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Author Topic: Rules Questions - Bonuses to Humanity Check/Gain  (Read 7585 times)
jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« on: July 23, 2002, 09:03:51 AM »

Alright so here's the big issue from last night.  Do Humanity Check/Gain rolls get the usual role-playing/story/tactic bonuses and if so how?

Here's the actual play session problem that occured.

So Christopher's character Karl is trying to contact, summon and bind the spirit of this dead girl.  Karl's Humanity is 2 and the spirit's Power is 7.  Now, JUST going by the rules there's not a cold day's chance in hell that Karl is going to get out of this intact.  

Was there any way to earn bonus dice on the Humanity Check portion of the rituals?  Bonuses on the rituals was easy, Christopher was rolling 12 dice for his Contact Roll.

The main source of confusion was this.  On one hand Humanity Checks/Gains are all about moral judgment.  Going from this point of view there should have been PENALTIES if anything on the Humanity Checks because this was particularly insane behavior.  On the other hand bonuses are awarded for the player really nailing the story issues which this scene clearly was.  Going from this point of view it might have been appropriate to give a a Bonus to the Humanity Check roll because this was just so cool and we as players WANTED to see it succeed.

I realize one small mistake that may have been made.  According to the rules the player can define what demon he is trying to summon.  In a sort of strange ironic twist I already happened to have the dead girl written up as a ghost-demon on reserve in case I needed a wild card.  So I just used those stats yeilding a power of 7.  Now had we gone through the demon definition stage (which would have been appropriate since this demon had not yet come into play AT ALL) Christopher could have given her only one or two powers thus yeilding a much lower powered demon and increased the odds of his Humanity Checks succeeding.  Is this freedom to define your own NEW demons supposed to be the main source of player control over the odds of surviving the Humanity Checks?

Finally, Christopher wanted me to ask how Humanity Check/Gain rolls affect the action that earned them.  The situation where Tich decided to rescue Torvak from the Water Spirit prompted this one.  Could Tich have rolled the victories from the Humanity Gain roll over to his roll to save Torvak?  Note: I understand the Humanity as resolution stuff.  When Karl tried to connect with the innkeeper that wasn't a Humanity Check/Gain roll that was just a Humanity roll to see if he could do it.  I would have allowed victories from that roll to be rolled over to the next action taken with the innkeeper.  We're specifically dealing with Humanity Checks and Gains, only.

As it stands we have all this rolling going on with bonuses and victory roll over and all kinds of things and that's going well and then we sort of have all these Checks and Gains happening OVER HERE in their own little isolated box.  Granted, that makes them stick out and hold significance but we're not sure if this is entirely correct.

Thanks.

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2002, 09:53:50 AM »

Hi Jesse!

Do Humanity Check/Gain rolls get the usual role-playing/story/tactic bonuses and if so how?

The long and short of it is: They can. I have not played the game that way, but I don't see why it couldn't be done. The bonuses would apply very much as you describe.

However, I strongly recommend that the severity of an action not apply as a penalty for a Humanity check. In other words, NOT: if you are rude to your aunt, that's a normal check, but if you butcher and kill and rape your aunt, in that order, that's a check with a penalty. Don't do that at all.

The solution would be to have multiple Humanity checks for a mult-part nasty action, ie, one for butchering, one for killing, one for raping, etc.

To take it to your example:
Was there any way to earn bonus dice on the Humanity Check portion of the rituals?

Yup - but it wouldn't be based on a simple rollover from victories on the previous ritual rolls. It would have to be based on some other action, that was relevant to Humanity in a positive way, but would be directly relevant to the ritual as well.

I consider this to be very difficult to conceive, as role-playing details of sorcerous rituals should be at best neutral, and probably negative, relative to Humanity as defined in the game. However, it's not impossible, especially with plural and/or complex definitions.

The main source of confusion was this. On one hand Humanity Checks/Gains are all about moral judgment. Going from this point of view there should have been PENALTIES if anything on the Humanity Checks because this was particularly insane behavior. On the other hand bonuses are awarded for the player really nailing the story issues which this scene clearly was. Going from this point of view it might have been appropriate to give a a Bonus to the Humanity Check roll because this was just so cool and we as players WANTED to see it succeed.

Ah. I see that the "penalties" side of this conundrum is exactly what I said not to do, above, so that should solve the problem. Stick with the bonuses, based on your reasoning above.

I'm confused about your Summoning question. You wrote,

Now had we gone through the demon definition stage (which would have been appropriate since this demon had not yet come into play AT ALL) Christopher could have given her only one or two powers ...

I don't understand. If Christopher's character is summoning the demon, and if the demon hadn't come into play yet, then Christopher has full rights to hand you a written-up demon and expect it to show up, albeit with some minor modifications if some of the rules suggestions are used. I don't see why you're saying he was limited in which abilities he could give the demon.

The situation where Tich decided to rescue Torvak from the Water Spirit prompted this one. Could Tich have rolled the victories from the Humanity Gain roll over to his roll to save Torvak?

Now that I like, and endorse unequivocally. I think that's interesting idea for checks as well as gains - in other words, say I did something nasty, incurred a Humanity check, and succeeded, hence losing no Humanity. I can see using the victories from that roll as bonuses to the next, related suitably-nasty action.

Damned good questions, all around. I wish I'd managed to get some guidelines for this into The Sorcerer's Soul.

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2002, 10:19:16 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hi Jesse!
I don't understand. If Christopher's character is summoning the demon, and if the demon hadn't come into play yet, then Christopher has full rights to hand you a written-up demon and expect it to show up, albeit with some minor modifications if some of the rules suggestions are used. I don't see why you're saying he was limited in which abilities he could give the demon.


Ah, HELL, I KNEW something didn't feel right about what was happening last night.  As I said, I ALREADY had Saleena (the dead girl) written up as a demon with a Power of 7 because I thought she might come into play but through an NPC, not through a PC.  However, she hadn't come into play yet so technically Christopher was having Karl summon a fresh brand new demon.  I made the mistake of simply snap judging and saying, "oh cool, I already have Saleena written up as a demon" and I TOTALLY forgot that when it comes to fresh demons that the PLAYERS define who they are and what they can do.  Curse those Simulationist habits.

Had I been thinking straight I should have discarded my on reserve stats for Saleena, since she didn't really exist in the story yet anyway, and let Christopher define her from scratch and thus giving him the potential to lower her power and raising the chances of surviving the Humanity Checks.

Damn.  Oh well.

Thanks for the insight on the other stuff.

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2002, 10:30:12 AM »

Hi Jesse,

I don't think it sounds like too disastrous a decision, though ... I may be hazy on the details, but it sounds to me as though everything worked out OK.

And you know, it's not like anyone has to play "Nuh-uh, you said it" style. If the Saleena character hasn't done much yet, then there's plenty of room to tweak her as desired. Yes, the Humanity rolls have come and gone, but Christopher's character was pretty damn determined, as I understand it. So move on and enjoy.

Best,
Ron
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Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2002, 10:32:22 AM »

Hi Jesse and Ron,

And now that it's the light of day...  (and I think I actually brought this up last night, too)...  I think part of this is trying to protect the player's from their character's own actions -- which probably we shouldn't do.

Clearly, as a player, if I really wanted to protect my player from bottoming out on Humanity, I could have had him come up with a different action than SUMMONING ANOTHER DEMON.

I think, ultimately, the game protects my Humanity by giving me the choice of how to have my character behave.  I'm doing insane, emotionally violent stuff, so I think... I'm going south.  I didn't nescesarily want it to happen.  I would have been fine hanging on to one Humanity and having a second Demon (Karl had lost it after all).

The moment the significance of all this hit everyone at the table was when I was told to roll two Humanity dice against the spirit's Power of 7.  There was this, "Really?" reaction from everyone.

Right there, at that moment (or certainly after that moment, when I dropped down to 1 Humanity, with more Sorcerery to go in the next moment), I could have easily let my character be struck with the same realization as the players at the table ("What am I doing?") as the Humanity ebbed away.

Three reasons I didn't: I really was thinking of Humanity as written:

1) You got a guy with a Humanity scale that is for the player, not the character.  Until the scale reaches zero, it doesn't affect character behavior.  I think from now on I'll play that a bit looser.  Or at least allow the option of it.  Karl still might have done what he did (he would have actually, see below), but I'll allow my characters in the future a touch of moral awareness -- and when I'm in the rain, with the thunder, with an eight year old boy demon digging up the grave, making promises to an undead spirit to avenge her murderer if she'll stop my son's ghost and my humanity is about to drop to 1 as I roll two dice against her seven.... I might well have -- you know, some sort of realization.

2) I had already decided Karl might bottom out, so none of the above occured to me, really.  I was fine with hitting zero, and I think Jesse and I started to wrestle with the rules to figure out how to protect the character when, in fact, I had already decided, "No, really, I don't need the vacc suit... But thanks."

3) Karl had fucking lost it and had not a shred of common sense anymore.  Back in the library when he slipped into insanity and suddenly believed the lie that his son had killed the girl -- well, he was just gone.  In short, I sort of bequeathed him a defacto Humanity of zero according to the game's one-sheet -- and I would just take insane actions until the actual zero was reached.  (cf. insane action: rain, thunder, demon boys, and so on...)  

Main point: I was really, really happy with this.  Again, all I needed to do was have Karl STOP.  But I didn't want him to... So, really, I don't need bonus dice.  I was playing a great villianous character, really, mad in his own petty ambitions -- and the fun is in watching the chilling behavior and wondering how the hell it's going to end.  Well, we found out.

On the other hand, the Kicker's not resolved yet (my son, apparently has "returned" a second time, so I still have yet to finish the matter).  So now the story takes this great turn.  Driven into insanity, broken, his heart suddenly mended in an unexpected way, he returns to find.... What?

Let's find out, shall we?

So, ultimately, while it would be fun to have rules to make my character abstesos and still play foolishly with fire, I'm ultimately content with the way they are.  My "reward" for being punished by the system for my "good" insane bad guy roll playing was a terrfic story turn.  That's enough of a great reward for me.

Thanks guys,

Christopher
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Lemonhead, The Shield
Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2002, 10:39:08 AM »

Hi guys (cross posted the last one),

Jesse, as the guy who went down on the Sumo mat against Selina, let me say, I didn't mind one bit.  If I'm not mistaken, one can try to summon a specific demon.  (I think normally it's got to be a demon one's met before, but we're being a tad squishy on the magic-magic stuff, all to good effect, so whatever...)

I wanted the creature you had written up.  I wanted her.  That's why you grabbed her.  That's why I tried to wrestle her.  That's why I got my nose broke.  Certainly, as noted in my previous post, once I realized her Power, I could have certainly stopped at either sorcerous roll and saved my Humanity from bottoming out. But I chose to have Karl choose to press on.

As noted above, no harm done -- and something great came out of it.

Remember, unlike other games, we're not here to have the GM keep faking rolls and floating the players through apparently dangerous but actually safe from their own actions as long as the GM's story gets played out kind of narrative.  In this game the players are responsible for the nonsense their characters commit to.  Great!  And I accepted that with mad-gleaming eyes.

Christopher
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jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2002, 10:49:20 AM »

Hello,

Hey, I'm VERY cool with the results.  It's just it felt like there should have been one more dial of control.  I'm not talking about fudging dice rolls or anything like that.  And yes, you were being very specific about what demon you were summoning so it's not the end of the world that grabbed my predefined stats.  I just wanted to know where that missing dial of control went and it went into the fact that under "normal" cicumstances the player defines the demon and thus has more control over the Power score.  Just something to file away for future use.

Jesse
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2002, 11:26:51 AM »

OK, this stuff is TOO good - I gotta say thanks for this thread, and the others about this game.  Very informative, and also just flat-out cool.
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Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2002, 01:26:05 PM »

Hi Jesse,

One More Dial:

I was thinking about this after I posted, and if you had really wanted one more dial I think all you would have had to have done is say, "I've got her ready.  Do you want to come up with your own write up?"

That would have allowed me authorship, but also would have given the choice of just taking what was flying at me.

Simple as that, I think.

And, of course, I would have had Karl summoned her just as she is.

Christopher
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Lemonhead, The Shield
Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2002, 11:42:29 AM »

Hi Jesse,

I meant to follow up on something, and I simply forgot to do it...

I no way did I mean to imply that you had an adventure and you were keeping us safe to "get to it."  I meant that's specifically *not* what you're doing, and so we might want to cut all the cords.  If I play my guy as walking into a wall of fire -- and you say, "Um, you're going to get burned," and I say, "No, I really want to," then there's no need to concern ourselves with how to re-work the rules to protect my guy from fire.  That's all I meant.

Take care,
Christopher
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Lemonhead, The Shield
Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2002, 11:42:48 AM »

Hi Jesse,

I meant to follow up on something, and I simply forgot to do it...

I no way did I mean to imply that you had an adventure and you were keeping us safe to "get to it."  I meant that's specifically *not* what you're doing, and so we might want to cut all the cords.  If I play my guy as walking into a wall of fire -- and you say, "Um, you're going to get burned," and I say, "No, I really want to," then there's no need to concern ourselves with how to re-work the rules to protect my guy from fire.  That's all I meant.

Take care,
Christopher
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