NPCs in Rustbelt play

Started by Ron Edwards, August 27, 2008, 03:38:57 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

Ron Edwards

Hi Marshall,

Jari Tuovinen and I are playing Rustbelt in a kind of quick-and-dirty way, beginning a scenario and skipping through to a later time. It's just me and him, and although I try to avoid one-GM-one-player play as a rule, in this game, it works better than most.

Anyway, we're about halfway through, having played a fairly significant series of scenes and seen how the numbers shift around. I'll post more about it in Playtesting. For now, here are some questions.

1. Can any of the Psyche scores go above 20? We are suspecting that they can, with the idea that if (say) Zeal goes above 20, the character basically stays totally fanatical, but it's harder to settle down from that.

2. We are pretty sure that the game only makes sense if the Psyche scores are understood as incontrovertible guides to role-playing - you have to play more fanatical as Zeal increases, for instance. In the case of this game, I consider that a surprisingly useful and fun feature, unlike most mechanics which dictate player-character behavior. To be clear, I know that you can act against your Faith at any time; I'm not saying a character cannot, but rather that he is acting against a fanatical Faith when it's that high, and the role-playing would reflect that (or in fact must do so). Is this consistent with your vision? The trouble with not doing it this way is that there's reason not to just keep racking up your Psyche scores into infinity.

3. It strikes me that NPCs should have Attributes only, not Psyche or Blood-Sweat-Tears. Mechanical effects upon NPCs would be strictly a matter of announced player-character actions and the impact of damage (as indicated by Price equivalents in injury, et cetera). This idea is working very well for us at the moment. Also, to be clear again, I can play a given NPC as Frustrated or Zealous or Gripped or whatever as I see fit; what I'm saying is that tracking it as for a player-character is too onerous and has dubious added value. How did you envision playing NPCs, in mechanical terms?

4. Is this a valid interpretation?: a character may use Uncanny to help the Rust when it is used for some freaky or awful environmental effect. This would simply add the two Performances together as with the helping rules. Very nasty in all ways, if it's legal by the rules.

Best, Ron

Marshall Burns

Thanks for trying it out!  I look forward to hearing more about the play.

And I got yer answers right here:

1.  YES.  Psyche can go way over 20.  I don't recommend that you start higher than 20, because 20 is a crippling value if you have to take a Tears or (in the case of chemical Vice) Sweat hit from it.  An interesting consequence of the fact that Psyche stats have no upper limit is that a 60 point Tears hit can kill you, because of the way damage rolls over.  That's where you waste away from grief, or have a rage so severe that it gives you a heart attack, or whatever else makes sense.

2.  Your interpretation of this is correct, too.  My plan/hope is that it works for Psyche to dictate behavior because the player always chooses it.  Although I've had some troubles in play with some players not really playing it as hard as I would have liked.

3.  For NPCs, I've been tracking B/S/T only in the case of major NPCs; mooks and goons tend to go down in one or two hits--though, to be fair, they tend to get A) chopped in the neck with machetes, B) clobbered with cinder blocks, or C) shotgunned in the face (oddly enough, these three methods have been player-favorites throughout this game's history).  I also only give major or fairly-major NPCs Psyche, but I don't worry about following the Zeal/Grip/etc. scores; I just have the Psyche present for the purposes of the Push.  Although I've only made an NPC Push twice, I think.

4.  Yep, I'd say that's valid interpretation.  I would think of it as naive magic, and offer Manaburn Prices when a Push comes into play.  I'm really fond of Manaburn because it doesn't even have to make sense--you get Manaburned hard enough, and you can, say, lose a limb for no apparent reason.  It could just suddenly be GONE.  Fuckin' freaky.

Ask away if any more questions come up!


Marshall Burns

Whoops, I've just realized that my answer to #4 could be confusing.  When I say "magic," I don't mean using the Power/Process rules; those are best understood as bargaining with the Rust to do what you want.  On the other hand, if the Rust is doing something on its own, a character can support the Rust "magically" by using his Uncanny stat, no Power/Process stuff necessary.  And he doesn't have to actively do anything (although stuff like maniacal laughter and general creepiness are recommended), because Uncanny is pretty much an unconscious source of power.

Ron Edwards

Yeah, that's exactly what I'm talking about and exactly what I did with a character.

Thanks Marshall!
Best, Ron