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Gambled rolls still mandatory (sometimes)?

Started by Zoetrope10, May 13, 2002, 03:06:45 PM

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James V. West

Quote from: Zoetrope10Chris

How will a player opting to add dice to their pool make the story move forward? When the player does so, rather than taking an MoV and moving the story along, they're abrogating control of the game back to the GM. The GM may as well have been narrating the game all along---the player-requested roll (intrinsically) did nothing to move the game on.

As currently written, a successful player-requested roll only gives the player an MoV, which is exactly the point of a player requested roll---isn't it?

I think what Chris was getting at is that when players increase their Pools, they also increase their ability to gain MoVs on future rolls. My only concern initially was that players would ask for rolls for no other reason than to get some dice, which *could* be abused. But, as I stated earlier, I like to think that people playing The Pool wouldn't want to do that.

When a GM "narrates" a conflict I don't think of it as "his" show since there should always be a back-and-forth cooperation between players and GM that drives the story forward (see the band metaphor). If you GM it from the standpoint that a player who opts out of the MoV deserves what he gets then the game isn't going to go well. The current language of the game isn't very clear about this, which I'm correcting now.

However, when a player gets a MoV, it really is their show. Well, at least for the most part--the GM always has the ability to nip it in the bud if someone is fucking the whole game up ;-).

Fabrice G.

Hi James,

hurry up !!! please ;)

I definitely want to try The Pool...but I also want to know what rules (and wich version) to use.

Maybe you could sum it up here on your forum...before going all the way to re-write it with new terminology and brand new exemples.

You've done an incredible work, but know you have to live with that and assume it ! ;)


Christopher Kubasik

Dear Z,

Re: Toolkit.  Thanks.

Re: Your question:

My apologies for not being clear.  At this point, however, I disagree a bit with James.

It seems to me that a player who NEEDS some dice in his pool will start making rolls -- on the chance he'll succeed.  He'll use his traits (of course, to increase his odds), whether for his scenes, or the scenes of other characters*, in an effort to roll a success.  This means the themes/focus of the characters and their stories are brought to bear in the narrative in an active way.

My point then, is not that getting a die for the pool moves the story forward, but making a roll does.  It's active, there are consequences, and it will be focused around the Traits.  I like the fact that there's a carrot for getting players to make rolls.  This is their job -- it makes them proactive (as players and characters) -- especially when things are bleakest.  

There's a pool cap on the number of dice, right?  So no matter what it tops out at some point, right?  So what's the problem in encouraging players do more for a while?

(That's not a rhetorical question by the way.  Is there a problem?  And "Players will try to hog up the story..." I don't think is a valid problem, since we all seemed to agree months ago that the game is about who gets to yak it up.  The player gets the die, but the GM gets to yak.  Seems like a fair trade to me.  I might be wrong.  Make me afraid and I'll believe you.)

So: extra die, not moving story forward.  Action in the attempt for the extra die: moving story forward.  It funnels into the game of The Pool: who gets to tell the tale. You only get the die if you give up that privilage.  Again, I may be missing something here, but these are all things I've been assuming for months.

(*James, is the ability to make rolls in other character's scenes a part of The Pool as it is in The Questing Beast?)

(And one more thing: at the risk of making your head just spin: why no MoD in The Pool rules?  Really, it seemed to me the whole system hit stride in TQB.  I know you wanted TQB to be "different" and MoD are part of this difference... But why?)

Take care all,

"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield

joshua neff

What Christopher is saying puts me in mind of a conversation Ron & I had the other night. I was talking about how I've decided I like systems that hook the players--I don't want a "transparent" system that "doesn't get in the way", I want a system that's fun, where there are mechanics that come into play, that drive the narrative while at the same time are driven by the narrative. Things like the Drama Dice & Backgrounds in 7thSea, the bonus dice & resolution mechanic in Sorcerer, the cards in Castle Falkenstein, the Experience Dice in Over the Edge, Inspiration Points in Adventure, & so on--little engaging bits that make the game, as a "game", fun to play. And in playing, they introduce stuff into the narrative, in a feedback loop.

Take Humanity in Sorcerer. Whether your Humanity is 7 or 1, the character acts the same--it's not an in-game gauge like Humanity in Vampire. But a Player should look at his PC's Humanity of 1 & say, "Crap, I need to get my Humanity back up." So, the PC will start doing stuff in-game that allows for recover rolls for Humanity. It drives the narrative & in turn is driven by the narrative.

Now take rolls in The Pool. You're rolling to resolve conflict, not tasks. So, even if a Player requests a roll to get some more dice back into his/her pool, as Christopher said, it'll add to the narrative, give some dramatic oomph to the game. Which is what's cool about it.

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes


James, Christopher

Yes! After my head too stopped spinning, I think it's all come together. I can now appreciate that mechanical distinctions between GM-offered and player-requested rolls serve little purpose.

I don't want to appear to be going over old ground but I need to do so in order to explore a follow-on question. Bear with me.

In instances of a success, where the player chooses to add dice to their pool, would you distinguish between the way the GM might narrate the outcome? That is, if the GM called for the roll, narrate the outcome in favour of the player. If the player called for the roll, narrate the outcome the same way but maybe throw in unwanted or secondary outcomes that add complexity.

You end up with a hiearchy of outcomes (S = success; F = fail):

S1: MoV
S2: GM-narration in favour of player
S3: GM-narration in favour of player, possibly with new complications and challenges
F1: GM-narrated outcome, usually unwanted

I suppose you could fit an MoD in there, at F2, although I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with the concept of a MoD, at least for The Pool (OK for TQB, but ).

Too convoluted/still too gamist?


Ron Edwards

Hey Z,

In my view, what you propose is totally too convoluted and, for lack of a better word, too organized.

Playing The Pool in the manner I play it (original rules) is easily and quickly customized to the standards of the immediate group. Sometimes a GM's narration favors the player over and above the immediate success, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes MoV's have great big scenario-changing consequences, and sometimes they don't. No one worries about consistency in this regard. It's not a big deal.

As for the original rules, my numbered summary above covers them pretty thoroughly, and the character creation system is pretty much unchanged in the current version.


Ron Edwards


You wrote,
"My only concern initially was that players would ask for rolls for no other reason than to get some dice, which *could* be abused."

I think this is fear talking, without justification. "Abuse" is impossible. There is absolutely nothing "wrong," or possibly wrong, with getting some dice during play of The Pool. Bottom out? Get low? Then waive your MoV's and get some dice. That was the point of the system, not an abuse of it.

As multiple examples in Actual Play have shown, that rules modification has destroyed people's enjoyment of the game. "Thrashing at the bottom," and similar threads all show that removing the players' ability to add dice back means that they bottom out and stay there. Their response is to back off and do nothing, to avoid rolling altogether. It cripples the game.


P.S. Whether it's one or two dice doesn't matter to me. It does seem to me that one die is enough, once the artificial constraints on players' ability to get it are removed.

Buddha Nature

I whole-heartedly agree with Ron.  The "bottoming out" thing has been my sticking point to running The Pool.  I think What Ron is saying, in concert with his order above make the Pool much more appetizing for me to run.

The thing that has always facinated me with the Pool is its simplicity--its perfect simplicity.


PS: I think soon I will run a Star Wars Pool game (easy in the prep realm) and toss in the MoV and have SW stuff for Hallows and Accordes (stolen from TQB--which I think is awesome mechanically (and setting-wise but I don't go in for romantacism too much))

James V. West

I'm with you, Buddha. Simplicity. Amen, my brother.

Ron, thanks for the clarity. You know how much I appreciate that.

It's been my experience that two dice works great, so that's staying in the rules. The other added junk is gone 'cause they've never proven useful in my games, and they seem to be mucking it up for others.

This has been a most helpful thread, thanks to everone!

James V. West

Oh, yeah...

Someone asked why no MoD in The Pool. The straightest answer is that I don't want to add anything else to the game. I liked the idea for TQB (and it works there quite well), but not for The Pool. It's something you can add if you want to, but it won't be in the rules.