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Author Topic: Fact mechanic Revisited  (Read 9800 times)
Kai_lord
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« on: October 06, 2005, 11:19:25 PM »

Well, I'm raising this old thread from the dead, because I have a different take on how to allow facts which (I think) meshes better with the existing mechanics.

At the end of a conflict in which a player has earned an inspiration, they can trade in that inspiration for a new type of conflict - a fact conflict. If more than one inspiration is gained, it must be the highest valued one. Just as a goal conflict states what might be, and an event conflict states what will be, a fact conflict states what is. Like event conflicts, a fact conflict can be vetoed by anyone at the table. As usual, the fact must be narrated as a consquence of the inspiration used. All other rules are as per normal, until the conflict resolves.

The winning player in the conflict has the option to narrate how the fact is no longer relevant, or may choose to trade in all inspirations that the conflict would have granted him to keep the fact in play until the next scene. At that point, the conflict is reintroduced.

For example: the player of the Icy Abberation manages to successfully win the goal: Steal Dr. Science's personal beam weapon. He can then trade in the highest inspiration gained for the fact Conflict: Dr.Science's ray gun is in the Icy Abberation's lair. Until this conflict resolves, no one can narrate removing the gun from the lair.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2005, 04:20:46 AM »

I split this off of Fact Mechanic for Capes.

The immediate effect of this that I see is that you could create a conflict off of an Inspiration rather than a Story Token.  I'm inclined to talk about that, if that's the major change.  But I don't want to miss other subtleties, so let me check:  Other than the change to the economy, is this any different from making a conflict like "Goal:  Dr. Science's beam weapon is irrelevant to the scene"?
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Kai_lord
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« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2005, 05:04:45 AM »

The second major change would be that it allows the winning player to immediately introduce another goal, before the other players can react through narration. This allows the Icy Aberration to get - and keep - the ray gun, whereas if he was not the starter next page, he would have to contend with the possibility that someone else narrates taking the ray gun away from him for free.

The third major change is it allows for a Fact conflict to continue from one scene to the next, constraining the scene framer's narration.

Of course, doing this would be like putting a big red bullseye on the fact by saying "This is something I really care about. Come get some!"

Now, this is a powerful ability, and I was debating whether it should take a Story Token as well as the inspiration. That's something that we can hash out if this is even a good idea.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2005, 06:01:36 AM »

whereas if he was not the starter next page, he would have to contend with the possibility that someone else narrates taking the ray gun away from him for free.
Okay, let's examine that situation under the current rules.  I'm going to assume that Player B (who potentially could narrate taking the ray gun away for free) is not acting randomly.  He is a rational actor, pursuing rational goals, including a balance of his own creative vision and his desire to earn resources.

He looks at Player A, who is excited about keeping the gun.  Person A is communicating "I want to keep fighting about the gun, and anybody who obliges me will probably get Story Tokens."  I see three possibilities:
  • Player B receives that message, is willing to be bribed into fighting about the gun, and therefore has zero motivation to narrate taking it away without a conflict.
  • Player B receives that messages, hates the gun as a story element and wants it gone and Story Tokens be damned, and therefore narrates the gun away before a new conflict can be created.
  • Player B is clueless as to the message, could be bribed into fighting about the gun but doesn't know that's an option and therefore narrates it away out of ignorance.

Do those sound like the obvious options to you?
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Kai_lord
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2005, 07:06:16 AM »

Possibility 1) Handled fine under current rules. Works under variant rules as well.
Possibility 2) Handled fine under current rules. Works under variant rules as well (Player B can simply veto the conflict if he hates the ray gun that much.)
Possibility 3) This is what this rule is really about, when B doesn't get the message at all - and then says Hmm. This could be interesting. B can then go on to ignore the gun if he really doesn't care, A's toes don't get stepped on, and a conflict that might have not been could happen.

Given that, it might be most appropriate for a new group of players - it lets them "feel out" what the other players want a bit faster and get settled in more quickly - thus leading to the really interesting things that happen once people know what the others are into.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2005, 08:23:27 AM »

So is this about constraining the ignorant ("Player B doesn't get what I'm saying ... I must prevent him from ruining this cool conflict") or about opening up another channel of communication ("Player B isn't getting it ... I'll repeat myself more clearly")?

By way of context, let me say that I have essentially never seen possibility #3 in anyone who's played for more than fifteen minutes.  But I've seen a lot of people mistaking possibility #2 for possibility #3, even after extended exposure to the game.  "Oh, this will be really cool, they can't be bored by this!  They must just not understand."
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Kai_lord
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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2005, 09:05:27 AM »

The mechanic, as described, does three things:
1) It draws a line in the sand. Anyone who wants this to NOT be true has to fight me for it. And until it resolves it is true - not could be true, or will be true, but is true.
2) It gives more worth to 1 point inspirations.
3) It allows SIS control to extend past the current scene.

I'm not sure which, if any, of these are desirable effects. And if only some of them are, how do we change the mechanics to allow only the desirable effects rather than all of them.

So lets say I have just destroyed Major Victory's headquarters. I then use the inspiration just gained to play the fact Major Victory's headquarter's is no more. Until this resolves the headquarters remains destroyed. (Of course the same could be done with Goal: Major Victory rebuilds his headquarters.) I then successfully resolve the conflict, and then sacrifice the inspirations I would have gotten from this to leave the fact in play until next scene. Now, no one can rebuild the headquarters.

Hmm. I just had an "Ah ha!" moment. What the fact conflict does is allow the winner of the conflict to either shoot down the fact or temporarily add something to the Comics Code.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2005, 01:42:22 PM »

Michael, what you've got is something that you could do to the system.  What you don't have is a stated design goal.

Absent any known goal, there is no way to evaluate the value of the mechanic.  It's value lies in how well it serves a goal.  I can tell you why the mechanic you've described doesn't serve my design goals, if you like.  But I can't say anything useful about whether it serves yours.
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Kai_lord
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« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2005, 02:54:25 PM »

My goal is to allow a player to state that "This bit of the SIS is important to me, and I'd like to see it hang around, so to change this element of the SIS, you're going to have to fight for it."

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LordSmerf
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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2005, 08:06:23 PM »

Michael, here's the problem I see with that goal.  If we're dealing with situation #2 ("Meh, I don't care about X") then it's not really significantly different from just letting players throw the thing away.  If you say "It's hear to stay unless you fight!" and everyone else says "We don't care about it!!"  Then, great, it's there to stay, but it will never actually matter.  No one will ever bring it up except perhaps you, no one will say anything about it.

Are you seeing some advantage that I'm missing?  Why ensure that some element stays in play if only one player cares about that element?

Thomas
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2005, 03:19:21 AM »

There are two reasons someone might "steamroller" a fact that a player wants to establish.

1> The person doesn't care whether the fact exists or not, and steamrollers it without knowing.

2> The person doesn't like the fact, and would rather steamroller it rather than make a conflict out of it.

In the first case, a "fact" mechanic prevents someone who doesn't care from steamrollering someone who does.  After all, if I care and you don't, why does your apathy trump my love?

In the second case, a "fact" mechanic forces the hater to confront the lover over the dice rather than callously slap the lover in the face.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2005, 04:41:14 AM »

After all, if I care and you don't, why does your apathy trump my love?

Why should your love trump my apathy?  Or, put another way, if you get really excited about something that everybody else finds boring, why should we all suffer in order to humor you?

Capes is built, from the ground up, on the assumption that we won't humor you:  that exciting ideas will get reinforced, and boring ones will die a richly deserved death.  Further, it asumes that consistently exciting players will be given more power over the story, and incurably boring players will be marginalized.
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2005, 01:37:55 PM »

Actually, if all of us are excited about something and YOU don't like it, why should you be able to sweep it away when all of us want it?
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TonyLB
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« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2005, 02:34:20 PM »

I won't.  That's not what I'm talking about.  If you've got other players who want to engage you in the conflict then you can fight with them and leave me out in the cold.  Please do!

If, on the other hand, you have nobody else who wants to engage in the conflict then it will be you who is left out in the cold.  And, again, that's as it should be.
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Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2005, 10:18:14 AM »

Please, take all of this as Andrew's take on the issue and go from there.

I understand Tony's point.  The way the rules are written is that 1 person cannot sweep the issue away if everyone else (or even a portion of the players) doesn't want it (whatever IT is) to go away.  Sure, Mr Apathy goes "blah" and narrates the Ring of Doom out of existence.  Problem is that the next player in line just narrates it right back and there it is.  No one can permenantly get rid of the Ring of Doom.  It can always be brought back and re-established if other players find it interesting.  Therefore, rules to keep story elements from being lost are not necessary.  Story elements are impossible to lose.

I also think I understand what Michael (Kai Lord) is shooting for with his mechanical addition to the game.  Having story elements narrated into and out of the game back and forth with little or no justification is jarring.  The truth is that it happens in comic books all the time and it's jarring there as well.  The Avenger's mansion is demolished at the end of one book and the next book it is back (generally because a different author is taking over the story).  Ouch.  I hate that.  Same thing happens when playing Capes.  I win the Conflict: "Destroy Avenger's mansion" and then the next player in line narrates it right back where it was.  Ouch, I hate that too.  I don't hate it because I want to dominate the story all the time and everyone else be damned.  I hate it because it really does decrease the quality of the story being told.  I like my games to flow together nicely in a good storytelling style.

There are already solutions to the problem that don't require rules adjustments. 

1.) Simply point out to the offending player that it's rather stupid to blythely narrate some element in free narration that you've overtly shown that you're willing to pay him to narrate instead.  Why just narrate it in free narration if you can gain Story Tokens by making me fight you for it?

2.) If the other player is just a dick (or is stupid) and doesn't want to engage the system for these types of things, don't play Capes with them.  They obviously don't understand or enjoy the game as written so play something else.

Andrew
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