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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 76 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Unsung SWAT: KABOOM (aka session 2)  (Read 18574 times)
Dana_mun
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« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2003, 11:21:57 AM »

I wasn't really paying attention to that last session. but this one i'll keep it in mind. if i do see it, i'll let you guys know.

EDIT: no session for wednesday, sept 17th -  hurricane chased loki out.
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Lxndr
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« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2003, 04:33:11 PM »

I'm not entirely sure that "the reward system only rewards the downward trend."

The reward system is entirely "hey, put the spotlight on other people, and you'll get a bonus."  That's what it is rewarding, it seems to me.  It seems entirely indifferent on whether or not the character goes up or down.

That being said, the Gifts do seem to make a person choose, "do I mosey on down the spiral?  or do I forego improving other parts of myself?"

Perhaps... the following, as a replacement for my initial suggestion.  I don't know why I'm suggesting this entirely, only that it occurred to me after reading Mike's commentary, and feels like it could be appropriate:

* Whenever a Responsibility check succeeds, for whatever reason, you get a Gift Point.

I'm not sure why I'm suggesting this, like I said, but I think it has something to do with attempting to encourage stability, at the very least.

If you use this in conjunction with the automatic success rules, you can revise your Gift Point Cost Table thusly:

* One Gift Point can be spent to cause any other character to make a Responsibility check yadda yadda
* One Gift Point can be spent to re-roll ANY roll, after that roll is made, either for your own character or another.
* Two Gift Points can be spent to automatically succeed on any roll, either before or after the roll is made.  Once again, either for yourself, or another character.
* One Gift Point can be spent to replace a current descriptor on any Trait(assuming the players vote along with it).  An additional GP can be spent to trump the vote.
* Two Gift Points can be spent to add a new descriptor to any Trait (assuming the players vote along with it).  An additional GP can be spent to trump the vote.
* Three Gift Points can be spent to raise or lower any Trait by one point.

Then, if you use 2 Gift Points to auto-succeed a Lapse, you get a Gift Point back, thus netting you a 1 Gift Point loss (equal to your old system).  For an untested, just-spat-out-of-my-skull idea, I think it might add something to your game.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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suffusionofyellow
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Posts: 18


« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2003, 11:51:28 PM »

Bah, posting this for the second time, because the Laptop I'm using has buttons badly placed, such that I often press the back key when not meaning to. Anyway, I've had something of a turnaround about the Lapse system. At first I didn't like the Lapse system because it gave other people control over your character, although I've been glad to see for the most part that people have not abused this, and have done what it is intended to do. id est that the character will act on their most basic instincts, even if it is not the optimal situation. My favorite example of this would be Alica shooting the perp in the head, because deep down, it's what she wanted to do.

In this last game, I accepted gifts, but stopped the roll for a Lapse in order to prevent Frix from losing responsibility at the end of the session. I pretty much just realized that I had been going about this the wrong way. I should instead be using the GP to succeed in the responsibility check at the end of the session, and have him Lapse away in the meantime. Fits the character much better IMHO. Towards this end, I agree with Kirt that by having the responsibility check at the end, you are actually slowing down the downward cycle. In fact, I also think that the Story Point can be effectively removed, with an expensive GP  cost instead, as Lxndr suggests. I would go so far to support this that if Kirt allows us to use the story point we got last session, I will use it for something besides responsibility. Frix is supposed to stay on the edge, not really going either way.

In terms of character advancement, I agree with Mike that this seems to be a short story arc game. This game focuses on a time of extreme Crisis, otherwise its not interesting. But at some point, Frix either pulls out of his funk or gets sacked. If people are interested in continuing a certain campaign, they could create new characters, with the setting slightly after the last one session ended, and focusing on another aspect of the world, with the current PCs becoming very distant NPCs.

Frex, Frix(sorry had to) does get sacked, and the other players feel after another few sessions that they've taken it as far as they can, but want to keep playing the SWAT aspect of it. The players could then take on the guise of an underworld syndicate that is being busted open by SWAT, albiet a different team than the one the players were on. Thus the gangster Willie Wack'em has heard of the team lead by Lt. Guerrera, but feels relieved that he is facing another one. I'm afraid I might be rambling, so I'll stop for now.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2003, 09:23:32 AM »

I thought that you had to make a responsibility roll for each Lapse at the end of the session?

The downward spiral is in that, all Gifts cause Lapse checks, AFAICT. All actual Lapses cause a check to see if Responsiblility goes down. So the Gift mechanic seems to cause the downward force in the game. With only player willingness as a force to cause upward gains.

Am I confused on how something works?

Josh, didn't you have another name on the Forge previously? If not, and this is really your first post, welcome aboard. :-)

Mike
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Lxndr
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« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2003, 10:03:06 AM »

You make one Responsibility roll at the end of each session, no matter how many Lapses you wound up having during that session.  At least, that's how it's been played so far.  If I remember right, your character Ricky had two lapses last session:

1.  The one that ended with him dropping the locator device squarely between Frix and Guerrera

and

2.  The one that ended with him running out of the building instead of disarming the bomb.

And you had to check against your Responsibility once, despite having Lapsed twice.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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suffusionofyellow
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« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2003, 10:19:18 AM »

Mike, I most certainly did have another name on the Forge, but for the life of me, I can't remember what it is.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #21 on: September 18, 2003, 11:21:50 AM »

Lxndr, I'm not sure about the accounting, but you're right about the rule, looking at the text. Interestingly, if the character does something heinous the GM can call for a roll at any time. I guess I'm just calling for this to be simplified to one roll for each Lapse, each of which are, after all, bad things.

It's also interesting to note that there's a rule that says that a player is allowed to have the character fail a Responsibility roll at any time. That says that there's no incentive to go downward so it's not prevented if the player wants to do so. But you aren't allowed to ascend so easily. So the mechanics are saying that this is the player challenge, to be the advocate. Again, mixed signals when compared to the CA that Kirt's saying he wants.

Feels odd talking about someone when they're about to be in a hurricane and can't respond...

Mike
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xiombarg
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« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2003, 07:22:36 AM »

I'm back! Stayed out of the rain, and my house is still around after the hurricane -- all good things.

Mike, I think you're hung up on Gift Points as the only reward in this game. I thought about this a lot while riding away from the hurricane and this is the deal: If you want to author the downward spiral, you are rewarded with attention. That character is going to have a lot of Lapse checks and a lot of spotlight time. This, to me, is reward enough. It is an assumption of the game that getting attention for one's character is a fun reward into itself.

Now, as I said, you CAN Gift yourself -- but you don't get a point for that, because you're already rewarded with attention.

Also, your concern about this seems to speak to something I think you're not getting about why the Gift mechanic is the way it is. Your perspective seems to be "I'm not properly rewarded for engineering, as an author, the downward spiral."

When what's really going on is you're not being rewarded for ignoring your co-authors -- the other players. That is, instead of asking "How can I engineer my downward spiral?" the question should be: "How can WE engineer my downward spiral?"

That is, instead of trying to author the spiral yourself through Gifts, the current mechanic is supposed to make you turn to the other players and be honest with your agenda: "Guys, I want to see this character take a fall, big-time. So I'm going to need the Gifts from you all in order to do it."

As this plays out, you and your character are rewarded with spotlight time and attention. The other players get Gift Points for paying attention to something other than their own character.

Does this make sense? Or have I mis-characterized your concern?
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2003, 12:07:21 PM »

Mis-characterized.

Let me ask you this. Why do the other players decide on what makes for an appropriate Lapse? Why doesn't the player do it himself?

It seems to me that the notion is that the player can't be trusted to narrate his own character's failure properly. Which says that, again, the player is an advocate for the character's morality. How am I supposed to see that?

Mike
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xiombarg
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« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2003, 01:03:14 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Mis-characterized.
My apologies. I guess I'm just having a tough time wrapping my brain around it.

Quote
Let me ask you this. Why do the other players decide on what makes for an appropriate Lapse? Why doesn't the player do it himself?
Actually, the player does decide. This is the other reason for the player veto -- to weed out the inappropriate.

I'll note in actual play that me, as GM, decided what situations were Lapse-worthy and which weren't... Did you consider that to be a lack of trust in your ability to understand the situation with regard to your character?

Wait... Are you talking about Lapse-worthy situations or the Lapses themselves? *re-reads last paragraph*

Okay, the Lapses themselves. Moving on, then...

Quote
It seems to me that the notion is that the player can't be trusted to narrate his own character's failure properly. Which says that, again, the player is an advocate for the character's morality. How am I supposed to see that?
Hmmm, interesting point.

The main reason that the player loses control is not because they can't be trusted to narrate the failure (though that might be true in some cases), but so that it's possible for one's own character to surprise oneself.

Part of the idea that the character only does what its player tells it to do that's been discussed elsewhere, for me, is the idea it's difficult to be surprised at how one's own character reacts, except insomuch as one can surprise oneself in the first place.

The idea here is that when voting on the Lapse, the other players have a chance of creating a situation -- an aspect of character -- that the original designer of the character didn't think of, and then running with that.

Also, I think part of my reasoning was a concern about "falling back into bad habits". That is, most groups are very used to one player having absolute power over the character, to a point that I was afraid, when writing the game, that if the player is too empowered during a Lapse, his wishes will, socially, weigh more than they should, and the sense of co-authorship will be lost.

So, I can see why you view that part of the Lapse mechanic the way you do, and I might have even designed it with the motivations you describe during its life as part of the original Rise Again, but I kept the mechanic the way it is for the reasons I've mentioned so far.

Now, let me re-state my goals... I appreciate your help in getting me to articulate them.

1. I wanted to set things up so that the story of a characters rise or fall was reasonably slow, whichever direction they went, and that going up was hard.

2. I also wanted to have a strong feeling of co-authorship, where everyone takes an active interest in everyone else's characters.

3. I wanted to highlight the importance of morally ambiguous situations, no matter how they turned out.

4. I wanted to encourage players to be an avocate for their character's morality, without requiring it.

Now, the current mechanics I think reflect these goals, combined with the assumption that attention to one's character -- even if you're not controlling it at the time -- is good, and that the occasional surpise is good as well.

Now, if you think I'm working counter to my goals, I'm all ears, especially if you have suggestions for corrections. I mean, would just allowing the player a vote in the Lapse be enough to correct the problem?

Ideally, if people agree this is a serious problem, I want a simple fix, like "The Horror Revealed" in My Life With Master.
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2003, 01:39:00 PM »

Just seems problematic in delivery. Can't say exactly why at the moment. Note all the OOC catcalls about, "I'm so gonna get your character for that Gift!". Isn't that the players thinking that they're adversaries? Good naturedly, to be sure, but then that's the essence of all good competition. I think it's precisely the encouragement in #4 that leads to this. Even Josh playing the bad-guy character kept talking about how he had to give out Gifts in order to keep his character's head above water. Refering to not spiraling down to a 1 in Responsibility. Well, why worry about it? It's that encouragement, which comes in the form of the other players being set up as foils. It's like, if they're there to do bad things to my character, I must be here to do good things.

There probably is a simple "Horror Revealed" level solution, but I can't think of it at the moment.

Mike
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xiombarg
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« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2003, 10:13:28 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Just seems problematic in delivery. Can't say exactly why at the moment. Note all the OOC catcalls about, "I'm so gonna get your character for that Gift!". Isn't that the players thinking that they're adversaries? Good naturedly, to be sure, but then that's the essence of all good competition. I think it's precisely the encouragement in #4 that leads to this.
Are you sure that's the system and not the players? I notice that what you refer to happens largely between Alexander and Josh, whose characters are at odds, and I think there may be some friendly OOC bleedover there. Josh or Alexander, do you care to comment on this? Is the system making you adversarial, or is it just being used to support a friendly, already-existing adversarial situation? (Not that I have any problem with a Josh/Alexander OOC/IC at-odds thing, so long as it's friendly OOC.)

I'll also note that my face-to-face playtest group didn't have that attitude about Gifts at all. It wasn't adversarial, it was "wouldn't it be cool if THIS happened". Heck, it's called a "Gift" because it's not supposed to be adversarial.

This may harken to an odd GNS issue that may be unique to me: I enjoy all three modes, and I enjoy variety, so it doesn't bug me -- and I don't notice -- if things Drift all over the place. We may have Drifted in a Gamist way, while the face-to-face group, by inclination, stayed largely Nar/Sim.

Quote
Even Josh playing the bad-guy character kept talking about how he had to give out Gifts in order to keep his character's head above water. Refering to not spiraling down to a 1 in Responsibility. Well, why worry about it?
I think that the reason Josh worries about Gifts is not because of the adversarial system, but because Josh wasn't aiming for a villian -- he wanted the character to climb back from the abyss. So, he's not embracing the downward spiral at all. Josh, do you have any comments on this? What was your intent with Frix?

Quote
It's that encouragement, which comes in the form of the other players being set up as foils. It's like, if they're there to do bad things to my character, I must be here to do good things.
I can sort of see this. Since I want to lightly encourage people to "do good", this isn't that much of a problem to me. What do other people think?

On the other hand, I see a lot of rewards for people who want to do "bad", as least occasionally. High Instinct can give you a bonus on Guts rolls, plus there is the Rule of Sacrifice, plus there's the attention you get. So I still think the "dark path" is viable.

Quote
There probably is a simple "Horror Revealed" level solution, but I can't think of it at the moment.
Yeah, this is why I posted about this on Indie Design, but no one has bitten yet. I was kinda hoping for a neutral opinion. (I'm wondering if that's due to disinterest or noise from the Indie Design forum's sheer volume...)
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
Lxndr
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« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2003, 10:50:03 AM »

I honestly didn't notice much of an adversarial thing between Josh and myself at all.  Any comments of "I'm gonna get you" were, at least on my end, made in jest if I made them at all (I'm not saying I didn't, I just honestly don't remember).  I had FUN with the Gifts, and while I was looking for places to give them, I wasn't doing so adversarially, or looking for anyone in particular to single out.  I was just happy to give them (and to get the points, which are dang nifty things).

Heck, I think I gave more Gifts to Ricky last session than anyone else.  Our new player really added a new dynamic to Gift-giving that made them more common overall, though that might have also been the rest of us getting more used to the mechanic.  I know there were exponentially more Gifts in the 2nd session than the first.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2003, 11:10:39 AM »

Actually I was thinking of Dana.

It's precisely that this game doesn't have a single idea behind how to play that's problematic. Not that I think that there should be only one option. Not that I think that players should, or should not be adversarial particularly. Just that the rules as written and played don't seem to me to convey to players just what play is about in a coherent sense. And that's why I kept pointing out that Dana was having trouble with exactly this all game long.

Alex and Josh have played together, and all three of us have the Indie Netgaming vibe to fall back on. So we're not really good judges. It's the fact that Dana (sorry you had to be the guinnea pig) didn't see things how we did, IMO, that was the problem.

Alex, if there's no incoherence between the elements, then I propose that your "good natured" chiding such as it was, wouldn't have been humorous. It's like when you play D&D and you say, "I'm going to kill the baby kobolds because they aren't worth any EXP alive." It specifically points out the game's incoherent nature or your drift from it's priorities.

All this said, perhaps I'm just hypersensitive to these things and there's no real problem. But if there is a problem its that the rules seem to have multiple thrusts in effect, which has the potential to be confusing to players, IMO. How to fix it, if there is a problem, is much more difficult.

Kirt, I find it troublesome that it seems that your goals were constructed after the design was partly done. I think that this might be the source of the problem (should it exist).

Mike
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xiombarg
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« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2003, 11:13:07 AM »

Well, that's important to know, Alexander -- it sounds like you're not seeing this adversarial situation at all. I have to admit, not to pile on Mike, that I didn't see it, either, tho I can see how Mike might have felt that way.

(BTW, check out the thread in Indie Design -- Ben made an interesting suggestion.)
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
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