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Author Topic: Dice Selection  (Read 8031 times)
Ben Lehman
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« on: April 26, 2004, 12:13:08 AM »

So I have this problem with the game as it is written.

For a while, I've been wringing my hands over whether to post it or not, because it's a technical, mathy sort of problem, and I'm not sure that this is the sort of thing that is particularly welcome.  But, I say to myself, "Self, you really ought to just post it, because when you run the game you're going to change the rule, and so lumpley deserves to know about it."

So.  Selection.

I'm going to be blunt:

Complicated Society characters control the game and, furthermore, Well Rounded characters suck rocks through a straw.  In every category (attributes, traits, and relationship) Complicated Society is *just better* than Well Rounded.

This is a problem.  This is a problem even though this game is one of those no-good, rules-lite, narrativist, narration mechanic driven, hippy-trippy love fest games where everyone gets to enjoy themselves even if the haven't gotten their character to 50th level.  This is a problem because it impacts the sort of characters which you are likely to see in the game (if you are playing with math savvy players), or the amount of impact that characters will have on the game (if you are playing with non-math savvy players.)

Here is my suggestion for fixing it:

Suggestions:
add 1d6 to traits for "strong history"
add 2d8 to traits and 1d6 to relationships for "complicated history"
Drop attribute dice for all "complicated" by 2.
add 1d6 to traits and 1d6 1d4 relationships and 2d6 attributes for "well-rounded"

This gives "Well-rounded" his own little niche as attribute king, beefs up "complicated history" a bit more in the traits department, centers the "complicated" backgrounds more on their flaw dice, and generally renders the choices a mathematically beautiful symmetrical construct which appeals to all of our inner platonists.

That's the advice.  If anyone needs clarifications about what my problem is, or how the solution works, please just respond and ask.

yrs--
--Ben
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lumpley
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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2004, 06:09:38 AM »

No - that's fair.  I especially don't mind beefing up the well rounded guy, as I haven't seen any in play yet.  People don't like him, at least my people don't.  Maybe dropping him from the list is as good a solution.

But how come you don't see Relationship dice as a gaping void like I do?  You only get to roll 'em when you're in conflict across the relationship, and next session you're going to be in a whole different town, where the relationship won't apply.  Those "I punch people hard" dice are always going to be there for you.

-Vincent
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bluegargantua
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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2004, 06:22:49 AM »

Quote from: lumpley

But how come you don't see Relationship dice as a gaping void like I do?  You only get to roll 'em when you're in conflict across the relationship, and next session you're going to be in a whole different town, where the relationship won't apply.  Those "I punch people hard" dice are always going to be there for you.


  Yeah, they aren't as utilitarian as skill dice or Attribute dice, but there's two bits about relationship dice that help even it out:

  1.)  As I understand it, you can always declare a relationship.  Which means that this is how I'd mitigate the "new town/new relationships" issue.  I'd try and spend relationship dice on big things (the Church, the TA, etc.) and save town-to-town stuff for the freebie relationship traits.

  2.)  Much like Heroquest, I'd be looking for every opportunity to add in those relationship dice.  Here's a good one:   I take a strong relationship to "Family" when I start.  Well, every town I hit has a blood relative.  So I take a freebie relationship to them and then roll the whole pile every time something threatens them -- or when I want to get help from them, or whatever.  You just have to be a bit more creative about drawing in the relationship.

  Yeah, you're kinda min-maxing the dice system, but I think the game can survive munchkins of just about any stripe.

Tom
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2004, 08:18:47 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
No - that's fair.  I especially don't mind beefing up the well rounded guy, as I haven't seen any in play yet.  People don't like him, at least my people don't.  Maybe dropping him from the list is as good a solution.


BL>  I would suggest doing the attribute swap with "complicated," because I think that the complicated twins are too powerful right now, and the "well-rounded" guy is cool as a concept.  "Well-rounded" being high in attributes makes sense to me -- you aren't really good at any one thing, but pretty good at anything you throw in for.

Quote from: lumpley

But how come you don't see Relationship dice as a gaping void like I do?  You only get to roll 'em when you're in conflict across the relationship, and next session you're going to be in a whole different town, where the relationship won't apply.  Those "I punch people hard" dice are always going to be there for you.


BL>  Relationship with Demon.  Relationship with Sin.  Relationship with other Dogs.  C'mon man!  You can totally work the relationship angle.  If I play a complicated society angst moppet, I'm totally giving him a sin relationship at 2d10.

Now, the issue of relationships with (non-doggie) people being a gaping void is an issue.  I would suggest throwing dice in conflicts which are reminiscent of your relationship, even if it isn't right there.  (My Pa always used to beat me.  I see someone beating their kid.  Wham!  Relationship with Pa dice are on the table for the conflict.)  I would drift the game to this effect in play, most certainly.

yrs--
--Ben
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lumpley
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2004, 03:52:37 PM »

Nah, don't drift it that way, you'll break the game.  You ought to be taking "daddy used to beat me" as a Trait anyhow, that'll do what you want it to.  

Reread the section about when you get your relationship dice and you'll find that they aren't like Traits a'tall.

Check it out: Trait dice are agents of player authorship within conflict.  You drive the given conflict toward your Traits, moment to moment.  Relationship dice are agents of player authorship about conflict.  You drive the larger game toward your Relationships, scene to scene.  If you decide a conflict is important (by assigning a Relationship to it), you're agreeing with the GM to come back to it again.

When you choose one of the Relationship characters over one of the Trait characters, you're giving up how conflicts go in exchange for what conflicts are about and vice versa.

Please take back "most certainly"?

-Vincent
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2004, 11:41:19 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
Check it out: Trait dice are agents of player authorship within conflict.  You drive the given conflict toward your Traits, moment to moment.  Relationship dice are agents of player authorship about conflict.  You drive the larger game toward your Relationships, scene to scene.  If you decide a conflict is important (by assigning a Relationship to it), you're agreeing with the GM to come back to it again.

When you choose one of the Relationship characters over one of the Trait characters, you're giving up how conflicts go in exchange for what conflicts are about and vice versa.

Please take back "most certainly"?


BL> Certainly.  But because I think we have a deeper problem here.  Well, two problems.  The big one is:
The power of initial relationship dice is directly related to the duration of play.

Because you (correctly) note that relationships with people and places get left behind when you move around, a game which is 1-2 communities in duration gives intrinsically more power to the relationship dice than a game which is 10-12 or even indefinite in duration.

This is an issue, to my eyes.  And even more so because I don't have an easy solution.  I have this image of being able to "cash in" relationships and replenish your free relationship dice, but i don't know how it would work.

Second issue is smaller -- relationships with sins, demons and instutitions are intrinsically more powerful, because you carry them with you.  If you solve number one, this disappears.

food for thought.


yrs--
--Ben

P.S.  Dice for Sorcerers is at least 4d8, right?  Or at least 4 dice or d8s? The text is unclear.  I'm hoping it's number two, because I think most sorcerers have d4 relationships with their demons.
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lumpley
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2004, 10:27:47 AM »

I got one more for you, Ben.

How does your assessment change if the duration of play is measured in characters, not towns?

-Vincent
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2004, 11:34:34 PM »

Quote from: lumpley

How does your assessment change if the duration of play is measured in characters, not towns?


BL>  My assessment is that there is no way that Dogs will last 2-4 years in the field :-)  More like 5-6 months.  At least, 5-6 months the way *I'd* blow through those dice.  But I love relationships.  They're sort of like spiritual attributes.  Which is why I want flexibility.

The truth is, once you're out of spare relationship dice, the way that you interface with the game changes.  This can be seen as a good or a bad thing, but either way it seems to me that it's likely to happen really fast.

My second assessment is that you ought to talk about this in the text, at all.  I had no idea, reading Dogs, that character turnover is supposed to by high.

I also note that, if you want to stay with one character for a long time (which is my habit) you will want to blow all your relationships on sins, demons, and organizations.  Which is a little sad.

yrs--
--Ben
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lumpley
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2004, 02:50:50 AM »

Awesome!  

So let's talk about refreshing those free Relationship dice somehow.  I've been considering a straight "when you leave a town, you get a free Relationship die" - but then I bump into what size should it be?  Is one enough?  Does having a sustainable level change how you'd spend 'em?

I like your idea of cashing in Relationships you aren't gonna use again, but I don't think I'd want you to get your full investment back.

Mostly I've got it tucked away to watch carefully as I play the puppy, but I'm way open to suggestions.

-Vincent
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Emily Care
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2004, 05:17:21 AM »

Interesting topic. Puts lots of different suggestions and questions into my head.  

I can see the characters getting a new allotment of relationship dice for each town they enter, this would be much like the way that drifters bond with little girls or whores-with-a-heart of gold in serial westerns etc.  And you've also said that the social circles are small--the Dogs could easily be expected to have a blood relation in every town.  So, each time ya enter a new town there could be a set or variable amount of dice you're allotted, maybe varying based on resonance with traits in your kit: ie if you've got a trait that says "kid brother was killed", the Dog would get a higher die for a relationship with a young boy in danger. That might overlap with how you want the traits to work, though. I dunno.  

Another way, going with the system as is, would be that once the relationship dice run out, something about the Dog has been resolved. They no longer are open to making connections the way they once were.  This might be 'cause they are dead, or 'cause they are fixed or broken in some way.  

Or each relationship can be seen as being "open" or "resolved".  You can cash in the dice once the relationship has been resolved (the boy is now out of danger, the little girl is well), and some are the kind that don't end like that (the woman you spent all night with in the canyon is one you will see again).  

And, Vincent, what's the deal with having a relationship with sin etc? Seems like relationships need to be clearly delineated.  I was also thinking about calling in relats. dice when a conflict reminded me of my character's relationship with another person.

--Em
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ScottM
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2004, 08:12:22 AM »

Perhaps we should use both ways for relationship dice.  I like Emily and Ben's use of relationship dice, but I'd be tempted to halve their contribution if it's an "inspired by" relationship, rather than the actual relationship. (That'd be a good reason to lock relationships into pairs of dice...  half a pair is easy to figure).

The free relationship die you mention I'd be tempted to give on entering a town, rather than when you leave. Perhaps 2d6 for well rounded & history types, and 2d8 for society types. These would refresh each town and wouldn't roll over.  You could also make the die type a random roll thing-- the first relationship you want in a town, you narrate it ambiguously and roll against a table (perhaps Outline: Section 4/ Size of dice table, just give a -1 to non-society characters and hand them out in pairs). This would keep the society types' edge in relationships, rather than running dry after the initial few towns.

If you do hand out refreshing dice in each town then you can probably cut back on the relationship dice during character generation.  I don't know if I'd cut out too many though.
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lumpley
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« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2004, 01:03:51 PM »

How about this?  When you run out of free Relationship dice, wait until you leave town.  Before you enter the next town, roll some dice.

Roll 12 dice of whatever mix of sizes you want.  Each die that comes up a 1, 2 or 3, you get a free Relationship die of that size.

So if I roll 4d4, 3d6, 3d8 and 2d10, and I get:
4d4: 1 1 2 3
3d6: 2 4 5
3d8: 1 3 6
2d10: 8 10

I get 4d4, 1d6, 2d8 free Relationship dice.

Essentially, every time you run out of free Relationship dice, you decide anew how positively social your character is, and then you roll.

Sound worth a try?

But about applying relationships flexibly: nope.  You get your Relationship dice when the rules say you do, which is at the beginning of a conflict where your relation is either your opponent or what's at stake.  Sins too!  Demons too!  If your sin isn't your opponent or what's at stake, you don't get the dice.  If you want dice for situations that remind you of a relationship, take Traits accordingly.

Emily, I like the idea of putting high dice in a Relationship that goes along with one of your Traits - you were beaten as a kid so you put high dice in a Relationship with an abused kid - but I'm'a leave it to player discretion.

-Vincent
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ScottM
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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2004, 03:19:45 PM »

Your newest stab works for me; I get the impression that you've got things tweaked for short runs (of specific characters), and that your solution keeps the balance that you'd already come up with. Plus it addresses the characters who stick around longer, which is just a good thing.

I'd put Emily's suggestion (or something like it) in as advice during character generation-- it'll help emphasize play style and options.  It will give you a ton of dice when you deal with that specific situation (pa+beatings = dice from both), but it's the high impact moment where you'll want the player pumped. I'm good now.
-- Scott
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2004, 07:54:52 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
Essentially, every time you run out of free Relationship dice, you decide anew how positively social your character is, and then you roll.

Sound worth a try?


BL>  Possibly.  I have some thoughts:

1) Encouraging people to run out of relationship dice is a bad thing.  Thus, I would do this every town, or every two towns, no matter how many dice are in the pool.

2) I like the idea of running out of free dice, I just think it happens too soon.  I'm not sure how to grip this yet.

3) I had another thought, which is interesting (to me at least.)  Make the "new relationship" fallouts (both d4 type and d6 type) *two dice* instead of one.  And give the "society" backgrounds straight up double.  Still makes Sins, Demons and Organizations mighty big.

4) Apropos to that, I think a differentiation between "personal relationship" (people, places, things), and "spiritual relationship" might be in order.  Because, right now, well...

5) I feel that you should need to cash in an old relationship to make that roll.  I don't know why, no.

6) Adding new subsystems is, in general, not a good thing.  It is a pretty subsystem, though...

These are scattered thoughts.  I'll try to get more coherent later.

yrs--
--Ben
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lumpley
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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2004, 07:46:54 AM »

Doink!  Good call.  Between towns, choose 3 dice, roll 'em, 1-3 you get it, as above.  To be fiddled as actual play results warrant.  Running out of Relationship dice means that you're dependent on these for new relationships, which means sometimes you'll have 'em and sometimes you won't.  You can also rebuild slowly if for some reason you don't assign relationships in a town.

I'll write this into the "between towns" draft text and we'll see how it goes.

I'm also going to wait on actual play before I do anything to Relationships with sin 'n' stuff.

Ben, are you happy-ish with the character creation choices now?

-Vincent
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