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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 61 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Trait question  (Read 1435 times)
Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« on: February 05, 2003, 12:55:30 PM »

One of my players posed this to me at the end of last session.

Vlesic is...
A former capain of the guard and seasoned veteran of the Drenai wars (+1)

Raenard is...
A gifted young duelist with a very wide arrogant streak and a chip on his shoulder (+4)

As I understand it in The Pool trait bonuses increase the effectiveness of traits during play. They neither reflect nor quantify the actual ability of the trait they are assigned to.

If anything it is the description of the trait coupled with the overall perception of a character which guides any judgements made about relative ability.

So, in the above example although Raenard has a +4 bonus and Vlesic has a +1 bonus that does not necessarily mean that Raenard is the better swordsman.

In fact, given Vlesic's years of experience it's quite possible that he would beat the shit out of the arrogant little whelp Raenard, even if he is gifted.

Am I right on this?
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Paganini
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Posts: 1049


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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2003, 01:32:49 PM »

Quote from: Cassidy

So, in the above example although Raenard has a +4 bonus and Vlesic has a +1 bonus that does not necessarily mean that Raenard is the better swordsman.


He might, or he might not be. It depends.

Remember that currency in the Pool does not primarily represent character effectiveness (I.E., how good a character is at sword-fighting). It represents player-assigned importance. The player's willingness to spend 16 (!) dice on that single trait means that the swordfighting ability is very important. Mechanicaly, it means that it's likely that Raenard's sword-fighting ability will be portrayed *exactly* the way his player wishes it to be portrayed, however that happens to be.

It also means that the player is likely to become more effective if he can work Raenard's sword-fighting ability into the story frequently (I.E., he'll win more rolls, and will therefore have some breathing space to build up his pool.)

Maybe there's just a *hint* of character effectiveness in there. The rules do say that a successful roll indicates a "favorable result," while a failed roll indicates a "disfavorable result." Interperetation of those terms is left pretty loosely, though. If a sucessful player forgoes a MoV, the GM is free to add in any kinds of complications he wants. The important thing is to keep the action going. There should never be a     -end result in the pool. There is no "you fail, think of something else to try." Every narration needs to move forward. If the player fails a roll, his character doesn't simply "fail." It's true that the character's goal was not realized, but the GM has to narrate it not being realized in such a way that players don't smack into a wall and bounce off.
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Bankuei
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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2003, 01:41:22 PM »

Correct, dice are not an indicator of ability, just likelihood of player narration and possibly success...

Take Elric as a possible example.  A completely competant guy, who happens to get his rear kicked and friends dead all the time.  Although he's far better than a lot of folks around him, he's still opposed by forces greater than him.  Likewise with most John Woo heroes as well.

Consider this idea:
Gandalf- Wizard +3
Frodo - Survive +4
Samwise- Loyal +5

Who's more powerful?  Who is going to be more successful at rolls?  Frodo isn't necessarily a good survivor because he's trained to live in the wilderness, he just happens to be lucky and have lots of allies.  Gandalf is a powerful person, but its the hobbits who determine the tale in LOTR.

A good example would be to look at Trollbabe, since success often comes through means outside of your character or their abilities, such as luck, allies, remembering useful bits of info, etc.  The Pool's success/failure can happen in the exact same way.

In the case of Vlesic vs. Raenard, it could go down in several ways:

Vlesic wins- More skilled, narrate accordingly

Raenard wins- Although Vlesic is better, Raenard wins through luck, surprise tactics/unorthodox methods, Vlesic slips on mud, etc.

Inconclusive- They fight to a standstill, perhaps their duel is cut short, although Vlesic is slowly gaining ground as he analyzes his foe, or perhaps Raenard is wearing Vlesic down..., perhaps each gives the other an smarting blow, establishing a sense of equality/rivalry in skills.

Both lose- Both die upon each other's blades...very dramatic.

Chris

Edited for random spots of sudden illiteracy.
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James V. West
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Posts: 567


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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2003, 03:49:50 AM »

Right, Cassidy. Trait Bonuses do not directly indicate level of ability. They indicate importance to the player of that Trait (which often translates into a refection of ability as the player desires).

Everyone has done a great job of summarizing Traits and how they can be used so far. All I can add is that I think sometimes players' concept of their characters' abilities can sometimes clash.

Take something as common in fantasy rpgs as swordplay. In any given group of players, it's very likely you'll have a couple of characters who are good swordsmen. With a game like The Pool, where there is no attempt at Sim, a starting character could be "a renowned, feared swordsman"...even if the player only sticks a +1 to the Trait. This indicates that the player has other plans besides swordplay for that character.

As an example, in the play Cerano De Bergerac the main character is supposed to be an excellent swordsman (if memory serves me right), but he doesn't go through the story fighting duels or battles all the time. The focus is on the love story.

But what if two players in a group have characters who are supposed to be the greatest swordsmen, yet one player pumps a whole lot of dice into the Trait and the other does not? In terms of winning dice rolls, the player with the higher Bonus might have an advantage--but this all depends on Pool dice.

I think if those players have any mistaken notions that The Pool is going to simulate their characters' skills then the game is doomed to some kind of nasty misunderstanding at some point. Better to make sure everyone is on the same page up front which is why it's a good idea to talk through this stuff before play begins.

Hope that helps a bit.
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Mark Withers
Member

Posts: 18


« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2003, 06:15:26 AM »

Quote from: James V. West


Take something as common in fantasy rpgs as swordplay. In any given group of players, it's very likely you'll have a couple of characters who are good swordsmen. With a game like The Pool, where there is no attempt at Sim, a starting character could be "a renowned, feared swordsman"...even if the player only sticks a +1 to the Trait. This indicates that the player has other plans besides swordplay for that character.

As an example, in the play Cerano De Bergerac the main character is supposed to be an excellent swordsman (if memory serves me right), but he doesn't go through the story fighting duels or battles all the time. The focus is on the love story.

But what if two players in a group have characters who are supposed to be the greatest swordsmen, yet one player pumps a whole lot of dice into the Trait and the other does not? In terms of winning dice rolls, the player with the higher Bonus might have an advantage--but this all depends on Pool dice.

I think if those players have any mistaken notions that The Pool is going to simulate their characters' skills then the game is doomed to some kind of nasty misunderstanding at some point. Better to make sure everyone is on the same page up front which is why it's a good idea to talk through this stuff before play begins.

Hope that helps a bit.


Then what's the point of the traits having values at all?

Surely it would be better if every trait simply provided a blanket +1 bonus and let the description of the trait and actions of the character represent how important it is?

Also, the character sheet would look prettier!
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Paganini
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Posts: 1049


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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2003, 07:27:35 AM »

Quote from: Mark Withers

Then what's the point of the traits having values at all?

Surely it would be better if every trait simply provided a blanket +1 bonus and let the description of the trait and actions of the character represent how important it is?


Hurrrk! Let me try again. In the Pool, dice represent *importance.* They really do. Mechanically. Assigning lots of dice to a trait, or gambling lots of dice on a roll, means that youre are likely to have control of that trait or roll. Doing things with dice is a mechanical statement of import. When a player assigns 3 dice to a trait, he is actually, physically, mechanically, making that trait more important than the trait he assigns 1 die to. He's saying "I care more about controling my sword-fighting ability than I do about my public speaking ability.

Trait descriptions and character actions do not *represent* anything, mechanicaly. They're color.
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James V. West
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Posts: 567


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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2003, 08:08:20 AM »

Yeah, exactly. Having "seasoned verteran of the phsycic wars +1" and "people think he's stupid +3" means that the player is more concerned with getting his character's perceived stupidity into the story than his verteran characteristics.

This doesn't mean the verteran Trait isn't important. On the contrary, if you spend dice on it at all, it is important.
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