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Author Topic: Resources and Resolutions  (Read 1946 times)
Ben Lehman
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« on: November 30, 2002, 09:02:12 PM »

Hey--
  New here, so if this has been brought up before, please let me know and I will apologize profusely.
  Imbedded in Ron's GNS article is the old "Drama / Karma / Fortune" idea of resolution mechanics.  I've seen this all over the place, originally in Everway, and it has always pissed me off because it overlooks some very important aspects of RPG resolution systems.  Namely, the expenditure of resources to accomplish game-effects, exemplified by Nobilis but present in nearly every RPG.  These resolution mechanics are based on how much the player (or the character, depending on stance) wants a certain event to occur.  They are not random (like Fortune), they are not deterministic (like Karma) and they are not metagame social (like Drama.)  They are non-deterministic choice models, and they are bloody everywhere in the form of "drama dice," "luck points," or "story tokens."
  Does this constitute a fourth resolution form, or am I just seeing things?

yrs--
--BL
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2002, 10:06:35 PM »

Hiya Ben,

Welcome to the Forge!

One thing that's become clear over a few years of internet dialogue is that no one quickie variable-set is going to "explain RPGs" in any complete way.

For example, the Fortune/Drama/Karma stuff you mention specifically applies to resolution of imaginary actions, and only to that. It's only a piece of "System." I don't see much reason to be irked with it for not being more than it purports to describe.

I'm not sure if you've seen my big ol' essay, GNS and related matters of role-playing design, which is available through the Articles link at the top of this webpage. It has a section on System in which resource issues like you describe are outlined and placed in context with many other features of System. I'd be interested to see what you think of it.

Best,
Ron
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2002, 10:53:42 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hiya Ben,
For example, the Fortune/Drama/Karma stuff you mention specifically applies to resolution of imaginary actions, and only to that. It's only a piece of "System." I don't see much reason to be irked with it for not being more than it purports to describe.


BL>  Thank you for your kind welcome.
        My irkedness is really just that FDK is not a full description of the ways in which imaginary actions are resolved, but everyone seems to think it is.  Perhaps the fact that it irks me is that I'm wondering if I'm missing something that it does describe :-)
        Reading over your section on Effectiveness and Resources, I do see that resource pools are mentioned there (although in two discreet types -- the resources that are spent to do something, and the resources that are lost when something is done to you.)  But I am puzzled as to why they are seperated from resolution mechanics?  Isn't the "effect" in "effectiveness" the effect that the character or player can have on the game world?  And isn't that the same thing as resolving what their actions do to the game world?
        This all seems to be one big bundle to me.  I guess my problem is that I can't really see why it is seperated.

yrs--
--BL
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Victor Gijsbers
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2002, 03:29:58 AM »

It seems to me that using Ron's definition of 'Karma':

"Karma resolution relies on referring to listed attributes or quantitative elements without a random element."

the use of "drama dice," "luck points," or "story tokens" is the use of a Karma-based resolution system. Obviously, it is very different from some other ways to implement Karma, but as Ron already said, the DKF-idea was never meant to describe all aspects of resolution mechanics.
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2002, 10:06:36 AM »

Quote from: Victor Gijsbers
It seems to me that using Ron's definition of 'Karma':

"Karma resolution relies on referring to listed attributes or quantitative elements without a random element."

the use of "drama dice," "luck points," or "story tokens" is the use of a Karma-based resolution system. Obviously, it is very different from some other ways to implement Karma, but as Ron already said, the DKF-idea was never meant to describe all aspects of resolution mechanics.


BL>  If it isn't meant to describe all aspects of resolution mechanics, what is it meant to do?  Is it meant to classify a small subset of them?  Why that subset, and why classify a subset when you get the whole?

I think that calling both Expenditure and Fixed Value methods "Karma" is really stretching the word to fit in two entirely different things.  Certainly, mathematically speaking, they are entirely different (one is set values, the other is game theory) and, generally, as different from each other as "Fixed Value Karma" and "Fortune" mechanics are.

Silly to fight over, though.

I guess I'll refer to them as "Fixed Value Karma" and "Expenditure Karma" from now on.  And just assume that Karma is larger than anything else.  :-)

yrs--
--BL
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Walt Freitag
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2002, 10:34:23 AM »

It seems to me that "fixed value" versus "expenditure" is a completely separate dimension in resolution from D/F/K. That makes it not a fourth category added to D/F/K, but an independent variable that can apply within any D/F/K category.

Fixed-value Fortune: Roll over a target number to succeed.
Expenditure Fortune: Pay a resource point for each die you wish to roll; roll 1-2 on any die to succeed.

Fixed-value Karma: Compare your ability value to the difficulty, succeed if higher.
Expenditure Karma: Pay a resource point to succeed, otherwise fail.

Fixed-value Drama: Narrate the results when the system says it's your turn to do so.
Expenditure Drama: Pay a resource point for the right to narrate the results.

And of course, combinations are commonplace. Here are just a few:

Fixed-Value Fortune + Expenditure Fortune: Roll over a target number to succeed; pay a resource point before the roll to add bonuses.
Fixed-Value Fortune + Expenditure Karma: Roll over a target number to succeed; pay a resource point after the roll to override the results.
Fixed-Value Karma + Expenditure Drama: Success or failure is based on ability compared to difficulty, but you can opt to spend a resource point and narrate whatever outcome you want.

If you want to get really crunchy, you could further subdivide between Expenditure, in which the applicable resource is something maintained beyond the immediate scope of action (such as, in Champions, "pushing" an ability by expending additional fatigue which carries over to the ensuing rounds), and Allocation, in which the resource value exists only within the immediate scope of action and ceases to exist whether used or not (such as, in Storyteller, allocating dice from your current round's dice pool to support various intentions).

- Walt
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