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Author Topic: Snowball query (with a touch of Puddle)  (Read 6573 times)
Buddha Nature
Member

Posts: 94


« on: December 23, 2003, 12:41:20 PM »

This is mostly for anyone who has GM'd snowball...

When you GM Snowball, using 1's and 6's as the only throws that get the players monologues, how often do you end up guiding events?  I am looking to keep it down to a minimum myself and was thinking about making 1-2 MoD's, 3-4 guided, and 5-6 MoV's.

This means the players end up w/ alot of narrative power, which could be good.  The other option I was thinking was something like:

1-MoD
2-MoD incorporating a fact from GM
3-4 Guided
5-MoV incorporating a fact from GM
6-MoV

Or maybe (like the Puddle) 2+ 1-2's = MoD, just 1 1-2 gets MoD w/ incorporation, etc...

(yes I kind of took this breakdown from the Puddle)

I am looking for a way to really (mechanically) influence players to take charge of the narrative duties and want to give them all the opportunities to - but still want to allow the GM to have some control, and maybe even some input...

Thoughts?  Comments?

-Shane
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Lxndr
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 1113

Master of the Inkstained Robes


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« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2003, 01:07:28 PM »

Yay Snowball!

Yay!

YAY!

Okay, I'm done chortling with glee.  Wait, one more.

YAY!

Okay.  Now, on to your question.  I designed the particular iteration of the pool known as Snowball, and have GM'd it a few times (although not all that recently).  I'm glad to see other people playing it even if James never managed to add it to his "Pool Variants" webpage.

In terms of pure odds, here's what I've got:

A guided event happens 67% of the time when one die is rolled, 44% of the time with two dice, 30% with three dice, 20% with four dice, 13% with five dice, and 9% with six dice.  And the chances for a MoD go up almost as quickly as the chances for a MoV.

A Snowball players rolls, on average, between 0-5 for most traits, plus between 0-3 dice from the GM, plus between 0-9 dice gambled from the pool.  Assuming the average trait is 2 (the starting trait is 3, yes, but other traits take a while to get up there), the average bonus from the GM is 2, that's four dice before gambling.  I normally see players gambling between 1 and 3 dice, so let's assume another 2.  That's six, total.

When rolling six dice, the GM only has a 9% chance of guiding the event; the rest of the time it's monologues of one sort of another.  Heck, as long as they're rolling at least two dice, players narrate more often than the GM guides the event.  

Quite honestly, I don't think there's much reason to make monologues more likely.  The Puddle's alteration of the chart seems mainly to stem from the fact that it is a puddle - you're not as knee-deep in dice as Snowball is supposed to be.  Look at the differences:

Code:

Puddle                      | Snowball
Starting Pool 6             | Starting Pool 4 (sure, smaller)
6 Initial Traits            | 1 Initial Trait, value of 3
Traits only ever give 1 die | Traits give 1 die or more
Can keep Trait dice         | Never keep trait dice
No Extra Dice               | One extra die each scene
GM Gives 0 Dice             | GM Gives 1-3 dice per attempt
Each die risked separately  | All gambled dice risked together
Dice lost on failure        | Dice lost on success


Snowball simply has more dice tossed around.  In the Puddle, you get 1 die for a trait (if it applies) plus whatever you gamble.  In Snowball, you get dice from both your trait, and the GM, and your gambling.  Ones and sixes aren't all that uncommon, when you get into the sizes of dice that we're talking about.

In other words, the mechanical influence for players to take charge is already there.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
Maker of many fine story-games!
Moderator of Indie Netgaming
James V. West
Member

Posts: 567


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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2003, 08:13:52 AM »

Quote from: Lxndr
I designed the particular iteration of the pool known as Snowball, and have GM'd it a few times (although not all that recently).  I'm glad to see other people playing it even if James never managed to add it to his "Pool Variants" webpage.


Problem solved!
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Lxndr
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 1113

Master of the Inkstained Robes


WWW
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2003, 08:33:22 AM »

Double yay!  :)  Sorry I didn't get around to getting you the link earlier.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
Maker of many fine story-games!
Moderator of Indie Netgaming
Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2003, 01:10:16 PM »

Quote from: Buddha Nature
I am looking for a way to really (mechanically) influence players to take charge of the narrative duties and want to give them all the opportunities to - but still want to allow the GM to have some control, and maybe even some input...

Quote from: Lxndr
In other words, the mechanical influence for players to take charge is already there.


Lxndr is spot on. In the Pool/Snowball the GM can readily affect the players ability to influence (or not influence) events by the use of GM or Bonus dice. If you as GM want a player to have a good chance of taking charge of the narrative then hand them 3 GM dice. The more dice the player rolls the greater the chance of them making a MOV. If you would rather have control of the narrative then don't give the player any GM or Bonus dice at all.

Players have far more opportunity to guide the narrative in Snowball than they do in The Puddle. As Lxndr pointed out an 'average' roll with Snowball (6 dice) will yield an MOV or MOD roughly 90% of the time. An 'average' roll in The Puddle is around 3 or 4 dice which presents players with an opportunity to 'Guide an Event' roughly 1 in every 3 rolls. I would point out that The Puddle doesn't use Monologues or MOV's or MODs. When a player 'Guides an Event' they choose any outcome they want be it a victory, defeat, or anything inbetween; they essentially assume the role of GM as they guide the outcome of the event.

Incidentally the breakdown of who gets to 'Guide an Event' in The Puddle is:

Code:
Dice
Rolled    GM     Player
1       100%        0%
2        89%       11%
3        74%       26%
4        59%       41%
5        46%       54%
6        35%       65%
7        26%       74%
8        20%       80%


It's weird but when I first began GM'ing The Pool I found I did not want to affect the players ability to guide events; totally opposite to what Shane is looking for. I wanted the players ability to influence events (i.e. to Guide an Event) to be soley in their hands via the number of pool dice they chose to gamble. That's one of the reasons why I did not use GM dice in The Puddle.

If anyone is interested an updated version of The Puddle is available from here.
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