Started by Ron Edwards, March 24, 2011, 01:54:22 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 24, 2011, 01:54:22 PM(Can't say I like the name, though. The setting is so colorful that I figure a more specific and evocative name wouldn't be all that hard. It seems to be a minor trend with grassroots games, as with Undiscovered and others. I don't know why.)
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 24, 2011, 01:54:22 PMThe way this works is, the GM has a giant assortment of foe-type cards to choose from, and as far as I can tell, you just pick the ones you like subject to certain point limitations. All the things a given foe can do are on the card, in a mini-rulebook way. So in theory, all you need is to grab the cards you're going to use, one per NPC, and don't have to deal with multiple cards per character like the players do.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 24, 2011, 01:54:22 PMThe main thing to know about Untold play is that the values on the cards are one thing, but the values "in the air" are another. You have one or more values off the cards that you have to add together, and you have to add that to a roll to reach a total. So there's a fair amount of arithmetic on the fly, conducted completely mentally or on very ephemeral bits of scratch paper, which is a feature if you like it and a horrible curse if you don't. To do it right in this game, it's pretty important to grasp the rules for Boosting and for Magnitude, which at present I'm not really sure that I do, to be discussed a little bit more below.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 24, 2011, 01:54:22 PMThe combat system is based on matching two d20 rolls against one another, each one packed with crazy bonuses, then applying the difference to the loser as damage. The effect is similar to what I've been observing when playtesting my old Gray Magick rules: when the difference in bonus totals is very high, then the roll has little (although some) chance to affect the outcome, but when the difference is low, i.e., when the foes are well-matched in this particular way, then the dice really tell the story. The net lesson is that when you fight tougher foes, go defensive and get out fast, but when you fight evenly-matched foes, then everyone needs to be ready for combat to swing absolutely one way or the other, because it well might do so. You really can't predict combat outcomes, except in ridiculously overmatched cases. I'm not saying this is good or bad, but it is a distinctive and particular design feature that needs to be understood in order to enjoy it.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 24, 2011, 01:54:22 PMThe textual "no sheet no rulebook" ideal turns out to need a little help, especially since characters are defined in practice by the ways that numbers on their cards combine and the little cards to record these summaries on are quite crucial during play. As far as card use is concerned, I found them a bit dense in text and teeny-type, but generally pretty and the information is usable although I still think I'm on that learning curve.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 24, 2011, 01:54:22 PMGoing into play, the concept that interested me most was Hot Swapping, but as it turned out, that's only one manifestation of many fascinating structural concepts founded on the card-component basis for the characters. The one which excited us the most in play was damage. OK - your character has a point total, currently expressed by the cards lying on the table and the Hot Swap Buffer, i.e., the point total that you didn't spend. Damage knocks down this total, and the player (not the GM) is free to interpret that mathematically however he or she wants. You could, for instance, reduce your Hot Swap Buffer by the required amount, leaving your card array untouched. You could reduce your Body, Mind, or Soul, and those cards are rather nicely designed to let you flip them around to express that. Or most interesting, you could have bought your Power cards at the higher cost listed on one side, and upon being damaged, turn that card over to reveal exactly the same power bought at a lower cost, effectively having pre-paid for a "Soak" effect. What you do, and how that was set up during character creation, leads to a hell of a lot of tactical and conceptual range for a given character type as the damage comes in. This is one of those games where it's more fun to be hit than not to be hit.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 24, 2011, 01:54:22 PMThey put a lot of thought into the three basic models for character creation. The L'Na seem to be built such that damage will knock out various powers, but as long as you keep a given core card in play, it permits Hot Swapping in all sorts of flexible stuff. So that creates a very adaptable character who's in pretty good shape until they take too much damage, and then it's an "Oh no, my magic is exhausted" type situation. The Churls are the most straightforward, with a lot of base cards and high attributes, all of which can be knocked down in steps and so taking damage is pretty much linear all the way down to being taken out. The Kliks offer the niftiest build, in that a lot of their features are integrated across cards, so the character's structure remains intact until one of the cards goes for good, and then all the little dings and minor inconveniences that so far didn't hurt effectiveness now turn into a malfunction, and you have to Hot Swap in your repair kit in the middle of a tight situation. In my opinion they're the most charming of the bunch as well, and I might like to try a Klick-centric game some time.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 24, 2011, 01:54:22 PMBack to that learning curve, here are some of the trickier spots we struggled with.I think I was a bit confused about the yellow cards - Body, Mind, and Soul - and how they factor into character creation. We might have screwed that up. The list of cards to choose from for starting characters, per base card, lists some of these. I now think that that list is the "grocery" for those cards, specific to each base card, and you can't just buy up Body Mind and Soul cards.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 24, 2011, 01:54:22 PMOur biggest rules issue at the table concerned the crucial mechanic called Magnitude. At first glance, it's the total you get when you roll the dice and add what you're supposed to add. But then there's this item on a lot of cards, including the character's base card, also called Magnitude, and we couldn't always tell whether it was supposed to include the individual value called Magnitude on the character's card or not.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 24, 2011, 01:54:22 PMAnd finally, one of the most important and most in-your-head in-the-moment mechanics is called Boosting, which by definition adds to Magnitude, and we sort of guessed that you didn't get to use that Magnitude on the card unless you Boosted ... but I'm still not sure that we weren't double-dipping on more than one occasion.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 24, 2011, 01:54:22 PMBut now, anyway, I've printed out the Primer and plan to try the game again soon, and so maybe some of this is merely a matter of reading the rules in a cooler and more convenient environment.The whole thing charmed me a lot and I'd like to try it more seriously over a longer period of time. It's a really ambitious design vision in action, and I'm very interested in the design jumping-off points scattered throughout the rules. I strongly recommend it even if that particular mode of play isn't your favorite, and I'm kind of hoping that the next year shows us some good inspirations on the path that these guys have blazed.
Quote from: SamuelRiv on March 24, 2011, 09:50:23 PMI had a lot of fun with this game, and I'm trying to figure out why. The Dice Dojo runs RPGA games (D&D 4.0 run in an essential video-game combat-square-rules-only-dungeon-crawl) on Mondays. I went once, never went again, and not for lack of great imaginative roleplayers - it's just that I hatehatehate video games of this sort in an OCD-hateantihate manner (much ameliorated when, as in Oblivion, there's some eye candy to compensate).So how was this different? As the makers claim, it functions equally as a rote mechanical card game. But I believe that unlike RPGA, the dropping of "mechanics" involving strategizing over game squares, line-of-sight, etc makes a lot of room for imaginative scene-making. And unlike MagicTG, all your cards are extensions of you yourself, and not a Noah's Ark of pooping Camel Raiders next to trained polar bears overheating in the desert.Particularly fun was the notion of who I was and what I could do, all without penalty. For example, I had my gigantic club of death (which looked hilariously like a feather duster on the cards - otherwise great art). But when the roleplay called for it, I decided to throw a giant boulder at one of the mooks instead, with equal efficacy yet slightly different effect mechanic, namely in terms of the effects of pumping and perhaps some unique situations, like if the enemy is entangled or using mind control, etc. These are, upon reflection, what made the roleplay here so satisfying in a game I had groans about at first.
Quote from: SamuelRiv on March 24, 2011, 09:50:23 PMNow the drawbacks: 1. lack of adaptability, though I think anybody can reasonably design whatever character they want with slight modifications to the diverse templates, since as said before they are comparable in efficacy and depend mostly on how many levels you buy.
Quote from: SamuelRiv on March 24, 2011, 09:50:23 PM2. It's a fighting game. Good, fine - at least it admits it up front. None of the D&D roleplaying ambiguity between being diplomatic in in-game dialog versus making a successful diplomacy check (at least from the rules we saw - I didnt see if there were cards for diplomacy, though I believe there were some for espionage and stealth).
Quote from: SamuelRiv on March 24, 2011, 09:50:23 PM3. When we're hit, we sacrifice abilities. This was a hard thing to swallow in our tragic session of Freemarket - equipment and abilities were of few defining characteristics of the characters we made in that small session. However, it seems that the abilities come back in normal healing.
Quote from: SamuelRiv on March 24, 2011, 09:50:23 PMIn a sense this is a counterpoint to what Ron said about arithmetic - while there is a numbers game that's unclear in our somewhat-incomplete ruleset, once written our "status" and "health" really don't need to be kept track of - they are right in front of us for all to see - the pen is less mighty then my giant feather-duster club.
Quote from: SamuelRiv on March 24, 2011, 09:50:23 PMSo first glance seems this game has shown that the dual-purpose goal of rote and roleplay is possible, and perhaps they have achieved it.P.S. - It wasn't a diss, Ron - it took a second to figure out your intent, but really I wanted to roll and narrate my insanity more, even if perpetually off-screen, since you guys were having all the fun.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PMHi there,Brannon, I think that when you say "most RPGs," whether here or in the game text, you're saying "D&D! D&D! D&D! Not like D&D!" ... which leads to two comments you may wish to consider.1. There are a lot of RPGs out there which are neither D&D, nor built within that particular set of assumptions. Untold is a remarkable game design in a lot of ways, but not in others. All this text positioning Untold so far and so unique from "other RPGs," "all other RPGs," "most other RPGs," is fine as a one-time promotional device, and I'm happy to indulge it as part of the game text, but I suggest not ringing that bell too often after that.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PMAlso, games which allow rapid and constant use of points to re-build characters on the fly have been around since the Variable Power Pool appeared in Champions III, in the mid-1980s. It's a familiar concept for me and not a source of confusion about flexible character builds. My confusion about the yellow cards is based on whether or not I'm allowed to buy things that are not on that character card, for a starting character. The rules are pretty clear that I can't, but it seems to me as if you're saying here that I can. Which is it?
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PMI hope I can, because that means I can get cards that require Body Boosts, if I can buy my starting character's Body up. But it also means that I'll be aiming toward the low end of the permissible point spreads when I organize my next game, so that characters aren't huge soak-pools for damage via yellow cards.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PM2. If your desire is to position Untold as far as you can from D&D, then you are working against your goals by describing your character build models in terms of D&D. It's a trend I've seen a lot: "my game is so not D&D!" but then "look, you can play a ranger and a drui and a paladin in our game too!" It's a contradictory combination: "not D&D" plus "whatever D&D does we do it too."
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PMWhat charms me about the character types is not that you've covered all the D&D character concept bases, but rather that each one offers some edgy, weird, unique content that I, at least, look forward to seeing in the game. The Klik, as I say, are strangely human rather than cold and forbidding, and I think that to my eyes at least, there is considerable room for scary ethnic issues between the Apoc elite - who look a lot like military-survivalist supremacists to me, "pure-blooded" and all that - and the Apoc churls, who look ready-made for gloriously satisfying contrast to that outlook.I'm not saying that you, the designers, went into this planning such content, but I think it might be cool to look at what you've made with an eye toward what it literally and directly offers that has nothing to do with D&D. Verbalizing that would be more effective for promotion.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PMOK, those two points are over, merely as food for thought, for you to take or leave, and there's no need to pick over them or get into some kind of wrangle. With the exception of my little question in the middle, I'm leaving it behind.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PMI'd like to understand Magnitude better. The fact is, I don't get it and maybe you can talk me through it a little.I've built a character for fun on minimal points. This is the Klik Roller, on 30 points. Check me on all the details, because some of them are guesses and I need them clarified.Mind 1, Soul 1Wheel Hooks and Grappling Hooks in the Swap pilePaid for, all at minimum cost: Microgear Medicdisc, Klik Armor Plating, SML, SML Net, Quick Response, DiplomaticThat leaves me 12 points in the Swap Buffer, just enough for my Swap cards if I need both during an adventure.He ain't very tough - no Body, for instance. But he's cute!To calculate his Vitality, he gets 1 from the base Klik card, and the Armor card has Magnitude 2, and it allows me to add its MAG to Vitality against Body attacks. So that's Vitality 3.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PMBut what about other cards' Magnitudes?
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PMDo they go into Vitality too, when they're used?
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PMIf he shoots someone with the SML Net, do the 2 from the one and the 12 from the other add 14 to Vitality against incoming Body attacks that round?
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PMOr does the whole "Add MAG to Vitality" only apply to the Armor and nothing else?
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PMNow let's talk about MAG and adding to rolls. He's shooting a dude with the SML Net. If I have this right, I add 1 for the Klik card (that applies to everything all the time, right?),
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PM2, and 12, for the two cards I'm using for MAG additions, for a total of 15 to add to my roll. Do I have that right?
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PMPart of the trouble for me is that the game term "MAG" seems to be doing double duty. First, it's the total value you get by rolling and adding everything you're allowed to the rolled value. Second, it's each individual card's contribution to that. So I get pretty confused when a card says "MAG" and I'm not sure what to use for that value.
Quote from: Ron Edwards on March 27, 2011, 04:09:31 PMFor the record, I know I'm confused about this, so you don't have to start by explaining to me that I'm confused. I'm not one of these guys who says "Your rules make no sense" because he doesn't understand them. Instead, I'm looking for the answers specifically so that I'll be able to play.