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[Dust Devils] Folding

Started by Sam!, March 19, 2007, 11:10:28 PM

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I wrote an alternative setting of Dust Devils to the 1st Trans-Atlantic Setting Design Challenge 2006, Lords & Ladies. After finishing that Eero Tuovinen encouraged me to ask Matt Snyder whether he wanted to put L&L on his web page as a free alternative setting. Snyder said yes and I've been developing Lords & Ladies since. The finishing line isn't far away anymore, even if I still have to do some playtesting. Anyway, the real question concerns the rule about folding. I guess it's the same in both versions, but I just don't get it (as whether I should change it or not; I changed for the L&L's first version, but I don't know if I want to keep it that way).

The book says "removing his character from the risks and rewards of a conflict. Folding is a way to exit a tense situation without solving the problem. Chances are, the character will have to deal with the conflict sooner or later. When a player folds, his character's goal must remain unresolved, though the issue may return in a later conflict. Additionally, the character suffers no Harm from other characters." (Revenged, p. 24). I understand it from the folding player's point of view: the goal is unresolved and no Harm to anyone. But how to deal with the opponent's goal? Does it remain unresolved, like there was no conflict in the whole situation? If so, what this to the story? I get if it's like: "I try to escape the sheriff and his men" and the opposite is "I try to arrest that robber" – the robber doesn't get far enough, and the sheriff is on his tracks. The tension and the situation remains. Can the opponent declare a new conflict about the matter right away (especially if both parties are players)? And what about the example about Kerrigan's money (p. 16)? The situation cannot remain unsolved – someone is going to get the money, especially if Kerrigan is going to use them for something and really needs them (and therefore there's no way to return to the issue later on).

Solutions are, of course, numerous:
- nobody achieves their goals. If this is impossible, the folder loses his goal and the opponent achieves his
- folding can be used only when it doesn't jam the narration. In other situations it only leads to redealing the cards (and giving a chance to change the goals)
- the situation remains unsolved for all participants, and the dealer escalates the situation e.g. by bringing new characters to the scene

So, which is the official version the folding rule?
Sami Koponen

Eero Tuovinen

Folding is intented to first and foremost delay the conflict by protecting the goal of the folding player. So the order of priority is:
1) The folder's goal is not resolved. Folder describes how.
2) If there are several parties in the conflict, the others negotiate to determine whether they still have disagreement, or whether the conflict is annulled.
3) If the opposing goal cannot be resolved without resolving the folder's goal, the opposing goal is not resolved either. The opponent describes.
4) If the folding description does not end the situation in the fiction, either player may declare a new conflict with the same stakes immediately.

The key idea is that you fold because you don't have the cards to win the conflict right now. Whether this folding postpones the conflict or just causes a redraw is solely a function of the immediate fiction; if a suitable delay can be narrated, go ahead, but if nobody can think of anything, you have to either come to an agreement or start another conflict immediately.

As for narration during folding, I go back to my old analysis of narrative priority in Dust Devils: in general all players have equal narrative power over the action (not character intent, nor backstory, which are split between different players on a permanent basis). You can only resolve action by consensus, or by declaring intent to harm - that is, conflict. Therefore, in Dust Devils narrative control always stays with the player willing to go to arms over the matter. In a folding situation the folder is conseding his right to violent solution, and therefore leaving the narration of the situation up to the opponent. This is why the guy who is not folding gets to narrate whatever is left of the situation after the folding and non-resolution of the folder's goal is narrated. The folder gets to narrate his own folding in my games mainly because he's the one who knows how long a delay he wants for the situation.

Folding is one of the key points of long-term Dust Devils play, and one of the most peculiar and characteristic features of the game. It is not very significant with a tight set-up where players will mostly want to resolve things, but it's absolutely essential for a campaign, which is where the game shines (even more so than a one-shot, IMO).
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