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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 154 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Adventure Game Engine] Tempting your opponent into Conflict  (Read 8829 times)
Andrew Cooper
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« on: June 03, 2006, 03:11:39 PM »

You can read some basic information about AGE on my blog, http://kairoscreative.blogspot.com/.  Here's my quandary though...

AGE play revolves around Quests.  Quests don't necessarily mean "Get the McGuffin."  They can be "Find the traitor." or "Establish a stronghold in this unclaimed wilderness."  Lot's of things.  Quests have two measures of how close to completion they are; GM Tokens and Player Tokens.  As play progresses, players and the GM bet Tokens on the outcome of Conflicts.  Winner of the Conflict takes the Tokens.  When one side or the other has accomplished their goal and completed the Quest, players gaining some reward (or not) as appropriate.  For example, a Quest is designated a 100 Token Quest when it is created (details fairly irrelevant for this discussion).  When one side gets more than 100 Tokens from winning Conflicts related to this Quest, it wins and completes the Quest.  Much rejoicing from the winning side, followed by noogies.  That's the set-up.  Here's my question.

How can I set up a system that entices a side to risk a Token on a Conflict if that Token will complete the Quest for the other side should they win the Conflict?  This is a competitive game between GMs and players and I think that saying "You shouldn't withhold that Token because it's not in the spirit of the game." is a punt.  I'd really like a mechanic that makes it worthwhile to risk the Token.

Any other comments concerning what I have posted on the game that don't directly relate to the above question are welcome on my blog.  Thanks in advance for any help from the gaming geniuses that hang out here.

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John Harper
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2006, 06:53:01 PM »

Maybe spending tokens is how you earn XP (or whatever you use for advancement -- based on your notes I'm guessing you want character advancement).

The more you put on the line, the more you learn and grow. It could be a gamble, too, if you like that kind of thing. For each token you bet on a conflict, roll 1d6 when the conflict is over. Each die that shows 4 or better gives you 1XP. Something like that.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2006, 07:38:52 PM »

First thought:  What does the losing player get when the conflict resolves?  Do they get some sort of payout for the many tokens that they accumulated on their way to defeat?  That would make me more willing to take a chance:  either I'm close enough to close the gap (in which case I've got a lot of tokens, and the reward if I lose will rock) or I'm so far out of the running that it's a foregone conclusion, and I want my loser-tokens as quickly as possible.

Second thought:  The winner's going to get their own tokens even if the other guy bets nothing, right?  So not opposing a bet ... that doesn't stop the other guy from winning, does it?  Or, it might for one exchange, but long-term you're just slowing the inevitable and crippling your chance to close the gap.  So where's the problem?
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oreso
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« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2006, 02:04:09 AM »

erm, why not simply extra dice? Sacrifice long term goals for short term awesomeness? Would work best for fortune in the middle, so players can look at their dice, get worried and say, "damn i need more dice!".
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2006, 10:52:32 AM »

I see that AGE is quite similar to my Threads in terms of some basic design assumptions.

If I understand correctly, you need a way to encourage competitiveness between players and GM, right?

First of all, make sure that both sides are mechanically rewarded for winning conflicts. That should give both PCs and GM reason to fight for completing the quest.

As for the incentive to risk a Token - maybe spending Tokens to oppose someone else could give you some other resource? What about accumulating a pool of such Tokens for one-time re-use in later conflicts?
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Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2006, 04:29:30 PM »

Please, excuse me for not replying sooner.  Weekends can be pretty hectic for me.  I'm going to address some of the replies now and leave some for later, after I've pondered them a bit more.  Thanks to everyone who has chimed in so far.

Tony:  I hadn't thought of having the winner gain Tokens whether he was opposed or not.  Currently my thinking was that if Player A declares a Conflict and risks X number of Tokens and Player B refuses to risk any Tokens in return, then Player A simply succeeds at the Conflict by default.  That doesn't mean that Player A reaps any Tokens since Player B didn't risk any.

I'm looking at it kind of like With Great Power.  My understanding of that game is that certain conditions have to be met before the players can resolve a story arc.  There was a thread a few months ago about a game at a Con where one of the 3 players had to lose a Conflict in order for them to actually resolve the entire story arc.  Two of the players had already succeeded in their Conflicts and the 3rd Player was upset that he had to throw his Conflict in order to actually resolve the story.

That's kind of what I'm seeing here.  Certain conditions have to be met in order to actually complete a Quest.  The major condition is that the assigned number of Story Tokens have to be won.  So, as it stands now (obviously going to change) if one side only needs a few more Story Tokens to meet the requirement, then the other side could simply throw all the Conflicts.  Then even though Side A wins a lot of fights, defeats a lot of traps, etc etc. they can't ever actually complete the Quest.

John:  Oh yeah, character advancement will be a key component to the system.  It's really a requirement for this kind of game, I think.  I want to here statements like, "I made 15th Level.  I am SO kick ass!"  I still haven't decided whether I'm going to use "Levels" but you get the idea.

I'll post more later.  Thanks everyone!
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Josh Roby
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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2006, 01:41:45 PM »

Gaerick, would it be in-line with the rest of the game for one side to offer the other double-or-nothing stakes?  In other words, I'm questing to find the McGuffin, and I'm three tokens away.  I put forward three tokens, the GM declines to respond because the possibility of him winning three tokens does not outweigh the possibility of me completing the quest.  So I can sweeten the deal, offer him double-or-nothing, and so if he wins he'll get six tokens whereas if I win I'll only get three?  Six tokens might be a big enough payoff to risk losing.

Just as clarification: the tokens that I put forward are tokens that I've already won in that quest, or tokens that come from some personal pool, and once won go into a quest pool that basically just stacks up to track progress?
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Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2006, 05:57:09 AM »

Joshua,

Yes, that's actually how I have it designed at the moment.  It's much like gambling in Poker.  You're betting X number of Tokens that you can win that Conflict/Fight/Whatever.  And in many cases I think your comments will hold true.  Upping the bet will be tempting enough in many cases to get your opponent to ante up and make a go of it.

After reading some of the comments on this thread, I'm thinking that also adding some sort of short-term reward for losing might help too.  It's like, "Sure, I just came out the loser on this Quest but I'm starting out ahead on the next one."

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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2006, 07:45:56 AM »

When writing Universalis, a similar sort of conundrum came upon us. We had this notion of players gambling tokens during complications, but we wanted to ensure that all players always wanted to participate in contests. In the end what it came down to was that we made the gamble almost all upside - that is it's really not much of a gamble at all, you're almost garunteed to gain if you participate. It's simply that the winner usually gets more gains than the loser.

Interestingly, it's the winner who can come out behind in tokens on rare occasions (the loser always gets back his investments plus coins for any freebies he pulled in). So shooting hard to win is actually contains the most gambling - playing to lose is a very stable investment as the only way to lose coins is to accidentally win.

This combination seems to produce the desired effects. That said, I'm not sure that it fits your game. But just consider for a moment that the gambling element may be working against you.

Mike
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Gasten
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« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2006, 10:46:36 AM »

Gaerik, say that you 'bet' with ading dice to your rolls in conflicts (in my opinion small, like d4 or d6, if you want the players to bet high numbers, and bigger the less they bet). Then you have a "is it worth to bet these Tokens to gain these?" Or have I missed something?
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Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2006, 11:06:19 AM »

Mike,

I think you may be right but I need to think on it some more.  There may be a better way of tracking where players are in the Questing process and who can actually finish the Quest.  It's definately food for thought.  Thanks!

Gasten,

I'm not really sure what you are referring to.  Tokens are simply a way to track who is closest to finishing a Quest.  If a Quest needs 100 Tokens to complete then whoever reaches 100 Tokens first can call for the final scene and complete the Quest.

You get Tokens by winning Conflicts related to the Quest.  Player A gets in a Conflict with the GM.  Player A stakes 10 Tokens on the Conflict.  The GM stakes 5 Tokens.  If Player A wins the Conflict then he gets 5 Tokens closer to completing the Quest.  If the GM wins the Conflict he gets 10 Tokens and is that much closer to completing the Quest.  The Tokens don't affect the actual mechanics used in resolving the Conflict at all.

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John Harper
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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2006, 07:13:34 PM »

You don't have to match your opponent's bet? Really? I mean... wow.

So, I bet one token and you bet 10. If I win, I get your 10 tokens -- but only risk 1 token of my own. Is that right? There's really no reason to bet more than your opponent, ever, as far as I can see. I think betting 1 token is always the right move with that setup.

Maybe I'm not understanding it properly.
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Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2006, 08:17:19 PM »

Joshua,

Sure there is.  Let's just assume a very simplified resolution system.

Player A is 75% likely to win.
Player B is 25% likely to win.

If Player A only risks 1 Token, Player B is going to just concede the Conflict.  Player A might win the Conflict but he won't gain anything in terms of furthering his goals.

However, if Player A risks 3 or 4 Tokens, Player B might be willing to buy into the Conflict with 1 Token.  Player B is 3 times as likely to lose but his rewards are 3 times as much too.

Also, if Player B were only 1 or 2 Tokens away from getting enough Tokens to complete his Quest, then he might risk it and enter the Conflict even if Player A only risks 1 Token.

It's all a matter of risk and reward.  It's why when betting on sports someone is willing to bet on the 10 to 1 underdog.  The potential payout is greater than betting on the "sure thing".

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John Harper
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« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2006, 11:21:48 PM »

It's John, not Joshua. Lots of Js around here to keep track of. :)

I get the thing about sports betting. I was misunderstanding the system. I didn't realize that the amount players bet was all negotiated. I was thinking of it in terms of poker betting, where one person makes a bet, and then the other players respond in turn. If you get to negotiate the betting amounts in "free and clear" before the conflict, then yeah, sometimes you will want to bet more to lure a reluctant opponent into the conflict so you can take his tokens.
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Gasten
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« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2006, 01:36:41 AM »

I understand that this isn't what you're looking for, but I would still like to clear my idea:

Player A is more likely to win the conflict than Player B.
Player B bets 5 of his 15 tokens in order to even the competition.
The tokens betted will add a bonus to Player B's roll.
If Player B wins, he'll keep his 5 tokens.
If Player A wins, he wont gain anything.
If Player A wins, and betted 3 tokens he'll get 8 tokens from the conflict (3 that he betted plus the 5 that Player B betted).
If Player B wins, and Player A betted 3 tokens, he'll get 8 tokens from the conflict (5 that he betted plus the 3 that Player B betted).

Conclusion:
The more you bet, the easier you'll win.
The more others bet, the more you'll win.
If you don't bet, you won't win.
High risk = High payout.
No risk = No payout.

Well, as I said: this isn't what you wanted, but I've cleared myself.
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