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Author Topic: [Capes] Need help expressing a thought  (Read 4007 times)
TonyLB
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« on: June 30, 2004, 07:05:48 AM »

This is silly, but I've been going back and forth on trying to express this one idea for days, and I know for a fact that I clarify my thoughts more easily in discussion than in mulling.  I hope people will give me a helping hand.

I'm writing up a superhero game.  I will be using rolling dice pools (somewhat like how Sorcerer rolls successes into the next task).

What I want to avoid is a battle-system that stagnates into people throwing the same basic attacks back and forth at each other.  Worst-case scenario: my early D&D days when we would spend literally hours repeating "I swing at the orc... hit.  Eight points of damage.  I swing at the orc..."

My sense, from chronic exposure to the genre, is that superheroes and villains only repeat an action because it gave them such an advantage that it needs to be expressed over more than one round.  In game terms, they don't need a new dice pool, because there is still advantage to be gained from rolling purely off the successes rolled over from their last turn.

At the same time, superpowered combats tend to evolve.  They start out with maybe a surprise attack, then break for some witty banter, then long-range attacks, then a flying race through the city, then the villain endangering innocents and the hero forced to rescue them... like that.

I'd like to encourage these things mechanically.  So instead of straight skills or powers, which you could use as often as you feel like, I'm leaning toward giving the characters... uh...

And that's where I break down.  I want to give them specific ways that they expect to often evolve a conflict.  For instance, the Badger would not have a "Retractible claws grafted to skeleton" power... he'd have a "Pop claws" trope, which would let him add some dice to his pool in the round he first pops the claws (changing a combat from bare-hand to weapons-based).  Those dice would, in turn, increase his next die-pool some (statistically) by being rolled over successes.  And so the pop-claws trope would give him direct bonuses immediately and indirect bonuses until they ran out.  Hopefully this will encourage people to frequently change the conflict by way of their tropes.

But the above description is about a hundred times too involved to get across the concept to somebody just reading rules and trying to figure out how to make their character.

I could use some help narrowing this down and communicating it.  

I would also be interested in hearing how people think I can properly build an IIEE structure around something that isn't quite intention or initiation, but more execution and effect.  Should Tropes, possibly, not add to the dice pool of the round when they are initiated, but in the next round after their effects have appeared?

Anyway, I've rambled.  I don't want to ramble like this in the actual rules.  I hope folks can help me out!
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inky
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2004, 11:31:17 AM »

Quote from: TonyLB
What I want to avoid is a battle-system that stagnates into people throwing the same basic attacks back and forth at each other. Worst-case scenario: my early D&D days when we would spend literally hours repeating "I swing at the orc... hit. Eight points of damage. I swing at the orc..."
[..]
At the same time, superpowered combats tend to evolve.


It seems like if you want the combat situation to evolve you should, you know, focus on making it evolve. I think switching from "Has Claws" to "Pop Out Claws" is a good start; like you say, that changes the situation from bare-handed to weaponless combat. This suggests that all powers can be described in terms of how they change the situation: they level a nearby building (changing the terrain), they toss the opponent into the air (changing the location), they wrap the opponent in saran-wrap (changing their mobility and setting up a time limit after which they won't be able to breathe).

Once you structure it that way, then it seems like the next step is letting all powers always succeed, unless they're both trying to change the same aspect of the situation (Whirlwind Guy is trying to pull The Sucking Vortex into the air, while the Vortex is trying to yank Whirlwind Guy down to earth), in which case you'd have a die roll to fight it out (and this doesn't lead to a static situation either, unless the opponents are evenly matched and neither wants to change tactics).

Finally, don't have any of the powers do damage directly -- it's not popping your claws that does damage, it's scrapping with your opponent when you're armed and they're not. All else being equal, the act of popping your claws is sufficient to assure you of winning, unless the situation changes again.[/quote]
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Dan Shiovitz
TonyLB
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2004, 11:49:59 AM »

Dan, thanks!  Those are very good points to help get across what I'm aiming at.

Tropes should not do direct damage (or direct effects of any kind)
Tropes should not be anything that is normally a contest

These points also make it clear where to draw the line on interpersonal tropes:  Taunt Opponents is fine, whereas Cause Opponents to Hate You probably isn't.  The one is something that the character can achieve without much contest, whereas the other is contested and presupposes an effect.

Boy, this IIEE stuff is coming right back around to bite me, yes it is.  Nice to have it out in the open though.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2004, 11:58:30 AM »

Huh... just had a thought...

What if there are two types of trope:  One is an Intention trope, and one is an Effect trope.

You get the dice of an intention trope immediately you state the intention.  But you can only declare one such trope in a round.

You get the dice of an Effect trope when it comes up in play in a way that changes the situation.  More than one of these could, if circumstances dictate, pile on in a single round, but that seems likely to be a rarity.

So intention tropes would be: Pop Claws, Taunt Opponent, Appeal to Civic Virtue, etc.

Effect tropes would be: Take their best shot and come back for more, Get thrown through walls, Misunderstand humanity.

Man, just one comment gets my gears turning again.  Again, thank you Dan!
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John Harper
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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2004, 10:00:54 AM »

I don't have anything helpful to add right now, Tony, but I need to tell you that I *love* this take on superheroes. The idea of tropes that evolve the conflict situation is a brilliant one. Your take on Dan's idea seems like a good direction to go.

I also caught your comment about a "letter column" system (in the psychodrama thread). This game just gets cooler and cooler.
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Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!
TonyLB
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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2004, 11:29:13 AM »

Well thank you, John.  I'm hard at work transcribing fluid thought into rigid web-page right now, but hopefully I'll have something pre-alpha to show the Forge fairly soon.

It's both a "showing off" thing (my first wholly home-grown game in a decade!) and an attempt to make it easier for folks to make meaningful commentary in the context of a whole game.
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