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[Domus] - Defending is for suckers!

Started by Darcy Burgess, May 26, 2006, 12:43:59 PM

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Darcy Burgess

Domus (see sig) has been going through a severe overhaul.  The last round of playtesting revealed that the game's strength lies in a gm-less, fully "co-opetitive" format.  So, that's what I've been working towards.

A key source of competitive tension in the game's IIEE is striking a balance between initiative and efficacy.  The two are in direct opposition -- you can't have both unless you're willing to settle for mediocre.  (Mechanically, players have a round-to-round choice regarding die size -- larger dice are quicker, but smaller dice generate better results.)

With that in mind, the game uses a bluffing mechanic -- although narrative declarations are open ("I swing at him with the Right hand of Set!"), they do not necessarily jive with intent.  Think of them more as Initiation.

Intent does not necessarily become clear to everyone until resolution has occurred.  The dice you're rolling are revealed simultaneously with the opposition's in a blind bidding process ("Ha! Set's mighty 4d8 slither in moments before your paltry 4d6!")

So how does intent get rewritten?  Assume that Set dude does land his 4d8 blow.  In narration, he could opt to emphasize the fact that it was his superior speed that won him the day ("The fear of my mighty blade blinded you to the true threat.  Osiris' Needle punctures your spleen.")

So far, I've just been giving context for my query.  That stuff up there ^^^ serves merely to give a sense of the conflict resolution mechanics..

What I'm talking about is this: in Domus, there are no defensive actions (in the "oh oh.  he's got me.  better abort to defensive." or the "ok, my guy's got the drop on you -- roll defence") sense.  All declaration is active.  Each side in a conflict is constantly declaring an action that advances their own agenda.

Whose action is most successful is the only arbiter of whose agenda is advanced.

As it stands, I can't see any inherent conceptual pitfalls lurking behind "no defence".  But I've only got one set of eyes.  Am I missing a whole pandora's box of problems?
Black Cadillacs - Your soapbox about War.  Use it.


Hmm. Is your concern about the lack of defensive option narrative or tactical?

Your description above seems to support narrating a defensive posture just fine, so I am guessing that you are more concerned about providing tactical options for your players. "Defensive posture" is a feature of many mainstream games, but not in any way required, and your system already provides some interesting tactical depth. Do you want the focus be on quick and dramatic resolution, or more drawn-out conflicts? What are you trying to say about the importance conflict, if you choose the drawn-out version? Are you considering adding a defensive option only "because others have it"?
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Darcy Burgess

Hi Mikael.  Thanks for dropping in.

From your comment about narrating a defensive posture -- as in A says "I get into a low crouch to better redirect his incoming blow (and secretly bidding 4d12 to get in really early with that action)" -- I'm glad to see that my earlier question didn't completely obfuscate the fact that narrating something defensive was a valid choice.  What the game doesn't have is a special "defend" action.  An example of a game that does is Sorcerer (it uses a defensive abort option).  So does Dogs (all Sees are defense).

re: narrative/tactical.  The answer is neither ( I think ), rather it's procedural.  That's none too illuminating, so I'll try to explain.  What I'm worried about is whether or not dropping that particular element of resolution (some kind of reactive, "defensive" option)  screws things up at a mechanical level.  A conceptually parallel situation occurs in Godlike (if you don't know the system, players roll Xd10 and look for matches.  X can be between 1 and 10).  By the rules, it's possible for players to have only one die.  Which means they just can't succeed, period.  Which sucks.

That's the sort of problem I'm looking to ferret out.

Regarding quick/drawn out resolution, my preference leans towards "slightly longer than really, really quick".  I like a little bit of back-and-forth in my conflict resolution (CR), because one roll just feels too quick.  It's nice to give the players a little bit of room to stretch their creative muscles and narrate some cool stuff (protracted conflict).  I find that multi-round CR works well because the "creative" part is grounded in context -- "we're in this room, what cool stuff could we do here?  with what?", which gives the players good meat to pound.  Whereas, really rat-a-tat-tat fast CR means that players are constantly leaping from conflict to conflict, staging new stuff, and making magic out of thin air.  Which is hard to do.  Another upside of slightly protracted CR is that it offers up more details to help build those follow-up conflicts with.
Black Cadillacs - Your soapbox about War.  Use it.


If I hear you correctly, your concern is not as much having a defensive action per se, but more a) not hosing the player with a bad die and b) extending the conflicts from a single roll.

I cannot offer anything on the first point, because I have not had time to follow your link yet, but playtesting should tell if this is a problem. Perhaps you could create a very focused situation with pre-made characters to test this?

On point b:

Extended conflicts can be taxing, and I think extending them should always be the players choice, not the GM´s (if there is one). TSoY is an obvious example of this. That said, how about this pattern: a series of conflicts that run until a number of points have been collected by the winning player. By setting the threshold of points to be collected you can explicitly control the length of the conflicts. And you could add a funky "defensive" options like splitting a larger die into two smaller ones, one of which "goes" when the larger die would have, and the other is available as an additional die on the next "round".

Gotta go. I will try and find time to check your rules today.
Playing Dogs over Skype? See everybody's rolls live with the browser-independent Remote Dogs Roller - mirrors: US, FIN