The Forge Archives

Independent Game Forums => lumpley games => Topic started by: lumpley on August 24, 2007, 06:15:21 AM



Title: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: lumpley on August 24, 2007, 06:15:21 AM
I've just posted a cruel fortune change and some GM techniques on my blog, here (http://www.lumpley.com/comment.php?entry=322), check it out.

I welcome questions either here in the lumpley games forum or there on anyway, your choice.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Valamir on August 24, 2007, 08:18:40 AM
Here are the thoughts I've been meaning to put together from our Gen Con play, in no particular order.

1) I really like that player pirates can bring the Malcontent card into play reflecting stirring up the crew.  However, mechanically, I think there needs to be an extra step to keep this from being a perpetual thing that gets old real fast.  The voting action makes it very clear that the rules give all authority to the captain but a wise captain pays attention to the will of his crew.  Consider allowing players to call for a vote, and only if the captain goes against the vote can they bring the Malcontent card in.  Other triggers might include, failing to capture a prize, or having a Want card in play too long. 

2) Fighting seems hard to balance.  Granted I have only 1 session to go by, but it seems like there is a very very narrow range in which a fight is interesting.  Its very easy to wind up with an opponent that is a cake walk, or one that is nigh invincible.  The advantages (which are really cool) make it even harder.  Against inexperienced players the default "Xs" the GM gets can clean their clock.  Against experienced players making good use of build up checks fights will be more or less over before dice hit the table.  If there's a secret to putting together an entertainingly threatening engagement I failed to find it in our session.


3) The escalation for ship pursuit makes huge amounts of game mechanical sense, but unfortunately not much story sense.  "Captain we're just not fast enough to get within cannon range of her"..."Ok, bring us up along side then".  I fully embrace the idea of escalating from long range "safe" cannon fire, to the carnage of broadsides and then to the brutality of boarding...but from a story narrative perspective it seems rather off. 

Consider making the escalation of pursuit independent of the later engagement ranges and instead just have escalation represent how beat up your ship gets from your maneuvering efforts (pile on too much sail, lose a spar; try to tack instead of wear, get thrown in irons and a mast topples) etc.  Then let the winner of the pursuit roll set the engagement range...cannon, broadside, or boarding.


4) Consider making Want work the same way as Urgency, at least as an option for convention play.  Not having the effects of Want take effect until the next session renders it ineffective for a one-shot.


5) Hunting for prizes was pretty cool, but most of a pirates life (like most predators in the animal kingdom) was spent searching for a prize and failing to find one.  The Poison'd system not only allows (unless I really misread it) pirates to find a prize EVERY time they look for one, but even to specify how big of a prize it will be.  That may just be a temporary system for the Ashcan until the rest of the mechanics gets nailed down, but I think there's a lot of potential for the system to handle the unlucky captain who just can't seem to find a prize.  Not with a lot of boring "you search and fail" rolls in series, but someway to capture the long days without seeing a sail on the horizon.  Maybe a matrix that pits "playing it safe" vs. "cruising the major trade lanes" with a larger chance for nothing or small prizes on the safe side vs. big treasure or pirate hunters on the risky side.

6) Provisions would provide an interesting additional currency.  Not in a big bean counting way, but I could easily see one of the ship's traits being cargo hold and the captain getting a certain number of provision cards (more for a skeleton crew, less for a large).  Playing a provision card is what allows the captain to roll for a prize or fight a ship or head to port, or whatever without penalty.  Running out of cards and needing to make a roll is what puts the ship into want.  Making additional rolls while the ship is in want could trigger other nastyness.  Converting Plunder into Provisions would then be an interesting tradeoff...especially when the cargo hold isn't big enough for all the plunder.  Each die of plunder could take 1 "cargo" (except 6s which take none) so dice that roll 6s represent that cache of jewels and coins while dice that roll 1s are the bolts of textile and barrels of tin plates that take a lot or room for little value.  Even more interesting potential can be had if you make the ships purser in charge of provisioning the ship.  Give the ship's cook a chance to make a roll to stretch provisions, etc.  Each crew position could have a special role to play.

7) RUM.  Speaking of provisions how about Rum that the captain gets to dole out to conciliate the crew.  A captain can play Rum cards to avoid malcontent effects, or delay the effects of Want, or to earn "Xs" for improved "morale". 

8) Ambitions.  There really could be a whole subset of mechanics for pursing one's Ambition.  Some level of "Xs" that must be earned and when enough are accumulated the big conflict for that Ambition can be triggered resulting in the pirate either getting it or failing. 

9)  Overall, I totally had a blast playing and I've got a complete weakness for cool pirate stuff (I've been known to break out my old Sega Genesis from time to time just so I can play Pirates Gold...again) but I don't know that there's enough going on in the game to keep in compelling for multiple sessions yet.  The basic framework shows tremendous promise (needing only either some massaging to get the balance right or some good tips on how to use it) but the limited options got a bit repetitive and the combat sequence felt fairly mechanical.

For this last point I suspect the game will have alot in common with Tunnels & Trolls what with all of the players rolling together in combination to get a net "how'd the fight go" roll and with the "Xs" allowing damage even when you lose (like magic in T&T).  In T&T the things that keep combat interesting (and not just a mechanical exercise in group die pool rolling) are:

a) Saving Throws.  Poison'd has the lead up advantage rolls which could accomplish much the same thing, but I'm worried the choices are limited.  There are 4, and they broadly cover a wide range of things...but given the way they pit character score vs. character score there's only likely to be 2 or maybe even only 1 that a given pirate is good at.  There's only so many times a player can narrate brutalizing a helpless victim to earn "Xs" before it gets old.  The T&T Saving Throws, on the other hand allowed players to get crazy creative and have an impact.

b) The Tactical Weapon / Character choices:  Part of the fun of T&T combat was building the character "properly" prior to the combat.  Having the right weapon for the characters stats, and using experience to bump the right combination of stats to permit the character to use the right combination of armor and weapons was a big deal.  Rolling 8d6+16 when the other character is rolling only 4d6+3 shows that you built your character better than the other guy.  In Poison'd (again unless I misread) in all combats the non captain player only rolls 2 dice.  The die of the captain the captain gave them, and the bonus "team work" die.  They get to choose how to use their Xs and whether to be in or out but no matter what, at the time the dice are rolled, they're rolling 2 dice.  Kind of boring and repetitive after a while.

c) The interaction of the 3 different types of combat dice in T&T is crucial in a way I hadn't realized until sitting down to plan a fight.  Melee weapons give you dice.  These dice add to the total for overall victory and the damage they do (i.e. the total for victory) is divided evenly among the opponents...but only if you win, otherwise nothing.  Missile weapons give you dice.  These dice apply their damage specifically to the opponent of your choice (i.e. not divided) and do that damage whether you win or lose (thus helping to guarentee taking out a specific dangerous opponent) but they don't add to the total for victory and so any player who chooses a missile weapon vs. a melee weapon is increasing the likely hood of his own side suffering damage.  And lastly magic, which is the best of both worlds.  Its damage targets specific enemies win or lose like missile weapons but ALSO applies to the overall victory total...but you have a limited supply of strength to power it.  That interplay...that choice of when to eat damage early in order to take out the worst baddy with missiles and then finish off the battle with melee weapons, or when to blow a ton of strength on a big ass magic spell is key to keeping T&T from being just an exercise in rolling dice.

I'm thinking Poison'd could benefit from something along those lines.  Not necessarily the same system but some choices the players can make before rolling the dice that affect the way the results are read could go along way.  Maybe something like "Skulking the Back" lets you use your successes to cancel enemy "Xs" but not towards winning the fight, while "Bloodcurdling Charge" lets double your successes but have some other limit. 


Anyway.  That was my playtest report from Gen Con.  Only one session so its based on limited data points, but we only had a few minutes to discuss there.


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: lumpley on August 24, 2007, 08:51:49 AM
Thank you, Ralph!

-Vincent


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: rafial on August 25, 2007, 01:59:58 PM
Are the X's put next to completed ambitions spendable X's?  Or is this just a symbol to indicate completion?


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: lumpley on August 27, 2007, 05:58:17 AM
I'm like, I know, I'll have them mark Xs next to everything, and also separately and unrelatedly use Xs for currency! That won't confuse anybody.

So, yeah. My fault. Those aren't spendable Xs, they're just to mark that you've accomplished it.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: lumpley on August 27, 2007, 06:49:51 AM
So Ralph, mostly what I'm doing with your terrific post is thinking about it. I do have one answer though: I figure that striking a bargain will work on, oh, nine out ten malcontent-happy players, and marooning will work on the rest.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Jiri Petru on August 31, 2007, 02:22:10 PM
Hello, everybody. First of all, Vincent, thanks for the awesome game! Now to the topic...

(Sorry if my english is a bit awkard. There used to be a spellcheck button here, but I can't find it now. That means the following text will be horrible. Sorry.)

Quote from: Valamir
The escalation for ship pursuit makes huge amounts of game mechanical sense, but unfortunately not much story sense.  "Captain we're just not fast enough to get within cannon range of her"..."Ok, bring us up along side then".
The escalation of ship pursuit makes perfect sence to me. It took me some time until I managed to understand it, but I think I do now. It seems clever:

You see, in order to shoot cannons at somebody who's running from you, you have to turn your ship to one side. You cannon just go straight to them and shoot - so shooting actually makes you slower. Aside of that, cannons need men to operate them, men who could instead be working the sail - another hindrance. So what you do when you realise you are too slow? (1) You'll go straight after your prize, no turning. And you cannon shoot cannons from your bow. (2) You'll send the men from cannons to sails. No shooting at all.

The other ship will try to run. When you get too close, they realise they can't get away and turn to fight you. At this time, you are probably very close to each other. Don't forget you have all your men on sails, nobody manning the guns. And your ship is closing to the targer very fast. When you get ready to shoot, you'll alteady be broadside to broadside.

Now I know this is a bit exxagerated, but when you think of it, it isn't that much of an nonsense.

---

Other reactions and ideas, in no order at all.

(1) I for myself like the open enden nature of the game and the cruel fortunes. I wouldn't like it that much if everything was bound by mechanics. Although some of the fortunes might deserve some work, I dare to disagree with Valamir's proposal to make it more rules-heavy.

(2) The fighting system seems suitable for more than, you know, fighting. I plan to make my players "fight" with other difficulties. Imagine the ships are fighing cannon range, and I give players a chance to make some succes rolls ("Cannonballs are tearing your ship apart. Everyone, roll to endure the duress."). If someone loses, I can imagine a "fight" against a bullet wound (Dogs in the Vineyard style!). Or maybe if a player fails, he falls off the ship and I'll make him "fight" to get back aboard. I guess It would be a modified knife to knife or sword to sword. Vincent, maybe you could consider writing something about these variants of figts, as in Dogs?

(3) I'm preparing for the game, and I'm making up some bangs to drive pirates' ambitions forward. Anyone got any experience with bangs in this game, or do you simply play the cruel fortunes and let the players do the rest?

(4) Are there any actual play reports I can take some inspiration from? I've browsed the Actual Play section and found only one, which seems to more like a preview of Poisond. Are there any others?

(5) One of my players took these three ambitionsf: to spit in the eye of God, to spit in the eye of the devil, to live forever. I have absolutely no idea how to make some bangs for these. Anyone got any experience with them?

(6) It would be great if there were more Cruel Fortunes available - they are an amazing part of the game. How about t make a topic where people can post their ideas for new cruel fortunes? Somebody proposed a fortune to reflect dead men. I've already incorporated it to my set, naming it "Dead & Wounded". It reads almost the same as "Wear & Breakage". "A few dead" means on card of Dead and Wounded (Profile loss of 1). "Many dead" means two cards of Dead and Wounded (Profile loss of 2). I can't find the source now, but thanks for the idea nonetheless. Maybe the rules for Leisure could have a line saying: "Spend 1 to hire new crewmembers at port. Remove one "Dead & Wounded" card."

(7) I have a weakness for pictures. Does anyone know a good source of some good ship pictures? I've found these (http://www.geocities.com/pirates_hold/pirate_ships.html) and these (http://library.thinkquest.org/C0125871/english/w2.htm).
 
That's it for now. Maybe I'll post some more ideas later.

Oh, by the way, I haven't played the game yet, so maybe I change my oppinions tommorow, after our game. I'll try to post something about our experiences.

Thanks again and see ya!

Jiri


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Jiri Petru on August 31, 2007, 02:38:44 PM
Damn, there's no edit button. Sorry for the double post and sorry for the mistakes in the previous one.

(8) I had to make a czech translation for my group (I'm actually much better in understanding english than writing it). Vincent, would you like to put in on your website as an extra download for everyone who bought the original PDF?

(9) What exactly means "damnation"?. I understand the word, but not the game or story consequences of it. I supposed it means being damned by god himself (?). If so, should the "Accursing" cruel fortune be rather "Damnation"? It would make bigger sense to me, because damnation is the thing that could affect a whole ship. Curses - at least in my group - tend to be more personal. For example one character was cursed by a rape victim: "May your dick rot". This isn't a thing that could effect a whole ship ;)



Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Valamir on August 31, 2007, 04:40:32 PM
So Ralph, mostly what I'm doing with your terrific post is thinking about it. I do have one answer though: I figure that striking a bargain will work on, oh, nine out ten malcontent-happy players, and marooning will work on the rest.

-Vincent

Please expand.  With just 1 short con session where we were learning as we go, we didn't get to touch much on bargains and how they're entered.



Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Jiri Petru on September 01, 2007, 09:34:15 AM
Wow.

This games rocks. We've just ended our first session, and we all enjoyed it. We learned the rules quite fast, and the system really seems to do it's job well. However, I am a bit confused by group fight.

So in our session, the crew got into a clash with a company of redcoats. I used the "Soldiers" fortune, created the company and its commander, and then... I realised I have absolutelly no idea how to resolve it. The skirmish was "company to company", sure. But neither the company, nor the crew have any Brinkmanship. I've reread the rules for "fighting for a side", but they didn't make any sense to me - they seem to speak about individials in big fights, not about the big fights themselves. In the whole book, there was not a single word about group fights.

We resolved it somehow, but only after the game I suddenly understood what the text means (i think). So - groups or crews have no Brinkmanship, because they use the Brinkmanship of their leader, right? And the dice for the group's Brinkmanship are divided between all the players, right? (no dividing on NPC'c side) So all the players get to decide whether they want to help, or not (thus lowering the Brinkmanship of their whole group), right? If so, then:

(10) What happens when one side has no leader? What is the group's Brinkmanship? That happened tu us, since we haven't chosen the captain yet.

(11) What happens when I kill the leader, or put him out of fight? Putting out of fight costs only 1 X, and it is almost certain that at least one of the players can do it. Leaders don't seem to have any chance to stay in the fight.

(12) After comparing the both sides' Profiles, I got two Xs. Players had more than 10 Xs together. Can players spend their Xs to help their side (for example to buy new dice?). If yes, this hardly seems fair, the fight was over before it began. In not, then what are the Xs good for in group fights?

(13) What do the player pirates do in group fights? Do we simply incorporate them in the descriptions and nothing else? Do they get their own personal fights (sword to sword, for example)?

The same questions would be for shipfights, I guess. Only we didn't have a shipfight yet.

Thanks. I think I'll wait for answers now.


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: lumpley on September 04, 2007, 06:37:00 AM
Okay, let's see what I can answer.

Ralph: whenever your character enters into any kind of agreement with another, that other player lists it on her character sheet. Like, "Wee Billy promised to stop inciting the company to malcontent." Until Wee Billy makes good (and a promise like that seems pretty open-ended to me), you can withhold Wee Billy's Soul from any one roll his player makes. The game gives bargains mechanical leverage.

The only trick, then, is getting Wee Billy to make that promise. I bet you can find something he'll accept in return, especially given that a) malcontent is bad for everybody, not just the captain and b) you can always drop him off on a barren island if you're sick of him.

Jiri:

2) I don't recommend it. Those are opportunities for success rolls! Save fighting for fights.

3) Don't plan bangs. Limit yourself to the cruel fortunes.

4) I just posted an actual play report. There's another here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=24597.0). I hope there'll be more soon - post yours!

5) Not your problem. If someone lists "spit in the eye of God" on their character sheet, it's theirs to undertake. Spitting in the eye of God or living forever - those won't be easy, but there they are.

(Also remember that giving up an ambition has as much mechanical oomph as fulfilling one.)

6) Dead & Wounded is fine. It didn't quite make it into the rules that you should treat Profile as responsively as the other stats - I haven't been using a cruel fortune like dead & wounded because I've just dropped the company's profile when they lose a fight.

I'm cautiously open to new cruel fortunes, case by case.

8) Cool! Email it to me at lumpley at gmail dot com.

9) Funny. I think of it as the reverse: having one accursed person on board brings bad luck to the whole ship, where damnation may not bring bad luck at all, but even if it does, it's personal.

You saw Master and Commander? The Jonas midshipman inspired Poison'd's accursing.

10) Good catch, that rule didn't make it into the text. When a ship or company has no captain, it's easy prey for another ship or company, and comes under its control. Individual members can fight individually, but that's it.

11) Until I work that out for myself, I think the best thing is to just exclude the captain from that option.

Taking a named individual out of a fight is meant to have personal, in-fiction consequences, not tactical consequences. It's not meant to short-circuit the fighting rules. Until your pirates have grudges with other individual sailors and soldiers, I wouldn't expect them to use that option.

12) Your best bet is to totally outclass them Profile-wise, or else to bring the fight sooner.

13) They get to contribute or withhold dice - see the section called "fighting on a side."

I'm glad you enjoyed the game!

-Vincent


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Temple on September 05, 2007, 08:16:01 AM
When a character bargains with God or the Devil, does the GM get to withhold dice from his rolls?


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: lumpley on September 05, 2007, 08:36:52 AM
With the Devil, yes. With God, no - instead of withholding dice, God inflicts damnation upon the character.

What if the character's already damned? I dunno.

Oh hey, it's not in the rules, but how about this: if the character's already damned, then God can put any cruel fortune into play that He wants.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Willow on September 06, 2007, 06:24:47 PM
Quote
10) Good catch, that rule didn't make it into the text. When a ship or company has no captain, it's easy prey for another ship or company, and comes under its control. Individual members can fight individually, but that's it.

Wait, really?  So if I get three Xs, I autowin against a group if I take out it's commander?  This seems.... cheap.  Both in the 'broken' sense, and in the 'unsatisfying' sense.


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: coffeestain on September 06, 2007, 08:08:08 PM
Willow, check out number 11:

"11) Until I work that out for myself, I think the best thing is to just exclude the captain from that option.

Taking a named individual out of a fight is meant to have personal, in-fiction consequences, not tactical consequences. It's not meant to short-circuit the fighting rules. Until your pirates have grudges with other individual sailors and soldiers, I wouldn't expect them to use that option."

Regards,
Daniel


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: lumpley on September 07, 2007, 04:29:30 AM
Yes!

It's clear that this is a place where the rules hitch. Whether I can make text that solves it or I have to change those specific options substantially, I don't know yet.

Meanwhile, just disallow fight short-circuiting. I totally admit how ugly and stop-gap "just disallow" is.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Jiri Petru on September 08, 2007, 03:03:02 PM
Vincent, thanks for your answers! They sure help a lot. Today we've played our second session and I have a couple of more things to say. I don't think I'll post the actual play report, sorry. I'm not yet used to writing in english, it would take me a lot of time. I can answer specific question, though.

Anyway...

We fought a storm today. Felt a bit clumsy. The storm has nothing to lose, the players have nothing to gain, it doesn't seem to work. Players had absolutelly no reason to escalate, so when we got to "broadside to broadside" range, they accepted a loss at a 1st level of escalation. You see... accepting the loss meant wear & breakage. But if they escalated, they'd get wear & breakage too, and maybe even something worse. As for the side effect of "subduing to the Storm", I didn't know how to interpret it.

Second, I suppose that for the fights between ships I use the captain's Brinkmanship, too? I'm asking just to be sure, couldn't find it mentioned in the rules.

Third, they finally fought the Resolute. Resolute lost at the first level of "cannon to cannon". That means they had to accept wear & breakage. And then? Do they suddenly stop fighting? Do they surrender? Do they retreat? Are they so shaken that pirates can board them and take them without further fight? I mean, what happens when a ship loses a fight that is neither pursuit nor boarding?

I let Resolute retreat. I described the chaos on the board, some gunpowder explosions, smoke, disorder. The ship retreated from the fight to rally and now is once again lurking on the horizon, preparing for a new attack. Was this solution allright?

Thanks in advance,

Jiri


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Jiri Petru on September 08, 2007, 03:10:45 PM
And another one. Sorry for the double post, would edit the previous one if it only was possible.

Vincent, do you intent to write some texts regarding the morality/brutality/adult content issues for the final version? Some techniques perhaps, maybe something like the veils and stuff in Ron Edwards' Sex and Sorcery? I'm not personally sure I need them, but a lot of people seem to have some kind of problem with this. I'm just wondering.


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Jiri Petru on September 08, 2007, 03:33:56 PM
And another. Sorry, they just keep coming.

The fights seem to be unbalanced in players' favour. Players almost always have more Xs than me. When I get lucky we have the same number, I've almost never had more(*). If a player gets lucky, he can get 3 or 4 Xs in one success roll, which is more than I can ever hope for. Most of my NPCs have the Profile of 3 or 4, which means only 2 or 3 Xs for me. The fact that players can carry some Xs from a win fight makes this even worse.

All in all, earning Xs seems too easy for me.

The second problem is Brinkmanship. All of my players have 5 or 6 and I only get 6 on a lucky roll. This makes the fights even easier.

The third problem is the fact that players can spend 3 Xs to kill characters. While it is a good mechanic, tt comes very cheap: players can get 3 Xs on a single roll.

These issues might be harmless individually, but when they add up together, they make the life for pirates quite easy. Although I admit I managed to catch a player without Xs today. He failed a succes roll, I began a fight and even though I lost, I spent 2 Xs to cut his eye out. That's what I call satisfaction.


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Ignotus on September 10, 2007, 11:00:52 AM
I ran poison'd last night for two players.  It went OK, but not great.  Maybe more players and inter-character strife would help?  We had a number of rules questions:

What happens when characters try to resolve tense situations in a non-piratey fashion?  E.g. my players kept trying to mollify people who wanted their heads by offering mutually advantageous arrangements.  It was unclear how to resolve diplomacy of this manner - I generally tried suggestively asking if they were planning a double-cross (so we could roll treachery) or resolving things by fiat.  Is there a better way?

How exactly is profile calculated for people who are partially but not completely armed?  Can you be disarmed if you have one of the "not a weapon" weapon choices?

Can individual pirates fight companies?  Sometimes a pirate has so many Xs that they can fight one.  If so, how should the GM handle escalation and consequences?

Being accursed is a big deal!  It makes all fights much harder, and for everyone, so ambitions got put on hold while the characters strove to reverse the curse.  I ended up improvising rival voodoo magicians, a father and daughter, for the characters to get involved with, but more guidance on how to handle curses (the text seems to imply that a non-magician wit h"sufficient authority" could deal with a curse, but what does that refer to?  A priest?) would be appreciated. The rules for being an accursing ghost seem to hint at rules for dealing with curses, but I couldn't find them...

Can a pirate interfere in another pirate's fight?  Let's say Cutpurse Bob is fighting the constabulary.  Julian is watching, but wants to intervene midway thru - can he? 

What happens if two or more pirates who are not captain are fighting side-by-side?  Do we appoint one as temporary captain for purposes of the fight?  What happens if the captain and another pirate are fighting side-by-side, but the other pirate is taking the lead in the fight and the captain is just lending a hand?  Is the "lead" pirate treated as captain? 

Is there any way for a non-captain PC to spend Xs when fighting side-by-side?

Is there any way for pirates to work together on not-fighting activities like deceit or brutality?

How do the "spend XXX to kill anyone," the "brutality vs. soul to attack someone unsuspecting" and the fight rules mesh when attackign someone unsuspecting but not helpless?  If you spend XXX, do you also need to roll brutality + soul?  If you succeed in brutality + soul but don't spend Xs, do you kill them outright, or do you just get some Xs for the fight with them?

What gets rolled when a pirate (especially one not captain) tries to command the crew, perhaps to do something for which he lacks the stomach?  How is it decided if they obey him, and how is it decided if they succeed (if they do obey?)

Thanks,
Sam


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: lumpley on September 12, 2007, 06:01:06 AM
Let's see what I can answer. Jiri first, in order:

Let me just make sure: only the final loser of any fight suffers consequences. If you lose at level 1, you aren't stuck with those consequences; escalating means that you have a shot at no consequences at all. That's why you'd escalate against a storm.

Submitting to a storm would be bad, I think. You'd wind up wherever the storm put you, broken and lost. As GM, take it as an opportunity to bring some cruel fortune into play - want for direction would be appropriate, as would something like "the storm drives you to seek shelter in the same harbor as it drove H.M.S. The Belligerent."

Yes, use the captain's Brinksmanship.

That solution for the Resolute was fine. If the pirates want to pursue, they can make a series of success rolls (if you let them) and then fight to pursue.

In general, other than the named consequences, the circumstances after a fight aren't set mechanically. As GM, you set them.

There'll be no explanatory essays in the final text. I'm not going to add more than a single sheet's (4 columns') worth of text to the game, and it'll all be better rules text. People are going to have to navigate the moral issues themselves.

I haven't had a problem with too many Xs; I'm not sure why you have. Do you call for success rolls that the players are unlikely to win? Like, say a given pirate's really bad at using stealth or care. That player isn't going to remind you to make her roll when her pirate uses stealth or care, you have to notice it yourself.

Call for success rolls aggressively, and make people write down their bargains, even their most informal ones. Two key GM jobs.

The Brinksmanship problem, though, yes. No ship's captain should have a Brinksmanship under 4. Here are new NPC captain Brinksmanship rules, see if they don't work better.
Roll 1d6:
1: Brinksmanship 4
2-3: Brinksmanship 5
4-6: Brinksmanship 6

For spending 3 Xs to kill an NPC, it doesn't apply to anyone you're about to fight with ship to ship or company to company. To take someone out of a group, you have to hold off and spend Xs to take them out of a group, inside the fight - and that doesn't affect the GM's dice.

Let me know if those work!

-Vincent


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: lumpley on September 12, 2007, 06:13:36 AM
Oh, Jiri, one more, about too many Xs. You don't have to strictly wait until the player loses a success roll to bring a fight, and you don't have to always bring the climactic fight. A perfect example is when the gunnery master is beating up on the gunners for Xs (and what is it that makes gunnery masters such pricks?): have one of the gunners throw a punch back. All those carefully husbanded Xs flushed away in stupid infighting while the Resolute comes up over the horizon.

This is very piratey behavior.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: lumpley on September 12, 2007, 06:34:03 AM
Okay, Sam. In order:

I wouldn't play the game with only myself plus two. GM plus three players is the functional minimum.

If the players' pirates make an NPC a mutually beneficial offer, you get to decide: accept it or attack them. Remember that if you accept it it's a bargain and the NPC gets to hold the PCs' soul as collatoral.

Asking them if they're using treachery or deceit is very good, but if they say yes, that's IN ADDITION TO striking the bargain. Planning to betray someone when you strike a bargain doesn't mean you haven't struck a bargain.

Someone with a 4-profile advantage doesn't have to fight. That means that a mob can usually subdue a pirate without any fight required.

For the cinematic version, ignore that rule and let anyone fight a mob who wants to.

Be sure that you're using the correct accursing rules, here (http://www.lumpley.com/comment.php?entry=322). Deal with breaking curses the way you deal with everything else you hope to accomplish: by going into danger, attacking the unsuspecting, enduring duress, sneaking & betraying, fighting, spending leisure to meet key people and deal with them in non-piratey ways, and over everything else striking bargains.

Oh, cool. That gives me the exact final thing I need to put on the spending leisure list. Stand by for it.

There's no joining a fight midway through.

Yes, appoint one to be captain for the fight.

Anyone in the fight can spend their Xs on behalf of their captain.

Pirates cannot work together on success rolls. They each have to make their own.

If your pirate attacks someone helpless, you roll brutality vs soul, whether you're going to spend the 3 Xs or not. After you roll brutality vs soul, THEN you spend the 3 Xs to kill them.

If you succeed in brutality vs soul but don't have or don't spend 3 Xs to kill them outright, they get to fight you. GM, you're allowed to make them not so helpless after all (see Tom Reed's boning knife) if you want to and if you aren't screwing up the game's fiction.

You can spend 3 Xs to kill someone who's not helpless, though in which case your pirate's attacking someone who's not helpless and you don't roll brutality vs soul. You just spend the 3 Xs.

What gets rolled when a pirate (especially one not captain) tries to command the crew, perhaps to do something for which he lacks the stomach?  How is it decided if they obey him, and how is it decided if they succeed (if they do obey?)
Nothing gets rolled. That pirate has to strike a bargain with the crew, or they don't obey. (Same thing when the captain orders the crew to do something they really don't want to, too.)

"Do this or I'll have every mother's son of you beaten bloody" is a bargain. On the crew sheet, list it as "[said PC] swore he wouldn't have us beaten us bloody."

When an NPC (like the crew minus the PCs) tries to do something, you just decide whether they do it or not. It doesn't matter if they succeed or fail, so just choose whichever one seems more likely to bring a fight or a new cruel fortune.

Followups welcome, as always!

-Vincent


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Jiri Petru on September 22, 2007, 12:47:00 AM
Thanks, Vincent! I don't know when we have our next session, but when it comes, I'll let you know how it worked.

Quote
"Do this or I'll have every mother's son of you beaten bloody" is a bargain. On the crew sheet, list it as "[said PC] swore he wouldn't have us beaten us bloody."

This definitelly needs to be written in the rules! Wouldn't think of it myself...
Perpaps have some diverse examples of possible bargains?


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Temple on September 24, 2007, 02:38:49 AM
I had a situation where after defeating a navy vessel the captain wanted to switch ships. How would you resolve that Vincent?


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: lumpley on September 24, 2007, 04:57:59 AM
Let them! Use the new ship's list of goodies and profile, as you've created it. If they're trading up sizewise, they'll need to increase the crew appropriately; they'll be a skeleton crew meanwhile.

(Increasing the crew should go on the leisure list, now that I think of it.)

-Vincent


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: Temple on September 25, 2007, 10:57:44 PM
Thats actually what I did, so thats cool. I didnt think to make them a skeleton crew though, which is a nice touch!


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: phargle on January 24, 2008, 02:24:44 PM
I am getting ready to run a Poison'd game.  I'm curious:  what are the consequences of losing a fist-fight?  It doesn't seem to mechanically harm you or benefit you to win or lose one.  The same with losing a knife fight at escalation level one.  Everything else I can see - you submit, get mutilated, get a deadly wound, get killed.  Fists and low-level knives?  It seems losing is just as good as winning.

Also, if a player jumps another player, errata says they should roll Brutality vs. Soul.  Victory can give Xs.  Defeat just means you can't do it.  Does that mean you have to roll Brutality vs. Soul to attack another player, or just to ambush them when they aren't looking?  If they are looking, do you just go into a fight? 

Now say you roll Brutality vs. Soul to push the unsuspecting captain overboard.  He decides to endure duress and rolls Soul vs. Devil.  Succeed or fail, what happens to him?  It sounds like, by enduring duress, he's tossed overboard and, uh, drowned.

If a player wants to kill another player's pirate, how does he do so mechanically?  It seems like the victim could always just give on the first round of a fight.  Even if he is put in the other guy's power by defeat, and the other guy says, "I stomp his head in!", it seems like he could endure duress and take it or (or not - I'm confused what the repurcussions of failing or succeeding on a roll to endure duress might be.)

Thanks for the pre-game help.


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: lumpley on January 28, 2008, 10:15:00 AM
Yay!

1. The mechanical consequences for losing a fistfight, or for ditching out of a knife fight before it gets serious, are that you lose all your Xs, while the winner goes forward with Xs for the win. (The in-fiction consequences might be significant too).

2. You roll brutality vs soul to attack someone helpless or unsuspecting. If they aren't helpless or unsuspecting, just go straight into the fight.

3. By enduring duress, he's tossed overboard. There's no "...and drowned" in the rules. Here's what might happen:

a) His player might take him out of play, by the "separated for good" rule. This might mean he drowns, might not, at the player's whim.

b) His player might make some more rolls for Xs to get back into fighting range. Enduring more duress by clinging to the side of the boat while being pounded with waves, going into danger by climbing the hull, using stealth and treachery by clinging below the rail until nightfall, attacking someone unsuspecting after dark.

c) Preceding (b), the GM might make an aggressive move and say "being tossed into the ocean from the deck and left to drown counts as receiving a fatal blow. Make a bargain or die, as per the fatal blow rules." This is within the GM's rights, and at the GM's option.

4. You're right. To kill a player's character, you have to get the player's participation - the player has to stay in a knife- or gunfight then fail to make a bargain, stay in a swordfight and lose, or volunteer to take her character out of play.

It's cool, because there's nobody you need to kill worse than you need to make a bargain with them. "I can't kill your pirate without your participation, but I can make his life a living fucking nightmare of enduring duress and losing fights. How about you ___ instead?" Or else, "you can't kill my pirate without my participation, so I'm just going to keep enduring duress until you get sick of this. How about you ___ instead?"

As GM, if it looks like one player is hunkering down for an extended bout of enduring duress, and the other is going to fall for it - I've never seen this but I can imagine it - just say "fuck the both of you. Make a bargain, right now."

-Vincent


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: phargle on January 31, 2008, 05:22:26 PM
Quote
4. You're right. To kill a player's character, you have to get the player's participation - the player has to stay in a knife- or gunfight then fail to make a bargain, stay in a swordfight and lose, or volunteer to take her character out of play.

Thanks.  It's all clear to me so far.

I have a follow-up question.  Can you force someone into a fight?  Can I pull a sword on someone and initiate a fight?  Or can the victim always choose to endure duress every time I say that I stab him?  And what are the consequences of failing that roll to endure duress?  I gather that pass or fail on the roll determines whether you gain Xs, not whether you succeed, although narratively a failure could indicate squealing in pain or weeping or some other humilation.  And would saying that you endure duress when run through give you a deadly wound?  I gather than GM fiat would come into play there, depending on the situation.

The reason I ask about forcing a fight is this:  if I pull a sword and force a conflict on you, your character can suddenly die due to an event not of your choosing, and with no way out.  I say that because we could both roll the first round of the fight and I could lose.  The choice to give or escalate is not yours - it's mine.  I escalate and lose again.  We're once again faced with a situation in which I, not you, choose to give or escalate.  And then I escalate and win this time, bringing us to the third tier of escalation - instant death for you.   Now you are in the position of being able to only spend Xs to win, and if you haven't got enough, you lose the fight and die - a fight you didn't agree to have.  In short, I brought the fight to you and killed you without your permission.  To me, that suggests that all conflicts must be giveable before they even begin, and that conflict must be agreed to by both sides.  Is that correct?

To that I add - what if one person on a side chooses not to enter a conflict involving multiple people on both sides?  How do they do that mechanically?  If Pirate Joe says, "I run those two scallywags through!" and Pirate Pete says, "Nope, I fight back" and Pirate Jim says, "Huh, I don't wanna die" and refuses the conflict, how is that handled in terms of rolling dice?

Thanks again for the information!


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: lumpley on February 01, 2008, 07:11:59 AM
1. I can always roll to endure duress instead of fighting. Yes, I can take a deadly wound by enduring duress when someone gives me one - I wouldn't call that GM fiat, by default. That is, the GM might decide that it's a deadly wound if it's not obviously one (as in the thrown overboard to drown example), but when it's obviously one, the deadly wound rule comes into effect without any decision-making on the GM's part.

2. Depends. Jim could really make out well, actually, if you go straight to the rules for fighting on a side, and Pete's the leader of the side, and Jim just withholds his dice. Jim would keep all his Xs plus gain 2, without having to endure duress at all.

That's a big if, though. Who's where on the ship? Who's done what to whom, recently? Is Joe attacking helpless or unsuspecting, or going straight to a fight? Are Pete and Jim cornered? Is Pete the leader? Is Pete Joe's primary target, but Jim is in the way?

Anyhow, if somebody says "I run them both through," stop, back up, and figure out the details of when, where, how, and in which order. That'll tell you how to apply the rules.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Poison'd errata and Q&A
Post by: phargle on February 01, 2008, 08:12:24 AM
Aha!  I understand perfectly now. 

Basically, if I want to throw Pirate Joe overboard and he sees me and resists, I have to beat him in a fist-fight if we're both unarmed.  The consequences of him losing the fight are that I get to throw him overboard, and he's narratively beaten up but mechanically not hindered - he takes no mutilation or deadly wounds, at least until I toss him into the briney deep.  And if Pirate Joe has a cutlass and charges me, and I don't want to risk death, I can just endure duress and get gutted and make a bargain to live.  I suppose, technically, I could also make a bargain to avoid Pirate Joe stabbing me, if he was inclined to agree.

I also understand the other scene.  I might have to fight the two pirates in sequence unless they specifically make their stand against me side-by-side, and the plot might dictate how that goes, depending on whatever bargains might have been made.

Where I am unclear is regarding the consequences for failing a duress roll.  It sounds like the consequences are just that the GM can call a fight (although he can call a fight any time he wants, right?), and you don't get advantage.  It also sounds like failing a duress roll could have a narrative impact.

Thank you for clarifying so much.  It makes very good sense to me now how this game works, and I'm eager to get my gaming group to try it.