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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 31 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: MLWM endgame mechanic question.  (Read 10123 times)
phargle
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« on: May 27, 2008, 12:58:29 PM »

We finished a game of MLWM.  It appears that the endgame mechanic makes each successive effort to kill the master harder and harder - each round that goes by therefore makes the game longer.  Is that intentional?  Is there a way around that other than ganging up on the master, thus guaranteeing a minimum number of dice equal to the number of minions plus the sincerity die?  (Even that might not be enough if Fear is high and the characters have been hosed.)

It also seems like the master could aggressively keep the players down by constantly arranging for them to kill their love connections.  Is that correct?  Appropriate?  We have several desperate scenes where a love connection with a lot of points was on the line, and we ended up luckily avoiding getting them killed.  The dice could've failed us and we could've been toppled back to square one, but with a ton of Self-Loathing.

We're all gamemasters in our group, and our concern was that the game seems mathematically structured to prolong itself rather than push towards an end-game, unless the GM runs the master with an eye towards helping the players arrive at the end-game.  This would mean pulling punches a bit, as in not targeting the connections, which seems counter to the game's narrative message.

I've read some of the older posts here, and most of the advice seems to be to not run the master in such a way that you're blowing up connections whenever they pop up.  I guess that's not too different from "don't make level 1 guys fight giants" in advice.  Is that the right advice?
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phargle
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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2008, 01:03:04 PM »

Oh - we're not completely sure, but we were using the More Than/Less Than mechanic to bypass rolling dice, and thus have our characters serve the master but without gaining Self-Loathing.  We would do that in situations where the abilities or flaws seemed pertinent.  Once, I tried to seize my loved one, but noted that my Less Than should make me really weak and thus automatically fail.  That not only avoided me using my high Self-Loathing to succeed, but it avoided gaining another point.  And it saved my connection.  Were we doing it right?  Or should I have had to roll dice?
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2008, 01:46:51 PM »

Well, I think you hit just about two thirds of the most common soft spot questions related to MLwM in one go ;)

Paul usually tells people that if the game ever ends up in an endless end-game loop, the players will spontaneously come to realize that they don't need the rules to tell them to end it - they'll do it themselves and finish the game with the destruction of the Master after the epilogues of each character have been fixed in stone by the endgame procedure. There are other ways to play the issue, though. As endless Endgames are really rare, this isn't usually much more than a theoretical isssue.

You're right that the GM is not supposed to try to kill Connections - he could do it relatively easily, after all. On the other hand, the GM also shouldn't hesitate to go through with the implied threat to the connections in the right situation. Pretty much the only pertinent place where it's useful (as in, supportive of the goals of the game) to kill off a Connection is when the character cares about it, the situation is a dramatic turning point (which in itself requires several preparation scenes) and it'll affect the character's Epilogue. In practice this means that you won't be killing more than one or two Connections in a game, at most, and then only near the end - such a death will then mean a critical turning point for the PC, who will proceed to either destruction or redemption immediately afterwards.

The MTH/LTH thing canonically (as in, according to Paul) does not obviate the need for die rolls, it's just task resolution color: the character will succeed or fail in individual tasks based on those properties, but will still have to ultimately roll the dice for the whole conflict to be resolved. Like the above matters, this one's been handled in all kinds of different ways - I've played it the way you describe and that works well, for instance.
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phargle
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Posts: 28


« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2008, 02:56:07 PM »

The MTH/LTH thing canonically (as in, according to Paul) does not obviate the need for die rolls, it's just task resolution color: the character will succeed or fail in individual tasks based on those properties, but will still have to ultimately roll the dice for the whole conflict to be resolved. Like the above matters, this one's been handled in all kinds of different ways - I've played it the way you describe and that works well, for instance.

Thank you for the quick reply.  Your answers confirmed my theory that my thoughts on running the game were akin to hosing 1st-level D&D characters. ;)  I'm still a bit sketchy on the endgame thing. Then again, I've only played once.  When we realized after one round that the end-game would go on forever if we just let the one guy get hammered, we immediately ganged up on the master and encouraged the one guy to angle for at least a desperation die.  That had the effect of robbing all of us of our own endgame scenes, but the math seemed like it was either do that or let the game go on and on and on. 

To your above point:  I'm still confused about MTH/LTH.  The text says they replace the resolution mechanics in the rules with automatic failure and automatic success.  The resolution mechanics from a player's perspective seem to be villainy, violence, help, resistance, fighting the master, and overtures.  Which of those mechanics would MTH/LTH replace?  If the mechanic is replaced, does it resolve as though the player succeeded or failed (and thus adjust their stats accordingly), or is that skipped too?
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2008, 06:19:51 PM »

I might be remembering wrong here, but my recollection is that Paul said sometime in -06 or so that the MTH/LTH is not supposed to obviate the need for rolling at all. So if your character was a really good thief, say, then you could just describe how he automatically succeeds in stealing into the mayor's chambers. However, the scene would continue, presumably until something else came up to force the check. And should the check fail, it would not be because the character failed as a thief - it'd be because of some other factor. So essentially the MTH/LTH only affects the conditions and immediate situation of the conflict check, not the basic agreement that there needs to be one at some point. I might be remembering someone's variant rule or something, of course.

I agree that that's a somewhat counterintuitive way to play it, as the MTH/LTH has no over mechanical influence. Two other common variations are the ones you touched upon: you might decide that scenes where MTH or LTH apply have no die-rolling at all, or you might decide that the die-rolling is replaced by the automatic success or failure, causing the usual consequences of the check type on question. I've played the game in all three ways, really, and can't say that I prefer any particularly over the others. The first way works well if the group plays with pretty natural scene framing where task resolution and character maneuvers actually matter; using the method in a game where all players have turns and they always go through the strict mechanical regime of command/villainy/overture no matter what of course makes MTH/LTH little more than color in that case. The second variant, where you skip both the die-roll and the consequences, is an interesting one: you can use MTH/LTH to cause unmechanized scenes in an environment where they might otherwise be all but absent; you being either the player or the GM, which is all the more interesting. The last method, wherein the MTH/LTH replaces the roll and also causes mechanical consequences... it's tricky to play to be sure, and I wouldn't use it without both a strong GM and loose scene framing; with MTH/LTH having such strong influence it's important that players can frame scenes and develop background that actually brings the effects and their exceptions into play.

As for which mechanics MTH/LTH replaces, that depends partially on how you're adjucating the above question. The basic answer is that all mechanics can be replaced, though - at least I've replaced everything possible at some point or other.
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2008, 07:00:26 AM »

Hey,

If a minion is issued a command by the Master, then the minion is obligated to one die roll in service to that command. A relevant MTH/LTH doesn't do away with that requirement of at least one roll.

But otherwise, when I run the game, we give ourselves the authority to end scenes without a conflict roll if it seems like a scene is naturally done without one. And there are no stat changes as a result of events resolved via MTH/LTH. So, whether or not a MTH/LTH comes into play or not, a scene may or may not have other resolution rolls in it.

How's that?

Paul
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"[My Life with Master] is anything but a safe game to have designed. It has balls, and then some. It is as bold, as fresh, and as incisive  now as it was when it came out." -- Gregor Hutton
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2008, 12:56:09 PM »

I may be misunderstanding, so check me on this, phargle. Your posts imply to me that you are thinking a character is "robbed of his endgame" if he, for instance, helps another minion kill the Master. If I'm getting that right, then I think you're stumbling on one point.

Specifically, Endgame in MLWM is not per-character - there is only one Endgame, and once it is entered, everyone is in it. Does that help, or am I running after a rabbit that's not there?

Best, Ron
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