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[MV's Rogue] Hello and Matching Rules to Play Goals

Started by Matthew V, September 06, 2009, 03:46:54 AM

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Matthew V

Hi Simon

Thanks for the (further) explanation and recommendations.

I thought about using damage for all resolutions, and also about not using damage at all. I didn't go with using damage for all resolution primarilly because I chickened out. After our conversation here though, I'm going to have to give it some more thought. Keeping the "damage roll" in all the mechanics would give the whole system an element of unity. Also, one of my favorite mechanics would see more play if I did this.

The mechanic is called "Tempting Fate." It allows you to gamble on multiple rerolls for better results with higher catastrophic failure odds each time. I really like the idea of using "damage" for resolution, since Tempting brought a "balls out" mode of narration and gaming to the playtests. Its also a great feeling when a player looks up from a "bad" roll, a roll that the players know will land the whole mob of rogues in prison - or worse - and declares "I Tempt Fate." It never fails to get a round of cheers from the group, who rather like to see enormous chances taken anyway. And the way people lean over those dice - there's something psychological going on there that, for a game about scoundrels and thieves, just seems to fit. Hmmm ... yeah, damage needs to be used more than just for combat. It's not a huge tweak, but I think it'll bring even more life to playtests, and the game. Methinks its time for some revisions before the weekend's playtest ...

And what a coincidence! I just ordered DitV in print yesterday. I've read/ heard great things about it and I'm really looking forward to my copy.

Simon C

Oh man, if you're anything like me, Dogs will blow your mind.  There's so much good design there.

"Tempting Fate" sounds like a fun mechanic.  Let's talk about that after your next playtest.

You might enjoy reading this bunch of posts by Vincent Baker, some of which address some of the points you mention:

Matthew V

We had a fantastic playtest on Sunday with 6 people, and the revisions/ clarifications of skills were a big help with skills. I do, however, have another question regarding skills.

We want a system that employs a narrative "engine" that lets players make up skills as they go along. We've been playing with the second (the engine), and it works fine, but it tends to bog down play if there's any serious debate over a skill's initial limits. E.g. Does the newly created "Gunslinger" skill allow a rogue to use all guns, or merely handguns? After the skill is finished, we can always roll to see if the character is experienced enough in the skill to use it a particular way, but during initial "on the fly" creation this can be a bit tricky. Right now players define four points on each skill: a resistance that opposes it, an ability that supports it, the tools it requires, and what it does in play (the narrative bit - essentially a small description, e.g. "Gunslinger lets me use any pistol I pick up."). The first three are easy, but the last one seems to throw open the doors to debate - not necessarily bad, but I'd prefer to keep any metagame debating as controlled as possible.

Again, it's just that first creative moment that causes the bog down - once a skill is made, everyone has no problem working with it. Any advice on how to make this smoother, or know of any games that do?

(Haven't gotten my copy of DitV yet, so if that handles this somehow, I don't know about it).


Simon C

Hi Matthew,

Glad to hear the playtesting is going well!

Dogs uses freefomy "traits" that can be almost anything.  The rulebook tells you that it's up to the judgements of "the most discriminating player at the table" as to whether a trait can be applied to a given conflict.

That judgement is applied moment-to-moment, rather than at a single time when the trait is created, however. 

There are a few different things you could try.  For example, you could leave your skills pretty broadly defined, and then let the players (or a single player) judge whether the particular skill is appropriate each time the player wants to use it.  That has the potential to lead to more debates, with the upside that each debate has significantly lower stakes.

Another approach could be to designate one player who has the final authority to judge whether a skill's description is admissable or not.  This seems to fit with some of your other rules.  As long as the game gives good guidelines, and there aren't conflicts of interest, this shouldn't be a problem.

You could allow for some kind of scope/power tradeoff, like the player chooses either the scope of their skill (what they can do with it) or the skill's power (how effective it is), and then another player chooses the opposite.  So I say "I want my gunslinger skill to cover all guns" and the other person says "that'll be a medium power skill" or, you say "I want a gunslinger skill at strong power" and the other person says "at strong power, it would have to be restricted to just one type of gun".  And then there's scope for negotiating back and forth, but at least the argument is contained.

Matthew V

Simon -

Thanks, that helps me clarify what's been happening at the table a lot. I think this will require another playtest since one of the secondary problems is that last test, players were adjusting to the new roll to see if you can use a skill in a particular area, which added debate where there might not otherwise be any.

And I'm even more excited to peruse Dogs now! Sadly the mail came today, and it was a no show. We'll play again this Sunday, and I'll post again.

Oh, and if anyone wants to keep up with playtesting as it goes along, or get involved, we'll be posting playtesting reports from the core testing groups at the group website, here: Also, when we get to the "open playtest" stage, this'll be the site where we post it.

Simon C


Sounds good.  Let me know when you've got a viable draft of the game together, and I'd be happy to read over it for you.  Your play reports are good - focusing on the interactions of the players with the rules, rather than the fiction of the game, is an excellent way to make readable reports of play, and they're far more useful from the perspective of someone trying to understand how the rules are developing.

I'd be interested in talking about the "narrative authority" questions you talked about on your site, especially if you have any particular questions.

One more thing: don't hesitate to start a new thread about your game whenever you need one.  Long threads that cover multiple issues get a bit hard to follow.