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Task vs. Conflict and Scene vs. Action? (for Ron)

Started by Manu, October 18, 2001, 06:53:00 PM

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Manu

Hello Ron and all,

You mentioned these in your essay; Could you please provide a few examples of these? I fail to see the nuance. Thanks.
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Manu

Mike Holmes

Yes, Ron.

Is it the concept of result and scope respectively? That is I would surmise that you might mean that Conflict vs. Task relates to how you look at the outcome, while Scene vs Action refers to how much activity is being considered in one roll?

Mike
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jburneko

Hello Manu,

I'm not Ron but I understand 3 of these concepts very well.  I personally don't see the difference between Task and Action, so we'll have to wait for Ron's input.

Mainly we're talking about level of abstraction for any given resolution system.  From least abstract to most abstract it goes Task->Conflict->Scene.

Tasks are individual character steps.  I hit him with my sword.  I pick the lock.  I try to hack the computer.  A good deal of the more popular role-playing games work on this level.  This is the classic skills model.

The next step up from Tasks are Conflicts.  Conflicts can be thought of as the REASON a character is performing a given task.  Are you swinging your sword at an enemy because you're trying to kill him or because you're trying to subdue him?  Systems that resolve Conflicts assume that you will retroactively determine any tasks that were needed.  An example of system that works at this level is Sorcerer.

Example:

Player: I'm trying to learn info about the enemy.  Roll dice.  Oh, I succeed.  Since I'm a hacker, let's say I hacked into their central database, what do I learn?

Next up from Conflicts are whole Scenes.  Scenes can be thought of as the overarching goal that subsumes any of the individual conflicts that may arrise.  Assume a typical adventuring party encountering a bunch of pirate slave traders.  The adventuring party declares that they're going to try to kill the pirates and the pirates declare that they're going to try to subdue the party.  The dice then resolve these group goals and not individual conflicts or tasks.  This is most effective when combined with a degree of success system.  This allows for something like the Pirates subduing SOME of the adventures before the adventures manage to kill all the pirates.  An example of a game that works on this level is Story Engine.

As for Actions?  I don't know how they're different from Tasks.

Jesse

Mike Holmes

I dunno Jesse. I think that Ron implied something different in the essay. Scene resolution was introduced by story engine, ane just meant that a whole buncha activity could be resolved in one roll, essentially all the activity in one scene defined in a pretty traditional sense. If you won the scene you got to describe most of what happened.

I think Ron is talking about quantity and method of resolution as two different things.

Or am I way off here Ron?

Mike
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Le Joueur

Mike,

I don't think that what Jesse said was not in line with the one-roll resolution idea with conflicts or scenes.  As a matter of fact, it seemed exactly where he was going; he just didn't mention dice in a 'fortune in the middle' fashion (that I don't think was restrictively implicated in the essay).

As a matter of design, I noticed this kind of relationship between the skills listed in many point-based role-playing games before I even began the Scattershot project.  I mean if you roll to resolve a single sword swing (an action) and you roll to determine the result of throwing a pot (a task composed of many actions) and you roll against a 'foraging' skill (quite probably at least a scene in the life of the character) and you roll to garner information off the street using streetwise (arguably a whole number of scenes, a conflict of you against the villain's network of secrecy), then the 'weight on the narrative' can be wildly different for each die roll.

That's why in Scattershot we broke all such skills down into three levels not unlike Ron's (are these his?) Action, Task, and Scene (we didn't do Conflict).  We also made sure that there were representatives of each skill on the other levels and then tied the whole thing together using a discussion of pacing techniques.  Thus play can consider whether the pacing should have the characters move into the woods exercising their tracking skills prior to capturing the night's repast, or whether there should simply be a hunting skill roll.  'Higher' still, perhaps the whole journey should be collapsed into a single 'how it went' roll, to take it to the Conflict (man versus the wilderness) level.

I am highly interested in discussions along this line because, to date, everyone has told me that this idea is new, but I feel I need more feedback before 'putting it out there.'

Fang Langford

[ This Message was edited by: Le Joueur on 2001-10-19 09:47 ]
Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!

Mike Holmes

Quote
On 2001-10-19 09:37, Le Joueur wrote:
I don't think that what Jesse said was not in line with the one-roll resolution idea with conflicts or scenes.  As a matter of fact, it seemed exactly where he was going; he just didn't mention dice.

First thing, just a clarification, resolution in tis case does not have to be Fortune based. Instead of one-roll, I'd say one-resolution.

Quote
...

That's why in Scattershot we broke all such skills down into three levels not unlike Ron's (are these his?) Action, Task, and Scene (we didn't do Conflict).  
What I see above is three different scopes of action for what Ron'd call task resolution. In all cases the player defines the task that the player will acomplish, and you roll to see if that task is successful. Did I forage successfully and find something? This'll make more sense in a second...

Quote
'Higher' still, perhaps the whole journey should be collapsed into a single 'how it went' roll, to take it to the Conflict (man versus the wilderness) level.
And here you have the Conflict Vs Task Resolution. Here's the difference. Conflict resolution looks not at what tasks are being performed, but asks what is the conflict? So, if the conflict above is Man Vs. Wilderness, you roll and then determine what tasks were performed successfully or unsuccessfully to succeed or fail in that conflict. This is just as Jesse put it above. Task Vs. Conflict.

So what you have identified could be seen as six different things, by cross-polinating them (though I'd doubt that you'd use both . Specific Task, Gross Task and Scene Task, as well as Specific Conflict, Gross Conflict, and Scene Conflict. To give you an example, a Gross Task might be fighting a single opponent in a battle scene with a sword (using swordfighting skill, or what ever you defined it as in your system). A Gross Conflict would be defined as defeating a single opponent (using whatever the player liked after the fact). As you can see, Conflict resolution voids the normal skill resolution system.

Quote
I am highly interested in discussions along this line because, to date, everyone has told me that this idea is new, but I feel I need more feedback before 'putting it out there.'

Well, I think the idea of having a version of each skill for three different scopes is very new. Might be really cool (from my Sim vantage). Do characters have to buy each as a separate skill, or are each of these just a scale of resolution for a single skill? If you do buy separately, do they relate in any way (default perhaps)?

Mike
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Matt Machell

To me a conflict differs substantially from a task. A conflict can span a number of scenes/tasks. Say, a political conflict between two characters can be the backdrop for a whole story, but contain many individual tasks.

Surely the Conflict vs Task issue relates to on what scale you resolve events. Lots of RPGs focus solely on task resolution (I hit him), but not on overarching conflict resolution (Who won the fight/war).

Or am I missing the point?


Matt

Mike Holmes

You're missing the context Matt.

There has been an ongoing discussion of the usefulness of something called Conflict Resolution over Task Resolution. These are defined for this purpose above. The terms aren't too important. Everybody is familiar with traditional Task resolution. "Conflict resolution" as introduced by Ron is what Jesse and I (attempt to) describe above.

In Ron's latest essay he states that there is another dichotomy or spectrum as well, and I am theorizing that it has to do with how much action is being considered all at once. This may not be what Ron was implying; I can't say for sure until Ron chimes in. I still think it's an interesting topic, though.

So, no, in the model that I'm describing, Conflicts do not have to be long. A conflict could be trying to survive a fall. With Task resolution typically we see a GM assigning a roll against a skill like "Breakfall" or something, essentially the conflict is ignored temporarily so that we can resolve a breakfall Task. In Conflict resolution, you'd probably roll against some physical trait or against luck, or whatever and when successful you'd get to describe what Tasks you undertook to be successful. In the case of the example, I could be rolling my Stamina stat from Sorcerer, and on success I could describe the result as landing on my feet, or just absorbing the shock well, or grabbing something on the way down, whatever, as long as it relates to what I rolled against (Stamina applies to any physical activity in Sorcerer). In Task resolution which of these I was attempting would have been decided first.

That make any more sense?

Mike

[ This Message was edited by: Mike Holmes on 2001-10-19 11:11 ]
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Ron Edwards

Whew - the thread even has my name on it, and I haven't had a chance to get to it yet.

Okay, let's break it down.

Task Resolution = a single-action resolution without reference to the larger context of play, whether in terms of in-game time and space, or in-game relationships, or metagame issues. "I swing my sword at him!" "You hit/miss," referring specifically to that one physical action. Same with non-combat: "I climb that fence!" "You get over it / fall down on this side," referring specifically and only to the success of the character's muscle movements and that fence.

In Task Resolution, one extreme is utter failure to perform that task, and the other extreme is amazing success to perform that task.

Its partner or opposite term is Conflict Resolution, which is resolving the overall relationship or conflict of interest at hand, perhaps retroactively fitting in the details of how the tasks did it (without resolving them individually).

"I try to kill him with my sword!" "You kill him / do not kill him." Please note that this exchange can be DRESSED UP with embedded tasks a great deal, both before and after the resolution mechanic is employed. Also, a partial success might indicate a wound.

To continue with this idea: "I knock him out!" "You knock him out / or don't." In this case, a partial success might be dazing him, but a partial failure might be WOUNDING him! (Which you were not trying to do!)

Scene Resolution = a single resolution instance applies to the varied actions of many characters, even their sequential actions. "We fight the pirates!" The various characters can be fighting the pirates in a multitude of ways, but

It doesn't have an "opposite" term, so I think it might need one. Such a term would refer to a case in which individual's circumstances are being decided, rather than "a side's." So maybe Individual Resolution would be the best term. (And now that I think about it, Group Resolution rather than Scene Resolution isn't the worst term-change imaginable ...)

The most common sort across most RPGs is then Individual Task Resolution. The group's outcome is a summary of the separate Individual outcomes, and each of those separate Individual outcomes is a summary of a series of Task outcomes.

Sorcerer, despite a bit of wriggling in the text, is essentially Individual Conflict Resolution. Story Engine, if its most avant-garde mechanic is used, has Scene Conflict Resolution.

Is Scene Task Resolution possible? I think so. Tunnels & Trolls' fight mechanic is Scene Resolution, in that everyone on a side pools up their dice and bonuses into one roll. But the action at hand is "to injure the monster," not to kill or subdue or otherwise end the conflict. The conflict is ended only when the monster gets run out of points due to multiple Tasks.

This leads us to Hero Wars, which has two resolution systems, Simple and Extended. Either may apply to Scene (Group?) or Individual as needed, which in itself is pretty cool. Now for the tricky part. The Simple Contest is very clearly Conflict Resolution, but the Extended Contest is harder to read. I think it's a Conflict Resolution mechanic, rather than Task, partly based on my discussions with the designers. It does break up the conflict into "dramatic moment" stages though, and has (if I squint) a bit of an overlap with the T&T method.

Best,
Ron

Mike Holmes

Ah, so I was wrong. I now see three spectra. Specificity, Actions Scale, and Numbers.

Specificity refers to the Task Vs. Conflict thing. How specific is the task and potential outcomes.

Scale refers to how many subsumed actions are involved in the single resolution.

Numbers involves how many participants are involved in the single resolution.

Note that these are all spectra. For example classic task resolution often involves only the attempting character. I shoot the wall. But most games also include active targets in resolutions. So a single resolution actually affects two characters (or more for area effect). So you can easily have Task resolution that affects large numbers, just as you can have Conflict resolution affect large nembers.

Does that make sense at all? I would be more than happy to replace my terms with better ones if people can think of something good to replace them.

Mike
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Manu

Thanks for the clarification Ron,it all makes sense now;

A weird idea occured to me: What about a system that would use Fortune resolution for Individual Tasks and Conflicts, Karma resolution for Scene Task, and Drama resolution for Scene Conflict ? Say the GM determines (Drama) that he group of PCs wins the battle against the pirates, the various phases of the combat are solved using Karma, and Fortune is used to explain each task for each character, keeping in mind retroactively the winning side.Do you guys think I have something there?
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Manu

jburneko

Quote
On 2001-10-19 15:08, Manu wrote: A weird idea occured to me: What about a system that would use Fortune resolution for Individual Tasks and Conflicts, Karma resolution for Scene Task, and Drama resolution for Scene Conflict ?

You know this sound oddly like how I run my D&D game.  For example, I never put in a fight I don't intend the players to "win."  So, by Drama I have determined that the heroes will prevail.  To help insure this I compare the creatures abilities, feats, and skills to that of the players.  I use this comparison to determine how the creature will fight.  Which attacks, I can bring out in force to make the scene exiciting and which attacks I should probably 'pull my punches' on.  So inessence I use a Karma method to determine which actions a given creature will take.  Ultimately, however, we use the Fortune driven core task based mechanics in order to play out the fight.

Interesting.  Never thought about it that way.

Jesse

Ron Edwards

Good call, Jesse! This is exactly what I was referring to in the essay, when I talked about "covert" Drama in ostensibly Fortune-driven games. I think it's what led so many people in the late 80s to say "Well hell, what are the dice doing in there anyway?" (My conclusion is different from most of theirs, but it was a good question.)

Best,
Ron

Le Joueur

QuoteMike Holmes wrote:

QuoteLe Joueur wrote:

I am highly interested in discussions along this line because, to date, everyone has told me that this idea is new, but I feel I need more feedback before 'putting it out there.'
Well, I think the idea of having a version of each skill for three different scopes is very new. Might be really cool (from my Sim vantage). Do characters have to buy each as a separate skill, or are each of these just a scale of resolution for a single skill? If you do buy [them] separately, [or] do they relate in any way ([as a] default perhaps)?
You've got a good eye.  The mechanics in question are intentionally Simulationist in nature (while the character creation stuff gets more Gamist, unfortunately).  For the sake of 'focus' Scattershot relegates all Narrativist leanings into techniques rather than mechanics.  (Always was a gear-head rules-lawyer anyway.)

One of the things I always try to do with Scattershot's mechanics is to make things work the same all the way across the system.  So yes, a participant may purchase any skill of any level of specificity.  If they have multiple skills that apply to the same situation at different levels of 'resolution,' there are simplistic bonus mechanics and if a character is played at a pacing level different than the skill they wish to apply, there is a simple penalty of default for the appropriate level (like hunting using the archery skill alone).

The reason I say this "works the same way across the whole system" is because it is the exact same mechanic that allows a participant to have a character be particularly specialized in a specific thing.  (id est, the same way that a character who 'hyper-specialized' in the colt .45 has a modified chance to use any other pistol, so does the archer have at hunting small game.)  The reason for this kind of 'symmetry' is because I want the rules to quickly fade into the background without being too 'light.'

On the 'purchasing' end of things it might seem unfair or expensive to compel a player to have to buy more skills for a character that are on different levels and that a complex 'currency system' (if I might borrow Ron's terminology) is necessary to reduce the costs for 'aligned' skills.  This would only be true if the points used in Scattershot were a balancing mechanism and had any limitations.

This is not the case.

Scattershot uses the points to indicate between participants what the creator feels are the important aspects to their creation.  A concentration of points (to buy 'aligned' skills, for example) indicates a character who is designed to 'see more action' in that venue (something important for a gamemaster to know too, I think).  A character of high point total is not necessarily overly effective or unbalancing when it does not come as a surprise to the group.

Put simply, Scattershot is a point-based system that does not allow the gamemaster to apply any kind of point cut-off (although if the players wish, they may, and a number of suggestions are offered).  Does that sound new?

Fang Langford

p.s. Wish me a happy birthday tomorrow.
Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!

Mike Holmes

Happy B-day Fang.

I've been playing GURPS for quite a while ignoring point totals. If you don't have limits, then why bother having the points at all?

Mike
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