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Author Topic: [Sorceror] Currency, Combat, and Confusion  (Read 4537 times)
DAudy
Member

Posts: 13


« on: August 25, 2006, 11:03:35 AM »

Recently I started rereading Sorcerer in preparation for running a game.  However this time through when I hit the combat section of the rules I got all confused because they seem to explicitly violate the stated currency rules and generally felt 'awkward'. 

Issue the first:
The book is clear earlier that victories roll over as bonus dice to future rolls that follow logically from the first action.  As well it includes fixed damage based on weapon/attack type generating penalties.  Damage alone often can generate substantially more penalties than success' and some of them are long term - while this seems to violate currency I can accept it as it can be extrapolated out to other (non-combat) situations and without it reaching a conclusive combat would be very difficult.  However when combined with victory rollover rules it really seems out of control.  If this led to more fun play I wouldn't really care (lord knows I've put up with bad rules that didn't make the game more fun in the past) but it seems to lead to a situation of steamrolling where the winner of the first roll keeps on winning without much hope for the loser.

Just in case I wasn't as clear as I hoped in that last bit I'll provide a quick combat example to illustrate.  Brian gets attacked by one of his nemesis' hired goons.  Brian is a hard as nails scrapper with 6 stamina, while the Goon is a street tough with 5 stamina and a nasty knife.  For simplicity sake they both declare that they are going after each other with Goon getting a +1 die weapon advantage.  This leaves them even on dice.  Luck gives initiative to the Goon who succeeds in stabbing Brian with a marginal victory of 1 (Brian having aborted his attack to get full defense).  Now Brian is bleeding slightly with 1 temporary penalty, 1 lasting penalty, and the Goon has pressed Brian back against a wall and has 1 rollover victory die.  Now rather than a relatively even 6 die vs 6 die combat we have a 7 die vs 4 die mismatch.  With the die advantage the Goon is likely to continue getting initiative and getting victory likely by a steadily increasing margin.  And thatís just the minimum victory a 2 die victory would give us 8 vs 2 (vs 3 if we were using fists which are the least damaging weapon listed) or 10 vs 1 for a 3 die victory (one die of penalty having rolled over as a bonus die as it was reduced to 0).

Hopefully that illustrates where I'm coming from.  Effectively I don't see the point of using more than one roll to resolve an entire combat when things get so overwhelmingly lopsided so quickly.

Issue the second:
This one is a lot simpler and mostly is just a attempt to understand the logic behind the 1-die defense rule for when you haven't acted yet.  Against anything vaguely competent using the 1 die defense is just asking to get spanked.  I know that roleplaying and creative tactics can make up the penalties taken but my confusion is over why you would get full dice to defend after you've completed your action but not before.  The explanation for the 1 die defense seems to be that you are too focused on your action to defend yourself but why would preparing for an action leave you more defenseless than recovering from performing it.  In my experience (fencing) the opposite is more true.  Again this ties back to my first issue where the rules seem to reward whoever acts first and offers little chance for a comeback.

Issue the third:
Simplest yet.  Why bother with Humanity checks?  Since they are always Humanity vs Humanity, it is statistically identical to flipping a coin or rolling high/low on a single die.  Is it just to maintain continuity of system or do people allow roleplaying bonus' to humanity rolls or penalise particularly dehumanising acts?

Thanks to all who take the time to read over my questions and help clear up my confusion.  I know there are several fixes I could implement but since Ron (and Forge-think in general) points out that rules should work out of the box without 'Herby the GM' having to change anything I am assuming that it isn't the rules that are flawed but my reading/interpretation of them.

Dan Audy
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jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2006, 11:25:43 AM »

Hello,

Having just played Sorcerer, I can answer your first. I'll leave the others to Ron or someone else.

In your first issue you're double dipping.  The temporary/lasting penalties ARE the manifestation of the roll over rule.  You don't deliver penalities AND roll over your victory.  You just use the penalties.  So your second attack should be 6 on 4, not 7 on 4.

Note: The best way to use the roll over stuff in combat is to go for non-damaging attacks such as a Will vs. Will taunt, or a sweep keep to floor the guy or throw sand in his eyes.  None of these produce damange penalties on the opponent but they will net you roll over victory dice for a followup damanging attack.  In fact this is far more effective than attacking round after round.  Do a chain of these "setup" maneuvers snowballing victories and then go in for a killing blow.

Jesse

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Valamir
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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2006, 01:39:48 PM »

As to your second issue.  It becomes very clear once you adjust your perceptive framework a bit.

The dice mechanics are not "initiative" to see who goes first, and then "I've acted vs. I haven't acted"

Rather think of it this way:  the winner of the rolls totally owns the loser.  My high die is a 10, yours is an 8.  That doesn't simply mean I go first you go second.  That means I dominate you like a little squeally punk. 

You then have the option to either a) eat my total domination with a 1die defence...i.e. suck it up and stay on target, or b) abort and desperately defend yourself...with the chance that your desperate defense will actually enable you to scramble to safty...but it means you totally didn't get to do ANYTHING productive that round.

If you choose to stay on target (and survived) then I get full defense against you...not having to do with any "recovery from action" thing...but because I OWNED you this round.  I'm so in control of the situation that I can whomp you with full effectively AND defend against you with full effectiveness.  You on the other hand can only do one or the other.
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2006, 02:17:23 PM »

Simplest yet.  Why bother with Humanity checks?  Since they are always Humanity vs Humanity, it is statistically identical to flipping a coin or rolling high/low on a single die.  Is it just to maintain continuity of system or do people allow roleplaying bonus' to humanity rolls or penalise particularly dehumanising acts?

Simple! And you answered it yourself: the game's currency is used with Humanity as well, so those rolls earn you victory rollover dice or penalties to following rolls.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2006, 06:46:57 PM »

In Addition....

In reference to matters First and Third, do not forget about Bonuses and Penalties for Role-playing, Color and Detail.

From page 19 of the Sorcerer Rulebook:

Quote
Bonuses and penalties

The key to successful rolls in Sorcerer is to pile on the dice. This is where role-playing comes in.

  • A dramatic or appropriate quip while announcing the task: +1 die
  • Announcing a task generically ("I swing at him!"): -1 die
  • Repeating a simple task after failing:: -1 die (cumalitive)
  • Especially clever versionof the action: +2 dice
  • Announced action moves the plot along significantly: +2 dice
  • Obstructive, petty announced action: -2 dice

These are cumulative! If you have a Will of , that means you get four dice to roll for Will-based things, but that just won't be enough. In a dice-rolling situation, the players should not shift out of role-playing mode but rather get into it as deep as possible, being dramatic, pithy, and cunning to get p to eight or nine dice. if the demonic assassin is gaping its slavering jaws wide or cocking it flaming shotgun, and if the players just let the dice roll according to the numbers on their sheets, the characters will be eaten, shot, stomped, possessed, and all sorts of other horrid stuff. Role-playing is athe best defense against danger and the best means to accomlish the characters' goals.

emphasis added

The game is designed to get you killed if you don't add in those bonuses. It demands the players add to the game.

A few notes:

Ron uses the term "role-playing" -- which is think is a remnant of the time it was written. Today, we'd probably use the term "authoring."

Although most of the examples above are combat based and stuff about what people are doing, there's no reason that there can't be other kinds of authoring going on that gain dice bonuses. I've recieved and given dice bonuses for describing a memory or an emotion the PC experienced while performing an action. I believe Ron has said that the Sorcerer rules were written under a lot of the "Demon Cop" style of play he had in his head at the time -- but clearly what matters is what the group deems worthy of Bonuses for authorship. This means you and your group should experiment and play with what sorts of things gain bonuses. The deeper you go into this, the stronger I believe your play will be.

And so the same is true for Humanity rolls.... Why take a 50-50 roll when you've got a shot at gaining back a Humanity point? If I role-play really well, then I might get some bonuses. (However, Ron has a lot of good notions as to why not to apply bonuses or pentalties for specif kinds of actions. Check out these threads for more details abouut the use of Humanity Checks and applicable bonuses and penalties:
 http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=9388.0
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=2810.0

Best,

Christopher

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

Posts: 1153


« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2006, 07:50:11 PM »

(when, oh, when will I start to remember to hit the Preview button...?)

I meant to bold this section of the quote: "...and if the players just let the dice roll according to the numbers on their sheets, the characters will be eaten, shot, stomped, possessed, and all sorts of other horrid stuff."

I think it excitely shows what I said in my own words: the game will kill the PCs if they are not actively stacking as many advantages as they can. In normal circumstances, you need bonuses. Once your PC is wounded, you need even more.

That's why the combat is never a foregon conclusion even if you've started taking damage. Once you put the bonuses into active play -- balls to the walls authorship -- the combat won't be lopsided. That's why you roll. So you can keep adding dice into your pool for the action.
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
DAudy
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2006, 10:33:18 AM »

In your first issue you're double dipping. The temporary/lasting penalties ARE the manifestation of the roll over rule. You don't deliver penalties AND roll over your victory. You just use the penalties. So your second attack should be 6 on 4, not 7 on 4.

Ahaa!!  Ok, that explains my mental disconnect.  Can you mix and match the two variations then?  What I'm thinking of is a situation when the player is not trying to seriously wound his opponent and then pounds out a 5 die victory.  Which of these options follow within the rules (a) he opts to take a one die victory towards damage and roll the remaining four over to his next role, (b) he opts to take a one die victory towards damage and the remaining victories vanish into the ether, or (c) he doesn't have a choice but to take all five victories into damage and accidentally impales his opponents internal organs rather vigorously.

As to your second issue. It becomes very clear once you adjust your perceptive framework a bit.

The dice mechanics are not "initiative" to see who goes first, and then "I've acted vs. I haven't acted"

Rather think of it this way: the winner of the rolls totally owns the loser. My high die is a 10, yours is an 8. That doesn't simply mean I go first you go second. That means I dominate you like a little squeally punk.

You then have the option to either a) eat my total domination with a 1die defence...i.e. suck it up and stay on target, or b) abort and desperately defend yourself...with the chance that your desperate defense will actually enable you to scramble to safty...but it means you totally didn't get to do ANYTHING productive that round.

If you choose to stay on target (and survived) then I get full defense against you...not having to do with any "recovery from action" thing...but because I OWNED you this round. I'm so in control of the situation that I can whomp you with full effectively AND defend against you with full effectiveness. You on the other hand can only do one or the other.

Owww.  My head hurts.  That totally violates all my preconceived ideas about initiative and sequence of action resolution.  I think it may take awhile for me to wrap my brain around this idea. 

Simple! And you answered it yourself: the game's currency is used with Humanity as well, so those rolls earn you victory rollover dice or penalties to following rolls.

Ok conceptually I can see applying bonus' to humanity roles but part of my confusion stemmed from the fact I couldn't think of applying them.  Do  you or Christopher have any specific examples (preferably from actual play) where you would use this?

I meant to bold this section of the quote: "...and if the players just let the dice roll according to the numbers on their sheets, the characters will be eaten, shot, stomped, possessed, and all sorts of other horrid stuff."

I think it excitely shows what I said in my own words: the game will kill the PCs if they are not actively stacking as many advantages as they can. In normal circumstances, you need bonuses. Once your PC is wounded, you need even more.

That's why the combat is never a foregon conclusion even if you've started taking damage. Once you put the bonuses into active play -- balls to the walls authorship -- the combat won't be lopsided. That's why you roll. So you can keep adding dice into your pool for the action.

Yeah that makes sense and stacking bonus' was something I was including in my thoughts.  Where I run into the biggest problem is not with my players so much as with my NPCs.  It isn't that I want my NPCs to win just that it doesn't seem to offer a valid challenge when a single hit against them pulls them out, I hate the feeling that a major villain is practically a mook in terms of what he can take.  Should I be applying extra dice to my NPCs for drama and letting them use Will to recover from penalties?   I give them bonus' for advantages but it feels wrong to give dice for drama since its basically self  congratulation.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2006, 11:50:12 AM »

Hello,

Everyone has answered your questions accurately and wonderfully, but I think I perceive a confusion about the rollover rules. You write as if you had a choice to apply victories as damage or to use them as bonuses for next time.

You don't have that option. Victories in an attack-defense capacity are treated as damage, period.

Now. I'm going to confuse you slightly with this next bit, unfortunately, and also slightly contradict what Jesse said. I will also say that your current grasp of the rules is such that you should ignore one part of it totally until you get more comfortable with them.

The easy part (don't ignore)

Azoth the Arrogant and Beezoth the Brilliant are fighting with shovels. In a graveyard. Each states an action along the lines of "strike, maim, kill" his opponent. To make things easy, they both have scores of 5 and we will only use those scores.

Azoth rolls five dice: 10, 8, 4, 4, 1. Simultaneously, Beezoth rolls five dice: 10, 9, 7, 3, 3. Do not compare these rolls for success or failure. Just see who is highest.

As you can see, Beezoth has the higher roll. So we look at his dice first. "Hey, Azoth, this is coming at you!"

The player with Azoth has a choice: keep his roll as his upcoming attack on Beezoth, or roll one die. Seeing the 10 and the 9, he aborts his attack and rolls five dice to defend. Crap!: 7, 4, 3, 2, 1. Beezoth's attack beats this roll by two dice, hence with two victories.

It's a shovel, so that means 2 temporary penalties and 2 permanent penalties, for a total penalty of four dice. Next round!!

Azoth is now penalized down to one die. Beezoth has his five. That's where they are right now. (If I were playing Azoth, I'd shift to total defense, so as at least to defend with 3 dice, while I get through the temporary-penalty roll.)

Now for the part to ignore until later

As you recall, Beezoth had successfully hit Azoth with two victories, and netted four penalties total. That should be enough for most people. However, it is at least conceivably possible that his next action is so stunningly linked to that attack, so impressive or interesting in some way, or so relevant to what's going on, that the two victories could be rolled into that action as a bonus.

Yes, it's double-dipping. But yes, it's allowed. However, it rarely happens in combat scenes because "I hit him again!" typically doesn't qualify for such bonuses, and the damage itself (rightly) is considered to be sufficient consequence for the needs of such scenes and actions.

But you never know. Sometimes, the next action might be against another person in the scene, and the previous action might be so relevant to this new target, that the two victories ought to count as bonus dice to the new roll. By "relevant" I mean such a wide variety of things, whether logistic details of their positioning during the fight, or psychological angles of "look what I did your pal," or literally dozens of others I've seen during play, that I can't summarize them here.

With any luck that helps rather than gums you up more. Just ignore that last part until you are more experienced with the first couple of parts.

Best, Ron
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Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2006, 12:34:57 PM »

Hi Ron,

What of Dan's question about giving the NPC bonuses?

My take has always been, "No." Authorship is "protagonist-centric," in my view, and NPCs are there to let the PCs shine, stand out, make choices and reveal who their are by their actions and re-actions. But that's just me. Comments?

Christoopher
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2006, 01:00:06 PM »

Hi there,

Those questions are a bit muddled, so I'm not able to answer them well. 

For one thing, I don't know what's meant by one-hit NPCs. It's usually pretty hard to take down an opponent in Sorcerer and requires thinking about fighting in ways that don't match to RPG-logic (also known as hit, hit, hit, until he goes down by attrition).

I'm also not sure as to what sort of bonuses we're talking about. Bonus dice from rolled-over victories count for everybody, NPC or not. But D's not 100% up to speed on those rules yet, so I don't want to develop further points about that stuff until that's settled.

As for the bonus dice for the role-playing stuff in Chapter 1, they typically don't apply for NPCs, but I can think of circumstances in which they might ... say, when everyone at the table responds enthusiastically to some NPC's roll about something and demands they get bonus dice for it. And yes, this could well apply to an NPC opponent in a fight. I used to see that kind of response to villains' actions in playing Champions all the time, when bonuses/advantages were more nebulous but often real in terms of characters' follow-up advantages.

Best, Ron
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Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2006, 01:23:43 PM »

Hi Ron,

I was referring to the role-playing bonuses, but I see your point and it makes perfect sense.

For the other points (NPCs are mooks and so on), Dan, I think you're going to have to play the game and see what happens, because it seems like in some cases what's going on in your head in terms of expectations for combat is in fact not what happens in combat.

I look forward to hearing the results of your actual play.

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

Posts: 13


« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2006, 07:40:22 AM »

Thanks to everyone who helped me out here.  I think I have a much better grasp of the rules now and hopefully this will last first encounter with the dice.  I'll keep that second part in mind Ron but I think that until I get a chance to experience the system in action for awhile that you are totally right that it's just going to confuse me.

I'm really jazzed about getting a chance to play and I'll probably toss up a one-sheet and quick overview of game creation after we do so tomorrow night.

-Dan
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