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Author Topic: Powerblocking?  (Read 19885 times)
TonyLB
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« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2005, 08:28:50 AM »

Also, on a simpler note:  Where exactly do the rules appoint anybody to "accept" that narration?

Given the conspicuous absence of a formal referee (in other games often the GM) there are two ways of viewing the player relation to the rules:
  • The rules are a communal resource, and all uses of them are subject to community oversight.  Any vagueness (and "You must include X in your narration" is, unfortunately, too vague) are referred to the community.
  • The rules are individual resources.  Any vagueness can be resolved by each individual as they see fit.

If you're going with the first way then my answer is "Yeah, me personally, I'd accept that narration."  If you're going with the second way then the answer is "Me?  What have I got to do with it?  Does the guy narrating it think that's sufficient?"

I honestly don't think one is better than the other.  The second one is a lot easier (for me) but requires a lot of trust in the other players.  Plus, it's obviously easier for me because nobody's ever called me on whether my use of the rules was correct.  So I don't have to feel in any way that I'm competing for authority over the rules.
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Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2005, 08:32:27 AM »

I do  know that at GenCon while playing with Tony that I had The Ravager II simply remember Major Victory using his powers in a previous encounter and that counted as using my (MV) powers for the roll.  All the rules say is that you have to "include" the power in your narration.  How it is included isn't mentioned at all.

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Vaxalon
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« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2005, 12:26:38 PM »

In any game where Tony is a participant, his authority as creator of the game, and his good-natured, infectious enthusiasm tends to make a very "anything goes" atmosphere as far as accepting narration goes.

But when it comes right down to it, there's no mechanism for enforcing the rule that says that you have to include the power you used in your narration. 

I can recall having a short conversation with Tony in the first game I played that went something like this (and I'm paraphrasing, probably terribly):

Me: "Bleah.  I just can't think of any narration for this, and my '5' is the only power I can use."

Tony: "It doesn't have to be explicit.  Like, if your power were 'throw things' your character could throw his weight around, throw up, throw his back out... whatever."

Me: "Okay...." 

*long pause*

Me: "I still can't think of anything.  'Laser Blast' isn't exactly a broad metaphor."

At this point in the game, NOONE has the *authority* to say, "Well, Fred, if you can't think of anything else, then it's James's turn."  They can SUGGEST that I pass to the next person.

There's a lot of authority in Capes that devolves eventually on group consensus, and the people who can lead or shape that consensus have a lot of power in shaping how the game as a whole turns out.  Just like in any other RPG, but moreso.
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Grover
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« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2005, 01:07:26 PM »

Seems to me that part of this problem is an equivocation between a character using a power and a player using a power.  Nothing can stop a player from using a power (although now that I say it, I'm imagining a game of meta-Capes :).  The only constraint that a conflict like 'Goal: X uses a power' imposes is that when a player provides narration for their use of a power, that player needs to feel that the power was mentioned appropriately in the narration, and that the character does not use it.

I'm trying to imagine what the circumstances would be in which that was an appropriate goal to place.  The main one that springs to mind is when a villian or hero is the subject of some sort of suppression beam.  In that case, the narration is simple - the hero struggles to use his power, only to have it foiled by the beam.

Really, this seems similar to the whole 'What if your guy gets locked in jail' question.  The only constraints on narration are aesthetic constraints (which are valid constraints - consider the 'Laser Blast' example).  If someone is such a skilled narrator that they can put down conflicts like 'Your character is in any way better than totally pathetic' and they make sense and are cool, then sit back and enjoy the show.  If they're using narration which is dorky and doesn't make sense, then don't play with them (It's worth pointing out that this is a continuum, and not a discrete measure - I'm happy to tolerate some level of dorkiness in narration, but if someone is trying to disrupt my play that much, I'm not interested in playing).
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Mandacaru
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« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2005, 10:55:37 AM »

Sorry to open up what might be an old thread, but this is really bugging me...

Isn't "Powerblocking" part and parcel of the genre? The way to accommodate it narratively has been given, so that's not a problem, provided everyone knows it.

Isn't strapping Superman to a block of Kryptonite exactly this? Goal - stop Superman using any of his powers. I'm straining to think of other examples and failing, but they must abound.

Sam.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #20 on: November 20, 2005, 12:02:29 PM »

Usually players voluntarily stop using their own powers when they start carrying too much debt, and use (say) Kryptonite (or a hiccup of their metabolism or sun-spots or the having been out of the water for too long) as an excuse.
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Eric Sedlacek
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TheCzech


« Reply #21 on: November 21, 2005, 01:22:20 PM »

Isn't "Powerblocking" part and parcel of the genre? The way to accommodate it narratively has been given, so that's not a problem, provided everyone knows it.

Isn't strapping Superman to a block of Kryptonite exactly this? Goal - stop Superman using any of his powers. I'm straining to think of other examples and failing, but they must abound.

There's nothing wrong with narrating a hunk kryptonite and introducing "Goal: Superman regains use of his powers".  This would prevent a narration of Superman's powers working until the goal is resolved, but it most decidedly does not prevent Superman's player from using, for example, Superman's flight power as an action on his next turn.  The narration could be "Superman tries to fly but crashes to the ground in a heap."

A goal can block anything narrative but absolutely nothing mechanical. 
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #22 on: November 21, 2005, 01:33:37 PM »

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Hans
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« Reply #23 on: November 23, 2005, 07:05:20 AM »

Here is a question related to this thread, at least tangentially.

The rules say that when a goal is made for a character, the player of that character can veto it (pg 29).  So with:

Goal: Captain Spandex uses his powers in any way.

How is this preventative?  If the player of Captain Spandex is uninterested, he can veto it.  And if the player finds it interesting, then it either is not preventing him from doing something he wants to do, or its more interesting than what he wanted to do.  At best I would call this a distracting goal, not a preventative goal.  In fact, I have to say that the discussion of preventative goals on page 126 doesn't seem to take the veto power into account.

It seems to me a better preventative goal would be:

Goal: Major Evil prevents Captain Spandex from using his powers in any way.

In this case, Captain Spandex can't veto, I think.  Until the goal resolves, Captain Spandex can do whatever he wants, but if it resolves against Captain Spandex, while his player can still use the traits on his sheet, the player cannot narrate Captain Spandex using his powers in any way, one assumes, until another Goal resovles, such as:

Goal: Captain Spandex regains use of his powers

Am I missing something?  Am I over reading the veto power?

Based on the above, from the discussion on page 126 on preventative goals, to prevent the villain escaping, you can't make:

Goal: Major Evil escapes

without a veto, but you can make:

Goal: Captain Spandex prevents Major Evil escaping

and this achieves the same purpose.  Its a semantic difference, but it seems important to me.
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Hans
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« Reply #24 on: November 23, 2005, 07:16:53 AM »

The rules say that when a goal is made for a character, the player of that character can veto it (pg 29). 

Man, I wish you could edit. 

I guess this is the big question that this thread has raised for me: is it possible to make a Goal that has no character associated with it?  Someone mentioned a goal "Massive Property Damage".  But it seems there is always an implied character, i.e. "The Hulk causes Massive Property Damage".  Can you have a goal without at least an implied character?  The very word "goal" to me makes this unlikely.  As a corrollary, do people, in actual play, usually make explicit whose goal each goal is, or is implying the character usually sufficient?

I'm afraid I am trying to hijack this thread, but I still think this refers to powerblocking.

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Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #25 on: November 23, 2005, 08:26:44 AM »

Goal: Major Evil prevents Captain Spandex from using his powers in any way.

In this case, Captain Spandex can't veto, I think.  Until the goal resolves, Captain Spandex can do whatever he wants, but if it resolves against Captain Spandex, while his player can still use the traits on his sheet, the player cannot narrate Captain Spandex using his powers in any way, one assumes, until another Goal resovles, such as:

Goal: Captain Spandex regains use of his powers

Am I missing something?  Am I over reading the veto power?

The problem with your example is that Goal: Major Evil prevents Captain Spandex from using his powers in any way. being resolved doesn't put any limitations on Spandex in any way whatsoever.  Major Evil's player can resolve the goal and on Spandex's next turn his player can narrate whatever he wants.  Goals that have been resolved no longer affect play mechanically in any way.  It only affect play mechanically while it is in play.

Based on the above, from the discussion on page 126 on preventative goals, to prevent the villain escaping, you can't make:

Goal: Major Evil escapes

without a veto, but you can make:

Goal: Captain Spandex prevents Major Evil escaping

and this achieves the same purpose.  Its a semantic difference, but it seems important to me.

The semantics here are very important.  "Goal: Major Evil escapes" keeps Major Evil's character from narrating an escape until it has been resolved.  "Goal: Captain Spandex prevents Major Evil escaping" doesn't keep Major Evil from narrating an escape.  It keeps Spandex from preventing Major Evil's escape.

I'll leave the question of vetos to Tony.  I'm unsure of them.

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Hans
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« Reply #26 on: November 24, 2005, 06:15:35 AM »

The problem with your example is that Goal: Major Evil prevents Captain Spandex from using his powers in any way. being resolved doesn't put any limitations on Spandex in any way whatsoever.  Major Evil's player can resolve the goal and on Spandex's next turn his player can narrate whatever he wants.  Goals that have been resolved no longer affect play mechanically in any way.  It only affect play mechanically while it is in play.

I think I understand what you are saying here, but it doesn't seem right to me. My understanding is the exact opposite of yours (and probably wrong).  Don't the outcome of goals and events have to be taken into account in future narration?  In the case above, Major Evil has succceeded in preventing Spandex from using his powers.  I don't see how he can use them until some new goal or event resolves that allows him to.  I don't mean that the player can't use his powers and abilities; the player can always use the values on the sheet.  What I mean is that the narration can't show Spandex actually using his powers. 

It would be the same as having a goal: Steal all the gold in fort knox, and resolve it so that your villain steals all the gold, and then have another player immediately narrate your capture and the gold being taken from you.  What was the point in having the goal in the first place?  Do you have to phrase every goal as something like "Successfully steal all the gold in fort knox with no possibility of capture"?  Even with a goal like that, it seems that from what you are saying the minute you are done speaking someone else can snatch your hard-earned victory right out from under you. 

I know this might not be a written rule, but it would seem to me to be an important element of a fairly coherent story, and necessary to making goals a meaningful thing. 

The semantics here are very important.  "Goal: Major Evil escapes" keeps Major Evil's character from narrating an escape until it has been resolved.  "Goal: Captain Spandex prevents Major Evil escaping" doesn't keep Major Evil from narrating an escape.  It keeps Spandex from preventing Major Evil's escape.

I'll leave the question of vetos to Tony.  I'm unsure of them.


Again, I disagree, but am likely wrong.  If Major Evil's player narrates Spandex escaping, how could the Goal ever come to fruition?  You can't decide the end of the goal before the goal is resolved.  I suppose technically you are correct, in that Major Evil could narrate some form of escape - getting out of the HQ, but still not out of the state, getting out of the state but still not off the planet, etc.  But he hasn't ESCAPED until the goal is resolved.  Besides, from what you said above, if Spandex's player resolves the goal: Major Evil escapes in his favour and narrates the capture of Major Evil, from what you said above, the minute Spandex's player stops talking Major Evil could go ahead and narrate Evil escaping anyway.

I have only played once, so I'm probably missing something, as I have in the past. 
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #27 on: November 24, 2005, 07:01:31 AM »

Hans, you're making the incorrect assumption that after a conflict has been cleared off the table, that it has any further effect on the game.

A cleared conflict has only three lingering effects, and those only last until they are spent:

1> Story tokens
2> Inspirations
3> Debt

And none of them retain any 'ghost' of the conflict that originally spawned them...

UNLESS

The players involved think it's cool to do so.
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Hans
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« Reply #28 on: November 24, 2005, 09:40:20 AM »

Hans, you're making the incorrect assumption that after a conflict has been cleared off the table, that it has any further effect on the game...[snip] UNLESS The players involved think it's cool to do so.

Huh!  *sound of Hans's perceptions being shifted 180 degress, sort of a ZING kind of sound* 

My experience is so lacking in this game; I am worried that my inexperience is the reason this all seems so wrong to me.   Please forgive me if I am missing something very obvious.  I am so very fascinated by this game, though, that I really want to understand. 

Vaxalon, you have played this game more than I have, so your understanding of the rules is superior to mine.  But my gut reaction to this is that it stinks.

Player 1: "Haha, i win the Goal: Major Evil Escapes!  Captain Spandex grabs Major Evil by the arms and puts the cuffs on him.  'Major Evil, you are going to jail for your crimes, you scumbag.  Take him away, officers!' "
Player 2: "Ok, that conflict over?  As part of this other conflict, Major Evil will use power X.  Major Evil knocks the police out and escapes anyway."

In your circle of friends you play with I have to assume this doesn't happen, because I would think it would be intolerable.  Wouldn't you all be throwing things at Player 2 for being, at a minimum, a bad sport?  Moreover, how does this jibe with, from page 29, the statement that you cannot "attempt the same Goal in the same scene"?  This seems the heart of the discussion on pagd 129 regarding narration rules...what can you narrate if you are on the losing side of a conflict.

In the above example, I recognize that the player of Major Evil, if the scene was still ongoing, could continue using Major Evil's powers and abilities to affect ongoing conflicts.   He may still have henchmen around, his influence might linger in other ways, he might have mental control powers he can still use from the back of the police cruiser, his evil taints those around him, a clone/robot Major Evil arrives, who knows?   But it seems to me that during the course of a scene, the narrative outcome of a goal or event should be part of the "facts" of the scene unless changed by another goal or event.  I'm not sure how the Goal: Major Evil Escapes can be considered preventative unless that is the case.  It certainly doesn't prevent Major Evil escaping, so what is it preventing?  It would be better to call it a delaying goal. 

Moreover, even if my original understanding was correct, I'm still not certain how Goal: Major Evil Escapes, can be considered preventative if the player playing Major Evil could just veto it.  Its only preventative if the player playing Major Evil thinks its interesting; he or she is still in the drivers seat.

I'm just going to be quiet now, and not risk letting my lack of experience in the game make any more of a fool of me than it already has.  :)  I won't expect any more answers until I have played some more and can speak from actual play.
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #29 on: November 24, 2005, 07:32:45 PM »

For this game, Actual Play is all.  You can't get it from the book.

Yes, for the most part, that kind of thing doesn't happen.

If it does, you're playing with asshats and you should find a new group.
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