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Author Topic: [IAWA] Failing to Resolve  (Read 2542 times)
Mike Holmes
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« on: April 14, 2008, 10:30:28 AM »

So we were playing IAWA at ForgeCon this weekend (missed you, Vincent!), and the rule that I can paraphrase as "Exhaust, Injure, or Negotiate" came up as potentially problematic. There seemed to be some confusion as to what the intent of the rule is, a confusion that I couldn't untangle upon reading the text. Does this really mean that if somebody chooses to be injured or exhausted, that the winner doesn't get the object of their intent to occur?

I've heard rumor that not everybody plays this way, and, again, the text could be read either way with a little creativity. Though if I had to guess from the text, I'd say that it was more likely that you can't resolve in your favor if the other side won't let you.

Reading the forum here, it seems that you confirm this in this thread: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=25859.0

The example is a good one, the one of the ring tossed up that everyone wants. When playing, my first instinct was to invoke the "Only one attempt" rule of conflict resolution. Is that your intent? That is, in the example, if the ring falls in the dirt, do we also have to make it plausible that everyone does not simply dive in for it again? Or might everyone simply dive in again?

If the former... well I'm adept at doing this from other conflict resolution games, and I could do this. The problem is that in all conflict resolution games, the conflict actually resolves one way or another. Yours makes it so that it always - well almost - means that a finished contest leaves us with the question at hand unanswered. So, while it's easy to narrate why an injured party gets away in Hero Quest, that's in the context of the player having accomplished what he wanted to accomplish. If this happens every time when you don't want the opponent to get away hurt...

Seems like a lot to swallow. It's basically the "interrupt" situation that happens only on the rare tie in MLWM.

If, on the other hand, the rule is that everyone can dive right back in and fight for the ring... well then it sounds like you have a very extended contest system happening here, really. That is, if two or more players are really invested in getting the ring, enough that they don't mind being wounded as long as they have a pretty good chance to give as well as they get...

I think you'd see a lot of players going at it again and again. At three rounds per wound, this could become quite extensive.

Because the exception to the rule seems to be that, if you reduce your opponent to zero in a die, that he can no longer take actions, which one would think means that the character cannot oppose? Meaning that the other player's narration of getting the ring or whatever is automatically successful. That seems to be the logical extension.

If this is the intent of the rules, Is the situation where you fight repeatedly until somebody cannot intended to be common?

I mean... If I'm willing to go against you, it seems like I'm willing to risk taking damage. It's a resource I have that I can expend, dice sizes. So why would I then negotiate for something less? Oh, sure, I might be able to get something else that I want in negotiation. But if I'm passionate about wanting to stop you, then isn't it worth getting hurt to keep it from you? If/when the parties involved have diametrically opposed "Best Interests" I think this is going to strongly be the case.

It did not happen in play, note, that we ever repeated a conflict. But, again, I wonder to what extent it was the conflict resolution "only one attempt" rule rearing it's head, again. Whether that's the intent or no. Actually it comes down to playing and feeling like, "I guess that maybe I can just say I try again, but that's not very creative, and feels like it's cheap play."

Several people noted this phenomenon, in fact somebody else brought it to my attention. So it's not like this is just some peculiar problem of my own. What's the best way for these things to work out? Are we just lame players for not having figured out how to negotiate better? What am I missing?

Mike
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2008, 10:56:04 AM »

Digging back a bit deeper, it seems that this has already been covered: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=25765.0

So, if I understand correctly, the hope is that since it takes a while to reduce somebody to "death" (as it were), that people will just quit trying at some point?

Mike
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lumpley
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2008, 11:22:29 AM »

I've never seen it go to a third sequence of rolls. The pressure on the loser of the second round to negotiate is intense; a third sequence is practically guaranteed to be decisive.

I'm not super excited about arguing against "I think you'd see." In fact you'd have to arrange circumstances very, very carefully to see that in play. In practice, nobody's best interests + will to win + willingness to lose line up in such perfect opposition - someone's always looking for a way out.

-Vincent

« Last Edit: April 14, 2008, 11:24:01 AM by lumpley » Logged
jburneko
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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2008, 11:28:30 AM »

Mike,

May I suggest that you take a look at these threads regarding Sorcerer:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19136.0
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=25892.0

I would like to suggest that In A Wicked Age... works very similarly to what is discussed there.  From the first thread Ron lists these four items of consideration:

1. Resolution of an at-hand conflict of interest in the current situation
2. Mechanical effects of a given outcome of the resolution system (score changes, etc)
3. Larger-scale implications for relationships among other characters, outcomes of other events
4. Consequences for the next significant real-person choices (new scenes, turn changes, etc)

Like Sorcerer In A Wicked Age... deals with 1 & 2 but not 3 & 4.  In A Wicked Age... IS conflict resolution but on the scale of immediate action driven clashes between characters that result it rapidly evolving situations which inform players choices regarding 3 & 4.  In A Wicked Age... basically allows for three such clashes and then FORCES the players to take a moment to consider how the situation has evolved and whether they wish to press forward from there.

Jesse
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Moreno R.
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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2008, 12:16:28 PM »

I think it could be useful, when discussing game systems, to call the system where you "roll" (or draw cards or whatever) when there is a conflict, but the rolls doesn't "resolve" the conflict (as in Sorcerer and IAWA) with a different word from "conflict resolution" (that would be better applied to games with stakes where the rolls RESOLVE the conflict, as in PTA, or DitV)

In a previous thread was proposed (with some tongue in cheek, I think) "Conflict Domination".  The name is maybe a little too emphatic, but I think is more descriptive of what happen in these games: the "loser" don't have to concede the conflict, but is pushed and pressured until he do, or has to suffer consequences.

(this would still leave out the games like, for example, Spione, where you could simply ignore the conflict during flashpoint)
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
lumpley
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« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2008, 12:28:34 PM »

Oh and - thanks for saying so, Mike. I wished I could've been there.

-Vincent
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jenskot
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« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2008, 12:48:11 PM »

It did not happen in play, note, that we ever repeated a conflict. But, again, I wonder to what extent it was the conflict resolution "only one attempt" rule rearing it's head, again. Whether that's the intent or no. Actually it comes down to playing and feeling like, "I guess that maybe I can just say I try again, but that's not very creative, and feels like it's cheap play."

Mike, it did happen in the game you played between Thor and myself. We cut to another scene before the re-roll and narrated our attempts to get what we wanted differently but it was essentially a repeated conflict.

I believe I've played IAWA 9+ times now (with different players, some non-gamers, and I never GMed). In the majority of our games, we had repeated conflicts.

I enjoy the mechanics and I very much enjoy that you don't state intent, you simply act! But 2 types of events keep reoccurring:

1. A particular strength's color sometimes only matters if your opponent lets it matter.

Actual Play example:

- Frank goes to a party, dressed to impress.
- John attempts to use his particular strength on Frank.
- John pulls out a scroll that allows him to alter Frank's appearance.
- John doesn't state his intent, but it becomes fairly obvious that he wants to alter Frank's appearance in a negative fashion to spoil his party plans.
- Frank punches John in the face as he starts to read from the scroll.
- Frank and John roll dice.
- After 3 rounds, John wins.
- John gives Frank a choice. Frank's appearance is negatively altered or Frank is injured.
- Frank chooses injury.
- John won but Frank's appearance was not altered in any way.

If John wanted, he could press on and try again. But if Frank never wants his appearance to change, it won't. Even after Frank has two of his stats reduced to zero, thus removing him from the game. His appearance still never changes.

2. When players focus too much on mechanical weight, color becomes a weak negotiating tool.

Actual Play example:

- Chris and John roll dice as they engage in physical combat.
- Chris wins.
- John offers, instead of injury, he will draw a map to find the treasure that Chris' "best interest" references.
- Chris rejects and states that he can narrate finding the treasure later and doesn't need John's map. And even with the map, the GM can still put obstacles in his way. The map doesn't guarantee Chris anything.
- Chris chooses to injure John.

Note, Chris is not a gamer. Although I have had very similar situations happen on 2 other occasions with gamers. Gamers who tend to be heavy Narratavist in general.

I haven't run IAWA yet. I want to. But I feel like I'm missing something or that all the different people I am playing with are doing something wrong.

Any help is very much appreciated.

Rock,
John
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lumpley
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« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2008, 01:29:23 PM »

"Narrate finding the treasure later" concerns me. How does that work?

-Vincent
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jenskot
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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2008, 02:01:55 PM »

"Narrate finding the treasure later" concerns me. How does that work?

That's poor phrasing on my part. I apologize.

Please replace:

"Chris rejects and states that he can narrate finding the treasure later and doesn't need John's map. And even with the map, the GM can still put obstacles in his way. The map doesn't guarantee Chris anything."

with:

"Chris rejects and states that he can describe his character attempting to look for the treasure later without the use of John's map (for example, looking for someone who is not in direct conflict with Chris' character that may know of the treasure's location). Unless the GM specifically says that John's specific map is the only way to find the treasure. The map doesn't guarantee Chris anything or improve his odds in finding the treasure."

This may or may not address your concern. That all being said, I was in an IAWA game that was run GMless where this potential issue escalated 10000%. I'm a firm believer that the GM holds a pivotal role in IAWA and the play experience is far better with a GM.

I hope that helps with clarification. If not, please let me know what information would be helpful.

Rock,
John
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Valvorik
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« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2008, 02:40:10 PM »

I've had this "repeat same fight" come up once so far, as described in the "Talky but Fun" thread post on "Alia and the Leprechauns" where I asked if people saw the "I will not compromise" phenomenon often.

All-out verbal duel of insults and challenges in front of Leprechaun Court where each time someone loses "so is that the end of it, will you negotiate an outcome satisfactory to the winner or will you be [exhausted is the choice winner says makes sense]" and "exhausted" is the choice as argument continues.

However, it really wasn't "the same argument" as the back and forth does change the "starting point", "status quo".  If it had been, then it would have seemed like "the same fight" and no so exciting (yes there's the "take damage or compromise" issue but still, same fight exactly no so much fun).  But the fact that the narration of what happened in each action sequence along the way "moved the fiction" and so kept the conflict feeling fresh (for example the final decision of Leprechaun King to accept a compromise and let Alia go was perhaps motivated by the fact her arguments were increasingly casting doubts on his suitability and trustworthiness to rule and thus the logical outcome of his losing was moving into a very bad place for him, even if he seemed to have the upper hand).

I think that players had the choice to "stand ground and take it on chin" was important to table.

Rob
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2008, 12:51:42 PM »

Pressure. Yep, that's accurate. I felt pressure not to narrate jumping back in. Probably more from myself than from anywhere else.

And then I too felt pressure to jump back in, and roll again.

Sometimes competing pressures are fun in play. Because you'll be rewarded either way you go. But in this case, I felt like the side I was failing would be punishing me. And I couldn't get out of that, because I had to go one way or the other, and this would happen with both options.

So I chose not to repeat the contest, because I felt I'd be punished less for playing that way. Not punished in the fun, mechanical metric of winning way involved in competition. But in the "You're a bad aesthete" way.

Not optimal. From one perspective it feels very much like a typical GN incoherence thing.


John, I should have said that we didn't do any contests "to death." We may have repeated, but at some point somebody always gave in. Also I think that in your example you would get your scroll off eventually. If the opposing player's character has been reduced to zero, I believe he cannot oppose you. And so you succeed. Now he may be a corpse at this point, if that's how the narration went. So you might only get to modify the appearance of a dead corpse... might not be satisfactory. But he might still be alive by the rules as well. If I'm understanding correctly.

Related to what John is talking about is a lack of ability to enforce agreements. That is, I can get somebody to promise to help me, but apparently they don't have to do so? They can immediately go back on what they said? So... extracting promises from an enemy is pointless really, no? You aren't getting anything from them. Often such promises are all a side has to offer in negotiation, it seems to me. If/when that's the case, I feel strongly inclined to pummel them again instead of accepting such a negotiation.

Mike
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lumpley
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2008, 01:04:36 PM »

Well, I'll accept only so much responsibility for your own internal pressures. But remember that it's the loser insisting on being exhausted or injured who's saying "let's do that one again." ("I think I can win it this time, injured though I am.")

If that's not good enough and you REALLY don't want to repeat, try this: "okay, you're injured, I dislocated your shoulder in the struggle. Now I'm standing over you. What do you do?" Then it's them going for the ring and you trying to stop them, not you repeating your action. I suspect that there are ways you can play by the rules without coming into contradiction with your own aesthetics.

About promises: yeah. You may want to figure out some way to secure your enemy's promises, instead of just trusting them to make good.

-Vincent
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lumpley
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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2008, 05:36:13 AM »

Hey, John, Mike, I've just had a long talk with Emily about the conversations and games at Forge Midwest. I think I have a much better idea where you're hanging up. I'm going to start a new thread, give me a few minutes!

-Vincent
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2008, 06:30:33 AM »

Boffo! Thanks Vincent.

:-)

Mike
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