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While We Were Fighting Q&A

Started by Peter Nordstrand, November 21, 2008, 06:29:37 AM

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Peter Nordstrand

Altaem (what's your name?) asked me some questions about While We Were Fighting in another thread:

Do player characters gain resources by stealing them from each other, or are NPCs generated to fill the role of protagonist?

Player characters may try to gain resources any way they want, and from whoever they chose, if at all. Let the player's decide what to do.

NPCs are indeed an important part of the game, and some will need to have have a few traits. All have motivations and agendas of their own. Some will turn out to become antagonists, some will become allies, and one or two may even become a protagonist in their own right. The NPC generation rules are currently missing from the playtest draft, along with a character generation chapter for player characters, but I will rectify both of these situations asap.

Please note that resources does not have to be stolen. They can be obtained by any means, and may not even require a conflict. In fact, do not assume that any player character's resources will ever increase at all. Use the Advancement & Decline rules only when a situation arrives in play that requires their use.

Is this helpful? Am I addressing your concerns?

How many conflicts (rolls) would a typical scene contain? 

I'm not quite sure what you are after here. I don't think providing a guideline for number of conflicts per scene will be useful. There is no ideal number of conflicts per scene.

However, it is imperative to remember that all conflicts of interest are between people trying to do things that are not compatible. There is no such thing as a conflict between a character and a wall that he attempts to climb or some such. The one exception to this is Crises, obviously, where a conflict between a player character and a raging fire or disease is commonplace.

Do players have practically complete freedom to frame a scene?

Will you clarify this question for me, please? Specifically, what do you mean by "complete freedom"? Perhaps an example or two is in order? I do have some guidelines, but I'd like to know that I am addressing some real concerns of yours.


Thank you for your questions.

All the best,

Peter
Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
     —Grey's Law

Peter Nordstrand

A short rant about conflicts of interest that may or may not have any bearing on Altaem's questions.

You need fictional events. Characters that perform actions. Intentions are not fictional events unless they are acted upon. The GM should always ask "what do you do?" Don't ask "what do you intend?" Intentions, goals or stakes without action (by action I mean people doing stuff) have no place in the fiction of While We Were Fighting.

All conflicts are preceded by actions.

     GM: He tries to stab you with his knife.
     Player: I don't want him to.

While We Were Fighting does not recognize wishes as legitimate actions. No need to punish the player by being rude, but ask him to provide fictional content. Like this:

     GM: What do you do?
     Player: I try to avoid being stabbed.

That's not enough fictional content. It's an intention, but not an action. The player must describe the action.

     GM: I understand, but what do you do?
     Player: Um...can just try to back away from him?
     GM: Sure you can. Grab your dice...
Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
     —Grey's Law

Altaem

*pauses to google Altaem*
Hmm, second link - boardgamegeek profile - that's me.

Sorry,  my name is Stephen Moore, I use Altaem online as it's unique (or was until Alta Em turned up).  It's the name of my most powerful character/super villain from a RPG I created when I was 14.  There must be tens of thousands of Stephens in the world.

My questions seemed so clear just after I read the rules a few days ago.  I wonder if I should re-read them before attempting to clarify.

Lets try with an example:
The enemy of my enemy is not my friend.  I have unsuccessfully attempted to get them to strike out at my enemy through negotiations and trade deals.  They are not interested in conflict at this time, preferring to spend all their time with a new mistress.  I feel that far more drastic action in required.  I plan to send an assassin to slay the mistress, leaving evidence that our common enemy sent the killer.

I am using my trait "Underworld Contacts" (3) to hire an anonymous assassin

So how do I frame the scene?

The assassin climbs the ivy covering the walls of the mistress's house, entering her bedchamber in the dead of night.  He is a competent professional and has carefully studies the guards rounds and knows there is no chance of being disturbed.  In the bedchamber there is only the sleeping mistress and the assassin.  The assassin strikes silently, drops the evidence and is gone.

What actions are considered conflicts?
If this was a player's mistress being targeted what defensive options do they have?
How much control does the scene framer have?  This is after all in the domain of another player, should they be able to avoid protective guards just by declaring they do?

As a GM I'd be tempted to let this play out.  Doubtless the city will become abuzz with rumors, and a useful Trait like "Underworld Contacts" could easily be turned against them.   That still doesn't help the player who's just been nuked.   
"Damn! I should have turned invisible." - Stephen Moore aka Altaem
"...there are more watermelon-sized potholes nowadays than ever." - another Stephen Moore
"Passion Fruit: Alchemy of the Egg" - yet another Stephen Moore

Altaem

QuoteWho? A story scene always contains at least one player character
Missed this one.  So I can't just send NPC assassins after other NPC characters?
What if I frame a scene after the event, where another PC character has just heard the news that their mistress has been assassinated?
"Damn! I should have turned invisible." - Stephen Moore aka Altaem
"...there are more watermelon-sized potholes nowadays than ever." - another Stephen Moore
"Passion Fruit: Alchemy of the Egg" - yet another Stephen Moore

Peter Nordstrand

Cool. You have astutely realized that judicious scene framing is a powerful tool. I think it is imperative that you use the scene framing rules by the book. Let's go through your exemple step by step.

QuoteSo how do I frame the scene?

The assassin climbs the ivy covering the walls of the mistress's house, entering her bedchamber in the dead of night.

Great! Full stop. You just framed a scene. You have answered the three questions.

Where? The mistress' chambers at night.
Who? The mistress and the assassin.
What? The assassin is entering her bedroom. You may want to add that the mistress is asleep, if you wish, but that's all.

The only problem with this scene is that there is no player character present, as you've already noted. If the mistress' lover a PC? Place him there. Or perhaps your own character is watching from a balcony across the street. You get the picture.

The rest of your description should be handled through normal roleplaying. The GM plays the mistress and the assassin. Yes, that's right. All NPCs belong to ther GM, and are played exclusively by him.

QuoteWhat if I frame a scene after the event, where another PC character has just heard the news that their mistress has been assassinated?

Well, perhaps, sort of. You are allowed and expected to frame scenes that imply or assume certain "off camera" events. However, there are a number of caveat's.

Here's a rule that is probably a bit unclear in the current draft, but it is an important one: If it is not established in a scene, it is still in flux. While We Were Fighting is just like a movie in that way. The director does not show up in between scenes to tell the audience what's going on off camera. Either an event is shown on screen, or it is not part of the story. I would probably frame a scene that has the dead body in it. In some cases, a messenger bearing bad news is not enough. :-)

Furthermore, you cannot kill or destroy another players assets (i.e. traits) without granting them a conflict of interest.

I hope this answers your scene framing questions. I'll get back to you regarding conflicts of interest.
Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
     —Grey's Law

Altaem

Just want to explore the possible options in PC placement.

QuoteIf the mistress' lover a PC? Place him there.
Is it within my power as scene framer to declare that both the other PC and mistress are asleep or completely preoccupied in love making?
If the other player has traits in security or bodyguard is there any way I can prevent them being involved in the scene?

QuoteOr perhaps your own character is watching from a balcony across the street
So I have the option to zoom the camera out, to include witnesses of the scene?  If I use this option it makes it rather hard for me to have an alibi of being on the other side of the city.

What if I include yet another PC as witness.  Of course I'm now really hoping they don't raise the alarm.  As a player this option quite appeals to me as it complicates the plot and enables more players to be involved.

Of course no matter what I declare any PC may spend a leverage point to be present, correct?
That makes secret assassinations really tricky.  (and a lot more fun)
"Damn! I should have turned invisible." - Stephen Moore aka Altaem
"...there are more watermelon-sized potholes nowadays than ever." - another Stephen Moore
"Passion Fruit: Alchemy of the Egg" - yet another Stephen Moore

Peter Nordstrand

Hi,

It may be a few days before I can get back to this thread. Please bear with me.

All the best,

/Peter
Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
     —Grey's Law

Peter Nordstrand

Hi Stephen,

Sorry for taking so long.

I think scenes should be created based mainly on whatever you believe would create an intreresting and enjoyable situation. That's not much of a rule, I'm afraid, but you cannot play this game in competition with your fellow players. You need to decide what's in your character's best interest, and then have the character act accordingly. All play should be governed by these two principles, I think: Player enjoyment through interesting in game situations and character best interest.

The crux is that it is up to you to decide what's in your character's best interest. You don't have to go into competitive machiavellian mode if you don't want to. Is your son's survival really worth more than your own personal success? You decide, and act accordingly.

To further complicate things the two principles aren't always compatible. Go with your gut, and make decisions based on what's been going on in the fiction. If your fellow players grunt with pleasure you are doing the right thing. Characters may compete (or not) but players cooperate.

Quote from: Altaem on November 22, 2008, 09:31:53 PMJust want to explore the possible options in PC placement.

Do whatever you want, but remember the following:

* Players haver exclusive control over their own characters' actions. You cannot place a fellow player's character in the arms of a prostitute at a brothel against his wishes. I have the right to say "my character would never do that", in which case we'll have to work something out together.

* You cannot avoid conflicts of interest just by judicious scene framing.

Quote from: Altaem on November 22, 2008, 09:31:53 PMIs it within my power as scene framer to declare that both the other PC and mistress are asleep or completely preoccupied in love making?.

Yes. But the player still gets to roll his dice in a conflict of interest.

Example:
My character is Federigo, yours is Donatello.

Peter (frames a scene): Donatello is asleep in his bed at home. Federigo is standing over him with his knife raised.

Stephen: Okay.

Peter: Federigo stabs Donatello in the heart.

Stephen: Oh, Donatello awakes in the last moment, screaming out to alert his guards, and quickly rolls out of the bed.

GM: Cool. Roll your dice.

Quote from: Altaem on November 22, 2008, 09:31:53 PMIf the other player has traits in security or bodyguard is there any way I can prevent them being involved in the scene?

If you frame a scene in someones residence, they will have access to whatever resources is available at that location, unless it has previously established in actual play that the guards aren't present for some reason. This is where my rant at the beginning of this post comes in. Do not attempt to defeat the other players. The system does not support PvP conflicts. It does support conflicts between characters but that is not the same thing!

More later...
Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
     —Grey's Law