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Author Topic: [IaWA] Breaking Bad Habits  (Read 24035 times)
lumpley
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« Reply #60 on: May 02, 2008, 05:16:54 AM »

Oh, Mike, I meant to answer this. The negotiation is between the players, not between the characters. Occasionally it'll involve negotiation between the characters, but it sure never has to.

Like, here's one way it could go. I'm the ogre, you're the guy hiding the treasure:

Me: ...I win! Okay, I'm about to tear your arm off, I'm like "TELL ME WHERE IT IS AND I'LL FIGHT ON YOUR SIDE."
You: Tear it off then. I say "I don't need you on my side. Get screwed!" I'd rather be injured than bargain with you.
Me: Done. I dislocate your shoulder. "HA HA I'M GOING TO FIND IT ANYWAY."

See how the players' negotiation frames the characters', but they're distinct?

This would be a valid way to do it too:

Me: ...I win! Okay, how about I'm about to tear your arm off and you squeal out where the treasure is hidden like a little girl.
You: Pff. I'd rather you injure me.
Me: Done. I dislocate your shoulder. "NOW TELL ME WHERE IT IS AND I'LL FIGHT ON YOUR SIDE, YOU'VE SEEN HOW I FIGHT."

In that case the bargain between the characters follows after the negotiated outcome between the players.

Make sense?

-Vincent
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #61 on: May 05, 2008, 06:32:09 AM »

That's a clear answer for as much as it addresses. But the question of scope is still out there. I now know it's OK to negotiate about outcomes as a player, but how much can we agree upon?

For instance, in the example, can we agree that his character actually shows me where the treasure is? Or if we agree that his character has told me where the treasure is, that can't have been a lie, correct? I don't have to put in a "And it's not a lie" clause. That is, the negotiation isn't that the character says something in particular, but that they tell the truth. That's allowable, yes?

To take it further, could we negotiate that not only does his character show me where the treasure is, but that I now have it? How much "future" action can we agree upon? Again, to go to the abusurd end, can we agree that not only has his character shown me where the loot is, and my character has obtained it, but also that we've ganged up on a third character and kicked his ass?

In boardgames we talk about deals between players being "enforcable." Meaning that, if they are, not giving what the other player wants is cheating. If they aren't, then the deal is "in-game" and a player not holding up his side of the bargain is merely having his character dealing in bad faith in a reasonable in-game manner.

There are times in game design where either is a good idea, depending on the design. Which is the case with negotiations in IAWA? Are agreements made between characters "enforcable" or not? It seems not. But can you narrate post facto as part of an agreement to get around that? Or is negotiation restricted to only resolving events that occur as an immediate result of the fight in question?

Mike
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jenskot
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« Reply #62 on: May 05, 2008, 08:28:52 AM »

I'm going to take a stab at answering Mike's questions. I'm not Vincent so I could be very wrong. But I want to test what I've learned from Vincent's answers and use my hopefully greater understanding of his intent to make educated guesses on how all this should work.

My understanding is that in IaWA:

- Negotiations are between players.

- Negotiations can involve roleplaying which may influence the outcome by putting consequences into context.

- Since negotiations are between players, you don't have to put in a "and it's not a lie" clause. But you can have fun with this, say you negotiate that you now know where the treasure is. That doesn't mean in the fiction your opponent literally confesses the whole truth. Maybe in the fiction they spend the next 3 hours lying to you but you beat the truth out of them.

- Agreements in the fiction between characters are not enforceable.

- Restrictions on narration in terms of time, space, and credibility are limited based on play group style moderated by the GM.

-  For example, one play group may be ok with weeks passing by between rounds in a conflict where another play group may prefer rounds limited to action in "real time."

- Provided that your play group is light on these restrictions, I don't think there is anything wrong with negotiations lapsing time.

- For example, "your character shows me the location of the treasure right now or I will injure you," and then if your opponent agrees, having the conflict end with both your characters at the locations of the treasure.

- You can't lock down actual future actions, "I plan on getting into a conflict with another player later on and I want you to promise me that your character will fight on my side".

- When we say "future actions" we mean future actions at the game table, not events described in the fiction.

- You can advance the timeline to state what has already occurred as part of the narration of a negotiation.

- What you describe is limited to the agency of your character. So if the GM has an NPC protecting the road to the treasure, the GM can restrict your narration.

I apologize if any of this is wrong.

Rock,
John
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lumpley
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« Reply #63 on: May 05, 2008, 09:23:22 AM »

Mike:

Deals between the characters aren't enforced by the rules.

Negotiate only the immediate consequences of the events of the action sequence.

By the rules, you specifically can't negotiate consequences onto an uninvolved character.

This doesn't stop you from saying "cool, it's a deal," then turning to the GM and saying "we go together and kick the ass of Mitch's character," of course. It wouldn't be a done deal, though, it'd just be play continuing as normal.

On preview, John, that all looks right to me.

-Vincent
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Piers
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« Reply #64 on: May 05, 2008, 11:04:25 AM »

Deals between the characters aren't enforced by the rules.

Negotiate only the immediate consequences of the events of the action sequence.

It is interesting to note the difference between IAWA and Poison'd on this point:

In IAWA bargains have no mechanical enforcement because the action is all about this particular moment.  The episode will be over in no more than a couple of hours.  Right now is all there is.  Next episode is next episode.

By contrast, bargains in Poison'd are all about the future.  They delay the resolution of tension between characters, but ensure that when it does resolve it resolves more violently.

The differences say a lot about what each game is up to.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #65 on: May 05, 2008, 11:45:19 AM »

Good answers, but we're getting caught up in minutia here. The question of where the line is drawn for uninvolved characters lies is one I'll leave for another thread. What's clear is that we can negotiate having accomplished some things as a result of narration. Not just rescindable promises, but actual acts that occur following the contest. That's good, because if it's just promises, then the problem is worse, that nobody really has anything that they can negotiate about.

Side question here... if we negotiate that I get the treasure, can somebody come in with an ONYDA? Or are negotiated results inviolable from being contested?

Anyhow, leaving out that case, we can see that we can position, not just promise position. But the question then is whether or not the positioning gets you any actual advantage. Let's say that we agree in negotiation that you end up on a desert isle, my idea being to try to prevent you from returning and killing my character or something. But then you simply declare that your character is returning. To which I have to declare ONYDA to stop it, right? And then I'm right in the fight that I wanted to avoid in the first place, no?

Maybe I'm being dumb, and not seeing an obvious counter-example... can you give me an example of an effective use of positioning? Where I actually give myself an advantage of some sort other than getting an object? Or where I disadvantage you somehow?

Mike
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John Harper
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« Reply #66 on: May 05, 2008, 12:13:26 PM »

To do that, Mike, you win the conflict series, then you get the stick. Let's say you choose exhaustion.

"I leave you, dehydrated and scorched by the sun on this remote island. So long, fucker."

They lose two die sizes, and are one step closer to death. They're in a bad position in the fiction (marooned) and in a worse-off state mechanically (fewer die sizes, and thus closer to real death).

Now, yes, they can just say "I get off that island and I come and kill you anyway," (which would be super lame, but let's pretend that there's a little more effort there, in the fiction, to carry this off). So they show up, dehydrated and exhausted, and try once again to kill you. You can't make this impossible for them to attempt, no. But you have made it dangerous and pretty unappealing by winning the stick earlier and putting them into a weaker position.
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lumpley
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« Reply #67 on: May 05, 2008, 12:15:19 PM »

Here's a whole category of examples. The rule is that you can say ONYDA only if your character's able to interfere. So by negotiating you onto a desert island, or locked in a cellar, or naked and in chains, or unarmed, or whatever, I set myself up to take action without your interfering.

Similarly, negotiating to my own advantage. If in negotiation I can set myself up to interfere with a future action otherwise outside of my ability, that means I get to, where otherwise I wouldn't.

(Are you worried about how we enforce those disadvantages and advantages? I'm not. When you agreed to be stranded on the island, you knew that it'd mean I'd get away with some shit without your interfering. That was implicit in our negotiation, sometimes explicit, and you knew it when you agreed to it. We don't need to enforce it because you bought into it up front.)

-Vincent
« Last Edit: May 05, 2008, 12:16:50 PM by lumpley » Logged
John Harper
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« Reply #68 on: May 05, 2008, 12:26:19 PM »

Er, yeah.

I like what Vincent said better. He's talking about negotiated outcomes and I was talking about "winner says how you're exhausted," so they're not exclusive -- but his point is more apt, I think.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2008, 12:28:00 PM by John Harper » Logged

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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #69 on: May 06, 2008, 04:43:46 AM »

OK, now we're getting down to the crux of things.

If I understand correctly, positioning is advantageous because we expect the intent of the maneuver to be understood, and we expect that players understanding it won't find some way to circumvent it.

Hmm. Let me try to elicit the principle behind this in greater detail. Let's say that I maneuvered you onto a desert isle, but forgot that there's a ship that we narrated that stops there regularly, which gives a player an easy explanation for how his character might return. So do you narrate returning? It's plausible, and I just forgot about it. Or do you narrate that you miss the ship, because you're lost on the island, understanding my goal as a player in stranding you on the isle?

Does the player who has his character stuck on the isle have a mandate to reinforce the negotiated agreement? Or does he have a mandate to do what he needs to do to advance his character's position, still respecting the general limitations of the negotiated agreement? Are we competing, or cooperating?

This is, in fact, the problem. When playing it doesn't seem clear to me what the player's mandate is. Do I punish the other player for having made a weak agreement? Or do I try to support his play by reinforcing his intent?

I'd posit that the notion that you seem to have that everyone will understand implicitly the intents of the other players is problematic. Sure, sometimes it's pretty obvious. But if I were playing, I'd probably drone on and on explicitly about my intent, just to be sure that it wasn't misunderstood. Not because I want players not to "cheat" by feigning that they don't understand the intent. But because I'd feel bad if they accidentally violated my intent, because they didn't understand it.

If I don't make my intent understood, do I have a leg to stand on here? Or is it just my fault that I didn't make it clear, and I have to suffer from the fact that my move didn't accomplish what I wanted it to accomplish?

As a player on the recieving end of a positioning, I also have to be very careful, because if I maneuver my character such that it violates some intent that I don't understand, then I'm a great big jerk. But not being sure, this means that even if I think I'm doing the right thing, if my maneuver gets anywhere near yours, I'm going to feel uncomfortable. I might not understand your intent with the negotiation.

And I don't want to put other players in that position, so I'd probably not do any real positioning myself.

Worse, work this all back to the negotiation phase itself, and how comfortable am I negotiating? I have to try to understand your intent so that I know what it is that I'm really agreeing to in terms of limitations on my character or advantages for yours. If I'm at all hazy on this, I'm simply not going to agree to your negotiation terms, and make my decision solely on whether or not I feel like taking the punishment of injury or exhaustion. If the object of the contest is valuable enough to me, I'll simply fight till I'm reduced on dice to being out.

Or, again, that's an impetus I feel when playing. Instead, since I don't want to make the aesthetic faux pas of forcing my opponent to beat me up again to get what he wants, I may actually agree to the negotiations, and have to feel iuncomfortable that the other players don't understand the intent of what it is that I've agreed to. Knowing that it might be violated immediately, and that I don't have a lot of recourse.


Or do I? Is there some mechanism by which I can protest if I feel that my positioning has been violated? Do I just speak up and let the other player know how I feel? And then he explains that this isn't what he agreed to in the negotiation? And then we have to negotiate all over again? Or... what?

I'm sure that your urge at this point is to respond, "But this hasn't been an issue in actual play." Again, no, I don't think it would ever get to these theoretical points. But that's because players are uncomfortably agreeing to things that they don't feel are going to be honored, or at least don't have a way to enforce.

Again, this is not a theoretical observation, this is precisely what John was saying that he was feeling, and precisely what I agreed that I was feeling, and what I'm going to hazard that others have felt, too, from their responses (which, though less pointed on the subject, seem to confirm what I'm talking about).

What I'm doing here is, in fact, trying to understand things about the system that will get rid of that uneasy feeling. But what you're telling me, it sounds like to me, and you'll correct me if I'm wrong, is that if we just have faith that it'll work out all right, it will, and we won't have those bad feelings?

I, for one, would prefer a mechanical explanation of how the system supports this stuff.

I think that the problem goes back to precisely what I indicated before. Basically I'm feeling a gam/nar incoherence here. I'm feeling that I should compete, driving my character to where I as a player "win" against the other players. But then all of the aesthetic notions are telling me that I'm supposed to be collaboratively creating a story, and I'm a big jerk if I let my competitive spirit get in the way of that. Or if I feel uncomfortable because I don't feel that the rules are supporting my maneuvers.

Now, that said, I don't know that I have a solution to the problem. That is, I could propose that you come up with rules for maneuvers that define the outcome mechanically so that everyone knows what it is that they're agreeing to. Like, for instance, you could have one negotiated outcome be that the other player has to spend his next "turn" so to speak, defining how his character gets out of the situation into which I put him. Meaning he can't affect anything else, he just negates that maneuver... mechanically the player "loses a turn" so to speak. Or the player might get some sort of penalty dice (or I get bonus dice) that come into play if you as a player attempts to overcome the situation that was negotiated, and goes against me.

These examples are all slanted toward our actual play example, and I'm sure I could come up with a dozen more rules options if pressed to do so. The point being that there can be a fine detail in coming up with mechanical support for negotiations that would allow them to remain very versatile in supporting the color of the negotiations. But that's the point, isn't it, that we worry that, if I have a lot of definition for types of negotiated outcomes that the players will forget the fiction and only negotiate the mechanical outcome, perhaps tacking on the color after the fact.

What you want is for the narration not to be color, but to have the effect that it "should" have in play. Yes? And that is a conundrum. How can I have strictly regulated competitive play, and also have all possible in-game effects accounted for, and yet not have to be playing Rolemaster to accomplish this, and thus have the fiction handled by the system, and not by the players?

Gamism is a splippery slope to narration being reduced to color. I can understand if you back off from that. But then I'm feeling very uncomfortable in my gamism.

I'm suspecting that I'm not supposed to be playing gamism at all with this game. That, in fact, the way y'all play is very narrativism, and all the ONYFDA is all just fun posturing, and not actually trash talk regarding the competition. What might be most effective, instead of going with more mechanical definition of maneuvers to support gamism, is a modification of things so that people aren't propelled into gamism, like I've observed folks doing. Basically when Em saw us playing, and got the impression that we were playing it "wrong" what she was seeing is gamism, as opposed to the narrativism that your groups brought to the game.

As an independent player of the game, coming in with no preconceptions of what the game was like (I had heard it had these things called Oracles, but didn't even know what that meant), I'd think that the data that I'm presenting you with should be more indicative of what most players will do with the game than what your own play of the game produces. But, who knows, maybe I'm a raving gamist, who applies that standard to every game I play.

I'll leave that for you to decide.

Mike
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #70 on: May 06, 2008, 05:27:14 AM »

Apologies if this has come up already earlier in the thread, long as it is, but I need to know where this gamism angle came from to understand the current leg of the discussion. So: where did this gamism angle come from, again?

I'm asking because from everything I've read the game itself seems pretty obviously to provide minimal traction for that stuff. Mike's played IAWA, so he's probably not just babbling here - did you just interpret the game into a whole another GNS category when playing, or what? It seems obvious to me at a glance that the ONYFDA stuff (is that in the rulebook?) is just emphasis for character passion, not an expression of player-level resistance to anything in particular - why would Mike interpret this differently? How do you even establish and commit to gamist challenges in something like this?
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Brand_Robins
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« Reply #71 on: May 06, 2008, 07:31:39 AM »

I think I'm the first one that said "Oh No You Fucking Don't, Asshole" as the thing my group did to mark the time to go to dice.

With us it was always a semi-in-character thing. A player expression of character intent, as it were. That others read it as something the players were saying to each other as players was something that never even occurred to me until long after the fact.

In fact, often times if someone didn't say ONYDA after something, people would say "What, you're letting him get away with that, won't someone stop this asshole?" when asshole was their own character. We roll the same for conflicts we want to lose as those we want to win, and negotiate accordingly.
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lumpley
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« Reply #72 on: May 06, 2008, 07:47:25 AM »

Mike:

Oh! I see. Yes, this is the crux of things. You keep asking me how consequences work when you don't negotiate any mechanical weight to them, so I keep answering it. What I should do instead is tell you that you can give mechanical weight to consequences in negotiation.

For instance:
Like, for instance, you could have one negotiated outcome be that the other player has to spend his next "turn" so to speak, defining how his character gets out of the situation into which I put him. Meaning he can't affect anything else, he just negates that maneuver... mechanically the player "loses a turn" so to speak.
Perfectly acceptable.

Quote
Or the player might get some sort of penalty dice (or I get bonus dice) that come into play if you as a player attempts to overcome the situation that was negotiated, and goes against me.
Also fully supported by the rules.

Quote
...I'm sure I could come up with a dozen more rules options if pressed to do so.
I'm certain! If you limit yourself to mechanical effects already accounted for by the existing rules, I'm sure you could still come up with half a dozen. Apply them flexibly, half a dozen should fully cover a year-long campaign's worth of circumstances, considering that most RPGs have about that many and most indie RPGs have only one or two. And if you get a really weird circumstance in session 15, taking a minute to figure out how to give it mechanical weight will be part of the fun.

So yeah, the crux:
Quote
The point being that there can be a fine detail in coming up with mechanical support for negotiations that would allow them to remain very versatile in supporting the color of the negotiations.

Yes. Absolutely. If you play again, include mechanical consequences in your negotiations. You'll be a lot more comfy.

It's a matter of this: knowing the game's mechanics better will mean a more sophisticated and concrete mechanical component to your negotiation.

Before you know to say "how about I take a 0-significance particular strength, far-reaching but not worth a die, called 'my sway over you,'" yes, good feelings and playing soft will help it work more smoothly. The game doesn't depend on that over time, though, it depends on you coming to own and apply the mechanics.

My design goals - no prep, no pre-play, character creation in 5 minutes, playing 15 minutes after you sit down, no up-front rule dump - mean that I can't have a Dogs-style initiation to teach you the rules (for instance). You know that weird discomfort when you do a personal growth initiation in Dogs for the first time? And how after the session you're like "oh, y'know, here's how we should've handled that, wish I'd realized it then." For In a Wicked Age, your first couple of sessions ARE your initiation.

-Vincent
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jenskot
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« Reply #73 on: May 06, 2008, 08:09:11 AM »

Quote from: mike
Or the player might get some sort of penalty dice (or I get bonus dice) that come into play if you as a player attempts to overcome the situation that was negotiated, and goes against me.

Also fully supported by the rules.

Cool! What are the rules that support this? How do you do this?
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lumpley
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« Reply #74 on: May 06, 2008, 08:18:58 AM »

We're negotiating. I have the stick.
Me: How about you're locked in my basement?
You: Okay.
Me: And if you try to get out and go against me, you roll d4 d4 instead of your regular dice.
You: I dunno. d6 d6? It's just a basement.
Me: ...Fine. Done.

-Vincent
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