[Levity]: Is this a technique? Or what?

Started by rgrassi, July 01, 2009, 02:39:30 PM

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Here's something I'm asking from a while.
In a PbF we're making (we're three players) we're playing a situation in which there are two kids and a police sergeant (we've put some 'constraints' [a technical term in Levity] that we'll play a story in which there will be Jack the Ripper, that will have a precise fictional time duration, et alia...).
Player#1, in this scene, is moving the kid#1, Josh.
Player#2, in this scene, is moving the kid#2, Pepper.
I, in this scene, am moving the sergeant.
And here comes the 'fiction'. [Sorry for my english. I'm Italian.]

{The two kids have just stolen something to eat and are hiding.}
[ME, as the sergeant] - "A nice robbery..." said a great red headed man, with freckles, while lighting a cigar. "Really... A nice robbery", said, staring again at them.

{Too much REAL time (in terms of real days) has passed. System gives me the authority to force a move into the SIS, without validation.}
[ME, as the sergeant] - "What's up? Did your tongue dried up?", said, looking at the distant square...
[Player#1, as Josh] - "Which robbery?" asked curiously the black headed guy. He looked sincerely surprise, but, in depth, he was evaluating the man in front of him
[ME, as the sergeant] - "Aren't you two from White Chapel? The "Red Man's Pack"?
[Player#2, as Pepper] - "No Sir. We're just two apprentices having dinner eating some holy-mother-hands-prepared food."
And Pepper, showed off his most innocent look while thinking 'The Red Man's Pack... Troubles Ahead"

[ME, as the sergeant] - "Oh, really? And what do you have to say?", said talking to the other guy...
[Player#1, as Josh] - Josh thought for a while, thinking at the right answer. 'The Red Man' was not really a friend... "It depends from who asks, sir. For the moment we're just looking for a quiet place to have dinner, sir."
[ME, as the sergeant] - "And what if I ask you a favor?", said the man, showing two pennies.
[Player#2, as Pepper] - Looking at coins, Pepper's eyes lit up. The meatloaf almost choked him. "You know man, no one will ever tell that we don't help a man asking for a favour!" He moved his hands to get coins but stopped suddenly "Is it a favour leading to troubles?"
[Player#1, as Josh] - "If so... How great?" The tone intendend for more pennies.

Here comes the part for which I'm writing the post.

[ME, as the sergeant] - The man showed two more pennies.
{I say to the players that I want the kids to make the favour for me, it's important for my player. They may accept, say no (and roll the dice) or escape (and, maybe, roll the dice). This may be some kind of 'ask for a conflict' or am I off the road?.}
[Player#1, as Josh] - "No rush... First, tell us what we have to do.
{The player has elegantly skipped my ask for dice roll. Fiction goes on...}
[ME, as the sergeant] - "I want you to lead me to 'The Red Man' for a... work he may do for the police."
[Player#1, as Josh] - Josh looks at Pepper, searching for an agreement.
{Now, I want to FORCE an event into the SIS but taking a risk (on the dice result). In real life I'd roll the dice while saying the statement.}
[ME, as the sergeant] - "More, I'd like to have you both by my side, when time will come."
{Rolled 3d6, with a value of 13. What this means, is that my statement has a "value" of 13. It does not necessarily needs for a counter roll. My 'opponents' may accept it or not.}

I'm eager to have your feedback on the roll to give a 'value' to the statement before some may think to oppose it.

Levity d6 - Interactive Storytelling and Roleplaying System


Hi Rob,

I am not quite sure what you are asking, and judging from the mute reponse maybe no one does, so I will ask a few questions instead.

Are you checking your definition of "technique" as a technical term?

Is the dice roll you are making part of Levity?

You seem to be using the term SIS in a no standard way. Can you paraphrase what you mean by those two mentions of SIS without using the term?


Andrew Norris


Correct me if I'm misreading you. I think using the value of a roll as an unofficial weight is something that gets used a fair bit in pseudo-freeform games. You also see it in some group's interpretation of D&D, where a 1 or a 20 are special events that override the usual rules. I think it's a sort of "reading the bones" technique that gets used informally a fair bit.

I'm reminded of some of Vincent Baker's posts about their freeform-ish Ars Magica game, where the group would sometimes just grab what dice they felt were appropriate and roll, to get an augury for how an unknown event might turn out. I recognize that's not exactly the same thing as "This event has a rolled weight, which may get used on its own rather than straight X vs. Y comparison", though.

I ran a mostly freeform campaign set in the Amber setting a few years back; we had formal if simple mechanics for conflict resolution, but we also used Tarot cards as a sort of trump / metagame resource. I originally put it in for color, but it pretty much took over as a resolution technique -- if a scene was particularly resonant to a particular card the player was holding, they'd slap it down as they were describing their action, and the group would "ooh" and nod their heads that yeah, the fates were smiling on this action because of its resemblance to the name of the Tarot card, or the image on it. Is that something simliar to what you're raising here?


This looks like a difference of opinion in how to resolve the situation; you want to resolve the conflict in a single roll, by dice ("fate" in forge-speak), and one of the players wants to resolve it by the consequences of what you both say ("drama" I think). An easy answer is just to say "pick one at the start" and have all players stick with it, but I'd rather compare the different reasons you might pick a mechanic, and some other stuff that gets hidden when you simplify it that much:

If you want to go with dice, you can go "what I want" + "what you want" -> dice -> result, but that misses out a number of things; firstly the player may not know whether their character "wants" to agree or not, because they don't know the information that their character would be forced to decide on. Secondly you might actually want to keep what the man wants secret. So how do you resolve this? Depending on the system you could just give the characters intention as "I want the kids to agree without being first told what they are agreeing to", that would cut off any further discussion and lead to rolling. Players trying to play cagey characters might protest though, or ask for a very high difficulty for the roll/bonus to their character.

Or in a different type of game you could say "lets end the scene with them having agreed, but with the details of what they agreed to hidden. We'll decide that later". This might keep the dynamics you are after, if you are thinking more about scene structure and pacing, but not have you taking massive control over what the characters do. If you're not interested in scene pacing so much as the substance of what they actually agree to, then this just delays resolving it.

So getting back to the resolution, if you don't care about playing through a negotiation, but player 1 does, how can you combine rolling and negotiation? Now there are two basic ways to do this; either you can assemble your arguments and then roll on the basis of them, or you can roll to see how well they negotiate and then insure that every character says something appropriate, similarly to what Andrew said. The latter is liable to get dropped if consequence begins to be more important than means, but with players who prefer a strong link between cause and effect, then this can be more natural, as they naturally pick what level of intensity or competence seems best to them. Now in such cases there needs to be a scale of some kind, either implicitly understood or explicitly stated, otherwise a weight of 13 doesn't mean much.


Thanks for kind replies. I try to reply to your questions. Let me start from the first reply. Too much words may distract the topic from the real question.

I am not quite sure what you are asking

To be honest, you're right. Re-reading the post after so much time made me understand that I've been too much cryptic.
In few words:
We (narrator and players) are narrating a scene and I want to "force" an event to happen. I cannot do that by authority, in this turn, because I'm moving a character (in this scene frame). After two tries elegantly skipped by the players, I make a statement (for instance, "Will you do that for me?") and roll the dice while saying it. The roll gives a 'weight' to the statement (it's a risk from my side, of course, a low result would go against my intents as a character, and my desires as a player). Players look the result and take a decision or decide to skip again the conflict.
All of the things I'm saying are parts and elements of Levity as role playing  system. In particular this rule is part of a more sophisticated way to play (advanced rules).
Levity d6 - Interactive Storytelling and Roleplaying System