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Author Topic: Problems with Poisn'd  (Read 8166 times)
Valamir
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« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2008, 10:48:11 PM »

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I don't know where you got the idea that being stabbed was inconsequential. It wasn't from the game text!

Oh, and yes I did get that from the game text.  I won't harp on it here cuz we're past that.  But if you think it would be helpful to know for purposes of writing text that would reach people like me I can outline it in fair detail...as soon as I get home where I can download the PDF and quote the rules accurately.
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lumpley
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« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2008, 06:47:15 AM »

Scope: You say your character's action. If you like, you can say your character's intent, it doesn't matter. It's often very natural to do so. Either way, you make your success roll; that determines whether the action "comes off," and whether it's to your advantage X-wise.

The consequence of your action depend on lots more than the success roll.

"I sink the dagger" is a consequence, and intent, not an action. "...And destroy the ship and everyone on board" is a consequence too. So is "...and the entire city burns to the ground." No, one success roll doesn't decide those things. Those things are complicated to decide.

This, oh my god, you'll get me ranting. This question? It's a result of stupid stakes-setting rules. Stakes setting has stunted our collective ability to tell the difference between an action and its consequences. I'm seeing the same thing with In a Wicked Age. If you bring intent-action-consequence confusion into the game, where there is no such confusion in the design or the text, based only on your assumptions about how indie games obviously must work, you WILL fuck it up.

You'll notice that even Dogs in the Vineyard, one of the three great pillars of stakes setting, distinguishes clearly between actions and consequences.

("I build a rocket ship and fly to the moon" can go fuck itself. If I thought you had a moment's genuine confusion about that one, I'd give you your money back.)

-Vincent
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Valamir
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« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2008, 02:21:31 PM »

I'm not seeing any stakes setting issues here.  I'm well aware of those pitfalls, so no need to point them out to me.

But this is a point of the rules that is absent.  If you prefer to use the terms intent and consequences, great, lets do that.  Who has the authority to decide the consequences...the GM?  The player?  The player's collectively?  Somebody has to.  Somehow those consequences get entered (or not) into the SIS...what is that process in this game?

So my action is to set fire to the barn...my intent is that the fire will spread with the consequence that the whole city of Cartegena burns to the ground.  I make my success roll.  I have successfully lit the barn on fire.  So then what?  What process determines whether or not Cartegena burns, and if so, how much? 

Scope is a totally non trivial thing, it should not be left to whim lightly.  We wrestled quite a bit with this problem in Universalis and dedicated an entire section of the text to it.

One could just as easily say that my action is NOT to set fire to the barn.  My action is to knock the lantern over into the hay...my intent is that the hay will catch fire with the consequence that the fire will spread to the barn.

Who gets to decide whether the scale of the action is knocking over the lantern, or setting fire to the barn.

Somewhere the buck needs to stop for these decisions.  You acknowledged issues like this in Dogs with the simple expedient of following the aesthetic of the most critical person at the table.  Other games like Uni and DIrty Secrets use a more formalized challenge / appeal system.  There's lots of ways to do it, but it needs to be done somehow.

But this discussion is ranging farther and farther, from the initial issues, most of which are still open questions, so perhaps we should wait until more specifics are clarified before getting too esoteric

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Peter Nordstrand
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« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2008, 03:04:32 PM »

Hi Ralph,

But this discussion is ranging farther and farther, from the initial issues, most of which are still open questions, so perhaps we should wait until more specifics are clarified before getting too esoteric

I've been following this intently, but I'm beginning to get lost. Just to clarify, would you mind telling us which of your original questions you feel haven't been answered? I'm not taking a poke at you. Elucidating this matter would really make the thread (and your points) easier to follow.

Thank you in advance for indulging me.

/Peter
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Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
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Valamir
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« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2008, 03:25:14 PM »

Well, there’s part 2 of question 1 on the matter of what “draw a new weapon” means for escalation.

Pretty much all of question 2 related to whether all fights start on level 1 of the escalation table, the confusing example with Tom Reed and strange success roll at the end of the fight and why Tom isn’t dead.  And I’m still not clear on why, if you have a disadvantage in dice, and you’re losing you wouldn’t just choose “lose” as your fight option and never escalate the fight to where there are actually damaging consequences.

And pretty much all of question 4 except a) and d)
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lumpley
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« Reply #20 on: February 28, 2008, 07:43:32 PM »

Question 1 part 2: Interpretation a.

Question 2 (a): page 11, section "Dice," paragraph 3. All fights start at the first and can escalate no further than the third.

Question 2 (b): Tom suffered a deadly wound to end the fight. He's helpless and dying. Hannah wants some Xs so she attacks him again, to "smash his head fucking open," instead of letting him die of his deadly wound. She fails that roll, so she doesn't smash his head fucking open. He dies unnoticed, perhaps as she's howling at Pigfuck Dan.

Question 2 (c): I presume you have your reasons. You can't think of any? That's fine. Don't do it. You're allowed to ditch out of a fight you're losing with minor consequence, if you want to.

Question 4 part b: Whoever's in the fight is in the fight. If there's a pirate who might be fighting and you don't know whether he is, ask his player, she's the one who can decide that.

(Notice also the rule about withholding dice when you're fighting on a side. That's a different question.)

Question 4 part c: There is always a fight on the horizon.

Save your Xs until there's a fight including your character. At the end of any fight including your character, erase any Xs you didn't spend during the fight.

Do not track what actions gave you your Xs. It's irrelevant.

Question 4 part e: Yes, you can wind up in a fight you didn't want, forced to spend or lose your Xs you were saving for something better. Life sucks.

Your "rabid seagull" question is like your rocket ship question: it can go fuck itself.

Question 4 part f: No buckets for different fights.

Question 4 part g: You're right, the rules don't say whether you can combine them, like if I spend 1 and you spend 2 we can together buy a 3X effect.

Question 4 part h: When urgency resolves into the Resolute, now the Resolute is present. It is fully available to the game's fiction, under the GM's control. I don't know what you mean by "just a card to be dealt with eventually like any other." All the cards in play are effective immediately and constantly, under the GM's control.

The GM names the cruel fortune the urgency will resolve into when she brings urgency into play.

---

It's clear from your questions - and this conversation - that you were trying to interpret the rules to support some other game ("a pretty mechanical game where everything is regimented and orchestrated mechanically, board game style"), and in that light the rules didn't make sense to you. That's too bad, I'm sorry about that much. However, the only question in this post that isn't answered by the rulebook is 4g.

-Vincent
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lumpley
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« Reply #21 on: February 28, 2008, 08:35:04 PM »

I have some questions back!

Matt, did Ben answer your question? Did I manage to, in answering Ralph?

Whose idea was it to play Poison'd? What other games did you consider? Why did you choose Poison'd over the others? What interested you about the game? Who was most reluctant to play it?

Julie was the GM?

You all gave it three hours of grief? Why on earth didn't you bag it sooner?

Julie, Ron, Tim, do you have anything to add to Ralph's and Matt's posts?

I have to tell you, I already knew from conversations at GenCon that it wasn't the pirate game you wanted it to be, Ralph. I kind of thought you'd understood that too, I was surprised to hear that you'd played it.

-Vincent
« Last Edit: February 28, 2008, 08:36:53 PM by lumpley » Logged
Valamir
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« Reply #22 on: February 29, 2008, 08:35:45 AM »

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It's clear from your questions - and this conversation - that you were trying to interpret the rules to support some other game ("a pretty mechanical game where everything is regimented and orchestrated mechanically, board game style"), and in that light the rules didn't make sense to you. That's too bad, I'm sorry about that much. However, the only question in this post that isn't answered by the rulebook is 4g.

Actually, I think you have this completely backwards...and I think that's coloring the way you're interpreting my points.

I'll say this as clearly as I can, so forgive the bluntness, please.

I did not try to interpret the rules to support some other game.  I interpreted YOUR rules, and that led me to my understanding that the game was meant to be regimented and mechanically orchestrated board game style.  That is NOT (not not not) me layering my own bias on your game where it doesn't belong...that's how your rules read.

Everything I thought about how your game was supposed to be played that you've now indicated is completely wrong, came from trying to play the game EXACTLY the way you wrote it.  We did what the rules said, and didn't do anything the rules didn't say. 

The rules say that the GM starts a fight when a success roll is failed...that's the only way a fight gets started per your rules.  I didn't bring any extra baggage to the game, that's exactly what your rules say...that's ALL they say.  You indicate here that the ACTUAL way a fight starts is whenever one player narrates one of their characters attacking someone and the player of that character narrating that they fight back...then a fight happens.  Sorry, that's NOT in the rules anywhere.  If that's how fights start...then write it that way in the text.

You've indicated that narrating a serious wound to someone as part of a success roll actually does inflict damage of the sort that requires "make a bargain or die".  But your RULES don't say that...anywhere.  your rules only reference suffering injury as the result of the fight mechanics, and don't indicate that injury can be suffered at any other time.


I say this, not to harp on it, but as lead up to say this.

Please don't conclude "this is not the game for Ralph, this is not the game he was expecting, he brought his own baggage and preconceptions in, and that's why he didn't get it"...and then use that (false) conclusion to set my comments aside as not being really relevant. 

We read your rules very carefully.  We disected them ad naseum.  We tried to do exactly what the rules said and we wound up in a place 180d from where you wanted us to be.  That's not our fault...that's a serious failing in the text. 

I didn't go into the game HOPEING to find a board-game-like set of rules...I read your rules, and concluded that you intended them to play like a board-game.  It is now clear that you don't intend that...so it is now equally clear the current text is doing a pretty poor job for conveying how to play.

Everything you said in this thread...and everything you didn't say but could have...NEEDS to be put in the final version of the game text...the current text isn't cutting it.  I am certain that there's a hellofa game hidden in these rules...but hidden it is, and it needs to become unhidden.  Don't just give me the rules, give me instructions on how to use them.  You do this very well in Dogs, but you're not doing any of it in the Ashcan for Poison'd.

So, what I'd love to hear from you is that everything I just wrote is something you're already planning to do, and all that stuff we just talked about in this thread is absolutely going to be in the final version of the text.  And I'd LOVE to playtest again using THAT version of the text.  I'd love to play this game the way YOU intend it to be played...but you're going to have to do a better job telling me what that is.

I'm not criticising your game here...I AM criticising the current text.  It is really really not delivering.
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lumpley
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« Reply #23 on: February 29, 2008, 10:58:46 AM »

Okay. I'll go through the text with your confusions in mind. I'll add text about handing off between the subsystems and the fiction, instead of from subsystem to subsystem, and I'll add a section about the game's overall approach. I'll do what I can for you.

But this game is never going to be Dogs in the Vineyard. I'm going to add 4 pages to it, no more, and I've already filled 2 of them. Your need for an expansive text is at odds with my creative needs for this game.

Especially, anywhere you said "substantial additional explanation" and "more than just a sentence or two," abandon hope. I'll do my best, but my page budget for this game is strict. It'll always depend on its audience making the right leaps instead of the wrong ones.

Okay! Ralph, to head off grief - I'm saying yes to you, yes to your concerns. I'm telling you not to expect a longer book, but yes, I'll do what I can. Wish me luck.

-Vincent
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #24 on: February 29, 2008, 11:39:50 AM »

"I interpreted YOUR rules, and that led me to my understanding that the game was meant to be regimented and mechanically orchestrated board game style"

Hey, Ralph: Could you elaborate about what gave you this impression?

What I'd really like to see is an example of rules text which gives the impression that the game needs to be played board-game like, and a text with the impression that the game needs to be played in a different way.

This is a pretty important nut to crack, I think.

yrs--
--Ben
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #25 on: February 29, 2008, 01:01:06 PM »

I find this discussion interesting as well. For what it's worth, I'm big on intertextual contextualization of game texts, which is a fancy way of saying that I think it's important to realize that there are no absolute, nature-directed ways of reading and interpreting game texts. Expectations and prior experience affect our reading. Where this becomes interesting is in how the game writer opts to lean on the support of this shared cultural background in making the game understood. There is no one right or wrong way, I find; while clarity and doing your utmost to explain everything may help the unfamiliar reader to understand you better, it will also make the text dryer, slower and more difficult to read, and might potentially occlude the important stuff with less important things. On the other hand, a game text that relies heavily on shared expectations and, most importantly, the interpretive powers of the reader, will often be a very inspirational, thought-provoking read that allows one to attain crystal clarity simply because the reader has no difficulty understanding the unsaid portions of the whole.

I'm saying all this for one simple reason: when I read game texts, I'm always looking for functional and useful "readings", not some perceived author's intent. This makes me for the most part a very competent reader and interpretator of rules texts. It also tends to make me prefer a text that does no hand-holding, when it comes to my personal aesthetic experience. While I fully recognize and appreciate the textual virtues of a game with lots of fiddly explanation, like The Mountain Witch, for example, I have little patience for it personally and will always favor and get excited by the texts that focus on speaking to me on a real level where the writer is operating, or perhaps where I am operating as a reader.

(There's also another angle to this: a game writer might intentionally wish to leave some matters of procedure unsaid simply because he wishes the game group to use their own, established methods in that part of the game. This is often the case with semi-traditional games that introduce only partially innovative systems.)

So I'm not saying that Ralph is wrong, but I am saying that his own writing style is big on comprehensive, wordy verbalization, while I see Vincent as writing more as an expressive writer. I might even say that Vincent strives for an artistic impression to his rules writing style if this weren't likely to be misunderstood as some kind of wanky aesthetisation of a forthright matter. I can imagine Ralph's mental space in interpreting the rules of the game pretty well, and can see how he would get a completely different interpretation out of it than Vincent might have intended. Those are hazards of context-dependent writing, but they are also risks for the writer to take.

What I mean to say here, shortly: I'm seeing a bit of back-and-forth about who's to blame that Ralph misinterpreted the rules, and I don't think it's anybody's fault particularly. What is important is that the rules achieve the aesthetic transmission Vincent's looking to achieve, and it seems he has a pretty strong vision of how he wants to express the game in this case.
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lumpley
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« Reply #26 on: February 29, 2008, 08:28:37 PM »

I'd also still like answers to my questions, if any of you feel like it!

-Vincent
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Temple
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Skjalg Kreutzer


« Reply #27 on: March 01, 2008, 02:39:33 AM »

I dont want to butt into this fascinating discussion, but I felt like chiming in and saying that what I got out of the text and what Vincent describes pretty much line up perfectly, as far as how the game is played is concerned.

The times Ive played Poison'd, I havent been quite able to get the players on the same page as me though, so we have ended up playing it in a board-game-like fashion, just going from subsystem to subsystem with very little roleplaying in between. My players have been very focused on harvesting Xes through rolling dice, and havent payed much mind to telling stories about pirates. But Im working on that.
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Skjalg Kreutzer
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #28 on: March 01, 2008, 01:29:45 PM »

I only discovered this thread yesterday and it's gone so far awry from anything relevant to our game, that there's not much point in posting.

I think a new thread in Playtesting will be better at some point.

Best, Ron
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Emily Care
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« Reply #29 on: March 03, 2008, 05:04:25 PM »

Ron's latest post may have been intended to close this thread, but I have a couple simple notes about the text that clarify the initial questions. It seems useful to share them. I am technically violating agreements of the Forge by answering line by line, but it seems the best way to address the points.

1) The escalation tables need some substantial additional text on how to use them pretty much across the board. 

For instance, the ship escalation tables:  How do you decide which table you start on? If we want to close to boarding range, and the enemy wants to blast us to smithereens with broadsides...what table? 
On the bottom of the page 14 it describes dealing with a fight when both contestants are fighting using different means.  It indicates that each escalates up their own chart, and that the consequences on the other party if one wins, are those of the winner's table.This could use some clarification, but it implies that you pick one based on what your character is doing and escalate up it, not across to others.

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2) Do all fights start on level 1 of the escalation table? 
Yes. On page 11, in the middle of paragraph 3 of the Dice section says:

All fights begin at the first, and can escalate no farther than the third.


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Related to this is the pretty confusing example where Hannah (I think that's the name) is trying to kill Tom Reed with a belaying pin.  Its clear she wants to kill him dead.  She makes a brutality vs. soul roll to earn "Xs" for her willingness to murder a helpless person.  Even so she has to escalate twice to get to level 3, and even after finally winning at level 3, Tom still isn't dead...she has to make ANOTHER brutality vs. soul roll to actually kill him, which she fails.  So despite a full fledged fight which Hanna won with the stated intent of killing the helpless Tom Reed...Tom's still alive in the end.  Huh?
Tim Reed is an NPC. If she'd wanted to kill him all that character's player needed to do was to use 3 Xs before (meaning, I presume, "not during") a fight. See page 12, first paragraph of Spending Xs:

You can spend 3 Xs to kill and NPC with no fight, any NPC within your reach.

Here, Tim Reed is an opportunity to establish things about your character, and gain Xs for the coming fight.

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As I read what the rules actually say, choosing the "Lose" option is always a fail safe way to escape unscathed. The rules for damage say only that you when you choose "Lose" you suffer the full effects of the damage of the level of escalation you're at.  The damage for level 1 escalation is generally trivial and cosmetic.  So if you're not likely to beat your opponent's dice...just choose "lose" on level one and you escape the fight scot free. 
As Ben described, the Xs make this less straightforward than it seemed to you.

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Something's missing.  Near as I can tell there are no "stakes" in Poisn'd, so there's nothing the winner gets from winning the fight.  In fact, the rules seem pretty clear (due to the total absence of any suggestion otherwise) that the only thing the winner gets from winning a fight is to inflict the level of damage determined by the escalation level on the loser.  There doesn't appear to be any "dammit, no, I'm not stopping until he's fucking dead" option for the winner.
Let's see, Vincent mentioned Deadly Wounds. How they are dealt with is discussed on page 16. They are possible consequences at level 3 escalation in Knife to Knife, Sword to Sword, and Gun to Gun. Third level escalation in Canon to Canon, Broadside to Broadside and Company to Company all include crew killed. I don't know if that includes PCs.
 
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3) Do you actually accomplish things with successful success rolls beyond just colorful justifications for gathering Xs?  If so, are the other player characters just furniture for you to do with as you please? 
I think this has already been addressed, but I just wanted to point to page 11, paragraph 2 of Profiles:

For fights between players' pirates, whichever side has the higher Profile, that player gets additional Xs for the fight...", and so on. It is described at various points how to deal with PvP fights. Three out of four of the types of conflicts involved in Success Rolls all deal with the character in question doing something to endure or evade things that impact them. The last, (Brutality vs Soul), requires that the other party be helpless or unaware--which as was pointed out, if another player's character is targeted for this, they do get to say whether they fight back, and if they do it becomes a fight instead.

It seems like a simple assumption not present in the game is that players can narrate more than their character's actions. They can frame scenes though. Last paragraph of page 10, Flashbacks:

If you're a canny player, recall, you'll see a fight coming and you'll look for success rolls to make, to build up some."

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Could we have had a dozen rolls about sodomizing this guy, stealing that gold, sabotaging this gun, etc. etc. and when the new cook fails his attempt to poison the soup the GM brings the fight by announcing "The Kraken attacks", even though none of the success rolls had been related to the Kraken?  What if the Kraken came out of the blue, completely not established in play yet, can the GM do that?  Do all of those X's from all of that other stuff apply?  The rules don't say they don't...however the rules also refer to them as "advantages" and "gaining the advantage" and "canny players sensing a fight on the horizon"...which could be interpreted as saying that only Xs that could be considered advantages in the fight that was actually called can be used.  But no where in the rules does it require noting what purpose the Xs were used for so that implies that the Xs are just an abstract currency that aren't tied to whatever action earned them.

Yes. 

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Regardless, this alone is enough to derail play.  There could easily be an entire page of text just making sure all of the above is clearly laid out.
 

The assumption here, as I see it, is that the players are telling a story together, not running around trying to get advantages willy nilly. The constraints are the constraints of the narrative. Or rather, the rules for gaining Xs constrain what the players can narrate in order to get them. The information you are given (the character's background/sins  suffered or given, the bargains made, the vows and goals) give you things to spring off of to think of ways to gain Xs that make sense within the narrative you are making.  The fact that the GM can bring the fight as soon as someone fails an Advantage roll creates a limit on how much people can delay.

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f) Is there only ever one X total (per player) that is always used in the next fight, or are there different buckets for different fights.  In our game, Ron's attempt at sodomizing Pretty Jim came in the midst of preparations against the Resolute.
All Xs go away at the end of a fight, regardless of how they've been gotten. The way to keep Xs is either to 1) not get involved in the fight, or 2) to withhold them by not helping the Captain in a group fight.

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g) Also related to Xs, can players combine their Xs to buy bigger nastiness against their enemies?  The rules don't say either way (or if they do, I couldn't find it because the discussion on Xs is scattered in a bunch of different places).
During the fight you can spend Xs to do evil shit to the other side. After, you can use them to reduce harm to you.

For group fights, see Page 11-12, Fighting on a side:

..it'll happen sometimes that the players' pirates fight under the captain's orders...Captain's player take dice for Brinkmanship into your hand.."
And so on. The Captain give dice to the players whose characters are helping, they get bonus dice, and they have the option to take part or not, and if they don't the Captain doesn't get those dice. They choose at the start and can't add in later. I don't think that is explicit.

It seems that having help is a special power of the Captain. Has its costs.


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h) Does the Urgency cruel fortune have any impact on any of the above answers?  In other words, when the Urgency hits and the Resolute show up, does it just become a card sitting on the table waiting for the GM to bring the fight using it?  Can the players continue to make indefinite success rolls as long as they win, with the GM unable to bring the fight with the Resolute until a roll is failed?
You don't need to wait until a fight comes on or an Advantage roll is lost to bring it in. Page 21, Urgency:

Whenever you like, at a lull in the action or a moment of tension, roll a die..." And then the rules are given for how it will come into play.

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At that point we observed that the way the card actually works is as a limiter on the GM's ability to bring in new cards...
This assumes that this is the only way to bring in a new Cruel Fortune. Each of them has a condition in which they can be brought into play at the start of their description. When that occurs in the narrative, the mechanics can be invoked.

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Related to this...is the Cruel Fortune that Urgency is tied to secret, open, or either?
This isn't in the rules that I can see, but since what having a Cruel Fortune on deck via Urgency is to worry the players with it, the only way it can have that effect is for them to know about it. :)

best,
Emily
« Last Edit: March 03, 2008, 05:10:50 PM by Emily Care » Logged

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