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Topic: Sorcerer Combat (Read 6670 times)
September 25, 2001, 11:47:00 AM »
This might end up to be one of my thinking out loud posts. So, I ran a session of my monthly Deadlands (yes, this will get around to Sorcerer) game this last weekend and I ran what I think amounts to one of the best action sequences I've ever experienced in an RPG.
Okay, so the players are toting barels of gun powder across the Arizona desert in a Roman War Chariot while being chased by Medeval Knights in full plate mail. (Don't Ask). Now I've pulled this from a prewritten scenario in one of the sourcebooks but I've modified it heavily to suit my needs. In the book, the Marshal is instructed to essencially 'ignore the rules' and just, 'make the players' sweat. I hate when games tell you to do that but I put the book down started making fake die rolls and just directing the scene in the most exciting way I could think of.
Whoa! What a DIFFERENCE! Now, since I was just making this stuff up I let the players basically do the same (something I'm trying to encourage in them, anyways). One guy wanted to know if the chariot had a shield. (Right idea, now if I could get them to stop asking me and just DO.) So, sure, why not?
Anyway, it was a BLAST. It was one of the smoothest most exiciting chase sequences I've EVER run. We were still using the rules for various things like keeping control of the chariot, deflecting arrows, leaping from the chariot to the horses... Still fairly task based in it's nature.
Thankfully, my resident rules lawyer wasn't present and everyone just rolled with the punches so to speak. But the whole experience got me thinking about action sequences in systems with other design considerations. The most readily available example I have on hand is Sorcerer.
Now Sorcerer really has 4 things in it you don't find in your standard RPG.
1) An open announcement phase in which all actions are freely declared and amended. This is presumably to encourage a cooperative narrative in a collaberative effort to produce the most exciting scene possible.
2) The dice resolve conflicts and not individual actions.
3) The die that resolves your conflict ALSO determine the 'initiative' order.
4) You basically can't defend yourself until you've taken your action. Otherwise you lose your action.
It seems that these three result in some strange and possibility contradictory manner. Now, obviously I haven't actually TRIED this so maybe some of the situations I was thinking about don't really apply but how do you deal with the following situations:
1) Player X wants to have his action immediately follow Player Y's action.
a) Player X gets a higher initiative than Player Y. Not so much a problem since I assume that Player X can simply wait until Player Y goes.
b) Player X gets an initiative lower than Player Y with other characters going in between. However, Player Y wanted to go immediately after Player X.
c) Player X would like to apply the victories from Player Y's roll as added dice for his roll since his action flows from Y's. However, all die rolls are made at the same time.
2) What exactly is a 'conflict'? Is jumping from a moving chariot to the horses a conflict? How about retrieving a cigar that has fallen amongst several powder kegs? What about controling a high speed moving vehicle?
a) Theoretically a player can take an infinite number of non-conflict based actions before needing to roll dice. Obviously this is silly and common sense can be used as a guide. However, what happens to that player if he or she is taking non-conflict oriented actions that can impact a scene while other players are resolving conflict based actions? Where does their action go off in the initiative order if no dice rolling is needed? How soon can they defend themselves without losing said action?
All these came to mind while pondering the Sorcerer rules. Any thoughts?
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Reply #1 on:
September 25, 2001, 12:19:00 PM »
For point 1 I'd personally just say that the resolution can be stated in any order just as long as someone who has initiative over another says its OK. That is that having initiative over another might allow you to say that you get to decide your portion first, but if you agreed to do something simultaneously, or in a certain order during the declaration that it just happens that way. Initiative between characters is most important for when they are facing off against each other (like in the GenCon demo where we all blew each other to smithereens).
For point 2 you have it right. Common sense. And there is quite a lot of flexibility. Just realize that if you chuck a whole lot into a particular resolution that if it comes out bad, it may be worse, as you're gambling more on that one roll. Even if the GM decides not to hose you for that particular action when you fail, he may be totally justified in hosing you hard elsewhere to keep your charcter interest high.
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Reply #2 on:
September 26, 2001, 08:25:00 AM »
Reply #3 on:
September 26, 2001, 03:59:00 PM »
The main thing to realize is that the basic, fundamental goal of #1 is NOT guaranteed. In fact (and this is going to hurt!), (a) is incorrect. That's right - if X gets a higher roll than Y, X is screwed! His action goes off BEFORE Y's, in a classic fuckup of interpersonal timing. This result is going to horrify gamers who are not used to it.
Ouch, that did hurt. And yes, I can hear the distant sound of bitching players now. But thanks for the clearification. I didn't realize that the initiative point was FIXED in Sorcerer.
The (c) issue does get tricky. What I do is simply give the PC the extra dice right then and there, which may change his highest-value but does NOT change the order of action.
Hey, I scored! This was the exact solution I thought up.
Jesse, a lot of these questions are arising out of the difference between the traditional RPG announce/resolve paradigm and the one in Sorcerer (which is imitated in part from Zero, by the way). Each one follows its own logic and puts player decisions in particular places; each one works fine for its purposes. But neither satisfies or corresponds to the assumptions and decisions of the other.
Oh I know this. But this is why I speak a lot about transcripts and translation guides. If I hand you a prose paragraph describing an exciting action scene one should be able to produce a game transcript (no matter how improbable the transcript maybe) that duplicates the events in the scene. Then, by comparing the resultant transcripts between two different games, you can translate the abstract concepts at work behind each game.
A system ultimately changes only what is likely and how things are organzied but NOT what is possible. If the resultant transcript is highly improbable within the system then the system isn't designed to support the NATURE of the original scene but a good system will support all the EVENTS of the scene. Perhaps the scene is highly cinematic and you've translated it to a very gritty realistic system. An indication of this would be a chain of events where the odds of the character surviving every one of them would be VERY VERY VERY low.
Reply #4 on:
September 27, 2001, 06:51:00 AM »
Reply #5 on:
September 27, 2001, 02:49:00 PM »
Sorcerer combat is MUCH clearer now. Thanks a lot. The Dice As Cameraman analogy is really good I will definitely save that away for future use.
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