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Author Topic: Player power in the MoV  (Read 9594 times)
Jeffrey Straszheim
Member

Posts: 112


« on: September 05, 2001, 06:57:00 AM »

In Ron's review of The Pool he said this:

Quote

The discussion of the Monologue of Victory
seems driven by paranoia that the player
will destroy any logic or content of a
scenario. My call is that Director power
is Director power, and if some standards
in scope and extent of the Monologue are
presented, that the GM basically has to shut
up and like it. As written, the GM may not
only Veto the Monologue (some player power,
eh?), he may actually rescind the rolled
victory! My players and I winced and drew a
line through that sentence immediately.


I wonder if folks think the GM should have
no control over what happens in a MoV?
I'm thinking of cases where a player claims
an action that is so over-the-top that it
interferes with the verisimilitude of the
others in the group.

Say for instance a character is trapped on
a tower, wins a MoV, and says, "I jump from
the 100 foot tower and land safely."

Now, I don't mind that the character escapes.
I don't even mind that she does something
heroic.  However, jumping from a tall tower
just seems too ridiculous to me.  Wouldn't
it be better to suggest to the player
that she instead be (for example), "Rescued
by a giant eagle", or some such.

I agree that the GM must never rescind the
rolled victory.
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Jeffrey Straszheim
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2001, 08:09:00 AM »

Hey,

In a lot of discussion with James about the Pool, we arrived at a "contract" regarding the Monologue of Victory that I think will fly very well.

Stay tuned to the Pool site for the eventual Very Nifty update.

Best,
Ron
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Jeffrey Straszheim
Member

Posts: 112


« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2001, 01:09:00 PM »

Quote

In a lot of discussion with James about the Pool, we arrived at a "contract" regarding the Monologue of Victory that I think will fly very well.

Stay tuned to the Pool site for the eventual Very Nifty update.


Sounds cool.  I think that it's important that a cooperative environment be formed, and that the players be free to "succeed" with their MoV, but keep their actions within agreed limits.

I was thinking the other day of how to handle fantasy monsters with special abilities.  Take the Ice Serpent from the Everway universe (found in the Spherewalker Sourcebook).  This creature is actually made of water (the only ice part is its fangs), and while it can be solid enough to constrict its victims, it is liquid enough that normal weapons pass through it.  Its only major vulnerability is to fire.

In a gamist game this creature's purpose would be to challenge the *players*.  Did they bring fire magic? Can they figure out its weaknesses? And so on ...  In a simulationist game the important point would be to accurately reflect the character's exact odds of defeating the thing (a concept completely irrelevant for The Pool).

These two roles play no part in narrativism, but I think the creature's special abilities still have a role to play, namely as a challenge to the character.  If the player wins her role she defeated the monster somehow; that is agreed here, but I would still insist that the MoV reflect the creatues specialties.  Whatever is in the MoV, it should include how the character overcame the creature.  Did she roll into the camp fire?  Did she wrest the fangs from its mouth?  Or perhaps the player discovers some previously unknown magic gift.  Whatever happens it should be heroic in nature an not merely, "I chop it up with my sword."

Am I on the right track here?


[ This Message was edited by: stimuli on 2001-09-05 17:10 ]
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Jeffrey Straszheim
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2001, 02:09:00 PM »

Well, this is really James V.'s call as far as The Pool is concerned, but if we're talking about Narrativism in general, I'd say it starts by reviewing WHY it's cool or desirable to have a creature like that in the first place.

Given that it IS cool - and of course! - I say, "Why?" Because it means that in an Everway context, symbols have meaning. An "ice serpent" isn't just an animal, it's a Meaningful Thing, and as much as all the symbolism can get a little wearing in Everway sometimes, that IS the point of having ice serpents and fire roses and all the rest of it.

So in dealing with it, I'd suggest that we go straight to the attributes and the Fortune deck and see what elements are at work - does the person "blaze away" at it with his attack? Does getting an unfavorable Water card REALLY suck, as opposed to an unfavorable Fire card? And remember, this isn't about simulating some actual physical phenomenon - in Everway, one's energetic physical actions are an expression of Cosmic Fire, in story terms.

Take it even further - why an ice serpent, attacking the PCs, in the first place? Because its cold and piercing nature matches the personality of their enemy? Or it manifests or matches with the hatred of the curse that afflicts the realm?

So my hope would be that at least I, as GM, made great and fun use of these elements of play, and that whichever players were so inclined would do so too.

I've played a fair amount of Everway and have found players either to get this notion really easily or struggle with it unsuccessfully. Again, too much of this "element-symbol think" is possible, but a little does go a long way.

Best,
Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2001, 02:09:00 PM »

Well, this is really James V.'s call as far as The Pool is concerned, but if we're talking about Narrativism in general, I'd say it starts by reviewing WHY it's cool or desirable to have a creature like that in the first place.

Given that it IS cool - and of course! - I say, "Why?" Because it means that in an Everway context, symbols have meaning. An "ice serpent" isn't just an animal, it's a Meaningful Thing, and as much as all the symbolism can get a little wearing in Everway sometimes, that IS the point of having ice serpents and fire roses and all the rest of it.

So in dealing with it, I'd suggest that we go straight to the attributes and the Fortune deck and see what elements are at work - does the person "blaze away" at it with his attack? Does getting an unfavorable Water card REALLY suck, as opposed to an unfavorable Fire card? And remember, this isn't about simulating some actual physical phenomenon - in Everway, one's energetic physical actions are an expression of Cosmic Fire, in story terms.

Take it even further - why an ice serpent, attacking the PCs, in the first place? Because its cold and piercing nature matches the personality of their enemy? Or it manifests or matches with the hatred of the curse that afflicts the realm?

So my hope would be that at least I, as GM, made great and fun use of these elements of play, and that whichever players were so inclined would do so too.

I've played a fair amount of Everway and have found players either to get this notion really easily or struggle with it unsuccessfully. Again, too much of this "element-symbol think" is possible, but a little does go a long way.

Best,
Ron
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James V. West
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2001, 05:41:00 PM »

The "contract" Ron referred to is this simple limitation to the MOV: the GM can stop the MOV at any time but must allow the player to complete at least one expression. For example, I win a roll in which I'm hoping that my dashing appearance and charisma charm the pants off Princess Hottie. In my MOV I start by saying "Princess Hottie can't seem to resist looking my way. She is so taken that she drops the magical tome at once and--" the GM stops me there.

I've given at least one complete thought, one expression. She can't seem to reist looking. For whatever reason, the GM thought it best to stop me. Perhaps the act of dropping the book seemed like too much for him to hanlde. Maybe she is a powerful sorceress who would not let her girlish nature get in the way of something as important as the Grand Grimoire or whatever. As long as I wasn't pushing it too far, the GM could have just let me keep on talking.

But, she *did* drop the book. Its the GM's job to work that into his response. "The book falls with a dusty thump onto the altar before her, open to the proper page. She gives you a sideways glance, then proceeds with her spell...although you can swear she's a little less menacing than before."

At least, that's the idea. No one has come forth with any major descriptions of how the MOV works in actual play. I hope to find out first hand this weekend....

James V. West
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James V. West
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Posts: 567


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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2001, 05:42:00 PM »

The "contract" Ron referred to is this simple limitation to the MOV: the GM can stop the MOV at any time but must allow the player to complete at least one expression. For example, I win a roll in which I'm hoping that my dashing appearance and charisma charm the pants off Princess Hottie. In my MOV I start by saying "Princess Hottie can't seem to resist looking my way. She is so taken that she drops the magical tome at once and--" the GM stops me there.

I've given at least one complete thought, one expression. She can't seem to reist looking. For whatever reason, the GM thought it best to stop me. Perhaps the act of dropping the book seemed like too much for him to hanlde. Maybe she is a powerful sorceress who would not let her girlish nature get in the way of something as important as the Grand Grimoire or whatever. As long as I wasn't pushing it too far, the GM could have just let me keep on talking.

But, she *did* drop the book. Its the GM's job to work that into his response. "The book falls with a dusty thump onto the altar before her, open to the proper page. She gives you a sideways glance, then proceeds with her spell...although you can swear she's a little less menacing than before."

At least, that's the idea. No one has come forth with any major descriptions of how the MOV works in actual play. I hope to find out first hand this weekend....

James V. West
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Jeffrey Straszheim
Member

Posts: 112


« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2001, 07:03:00 PM »

With regards to the Ice Serpent, I think I see how to play it with Everway, but I'm talking here about using this creature with The Pool, where its symbolic nature is not directly represented by the rules.

(I'm actually thinking of using a highly modified Everway universe as the background for some Pool stuff, minus the chanelling dolphins and all that. :smile: )

The idea I currently have is as simple as this.  If a player were to take a MoV when fighting an Ice Serpent, simply to tell the player that such a beast cannot be harmed by normal weapons, but is particularly weak against fire.  They'd still have full control once they started talking, but at least they'd know what directions to go in.

With regards to the talk until I stop them mechanic.  I'm not sure I like it.  I fear it will penalize players with less verbal skill.  I think I prefer a less formal approach.  That being said, I think I'll try it out this weekend to see how it works with my wife and me.


[ This Message was edited by: stimuli on 2001-09-05 23:04 ]
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Jeffrey Straszheim
Jeffrey Straszheim
Member

Posts: 112


« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2001, 07:10:00 PM »

Oh yeah, and since we're on the subject, has anyone else tried The Pool with one-on-one play?  My wife lost all of her dice last adventure and was really up that famous creek sans any form of propulsion.  With multiple players I see this less of an issue, as others could help out while she built her dice back up.

Any suggestions on a way to help boost loners?

(I'm thinking as a quick solution to give out more dice at the begining.)
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Jeffrey Straszheim
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« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2001, 08:10:00 PM »

Quote
In a simulationist game the important point would be to accurately reflect the character's exact odds of defeating the thing (a concept completely irrelevant for The Pool).


And completely irrelevant for an enormous number of simulationist games, too. But in a simulationist game the point would be that the ice serpent somehow vivifies and "realizes" the campaign world.

But this isn't the "let's battle misunderstandings of simulationism some more" thread, so onto:

Quote
These two roles play no part in narrativism, but I think the creature's special abilities still have a role to play, namely as a challenge to the character. If the player wins her role she defeated the monster somehow; that is agreed here, but I would still insist that the MoV reflect the creatues specialties. Whatever is in the MoV, it should include how the character overcame the creature.


I think it's a challenge to the player, as in gamism. But it's a challenge to the player-as-author rather than the player-as-problem-solver:

Given an ice serpent;
Given an earned MoV;
Give me shapely action - and don't resort to the ridiculous.

Storytellers are escape artists. They are constantly setting themselves traps and challenges that they have to overcome, either in their own eyes or their audiences' eyes. If I give you a cliffhanger with Zog trapped in a pit this month, I had better not give you "With one mighty leap, Zog cleared the rim of the pit" to start out next month. You'll know I cheated. If I give you "The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox, he was passed out drunk in the back of a Rolls Royce Silver Wraith on the terrace of The Dancers" to start the story, I had better not tell you a story that has nothing to do with Terry Lennox, and I just liked that sentence. Readers know that authors can cheat and it pisses them off. So if a game group has a contract that sets a certain expectation for mood and tone and plausibility, then the MoV is an opportunity but not an unbounded one. It's possible for the player to win the right to act (push the narrative) but lose the action (disgust or bore the other users with the MoV).

Best,


Jim
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20' x 20' Room - Because Roleplaying Games Are Interesting
James V. West
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Posts: 567


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« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2001, 10:39:00 PM »

The MoV was intended to be a short bit of director stance for the player. Because of its uncertain nature, its difficult to write hard rules for it. So far, the rule that the GM can stop the player after one complete thought is the only one that makes sense to me. Does anyone have a suggestion without complicating the game?

I don't want to legislate any kind of tone or style rules for the MoV. The *quality* of a player's description of victory is important only to the individual group, not the rules of the game. Every group has its own style and I believe that any group who plays together will eventually find a common voice.

One thing I want to clarify in the playtest game (coming very, very soon...) is that the MoV is not limited to merely describing the nature of a success.

Say you make a roll to read and comprehend an ancient book. You gamble, you succeed, you decide to make an MoV. In your MoV you could actually expand the GM's description of the text. Let's say its a book on the Cult of the Daisies. You read it, the GM provides the information that you gain (in whatever manner or form fitting to the group). In your MoV you could add that the book mentions a tie that the Cult of Daisies has to the Cult of Roses, which could be important to your character. In that way, MoV's have huge power to affect the game's storyline not just for the immediate action, but for future chapters of the story.

That's the idea anyway....

James V. West
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Jeffrey Straszheim
Member

Posts: 112


« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2001, 03:19:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-09-08 02:39, James V. West wrote:

The MoV was intended to be a short bit of director stance for the player. Because of its uncertain nature, its difficult to write hard rules for it. So far, the rule that the GM can stop the player after one complete thought is the only one that makes sense to me. Does anyone have a suggestion without complicating the game?


My plans for the my upcomming sessions is just to play it by ear.  I think I'll use the stop them when it goes to far as the basic system, but use simple negotiation to pin down the MoV's to stuff we all like.  That will, I think, avoid the need for disruptive vetos -- which everyone wants to avoid.

My idea now is, as a GM, to tell the player before she starts her MoV if there are any special conseration I'd like made.  For instance, if she's fighting my uber-villian and wins an MoV, I might say, "Look, you can escape from this guy, or force him to retreat now, but I'd like him not to be killed yet."  I think (if used sparringly) this technique will work fine.

I'm still hoping for some feedback on anyone use used The Pool in one-on-one play :smile:
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Jeffrey Straszheim
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2001, 04:46:00 PM »

To the one of Stimulus,

When a player is out of dice in the pool, it doesn't mean he or she is helpless. It means the character is constrained just to rolling 1, 2, or 3 dice as indicated by the difficulty of the task at hand.

In my experience of play, a character in this pickle is usually played fairly conservatively, so as to get those coveted three-dice rolls. And once success comes around again, then the player takes the option to get a die into the pool, the first couple-three times.

So therefore bottoming out is just fine even for one-person play. The effects are the same - backing off on Monologues of Victory for a little while, and taking it easy in announcing actions.

Apologies if this was already clear, in which case I misunderstood you.

Best,
Ron
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James V. West
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« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2001, 08:36:00 AM »

I like the idea of telling the player up front if there is something you want her to NOT do in her MoV. However, I can also see where this could become annoying.

I played the game this morning, so I'm starting my own thread on the experience.

James V. West
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