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Author Topic: Pseudo-TROS SA's in D&D  (Read 2329 times)
greyorm
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« on: April 16, 2004, 09:53:57 AM »

I wasn't sure where to put this one, but I figured since this involves a real, actual game, in real, actual play, as well as the actual discussion of our group, I'd slap this puppy in here. I'll also be including much of the conversation of our group as an example of how a working group interacts (as Ron recently suggested was some of the best sort of stuff for Actual Play), and how all the choices were decided and went down.

Here's the dealy-o, exactly as I brought it up to the group:
Quote
I've been thinking about how to deal with XP, given that most of the time you aren't fighting monsters and gathering treasure during games. So, XP awards are difficult to figure out. I've been looking over TROS (the Riddle of Steel) lately, and "XP" as such in that game is handed out according to the pursuit of a character's, well, "goals" -- that is, any time they act in a manner that highlights their passions, conscience, or beliefs, they gain "XP." I've been thinking that might be more easily dealt with given the sort of game we're running, that would really work better than the standard awards based on "overcoming obstacles." The only thing is that you'd have to come up with those sorts of items for your characters.

The players responded very openly to this, with virtually nodded heads and exclamations of support. One of the players even mentioned that she had started an e-mail about this exact idea! So we hased out SAs right there that night instead of playing, and once we'd gotten everyone's ideas down, everyone agreed that it was worth it, despite our not playing because of the discussion.

There were some questions, however, that I have about SAs, which may be answered in the main TROS book, but being that I do not yet own it, I'm left wondering about. For example, Conscience, Belief and Passion, as I recall, are the three types of SA you can have. I'm not really clear what each of those entail, however, and their differences.

My specific statement was:
Quote
They can be [a goal or goals that they are striving for]. Or they can be beliefs, codified behaviors, and emotional attachments. And of course, these aren't "permanent fixtures"...they could change between sessions.

However, I wasn't sure if "goals" counted? ("Get the treasure" or "kill the prince" or "escape the evil horde.") The more I think about it, the more I think "no" because goals entail achieving an endpoint, rather than the reasons you want to get there (and the fuel that helps you do it). I may be off on that, however.

Mostly, the characters seem to have Passions, though one of them clearly has at least one Conscience SA and one Belief SA as well (see below). But I'm having trouble categorizing them. To use the elf as an example: as I see it, his unspoken love of another character would be a "Passion" (Passion: Loves the Human Warrior Woman).

I did wonder if categorization would even matter, really, but eventually decided that for purposes of clarity and usefulness to myself in handing out XP awards, as well as making their functionality and "idea" apparent between players, categorization was important. The more clear something is, the better I'll be able to say "Yes, that action was definitely in line with _SA_, and you recieve XP for it."

Anyone have examples of various SAs they've had in their games?
Does anyone else have any suggestions about how to create them/use them?

Now, in our specific case, since D&D doesn't have SA dice, the SAs (XP Attributes?) will be used to judge the gain of XP. That is, whenever a character's actions highlight or reinforce one of their SAs, they'll recieve XP.

For example, since one of the characters is deeply and secretly in love with another, everytime the character acts to protect her, support her, or be with her based on that love, he'll gain XP. As will keeping the secret through denial and making the behavior look like something else.

I haven't thought through "trading in SAs for XP" yet, such as if the character reveals his secret love at some point, but that's not really the point. The point of these is more focused play for both the players and myself, and mostly a better way to provide XP to the characters for our game, given our play style. Though if anyone has any ideas of how to handle that, or other ways to use them, feel free to speak up.

Now, specifically about the SAs we chose, I suggested three per character was probably good, and we actually ended up with four per character. Something we all liked is that for most of them, there were SAs which were not complimentary, and in fact exclusionary of one another, creating a dynamism with the character.

The elf's player described his character's SAs as:
Quote
1...be accepted by whichever peoples (humans, elves, etc) he associates with
2...he "loves" [the warrior-woman] (even though one would *never* get him to admit it at this point... he doesn't even exactly realize it per se)
3...and this one is even more subconcious than his love for [the warrior woman]... become so 'notorious' or equivalent, that he is *sought* by the grue of the Misty Vale to return and live among them again

1 is complicated by the fact that he does not think much of humans for the most part (except for females in general, and [the warrior-woman] in particular). Do those sound acceptable?

I said those sounded good to me, and said that I'd word them as:
...Earn Social Acceptance
...Secretly Loves [the warrior-woman]
...Despises Human Males
...Earn the Vale's Forgiveness

Actually, I had trouble with the fourth one, and we talked about it some before settling on the above:
Quote
Me: The other, I'm trying to think of how to put it, given what happens in an elf being Outcast. You'd have to somehow earn acceptance again as an elf...or be so vicious and terrible that one of the roving bands of elves outside the forest accepts you into their brotherhood. (I don't know if that's something he would be interested in...the elves I'm speaking of are killers, pure and simple...they raid and slaughter for the pure joy of killing humans)

Him: not the second option...you'll have to let me know how the first option would be gained (and also if he would know or would have to learn it somehow)

Me: I'm not sure if #1 actually covers it or not...hrm...maybe the best way to put it would be: Return to the Misty Vale...that means, as with the others, any actions which drive towards that goal count: so finding out how it might be accomplished would count, too. Or perhaps, Earn the Vale's Forgiveness Which is really more accurate, I think.

Me: The interesting thing is that some of these are mutually exclusive. Yeah, I like that...it adds a real dynamism to the character.

Him: and he might realize that at some point... and it might make him a little 'crazy in the head'...assuming he isn't already ;)

Now, the warrior-woman's player described her character's SAs as:
Quote
1) to get her parents out of the dungeons
2) find a way to 'unstone' [the elf]
3) try to warn the city about the Djinn (not sure how to do this yet)
4) get out of the city before the djinn gets there
and that's it... it's all pretty immediate... I'd have to think on her long term goals...does that work?

I told her I thought those were all fine, though I wasn't sure how to put some of them. We eventually decided on:
...Loves Her Parents
...Pursue Justice
...Responsibility to Others
...Protect the Weak

This was the conversation we had. If anyone has any different insights as to how these might be described as SAs, I'd be more than willing to hear about it:
Quote
Me: I'm not sure how to write some of them, so let me ask you this about them: Why? That is, what is the motivation behind her desire to accomplish those goals? For example, saving her parents: that's obviously "Love" though it could be "Family Loyalty"

Her: I would say that is mostly love and a desire to see something unjust corrected esp. since they are there because of her. For [the Elf]: it is part loyalty since she sees him as one of her companions, and part that she feels responsible (not sure if that's the right term) for the deaths of the others that have been with her... she felt helpless to stop them...(the deaths of [the paladin, a northern rogue]...)

Me: What's "at stake" for her regarding warning the city? I mean, does she feel it is her duty to protect the innocent? Or is it something else (like cleansing herself of the sin of releasing the djinn)?

Her: I think it is both... she wants to do the right thing, and again feels responsible since she did release the djinn (even though it was unknowingly). She is trying very hard to uphold her family values... to be a 'good' person and to use her skills and talents to protect those who need it

Me: The only one I'm not sure on is the "escape the city before the djinn arrives" -- I'm not sure if that's "Fear of the Djinn" or what, cause I'm not sure if she's afraid or if you have some other reason in mind for her wanting to be away before he gets there.

Her: I think she feels rather helpless to stop it... but she isn't going to stay and defend or die trying to defend a place where she is not welcome. She is supposedly a hero of the city and yet she has been exiled, and now has to be someone she is not in order to free her parents.  She feels that she needs to warn the people because they are innocents... she doesn't feel any loyalty to the emperor.

Me: Could we accurately say "Hates the Emperor" or even "Hates the Empire" (ie: not the people per se, but the government/society itself)?

Her: only because it is corrupt

Me: Which ties back into the "Pursue Justice" part. If you want, you can split this instance out, or just stay with the four we've got. I can't really think of a way to phrase the Empire/corruption/won't defend it part that works, but if you can, go ahead. If you can think of something, let me know, since leaving is at odds with "Protecting the Weak" and "Responsibility to Others" and I think there should be a distinction made here about that part of her personality. (I just can't think of how to describe it...but not a problem, we can modify these and update them as necessary).

And that's where we left it. I'm thinking there's another SA there, but I'm just not seeing what it is. Or maybe there isn't, and the four we came up with are enough. On the other hand...but then...back and forth my thoughts go. Anyone have any insights?

The player of the dwarf recently informed me that his schedule wouldn't permit him to play any longer, so he's out, and there's only one other character left that we went through this with: the royal princess.
What we finally boiled her SAs down to were the following:
...Earn Acceptance
...Answers to No One
...Earn the Love of [the storm god]
...Hates [the sun god]

Quote
She wants a 'place' that's her own, where she's not outcast/looked down on/ignored/put off/etc, where she's in charge of herself; the Palace will never be her home again
Right now- She's trying to figure out the whole pregnancy situation
Right now- She's trying to figure out how to please [the storm god], without killing lots of people (she's not 'up to' making that kind of decision, single people yes, nameless/blameless hundreds no)
there's one more basic/long term type one: She wants a male companion, who'd treat her like she thinks she wants; an equal- and right now is projecting to [the storm god]- she'd currently not know how to deal with a relationship like she envisions she wants.

I originally saw "Desires Personal Power" as an obvious SA for her character, but discussion turned up some interesting twists to the character I hadn't really seen, but can now definitely cater to.
Quote
Her: Goal: To finally have a place where she's comfortable/accepted; Reason: She's never felt accepted; Feeling: Everyone treats her different. She's using power to GET a place to be accepted. She never felt at home in the Palace/[the Empire] anyway- so being further outcast sort of makes her feel good, like she's shunning them, instead of her trying to fit in, but not making it

Me: So, would "Desires Personal Power" be correct, in that case, or would it be more like "Answers to No One." That is, the power is just an end-to-a-means, rather than the end itself -- she could do without power, if she was accepted and not expected to fit in/behave/do what she's told?

Her: hmm...answer to no one would be closer, power is nice, but she'd rather chart her own destiny than try to wield power within say, the Palace structure. She'd be perfectly happy with the power she has now, but its not enough to get to her goal yet- she hasn't reached her goal, so she thinks she needs more and by grasping for more power she gets more contact with [the storm god] :)

Me: So, "Answers to No One" or "Charts Own Destiny"...I think the first might be easier to deal with in play...that is, easier to see if her actions are supporting that idea.

Her: Answers to no one would just be all the times she's blatantly indifferent to people's problems with her attitude; currently. "I don't care what you think, someday it won't matter"

Me: Hrm, still mulling over the pregnancy thing...I'm not sure if it's really seperate from "Desires Personal Power" -- since knowing about the child is all about having control over her own life/body.

Her: Yeah, true.  it was just a more specific immediate goal.

So "Desires Power" was ditched in place of "Earn Acceptance," which brought into question the whole focus of the servant of the storm-god idea of the character.
Quote
Me: Also, a question, what's her goal in pleasing [the storm god]? Just gathering power? Or is there more, or something else entirely, to it?

Her: Its cuz [the storm god] is such a hunk, she'd do anything.  People on the other hand, people always pissed her off ;)

Me: And that's amusing because that's ignored whenever [the storm god] shows up. <G> Which is great. There's some conflict there -- more power from [the storm god] means he expects more from her, which means she's going to be fighting against him since she'll want freedom. Though eventually she'll have to choose between service to [the storm god] and freedom of choice, even if they align for a while.

Her: Well, whenever she defers to [the storm god] when he's there; its cuz she doesn't want to look like an idiot in front of him. She's desperately afraid of him not liking her so she's playing silent...heh, silent, compliant, willing- everything she hates about the society she grew up in ;) But he wields actual power, instead of the fake stuff she sees in the Palace. And he doesn't see the scars like other people do, obviously.

We both think we decently nailed the underlying focus of the character with out final choices. Obvservations? Disagreements?

So, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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xiombarg
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2004, 11:13:19 AM »

I dunno if this will help or not, but I have some WoD-specific examples in my adaptation of SA to Storyteller: http://ivanhoeunbound.com/stsa.html
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greyorm
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2004, 08:53:50 AM »

Kirt, the man who always comes to my rescue, thanks for the link! Your work definitely helps me seperate the ideas of each SA out more concretely.

And if anyone else has any commentary or answers to the questions I asked above, feel free to chime in as well. All thoughts on the subject would be appreciated.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Ante
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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2004, 06:10:03 AM »

I can't comment much on your work, not owning RoS and all. But it's interesting to see that someone but me have been thinking of doing such a thing.

I'd love to hear more about how the SA's were used further on.
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Andreas Davour
Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2004, 08:40:08 AM »

Quote from: xiombarg
I dunno if this will help or not, but I have some WoD-specific examples in my adaptation of SA to Storyteller: http://ivanhoeunbound.com/stsa.html


Dude. This is clever as hell, and I am stealing it.
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greyorm
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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2004, 09:07:49 AM »

Quote from: Ante
I'd love to hear more about how the SA's were used further on.

I write semi-regular progress reports on our group, highlighting interesting methods and group events (not simply "game world" events), and I will be including them in those, once I have enough to report on!
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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xiombarg
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2004, 12:54:36 PM »

Quote from: Andy Kitkowski
Quote from: xiombarg
I dunno if this will help or not, but I have some WoD-specific examples in my adaptation of SA to Storyteller: http://ivanhoeunbound.com/stsa.html


Dude. This is clever as hell, and I am stealing it.

Well, the props really go back to The Riddle of Steel. Since the Riddle of Steel was already a dice pool system where you count successes based on a particular target number applied to any die -- that is, very similar to Storyteller already, in a lot of ways -- those rules are practically a direct rip.
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2004, 02:01:01 PM »

Nice distillation of the SAs. Cool.

Jake
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xiombarg
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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2004, 07:22:31 PM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood
Nice distillation of the SAs. Cool.

Thank you, Jake. I was a little worried you'd think that I was ripping you off, there. ;-D

I'm using those rules in a Werewolf game and a Changeling game I'm running (both of which have just started, having finished chargen), so expect to see some Actual Play posts on the subject soon.

I'm real interested in seeing where Raven goes with regard to SAs in D&D. I was planning on making a version of the system for d20, but it's a lot harder for a system that isn't already dice-pool based like Storyteller.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2004, 09:31:46 PM »

Why is it harder? SA's just rank up as your PC takes on challenges specific to them.

At first rank you can have 1D2 added to attack rolls and damage
At second, 1D4
At third, 1D6
Etc

Of course, your always racking up +1 in each. But were not trying to carry over the exact qualities of dice pools, but the narrative power of SA's. At least I would.
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greyorm
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« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2004, 10:06:25 PM »

Actually, Callan, though I haven't decided on whether to implement check bonuses for SA activation (I'm thinking the XP bonuses are perhaps enough -- the point is to gain XP, you gain XP by activating your SAs, rather than spending ranks of them as in TROS), the suggestion of dice-based bonuses is intriguing.

I was originally thinking of just providing bonuses in the form of +2 when the SA applied to the action. I hadn't given much consideration to levels/ratings for each SA, having them more as an either "have/don't have" sort of thing. What I'd probably do, however, if it came to it would be:
 Rank 1: +1
 Rank 2: +2
 Rank 3: d4+1
 Rank 4: d6+1
 Rank 5: d8+1
 (Can they go higher than Rank 5?)

But I'm worried about how powerful that would make the characters, perhaps foolishly. I realize they'd have to spend gained ranks to earn XP, obviously, thus balancing out any potentially insane gains with the same ranks being spent instead to increase one's level (and access to better abilities, new feats/skills, more hit points, and so forth -- things the SA bonuses can't grant).

I'd need to discuss that with my players. Currentlly, it's a flat 100xp X character level each time an SA is activated during a session. I don't know that we need much more than that, given that this is our replacement for the award system to provide me with better ability to judge when a character gets XP and them with better ability to know what will (and how to) earn them XP, but I can run it past them.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Callan S.
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« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2004, 04:41:27 PM »

Fair enough. SA's essentially represent a short term but powerful focused boost Vs long term but weaker boost that has a broader effect (when you spend them). I was covering the strong effect first.

As to charging up the SA ranks, I would think some sort of challenge rating to SA rank up would make sense. Then when you spend SA's ranks to get XP you can actually do it in relation to the challenge ratings it took to get that rank.

BTW, the idea of SA's giving XP when activated is a little...off. Gaining XP doesn't give any advantage right now to the player, while SA's do in TROS. They basically improve your hit chance and damage dealt. Clearly, this is important to the story right at the time of activation. XP gains are a long term thing, so you'll be missing out on a large part (And what I think is the most important part) of what SA's do.

And yeah, they only go up to five ranks...but that's meaningless in a conversion really. You just need to keep the idea there's a limmit on ranks.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2004, 04:50:01 PM »

I'll give a rough example in case I was vague.

Say you have passion: Lady love

Okay, facing a challenge rating equal to the party level, in order to help her (and in TROS you don't need to suceed, you only need to have really tried), will put you up a rank in that SA.

Perhaps a challenge three ranks above party level will put it up two ranks.

The exact exchange rate doesn't matter, I'm just trying to convey the idea of an exchange rate.

Then when it comes to spending SA's ranks (reducing them), a five point rank spent might be equal to a challenge rating equal to the party level plus 7, or something. It depends on the exchange rate you set up before. Then when you spend your fourth rank its equal to something a bit lower.

So that's what I mean.
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greyorm
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« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2004, 06:03:16 PM »

Quote from: Noon
BTW, the idea of SA's giving XP when activated is a little...off. Gaining XP doesn't give any advantage right now to the player, while SA's do in TROS.

Part of the reason I called them pseudo-SAs. Since the games are honestly quite a bit different, I didn't feel an exact remapping was necessary. The bonuses didn't really match with the reasons we wanted to implement it (ie: story focus and a better handling of XP for our style). That said, I'm not dismissing your critique. I'll have to run it by my players next week, but for the moment "If it ain't broke..."

BTW, excellent suggestions for XP gain based on challenge ratings faced, regarding the spending of the ranks. I'll definitely be seriously considering how to best implement that, or something very similar. Many thanks for the input, Callan!
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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