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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 76 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Another Anti-Pool variant.  (Read 4664 times)
Mark Withers
Member

Posts: 18


« on: February 06, 2003, 06:22:19 AM »

I'm really sorry, I can't help fiddling with things! Here's how I play the Pool nowadays!

Your Character

Write a story about the character that youíre going to play. The level of detail is entirely up to you, whether itís a paragraph or a novel doesnít matter, only that it provides a starting point for play.

Living in the City can be hard; loving, fighting and dying in this boiling pot of a society. Titus has grown up on stories and epic poems, and as well as being a talented creative poet in his own right, he harbours a deep lust for adventure and only truly feels alive with a sword in his hand and a verse on his lips. He wants to be a Hero, which his rather older and wiser friend Carris has always told him, means the same as wishing to be Dead. Titus says he would sooner be dead than boring.

From your story, you will generate a list of 3 or 4 traits, which give you more opportunity to describe your character and influence the direction of the story by taking over the narrative during play.

Titus is a talented poet
He wants to be a Hero
Enthusiastic and talented amateur swordsman


Titusís player can add an extra dice to any conflict roll that is connected to one of these traits.

Finally, take six normal dice. These are referred to as your dice pool.

The Referee

One player will be the referee; he doesnít get to play one of the games main characters, but his job is a very important one.

He has two roles; the first is to provide the cast of characters that the players will meet, and the other is to narrate what happens when a player fails a conflict roll. The referee is NOT the final authority on everything. The gravest sin in roleplaying is the referee taking over the game and favouring his image of the story above everyone elseís. The game is a collaborative effort. Everyone works together.

The referee can point out when playerís actions are not in the best interests of other peopleís enjoyment, or donít conform to the themes of the game. Then again, any player can and should point out when this is happening.

Conflict Rolls

The majority of game play consists of acting out what your character says and describing what he does.

However, if everything went your characterís way, the story would quickly stagnate. Therefore, we use a system of dice rolling to add a little random chance to your characterís life. We call these moments of fate conflict rolls and they take place, appropriately enough, when a character wants to initiate or resolve some kind of conflict, action, or drama to forward plot and characterisation.

Players have a pool of dice that represents their ability to influence events. The more they have, the more chance they have of contributing with their ideas for how the story should progress.
 
Rolling

You can risk as many dice as you choose from your pool on a conflict roll. Remember, you get an extra dice to roll if you intend to narrate you characters success as happening because of the positive influence of one of their traits.

If any of the dice rolled come up as a 5 or a 6, then you get to narrate what happens, and the dice you risked are removed from your pool.

When you narrate; you can describe what your character does, as well as the actions of others, and any additions of colour, atmosphere etcÖ that you desire.

This narrative power comes with responsibility. It is important that you stick to the established tone and theme of the genre and setting, and do not make any irreversible changes to another one of the main characters. (The refereeís characters are fair game!) Keep your narrative reasonably short. Donít stray too far beyond resolving the conflict at hand. As for your prose, donít go over the top, your narration is a chance to have fun and entertain the other players, not to bore them!

Failing

If you get no 5ís or 6ís then all has not gone as planned. Your character has either been beaten outright, or has only succeeded at a cost. Maybe some additional complications have come up. The referee narrates the exact outcome of your failure.  

On the positive side, you get any dice you risked back, and an extra one for your troubles.

Replenishing your Dice Pool

Pretty soon, if things are going well for your character, those six dice you started with are going to run out.

At any time, you can announce to have something bad is going to happen to your character.

Simply narrate the bad event as you would narrate the outcome of a conflict roll, and add 2 dice to your dice pool. This is your reward for creating conflict and keeping the story going!
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James V. West
Member

Posts: 567


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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2003, 08:42:28 AM »

Hey Mark

This is kinda cool. Now not only do we have Pool Variants, but Pool Variant-variants.

I see you tweaked the required results so that successes are going to be significantly more common than failed rolls. Personally I would have made it 1s and 6s instead of 5s and 6s, but that's just me ;-).

Have you played this yet? If so, how's it going?

I'd like to add this to the list of variants I plan to post on my website, if you don't mind.
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Mark Withers
Member

Posts: 18


« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2003, 02:39:18 AM »

The story of the variant:

One week I forgot my dice. I wasnít alone. We managed to scrounge two dice from a monopoly set and found another in Dave's pencil case, but that was it.

We sat in shocked silence for a few minutes...

After about quarter of an hour spent in heated debate (squabbling like children), we decided on this variant, which increases the chance of success and reduces the number of dice rolled.

And you know what, it works. Really well.

These are some things I've learned from playing the pool over the last few months.

1) Anti-pool is much harder to cheat - No rolling 11 or 12 dice for a 99.99% success rate. You pay for your success.

2) The GM must let go! Being too precious about their vision of the story ruins games and loses players. Learned that one the hard way.

3) Having quantified traits is meaningless, and only confuses new players.

4) Giving out those 1-3 GM dice is tedious, pointless and too subjective. It's the most house ruled part of the game and I think it's a relic of older gaming styles. The less the GM interferes with the mechanical parts of the game, the better.

This version is the culmination of these hard-won wisdoms.
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Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2003, 11:26:36 AM »

Hey Mark,

Quote from: Mark Withers
1) Anti-pool is much harder to cheat - No rolling 11 or 12 dice for a 99.99% success rate. You pay for your success.


I'm not too sure what you mean by cheating. Playing the odds? Even if you roll 12 dice you still have about a 1 in 9 chance of failing. With 11 dice it's roughly a 1 in 7 chance. Success is far from guaranteed and if a player is rolling that many dice then they'll be using pool dice to do so. The odds of failure even when rolling lots of dice are significant; the consequences of a failed roll are likely to be a severely depleted pool.

Quote from: Mark Withers
2) The GM must let go! Being too precious about their vision of the story ruins games and loses players. Learned that one the hard way.


Couldn't agree more. If I've learned anything from the little Pool game I've run then it is to start the game with absolutely no pre-conceived ideas on how you want the story to go. The game is supposed to encourage collaborative storytelling and trying to make it fit a single players vision is counter to the spirit of the game.

Quote from: Mark Withers
3) Having quantified traits is meaningless, and only confuses new players.


I've got to confess I don't find quantified traits meaningless, I find them very useful. Assigning a trait bonus allows the players to define in a very real way the importance and potential influence of each trait. I found that having the players prioritorize their traits in this way helped them maintain focus on their original the character concept.

Being a "Legendary Swordsman (+1)" may be important, but the fact that I am also "Cordon-bleu chef par excellence (+3)" is really what bakes my cookies if you'll pardon the pun.

I do agree that rationale for quantifying traits is a little confusing in the rules. The rules define trait bonuses as 'increasing the effectiveness of traits during play'. Some players may equate 'effectiveness' with 'character effectiveness' and easily conclude that trait bonuses are a measure of skill, excellence or ability, which isn't actually the case. I didn't stress that enough in my game and I should have. I will next time.

Quote from: Mark Withers
4) Giving out those 1-3 GM dice is tedious, pointless and too subjective. It's the most house ruled part of the game and I think it's a relic of older gaming styles. The less the GM interferes with the mechanical parts of the game, the better.


I don't use GM dice either. I felt a little reticent as GM about fiddling with the mechanic by handing out dice on an ad-hoc basis. Other players though seem to like the control that the GM dice give.
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James V. West
Member

Posts: 567


WWW
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2003, 09:06:07 PM »

Interesting.

Cassidy, Mark's refering mainly to Mike Holmes' Anti-Pool rules. In those rules if you roll un-successfully, you actually gain a die for your pool and lose nothing. It's only when you win a roll that you lose dice. Mike thought that method made more sence and seemed more balanced. It's a good variant, for sure, though I've never actually tried it myself.

I still don't see any problem with Trait Bonuses, though I do understand where the confusion can come in when new players assume the Bonuses=Effectiveness ala any skill-based game. The rules aren't clinically clear on that and I'll have to devote some attention to cleaning them up at some point.

GM dice rule. What I like best about them is that I feel like I'm melting away that wall of seperation between me and the players a little bit more, but still maintaining a respectible division. What I mean is, giving out those dice at my own descretion helps me feel like I'm participating in the creation of a story in just one more way.

Still, I think you've got a really nice variant here. I kept thinking this version would work great for a supers game for some reason.
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