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Author Topic: [Cold Soldier] The soldier who wouldn't  (Read 853 times)
Bret Gillan
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« on: February 26, 2011, 09:59:58 PM »

Cold Soldier got another go tonight with Carly. We didn't get to play a full session, but we did play a half session that gave up some interesting information and will hopefully complete it in the next day or two. The new rule of the GM drawing two cards does seem to present a challenge so that was a good recommendation.

Also, Ron was spot on with making the Dark Master's commands personally problematic. My Dark Master was a mad, scorned lover of a woman who created his soldiers purely to turn her life into a nightmare. The soldiers killed her lover, and kept showing up to ruin her life but otherwise leave her unharmed. Carly ended up resisting every scene after the first one. This leads me to a few thoughts:

- Carly and I realized at the same time that if she wanted a specific task to fail and she got a low card draw, she could just go ahead and fail rather than resist. I'm not sure yet if this is problematic, but since failing can often be so appealing, it might be worth considering a failure to be more like a half failure. The command is not resisted, but the task is not completed. A man who was meant to be killed is grievously injured for instance. Basically, failing is the "nobody wins" option.

- I think the player should resist the urge to provide any sort of interior state for the soldier with the exception of flashbacks. No, "I feel this" or "I think that." Apart from the flashbacks, provide the soldier's physical actions. I realize I'm making a lot of prohibitions for the player, and that makes me a little excited.

- There needs to be some kind of limitation on resisting. After the first scene, Carly resisted every single scene. And while this would cause problems for her in the endgame, it was getting ridiculous for the Master to continue to expect that surely THIS TIME would be different and the soldiers would actually do what he wanted. I'm going to fashion a mechanic where a certain amount of resistance will cause the dark master to destroy the soldier, so the player should, if they want to reach endgame and not just be summarily destroyed, need to pace out their resisting the master's commands. I think there needs to be another resource in play here for the player to manage, and that's how much they can get away with.
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Tim C Koppang
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2011, 02:40:30 PM »

- Carly and I realized at the same time that if she wanted a specific task to fail and she got a low card draw, she could just go ahead and fail rather than resist. I'm not sure yet if this is problematic, but since failing can often be so appealing, it might be worth considering a failure to be more like a half failure. The command is not resisted, but the task is not completed. A man who was meant to be killed is grievously injured for instance. Basically, failing is the "nobody wins" option.

Purposefully trying to fail seems the same as resisting to me.  I suppose if the player was trying to end run around the resist rules, this could be a problem -- but it would also seem like poor sportsmanship.  That said, I think your solution seems appropriate.  Given that the GM gets to narrate the failure, it may help to simply make it clear in the rules that the GM has some leeway when defining exactly what a failure means.  Depending on the situation, it may be an all around failure, or it may be a very personal failure for the solider.  I worry that if your dictated that all failures must be "half failures," it might create some awkward narration at times.
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Bret Gillan
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2011, 06:54:10 PM »

Well, I do want failure and resisting to be both mechanically and fictionally discrete. Resistance is an act of significance, and to have it be indistinguishable from failure is a problem. I do think GM discretion is key here - if the soldier pursues the goal with gusto, then yeah, no thought needs to be given to what the soldier might lose through failure at the task that they could gain through resistance. However if the GM can read the player's reluctance, then some consideration should be given towards what it means to fail at the task but also fail to resist the dark master.

Really I just need to clarify that division of intention, and how one can fail at both things. Usually the reluctance is out of a desire to not have the soldier harm someone else, so failing at the task while still causing harm will probably be the go-to way of dealing with it.
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Tim C Koppang
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2011, 08:18:04 PM »

Bret,

I agree.  I think you and I are actually on the same page.  I only meant that you shouldn't patch the rules somehow to fix a perceived problem caused by someone who might be trying to manipulate the system.  I think a bit of GM leeway is the key.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2011, 07:14:08 AM »

Hi Bret,

I've been taking my time to reply because it's a big question. My first suggestion is to hold off on revisions before thinking it through.

OK, a player decides to resist like a son of a bitch. The result: no poker hand worth mentioning at the end, if any. Let's assume they have one card so the question of a soldier's demise is left open for the moment. We now have two real questions at hand.

1. During play itself, any problems? Not really. The Dark Master player is handed an interesting creative challenge, which is to say, the soldier is not being particularly useful. But this is a challenge that can be met. Exactly how depends a lot on (i) the atmosphere of the game, (ii) on the player's narrations of the defiant scenes, and  (iii) on that player's concept of the Master ... what I'm saying is that this player cannot sit idle; he or she must take the idea that the Master retains and continues to try to utilize the soldier as a creative constraint and do something with that. Provide psychological back-story or new external circumstances which indicate a commitment to that particular soldier, for example. The point is that this is not a problem; it's a feature of the responsibilities of one of the players.

2. At the end, any problems? Not really, I think. The soldier player has seriously reduced the soldier's shot at getting the thing or whatever that's cherished, and that simply strikes me as a valid creative choice during play. Conceivably a player might totally punt and come up with something that is pretty bogus anyway, thinking that they have no chance, but I think that's unlikely since they will be getting a five-card draw and do have some chance.

So I'm not really seeing a problem at all. I'm seeing one way play can go, and identifying the consequences.

Auxiliary issues include the distinction between defeat and defiance, and I agree with Tim that they need to be very distinct in terms of narration requirements. A defeat means the soldier did try and defiance means the soldier definitely refused to try.

I also want to caution against any rules concepts or texts which try to deal with certain rules outcomes by saying "Well, don't play like that." Every mechanical rules combination or outcome needs to be valid, without changing the narration instructions or expectations. This is a game which truly benefits from its elegance, and from its playability no matter what the players decide to do with the cards. So the card-play and their narration requirements need to be respected in terms of what consequences occur.

Best, Ron
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