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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 215 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Dialogue and Combat  (Read 4531 times)
jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« on: November 20, 2003, 09:46:07 AM »

Okay, dialogue in a combat situation is a massive problem for me.  In most traditional "linear" initiative systems, I'm very inconsistant with how I run dialogue.  Sometimes It's a free for all.  When a player starts talking I effectively pause the initiative order and allow some back and forth (particularly if the "target" of the conversation is an NPC on the opposite side of the fight).  Sometimes if a player says something on their turn, then I don't have (or allow) a character to respond until it's their initative turn.  I almost never allow dialogue to usurp the allotted action for a turn.

I'm sure the mechanics of Sorcerer have a way cleaner way of handling this but I'm not seeing them.  The book mentions that the intent to speak is included in the announcement (free and clear, as Trollbabe puts it) phase of combat.  But how exactly does that work?

Does the player annouce their intended dialogue in full?  Or only that they intend to speak?  When is the reply, if any, delivered in the same "round" (roll of the dice) or in the next?  How, if at all, does this effect bonus dice?  How does aborting to defend affect dialogue?

In other words just tell me all about dialogue and combat.

Thanks.

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2003, 11:38:55 AM »

Hi Jesse,

This may or may not help.

The first issue, which I don't think you need clarified, but might be important for others, is that real-person dialogue is always permitted, at all times. Nothing I'm about to talk about applies to that kind of discussion at all.

The second issue has to do with characters saying things. Here's how I do it during complex conflicts (which your "combat" falls into, and which I call "combat" for no good reason in the core book).

1. During the intent phase, the player announces either that the character intends to say something, or announces exactly what the character plans to say, or anything in between.

"I shout to Jamie,"
"I tell Jamie that he's her father," or,
"I say, <voice on>'Jamie, don't! He's your real father!'"<voice off>

This is considered exactly the same as a physical action, in terms of content. See? Since the announced intent of hitting the guy with axe can take any of these forms:
"I hit him with the axe,"
"I'm swingin' that axe in a big ol' arc, right at his ugly face" or,
"I'm all, 'Eat my axe, you fuck-head!'"<histrionics off>

... and since any of these announcements mean absolutely the same thing relative to the intent-phase vs. the roll/order phase, the same applies to the dialogue and the moment it is delivered into the game-world.

2. Let's talk about responses as well, which is why timing (i.e. the rolls) are important.

a) If the dialogue's content is merely informative and is not directly influencing another person's action (i.e. not a command or appeal or anything like that), then it enters the emergent-story when it enters it, and the fictional individuals can act on it upon hearing it. Their options in the middle of a complex conflict sequence, however, are rather limited: do as announced or abort it, that's it.

In the Jamie example, Jamie might be engaged in attacking her, unbeknownst to her, father. Let's say the speaking character's roll is higher than hers - that permits her to have heard the dialogue, and perhaps, or perhaps not, the player chooses to have Jamie suddenly abort her attack (technically, switching to defense, although that may not be relevant).

[Note! If the player had been explicit about his "He's your father!" content, then Jamie's player was obviously engaged in Author Stance in announcing her attack on her unknown-father. This is fine. Do be aware that the player's announcement of intent (and content) of speech has no instant impact on Jamie-as-character, just as with the axe-strike.]

If Jamie's roll were higher, though, and Jamie were attacking her father (as we're assuming), then it's a tragic moment - the words get through too late.

[Which is the "risk" or rather, conceded and potentially-anticipated outcome, that Jamie's player adopted when choosing to have Jamie attack her father, even when the player knew the other character would be shouting out the info.]

b) If the dialogue's influence is a matter of conflict, then a roll is involved. The classic example is ordering a demon to do something, whether one's own (who seems to be up to something else, perhaps) or someone else's.

In this case, it's handled exactly like combat actions, and is very straightforward. Typically the player makes a Will roll, although perhaps Humanity might be used if it's a heartfelt/human appeal rather than an order or similar exercise of "over" influence.

That's why ordering demons about in combat is dicey. Not only might they get their (possibly undesirable) action in prior to the order, but if they do get the order, that means they have to abort this round, and implement the order next round. It's far better to have a good relationship with the demon such that (a) it has a pretty good idea of what you want out of the crisis already, and (b) even when it does go off on its own, it typically won't do something you really really want it not to do.

Did I miss anything, Jesse?

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2003, 12:35:24 PM »

I think so.  So is speaking always an action?  My group has a BIG BIG BIG problem with IIEE stuff when it comes to dialogue mid conflict.  There's a lot of "Wait, before that happens I say..." and "Just as I notice him doing that I yell..."  and "As I'm doing this other thing I shout..."

Taunting I take it, falls into situation (b) above.  I'm seeing a bit of witty repartee being a Will vs. Will with the intent to roll the victories over to your next roll.

But what about shouting at one person and attacking another.  This happens A LOT in my group.  Is, "I tackle the hechman to the ground as I shout, 'Wait, he's your father!'" legal?

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2003, 01:11:00 PM »

Hiya,

That's actually a fair amount of stuff in that post.

1. All character statements that (a) offer relevant information (i.e. could prompt an abort) or (b) prompts/requires defensive response are actions in Sorcerer.

Your taunting/repartee examples are spot on.

2. We've discussed before that slipping between the cracks of IIEE is the primary Technique for "Getting My Way the Way I Want It" in all of role-playing. Since Sorcerer offers no such cracks, some people (players or GMs) try to make them. Your players, if I may say so, seem to be expert at this trick.

However, Sorcerer is onto them. In spades, 'cause there really really aren't any IIEE cracks in the system. Sure, the players can say whatever, but it doesn't enter the Exploration except by the rules. Otherwise, it's just out-of-character real-person discussion, regardless of its content.

So in your example, the player of the character who's tackling and shouting is going to have to say in the intent phase which of those is the "real" action. All "but I could ..." protests are simply invalid. You go for the tackle, and the "shout" becomes out-of-Exploration dialogue; or you go for the shout, and the tackle becomes Color or relatively incidental movement within the Exploration.

3. Typically, point #1 above holds like concrete. A round is a fast, fast flurry of activity, one "sequence" in action-movie terms, or "clash" as I like to call it in role-playing. When a character's statement matches the criteria in point #1, it's what that character is doing that round. Case closed.

However, the demon ability Fast modifies the situation considerably (see the relevant threads here at this forum). Arguably, the most important and effective use of this ability applies when the demon confers Fast to its master but also has combat abilities of its own. This permits a significant distinction between this duo and that which includes the sorcerer whose demon is always going, "What? Wait! You said, kill him? No? What, then!" as they try to match up their rolls in the right order.

Best,
Ron

P.S. Found it! You remember the Sorcerer combat thread, I'm sure. I see this thread as the long-awaited other shoe, to that one.
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