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Author Topic: [GLASS] Request for Comments on Cost Balances  (Read 7983 times)
David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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« on: February 16, 2006, 01:18:18 PM »

Hi, folks;

I've been away for about a year, but I am back and I actually have some content for your perusal. Those of you who recall my (perhaps too-ready) willingness to provide critical feedback: here's you chance to get even. I am posting a link and a set of questions about my current (beta) rules for GLASS:


GLASS: Generic Live Action Simulation System
©2003Ė2006, David Carle Artman. All rights reserved.
http://www.davidartman.com/GLASSv0-9.pdf


Are the current Attributes and Abilities cost-balanced well enough to begin to playtest; or should I do a major repricing before I attempt to run guided test sessions? Specifically:

1) Am I facing a problem of scaling by having both Flat Costs and three types of level-relative Costs?
-- Refer to http://www.davidartman.com/GLASScosts.pdf for more details.

2) Is there any "Paying To Suck" that you perceive?
-- I have tried to avoid it, but might have failed in some ways.

3) Is it virtually pointless to put levels into Restore (versus buying several level 1 Restores)?

4) [For those with time]: Use 300 Experience to make a character in GLASS; and post its Attributes, Abilities, and Defects, along with their Final Costs. What's the most "overdog" or "broken" character that you can create?

Extra Credit:
*) Is there a fundamental disconnect between the Action- & Roleplaying-heavy Goals and any of the Abilities? Why or how?

**) Are the current rules sufficient to develop your own Abilities and, thus, characters? If not, what game effect is not represented or what system is incomplete or unclear?
-- I encourage you to try to make your "old reliable" characters from any genre using GLASS, to find such holes.


Feel free to ask follow-up questions to clarify my questions; though I request that you read the bulk of GLASS before you ask follow-up questions like "What do you mean by Attribute?" and so-forth.

Thank you all for reading, and thank you tenfold if you post replies;
David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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Graham W
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« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2006, 11:30:19 PM »

David,

I hope you don't mind me replying to this thread, instead of more recent GLASS threads. This has definite rules questions in it, so it seems a better place to start.

Are the current Attributes and Abilities cost-balanced well enough to begin to playtest; or should I do a major repricing before I attempt to run guided test sessions?

I think playtesting would be enormously helpful. Apart from anything else, the best way to find any problems with cost balancing will be to let your players loose on the game. Encourage them to break it. I bet they'll find ways we won't think of here.

My doubt is the Slay ability. An ability that instantly reduces Health to zero seems to make the other Health-damaging abilities redundant. Have I missed some safeguards somewhere?

1) Am I facing a problem of scaling by having both Flat Costs and three types of level-relative Costs?

I'm not quite sure what you mean by a question of scaling. It's a complex system, but a workable one, as far as I can see.

2) Is there any "Paying To Suck" that you perceive?

I can't see any.

3) Is it virtually pointless to put levels into Restore (versus buying several level 1 Restores)?

I think your editorial comment in the text is right. If you're allowed to buy several identical abilities at the same level, then the only advantage to having a high-level restore - over several level 1 restores - is speed of healing.

One obvious option would be to disallow identical abilities: so that once you've bought Level 1 Restore, your only option to increase your power is to buy Level 2 Restore.

Is there a fundamental disconnect between the Action- & Roleplaying-heavy Goals and any of the Abilities? Why or how?

I feel that the emphasis on combat (or at least damage-creating) abilities is likely to push people towards combat rather than roleplaying. If you give people toys like that, they'll want to play with them. It reminds me a little of the White Wolf Storyteller system: GLASS encourages people to roleplay, but gives them a system for combat, and you could end up with a situation where people resent use of the combat system because it stops them roleplaying.

I hope that's of some help, David. Do come back with questions if you'd like to.

Graham
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Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2006, 05:55:52 AM »

Heya,

Quote
Are the current Attributes and Abilities cost-balanced well enough to begin to playtest; or should I do a major repricing before I attempt to run guided test sessions?

How much have to playtested your game?  How many times have you made characters all by yourself?  How many times have you had other people make characters without any input at all from you?  That's the kind of question that can only really be answered in play.  Just looking we could guess, but that's all it would be: a bunch of guesses.

Peace,

-Troy
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2006, 07:13:50 AM »

Quote
I hope you don't mind me replying to this thread, instead of more recent GLASS threads.

Not at all--it's only about five days old! (Yes, that's an ancient and venerable thread, for The Forge.) ;-)
I would be happy to see the two (question-related) threads of mine get more feedback, even should they become a bit "old" (like, oh, a whole week or two!) :-)

Quote
{Playtesting encouragement and questions}

I have build some characters, but each time I felt like I knew the system so well, I wouldn't see assumptions I am making (be they assumptions of system or of how its "supposed" to work). I concur: I need testers, and my plan is to actually invite about ten of my LARP folks to a structured test. I will provide "mini characters" (just sets of Abilities) to see how various Abilities play against each other. Also, I know each of my testers strengths in-game, so I can leverage that in character assignments. Then, as night falls and we start looking for beer, I hope to turn them loose on building full characters, with the goal of "breaking" the system.

Quote
My doubt is the Slay ability.

Glad you brought it up: it lets me talk some about your other question ("question of scaling").
Basically, Slay is priced to reflect the cost that a TARGET pays to get a 4 in Health (30). This is functionally equivalent to someone buying Harm Directly 4. Note also that it is DOUBLE the cost of Counter (which would ignore the Slay) and equal to the cost of Reflect (which would send the Slay back to the actor). In short, it's the price to nullify 4 Health (a robust normal human). And don't forget that Slay is a Touch Ability: you still have to hit the target with a Touch Tool or Weapon to deliver the Slay Call.

Yet, THIS is where scaling gets tricky: in a High Power game, a target might have 6, 7, even 8 Health (think of Superman as a 10). Yet Slay costs the same (30)--and it MUST stay at a fixed price, otherwise it becomes "levels of Slay" and it's no different from Harm Directly. Thus, in a High Power game, Slay would be favored over Harm Directly... and, of course, folks would realize this and likely tuck away a Counter or two (for half the price of Slay each) as insurance. Or simply be very good at boffer, and not be hit enough for someone to get their Slay off before being beaten down.

I have considered making it an "activate Ability" that must be pre-declared and, then, is active for, say, three swings. I am somewhat loath to do that, because it goes against the spirit of "little talk" and "ease of tracking effects". Take a chaotic melee: someone "activates" their Slay, takes two swings at an opponent who heard them say "Slay Active!" and then turns to swipe at someone who has wandered into range. The new target would not know a Slay is activated, without another declaration--now we are declaring every swing--there goes "quiet". Basically, this is how two different East Coast (US) LARPs do it, and it's a nightmare of noise, argument, and confusion. (Common objection: "If I'd known a Slay was active, I wouldn't have fought you, I would have run.")

So I am reluctant to put that sort of "timer" effect into GLASS at all. Counts are all pre-activation (pre-completion) delays... it could get confusing if some Counts became "post-activation" timers.

I dunno... any ideas about this, now that I have tried to explain the "cost theory" some, above?

Quote
One obvious option would be to disallow identical abilities: so that once you've bought Level 1 Restore, your only option to increase your power is to buy Level 2 Restore.

I will give this more thought. I have some reservations about the general notion, though. Take a counter-example: just about any neophyte mage in a fantasy game can fire "magic darts" at someone--little more than magical arrows, with the same net effectiveness. In GLASS, these would be Harm 1 Throw Abilities. If I only allow a single purchase of any level of any level-based Ability, then that character option is gone.

Hmmm... Perhaps my intuition is correct, though. In a chaotic melee, the ability to heal someone up beyond 1 Health in a moment could be key. In other boffer LARPs (ones with "hit points" and "first aid"), it is very common for characters to become "pop-ups": knocked to 0 health, first aided to 1 health, knocked back down by the first damage that next hits them, popped back up with 1 and knocked back down. Aside from the jarring impact on verisimilitude, it's a dumb mode of play: battles can go on far longer than they should, as two walls of pop-ups ebb and flow against each other, with healers in the back juicing them for a point whenever they drop.

SO I think that a Restore over 1 MIGHT be very useful, as someone Restored to full Health will be able to take 3, 4, 5 times as many hits before dropping again. That can swing a battle.

Thus, MAYBE the whole "more points in less time" is good enough to leave Restore as a level Ability. DO not forget, also, that such Abilities will often be "bought down" with Incantation or Slow--or might even be so constrained by the GMs that are designing the game--and as such, most folks will get Restore Health 3 (5) bought back down to about 3 with Disadvantages. This is functionally equivalent to being able to give back Attributes (Exponential Cost!) with a Linear Cost Ability--a bought-down Restore 3 that costs 3 is the same as if Restore was a Linear Cost Ability.

But your accord with my editorializing in the rules has given me pause. I need to consider this more....

Quote
I feel that the emphasis on combat (or at least damage-creating) abilities is likely to push people towards combat rather than roleplaying. ...you could end up with a situation where people resent use of the combat system because it stops them roleplaying.

So does this imply that I must include "RP Abilities" that grant characters effectiveness in social arenas in which the player might be inept? Further, wouldn't that also open the door to choice-affecting Abilities (i.e. the actor can limit or dictate the choices the target has on how to act)?

My current emphasis on combat abilities stems from the fact that a character--at its core--is only 3 Attributes and the behavior of its player. I needed to consider game mechanical effects that could impact each of those Attributes (while not creating effects that supplant actually acting out behavior or actually succeeding at hitting someone). As a result, I found that I had (I think) exhaustively defined the means by which an actor can affect a targets Attributes, with the Abilities list.

And, by way of a sort of "defense," the numbers bear out that GLASS is not combat-centric: 17 Abilities have little or nothing to do with combat; 12 are purely combat-related, and the rest are "groupings" that generally impact Attributes (and it's, frankly, up to the GMs to come up with challenges that use Attributes in ways other than as resource counters in combat). And there's a host of them that just allow the use of particular arms and armor--that's my "everything costs" gamer speaking, and I can imagine that many GMs will just give such Abilities away for free (ex: a paintball-based game would likely allow everyone to have "Use 1H and 2H Projectile" for free, because everyone will buy it anyway).

SO, all that said, I think there is a good balance in the mechanics--but you did not perceive that, so I need to do some more writing, some more examples, to make it clear that there are MANY RP options in the Abilities. Heck, the whole Lock system is much deeper than it appears on the surface: it subsumes things like "hacking," "lockpicking," "read magic," "riddles," etc. into a generalized mechanic that could be used in a TON of ways. I think I need more samples of non-combat application of each Ability.

Thanks a LOT for your thoughtful feedback! I have to give Restore more thought, for sure, and you have shown me how at least one person perceives the "focus" of the game--and that perception is not quite what I wanted--so I have more writing to do, for sure (I knew that anyway, but I didn't suspect the writing would require refocussing and not just more details and examples).

Thanks!
David
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Walt Freitag
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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2006, 10:37:39 PM »

Hi David,

I've had a chance to read through your system document. Here are some specific questions and comments that have come to mind.

1. What is the precise sequence of events for successful use of hostile touch abilities? Obviously, with an Unlimited weapon skill you keep swinging (or whatnot) and you do damage each time you hit. But suppose you're using a skill like Scar, let's say without Incantation or Slow Limitations. Do you call "Scar [level]" before you attempt to hit? How much time or how many swings do you have to hit the opponent after you call it? (If it's just once, that seems to create a low chance of success, especially when most abilities are once-per-reset. But if there's no time or #swings limit, that seems likely to create confusion when there's a long delay, as well as make attack abilities very powerful.) Or can you call it immediately after a successful hit (which couldn't be true with Incantation abilities)? How about for a range Ability -- most likely you only get to throw one packet, but do you call it before you throw it or after (if) it strikes someone?

2. In section 3.4, under Attribute Costs and Limits, the description of attribute costs is unclear. When you say "Level 1 costs 1 Experience; Level 2, 4 Experience; Level 3, 9 Experience, and so forth" it's not clear whether if I'm buying an Attribute for a new character and I want Level 3, I have to pay 9 Experience in all, or 14 in all. From later sections it appears you meant the latter, but the text should be clearer on that point right here.

3. Toughness makes the character permanently immune to all one-handed weapon and thrown weapon attacks. Isn't this a problem?

4. Are Boost effects cumulative? If so, expect lots of level-1 Boosts (same issue as the "why buy high-level Restore instead of multiple cheaper low level ones?") and a lot of fairly tedious buffing. Since Boosts appear to last (with no gestures required) until the next reset (that is, potentially through multiple encounters and combats), you're likely to see an orgy of Boost buffing after each Reset. In fact, why even buy expensive high levels of Attributes, when multiple level-1 Boosts are vastly cheaper? And even if cumulative Boosts aren't allowed, it's still cheaper to buy Boost loaded up with Limitations (since they can be activated at leisure, shortly after play resumes from each Reset) than it is to pay for Attributes.

5. The Not While Moving Limitation is such a no-brainer for some Abilities (Resurrect, Lock, Unlock, Wreck, Divination, Language, probably Repair and Restore unless they're bought at increased range, and Boost as used in #4 above) that it essentially lowers the cost of those Abilities while barely limiting them. (Resurrections on the hoof have been pretty rare in my LARP experience!)

6. "Immediate" and "Permanent" as Ability duration descriptors really mean the same thing, don't they? For example, Lock is "Permanent" while Unlock is "Immediate"; Harm is "Immediate" while Restore is "Permanent," and so forth, but this is unnecessary confusion. The effect of "Unlock" is every bit as permanent as "Lock," unless the locks somehow automatically re-lock themselves. And the effect of "Lock" is every bit as immediate as "Unlock," since apart from Limitations that add a few seconds' delay, there's no provision for Abilities taking long periods of time to execute.

7. Speaking of Resurrect -- can't we get away from this? Resurrect is a crappy unreliable band-aid covering a gaping wound in this kind of LARP play. The "wound" is that in a LARP system with long-term character effectiveness advancement via Experience points, no one wants to lose a character because it involves the player's loss of not just the character as a fictional identity but of the right to participate fully in future play, a right likely earned over the course of months or years. (Face it, having a character with fewer points than other participants' characters means subordinate, constrained, limited participation. Everyone claims and pretends that this isn't true but it obviously is and everyone knows it.) Hence, when Resurrect is not reliably available, players turn their characters into cowardly odds-calculating optimizers (and are rewarded for doing so). Of course, when Resurrection is reliably available, those same characters become lunatics with no fear of death (and no drama at all if they do die, if subsequent Resurrection occurs). Not to mention that Resurrect kills verisimilitude in any genre and, when its availability is controlled by GMs by means of friendly NPCs, invites outright corruption. The way to avoid all these problems is to put the character's life at risk but not the player's experience points -- that is, don't allow Resurrection but let the player's experience points reliably carry over to a new character.

I have some other more general issues to discuss, regarding the goals you've claimed for the game. Those goals are admirable, and you've done well in moving toward achieving them. But you realize, of course, that you're dragging along a lot of old "LARP systems work this way!" and "LARP systems need this!" baggage. Would you be willing to kill a few more of those sacred cows, if it helped you to more thoroughly achieve the goals you listed in section 1.2?

- Walt
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2006, 02:47:42 PM »

Thank you very much for taking the time to read and post such thorough point, Walt. I will address each in turn:

1. What is the precise sequence of events for successful use of hostile touch abilities? ... Or can you call it immediately after a successful hit (which couldn't be true with Incantation abilities)? How about for a range Ability -- most likely you only get to throw one packet, but do you call it before you throw it or after (if) it strikes someone?

I try to define this in the Call definition (2.7, pg.5, ln.31), but I guess I was a bit ambiguous. Basically, the Call of an Ability is always and only made after a successful hit. I abhor "declarations" of effect attempts that, then, do not go off because of a miss--that's noise.

But Incantations and Counts always and only occur before the attempt to hit is made. In essence, this is the reason they are limiting: not only do they delay an attempt to use the Ability, but they can forewarn potential targets.

2. In section 3.4, under Attribute Costs and Limits, the description of attribute costs is unclear. When you say "Level 1 costs 1 Experience; Level 2, 4 Experience; Level 3, 9 Experience, and so forth" it's not clear whether if I'm buying an Attribute for a new character and I want Level 3, I have to pay 9 Experience in all, or 14 in all. From later sections it appears you meant the latter, but the text should be clearer on that point right here.

Yes, it's cumulative. I will make this more clear (in 3.4 and in 5) in the next revision. See what I mean about "assumptions" about the system that I need others to spot?

3. Toughness makes the character permanently immune to all one-handed weapon and thrown weapon attacks. Isn't this a problem?

Nope. GMs might not want to use it, but that's pretty much how one does "damage reduction" in GLASS.

Think full plate mail. Think riot armor. Think Hulk. Toughness means that, frankly, the average weapon just won't bother the character. It takes "heavy" weapons or special Abilities.

Yes, yes, it doesn't make sense that single-shot bows and crossbows would still work--being 2 points--but that's more of a 'fairness' issue: a bone I throw to folks who bring such weapons into paintball or kiddie gun games. I think someone who brings such "flavor" deserves the extra point.

Consider this, too: most genres favor one or the other: semi-auto weapons or single-shot. So a GM could opt to only allow one or the other, and set them all at 1 point. Maybe I will add that to those Ability descriptions....

4. Are Boost effects cumulative? If so, expect lots of level-1 Boosts (same issue as the "why buy high-level Restore instead of multiple cheaper low level ones?") and a lot of fairly tedious buffing. Since Boosts appear to last (with no gestures required) until the next reset (that is, potentially through multiple encounters and combats), you're likely to see an orgy of Boost buffing after each Reset. In fact, why even buy expensive high levels of Attributes, when multiple level-1 Boosts are vastly cheaper? And even if cumulative Boosts aren't allowed, it's still cheaper to buy Boost loaded up with Limitations (since they can be activated at leisure, shortly after play resumes from each Reset) than it is to pay for Attributes.

I think that a friend and I have solved this:
Boost HAP - Increases HAP to #.
Restore HAP - Increases HAP to # or to the target's normal full value, whichever is less.

Thus, there might still be Boost buffing, but it's not any more efficient than buying the Attribute outright. Boost is, basically, the "Aid" of GLASS. It's a way for a character to be defined by their ability to buff up others. It also allows for item-based buffs and for a way to exchange HAP for HAP (ex: Boost Health defined as Draining: one is shifting Alacrity into Health)--in short, flexability. For a price.

Does that help it out?

5. The Not While Moving Limitation is such a no-brainer for some Abilities (Resurrect, Lock, Unlock, Wreck, Divination, Language, probably Repair and Restore unless they're bought at increased range, and Boost as used in #4 above) that it essentially lowers the cost of those Abilities while barely limiting them. (Resurrections on the hoof have been pretty rare in my LARP experience!)

Hmmm... Not sure this is an objection... might be a presumption/prejudice.

For instance, someone with Thrown Resurrect could also be using a Movement Ability (say, Flight) to stay out of reach of enemies. Angels do this, I hear. :-)

Lock can be applied to a Bind or Root, and someone might very much want to be moving out of combat as they Throw Lock onto the Bind/Root.

Divination is literally "ask a GM a question": what makes that, inherently, something that requires navel-gazing, inertness, or inactivity? I can see someone asking for Divination while they are in mid-combat: fencing back and forth with a GM EC and using Divination to ask about, say, the EC's weaknesses.

6. "Immediate" and "Permanent" as Ability duration descriptors really mean the same thing, don't they? For example, Lock is "Permanent" while Unlock is "Immediate"; Harm is "Immediate" while Restore is "Permanent," and so forth, but this is unnecessary confusion. The effect of "Unlock" is every bit as permanent as "Lock," unless the locks somehow automatically re-lock themselves. And the effect of "Lock" is every bit as immediate as "Unlock," since apart from Limitations that add a few seconds delay, there's no provision for Abilities taking long periods of time to execute.

Locks do re-lock themselves, unless Wrecked (8.2 pg.19 ln.11). The moment the Locked object is "cycled" open and closed (or "bypassed" to use GLASS terms), the Lock re-engages.

As for the more general question of diction... Immediate is supposed to indicate a one-off effect, whereas Permanent is an on-going effect. This is in terms of the effect itself, not the results of the effect. So Harm has an Immediate duration of effect, and the Wounds it (might) cause are Permanent. Yes, Restore is Permanent because it affects HAP (i.e. it doesn't cause "antiWounds" or "antiDrains" or "antiShocks" that would be "permanent" relative to Restore initiation's "immediate" taking-of-effect). In short, I didn't want to abstract the intermediary, for Restore, like I must do for the intermediary results of offensive effects: there's (almost never) a need for a "resistance to being restored" Ability, in most games. Hmmm... but maybe I need a way to model that; for example, like a "Curse of Dullness" that makes unRestorable Direct Drains). Hmmm....

Anyway, does the diction stuff make sense, now? How might I make that more clear, in future Duration definitions?

7. Speaking of Resurrect -- can't we get away from this? ... Hence, when Resurrect is not reliably available, players turn their characters into cowardly odds-calculating optimizers (and are rewarded for doing so). Of course, when Resurrection is reliably available, those same characters become lunatics with no fear of death (and no drama at all if they do die, if subsequent Resurrection occurs).

Sounds like you would forbid it, as a GM. It's not required--and, in fact, MANY game types would never have it: Assassin, most "realistic" paintball scenario play, one-off (convention) games.

But if I don't have it, someone will add it because...
Not to mention that Resurrect kills verisimilitude in any genre and, when its availability is controlled by GMs by means of friendly NPCs, invites outright corruption. The way to avoid all these problems is to put the character's life at risk but not the player's experience points -- that is, don't allow Resurrection but let the player's experience points reliably carry over to a new character.

Not every genre. Not nearly every genre, at all. In fact, I'd say that any "realistic" genre set in our future by more than, say, 200 years would HAVE to allow Resurrect: we will be able to copy someone's mental state and physical state and spool out a replacement anytime someone "dies." (Most futurists agree with this presumption, by the way.) Yes, this will be problematic--as you have clarified in the dichotomy above.

I think there are tons of "solutions" to this "problem". That might make an interesting thread.

However, do you think it is mis-priced? (It costs the same a Health 3: a normal person's Health).

I have some other more general issues to discuss, regarding the goals you've claimed for the game. Those goals are admirable, and you've done well in moving toward achieving them. But you realize, of course, that you're dragging along a lot of old "LARP systems work this way!" and "LARP systems need this!" baggage. Would you be willing to kill a few more of those sacred cows, if it helped you to more thoroughly achieve the goals you listed in section 1.2?

Please expand your statements above. I don't quite know to which sacred cows you are referring.

The goals section is primarily there for reviewers: I can't see it lasting into production (or, maybe only in Designer's Notes). My motivations are pretty crystal-clear, though: I have seen the same issues come up again and again in both contact and non-contact LARPs:
- unbalanced, overly-detailed, and/or pointless Abilities
- noise and confusion
- missed effects (see noise and confusion)
- inflation of effects (i.e. allow damage buffs and defense buffs, and soon everyone's a walking tank swinging for 10 each hit)
- abashed gameplay (e.g. some effects undermine player acting, others require it, others make no thought of it; I try to keep acting at the fore)

I just want to see those problems resolved once and for all.

ALSO, I want to see a standard system employed world-wide, to allow for character portability and for "living" worlds within LARP. Thus, I attempt to model all relevant effects--like them or not, for a given game type or genre--and look to "boil down" all game mechanical effects to their core: how another character is directly, relevantly impacted. What has been enabled or constrained, vis a vis core effects?

However, if you see other cows mooing around and chomping my grass--err, GLASS--then point them out. The last thing I would like to do is undermine a popular mode of play, while pursuing my own agendas. (Unless you try to claim shouting out each effect each swing is "popular": then I have to just disagree.) :-)

Again, thank you VERY much for you time. If you like, please clarify the items about which I ask above;
David
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2006, 05:18:53 PM »

Hey, Dave?

Have you played LARP systems other than NERO and it's direct derivatives?  Are you familiar with nTeraction, or other attempts to fix NERO?  It's quite possible that all the problems your attempting to solve are already solved:

Madrigal: http://www.larp.com/madrigal/system2.shtml
Aralis: http://www.aralis.net/
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2006, 06:54:36 AM »

Thank you for taking the time to post....

Have you played LARP systems other than NERO and it's direct derivatives?  Are you familiar with nTeraction, or other attempts to fix NERO?  It's quite possible that all the problems your attempting to solve are already solved:
Madrigal: http://www.larp.com/madrigal/system2.shtml
Aralis: http://www.aralis.net/

Actually, I have never played a NERO game. My first LARPs were all non-contact MET, but LONG before that (neigh on 20 years ago) I was doing boffer sparring at cons and with friends. I have also participated in speedball and scenario paintball play, structured SCA tournies, myriad Assassin games, and two southeastern (US) LARPs. GLASS should serve all these game types.

Also, thank you for the links, but they are not all that germane. To whit:
  Madrigal seems like it uses a system like mine, but it also seems like they call damage each swing, have a slew of genre-specific effects, and have a slew of combat effects that simulate attack styles and abilities that I would expect my players to do themselves. Also, they seem to have (typical of fantasy) elemental damage types and classes. In short, it's so genre-bound that it could, at best, be a source of game effects that I have missed (and, yes, I will search it for such effects). Note that I say "seems" a lot: I can't find the full rules, just addenda.
  Aralis is so totally a "my favorite fantasy" LARP that it's barely on the GLASS map. It has a tremendous amount of Setting material, and its System is clearly coupled to the Setting (ex: find projectile rules--it's all packets or thrown foam). Still (again) I  am glad to see it as a potential source of "forgotten" effects in GLASS.
  And both are, apparently, unscalable--again, a factor of being rather genre-bound.

Anyhow... I don't mean to seem discouraging, but your reply (a) does not address cost balances in GLASS and (b) seems to speak to GLASS design goals, yet offers up two "already accomplished those goals" examples that violate at least two and maybe three of said goals. I am confused...?
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2006, 07:03:35 AM »

It seemed to me that, given your list of "things I'm trying to accomplish," that you were trying to fix basic holes in NERO (despite it's name, the system is used all over the country, including the south, particularly SOLAR.)  I just thought I'd point you at some other people who are more-or-less attempting the same thing.

yrs--
--Ben
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Walt Freitag
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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2006, 08:54:34 PM »

Hi David,

1. What is the precise sequence of events for successful use of hostile touch abilities? ... Or can you call it immediately after a successful hit (which couldn't be true with Incantation abilities)? How about for a range Ability -- most likely you only get to throw one packet, but do you call it before you throw it or after (if) it strikes someone?

I try to define this in the Call definition (2.7, pg.5, ln.31), but I guess I was a bit ambiguous. Basically, the Call of an Ability is always and only made after a successful hit. I abhor "declarations" of effect attempts that, then, do not go off because of a miss--that's noise.

But Incantations and Counts always and only occur before the attempt to hit is made. In essence, this is the reason they are limiting: not only do they delay an attempt to use the Ability, but they can forewarn potential targets.

Okay, so if an Ability has incant and count, first I incant and count without calling, then I attempt to hit. Does incanting and counting include the name of the ability? If so, how do players distinguish this from a call? If not,† I'm incanting without revealing what ability I'm incanting for, so if I have several abilities that all have incant and count, do I have to even decide at that point which one I'm using, or can I decide later, after I hit? Once I finish incanting and counting, how long do I have to hit and call it? A minute? An hour? If missiles are involved can I fire as many as I want? Can the eventual hit and call be against a completely different target than whoever was nearby when I incanted and counted? Can I incant for one ability, then incant for another, then call either one after I hit? Have I convinced you yet that it would be easier to just list out the precise sequence I asked for than to keep answering these questions individually?

I think that a friend and I have solved this:
Boost HAP - Increases HAP to #.
Restore HAP - Increases HAP to # or to the target's normal full value, whichever is less.

Thus, there might still be Boost buffing, but it's not any more efficient than buying the Attribute outright. Boost is, basically, the "Aid" of GLASS. It's a way for a character to be defined by their ability to buff up others. It also allows for item-based buffs and for a way to exchange HAP for HAP (ex: Boost Health defined as Draining: one is shifting Alacrity into Health)--in short, flexability. For a price.

Does that help it out?

I think it does. There's nothing wrong with Boost buffing per se -- that's what it's for. But this change turns it from a too-good-to-pass-up bargain into a reasonably fair tradeoff. You can still buy high-level Boost instead of a high Attribute and save a lot of points by buying it with disadvantages, but that makes sense because the potential drawbacks (such as the possibility of not being able to use the ability at the right time, while an Attribute is always there) that justify the cost savings.

5. The Not While Moving Limitation is such a no-brainer for some Abilities (Resurrect, Lock, Unlock, Wreck, Divination, Language, probably Repair and Restore unless they're bought at increased range, and Boost as used in #4 above) that it essentially lowers the cost of those Abilities while barely limiting them. (Resurrections on the hoof have been pretty rare in my LARP experience!)

Hmmm... Not sure this is an objection... might be a presumption/prejudice.

For instance, someone with Thrown Resurrect could also be using a Movement Ability (say, Flight) to stay out of reach of enemies. Angels do this, I hear. :-)

Lock can be applied to a Bind or Root, and someone might very much want to be moving out of combat as they Throw Lock onto the Bind/Root.

Divination is literally "ask a GM a question": what makes that, inherently, something that requires navel-gazing, inertness, or inactivity? I can see someone asking for Divination while they are in mid-combat: fencing back and forth with a GM EC and using Divination to ask about, say, the EC's weaknesses.

I can see someone asking for a Divination in mid-combat too. And I can see it sucking. I would hope that a GM playing an EC would not be trying to simultaneously perform GM functions such as answering Divinations. Otherwise I already know the EC's weakness: "Easily distracted while in combat by being made to answer GM requests such as Divinations!"

More generally, and more to the point, I didn't say and didn't mean to imply that these Abilities would never ever be disadvantaged by the Not While Moving limiation. Only that such occasions would be rare, given how these Abilities are usually used in boffer LARP play. (You're welcome to call that presumption; just keep in mind that I call it experience.) Since the issue at hand is balancing costs, it's a cost adjustment that must be kept in mind.† When you're looking at the Ability costs for a typical fantasy-genre healer, for instance (that is, not an angel or an invisible jet-propelled healbot), you have to pretty much take the cost savings for Not While Moving as a given.

Locks do re-lock themselves, unless Wrecked (8.2 pg.19 ln.11). The moment the Locked object is "cycled" open and closed (or "bypassed" to use GLASS terms), the Lock re-engages.

If my front door worked this way, then every time I put the garbage out and wanted to leave my front door unlocked behind me, Iíd have to smash the lock with a sledgehammer, then I install a new lock when I return. Since you want these abilities to apply to a wide range of genres and effects, "all locks always re-engage automatically" makes no sense. In the real world, some do (such as a vehicle ignition or a computer login code), some do but are easily prevented from doing so (the average door lock -- you can either release the lock mechanism, or simply not close the door), and some don't (a padlock or a bank vault or a drawbridge). I think what you want to say is that Locks that are Unlocked† (but not Wrecked) always have the capacity to re-lock but whether they automatically do so or not, and whether they can be easily prevented from doing so or not, depends on the desires of the lock's creator and/or the nature of the device.

More generally, no, your whole Immediate versus Permanent distinction is still a muddle. What you seem to be saying is that some states -- being wounded, having a lock unlocked -- are special in some way and the effects that bring them about are called "immediate," while other states -- being healthy, a lock being locked -- are normal and so the effects that bring them about are called "permanent." But that distinction is arbitrary. Is it more normal to be fatigued or rested? Unlike with wounds, when you're fatigued you're just fatigued, there's no anti-endurance sticking to you. Harm and Restore both change the state, and in both cases the state change happens immediately and the changed state is persistent after the change happens. The Unlock situation shows that when you try too hard to define one state as more-normal (as, a lock being locked rather than unlocked), you get into trouble when you try to generalize the effects (so if I'm trying to use your lock/unlock system to deal with a drawbridge, I get a drawbridge that re-raises itself once it's been lowered and walked across, defying the laws of gravity).

7. Speaking of Resurrect -- can't we get away from this? ... Hence, when Resurrect is not reliably available, players turn their characters into cowardly odds-calculating optimizers (and are rewarded for doing so). Of course, when Resurrection is reliably available, those same characters become lunatics with no fear of death (and no drama at all if they do die, if subsequent Resurrection occurs).

Sounds like you would forbid it, as a GM. It's not required--and, in fact, MANY game types would never have it: Assassin, most "realistic" paintball scenario play, one-off (convention) games.

But if I don't have it, someone will add it because...
Not to mention that Resurrect kills verisimilitude in any genre and, when its availability is controlled by GMs by means of friendly NPCs, invites outright corruption. The way to avoid all these problems is to put the character's life at risk but not the player's experience points -- that is, don't allow Resurrection but let the player's experience points reliably carry over to a new character.

Not every genre. Not nearly every genre, at all. In fact, I'd say that any "realistic" genre set in our future by more than, say, 200 years would HAVE to allow Resurrect: we will be able to copy someone's mental state and physical state and spool out a replacement anytime someone "dies." (Most futurists agree with this presumption, by the way.) Yes, this will be problematic--as you have clarified in the dichotomy above.

I guess you're right, someone will add it anyway. (Or maybe not; see later re sacred cows.) But I stick with what I said: every genre, every milieu, every single game. Verisimilitude concerns more than just what the setting description or the rules say about how a game setting works. It's also a matter of how the characters are actually played and what actually happens in play. It might be "realistic" to surmise that resurrection is commonplace in an exotic future saying, but it's not possible to play characters in such a setting with any verisimilitude, any more than it's possible to play, with any verisimilidue, characters who can freely travel in time, or who are in continuous telepathic communication with one another. No one can really imagine what those experiences would be like. In the case of resurrection in role playing games, no one ever even tries. They just keep going as if nothing at all happened to the character -- something fiction writers who deal with the resurrection of characters such as Buffy, Lord Voldemort, and Miles Vorkosigan donít try to get away with.

Nothing says "I'm not a character, I'm a game token" quite like being resurrected.

One technique that will help you as you refine your rule system is to always look squarely at what game mechanisms actually do and how players actually use them, instead of filtering them through romantic visions of what it's supposed to look like in the imaginary game world. You might look at a Resurrection ability and see the old man chanting over Conan's crucified corpse for days and nights on end, battling the vengeful spirits that are trying to claim his soul. Or you might see swarms of nanobots mapping every molecule of a personís body every morning, and reconstructing a new body out of basic elements after the personís death. What you should see is a player saying, "Hey Joe, thanks for resurrecting me. Sure would have hated to have to start over at first level."

However, do you think it is mis-priced? (It costs the same a Health 3: a normal person's Health).

No, I don't think it's possible for it to be mis-priced, because resurrection by its nature doesn't have (and doesnít need) any "balance" with anything else in a game. In keeping with the no-romantic-visions principle I just mentioned, letís be clear that the purpose and the effect of resurrection is to prevent the loss of experience points. For any given use, it may preserve a handful of experience points, or thousands. So there's no consistent basis for balancing. If the ability has to be there, my preference is to go ahead and make it cheap. This will help avoid the worst-case scenarios in which the whim of a GM determines whether a player loses a character or not (which happens if resurrects are so expensive that it becomes a resource to be begged from NPCs, or if only one "healer" per party has the ability, making everything contingent on whether or not the healer is targeted for attack). Since a resurrect works on anyone except the one who actually has the ability, making that person pay a lot for it can be a raw deal. (Face it, if you end up having to take a back seat in combats throughout the game so that after the big climactic battle is over you have the privilege of saying, "I resurrect Knuckles, again!" -- it ain't worth it.)

The goals section is primarily there for reviewers: I can't see it lasting into production (or, maybe only in Designer's Notes). My motivations are pretty crystal-clear, though: I have seen the same issues come up again and again in both contact and non-contact LARPs:
- unbalanced, overly-detailed, and/or pointless Abilities
- noise and confusion
- missed effects (see noise and confusion)
- inflation of effects (i.e. allow damage buffs and defense buffs, and soon everyone's a walking tank swinging for 10 each hit)
- abashed gameplay (e.g. some effects undermine player acting, others require it, others make no thought of it; I try to keep acting at the fore)

Yeah, as I said, I think you've made some progress in these areas and I like some of the ways you've gone about it. Many years ago I designed a LARP system with similar goals. (The biggest difference was that I had one additional, and top, priority -- "easy to play" -- in the sense that new players shouldn't have to learn to react in-character in special ways to lots of different effect calls. I was sick of players yelling at other players things like "Hey, I said 'Blargenpfistermiffly,' that means you're supposed to drop your weapons and pretend to be swatting at a swarm of biting insects, asshole!") Like you, I concluded that limiting the number of different effects that affect other characters to the bare minimum, while allowing the players using the effects to add as much complication as they wanted to their own charactersí procedures for making the effect happen, was the way to go. I went a little farther in this direction than you have, bringing the number of hostile effects down to seven, and color-coding them so no calls at all would be necessary. For instance, if hit with a blue packet, weapon, or missile, you're unharmed but you have to stop fighting until assisted for a certain amount of time by another character. It doesn't matter whether the blue thing stunned you, paralyzed you, wrapped you in webs, put you to sleep, turned your weapons red-hot, or blinded you with a swarm of insects; the important thing for all concerned is that you have to stop fighting until aided. Violet indicates youíre "down" (out of all action for the combat even if others aid you). When a monster reveals violet claws or a villain pulls out a violet sword, itís serious business. (Thereís a color for death too, but itís mostly intended to be used for effect -- as in, "donít try to cross this barrier, itís lethal" -- rather than for actual attacks against PCs.)

Of course, that system doesn't have the range of specific detailed effects that other systems including GLASS offers. For instance, no being healed or buffed while you're fighting, no mental effects (such as attacks causing sanity loss), no flying or invisible combattants. The question is, what are you willing to give up to optimize the core business of your boffer combat rules?

I just want to see those problems resolved once and for all.

ALSO, I want to see a standard system employed world-wide, to allow for character portability and for "living" worlds within LARP.

Interesting. I have to say that unless you're planning to start running LARP events worldwide, I don't see the slightest chance of this happening, regardless of the merits of your system as developed so far. People who are already organizing LARPs are already using systems that they apparently like. Also, most of their systems are homebrews, so they have unlimited power to modify their systems if they want fewer pointless abilities, less noise, or whatever, and yet theyíve rarely done so. How do you plan to persuade them otherwise? The alternative is attracting new players, but GLASS isnít different enough to attract players who arenít already attracted to other similar systems. A worldwide publicity campaign might overcome all these problems, but if you have the budget for a worldwide publicity campaign Iíd suggest spending it to promote something thatís commensurately profitable instead, like shampoo or doggie treats.

However, if you see other cows mooing around and chomping my grass--err, GLASS--then point them out. The last thing I would like to do is undermine a popular mode of play, while pursuing my own agendas. (Unless you try to claim shouting out each effect each swing is "popular": then I have to just disagree.) :-)

What I mean by sacred cows isn't popular modes of play that you're missing, it's precisely the opposite: itís stuff you've got in GLASS because it's standard, expected, or popular, whether it actually benefits LARP or not. Yes, I claim that shouting out each effect each swing is popular. Lots of LARPers do it; thatís what popular means. But you havenít let that blind you to the desirability of not doing it. Thatís wonderful. Unfortunately youíve got enough other sacred cows in there to supply McDonald's with hamburger for a year.

This post is getting too long, so I'll discuss a few of them in the next one.

- Walt
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Walt Freitag
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2006, 08:59:55 PM »

- Long-term character advancement, the buying of new and/or improved skills with experience gained over months or years of play. Ever wonder why so many LARP organizations come and go in an endless cycle of formation, expansion, decay, and dissolution? Could it be because it's a lot more rewarding to start a new group than to join an old one? And could that be because long-term character advancement makes the whole business a pyramid scheme in which new players with low-level characters discover that theyíre only there to stoke the egos of the long-term players with high-level characters? Try this for a radical idea: fair consumer trade. For instance, players who all pay the same fees to participate in a game all get to play comparably effective characters.

- If it's occasionally seen in the genre, let's simulate it no matter how stupid we look doing so. If a middle school wants to put on a play, but they don't have the tech to put the actors in flying harnesses, then they don't perform Peter Pan. They donít have the cast point up in the air to show when they're flying. They simply choose a different play. Lots of really good fantasy and SF novels have been written in which no one ever becomes invisible. So why do so many LARP systems have some silly "invisibility" mechanism? Why promote a "flying" mechanism that doesn't look like flying, feel like flying, or have any of the natural real-world effects (such as getting a wider view, travelling quickly, or reaching an otherwise inacccessible place) of flying? I know why, because "some people will expect it to be in there as an option." In other words, itís a sacred cow.

Suppose you took out the flying gesture. How many experienced LARPers would then look at GLASS and say, "I donít want to play this, thereís no provision for flying characters!" Now, how many people unfamiliar with LARP would look at GLASS as it is and say, "Oh my god, this is supposed to be live action but you have to point up in the air and pretend youíre flying! How lame is that?" (It doesnít help to say, "thatís optional." People see it in there, they assume itís in there because itís supposed to happen. And they should assume that, because it should only be in there if itís supposed to happen.) Which group do you think is larger? Which group better represents your potential customers (given that, by definition, experienced LARPers already have systems that theyíre familiar with)?

- Involuntary player-character death. Try this for a rule: a PC can only die if the player agrees, at or shortly before the time it happens, to allow it. This has many benefits in ongoing LARP play, not the least of which is to make PC death more likely, when itís dramatically appropriate. Involuntary PC death is the mangiest, maddest, most spongiform sacred cow in the whole pasture. The debate for tabletop role playing over "how can a game be challenging/suspenseful/realistic if itís not possible for any player-character to get killed by any lucky mook?" pretty much ended decades ago. (In LARP, it hasnít even gotten started yet.) Sure, there are players out there, tabletop and LARP alike, who will claim that having control over whether or not their characters die would instantly make the game uninteresting. But if the risk of PC death is so important to them, why do so many of them use systems with multiple safety nets including multiple hit point pools (when you use up your X points, further damage starts reducing your Y points), survival into negative hit points, hero points (reward points redeemable to reverse an outcome), resurrection, social conventions against directing damaging attacks against down-but-curable characters, dice fudging, and (in some LARP) appealing to review boards over technicalities? You can get rid of all that crap by letting players decide when character death is OK. For instance, suppose it worked this way: you go "down" in combat if you run out of hit points or get zapped by powerful magic or whatever. Normally, when down, you cannot perform any action, you cannot be further harmed, and you cannot resume action (regardless of how you are helped by other characters) until the end of the scene or combat. However, at any time you may ignore being down, and choose to resume (or continue) free action instead, by announcing "I commit!". Once you do so, if youíre down again during the same ongoing scene or combat, your character dies, with no further recourse. (Iíve already said how I feel about resurrections!) By continuing to fight or act instead of going or staying down, youíre saying that the current action is so important to you, the player, that if your character is thereby killed, you, the player, would accept that as a "good death." (This is the rule in Crossroads, the same system that has the color coded effects.)

- Hit points. Boffer combat isnít well served by counting hits against points. Most limb "hits" are light touches and grazes that wouldnít do much real damage if delivered with real weapons. On the other hand, you can connect with a swing that would cut a guy from stomach to spine, and he calls out "one!" (or silently counts "one" to himself) and keeps fighting. Furthermore, flailing away with a weapon is pretty easy but real defense takes practice, skill, and usually training that relatively few players have, so most boffer LARP combats are over quickly and undramatically unless the number of hit points is inflated (which then makes the counting more difficult). How about, instead, "one good solid body hit puts you out of action and anything else has no effect?" Okay, then you might have players using their limbs to block hits in an "unrealistic" fashion. But is that really a problem, if it improves the overall physical quality of the fighting? (How realistic is dodging bullets or arrows, when theyíre represented by easy-to-dodge toy projectiles?) Or instead, consider "a touch has no effect if you make any defensive movement to block or dodge it, whether or not you actually do block or dodge it, but if for any reason (including fatigue) you canít or donít make a defensive movement, the touch puts you out of action." Or simply, "when you know youíre beaten, fall down." Do you think that last option would cause more problems or arguments than standard systems (trying to judge whatís a hit, miscounting, accusations of "rhinohiding," and so forth)? And yes, there are ways to add things like armor and Toughness to these alternative systems.

Now, by this time youíre probably:

(a) gasping in awe of the untapped possibilities for better, more streamlined, more socially functional LARP play that present themselves when you get away from clumsy conventions held over from tabletop systems that are themselves long outmoded,

or (b), annoyed at my ridiculous notions that reveal my contempt for LARP and my ignorance of how LARP is supposed to work,

or perhaps (c) thinking, "fine ideas for some other game system but not mine," meaning that you can see some merit in a few of the ideas but youíre fearful of breaking too many of the expectations you started out with.

Let me know which it is, and I'll know how best to continue.

- Walt
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2006, 01:00:38 PM »

First, let me thank you again for your help. You clearly have more experience with boffer LARP than I do, and your insights are valuable. I am going to use this post to address simple clarifications and redirects. I would like to think more before I address your larger points of sacred cows. (I don't know yet if I am at your A or C conclusions--you can be sure I wouldn't accuse you of B.)

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Does incanting and counting include the name of the ability?
It doesn't have to, but it could. (sc2.7 pg5 ln31-32):
"Call – A unique phrase that the actor says clearly and loudly, to inform the victim (and other players) of the effect that is targeting him or her."

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If so, how do players distinguish this from a call?
The call is a pre-defined term or a numeric (or both) that is announced after a hit contacts. The victim should be able to tell the Call because a Hit occurs right before it. (Yes, chaotic combat will always be a problem, with any non-trivial effect announcements.)

If it's an effect "By Staring," that phrase (suffix) is added to the Call, and the Hit is assumed to have "happened" (line of sight, of course). That is why Stare Abilities have to have that addition: to inform someone that, yes, they were hit and, yes, what you just heard was the effect.

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If not,† I'm incanting without revealing what ability I'm incanting for, so if I have several abilities that all have incant and count, do I have to even decide at that point which one I'm using, or can I decide later, after I hit?
You realize that it only works if these Abilities have exactly the same level and same number of applications of Count, right? That could make the player inflexible, just to gain the (cheeky) ability to dynamically decide what effect he wants after a hit. Of course, you also must have the same "flavor" of Abilities, as the Incant must "inform the victim (and other players) of the effect that is targeting him or her". I think all you got here is the chance for someone to "ramp up" an Ability by Incanting and Incanting and Incanting (stepping through their Harm 1, then Harm 2, than Harm 3, etc) then launching when they have it high enough... while being able to "pre-launch" at a lower Harm level so long as they have said enough syllables. That's cheating (see below).

But I admit that I need a timing rule for Calls; if you have, say, a second to make a Call after a Hit (my assumption, I now realize) I think it would be tricky to be dynamic. After all, how much can the state of combat change between the time that you start to Incant and Count one of this set of neigh-identical Abilities and the time that you Hit?

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Once I finish incanting and counting, how long do I have to hit and call it? A minute? An hour?
Hmmm... again, you find an assumption on my part (immediate attempt to hit is required)... but maybe I am willing to say "whenever" with the proviso that the effect fizzles if you start ANY other Ability (including trivial use of weapons and shields). After all, that's kind of like a "hung spell" or "aiming" or, basically, taking a self-imposed (i.e. not imposed by Limitations) delay to improve your chance of success (presumably). I might be OK with that. But, yes, I need to cover it in the rules.

In my own defense, the rules at this beta stage are as referential and definitional as I could make them: I have avoided procedural documentation until more fundamentals are hammered out. Looks like I shoulda gone at least a little into my "how to play GLASS 'right'" presumptions. In general, this is a testing doc meant for experienced players, and I thought much could be left to "conventions" (AKA sacred cows ;) ).

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If missiles are involved can I fire as many as I want?
Oh, dear me, absolutely not. And there's a bit of a diction problem, here: Throw Abilities can not be attached to Projectile Weapons, only to a Packet. There are no "Ranged Weapon Abilities".

But even if you asked, "can I THROW as many PACKETS as I want?" I'd still say, "dear me, no; what gave you that idea?" Perhaps revealing another assumption: one throw, one effect, one Call. Yep, you can miss with Thrown "magic." Get it Stare, if you want auto-hit.

You could wedge in an interesting counterpoint to your earlier objection here: what if a character has NO Incants or Counts (no delays) on any of their Throw Abilities: can they throw and throw and then only Call when they hit--thus, only "burning" the Ability the one time? And can they dynamically Call, from their list of remaining Throw Abilities?

Hmmm... Social Contract, here. Yep, they could; and they'd be cheating. If you want to throw an effect, you use up your Throw Ability and toss and, if you Hit, you Call. Dispose of the Ability tag in the manner that the Hosts require. Is this not, then, a case where the Social Contract not to cheat must hold sway (like so many other player-regulated resources and enforcement techniques)?

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Can the eventual hit and call be against a completely different target than whoever was nearby when I incanted and counted?
Yep! Happens all the time; and it's hilarious! :)
(I am fairly sure that there is no rule that claims the activation of an Ability "links" it to its intended target, but please point it out if you found something that suggests as much.)

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Can I incant for one ability, then incant for another, then call either one after I hit?
With the addition I have pointed out above ("the effect fizzles if you start ANY other Ability"), this is clearly "No."

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Have I convinced you yet that it would be easier to just list out the precise sequence I asked for than to keep answering these questions individually?
Yes, you have. I will include comprehensive procedural material in the final release, to address all questions of timing. Magic: the Gathering didn't have a fool-proof "timing of effects" in v.1 either, by the way. ;)

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I would hope that a GM playing an EC would not be trying to simultaneously perform GM functions such as answering Divinations. Otherwise I already know the EC's weakness: "Easily distracted while in combat by being made to answer GM requests such as Divinations!"
Heheh. Ok, ok. Bad example. That would likely require a Hold, which makes Divination in combat a bit meta-gamey and overpowered. It's supposed to be the "deduction, oracle, streetwise, finding plot data from non-present in-game entities with GM mediation" power that every game genre seems to include. Sacred cow? Maybe. Not Action Heavy? Yep. Could it be thrown out? See Resurrection--if I don't do it, it's House Rule #3 or #4.

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...such occasions would be rare, given how these Abilities are usually used in boffer LARP play.
So, in a sense, it's a Limitation that some Ability buyers would almost always take, as it's not effectively limiting and they'd get it for half price. I will think further about this. I believe I can fix it with text (i.e. make GMs aware of that "abuse" and they can prevent it with specific Ability purchase restrictions, if they wish). I might also try to fix it by saying "Not While Moving can only be applied to Offensive, Combat, and Defensive Abilities" and, thus, take all the ones you listed off the table. I just try to avoid doing such things (categorical rulings) because GLASS is supposed to be eminently flexable; each categorical exception shuts down orders of magnitude of options.

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If my front door worked this way, then every time I put the garbage out and wanted to leave my front door unlocked behind me, I’d have to smash the lock with a sledgehammer, then I install a new lock when I return.
Don't you have a Key? (sc8.2 pg15 ln15-18)

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...some do but are easily prevented from doing so (the average door lock -- you can either release the lock mechanism, or simply not close the door)...
Good catch: I might need something in the rules that allows a Physical or Conceptual Lock to be deactivated by the Unlocker without actually being Wrecked. I think I left this out to avoid the need for the player to indicate a Lock is deactivated (but could be reactivated) to other players and GMs once out of the area. Hmmm....

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I think what you want to say is that Locks that are Unlocked† (but not Wrecked) always have the capacity to re-lock but whether they automatically do so or not, and whether they can be easily prevented from doing so or not, depends on the desires of the lock's creator and/or the nature of the device.
...and it depends on the Unlocker. What you point out could be managed with a Type (say, "Auto Lock" v. "Toggle Lock") BUT the management of it in-game becomes more problematic because of player-initiated (i.e. no GMs around) state changes and the tracking of same. I really don't want to introduce player-created tags--recall that, while players CAN make Locks, they would get the Lock tag for that Ability use from a GM and it would be GM-signed. But I'd have to open the door to player-created tags, to have a means for players to set the state of an Object. Hmmm... or maybe something funky could be done with the Tag itself (if a Toggle Lock) like have a way to fold or unfold it, or something (when it's folded, it can't be read and, thus, its rules don't come into effect; easy to comprehend). Got to watch out for environmental issues, though, or we might get tags unlocked by wind or rain or accidental brushes by players.

I'll think about it. But it might be that your argument for a Toggle Lock (i.e 'not all locks are Auto Locks') is a sacred cow that I have to leave by the wayside, for efficient Object state management in-game. ;)

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...so if I'm trying to use your lock/unlock system to deal with a drawbridge, I get a drawbridge that re-raises itself once it's been lowered and walked across, defying the laws of gravity
A drawbridge is a Barrier, not a Lock. (I would have thought that obvious--more examples to write, I guess.) The bolt on the drawbridge is a Health Lock--say, a Health Lock 40(10).

But that was just your (not quite apropos) choice of example for a valid point: Immediate v. Permanent. I will be re-addressing that, perhaps eliminating Duration entirely from the rules (as a definitional term) and instead doing it Ability-by-Ability in text. I think I was first motivated to include Duration as a way to allow for other Advantage types... then I couldn't bring myself to allow someone, to, say, make an Ability Unlimited when it wasn't (yow!) or make "effects over time," i.e. effects with Immediate made into Continuous.

Conceded. Look for that to be gone in v1.0.

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...What you should see is a player saying, "Hey Joe, thanks for resurrecting me. Sure would have hated to have to start over at first level."
Bummer. What lame role players (and wimpy gamists) you must see regularly; so many of the issues you have pointed out stem from poor immersion or trying to bend the social contract....

Your Conan (and nanotech) stuff was perfect, I thought--great examples of how a player could RP a huge Incant Lim... which, in turn, would make Resurrect about free: "days and nights" of Incant (normally 5 syllables/10 sec. for a 15 EP Ability) = thousands of instances of Incant = 1 EP Resurrect). And you seem to think that cost reduction works to mitigate Resurrect's pragmatic issues (detailed in your post), so I got THAT goin' for me.

Barring some significant shift in thinking on my part (RE sacred cows, death, experience, investment, advancement, rewards, etc, etc), we have to agree to disagree. For now.

(Early Thinking: A lot of your ideas to eliminate sacred cows would, in GLASS--it seems to me at the moment--be GM toggles or options. Appropriate to some game types, a matter of taste in other games, incoherent in still other games. I think, if nothing else, I will have to deeply address the systems for Experience, Rewards, and Advancement--when they are appropriate to a game type, what "gotchas" lie within the standard "power-up" implementation, advancement vis a vis characters v. players, fair trade--love that term, BTW--etc....)

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"easy to play" ...new players shouldn't have to learn to react in-character in special ways to lots of different effect calls ...bringing the number of hostile effects down to seven, and color-coding them so no calls at all would be necessary.
Cool idea. Thanks for preventing me from ever adopting it, by mentioning it. :P

Seriously, though, I don't think color could work too well (if I may be so bold):† First, it's hard on the color blind (whoops!). Also, you are supplanting one arbitrary symbol (color) for a concrete one (word). While that's quiet (a GLASS goal, darn you!) it is no more easy to learn, per se--you just feel that it is (maybe you're visually oriented?). What has REALLY made it "easy" is the number of effects. And, meanwhile, you may have noticed GLASS Calls are quite unequivocal (sc1.2 pg3 ln25)--I don't believe in dumb-ass "genre-laden" verbals either. Especially when MIS-calling them makes them fizzle (SOLAR: dumb-ass AND vicious, all in one rule!). And what about handling? ("I know my blue packet's in this bag, I know it" *rummage, rummage* "Found a red one!") And what about "cheats" by players: seeing that fist full of blues and running for the hills, when the packets themselves are supposed to be "invisible?" (Your example of a violet sword and OOC knowledge is the same; but I guess you don't see that as bad.) What about at night? (Yes, night time is tough on packet hits with effect Calls, too; but at least GLASS players don't hunt around on the ground to see what color hit them: they hunt around the fighting area to see who's yelling at them and pointing).

But you and I really wandered into the same GENERAL mental space on that, though, huh? I wish I could persuade you to be a GLASS Cutter....

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...what are you willing to give up to optimize the core business of your boffer combat rules?
Please do not forget: it ain't "all about boffer;" it's "all about live action." I want this to be useful in paintball. Cthulhu games. X-Files. Superheroes (I never seen a Super LARP--is that because no one wants to play one, or because no one has rules that can handle the flexability?). Folks gotta be able to be out of ground reach, out of anyone's reach, and out of visibility but in reach..

If I go "all about action heavy ONLY" and disregard systemic means to simulate the fantastic, then I have SCA (or basic scenario paintball: laser tag). SCA is doing fine without MY rules. ;)

But I DO recognize the kernel of your question, and it keeps me up nights: Where do I draw the line between requiring action & role playing and enabling the fantastic (or merely enabling the mundane, for a player than is sub-mundane in some mode of play)? It's a push-pull that smells a lot like abashedness, unless I can come up with a "meta-meta-rule" that allows me to test if a rule properly balances action orientation v. fantastic enablement.

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I don't see the slightest chance of this happening, regardless of the merits of your system as developed so far.
And they said man wouldn't walk on the moon, too. Set course for the Heartbreak sector! Warp 12, Mr. Scott!

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How do you plan to persuade them otherwise?
1) Player portability: extends possible player base and, thus, profitability of the GM's game.
2) Community: provides creative input, feedback, and methodology insights for GMs who might be trapped in the assumptions of their homebrew (which, it seems, is a common malady)
3) Convention standardization: why is it there's fifty D&D games, ten G.U.R.P.S games, twenty White Wolf games... and *two* LARPs (A MET and a Cthulhu Live) at any given con? Homebrew rules and the time to explain them. GLASS will make wide-spread convention LARPing possible--even cross-over (multi-genre) games.

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The alternative is attracting new players, but GLASS isn’t different enough to attract players who aren’t already attracted to other similar systems. A worldwide publicity campaign might overcome all these problems, but if you have the budget for a worldwide publicity campaign I’d suggest spending it to promote something that’s commensurately profitable instead, like shampoo or doggie treats.
Or just stay a Tech Writer in the Beautiful South, where I belong! :P

Seriously, though, do you think such a statement will have any traction with a creator? Who said anything about profit? (Is that a Forge requirement--if so, I apologize and retract all questions.) What on Earth makes you think I want to sell to people: I want to ENABLE them to play LARPs without the massive systemic overhead and clutter of homebrews. Standards do that.

Do you REALLY want to help me, in this regard? Then suggest means to reach such a worldwide market (sincerely or hypothetically). Want to say I am a foolish dreamer? Do so behind my back, please. Feel free to link to this thread, as proof. :)

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Yes, I claim that shouting out each effect each swing is popular. Lots of LARPers do it; that’s what popular means.
That only means that it is popular with LARP GMs--some of the most conservative people I have met (as you point out in your Heartbreaker point above).

EVERY contact-based LARP in which I have played has (a) had a bunch of players bitching about never hearing damage because of all the swing calls--and being shouted down by the core ten or so founders who "always do it this way" or (b) had no calls at all (i.e. extremely finite effects). Times are changing.

I propose it ISN'T popular, in this sense: "representing or appealing to or adapted for the benefit of the people at large". It's common, it's reinforced by the conservative habits of overbearing people, and it IS popular in the sense of "carried on by or for the people at large." Ain't semantics a bitch...? ;)

Again, let me thank you very much for finding the holes in my timing, for making me think about assumptions, and for taking the time to help with this game--in spite of your seeming lack of belief in it. I will think more about the sacred cows post (MOO!) and how to address it's very valid point within GLASS.
Sincerely;
David Artman
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2006, 01:04:05 PM »

Man! That one went long. I had to cut out these Asides:

(Aside: One thing I think makes GLASS nice is that I give players creative control over Incants, rather than require a list of strings to memorize, like SOLAR/NERO spell lists. And I want just ONE player to say, "By the Power of Greyskull!" before they Slay. I'm easily amused by obsolete pop culture references.)

(Aside: I thought of a Resurrection On The Hoof--and it happens EVERY day in the real world!--resucitation of a flatline victim in an ambulance. The "ambulance" in a GLASS game (remember: no vehicles!) is a character with something like Sharable x2 Immaterial or Flight (yep, I need another Movement Power--hmmm... or maybe I need Vehicle Abilities, in general) and is bringing along the victim and the Resurrect user. ;) Note: Sharable is supposed to indicate that the player(s) brought along is(are) considered to be moving; another assuption/oversight....)

(Aside:You said something about it's impossible to make a time travellers game? Not true: Through The GLASS House, a character could be made (prolly in a sci fi game) and could be portable to any other game with a similar Power and Success Level. All I need is a toggle in the database for the GMs, for their games, that says, "Accepts characters from any time"--or "Accepts characters from contemporary and earlier times," if there is a "canon" being followed in the game--to open their game to time travellers. And it wouldn't be "broken" because it's all standardized effects with balanced costs.)

David
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Walt Freitag
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« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2006, 11:44:49 AM »

Hi David,

Two parts to this response too. Iíve dropped all the resolved points; I was going point by point with the rest but the very first "point" turned into an interesting rant. So Iím posting that first, then Iíll follow up with other (frankly less important) comments in other areas.

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...What you should see is a player saying, "Hey Joe, thanks for resurrecting me. Sure would have hated to have to start over at first level."
Bummer. What lame role players (and wimpy gamists) you must see regularly; so many of the issues you have pointed out stem from poor immersion or trying to bend the social contract....

Ah, you've misunderstood, but it's my fault because I wasn't clear. The "Hey, Joe..." line wasn't intended to indicate what a player would actually say or how he would behave during a game. It represents the underlying in-game-world truth of the situation that the system rules generate. You can't get rid of that by requiring the player to cover for the system designer in the name of "good role playing."

The crucial issue here and the basis of the "no romantic visions" principle -- which applies to lots of things besides resurrection -- is the distinction between a dramatic fictional situation and dramatic acting. The latter, without the former, is of very limited value at best. Acting that's more dramatic than the fictional situation warrants will come across as at best a heroic but futile effort -- "hey, he's really role-playing that to the hilt, isn't he?" (again, that's what another player is thinking, not what he's probably saying) -- and at worst as embarassing silliness. (In theater it's called "overacting.") If a character knows, going into battle, that resurrection is a virtual certainty (and he'd have to be pretty dim not to have noticed other characters popping back up unscathed after previous battles), then why should the player play-act that character as being heroically brave in venturing battle despite the "risk," or being suprised at returning to the mortal world after death and resurrection actually occurs? And why should the player performing the resurrection portray his character going through some kind of taxing physical strain or emotional trauma in the process, if the character has every reason to be confident in his ability, which he paid good points for, to perform the task? It makes no sense to do so. "Acting" as if resurrection isn't routine, when in fact it is routine, misrepresents the fictional situation and is therefore decidedly not "good role-playing." It's fake-ass try-to-make-the-system-look-good role playing.

I have no trouble with agreeing to disagree about resurrection specifically. (After all, I disagree with pretty much the entire contact-LARP universe on that.) But the greatest service I can do you at this juncture is to try my best to convince you of what makes a system conductive to good role playing. You seem to think it's the "color" -- that is, as long as you can tell the players what to pretend is going on, as in "Oh look, the refleshing-nanobots are doing their thing, isn't it marvellous that we live in the future," that'll help them be good little role-players by acting it out for you when theyíre supposed to. And players can and will indeed do that. But the more they have to pretend, the less they'll be engaged (though the more they'll pretend to be "immersed"). If they know that that's what they're expected to do, they'll strive to outdo each other with their depctions of how beautiful their characters think the naked emperor's clothes are. For a while.

(Please don't misconstrue what I'm saying here as having anything to do with the physical quality or degree of representationalism of the game space, sets, costumes, or props. I'm talking about the pretense of drama as opposed to real drama. The need to pretend things like a line on the floor being a force field in the imaginary game space, or a costumed person being a fire-wreathed demon, is not the issue, though it can become a different issue if taken to extremes, as I mentioned for "flying" in the sacred cows discussion.)

That kind of "good role-playing" is exhausting and unrewarding. Players can force themselves to do it. But why? All you need to do to get players to do real "good role-playing" naturally and unreservedly is to give them dramatically interesting decisions to make. Depending on your style of play "dramatically interesting" might mean strategically difficult, or emotionally wrenching, or significant in shaping the future course of the plot, or creatively demanding, or personally risky, or some combination of these or other similar qualities.

Now, there's one occasion where I can guarantee players will be making dramatically interesting decisions: when they're spending points to create their characters and determine their abilities. If GLASS games are run like other LARP games of its general type, these decisions are likely to be the most complex, the most interesting, and the most important decisions the players will ever make for their characters. That's unfortunate because of course, by the time the actual adventure starts, that aspect of play is all over. You've missed it.

(When they get enough experience points they can buy more abilities -- that is, make more of the gameís most interesting decisions. Which of course they very much want to do. Which of course means theyíre just point-grubbing munchkins, right?)

What in GLASS is conducive to interesting decision-making during play? I can point to one thing (though it's far from unique to GLASS, it's still extremely important): the single-use-per-"reset" nature of most Abilities. That can make decisions of whether or not to use an Ability dramatically interesting. Usually on a basic tactical resource-management level, but sometimes beyond that. For instance, those routine resurrections I've been picking on? Well, now, if you have two dead party members and only one Resurrect available -- now I'm happy! That's a dramatically interesting decision in spades: which of these two people deserves to live, and why? (Provided, of course, that the decision is being made in character, and not based on who's providing the cleric's player with her ride home, or which dead character has the most experience points to lose.)

The strength of the linear "adventure" (a pre-planned sequence of encounters, also called a "line course," "obstacle course," "quest," "mission," or "module" by different groups) is that it engages the Abilitiy use limitations to maximum effect. (See, even for us highfalutin Forgeites it's never so simple as "railroading bad, free choice good.") With limited information about what's coming up, player-characters must decide, under the pressure of the current problem or conflict, whether to expend Abilities that might turn out to be more critical later. They must also decide whether to continue or abort the mission. The linear structure limits the characters' chances to decide what task to undertake next, but by doing so they make the resource-management game interesting. That's a reasonable trade-off, which is one reason (not the only one) why linear adventures remain popular despite complaints of railroading.

Unfortunately, LARP adventure designers often render the resource-management game moot by planning or allowing too many "resets" along the way, which lets the party just shoot their wad every encounter. This nulliifies the most interesting decision-making of this kind of event, and leaves only the railroading. They do this, I believe, in fear of the social repercussions of mission failure, mission abort, or total party kill. And given the prevalent social environment of many ongoing-character LARPs, their fears are legitimate. Compared to total party kill (easily mitigated with deus ex machina resurrections), mission failure and mission abort are usually the more unthinkable, because the rules and traditions dictate that a failed mission = no treasure = no experience points = no rewards for those players for that entire event. Here's another sacred-cow-slaughter to think about: give experience points for failures instead of successes! See how that would encourage risk-taking instead of punishing it?

But, back to the main issue (which we haven't really left; this is all interconnected). Besides limited-use Abilities, what else does GLASS have built into it to promote interesting decision-making during play? Like for the vast numbers of other comparable systems out there, the answer is just about nothing.

But, you say, it's scenario designers and GMs who create interesting situations where the PCs make interesting decisions. Or the players just bring a whole bunch of characters together and conflicts arise as they interact in the fictional game world, creating interesting decisions. That's not the system's job.

Most game designers on the Forge disagree. We believe that a game system should provide methods for creating interesting situations in which characters must make interesting decisions. We believe that there is nothing a system can do that's more important than that. That's why we keep pointing to examples like town creation in Dogs in the Vineyard -- not because you can or should make use of those specific mechanics, and not because we want your games to be "narrativist" (you can use Tunnels & Trolls as an example instead; that's as far from Narrativist as you can get), but because we believe that system should assure that player-characters have to make interesting decisions during play, and we want you to examine and understand examples that prove that system can do so.

Remember that "I commit!" rule for character death I described from Crossroads? The rationale for that might now be more clear. Choosing to "commit" is almost always a dramatically (emotionally, tactically, personally) interesting decision to make. Because (1) the character is knowingly deliberately risking irrevocable death and (2) the player is declaring that the conflict at hand is important enough for the character to risk death over. (I say "almost" because there are a few cases where it could be trivial -- such as a character saying "I commit!" just to get some extra healing spells back into play, after it appears that the main danger has passed.) All the scenario designer has to do is pressure them to "commit" by challenging them tactically. If the need arises, who will "commit" to avoid capture by an enemy? To avoid the death of innocents? To avoid having their stuff taken? To avoid taxation without representation? Compare that to how a decision to use Resurrect might be dramatically interesting, if there are multiple dead characters and only one Resurrect and if the other characters can't just be resurrected later instead and if the GMs don't arrange a deus ex machina NPC Resurrection out of pity.

Even if you don't agree with that general principle, can you see why leaving situation creation entirely up to scenario designers and GMs is a problem for your plans for GLASS? If you do get GLASS into widespread use, you'll have the whole gamut of dysfunctional play that other ongoing-character LARP systems see. You'll have "Typhoid Mary" GMs giving players railroaded adventures with no chance to make any significant decisions, and telling them that any dissatisfaction they feel is because they're not "role-playing" hard enough. You'll have groups in which the Ten Guys with high-level characters (or NPCs) get off on being treated like royalty by the other players rather than on giving those players ways to creatively express their own characters. You'll have new players in all different sorts of play marginalized by the limited powers of their starting characters. You'll have fantasy towns with self-directed plots, in which established players get together and talk in-character all day about interesting situations that arose by happenstance a year or two ago, but newcomers see nothing much happening now. And they can all do all of that without once breaking a single rule of the GLASS "system." Players who encounter those things will, fairly or unfairly, conclude: "GLASS sucks!"

Can you see that whether or not it's easy to convert light saber stats into sword stats, or whether or not the players call out numbers while they fight, are enormously unimportant compared to whether or not players get to make dramatically interesting decisions during play? Right now, your system solves those easy problems instead of the hard ones. That's why it can only become just another system with different tradeoffs of strengths and weaknesses than other systems have, even if itís overall better in your eyes and my eyes. (For every player who says, "Goody, no number-calling in combat," another will say, "Sucks, I can't have a +1 sword." -- or he can, but only by going back to calling numbers.) That's why it won't revolutionize LARP. (Let me guess, you don't want it to revolutionize LARP, you just want GLASS to catch on worldwide. But why should it do the one, if it can't do the other?)

And that's why the last thing you should do with regard to the Sacred Cows is make them GM options. No help at all. (Well, maybe a little. At least get some alternative possibilities mentioned out there in the wasteland.) Make a game that works, and you'll get players even if every current LARPer hates it.

Phew, well, that all came out as a bigger rant than I had planned. But it's that important, really.

Cheers,

Walt
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Walt Freitag
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« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2006, 12:35:25 PM »

Now for the rest...

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"easy to play" ...new players shouldn't have to learn to react in-character in special ways to lots of different effect calls ...bringing the number of hostile effects down to seven, and color-coding them so no calls at all would be necessary.
Cool idea. Thanks for preventing me from ever adopting it, by mentioning it. :P

The Forge doesn't work like that. The whole purpose of mentioning it is to make someone more likely to adopt it. :-)

Seriously, though, I don't think color could work too well (if I may be so bold):  First, it's hard on the color blind (whoops!). Also, you are supplanting one arbitrary symbol (color) for a concrete one (word). While that's quiet (a GLASS goal, darn you!) it is no more easy to learn, per se--you just feel that it is (maybe you're visually oriented?). What has REALLY made it "easy" is the number of effects. And, meanwhile, you may have noticed GLASS Calls are quite unequivocal (sc1.2 pg3 ln25)--I don't believe in dumb-ass "genre-laden" verbals either. Especially when MIS-calling them makes them fizzle (SOLAR: dumb-ass AND vicious, all in one rule!). And what about handling? ("I know my blue packet's in this bag, I know it" *rummage, rummage* "Found a red one!") And what about "cheats" by players: seeing that fist full of blues and running for the hills, when the packets themselves are supposed to be "invisible?" (Your example of a violet sword and OOC knowledge is the same; but I guess you don't see that as bad.) What about at night? (Yes, night time is tough on packet hits with effect Calls, too; but at least GLASS players don't hunt around on the ground to see what color hit them: they hunt around the fighting area to see who's yelling at them and pointing).

Those are good points.

I was aware of the potential problem with impaired color perception because in the 90s I worked on some computer game-board game hybrids, in which color sequences were used to specify movement. My publisher was very concerned about players with impaired color perception, and we went to some effort to provide an alternative for them. At the time, the publisher quoted some statistics indicating a surprisingly high prevalence of impaired color perception in the population. I never investigated to find out if those statistics were true (such statistics being, often, very unreliable). However, I see vast numbers of board games published in which distinguishing colors (e.g. of tokens on the board) is essential to play.

One thing that might be worth doing is to check with the IFGS people, because they've been using a system of color-coded bean bags and color-coded character status flags for about 15 years now, and theyíve probably had a few thousand players cycle through their various local chapters, so tit might be interesting to ask whether impaired color perception has ever come up as an issue for them.

As for nighttime, at the time I designed Crossroads I was playing with a group with unusually stringent safety rules, including no combat in the dark. I didn't realize that would be an issue until later when I played with other groups that relish nighttime play. But yeah, Crossroads would be worthless in the dark. (Or it would have been, back then... now, LEDs are available in more different colors.. hmmm...)

The rest is just preference trade-offs as usual. I don't see why the color of packets in the hand should represent something invisible. If you're preparing a grenade it should certainly be visible in your hands unless you make the effort to conceal it. If you're preparing a stun spell and the packet's visible in your hands, it means your hands are glowing with the energy you're calling up or preparing to call up. If you don't want it to be seen, be more dextrous with your packet handling. Ditto with fumbling for different colored packets. I agree that the color code is intrinsically no easier to learn than a set of calls; in fact it's clearly harder to learn. But limiting them to seven was the main thing there (and making them colors helped me, in designing the system, to avoid the constant temptation to add 'just one more' -- that would make too many colors to easily distinguish).

Another possibility I considered was to use calls for the effects, but use colors to indicate the "element" or nature of the attack, such as physical versus energy, or fire vs. cold and so forth, so that characters could have specific Resists. (In the context of the seven effects, it would mean that instead of having "resist all stun" you could have "resist all effects of fire," or even "resist all stun due to fire." Trade-offs again. I didn't go for it, but for some players and scenario designers, using the right "element" against the right opponent is the tactical cornerstone of the game, and they'd care much more about the lack of "resist fire" than about whether or not there are calls.

But you and I really wandered into the same GENERAL mental space on that, though, huh?

Absolutely. I donít lay these good rants on just anybody. That doesnít mean Iím sure youíll agree with me about anything in particular, but I know Iím not wasting my time here.

Even though I just pounded on the fact that there are much more important design issues at hand, a smoothly running system that doesn't encourage players to treat newbies like ignorant klutzes is still better than a halt-every-three-seconds one that does.

When I formulated Crossroads, I addressed some of the Sacred Cow issues in the design (the "I commit!" system for character death, for instance), and others I wasnít worried about because the system was only for my own use; I was going to be the GM and I knew I could design good player-centered scenarios. I wasnít planning on people adopting my methods worldwide.* If that had developed as a possibility, Iíd have had to solve a lot more problems about things the system didnít address on the social-contract and situation-design levels (as Iím now asking you to do). And because back then I lacked the knowledge and examples Iíve learned more recently from the Forge, I would probably have failed miserably at doing so.
 
I wish I could persuade you to be a GLASS Cutter....

Who says you can't? You haven't persuaded me yet... It's like this: there are "come to the Forge, get some advice, go away to finish/publish your game" people, and there are "come to the Forge, have your world rocked and your assumptions knocked out from under you and start rethinking everything you thought you knew about role playing game design" people. If you're the former, then no, you probably won't persuade me. If you're the latter, then you've barely started, and you've got lots of time to persuade me. The red pill, or the blue pill?

Though I'm pretty sure you'll never persuade me to refer to myself as a "GLASS Cutter." Way too cute. Sorry. :-)

Please do not forget: it ain't "all about boffer;" it's "all about live action." I want this to be useful in paintball. Cthulhu games. X-Files. Superheroes (I never seen a Super LARP--is that because no one wants to play one, or because no one has rules that can handle the flexability?). Folks gotta be able to be out of ground reach, out of anyone's reach, and out of visibility but in reach..

Hmm. My first though here is that this is a classic "donít perform Peter Pan if you donít have flying rigs" case. But on second thought...

I have played supers LARP but they (1) were indoor non-contact non-projectile LARPs, in other words using a more abstract combat system closer to Mindís Eye than NERO, and (2) they werenít very good. But lack of "realistic" flying (or for that matter, of realistic turning-huge-and-green or of realistic car-tossing) wasnít the problem.

Doing supers in GLASS would mean that almost all the combat would be abstracted to some degree generally greater than in GLASS fantasy, because boffer fists are problematic and few supers fight with melee weapons. With that understood, having "out of reach" and "untargetable" as abstract states would probably work. Just as with the attacks, youíre defining the state by its effects (you canít attack me, or you can only attack me with a range effect) rather than by a description of what youíre doing (phased out or invisible or holographically telepresent; flying or super-running in circles or stretched really tall). Yes you lose some detail -- if Iím phased out and youíre really teeny tiny, we have to follow the same rules as if weíre both just invisible. But this is not that different from other features in GLASS, for instance that I have the same different defenses against magic that does Harm as against a bullet that does Harm, even if Iím a wizard myself. Preference trade-offs again.

 
If I go "all about action heavy ONLY" and disregard systemic means to simulate the fantastic, then I have SCA (or basic scenario paintball: laser tag). SCA is doing fine without MY rules. ;)

But I DO recognize the kernel of your question, and it keeps me up nights: Where do I draw the line between requiring action & role playing and enabling the fantastic (or merely enabling the mundane, for a player than is sub-mundane in some mode of play)? It's a push-pull that smells a lot like abashedness, unless I can come up with a "meta-meta-rule" that allows me to test if a rule properly balances action orientation v. fantastic enablement.

Itís not abashedness, itís just an inevitable general principle: a generic system will never be as good for any one particular milieu as a system specifically designed for that milieu will be. Thatís the price you pay for using a generic system.

One thing that might help is to define the range of applicability of your system with more precision. If you go around saying "all LARP" youíll just look uninformed to those who play different forms of LARP or who are aware of a wide range of LARP forms. Youíve already pointed out one form, SCA, thatís outside GLASSís domain. The same will be true of some (but not all) assassin games, where the main point is whether you can find your target and sneak up unnoticed, and the rest is "bang youíre dead." (Assassin games vary greatly, though, and some might be able to make use of GLASSís resolution and points systems.) Ditto paintball, as you mentioned. LARPs based on tie-ins with popular commercial game systems and settings arenít fertile ground for GLASS either; if people are playing White Wolf Vampire LARP in Mindís Eye itís because they want to play their vampire characters with their vampire powers in the published Vampire setting, not a generic approximation thereof. And then thereís the SIL/ILF style LARP. See this thread for a relatively early Forge discussion of the variety of LARP formats. The most successful LARP Iíve ever run was the Arabian Nights LARP, described here. More recently at the Forge, we started learning about interesting innovative LARPs like this one in Scandinavia. Do a Forge search on Norwegian LARP and Scandinavian LARP for lots more. GLASS is clearly no help at all in planning or running a LARP like Arabian Nights or inside : outside. So, I suggest dropping "all LARP" claims and instead putting into words a clear jargon-free description of what kinds (not just what setting genres of LARPs GLASS is for.

Do you REALLY want to help me, in this regard? Then suggest means to reach such a worldwide market (sincerely or hypothetically). Want to say I am a foolish dreamer? Do so behind my back, please. Feel free to link to this thread, as proof. :)

Not telling people things they donít want to hear is not a Forge etiquette rule. If I think your plans (not you yourself -- no ad hominem is a Forge etiquette rule) are foolish, Iíll say so.

We can take up the discussion of how to reach worldwide markets in a Publishing thread, if youíd like.

Cheers,

Walt

*Though ten years earlier, they did, with the SIL/ILF style of LARP.
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