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Author Topic: How often do you roll your Pools?  (Read 8344 times)
hardcoremoose
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« on: October 22, 2001, 08:29:00 PM »

We had our third session of The Pool tonight.  It started out a bit off - a couple of us had the giggles and after nearly a month of not playing, we had trouble hitting our stride.  But that all changed in the second half of the evening, and in the end this may have been our best session yet.

Tangential to the actual session, we had some very interesting discussions.  One of these involved task vs. conflict resolution, and the question came up "How often do other players roll their dice while playing The Pool?".

Our conclusion: Other groups must roll their dice a helluva lot more often than we do.  James has described sessions of the game where his players gained, lost, and regained what seems like significant numbers of dice.  Well, I know for sure that we've lost them, but we just aren't rolling enough to regain them.

Tonight, for instance, I rolled once.  In four hours, that's how often I rolled the dice.  I wasn't even bottom of the barrel in that regard - Matt (Eloran) did not roll a single time (and ironically, his character accomplished the most in terms of story movement and protagonism).

Rolling the dice is an important part of The Pool's resource management, so I'm curious (and this is only good to those of you who have actually played The Pool):

During a normal game session, how many die rolls does the average player make (not neccessarily succeed at)?

Take care,
Scott
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2001, 02:12:00 PM »

Hey,

In my first session of GMing The Pool, both players rolled at least a dozen times, maybe as many as 15 times, in the course of a two-and-a-half-hour game.

But I'm a Fortune junkie, and I use the outcomes of rolls for actual plot construction, especially with The Pool.

Best,
Ron
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James V. West
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« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2001, 02:25:00 PM »

As best as I can estimate, this is how it went with my games.

First session: 4-6 rolls per player
Second session: 1 roll per player
Third session: 3-6 rolls per player

Basically, not enough. There were no problems with dice flow, yet there weren't that many rolls. Nearly all the creative end of the game was on my shoulders which is *not* what I have in mind for this game. Players need to really understand the power they have to push things and get creative.

Now, all the rolls made in my sessions were what I call Action Rolls--they were instigated by me, the GM. My players still haven't fully warmed up to this type of playing and aren't really creative with the Trait Rolls (rolls requested by them).

Moose, in your sessions how many times did you or other players instigate a Trait Roll?

The system *is* dependant on die-rolling to a large degree and I think that the more aggressive people are with using their Traits, the more you'll see pools shrink and grow. Consequently, I believe you'll also see a lot more interesting and unpredictible developments.

James V. West
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Matt Gwinn
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« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2001, 03:54:00 PM »

Actually, I discovered last night that the best way to play the pool is not to roll dice at all.  I managed to do everything I set out to do last night and didn't roll a single die.  There was a moment or two where I thought about calling for a roll, but with my zero pool I didn't want to take the chance of getting hosed (again).  I'm pretty sure that my fairly successful evening would have been sullied by  multiple hoses if I chose to go for the die rolls.

And before I forget, I had an idea.  What do you think of this?  If you fail to roll any ones you can choose to loose the dice you gambled and narrate your failure yourself, OR keep the dice and let the GM hose you.
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hardcoremoose
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« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2001, 04:27:00 PM »

James,

We've called for rolls a few times.  Most of the time, though, we let pure drama guide us (as could be seen last night, particularly in all of Matt's scenes).  And that's cool - I enjoy that - until the moment comes when we really need to roll and we realize we haven't used the Fortune mechanic enough to build our pools up.

The grand finale should be interesting, as only one of our players has even a respectable pool at this point (5 dice).  This game may end up being rather tragic...

- Scott
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Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2001, 05:38:00 PM »

Hmmm.  We'll see with my group.  I'm going to lean toward Ron's style and let Fortune mechanics provide inspiration at key moments.  I'm also going to encourage my players to call for Trait rolls, so right now I'd bet we will see a fair number of rolls during gameplay.

Best,

Blake
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James V. West
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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2001, 05:56:00 PM »

On 2001-10-23 19:54, Eloran wrote:
"Actually, I discovered last night that the best way to play the pool is not to roll dice at all.  I managed to do everything I set out to do last night and didn't roll a single die.  There was a moment or two where I thought about calling for a roll, but with my zero pool I didn't want to take the chance of getting hosed (again)."

If you call for a Trait Roll to make something happen you should not be hosed for failing.  

"And before I forget, I had an idea.  What do you think of this?  If you fail to roll any ones you can choose to loose the dice you gambled and narrate your failure yourself, OR keep the dice and let the GM hose you."

I don't really like the idea as stated simply because it eliminates the element of losing your dice. If you can choose to lose them or not, theoretically you could simply never choose to lose them. That bugs me. I'm considering something similar to this in The Questing Beast. Similar, but very different. More on that later.

later

James V

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hardcoremoose
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« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2001, 09:30:00 PM »

This is soooooo interesting to me, as I've heard The Pool described by its creator (not to put you on the spot James) as a rolls-lite game.  That was probably an early design goal, but I think it's obvious that the real strength of the system lies in its ability to generate stories through its mechanics.  The die rolling literally provides you with the cloth from which to cut your tale...

...and throw in the fact that the much of the resource management and reward system hinges on die rolling, and I think you have a Fortune heavy game.  

So what has our group been doing wrong?  It's hard to say.  I don't think our games are any less player-driven than anyone else's games of The Pool (although I'd like to play a session with Ron sometime), but there's clearly something amiss.

Does it have something to do with scene framing?  Paul often lets us frame our own scenes, and when we do, we often serve as our own GM, resolving things in a Karma or Drama based fashion as it suits us and the story.  We should probably be rolling for these scene framing opportunities, so perhaps we've superceded The Pool's powerful MoV mechanics with something equally, if not more, powerful.  I wouldn't know, though, without seeing how someone else does it.

Our games have been enjoyable - some of the best I've ever played in, actually - but I just get this feeling that we're not actually doing The Pool a service.

- Scott

[ This Message was edited by: hardcoremoose on 2001-10-24 01:31 ]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2001, 07:20:00 AM »

Hi there,

I have a couple of comments.

ONE
James wrote,
"If you call for a Trait Roll to make something happen you should not be hosed for failing."

I agree, most strongly. I am really not sure where this widespread belief came from that The Pool is about hosing players for failed rolls. True, Dav kind of liked the idea of more severe consequences if you shot the moon (say, rolling your whole Pool, and it was big) and failed. But that's a teeny, rare thing, not a major design feature.

On a related note, the entire discussion about "thrashing" seems to me to be a direct outcome of players continually gambling their whole Pools, especially at low levels. This strikes me as a horrible play strategy, and blaming the system for its consequences is a lot like sticking one's head in the red dragon's mouth and then blaming the system for the damage you take.

(No, my point does not contradict Mike's mathematics. I will explain if necessary in a new thread.)

TWO
I submit that the play group consisting of Paul, Scott, Matt, and Dani is undergoing a profound "style" transition among the three experienced players, in which a high degree of trust among the group is forming, possibly for the first time in some of the players' histories.

During that transition, Drama as a valid resolution mechanic is like a shiny new toy - "Wow! I can say what happens, and it doesn't 'spoil the game,' or break the rules to do so. Wow! I can watch this other player do the same and not fear being utterly disadvantaged or marginalized. Wow!"

Frankly, this has nothing to do with The Pool. You guys could be playing D&D3E, Vampire, or 1977 Traveller (to pick 3 very different examples) and be experiencing the same thing. It's the joy of this phase that gave rise to games like Theatrix and The Window. It is, I think, the source of James' original statements about rolling fairly rarely during playing The Pool.

So in many ways, when I read that Matt LOVED this play style, I understand why. I do not agree with him that it's the "best way to play The Pool," but I can see exactly why he'd say that, at this point.

On a purely biased note, I think that Paul's points about unconstructed Drama mechanics, especially in regard to Conflict Resolution, will eventually catch up with this mode of play (Narrativism + Drama mechanics with no structure), and that some degree of mechanics/organization makes a big, positive difference. But that's me, the Bad Man in the Corner, picking on Dramatism again, so I shall stop.

Best,
Ron
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hardcoremoose
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2001, 08:51:00 AM »

Ron,

I agree with you on both points.  

I don't see any reason why a "failed" roll in The Pool - regardless of the nature of the roll (Trait or otherwise) - couldn't result in the GM narrating a success on the character's behalf, if that were appropriate for the situation (and Paul has basically done that when our poor rolls were clearly hurting the narrative).  The consequence of failing a roll isn't failure in the classic "my character fails" sense, but rather a lack of ability on the player's part to move the story in the way they most want to.

And yes, the group as a whole is experiencing an interesting shift in perspective.  This is especially true of Matt and I (Paul and Tom have been at this narrative stuff a while longer than us, and Danielle doesn't have years of dungeon-crawling conditioning behind her to overcome).  It's a great time for me; I'm actually enjoying playing, where before I was almost exclusively a GM.  I attribute my altered perspective to the new tools I've picked up here at The Forge, and which Paul and Tom have helped me implement.

I think Matt would have some interesting things to say about that last bit, as he's never been as disenchanted with the role of player as I have been, and yet it was the games he ran in the past in which I felt most empowered (and consequently, most enjoyed playing).  That's a whole 'nother thread though.

To sum up:

   - Good time (for me) to be a roleplayer
   - Bad time to be playtesting a friend's fortune heavy  
     system.

Sorry James.  I'll call for more rolls in the future.  :smile:

Take care,
Scott

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James V. West
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2001, 04:52:00 PM »

Sayeth Mooseman:
"The consequence of failing a roll isn't failure in the classic "my character fails" sense, but rather a lack of ability on the player's part to move the story in the way they most want to."

Exactly! This is precisely one of the things I'm dealing with in TQB.




  " - Good time (for me) to be a roleplayer
   - Bad time to be playtesting a friend's fortune heavy  
     system.

Sorry James.  I'll call for more rolls in the future.  :smile:"

At least you're having fun. More power to the people!!

I'm also finding this very interesting. You're correct in saying that my initial idea was to have a dice-lite game when in fact the game works much better the more you roll. Interesting indeed.

Sayeth Ron:
"I agree, most strongly. I am really not sure where this widespread belief came from that The Pool is about hosing players for failed rolls. True, Dav kind of liked the idea of more severe consequences if you shot the moon (say, rolling your whole Pool, and it was big) and failed. But that's a teeny, rare thing, not a major design feature."

Amen.  

Later

James V. West
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