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Author Topic: Poison'd: Some thoughts on violence  (Read 1904 times)
Graham W

Posts: 437

« on: August 26, 2008, 02:48:15 PM »

The new GM advice section has helped me a great deal. It's cleared up some problems I had in GMing Poison'd.

Here are a couple of thoughts/questions.

1. If you want to do a stealthy attack ("I creep up behind him and knock him out cold", "I shoot him from an upstairs window"), you do this:

* Roll Ambition vs something-or-other to sneak.
* Roll Brutality vs Soul to hit the defenceless victim.

This is described in the GM advice section as an example of play, but it seems to me that it's much more important than is described. Basically, I think that's the defined procedure for stealth attacks in Poison'd.

That first Ambition vs Something roll gains you the right to treat your victim as unsuspecting; which clears the way for your Brutality vs Soul; which could lead to unconsciousness or a deadly wound or whatever. Without that Ambition vs Something, it'd just be a fight.

Does that sound right?

(Side question: If I did sneak up, could I roll Brutality vs Soul to give Mr Unsuspecting a deadly wound? Would he get the option to fight? Would he get the "Endure duress or fight" question? It seems to me that a successful Ambition vs Something roll bypasses the "Endure or fight" option: that successful roll basically says "No, he's unsuspecting, so it's a victim, not a fight".)

2. Fighting in Poison'd works in a really cool way, but it's not stated explicitly, so I wanted to state it explicitly.

Let's say I want to fight this guy with my belaying pin. But what I really want out of the fight is to knock him out cold.

In a traditional roleplaying game, here's how we handle this: I roll my "Knocking Out" skill and, if I succeed, he's out. (Something like that.)

In an indie roleplaying game, here's how we handle it: we set the stakes for the fight as "I knock him out" and, if I win, he's out.

In Poison'd, there is no way of doing this. You don't get to specify what you want out of the fight (short of bargaining with the guy).

It works like this, in my head: you are attacking the guy with a bloody great lump of wood. There's no way you get to specify what happens. Perhaps you knock him out. Perhaps you break his head. Perhaps you break his head but don't knock him out. Perhaps, in the heat of the fight, you go too far and kill him. Weapons in Poison'd are unpredictable and dangerous and don't always give the results you want. I like this and I think it's specific to Poison'd.

And to be specific, you never ever ever ever set stakes in Poison'd, explicit or implicit. There's never a situation where you say "Right, you won the fight, so I guess you take his treasure, like you wanted". (I used to GM Poison'd this way, so this is a leap for me). Sure, if you kill the guy, you can take his treasure, but just because you win the fight doesn't give you the right to narrate other stuff.

Again, does that sound right?


P.S. A side point, while I remember. In our Gen Con game, we used this "supporting someone in a fight" rule: the person being supported is treated as a mini-captain and gives a die to the person supporting them. The supporter then takes an additional die and can choose whether to roll or not. (The "mini-captain" need not be the captain). I think this works well, but it's not in the rules. How about putting it in?
Posts: 3453

« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2008, 06:09:34 AM »

1. Yes, that's how stealth attacks work in Poison'd, exactly. Ambition vs. brutality to create an unsuspecting target, brutality vs soul to attack them.

If you find yourself in a position to attack someone unsuspecting without having used stealth or taken care to get there, of course, you don't make the ambition vs brutality roll.

Your side question's interesting. I always offer the victim the choice; I figure that the attacker gets Xs for the attack, which is all he's really due, and then a) if the victim fights back, that means it wasn't a fight-preventing wound after all, plus b) if it was a rockin' roll, those Xs will encourage the victim to not fight back. Consequently, the better the attacker's brutality vs soul roll, the more likely he is to win without a fight, but it still comes down to the victim's choice, not mine as GM.

If you don't offer the victim the choice, I think you should still have him endure duress, for being smashed in the head with a hunk of wood.

Oh, here's a move that isn't in the rules explicitly, but is a fair extrapolation of the rules. If you don't like that kind of play, avert your eyes:
Me: I stick my knife in Mitch's guy from behind! I get 4 successes on my brutality vs soul!
Mitch: Crap. Is it a deadly wound?
GM: Could be. Endure duress. If you win, it's not a deadly wound, your body endures it. If you lose, your body fails to endure it and it thus it's deadly.
When a wound might or might not be deadly, you can let an enduring duress roll decide.

2. Exactly, beautifully right.

P.S. It's not? Crap!

When we played, I liked that you emphasized a couple of things every time: "if you hold the dice in your hand, though, that means you're disobeying orders and everyone knows it," and "if I roll more devil than you roll soul, you cry like a little boy."

Graham W

Posts: 437

« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2008, 02:13:40 PM »

Neat. So, for my own pedantry, it goes like this...

0. You want to creep up behind Mr Unsuspecting and hit him! So...
1. Roll Ambition vs Brutality! If you fail, he hears you, but if not...
2. Roll Brutality vs Soul! If you fail, you can't bring yourself, but if not...
3. Ask Mr Unsuspecting if he fights back or endures duress and go from there.

(Probably, if it's an NPC, you don't bother with step 3.)

"if I roll more devil than you roll soul, you cry like a little boy."

See, that's an interesting one. It came up in the all-woman game at GenCon. Julia, as captain, pressed a red-hot piece of treasure into Julie's hand. (She was distributing the loot from a raid, in a particularly nasty way).

Julie wants to stare back in Julia's eyes, taking the pain, pretending she doesn't feel a thing. It's a perfect enduring duress roll.

But what happens if she fails? Obviously, the red-hot treasure still gets pushed into the hand. So it must be that she doesn't endure the duress: she cries like a little boy.

In general, I find it interesting that success rolls in Poison'd are often internal to the character: you endure duress (or buckle under it), you risk danger (or are scared), you are deceitful (or can't pull it off) or you are brutal (or can't bring yourself). And now I will stop pontificating.

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