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Author Topic: [Trollbabe] Switching the Social Range?  (Read 8113 times)
Sean
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« on: March 27, 2004, 05:45:31 AM »

In Actual Play, Ron wrote:

"1. The Social roll is now based on the lesser end of the number scale, not the greater. So Tha, with a number of 3, would have Fight 1-2, Magic 4-10, and Social 1-3, not 3-10."

This change worries me.

Players in Trollbabe don't always get to pick their conflict types. Sometimes they do, but sometimes the narrative forces one on them in one way or another.

Now "Extreme" Trollbabes are going to have two kinds of conflict they suck at, instead of just one. I already felt that the 5/6 Trollbabes had a definite 'safety' advantage over others in that with a 40-60% chance at any conflict type you were practically guaranteed to hit one of those three rolls. The lure of the extreme was that you could change 'practically' to 'nearly certainly' in two of the three categories - at the cost of having a conflict type you had a very real chance of missing three rolls in a row at.

In particular, my wife's character, a 4, nearly got killed in both 'fighting' conflicts she wound up in, and had to expend most of her rerolls on those two scenes. But most of the conflicts in that game were social, and if she had been bad at that too, I worry that the character would not have been viable.

Well, anyway, you see my issue. No doubt you've given this more thought than I and have an answer at the ready, but I thought I'd put the argument forward.
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Bob McNamee
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Posts: 685


« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2004, 08:12:59 AM »

The Social change is one I'm in favor of, myself.

Without it, there was not as much input into the game via Rerolls in my games. Without a doubt, everytime a Reroll was used it added to the game nicely, so any way of increasing these is good to me.

The problem with the old way for me is the great incentive to take extreme numbers. The new way taking an extreme number is its own reward...you are really good at what you are good at... and its risky the rest of the time. Taking a middle number means you are fairly good at everything, but not really great at any. Lots of Reroll potential, but nott too bad a risk of Losing the whole thing.

There was also the problem in the old method...that finding a way to add in Social to a conflict was an almost guaranteed no ReRoll win.

Remember a Player can always opt to stop at the initial Discommode Fail level for a conflict, and walk away relatively unscathed, just unsuccessful at their Goal for the conflict. Plus they can narrate how it went.

Nobody's forcing them to Reroll all the way to Death.

Your game sounded cool, by the way.
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Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!
Sean
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2004, 09:07:22 AM »

That's interesting, Bob.

See, I felt like there was already a huge disincentive to take an extreme number, at least in Magic. (You could get away with an extreme number in Fighting AFAICT.) Because then when you got jumped or had your back to the wall in a physical situation, you were pretty much screwed. I thought the high social made up for that.

My case for Fighting is weaker, but the character with high Fighting/low Magic loses a certain kind of narrative input into the game. So at the high-fighting, high-social end, your character was pretty 'safe', but not all that able to exert certain kinds of very valuable influence on the narrative.

The higher social for extreme characters was a makeup for these serious limitations into certain kinds of broad input into the game. Or that was how I read it. No doubt Ron has thought this all out more thorougly.

Maybe your point about being able to stop conflicts early is the answer - "nobody's forcing you to reroll all the way to death". Did I mention that my wife is a Taurus? This may be a feature of our play in particular...

Thanks for the kind words about my game, Bob. The Forge is an intimidating place to share ideas sometimes, at least for me, and positive feedback helps.
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Bob McNamee
Member

Posts: 685


« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2004, 09:43:21 AM »

The thing I like about the Social roll being the best roll method.

It really fits well when the main reward technique revolves around Relationships.

I've considered making up a character sheet where the dice rolling ranges are listed, but the labels for them are left blank. Each Player fills in the labels themselves, and then they are fixed for that character as the Number goes up or down.

For instance

Number (N)= _____

Ranges          Actual          Label
1 -> N-1    = 1 -> ___  = _______
N+1 -> 10 = ___->10  = _______
Lowest + N= ___->___=________

Example
Number (N)= _4__

Ranges          Actual          Label
1 -> N-1    = 1 ->  3  = Magic
N+1 -> 10 = 5 ->10  = Social
Lowest + N= 1 -> 4 = Fighting


Or for another game (Supers) is could be...
also with number 4

A Human Torch-type
Ranges          Actual          Label
1 -> N-1    = 1 ->  3  = Fighting
N+1 -> 10 = 5 ->10  = Superpowers
Lowest + N= 1 -> 4 = Social

or alternately

A Hulk-type
Ranges          Actual          Label
1 -> N-1    = 1 ->  3  = Social
N+1 -> 10 = 5 ->10  = Fighting
Lowest + N= 1 -> 4 = Superpowers

Under my method...once the labels are set they are fixed to that range as the number changes.

The disadvantage is that each character will be different from one another so it won't be immediately simple to remember by memory (for the GM) what range style they have .
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Bob McNamee
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2004, 03:41:52 PM »

Hey,

So far, all negative reactions about the Social roll rules change have come from people who haven't tried it, and all the people who've tried it have come back positive. And I'm much, much happier about my play-experiences using the new rules. So it's a clear winner for me.

Best,
Ron
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Bob McNamee
Member

Posts: 685


« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2004, 04:27:10 PM »

I like the new idea of it myself.

Social will never be the worst roll, and can sometimes be the best one.

And there's now a real reason to take mid-level Numbers.

Before, taking an extreme number gave you two conflict areas (Social and whatever) that were nearly assured of victories with low chances for ReRolls.

I'm looking forward to using the new method myself. The last game "Trollbabe-Demigods" we had started using the old rule... or I would have done it new-style.

Bob
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Bob McNamee
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rafial
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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2004, 10:57:15 PM »

Quote from: Sean

My case for Fighting is weaker, but the character with high Fighting/low Magic loses a certain kind of narrative input into the game. So at the high-fighting, high-social end, your character was pretty 'safe', but not all that able to exert certain kinds of very valuable influence on the narrative.


And here's the weird thing.  After you play Trollbabe for awhile, you suddenly start to realize that as a player, you often have the greatest influence over the narrative when your Trollbabe ... fails!

After all, as a player, YOU narrate failures.

And suddenly, the hypercompetency of Trollbabes under the current rule starts to seem awful limiting :)

I the Trollbabe campaign I ran, by the end of the cycle I heard way more anguished cries of "damn, I succeeded again" then I ever expected to hear in an RPG.

Quote

Maybe your point about being able to stop conflicts early is the answer - "nobody's forcing you to reroll all the way to death". Did I mention that my wife is a Taurus? This may be a feature of our play in particular...


So very very true.  I'm not sure it's peculiar to your wife either.  Anybody with a little bit of exposure to standard RPG mechanics is going to start by jumping to the conclusion that "failure == ouch" (Maybe even complete RPG virgins might assume "failure == ouch").  That's emphatically untrue in Trollbabe.  That first failure only means you haven't immediately affected the situation.  It's only when you insist on success that danger rears its head.

This is a sufficiently common problem with players new to Trollbabe (but not new to roleplaying-as-we-know-it) that it might deserve to be given a little exposure in the "how to play" text (hint hint :)

So I definitely land in the "new social rule good" camp.
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montag
Member

Posts: 172


« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2004, 07:24:31 AM »

Since Ron has made up his mind the discussion seems pointless, but I'd nonetheless like to add my 2c (assuming for the moment that there's a selection artefact going on, in that those unsatisfied with the old rules try the new one, and those happy with the old one don't) ;)
(1) The high social stat conveyed to me, that Trollbabes are, above all likeable. Certainly, there's differences in style, but even Tha seems immensely likeable to me, which is a nice change to the gloomy lone wolf types the setting might suggest. I think that perception will change, if the Trollbabe has to play to other strengths.
(2) and I like the fact that the high social stat brings home the point that this RPG is about people and relationships. Despite the lack of courtly intrigue as a major setting element and although the setting would suggest lone warriors and gloomy sorceresses in daily struggle for their lives, the fact that the social stat is highest emphasised to me that this RPG is still about people and about getting along.
(3) I'm worried, that the inevitable increase in failures (assuming one stops at discommoded more often) will make for darker and gloomier tales. I'm not keen on that.
(4) The archetypes at the endpoints and the middle seem less attractive now. In the middle there's always the jack of all trades, but the new endpoints are a Trollbabe with the strength and social graces of the Hulk and powerful sorceresses who don't get along with people either because they're too socially inept or due to excessive gloom. Even without considering the loss of overall effectiveness associated with choosing a high or low number under the new rules, the fact that the character would seem to resemble these two endpoints makes numbers outside the middle less attractive to me.

@rafial
If you don't stick to the narration rules exactly and interpret them as saying "Player/GM has final say" instead of focussing on the "describes/narrates" part, that pretty much becomes a non-issue.
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markus
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"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do."
--B. F. Skinner, Contingencies of Reinforcement (1969)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2004, 08:49:12 AM »

Hello,

I think people may be getting a wrong idea about the lowered Social roll. It has less to do with failing more often (although Rafial's point about failure in Trollbabe is valid) than with how rolls combine during multiple Action Type conflicts.

A little bit of Trollbabe experience leads players and GMs toward combining Action Types, legitimately. It makes a lot more mechanical sense for all of the dice in a single pool to be a bit more uncertain. Otherwise it's SOCIAL (plus a bit of fighting), for instance.

Markus (montag), I think that you might be equating a high number with "good at" in perhaps too literal a way. The trollbabes are all good at everything: magic, fighting, and socializing. When they fail, it's completely a matter of local authorship to decide whether it's due to their own competence not measuring up or to external/momentary circumstances.

Best,
Ron
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montag
Member

Posts: 172


« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2004, 09:37:36 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Markus (montag), I think that you might be equating a high number with "good at" in perhaps too literal a way. The trollbabes are all good at everything: magic, fighting, and socializing. When they fail, it's completely a matter of local authorship to decide whether it's due to their own competence not measuring up or to external/momentary circumstances.
I'm aware that you are correct and that this should be the impression I get. I simply don't. It is to a certain extent a gut issue. A certain amount of chance of failure, whether due to circumstances or incompetence to me simply means "not good at".
This probably stems from the simple fact that consistent poor performance in a certain area of endeavour is most likely the result of low ability, it all boils down to "where's the invariance across cases".
Kudos to anyone who can continue to believe in the high overall competence of their character in face of consistent low to moderate chances of success, I can't. And I guess the change in overall Trollbabe competence I perceive is another thing which rubs me the wrong way since I very much like to picture them as "all good at everything".
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markus
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"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do."
--B. F. Skinner, Contingencies of Reinforcement (1969)
rafial
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« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2004, 11:54:09 AM »

Quote from: montag
If you don't stick to the narration rules exactly and interpret them as saying "Player/GM has final say" instead of focussing on the "describes/narrates" part, that pretty much becomes a non-issue.


Not at all.  While its true that the actual task of description may float to whoever has inspiration (including other players and bystanders, in my experience), in a situation of success, the GM has power to constrain the outcome of the success to fit with her notions of where the story should be going, and the player has the power to expand the outcome of failure to fit his notions of where it should all be going.  This dynamic is a key element of what makes Trollbabe work, and can't just be swept aside.

Quote from: Ron

The trollbabes are all good at everything: magic, fighting, and socializing. When they fail, it's completely a matter of local authorship to decide whether it's due to their own competence not measuring up or to external/momentary circumstances.


I'm very excited to see you confirm my intuition about this exactly Ron.  In fact, I'd even go further and say that what the number does tell you is not competence, but choice.  A Trollbabe with a high fighting number chooses to make violence her first instinct in dealing with problems, and a Trollbabe with a high-magic number chooses to deal with things sorcerously when possible.

Quote from: montag

Kudos to anyone who can continue to believe in the high overall competence of their character in face of consistent low to moderate chances of success, I can't.


Here's the thing.  It's not the chance of success, it's the actual outcome.  In my Trollbabe campaign, the high-magic trollbabe pretty much avoided combat all the way through, until the final episode, when she was unavoidably faced with the biggest baddest alpha troll ever seen, crazed with rage and sorcerous influence.  Mechanically, her chance of success was a mere 10%.

She succeeded.

Is that because of fluke circumstance, or was she a bad ass all along, who simply preferred to choose other means to resolve her problems?  You tell the story.

Another conceptual angle:  Trollbabe dice rolls simulate nothing.  As written, the rules make it extraordinarily difficult to apply even a 1 point modifier to a die roll, regardless of circumstance, or perceived in game "quality of the opposition".  That is, a Trollbabe who declares a fighting conflict with an anemic guy with a stick has the same potential probabilities of outcome as one fighting the biggest baddest warrior in the village.

So given that, perceiving outcomes purely in terms of character competence becomes rather unconvincing.
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montag
Member

Posts: 172


« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2004, 12:27:00 PM »

Quote from: rafial
Not at all.  While its true that the actual task of description may float to whoever has inspiration (including other players and bystanders, in my experience), in a situation of success, the GM has power to constrain the outcome of the success to fit with her notions of where the story should be going, and the player has the power to expand the outcome of failure to fit his notions of where it should all be going.  This dynamic is a key element of what makes Trollbabe work, and can't just be swept aside.
The way I understood Sean's original reference to the extra options for narrative input magic gives you, that was referring to the fact that you "can make stuff up" with magic, which is a bit harder to do with fighting and social. You responded by saying that one gets to "make stuff up" when failing, to which I responded that this isn't necessaarily related to failing. At least that is my understanding of the discussion so far. I don't quite understand how the comment quoted above speaks to that issue, so I'd ask you to help me along there. FWIW I agree with the quoted stuff, though I would phrase it in less confrontational terms. ;)
Quote from: rafial
I'm very excited to see you confirm my intuition about this exactly Ron.  In fact, I'd even go further and say that what the number does tell you is not competence, but choice.  A Trollbabe with a high fighting number chooses to make violence her first instinct in dealing with problems, and a Trollbabe with a high-magic number chooses to deal with things sorcerously when possible.
A very interesting angle, which I liked a lot, .. until it occurred to me that ... well, there's probably a reason why the Trollbabe favours that approach. ;) Which brings me back to square one for the time being, but maybe I just need to think about it a little longer.
Quote from: rafial
Is that because of fluke circumstance, or was she a bad ass all along, who simply preferred to choose other means to resolve her problems? You tell the story.
In the short run that is of course no problem. But if I tell the story of her being a bad ass all along and future dice rolls don't reflect that, then ... well, maybe she wasn't such bad ass all along.
Quote
So given that, perceiving outcomes purely in terms of character competence becomes rather unconvincing.
Good then that no-one was. ;) I was talking about long term overall effectiveness in certain areas and saying that a lower chance of success (relative to other areas) and attributing resulting failures to circumstances often both make it hard at least for me to maintain the overall belief in the Trollbabes competence in that area. Your response in terms of individual outcomes and emphasis on an interpretation purely in terms of competence makes me think we're talking past each other. Maybe you or a third party could clarify?
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markus
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"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do."
--B. F. Skinner, Contingencies of Reinforcement (1969)
Bob McNamee
Member

Posts: 685


« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2004, 07:56:24 PM »

I look at the number as partly competance, but mostly reliability. Reliability in terms of achieving her expected Goal rather than reliability of her skills.
[edited in: I also consider the Number to some extent her overall orientation toward fighting and magic...but just loosely]

For instance,

Logarina, number 3, a wolf-oriented mystic-type with silverhair and short blue spike horns
Fighting 1-2 handheld
Social 1-3 scary
Magic 4-10 trollish

She confronts Baron Woltmir and a bodyguard in the stableyard of an Inn. He is responsible for enslaving villagers in his mines. The bodyguard draws a sword immediately... the GM declares a Fighting Conflict

Not her best area for sure...

OK... her Goal for the Conflict is to capture the Baron. GM explains Baron is mounting his horse to escape, and is known as a keen swordsman...the sounds of carrousing soldiers can be heard from within the Inn.

 GM declares  Exchange by exchange 2 conflict...player changes it to Entire Conflict...not wanting a long fight. Its all riding on one roll.

needs a 1-2 to win...
Rolls and Fails

Ok...lets say she accepts a Discommode and Fails at the Goal and narrates.

This gives a huge opportunity to influence play from this position. Really huge.

Nar possiblity #1
OK...if she's approaching narration with a task resolution mentality relating to her skill at Fighting.

She draws her long knife and tries to fight past the bodyguard to get to the Baron.
 She takes a shallow slice across the ribs as she is driven back out of the yard. The Baron and bodyguard ride off laughing.

Nar possibility #2
With an eye toward her fighting skill being fully competant... but more of a scene resolution mentality.

She draws her long knife and tries to fight past the bodyguard to get to the Baron.
   She deftly steps inside the bodyguards thrust redirecting his weapon with her hand as she buries her weapon in his heart. She only notices the slice in her palm after he crumples in a heap at her feet. Dealing with the guard has cost precious time, for the Baron's laughter echoes in her ears as he rides away in the darkness.

Nar possiblity #3
With the idea that her Fighting skill is competant but an unreliable way of acheiving her Goals.

She draws her long knife and tries to fight past the bodyguard to get to the Baron.
With a terrifying wolf howl she deflects the bodyguards blow and hammers him in the head with the hilt of her knife dropping him. She quickly crosses to the Baron before he can mount. She holds her knife to his throat and orders him to surrender. A bare second after... the fallen Bodyguards sword point is at her back. Instinctively she spins with her amazing reflexes and counters his threat, with just a shallow slice to her back.
 The Baron's body falls back in a shower of blood as his head is mostly severed by her action...

Nar possiblity #4
From the "Succeed, but.." school of narration

She draws her long knife and tries to fight past the bodyguard to get to the Baron.
She steps inside the thrust of the bodyguard...hammering him in the temple... dropping him unconscious.
 The Baron aborts mounting, and draws his sword, with a cruel sneer. His weaves a cunning set of cuts with his weapon. She manages to step inside his guard disarming him, and sweeping his legs out from under him.
"Surrender or die"-she says
"I would surrender"-says the Baron as he spits in her eyes, burning them with tobacco juice

 "But it would look bad to my men"

When she wipes her eyes, she can she that the fight has attracted the attention of many of the Baron's drunken soldiers from inside the Inn. She holds the Baron between her and most of the drawn bows.

"I suggest you let me go ... I'll even give you a moment's head start running ....", gloats the Baron.

---

There's as many more ways this could go as there are folks to imagine it... obviously the story will go very different ways depending on what gets narrated.

Hope this is useful or at least interesting, [edited twice for annoying typos]
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Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!
montag
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Posts: 172


« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2004, 08:14:12 PM »

Quote from: Bob
Hope this is useful or at least interesting
Both, thanks a bundle! [nitpick]though I'm missing the GM's input from fair and clear stage [/nitpick] ;)
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markus
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"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do."
--B. F. Skinner, Contingencies of Reinforcement (1969)
Bob McNamee
Member

Posts: 685


« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2004, 08:28:26 PM »

GM left Fair and Clear rough with just
Quote
GM explains Baron is mounting his horse to escape, and is known as a keen swordsman...the sounds of carrousing soldiers can be heard from within the Inn.


We've had some "fair and clear" with things like... "This guy is planning an overthrow of the kingdom" or  things like this...

[22:48] Every time you say that (fair and clear) it makes me want to jump out of my hiding place and run for "base."
[22:48] <C_Edwards> haha
[22:49] OK You've surprised a group of bounty hunter/ assassin types...they are hunting an escaping mage spy who is ahead
[22:50] Powerfull dude, to build that wall.
[22:50] the three you can't see are encircling you...the mage seems to be concentraining on his crystal scry stone and on the Wall
[22:51] OK
[22:51] Time to roll, then?
[22:51] Leader is firing his crossbow at you
[22:51] what do you plan to do?
[22:51] Defeat them without killing them
[22:51] At least, Arica intends that.
[22:51] specifically
[22:51] Uh . . . I dunno.
[22:52] who first etc..
[22:52] Do I *really* have to get out my tactical maps? :)
[22:52] <C_Edwards> its exchange by exchange.
[22:52] (Chris, yeah, but so far we've been stating goals, rolling, and deciding actuall events afterwards.)
[22:53] So, I guess she wants to dodge the crossbow...
[22:53] <C_Edwards> because it was conflict, one roll.
[22:53] And go for the tracker first.

In the end she deflected the crossbow bolt in midair with her sword into the tracker that was circling around to ambush her.

enjoy,
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Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!
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