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Author Topic: Thoughts and reactions, plus could use some help and advice  (Read 11417 times)
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« on: March 06, 2006, 12:12:06 PM »

Some thoughts re: Capes

Let me introduce myself: I am a GM of 25+ years, I own several hundred rpg books filling many shelves, I have designed (but never published) many complete systems, mechanic sub-systems, and countless add-ons/variants.  Still, I consider myself no more than an amateur, with a passionate love of rpg’s and all things suchlike. 

After my exposure to Capes, I am quite excited.  The idea that no one is forced to be the GM, sacrificing play opportunity for others, is cool.  The mechanics for determining outcomes are brilliant.

Now I need to admit that I haven’t yet *bought* the game, but I plan to – I think. I have some questions before I do.

I have been reading through the forums here and elsewhere, and I have some concerns.

Firstly, you really do need 3 people minimum to play, correct?  Is a game with 3 people any less fulfilling than one with 4?  I mean, I know the more people, the more ideas and creative juice, but should one really have 4?  Or is three sufficicent?

Also, what number is the maximum you really want to have?  Has anyone tried to play with 5, 6 or 7?

Before I get into the more serious issues, let me say that to some degree I find myself falling in love with this system – or at least what I have experienced of it so far.  However, there are a few pieces of it that I think need changing to suit my purposes and needs.  I guess I am here investigating those prepurchase.

During the discussion that follows, someone may be tempted to ask me why, if I don’t accept the game as is, would I wish to use it all instead of forsaking entirely for some other system

The reason is that from what I see, this Capes game is close to fulfilling some of my gaming needs.  If it can be done, I would like to find (with your kind help) ways and variant rules to bring it from close to 100%.  It seems silly to me to either accept a game unchanged that is 90% of what I need and equally foolish to throw it out.  If a game system comes so close, the only rational course I can see is to try to apply house rule patches to fill the small remaining gap.

To start with, let me state my personal concerns, to verify the gap even exists.  There are two thing that do not appear to be part of this game from reading the discussion boards, running through the flash example, etc:
*Character Advancement.
*Facts & Accomplishments.

Let me take those in reversed order.

While searching through the forums, reading up on the game, I found several posters pointing out that accomplishments are perhaps too easily reversible.  Vaxalon, Kai_lord, jburneko, and Valamir to name a few have made some very interesting observations in the following threads:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=15199.0
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17144.0
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=16070.0
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=15113.0

The common topic seems to be if something is established by winning a conflict (and possibly paying a small cost), it should become a semi-permanent fact or accomplishment that can only be removed by winning a contrary conflict (and possibly paying a small cost.)

As I understand it, without some kind of house rule or variant that addresses the above issue, Captain Good can win a lengthy conflict imprisoning Mr. Evil, and then next page, if Mr Evil’s player goes first, he can free narrate Mr. Evil’s escape without even a required conflict.

It’s this ease of undoing or negating past accomplishments that for me seems “broken” – not that the game is flawed in general, but that one piece is detrimental to my use of the system and needs to be rectified before I can begin to use it.

So the question becomes – what’s the best way to make undoing the result of a conflict at least as hard as the conflict was to achieve in the first place?

Maybe use something like one of the previously suggested ideas, something like at the end of the goal, if the goal was accomplished, it gets added to a list of preset goals to each page, eventually dozens of such will exist?

Not sure if this is the right way to do this, but if, for example, Captain Good sees Mr. Evil to jail, then a current and permanent until challenged truth should be “Mr. Evil is in Jail”.  To change this should require at least a challengeable effort – or the permission of the other players. 

Now let’s talk about character advancement.

Perhaps this is not important.  All I know is that in many stories, the protagonists become more skilled, learn new tricks, and become wiser.  I guess the question is, does this personal growth need to be quantified?  Do characters that experience more deserve more success than those that are more naïve or untrained?

I suppose the only reason one would need to codify new powers, new tricks, and added experience or wisdom is if it were to be considered a tactical advantage.

So, when Captain Good fights Mr. Evil, does the fact that Captain Good has been doing this for over a decade, that he is very experienced mean anything?

For that matter, I think I may have just fallen in an even bigger hole.

If Batman and Superman were to arm wrestle, Superman should win every time.

If one character is a mortal and the other a god, and the conflict is a simple one of physical power, like arm wrestling, it is a big problem, at least for me, for the mortal to have any chance in winning.

Or to give another example, one player says his unexceptional, mortal char is going to kick in the door.  The other player points out that the door has been incontrovertibly established as a steel door.  The first player points out that according to the Capes rules set, he can accomplish any goal he succeeds at.

How can this be fixed, or is this a fatal flaw in the system?

How can we prevent the player from doing ridiculous things beyond even the credibility for a superhero game?

-Sindyr
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-Sindyr
Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2006, 12:14:25 PM »

I'm stayin' out of this one.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
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jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2006, 12:45:42 PM »

Hello,

I'll take a stab at these.

1) Facts and Acomplishments.  As one of the original people discussing this issue, I can now tell you, that in Actual Play with people who are friends and trust each other this is a non-issue.  If Capatain Good captures Dr. Evil and Dr. Evil's player simply tries to narrate his escape on the next page AND this is clearly NOT COOL with Captain Good's player all it takes is a nasty glare from Captain Good's player at Dr. Evil's player and Dr. Evil's player goes, "Okay, pretty lame, huh?  Alright, I'll do this, instead."  I've even played Capes with semi-broken groups with regard to trust and co-operation and I've still never seen this be an issue.  It's weird but people seem to just know and respect other people's boundaries about what requires a conflict and what doesn't.  Often Dr. Evil's player WANTS to put "Escape" down on the table as a conflict simply because it's the next logical thing to do, to keep the player engaged in the game.

2) Improvement.  This is also a non-issue when you play but it's hard to describe.  Improvement is built in not at the character level but at the player level.  As the a player gets better (literally) at playing the game the player beings to amass resources which the player then spends to show his character(s) in action.  The net effect is that the character(s) appear to be getting better because they clearly can acomplish more (backed by more resources from the player).  So, it's not quantified on a character by character basis but it IS represented in play, I don't know if you can live with that.

Example From My Own Play

In Scene One I was playing my villain Reverend Eden.  I had no game resources (Inspiration and Story Tokens).  Reverend Eden got his ass kicked.
For several scenes after that I played my hero The Raven and I amassed a lot of game resources.
I then brought my villain Reverend Eden back and I spent all the resources I had amassed while playing The Raven backing The Reverend.  Clearly, between scene one and this one Reverend Eden had been strengthening his resolve and cultivating allies (I was able to bring the fallen angle Lucifer into play as a second character).

Does this information help?

Jesse
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jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2006, 12:57:04 PM »

Oh!  And I forgot to address the number of players issue.  Personaly 3 to 4 (including yourself) is ideal.  I played it with as high as 8 and regularly with a group of 5.  Even the five seemed like too many.

Jesse
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Andrew Cooper
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Posts: 724


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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2006, 01:27:26 PM »

I once had all the concerns you had.  Then I played the game at GenCon, bought it, and susequently taught it to my group back home.  I discovered that most of my concerns in play turned into non-issues.  Other concerns were not non-issues for a specific play style but were completely irrelevant if you played Capes in the style and spirit that the author intended.

1.)  Number of players:  3 works out fine.  6 is a lot of players. 4 or 5 is perfect in my estimation.

2.)  Facts and Accomplishments:  This one really concerned me when I was first looking at the game.  In fact, I almost didn't even try the game because of it.  After playing numerous sessions of Capes now, I can honestly say the issue has only come up once and I immediately saw where I could have avoided it by simply using the rules as written.  Most players don't even consider just undoing something established in a Conflict through just free narration unless there's a very good and specific reason for them doing so.  Engaging in this type of activity frequently during play is generally considered being a dick and everyone else at the table is justified in beating the offender about the head and shoulders with their game books and dice bags.

3.)  Improvement:  Okay, this one is an issue but only if you are playing a style of game that Capes doesn't pretend to support.  You have to realize when playing Capes that the numbers on the characters sheets are not measuring the in-game power level of the character.  They measure the player's narrative power with that character and spotlight characters all have the same potential for narrative power.  If Robin's player has lots of Story Tokens, Debt, and Inspiration and Superman's player doesn't, then for a while the story is likely to focus on Robin because he is the character with the most narrative oomph at that time.  It has nothing to do with whether he's supposed to be stronger or faster or more powerful in the game world.  It's all about who's controlling the story and what it's about.  Given this a system of character improvement really isn't needed.  After all, you can simply rewrite the characters any time you want.

4.)  Simulation:  I'm referencing your concern about Batman beating Superman in an arm wrestling contest.  Please, read my statements in #3 above.  Capes isn't trying to simulate any sort of realism or even plausability.  It's a story-creation engine.  If you try to use it as a simulation, you'll be disappointed, I think.  It isn't what the game was designed to do and it doesn't apologize for the lack.  After all, if your priority in playing isn't simulation then the issue never comes up.  It's only an issue if you play the game with a play priority that doesn't match what the game supports.

My suggestion to you is this.  Buy the game.  Then play it as it is written, without any modification whatsoever, and then re-evaluate your issues with the game.  I did this and discovered that most of my problems with the game disappeared and the ones that remained required only that I adjust my gaming priorities when sitting down to play Capes.

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Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2006, 01:31:25 PM »

Hello,

I'll take a stab at these.

1) Facts and Accomplishments.  As one of the original people discussing this issue, I can now tell you, that in Actual Play with people who are friends and trust each other this is a non-issue.  If Captain Good captures Dr. Evil and Dr. Evil's player simply tries to narrate his escape on the next page AND this is clearly NOT COOL with Captain Good's player all it takes is a nasty glare from Captain Good's player at Dr. Evil's player and Dr. Evil's player goes, "Okay, pretty lame, huh?  Alright, I'll do this, instead."  I've even played Capes with semi-broken groups with regard to trust and co-operation and I've still never seen this be an issue.  It's weird but people seem to just know and respect other people's boundaries about what requires a conflict and what doesn't.  Often Dr. Evil's player WANTS to put "Escape" down on the table as a conflict simply because it's the next logical thing to do, to keep the player engaged in the game.

Hmmm....

So basically, the Nasty Glare defense is the Mutually Assured Destruction?

IE, we players, should anyone do what I described, should feel that our next course of action is to begin a series of interchanges that ultimate leads to the premature end of the game if our adversary does not relent?

Example:  After a long hard fought series of conflicts, my character Captain Good, catches and sees convicted and imprisoned Mr. Evil.  Captain Good also personally successfully sees modifications made and security upgraded so that a supervillain twice the power of Mr. Evil could not break out.  I also make it plain that I (the player, not the character) am glad to finally be rid of the Mr. Evil character. That I am tired of that conflict and have been so for a while, but felt Capt. Good needed to take down his archnemesis one last time.

Next week we begin a new session, and the player of Mr. Evil says, "you know, I know he's not your favorite, but I think Mr. Evil escapes the jail, cause I have just thought of a really neat story to tell with him - trust me, you're gonna love it"

Wearily I say, "I'm am sorry, I can't go along with that. You may not free Mr. Evil, especially without earning it or getting a Goal accomplished"

He says, " According to the rules, I can - and I did.  If you want to put him back in jail, feel free to try"

At this point, I can do one of two things:

Social mutually assured destruction: "I am sorry, but if you are gonna be that way, I will not play."  With four players, if the other two are saying "we don't really care if he brings back Mr. Evil, but we understand if you leave, we will stay and play even with Mr Evil."  This would in all likelyhood occur - the minority is normally silenced or ignored.  So best case scenario - no game.  Worse case - no game for me as Mr Evil and the other continue to play.

Or

"Sorry Bob, Mr Evil can't escape that way because of this house rule we all agreed to that requires a successful goal play to undo he results of a past accomplishment of a state/fact."

I think the latter is safer, smarter, and wiser.  Isn't it?

Didn't Universalis have a way to handle this?  Couldn't we import a similar idea or mechanic?

Also, I didn't see an answer to the quandary of the mortal and the god arm wrestling.  How do we keep ridiculous things from being written into the story?

Maybe using Challenges?

I don't know - maybe Universalis is the game I should be doing, but maybe Capes can be made to work?

Is Capes, perhaps, not so much an rpg but more a specific tool for one aspect of conflict resolution during shared story creation?  Perhaps other tools are also needed?

Capes appears to be a competitive game... while at the same time people seem to need to fill in the gaps of the rules through spontaneous cooperation.

It seems a contradiction.

At this point Capes appears to my perspective to be a marvelous equation that is close to solution, but not yet solved.

How do we solve these two issues? 

1) Is mutually assured destruction or quitting a game (or threatening to) the official way to block an undesirable and unearned action that the game rules permit? Or can there be a better solution, a rule modification?

2) How can players block illogical events and happenings, like some ordinary shleb beating Thor in an arm wrestling match? Or are we back to threatening dire out of game consequences?

Is the official answer to finding a problem that the game rules don't deal with to threaten to quit?  Wouldn't it be a better game if it were more complete and had rules to deal with these easily foreseeable possibilities.

I have many friends that I RP with - and we all have strong personalities.  Without a GM, we need more guidance in the mechanics themselves.

Maybe this game is only for agreeable groups of people that have no more than one opinionated  or stubborn player?

I hope not.

-Sindyr
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-Sindyr
Andrew Morris
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2006, 02:04:33 PM »

I agree with Jesse about character advancement.

As to your concerns about facts and free narration, I think that much of what you want can be accommodated by setting the right Comics Code for your game. You can get as specific as you want. "No illogical actions that aren't accepted by a majority of players" or "Mortals can't beat immortals in physical competition" will both work fine, I think.  You could also put in "No undoing previous Conflicts without introducing and winning a new Conflict" or something along those lines.

As the other Andrew says, you should really just buy Capes first, and run it as written. A lot of your concerns might melt away after a few sessions of actual play.

Also, you could go the house-rule route, and steal from Universalis at the same time by saying that Story Tokens can be spent in much the same way as Coins. But really, try it first.
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Sindyr
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Posts: 795


« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2006, 02:12:42 PM »

I think I replied to these points from the above author while your post came in.  I shall let those replies stand, since they also address I think what you said as well, except for two things:

3.)  Improvement:  Okay, this one is an issue but only if you are playing a style of game that Capes doesn't pretend to support.  You have to realize when playing Capes that the numbers on the characters sheets are not measuring the in-game power level of the character.  They measure the player's narrative power with that character and spotlight characters all have the same potential for narrative power.  If Robin's player has lots of Story Tokens, Debt, and Inspiration and Superman's player doesn't, then for a while the story is likely to focus on Robin because he is the character with the most narrative oomph at that time.  It has nothing to do with whether he's supposed to be stronger or faster or more powerful in the game world.  It's all about who's controlling the story and what it's about.  Given this a system of character improvement really isn't needed.  After all, you can simply rewrite the characters any time you want.

4.)  Simulation:  I'm referencing your concern about Batman beating Superman in an arm wrestling contest.  Please, read my statements in #3 above.  Capes isn't trying to simulate any sort of realism or even plausibility.  It's a story-creation engine.  If you try to use it as a simulation, you'll be disappointed, I think.  It isn't what the game was designed to do and it doesn't apologize for the lack.  After all, if your priority in playing isn't simulation then the issue never comes up.  It's only an issue if you play the game with a play priority that doesn't match what the game supports.

Improvement.  I understand the current system, but I am wondering if maybe a variant or alternate mechanic might give us an improved game - or at least one that would be a little more plausibility.  By this I mean many players like to see the struggle of their characters yield some kind of increase of wisdom, experience, training, or power.  Of the character, I mean, not the player.  A curiosity I have is if a simple rule variant might address this issue.

Here's one of the top of my head: After every session, each player nominates one of the partaking characters that is not theirs for a growth award.  At the end of an arc, multisession adventure, or other group of sessions, the 3 characters with the most nominations get one growth point.  Growth points can be spent on increasing an ability or power by one.  Perhaps 2 growth points can create a whole new ability or power at level 1.

That's just off the top of my head, but perhaps it can illustrate that there may a be a solution that works with the game that still allows a more experienced *character* to beat a lower one - that all characters do NOT have to be equal in their power to affect the story.

As far as realism - perhaps a simple mechanic, while not guaranteeing realism, can at least hold bad writers in check?

Something like:
If something that seems preposterous is uttered, such as "robin defeats superman in an arm wrestling contest", anyone can Challenge it.  When challenged, the utterer can immediately work out with the challenger some modification or explanation that appeases all players.  If an accord cannot be reached, than all players may vote.  If the challenger is able to get any other player to agree with him, than the utterer loses his turn and all his utterances are voided this phase.  If no other player agrees with the challenger, than the challenger has one final recourse - award a story token to the utterer, forcing the utterer to modify or not include the objectionable part - this recourse is voluntary - the challenger may choose to relent instead.  If the challenger does not relent and also does not have a story token, he may incur debt instead and still given a story token to the utterer.   This rule is only to be invoked when it appears that logic itself is being defied in a way not even consistant with the genre being played.  For example, if someone says that Mr. Evil walks through a solid wall to escape when none of his abilities would allow for that, or if someone says that Captain Good just happens to be having tea with his mum who just happens to live in the city where Mr Evil is planning his dastardly attack and while he is there Capt Good just happens to hear the whole plan - anything that strikes someone as not just merely a coincidence or lucky break, but actually preposterous, qualifies for being challenged.

This was off the top of my head, but I think it is a credible effort to patch this hole without too much change or negative effect on the rest of the game.

Is this realism?  I am not sure that wanting the story to retain SOME amount of plausibility qualifies as a desire for full on realism, heh heh.

Good ideas? What ideas can the rest of you create to accomplish these goals?

-Sindyr
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-Sindyr
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2006, 02:21:00 PM »

I agree with Jesse about character advancement.

As to your concerns about facts and free narration, I think that much of what you want can be accommodated by setting the right Comics Code for your game. You can get as specific as you want. "No illogical actions that aren't accepted by a majority of players" or "Mortals can't beat immortals in physical competition" will both work fine, I think.  You could also put in "No undoing previous Conflicts without introducing and winning a new Conflict" or something along those lines.

As the other Andrew says, you should really just buy Capes first, and run it as written. A lot of your concerns might melt away after a few sessions of actual play.

Also, you could go the house-rule route, and steal from Universalis at the same time by saying that Story Tokens can be spent in much the same way as Coins. But really, try it first.

I would if it was free.  Although I would still probably noodle around variant ideas, since it's what I do. ;)

I just wondered 1) I was noticing an actual issue that was not covered by the rules, and 2) If that is the case, would it be possible to "fix" them with variant rules without breaking the rest of the game, *before* I bought the game.  Not that the price is unreasonable, but my nature is to be a prudent consumer and really kick the tires before any purchase.  This is me popping the hood, kicking the tires, and checking the brakes.

I guess what gives me pause is without a GM and since the game *is* a competitive game, it would seem prudent to have rules for the sorts of disagreements I have been mentioning.  Plus, I confess, I quite enjoy and approve of rewarding people in a quantitative and mechanically rewarding way for seeking character growth.

-Sindyr

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-Sindyr
Zamiel
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« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2006, 02:55:59 PM »

You are aggressively Not Getting It, so I'll take Bad Cop out of the character pool and see if I can't get through to you.

On Reversible Events:

There's a reason that narration can immediately reverse a Conflict, and that's because the Conflict is no longer on the table. While it is, you can't pre-empt its resolution. You constrain the actions of others by introducing and having accepted a Conflict. For example, if you introduce "Event: Dr Evil is carted off to jail," you've just created two inevitabilities. Firstly, he will be carted off to jail when that Conflict resolves, and it will eventually resolve. Secondly, until that Conflict resolves, no one can cart Dr Evil off to jail; moreover, anything that would result in Dr Evil not being able to be carted off to jail can neither be narrated or introduced as a Conflict. The first half is why Events have to be accepted by everyone at the table before they hit the table. The second is the power you gain in exchange for the ability of anyone else to narrate or introduce via Conflict a complete reversal. Its an exchange of power.

This holds even for Goal Conflicts; as long as they're on the table as part of a Scene, nothing that invalidates either of their potential ends (goal is accomplished / goal is unable to be accomplished) can be introduced through narration or Conflict. That is a lot of control to have over the other players, and it has to be balanced with something on the other side, in this case, the ability for other players to introduce interesting contravention if they think its interesting. You had just that power to control the story, you have to share it with others.

If that's too much for you, you aren't ready to play GM-less games.

On Character Advancement:

What do you need it for? The game text explicitly says you can feel free to tinker with Characters between sessions, to the point of a complete rewrite of their traits. What more do you want? Adding more traits to Characters would explicitly destroy one of the central axioms that the system is grounded on, that every character, from the lowliest Orc Spearchunker to Superman's Deity has exactly the same amount of ability to control the story, to be important to the story, and that capability is explicitly and completely disconnected from their in-setting power. That's one of the selling points of Capes, frankly, especially in its chosen genre! There are very, very few other games in which you can have Robin, Batman, Superman, and Green Lantern in the same scene and have them all having exactly the same potential for the story to focus on them. All it takes is for the player to introduce and engage in interesting Conflicts, Conflicts that the other folks will care about enough to expend Debt on, enough to win, thus giving over Story Tokens to the losing side. Or Conflicts that others engage in enough to oppose and provide Inspirations that can be converted into later successes.

Advancement exists in Capes, but its explicitly unbound from any given Character, because Characters are explicitly unbound from any specific player. By design. To advance in Capes, a player accumulates resources, Inspirations and Story Tokens, in order to guide the story the direction they like -- for a while. As long as they continue to create and contribute to interesting Conflicts, they continue to "advance," insofar as they can affect the ongoing story.

That is, again, one of the very central ideas of Capes. How can you be missing that?

On Simulation:

Forget it. As someone else wrote, the game is not about simulation, and not designed for simulation, and I'll show you why.

Consider Superman and Batman as Characters in the same Scene. Someone introduces a Conflict, "Event: Superman beats Bats at arm-wrestling." Who'll bother engaging with that Conflict? Its boring. There's no reason that either Superman or Batman's character should invest in that, because its not worth putting investment in, and whoever introduced it will get bupkis, at best a single Inspiration.

Now, consider "Goal: Batman beats Superman at arm-wrestling." Now its interesting. How does he do it? Since it's a Goal, all we really need is for Batman's player to OK its introduction, and its live. Does Bats activate Always Prepared to slight-of-hand a shard of Kryptonite into his fist? Does he have a secret plan with Supes to throw the contest to impress someone or distract them? Its a Conflict primed for folks to invest in on either side, and while it could fail (Bats fails to beat Supes), it might be because he lost outright or the contest was interrupted in some way.

If we step on up and make it "Event: Bats beats Supes in an arm-wrestling match" it gets even more interesting, if the table doesn't immediately deny it as implausible. Its going to happen, Bats is going to win. How does it happen? It doesn't actually occur until its resolved, so there may not even be a meeting of hands until that very moment, the rest being prep and setup, but the result is foregone, and people will be heavily vested in controlling the narration.

This is why worrying over simulation in Capes is wasted worry, because simulation in regards to foregone conclusions is boring, and there's no way to gain resources from boring Conflicts. Its where things start becoming questionable or downright improbable that people get engaged and the potential for profit occurs.

Honestly, I'm not sure how you could be missing these deep and essential issues, even from a casual read of the fora. You're stuck in the traditional structure of RPG play, and Capes is simply way, way, way off the map when it comes to what behaviours are important and meaningful. The competitiveness of Conflict resolution actually drives the meta-game cooperation, because without it you can't get the resources you want. Its a dynamic tension that pushes things forward.

Buy it. Read it. Internalize it. Then get back to us when you actually know something and aren't just speculating.
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Capes: This Present Darkness, Dragonstaff
TonyLB
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« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2006, 02:58:48 PM »

So basically, the Nasty Glare defense is the Mutually Assured Destruction?

Ooh, ooh, Zamiel's being Bad Cop.  Can I be Good Cop?  I like to think that I'm getting really good at explaining this issue.  Let me give it a shot.

When you play Capes you get pretty good at seeking Story Tokens.  Story Tokens rock.  You want them.

In order to get Story Tokens you need to (a) find something that another player really doesn't want to have happen (b) make a conflict about it and (c) fight them in this conflict and lose.

When you manage to achieve (a) it is a cause for celebration.  When you realize "Oh, hey, Tony is really serious about Major Victory being proud and respected ... if I try to embarrass him on live television, Tony will stake debt and then I can get Story Tokens.  Go me!  I've figured out one of his weak points.  Supremacy will surely be mine."

So when you talk about the Nasty Glare, and "backing down" because of it, I don't see the dysfunctional dynamic that you worry about.  What I see is the following:

  • Mr. Evil's player (let's say "Ed") goes to narrate Mr. Evil breaking out of prison.
  • Captain Good's player (let's say Gina) levels the Nasty Glare.
  • Ed realizes that Gina really wants to keep Mr. Evil out of action.  He has achieved step (a) of earning Story Tokens!  Rock!
  • Ed does not have Mr. Evil break out without a conflict.  That would completely screw up steps (b) and (c), and lead to no Story Tokens for him.
  • Ed probably doesn't even make a conflict right then (because Gina is flush with inspirations from having put him in prison, and while Ed could achieve (b) he'd have a hard time achieving (c) without spending more than he'll earn back)
  • Instead, Ed waits until Gina has spent the relevant Inspirations ("Well, I'll use the fact that I put Mr. Evil in prison to sway public opinion") and then at a later date he makes a conflict that Mr. Evil is going to break out.
  • Gina, incensed, wants to prevent this.  Lacking big inspirations to pave the way she stakes debt.  Mr. Evil out on the streets!  It cannot be!  She has a DUTY to the people of Circle City!
  • Ed is rewarded for this cunning play with Story Tokens.  Ed feels happy.  Ed wants to figure out just the right way to tweak Gina again!

So yes, I know the Nasty Glare.  I love the Nasty Glare.  The Nasty Glare means that if I play my cards right I'm going to Win The Game (in some limited but measurable sense).

From your past experience you see the Nasty Glare as someone pulling out a big club and holding it menacingly.  I see it as somebody pulling out a wad of cash and waving it temptingly.
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Sindyr
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Posts: 795


« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2006, 03:05:59 PM »

Well, I am sure that actually playing the game will help me, of that there is no doubt.

But your post which basically boils down to: the game is this way, play it or don't is entirely unhelpful.  Still, I thank you for the obvious time and effort you put into it.

However, if you check one of my first posts you will see that I have three choices: play the game as is, don't play it at all, or play it with some modifications.  I think I have been clear about what I would like to accomplish, attacking the validity of my goals is irrelevant to the accomplishment of them.

If a modification that allows for some character growth or a mod that permits challenges to preposterous narrations upset you, then by all means do not use them.  But if you want to be helpful to *me*, tell me one of three things:

Does the issues/problem I identify not exist? Is there a mechanical solution I have not noticed?
-or-
Given it exists, is one of my proposed solutions workable, without hidden mechanically game breaking flaws?
-or-
Can you suggest an alternate proposal to "patch" the problem area?

Please refrain, however, from trying to convince me that my goals are incorrect.  The goal of having mechanical answers for the issues of character advancement, preposterous narrations, and easy reversals of hard won conflicts.

Thanks.

-Sindyr
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-Sindyr
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2006, 03:07:38 PM »

The above note I wrote is to Zamiel, I forgot to quote him and I cannot edit a post. Sorry.

-Sindyr
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-Sindyr
TonyLB
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« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2006, 03:08:40 PM »

Sindyr:  Don't sweat it.  We're all pretty accustomed to cross-posting, and the intent was clear.

Oh, and by the way ... in case my bantering tone about Good-Cop/Bad-Cop came across as supporting Zamiel: while you were writing your post, I was writing this one.

I don't love to hear people writing things like this ...

If that's too much for you, you aren't ready to play GM-less games.

... or this ...

Buy it. Read it. Internalize it. Then get back to us when you actually know something and aren't just speculating.

They aren't fair or true.  They also are more likely to drive someone to stop talking than they are to convince anyone of anything.

Sindyr wants to talk about Capes.  Don't discourage him!  Talking about Capes is one of my favorite things.
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Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2006, 03:17:34 PM »

Ooh, ooh, Zamiel's being Bad Cop.  Can I be Good Cop?  I like to think that I'm getting really good at explaining this issue.  Let me give it a shot.
(snip for space)
From your past experience you see the Nasty Glare as someone pulling out a big club and holding it menacingly.  I see it as somebody pulling out a wad of cash and waving it temptingly.

You make a good Good Cop. ;)

You are also very persuasive.

My only issue as far as easy reversals are concerned is what if I don't *want* do deal with someting in the story again?  Say I spend an exhausting series of games finding my true parents, what if I never want my heritage to again be part of the game?  Shouldn't there be something I can do mechanically to make it less worthwhile or make it a disincentive for the other players to bring it into the story? I'm not saying I should just be able to say bu Fiat, no more Mr. Evil, but it would be good if somehow I could mechanically make a certain truth, fact, or other accomplishment more and more deeply entrenched, if that's what's important to me.  Doing this will of course, allow the other players more free rein on other things as I build a bulwark around mr evil saying never again!

Maybe players should be allowed to invest one story token per session in the current state or truth of something previously established.  That way, over three story sesions, I may have invested 3 story tokens into the Fact: Mr Evil is imprisoned.  Now, for a player to get him out they would have to one three seperate conflicts to unravel that fact.  Or maybe, they can unravel it in one conflict but I get to spend 3 story token on that conflict that get returned to the Fact if the attempt is unsuccessful.

Does that sound so terrible?  Why?
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-Sindyr
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