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Author Topic: More Playtest feedback...  (Read 5364 times)
Rich Stokes
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« on: January 21, 2004, 04:17:08 AM »

Ethan,

This week we didn't get to play due to the typical RL restraints of folks at our age, but some of us were able to get together for a "bull session" and the T&T game I ran last week came up.

A couple of things came up which I hadn't thought of before:

When we discussed the issue with the Goblin chief and margin vs lowest roll, one of the players not only agreed with the way you designed things (ie that lowest roll acts first in combat, full stop) but furthermore he couldn't see why I'd even thought that there was a conflict in the rules.  His reason being that the combat section of the rules said something and since the the players were in a combat, that was what happened.

This is somthing I've encountered: Something I've thought about before as the "Sanctity of Combat" where once a fight breaks out the rules are different.

A good (by which I mean bad) example of this come up while I was doing an early pre-playtest edit/vealuation on Joseph Teller's Kelidescope system.  He sets up a system whereby characters have fatugue points (all very Game/Sim) and you use them up by doing certain actions.  You gain them at the rate of one per minute of rest or one per combat round of rest, except that one combat round is 10 seconds.  I pointed out that in order to regain fatigue you could rest near a fight and as long as you somehow happened to fall into this mysterious "fightspace" that surrounds combat you'd heal 6 times quicker.  His attitude was simply that characters in a fight needed to gain them faster to make the system work, othrewise you'd have to keep track of fractions.  My issue was that this made the rules inconsistent, and that was a bad thing.

Now I'm not suggesting that the issue of margin/low roll is anywhere as bad as this, but my point is that you have (possibly) a minor inconsistency here.  As the rules stand it's basically "highest margin succeeds, unless it's in combat in which case lowest roll goes first, but margin's still really important".

I'm not saying that this doesn't work, but I think perhaps you need to make this a little more explicit in the rules.

One suggestion I had was that rather than have to take the -1 to a player's next Mastery roll to change actions, allow characters to sacrifice Margin to gain Initiative?  Haven't really had time to think that through, but it sounds like it might work.  Makes margin (and therefore attribute levels) more important than plain luck.  Another suggestion might be to mention in the "general task resolution" bit of the rulebook that if timing of actions is important, then he who rolls lowest acts first.

Another issue which came up was that of Attribute levels, specifically Physique.  Basically the players complained that everyone needs to put 9 in physique: Their characters spend most of their time hitting things, running about and climbing over things.

Another point which players made was that Physique represented both strength and speed.  Many players are used to having seperate stats for those, traditionally Strength, Agility and Something-to-do-with-general-hardiness.  The problem comes that most characters in those movies tend to be either 1) very strong and tough or 2) very quick and nimble.  In the Fantasy Archetype, strong characters are tough, so making a character's strength a function of the Toughness ability makes sense.  But, a strong character (typical fantasy barbarian) will typically not hit his opponents as often as an agile, fast one, but when he DOES connect a blow the opponent tends to stay down.  Simulation type games tend to reflect this in characters doing more damage, but in somthing like T&T you don't really want to add a layer of complication like that.  The overall combat effectiveness of the 2 characters is about the same so they both have 9 physique.  So under the current rules, my Barbarian character needs to have a really high Physique, to show that he's an effective fighter, and a high toughness to show that he's hard to hurt.  But since he's got a high Physique, he's annately nimble, and can leap chasms, dodge falling rocks and dash about quickly too, not really what the player had in mind.

Basically I think they felt that it was all well and good to have an abstract value which represents the character's effectiveness in a fight for this kind of system, but to have that also be only one of 6 attributes and also used pretty much for all the physical task rolls in the game seemed to put a bit too much emphasis on one attribute.  OTOH, if fighting and running away and climbing things etc aren't supposed to be the emphasis of the game, you might want to change the sample adventure to involve more Thievery etc.

Still, we all enjoyed it a lot, and we all agreed that the system works.  It has it's wrinkles, but it's basically pretty good fun.

I don't know if any of this helps, looking back on it, it all sounds a bit negative.

Cheers,

Rich
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The poster previously known as RichKS
ethan_greer
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2004, 12:49:18 PM »

Hi Rich,
Margin is king for simple task resolution.  The low roll only becomes important for conflict resolution.  And, the raw value of the roll is only useful for determining the order in which things happen. Once that order is established, you get into the task resolution and it's all about Margin again.

So, just because you got a low roll doesn't mean you succeed, necessarilly - it just means you and the GM handle your little part of the conflict scene first.  If everyone rolls box cars but I got an 11, I go first, and have first dibs at failing spectacularly.

Even though it's only one roll, it's two separate things you're tracking, and they're only loosely related (in that a lower roll will more likely succeed).

Does that clear things up for you, or am I missing what your objection is?

Regarding the Abilities, I'm pretty firm on them at this point.  The current list was thrashed at pretty thoroughly here and here.  Not that they're absolutely set in stone.  If those two threads don't satisfy your urge to discuss the matter further, then lead on; I'm listening! :)
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Rich Stokes
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2004, 10:19:40 AM »

Ethan,

Before I say anything I want to make one thing clear:

I think T&T works fine "as is".  I've found it a great tool for having a good, fun game with minimal prep time and the cool, simple mechanics.  That said, I just can't help fiddling with any game system and this is no exception.  Also, up until just now I'd tried to isolate myself from any of the previous design decisions you've made, attempting to see if they were self evident in the current version of the game.  For the most part they were, but this whole thing with Physique and Margin vs Lowest Roll just didn't ring true with me or the players, hence the posts.

Quote from: ethan_greer

Margin is king for simple task resolution.  The low roll only becomes important for conflict resolution.  And, the raw value of the roll is only useful for determining the order in which things happen. Once that order is established, you get into the task resolution and it's all about Margin again.


But my problem is the thinking that conflict resolution should be handled differently to other resolution. It's those "UNLESS" statements that cause wrinkles in the system: Margin is all important UNLESS you're in a conflict, in which case whoever rolls lowest goes first and whoever rolls highest will probably end up having to abort their action in order to defend.

an extreme example of what I'm saying:

2 characters are racing along a path on foot.
Roll Physique
Highest margin wins, or lowest roll arrives at the finish line first?

In this example, it's obvious to me that highest margin is far more important than lowest roll.  Does that mean this isn't a conflict?  If it's a conflict, lowest roll acts first and runs to the finish line, highest margin is the quickest runner, but might still lose the race, because lowest roll acted first.  This is obviously stupid, the race needs to be about margin only.

This whole thing came up when one of the players attacked a goblin who tried to run away.  The goblin rolled lower even though his margin was far less than that of the attacker.  So the goblin moves away and the attack misses, because the goblin's not where the blow lands.  So in this case the lower roll succeeded, not the highest margin.  The attacker's skill isn't relevant.

Quote from: ethan_greer

So, just because you got a low roll doesn't mean you succeed, necessarilly - it just means you and the GM handle your little part of the conflict scene first.  If everyone rolls box cars but I got an 11, I go first, and have first dibs at failing spectacularly.


But the point there is that if everyone fails, it won't really matter who falls into the bottomless pit first!  This is only an issue when:

a) both sides have different values in attributes
b) one person rolls low but has a low attribute, and one charcter roll higher and has a high attribute.

Basically, if both sides succeed, but one rolls lower and also has less margin.

Quote from: ethan_greer

Even though it's only one roll, it's two separate things you're tracking, and they're only loosely related (in that a lower roll will more likely succeed).

Does that clear things up for you, or am I missing what your objection is?


Like I say, this isn't a fatal flaw, but I keep dwelling on it as an ugly wrinkle in the system.  I'm probably just looking too hard.  I understand how it works though...

It's not an objection as such.

Quote from: ethan_greer

Regarding the Abilities, I'm pretty firm on them at this point.  The current list was thrashed at pretty thoroughly here and here.  Not that they're absolutely set in stone.  If those two threads don't satisfy your urge to discuss the matter further, then lead on; I'm listening! :)


If what you're asking is what I'd do differently, I think: not much really.

I'd stick with your attributes, but make Beast Lore more of a big deal.  I think a lot of groups will overlook it.  Incorperate it more into the sample adventure and maybe add a beastery with examples of what a good Beast Lore roll will accomplish.  Maybe make a point about characters with a high Beast Lore being able to have a bunch of animals who hang out with them?  "I don't need my own sword, Wolfie fights by my side!"  So maybe character who's got a higher Beast Lore than Physique can use that score in combat, to show them in partnership with an animal of some sort?

I'd stick with Physique and Toughness, but not with their current descriptions.  Biggest rules point from the players was that they wanted a way to create either a character who was fast and nimble or one that was strong and tough.  So I'd have an attribute for "fast and nimbleness" and one for "strong and toughness".  This seems to fit the source material: Conan is big and tough, but only middling in terms of speed.  Hawk the Slayer is fast and skillful, not really overly strong or tough (at least, not compared to Conan).  I'd probably call call them Physique and Speed (or fastness or something) and have the player use either one in a combat.  A strong/tough character will be as effective in a fight as a swift/nimble one, but the player can decide which of these 2 archetypes he wants to play.

I (like Jeph) fail to see the point in splitting toughness out and not agility.  If one of these 3 physical aspects needs to be split out, it's agility.  Strength and toughness go hand in hand in this genre, treating them as one attribute is fine.

Thievery as an all round "doing something dubious" attribute works well: characters who're good at sneaking are also good as picking locks and pockets, disguisifcation etc.  Again, fits the genre really well.  Although I think that perhaps it also could be used for some combat situations like sneak attacks, first round of an ambush and whatnot.

I can't help thinking that my group really hit on something when they did character generation in there are 3 obvious characters to play:

Big Strong Tough Guy (barbarian/bruiser type)
Swift Skillful Guy (swordsman/Samurai/Martial artist+)
Sneaky Bastard (ninja/theif/scout)

What they wanted to do was to create characetrs who's attributes matched these concepts, but found that actually the Samurai and the Barbarian looked the same on paper. The Thief has high Thievery, but also needs high Physique because he needs to be able to fight alongside the others. That left them dissapointed.

Another problem we had was a quote from the British TV show "Spaced" kept coming up:

"I once punched a bloke in the face for saying 'Hawk the Slayer' was rubbish. But I realise that wasn't the right thing to do. What I should have done was said 'no Dad, you're wrong'"

Can't really help that I'm affraid...

But also I can't help thinking that the same system could be applied to things like bad 80's action movies and crappy Sci Fi films as well.  Just change the attributes a bit...
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The poster previously known as RichKS
ethan_greer
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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2004, 03:33:56 PM »

It's the UNLESS that bothers you.  Okay, I get that.  If, in the paragraphs ahead, I'm rehashing stuff you already know, I apologize.  But I want to make sure this comes across in the document.

In play, it should be clear cut whether or not you're in Conflict Resolution or simply using task resolution.  Mainly because if you're in CR, a Scripting Phase happens before anyone picks up the dice.  If it's just task resolution, you just roll and check the margin.

Basically, TR is used when you want a quick "can I pull this off?" settled. CR, on the other hand, is used to facilitate cool scenes.  If the foot race you mention is just a little thing, then sure, go ahead and settle it with a single roll, high Margin wins.  But if it's a crucial thing like, say, the pod race in Star Wars Ep 1, then you'd want to do CR, to allow for the short cuts, and cheating, and impromptu repairs, and what not.

That's the idea, anyway.  Does that come through in the text, and it just ain't so much your cup of tea, or does it not come through in the text?

That's that.

Regarding the attributes:
Yes, I agree with you on Beast Lore.  Sample beasts in the next draft, for sure.  More Beast Lore checks in the sample scenario, for sure. I'm toying with the notion of animal companions ala The Beast Master as well.

Physique:
Ack, this again. I agree, it's problematic.  At the end, I landed on the "fewer questions for the GM" side of things. It's not perfect, but it's easier. Is the character doing something physical? Roll Physique.  Done.  With Agility and Strength separated, you'll get discussions about which one gets used for what, and the player will argue in favor of whichever one is higher for his or her character (which is fine, of course), and then there's another stat that can be a throw-away for more points in whatever the player wants to favor.

Toughness gets split out because it's a separate thing from physical capability - it's physical resilience, which I thought should have equal weight in the mechanics.

So I'll admit, the Abilities aren't perfect, but I think I like the list the way it is.

Question: Why couldn't the thief-type character just leave Physique at 7, the default?  With Descriptors that's 8, which is pretty darn likely to succeed.  Just a thought.
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Rich Stokes
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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2004, 01:31:32 PM »

Quote from: ethan_greer
It's the UNLESS that bothers you.


Yup.  Bothers me.  Like an annoying bit of meat that's stuck between your teeth after a good steak.  I still liked the steak, but this means it's not quite a perfect meal.

Quote from: ethan_greer
Basically, TR is used when you want a quick "can I pull this off?" settled. CR, on the other hand, is used to facilitate cool scenes.  If the foot race you mention is just a little thing, then sure, go ahead and settle it with a single roll, high Margin wins.  But if it's a crucial thing like, say, the pod race in Star Wars Ep 1, then you'd want to do CR, to allow for the short cuts, and cheating, and impromptu repairs, and what not.


Yeah, like the standard vs extended test in HeroWars/Quest.  Sure, in principle it makes sense and it works in practice.

Quote from: ethan_greer
That's the idea, anyway.  Does that come through in the text, and it just ain't so much your cup of tea, or does it not come through in the text?

It comes through fine and is actually fairly clear in the text.  It just seems, I dunno, a bit odd.  If the exact example I've described in the previous post hadn't come up during actual play, I probably wouldn't have noticed.

I say again: It just seems odd that the core task resolution mechanic works on highest margin, and yet there are circumstances where you can fail even though you have highest margin.

As you point out, you have 2 modes of play almost: one for "normal" stuff and one when it's a conflict.  I guess I just don't see why you need 2 different resolution systems.

Like I say, it's a wrinkle...
Quote from: ethan_greer
Physique:
Ack, this again. I agree, it's problematic.  At the end, I landed on the "fewer questions for the GM" side of things. It's not perfect, but it's easier. Is the character doing something physical? Roll Physique.  Done.  With Agility and Strength separated, you'll get discussions about which one gets used for what, and the player will argue in favor of whichever one is higher for his or her character (which is fine, of course), and then there's another stat that can be a throw-away for more points in whatever the player wants to favor.

Like I say, I'm not really trying to change your mind on this one, you've obviously thoght this through properly.  But when 2 out of the 3 players in the group independently thought this was a problem, I tend to pay attention.  (The other player is on holiday, I haven't been able to ask him what he thinks).

Their logic was: Characters who are strong are also generally tough, so why bother with 2 seperate stats for those things?  Characters who are agile are not always strong, so there should be seperate stats for those.

But, neh?
Quote from: ethan_greer
Toughness gets split out because it's a separate thing from physical capability - it's physical resilience, which I thought should have equal weight in the mechanics.

So I'll admit, the Abilities aren't perfect, but I think I like the list the way it is.


Quote from: ethan_greer
Question: Why couldn't the thief-type character just leave Physique at 7, the default?  With Descriptors that's 8, which is pretty darn likely to succeed.  Just a thought.


Because the player envisions the character as a larger than life charactature just like you see in those movies.  The thief isn't just "darn likely" to be able to leap the chasam, he's simply so agile that there's nobody as nimble as him in the kingdom.  The player (and I mean a generic one, not anyone in particular) wants him to be a heroic level kinda guy thing, just like in those films.  So he maxes out that attribute to show that he's shit hot at climbing/jumping etc.  It's a player expectation.

Characters in those films aren't just ok thieves, they're always the best in the kingdom.

Said player will not see this character as very strong or tough.  So he'll probably put only 6 into Toughness, certainly no more than 7.  He'll willingly sacrifice his Toughness because that's how he sees the character, not because he wants the extra points.  So again, using the Toughness Attribute to represent strength and toughness meets player expertation.

The Barbarian player on the other hand thinks the opposite:  His character is Strong and tough, but not so fast.  So he'll put 9 into Toughness and 6 or 7 in Physique.  His strength makes him a fantastic fighter (he only has to connect one blow to take an opponent out) so he can fight using his Toughness value.  Again, I just think this meets player expectation better, but obviously YMMV (and I think does :)

I look forward to seeing more on Beast Lore.  Cunning too.
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The poster previously known as RichKS
ethan_greer
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2004, 04:05:46 PM »

Regarding task vs. conflict resolution, it sounds like we're on the same page, and it's a matter of personal preference in systems.

Why there are two resolution systems, the quick version:
Task = Do I succeed?
Conflict = What happens?

It's the GM's call which to use for what. In general, CR is for when there's multiple people doing stuff all at the same time, and/or the timing matters, and/or you want it to be cinematic and cool.  TR is for when you need a quick success/fail check.

Regarding Abilities: Thinking out loud here - So, if Strength and Toughness get rolled together into, say, Thews, and Thievery and Agility get rolled together into, say, Guile... Hmm... And combat rolls are made using the higher of the two Abilties... Hmm...

Gah.  No.  There's still a question of what physical attribute to use to (for example) leap the chasm.  Do you rely on Thews (strength) to jump far enough, or do you use Guile (agility) to do a graceful leap and somersault landing on the opposite side? So scratch that.

Okay, let's see... There are two sub-Abilities under Physique - Strength and Agility. At char-gen, you can choose one your character favors. Mechanically, it acts as a Descriptor.  If you play to your descriptor (strength or agility) you get the +1. You also select a combat Descriptor that goes under Physique. Physique has two and only two descriptors, and all the other Abilities have custom descriptors.

Example:
Condar the really big barbarian: Physique 9 (Strength, Giant freakin' hammer).

When Condar tries to jump the chasm, he rolls on a 9. When he tries to pick up the Very Heavy Thing, he rolls on a 10.  When he punches someone, he rolls on a 9.  When he smites foes with his mighty hammer, he rolls on a 10.

Farles the sneaky nimble thief: Physique 9 (Agility, throwing knives).

When Farles tries to jump the chasm, he rolls on a 9.  When he tries to walk a tightrope over the Bottomless Chasm of DOOM, he rolls on a 10. When he punches someone, he rolls on a 9.  When he skewers a foe with his deadly throwing knives, he rolls on a 10.

Farles would want to boost Thievery to match his character concept, and Condar would want to boost Toughness to match his.

Hmm.  I'm kinda liking that. What do you think? One possible problem I see is that it puts a lot of emphasis on the Physique stat - most players are probably just going to bump it to 9 no matter what.  Of course, that's already true of the current version.
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ethan_greer
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2004, 03:45:31 PM »

Hi there,
Anyone got any response to the rules ideas in the post above?  *Clasps hands in a supplicating manner*
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2004, 10:44:14 AM »

I'm trying to put this all together. How do you think that your proposed rule solves the purported problem?

Mike
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ethan_greer
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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2004, 11:43:50 AM »

Rich expressed two concerns:

1. It's hard to do a sneaky thief because he has to have both high Physique and high Thievery.
2. It's hard to do a sneaky thief because he's just as able to pick up the heavy thing as the bruiser, which sticks in a whole slew of people's craws.

And a concern I've been brewing concurrently on my own:

3. I've noticed that with the current rules, in order to be extra sneaky, presumably the thief has to use his Physique Descriptor for that, thereby potentially sacrificing (say) a trademark weapon bonus or some such.

I'm attempting to solve problems 2 and 3.  I'm not sure about 1 - I haven't decided if that problem really exists, since the bruiser also has to have two high Abilities (Toughness and Physique) to really shine.

Anyway, to summarize the actual proposal in a perhaps more coherent format:

My proposal basically gives Physique two structured Descriptors instead of one freeform Descriptor.

The first new Descriptor (choose Agility or Strength) reinforces the difference between Agility and Strength for the players who like that, and puts the pressure on them (via the +1 bonus) to role-play their chosen Descriptor, instead of making the GM decide which one to use.

The second new Descriptor is simply a trademark weapon or manuever, which addresses problem 3.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2004, 11:53:44 AM »

I think you might be on the right track, but the problem remains that it's only a one die difference. How about if the player could trade one of his overall dice for a +2 in the modifier? So you could be a 9 overall, or a 8/10, 7/13, 6/14, 5/15, etc. That would allow for much greater variation. say that, perhaps, no more than 5 points could be traded this way overall.

Will there be sub-stats on the other charactersistics?

Mike
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Lxndr
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2004, 12:12:11 PM »

I don't see any reason why there couldn't be.  And why define the substats in advance?  It's effectively another descriptor that you're paying extra for (through the exchange values).  So you could be a 9 overall, or 8 in Physique and 10 in "Weapon Style" (rather than "agility stuff").  Then the descriptor everyone gets can augment either number, depending.
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ethan_greer
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« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2004, 02:38:16 PM »

Hmmm.  Sounds like maybe the thing to do would be to make Descriptor selection in general a bit more structurally flexible, i.e. multiple Descriptors of varying bonuses.  I must ponder this concept.  Thanks for the feedback, guys.  And anyone else who wants to chip in, I'm still listening.
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