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Author Topic: Unstated bits of TROS  (Read 15571 times)
Jasper the Mimbo
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« Reply #30 on: July 11, 2003, 03:54:42 AM »

it's simple, really. Combat is exiting because it's so dangerous. The times when charecters really shine is always when they're on the brink of disaster. I've run a number of very successful ROS games and i'm playing in another. I've seen one PC death due to combat, and his sacrifice allowed the group to overcome. When the knight had his shield arm broken while engaging in pointless combat it made the next few sessions of gameplay very tense. The deadlyness of the system forces creativity. If you want to survive don't fight fair. Know when to run away. Work togeather. This can be done in any other RPG with the right group of players, ROS just makes it easier.
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Valamir
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« Reply #31 on: July 11, 2003, 06:57:42 AM »

Hey Matt.  I think part of your struggle with TROS is misinterpreting some aspects of it which I'll endeavor to clarify.

Quote
That's why I look at TRoS as a game that could definitely be good for a group that doesn't gravitate naturally towards that style of play (assuming they want to), but not really holding much for a group that already does that.


I almost agree.  I do agree that having mechanical guidance for certain behaviors does help encourage those behavior in people who don't normally gravitate to such play(perhaps because they've never played with a group where such behavior was rewarded).  I do agree that a group who normally plays that way doesn't NEED mechanical encouragement to do so.

But I would disagree that that lack of need translates to such mechanics "not holding much".  There are great numbers of players of TROS here who normally play that way anyway and yet find a great deal of value to the mechanic for a variety of reasons.


Quote

The SA's are something I have only skirted around in reading, and my limited knowledge of them comes from reading forum posts, but they don't seem to be anything particularly inducive to a deeper game to me unless, as before, the group wasn't already doing it.


The key to SAs is that they match game play with game reward.

Take D&D as an example.  You can absolutely (and you'll find threads on the Forge discussing just this) play "this way" in D&D simply because all involved want to.  But that doesn't change the fact that your character improves by gaining experience that predominately comes from killing monsters.  You can as a player will yourself to ignore what the game is telling you to do (go out and kill monsters) but in TROS you don't have to.  What the game is telling you to do (act to your SAs) is exactly the activity that also leads to character improvement.

An added advantage is the ability to take players who would normally play "this way" and put them into a group with players who are looking to "level up" quickly and they can actually both play without disrupting each other.  


Quote
I have a general distrust of putting character motivation in to game mechanics :) I treat Advantages/Disadvantages/Quirks in GURPS as guidelines, for example. When you whack numbers on movtivation you have to start ruling around human behaviour and that can be tricky.


SAs are just guidelines.  In fact, they quite likely are less restrictive even than your reduced restrictive GURPs traits.  I can take "Hate the Duke of Evarton" as an SA.  During play...there is absolutely ZERO mechanical enforcement of that.  I can happily drink with the Duke, tell jokes with the Duke, save the Duke's life, and be best of friends with the Duke and theres not a dang thing either the rules or the GM can say different about it.  I'm still 100% in control of my character.

The thing is...if I'm not acting in a hateful way towards the Duke, I'm not earning any more SA points in that area.  Why would I take such an SA to begin with, if I have no intention of playing it out?  Unlike GURPs and many other "buy a disadvantage" systems you don't get points back by taking an SA that might get you into trouble.  There is no case where I'll take "Hate the Duke" as an SA just because I want the points and then try to avoid playing it out because I really only wanted the points and don't really have a problem with the Duke.

If I take Hate the Duke its because I want to play my Hatred of the Duke.  Its just like D&D where I can simply choose to hate the duke and play it accordingly...but in TROS when I do it, I get points.

Another related note that might help out...there is no connection between the numerical value of the SA and how "strongly" you feel it.  Having a Hate the Duke at 4 does NOT mean I hate the duke more than if I have Hate the Duke 1.  There are some good threads in the forum that discuss this concept, but it boils down to a pacing mechanism not an order of magitude mechanism.  Having Hate the Duke at 4 means I've been actively "Hating" recently and have built my points up.  Having more points means I can draw upon more dice when doing "Hating" things.  Drawing upon more dice means I can tackle bigger enemies than I could before because I've got more story mojo behind mehind.

Soooo....the SA serves to Pace the adventure.  I start off by doing a bunch of low grade hating and earn SA points.  When I have a high SA I can tackle the main enemy more easily.  If I can get several SAs involved at once (for instance, I also have "Love Jenny" and Jenny is about to be forced to marry the Duke tonight) I get LARGE numbers of SA powered story mojo working in my favor.  That means...I now have enough ability (i.e. large enough dice pool) to rush to the climax and hit it hard.  The SA numbers don't measure how much I hate the duke or how much I love Jenny...they simply pace the adventure.

In alot of ways its alot like "Leveling Up" without the effect being permanent.  In a typical D&D campaign you start low level, and have to level up to a higher level to beat the main villain.  But once you beat the villain, the next guy has to be even tougher, and the guys who were a threat before are wimps now, because you're permanently a higher level.

In TROS, you can go through a HUGE number of mini temporary story driven level ups.  1) get a collection of SAs that tie into the current adventure.  2) Do things to earn you more dice with those SAs.  3) When those SAs are maxed out you're ready to take on the big bad.  4) After the big bad is beaten, use those SA points on character improvement, and spend those SAs down to 0.  5) chose new SAs that tie to the next adventure hook.  6) repeat.

Quote
Quick example, though I won't labour the point, I understand that SA's can't instantly change without being bought off?


Not exactly.  You don't buy them off, you buy them down.  Buying them down means using the SA points like character points to improve your character.  This can be done at any time.   Pick an instant where your motivation changes.  Spend all of the accumulated points in that SA down to 0, change the SA to the new one, good to go.

(note, technically you do have to spend two SAs down to 0 in order to change one, but that's an easy rule to ignore).


Quote

And finally (well, nearly finally): I've not seen anyone comment on why the combat system is so detailed and complex if it's meant to discourage people from combat? As someone mentioned previously, GURPS combat can be pretty deadly, and it's not as detailed or complex (at least not until you add all the extra rules :), so shouldn't it be encouraging the same style of play?


People get the wrong impression about the deadliness of TROS combat.  

TROS combat is deadly...if you're stupid.  It is very difficult in TROS to get screwed simply by a lousy die roll (being a die pool game, lousy die combinations become more rare).  9 times in 10 in TROS if you die its because you chose to take a risk that you probably shouldn't have.

TROS will kill off characters from newbie players who haven't learned the need to evaluate the risk yet.  They make choices that a veteran player knows is dumb, and then they're shocked when they die.  D&D protects you against stupid decisions because only rarely is a single stupid decision likely to kill you in a melee.  Savage Worlds protects you against stupid decisions by giving you bennies to spend to save your butt after the fact.  TROS doesn't protect you from stupid decisions.  Hense, the deadly perception.

Fortuneately, a couple of mock combats is enough to teach most players to avoid the stupidest decisions.  After that you really have to try hard to get your character killed.


Hopefully that helps sort some issues out.
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #32 on: July 11, 2003, 08:59:06 AM »

I'll add that "buying an SA down" means that you get to use the points for advancement. It doesn't cost anything--in fact it gives you points for character advancement--you just can't start a new SA out higher than 0.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Lxndr
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« Reply #33 on: July 11, 2003, 10:22:19 AM »

So it's really more like "Selling it down"?
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Bankuei
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« Reply #34 on: July 11, 2003, 10:33:59 AM »

Hi Matt,

If the gritty combat or other stuff isn't your style, that's all cool.  Other games which promote SA type of play, in various ways include the Pool, Trollbabe, Hero Wars/Quest and Universalis.   You might want to look into those as other potential options or avenues which may help you out.  Also, it sounds as if the style of play you usually run with is very similar to Burning Wheel, you might also want to check out their use of BITS(Beliefs, Instincts, Traits).

Chris
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #35 on: July 11, 2003, 02:07:02 PM »

Quote from: Lxndr
So it's really more like "Selling it down"?


Yeah, I suppose so. Basically, all SA points are eventually used to permanently improve your character--they are never actually lost. So you use the SA points from the SA you're changing to buy up other parts of your character. When that SA "wallet" is empty, you can replace it. But no points are ever lost, only moved.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #36 on: July 11, 2003, 04:41:35 PM »

Good analogy, Jake.

It bugs me to see all the posts dismissing SAs. If you're not looking at SAs and thinking "Ooh..." then you're probably missing the point, and should look into another game, or just strap the portions of TRoS that you like on over your existing game, because it's NOT going to play right without them.

But then I think that maybe people don't get that "Ooh" feeling because they don't fully understand SAs. I know I certainly didn't at first. I was like "um.. okay." when I first read about them, and it wasn't until reading Ron's comments and the discussions engendered from them that I fully understood exactly how important and vital they are.

I can fully understand why people are hesitant about "personality mechanics". I had to deal with it running V:tM and people not liking Humanity/Path. In games like that your character's morality, desires and fears are at least partially defined for you, and that takes away from the sense of investment and ownership of your character. The difference with TRoS is that each player defines what's important, what matters, when they choose their SAs. They are not locked in by them at all once they begin play. You choose what you want to do, and you write it down on the page. It's not restricting, it's not confining, and it won't slow anything down.. If you have a Passion: love of country, and you attack the royal guards to save a friend, it's all good.

Any and all things which make SAs more understandable are much goodness.
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Overdrive
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« Reply #37 on: July 12, 2003, 05:48:33 AM »

This happened last night in my campaign:

The PCs stop at a small village that is just about to be attacked by invading enemy forces. There are only one knight (Friedrich) and three yeomen protecting the village, women and children crying, etc. According to a scout, 5 or 10 men are coming, so the PCs decide to fend them off.

The combat system forced the players to come up with a plan. I figured the *possible* fight would be risky, but with good tactics no PC would get killed.

The riders come, seven of them, PCs hiding. Their leader (Gottfried) wants to negotiate with Friedrich; he is actually the knight from "the next village", they are old friends. The enemy has invaded much of the land and the local lords have joined with them because they cannot defend against such a large force. Gottfried begs Friedrich to join the enemy, otherwise he has to kill him. When the time comes, he says, they can drive the invader from the country and reclaim the lands. People are warming to the idea.

At this point one of the PCs shoots an arrow through Gottfried's neck. Everyone is astonished! Friedrich waves his arms and shouts, "Noooo!", running to the dying man. The rest of the riders just leave. Combat over.

We felt pretty empty after the incident. It was cool though. One other PC said to Friedrich, "Had you joined them, we would have had to kill you all."

All of the PCs are warriors of some sort, but the players still avoid 'real' or 'fair' combat situations. Most of the fun comes from the tension that builds up _before_. And then there is the decision to go or let go.. From one of my friend's .sig, "Experts use their superior judgement to keep away from situations where they might have to demonstrate their excellent skills." That pretty much sums up the combat system thingie :)
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #38 on: July 12, 2003, 08:35:42 AM »

Quote
Most of the fun comes from the tension that builds up _before_.


Those of you that have seen the films of Akira Kurosawa, a definite TROS influence, know that this can be much, much more thrilling than "and we killed them all!"

Jake
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Judd
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« Reply #39 on: July 13, 2003, 03:28:43 AM »

Hi, my name is Judd and I play D&D.

Hi, Judd!

I run brilliant narratavist games where the players are the center and their actions dictate the path the adventure takes.  We have fun and we role-play and XP isn't handed out merely for killing things but killings things happens and we dig that too.

I am running a game right now, will run a new game in the campaign this Wednesday.  I like D&D s'fun and my buddies and I role-play just fine with it.

That said, I love TROS.  Spiritual Attributes are my guide, they are the player's way of telling the GM, "HEY this is what interests ME about this character!"  SA's are where the player wants to take the character, they are the players putting sign posts along the road, telling the GM where they want to go.

The combat system is brutal.  A good hit with a good knife can take yer eye out and kill ya.  My Riddle players got into combats, though and every arrow shot at them caused everyone to hold their breath.  It was tense and intense and dramatic.

I like formulating my adventure ideas by looking at the player's character sheets and I like bare steel to be a wildly dramatic experience.

It is different from D&D but that's okay, I've got room on my shelf for both games.
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LordIvan
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« Reply #40 on: July 13, 2003, 03:59:36 PM »

Hey all, thanks for the great discussion - It's refreshing to come across a forum where people are actually willing to discuss things with outsiders rather than hurling insult and invective... so thanks again :)

First up, I must say, that unlike matt, I'm actually warming to the idea of SA's. I can imagine a couple of epic scenes where you character just does things that he shouldn't normally be able to do, things he's failed at previously, and achieving. Cool. I do like the sound of it all.

My only remaining concern is simply this - You all talk about the tension in combat. Ok, So you've been playing this character for 12 sessions. You've got your drive to kill your former friend who betrayed you and sent you to suffer in prison for 13 years, the Count Mondego. He married your girl, besmirched your honour, and made your father hang himself. You're angry. You've fought for it, suffered for it, burning with the fire of vengeance. Then final fight. Oops, the deadly combat system kicks in, you're dead.

Bugger. What now? What do you do? The very 'tension' that you've be raving about, the drama it generates has just killed your character you've poured so much of your time in to. What do you do?

Does this happen in you're group? If not, why not? Is it that you're secretly fudging things? Carefully making sure that fights actually aren't that deadly?
 Or do you and your players simply prefer this? Are they *happy* to lose characters, considering that tension well worth the trade off?

 - I know which one I prefer, but I'm curious to hear which one you and your players go for.

thanks again,

<edited to correct spilleng mistaek>

--
Sarcasm? Condescending Irony?
What? Me? Never.
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Bankuei
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« Reply #41 on: July 13, 2003, 04:16:03 PM »

Hi Ivan,

I think another thing to consider is that SAs play more than a "slight modifier" in terms of action.  Most PCs will have somewhere between 10-15 dice in their Combat Pool, and advanced PCs may have as many as up to 20.  Each SA that can apply adds anywhere from 0 to 5 more dice, up to a potential of 25 extra dice!(Exceedingly rare, but possible).

Depending on how fast you reward SA points, folks can max out their SAs over the course of a single combat...Now looking at your example above, your character probably has 3-4 SAs involved about.  That's probably going to equate to somewhere around 12-15 extra dice...  in a game where 4 extra dice is a BIG advantage.

So, likelihood of losing?  Very low.  If you play smart?  Lower still.  I haven't seen folks lose because of bad rolls, but more like bad rolls and risky(or simply bad) decisions together.  This isn't to say that its impossible, much in the same way winning the lotto isn't "impossible".  

Of course, you'll be best off to hear some input from folks who have run campaigns for a couple of years to hear the worst case scenario.

Chris
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #42 on: July 13, 2003, 08:33:12 PM »

This has come up several times, so I'll sum up.

This isn't rollmaster, where a bad roll will kill you. TROS combat is "real" because it's based on choices, not chance. That will preserve your PC's life for a long time.

Jake
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #43 on: July 14, 2003, 06:08:37 AM »

Hello,

Ivan, Chris' point about the magnitude of the SAs' bonus is very important. When they're all firing at once, that's twenty-five dice added to your combat pool.

Forget maneuvers. Forget weapon choice. Forget all the crunchy combat bits. That's twenty-five dice. Once you develop the role-playing skills necessary to get them aligned together during a certain situation, and the TROS rules are very well-designed to permit one to do this, the SAs steamroll all the other rules and options in the book.

Now, let's talk some more about character death. Let's say you do roll an amazing amount of 1's and your character loses his leg and is bleeding out in the very next round.

No problem!! Spend the SA's now, reducing the character to 0, 0, 0 ,0, and 0 SAs. Yup, all 25 of them. That's a ton of Insight, added onto whatever you have already. Embrace the character's death; he's dying unfulfilled. Hit the music button.

... and use that Insight to build a character whose personal philosophy, conflicts, and SA's come straight out of the first character's death-scene.

Best,
Ron
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LordIvan
Member

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« Reply #44 on: July 14, 2003, 09:41:41 PM »

Heyup all - Well, it seems to me that everyone is now telling me that ROS combat is _not_ actually that deadly at all, because you've got all those SA's ready for that final big boss fight.

Ok, cool. So the despite what some folks said earlier then, it's _not_ the danger, and the risk inherent in the combat system that adds the drama to these scenes, since you've all reassured me that it's near impossible to die.

So why are the scenes so intense? - It's all about the character, and the motivation, and the players involvement. So riddle of steel could be played just as well with a 'no death rule' then, as far as I can see - Since from what what you've told me, the outcome of a fight would almost certainly be the same.
What do you all think?
 Would the game would still be the same to you? Or do you prefer a 'fictious illusion' of death that seems to be the reality at the moment?

(I was going to mention my concerns about *player* knowledge of the combat systems tactics and intricacies affecting how good your actual *character* is in combat, but I don't think it's worth it - When it comes down to it, you guys like the combat system, and like playing it that way, so it's a meaningless point for me to question :) - And it's not as big a concern to me as it is to others. Though it seems a little unfair that another player in the group who is not at good as at tactics as another has to spend more points on combat to match him...  )

cheers all!
  - Ivan
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