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Author Topic: [The Mountain Witch] A Question  (Read 5026 times)
Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« on: October 10, 2004, 11:21:26 PM »

Hi,

First, Tim. Wow. I just read the rules today. Fucking Amazing. Congratulations. What's happening with people poking and proding RPGs today is exciting as all hell -- and Mountain Witch is a gleaming example of how cool games are right now.

Now:

The rules [2(b) Combat, Damage & PC Death] state that "Combat is informally organized into 'exchanges.'"

Did you really mean to write that? The game rests on Conflict Resolution -- and all the sudden -- intentionally or not -- you're suddenly skating close to "I swing my sword at him, I swing my sword at him, I swing my sword at him."

If I'm not mistaken (and I may well be) the game rules would be, "Declare your stated intention. Roll to see  the result." Right?  Would damage simply be a "by-product" of the attempt to "Get past the guard," "Free my friend from the cell," "Steal the potion," "Distract the ghost so my buddy can get off an arrow shot at the Mountain Witch" or whatever.  The dice are rolled, and then damage is applied according the success or failure of the roll.

Then, if I didn't get past the guard, free the friend, whatever... the current wounds levels of the participants are still in play for whatever's about to happen next.  Right?

Or am I getting conflict resolution all wrong? (I might be -- still new to me!)

You know, as I'm typing this -- it seems pretty clear you *did* mean for it to be a round by round thing.  But why?  I'm sure you have a good reason, but I'm not grocking it.  Why move from conflict resolution into task resolution just for combat.  Especially since you have the cool Dueling rules to handle the "And now for Combat" moment.

I look forward to hearing about this.

Best regards,

Christopher
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2004, 04:53:51 AM »

Hello,

I'm not Tim, but Julie, Tod, Maura, Tim, and I did just play our third quite intense session of The Mountain Witch yesterday. I'd say we have at least two or three left to go.

My thinking is that "exchange," as a word, might be one of those loaded terms that trip readers up. You've apparently read it to mean "exchange of blows, one per opponent," for example.

In practice, the extent (length) and scope (how much stuff) of an exchange in The Mountain Witch are entirely up to the narrator of the moment. I've seen an exchange be narrated as a single perfect sword-technique, finishing with the blade in the scabbard and the opponent crumpling to the ground; I've seen another be narrated as an extensive set of fight choreography with multiple attempts and blows.

Also, and last night's session really illustrated this in full, damage is far subtler in The Mountain Witch than it appears. It's broken into:

Partial success
Mixed: Complete success for you, partial success for opponent
Complete success for you
Complete success + partial success for you
Two complete successes for you

The important thing is that the narrator can distribute and apply these things however he or she wants. At one point, I narrated a complete and a partial success against a player-character to give her a permanent wound (combining the two), but Tim spent Trust to buy narration, and narrated a complete grab against the character and a scene-only wound.

What I'm sayin' is that the system is hard-core conflict resolution, with Fortune in the Middle, and with very clear constraints on how much effect has occurred ... but almost total freedom as to on what and how for the narrator, much like Dust Devils. The latter is only constrained by the general conflict at hand, not by pre-stated specific actions.

Best,
Ron
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timfire
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« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2004, 05:45:25 AM »

Yeah, like Ron said 'exchange' is a loaded term, and may not have been the best one to use. It's definitely NOT a blow-by-blow thing. Mechanically-speaking, it IS a round-by-round thing, though as Ron pointed out, the length and scope of an 'exchange'/'round' will vary.

The reasoning behind only allowing a character to do one thing during a round/exchange is that it forces a choice form the player. Are you going to seek your own agenda or are you going to help your comrades? If more than one of your friends is being attacked - and you can only help one of them - who are you going to help?

I was faced with just that choice in our session last night. Previous to the fight, I had made a deal to help Maura's character. But Julie's character had taken 2 wounds. I had to choose whether to help Julie's or Maura's character. I chose Julie's, and partly because of my decision, Maura's character was dragged off by a giant spider. Will Maura's character trust me less because of that? We'll have to see.

Quote from: Chris
If I'm not mistaken (and I may well be) the game rules would be, "Declare your stated intention. Roll to see the result." Right? Would damage simply be a "by-product" of the attempt to "Get past the guard," "Free my friend from the cell," "Steal the potion," "Distract the ghost so my buddy can get off an arrow shot at the Mountain Witch" or whatever. The dice are rolled, and then damage is applied according the success or failure of the roll.

Then, if I didn't get past the guard, free the friend, whatever... the current wounds levels of the participants are still in play for whatever's about to happen next. Right?

You basically got it. In regard to the damage-issue, damage might be a by-product of trying to "get past the guard" or whatever. In general, a success can be interpreted as either a... err, 'effect' or as damage. It's up to the person narrating.

For example, you're trying to sneak past the guard and fail, rolling a partial failure. This can either interpret it as "you unwittingly make a noise. The guard doesn't see you but knows you're there!" Or possibly something like "while trying to elude the guard, you are forced into a corner. He does not see you, but you're in a bad tactical position - ie, a flesh wound (-1 on your next roll.)" It's not both, it's either the 'effect' (he sees you!) or it's damage. It's up to the person narrating what's the exact consequence.

Oh! and just to be clear, damage can be interpreted as pretty much anything. It can (of course) be a literal wound, but it can also be narrated as a bad tactical position, being unbalanced, de-moralization, poison/sickness, mental confusion... lots of things!

Was that helpful? And BTW, thanks for the compliments! This is my first 'real' game, and I'm excited about publishing it!
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Christopher Kubasik
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« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2004, 06:44:21 AM »

Hi Guys,

Thanks for the replies.

Tim, in my exampels about getting past the guards, et al., I was assuming that violence was part of the strategy.  The rules are really clear (and encouraging) on the point that "damage" isn't all about wounds -- and that there's a gazillion ways to solve a conflict without having to fight your way through everything.

Oh, and I see why it's important to break the rounds down for the trust issues -- now.  I think this is one of the brilliant points of the game. From choosing a zodiac to picking your Abilties to resolve Fates to using Trust Points -- everything turns on how the PCs are treating each other. It's sort of amazing that way.

That said...

Could either of you offer the offered "statement of intention or goal" that a player or GM actually speaks when in combat.  For example, in the example of the fight with Julie and Maura, what exactly was said in terms of statement of intention.

Finally, because I think this game is so "Out of the Box" (see nearby threads), I've -- for whatever reason -- been going over text finding all the spots where I think it's trapped between This Is How You Write an RPG Text and Really, This is a Game You Happened to Pick Up You're Really Going to Love.

This phrasing is one of those points, if I'm not mistaken, where Tim's slipped into defining combat as something different than the rest of Conlfict Resolution.  And I don't think it has to be -- if I'm understanding it right.

All that's different is the reading of the results -- not statement, not the die roll.  In all but the interpretatin of results (translating them to damage values, that it), it's just like any other conflict?  Yes?  If not, how.  Because that's really my question.

Thanks,

Christopher
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timfire
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2004, 11:34:10 AM »

Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
Could either of you offer the offered "statement of intention or goal" that a player or GM actually speaks when in combat.  For example, in the example of the fight with Julie and Maura, what exactly was said in terms of statement of intention.

Hmm, let's see... The detail expressed in the declaration of intent varied a bit. Sometimes we were explicit about what we wanted to do, and sometimes we were vague.

Here's a good example: Me and Maura were talking to a group of tengu. One of them said they knew a way through the fortress. I suddenly declared "I jump up and grab him by the throat!" Maura jumped in and said "I'll spend a point of Trust to help him, I'll draw my sword and attack." Ron said, "OK the tengu will fight back." Ron rolled 4 dice (one for each of the tengu) and took the highest. Me and Maura rolled our 2 and added them together. We won by a margin of 5, a Double Success. I said Maura kills one of them and then let her described her attack.(*) I then declared that I jumped up and grabbed one of the tengu by the throat, effectively putting him in my control.

[(*) By-the-book, I should have narrated everything, but I see no problem with sharing narration.]

At that point, Ron said something like"The other tengu jump up flapping their wings, they're going to try to escape." Maura said she wanted to stop or kill them (I forget exactly how she put it). I said I wasn't going to do anything. They rolled, and the tengu won. Ron declared that they escaped.

Most of the time things went like that. Occasionally, a conflict would just rise out of general narration. For example, at one point the Mountain Witch's mistress was trying to (insincerely) befriend Maura's character. Maura's character said, "Please excuse me, I have to meditate." At that point, Ron said "OK, that'll have to be a conflict, the mistress will try and distract you." Maura said OK, and they rolled dice to see if Maura was able to concentrate.

Quote from: Chris
This phrasing is one of those points, if I'm not mistaken, where Tim's slipped into defining combat as something different than the rest of Conlfict Resolution. And I don't think it has to be -- if I'm understanding it right.

I think you're understanding me. I am in the middle of a re-write, and I do intend to rename that section "Group Resolution" rather than "Combat." I want to make the point that's how you deal with all group resolution, not just combat.

Quote from: Chris
All that's different is the reading of the results -- not statement, not the die roll.  In all but the interpretatin of results (translating them to damage values, that it), it's just like any other conflict?  Yes?

Exactly. I also want to make the point that in a combat situation, you can declare an outcome that's not damage just as you can declare damage in a non-combat situation.
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Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2004, 12:04:56 PM »

Great. Thanks, Tim.

Christopher

PS... Just thought this...

So there's no different between combat and any other action in terms of rolling the dice. Whether this is, or will be, damage because of die rolls is decided AFTER the fortune. Completely. You see? Roll, find out what your narration options are. ONE of them is damage.  And if you go that route, you simply apply the damage as dicated by the dice. Right?

I'm not saying this is new to you. I'm saying the phrasing in the text is key.  Damage becomes just one more element of narration -- with a little hinky scale dependent on the die rolls.
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timfire
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« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2004, 12:47:42 PM »

Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
So there's no different between combat and any other action in terms of rolling the dice. Whether this is, or will be, damage because of die rolls is decided AFTER the fortune. Completely. You see? Roll, find out what your narration options are. ONE of them is damage.  And if you go that route, you simply apply the damage as dicated by the dice. Right?

Yes.
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Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2004, 01:00:41 PM »

Thanks.  I think that just made the idea of FiM Conflict Resolution clearer than its ever been for me.  I always got hung up (off old habits) of the expectations going into a conflict of either combat/non-combat.  But I see now that if the mechanics are right (Sorcerer comes to mind, and many others), just roll, narrate, and grab damage (or not) as needed. The "success-scale" gives you all you need to create the Value of whatever kind of narration you want to grab for.

Christopher
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jrs
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« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2004, 01:08:27 PM »

If y'all are interested, I've posted a synopsis of our play so far in Actual Play, here:  http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=13026">[The Mountain Witch] A playtest.

Julie
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