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Author Topic: Brief Critique of Relationship Mechanics  (Read 13932 times)
Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #45 on: September 09, 2003, 12:39:12 AM »

Quote from: John Kim
I would think that the HQ relationship rules also make a difference.  So I could use them and still have a relationship-heavy game, but it would be different from my earlier games.  The approach in your post is that these are just different approaches towards the same goal.  I suspect, however, that the goal is subtlely different.  Relationships are important in HeroQuest, but I suspect they have a different focus and/or purpose than relationships in my Vinland game.

I'd put it this way - it's not that they are different approaches to the same goal, rather that they are different approaches that CAN be used towards the same goal.  They can also be used towards other goals, and there may be some interesting tendencies there (System Matters, and all that), but the real issues are probably more in my other questions - like who has access to the use of relationships in play, and in what manner.

So that the fact the creation of a relationship in your play can be "vetoed" by the player, and the fact that you as GM can (and sometimes do) choose to keep the details of motivation behind the future events in the relationship mysterious, tells us more interesting stuff than just knowing if the relationship has a numerical ranking or not.

Gordon
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pete_darby
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« Reply #46 on: September 09, 2003, 02:31:55 AM »

Quote from: Aelios
Given: Relationships are, by nature, unpredictable. A sword skill doesn't get worse if you don't buy it flowers. Even a love of ten years could, and has, forsaken people within a very short time. But this probadly isn't the result of random chance, but it may be uncontrollable (by the PC).
Presumption: Relationships can be bough with Hero Points, experience, or whatever else.
Point: What happens when that relationship dies? Do you "refund" the experience? Is it lost forever? Is that fair to the player?


Just to play devils advocate here, what if a character doesn't practice or use his sword skill? Would a GM be justified in lowering the sword skill?

The answer, as ever, is "depends on the game," but certainly in some games the answer is yes (RQIII springs to mind). I can see justifications from all 3 points of GNS for either lowering the rating or preserving it.

Does the player get their points back?

Not trying to knock down the argument, but the presumption that relationships are always fundamentally different from other attributes of a character triggered my "everything in moderation" response.

The general question of how, in a game that uses currency (in the games design meaning of the phrase) you manage story / sim based changes to attributes is an interesting one, and possibly worthy of another thread.

As a sideline, though, if a GM removed a paid for relationship at the drop of the hat because "these things happen," I'd have a problem with that GM.
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Pete Darby
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« Reply #47 on: September 09, 2003, 02:50:59 AM »

I'd just like to mention that in HW/HQ there is not a one-to-one relationship between ratings and relationships.  That is, a relationship value might describe a relationship with a group rather than an individual; or that a character might have multiple conflicting relationships with one individual.  Or might have a relationship with a group and a separate relationship rating with an individual within that group.  A character could have "loyalty to the king" and "hate the king" simultaneously, and would negotiate that conflict in play.  And of course a given relationship does not have to be reciprocated.

This brings me to the issue join raised about relationships being with subordinates, in HW/HQ.  Yes I'd agree, there is a tacit expectation that such relationships will be used to structure command authority; but the caveat is that of course in the game world/historical context, personal and political authority are indistinguishable.

I think its fair to say that the HW/HQ relationship mechanism is not primarily intended to conduct or manage the particular role the John was exploring.  That said, in the Silksif/Melnir scenario, it would seem to me to have been totally appopriate to conduct that sequence, in a game using ratings, without revealing anythoing of Melnirs state of mind mechanically.  Because of course there is a huge difference in whether Melnir has "Love Silksif 17" and "Hate Silksif 17", either of which COULD be explanations for his behaviour (the latter being of course being conspiratorial and manipulative).  IOW, this is an aspect of Melnirs effectiveness that remains priviliged GM knowledge, or at least certainly can be so.  

The relationship RATING only measures the subjective feelings between two people if that is what the relationship is described as rating.  I raise this because  Gordons post about categorising relationsyhips representation becuase it presumes that we know what the relationship is, and the issue is only whether it is realised mechanistically.  But - as mentioned previously - we are using a specific system for reference and the peculiarities of that system need to be accounted for.  So in realising that HW/HQ has its totally freeform text-based character generation system, it should be seen that a relationship can be almost anything at all, with anything at all.  The result is that this game can do something almost no game can do: produce characters whose entire mechanical effectiveness is relationship based.

A character could be generated as clerk without a single representation of a physical ability, let alone a violent one.  This is your classic paper-pusher: but they can potentially be just as effective, and just as mechanically represented, as more orthodox characters.  It is merely that all their (discretionary) points will be located in various forms of relationships: healthy or unhealthy, equable or parasitic, manipulative or bureacratic or emotive.
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #48 on: September 09, 2003, 11:55:56 AM »

For me, part of what makes the numerical rating of a relationship powerful in HQ (and similar) is just what contra said - the numerical part is only about the degree of effectiveness the player is able to bring to bear via the relationship, it does NOT describe any particular details about the relationship or characterize WHY they are able to use it for x amount of effectiveness.  Anything I wrote that leads folks to think otherwise . . . I must've miscommunicated.

In the hope that that's clear,

Gordon
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RaconteurX
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« Reply #49 on: September 09, 2003, 07:51:23 PM »

Quote from: John Kim
System came into the question through Whimsy Cards.


Ah, well Whimsy Cards change everything. They frequently turn all sorts of "proper" mechanics, relationship or otherwise, on their heads. I adore them, myself, as they rarely leave one with a dull story. In the past , I've often refunded game currency spent on something subsequently altered in a significant fashion by Whimsy play, or at least allowed said currency to be reallocated in an appropriate manner (changing the object of a Pendragon passion, for example).
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