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Author Topic: Luck as an SA  (Read 10560 times)
Brian Leybourne
Member

Posts: 1793


« on: May 29, 2003, 03:03:14 PM »

This is just something that has been festering at the back of my head for a while, and I'm wondering what you guys think of it.

The SA system in TROS is excellent, of course. I think we all agree on that. What drives a character? What is his destiny? Who does he love enough, or hate enough to be rash for/over? What will his conscience override? Etc.

The only one that for me has never fitted into the system is Luck. The rest of the SA's denote what's truly important to a character, and in a lot of ways are responsible for the shift from Simulationism to Narritivism that is TROS. Luck... well, doesn't. It doesn't have anything to do with how a character acts, or feels, it just is.

So, I say lets drop Luck as an SA. I still want to keep the attribute, because I like my games to be slightly more... hmm... what's the word? Epic? Yes, epic perhaps, and slightly less gritty than canon TROS. For this reason, I love Luck as a meta-mechanic (ala 7th Sea or Buffy) that the players can use to assist OTT-ness. I would also remove the ability to use Luck points as experience or insight, and keep them as pure drama dice.

That does, of course, leave us with the problem (?) that there are only 5 SA's to pick 5 from (of course Passion may be taken more than once). Maybe a new SA is needed. Can anyone think of anything not already covered? A new SA?

Thoughts? Lets discuss, this board tends to the quiet at times :-)

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
bleybourne@gmail.com

RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Ashton
Member

Posts: 50


« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2003, 03:23:37 PM »

Okay, so there is Destiny and Drive which defines where your character is going. There is Faith- which defines what they believe in, and there are passions, which is what the character cares about. There is also Conscience which defines the way that a character approaches the world (the hallmark of a "good" character).

None of these covers honor, which is separate from conscience in a big way. It is facing an opponent on even ground, refusing to show weakness, and maintaining face.

A character with honor does not have to be a a character with conscience, they do not have to care how anyone is perceived other than them. It is also not lowering themselves to the level of those without honor as it is as much an internal as an external quality.

Obviously, having this SA can put characters into a bit of a bind as they would lose honor foracting, well dishonorably. Thoughts?

As an aside: I don't mind Luck as an SA simply because it does fit into the sort of all-around intangibility of the other SAs. There are people with better luck than others.. those blessed by the Three who are One, or who have the Dark One's own luck.
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Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2003, 03:31:41 PM »

Virtue could cover honor, amoung other things (patience, courage, loyalty).
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- Cruciel
toli
Member

Posts: 313


« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2003, 03:32:48 PM »

I like luck.  If you want an example of luck as an SA read the Ringworld series by Lary Niven.  I can remember her name but there is a character who is bread over generations to be lucky.  In the end she screws up the pupeteers (?) plans because her luck is lucky for her and not for the pupeteers.

I think I got that right.  It has been a long time since I read those books.

I suppose her luck could also be considered destiny but in the books it is decribed as luck.

I just think of luck as something that reinforces destiny or drive...

NT
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NT
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2003, 03:32:53 PM »

Honor's a good one. I'd call it Code to make it more generic, but I can think of a lot of settings (within Weryth) where Code would fit perfectly.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Salamander
Member

Posts: 450


« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2003, 03:33:44 PM »

I think of honour as a passion or a drive, "Passion: to maintain personal honour", or "Drive: To achieve honour" or "Drive: To be Honourable". etc...
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"Don't fight your opponent's sword, fight your opponent. For as you fight my sword, I shall fight you. My sword shall be nicked, your body shall be peirced through and I shall have a new sword".
Ashren Va'Hale
Member

Posts: 427


« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2003, 03:36:11 PM »

I just let my characters lump that into a faith but having it as a seperate SA is but a nominal change. I say go for it!

The only advantage for luck is that its a catchall for santaschaling, if you want to give a player points but cant figure out where luck always works.
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Philosophy: Take whatever is not nailed down, for the rest, well thats what movement is for!
toli
Member

Posts: 313


« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2003, 03:39:06 PM »

Although to answer your original question,

I think you could use passion to cover a large range of possible SA's.  I played Pendragon for a long time, so Passion might cover Honor, Loyalty to one's Lord, Loyalty to one's country, love for a woman and what ever.  I can't think of any particular SA besides the ones listed in book, but Passion would seem to be pretty openended and cover just about anything you want.

If you drop luck as an SA but keep it as an atttribute, how does it function.  Does it fill up similarly to the present system and get burned up similarly to the present?  Does everyone get it automatically or are some people naturally luckier than others...
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NT
Brian Leybourne
Member

Posts: 1793


« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2003, 03:49:34 PM »

I would use it as a drama mechanic. Gain points for extremely lucky or extremely unlucky rolls (As in the book) but also gain a point whenever you roleplay extremely well, achieve astounding success in something, save the day, win the girl, etc.

A lot of tjhose kinds of situations would be covered by an SA of course, but I'm talking Luck rewards as being entirely different from SA rewards. Literally a drama mechanic - you get it for being dramatic and can spend them to assist in being dramatic, which is a different slant than determining when SA's apply.

I kind of like Honor/Code, but I would like some more examples of how it's different from Conscience. If we're discussing Honor, what about Valor? Is it the same thing (not IMO). Is it another valid SA possibility? I'm just throwing ideas out, you understand.

Toni/Salamander, I can see what you're getitng at, but your examples are not valid Passions as defined in the rulebook (you can "rule 0" anything you like of course). A passion must be towards a specific person or entity, so you can't have a passion to be honorable for example, and technically you can't even have a passion to be loyal to someone or something (that's covered by the gifts and flaws).

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
bleybourne@gmail.com

RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Lance D. Allen
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Posts: 1962


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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2003, 05:13:00 PM »

Heh. We're crossing into Ultima territory here...

If you're a fan of the Ultima series, you're probably already familiar with the Virtues and the Principles. If not, you can get MY interpretation here.

Conscience is the desire/instinct to do what is right; but right is such a nebulous word. What is "right" is generally what you were taught growing up. I doubt any born and raised cannibal would ever find anything wrong with it, but we as "civilized" people know that it is wrong. To me, Code would simply be Conscience, but with a descriptor which defines your framework.

Now, on the other hand.. Specific Virtues, such as those in the Ultima framework, are a little different. Following a specific Virtue sometimes forces you to choose which "right" you're going to do. In the character selection portion of the video game series you're faced with a series of these situations where you choose one way or the other. Valor... or Compassion? Justice... or Honesty?

As an unofficial addition to the SAs, I could see Virtue, but as it is an idea already copyrighted by the Ultima series, you'd either have to change it immensely, or not use it at all for official content.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
ashampine
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2003, 05:26:08 PM »

In a lot of ways luck already is a pure metagame mechanic.  Sure, it's called an SA, but it doesn't really work the same way as the other SAs.  I like Brian's suggestion, but I think as a practical matter that it's more a matter of terminology than anything else.

I also like the idea of giving luck for great roleplaying or great ideas or whatever else doesn't fit handily into the SAs.  You make your own luck, after all. ;)

With respect to other SAs, again, it depends a lot on how loose you are on the definitions.  One that has bothered me since I first read the rules (which is pretty recently) is conscience.  As written this is strictly a 'good' conscience.  This means that evil characters or NPCs can essentially never advance in this SA, which seems inappropriate.  What about the old 'do as thou wilt?'  Personally, I like to play good characters, but I want the villains to be as tough as the good guys.

The trick here is that an anti-conscience can be just as challenging as a good conscience.  FOr example, if you have an evil conscience (do as thou wilt), then that will bring you into active conflict with the law and others.  You like that barmaid?  Your actions may land you in a duel or the jail.  Or even the hangman's noose.  

I haven't really thought through all the ramifications of this, but that's the one SA that doesn't seem to apply to villains.  Any other thoughts on how to fix this?
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Brian Leybourne
Member

Posts: 1793


« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2003, 05:40:57 PM »

Quote from: ashampine
In a lot of ways luck already is a pure metagame mechanic.  Sure, it's called an SA, but it doesn't really work the same way as the other SAs.  I like Brian's suggestion, but I think as a practical matter that it's more a matter of terminology than anything else.


I'm not at all opposed to that definition.

But - more heresy! - I'm thinking that I would possibly also change the mechanic behind luck.

We already know that luck affords instant success in anything beyond one's control (the haycart under the tower window). But if we're going for a more epic kind of game, why not an instant success on skill rolls too? Want to jump off the rooftop and into the window of the next building over because that's where the princess is? Spend a luck point and don't even bother rolling. Or, alternately, spending a luck point lets you re-roll the entire pool if you fail. Or doubles your pool before the fact. Or something.

That wouldn't work in combat of course, so maybe luck dice always standardise as one luck = +X dice for one round, use them as you like? Just random thoughts.

This certainly isn't a change I would make "permanent", but something that might be fun for the times we're in a mood for a more cinematic and less gritty TROS session. You know - when you feel like a 7th Sea session but you really don't want to use 7th Sea's system because TROS is better. Those times. :-)

Quote from: ashampine
... Conscience...

I haven't really thought through all the ramifications of this, but that's the one SA that doesn't seem to apply to villains.  Any other thoughts on how to fix this?


In a lot of ways, it could apply to villains. After all, not every villain has to be a 2-dimensional always-evil guy. There are shades in every grey and it might be interesting to deal with a villain who is constantly struggling with that little (sobbing) inner voice.

Or, just flip it on it's head. Any time the villain does anything that's not totally in his self-interest, he's risking losing "anti-conscience" (Aloofness? Coldness? Callousness?) but he can apply the anti-conscience SA whenever he does things that are wrong by most folks standards, specifically because they improve his own station at the cost of others etc.

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
bleybourne@gmail.com

RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2003, 05:41:53 PM »

Hi Ashampine,

Regarding your concern about conscience, of course an evil character can have it.  Just look at the Godfather movies, or Chow Yun Fat in the Killer.  The character simply has a narrower view of who earns your compassion.

Chris
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Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


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« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2003, 06:25:38 PM »

Actually I'd have a strong aversion to Honor as an SA.  
1) its almost obnoxiously cliche.
2) it is so undefined that it could be claimed for almost anything with the proper mental gymnastics
3) there's nothing for a GM to sink their teeth into.  Passions, drives, destinies...those are all story generators.   Honor...that's just color to make a character look cool.  A player who's into that sort of thing will just roleplay it anyway.
4) Honor is external.  OTHER people percieve you as honorable or dishonorable.  Other things like passions and drives are internal.  Any kind of sense of adhering to an internal code of honor regardless of what others might think sound alot like simply Faith to me.
5) The external effects of Honor are already covered by the Good Reputation, merit.

IMO: Honor...as a simple generic SA in not a good idea, any more than "Lust", or "Greed" without further qualifiers is not a very good SA.

Luck...Luck I agree 100% with Brian's analysis of Luck relative to the other SAs.  I don't have a problem with it because in my mind you don't have 5 SAs.  You have Luck and 4 SAs.  I can't imagine ever creating a character without taking Luck, unless I was intentionally trying to play someone unlucky.  It would be like declineing to take ones Hero Points in Hero Wars or one Bennies in Savage Worlds.

In fact, if I were rewriting TROS, I'd set it up that way.  Luck is earned mechanically as opposed to being granted by the GM.  Luck is spent differently than other SAs...its just a completely different animal, so I'd set it up as a completely different animal and not even try to call it an SA.  In my mind the only reason to call it an SA at all is to make it obvious that it can be spend on Spiritual Points for improvement.
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ashampine
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2003, 07:11:00 PM »

First, of course villains can have regular consciences.  And it's quite interesting to have spiritual attributes that are in tension with one another.  However, I dislike having thorough villains not having access to this spiritual attribute.  All I'm saying is that I like the idea of allowing anti-conscience as a viable option.

With respect to luck, I'm starting my first campaign in a couple of weeks and I'm wrestling with how to handle this.  I'm leaning towards allowing luck points to be cashed in at any time for a lucky break.  I don't have a problem with them being used in combat, since I, as the GM, will be the arbiter of what a 'lucky break' is in those circumstances.  The question is how much authorship do I want to allow the players.  I'm not sure about this.  I can see pros and cons either way.

Anyone have any experience with allowing players authorship with respect to their luck?
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