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Author Topic: How to handle negative traits  (Read 3574 times)
MUKid
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Posts: 10


« on: March 28, 2007, 08:41:17 AM »

How do other GMs handle a trait that's a disadvantage?  For instance, a character has a trait, "I have a peg leg 1d4."  Is there a way to translate that into a true disadvantage?

What we did in our games is include that die only if it can be justified in the narrative.  The PC was encouraged to use that particular die when Taking a Blow, as in "Ooo, I can only See that 11 with three dice.  I'll kick in my 2 from my 1d4, which is my peg leg die.  Okay, he shoves me to the ground.  My peg leg catches on a rock and I tip over backwards, landing on my butt.  Three fallout dice."  Then his fallout might be something like, "Sprained my ankle when I fell 1d4" (as a temporary trait), or "I don't like that jerk that pushed me down in front of my friends 1d6" (as a permanent relationship), or something similar.

Is this how others have done this?  Or do you encourage the player never to take a real disadvantage as a trait?  Or something else entirely?

I know in the book it mentions that a d4 trait is a disadvantage.  I realize that's because it's going to be part of multiple dice sees more often because it's usually going to be a low number.  That's cool... I agree that d4s are a disadvantage for this reason.  I'm just not sure I buy that a d4 can be used for a Disadvantage in the traditional RPG sense (like blind in one eye, or smelly, or hates women, or something else similar from GURPS or another game).  I do like using them as I described above, though.

Just curious...
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Moreno R.
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Posts: 389


« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2007, 09:30:57 AM »

How do other GMs handle a trait that's a disadvantage?  For instance, a character has a trait, "I have a peg leg 1d4."  Is there a way to translate that into a true disadvantage?

I don't see that peg leg as an "disadvantage". It's a trait. Something that in the fiction characterize your character, it's a way for him to be in the fiction a bit more. That make this character more important, more present. I don't see any reason for using any different rule about this trait that any other (I CAN see that this trait, when used in the fiction, would cause often problems for the character, but that has very little to do with the kind of dices. After all, you can push that trait to 4d10. It would be a strange character that would use his peg leg for a lot of things, but it's possible.) It's the fact that you have to use the trait in the fiction to get dices that cause "problems" in the fiction for the character. That d4 is a temptation for you to cite the fact that he has a peg leg when you narrate things

Quote
What we did in our games is include that die only if it can be justified in the narrative.  The PC was encouraged to use that particular die when Taking a Blow, as in "Ooo, I can only See that 11 with three dice.  I'll kick in my 2 from my 1d4, which is my peg leg die.  Okay, he shoves me to the ground.  My peg leg catches on a rock and I tip over backwards, landing on my butt.  Three fallout dice."  Then his fallout might be something like, "Sprained my ankle when I fell 1d4" (as a temporary trait), or "I don't like that jerk that pushed me down in front of my friends 1d6" (as a permanent relationship), or something similar.

Is this how others have done this?  Or do you encourage the player never to take a real disadvantage as a trait?  Or something else entirely?

Something else entirely. I encourage players to get any "disadvantage" they want, with any dice they choose. It make for more different characters and more engaging narrative (I remember one time when one of my players got fallout from a demoniac sandstorm. She asked for advice on what to choose, and I suggested she could be temporally blinded by the sand for some days. It was one of the first times we played DitV and she wasn't still used to the system, so she asked "but how will be able to shoot?", I answered "with the bonus dices for your blindness". She did get in that moment what I mean, that there is no such thing as a "disadvantage trait" in DitV, took that chance to play a blind character, and for the rest of the session she was like this blind lady justice with the King of Life that guided her hand. It was Awesome!)

There is some thing I am not sure I understand in your post. You talk about making the player use the "disadvantage" in the fiction to USE the d4. But didn't he already use the "disadvantage" in the fiction to GET the d4? Do you make them rolls for traits at the beginning of the conflitcs, not when they are used in the fiction?

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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
MUKid
Member

Posts: 10


« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2007, 10:15:01 AM »

Okay, let's say you've got a player that's trying to climb up a rope to chase after a demonist.  The chaser has a peg leg.  You decide to make a conflict out of it, and have the chaser and the demonist each roll something, I don't know, Body + Will maybe.  So they do.  And then you're like, "Hey, don't you have a peg leg?"  And the chaser says, "Yeah, I do... I've got peg leg at 1d4."  And so you have them roll that die, too.  So what I do is this - I have the character narrate the raises and sees normally, but when forced to use the 1d4 for any reason, he has to work in narration involving the peg leg.  If it's a good See or even somehow he turns a blow, maybe he says, "I almost slip down the rope, but then my peg leg catches in a nook in the rock wall, and I'm stabilized!"  But if it's Taking the Blow, then he says, "I'm climbing away, but then my peg leg starts giving me trouble, and I slip backwards a bit.  I almost fall, but I catch myself!"

I've got a good idea of how to use something like "Blindness" in a Dogs game even when it provides the character with an Advantage.  But I'd like to be able to use the same mechanic in a game that doesn't involve God or Faith - in that case, it becomes more challenging to figure out how to incorporate a few dice of blindness into a roll and make it detrimental to the character.  Not impossible, but more challenging.  So I'm just wondering how others deal with it.

Moreno, as for your question on when I have players roll relevant traits, I have them roll traits in the beginning if it's obvious that the trait is coming into play.  For example, if a character is trying to intimidate an NPC into doing something, then he'll roll his "Breaks men and horses alike 2d6" at the beginning of that conflict.  If a trait becomes important later, after the beginning of the conflict, I have them roll when it comes up.  "Oh, you just brought up my Momma, you shouldn't have done that... now I'm rolling 'Loves his Momma more than his gun 2d6!'"  Have I misinterpreted the rules?  Are traits only supposed to come into play as they are described once a conflict gets rolling?  What about a relationship?  It doesn't seem that it'll make a huge difference in most cases, as those traits are likely to come up pretty early in the conflict anyway, but I guess it'd provide reward to the character for bringing those traits into the fiction.  I just sorta do it in reverse - if you're going to roll those dice, you'd better describe how it comes into play at some point in the conflict.

Of course, I've only run the game twice, so I might have it all wrong.
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Valamir
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« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2007, 10:59:09 AM »

Most games work exactly as you outline.  But for Dogs, try thinking about the process like this:

Players "we nab this guy"
GM "ok, either say yes or roll the dice...lets take this to conflict...what's at stake is this guy's freedom...Roll Body + Will...and nothing else".
Player "I push forward an 8 'I grab him by the shirt and wrestle him down"
GM "I block your 8, he brushes off your attempt to grab him".
GM "I raise with 7, he climbs up a rope and gets away"
Player "no way, I block his 7, I jump up the rope and start climbing after him"
Player "I raise with 8, I grab him by the leg and pull him off the rope"
GM "he takes the blow so you have him by the leg"
GM "but then he kicks you in the face with 13 and busts your front teeth."

That's the gist of play flow.  At any point any party can narrate something into the conflict that calls upon a Trait.  Only then, and only when accompanied by appropriate narration are the trait dice rolled.
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Moreno R.
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Posts: 389


« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2007, 11:25:42 AM »

At first, I too rolled all the relevant traits at the beginning (I was used to much more simulativistic game systems, and I had some difficulty adjusting to a different prospective). This caused some problems in play, that I noticed only when re-reading the rules I found out that I remembered them badly and tried the real rules.  It's not that if you roll them at the beginning the game don't work. It work. But if you roll them only when someone talk about the trait while narrating the fiction, it work BETTER.  (so I could discover this only when I compared both ways)

For example, if you roll the peg leg dices only when someone TALK ABOUT IT in the fiction, you can see that your problem disappear without needing any special rule for "disadvantages", because then ALL the trait have to be narrated in the fiction

If you check the actual rules,  they say to roll, at the beginning of the conflict, only the 2 relevant stats + the relevant relationships.  After that, the only way to bring more trait dices is by escalating, and you CAN'T bring more relationships (if you don't take them right there using unassigned dices).

Then, at every raise OR See, you can roll the dices of every trait that you USE in that raise or see (you don't need to push exactly these dices with your raise or see, though).

This mean that you begin the conflicts with less dices, and you have a lot more reason to talk about your traits during the conflicts. It's a little difference, but really noticeable in play. The characters are more "alive" with their traits and the conflicts are less predictable.

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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 389


« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2007, 11:29:19 AM »

If you check the actual rules,  they say to roll, at the beginning of the conflict, only the 2 relevant stats + the relevant relationships.  After that, the only way to bring more trait dices is by escalating

I should learn to re-read what I write before posting.  I meant to say "After that, the only way to bring more stats dices is by escalating"
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Ludanto
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2007, 12:42:06 PM »

Basically, there are no mechanical "disadvantages".  Any trait you have is helpful in some way.  It doesn't matter if your trait is "I'm in constant, crippling agony - 1d4" if you can bring that trait "concretely" into the narration, it's useful.

What's "concretely"?  I don't know.  It's something Vincent says.

"The sound of my peg-leg thumping on the ground as I stump out of the way of the attack" seems pretty weak.
"I block the axe-blow with my peg-leg" seems pretty straightforward.
"My peg-leg slips through the floorboards and I fall, and the axe-man swings where I used to be" I think is ok.
"My peg-leg slips through the floorboards, trapping me, but despite this I roll out of the way of the falling axe" I'm not sure about, and it's kind of where I see you going.  While it's actually more of a hinderance in this one, it seems pretty rooted in the narration, so is it kosher?  It's one of those things.  Does a trait have to be specifically helpful, even unintentionally, in order to count for dice, or just a legitimate, not-incidental, part of the narration?

I think that's the question that, if answered, would tie this up.
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Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 389


« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2007, 12:59:37 PM »

"My peg-leg slips through the floorboards, trapping me, but despite this I roll out of the way of the falling axe" I'm not sure about, and it's kind of where I see you going.  While it's actually more of a hinderance in this one, it seems pretty rooted in the narration, so is it kosher? 

From my reading of the rules, I think it would be kosher. (and, in any case, it would be kosher in my sessions).
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
MUKid
Member

Posts: 10


« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2007, 01:56:12 PM »

Great thoughts, guys.  I never realized that the intent of the rules was to have you roll as things come up in narration, rather than all at the beginning.  So I appreciate that clarification very much!  And I think that at least some of us are thinking alike in terms of disadvantages.
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lumpley
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« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2007, 07:46:07 AM »

If you'll notice, that's exactly how disadvantages work in movies. The hero slips and falls and skids across the deck on his peg leg and his enemies' sabers all miss him as he passes. The hero fumbles with her eyeglasses and her gun and makes the shot.

(And in fact, yes, you roll the dice for traits and belongings only when you use them in a raise or a see, not up front with your stat dice. That's super important to how the game plays.)

-Vincent
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