[IaWA] Concrete actions questions

Started by Rustin, February 01, 2008, 10:44:38 AM

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When Shahu Seen whispers in Amek's ear, pointing out the curve of Tajie's lip and how the light falls on her throat--- is that a conversation or an action? (I understand a particular strength is involved in this example, and was thinking the "inciting Amek's passion" is a concrete action via the Particular strength, no the talking per se).

Is refusal to act an action? Example: The village fool is standing in the street babbling cryptic, poetic truths.  An old woman approaches, telling the fool of the wonderful meal she has prepared for him. (She is trying to talk the fool into going to her place for dinner). The fool does not move, but continues to babble.

Can old woman character interfere with the fool's stated action of not moving?

Clinton R. Nixon


As I understand it, there's not a way to act and make a character do anything else, except by force, or through a particular strength. "I point out her beauty" doesn't strike me as an action, although I know different groups probably draw the line in different places on that.

Refusal to act causes a contest, as far as I know, but is a reaction, not an action.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games


Ah, metaphysical lines being drawn where physical actions leave off and attitudes/mental reactions being (e.g., do you chose to be attracted and act on it or is it pheremones etc. or a far-reaching power to compel actions etc.)

When Sahu Seen inflames and Mekha professes love vis a vis Tajie, and she gives in (p.12) ~ what were the 'actions' and what would have been diced for if Tajie's player doesn't decide she gives in and presumably sleeps with Mekha.

As I see it:

Through far reaching Particular Strength, one cannot do something the rules otherwise disallow (according to a Query Vincent answered).  So wherever the line lies, Particular Strength can't be the "key" to doing something such as inflaming passions.  If one can inflame passions and there is a PS good for that, inflaming passions must be possible within rules generally and thus could be done without a PS (e.g., an exotic dance, a seductive poem etc.).  Mekha could have been successful on his own.

Gramatically, "inflaming passions" doesn't force action on someone, it forces a condition that may be visible and result in actions from others  and it creates a need to demonstrate the subject character as "inclined to act upon such or not".  Thus it isn't the dice compelling decisions.

To me, if game literally only allows physical conflicts over physical actions, I think that's not as exciting as a broader definition of acting and some of examples do seem to go further but how to define line between "just talk" and "action" is tricky.   The game appears to intend to leave control of beliefs, attitudes of PC's exclusively in a player's hands thus an argument about whose beliefs are true and whose false is just colour assuming it's PC's - neither Player can be forced to choose to change a belief.

Conditions that may "incline" someone to act in a way but don't require it seem fair game to impose, likely as logical narrative levers for a conflict winner to negotiate with.  Passions inflamed is a condition.  Acting on inflamed passions is a choice and that seems across the line of what dice can allow one person at table to dictate to another.  Perhaps Tajie's player decided she is not a woman who would control her passions when they were so intensely fanned.

So in the particular example, the fool and the old woman.  If the fool is a PC/NPC and the action is to "tempt hunger" (with hope of negotiating agreement come in off street) [in same school of arounse physical passion, say in this case with scent of fresh baked bread and bowl of stew], the PC who loses and is tempted does something interesting.  They negotiate or they don't (yeah I'm tempted but now we know that I'm such a fool, believing so strongly in the need to warn everyone the sky is falling that though outrageously hungry and tempted I stay here ranting).  That seems interesting to learn.  What can be won is whether the fool is tempted, feels acute hunger and appetite, just as whether they are wounded, angered etc.  What the PC fool does when tempted, wounded, angered etc. still up to Player to decide or negotiate over.

Now I think changes in attitudes of "faceless masses" should be allowed.  For example, I think social status, public image, confidence of masses, political factions, the jury's views, these things can be affected by actions and words can be actions here.  X makes a speech before the senate that turns the senate against Y's candidacy.  That's a game for a conflict.  If Senator Q is a PC, Senator Q's attitudes are, however that Player's choice.  If Senator X is a named NPC under GM's control, Senator X's attitudes are also discretion of GM.  Convincing Y to withdraw their candidacy does not seem like an "action" (it's something Y might offer in negotiation).

Ultimately, social standing etc. do depend on view of other characters but I would draw a line between attitudes of "furniture" masses ~ e.g., attempts to fearsomely intimidate the mob ~ and those of named PC's and NPC's with best interests (conflict drivers).  Since their attitude/belief drives conflict, letting actions change their inner compasses short circuits conflict.  Conflict-based play requires conflict drivers be "fairly robust" both in terms of "not taken out by one lucky shot" and "not likely to change goals and just say 'never mind'+.


Physical vs nonphysical isn't the thing.

Go read "Red Nails." Read the conversation Conan has with Valeria in the opening section. Conan's like, I totally want to fuck this woman and I totally want her to do what I say, but, well, fuck it, I'm not going to make her to.

If you roll dice, you're no longer trying to convince someone to do something, you're trying to make them do it. Shahu Seen isn't trying to convince Mekha to go for Tajie, he's trying to MAKE him go for Tajie.

So: if you want someone to do something, tell them your reasons. Maybe they'll do it, maybe they won't. But - while you're leaving it up to them, don't roll dice.

Rolling dice means that you don't care anymore what they want to do, or whether you've convinced them, or anything like that. It means you're holding the gun to their head and telling them what to do (whatever the gun happens to be).

Make sense?



I think so.  The "gun" can be inflamed passions that override judgement, terror created by intimidation, or just "acting against best judgement because of the flim flam" that really doesn't care about your free will or desires, only wants a particular answer.  I work in consumer protection and we see high pressure sales constantly force people in vulnerable situations, including vulnerability the seller creates or falsifies, into signing contracts and handing over money that they didn't want to before, regret doing after and are often of two minds about even as they do it.


So there's no mechanic for the power of persuasion? I can see how that would be good in the sense that it compels the players to roleplay any verbal interaction. However, it has the down side of reducing all conflict to physical contest. Or am I missing something? Could the old lady in Rustin's example choose to roll dice yet narrate any success she has as delivering a particularly compelling argument? One that leads to the town fool realizing it's a good idea to get a free meal when he can? Or can she only mind fuck him enough that he capitulates to her demand (ala Hannibal Lecter)? We create characters who posses physical gifts that exceed our own, why not give them rhetorical gifts as well?


As I read Vincent's reply, the old lady can script an overwhelmingly persuasive/compelling action that forces idiot to come with her to be fed.  But, she must script one that does not rely on the idiot's "best self's judgment", and is disregarding the idiot's free will.  She may well feel she has good reason to do this (in real life the mentally incompetent are frequently put under guardianship because they cannot be trusted to make financial decisions etc.), but she has to accept that it is now "true in the fiction" that she overrides another's choice in at least this situation.  So yes, she has to "mind f..." him to that degree.  "These are not the droids you seek" etc.

Otherwise it's all talk and it's for the idiot's PC or GM player to decide what the idiot does.


Could you give a hypothetical example of the persuasive action?
Would you use Maneuvering or With Action, do to this? (if old lady was NPC).
(on a side note, what examples of maneuvering actions can you think of?)



Actions would depend on character etc.  For example, the old woman being misguided over-the-top benign dictator type and PC it might have been Directly for Others, or to stop the idiot blathering away her secrets before someone realized he was speaking truth Coverly For Myself.

If an NPC, Maneuvering seems likely.  Action could describe certain sorts of persuasion by demonstration (dancing for example).

Scripted as bringing forth fragrant foods and drink and offering them seeking to appeal to the animal instinct that mind cannot command when basic hungers are too long denied etc.

I admit when I read IAWA I was hoping at some point to find a list of examples of each action type (the way there is Trollbabe for example).  I see Man. as not being "moving about for position on battlefield" (that seems like action or even with violence) but "Maneuvering at the party to guide conversation etc.".  But I could be all wrong on all of this of course.


I say "Mehka, playing on her inflamed lust, seduces Tajie and brings her to bed with him." despite the fact I know Tajie wants to do no such thing.  Since Tajie says "no way" we go to dice.  As a result of the dice I get a stick with which I can negotiate - where I can say "Tajie, come to bed with me or I'm going to injure/exhaust you."

Paradoxically, you go to dice to make people do stuff, but winning doesn't make them do stuff - the negotiating does.  So if I win Tajie comes to bed with Mehka only if Tajie prefers that to being exhausted/injured. 


Very much so, Ryan.

Hey PorterO! Are you the Porter O. I think you are?



Thanks for all the clarifications.  I think I get it. I hope I don't sound too clueless, but if I could get some more hand holding that would be wonderful.

"I swing my sword at his mid section" is a preferred player statement because it gives us a concrete, vivid action without necessarily including a consequence. 

"I cut him in half " is frowned upon because is includes a consequence that might not necessarily happen.

Now we move from physical attacks to control and manipulation of another character. 

"Mehka, Playing on her inflamed lust, seduces Tajie and brings her to bed with him" would appear to be in the frowned upon category of statements because we have a stated consequence.

Is this just a compromise we must make when trying to non-physically manipulate people? (IOW, make it more like Dogs when doing social battles and it should work fine.)

All in all, I think I like the system's approach.
I always felt the stake setting of Shadow of Yesterday's Sway and even the Diplomacy in d20 acted a bit too much like mind control.
In this system, once you get into character another character could convince you just through roleplay. And, it strikes me as more realistic to need psychological force to get another character to act out of character.  Moreover, if that character type was strong enough, you simply take the injury but don't act.

Basically, it should be hard, if not impossible, to use reason to get a fool to do anything.  .  If someone wants to play a fool, then we shouldn't let some game mechanic mind control that character out of her nature.


I encourage players to push hard for what they want and then back off when it gets to consequences.  I think there's something like that in the text too.


Quote from: Rustin on February 04, 2008, 05:12:46 PM
..."Mehka, Playing on her inflamed lust, seduces Tajie and brings her to bed with him" would appear to be in the frowned upon category of statements because we have a stated consequence. ..

Vincent has explained elsewhere in forum that the consequence part of that statement is expressed in play as an exhuberant engaged style of play not as what is actually being diced over, with only the "action" part actually being diced, not the consequences. Whether your style is this or prefers to focus on "the action" that can be diced for is up to table (the thread did suggest online where actions remain visible as text expands it would be better to stick with only the action part).

Myself, I would prefer to keep statements to what is gamed and resolved perhaps with the exhuberant part being framed more as "such as might be imagined to seduce her and bring her to bed".  Those of us not the game designer or with game designer at the table with us may need a bit of help to "stay on the rails".

My one game so far was all fighting and slaughter first chapter (through about 3 scenes I think) ~ lots of fun though ~ with 2nd Chapter being spy and political shenanigans, with non-figthting actions including devil passing off as official entitled to take custody of a prisoner, a debate in front of nobles forming delegation about accepting or rejecting treaty terms etc. (with some blood and slaughter in the midst of that of course).

So for example, in the debate we agreed the Prince character (NPC as it happens) with authority to make decision about treaty couldn't be forced to make a decision but if they lost debate in front of all the councillors and military officers in delegation (which they did) as action being diced over, then negotiation would proceed and could encompass commitments about treaty.  At it happened, yes I decided as GM that NPC would prefer to not suffer "personal loss" (dice) and prefer to conceed on treaty.  This also noted that since future actions couldn't be bound, he could turn around next day and sign it, just coming across as real louse.  Players were fine with that (him being such a miserable louse being just as tasty as treaty failing).


Quote from: Ryan Stoughton on February 04, 2008, 02:08:03 PM
Paradoxically, you go to dice to make people do stuff, but winning doesn't make them do stuff - the negotiating does.  So if I win Tajie comes to bed with Mehka only if Tajie prefers that to being exhausted/injured. 

Ok, this makes sense to me. I was in the "narrating power" mode of DitV, so I wanted to dictate the result once I won the dice off. I see now how this system can work with non-physical conflict: I play for the negotiating stick through what ever means are available to me be they physical or verbal. Once I have the stick it doesn't matter how I got there and I negotiate a resolution. I like it.

Quote from: lumpley
Hey PorterO! Are you the Porter O. I think you are?

Hey Vincent. Yeah, the very one.