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Author Topic: [Trollbabe] Relationships and Players  (Read 5056 times)
Darren Hill
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Posts: 861


« on: July 27, 2005, 11:06:32 PM »

In trollbabe, the text says players get to describe what relationship-subjects do, and then the GM handles the nuances of that declaration.
Does this apply strictly within conflicts, or completely.
For example, a player befriends a troll who hates a particular human tribe. The player gets a relationship to that troll. Can the player then declare that the troll gives up his hatred for the human tribe, and even helps them out instead?
Or would a conflict be required for such a change in character?

In my last session, I stole on of your ideas, Ron, that of the troll-child being raised by one tribe to war on another. One of the trollbabes befriended him, and a Relationship was forged. Later in the session, the child's 'mother' turned up - and wanted to take the child off into the mountains, away from humanity and the temptation to kill. The child had just made his first human kill and liked it, and I declared he wanted to return to join his human tribe and kill again.
Here, the trollbabe joined with his mother to persuade him to go with her - and lost the conflict (but only took one reroll - the player changed his mind mid-conflict in response to evolving circumstances).
If the player had carte blanche to direct the actions of the relationship-subject, then I made a mistake. The player could have said, "okay, the troll-child goes off with his mother." Did I get it wrong?

By the way, the session for the two new trollbabe players went very well - they both had a ball.

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Alan
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2005, 05:40:04 AM »

The key rule is this:

"The person with whom one has a relationship is played a little differently from a usual NPC. The player gets to state what the person Relationships is doing or trying to do, but the GM provides any details or nuances or verbalized role-playing for him or her." p27-28

Notice that it says the player can state what the relationship is _doing_, not what they're feeling.

The player can say that the troll does a particular activity that helps the humans, but cannot say that he gives up his hatred.  In response, the GM might portray the troll as grumbling or snapping all the time he's doing the helping, or even making threats and acting out in ways that don't violate the player's intent.  Or the troll might have a plan to earn the humans trust and betray them later.



« Last Edit: July 28, 2005, 05:43:04 AM by Alan » Logged

- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2005, 06:19:41 AM »

Hi there,

I want to clarify that player-narration of what a relationship-NPC is doing cannot override conflict proposal or conflict outcomes.

The character's conflict was with the troll mom (regardless of who proposed the conflict). The player cannot dodge that conflict by dictating what the NPC does. The player does state what the NPC does as part of setting up the conflict, yes, and this gets blended with the GM's narration of how the NPC feels about it and what they say.

Best,
Ron
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Darren Hill
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Posts: 861


« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2005, 08:52:07 PM »

Thanks Alan and Ron. I'm not sure if I'm explaining where my point of concern is clearly, or maybe you are both answering my concern and I'm a little too dense to see it.

Hi there,

I want to clarify that player-narration of what a relationship-NPC is doing cannot override conflict proposal or conflict outcomes.

The character's conflict was with the troll mom (regardless of who proposed the conflict). The player cannot dodge that conflict by dictating what the NPC does.

Is it possible to have a conflict with a relationship-subject? I guess it must be - you can have Enemies.
Thinking...
Is it possible for the GM to declare things that the relationship-subject is doing. For example, let's say you have a sidekick. The GM says, "the sidekick's brother arrives and tells him his mother is ill - so he decides to leave you and go and see her."
Could the player say, "no he doesn't." (Presumably giving a reason, but whatever it is would be acceptable.)
Or would he say, "I don't want him to - let's have a conflict."

I'm trying to figure out to what extent a relationship as a traditional NPC or a PC-controlled NPC.
I'm trying to figure out if that statement Alan quoted ("The player gets to state what the Relationship-person is doing or trying to do, but the GM provides any details or nuances or verbalized role-playing for him or her") applies just in terms of a given conflict and scene, or is more universal like the GM - the player gets the GM-like ability to declare the NPC's action at all times, whether or not they lead to a conflict or directly impinge on the trollbabe.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2005, 08:26:58 AM »

Ah ha. I see.

Anyone can state a Conflict occurs at any time. That's the rule.

Let's say the player says, "I want to read the Dark Book." The GM remembers or decides that the trollbabe's enemy (a relationship NPC) has put a nasty trap in the Dark Book for just this purpose. Conflict!!

But how does this work in system terms? Realize: the relationship operates in the trollbabe's favor, if the player chooses to invoke it, just as normal. Wrap your head around this one a little while.

Now for the bigger issue - in the above example, the GM has named the action of the NPC. But that violates a rule! The rule is, "The player determines the action of the NPC." So the above scene cannot be run unless the player agrees with the GM that the enemy would have done that. Effectively, the GM has only made a suggestion and it's the player who has really brought the enemy into the situation.

See what I mean? And in fact, could the player have said that the enemy had laid the trap? YES! In fact, that is how the enemies usually enter play, through the player stating they do. A very common event is for the trollbabe to be dealing with some kind of hassle, and bringing the enemy into the scene on his way to attack the trollbabe - suddenly a three-cornered battle has erupted, and the trollbabe is benefiting from the enemy's presence in system terms, even though he is attacking her.

Yes, total control over what the Relationship NPC does. Very important. The GM cannot have the best-buddy wander off to get kidnapped off-stage. He can state a conflict based on someone trying to kidnap him - very different.

Finally, does that mean that the GM cannot state a conflict regarding a relationship NPC? Of course he can, because anyone can state a conflict, if the player has already stated the NPC is doing something that is conflict-implicit. Note all my following points carefully, though.

Player: "Skalgar stands watch."
GM: "Skalgar grumbles, because he got beaten up last time he stood watch."
Player: "Too bad, Skalgar, you're standing watch."
GM: "Conflict!"
Player: "About what? What's his goal?"
GM: "H'm, Social, he wants the tribe to favor him over you 'cause you pick on him."

And we proceed, with the understanding that Skalgar's game mechanics operate in favor of the trollbabe winning the conflict. Do note also that Skalgar does, indeed, stand watch, at least until he grumbles. This conflict is not about saying whether he does it, but about some consequence of him doing it. The player never loses the narration-rights about what Skalgar really did, or at least did for a while.

My point is that the GM could not have started this situation by stating, at the outset, "Skalgar comes up to you and demands never to stand watch again." It all had to have got started with the player stating what Skalgar was doing.

Best,
Ron
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Darren Hill
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Posts: 861


« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2005, 09:24:33 AM »

Thanks, Ron - yes, that nails it.
I shall bask in the warm glow of comprehension for a few moments.
That done, one minor clarification:
Does this PC control extend to things the NPC does off screen. Say, you have a mentor you have left behind in SomeCity while you wander off to Mysteryland. Can the GM:
1. Have the mentor do important stuff in the background without consulting the PC?
2. Place the mentor in jeopardy, such that a rescue of some sort might be required?
3. or even kill it off?

I'm guessing the answers to 1 & 3 would be no (or at least, not without a conflict), and 2 would be yes. Is that right?
Can the PC perform action-at-a-distance through the mentor?
For example, while the trollbabe is off adventuring in Mysteryland, can the trollbabe's player say, "my mentor sets up a reform school for criminals in violation of local law. Let's have a conflict to see if he succeeds?"

I think the answer to this is yes, but the italics show I'm very uncertain.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2005, 09:50:58 AM »

Boy, this is like dealing with a bad little dog that stops doing what it's doing when you scold it, but then turns around and does some other thing. Can't I bask in your comprehension for a few moments too?

Anyway. The truth is that I like helping people understand Trollbabe. So off we go.

Quote
Does this PC control extend to things the NPC does off screen. Say, you have a mentor you have left behind in SomeCity while you wander off to Mysteryland. Can the GM:
1. Have the mentor do important stuff in the background without consulting the PC?
2. Place the mentor in jeopardy, such that a rescue of some sort might be required?
3. or even kill it off?

I'm guessing the answers to 1 & 3 would be no (or at least, not without a conflict), and 2 would be yes. Is that right?

Modification for your "no" for #1: say player instead of PC. It's very important.

For #2, absolutely right for your big "yes." It relies on having some other, non-relationship NPC do something relative to what the relationship NPC is doing, as previously stated by the player.

For #3, fat no. Or h'm, maybe it's best understood as "GM says 'Black Snarg kills your mentor,' and the player says, 'Conflict!' But if the player or GM) doesn't say 'Conflict!', then it's basically the player agreeing to kill the mentor off and lose that relationship."

So it is possible for #3 to happen, but note that both the GM and the player must have participated in exactly the order and way described.

Quote
Can the PC perform action-at-a-distance through the mentor?
For example, while the trollbabe is off adventuring in Mysteryland, can the trollbabe's player say, "my mentor sets up a reform school for criminals in violation of local law. Let's have a conflict to see if he succeeds?"

Yup! Although note that the consequences are affecting the trollbabe; she is the one undergoing conflict. And remember that once announced, conflicts are non-negotiable - by calling for the conflict, the player really is saying, let's have a chance here for my trollbabe to undergo negative or positive consequences based on the actions of the mentor.

In other words, abandon the notion entirely that you are resolving "things out there" in any kind of simulative game-think way.

Best,
Ron
Quote
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Darren Hill
Member

Posts: 861


« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2005, 06:45:34 PM »

Boy, this is like dealing with a bad little dog that stops doing what it's doing when you scold it, but then turns around and does some other thing. Can't I bask in your comprehension for a few moments too?

Yap, yap! Don't I have big cute eyes? :)

Quote
Modification for your "no" for #1: say player instead of PC. It's very important.

Ah, yes. Actually, I was using PC as a term for player and trollbabe as a term for PC, and hadn't noticed.


Quote
For #3, fat no. Or h'm, maybe it's best understood as "GM says 'Black Snarg kills your mentor,' and the player says, 'Conflict!' But if the player or GM) doesn't say 'Conflict!', then it's basically the player agreeing to kill the mentor off and lose that relationship."

So it is possible for #3 to happen, but note that both the GM and the player must have participated in exactly the order and way described.

Yes, understood. And also, about action-at-a-distance...

Quote
In other words, abandon the notion entirely that you are resolving "things out there" in any kind of simulative game-think way.

I'm with you at last! You can now positively revel in my warm glow of comprehension. :)
Thanks again.
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