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Author Topic: Questions regarding trait bonus's  (Read 2229 times)
Cassidy
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Posts: 165


« on: January 23, 2003, 08:07:53 AM »

Quote from: The Pool
Five: THE CONTINUING STORY

If you have 9 dice or more left in your Pool at the end of a session, you start the next session with the same number. If you have less than that, you start the next session with 9 dice in your Pool.

At the end of each session, you may add up to 15 new words to your character’s Story. They can be new lines or additions to old lines. You can also save them until the end of the next session and then write a total of 30 new words.

You may add new Traits when you choose. 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.).


So it's possible for a player say 5 minutes before the end of a session to use all their pool dice to increase traits?

i.e. I have 7 pool dice in my pool, and the session is drawing to a close. I choose to add a single +2 trait and three +1 traits, wiping out my pool entirely. A few minutes later the session comes to a close and I have no dice in my pool. Next session I start with 9 dice in my pool.

This doesn't seem right somehow does it?

Following that train of thought it also occurs to me that over an extended period of time (say 20 sessions) it's more than likely that some characters will end up with numerous traits. A character with 15 (+1) traits, 6 (+2) traits, 3 (+3) traits is entirely possible.

Any more than a dozen or so traits seems excessive to me.

Comments?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2003, 09:03:48 AM »

Hi Cassidy,

Why doesn't it seem "right"? And what's wrong with garnering lots & lots of traits? These are not aggressive-challenge questions on my part, but rather intended as food for thought. I understand your gut reactions. What I suggest is letting them be gut reactions and then bringing the issues instead into critical view.

Are you applying standards of "advancement" from other role-playing games?

I found that when playing The Pool and The Questing Beast that the more trait-complex characters became, the more good stuff happened during play. Since there's no limit on trait use (e.g., no "each trait may be used once per session" or something like that), and since only one trait may be used per roll (no stacking), game effectiveness really isn't altered - except in terms of the range of interesting things to have conflicts about and still have the character bring something personal to them.

Best,
Ron
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Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2003, 11:55:12 AM »

Hi Ron,

The situation I described...

Quote from: Cassidy
i.e. I have 7 pool dice in my pool, and the session is drawing to a close. I choose to add a single +2 trait and three +1 traits, wiping out my pool entirely. A few minutes later the session comes to a close and I have no dice in my pool. Next session I start with 9 dice in my pool.


...doesn't seem right to me because if you have any dice left in your pool just before the end of a session then spending them at that point to increase traits seems overtly advantageous from a pool management point of view.

Let's say I didn't spend 7 dice near the end of the session and I end the session with 7 dice in my dice pool.

At the start of the next session my dice pool is reset back to 9. Spending 7 dice to increase traits at that point (i.e. at the start of the session) seems absurd because I then start playing the the session with a depleted pool of 2.

This might be by design. I don't know. It just seems odd.

To be honest I'd much prefer if the dice pool just rolled over from session to session instead of being reset to 9 should you end the session with less than 9 dice in your dice pool. I guess 'resetting the pool to 9' may be an feature that was included to address issues with 'thrashing'. TQB doesn't have the same feature though.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
And what's wrong with garnering lots & lots of traits?

I found that when playing The Pool and The Questing Beast that the more trait-complex characters became, the more good stuff happened during play. Since there's no limit on trait use (e.g., no "each trait may be used once per session" or something like that), and since only one trait may be used per roll (no stacking), game effectiveness really isn't altered - except in terms of the range of interesting things to have conflicts about and still have the character bring something personal to them.


I mentioned that any more than a dozen traits seems excessive. A dozen of so qualified traits seems about right for defining the important elements associated with each character.

Imagine say 30 traits? How much overlap is there likely to be among those traits? Quite a bit I would expect. With 30 or so traits how many of them are likely to become unimportant and largely unused during play? You can't see the wood for the trees eventually.

You mention Ron that whilst playing TQB you saw that as characters became more trait-complex that more good stuff happened in play. I can well imagine that happening but could in part be due to ongoing play itself naturally creating opportunities for good story stuff to develop.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not traitaphobic. I had my players define half a dozen pertinent bonusless traits for their characters in the first Pool session I ran. All stuff that helped solidify the important aspects of their characters without bogging them down with too much. They all started with at least 9 defined traits, 14 was the most.

For that first session I made a short list of their traits once they had defined them by the way. It helped remind me of what buttons to push in scenes so the players would get to use their traits in ways relevent to the story. After we play more I'm sure the players will start pushing their own buttons but having their traits to hand was useful.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Are you applying standards of "advancement" from other role-playing games?


Not really, or if I am then not consciously.

In fact it strikes me that the whole concept of "advancement" takes on a different meaning with the Pool.

If anything focusing the focus of "advancement" on "the character" by adding traits seems unnecessary and perhaps even misplaced.

To me "advancement" in the Pool should create opportunities for players to influence the story being told. It should be about heightening the players sense of involvement and their ability to collaborate in the story being told. Adding traits to their characters seems a little limiting in that regard.

Giving players the ability to use their pool dice to create or co-opt elements of the story for their own directorial control strikes me as being far more direct and potentially more rewarding.

That's a whole other discussion though.
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James V. West
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2003, 05:49:39 PM »

Hey

Quote
Cassidy said:

To be honest I'd much prefer if the dice pool just rolled over from session to session instead of being reset to 9 should you end the session with less than 9 dice in your dice pool. I guess 'resetting the pool to 9' may be an feature that was included to address issues with 'thrashing'. TQB doesn't have the same feature though.


That's pretty much exactly why I added that rule. The old rules do state that Pools carry over from session-to-session. I like the new change because even if someone spends some time diceless, they're going to be ok come next session.

The reason TQB doesn't mention this rule is because I haven't worked on that game in a loooonnngggg time. It needs some serious editing and re-working.

Quote
Cassidy said:

...doesn't seem right to me because if you have any dice left in your pool just before the end of a session then spending them at that point to increase traits seems overtly advantageous from a pool management point of view.


This is one of those things that I didn't even worry about at first, then I did, and now I don't again. I really want people to play this game as freely as possible. I hate the idea of someone calculating how and when to spend dice to maximum effect rather than just playing--even though I understand that this is a common practice for some players. I just don't like it.

I look at it this way. Since high Bonuses are very expensive you probably won't ever have any. The most you can do if you have those 7 dice is buy a few +1s or a +2 or so for some new Traits. Cool. Expansion. But remember that a Trait has to be directly linked to something in the actual character Story. You can't just go adding all kinds of cool Traits willy-nilly. And since the Story is very short, you shouldn't have an excessive amount of Traits even if you wanted them. I can't even see how a character could have more than 5 or 6 starting out. Where are they coming from?

Now, in TQB it's quite different. You get to write a whole page. It's much broader in that way.

While we're on the subject of Traits...

It used to be a rule that a Trait had to have a Bonus. Now it isn't. But there really isn't any reason to have a Trait with no Bonus. You don't have to use a Trait to get a die roll or MoV. Traits only really do anything if there's a number attached to them. The spirit of a Trait comes from the character's Story. So, if it isn't important enough to pump some dice into, why list it? If its in the story then we know its a characteristic. No big deal.

Anyone have any comments on that? It's something I hadn't given any thought to for some time.

Quote
Cassidy said:


Giving players the ability to use their pool dice to create or co-opt elements of the story for their own directorial control strikes me as being far more direct and potentially more rewarding.


Well, anytime you give a Monologue, you're doing exactly this. Or, at least, you can do this. By giving up your dice award you're essentially speding dice to co-opt elements of the story. I don't see any need to further complicate the rules.

However, this could be the start of another cool Pool variant...
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2003, 08:06:57 AM »

Hi there,

I just realized that I made a big error in this thread. I happen not to play with the "refresh" variant - all my Pool play has used the original notion that you just have what you have, and that's it. End the session with two, that's your Pool, and you work from there. In other words, "session" doesn't mean anything to the Pool totals.

So ... most of my comments to Cassidy weren't relevant. Sorry 'bout that.

Best,
Ron
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Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2003, 01:14:52 PM »

Hey James,

Thanks for the reply,

Quote from: James V. West
That's pretty much exactly why I added that rule. The old rules do state that Pools carry over from session-to-session. I like the new change because even if someone spends some time diceless, they're going to be ok come next session.


I think 'thrashing' would be less of an issue if the replenishing of the players pool dice within actual play was not dependent on the player making successful dice rolls.

That's one reason why rewarding a "non-gambled" dice roll with 1 pool die irrespective of success or failure is something I may try.

Quote from: James V. West
This is one of those things that I didn't even worry about at first, then I did, and now I don't again. I really want people to play this game as freely as possible. I hate the idea of someone calculating how and when to spend dice to maximum effect rather than just playing--even though I understand that this is a common practice for some players. I just don't like it.


Me neither, but if it's there some players will take advantage of it.

Quote from: James V. West
I look at it this way. Since high Bonuses are very expensive you probably won't ever have any. The most you can do if you have those 7 dice is buy a few +1s or a +2 or so for some new Traits. Cool. Expansion. But remember that a Trait has to be directly linked to something in the actual character Story. You can't just go adding all kinds of cool Traits willy-nilly. And since the Story is very short, you shouldn't have an excessive amount of Traits even if you wanted them. I can't even see how a character could have more than 5 or 6 starting out. Where are they coming from?

While we're on the subject of Traits...

It used to be a rule that a Trait had to have a Bonus. Now it isn't. But there really isn't any reason to have a Trait with no Bonus. You don't have to use a Trait to get a die roll or MoV. Traits only really do anything if there's a number attached to them. The spirit of a Trait comes from the character's Story. So, if it isn't important enough to pump some dice into, why list it? If its in the story then we know its a characteristic. No big deal.


When I ran my first session I made a point of ensuring that any dice roll was accompanied by an appropriate trait.

Why did I do this?

Traits are by definition important aspects of the character. Linking die rolls to traits was a mechanistic way of focusing the players attention on the important aspects of their characters during play.

Because every die roll required the use of an associated trait every player learned a little about the important aspects of the other characters in the story, as did I.

I encouraged players to use bonusless traits to represent dominant emotional and personality traits as well as other colourful aspects of their characters pertinent to the story at hand.

For example: Gillian is...

    Extremely anti-authoritarian.
    Distrustful of all but her close friends.
    Believes that Rhudaur is doomed.
    Never backs down from a challenge.
    Cannot bear children - a curse.

Quote from: James V. West
Well, anytime you give a Monologue, you're doing exactly this. Or, at least, you can do this. By giving up your dice award you're essentially spending dice to co-opt elements of the story. I don't see any need to further complicate the rules.


My players weren't using their MOVs in that way. I feel that consciously investing "pool dice" in a story "element" would be an alternative method for allowing them to co-opt elements of the story for their own devices and one that they would be more likely to use.

It could be anything from a NPC, a faction, an item, a location or any other bit of the story that the player feels they want to play with. It becomes their bit of the story essentially.
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Bankuei
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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2003, 01:28:20 PM »

Quick question related to the refill option James,

If you have more than 9 dice at the end of the game, do you carry-over those?  Or do you need to drop down to 9?

Obviously, this is one way players could end up building up those +4 and +5 traits, if they really, really want them.  It also could cause more of that "hold on to every die you can" mentality, but it could also work well for longer campaign sessions, as the climax draws near with players willingly taking the beating in order to build up for the comeback.

Also, instead of spending your 7 dice at the end of the game buying a bunch of +1 traits, could you just hand them over to another player so they could get their +4 trait they've been waiting out for?

Of course, the fun part about the Pool is that if you get obsessed with building dice like levels or feats, you won't get much narrative control, which is pretty much the point of the Pool.

Chris
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Blake Hutchins
Member

Posts: 614


« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2003, 03:56:08 PM »

Hello all,

I have actually had this issue come up with respect to a multi-session game I ran in November-December.  Players asked for lots of rolls, won most of them, and hoarded the dice.  I used the nine dice refresh for both sessions, and consequently, even with some gambling losses, one player hit up around sixteen dice in his pool, and the others were similarly staked out at high numbers.  As a consequence, players tended to use their highest Traits all the time and either gamble nothing or the full nine dice plus the two or three from their high Trait.  Nobody bought new Traits in the game I ran, but the dice numbers seemed to have hit a level where they continued to climb at an accelerating rate.  When I pick up The Pool again, I'll drop the nine dice refreshment and use the carry over Ron described.

Best,

Blake
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James V. West
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« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2003, 04:39:37 PM »

Dammit, I need to play some more. It's been too long.

So based on all the various actual play reports it seems perfectly clear to me that The Pool behaves very, very differently for different people. And it all depends on the subtle little differences in your style.

Paul Czege reported on the thrashing phenomenon.

Ron Edwards reported that catastrophic failures were fun and advanced the story.

Blake Hutchins reports dice pools growing exponentially.

Ron uses the original hardcore rules: one die rewards, pools carry over. I think Paul used those rules too (right Paul?). Blake might have used the two dice reward, reset to 9 each session rules.

Much to ponder...
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Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2003, 05:17:09 AM »

Quote from: James V. West
So based on all the various actual play reports it seems perfectly clear to me that The Pool behaves very, very differently for different people. And it all depends on the subtle little differences in your style.[/i]

Paul Czege reported on the thrashing phenomenon.

Ron Edwards reported that catastrophic failures were fun and advanced the story.

Blake Hutchins reports dice pools growing exponentially.


Seems to be that way.

"Paul Czege reported on the thrashing phenomenon."

Some in game consequences of a depeleted pool are essential if the gambling mechanic the Pool uses is going to convey an element of risk.

'Thrashing' was too severe a consequence and although the '9 dice reset' rule fixes the problem it only does so at the start of the next session.

I'd much rather see players 'flounder' whereby they can recover their pools relatively quickly during actual play ideally by being rewarded with pool dice for providing positive contribution to the ongoing story.

No 9 dice reset, dice pools roll over session to session, and the size of a players pool reflects their involvement in the game is what I like.

Ron Edwards reported that catastrophic failures were fun and advanced the story.

No-one maxed out their gamble in the game I ran although I can see that happening next session. I'd love to see a player roll 10+ dice and fail, "oh dear that shouldn't have happened - errrr my die pool seems very small all of a sudden - what do you mean the Orcs are closing in for the kill?

Incidentally thats the reason I like the MOD event in TQB. Although MODs (no 1's and one or more 6's) are not a feature of The Pool if they were I'd certainly use them as a method of 'qualifying' the degree of success or failure and to use as an inspirational spark for the narrative.

i.e.
Some 1's and no 6's = Very positive outcome (Superb success)
Some 1's and some 6's = Positive outcome (Success)
No 1's and no 6's = Negative outcome (Failure)
No 1's and one or more 6's = Very negative outcome (Dismal failure)

That is perhaps a degree of 'handling time' that James would not want in the Pool but it certainly wouldn't bother me. Dismal failures and Superb successes are indeed fun and they would also provide a useful cue for guiding the ensuing narrative in creative ways.

Blake Hutchins reports dice pools growing exponentially

Bloated dice pools are not something I'd like to see and are unlikely to become an issue in the short game (4-5 sessions) that I'm running inititally.

However if all goes well with the Pool I would certainly like to run a longer game in the future (perhaps 10-15 sessions). If I did that then I could see bloated dice pools becoming a problem particularly with my MOV shy players.

If a player is aiming for MOVs on a regular basis then dice pools will fluctuate quite a bit (players will eventually fail a roll) and consequently are less likely to get bloated dice pools.

If a player is selective about when they take a MOV then their die pools will have a tendency to grow over time, slow growth but growth nonetheless.

If a player is not too concerned about making MOVs (like some of my players are) then after 10-15 sessions they could end up with very bloated dice pools indeed.

Sure, I could encourage players to spend their bloated dice pools on new traits or increasing trait bonuses but I really don't want to do that.

Ultimately, it's difficult (if not impossible) to create a system that fully accomodates the needs of the players or their own preferred style of play. The Pool comes pretty damned close though.

That, I suppose, is where variant rules come in.

Question for James:

The Pool is your creation and although I'd like to put together some variant rules for our group I don't want to do anything that would make the game deviate from what you intended it to be.

What for you are the definitive elements of "The Pool" that make the game what it is, i.e. a role-playing system geared toward player and GM narrative collaboration.
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James V. West
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2003, 06:13:16 AM »

Quote

Cassidy said:

Some in game consequences of a depeleted pool are essential if the gambling mechanic the Pool uses is going to convey an element of risk.


Exactly.

Quote

No 9 dice reset, dice pools roll over session to session, and the size of a players pool reflects their involvement in the game is what I like.


The jury's still out on this one for me. I haven't been able to run a long-term game yet and only then will I be able to decide from first-hand evidence. Until then, I'm keeping the reset rule, but it should be understood by now that anyone who plays The Pool has a couple of options for some of the core rules.

Quote

That is perhaps a degree of 'handling time' that James would not want in the Pool but it certainly wouldn't bother me.


Definitely too much handling time for this game. But, again, as a variant I'm all for it.

Quote

The Pool is your creation and although I'd like to put together some variant rules for our group I don't want to do anything that would make the game deviate from what you intended it to be.

What for you are the definitive elements of "The Pool" that make the game what it is, i.e. a role-playing system geared toward player and GM narrative collaboration.


You have the best questions.

1) Players have chances to use real Director power while still maintaining a clear division between Player and GM.

Specifics: Monolgue of Victory

2) The system is fast, easy, and works without a lot of meta-system rules to support it (I was going for a machine that creates stories, basically--the machine isn't perfect, though, but closer than I've ever been before).

Specifics: Common die (d6); looking for a single result (a one) with no need for calculations, charts, or levels of success and failure (a pass/fail system); dice pools should fluctuate and generally tend to themselves witout arbitrary rules (a very good argument to get rid of the 9-Dice reset rule, now that I think of it ;-)).

3) There is real risk involved because you hold your Resources in your hand (literally) and you can gamble it away for more Resource, or Director power. The risk has to remain high, and real or it doesn't work (for me).

Specifics: Gamble and fail=lose dice
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2003, 10:07:32 AM »

Hi there,

Paul's "thrashing" should be understood in the context of the now-obsolete rule that a player cannot call for a roll using a Trait when his or her Pool is empty. I believe I've made my opinion on that rule clear in the past. Without that rule in operation, recovering from an empty Pool is not especially difficult.

Best,
Ron
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James V. West
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« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2003, 10:45:32 AM »

Quote

Ron said:

Paul's "thrashing" should be understood in the context of the now-obsolete rule that a player cannot call for a roll using a Trait when his or her Pool is empty.


Oh, that's right. The rule was that you had to gamble when calling for a roll (if I remember correctly). Bad rule.
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Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2003, 11:19:12 AM »

Thanks for the reply James, I shall bear those points in mind when putting together The Puddle.

Quote from: James V. West
There is real risk involved because you hold your Resources in your hand (literally) and you can gamble it away for more Resource, or Director power. The risk has to remain high, and real or it doesn't work (for me).


Variant wise I'm thinking a little along these lines...

When you gamble pool dice...

If you roll one or more 1's on your die roll then you can if you wish make a MOV. If you choose not to make a MOV then the GM will guide the narrative. Any gambled dice are retained by the player.

If you do not roll any any 1's and you roll 1 or more 6's then you can if you wish make a MOD. If you choose not to make a MOD then the GM will guide the narrative. Any gambled dice are lost.

If you did not roll any 1's or 6's at all then the GM will guide the narrative as they wish. Any gambled dice are lost.

When you don't gamble pool dice...

If you roll one or more 1's the GM will guide the narrative to reflect a positive outcome.
If you do not roll any any 1's and you roll 1 or more 6's the GM will guide the narrative to reflect a negative outcome.
If you did not roll any 1's or any 6's at all then the GM will guide the narrative as they wish.
Regardless of the outcome if you did not gamble any dice the GM will give you 1 die to add to your die pool.

When a player gambles they risk pool dice in an effort achieve a favorable outcome be it a MOV, a MOD or a GM narrated success.

When a player chooses not to gamble they risk an unfavourable outcome (i.e. increased chance of failure) in an effort to gain pool dice.
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