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Author Topic: The Pool Variations Are Up  (Read 13073 times)
Cassidy
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Posts: 165


« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2003, 12:15:48 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
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"?


Well, obviously it isn't "negative" for the player however I was careful to define 'positive' and 'negative' outcomes as being relative to the character and not the player.

In the Puddle I defined a negative outcome as one that was 'detrimental or unfavourable to your character in some way'. A postive outcome was defined as one that was 'beneficial or favourable to your character'

I hope that during actual play any opportunity to narrate or guide an event is a chance for the player to add something to the story that pleases them regardless of the actual outcome they are narrating.

The outcome of a dice roll acts as a creative spark for the players to aid them when narrating an event. Either they narrate something positive happening to their character or they narrate something negative happening.

It's a bit like coming to the bottom of a page in a book insofar as you don't know what is going to happen until you turn the page. Sure, of the many possible outcomes you may want some to occur more than others; however until you actually turn the page you have no idea what the eventual outcome will be. Either way, good or bad, positive or negative you do know that whatever happens will impact the story and serve to drive events forward oftentimes in unforseen ways.

For me, rolling the dice is just like turning the page in a book.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2003, 12:49:23 PM »

Quote from: Cassidy
Well, obviously it isn't "negative" for the player however I was careful to define 'positive' and 'negative' outcomes as being relative to the character and not the player.


Hmm. Actually, I do remember reading that, now, and liking it (I've always been of a mind that to give it to the player completely is problematic, at least with MoDs). But how is it not Win/Loss? That seems exactly what it is.

Do you mean it's not task resolution?

Mike
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Cassidy
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Posts: 165


« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2003, 01:02:17 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Do you mean it's not task resolution?


Absolutely.

Quote from: The Puddle: Chapter II
During play events will arise where the outcome is either in doubt or the event itself is potentially a key turning point in the story. Events can be very broad in scope, for example, “Do I manage to win the duel” or “Do I evade my pursuers”.

An event can be a conflict where the outcome is likely to be either success or failure. It can be a specific situation with a number of possible outcomes, some good and some bad. An event can even occur as a result of someone asking a simple question such as, “What happens next?”

When the GM feels that an event could have an important or significant effect on the course of the story they will ask you to ‘roll the dice’.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2003, 08:00:10 AM »

Right, but that's assumed in the normal rules as well. What's different is that what you have is Conflict Resolution, as opposed to The Pool, which has, essentially, Narrator Determination.

IOW, what you have is still, in a sense, win/loss in terms of the Conflict. As such, any of those terms should work fine.

What The Pool needs to do, IMO, is to get away from using terms like Monologue of Victory that could be interpereted to mean win/loss, when that's not at all what they mean. A player recieving a MoV can, in fact narrate a loss, or a negative result if he likes.

I assume that's not an option for the player in The Puddle. That would be the role of the MoD, right?

Mike
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Cassidy
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« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2003, 10:52:06 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Right, but that's assumed in the normal rules as well. What's different is that what you have is Conflict Resolution, as opposed to The Pool, which has, essentially, Narrator Determination.

IOW, what you have is still, in a sense, win/loss in terms of the Conflict. As such, any of those terms should work fine.


There is a subtle difference in the Puddle in as much as dice rolls are made to determine the outcome of "Events" rather than "Conflicts". I think I only use the word Conflict once in the entire text and deliberately use the word Event multiple times.

Rolls are made when the direction of the story could go one of many ways; when you need to know 'what happens next?'. This doesn't necessarily mean that there is a "conflict" within the game that needs to be resolved, or that a sense of win/loss, success/failure will be the outcome of the roll, although that will certainly be the case with certain events.

For that reason using the word Conflict did not seem to fit. Likewise the terms Success/Failure, Win/Loss, Victory/Defeat didn't fit either. I felt that I needed a catchall that could encompass all those terms without being narrow, hence Events, and Positive/Negative/Uncertain outcomes.

You are right that a dice roll in the Puddle does serve as a means to determine the outcome of an event which is not the case in the Pool. I wanted the dice roll to deliberately act as a guide for the players to aid them in the course of their narrative, i.e. narrate something positive happening to your character or narrate something negative.

I still wanted the roll of the dice to act as a means of determining who gets to narrate. If you gamble dice in the Puddle and achieve a positive outcome then you get to narrate a positive outcome to the event for your character. As in the Pool if you want to narrate then you gamble dice, the more dice you gamble the better your chances of narrating.

It's worth noting that a positive outcome does not necessarily mean success in terms of the immediate event being resolved.

In a fight to the death a character could roll a positive outcome and then choose to guide the event in such a way that their character is beaten to within an inch of his life. However he puts up such a valiant fight he earns the respect of his foe and the story continues.

Even though the character lost the fight the player can choose to guide the event so that the outcome is essentially positive for the character.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2003, 11:46:46 AM »

I see what you're getting at. Interesting that there's no option for an event to be "neutral" to the character.

That said, your definition above illuminates, but also makes some trouble. The leeway you give to the player might make the distiction between positive and negative moot. For example, if I can say that the negative result of an Event is that my character gets a hangnail in the process of killing the villain, then how "negative" is that really? I understand that it's for inspiration, but is it for inspiration only? Are there no controls other than "try to be positive" and "try to be negative"?

Mike
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Cassidy
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« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2003, 02:00:30 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I see what you're getting at. Interesting that there's no option for an event to be "neutral" to the character.


Thats what "uncertain" outcomes are for.

The outcome of an uncertain event is just that; it’s uncertain. It could be good for your character, it could be bad, or it could be neither.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
The leeway you give to the player might make the distiction between positive and negative moot. For example, if I can say that the negative result of an Event is that my character gets a hangnail in the process of killing the villain, then how "negative" is that really? I understand that it's for inspiration, but is it for inspiration only? Are there no controls other than "try to be positive" and "try to be negative"?


There are no controls. Not "hard" systemlike controls in any case.

There is no, "If you ignore these rules, the GM may end your MOV at any time." as there is in the Pool.

Players need no encouragement in narrating a positive event. If anything, it is entirely possible that a player may overstep the mark and narrate a positive event too positively and in a manner that either detracts from the story or defies in game plausability.

That's why...

It is the responsibility of all players to portray their characters realistically and fairly based on an understanding that the primary goal of game is for everyone to work together to create an interesting and engaging story.

...is stated as being the primary goal. Idealistic? Almost certainly. It really depends on your group of player and whether they are in total as to the primary goal. The collaborative development of an engaging story for the enjoyment of the other players is one reason WHY they should be playing the game. If it isn't then the Puddle really isn't going to work for them and the game will in all probability fall short of everyones expectations.

Can players derail the game if they don't agree on that primary goal or have different ways of achieving it that conflict with one another? Sure they can. Solution? Wrap up the game and play the type of game they really want to play.

As to a player "underplaying" a negative outcome. I should point out that in the Puddle a player is only ever be asked to narrate a negative outcome (or an uncertain one come to that) at the GM's discretion.

If you as GM see that a player inevitably narrates negative outcomes that (a) aren't suitably negative, or (b) do not adding positively to the story, or (c) are not enaging to the other players then you don't have to ask them to narrate.

Some players are really good at narrating negative outcomes. Some don't like doing it at all. Some are totally crap at it; it really depends on the group of players. As GM you do what you feel is best for the story and the enjoyment of the other players. If that means not asking a player to narrate negative or uncertain outcomes then thats what you do.

At the end of the day I wanted the GM to be able to let a players guide any event when they felt that the player had something really good to contribute to the story.

That is why in the Puddle I explicitly stated that the GM can choose to allow players to guide an event even if the outcome of their roll was negative or uncertain. That option is not present in the Pool since players can only narrate when they make a successful roll and choose to forfeit a pool dice from the GM so that they can make a MOV.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2003, 08:26:51 AM »

That's all cool. I'm not disputing that it can work. I just didn't get all that from reading the text. You're general info on how to guide an event is well written; perhps you should make a note there on how responsibility applies to positive and negative.

Re-reading the rules more closely, I see where the miscomminication is coming on the whole Uncertain issue. I was under the mistaken impression that players narrated Negative results (like they would with an MoD). And so I wondered why they couldn't also do the "uncertain" events themselves.

But I see your split better now. Much more traditional. Players narrate Positive Gambled rolls, GM does Uncertain, Negative, or Positive Non-Gambled rolls. That totally makes sense to me. The Players are advocates for the character, the GM is the advocate for the rest of the story.

But then I'm confused by your response above about a badly portrayed negative result by a player. Did I have you confused as well? Or am I still confused? :-)

Mike
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Cassidy
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« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2003, 10:34:21 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
But then I'm confused by your response above about a badly portrayed negative result by a player. Did I have you confused as well? Or am I still confused? :-)


I'll try to clarify as best I can.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
But I see your split better now. Much more traditional. Players narrate Positive Gambled rolls, GM does Uncertain, Negative, or Positive Non-Gambled rolls.


Almost.

Quote from: The Puddle
If you gambled any pool dice AND achieved a positive outcome then you get to guide the event or you can let the GM do so, the choice is yours.

If you gambled pool dice and did not achieve a positive outcome OR alternatively you did not gamble any pool dice at all then the GM will guide the event; they may however let you guide the event if they wish.


Rolling the dice in the Puddle determines the outcome of an event, be it positive, negative or uncertain. However it also determines who gets to choose who narrates that outcome.

Players can choose who narrates on Positive Gambled rolls. The GM can choose who narrates on Uncertain, Negative, or Positive Non-Gambled rolls.

Essentially what this means is that anytime the GM feels the player should narrate an event or needs to narrate an event they simply tell them to do so.

This is a key difference between the Puddle and the Pool. In the Pool players can narrate when they roll a success and they forfeit a pool die reward from the GM. Player protagonism by virtue of narrative rights is intrinsically tied to the currency of the die pool and to chance. If a players pool is low then their ability to affect the narrative is diminished. I did not want that. I wanted the ability for a player to take control of the narrative to be available as and when it needed to be. I wanted to promote maximum player involvement via their own narrative irrespective of the number of dice in the players dice pool.

Sure, with a low dice pool the player may find themselves narrating uncertain or negative events more than positive ones. However, whenever they get what they feel is a good idea it is always possible for the GM to let them narrate.

If you as GM feel that the player has something that will put an interesting spin on the event that will be good for the story then let them narrate. If you have something that you want to introduce that will bring something cool to the story then you narrate.

It's a "feel" kind of thing. Sometimes a player will roll and then look at you as if to say, 'tell me what happens', essentially giving you an unspoken cue to narrate because that is what they want.

At other times during the lead up to the event it may be obvious that the player is bursting with an idea and is more into the actual story itself rather than their characters role in it. When they are just let them roll and then hand the narrative reins over to them so they can run with their idea.

As an aside, I can recall occasions in games I've played where players and GM discuss an outcome out-of-character in a "what if" kind of way before any dice are rolled; a bit like "Shadows" actually. i.e, If you roll good then X happens, if you roll bad then it's likely that Y happens. Granted, this doesn't happen for each and every event but when it does it is usually a great opportunity to let the player involved narrate irrespective of the outcome.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
The Players are advocates for the character, the GM is the advocate for the rest of the story.


That depends on the GM and to a certain degree the players themselves. The GM can concede advocacy of the story to players anytime they feel that the players voice needs to be heard. When that happens the players can narrate an outcome that may be uncertain or negative for their characters but hopefully positive for the story itself and for the overall enjoyment of the game by the other players.

I have a feeling that what I just wrote is about as clear as muddy Puddle :)
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #24 on: April 11, 2003, 12:18:35 PM »

Actually that does clear things up somewhat.

But this makes the rules very freeform. That is, the dice outcome only tells two things:

A) How things go for the character in a very general and interperable way.

and

B) Who gets to decide on who gets to narrate.

That seems veeery loose. Functional, certainly, but very light in the way of providing direction in play.

Maybe it's just me, but texts for The Pool, and it's derivatives seem hard to write in such a way as to get the idea of how the mechanics are supposed to work. Perhaps it's my traditionalist mind shaping these problems. Next time I'm going to read very, very closely.

I wonder if there's a way to state this sort of thing more succinctly and clearly? Hmmm.

Mike
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Cassidy
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« Reply #25 on: April 11, 2003, 02:59:49 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

But this makes the rules very freeform. That is, the dice outcome only tells two things:

A) How things go for the character in a very general and interperable way.

and

B) Who gets to decide on who gets to narrate.


At face value you are right, it is very freeform. Interpretation is very much in the hands of the person narrating an event whether it be the GM or a player.

The same is true of the Pool which is arguably even more freeform than the Puddle since the result of the dice roll does not require the player to narrate to a broadly defined outcome as it does in the Puddle. The dice roll in the Pool very simply tells you who gets to narrate, not what the outcome is.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
That seems veeery loose. Functional, certainly, but very light in the way of providing direction in play.


Absolutely.

I view the The Pool and it's variant rules as providing a bare framework for whatever game you decide to play.

Reaching a player concensus, groundrules as it were, for what is acceptable and plausible in play (I assume that's what you mean by 'direction') has to come from some sort of pre-play groundwork and/or discussion between the players and the GM.

If I were say going to take a bash at running some Vampire type game using the Pool I could do my own prep work to flesh out the nitty gritty bits of the game "reality". Alternatively just get a bunch of fellow Buffyphiles together, brainstorm for a bit, and then dive right in.

TQB use it's Accord.

Quote from: The Pool
Once your group has decided on a setting you can begin creating characters".


That's what the Pool says.

Quote from: The Puddle
In addition everyone should agree on a Setting for the story. Where will the story take place? What will it be about? What kind of story do you hope to create? What role will the characters play in the story?


That's what the Puddle says. Admittedly it isn't much but then again I don't expect anyone outside my group to even use the Puddle in anger.

Reaching that concensus among the players on the setting is crucial otherwise you will likely struggle to attain direction during the game.

Yes, it is loose, very loose. But with the right bunch of players it can work and work very well.

Equally though with the wrong bunch of players it can end up being a total pile of pants.

What James is doing with TQB is the way to go and what I would love to see more of, i.e. essentially shrinkwrapped settings for the Pool.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #26 on: April 20, 2003, 03:27:54 PM »

Quote from: Cassidy
What James is doing with TQB is the way to go and what I would love to see more of, i.e. essentially shrinkwrapped settings for the Pool.


Agreed. With rules for coming to these sorts of consensuses (consensi?), it all works very well.

Mike
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James V. West
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« Reply #27 on: April 20, 2003, 03:42:00 PM »

Several people have expressed an interest in doing their own games, which are essentially The Pool with settings. I encourage anyone who wants to do this to do it! I'd love to see some of these ideas in final published forms.

For the record, my wife Dawna is starting to pressure me to get some other priorities out of the way and finish up TQB asap. Gotta love her. As soon as I get certain comics work finished I'll be doing just that.

Great thread, btw. You're poking those neurons in my brain that do stuff.
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