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Author Topic: Flipping The Pool  (Read 14396 times)
Mike Holmes
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« on: September 24, 2001, 06:28:00 AM »

Spurred on by something Ron said about it when it came out, I've been giving The Pool a little thought of late and something has occurred to me. Isn't the idea that you lose dice when you fail "Deprotagonizing" (to use a Paul term)? I mean, the character has already failed, and now he's less capable and thus likely to fail more. I understand the gambling fun but I just don't see the result being as effective as it could be.

What if you lost dice when you succeeded instead? And gained a die when you failed. A simple but radical change, what would the effects be? Well, firstly players would be encouraged to use as few dice as they thought necessary to acomplish the task, leading to more failures as players gamble with just how many dice might work. In fact they might frequently use little or no dice and accept failures just to get the extra dice when low. In cases of extreme need like a climactic battle they could still just unload on the contest. This would all work to keep the currency of protagonism in the player's control.

I'm sure there are problems that would need to be worked out to make everything mesh right, but would anyone see this as an improvement in general? Or am I missing something.

Also, my apollogies if this has already been discussed.

Mike
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Jeffrey Straszheim
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2001, 06:44:00 AM »

I think your idea would work, it just wouldn't be _The Pool_.  One cool effect that happens in The Pool is the *crashing failure*, when you fail a roll and lose all (or most) of your dice.  This is a cool opportunity for the GM to apply some big dramatic scene where the hero gets captured and thrown into the dungeon, or tied to the Tree of Woe, or some such.  I don't see that happening in your system.  I have a feeling your system would become more nitpicky in its dice management.  I could be wrong.  You'll have to playtest and see.


[ This Message was edited by: stimuli on 2001-09-24 11:20 ]
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Jeffrey Straszheim
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2001, 11:16:00 AM »

See, if a person fails big and is thrown into the dungeon, that is exactally when he's gonna need the big dice to get him out. My version, let's call it Anti-Pool, makes sure that a player can come back more quickly from bad stuff. He doesn't have to figure out what to do to get more dice after screwing up, he has as many as before and one more. What Anti-Pool prevents is characters from getting on a roll where they just can't fail because they're rolling so darned many dice. In Anti-Pool you eventually must fail (if you're using dice from your pool to succeed) in order that you get some back. The neat part is that you get to influence when the character will succeed, and when he fails.

I like all the examples that I can imagine. Like if you throw in all your dice to defeat the baddy and fail, the nest shot is going to be even worse. You may have dramatic setbacks but you'll win eventually, and sooner rather than later.

After the end of an adventure where the boss is defeated, etc. the chracters should all get their Pools refilled so as to start off the next adventure with a bang.

Mike
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Jeffrey Straszheim
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2001, 11:48:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-09-24 15:16, Mike Holmes wrote:
See, if a person fails big and is thrown into the dungeon, that is exactally when he's gonna need the big dice to get him out.


I guess my evil side shows here, but this is all the more reason for the player not to have dice.  Failing big time is serious.  Actually, I think the *big failure* is a good time to stop the evening's session (other factors allowing) on a cliffhanger.

That being said, I think your idea is valid, just very different.  If I may be abstract, it is a negative feedback vs. positive feedbad thing.  _The Pool_, as currently written explores positive feedback, which should make stories a bit more wild, I think. (Perhaps not, I'm just thinking out loud at this point.)

Quote

 My version, let's call it Anti-Pool, makes sure that a player can come back more quickly from bad stuff. He doesn't have to figure out what to do to get more dice after screwing up, he has as many as before and one more. What Anti-Pool prevents is characters from getting on a roll where they just can't fail because they're rolling so darned many dice. In Anti-Pool you eventually must fail (if you're using dice from your pool to succeed) in order that you get some back. The neat part is that you get to influence when the character will succeed, and when he fails.


Have you tried The Pool yet?  Trust me, "getting on a roll where they just can't fail" simply doesn't happen.  Remember the 9 dice limit.  Even rolling 12 dice (a really good roll) only gives you an 89% success rate.  Sooner or later you will fail and lose lots of dice, if you've been betting high.

And the *big loss* adds a lot of narrative juice.  Betting high makes this event important, and failure dramatic, both in its game world effect as well as mechanical effect.  There is a neat synergy (yikes) between the two that can only be appreciated by trying it.

Quote

I like all the examples that I can imagine. Like if you throw in all your dice to defeat the baddy and fail, the nest shot is going to be even worse. You may have dramatic setbacks but you'll win eventually, and sooner rather than later.


If you bet a lot of dice fighting the bad guy, and you fail, then surely he's beaten you, and its time to change your tact.  However, keep in mind that not everything needs to be rolled for.  Try this on:

Player: I swing at the bad guy.

GM: Roll 1 dice plus traits.

[the player bets a whole bunch of dice, rolls and loses.]

GM: You fail and his guards fall upon you.  You are dragged into a room, and the leader begins to interogate you.

[The player would love to request a roll now to escape, but because he has few (or no) dice left, he chooses not to.  If he had many dice left here, he'd likely make that roll, and use his MoV to escape.]

Player: I shout, "You killed my mother, my people, you took my father's sword ..."

... and so on ...

He's without dice now, so he must play along without a good chance of an MoV.  However, recall that he and the GM can play along quite far using strictly drama mechanics.  If, for instance, the bad guy ties him to the Tree of Woe, his lack of dice needn't end the adventure because the GM can still have his sidekick show up and save him, or whatever.  And if you make it a cliffhanger, he will get more dice before the next session.

Quote

After the end of an adventure where the boss is defeated, etc. the chracters should all get their Pools refilled so as to start off the next adventure with a bang.


I agree, there should be some minumum starting dice, regardless of how bad the last story turned out.




[ This Message was edited by: stimuli on 2001-09-24 15:49 ]

[ This Message was edited by: stimuli on 2001-09-24 15:51 ]
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Jeffrey Straszheim
Epoch
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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2001, 11:51:00 AM »

Damn you Mike Ge--, er, Holmes.

This is just too uncomfortably close to the idea that I had, and am still planning on publishing once I get it all written out.

Anyhow, my idea was to lose less than all the dice in your pool when you succeeded.

One minor correction:  You note the possibility of someone having such a large pool in "The Pool, Std. Edition" that he just rolls and rolls and never loses.  I was worried about that too, but I ran the numbers (it's easy to do -- odds of failure are (5/6) ^ n, where n is the number of dice you roll), and it's pretty unlikely.  With 10 dice in your pool, your odds of failure are still 15%.  With 15 dice in your pool, your odds of failure are about 6%.  In other words, it's pretty likely that a person with that many dice will still fail.

(Now, get above about 15 dice, and you're in pretty good shape -- at some point, it does become a positive feedback cycle and breaks the system).
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Valamir
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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2001, 11:53:00 AM »

That concepts seems very close to what I gather from Moose's new game.  You roll a bunch of dice and select any number rolled as being the "degree of success" for the action at hand.  In addition you gain a number of Hero Dice equal to the number of matches to the die you chose to Keep.  Thus with a roll of 1, 1, 1, 1, 6.  A player may be motivated to take the 1 (failure) and earn 3 Hero Points rather than the 6 (success) and not earn any.  Assuming I'm following the system correctly.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2001, 12:14:00 PM »

Alright all y'all. I'm a statistician by trade and I sent a chart with the percentages for all the possible combination of dice to James five minutes after reading the game through the first time. Ask him.  :smile:

89% is pretty good, and you can get higher IIRC. Still, I like the odds on the Anti-Pool better, just looking at nothing but the stats. Still'd need actual play to see if it'd work any better or worse, of course. Just thinking out loud really.

Anyhow, Damn you Mike Gen...Sullivan, Ralph Mazza (AKA Valamir) and I have been working on a game for several months now that has a monster set of rules written that we demoed at GenCon and Origins fer the some o the forgies that is a lot like The Framework except that it's a whole game by itself. Also a lot like the Pool, and somewhat like some of Knipe's work. But we wrote it first, darnitall!!!! I got about a hundred eMails with Ralph's name on em to proove it.

OK, sorry, just had to get that off my chest. :wink:

Mike "I'm not Gentry, he's much much thinner" Holmes

P.S. Note in the GenCon photos how Gentry is on one side of all the photos and I'm on the other. Like matching Mike bookends. Eeeeerie...
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2001, 12:17:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-09-24 15:53, Valamir wrote:
That concepts seems very close to what I gather from Moose's new game.  You roll a bunch of dice and select any number rolled as being the "degree of success" for the action at hand.  In addition you gain a number of Hero Dice equal to the number of matches to the die you chose to Keep.  Thus with a roll of 1, 1, 1, 1, 6.  A player may be motivated to take the 1 (failure) and earn 3 Hero Points rather than the 6 (success) and not earn any.  Assuming I'm following the system correctly.

Yep, you caught me Ralph. That was the other inspiration for the idea.

Ralph is EVIL, he reads my mind. I don't know how many times we've crossed eMails with exactly the same ideas. Again, eeeeeerie....

Makes game design with him much easier, tho.

Mike
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hardcoremoose
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« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2001, 12:25:00 PM »

Ralph,

That's how my game works.  And yeah, the mechanic was inspired by the thought "The Pool is cool, but what if you just spent the dice outright?"

Mike,

I think The Pool is a landmark in game design, primarily because of all these crazy notions it's given us, like The Hero Emergent, and now the system that you've concocted.  Before The Pool, I understood the idea of various currencies, but after The Pool I started to see game systems as real economies.  The system you present is a different sort of economy, as is mine.  I find these things to be a lot of fun to explore.  

Mike & Ralph,

Please tell me I didn't steal anything from your game.  If I did, it was inadvertent.  The zip file with that game is still sitting unopened on my harddrive because I haven't been able to print hard copy, and there's no way I'm going to try reading that thing straight off my monitor.  I promise, one day soon I'm going to tear into it and then offer that long-ago solicited feedback. :smile:

Take care,
Scott
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Valamir
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« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2001, 12:35:00 PM »

heh.  I don't simply read minds.  I'm planting hypnotic suggestions while you sleep.  

But ok.  Since Mike has rather eagerly plugged our game a few different times now...:wink:  It has reached a point where it is substantially complete.  There are just a few mechanical details that need to be ironed out through additional playtesting [he says, fingers crossed].

It isn't available online for free because it is something we are intending to publish at some point (once we work out all of our options).  But there are a number of fellow Forgites who've been exposed to it.  I know Paul Czege, and Seth Ben Ezra have actually played it.  Ron and Scott and Jim, and JW all have copies, and I'm sure there are several more that Mike was promoting to at Gen Con who've heard various things about it.

If there is the interest I'd be happy to see a discussion thread started on it.  I'd be even happier to have some folks who'd be interested in helping us through the last playtest stages.

In a nutshell some of you may remember an old thread on the Alyria forum where Mike and I were bantering about some independent thoughts on how to empower players to actually create their own setting as part of a discussion on how Alyria was going to be mapless.  What we've come up with is a set of rules that allow players to create the entire game from genre and premise to setting and world to NPCs and PCs, to plot and action on the fly during game play.
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Epoch
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« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2001, 12:39:00 PM »

I tend to agree that The Pool is an important piece of game design.  It's a very clear expression of a lot of the interesting things which have come up around here.
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Valamir
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« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2001, 12:54:00 PM »

Nah you didn't steal nothin' :smile:

Although I will say, that while I don't know when the Pool first came out, I hadn't even heard of it until long after I was in o Universalis.  Even then I intentionally steered away from it until I had Uni in pretty close to a final form.  There are some similiarities in a lot of the ideas that are floating around, but I think that's because the idea of mechanics designed to support a story rather than promote verisimilitude are bound to have characteristics in common. (although I was struck by the originality of Wyrd...I can't wait to get my hands on that and see how it actually works...In fact, Jim and I have been exchanging emails about how to (or how not to) incorporate futhark runes into the game).

When you do get around to really wanting to take a look at Universalis, I think I have a more recent version than the one I sent you originally, so let me know and I'll be sure to get it off to you.

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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2001, 06:57:00 AM »

BTW, I should mention that the Anti-Pool is just the simplest change that I could come up with to mess with The Pool. I'd imagine that if we thought about it for a while we could come up with some scheme that would simulate any desired exchange of successes and failures. I'd encourage people to come up with methods that best suit the game they want to play. Should we try some other ideas here?

Mike
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2001, 08:59:00 AM »

Hey Mike,

Should we try some other ideas here?

Of the ideas that James emailed me yesterday, the one I like the best is when a player rolls a success, he looks at how many 1's he actually rolled and has the option of putting that many dice into his pool rather than taking the MoV. James described allowing a MoV if the player put one less than the number of 1's rolled into the pool, but I'm rather more interested in the idea of the player having to decide between adding a number of dice to the pool based on the successes rolled, or taking a MoV.

Paul
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2001, 10:34:00 AM »

See, now that's very cool. Again I can see a different flow to play, not to mention torquing up the fun of the rolling process.

The one thing that makes this less usefull than it might be otherwise, however, is that it still won't often help those thrashing at the bottom of the pool who'll be making less MoV rolls anyhow and be rolling less dice when they do. Is the original limit on the size of the pool still there? Or can the pool get very large? This could spiral out of control.

I'd definitely use it with the Anti-Pool though. "Four ones, eh? Hmmm. Maybe I should give up this one MoV and go on a spree later." No matter how many dice you accumulate, you'd just be burning them later when you succeed with them.

Mike
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