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Author Topic: nicotine girls  (Read 16248 times)
Paul Czege
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« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2002, 10:40:00 AM »

Hey Ralph,

What if Fear transforms into hope.

Instead of Hope just increasing, have hope increase and Fear decrease at the same time (either at critical times or once per session). What this means is that if characters run out of Fear they can't increase Hope any further. In order to continue to increase Hope, they have to first pass through and then overcome fear (by selecting one of the fear generating options from the list and then converting this fear to hope).


What am I missing? Isn't this is what the game does? It was pretty much the underlying concept for the way I designed it. The only difference I can see is the timing of the Hope increase. Are you suggesting that you think someone could avoid using Fear for conflict resolution entirely? If I've read Mike's probabilities correctly, it won't happen. A player who's interested in a real shot at rolling successfully for a character's dream after four or five sessions of play will need to be careful how often they rely on Hope, especially in the early game sessions when Hope is low, or when they haven't had a chance to get some advice from a PC or NPC via Smoke so their chance of success is higher. Two or three rolls of Hope in one session and you're bound to fail. And then you've got no choice but to rely on Fear. It's by using Fear most of the time that a character holds on to her dreams.

Paul
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Valamir
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« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2002, 11:33:37 AM »

Hey Paul, first let me ask you a couple of questions to make sure I'm not missing something, and then I'll try to explain better what I was thinking.

Quote
A player who's interested in a real shot at rolling successfully for a character's dream after four or five sessions of play will need to be careful how often they rely on Hope,


I'm not sure I'm following you, given character creation, one could start with Hope significantly higher than fear, especially early in the game before introducing fear elements from the chart.  The danger, of course, is failing once and losing the ability to use hope.

Suggestion here: hate to introduce something tangental, but you may want to come up with a way to refresh hope other than at session breaks.  I see the game being well suited for one shots and less well suited for extended "campaigns" (has there ever been a game for which that term is less suited) over several sessions.

So a player is motivated to use fear because if they rely only on hope they'll fail eventually and then they'll HAVE to use fear.

On the matter of odds however, the expected result from any fudge roll is 0.  This is true whether you roll 3 dice or 13 dice.  The positive and negatives tend to wash out.  You've skewed that to the positive with the rule for methods.  It seems to me though that the choice of Motivation has little impact on the chance for "success / failure"; since it doesn't matter whether you pick the high valued motivation or the lower valued motivation (much, there are standard deviation effects) .  That may be intentional, so that choice isn't based on "which one is most likely to succeed" but rather which aspect do I want to color my narration of what actually happens (in a WFD sort of effect, only chosen rather than rolled).

However, what this means is that there is little effect from the numerical fear values on your fear list.  Obviously one would be motivated to introduce those elements from a story / premise persepective, but there is no game mechanic motivation for doing so and hense no real reason to quantify the degree of fear as you've done.  Adding 10 to your fear doesn't make you any more likely to succeed on a fear roll than adding 2 to your fear.  The additional dice still tend to wash out towards zero (this tendency is even greater with more dice).

As another aside, this effect also impacts your end game (I assume that what triggers an end game roll has so far been left intentionally vague).  In order to have a chance of realizing my dreams I have to have at least 5 hope.  But to get 5 successes on 5 fudge dice is pretty slim (less than 1/2 of 1 %)  Funny thing about Fudge dice, is that your odds don't increase with additional dice.  Unlike a traditional pool where the each die is either a success or nothing, Fudge dice are either success, nothing or negative success.  If I manage to get 15 dice worth of Hope, the positives and negatives are going to wash and I am almost certain to end up at or very close to 0.  With no "methods" rule to boost my success, no Nicotine Girl regardless of how much hope she has is likely to achieve her dreams.



At any rate the effect that I was going for in my suggestion was to more directly tie Hope and Fate together in a somewhat cyclical fashion.  

First, instead of Fear going down with every successful Hope roll and Hope going up only once per session I'd suggest a mechanic where hope and Fear go up and down at the same time...more frequently than once per session, but less than once per Hope roll.  Each increase in Hope causes (and requires) a decrease in Fear

Second, if fear reaches zero, hope could no longer be raised because there would be no fear to reduce.  

What this means is that players would be motivated to keep stoking the fear level so there is constantly a "supply" of Fear available to be converted into Hope.  A variation on the old "suffering builds character", "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" theme.  If you aren't suffering (fear) you aren't building character/getting stronger (hope).  This would be the equivelent of giving up her dreams and settling for a nice safe life in the suburbs with a man who could provide but she didn't really love.


Anyway, hope that made sense.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2002, 07:20:59 PM »

Ralph,

Your analysis is not quite correct. Whie the fudge dice do skew to zero normally with any number of dice. But as soon as you add in the methods, you get an effect where more dice are usually more beneficial. It has to do with the standard deviation you mention.

Actually, if you have a attribute (Hope or Fear) that is very high (4 or 5), you actually suffer statistically. Your best bet is a three in both attribute and method. Of course, an attribute of three has zero chance of rolling a five. So it creates an interesting dynamic. Higher is better for attributes to a point as far as reliability, but after that point, it's only benefit is spreading the potential range.

Take the simple example of a 1 fear, 1 sex roll. Your possible results are 0,0,1, or an average result of .333. On a 2 fear, 1 sex roll, your possible results are -1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2 or .555 on the average. That's a considerable bump in effectiveness in this system where the highest average is something like 1.5.

Mike
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Valamir
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« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2002, 04:11:38 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Ralph,

Your analysis is not quite correct. Whie the fudge dice do skew to zero normally with any number of dice. But as soon as you add in the methods, you get an effect where more dice are usually more beneficial. It has to do with the standard deviation you mention.


Ummm, Mike.  You'll notice I said
Quote from: Valamir
The positive and negatives tend to wash out. You've skewed that to the positive with the rule for methods.


As far as more dice being more beneficial, I said it wouldn't have "much" impact, which is true relative to the typical "more=better" effect associated with traditional pool.

If you have 6 dice and a method of 2 the "expected" result is ++00--.  Scrapping the 2 negatives gives you +2.  If you have 12 dice and a method of 2 the expected result is ++++0000----.  Scraping 2 of the negatives again gives +2.  Fewer dice will mean fatter tails in the distribution so there is more likely to be extreme results in either direction with fewer dice (as we both mention), but factoring in the fact that in NG there is no difference between +1 and +5 or between -1 and -5 even this effect is moderated.

Plus, unless I completely missed it, there is no Method associated with the final Hope Roll its just straight Hope.
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2002, 12:58:14 PM »

Hey Ralph,

If you have 6 dice and a method of 2 the "expected" result is ++00--. Scrapping the 2 negatives gives you +2. If you have 12 dice and a method of 2 the expected result is ++++0000----. Scraping 2 of the negatives again gives +2.

Ah...damn.

Yeah...it seems I have a major problem. What your analysis is saying to me is that the dice mechanics for Method-based conflict are undermining the point structure of the Fear list; because the target for success in method-based conflict is "more pluses than minuses," effectively a target of 1, there's no mechanical reason for a player to take on higher value items from the list. Even factoring in a nebulous comfort-with-a-few-more-dice motivation, players aren't likely to be choosing items that give them more than 3 or 4 Fear, and 2 or 3 seems more likely.

And on top of that, when coupled with a Method of 1 or 2, the advantage of a positive modifier from a prior Smoke-based advice scene is minimal. Frustratingly, because a negative modifier from not taking the advice is crippling, Smoke is disincentivized.

Damn. I'm reluctant to completely gut the system.

I think, getting beyond mechanics alone, that a player's driving interest to not de-protagonize their own character is important to consider. Continuous selection of low value items from the Fear list, just to the extent necessary to offset Fear losses from successful Hope rolls, may well be an effective strategy from a mechanical standpoint, but the risk I think a player will perceive during play is that a character that doesn't experience more substantive adversity might fall by the wayside in terms of audience interest.

I think game duration is similarly limited by concerns of character protagonism. More than five or six sessions of play and the characters risk becoming de-protagonized caricatures from the unbelievable chaos and life-destabilizing effects of all the Fear items they've experienced. A mechanically effective strategy that defends against this might be to take a high value Fear item in an early game session, which would allow a player to avoid having to hit the Fear table up for another fix for maybe even a session or two. Still, that's similarly deprotagonizing. A character who has a session or two without new adversity also risks falling by the wayside of audience interest.

One thing I've been considering is requiring a character to "buy their fear" when created. However many points they've allocated to Fear need to be secured with items from the Fear table. I think it would be Kicker-esque, and also start to drive player consideration toward higher value items from the table for their earlier in-game selections, out of concern for not deprotagonizing the character with too much nickel and dime shit.

Another thing I've been considering is changing the amount of Fear a character gets from the items on the table to the value minus the session number. I was thinking it would have the effect of helping the adversity trend upward over the course of play, reinforcing audience interest in the characters. It doesn't do anything about the technique of taking on a big value item early on, maybe resulting in characters who go without additional Fear items for a session or two, but maybe that would be self-limiting. What do you think?

I guess the game has a lot of problems I don't know how to fix. I don't want Smoke to be as disincentivized as I now think it might be, and I'm not sure pressures to use it just because it's cool, dramatic, and protagonizing will be enough to overcome the problem.

Plus, unless I completely missed it, there is no Method associated with the final Hope Roll its just straight Hope.

Yeah...this is a problem. I'm thinking the roll should be just the number of raw pluses that come up, regardless of how many blanks or minuses also appear. This means on average that a character will need a fifteen Hope to have an even chance of getting her Dreams, right? If I'm right that most games end in four or five sessions, with a maximum possible Hope increase of 1 per session, that means most Nicotine Girls don't get their Dreams, leaving the player to narrate an epilogue that's something less. And I think that's appropriate.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Valamir
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« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2002, 01:05:08 PM »

Paul, one possible solution (I don't know if it would be the "best" but probably the easiest) is to scrap using actual Fudge dice and craft your own distribution.

If each die were labeled ++000- or +++00- or ++++-- than you would have a system that is naturally scewed to the positive such that more dice ARE better (how much depends on how much skew you put in the labeling).
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xiombarg
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« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2002, 02:23:01 PM »

BTW, as a tangent, I dunno if Paul is on LJ, but he might want to check this out:

http://www.livejournal.com/talkread.bml?journal=roleplayers&itemid=231146

In particular, "Hopeevey" makes some comments that echo some concerns of mine, but I didn't want to pipe up with without someone else to point to as I'm a coward. ;-)
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
Paul Czege
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« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2002, 05:10:44 PM »

Hey Kirt,

Something I'm thinking I need to do is write some examples. I think there's more to Sex than just sex. I think the Method includes things like flirting, and making someone jealous. It's also, for the character, being able to get things done just because you're female. If my girlfriend asks the greasy guy at the record store for one of the small Dokken posters from the front window display, she stands a far greater chance of walking away with the poster than I would for making the same request. Similarly, Money is more than just money, more than just paying for dinner, although it certainly is that. It's having a joint in your pocket when you need it. It's using your material assets to your advantage, inviting someone over to watch PPV wrestling on your pirated cable TV, or to listen to your collection of thefted CD's. And Cry is exposing your emotional vulnerability. Do you think these kinds of examples would mitigate against people's perceptions that the game is not politically correct?

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Valamir
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« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2002, 06:49:55 PM »

I think those are all great examples, and I'd love to see them in the final text.

But I think worrying about perceptions of political correctness is detrimental and ultimately futile.

Besides, the fact that everyone whose read the game immediately knows exactly what sort of girls you're talking about (and likely we all know a few) means that sometimes a stereotype is pretty accurate.
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xiombarg
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« Reply #24 on: May 28, 2002, 02:12:46 PM »

I think the examples would help. While I agree that there is no point in being politically correct, it would be nice to attempt to ward off what I see are some obvious conclusions one could jump to...
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
lumpley
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« Reply #25 on: May 29, 2002, 04:33:20 AM »

Hey.

My gender-politic kung fu is strong.

What you've got is a treatment of the disenfranchised that forces your audience to sympathize.  Your stats are good as is, with no examples. (I'm for examples, for play purposes, but you don't need them politically.) You're commenting on the powerlessness of (especially poor) young women, and you're inviting the reader and the player to put themselves in that powerless place. Nobody uses Sex, Cry and Money (the way you mean them) when they have access to Vote, Lobby and Buy.

You're describing the problem, not contributing to it. Softballing is just going to weaken your commentary.

That's what I think.

-Vincent
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #26 on: May 29, 2002, 06:03:20 AM »

Quote from: lumpley

You're describing the problem, not contributing to it. Softballing is just going to weaken your commentary.


That's a good comment Vincent. But the problem is that some few might not see that he's describing a particular plight, so much as describing all young women. They might take it to say that he is saying that young women never have any other skills in areas other than the ones mentioned. Which would be a rather sexist approach.

I don't think he needs to softball the issue, I think he just needs to make it clear what issue is being raised. That the characters in question are a subset of young women who have only these effectivenesses, because of their situation (as opposed to the condition being part of simply being female). He sort of states this, but in an artistic fashion that may not make it clear that it is a subset.

Look at it this way. If I were to make a game about young black youths that said that their only effectivenesses were things like Stealing, and Getting High, and didn't point out clearly that it was meant to portray particularly disenfranchised youths, as opposed to all young black men, wouldn't that cause offense? I think it would, and with good cause.

All I'm saying is to be a little more clear, a little more explicit. If worked in correctly, this does not have to ruin the atmosphere of the description, and might even make the game more attractive. It certainly would help ameliorate any sense of unease such as the one poster on LiveJournals had. Might turn her from a detractor into a proponent.

Mike
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