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Author Topic: your last chance for despair  (Read 9823 times)
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2003, 01:34:28 PM »

Danielle,

Love already is the morale boost that one gets from getting love. You are never unsuccessful at getting love, anyhow, as it stands; all you risk is getting Self-Loathing right now. You could have it where success at the Self-Loathing roll makes it go down instead of staying the same. But then you have a spiraling up effect as well. And it would allow the game to go on much more interminably.

Paul,

What Chris said. You always have the option to get aid. The fact that you can only succeed with their aid later doesn't mean you have more options, it means you have less. And after a point even aid won't be able to save you. That's the problem with Self-Loathing increase. It takes away options. Worse, there's no effective way to avoid or reduce Self-Loathing. You can't win without Love, and you can't get Love without risking gaining Self-Loathing. It's a viscious circle that sends the unlucky player to a place of no protagonism. Descent into the monster status isn't even authored by the player, it is, from what I've seen, fought tooth and nail. It's only once there's nothing better to do that players start thinking, "Well, if killin's all I can do, might as well kill."

Another option would be to somehow make high Self-Loathing open up new vistas of action. Though I can't imagine what they'd be (accumulating Pure Evil points to vie for becoming the next master?)*.

Other than that, the options I see are:
A. Make getting a high Self-Loathing more difficult, especially as it gets higher.

or

B. Make it so that you can reduce Self-Loathing.

Mike


*Hmm. Maybe there's an answer there. Allow a player to convert Self-Loathing to Evil or something with a roll. This lowers Self-Loathing, and allows the character to be effective again. But Evil points definitely affect the potential endgame that the character is going for. And can probably still be allowed to add to your killin rolls. Evil would represent the Minion rationalizing that he's not to blame for the nasty things he does, but instead that it's the world's fault. Meaning he doesn't have to be "right" anymore. Evil could also counteract Love making the character less able to kill the Master, though no more able to kill him. Hmmm. Lot's of possibilities.
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xiombarg
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« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2003, 11:22:20 AM »

Quote from: Bankuei
The reason I suggested the Reason option is that a player is only going to hit that Self-Loathing mark under two conditions; either they simply rolled bad the whole game, or else they really do want to play the villian.  In the first case, the player wants the game to be over with, just like a sports game where its beyond the hope of a comeback.  In the second case, the player is looking to have the "bad end" and wants it to occur.  Meanwhile, the other players who are trying to redeem their characters, will have an easier time of getting Love(if they want it), or causing Endgame as they see fit.  
I'd like to reinforce this point, that I think Paul is ignoring. (No offense, Paul.) Bad rolls can get you to this point -- that's exactly what happened when we played. The player wasn't aiming at being a villian at all -- he just went that route because he didn't have any other choice due to bad rolls, and that's very deprotagonizing.

In my ideal world, at least, bad rolls should make things more interesting, and give you DIFFERENT choices than good rolls, but it shouldn't LIMIT your choices.

Now, Paul mentions the "helping people" mechanic, and if it's that important, then it needs to be emphasized very heavily in the rules. And Mike makes an excellent point -- there's a point at which even helping someone doesn't quite work, you've got so much Self-Loathing.

I agree with Chris that slowing down the doom spiral is a good idea. Mike's proposed Evil mechanic might work.
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Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
Paul Czege
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« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2003, 10:25:28 AM »

Hey Kirt,

In my ideal world, at least, bad rolls should make things more interesting, and give you DIFFERENT choices than good rolls, but it shouldn't LIMIT your choices.

I'm not sure I entirely agree, since I believe the cycle of pressure and release of limitations on player choices is part of the game. Constraints fuel creativity. But at the same time, the notion of putting the player in a different situation relative to gameplay is a pretty good one. What do you think of something like this:

the Horror Revealed

If a roll would ever result in a minion's Self-loathing growing greater than Love plus Fear (or perhaps Self-loathing minus Love growing greater than Fear plus Reason), a revelation of horror and consequences in the environment are triggered instead. Self-loathing remains the same, and the minion misses his next scene. Instead of that scene, the player of the minion narrates a scene of horror among NPCs, with two restrictions: neither the Master, nor other PC minions can be part of the scene, and no NPC carrying Love for one of the PC minions can be killed. It is as if the horrific psychological forces within the minion have overcome their containment and bled out into the environment. Reason is increased by one point after the narration, reflecting consequent outrage from the Towspeople.

Paul

Isn't it wack how I have to name these proposed mechanics for myself in order to understand them in the context of the game?
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And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #18 on: March 19, 2003, 11:10:54 AM »

I believe the term is "whack", isn't it?  :-)

I like it. Lesse how it affects each roll:

Quote
Master control
the Master rolls Fear plus the Minion's Self-Loathing to command it. The Minion resists by rolling dice equal to the total of all his Love points, across all his Connections, minus his Weariness


Self-Loathing no longer gets any worse, so the Minion doesn't get any worse at resisting the Master. Cool.

Quote
Self Loathing
The Minion rolls Reason minus Self-Loathing against the target of the Connection rolling Fear minus Reason


Since Self-Loathing stays he same, and Reason increases, this means that it'll happen less and less that "The Horror Revealed" will happen. This is good because otherwise it could get tedious, and wreck the game with too high Reason. Cool.

Quote
Violence
the Minion rolls Fear plus Self-Loathing, Outsiders and Townspeople resist by rolling Reason plus the Minion's Weariness.


Since Self-Loathing does not increase, but reason does this makes conflicts more dangerous, which leads away from the problem. Basically you'll see a peak of violence and then an avoidance of townspeople as they become enraged. Which seems in genre. Cool.

Quote
Killing Master
the death of the Master is tested for by the Minion player rolling Love minus Weariness against the Master rolling Fear plus the Minion's Self-Loathing


Since Self-Loathing does not increase, this again means that killing the Master never gets any further out of reach. Cool.


Basically cool all around.

What I see is an effect where the pressure early in the game comes from the Master, but then later shifts over to the restless townspeople. The GM can use them to pressurize things, as weariness they inflict (as well as incarcerations) can be good roadblocks to a too quick conclusion.

Another cool thing this does is to counteract the increase in Fear from Innocents being killed. Means you can have more if you like, and that there will be a see-saw battle. A nifty little Gamist element may arise where contingents each try to raise either Fear of Reason in order to benefit their best strategy. Lots of tactics come in. Coolness.

Damn, Paul, I think that does it.

The only thing that I'd add is that the outrage could logically extend from the scene that would have produced the Self-Loathing. Minion A throws himself at Farmer's Daughter. Essentially instead of the minion recieving Self-Loathing, he is run off before that even has a chance to happen, fearing for his hide. No change to Minion (other than location), but the townsfolk are now on alert.



Mike
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2003, 08:08:57 AM »

Thanks. I'd done some of that analysis myself mentally, informally, but seeing it laid out like that is nicely facilitative of my decisionmaking. And it leaves me with a few questions:

1. What does "the horror revealed" do to the dynamics of play? Is there a likelihood players will willingly accept commands from the Master as opportunities for maxing out Self-loathing...just so they get to use "the horror revealed"? Is it likely players will initiate unprovoked atrocities just to get themselves to where they can use "the horror revealed"? I don't want to have tipped the scales with the mechanic so much that Self-loathing is no longer clearly undesirable.

2. A question for everyone, but particularly those who've played the game: imagine being in a later stage of gameplay where "the horror revealed" is triggered for your character. What kind of scene would you have narrated? What would you try to accomplish story-wise with your chance to do this kind of narration?

3. And finally, which of the two proposed conditions for triggering "the horror revealed" is best for the game: Self-loathing would grow greater than Love plus Fear, or Self-loathing minus Love would grow greater than Fear plus Reason? One concern here is that I don't want to inadvertently invalidate any of the endgames with the mechanic by somehow overly compressing its likelihood with the capping of Self-loathing and the increasing of Reason.

Paul
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xiombarg
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« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2003, 08:25:39 AM »

Well, it certainly needs playtesting, I think. Question: When you say a minion "misses his next scene", what does that mean? Do you envision some sort of round-robin where each player gets a turn at a scene? Because we didn't play that way at all.

To answer Paul's questions:

1. Yes, I think you might have someone accepting orders so he can do "the Horror Revealed". But I don't see this taking away from the idea of Self Loathing as a bad thing -- anyone who is doing that isn't being afflicted by bad rolls, but instead is going for the "I'm a villian" thing. This is cool, IMHO.

2. I was gamemaster, but I imgaine my players probably would have narrated something surrounding the mess at the Mayor's house... Focus on the most crazy situation in the game and turn it up a notch.

3.  That's a pretty subtle difference -- it's only a few points. I'd prefer the second one because "the Horror Revealed" shouldn't happen often -- only when someone blows a lot of rolls or is trying to be a villian.


I should add that I really, really like the sound of "The Horror Revealed", of all the mechanics suggested so far.
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2003, 11:59:42 AM »

Quote from: Paul Czege
1. What does "the horror revealed" do to the dynamics of play? Is there a likelihood players will willingly accept commands from the Master as opportunities for maxing out Self-loathing...just so they get to use "the horror revealed"? Is it likely players will initiate unprovoked atrocities just to get themselves to where they can use "the horror revealed"? I don't want to have tipped the scales with the mechanic so much that Self-loathing is no longer clearly undesirable.
This is a Narrativist game, right? Just checking. Why is Self-Loathing undesirable. First, it's thrust upon characters randomly, so it had better not be undesirable. Secondly, if a player wants to author that ending, they why not let him persue it.

You seem to keep making all these statements about forcing players one way or another. That just seems wrong to me. Certainly not Narrativist. What you have is a framework for character change in the context of the dysfunctional relationship. It promotes the changes, and staying with the genre tropes. Why would you want players to have any less freedom within that framework?

Quote
2. A question for everyone, but particularly those who've played the game: imagine being in a later stage of gameplay where "the horror revealed" is triggered for your character. What kind of scene would you have narrated? What would you try to accomplish story-wise with your chance to do this kind of narration?
Well, being fond of cliches, I'd have a mob assemble bearing torches. Next time, I'd have them start marching on the castle. Then I'd have them burn down the castle next time.

How's that for presurizing?

Quote
3. And finally, which of the two proposed conditions for triggering "the horror revealed" is best for the game: Self-loathing would grow greater than Love plus Fear, or Self-loathing minus Love would grow greater than Fear plus Reason? One concern here is that I don't want to inadvertently invalidate any of the endgames with the mechanic by somehow overly compressing its likelihood with the capping of Self-loathing and the increasing of Reason.


You really need to start thinking about these things as inequalities, Paul. You keep throwing around "options" that aren't any different from each other. It's just confusing.

SL > LV+ FR

is equivalent to

SL - LV > FR

So the only difference in these two examples is whether or not to include Reason.

SL - LV > FR + RS

A problem with both options is that as Love grows, it allows for greater Self-Loathing to occur. Basically as you always get a point of Love whenever you get Self-Loathing, you'll never max out until you lose Love due to a connection being killed.

I'd drop the Love altogether from the formula. Love seems to be too small scale to affect the whole Town. I see the high SL as triggering the problem as the town basically becoming fed up with so miserable a set of creatures as the minions. Essentially the SL spills over into the town and becomes "Minion Loathing".

SL > FR + RS is a good option, IMO. Still allows for considerable Self Loathing to build up, but less so than the first option. And as reason goes up, so too then can Self Loathing. Which is to say that the effect will occur at most every other time when a minion gets to this point. That's a pretty cool dynamic; slows it down and makes the player have other scenes in between. And it makes sense; as the reason pushes up it resists being pushed up more.

Mike
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #22 on: March 21, 2003, 02:31:29 PM »

Hey Mike,

A problem with both options is that as Love grows, it allows for greater Self-Loathing to occur. Basically as you always get a point of Love whenever you get Self-Loathing, you'll never max out until you lose Love due to a connection being killed.

"Acting out" successfully, both violently and non-violently also results in Self-loathing. Does this affect your opinion on whether Love should be included in the formula?

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #23 on: March 24, 2003, 09:08:53 AM »

Quote from: Paul Czege
Hey Mike,

A problem with both options is that as Love grows, it allows for greater Self-Loathing to occur. Basically as you always get a point of Love whenever you get Self-Loathing, you'll never max out until you lose Love due to a connection being killed.

"Acting out" successfully, both violently and non-violently also results in Self-loathing. Does this affect your opinion on whether Love should be included in the formula?
Basically you can only trigger "Horror Revealed" on an acting out roll, then? I could buy that. But then I think the Self-Loathing score can get high enough, that acting out would be nigh automatically successful, and that Self-Loathing rolls will always fail. Which is what we sought to stop, right? How about if you remove fear, then. So:

SL-LV > RS

Stands to reason (pun not intended), IMO, that Fear would actually work both to prevent Horror Revealed, and cause it. On the one hand, it causes outrage itself, but on the other it's the buffer that already exists to feeling the horror. So, I'd drop it out. Then the limit on Self-Loathing is much lower.

How's that sound?

Mike
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #24 on: April 24, 2003, 10:38:30 AM »

Hey Mike,

SL-LV > RS
.
.
.
How's that sound?


I just spent my whole lunch working through permutations of Fear, Reason, Love, Self-loathing, and Weariness, assuring myself that this doesn't preclude any of the five Epilogues. And it sure doesn't.

It's real tight too. It keeps the numbers hovering right where I think they should be to not irrelevantize the Intimacy/Desperation/Sincerity mechanics. It's going in as SL > RS + LV.

Thanks,

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #25 on: April 24, 2003, 12:38:01 PM »

Woo-hooo!

Was that the last detail? Are we due to see something complete out soon? Tell me I don't have to wait for GenCon!

Mike
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #26 on: April 24, 2003, 12:51:57 PM »

Hey Mike,

Yeah, GenCon, I'm sorry.

Was that the last detail?

Well, I'm still on the fence about whether to raise Reason after a "Horror Revealed"...and I wish I'd seen more use of the aiding mechanics in play...but neither of these are the same order of magnitude as the amok Self-loathing concern.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
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