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Author Topic: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto  (Read 13328 times)
Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2011, 08:35:14 PM »

Diaspora does not shy away from in-your face compels.  It is really smart in that it limits the effects of any 1 compel.  A FP spend can cause another character to a) not act or b) move a zone.  The genius of that game is the way it tells players to create spatial arrangements for fictional possibilities and gives good examples of how to draw those arrangements. 

Compels can come hard and fast because their use in the mini-games is very circumscribed.

I want to see GM compels work in creating long-term consequences (or their avoidance through the sacrifice of FP) and ensuring consistent and compelling Cities for that long-term, and consistent can compelling scenes in the short-term (i.e. in one scene).

I want NPCs to be able to limit PC options through the expenditure of their resources, not to have my infinite pool of FP stymie or obviate every roll the PCs try to make.  That way douchebaggery lies.

Sometimes it makes sense for an NPC a mysterious enchanted being to lay down a couple of Aspects on a PC through Declarations, or for a PC with the "Hot for leather-clad Vampires" to be unable to move away this round.  But such immediate challenges to PC efficacy should come from a clearly-defined agent with limited capability to decrease that efficacy.  And I get the feeling that permitting NPCs to prevent one OPTION for action (Attack, Block, Maneuver, Assess/Declare) will sit more comfortably with my players than imposing a blanket "you do nothing for this round 'cause my Vamp is so mesmerizing".
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2011, 08:41:58 PM »

Hi Erik,

I have a quick system question. Let's say that a given circumstance of Fate Point economy hits a critical point for a player. In other words, he or she cannot buy off a Compel, or if it's possible, only at a price of not having Fate Points necessary for doing some other thing, or at the price of having to fail a particular thing, and in each case, "the thing" is pretty important to the character and player.

What's the downside for the character? In mechanics terms, fiction terms, or both. I'm thinking of things that are more drastic than merely limiting options as you describe in your last post. I'm talking about tragic breakpoints in a character's personal saga, climaxes of stories, that sort of thing.

And if there is such a downside, then as you see it, is this a situation to be avoided, such that the GM manages things to be pressured enough to be dramatic but without true point-based crisis; or is it a situation that could well come about and is as desirable as any other way the system could go?

Best, Ron
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2011, 05:54:23 AM »

Diaspora does not shy away from in-your face compels.  It is really smart in that it limits the effects of any 1 compel.  A FP spend can cause another character to a) not act or b) move a zone. 

Change that to "not act."  But in Diaspora that means, specifically, "assumes the worst possible roll on Fate dice -- -4 -- and proceed from there. 

So my houserule "Forbid one course of action" and accept another alternative: "compel character to not act/auto fail -- give them an automatic -4 and go from there"

Sometimes it makes sense for an NPC a mysterious enchanted being to lay down a couple of Aspects on a PC through Declarations, or for a PC with the "Hot for leather-clad Vampires" to be unable to move away this round.  But such immediate challenges to PC efficacy should come from a clearly-defined agent with limited capability to decrease that efficacy.  And I get the feeling that permitting NPCs to prevent one OPTION for action (Attack, Block, Maneuver, Assess/Declare) will sit more comfortably with my players than imposing a blanket "you do nothing for this round 'cause my Vamp is so mesmerizing".

The Vamp could now, under the augmented compel rule,
a) declare MOVE impossible (rule out 1 course of action)
b) but a blanket "you are riveted in place by this death goddess" and have that mean an autofail/-4 equivalent

I can play hardball now.  But without the temptation to act like a Ty Cobb.
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2011, 05:58:38 AM »

Hi Erik,
Let's say that a given circumstance of Fate Point economy hits a critical point for a player ... he or she cannot buy off a Compel.

What's the downside for the character? In:
* mechanics terms
* fiction terms
* both.

I'm thinking of things that are more drastic than merely limiting options as you describe in your last post. I'm talking about tragic breakpoints in a character's personal saga, climaxes of stories, that sort of thing.

... if there is such a downside, then as you see it:
* is this a situation to be avoided, such that the GM manages things to be pressured enough to be dramatic but
* is it a situation that could well come about and is as desirable as any other way the system could go?

I had time to parse the question but not formulate response.  Will get to it later today.l
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2011, 09:56:42 AM »

Let's think of this situation:
-PC's sister is about to be "turned" and made a vampire
-The Vamp "turning" he is a woman who has seduced and captivated PC before PC knew she was Red Court
-I am without any Fate Points
-The Vamp compels my "Hot for leather-clad Vampires" Aspect.
-PC wants to do something to save the sister

Here are the 3 points of departure:
1) The GM, through the Vamp, compels PC's "Leather-clad Vampires are HOT" Aspect.
2) Another Player compels the PC's Aspect
3) The Player compells his/her own Aspect

1) The GM, through the Vamp, compels PC's "Leather-clad Vampires are HOT" Aspect.
* mechanics:
-PC MUST accept the compel as presented.  The PC now has a FATE point to resist further compels.  But here and now PC will either have to accept a restriction on a course of action or broad loss of efficacy.
-Restriction: The PC has a bowl of Holy Water but Vamp forbids an Attack, and carries out the final suck.  PC could try a Move to get away, a Maneuver such as knock over a precious vial of alchemical fluid and place a "Distracted" Aspect on the Vamp (which someone else could tag for a free +2), or some kind of Block (I throw up my "Shield" spell between the Vamp and my sis).  These could all delay the final suck and allow either the PC or other players to work on the Vamp.  But if the PC is alone, the Vamp stands a good chance of finishing the sucking.
-Auto-Failure: Anything I do will start from the premise that I failed my roll in the worst possible way (-4).  So if I have superb Guns (+5) my attack will be a net 1 (Average).  The Vamp might get a defense roll or not (depending on skills) but my hit was very weak, and even with a Weapon: 2 and some bonus for the Holy Water (+3?), I would only be doing 6 Stress, which the Vamp could easily shrug off and complete her final suck.
* fiction
-Restrictions create interesting blocks and
-Either way, my sister is a Vampire.  Sure, I have a 1 measly FP to help me in subsequent actions but that is small compensation.  The PC has been forced into a tragedy by a GM who knew quite clearly that the PC had no more FP.  A bit of a downside.  But then again, FP spending decisions were made earlier.  The PC was operating in a dangerous world and that there are casualties.  It seems like a fitting end. 
* both
The GM made a decision within the ambit of the rules and according to the fiction established during play so the player will have to accept it.  I am not sure if I would do this as a GM.

2) Another Player compels the PC's Aspect
* mechanics
-same as above
* fiction
-Let us say that a straight laced PC2 has been berating PC1 for his/her dalliances with Vamps and other weirdies.
-PC2's player decides that PC1 will suffer the consequences of his Aspect.
-The PC would say things like "My God, look where your moral degradation has led us," or "this is what you get for messing with evil."  As a character, PC2 is totally opposed to the Vamp's aims, but the player is making a tragedy happen.
* both
-This example is a logical possibility and an elaboration of the clearly stated rule "players may compel other players' PCs."  But in none of the FATE games I own have I ever seen this extreme case of a player using the compel mechanic to frustrate another player's desire to see the fiction unfold in a certain way.  I have never had a FATE game go this way and a move like this could really tear at a group's Social Contract.  Play advice usually has the GM responsible for major consequences of giving into a compel and never explores how Player vs Player compels might work.

3) The Player compels his/her own Aspect
* mechanics
-The same as 1) and 2).  The player draws attention to the Aspect on his own sheet and before any rolls says "OMIGAWD!  Sis is about to be turned but I am so lust-besotted that I simply cannot act" and gives him/herself an "auto failure."  He/she is now 1 FP richer (players are encouraged to "Self-Compel" to gain FP).  That FP must be spent in some FUTURE conflict, so it can't be used right now.
* fiction
-We now have a picture of a flawed PC whose unsavoury appetites have led to his sister's demise.  Makes for a good story.
* both
-I prefer this to 1) where the GM was creating a tragedy.  The implementation of the Compel mechanic resulted in a great bit of story and gave an FP depleted player an edge in some important action later in the scenario.

In practice, I have never seen circumstances this extreme come up in FATE play.  Some folks in my Spirit of the Century and Starblazer Adventure games did express the sentiment that the games seemed a little superficial and that nothing was really at stake despite all the sound and fury and exploding biplanes and battles with deathbots.  So if there is going to be real in-your face tragedy or drama or the real possibility for surprising new situations to arise through the mechanics and currency, rather than just GM fiat and razzle dazzle with laser sharks and zombie dinosaurs, the Compels have to be deployed with close attention to FP scarcity and with the aim of producing drama.

The default mode of FATE play is to focus on skills with FP acting as +2 bonuses or re-rolls.  Most players hoard FP to keep getting those bounuses when they need them.  As a result, there is little chance of their rolls on behalf of their PCs going awry.  Some groups and players really get into creating Aspects and tagging them for team attacks or to prepare or tough challenges.  I have yet to see much discussion of Actual Play moments where Compels and scarce FP combined for some tough, dramatic, and consequential decisions.





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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2011, 10:09:51 AM »

And if there is such a downside, then as you see it, is this a situation to be avoided, such that the GM manages things to be pressured enough to be dramatic but without true point-based crisis; or is it a situation that could well come about and is as desirable as any other way the system could go?

Phew.

Diaspora has it's mini-games which can be played without GM.  It fully entertains the possibility of point-based crisis for compels.  A compel can cause you to fail to grab a fallen sacred icon, refrain from making a bold move in a negotiation, not repair an engine on the verge of blowing up, or breaking through the line of alien Stormtroopers to liberate the besiged palace.

As a GM or player I would use that rules system without fear and use point-based crises to make cool stuff happen.

The texts of DFRPG, SoTC, and Starblazer Adventures never address point-based crises although the systems permit the possibility.  It is logically possible that Point-based crises might arise by accident, or be created by any player, including the GM.  The Compel is a loaded gun, out in the open, but it's in the corner of the room and obscured by a decorative vase.  None of these texts gets you ready for when the GM, or, god forbid, one of the players, picks it up and points it at someone.

I don't know when and if I will. 
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2011, 10:52:08 AM »

Curses, you lack of edit function.

Let's think of this situation:
-PC's sister is about to be "turned" and made a vampire
-The Vamp "turning" is a woman who has seduced and captivated PC before PC knew she was Red Court
-PC is without any Fate Points
-The Vamp compels PC's "Hot for leather-clad Vampires" Aspect.
-PC wants to do something to save the sister

Here are the 3 points of departure:
1) The GM, through the Vamp, compels PC's "Leather-clad Vampires are HOT" Aspect.
2) Another Player compels the PC's Aspect
3) The Player compells his/her own Aspect
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #22 on: January 24, 2011, 07:32:46 PM »

Quote
So my houserule "Forbid one course of action" can [edit] accept another alternative: "compel character to not act/auto fail -- give them an automatic -4 and go from there"

I misremembered the Diaspora rule.  The "auto -4" for a Compel applies only in the space combat mini-game.  A number is needed for certain resolution steps, so -4 and NO impact from skills or rolls, which means that Aspects could be tagged.

With that in mind, let's revisit this case:
Quote
-Auto-Failure: Anything I do will start from the premise that I failed my roll in the worst possible way (-4).  So if I have superb Fists (+5), and a stunt that allows me to use Fists to throw objects as improvised missiles [edit], my attack will be a net 1 (Average).  The Vamp might get a defense roll or not (depending on skills) but my hit was very weak, and even with some bonus for the Holy Water (+3?), I would only be doing 4 Stress, which the Vamp would likely [edit] shrug off and complete her final suck.

IF I used the Diaspora "Compel = make target lose turn," this calculation would never be made.  The GM's Compel would leave the player standing there slack jawed while the Vamp feeds away.

IF I were to use the Diaspora "Compel = "auto -4 roll" in a more general way than it is in that game, the result would look like this:

* -4 instead of dice roll
* No effect from Superb Fists
* Holy Water DOES help for the +3
* and I am stuck at -1

The only way I could even scratch the Vamp in this latter case would be if I had placed some Aspects on her earlier in the scene but had not tagged them yet, Aspects like:

* "She underestimates me"
* "Her back is turned for me"

I go toss my Holy Water, despite the Compel, and these Aspects swing in for a 1-time invocation, with no Fate Point charge, and get +4 to my attack.  My clever set up earlier in the scene put aside some bonuses that came in handy when I had 0 FP left to resist the Vamp's Compel.

But after all that effort I only put a 3-Stress hit on the Vamp.

The "-4 roll but you can still make an effort" approach would allow a clever player to stay effective even in a point-based crisis.  This would require some real subtle manipulation of the system by that player.  And I don't think many people pick up Dresden Files with the expectation that they will have to do crafty system jiu-jitsu to get satisfying story results.

I am pretty sure my players didn't sign up for my game with that expectation.

So I am going in circles: wondering if I should use the hardcore Compels foregrounded in Diaspora (and in the background of the FATE system as such), work with the "auto -4" hack, allow a Compel to forbid ONE of the courses of action build into the resolution mechanic (Attack, Block, Maneuver, Declare, Assess), a mixture of two of those elements, or an avoidance of all of them.

Thoughts?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #23 on: January 24, 2011, 07:52:05 PM »

Lots.

One set of thoughts concerns players' differing expectations and enjoyment. For instance, in the group of people I play with the most, all four of us would eat up the ass-whipping outcomes you're describing with spoons. I've spent FPs on other stuff that really mattered, and the price I pay for those priorities is to stand there like a Pez dispenser while the vampire feeds? Fucking A yes! Whereas you're talking about players who are coming in with vastly different standards for what a player-character is for.

Clearly I am not talking about "good" vs. "bad" play, but instead, exactly what I said: different expectations and enjoyment. For us, a GM who shied away from applying such mechanics would be softballing us as players, not in a strategic try-to-not-to-lose sense, but in the vastly more annoying sense of cushioning our characters from consequences.

There's likely some GNS involved here - are we coming in to do what The Dresden Files does, or what we, as people, think something like it ought to do, as opposed to what it is? Are we here to celebrate the source material (albeit stressing it slightly by playing "our guys" in novel setups), or to use the same starting points to do what we might, arrogantly, consider (much) better?

Another set of thoughts concerns the interesting and extremely clear distinction you're drawing among applications of the FATE mechanics. In some ways, this goes all the way back to the core difficulty in playing Fred's 24-hour game, Pace. Are or are not the initial "failures" consequential in plot terms, whether in comparison to the eventual successes or on their own? If the answer is "they aren't," then the early failures are enjoyable color for what predictably and smoothly turns out to be a success story. If it's "they are," then the story become a rather dark, unpredictable foray into the price of success.

To summarize at this point, Diaspora looks like one end of the spectrum, and possibly Spirit of the Century looks like the other, with basic FATE leaning toward the latter primarily through lack of emphasis. I am perhaps too strong with my own preferences to comment neutrally. When you write,

Quote
Some folks in my Spirit of the Century and Starblazer Adventure games did express the sentiment that the games seemed a little superficial and that nothing was really at stake despite all the sound and fury and exploding biplanes and battles with deathbots.  So if there is going to be real in-your face tragedy or drama or the real possibility for surprising new situations to arise through the mechanics and currency, rather than just GM fiat and razzle dazzle with laser sharks and zombie dinosaurs, the Compels have to be deployed with close attention to FP scarcity and with the aim of producing drama.

... it makes me sigh in profound relief that I own neither book, and leads me to consider picking up Diaspora with great interest. But this view of mine is highly personal, offered as such. More analytically, I think some attention should be leveled toward FATE regarding its incoherence in Creative Agenda terms, and the predictable (and striking) lack of enthusiasm I have observed about playing it, after people get over their excitement about having purchased shiny books.

Best, Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #24 on: January 24, 2011, 08:11:58 PM »

Whoops, I was interrupted at a key moment. My interest in Agenda-Coherence in FATE is an aside. My intended conclusion was to ask you, Erik, where you think your current players stand in this distinction. It seems to me that your implied decision - how hard do I use these rules - is best made by considering the group's collective interests, enthusiasms, and modes of enjoying play.

Best, Ron
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2011, 04:47:27 AM »

Erik, where you think your current players stand in this distinction. It seems to me that your implied decision - how hard do I use these rules - is best made by considering the group's collective interests, enthusiasms, and modes of enjoying play.

Not just considering: talking about it is necessary.

Before we go on I will lay out the Compel options.

The source material has some pretty fierce Compels: Harry's fae patron completely immobilizes him during a meeting at his office and can do this because of a number of unfulfilled promises he has made her.  Wizards are subject to a number of compels on their behaviour and, unlike mortals, have little or no FP at the start of a game to resist them.

I will see what kind of response I get.  The current PCs have fairly high refresh.  I would like to seem them deal with the payoff between greater magical power and greater exposure to compels.  No magical power without a price. (Say, somebody should write a game about that).
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2011, 04:55:49 AM »

More analytically, I think some attention should be leveled toward FATE regarding its incoherence in Creative Agenda terms, and the predictable (and striking) lack of enthusiasm I have observed about playing it, after people get over their excitement about having purchased shiny books.

A pal of mine ran a long-running extra pulpy "Terry and the Pirates" SotC game.  No idea what he actually DID but I suspect it was the right balance of challenging opponents, intrigue tailored to PC Aspects and player interests, and just-tough-enough use of Compels.  (This is a guy who has also made a functional hack of Weapons of the Gods!)

I get the feeling that there are best practices out there that keep FATE games going.  The Dresden book has tons of good advice along these lines.  I just appreciated Diaspora's clarity about what a compel can do and why.  That game evokes old Traveler experiences and offers the sub-systems as games that can be played on their own without GMs.  So it has to have clear definitions of what exactly a compel does.

Maybe there could be a "dials" or "levers" feature in FATE games, where we set how hard we want everyone's compels to be.  The players and GM could have different settings.
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2011, 06:36:02 PM »

Here is me hammering out an agenda in order to define my use of Compels in this game

- we gathered to have fun in a fictional world we like (Dresedenverse), in a real place we inhabit (Toronto), and to have gonzo supernatural stuff happen
- we made this city and would like to explore as much of it as possible
- we want to know what happens next and to have scenes of cool colour
- challenges are enjoyable 'cause they tell us about this cool place and the gonzo supernatural stuff in it
- one of the things that happens in this place is that bad ass opponents put heavy whammies on us: we need to feel the whammy but be allowed to make our way around it so that we can explore some more
- the book says: Compels LIMIT a course of action but do not dictate what a PC does in response
- bring that advice down to the level of resolution: an in-conflict compel (from an NPC's pool and reflecting that NPC's goals or from the GM maintaining long term fiction integrity of the city, or the short-term fictional integrity of a scene, or just highlighting PC Aspects) can FORBID one of the TYPES of actions (Move, Assess, Declare, Attack, Block) but will not shut down ALL action.

Or the players might say "bring it one" and we start dishing out hardcore Compels at each other.  But even in that case, we are just upping the intensity of the implicit agenda, not changing it.  Our Occult Toronto could be a place where all characters (PCs and NPCs) are capable of delivering and taking serious whammies to get what they want.
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2011, 06:02:09 AM »

http://www.faterpg.com/2011/the-core-of-fate-core/

Here is what Fred Hicks says about compel.

"A compel is a decision to set aside the dice and focus on the dictates of drama instead."

I can see how the FP system works before were are in a Conflict.  But what happens when someone busts out a compel in the middle of a Conflict?  The dice are rolling, we are now in dice land. 

I may be drifting my FATE but FATE contains a serious self-contradiction.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2011, 06:43:17 AM »

Iíve been wondering for some time why there wasnít any substantial discussion of FATE at the Forge. So, Erik, thanks for bringing this on the table. Itís a little early for me personally because I havenít had a chance to play FATE yet, and have only read Free Fate (and forgot half of how it works). I definitely find this interesting and important and I hope I can pick up on it later.

- Frank
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