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Author Topic: The Way to Zhang Shung: Yin Yang resolution (concise)  (Read 6015 times)
Chad
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« on: January 07, 2006, 01:13:13 AM »

Hi there,
I've posted a more lengthy game concept, which didn't’t get a response, here: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=18246.0.
I have condensed it greatly. I would love criticism about the mechanic below, specifically does it…
 
1.   allow for fluid wuxia style narrative driven action, but does not depend too heavily on moment to moment description for the mechanic? Rather cool stunts and embellishments should enhance success of a move.

2.   Is the notion of the Yin Yang polarity coherently integrated into resolution and traits?

3.   is it plausible for non combat conflict resolution?

Setting: magical hidden lands in the Himalayas, which coexist with 1930’s world in war. PC’s stand between two worlds -a secret Asian fantasy society and a bleak “modern” world replete with Nazi villainy. PC’s act as go betweens for Zhang Shung and the outside. They need to intercept intelligence, way lay Nazi sorcerers and protect the delicate social ecology of the secret lands. That means no new technology in, no mystical artifacts, devices or creatures out.  It about Past  vs. Present, East vs. West, myth vs. reality – Yin, Yang and its balance.

Traits

Point based PC creation, 6 sided dice. PC’s have 3-5 player created, broad core Traits. Each trait has a balance of Yin and Yang which modulates the feel of the trait radically, and determines the balance of the dice pool – its aptitude rating is rolled under to generate dice moves. Example Trait : Yeti Warrior /apt (4) Yang (5) Yin (3) - thus 5Yang dice and 3Yin dice in the pool. This means the warrior might be strong and fast, but not very dexterous or graceful. This is the important part to me - the notion that traits, things or events are filtered through the Yin/Yang polarity.
There are also related subsidiary traits which branch out from the core traits, and can be skills, relationships or equipment these have a single score which translate as “dual dice”, which may become either polarity as desired.

Conflict

When conflict arises its polarity is determined by the GM. Yang for overt yang-like situations (combat, aggression, strength etc) or Yin (Subterfuge, avoidance, intuition etc). How that is conceptualised depends on the nature of the conflict entirely and the groups agreement.

Dice are taken up of the most relevant trait as well as relevant  sub’s and rolled. Dice are generated :Yin, Yang and Dual. Depending on the conflict’s polarity, relevant dice are used to act out or react to events which cant be ignored. When an action is apposed it is apposed complimentary polarity with matching number of dice. For instance - say  it’s a YANG conflict: “Silent Zhao leaps across a boulder (1 Yang dice is used) and the takes a swing at a Nazi soldier (1 Yang), the NPC cant ignore this move and decides to duck the blow (1Yin) and fire a shot at Zhao (1Yang)”

The player can react with Yin to avoid then respond with Yang etc. Players may use multiple dice to increase the force of a move, which need to be matched equally to block or avoid or else the Yang move may be described to its conclusion. Double the amount of Yin to a Yang attack result in a reversal, which gives the victor narrative rights in order  to describe the setback.

Descriptive bonus multiplier:

If a move is cinematic, pulpy, over the top. Either in terms of narration or player ingenuity a x2 multiplier is applied to that move, if the player desires i.e. 2Yang =4. However, one die is removed from the remaining pool if its an offensive move.

There is more to it, but that’s the skeletal idea, the important bit being the notion of Yin and Yang within a scenes framing, a PC’s traits and during resolution. I really like the idea of Yin and Yang filtering certain concepts. A Yin event or thing is different to a Yang event or thing – what does that look like? how can that be mechanically be used etc. Do you feel that is an interesting area to look into?

Best,
Chad
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Justin Marx
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Posts: 88


« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2006, 02:12:36 AM »

Hi Chad,

First of all, the setting is tres cool. I'd like to play this a lot. Are you going with the myth of Zhang Zhung + Taoism only or are you adding in the pre-Buddhist Bon religious elements of Tibet as well?

A quick question - how much can the GM use the 'dramatic' double dice bonus in play? If it is whenever he likes, is it to be encouraged or discouraged in the text? Or is the cool stuff only for the players and big NPCs? Double dice is pretty powerful, then again it looks like you'll need it in order to make reversals and seize the narrative. As you said in your referred thread, forcing players to come up with cool stunts on a moment-to-moment basis becomes pretty difficult but the mechanic is so chunky that it pretty much means that winning a fight depends on cool narration, and narrative fatigue (like in Feng Shui) will set in. Is having a smaller bonus, such as +1 or +2 dice, inappropriate? Does a reversal have to require double the aggressers dice, or can it be less?

The Yin/Yang dichotomy is a useful paradigm and a very flavourful way of evoking the setting through play. In regards to the trait balance, how are the Yin/Yang dice divided? So if I have a 'Body' aptitude of 3, how many dice do I get to divide between Yin/Yang?

As for working for non-combat actions, it seems pretty solid to me. This is The Tao after all, this is the Way everything should work. However, flavour text and good descriptions of how the balance applies to different types of conflicts would be necessary. For instance, how much of the death/night aspect of Yin applies (for instance, the occult, witchcraft etc.)? I would love to see a social conflict play out with this mechanic. Can different aptitudes be played against one another, such as a Body vs. Mind conflict, or is the choice of traits circumscribed?

Is this Pulp-gamist at its finest, or is there a general theme of preserving the balance of the world in the story through mechanics in play? From a larger story consideration, how is this theme tied into the reward mechanism?

I like it.
Justin
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Chad
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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2006, 08:04:33 AM »

Hi Chad,

First of all, the setting is tres cool. I'd like to play this a lot. Are you going with the myth of Zhang Zhung + Taoism only or are you adding in the pre-Buddhist Bon religious elements of Tibet as well?

G Thanks! :) I definitely think the Taoist and pre-Buddhist Bon shamanic elements should be there - albeit in a thematically appropriate fantasy form. It's such rich source material. The way I have imagined it, is that in a sense Zhang Zhung could be the origin of these streams of Taoist mysticism, Tibetan and Mongolian shamanic magical practices and myths, that they are preserved in the hidden kingdoms in an older and more potent form. So one would have access to this arsenal shamans, magic and spirits as well as the Asian martial arts and Taoist flavoured stuff.

A quick question - how much can the GM use the 'dramatic' double dice bonus in play? If it is whenever he likes, is it to be encouraged or discouraged in the text? Or is the cool stuff only for the players and big NPCs? Double dice is pretty powerful, then again it looks like you'll need it in order to make reversals and seize the narrative. As you said in your referred thread, forcing players to come up with cool stunts on a moment-to-moment basis becomes pretty difficult but the mechanic is so chunky that it pretty much means that winning a fight depends on cool narration, and narrative fatigue (like in Feng Shui) will set in. Is having a smaller bonus, such as +1 or +2 dice, inappropriate? Does a reversal have to require double the aggressers dice, or can it be less?

I am quite unsure about this myself - I figured that the GM would have access to the double dice bonus for important named NPC's but it creates a strong oppositional atmosphere between the GM and player, which may or may not be good thing. You are right the doubling up thing is too heavy and will result in players feeling pressured to perform continually in order to be effective in conflict. I however would very much like to implement a mechanism which enhances success based on embellishment or creativity. How I initially conceived of it was that the players can pick up a die to roll and add to their pool immediately - but during a quick test it seemed that it would lead to narrative fatigue, whilst also results in continual rolling during what is supposed to be a fluid dialogic exchange. Maybe a flat +1 Yang/Yin bonus added without rolling to a move for embellishment? Enough to make it attractive and useful but not pivotal to success. I cant help but think there must be a far  more elegant way of doing this.

The Yin/Yang dichotomy is a useful paradigm and a very flavourful way of evoking the setting through play. In regards to the trait balance, how are the Yin/Yang dice divided? So if I have a 'Body' aptitude of 3, how many dice do I get to divide between Yin/Yang?

It needs to be tested, but I thought that the Yin Yang pool would be constant - so lets say for arguments sake there would always 7 Yin+Yang dice total in any trait, the balance would be up to the player and the style of the trait. The subsidiary Traits however (which have dual polarity dice) would increase as the PC develops, as would the aptitude score of  the core traits. Which leads me to my next idea - I am speculating that using six sided dice lacks the granularity to make the aptitude score-roll-under procedure truly feasible or scalable, as with D6 players are going to want at least an apt score of 4 for a trustworthy trait which doesn't allow for much growth. Perhaps I should look at  using D10 instead? allowing for an aptitude range of 1-10.

It occurs to me that the dual polarity dice of the sub traits, are pretty powerful as they allow for a lot flexibility within the whole Yin Yang structure of conflict. In tests they have been rather crucial and help dissolve the fore gone conclusions of "Oh you have 6 Yang dice and I have only 3 Yin so you beat me" The way conflict goes should be driven by role-play and not solely determined by the dice results - so they are important for that. however, it seems that pretty soon after the 4 or fifth dual dice they become too numerous and the Yin Yang polarity of the scene becomes meaningless, so I might need to look at a way of capping the Dual dice allowed in a conflict roll or managing that balance intelligently within the system.

As for working for non-combat actions, it seems pretty solid to me. This is The Tao after all, this is the Way everything should work. However, flavour text and good descriptions of how the balance applies to different types of conflicts would be necessary. For instance, how much of the death/night aspect of Yin applies (for instance, the occult, witchcraft etc.)? I would love to see a social conflict play out with this mechanic. Can different aptitudes be played against one another, such as a Body vs. Mind conflict, or is the choice of traits circumscribed?

Oh yeah I agree 100% with that. I think there is whole world of possible interpretations for what a Yin conflict would entail, or Yin anything for that matter. And although I think that this interpretation should be an important part of the how the group chooses to construct the game world world themselves, based on the group's consensus and story. Flavour text and examples will be crucial for helping to guide that view initially. also I think there are some inherent assumptions about what Yin and Yang polarity is and perhaps some basic ground rules, using those assumptions in the text to help make the game playable immediately.

The question you raise about the different aptitudes such as Body vs Mind is a very interesting one - something I haven't considered at all. I will have to think that one over, because something tells me that is an essential issue I will have to examine. I mean how will 'mind' Yang be different from body Yang, in game terms? Even on a simply mechanical level, how will such a switch in middle of conflict be handled in a single character? Will that new Trait'sYin/Yang pool be rolled as its introduced into play ? or could the PC use the moves that are in play as is? -I need to look at that closely...


Is this Pulp-gamist at its finest, or is there a general theme of preserving the balance of the world in the story through mechanics in play? From a larger story consideration, how is this theme tied into the reward mechanism?

Although it is at its most basic level, I think, pulp-gamism. The greater balance in the world is an important facet - and the primary source of conflict within in the setting. It should be incumbent on the characters to preserve the dichotomy - if for no other reason than to protect Zhang Zhung from falling into the hands of the Reich, leading  to obliteration of both worlds. My next task will be mechanically finding a way to drive characters toward dealing with this split, and rewarding that somehow.

Well thank you so much , these questions have been extremely helpful in crystallizing a lot of stuff about the game for me!

Best,
Chad
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dindenver
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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2006, 11:50:00 AM »

Hi!
  Two issues leap out at me. The first is the rigid use of Yin and Yang in combat. It seems to me that you could use Yin or Yang to describe either offensive or defensive actions. Maybe you should consider the player deciding which is offensive and which is defensive at character creation or just before rolling the dice...
  I think somehow a flexibility needs to be introduced so that any character cna do anything, regardless of Yin/Yang emphasis, just they have to use different strategies. For instance, say I wanted to take the trait lift heavy tings, when would I get to use Yin. Are you trying to encourage an emphasis in one half or the other, encourage a balance between the two or something else? Depending on which way you want to go you may beed to tweak the system a little.
  I like this though, it is brilliant and seems well thought out.
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Dave M
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Chad
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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2006, 01:18:36 PM »

Hi there!

I see what you mean -The idea of overall conflict polarity arose out of that exact quandary and I realize that I have been a bit unclear about the effect that the conflict polarity has on the conflict structure, so here goes:

At the beginning of the conflict the GM and players determine the overall polarity of a conflict based on it's primary nature and content. If it has strong Yang qualities, usually conceived of as masculine qualities such as combat, overt aggression, speed strength, then Yang moves are used to act out and Yin to react or to or avert those Yang moves. If the overall conflict is determined to be a Yin (Negotiation, Subterfuge, intuition), then Yin moves are used to act out and Yang to react or avert those Yin moves. How Yang and Yin are exactly conceptualised in the game world, and amongst the players is up to the group to decide, the system would suggest broad categories to get things rolling. So in a sense that is exactly what you describe, because if it is a situation that requires the Yang qualities of a trait to act out it will be a Yang conflict, the same goes for the converse. The important thing would be that character should be acting and responding with the complimentary polarity dice to other character or events..

In terms of the core traits themselves, these would be quite broad - possibly a single noun, something like 'Body' or perhaps more interestingly 'Yeti" or 'Shaman', modulated  by the balance of the Yin and Yang within the traits pool. A 'Shaman' with high Yin and Low Yang might be gentle and wise, but perhaps frail and slow etc. The Subsidiary Traits which branch out from the core traits  would be more specific phrases such as 'reads the stars for omens' or 'lifts heavy things', relating itself specifically to core trait it branches out from. The subs are different in that they supply assignable 'dual' dice to a conflict roll if they are to be used in that conflict, which can be used as any polarity - also acting in a similarly to your suggestion.

Does that seem plausible to you?
best,
c
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dindenver
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2006, 02:00:18 PM »

Hi!
  Yes, I do feel that the way you have laid things out are clear. But I think you might be overlooking a core value to the yin/yang concept. The idea that it takes both. And that they are interchangeable. Not indistinguishable, but interchangeable. For instance, you could easily justify having a Yin only lift heavy things ability. Maybe the character is a master of their environment, locating pullies, levers and other natural tools in the environment to move things in the game world. See what I mean, it's a strategy difference, not an ability difference.
  But that is only accomplished through flexible mechanics. And it becomes a design priority question. do you want to show how interchangeable Yin and Yang are or do you want to encourage people to get both or ..?
Examples:
Inflexible system:
Yang is Strength, energy and outwardly focused
Yin is Grace, Endurance and Inwardly focused
Lift Heavy Things is a Yang action, Yin is not really necesay

Flexible system
Yang is direct
Yin is indirect
Lift Heavy Things uses Yang when you use your back or shoulder
Lift Heavy Things is Yin when trying to convince someone to help or using tools

Balanced system
Yang is active
Yin is passive
Lift Heavy Things is Yang to lift it up and Yin to keep it up.

  So, it seems like you want to figure out what the philosophy is and go with it. I know I used the term inflexible, it was not intended to be negative, it just incidentally has negative connotations, lol
  It sounds like you have a philosophy, mostly I want to see what it is and examine this through that lens.
  Good luck man!
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Dave M
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Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2006, 04:35:33 PM »

I'm not sure I buy this suggestion about discarding the "polarity" concept; it seems as though that would make the forces appear indistinguishable, to me.
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Justin Marx
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Posts: 88


« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2006, 08:05:06 PM »

I agree with Shreyas, that dumping the dichotomy and keeping the terms makes the terms indistinguishable. The issue here is that the Yin/Yang mechanics are not going to literally represent everything that Taoist literature says it does (and with regional folk and medicinal traditions, the definitions get more and more diverse) - it is going to represent something cool and useful in play.

Chad, I was wondering, if you can do it succinctly, how are you defining the use of Yin/Yang in the game? Can you give us the breakdown of the concepts - as they will be used in play.

The embellishment thing is tough - I am thinking of Sorcerer here, where you get a straight plus one or two dice for cool narration. It's not so much the payoff of good narration in play that worries me, it's the frequency of it. You could go with the double bonus here if you kept the standards of narration high - in other words, the group is expected not to allow the cheap cinematics as excuses for the double dice - you want the double dice coming in at the last moment during the bareknuckle boxing scene with the Nazi General. You want a cinematic feel, but you don't neccessarily want the players to be getting big bonuses all the time. Well, you can use the carrot to prompt narration, but I've always been fond of the stick....

In other words, you could penalise dice for boring narration. Again, a straight rip-off from Sorcerer - that a player who tries to repeat a task that he previously failed in the exact same manner loses dice, and continues to do so if he keeps retrying it. I'm not talking draconian punishments here - but you can penalise a few dice from actions that everyone around the table thinks is 'lame'. Give a bonus die or two to actions that are 'cool'. Double the dice for actions that are Jerry Bruckheimer Huge, that require more CGI skill than the armies from LotR. The trick is to make sure that its the entire playgroup assents to this, that way the GM can describe cool stuff and have the players reward him for it as well - and makes sure he can't dose himself up with double dice either.

At the moment, the most important traits are the Yin/Yang components of the major aptitudes. But the aptitudes themselves need to be worked on because combining them with the polarity traits can create a lot of ambiguous meanings. I think that some basic aptitudes should be circumscribed (I mean, everyone is going to need some sort of health score in a pulp gamist game), and these are your main traits (As you wrote earlier, Body, Mind and Heart - you may not need anything else). Then let the players rip with all their sub-traits that come off them. Getting the definitions right is pretty easy - it's whatever you say it is, so put in what you need and define it as you see fit. But first it has to come back to how Yin/Yang are used in play. For example, it could be argued that Yin could be a mental/social trait in itself and Yang a physical trait, completely precluding the neccessity of other aptitudes. I don't think you should do that, because I think you have a nice mechanic already, but that is the other way of looking at it.

As far the d6's vs d10's are concerned, it depends - how much do you want character ability to guarantee effectiveness? d6's will make skill more important, d10's make luck more important (relatively speaking). I personally would stay with the d6's - unless you wanted a very highly grained aptitude progression.

So, in 50 words or less for each aspect, how are you defining Yin and Yang?

Justin
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Chad
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2006, 11:48:25 PM »

Hi All,

Thanks, this is actually a very fruitful line of enquiry. Dindenver I must admit your pulley and levers Yin example has got me thinking, and I see no reason why PC should not be able to use Yin the way you describe - I think though the key here would be the narration of the move, so that within the context of that conflict it worked. It could then mechanically be apposed by it's complimentary pole's dice. Although I worried that it would start becoming a blurry free for all "Oh but it is a Yin move because he tip toed before firing the machine gun" - that kind of thing. I think setting up a basic framework of what Yin and Yang would translate to in game terms, at least at a gross level will be important.

Justin, I see what you are getting at. In short, how I see it, it would depend on the 'zoom-in', which is to say, what is being filtered through the concept. In the broadest in-game sense a single scene would be polarized like this. So in the grossest  terms of a scene, Yang would be aggressive, possible combat, overt strength, speed, logic. Yin would be, subtle, negotiation, subterfuge, wisdom/intuition, magic, dextererity, grace. Are there any obvious ones I am missing? I think I will need to draw up a comprehensive set of examples to clarify this in the text.

However if narrative focus is zoomed-in on a specific area, the nature of Yin and Yang would be appropriate to that level of focus. If for instance it is a simple conversation: Yang would be insistent, argumentative, charismatic or just plain shouting even. Yin would be eloquent, deceptive, manipulative, negotiation or whispering. See what I mean? Even inanimate object's qualities would differ based on the balance. A Yang dagger (Straight, bold and heavy) would be very different to a Yin dagger (Curved, sharp and lite)

I would be very interested to know how you all would conceptualise Yin and Yang, on the grossest level of scene's framing as well as the other possible permutations?

I like what you are saying about Core Traits, being set. It's true, the players can go wild with the Sub traits - allowing player created core traits its going to be a huge hassle for the GM to negotiate. I had a look at using d10's and it doesn't work at all, the pools will need to be much larger for any kind of average success to emerge, which is chaos. Handles much better with d6's.

Best,
C
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Justin Marx
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« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2006, 06:38:22 PM »

Defining yin and yang is difficult without context, I guess. Dindever broke down some possible ways of looking at at - in physical terms I like his flexible system approach - directness and indirectness. For instance, you could block a Yang attack with Yang (a hard block, parry), or with Yin (misdirection, evasion). I don't think you should jump traits (for instance: Lift Heavy Things with Yin being convincing someone else to do it - but not sure how you would do it with Yin actually)...

Yin/Yang is the how - the trait itself is the resource you use to get it. As you mentioned, it can become very ambiguous. How is using logic to guess your opponents intentions different from using intuition - in play terms? In a causal way of thinking, they are very different of course, but in play terms, you just use different dice and narrate how it happens differently, but with the same result. This is where the ambiguity lies - the effect can very often be the same.

With the 'zooming-in' you mentioned, being applicable per trait, what you are basically looking at is specialising every trait in two ways using the polarity. This means that every trait needs to be defined and having tactical play choices - so for instance I CANNOT use Yin and Body to attack - I can only use it to defend, for example. The yin/yang traits need to limit tactical options, otherwise they become meaningless, you can do anything with anything and all it requires is narration in a different way. And cool tactical options is the key to good gamist play.

This is a thorny issue. Have you thought which set traits you would use in play? If you have a small list of traits, you can then define actions using Yin/Yang. Let's hear 'em!

Justin
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Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2006, 10:19:46 PM »

You might want to search the forum for Ethos, it sets out to differentiate different cultures by giving them different tactical options. You might consider doing this with yin and yang too; for instance, you could have default "offence" and "defence" tactics that are available for each, but yin has access to tactics like "aimed attack", "defence by redirecting", and yang has "attack with overwhelming force", "defend with counterattack", etc.

You can then say something like, "Rely on your judgement to determine whether something is actually a possible tactic for the situation at hand"; then you can say, for instance, that you can accomplish "holding up a rock" with Yin by using "defence by redirecting", putting a support underneath it, whereas you can't do that with Yang's tactics palette.
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Chad
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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2006, 12:32:00 AM »

Hi Justin, Shreyas,

I have been thinking about this and had a lightbulb moment ( I hope). I agree wholeheartedly with Justin that when a conflict is YANG, then Yang must be clearly delineated as usable only for acting out, offensive moves and Yin for reactive, avoidant or defensive moves. This interaction must be the primary means of how conflict  is resolved and should be strongly emphasised.

However, Shreyas suggestions of the tactical palette thing is very clever, and here is how I see it being used in Zhang Zhung: PC's have an energy score of sorts (Chi or whatever is appropriate) and spending a point of this energy allows players to access this tactical option. Spend a point of Chi and use Yin as "defend with counter attack" or "defence by redirecting" - That's an idea seems postively sparkly :) and will give players access to these creative tactical options without it dissolving the dichotomy.

I have been trying to find an interesting way to use energy points (Chi) in a fresh way, rather than the standard "Spend a point to get a die" or buy a success. What do you think?

Best,
C
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Chad
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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2006, 01:05:18 AM »


With the 'zooming-in' you mentioned, being applicable per trait, what you are basically looking at is specialising every trait in two ways using the polarity. This means that every trait needs to be defined and having tactical play choices - so for instance I CANNOT use Yin and Body to attack - I can only use it to defend, for example. The yin/yang traits need to limit tactical options, otherwise they become meaningless, you can do anything with anything and all it requires is narration in a different way. And cool tactical options is the key to good gamist play.

This is a thorny issue. Have you thought which set traits you would use in play? If you have a small list of traits, you can then define actions using Yin/Yang. Let's hear 'em!


With regards to your comment on "specialising" core traits in "two ways" using polarity - Each Core Traits (maybe I should use the term Stat for these to avoid confusion) has a set number of dice in the pool, which can be balanced in any way during Chargen. As the pool size is always the same only the distribution would different which means  player could  have Body Yang(5) Yin(3) or Body Yang(2) Yin (6). One couldn't specialise both polarities equally.

The specialisation would be in the Sub Traits which branch out from the Core traits (or Stats rather). These would have Dual polarity dice from say 1-3. These could be player created: "trained in ice fist under Master Sherab Olmu" (2) or "Shimmering Sky sword of Dzong" (1)

The Primary Stats could be: Body, Mind and Social as these seem to resonate with Tibetan buddhist tradition of the three gates of activity: Body, Speech and Mind.
and are time honored processes for categorizing PC action.

"And cool tactical options is the key to good gamist play" I never have been a 100% clear on what Gamism as a RPG model meant. I often understood it to be derogatory style of play in which players are copeting with each other and the GM. Which I don't think is something I would like to encourage. I have also understood it to mean a mode in which system mechanics are used for tactical advantage, and forms another layer of tactical gaming alongside a good story - now that i like!

Best,
Chad
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Justin Marx
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2006, 09:33:16 PM »

The Primary Stats could be: Body, Mind and Social as these seem to resonate with Tibetan buddhist tradition of the three gates of activity: Body, Speech and Mind.
and are time honored processes for categorizing PC action.

There are your three stats - keep them as that - Body, Speech and Mind. My Tibetan is non-existant, what are the literal translations of these concepts? Shen, Shuo, Yi - in Chinese... or just whack the Chinese characters on the charsheet with Body, Speech and Mind. Sounds cool to me. Speech sounds cooler than Social to me.

I never have been a 100% clear on what Gamism as a RPG model meant. I often understood it to be derogatory style of play in which players are copeting with each other and the GM. Which I don't think is something I would like to encourage. I have also understood it to mean a mode in which system mechanics are used for tactical advantage, and forms another layer of tactical gaming alongside a good story - now that i like!

I'm not expert, but since coming to the Forge I've gained a lot more respect for a playstyle that I play pretty often, and was somewhat embarrassed by. The pejorative view of gamism I suppose is munchkinism/power-gaming, but the latter part of your definition seems spot on - that's how I define it.

What I was implying by saying that Yin/Yang act as specialties is that they limit what can be done with a general skill - sure they cannot be identical, but they show two different ways of using one body of resources... but I think we're on the same page regarding that. Shreyas' breakdown of the tactical options seems pretty sound to me - but once again, how are they differentiated in play? As far as combat options go, there should be some mechanical difference between Attack with Overwhelming Force (Yang) and Aimed Attack (Yin) - they'll both deal out identical 'x' damage, there should be some other effect involved - Yang stuns/knocksdown, Yin blinds/paralyses for example. Case by case example once again.

As far as Chi is concerned, yeah that's the extra resource of the game. I agree, 'use this for a bonus die' gets a bit dull - so they need to be limited to certain opportunities to use them. There are loads of cool examples - SA's from TROS work similarly, but obviously the action has to, in some way, work towards the goal/destiny/passion that the stat is based on. Having good Chi is about balance - Traditional Chinese Medicine works to keep the Yin/Yang elements in balance, in a similar way to balancing humours in early Western medical science. Using Chi - to restore a balance? To counter an opposing move (so can only boost a Yin reaction if the original action was Yang)? There are lots of options here - Chi is your bonus die, just find conditions for its use. I'd recommend going with historical/cultural notions of Chi, in both physical, personal and cosmological terms to find these conditions. That's pure flavour and, if you can work it into the entire cosmological implications of keeping Zhang Zhung secret and safe, keeping balance and harmony in the world, then you may have a story-enhancing mechanic there.

Just seeds of ideas.
Justin
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Chad
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2006, 10:03:52 PM »

Hi Justin,


Thanks for the feedback, very helpful. Will look at TROS, and think about Chi some more.

Best,
C
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