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Author Topic: The Pool: 2nd Play Session Comments  (Read 1891 times)
Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« on: January 29, 2003, 11:43:51 AM »

The Pool: First Play Session Comments

Quick update on my 2nd play session running the Pool.

First off, made some tweaks based on ideas I wanted to try...

1. Dispensed with using GM dice. Allowed players to add a +1 bonus to all traits they had defined in the first session and gave them 5 bonus to add to traits on a 1 for 1 basis. The maximum bonus a trait can have is +5. All traits must have a bonus. This was to balance die probabilities in the absence of GM dice.

Quote from: Gillian's Traits

One of the characters traits, before...

•   Gillian is an adept thief and an exceptional pickpocket. (+2)
•   Gillian is a born survivor; she is very streetwise and lives by her wits. (+1)
•   Gillian is reasonably perceptive and can usually tell when someone is lying to her. (+1)
•   Gillian is a former member of the Thieves of Strayhold. (+1)
•   Gillian is strong willed and stubborn, she is not easily rattled. (+1)
•   Gillian has a set of 4 throwing knives; deadly accurate at 10 paces.
•   Gillian has a short sword with an ebony hilt, a gift from Vlesic, it’s edge never dulls.
•   Gillian is quite brave; she rarely backs down from a challenge.

and after...

•   Gillian is an adept thief and an exceptional pickpocket. (+4)
•   Gillian is a born survivor; she is very streetwise and lives by her wits. (+4)
•   Gillian is reasonably perceptive and can usually tell when someone is lying to her. (+3)
•   Gillian is a former member of the Thieves of Strayhold. (+2)
•   Gillian is strong willed and stubborn, she is not easily rattled. (+2)
•   Gillian has a set of 4 throwing knives; deadly accurate at 10 paces. (+2)
•   Gillian has a short sword with an ebony hilt, a gift from Vlesic, it’s edge never dulls. (+1)
•   Gillian is quite brave; she rarely backs down from a challenge. (+1)



2. Introduced MODs as per TQB, notably...
    Any 1's = a success and if the player gambled they can make a MOV at their discretion.
    No 1's and at least one 6 = a failure and if the player gambled they can make a MOD at their discretion.
    No 1's and no 6's = a guided event. GM always narrates a guided event.[/list:u]

    3. On a gambled roll a success or failure allows the players the option to make a MOV or an MOD if they so wish. If they don't want to a make a MOV or MOD then I take the lead and guide the narrative. A success on a gambled roll does not yield a pool die. When you gamble you do not receive any pool dice reward from the GM.
     
    4. Any non-gambled rolls regardless of their outcome always yields a pool die reward for the player. GM narrates by default but at their discretion can offer a MOV or MOD to the player. Leaves things in the hands of the GM if he feels that a player really has a great MOV or MOD in mind.

    5. If you have 10 or more dice in your dice pool then you start the next session with 10 pool dice. For example, if you end a session with 12 dice in your dice pool then you begin the next session with 10 dice in your dice pool. Corrects any issue of pool bloating or pool inflation. Didn't occur in our first session although with extended play I could see it happening.

    6. If you have 9 or less that 9 dice in your dice pool at the end of a session then the GM will give you a free die to add to your die pool at the start of the next session. For example, if you end a session with 6 dice in your dice pool then at the start of the next session the GM will give you a die to add to your die pool and you will begin play with 7 dice in your dice pool. I always believe that showing up merits a reward.

    7. In between sessions you can add a sentence to your characters story to reflect significant events that happened to your character. Players didn't like the 15 word limit although they realise that some people may do over the top hence instead of 15 words the limit is 1 sentence.

    8. Pool dice are not spent to increase traits in between sessions. All characters have a decent number of traits to start off with and players aren't really into character advancement in a big way.

    9. At the end of a session the GM may allow a player to add a new +1 trait or add +1 to an existing trait if there is a pertinent reason for doing so. The maximum bonus a trait can have is +5. Discussed this with the players, this is more in line with what they want.

How the session went

It took about 30 minutes to run through the tweaks with the players and update traits. It was fairly painless.

Players made more Monolgues than the first session. This was one of the things I wanted to see happen although their Monologues were still very much 'character oriented'. They liked doing MODs too and I had a feeling they would. Making MOVs and MODs open to player fiat and not penalising them for taking MOVs worked very well. If they gambled and got either a success or failure then they didn't lose anything by taking a MOV or MOD.

No-one seemed to mind the fact that if you gambled dice and got a success you did not get a die for your pool.

I didn't miss GM dice. Neither did the players. The only dice they ever rolled were the little pile dice they had in front of them. 5 trait dice and however many black pool dice they had in their pool.

They made more non-gambled rolls because I made them patently aware that irrespective of the outcome they always got a pool die. On a non-gambled roll there was always something to gain. i.e success and a pool die, failure and a pool die, or a guided event and a pool die. Their non-gambled rolls were usually made as a result of them putting forward an good authorial suggestion, potential situation, or plot event for the story. If it was a good suggestion then I had them roll the dice. This prompted them to start to "think" about the story and not just about their characters which was another thing I wanted to promote. They now know that a good story suggestions will always get them a pool die and is no longer reliant on luck.

Only 1 player zeroed out their Pool after a couple of unsuccessful gambles. After he did he was putting forward suggestions left, right and centre hoping that I'd ask him to make a roll. When I did get him to roll he didn't gamble, because he wanted the pool dice. He failed often, took a couple of MODs along the way, and eventually ended the session on 4 pool dice.

Pool inflation is no longer an issue since Pool above 10 at the end of a session are knocked back down to 10 at the start of the next session.

About halfway through the session 1 player was up to 13 pool dice and it was obvious he was in "hoard" mode. When I reminded him that his dice pool would drop down to 10 at the start of the next session anyway he started gambling because hoarding became pointless.

All in all it was an excellent session, smoother than the first, more player participation, more ideas from the players, more gambles, more dice rolls, more story threads produced and more plot twists in the making.

No changes at all for next session, none seem necessary.

Yay Pool!!!!

Note: Time permitting I'll write all this up and pass it on to James.
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Bob McNamee
Member

Posts: 685


« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2003, 03:15:02 PM »

I see you got a the same results I did in my Supers playtest of Pool. I added in the MOD rules too.

As GM I almost never narrated...only little segways. If I remember right, all the players rolls were either MOVs or MODs. (Maybe I did one narration). I might have mentioned it in my playtest thread, but I'm too lazy to check it out.

The players didn't mind narrating MODs. But I woould drop the MODs if I used it for my game...I found I wasn't getting much say as GM.
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Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!
James V. West
Member

Posts: 567


WWW
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2003, 04:19:57 PM »

Excellent!

What I'm getting from you is that the game had much more stability with the MoD and new rules. This proved true with other playtests of TQB--which is a good thing because that's what I wanted. TQB is all about stortelling so I didn't want the risk and gambling to take center stage. But in The Pool, I wanted that edgy risk involved.

Your variation is pretty cool. Seems like you've geared toward a slightly less extreme version, something a little closer to the middle. If the players like it then hell yeah! Seems like there are more meta-rules in your version (for example, Bonus limits and +1s based on merit or conditions), which I don't like for this game, but as long as it works for you.

Gillian's character has a lot of Traits with a lot of specific details. I'm curious to see the actual character Story. Unless you altered the char gen rules, your Traits have to come directly from what's said in the story. Just curious.

This is great stuff. Thanks for all your detailed, thoughtful, and probing posts!
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Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2003, 09:34:06 AM »

Hey James,

Here's Gillian's writeup (minus spelling mistakes)...

Quote from: Gillian
"Gillian was a low ranking member of the Guild of Thieves in the town of Strayhold. A child of the streets, she was an orphan, and as far back as she can remember she has always lived off her wits and the money she earns picking the pockets of the wealthy merchants that frequented the town. Gillian showed early promise as an adept thief, a fact that was noticed by Vlesic the Knife one of the masters of the guild who took Gillian under his wing and became her mentor."

"Gillian was only thirteen when the 'Purge of Strayhold' occurred and the armies of The Witch King sacked the town and either slew of enslaved it's inhabitants. She was one of the few to escape the slaughter and has spent the last five years moving from town to town, city to city, surviving, her instincts and skills as a thief standing her in good stead. Recent events have brought Gillian to Rhudaur and after a chance meeting with her former mentor Vlesic she finds herself a member of the mercenary band that he leads."


The 50 word limit was just a little too limiting to be honest. I don't want players writing "War and Peace" but I do encourage them to a short write up for their characters in any game I run. As long as they kept their stories to no more than a dozen sentences then I was perfectly happy. Some stories were longer than others, all were sufficently concise and to the point and provided a little insight into the characters. That was good enough for me.

By the by, is there a specific reason for the 50 word limit other than forcing the stories to be brief?

I really encouraged players to create a broad list of traits because when dice rolls occured I wanted the characters to link their rolls to a trait wherever possible. I did that because I wanted every roll to reveal a little aspect of the character to the other players. The 50 word limit and only allow traits to use directly mentioned elements of the story would have made this somewhat difficult.

As long as the trait was pertinent and plausible given the characters story and the player thought it was an aspect of the character worth listing then it got listed. I also wanted players to use traits to represent emotional and personality traits, attitudes, beliefs, quirks, or any other notable ability or facet of their character; in fact anything that conveyed a feeling of 'color' without being over the top. I allowed players to define traits which could be inferred from their story without actually being explicitly stated. The only proviso being that the the traits that were listed were in synch with the story.

Note that Gillian's story mentions that she is a thief but does not specifically draw attention to the fact that she can usually tell when someone is lying to her. I remember that while I and the players were running through traits and suchlike the girl that plays Gillian saying something along the lines of 'she can spot a liar a mile away'. It just stuck, it's a plausible little quirk for a thief to have and she put it down on her sheet even though it wasn't explicitly mentioned in the story. I have no problem with that.

Gillian's "ebony hilted sword" and "4 knives" are also never mentioned by name in the story. However given the setting and the fact that Gillian is a thief and mercenary it's entirely reasonable to assume that she is armed and moderately skilled in the use of some weapons. It just so happens that the sword was a gift from Vlesic (possibly magical) and the knives just happen to be Gillian's weapons of choice.

I'm more than happy to give leeway to players regarding their traits.
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James V. West
Member

Posts: 567


WWW
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2003, 03:34:50 PM »

Cool. So, you've basically broadened the char gen rules quite a bit.

Quote
By the by, is there a specific reason for the 50 word limit other than forcing the stories to be brief?


Yeah. One of the design aesthetics I wanted from the game, but one that I tend to never mention for some reason, is the idea of "emergent" characters. I wanted characters to be very, very focused, with very brief intro stories and limited additions over time. Only the absolute most important elements of the characters should be written down, everything else is color and can be easily dealth with through diceless means. The Story and Traits that are taken literally from it are all that should influence rolls.

Over time, new elements will appear from new events in the game, plus old elements can appear that were never mentioned before.

So, in my game, I'd have Gillian's character down to 50 words. From that she'd take her Traits. If she wanted the special blade to become important, she'd add it to her Story after a session then add a Trait whenever she had enough dice to do it. Otherwise, it would never be tied to a die roll.

That's why I chose to make Stories so short. But, this isn't a criticism of your game, of course. You're playing a Pool variant, which I've always supported and encouraged.
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Blake Hutchins
Member

Posts: 614


« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2003, 03:40:49 PM »

A quick note about the story word count:  in my latest group running The Pool, the players started really getting into their stories between sessions.  Instead of experience, players started bragging about how many words they had.  A wholly unexpected development, to be honest.  Fifty felt almost too cramped at first, but then the notion of adding to the story caught on and gained real momentum.

Best,

Blake
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James V. West
Member

Posts: 567


WWW
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2003, 03:48:24 PM »

Cool, Blake. Word count Gamism? Hehe.

Clarification for Cassidy:

I might have sounded like I was a total literalist with the Stories and Traits in my post above. When it comes to intangibles I'm more lenient. For example, if your Story indicates a character who is quick tempered, but never outright says he's quick tempered, I still allow that as a Trait because it is evident.

But if the story mentions nothing about an actual concrete thing such as a donkey or wristwatch, I don't allow those things as Traits.
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