[Forge Midwest] Trollbabe- Player Choices, and a Question for Ron

Started by Willow, April 14, 2008, 09:58:39 PM

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At Forge Midwest, I finally got to play Trollbabe, which was ran by Ron himself.  Yay!

For plot, Frunhilde, badass Trollbabe Axe-Warrior, found herself at Everyone's Inn, a haven for cannibals pretending to be a pacifist commune.  They tried to eat Frunhilde, so she stymied them and shamed them into actually becoming a pacifist commune.

Anyway, at one point, I took an NPC, the owner of the inn, as a relationship- specifically as a Comrade, as Frunhilde sympathized with these idealistic (so she thought) peaceniks.  Ron remarked that he expected me to take the man as a Rival based on my own character description- and doing as I did pretty much changed the whole tenor of the potential relationship and the conflict as a whole.  Which was pretty darn cool.

So, my question for Ron- you had three players, and three different situations (inn-full-of-cannibals, rednecks-collecting-trollhorns, and island-of-evil-dream-flowers.)  How much of those had you come up with ahead of time?  How did you decide what situation to give what trollbabe?  Were there any specific things (either during character creation or in play) that you treated as flags?

Ron Edwards

Hi Willow,

That's not really just one question!

As far as prep is concerned, I had prepped nothing prior to our sitting down together. Before we made characters, I had only listed a few names on my note paper: two each for male human, female human, male troll, female troll. This is described in the rules - as characters appear, and when and if they need names, I simply take them from the list. When I realized there were three players, I added a couple of names to each as well.

I did not prep anything about the adventures until after the characters were done, and after each of you had chosen where your characters were. In each case, I started with a few words, and then drew an arrow and wrote a note about the key "pivot" character in the situation. (The rules call this the Stakes, but I am changing that term for the book version that's coming out later this year, I hope.) That's all I had. I did not improvise much during play, though, because with only the short phrase ("friendly inn, eat the guests" for instance) I knew tons of stuff about them.

In your case, I knew the people of Everyone's Inn were eating guests and pretending they weren't. I knew that the main guy (and I took his name, Oskel, from the first on my male human list) was more-or-less the ringleader or at least knowledgeable about it. I knew that the first real crisis I'd throw at your character, unless you started one of your own, would be the attempt to capture her and take her to the kitchen for breakfast-prep. None of this was prepped or made up in any way prior to play. It all popped into my head with the words "scary inn," and I was ready to go.

It's true that I was aiming at some contrasts, so as I came up with the three concepts, I distinguished among "more or less normal community" for the first, "freaky surreal ghost drug flowers" for the second, and "blasted war-torn desperation" for the third. I began only with the place names: Foggy Bottom, Rottenmere (the idea being to make the place pleasant and beautiful in contrast to its name), and the Blood Gate.

None of this had anything to do - nothing! - with anything about any of the characters. So regarding flags (not a term I use), there weren't any. I'll explain why.

Part of the context for creating Trollbabe was a game of Legends of the 5 Rings, in which I played a character. Although I liked the character very much, friend Dav and I discussed our frustrations with the game at length - ultimately, we decided, all the hassles emerged from a key design consideration. In that game, it is possible to play someone who is not a bushi. We realized that we didn't see why this was so, beyond the habits coming from the "column A column B" school of character creation, and furthermore, that doing so led to a whole smorgasbord of emergent properties that we agreed were not fun for us.

Basically, I was thinking quite hard at the time about games in which the characters, regardless of individual details, were pretty much the same type or thing, and that type or thing was central to play. I'd already done this with Sorcerer, of course, but now I was thinking about it in regard to fantasy adventure. And in RPGs about fantasy adventure, formal diversity of character options was a staple. I was beginning to get pretty annoyed with that staple, at least as an assumption.

All of this is a longwinded way to say, matching a scenario to a player-character's particular details is absolutely not an issue in Trollbabe. There is no earthly reason to do it. Since the character is under no obligation to take any particular side, to care about any particular person in the situation, or to do any particular thing, it does not matter at all which character encounters which scenario. All I do is look at the name of the place the character picked, flash on a neat idea for that place and name, and carry on from there. The trollbabe in question could be any possible rules-made trollbabe.

In particular, I do not consider the character's Number (and hence any emphasis on magic or fighting) at all. If a lesser-fighter character ends up in a war zone, well, too bad - or actually, it's not, because nothing stops the player from initiating conflicts and thereby having authority over what Action Type is in play.

Does that answer your questions? What do you think about what I've said?

I'd like to follow up on the Oskel relationship, especially because I had to make a difficult rules-based call about whether you could utilize that relationship in a particular conflict. But we can get to that later.

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards

I found my notes from the game. They are a teeny bit different from what I said above, but not in contradiction to my points. For archival purposes and further discussion:

(before character creation, I wrote the first two names in each category; the names come from lists in the rules)

Human male: Eki, Oskel, Gram                        Human female: Freawaru, Gwyneth, Rhiannon, Mari

Troll male: Spuh, Narg, Kronker                        Troll female: Washu, Schoonda

(then upon seeing three people, I added the third name to three of the lists; I think I was interrupted before adding one more female troll)
(then we did character creation and established where each trollbabe was; in the notes, the lines are actually arrows; also, they go vertically on the page instead of horizontally)

Zara - Foggy Bottom - trollhunting - contest - Erl

Greta - Rottenmere - old dead + lost couple

Frünhilde - Blood Gate - ruined by recent war - cannibal inn - Oskel, Snorri

One thing pops out that I'd totally forgotten: the idea that there'd be a young human couple lost in the Rottenmere forest. I think this vanished from my mind, during play, when Thor narrated that his character's past history was involved. Also, I do know that the old troll was there in my mind from the beginning, even though he wasn't written on the sheet, much in the same way that I knew people at the Blood Gate inn would often wear rags around their faces against the plague.

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards

Here are some more thoughts about the game.

The session was conducted as three unconnected stories, as the players chose three separate locales and did not concern themselves with affecting one another's stories through narration. That's not a bad thing, but it should be recognized as arising from their choices alone. The GM has no control over that, nor does he get any, because the players always choose those things, per adventure. For me, the three characters ended up being so vivid that I bet they'd end up running into one another, if the players agree with me about that and if we were able to play more.

The characters were Julie's Zara, who was quite trollish; Thor's Greta, who was almost a perfect blend between troll and human culture, and Willow's Frünhilde, who was a total axe-badass sort. Curiously, we discovered that all three were blonde, and all had curly horns of some kind.

I backed off on specializing the three scores, and let people simply arrive at that kind of specificity through play, which had its strong and good points. I do need to alter that rule, which can be confusing anyway, as specialization applies differently to each thing. In fact, I think I'll have a player specialize only (and any) one activity (Fighting, Magic, Social), for Color only. Less time, more bang, more flexibility for later, no fiddly rules, and less confusion.

I'd like to post a bit about GMing the game - it's a matter of being highly reactive, rather than directing. I also distinguish very strong between me as GM and me as fellow table-talker.

In Zara's troll-hunt contest story, the story took an interesting jump due to a specific narration of being inconvenienced (my new and better term for "discommoded," which always struck me as getting your toilet stolen). Zara had convinced some of these rednecks that instead of killing trolls for their horns, they should just amass all of the horns stolen so far, and thus become chief that way. So she was out stealin' horns with them, and failed the first roll. Julie squinted at the possible narration, and I (as table-talker) suggested that one of the local trolls shows up, bonks her, and runs off with the horns. Julie liked that and ran with it quite strongly, failing all her rolls down the Series and thus ending up captured by the trolls. She abandoned the whole horn-stealing plot entirely and turned instead toward working with the trolls to cast a big practical joke on the humans. Although it was my suggestion for a momentary event, her narrational use of that event and subsequent narrations are what mattered, in not treating it as a funny vignette and sticking with the humans.

In Greta's flowers story, the whole crux of the story lay entirely in a key narration by Thor - he identified the site of the adventure as Greta's homeland, which she had left when only an infant. That actually tossed out some of my prep about the lost human couple, which wasn't a decision on my part so much as simply having it driven out of my mind, and set the core issues of conflicts from that point onwards. What I especially like is that Thor did not exert inappropriate control over the back-story during (say) scene framing, which is the GM's proprietary job in Trollbabe, but rather brought this stuff (a) about his character rather than the back-story and (b) during a time of his authority over narrating her failure to do something.

In Frünhilde's cannibal inn story, a couple of difficult or interesting moments cropped up. They both concerned Willow's choice of NPC to take as a Relationship, and what kind - she chose the innkeeper, who was fully collusive with the cannibal practices although perhaps rather more idealistic about it than some of the others. This was interesting because it meant that she'd pretty much taken over one of the characters I'd thought of as a Bang-deliverer. That's why, in the rules, if an NPC has a name, the trollbabe can't take him or her as a relationship without the GM's permisssion. In this case, I went "H'mm! Interesting," and granted it, knowing that this was going places I couldn't influence using that NPC. Which is why I granted it, actually.

Anyway, the more problematic moment came when Willow called in the innkeeper to help Zara when the guys who came to take her to the kitchen arrived in her bedroom at night. She'd defined him as a Comrade, which I suppose I should have been a little more clear about at the time - Comrades do not leap to one's aid like a sidekick does; they only help when the conflict concerns common interests. And in this case, the innkeeper was still committed to the cannibal practices. Note: outside of conflicts, the player says what the Relationship person does, but the GM plays his attitudes and opinions. But this was in a Conflict, regarding re-rolls, and the rules about that are pretty explicit. So I experienced an uncomfortable sense of "no you can't do that" during play, and felt as if I was decreasing the character's effectiveness in a way that wasn't necessarily clear to the player. As it turned out, Willow played the scene brilliantly anyway and used something else for a re-roll, and was able to use the innkeeper later at the end when it was consistent with the rule.

I think all three adventures illustrated rather good uses of success and failure throughout. In the first, failures showed up early (and often); in the second, a key mid-story failure permitted a key narration; and in the last, there was only one minor (but interesting) failure. Again, the timing of these led to major narration and resolution consequences, and hence to very fine but very different stories.

The session also raised a number of rules concerns, as I was effectively playing with the rules that I am prepping for book publication.

As discussed for some time in the Adept forum, the concept of using Modifiers for dice outcomes is hugely inelegant and not fun. I've decided those rules are nothing but ass, and am discarding them for the book version. At present, I'm leaning toward the idea that Scale is Scale, period, and whatever a trollbabe can meaningfully affect with her roll is at her Scale, period. (This also means throwing out the Modifiers for specific prepped characters, too; I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote that.)

The thing is, that rather satisfying and elegant conclusion tripped us up a bit at the end of Zara's story, when she wanted to cast a spell that gave all the humans in the village troll-horns. Well, her Scale was one person. But it's magic! It seemed quite right to me that her magic should do this. H'mmm! I am currently tempted to permit Magic (as a primary action type, not as a snap-shot spell re-roll item) to go up in Scale. That might go well with its casting time limitations as well, which I was planning to enforce quite strongly anyway.

Throughout the session, we ignored the Pace options and always used one-sequence conflicts. This came about simply because I forgot to call for Pace with every conflict, and in part because teaching the basics of a Series within a given roll was my top priority. That leads me to think, regarding the current rules re-write, that I might decree a group's first session be constrained to the one-roll Pace, and maybe even have only "one" and "two out of three" instead of the current three distinct ones.

I liked the characters a lot and I think each story had a strong punch, bringing out some values issues and some depth to each character which none of us would have anticipated in specific terms. One good sign is that I really, really want to play all those Relationship characters in later adventures with these trollbabes, which lets me know that issues and ideas have been raised, rather than finished and closed, by the adventures so far.

Best, Ron


Ron, thanks for these detailed writeups.  I've always been an enthusiastic fan of Trollbabe, and getting an insight into how you yourself do situation prep compared to what is in the current text is excellent.  I'm excited to hear that Trollbabe is (hopefully) going to return in a more polished form, and I hope that some of the advice you've given above will make it into the text.

Some comments:

* I think dumping modifiers is a good decision, they were always fiddly and difficult to apply in practice.

* The notion of recommending one-roll Pace as an option for new players is not bad, but I strongly favor keeping all three levels (1, 2 of 3, 3 of 5).  My experience is that the two that get the most work out are 1 and 3 of 5.  Sometime its just right to drill down on a conflict and say "I want to drag this out in all its gruesome detail".

* I think the text needs to talk more about what it means that magic conflicts must be "slow".  Specific examples of what is legit, and what is not when using Magic would be really helpful.

A question:

* You said: 'So I experienced an uncomfortable sense of "no you can't do that" during play' - can you talk about this in a little more detail? You didn't explain exactly what Zara said the innkeeper was doing, and how you wound up resolving that, only that it worked out in the end.  This seems like a key moment of sausage being made, and I'd like to hear more about it.

A suggestion:

* Regarding scale shifting: I offer rules hack I've been fiddling with for my "Hellbabe" (Hellboy with Trollbabe) hack.  The player can choose to declare a conflict whose effect is one level up the scale, but they start their series with an automatic failure on the first roll.  This means they face real risk, no shrug and walk away with an inconvenienced.  Make of it what you will.

Ron Edwards


Those are all good points and suggestions. I am reluctant to abandon all of the nuances of Pace too.

As far as the innkeeper goes, this is what I recall, anyway. (Also, that was in Frünhilde's adventure, not Zara's)

In the conflict, after Oskel had been named as a Relationship and designated a comrade, our hero had suffered an initial failed roll when the cooking staff stole into her room through a trapdoor in the floor - narrated, I think, that she was sleepy and didn't wake up until they grabbed her (not sure if that's 100% correct, in memory). Willow called in the Relationship as a re-roll ... but here's where I either exerted proper rules use or overstepped Trollbabe-GM bounds. I said, "he's not available for that purpose."

See, there's the problem - I would have done much better to have reviewed and trusted the rules, which were smarter than I-the-person was being at the table. The rules say that the player has authority over the Relationship-NPC's actions, and the GM has authority over what he thinks and says. My proper response should have been to ask Willow what Oskel was doing, and have that be established - then play his thoughts & statements - and then rule that no re-roll was forthcoming from him. His thoughts and statement would have been something like, "Boys! I told you a thousand times, keep the dinner quiet before you cook it!"

See, that way, the reason for the no-re-roll would have been explicitly present in the fiction already, and that's exactly what would have happened if I'd applied my own damn rules just the way they are supposed to go. He's her comrade, sure, but that would apply against a common enemy or anything in tandem with his own interests.

It worked out OK, but only in a way that I do not consider satisfying/fun at the table, nor reliably successful for play in general.

Best, Ron

Arturo G.

Hi again to everyone! Long time without being around.

Ron, this point is really interesting for me. I'm always a little fuzzy about these type of rules, and I'm always getting into trouble because of not using them properly. And I'm never sure what is going wrong until I read everything again slowly.
In this actual play example, assigning the appropriate narration rights would have produced the same effect but through content in the fiction. However, the player should be really aware of the rules about what type of relationships may provide what kind of help (or you need to stop and explain it). If not, from her point of view, it may sound like if you were cheating the right to get the re-roll.

For the first session of new players I also encourage the use of the quicker/simpler system based on 1-row. Although I use the 1-row system most of the times afterwards, we have had some nice moments of detailed conflicts with the 5-row system. It is only for a few situations, but I think it would be a pity to miss it.
The more detailed paces also may require more resource-expenses (boxes checked) to succeed, but I don't have the feeling that the economy of the game works so much different. I'm never thinking on that when suggesting the pace of a conflict. Am I wrong?

Ron Edwards

You're right, Arturo. I've never had a bad experience with using any of the Pace rules, and in fact, ever since the first playtest, everyone has enjoyed arriving at the Pace for every conflict. No currency issue has ever arisen, and besides, it's fun to check off all of one's re-roll boxes anyway, and thus be forced to rely on relationships.

I think I let the fact that I simply forgot to explain and use those rules, in this particular game, and that distracted me from the obvious success of the design. Pace will remain as written.

Best, Ron


Ron, thanks for the more detailed description on how it went down with the innkeeper.  So this for me brings up an interesting question on how authority over relationships is set up in Trollbabe.  The text says "The player gets to state what the person is doing or trying to do, but the GM provides any details or nuances or verbalized role-playing for him or her."  So I can see if the player says:

- "As they are grappling me, the innkeeper bursts into the room", the GM is free to turn that to "Hey boys, keep the dinner quiet"

But if the player said:

- "As they are grappling me, the innkeeper comes to my aid" or
- "The innkeeper comes in and tries to free me."

What would the GM's authority in this situation allow?  Would the GM have to invent a reason for the cannibal innkeeper to come to the defense of dinner?  Or would it fall back to "he's not available for that?"

I'm also curious how much of "here's what's really going on" had been shared with the player at that point.  Did the player know that the inn was full of cannibals?  Did the player know that the innkeeper was the ringleader?  I ask this, because in the way that I have been playing Trollbabe, the GMs idea of "what is really going on" is only advisory until such time as you the GM open your mouth and share that with the players.  If a player uses one of their moments of authority to narrate something that contradicts what you the GM were imagining, then too bad, that's in the fiction now.  So as a result, the GM is motivated to not keep secrets and get all their stuff out into the player knowledge (if not the character knowledge) pool.

I'm curious to know how you manage this kind of stuff, and how your idea of how this stuff is suppose to work is different from mine.

Ron Edwards


We play very similarly. Trollbabe is not a "group storyboarding" game; it is played from very deeply from within the imagining-process. Everything about its design - starting all the way back to the first step of character creation is built to enhance this.

QuoteBut if the player said:

- "As they are grappling me, the innkeeper comes to my aid" or
- "The innkeeper comes in and tries to free me."

What would the GM's authority in this situation allow?  Would the GM have to invent a reason for the cannibal innkeeper to come to the defense of dinner?  Or would it fall back to "he's not available for that?"

There are two issues here.

The first is that both of these are pretty weaselly statements for a relationship-NPC. The rules for conflicts are written to avoid this sort of thing. You'll see that the only intention that matters in the conflict is the trollbabe's, and that the actions of anyone in the conflict must be stated. "Comes to my aid" and "tries to free me" are awfully vague. They are almost entirely stated in terms of narrating outcomes or inner states, not actions which the character is doing.

An intention-based statement is absolutely necessary for the trollbabe, in addition to her action, but the narration for the relationship-NPC needs to be a description of action. "The player has authority over what the NPC does."

So the thing to do with statements like that is to ask the player for the action, and take it from there. With that in the imagined space, the GM's contribution about attitude can then explain why the action does or does not merit a re-roll.

The second issue concerns whether the relationship rules are too picky in the first place. Should a relationship simply always be available for a re-roll? Are the distinctions among the relationships too much work for the ultimate 'reward' of saying "no, it doesn't work?" I need to think about that in some detail, because as it happens, I haven't seen enough comrade relationship play - in my experience, people tend to go for Sidekicks, Romance, and Enemies.

I do want to avoid the situation, however, in which the player gains full GM authority over relationship NPCs simply by dictating what they're doing, why, and what they think about it. The player does not fully "own" the NPC in a relationship, and that's important. If they did, then the game would devolve into a competition over ownership and thus control over full sectors over the imagined space concerning characters' actions. My goal is for there to be no such control, but for actions and intentions and attitudes to emerge in a natural-feeling, painless dialogue.

I know it can happen and the question is whether any of the lesser-seen rules are simply getting in the way.

Best, Ron


Hi Ron,

I think this is a case of a word meaing something different for much of your audience than it does for you. For me, my first interpretation of "does" includes intentions, while your clarification puts intentions under "What the NPC thinks and feels." I suspect others share this first interpretation.

I just reviewed the examples in the book and don't find anything that would have clarified this for me. I would suggest being more explicit -- maybe something like "the player can say what action the NPC takes, but the GM determines the NPC's evaluations, feelings, and intentions."
- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com


I've thought about this some more, and for me, it's not even about word choice (i.e. "does" "actions") but the fact that in causal speech and thinking, action and intention are so very bound up with each other.  That is after one of the basic things that conflict resolution is trying to wrestle with, making sure that both action and intention are clearly expressed and understood by everybody at the table.  These rules take things one step further by pulling action and intention apart and putting different people in charge of each one.  Since they are so bound up in the first place, obviously that's going to lead to blurred lines... :/

So I've got the following imagined play dialog in my head:

"I use Oskel as a reroll.  He overhears the struggle, and bursts into the room, coming to my aid."

"Sorry, his interests are not aligned with yours in this case. Sure he bursts into the room, but he growls at them, 'Hey boys, you're supposed to keep the dinner quiet'.  No reroll for that."

"Oh crap, well his appearance startles his bully-boys none the less.  While they are distracted, I squirm free."

"Okay, I'll buy that, roll for it."

Seems reasonable to me, just a little bit of free and clear working up to the roll, no need to play the "it came out of your mouth so it is irrevocably in the fiction" game.

It does make me wonder about this though: It seems like relationships could easily move between categories over time.  Oskel was taken as a Comrade, but now stands revealed as an Enemy.  A Sidekick could become a Lover, etc.

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

This is a complex set of ideas about something simple, I hope ...

Alan, I'll start with your point and see whether that helps get at something Rafial's brought up. What your point says to me is that I have to wear two very distinct hats: the guy who wrote the first version of the game, which you are playing, and which he plays too, and the guy who's working on the book version.

The first guy says, "How has this worked out for you in actual play? Have you encountered hassles about what a Relationship NPC does or does not do, or whether his or her presence is or isn't worth a re-roll?"

The second guy says, "Thanks, I agree. I don't think anything in Trollbabe was terribly badly written, but I do think it's not up to my current writing standards, and that point is one example. Especially, the phrases 'try to help,' or 'come to my aid,' are extremely hard to parse as action vs. intent, and I can see that the written rules leave a grey area that shouldn't be there."

Rafial, that distinction between hats is really important for your questions. The following bit is completely from the first hat.


Your imagined dialogue trips me up to the extent that I cannot quite answer your question. The GM's response is fine, although there shouldn't be any "sorry," because this how play goes; he shouldn't apologize for following the rules. The player's response, though, is weird ... the player suddenly took over the response of the bully-boys, over whom he has no authority whatsoever. Most especially, their startlement and distraction is the kind of thing one narrates after a roll, not before.

The way you've phrased it seems a lot like the sort of play that I'm seeing called "conflict resolution," which is nothing of the sort. The player states a potential narration of something going well, and then rolls to see whether it happens. That's not how Trollbabe works - intention (of the trollbabe) and action (of everyone) are required, but outcome-statements are emphatically not. Furthermore, it seems as if the player is somehow relying on the GM "buying" the suggestion, which isn't part of play either. Her either gets the re-roll because it follows the rules, or he doesn't - the GM's taste or sense of rightness or whatever has nothing to do with it.

I also don't see how the player's statement is connected to getting a re-roll. Is he checking something off the list on the sheet? He could do that, like a "found item" such as the chamberpot or something. But describing the bully-boys' eventual state if they are successfully rolled against isn't going to do it.

OK, though, let's stick with the real issue at hand, which is Oskel and the relationship and the re-roll. Let's say that the player did check off "found item" and moves on with that re-roll. Can he use Oskel for another re-roll, if this one fails? Well ... not, actually. Because Oskel's eligibility relies entirely on the trollbabe's intent in this conflict, which is fixed throughout the conflict. Oskel can stand there and do stuff, but he can't generate a re-roll.


That first hat is a little defensive, isn't he? I'm glad the real me is actually wearing the second hat.

I think if I attend to the issues in my second-hat answer in my reply to Alan, that will do the job. Of course, a big part of that is deciding whether Relationships will be broken into different types with different criteria for re-rolls at all.

My current thinking is to keep certain distinctions among them, with some rules-effects, but not anything about can-I or can't-I regarding using them for re-rolls. I think it will go better for everyone if Relationship NPCs simply always generate re-rolls when called upon.

In that case, the second that Willow named Oskel as a Relationship, and I agreed (as is necessary for a named NPC), then I'd be committed to saying "Oskel will aid her when Willow says so," period. That actually works very well. As it stands, Oskel is kind of trapped between wanting to help her and not wanting to help her, which isn't very fun and makes for vague-ass situations like the one we're discussing.

I greatly appreciate these posts, guys. It's helping me think clearly about the manuscript.

Best, Ron


QuoteMy current thinking is to keep certain distinctions among them, with some rules-effects, but not anything about can-I or can't-I regarding using them for re-rolls. I think it will go better for everyone if Relationship NPCs simply always generate re-rolls when called upon.

That sounds pretty good to me, because I'll be quite honest, whenever I have run Trollbabe, all that stuff about types of relationships apart from the basic distinction of friend/enemy got completely ignored (well, I think Rival got featured some - that can be fun).  When I went to review the text as part of this discussion, I looked at comrade/sidekick/lover/mentor/etc and thought "huh, I remember reading this once, but I don't ever remember using it in play."  And it's never been a problem, primarily I think because:

QuoteIn that case, the second that Willow named Oskel as a Relationship, and I agreed (as is necessary for a named NPC), then I'd be committed to saying "Oskel will aid her when Willow says so," period.

...yeah, that's the way I've always done it in practice.  The GM veto option for named NPCs is all the "plot protection" that is needed.

Arturo G.

I'm also finding that the simplification is a nice thing.
I recognize that some type of relationships and their effects in play were also a little elusive for me. I was most of the times disregarding the details. Probably it was the origin of a couple of problems in play, that I'm only fully noticing now, that you are exposing how the things should work in Trollbabe as it is written.

QuoteThe GM veto option for named NPCs is all the "plot protection" that is needed.

The "plot protection" thing, even being inside quotation marks, makes me feel uneasy. To what extent have I been using the GM veto to protect the character function in the story, or the protect plot-ideas I already had on mind?
I cannot be sure.

What is the real reason for the existence of the GM veto?