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question: when the GM narrates in The Pool

Started by Paul Czege, September 18, 2001, 08:12:00 PM

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Jeffrey Straszheim

On 2001-09-19 15:43, Mike Holmes wrote:

I think that you're interperetation is correct from a rigorous sense, Ron, but that does seem unsatisfying, then. Essentially, in exchange for an extra die, then, I am left to the GMs devices for purposes of protagonism. Sure, I'm supposed to succeed, but I don't get to state the success as I'd like to. Seems like a crummy trade; there's no cost or justice.

I can say this, it worked well when my wife and I played.  I explained it this way, "If you succeed and take your MoV, you get to say exactly what happened.  If you take the bonus die instead, I get to say exactly what happened.  In either event you've succeeded."  She seemed to get the difference, and it worked well.  The power she'd recieve to dictate the level of success, as well as details, was enough to make the MoV attractive.  This being said, however, I did find myself being rather conservative regarding the level of success when the bonus die was taken, but I don't think I need a hard-and-fast rule.
Jeffrey Straszheim

Ron Edwards


My suggestion is that in much of traditional play, the player NEVER gets to direct what happens or even narrate it. According to the mind-set implicit in many RPGs' texts, as well as explicit in the words and actions of many GMs and players I've known, ONLY the GM ever gets to say what happens. Players are responsible only for the intended, attempted actions of the characters; all perception, choreography, world/time/space, and ultimately all interpretation of outcomes, belong to the GM alone.

The Pool sets up a management system for sharing this power across the group. The Framework does too, in a fascinating mirror of The Pool (I really want to play these two back to back). A lot of the designs we're seeing lately are about passing "the conch" (in Lord of the Flies terms) back and forth in a fun and effective fashion, with perhaps InSpectres and Elfs as the door-openers.



A quick comment...

Some have suggested that I somehow got the best of both worlds by allowing Paul to narrate my MoV.  Others have assessed the situation as being merely a description of Grazel's intent meeting with success (although a colorful and protagonizing description, I might add).  I fall in line with this latter interpretation.

Sure, Grazel killed Korg.  His stated action was succssful.  That's not a MoV, though.  Had I actually taken the MoV, I would have pushed my directorial power much further than just rendering Korg's death scene in colorful detail, as I believe I am entitled to when playing The Pool.

But as was correctly pointed out earlier, I wasn't even eligible for a MoV.  And I needed the damned die pretty badly anyway.

Take care,

James V. West

Ron's going to ban me from The Forge if I can't learn to post correctly! I posted this to the wrong discussion, so here it is in the correct place (this is what I get for reading three threads at once):

Let me clarify my own view on this.

"Players are responsible only for the intended, attempted actions of the characters; all perception, choreography, world/time/space, and ultimately all interpretation of outcomes, belong to the GM alone."

That's what I mean by "traditional". When the player does not take a MoV, the game reverts to traditional play. The GM describes what happens, the player responds.

"It may not have been clear, but the original question wasn't at all about the GM getting an MoV. It was whether the GM, in those situations when the player turns down the MoV, should be trying to narrate something as dramatic and protagonizing as an MoV on behalf of the character as the player would have done if he hadn't turned it down."

Again, this is group style. For me, if the player turns down an MoV then I play it by ear, most often giving them a standar, basic success. Nothing too fancy. The rules don't dictate how to do this, and I don't want them to.

"I'll defer to James V., of course, but my understanding of the textual, canonical Pool is that success at the dice roll results in success at the activity. The MoV is an add-on."

Exactly. I'm starting to think of the MoV as a "critical hit" without the need to roll a 20. I mean, if you roll a success, you succeed. If you take a MoV instead of a die, you succeed *and* you get to describe it...but more than that, as Moose says:

"Sure, Grazel killed Korg. His stated action was succssful. That's not a MoV, though. Had I actually taken the MoV, I would have pushed my directorial power much further than just rendering Korg's death scene in colorful detail, as I believe I am entitled to when playing The Pool."

The MoV lets you actually alter the game with the coveted directorial control if offers. This is the concept that I have a hard time getting some people to understand (not on The Forge, of course--I think everyone here is well-versed in the concept of director stance). "You mean I get to describe how I cut off his head?" "Yeah, but you can *push*
it..." "Um...I cut off his head...and..spit on it?". "Well, sure, but try this: I cut off his head and it rolls down the stairs onto the inn floor. This attracts the attention of a certain patron--a local fighting school instructor. He's going to keep his eye on me from now on because he sees my potential."

"Instead I'd suggest to James that he clarify this in a different light, and say that the GM's responsibility in this case is to specifically create a sort of interim success from the roll that builds suspense or drama, and that then allows for the player to either fail (in which case this is the danger of the trade-off) or to get his MoV. In this way, the trade becomes a further gamble which is more in line with the game goal as I see it."

I still see this as a matter of style. The fact is, a successful roll means the character was successful in what he was rolling for. Period. What that action was, and the extent of it, is really up to the GM. Moose says "I kill Korg". Paul goes with it. If He had wanted something more specific, he would have asked Moose exactly what he was trying to do. "I aim for his neck". In that case, a successful roll could have meant he *hit* Korg's neck, but, since there was no MoV, Paul decides it only wounded him. Korg is angry and bleeding. The action continues.

Matters of taste and style.

"however, you thrust your legs forward and propel him back across the pool."

Talk about taking the name of the game literally!  

I hope I didn't miss any of the major points. Thank you all so much for playing (or at least reading) the game. It means everything to have this kind of critical feedback. I take every suggestion, every idea, and every gripe to heart.

James V. West

P.S. In the new revision of The Pool, was naming the die rolls (Action and Trait rolls) a good move, or just added baggage? I felt I needed to clarify things a bit. I already see where I may have confused things more.

Tim C Koppang

For James...

Question: Why did you alter the rules so that a player only gets a MOV when gambling dice?--or am I misreading?  I think the root of my confusion lies in the division of roll types.  In other words, wouldn't you want to give the player access to the MOV as much as possible?  For me, that's the mechanic I enjoy the most from The Pool.

- Tim C K

[ This Message was edited by: fleetingGlow on 2001-09-21 17:36 ]

James V. West

The Monologue of Victory is indeed at the core of The Pool. But in order to get it, you have to take a chance. Gambling dice is the only way to do it. A non-gambled roll means you are risking nothing of your effectivness. If you win such a roll, you do get to add a die to your Pool, but no MoV. Gamble one die minimum and win, and you can get an MoV instead of a die.

This is really the way it was supposed to work from the beginning, but my former versions of the game were even more flawed than the recent one.

No gamble, no MoV. Another reason for this is that if you could get a MoV with no dice to gamble, that takes away from the value of those dice. They *mean* something in the game. They're not just points you can later spend on attributes. They are little bits of influence and power you can use at your will and the fact they are your only link to getting director power means they are that much more precious.


James V. West