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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 61 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: The Pool Variations Are Up  (Read 13070 times)
James V. West
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« on: February 21, 2003, 07:14:22 PM »

Hey

I finally got around to posting some of the variations on The Pool. Check it out here!

If I've left some out please don't be shy. Let me know it so I can get them all online.

Also, I'd like to link to any games that are either directly inspired by The Pool or that use The Pool's mechanics, such as Hard Travellin'. So if anyone knows of one, fire it off.

One last note. A lot of what I posted was taken directly from the posts here at The Forge. I made no effort to spellcheck...sorry. Maybe later. Heh.
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Cassidy
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Posts: 165


« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2003, 04:52:20 AM »

Thanks to James for uploading The Puddle which is our groups take on the Pool.

It will be a few weeks before I run with these rules again. In the meantime I would welcome any comments or feedback other Pool players may have.
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Cassidy
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Posts: 165


« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2003, 09:14:48 AM »

A whole month and not a single response?

Jeez, I was hoping to get a least one. Dissapointing.
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James V. West
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2003, 09:25:01 AM »

Hey Cassidy

Basically, thems the breaks when it comes to anything indie/small press. Par for the course, so to speak. Try posting a new thread regarding The Puddle and ask specific questions. You'll get some responses I'm sure.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2003, 05:40:33 PM »

Here's my feedback: I like the Puddle pretty much.

OK, what else do you need to know?

Now, here's a question for you. In the Anti-pool, do you think that the reversal of the dice reward effects will cause play to be too back and forth about a center? Or will players have differing lengths of slides up and down, some of which will result in low times for the character, and others which will result in periods of triumph? IOW, will the dramatic pace of The Pool be improved degraded, simply changed, or remain unchanged by using the Anti-Poool mechanics.

Mike
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Cassidy
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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2003, 08:07:46 AM »

I've never played the anti-pool variant so I can only speculate on how it may play out in practice.

One of the aims of anti-pool was to address the issue of thrashing whereby players found themselves with little or no pool dice and effectively 'deprotagonised'.

To be honest I never considered this to be a big issue for a couple of reasons.

1) Thrashing can have a positive effect on play. It can promote an element of adversity within the game that can be used to create memorable and exciting play.

2) Crashed dice pools are offset by the fact that players get their dice pools reset to 9 at the start of the next session.

Anti-pool really puts a whole different spin on the gambling mechanic insofar that anti-pool players need to be very selective about when to use their pool dice on a gamble.

Gambling pool dice is a real fun part of pool play and whenever players roll the dice they are doing so to achieve success because they want to make stuff to happen storywise.

I think that in anti-pool players would gamble less often. In addition I suspect they would achieve fewer rolled successes than they would with the standard pool rules.

In another thread I tried to get a feel for how many dice rolls were made on average by each player in a session. I think the average was around 5-6 with 2-3 of those rolls being ones that the player felt compelled to gamble pool dice on.

Assuming that dice pools in anti-pool start at a minimum of 9, and assuming that players may only be making a handful of rolls during a session that they feel are significant enough to gamble I would expect players to still feel protagonised enough during anti-pool play on the rolls that matter to them.

They may on average achieve more failures than in the standard pool rules but most of those failures will be on rolls that weren't crucial to the player and are likely to be rolls that they did not gamble on. When anti-pool players need to make a roll that really matters to them they should still be able to invest a reasonable amount of pool dice to give themselves a good chance of success.

If I were playing anti-pool then at the start of the session I would be extremely cautious with my pool dice and definitely only gamble when I thought success was absolutely critical or when I felt that I absolutely needed to make a MOV.

As the session drew on I would be a little more free with my gambles. I would probably start gambling 1 or 2 dice if important, but not critical events presented themselves.

I would always aim to keep a reserve of dice in my die pool (say 4 or 5) just in case something happens right at the end of the session that requires me to go for an all out gamble. Whatever happens next session I'm back to 9 pool dice anyway.
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James V. West
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2003, 08:23:01 AM »

Anti-Pool ranks pretty high on my list of playtest priorities, but since I haven't yet played it I can't say for sure either.

It does seem logical that players would be less inclined to gamble if they knew a success meant lost dice. Depending on how the rest of the game is handled, this could be good or it could be bad. Can't say either way.

One thing to note: the rule that dice pools are reset to 9 was not in the original rules. Mike suggested the Anti-Pool variant based on the rules that left Pools dangling from session to session.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2003, 10:51:02 AM »

Quote from: James V. West

One thing to note: the rule that dice pools are reset to 9 was not in the original rules. Mike suggested the Anti-Pool variant based on the rules that left Pools dangling from session to session.

I was going to point that out as well. The reset does change things dramatically. Using Anti-pool, I'd probably advocate not having the reset, though some people might want to keep it. Basically I'd guess that having the reset would cause a "use em or lose em" attitude as you suggest, Cassidy, which would be more episodic. For more serial play, I'd let the pool just stay where it was. That way players would have to think in terms of the long haul.

This might be problematic in terms of development for that option, now that I think about it. As more of a resource that needs to be spent fairly regularly, the only time that a player will have a lot of dice to trade in is following a series of failures (or at least no successes with gambled dice). This might be rare. OTOH, a player can engineer a "learning" period for a character by simply never gambling and calling for lots of rolls. One could even rationalize the learning coming from the failures. I'd say that even gives some incentive to fail which is cool for balance. Essentially players would "self-thrash".

The thrashing issue was only what got me thinking about the Anti-Pool, actually.I agree that Thrashing isn't bad, dramatically speaking; what I think is bad about it is the loss of player control over the direction of play. The dice are meant to randomize the dramatic pace, but also give the player come control. The thrashing phenomenon seemed to take the player largely out of the equation.

So what the Anti-Pool hopefully does is to allow players to retain their "vote" in the pacing of the drama at all times. Post success or post failure. In any case, players will Self-thrash for another reason, that being an attempt to get back to a higher level of dice pool after depleting themselves. I can spend five dice in one action, but that'll take me at least five rolls with no gambling to get back.

I agree on your analyses of the effects on pacing almost completely.

Anyhow, thanks for the comments. Now I owe you; what can I comment on about the Puddle? I'll offer this one comment unsolicited: I like the character enumeration system as it allows for much more fine delineation. Do you worry that characters will have too much success with five dice traits withought using their pool? Or is this intended?

Mike
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Cassidy
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« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2003, 11:55:45 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Do you worry that characters will have too much success with five dice traits withought using their pool? Or is this intended?


A +5 trait is the max, which equates to a 40% chance of failure without gambling any dice. I think that's a significant chance of failure. Players will still be reliant on their pool dice to shift fate in their favour even with a +5 trait.

When I was running my initial sessions using the standard pool rules I found myself usually handing out 2 GM dice, sometimes 3, rarely 1. After a time I became aware that I didn't want to hand out GM dice because I wanted all the influence on the outcome of a roll to be entirely in the hands of the players by using their pool dice.

Also, most character traits were +1's, a couple of players had a single +2 trait, no-one had a +3 it was too costly. This made it difficult for players to quantify the relative importance of each trait to their character in terms of trait dice. With a bunch of +1 traits it was difficult for me and the players to get a handle on what made the characters tick. I felt that traits needed a bit of granularity (a) to provide variety to the characters and (b) to help focus the players attention on the key aspects of their characters.

So I decided to ditch GM dice and expand the range of trait values to give the players more to think about when they were defining their characters.

Working on the assumption that I was handing out on average 2 GM dice and that most traits would be +1 I figured that the average trait value would be about +3, the maximum +5, and the minimum +1. Seemed simple enough.

With 20 points to start with and having players define 6-10 traits at startup I figured that only 1 or 2 traits would be +5 which is equivalent to being given 3 GM dice to accompany a +2 trait in the standard pool rules.  

I realised that initial Puddle play would generate more chance of player success than in standard pool play because of the way the traits are weighted. Overall though I think that effect is marginal.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2003, 03:19:21 PM »

Ah, I'd missed the "no GM dice". Probably just assumed it was in there, when it wasn't. Your rationale for level seems sensible, then.

However the GM dice are a great way for the GM to have an input into what's happening. If the players are doing neat stuff, the GM gives dice. Play blah, and the GM can tell you by not giving dice. Why is that something that you want to get rid of? Actually I'm more sympathetic than I sound, but I'd like to hear your reasoning.

Anyhow, that turns the table on my question, so I'll ask another. Do you worry that traits at only +1 will have too little effect (not to mention "unskilled" attempts).

And what else do you want to talk about regarding the game?

Mike
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Cassidy
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« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2003, 07:35:13 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
However the GM dice are a great way for the GM to have an input into what's happening. If the players are doing neat stuff, the GM gives dice. Play blah, and the GM can tell you by not giving dice. Why is that something that you want to get rid of? Actually I'm more sympathetic than I sound, but I'd like to hear your reasoning.


I wanted to maintain an air of impartiality when determining the outcome of a roll. Any influence I wanted to impart to the game I wanted to do through actual play (i.e. narrative). Using GM dice to sway events one way or to reward play wasn't something I felt comfortable doing.

In the Puddle the ability of players to guide events is not dependent on rolling successfully as it is in the standard pool rules. Players can choose to guide an event if they gamble dice AND they roll a positive outcome. In all other circumstances the GM can choose to guide the event or they can allow the player to do so. GMs choice.

Play blah and the GM is not likely to let you guide an event when you don't achieve a positive outcome. Play positively and even when you don't achieve a positive outcome the GM may still let you guide the event. That's the incentive for positive play.

I really did not want players with low dice pools and valuable story ideas to be restricted from guiding events simply because they were struggling to roll successes. That is what seems to happen in the standard pool. They had good ideas, rolled a rare success, but chose to take a die instead of making a MOV. I wanted to be able to let players run with their story ideas, let them guide events at key moments without them being dependent on the luck of the dice to do so.

The dice primarily provide a cue to GM and players as to the nature of the outcome, be it positive, negative or uncertain. Who actually gets to guide the event really depends on circumstance. If you've gambled and got a positive result, then you get to guide the event, otherwise the GM decides who guides the event.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Anyhow, that turns the table on my question, so I'll ask another. Do you worry that traits at only +1 will have too little effect (not to mention "unskilled" attempts).


Even if a player ends up rolling just a single die and they don't get a positive outcome the GM can still let the player guide the event if it makes sense to do so. The player may not be able to guide the event exactly as they would like, however they are having an effect, thats the important thing.

With just a +1 trait and no gambled pool dice a player would have roughly a 16% chance of a positive outcome, a 16% chance of a negative outcome, and a 67% chance of an uncertain outcome.

Guiding an "uncertain" outcome gives the GM and the players considerable freedom to put their own spin on the outcome of an event. For example, a character could achieve an "uncertain" outcome and succeed at what they were trying to accomplish but have some other another complication arise. Alternatively their "uncertain" outcome may yield a spectacular failure or even a resounding success with a nasty twist. It really all depends on what the person guiding the event wants to see happen.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
And what else do you want to talk about regarding the game?


The standard pool concepts of success/failure seemed a little misleading in practice since players seemed to equate success/failure with win/loss, which isn't what the dice rolling in the Pool is really about.

To that end I used three types of outcome, i.e. positive, negative, and uncertain rather than referring to rolls as being success or failure.

Is this an unnecessary complication?
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James V. West
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« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2003, 05:12:44 PM »

Hey

Sorry I haven't participated in this conversation. This was SPACE weekend, so I'm a bit rough around the edges. When I give this a full read-through I'll actually post something useful ;-).
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2003, 09:56:51 AM »

Sorry not to get back to this. I really have a problem with how these fora are tagged.
Quote from: Cassidy
The standard pool concepts of success/failure seemed a little misleading in practice since players seemed to equate success/failure with win/loss, which isn't what the dice rolling in the Pool is really about.

To that end I used three types of outcome, i.e. positive, negative, and uncertain rather than referring to rolls as being success or failure.

Is this an unnecessary complication?


I think it's actually quite a nececessary complication. For the reasons you cite, and more. But I'm not sure that your terms are much better. I've felt for a while that this needs clarification. If the player is making the narration that pleases him, how can that be "negative"?

Mike
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Valamir
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« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2003, 10:04:35 AM »

Not the easiest terms to roll off the tongue, but aren't we really talking about:

Resolving, Complicating, and Deferring.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2003, 12:14:53 PM »

I like those. Not quite the same, but:

Yes
Yes, and
Yes, but

Mike
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