's interests; not necessarily conflict related), in which case they called for a roll related to one of their character's traits.

Either way, a failed roll did not necessarily mean a failure in the sense of the loser of a conflict but rather, a GM narrated outcome that did not necessarily go the way the player originally had envisaged.

Are you also of the view that unless a conflict is involved it can sometimes to be too hard for the GM to narrate a failed die roll outcome?

Am I naive in thinking that limiting GM narrations of failed player-called rolls to conflict situations would needlessly cramp the GM's scope for innovative story telling?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #40 on: October 22, 2002, 08:51:32 AM »

Hello,

I apologize for taking a semi-line-by-line approach to responding, but with any luck, we'll stay in discussion mode rather than terse-snap mode.

You wrote,
"Ron, is the reason why you play that a conflict must be brought into existence so that there is a clear context for extrapolating a failure? That would seem like a plausible explanation for this requirement."

Yes, that's it exactly. However, please note that by "failure" I only mean "rolls no 1's." I am not referring to the character failing at anything; he might be or he might not be. In fact, deciding whether he does or doesn't is the part of the decision-making process that needs information most prior to the roll.

"My difficulty with it though is that it implies that a failed roll is a failure. I thought that a failed roll, rather than representing a failure per se meant a GM-narrated outcome, usually unwanted, in that the story would not necessarily develop in the direction the player had envisaged (but sometimes it might, even so)."

Your stated implication is actually an inference on your part. If you look at my previous post, you'll see that the implication is not present. I tried to explain it a little better above, in this post.

"Are you suggesting that unless a player-called roll is tied to a conflict, it would sometimes be too hard for the GM to narrate a failed player-called roll? ... Is that why you require a player-called roll to be tied to a conflict, to avoid lumbering the GM with the burden of narrating these kinds of nebulous decision points?"

Correct. However, I also maintain that the same "burden" or problem applies equally to the player who does get a 1 and decides to take the Monologue of Victory. He, too, is well served by a pre-roll shared understanding of "what's going on" in-game that is being handled or resolved by the roll. Therefore my point is not as GM-centric as your phrasing suggests; it applies to anyone who has narrative power during play.

A couple more points ...

1) Regarding your reply to James above, I don't think James is suggesting that the GM only narrates when the player fails a roll or decides not to take a Monologue of Victory. During the bulk of play, the GM does the bulk of narrating, or more accurately, when rolling isn't involved, everyone can talk freely and the GM says what happens. This process can account for a fair amount of play.

2) I'm still interested in how you perceive "don't roll unless there's a conflict" as a constraint on play, especially given that conflict can mean any sort of opposition-of-interests in the game-world.

Best,
Ron
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James V. West
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« Reply #41 on: October 22, 2002, 03:40:21 PM »

Ron said:

"However, please note that by "failure" I only mean "rolls no 1's." I am not referring to the character failing at anything; he might be or he might not be. In fact, deciding whether he does or doesn't is the part of the decision-making process that needs information most prior to the roll."

I suppose there is some potential confusion with the terminology I chose with "Victory" and "failed rolls" and all that. Ron nailed it here by pointing out that the victory or failure is with the player's roll and not the character's actions or intended actions.

Ron said:

"Regarding your reply to James above, I don't think James is suggesting that the GM only narrates when the player fails a roll or decides not to take a Monologue of Victory."

And this is where my bad habit of assuming gets me in trouble again. Its always been my assumption that player-to-gm dialogue is constant--even during a Monologue if need be (maybe you don't want to assume what's behind that door, maybe you'd rather find out what the gm had in mind--so you ask). When no dice are falling the game goes on and in my games there is a hell of a lot of chatter back and forth about what's happening, what people are doing, etc..

Zoetrope said:

"Am I naive in thinking that limiting GM narrations of failed player-called rolls to conflict situations would needlessly cramp the GM's scope for innovative story telling?"

No, but perhaps your idea of conflict is too narrow in this case. In the Damart example the player has an idea he wants to explore. The conflict, the way I see it, is with the dice. If they don't do well by him then the gm gets the duty of narration and the player's keen idea might not take seed.
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Zoetrope10
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« Reply #42 on: October 23, 2002, 06:16:29 AM »

Thanks Ron/James

I hope I understand now. The source of my confusion appears to lie with the use of the term "conflict" (as you originally surmised, Ron). Earlier, you described a conflict as meaning anything that involves individuals who want different things or are performing contradictory actions.

James, judging by your comment that my idea of a conflict was too narrow, I think what is really meant is that a player-called roll is contingent upon the GM and player(s) having some idea, even if vague, of what could happen if the roll is missed. This kind of roll could encompass more than an 'opposition of interests' situation, as in the Damart example, where the player instead wanted to engage in a bit of story development by exploring an idea.

Ron, if I have this right, then such a contingency would not be constraint on play.

I'll think some more about the merit or otherwise of making a player-called roll contingent upon a relevant trait.

René
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #43 on: October 23, 2002, 06:27:57 AM »

Hi Rene,

I want to say "thanks" for being willing to thrash through this in so much detail, and for putting up with my inappropriate but all-too-ready semi-proprietorship over The Pool. I have no authority over this game, its contents, or its interpretations, but sometimes I get so fired up about it that I grade into an authoritative mode.

Best,
Ron
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James V. West
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« Reply #44 on: October 23, 2002, 06:17:25 PM »

Ron:

Your enthusiasm about the game has been a tremendous boost for me as a very uncertain and very novice game designer. I thank you.

Rene:

I've been reading through the stuff you sent me. I like the way you've broken the game's elements down into a kind of chart-like flow. Very cool.

Everyone:

I'm adding a link on my website to this specific thread because I think it would be a great place for people to come and learn a bit about the game. So if you have anything to add--please do so! Remember, this is the Pool party.
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