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Author Topic: [Capes] The Problem of Evil  (Read 16575 times)
LordSmerf
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« Reply #30 on: July 18, 2004, 09:54:30 PM »

Quote from: TonyLB
I'd like to have people offering (indeed insisting) that their players be beaten up at the beginning of a fight as a stepping-stone to their eventual dramatic victory.  It's pretty thoroughly ingrained in the genre, and I'll be happy if I can alter the dice-mechanic so that it encourages that sort of dynamic.

I think this problem is "solved" by simply mentioning it in the text.  Make it explicit that dice spent work toward victory no matter what you do with them.  And that means that you can spend your own dice to have yourself beaten up and still overcome the Villain.

Thomas
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WiredNavi
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« Reply #31 on: July 19, 2004, 05:45:59 AM »

Quote
Darth Vader has somehow managed to pay off his huge debts in a short period of time. He made sacrifices in Hope for Justice (absolute Order at the cost of individual freedoms) and Luke has transferred major parts of that debt to himself in order to save Vader (that's kind of a stretch).


I'm not totally up on the Capes system, though I've read the rules and example of play, but it seems that the latter example above - allowing a Hero to offer to take on some or all of the Villain's burden of Debt - might be a good way to systematically represent Villains changing their Drives from Villainous to Conflicted to Heroic.  This gives the possibility of redemption for the Villains slowly, over time, as the Heroes take on their burdens and thus demonstrate the superiority of their worldview to the Villain, and eventually start helping the Heroes who have spent so much trying to help them.  (Think Peter Parker and Doctor Octupus in Spiderman II - i.e. 'You told me my genius was a gift and a responsibility, and I lived up to it by trying to stop you...  Now help me save the city!)

This would come at great cost to the Heroes, so it's not the kind of thing they'd want or be able to do for every Villain, just the most sympatheitc ones or perhaps the ones who remind the Heroes most of themselves.  It would also provide a nice counterbalance to the Villains who are trying to convince the Heroes that their worldview is correct by making them fail.  Furthermore, it emphasizes that Villains don't get better on their own.

 Perhaps when a Hero and a Villain stake conflicting Drives (as in the previously mentioned 'Professor Muerte stakes Despair.  Captain Courage stakes Hope.  Who will win?') then when the Hero wins, he can attempt to take some or all of the Villain's debt in Despair, converting it to an addition to his debt in Hope, to get the Villain to acknowledge that the Hero was, in fact, correct in thinking that Hope is stronger than Despair and that life isn't all about suffering.   Of course, this would likely leave the Hero with an enormous Hope debt, but that's as it should be.  Luke ends RotJ with a gigantic debt... but he redeemed his father, and it was worth it.

I don't think the game is or should be about forcing Heroes to Villainy when the Villains win, so a reciprocal system for Villains taking on Hero debts is probably not a great idea - but it might be worth thinking about.  Perhaps that's how a Conflicted Hero drops finally to Villain status - the Villain who just defeated them takes on their debt but thereby drives them to take a Villainous Drive - and makes them one of their highly-conflicted but villainous henchmen.  This would be determined by the Hero's player, of course.
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Dave R.

"Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness."  -- Terry Pratchett, 'Men At Arms'
Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #32 on: July 19, 2004, 07:06:45 AM »

Quote from: TonyLB
What's the strategic difference between two level X/2 wonders and one level-X wonder?  Or, rather, what should it be?  I think I need to make very sure that Wonder Effects are constructed so that low-level Wonders have a different and useful place in an overall strategy.


Two words: Diminishing returns. If lots of little wonders that add up to X are actually more cost-effective than one big wonder costing X, then there's a strong incentive to hold back, even at the cost of being beaten about a bit -- but at the crunch moment, when everything's on the line and efficiency no longer maters, then you go for broke.

How to make the mechanics work? [Crickets chirp, wolves howl]. Dunno. That's why it's so much more fun to kibbitz on your game than to work on mine....
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TonyLB
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« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2004, 09:28:44 AM »

Okay, here's a thought for the mechanics of diminishing returns, by way of Conflicts.

These rules come in a package, as they're interrelated:
    [*]You can no longer donate directly to Victory Points.  All Wonders go into control of Conflicts.[*]Each combat starts out with at least one Conflict.  For typical fights, for instance, you'd start with "Clobbering", with both heroes and villains having zero control until they start clobbering each other.[*]Resolution can only occur if the side that controls the Conflict declares they're resolving it, and then maintains control of it (uninterrupted) for a full turn around the table.[*]Debt may be moved from the hero worksheet to a complication (with the exception to follow).  While the Debt is on the Complication it is not counted for any penalties the hero accrues.[*]When your side (Heroic for the heroes, Villainous (probably) for the Editor) is in the process of Resolving a Complication you may not move debt onto it.[*]When a Conflict is successfully resolved the wonder points contributed by the losing side are transferred to the winning side's Victory Pool.  The winning points go away.[*]When a Conflict is successfully resolved, and two opposing sides have both Staked equal amounts of Debt on its resolution, the losing side incurs the entire Debt.[*]When a Conflict is successfully resolved and only the winning side has Staked Debt they take their Debt back.[*]When a Conflict is successfully resolved, and Stakes were involved, the winner narrates some new fact about the world in support of the viewpoint represented by their Drive.[/list:u]I think that what this will do is leave a lot of major conflicts on the table, with players looking at it like a jigsaw puzzle that might lead to victory if assembled properly.  

    "If we just let Herr Shibboleth have the Clobbering Conflict, he only gets the seven points we've put in so far... and if we can rescue the hostages, defuse the bomb and save spunky reporter Doris Dane while he's racking up points in Clobbering, we'll have enough to win the scene!"

    I don't know if this would encourage rolling less dice than you have (although I think it might in many circumstances) but it would definitely encourage people to invite hits in Conflicts that they didn't want to win... the less they oppose their enemies on a given Conflict, the less the enemies gain when they resolve it.
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    LordSmerf
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    « Reply #34 on: July 19, 2004, 11:19:45 AM »

    I like it, a lot.  It really brings the focus to the conflict over things and people (Complications) instead of being a beat-em-up... Let me offer a few suggestions:

    1. Let the Villains control the first Complication with two points, this indicates that the Heroes are reactive, they can't do anything until the Villains show up.
    2. Every point of debt that you put into a conflict weakens your control of that conflict as if the opposing side had spent a Wonder Point on it.
    3. Debt is applied toward the Victory of your opponent regardless of who wins the Complication.
    3. If you win a conflict your debt goes away, if you lose the conflict you get your debt back.  That's easier to understand, and since you'll probably be racking up debt in the fight anyway, you'll probably end with more debt than you started.
    4. When someone achieves Victory all Complications are automatically resolved in favor of their controller with ties counting as losses for both sides.  This will give Heroes another question to answer: "Do i defeat Captain Cruelty right now or should i rescue the people from that burning building first?"

    This allows the Heroes to lose in Victory but still pay off a lot of debt.  So "yeah, he got away, but i saved those people in that burning apartment building."

    I don't really like World-Changing Narration to come out of fighting, i really like the idea that it comes out in the Epilogue of each session.  That way you get a sense that it's not the battles that count in the grand scheme of things, it's the war.

    I'm not sure if i like the fact that you get points towards Victory based on what your opponent has spent for two reasons:

    1. If you spend nothing in a Complication it can't hurt you.
    2. The above leads to silly situations: "Captain Cruelty sets a nearby apartment building on fire, you can hear the tenets screaming.  Cruelty spends a point to begin resolving this, you can hear the structure groaning, it won't last much longer."  "Well, i think it's more important for me to defeat him so i'm going to spend some points in the 'Bank Being Robbed' Complication where we both have 5 points, since i control it now i'll begin to resolve it."  "Ok, next turn, no one can do anything, the Apartment Building collapses killing all those still inside.  You foil the bank robbery.  Ok, you get 5 points towards victory and lose nothing for allowing all those innocents to die..."

    Do you see my problem?  I almost want to say that you get Victory Points equal to the number of Wonder Points you have invested in a Complication.  Perhaps the difference between how many you've invested and how many your opponent has invested?

    Thomas
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    TonyLB
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    « Reply #35 on: July 19, 2004, 01:03:37 PM »

    Yes, I see the problem.

    I don't think that villains should be powerless to do bad stuff if the heroes don't try to stop them.  At the same time, I do think that the villain should be unable to reach their greatest potential to do evil without someone opposing them, someone whose saccharine morality they are trying to prove wrong.

    What do folks think about a resolved conflict giving the winner the sum of Wonder Points spent by both sides?

    Also, setting aside for a moment the issue of whether world-changing narration should happen immediately or be deferred... what do people think of the idea that world-changing narration is run off of repaying Debt, rather than earning Victory Points?

    Personally, I like it because I think it gives the heroes a motivation to accrue debt in the first place.  Without debt tokens they can win the battles but they cannot meaningfully improve the world.  But I'd like to hear other opinions.

    EDIT:  Cross-posted to within a matter of seconds.  Freaky.
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    LordSmerf
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    « Reply #36 on: July 19, 2004, 01:03:37 PM »

    After some thought on the matter i got the following idea, i am not sure whether it is any good or not yet.

    Victory is still derived from the number of Wonder Points the opposition has invested (as you earlier wrote).  Now however whenever a Complication is started both sides choose an Appropriate Drive to stake on that Complication.  The winner has his debt reduced by his Bet and the Loser has his debt increased by the Bet.

    This circumvents my earlier point about ignoring a Complication because it didn't matter if you lost.  Now, it always matters.
    "Captain Cruelty has set the Apartment Building on fire, he bets 1 Hope (or anti-Hope, whatever)."
    "I will bet 3 Hope."
    "The Captain spends some Wonder Points to take control of the Bank Robbery Complication in which you both have 1 point of Justice staked.  He's going to begin resolving both Complications now."
    "I only have enough Wonder Points to take one of the Complications...  Do i choose Hope or Justice?"

    That seems to be the kind of questions that we want to encourage...  How does that sound to you?

    Thomas

    EDIT: Crossposted (again!)

    EDIT: This is in reply to the crosspost by TonyLB
    I think that the next big issue to tackle in design is the non-combat play.  I think some really great things can (and should) be done with debt during non-combat play, and that until that gets fleshed out we don't really have a good feel for the game itself...

    Also, i don't really see a need to further encourage players to accrue debt.  From our playtest it seemed apparent that if you wanted to win a fight you were going to have to accrue debt.  It wasn't really an issue.
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    TonyLB
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    « Reply #37 on: July 19, 2004, 01:13:59 PM »

    "Encourage" is the wrong word.  I know they're going to accrue debt.  The system makes it virtually impossible to avoid.

    But this will hopefully make them value the debt they've accrued.  It's no longer just an unpleasant side-effect of what they wanted to do, it is a resource of its own, giving them greater narrative control.
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    LordSmerf
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    « Reply #38 on: July 19, 2004, 01:22:09 PM »

    Hmm...  I think that one thing that might help (at least it would help me).  Is a solid definition of what Debt represents.  I am beginning to think that you and i may be thinking of different things when we use the term.  We both agree about its definition mechanically, but i do not think that i understand what you are trying to get it to represent narratively.  That may render a lot of my suggestions silly or irrelevant.

    Thomas
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    TonyLB
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    « Reply #39 on: July 19, 2004, 01:54:56 PM »

    Hrm...  Not really sure.

    Or, rather, I know how it functions, but I'm having trouble figuring out a thing in the universe that I can point to and say "There, it functions just like that known thing".  But I'll give it a try.

    Debt tokens represent the gap of faith.  The distance between "I believe" and "I want to believe".

    A hero's confidence is provisional.  It is based off of beliefs regarding himself and regarding the world.

    Now those beliefs can never be fully proven.  It can be argued that they can never be fully disproven either, though I'm not up to tackling that argument just now (despite my thread title).

    But at zero Debt the hero is pretty well satisfied that he is sure enough of those principles.  The evidence he has seen is sufficient to justify the reliance he's placed on them so far.

    As the hero goes around doing these wild, impossible things in service of these principles he is relying more and more upon their being true.  The evidence which justified rearranging his furniture does not necessarily justify rearranging the buildings downtown.  The evidence hasn't changed, but the heroes reliance upon it has.

    Crude metaphor:  If you're just using a bungee cord to strap down the trunk of your car then you glance at it, say "Looks sound" and tie it on.  If you're counting on that same bungee cord to stop your weight when you leap off a bridge you probably examine it much more carefully.  Has the bungee cord changed?  No, but you're counting on it much more.

    So there is a natural urge for them to go out and test themselves and their beliefs.  And then the evidence changes, but their reliance doesn't.  This either helps them feel that they've seen enough proof to justify the things they've done, or... it doesn't.
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    LordSmerf
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    « Reply #40 on: July 19, 2004, 02:15:38 PM »

    So that seems to mean that Debt represents blows against that Faith.  that would mean that your faith in Justice would go into debt whenever evidence was presented against Justice being a valid idea (i.e. Criminals stealing things) and your faith in Duty would be compromised when evidence was presented that Duty is not the way of things.

    If this is the case then it seems that it would probably be more appropriate to allow the Players to define 5 Drives for their character (just as players define Spiritual Attributes for their character in The Riddle of Steel).  That would allow you to define a "Hero" with a drive for Vengeance.

    If you do that though you will want to define a way to have drives change as a Drive reaches some critical level of debt.

    Thomas
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    Sydney Freedberg
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    « Reply #41 on: July 19, 2004, 07:22:04 PM »

    Lord, it's like watching some extraordinary tennis match.

    Suggestion: Heroes go into debt in the A plot; they get out of debt in the B plot. Conversely, heroes earn victory points in the A plot; they spend them to change the world in the B plot.

    We've already talked about the possibility of characters turning their victories in battle into something that affects the wider world for good (or turns their defeats into cosmic bad stuff). Why not apply a similar principle to Debt, in reverse? Characters rack it up by doing extraordinary things in their super-identities, leaving themselves spiritually exhausted; conversely, they could then restore themselves emotionally and get out of debt by interacting with friends, family, and other "connections" (to use the My Life With Master term) in their normal identity. So when a player wants to get out of debt, s/he has to request scenes of the hero's "normal life" (including possibly origin story and flashbacks) to do it. These need not be happy interactions -- witness Peter Parker's endlessly fraught relationship with Mary Jane, or his revelation (SPOILER ALERT) to Aunt May in the 2nd movie that he is in a sense responsible for Uncle Ben's death. They just have to be genuine and reveal something about the hero as a human being.

    In essence, when heroes win, they help make the wider world a better place; when they suffer, by racking up debt, the wider world helps them back. They need the world and the world needs them. It's all about giving the super-battles an emotional grounding.

    (Note: Originally came up with this toying with ideas for a Sorcerer game, where humanity = connection to others and thus you could counterbalance the humanity drain of demon-summoning by, say, going to your kid's softball game or striking up a conversation with the all-night convenience store clerk. I'm now considering making it central to the recovery mechanism in my "emotional commitment as gambling" mechanic, if I can ever figure it out).
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    TonyLB
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    « Reply #42 on: July 19, 2004, 11:31:57 PM »

    Okay, there have been so many good ideas that I was starting to get fairly seriously confused.  Not a good state for me to be in with a mini playtest session coming up tuesday night ("tonight", I guess, technically).

    So I've chosen a set of modifications that I think make a coherent whole, and I've revamped the Rules Web Site.

    I've also rewritten much of the Example of Play.  As before, I simply set up the situation and started rolling dice for both sides and aiming for reasonable strategies.  I am really happy with how this one turned out, though I won't know whether it was a lucky fluke until I try some more playtesting.

    And now I have to go get to bed.  Must sleep.  Maybe more talking in the morning.

    Okay, a little more talking now.  Some of the Wonder Effects now are noticeably less cool than others (Inspiration and Group Inspiration, particularly).  Any thoughts for what should replace them?
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    TonyLB
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    « Reply #43 on: July 20, 2004, 05:44:08 AM »

    Quick clarification, since my 3a.m. wording could be taken as offensive.

    I don't get confused by the existence of good ideas.  I get confused when I say "Oooh, that would be a great idea to add, and that would be a great idea, and that one too", and I forget which ones I actually have added, and how they form a new whole.

    Hence my rewrite.
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    LordSmerf
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    « Reply #44 on: July 20, 2004, 01:26:40 PM »

    First, good luck on your test.  Second, i will try to read your new play example this evening.  Third, i agree that the Inspiration Wonders are clunky, and probably not even necessary since there are so many other ways to get dice (though i should note that they were used 3 or 4 times in our game towards the end of the battle when dice started to run out, allowing the PCs to turn 6s into dice for another player gave them an advantage).

    Fourth, and at the moment i feel most important there is still the problem of giving people a reason not to roll all their dice.  Example (in which i will change the rules slightly, 5's are now treated as 6's): You have 9 dice, you will lose 1/3 of every roll and get 1/3 successes.  I'm rounding going to be using fractional successes in order to remain statistically sound.

    You can roll all your dice every time with results of: 3 successes, 3 lost; 2 successes, 2 lost; 1 1/3 success, 1 1/3 lost; 1 successes, 1 lost; 2/3 successes, 2/3 lost.  For a total of 7 successes before you run out of dice.

    Or you can roll dice 3 at a time.  1 success, 1 lost x6 leaves us with 2 dice.  2/3 successes, 2/3 lost; 1 die left: 1/3 success, 1/3 lost.  1 die left with 7 successes.

    I'm sure that my math has some rounding problems, but essentially either way you handle it you'll get the same number of successes statistically.  Since the higher powered Wonders (and the fact that the earlier you get the successes the faster you can win) seems to suggest that there is no reason not to roll  all your dice at once.  Now, there is some cool strategy in whether to spend a 5 for a Wonder Point or to save it to roll again, but that is not the problem.

    Thomas
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