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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] dX = play style Y?  (Read 7877 times)
Robert Bohl
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« on: December 26, 2004, 03:40:51 PM »

I just got my copy of Sorcerer as a holiday present from Judd (aka Paka).  I'm enjoying the read so far.  I have a semi-rulesish question.  

You can use any die type for a game, just as long as all the dice being used are the same.  However, the type of die you choose, the magnitude of the sides, will determine whether success tends to be extreme, or slight (the higher the dice sides, the more extreme the victories).

So my question is, what genres or kinds of game have you found tend to benefit from different die types?  It seems to me as though combat would be extremely deadly with high-side dice, for example.

Follow-up question, has anyone proposed or tried running the game with different dice types for different actions, or even different dice types between scenes for the same action?  

If you change the die types and keep them consistent for each action of that type, for example, you might d4s for social rolls and d20s for combat.  That, to me, would faciliate a highly political game where everyone is very good at managing social situations, and when you "win" in that environment, you're only going to get a little bit ahead.  However, if someone pulls a gun, that's all she wrote.

On the other hand, you could have most fights get resolved with d20s, but for the fight against the significant antagonist, perhaps only allow d6s.  This would make it more of a protracted combat, leaving lots of time to roleplay each action.
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Trevis Martin
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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2004, 04:43:12 PM »

Hi Rob,

Glad to hear you got Sorcerer. I'm a big fan of the game.  I've played about three games of it so far in the year or so that I've owned it.  We've used the defualt of d10's for our first and second game, in this most recent game though we tried using d20's at first (I had a bunch of them I had bought to use with Donjon, mainly because I didn't have enough d10's to use for 6 players.)  They did settle things very absolutely.  Margins of success and damage were brutally large.  Total victory is more likely to happen.  We dialed it back on the subsequent sections to use d12's which seemed a good balance.  

Your idea about switching die types based on type of action is interesting.  I can see what it might do as far as customizing particular areas of the game.  It actually creates a complication though because say you've designated social actions as d6 and combat and physcial actions as d20.  If you have both actions happening in the same round it becomes really unlikely that the social action can happen first in the initiative ranking.  That has a dramatic impact on how the players choose to answer action by limiting their practical applications.

best,

Trevis
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2004, 07:43:36 AM »

I just realized this is probably better for the Adept Press forum.  Sorry about that.  I didn't know the Independant Games fora existed until I was hanging out at Judd's house and he mentioned it to me when he saw the thread.
Quote from: Trevis Martin
It actually creates a complication though because say you've designated social actions as d6 and combat and physcial actions as d20. If you have both actions happening in the same round it becomes really unlikely that the social action can happen first in the initiative ranking. That has a dramatic impact on how the players choose to answer action by limiting their practical applications.

I'm not sure I fully understand what you mean, but that's probably because I haven't gotten to the combat chapters yet.

However, if you say, "social actions are always d6 and combat actions are always d20," then they know what the die type is going to be no matter what.  If you vary it for different "vibes" (e.g,. mook combat vs. big bad combat), then you'd have to tell them out front.  E.g., "Guys, this is an important fight, so while most rolls are going to continue to be d10, combat rolls are going to be d6."

I quite like that because rather than having to stack the villain with ludicrous powers and health that will as likely get the players killed as make for an interesting fight (d20 is particularly problematic with this), you can simply say, "This fight matters more, so it will be slower."

--

I'm also curious what genre people think different die types (if only one die type is used for an entire game) lend themselves to.  Would d4 be a more street-level game, and d20 be more flashbang high adventure game?  d4 in combat would seem to cut the grittiness of something, but it also seems like it lends to a world where the extraordinary doesn't happen that often.

(Plus in d4 the chances of you caltroping the players is increased, so there's always that to consider.)

I would be particularly interested in something like this:

d4: Genre X, Movie Y, Comic Z.
d6: TV Show A, Radio Play B, . . . um . . . Stage Production C.

etc.
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Trevis Martin
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2004, 12:22:52 PM »

Hi Rob,

You'll know more after you finish reading the whole thing. The way initiative happens in sorcerer is important to understand and is  the central thing in the way of multiple type dice. Just remember that a lot of things aren't exaclty what they seem.  You really have to check all your assumptions at the door when you read it.  I mean all of them.  The combat system in sorcerer might well be labeled 'complex conflict' rather than combat.  Kind of like simple tests and extended tests in heroquest or simple actions and 'bringing down the pain' in TSOY, or single roll and action by action scale in Trollbabe.  Ron has said on many occasions that he was struggling with describing things and concepts in his system that he didn't have words for at the time.  (How long ago was the print edition now, four years?)

But I'll try to make it clear.

In sorcerer there is a free and clear phase where everybody, gm included,  discusses without any commitment, what they want their character to do in general terms.  General, not generic.  Once everyone has decided (yes they can coordinate and plan for enemy actions on a meta level, it works great trust me.) then the dice hit the table.  Everyone rolls whatever score is appropriate for their action.  It might be any of Stamina, Will, Lore or Cover.  Whoever has the highest untied die showing, that action happens first. Period.

Now if for some reason you've change die types depending on the action then what you've done is skewed the odds heavily in favor of one action type, and IMO  taken some choice of action away from the players.

For example if Bob is shooting Jim and rolls his stamina of 4 with d20's and gets 19,10,5,4.  But Jim is trying to talk him out of it, a will based action that is more social, so he uses, say, d6's   So he rolls his will of 6 with d6's....Well there is no way in hell he can match almost 3/4 of Bob's range, so the odds for initiative and success are heavily in Bob's favor.

Now if you wanted to decide on a different die type for each confilict, not by type, making sure everyone involved uses the same size die, it may not be a problem.

With very low die, lik d4 or d6 you will got a lot of ties and very marginal levels of success, rarely more than one success.  Damage will take a long time to really hurt people, combat will be protracted.  D20 on the other hand will likely make huge successes and absolute failures.  upwards of 4  or 5 successes with some weapons (take a look at how Leathal special damage works and you'll get an idea of how bad that could be.)

Oh, and definately take a look at Doyce testermans Sorcerer Wiki for a good collection of all the rules explainations and stuff that have been posted.  Its a great index and a huge boon the sorcerer fan community.

best

Trevis
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2005, 10:45:56 AM »

Okay, now I've reread the rules.  I think that you can still have different die types switching up during the game.  However, any "combats" would always have to use the same die type.  Even if actions are not gun-shooting or what-have-you, anything defined as a combat and using the combat rules would require the combat die type.

So you might say all combats use d20, wereas most rolls use d8 or whatever.  Or you might say the climactic battle uses d6 for the course of this battle, even though most use d10.
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Trevis Martin
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2005, 08:02:37 PM »

Hi Rob,

Sure, I agree with you that it can be done.  Maybe I was hairsplitting  and maybe missed the spirit of your quesion.  If you were to do something like this I think you may want to assign die type on a conflict by conflict basis.  Not even putting it as 'combat' or 'non-combat' but simply how much do you want to stretch out a particualr confict.  As long as everyone in a conflict is using the same die type I'd say you're fine.  I would play it straight first at least once.  It'll give you a better sense of things.

best

Trevis
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2005, 05:31:18 AM »

Hello,

Robin, I think you'd be creating a lot of problems for play using different types of dice.

The core of my point relies on your insistence on talking about "combat." I recognize that the rulebook may be misleading you here - after all, it talks about "combat." However, when the group is used to the system, they develop some insights that are very hard to explain to you here in this forum.

Imagine this:

Tod's character is conducting a necromantic ritual, with the help of an NPC.
Julie's character is searching for the NPC in Tod's scene, teamed up with another NPC who dislikes her.
Maura's character is being attacked by assassins in a fairly complex social situation which includes several NPCs who may or may not help her.

None of the three characters are in the same scene. All of their actions have perceivable future effects on one another's situations.

Everyone rolls at once. The order of the events is figured just as if they were all in the same scene and all engaged in what you are calling "combat." In some cases, bonus dice might even get transferred from character to character just as if one of them were tossing the other a weapon in the middle of a combat. Even though the characters aren't even in the same scene.

My point is that the shared (single) die type is relevant to a great deal of playing Sorcerer, and it contributes to an understanding of play, and an experience of play, which I think you are not yet perceiving.

"Can" you do what you're suggesting? Sure. You "can" go to the kitchen and put a bean up your nose. But I think it's a bad idea.

Best,
Ron
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2005, 05:42:07 AM »

Ron, I'm using "Combat" vs. other action types because it's a simple one to pull out and use in comparison to others.  But you could also say something like, "For social interactions we'll use d6, for ritual checks we'l use d8," etc.  And "combat" remains clearly distinguishable from other actions . . . any time you're concerned about "initiative" or damage, that's when you're in combat, whether or not anyone is pulling a gun or punching someone.

Anyway, my core question, from which we have mostly diverged, was what kinds of die would you use for what kinds of games?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2005, 06:09:10 AM »

Hello Robin,

I suggest you take a full day to consider what I said, and post after that. Perhaps a little discussion with Judd might help too. This is definitely not a forum for replying from the hip.

Best,
Ron
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ricmadeira
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2005, 09:19:46 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
None of the three characters are in the same scene. All of their actions have perceivable future effects on one another's situations. Everyone rolls at once.


Wow! I think I just had some sort of life-changing revelation / religious experience... now I just have to think this very throughly and try to grasp its meaning... wow!

Thanks Ron!
Ricardo
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Fabrice G.
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2005, 03:12:52 PM »

Hi Robin,

the thing Ron said can be turned as : there's no combat 'only' situation.
What goes in the rules by the name of Combat is really only complex conflict resolution.

To be clearer : how will you do with your multiple dice when character 1 want to blow up character 2 who is persuading character 3 to order his demon killing character 1.

This is all one scene, at the same place at the same time. Yet, you have what could be categorized one 'combat' roll, one 'social' roll and one sorcery 'roll'... The character are goinig to roll against each other (as Ron described above) to see what happen first ; so, in this case, how having different dice would help in the conflict resolution ?

I can see how compelling your idea looks, but carefully consider the kind of situation resolution Ron exposed  above : it *is* revolutionary in rpgs, and doesn't really support your idea of different dice for different action types.

Take care,

Fabrice
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2005, 03:18:56 PM »

Quote from: Fabrice G.
Hi Robin,

It's Rob.  Not sure how Robin got in there.  Must be all the time I spend idolizing Batman.

To your point, I see what you're saying.  However, it strikes me that there is some kind of seperation, or that it's possible to say, "Okay, all the dice in this conflict will be type X."

Anyway, like I said, I started out and remain more interested in the question, what kind of die is conduscive to what kind of game.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2005, 09:22:39 PM »

Hi Rob,

[I was reading "rob N J" out loud in my mind, which makes "robin" out of the first two syllables, and then, well, "His name is Robin" sort of evolved from that ...]

To your general question of dice types, I'm not sure how to answer, because I don't quite know what you mean by "kinds" of games. I know you mentioned genres in your first post, but it strikes me that die type in Sorcerer isn't really a genre question, but a "how much deadlock do you want" question.

The fewer the sides of the dice, the more ties. The more ties, means the less victories in successful rolls, on average, for a given number of dice being rolled against a given number of opposing dice.

I think that people are stuck on that question because as you've posed it, it's not really answerable. Maybe if you were to provide a list of genres and a set of standards that you associate with them?

The one thing I can think of is "deadliness," which might be ramped upward by using dice with more sides, hence ties will be less frequent and thus more dice will potentially count toward number of victories. But that would assume that we're talking about Special Damage and similar things in the first place, which might not be much involved in a given game.

Best,
Ron
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Fabrice G.
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« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2005, 10:47:51 PM »

Quote from: Rob
It's Rob.  Not sure how Robin got in there.  Must be all the time I spend idolizing Batman.


Sorry Rob, I think I was merely following Ron as he often his the Real Name master around here.

Quote from: Rob
To your point, I see what you're saying.  However, it strikes me that there is some kind of seperation, or that it's possible to say, "Okay, all the dice in this conflict will be type X."


And from your first post...

Quote from: Rob
...or even different dice types between scenes for the same action?


The main thing is, for me, not trying to categorize the conflict by kind or type of actions. But you may be on something here...



I guess that changing the king of dice could bring in some sort of dynamics in the session if you were to progressively increase the dice type over time. So, the first few conflicts would probably not be resolved with an important number of victory, and then, at each subsequent dice-type increase, you ant up the potential number of success obtained for conflict resolution.

In this kind of game, you state that conflict at the begining will be hard to resolve more than partially, and that the more the game goes the more conflict will be resolved with a neat margin. That could emulate some kind of TV show structure, where the begining conflicts are left muddy in order to resolve them by the end of the episode.

So in Sorecer, you could rank up the dice type progressively over the session, as if one seesion = one episode ; or you could augment the dice type session after session, then the number of session correspond with some kind of story arc.


Well, obviously, I didn't try it so tha's all thinking with no testing.


Fabrice
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Alan
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2005, 05:30:26 AM »

Perhaps the group could declare the size of dice based on the dramatic importance of the conflict.  Thus a less important conflict is less lethal.  That leaves the problem of how to determine  the importance in advance and who sets the dice size.  

Maybe we could add a further rule, like escalating the dice size each round that a conflict continues, or letting players "double up" somehow.
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
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