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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 38 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Panty Explosion] Explain me how to play this game  (Read 2842 times)
Filip Luszczyk
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Posts: 771

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« on: March 03, 2008, 05:56:37 PM »

For quite a long time, the minimum number of people required to play Panty Explosion was a difficulty for me. Back in January, however, I finally managed to try the game out with Kamil, Magda and Jacek. I've been unsuccessfully getting down to writing down this AP for some weeks, but at last, here it is.

With this AP, I hope to deal with my confusion about the rules. I'd like to receive official clarifications from the authors, but if you know the game well and can help, I'd appreciate it.

Now, I've been interested in the game from the time Jake Richmond released the playtest version back in 2006, but for a long time I had no good perspectives for actually playing it. However, I've been keeping an eye on it, checking out forum threads, reviews, previews and the playtest version of Classroom Deathmatch. What I discovered during that period was that the game apparently didn't change much from the playtest version and some things I regarded as problems seemed to still be there. Also, reading the preview of PE and CD's playtest document I found I've been holding wrong assumptions about the way the rules work. In fact, I noticed that I wouldn't be able to run the game on the basis of the text only – my conclusion was that I'd wound up running a construct consisting mainly of my own subconsciously created rules. This was another reason that delayed buying the book for me.

Last summer, I had a discussion with Jake about it, and later I decided to buy the book after all, give the game a go, and try to learn the ropes. This AP is, I hope, the final part of this learning process. Now that I've seen the game in action and know what exactly poses problems, I'm able to ask specific questions and better relate the answers to my concrete actual play experiences.

Reading the full version of the game still left me with some questions. Despite the impressions I had upon my first contact with PE back in 2006, the rules intended by the authors are quite unclear to me. I've been searching for an errata or FAQ, but there aren't any, it would seem. There aren't many threads with rules questions as well, and actual play reports I've seen were no help as they didn't touch the mechanics at all (those linked from the site, for example, are all story).

As a side note, I actually find it a bit alarming that the system is not discussed much. Seriously, with over a thousand copies of the book sold, am I the only PE-proof person out there, or do other people decided not to talk about their rules problems for some reason?

Either way, I decided to run the game without bothering Jake with further questions, if only to check out how many of my expected problems would turn out not to be problems at all in actual play.

Creating the characters and the school was unexpectedly fast – it took us only about half an hour. Since it was our test run, most of the Traits picked by the players came from the examples in the book. However, I suppose even if they tried to create their own Traits the prep wouldn't take much longer, which is nice.

So, I considered the Agendas, picked some poltergeist-style Demon from the book and started the first scene, giving one of the Students an opportunity to draw attention of the teacher she secretly loved. As the class was in the progress of writing a test, the unsettling emotional aura of the psychic girl started causing some disturbance among the students, resulting in the strict teacher becoming enraged. We played out our first conflict, as the man approached the apparent source of the commotion and tried to discipline her with a ruler. The conflict itself wasn't long, but since we've been learning the procedure, it took some extra time. The girl managed to appease the teacher, and he calmed down a bit. So far, so good.

Then, another girl tried to cheat on the test, and our second conflict started – this time, another schoolgirl got involved, using the situation as an opportunity to move her Agenda forward. I wish I still remembered the details – but I only recall some struggle over dropped cheat sheets. Either way, the conflict dragged, as we started experiencing various procedural problems. It became apparent that handling stuff the way that seemed logical in the previous conflict will not work.

The main issue was that we've been interpreting the Response step as something akin to Seeing in DitV, an opportunity to effectively negate the previous action. But it quickly became obvious to us that such an approach was flawed, as we had trouble figuring out how much could actually be achieved in a single action or response, and how it all related to the overall progress of the conflict. This realization in turn posed some other question concerning the resolution procedure.

We decided to stop at this point. We took our time to carefully analyze the text, step by step, word by word, relating the rules to the example. This revealed that much more of our assumptions couldn't be right. We discussed the rules for an hour or so. Then, exhausted, we started arguing over them. Then we stopped once more and concluded that we need to clear our minds and forget we played any other games before. Then, we started the analysis from scratch. So much for the game that evening, heh.

Anyway, we came up with multiple possible interpretations of the conflict resolution text. This includes Kamil's reading in which there were no conflicts as such, actually, no stakes, no participants and no nothing, and to us it seemed quite plausible and consistent with the text and examples at that point. But all in all, we eventually arrived at one interpretation that seemed to make the most sense, concluding it should work rather well and that we should be able to play the game effectively that way. As I look at it, it's close to my initial reading after all, but differs in procedurally crucial nuances.

Now, I'm going to summarize our final interpretation. I'd really like to know whether this is exactly the way the conflicts should flow – please, correct us if we're wrong.

The conflict starts when somebody tries to achieve something and the group can't or doesn't want to agree it's automatic. I'm assuming the conflict is a chain of actions following from the opening one, but not every action within the conflict needs to further or hinder the initial intent – side actions are possible, as a consequence of an avalanche effect started by opening the conflict. In fact, conflicts just structure individual task rolls within a scene, marking chains of related actions and moments of dice replenishment.

1. An intent is announced by the conflict's starter.

1.1. The starter is involved. The target of intent is involved. Everyone else has an option to join the conflict.

2. The starter takes an action and it is resolved. This is definitive.

(Once something is narrated it can't be negated or undone - i.e. it's not like with Rising/Seeing in DitV. Every action modifies the fiction in some way, just like that, and subsequent actions can only work within the newly established circumstances - i.e. it's a bit like with Monologues of Victory/Defeat in The Pool. It's possible to repair the outcome with a later action, but there's no way to stop or undo an action. For example, if the resolving player narrates how a monster strikes a Student, wounding her, a subsequent action can't block the attack, since it already hit. A subsequent action can be used to tend the wound or the like, but the attack has already happened, the wound is there, and that's it.)

2.1. Somebody, including those who didn't join the conflict (p. 31 “any other Student...”), can chose to Respond with a single action. This is, in each and every respect, like a normal action, as above, only it needs to follow directly from whatever has just occurred.

3. The target has an option to takes an action. It doesn't have to follow from previous actions in the conflict in any way. The target doesn't have to take the action, if she doesn't want to (only the conflict's starter is required to take an action each round).

3.1. Somebody, including those who didn't join the conflict, can choose to respond with an action, like in 2.1.

4. If more players joined the conflict in 1.1., they have an option to take their actions, in order (actions are followed by Responses, as normal). Those who don't want to take their actions don't have to (only the conflict's starter is required to take an action each round). Those who didn't declare joining the conflict in 1.1. can't take their actions, but can respond as normal.

5. If, at any point after 2, no participant is interested in taking further actions, the conflict ends. Otherwise, go to 1.1. again.

5.1. Those who joined the conflict in 1.1., but want to get out of it, can use their regular actions or responses in the next round to remove themselves from that chain of actions (those who do won't be able to Respond later). There are other conditions that remove the character from a conflict listed in the book.

This is how I think the procedure goes, step by step, but I'm still not certain about some things. One of them is that joining part in 1.1. If only the starter (or the player chosen by Superintendent, if he starts the conflict) is required to take an action each round, why announce participation at all? My guess is that those who didn't join the conflict formally are completely untouchable for the participants, but I don't think anything like that was clearly delineated in the book (conditions listed on p. 32-33 might as well refer to not being able to take further actions, but still subject to actions). And what about those Responses from those who didn't announce their participation?

Also, “Once each student has taken an action” in Step 1 (p. 29) would invalidate the above interpretation completely. Step 5, however, states that the target “has a chance to take an action of her own” - but again, suggests that players other than the target “get to take an action” (this might be just my misreading, but due to this I've been reading the rule as “every participant has to act each round” before). Upon examining the example closely, Bill skips his action in the second round, so I assume only the starter's action is mandatory. Am I right now?

Now, there are parts of the book that confuse me, due to their misleading wording or what appears as inconsistencies of the text to me. I'll list all my questions one by one. Along with the clarification on the conflict procedure, they should give me a more or less complete picture of how the game is actually supposed to be played.

You know, I'm one of those people who ask questions about every detail, so brace yourself ;)

* The text highlights the possibility of conflicts against “non-person characters” (e.g. an earthquake, a hole in the ground etc.). Is such an opposition treated as a character? Should an earthquake, for example, be given normal elemental dice and could it take its normal actions in the conflict, or would only the Students involved roll the dice? Could non-person opposition have and use Traits or psychic powers? How to determine its Popularity? (Or, maybe in practice such conflicts don't really happen and parts that mention them are redundant?)

* The last sentence in Step 4 on p. 31 (“no other Students or characters involved in the conflict” just after steps dealing with the starter's action) could suggests that it would be possible for only a single character to be involved in a conflict and making rolls. Is it possible to be in a conflict alone? This ties to the previous point, obviously.

* Is it possible for Superintendent to control multiple characters in a conflict, keeping separate elemental dice and taking separate actions for each of them? Or does he just have a single side, with 15 elemental dice regardless of the number of characters involved? (I guess it's the latter, as the former would be an overkill.)

* Is it possible to take a single action against multiple characters? (I'm assuming yes – so if the opening action affects more that one Student, they all count as targets and are automatically involved.)

* Am I right that the character can Respond and still take her regular action in the same round? My interpretation is that everyone has one regular opportunity to take an action per round, but can Respond to multiple actions regardless of that. (If it's otherwise, and everyone in the conflict gets only a single action or response per round, the presentation of the procedure is awfully misleading.)

* Am I right that it's not possible to Respond to a Response?

* Can characters whose players didn't announce their participation at the beginning of a round Respond?

* If more than one person wants to Respond, it's resolved through RPS. But how exactly it would be resolved with more than two players attempting the Response? A series of one-on-one RPS separate matches, until there are no ties, with whoever wins the most getting the Response? It would be a bit bothersome, it seems (obviously, I'm assuming a heated situation in which everybody just has to Respond, so maybe it's not an issue, really).

* Does an attempt to leave the conflict (described in Step 6) occur as a regular action in the next round? Or is there a special phase for such rolls between the rounds, and in the case of a failure the character can still take her regular action next round?

* Once the character is removed from a conflict (in a way different than running out of dice), is she effectively untouchable, or is it still possible to act against her and include her in the narration of results?

* I've discussed the issue of death in the game with Jake before, and my group agreed that we can easily handle it by assuming the players have an option to outright veto narration that kills their own characters. There is, however, another problem. Since only a single successful action is enough to incapacitate or otherwise remove the opposition from the conflict, it seems just too easy to end a conflict by going all out with the dice. I'm not really sure how to handle this issue, if it's an issue at all. (I'm tempted to count successful attempts at forced removal towards the number of actions failed in a row by the character, unless the player accepts being kicked out.)

* After taking a psychic action, the Rival narrates both successes and failures of all actions for the rest of the scene. Does he narrate the success of the initial psychic action? In the example conflict, on p. 35 it is stated that Jo is Bill's Rival, but on p. 37 it is Preston who narrates Bill's success at psychic action.

* In the rules for Levitation and Making Heads Explode on p. 41 it is stated that “A Student can use these powers in the same way they might make a normal action,” but they always get d10 and can't use Traits. Does it mean that other rules for psychic powers don't apply to these two actions? Do they give narration to the Rival? Do they allow for a re-roll on a failed check? Do they add to Demon Dice?

* Can NPC psychics use psychic powers, mechanically, just like player characters? If so, I presume they don't add to Demon Dice by doing so?

* What about Demons, then – do they get the benefit of a re-roll on failed psychic-like actions? Also, can they have and use Traits?

* The text states that school Traits don't do anything mechanically? If so, why call them Traits in the first place? (Now, I can imagine how they could work mechanically, if Students or NPCs could use them for their advantage while on the premises, and I think it would be cool. But that's not what the book says. Uh... why?)

* What exactly counts as a confrontation with the Demon (i.e. the moment when unresolved Agendas add to Demon Dice)? The text says that I shouldn't use more than 1/3 of the pool for each encounter with the Demon before the climax. However, how can I split the pool into three before knowing the size of the pool? After all, power usage adds to it gradually throughout the session. And if I'm supposed to add the dice for unresolved Agendas in the first scene that can be considered an encounter with the Demon (which might as well be vaguely connected to the Demon itself, as the splitting examples suggest), I need to delay those small encounters or Students might not have enough time to resolve their Agendas. Wouldn't it make more sense to calculate the base pool at the beginning of the session and actually subtract the dice whenever an Agenda is resolved?

Also, the cheatsheet we downloaded from the site states that only one die is added for an unresolved Agenda.

* Or, maybe Agendas contribute the dice to the pool anew every time the Demon is confronted? That would be an overkill, though.

* I'm somewhat confused by all the talk about the characters investigating ways to defeat the Demon in the description of session structure. Isn't it enough to take an action to get rid of it and have one's success narrated in a way that makes the beastie go *poof* by the Best Friend? I don't think the rules for creating the Demon explicitly mention that Superintendent needs to come out with a single way to defeat it and everything else fails. So, is investigation just something that is expected from the players, but in fact not required, mechanically, when it comes to defeating the Demon?

That would be it for my nitpicking, I think ;)

One last thing – Jake mentioned he often plays the game without Superintendent, and it works even for three players. Did anyone try playing Panty Explosion GM-less? What are the specific procedural changes needed to make it work that way?
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Jake Richmond
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Posts: 225


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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2008, 04:52:04 AM »

Hi Filip. I'm glad you finally had a chance to play! I'm going to ask Matt to respond to this as well, since we tend to have different opinions and insights on the game.

I've always been mystified by the lack of talk about the game. As you said, it sells well... but no one talks about it. I used to assume that people bought it, decided it sucked, and never looked at it again. But the game gets good reviews, and what little feedback we get tends to be very positive. My assumption is that potential players have the same problem you have, finding other players who are willing to pretend to be Japanese school girls. I also think that there are people who bought the book for the novelty factor. I'm not going to cry over that. A large amount of our sales happened outside the indie/story games community. We sell a lot of books through retail and through our site, where the number of books we sell through IPR is rather small. I know a lot of the people we sell to are not so much hardcore rpg players as anime and manga fans, so I expect they don't have the same traditions of posting actual play that this community has.

But really, I don't know why more people don't talk about the game. I'd like to think that the game is relatively problem free and easy to play, and that it doesn't require a bunch of answers and support text.

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You know, I'm one of those people who ask questions about every detail, so brace yourself ;)

I'm totally fine with that. I feel like we have an interesting relationship, you and I. You always go out of your way to give me good and thorough feedback. I always read what you say and consider it carefully. Really! But I often feel like we have very different approaches to games. Your recent comments on my Friendless draft have left me thinking about a response for weeks. I'm still not sure how to approach your concerns over the system, but I don't want to dismiss them either. I've thought before that you and I must have very different approaches to both playing and thinking about games, and I often think that what you want out of a game experience and what I want are two very different things. I wonder if that might be part of the source of your problems with Panty Explosion? If that makes me sound like I'm trying to duck any criticism, please believe that's not me intention!
 
Anyway...

We never created a FAQ for the game because there weren't any questions. Well, that's not true. We get a few questions every now and then. But mostly it's stuff like "why aren't there hit points?" or "why did you pick such a stupid name". There's just never been enough questions for a FAQ. I'm not suggesting that the game is without flaw. Matt and I are collecting data for an eventually tune up, and we have adjusted the game a few times between printings. It's just that no  one ever asked! I actually do think the game play is pretty straight forward and simple. I find that players tend to figure it out pretty quick. But that's just with the small percentage of players that I've talked to. So it's hard to tell.

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Now, I'm going to summarize our final interpretation. I'd really like to know whether this is exactly the way the conflicts should flow – please, correct us if we're wrong.

As far as I can tell, this is dead on. I may have missed something, but that sounds right.


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I'm still not certain about some things. One of them is that joining part in 1.1. If only the starter (or the player chosen by Superintendent, if he starts the conflict) is required to take an action each round, why announce participation at all? My guess is that those who didn't join the conflict formally are completely untouchable for the participants, but I don't think anything like that was clearly delineated in the book (conditions listed on p. 32-33 might as well refer to not being able to take further actions, but still subject to actions). And what about those Responses from those who didn't announce their participation?

Players have to announce whether their Students are actually in a conflict. When you set up a conflict you are describing who is there and who isn't. So players can decide whether their student will participate or not. The only exception is the target of the Student taking the action that starts the conflict. If Ami is kissing Fuko, then Fuko has to be in the conflict, whether her player wants her to be or not. Students who are not described as being in a conflict are in fact not there, and can't participate in the conflict. They are, as you described, untouchable. This changes if they enter the conflict at the beginning of a new round. This is described in "Who is involved in the conflict" section on page 35 (or around page 35, depending on which printing you have), and parts of this are mentioned in a few different places in the conflict resolution section. .

Why announce participation at all? You don't have to. A lot of conflicts will just be between two Students. There's no actual mechanical reward for jumping into a conflict (unless it leads to completing one of your Agendas).

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Also, “Once each student has taken an action” in Step 1 (p. 29) would invalidate the above interpretation completely. Step 5, however, states that the target “has a chance to take an action of her own” - but again, suggests that players other than the target “get to take an action” (this might be just my misreading, but due to this I've been reading the rule as “every participant has to act each round” before). Upon examining the example closely, Bill skips his action in the second round, so I assume only the starter's action is mandatory. Am I right now?

I'm actually not sure what you are asking  in the first part of this question. I'm not seeing the invalidation, but I may be missing what you are saying.

In the first round of a conflict the Student who initiated must take an action. No one else is required to, but everyone participating in the action has the option to. Once every participating Student has taken an action or passed, the next round starts. This time, the Student who initiated the conflict is NOT required to take an action. If no one takes an action this round, the conflict ends. Does that answer your question, or am I missing your point?

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The text highlights the possibility of conflicts against “non-person characters” (e.g. an earthquake, a hole in the ground etc.). Is such an opposition treated as a character? Should an earthquake, for example, be given normal elemental dice and could it take its normal actions in the conflict, or would only the Students involved roll the dice? Could non-person opposition have and use Traits or psychic powers? How to determine its Popularity? (Or, maybe in practice such conflicts don't really happen and parts that mention them are redundant?)

This all falls under the heading of Demon Dice. So you'll create an earthquake or a car crash by giving the conflict whatever elemental dice you think it needs. Demon dice are always D 10's, so there's no reason to roll for popularity. You never apply psychic powers or traits to the demon dice. So if you decided to challenge the students with an earthquake, you might assign the quake 4 Earth dice from your Demon dice pool. On the first round of the conflict you might use 2 dice to have the earth rip open into a gaping hole. On the second round, you might use 2 more dice to cause a building to collapse. the Students will roll dice in the conflict to do whatever it is they want to do. 

You're right though. This isn't the kind of thing that gets a lot of play. I use it a fair amount in my games, but it doesn't seem to come up so much otherwise. I think that, in a game that's all about personal conflict between school girls, non personal conflicts just aren't very interesting.

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* The last sentence in Step 4 on p. 31 (“no other Students or characters involved in the conflict” just after steps dealing with the starter's action) could suggests that it would be possible for only a single character to be involved in a conflict and making rolls. Is it possible to be in a conflict alone? This ties to the previous point, obviously.

Actually, what I meant was that if you want to take a response action, and there are no other players that also want to take a response action, then there's no point in doing the paper/rock/scissors to see who gets to take the response action.

But yes, a student may find themselves alone in a conflict against the Superintendent, or as the last participant in a conflict that everyone else has fled.

Quote
Is it possible for Superintendent to control multiple characters in a conflict, keeping separate elemental dice and taking separate actions for each of them? Or does he just have a single side, with 15 elemental dice regardless of the number of characters involved? (I guess it's the latter, as the former would be an overkill.)

The Superintendent can control multiple characters in the same scene. He has to divide his Demon dice between the characters, but each character can take separate actions.

(more...)
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Jake Richmond
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Posts: 225


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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2008, 04:53:09 AM »

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Is it possible to take a single action against multiple characters? (I'm assuming yes – so if the opening action affects more that one Student, they all count as targets and are automatically involved.)

Sure.

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Am I right that the character can Respond and still take her regular action in the same round? My interpretation is that everyone has one regular opportunity to take an action per round, but can Respond to multiple actions regardless of that. (If it's otherwise, and everyone in the conflict gets only a single action or response per round, the presentation of the procedure is awfully misleading.)

This is right. I can take my normal action, and I can respond to an action that was taken against me. If I don't want to respond to the action that was taken against me, someone else has the option to instead.

Is the presentation misleading? I just read over it, and in context with the rest of the section it seems fine.

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Am I right that it's not possible to Respond to a Response?

Yes. This is actually the one question that gets asked a lot. If we had a FAQ, this would be on it.

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Can characters whose players didn't announce their participation at the beginning of a round Respond?

No. You can't respond unless you are a participant in the conflict. If you join the conflict in the next round you can respond to actions taken during that round.

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If more than one person wants to Respond, it's resolved through RPS. But how exactly it would be resolved with more than two players attempting the Response? A series of one-on-one RPS separate matches, until there are no ties, with whoever wins the most getting the Response? It would be a bit bothersome, it seems (obviously, I'm assuming a heated situation in which everybody just has to Respond, so maybe it's not an issue, really).

Yeah. We actually just roll a die for it. I can't remember why we decided on RPS. It works, but there are other systems that work better. My assumption is that players just do whatever works for them. I actually paid someone once to let me respond to an action.

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Does an attempt to leave the conflict (described in Step 6) occur as a regular action in the next round? Or is there a special phase for such rolls between the rounds, and in the case of a failure the character can still take her regular action next round?

Leaving the conflict requires a successful action. Something like "I roll my Air dice to run crying into the bathroom". So taking that action is part of the round. If you fail, then you have to hang around till the next round. At that point you can try to leave again, or take a different action. This is mentioned in the "See if the conflict is resolved" section around page 35.

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Once the character is removed from a conflict (in a way different than running out of dice), is she effectively untouchable, or is it still possible to act against her and include her in the narration of results?

As mentioned in a previous answer, Students not in the conflict are untouchable.

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I've discussed the issue of death in the game with Jake before, and my group agreed that we can easily handle it by assuming the players have an option to outright veto narration that kills their own characters. There is, however, another problem. Since only a single successful action is enough to incapacitate or otherwise remove the opposition from the conflict, it seems just too easy to end a conflict by going all out with the dice. I'm not really sure how to handle this issue, if it's an issue at all. (I'm tempted to count successful attempts at forced removal towards the number of actions failed in a row by the character, unless the player accepts being kicked out.)

You've brought this up before. I believe it's a non-issue. Because the consequences of all actions are left in the hands of a third party (the Best Friend or Rival), a player taking an action only has so much power. They can announce what they want, but they don't get to decide what happens. If the player describing the results of an action decides to incapacitate, seriously inconvenience or kill another players student... so be it. That players job is to advance the conflict and the games story in whatever way they think is best based on the result of the other players dice rolls. If they think that removing a Student from play is the best way to do that, I don't see a good reason to argue.

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After taking a psychic action, the Rival narrates both successes and failures of all actions for the rest of the scene. Does he narrate the success of the initial psychic action? In the example conflict, on p. 35 it is stated that Jo is Bill's Rival, but on p. 37 it is Preston who narrates Bill's success at psychic action.

No. The Rival only narrates the results of the following actions. Hey, I just re-read that, and it could probably be clearer in the text, huh? But you know what? I'm fine with it eitehr way.

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In the rules for Levitation and Making Heads Explode on p. 41 it is stated that “A Student can use these powers in the same way they might make a normal action,” but they always get d10 and can't use Traits. Does it mean that other rules for psychic powers don't apply to these two actions? Do they give narration to the Rival? Do they allow for a re-roll on a failed check? Do they add to Demon Dice?

Levitate and Make Heads Explode are still Psychic actions, so using them does give the Superintendent more Demon Dice, will allow the Student to re-roll a failed check and will cause the Students Rival to narrate their actions for the rest of the round. The only difference is that they can't use Traits with these two powers.

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Can NPC psychics use psychic powers, mechanically, just like player characters? If so, I presume they don't add to Demon Dice by doing so?

NPCs all draw from the Demon Dice pool. So while NPC psychic girls can be described as using psychic powers, they actually don't. In practice, there's not a lot of difference there. NPC psychic girls will always roll D 10s (because they're using demon dice), and you can describe them doing whatever you want. So they can be as psychic as you want them to be. They just don't use the psychic mechanics.

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What about Demons, then – do they get the benefit of a re-roll on failed psychic-like actions? Also, can they have and use Traits?

Nope

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The text states that school Traits don't do anything mechanically? If so, why call them Traits in the first place? (Now, I can imagine how they could work mechanically, if Students or NPCs could use them for their advantage while on the premises, and I think it would be cool. But that's not what the book says. Uh... why?)

That would be cool. In the current version of the game, School Traits do nothing mechanically. We called them Traits because I like the word. We had already used the term Traits before and explained what it meant in the context of the game, so I thought asking player to come up with Traits for their school would be pretty easy. I didn't want to use a separate term and then explain what the term meant.

School Traits do actually have a purpose in the game. They provide setting info and possible plot hooks.

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What exactly counts as a confrontation with the Demon (i.e. the moment when unresolved Agendas add to Demon Dice)? The text says that I shouldn't use more than 1/3 of the pool for each encounter with the Demon before the climax. However, how can I split the pool into three before knowing the size of the pool? After all, power usage adds to it gradually throughout the session. And if I'm supposed to add the dice for unresolved Agendas in the first scene that can be considered an encounter with the Demon (which might as well be vaguely connected to the Demon itself, as the splitting examples suggest), I need to delay those small encounters or Students might not have enough time to resolve their Agendas. Wouldn't it make more sense to calculate the base pool at the beginning of the session and actually subtract the dice whenever an Agenda is resolved?

That's actually what you should do. At the beginning of the session you have 15 Demon Dice, plus 2 dice for each unresolved Agenda. As the game goes on some students will probably  complete some Agendas, reducing your dice pool. Some Students may use their psychic powers, increasing your dice pool. In either case, the pool is very likely going to change throughout the game. Using only a third of your dice on any given encounter is just a suggestion. But it's pretty easy to look at how many dice you currently have and decide how many you want to use for your next encounter.

So the dice for Unresolved Agendas are actually added to your Demon Dice pool at the beginning of the game. You'll remove these dice from the pool as Students complete their Agendas. If you aren't careful this can sometimes mean that you run out of Demon Dice. That's the reason I suggest saving about a third of your dice for the final encounter.

What actually counts as a confrontation with the demon seems to change from game to game.We had intended this to be the climax of the game, the last large conflict. But some Superintendents like to have this be the first serious confrontation the Students have with the demon. This is fine. Students should have time to try to complete their Agendas, but it's up to the Superintendent to decide when to push the confrontation with the demon. This is described in the "What does a game of Panty Explosion look like?" section.

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Also, the cheatsheet we downloaded from the site states that only one die is added for an unresolved Agenda.

The cheat sheet sucks. I actually created it while I was sick before the first Go Play SE PDX event. I've been meaning to fix it forever. 2 dice are added for unresolved Agendas.

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I'm somewhat confused by all the talk about the characters investigating ways to defeat the Demon in the description of session structure. Isn't it enough to take an action to get rid of it and have one's success narrated in a way that makes the beastie go *poof* by the Best Friend? I don't think the rules for creating the Demon explicitly mention that Superintendent needs to come out with a single way to defeat it and everything else fails. So, is investigation just something that is expected from the players, but in fact not required, mechanically, when it comes to defeating the Demon?

You're right. The "What does a game of Panty Explosion look like?" section only describes what a game might look like, not what actually needs to happen. There's no reason a player can't do exactly what you say. The investigation is just one approach that the players might choose. they certainly don't have to.

Thanks for all the questions. I hope I was able to help. Feel free to ask more.

Jake
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2008, 03:40:37 PM »

Thanks for the quick response, Jake!

Heh, dunno about the approach part, really. One thing I'm starting to notice is that when I read you talking the system I often have this sense like information was given in a backwards order - as in, the parts I'm looking for tend to be near the end, and once I get there, it changes my reading of the previous part. It's like with Japanese syntax, in a way ;) So, there might be something in it, but I'm not really sure what.

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In the first round of a conflict the Student who initiated must take an action. No one else is required to, but everyone participating in the action has the option to. Once every participating Student has taken an action or passed, the next round starts. This time, the Student who initiated the conflict is NOT required to take an action. If no one takes an action this round, the conflict ends. Does that answer your question, or am I missing your point?

Yes, now it seems clear.

In other words, you initiate the conflict by announcing your intent and taking an action. Then, more actions can follow until the conflict gets closed, but there is no such thing as a mandatory action, even the starter can skip her opportunities to take one.

This makes sense, but is, in fact, completely different from our procedure in what I see as crucial points.

My initial interpretation of the procedure, you see, was that it's somewhat similar to DitV: you start a conflict over something, everyone in the conflict has a certain amount of resources to spend, and everyone is required to act at least once per turn, so the resources diminish. And I've been assuming that Responses, referred to as reactions in the text, are akin to Sees in DitV, i.e. that they allow for voiding the action itself rather than constitute separate actions. (One reason of this interpretation, I think, is that my first actual play experiences with DitV occurred just some months before I've read the playtest version of PE, and it was my big eye-opening break from "traditional" resolution mechanics. During my first reading of PE, my head was full of assumptions based on those experiences with DitV, and it seems much of those assumptions about the way I thought PE worked carried until I finally tried it out.)

Now, this interpretation didn't work, as when we tried to apply distributed narration, the flow of the game was breaking.

In the rules discussion I describe in the opening post, we cast away most of those assumptions, and analysing the text we constructed a number of procedures that seemed like plausible readings, consistent with the examples. But the one we agreed was more likely, which I give in my previous post, is not exactly it, considering your clarifications.

I think the part that misled us, other than the participation issue, is the description of how the procedure loops in Step 6 of conflict resolution. It wasn't apparent at all that the starter can skip actions. I.e. the explanation of the procedure looks like:

Step 1: Announcement
(participation unclear at this point, mentioned later in the Q&A part)

Steps 2 & 3: Starter's first action
(and general rules for taking and resolving actions are given; nothing about skipping actions)

Step 4: Response to the first action
(and general rules for responding are given; participation still vague)

Step 5: Subsequent actions
(skipping option is mentioned here, though it wasn't obvious to me initially)

Step 6: Conflict ends or loops back to Step 2
(starter can either try to leave or take a normal action, no skipping option mentioned again; however, this whole step initially seemed to me like some intermediate phase between Step 5 and looping back to Step 2)

So, you can see the reasoning. However, as you explain, this is not what the book actually tried to say.

All in all, I'm glad I've actually tried and crashed the game before asking about things I wasn't absolutely certain - I'd probably read your explanations and, not having anything concrete to relate them to, misinterpret them as well. But it seems I finally get it! (phew...) :D

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But yes, a student may find themselves alone in a conflict against the Superintendent, or as the last participant in a conflict that everyone else has fled.

Hmm, my question wasn't perfectly clear, it seems. What I've been wondering about was, in fact, whether it's possible to have a conflict without an active opposition. E.g. a situation in which the character tries to run through heavy traffic and rolls for it, possibly multiple times depending on his results, but the street has no dice and Superintendent doesn't roll for it at all.

This is right. I can take my normal action, and I can respond to an action that was taken against me. If I don't want to respond to the action that was taken against me, someone else has the option to instead.

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Am I right that the character can Respond and still take her regular action in the same round? My interpretation is that everyone has one regular opportunity to take an action per round, but can Respond to multiple actions regardless of that. (If it's otherwise, and everyone in the conflict gets only a single action or response per round, the presentation of the procedure is awfully misleading.)

This is right. I can take my normal action, and I can respond to an action that was taken against me. If I don't want to respond to the action that was taken against me, someone else has the option to instead.

Is the presentation misleading? I just read over it, and in context with the rest of the section it seems fine.

Uh, the presentation is actually fine. I've been referring to a possibility of my interpretation being wrong. Forget it ;)

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I actually paid someone once to let me respond to an action.

O_o

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The Rival only narrates the results of the following actions.

Hmm, ok, got it.

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Levitate and Make Heads Explode are still Psychic actions, so using them does give the Superintendent more Demon Dice, will allow the Student to re-roll a failed check and will cause the Students Rival to narrate their actions for the rest of the round. The only difference is that they can't use Traits with these two powers.

Uh, wait. So it is actually possible to use Traits with psychically enhanced actions, and only Levitation and Making Heads Explode can't be combined with Trait use? In Choosing Traits sections, at the end of the second paragraph it is stated that Traits cannot be used during a Psychic action, and it's not apparent that it doesn't refer to enhanced actions.

(Hmm, remember the order of information thing I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Since enhanced actions are explained first, they seem like a default to me, with Levitation and Exploding Heads being special cases. So, when I read the book, having the rule about Traits not working for psychic actions in memory once I reach the part about enhanced actions I automatically connect it to them, and then I see the description of two special psychic actions which seems to suggest normal action rules apply.)

Now, it seems there's another big part of the rules that I got wrong:

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That's actually what you should do. At the beginning of the session you have 15 Demon Dice, plus 2 dice for each unresolved Agenda. As the game goes on some students will probably  complete some Agendas, reducing your dice pool. Some Students may use their psychic powers, increasing your dice pool. In either case, the pool is very likely going to change throughout the game. Using only a third of your dice on any given encounter is just a suggestion. But it's pretty easy to look at how many dice you currently have and decide how many you want to use for your next encounter.

So the dice for Unresolved Agendas are actually added to your Demon Dice pool at the beginning of the game. You'll remove these dice from the pool as Students complete their Agendas. If you aren't careful this can sometimes mean that you run out of Demon Dice. That's the reason I suggest saving about a third of your dice for the final encounter.
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NPCs all draw from the Demon Dice pool. So while NPC psychic girls can be described as using psychic powers, they actually don't. In practice, there's not a lot of difference there. NPC psychic girls will always roll D 10s (because they're using demon dice), and you can describe them doing whatever you want. So they can be as psychic as you want them to be. They just don't use the psychic mechanics.
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This all falls under the heading of Demon Dice. So you'll create an earthquake or a car crash by giving the conflict whatever elemental dice you think it needs. Demon dice are always D 10's, so there's no reason to roll for popularity. You never apply psychic powers or traits to the demon dice. So if you decided to challenge the students with an earthquake, you might assign the quake 4 Earth dice from your Demon dice pool. On the first round of the conflict you might use 2 dice to have the earth rip open into a gaping hole. On the second round, you might use 2 more dice to cause a building to collapse. the Students will roll dice in the conflict to do whatever it is they want to do.
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The Superintendent can control multiple characters in the same scene. He has to divide his Demon dice between the characters, but each character can take separate actions.

(I find it interesting that I just had to sort these quotations in the reverse order, heh.)

Ok. This is how I've been reading the rules for NPCs and opposition so far:

* Superintendent gets 15 elemental dice per conflict.
* It wasn't very clear to me whether it's just 15 dice per conflict, or 15 per NPC in the conflict. (Though the latter would seem like an overkill.)
* Likewise, it wasn't clear to me whether Superintendent gets only one action per round, or one action per round for each NPC in the conflict. (The latter, again would seem like giving him to much control, especially that he could narrate their successes and failures himself.)
* Elemental dice refresh after each conflict.
* Characters might get in conflict with any NPC, and normally, Superintendent gets only those 15 dice.
* I wasn't certain whether non-person opposition should have its own elemental dice and roll for actions. (Though it seemed likely.)
* In every game, apart from all those NPCs the characters might get in conflict with, there's one main antagonist, the Demon, who actively works against the group. (Instead of an actual demon, the Demon could be some organization or whatever.)
* In every conflict directly connected to the Demon, Superintendent gets standard 15 elemental dice, and they refresh after each conflict as normal.
* Also, Superintendent has a special pool of dice that he can spend for rolls in conflicts connected with the Demon. This is in addition to those 15 elemental dice that he gets for each conflict.
* The pool starts at zero dice, it is fueled by psychic actions and additionally +2/+4 dice per Agenda are added if the characters still have some unresolved Agendas in the moment of confrontation.

I knew something must have been wrong with this interpretation.

Now, this is how I'm reading the rules after your clarifications:

* Superintendent designates the main antagonist in the game as the Demon.
* Superintendent has limited a budget. It starts with 15 dice, +2/+4 dice per Agenda. These are all d10s.
* Each time psychic powers are used, two dice are added to the budget.
* When an Agenda is resolved, 2/4 dice are subtracted from the budget.
* Superintendent can assign dice from his budget to NPCs and obstacles as needed. (But what happens if the dice are not spend for actions? Do they a) dissapear, b). remain with the NPC/obstacle until another conflict or c) go back to the budget? Also, can more dice be added from the budget to individual NPCs/obstacles between conflicts?)
* Dice from the budget are assigned to specific elements.
* Only NPCs/obstacles directly tied to the Demon can get the dice from the budget. Otherwise, they get no dice of their own and Students can kick their butts at will.
* If more than one NPC/obstacle is involved in a conflict, the GM gets one action per round for each NPC/obstacle.

* However, if the Students get into conflict with opposition unrelated to the Demon, it's different.
* Superintendent gets 15 elemental dice, and Popularity applies. (Which means, there's no such thing as an extra conflict with non-person opposition.)
* Is this 15 dice per character? 15 dice per conflict? Do they refresh after conflicts? Or is there rather a secondary pool of 15 dice per game to spend on those extra conflicts? I still don't know. (I'm re-reading Creating the Demon section: in the last paragraph the text first refers to assigning 15 elemental dice to the girl, a single person, but later instructs to give 15 dice to conflicts, which is confusing.)
* If more than one NPC is involved in the conflict, it would seem the GM gets one action per round per NPC as well.
* Now, assuming the above is true, and supposing each NPC has 15 dice of his or her own, I'm at a loss as to why those extra encounters are potentially so much more challenging than the main conflict of he game. Superintendent, budgeted when it comes to the main antagonist, would get potentially infinite amount of resources, and therefore potentially unlimited input into the fiction during side scenes. This is probably my only beef at this point, but I'm still uncertain about the number of dice available per extra conflict.

Am I correct about everything this time? What about that budgeting of extra conflicts thing?

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Feel free to ask more.

I could use some suggestions, if not concrete rules, for playing without Superintendent (I recall you've been mentioning you do it often). Currently, the difficulty of gathering three players for a regular game are a greater obstacle for me than the subject of the game. And I'd really like to play at least a couple of sessions eventually.
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Jake Richmond
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« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2008, 01:34:39 AM »

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One reason of this interpretation, I think, is that my first actual play experiences with DitV occurred just some months before I've read the playtest version of PE, and it was my big eye-opening break from "traditional" resolution mechanics. During my first reading of PE, my head was full of assumptions based on those experiences with DitV, and it seems much of those assumptions about the way I thought PE worked carried until I finally tried it out.

I can totally understand that. I've had similar experiences with other games.

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Hmm, my question wasn't perfectly clear, it seems. What I've been wondering about was, in fact, whether it's possible to have a conflict without an active opposition. E.g. a situation in which the character tries to run through heavy traffic and rolls for it, possibly multiple times depending on his results, but the street has no dice and Superintendent doesn't roll for it at all.

I see what you are Asking.The answer is no, you can't have a single participant conflict like you are describing. If you propose a conflict, like "I want to run across that busy street without getting hit be the cars", the Superintendent can either pick that conflict up and roll some dice against you, or let it pass. If you really, really want it to be a conflict, you can specifically ask the Superintendent to roll dice against you. It's still their call.

But yeah, you can't just have your own conflict by yourself. Someone has to oppose you.

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Uh, wait. So it is actually possible to use Traits with psychically enhanced actions, and only Levitation and Making Heads Explode can't be combined with Trait use? In Choosing Traits sections, at the end of the second paragraph it is stated that Traits cannot be used during a Psychic action, and it's not apparent that it doesn't refer to enhanced actions.

No, you are right. Traits can't be used with Psychic actions at all. I was pretty tired when I typed that last night.

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(Hmm, remember the order of information thing I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Since enhanced actions are explained first, they seem like a default to me, with Levitation and Exploding Heads being special cases. So, when I read the book, having the rule about Traits not working for psychic actions in memory once I reach the part about enhanced actions I automatically connect it to them, and then I see the description of two special psychic actions which seems to suggest normal action rules apply.)

Order of information may well be an issue. I think it reads well, but then gain I know what it's supposed to say. So it's hard for me to tell. I think that any future revision will likely include some restructuring of the text for this purpose.

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Superintendent can assign dice from his budget to NPCs and obstacles as needed. (But what happens if the dice are not spend for actions? Do they a) dissapear, b). remain with the NPC/obstacle until another conflict or c) go back to the budget? Also, can more dice be added from the budget to individual NPCs/obstacles between conflicts?)

Demon Dice not spent are returned to the pool. The way I think of it is that I decide how many dice my NPC is going to get, then as I use them I remove them from, the pool. Any dice I don't use stay in the pool.

I tend not to add more dice then my original plan. If I want the Students to face of against a ghost with 2 Air dice and 3 Void dice, then I won't use anymore dice the that, and I'll pull them from the pool as I spend them. But really, you can use as many dice as you want. If I decide the ghost needs to really terrorize the Students, I can pull more dice from my pool and use them in the conflict. Using your dice isn't so much about creating stats for NPCs as spending dice as you need them.

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However, if the Students get into conflict with opposition unrelated to the Demon, it's different.

Yep. The Demon is the point of the story, and defeating the demon leads to the games climax. So everything else not involved with the demon is just side-scenes.

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Is this 15 dice per character? 15 dice per conflict? Do they refresh after conflicts? Or is there rather a secondary pool of 15 dice per game to spend on those extra conflicts? I still don't know. (I'm re-reading Creating the Demon section: in the last paragraph the text first refers to assigning 15 elemental dice to the girl, a single person, but later instructs to give 15 dice to conflicts, which is confusing.)

This is 15 dice per conflict. If the Superintendent decides to introduce conflicts that have nothing to do with the Demon, the have a budget of 15 dice for each conflict. They can assign these dice to a single character (as mentioned in the book: "assign the new girl 15 dice and let the conflict unfold"), or spread them out in any way they see fit. The Superintendent doesn't have to use all these dice. Often just using a few will be enough.

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Now, assuming the above is true, and supposing each NPC has 15 dice of his or her own, I'm at a loss as to why those extra encounters are potentially so much more challenging than the main conflict of he game. Superintendent, budgeted when it comes to the main antagonist, would get potentially infinite amount of resources, and therefore potentially unlimited input into the fiction during side scenes. This is probably my only beef at this point, but I'm still uncertain about the number of dice available per extra conflict.

As I said above, the 15 dice are for the entire encounter. These extra dice exsist to allow the Superintendent to present conflict that don't deal with the Demon, and to allow Students to explore conflicts not related with the Demon. To explore scenes and conflicts that aren't part of the games main story.To complete the game the students will eventually have to return to the main story and Confront the Demon, and this is when the Superintendent will use his Demon Dice. Any scenes beyond those dealing with the Demon are, as you said, side scenes. Important stuff might happen in those scenes (like Students completing Agendas), but the Superintendent shouldn't waste Demon Dice on them.

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I could use some suggestions, if not concrete rules, for playing without Superintendent (I recall you've been mentioning you do it often). Currently, the difficulty of gathering three players for a regular game are a greater obstacle for me than the subject of the game. And I'd really like to play at least a couple of sessions eventually.

I've been meaning to post something about that for awhile. I'm a bit busy preparing for GameStorm right now, but I'll try to put something up on our site in the next few weeks.



Jake



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Panty Explosion Perfect, Sea Dracula, G x B, Classroom Deathmatch, Ocean, Modest Medusa, Cel*Style
Filip Luszczyk
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Posts: 771

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« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2008, 02:37:33 PM »

Ok, I have no more questions at this point and it seems things I wasn't sure about are starting to neatly click together now. Or, so I think at least ;)

Thanks for the clarifications!
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