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[Holodomor] Ronnies feedback

Started by Ron Edwards, January 02, 2006, 12:44:08 PM

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Ron Edwards

Holodomor by Sambucus (Zsámboki János) wins a Low Ronny, partly because it has the biggest 'nads ever in role-playing game design. Check out [Holodomor] Not just another Ronnies thread for some good indications of what I mean. This is fearless stuff.

All right, here's my procedural objection: resolution is annoying and clunky. What are these fractions doing in here?

Also, the relationship between Moral and Emotions puzzles me. Part of it is due to characteristically contradictory RPG-text prose: at one point you say that a character flatly cannot act against his Emotions, and then launch into an explanation of how he can do so by rolling dice. But all right, years of experience are on my side, and I move on ...

Here's the issue: Despair makes the character more effective because you can overcome (act against) your Emotions, but why would you do that? The only answer I can figure is, "to survive," so the GM's job is to pose situations in which your emotions will kill you. Do I have that right?

One minor question: I'm not certain why Taras is in such trouble at the end of the example, except that he has dropped from 30 to 18. Is that what you were referring to? If so, it seems like a reasonable expectation for any violent conflict - in fact, I can't see any Holomodor character making it through more than two fights, even if he wins them. This isn't a criticism of the system (it makes sense that starving people shouldn't engage in fisticuffs or gun-battles), but merely trying to understand the commentary-text.

Zsámboki, I also want to acknowledge you for winning the extra $10, as a contributor from a former eastern bloc nation, and for helping many of us cross the "Wall in the head"* by reading your work.


* this term is usually applied to Berliners but I think it exists just as powerfully in all of us whose primary culture-of-origin is the Cold War.


I won! Yeah! :-)

So, about your problems with the game:

With Despair, you can easily overcome any emotion. Even the Will to survive. That' s it. If you let Despair rule you, you can do anything, but you will surely break down after any minor setback. As I stated, in this very extreme setting it is easy to die. Only with constant efforts can a character survive for some time. If he takes on a "nothing matters, we will all die eventually" demenaor, he can do almost anything, but will die indeed. This way he simply realizes, that his time has come.

Yes, precisely. A character can not win many fights. Malnutrition severly reduces the ability to heal, and any minor disease, or injury can prove fatal. This game is not about fighting. It is about acting against your own pride, against anything you hold dear. Some peasants rioted against the government but they were brutally repressed. It is simply not the way.

So thank you for this competition, I enjoyed it! And thanks for the feedback!

Ron Edwards


That's a good explanation. As I see it now, some Despair can help a character to survive, making him more flexible in the fact of conflict, but too much Despair will kill him.

It's a good design. I look forward to playing it.