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Author Topic: [TSOY] Character effectiveness decreasing  (Read 10341 times)
Jason Morningstar
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« on: April 25, 2006, 05:30:58 AM »

In our TSOY game last week my PC got in a conflict, brought down the pain, and as a result of his opponents intention can now "never wield a sword again".  This was a huge martial battle, and he was narrated being cut down on the field. 

So I'm cool with the result, but in TSOY, is there any way to render a character mechancially less fit?  I imagine him profoundly injured - should I just arbitrarily lower his abilities like Athletics, or did I miss something that allows for this in the rules?
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2006, 05:43:49 AM »

In our TSOY game last week my PC got in a conflict, brought down the pain, and as a result of his opponents intention can now "never wield a sword again".  This was a huge martial battle, and he was narrated being cut down on the field. 

So I'm cool with the result, but in TSOY, is there any way to render a character mechancially less fit?  I imagine him profoundly injured - should I just arbitrarily lower his abilities like Athletics, or did I miss something that allows for this in the rules?

Wow. That's an insane result, but cool.

There's not a way listed in the book to render a character mechanically less fit. I'd do some sort of weird "reverse secret" madness, where the character has a penalty die to wield a sword - if the result was "not so good at wielding a sword." But it wasn't - it was "can't wield a sword again," and I'm not sure that needs mechanical reinforcement.

If your players are cool with that being a bit more flexible, encourage the person who lost to take the Key of the Vow. He'll still be able to wield a sword if he chooses to, but it'll be against this vow.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2006, 06:14:47 AM »

Yeah, the way to do this is to simply not wield a sword ever again. There's plenty of good reasons for doing it this way instead of hardcoding it anywhere. The least of them is this: if somebody felt the need to have a rule saying that a character in this situation cannot use the sword, does that mean that the person in question just generally ignores and flouts resolved conflict stakes? Because that guy's breaking the rules of the game. It makes no difference whether the stakes are that "my character agrees to do this or that" or "my character never wields a sword again". In both cases you're expected to honor the stakes in your narration later on. The fact that the sword thing is indeterminate in length makes no difference - you wouldn't argue that somebody who was killed in conflict stakes becomes alive again because it was three sessions ago, would you?

However, there's lots of stuff you can consider related to this matter:
- useless advances: you will have advances tied to abilities and secrets that might be rather useless without the ability to wield a sword. In my group we allow players to remove any such secrets/abilities and reuse the advances, on the principle of Secret of Imbuement. (Note that this is different from the elven case; if an elf becomes grey, he's paying for it by forgoing a number of elven secrets he can use no more.) You could also say that this is not possible (but then the logical thing to do is to craft a Secret of Relearning that allows exactly this.)
- fixing it: as per the above ponderation, you can't just decide to ignore resolved stakes. What you can do, however, is to confront a conflict to fix it. (This is all stuff I learned by playing too much Dust Devils; there's one game that teaches you to play the stakes game for all it's worth.) If you frame another conflict with the stakes of "being able to wield a sword again" (going through the normal stakes setting system, of course) and succeed, you've effectively annulled the former result. Who you have to conflict against and how hard it is depend on the system normally; in TSOY, you can probably get a non-resisted conflict, which basicly means that it's pretty easy to get rid of any "permanent" injuries if you want, as long as the GM allows the stakes (which may require quite some means; the GM is completely within his rights to deny it if you don't have water from the fountain of youth, say, or some other transcendental means at your disposal).
- Keys that change it into a power. In the Finnish version we have this key:
Kampurajalan avain
... hmm, I should probably translate this...
Key of the Peg-leg
The character has a bodily disability.
1 XP: The character is troubled by the weakness.
2 XP: The character suffers penalty dice because of his weakness.
5 XP: The character fails in an important task because of his weakness.
Buyoff: The character heals from his weakness.

But yeah, basicly it's just a narrative constraint, the same as anything else that comes out of a conflict.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2006, 07:24:29 AM »

Cool, the noble and fanatic Captain Ha thanks you guys. 

Eero, I was imagining his arm was damaged and useless, which would make all kinds of things beyond swinging a sword difficult, reflected in other abilities like Athletics.  I really like the Key of the Peg-Leg, though, and that (combined with just not using a sword) solves my problem. 

I think it is noteworthy that your PC can't really get worse in TSOY, only more interesting!

--Jason
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Ricky Donato
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2006, 08:04:49 AM »

You know, I was thinking about running my first TSoY game, and then I started reading this thread. My first reaction was, "What?!? You lose a conflict and your character is permanently screwed? That's worse than death!"

Then I read this line:

I think it is noteworthy that your PC can't really get worse in TSOY, only more interesting!

And it all clicked in my head. A dedicated warrior who can never wield a sword again isn't screwed - he's more interesting! In fact, the warrior is more interesting because he's screwed in his current incarnation, so now he is forced to change dramatically.

Now I know exactly how to handle things if this happens in my game:

Story Guide: You lose the BDTP. The evil warlord's intention is fulfilled, so Thorak can never wield a sword again.
Player: WHAT?!? What is Thorak supposed to do? I built him to be a warrior! I can't play with him any more!
Me: Dude, you're missing something here. Thorak is in trouble in his current profession. So for him to keep working as a character, you have to make a fundamental shift in how he thinks and behaves. That's cool! This isn't a problem - it's an opportunity! Your character's abilities have changed dramatically, so now the rest of him has to change too.
Worst case scenario
Player: Ricky, you're nuts. Thorak is completely useless now.
Better scenario
Player: Hmm, you're right. Thorak always resisted using bows because of his father's obsession, but now he sees that his father was right!
IMO, BEST scenario
Player: Wow, I never thought of it like that. Thorak was all about killing and blood, but he can't do that any more. He needs a 180 turn. This terrible defeat has shown Thorak that violence will never accomplish anything. So he renounces violence and becomes a pacifist follower of Tok the Merciful! I'll buyoff the Key of Bloodlust and replace it with the Key of Pacifism!
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Ricky Donato

My first game in development, now writing first draft: Machiavelli
joshua neff
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2006, 08:11:25 AM »

IMO, BEST scenario
Player: Wow, I never thought of it like that. Thorak was all about killing and blood, but he can't do that any more. He needs a 180 turn. This terrible defeat has shown Thorak that violence will never accomplish anything. So he renounces violence and becomes a pacifist follower of Tok the Merciful! I'll buyoff the Key of Bloodlust and replace it with the Key of Pacifism!

Yes, that it all kinds of cool.
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2006, 08:21:29 AM »

Ricky,

You might have realized this already so forgive me if I'm stating the obvious.

Jason wasn't just noting that the Player could choose to take the character in another direction and change with respect to game events.  You can do that more or less with many systems.  He was noting primarily that even with the narrative constraint in place, the character is not mechanically hampered from being effective in the slightest.  The system works such that having those kinds of constraints adds flavor and interest to the character without hurting it mechanically.  This is important.  It means that the Player can give up the fear of being unable to affect the course of the game just because they rolled poorly and lost a conflict.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2006, 09:11:03 AM »

Hey Ricky!

My suggestion would be to keep a mental supply of keys and secrets ready to encourage your players:

"Dude!  Thordak sucks now!"

"Swinging a sword, maybe - so buy off the key of bloodlust and take the key of the coward!  If you had the key of the masochist you'd be raking in the XP right now!"

There's all kinds of candy to offer that players new to TSOY may not immediately see.  But more than that, make sure that both sides of the stakes are interesting and fun for everybody.  When it was proposed that Captain Ha could never wield a sword again if he lost in BDTP, I was like "Hell, yes!"
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Twobirds
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2006, 09:16:16 AM »

I can remember Clinton once saying that a character's Abilities aren't how good they are, it's how much effect that guy wants to have on the story.  I could appreciate that, but I didn't really 'get it' until now.  Very cool.

- George
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Ricky Donato
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Posts: 156

Just chillin'


« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2006, 09:29:01 AM »

Jason wasn't just noting that the Player could choose to take the character in another direction and change with respect to game events. You can do that more or less with many systems. He was noting primarily that even with the narrative constraint in place, the character is not mechanically hampered from being effective in the slightest. The system works such that having those kinds of constraints adds flavor and interest to the character without hurting it mechanically. This is important. It means that the Player can give up the fear of being unable to affect the course of the game just because they rolled poorly and lost a conflict.

Andrew,

I hadn't thought of that at all. It raises the interesting question of how significantly the characteer is hurt by being unable to use a sword. If the character has the Sword-Fighting ability (for example), then the result of this conflict is that the character is hurt mechanically, because he has effectively lost the points he spent on improving Sword-Fighting. This is probably one good argument for not creating abilities that are too specific - they can lead to getting hosed like this.

This also leads to Eero's excellent suggestions: you can allow the player to rework his character a bit so that he isn't seriously hosed; you can allow the character an opportunity to undo the effects of the penalty; or you can create new Keys so that this penalty is now a benefit.

I can remember Clinton once saying that a character's Abilities aren't how good they are, it's how much effect that guy wants to have on the story. I could appreciate that, but I didn't really 'get it' until now. Very cool.

Great thought. That allows you to create a character who (for example) is a complete klutz, and his klutziness affects the story in really wild ways, all controlled by the player. Imagine Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther as a TSoY character! His abilities could be really high, but successes would be narrated as if Clouseau messed up everything and still had a good effect.
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Ricky Donato

My first game in development, now writing first draft: Machiavelli
Twobirds
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« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2006, 09:53:34 AM »

If the character has the Sword-Fighting ability (for example), then the result of this conflict is that the character is hurt mechanically, because he has effectively lost the points he spent on improving Sword-Fighting.

Taking a nod from one of the other recent threads, he could convert his Sword-Fighting (V) into Sword-Fighting (R) and open a training school.

Great thought. That allows you to create a character who (for example) is a complete klutz, and his klutziness affects the story in really wild ways, all controlled by the player. Imagine Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther as a TSoY character! His abilities could be really high, but successes would be narrated as if Clouseau messed up everything and still had a good effect.

Maybe, though there's no 'narration requirements' in SoY as I read it.  But I can see Monsieur Clouseau using a Secret of Serendipity a lot, which increases your success level at the expense of looking ridiculous to everyone around you.
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Steve Segedy
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2006, 08:06:53 AM »

Following Clinton's initial suggestion, I wonder if an additional secret would help with the situation- perhaps "Secret of the Setback", or simply "Secret of Wisdom", as a parallel to "Secret of Knowledge".   Instead of increasing an Ability to Adept, the secret lets the player reduce an ability to Unskilled, and put the invested advances into Pool increases.  Or, alternately, the Secret could simply move the advances from a current Ability (Adept Infantry) to some other story-indicated ability (adept Pray, perhaps).   This would be similar to Eero's "Useless Advances" suggestion.

I'm hesitant about simply changing the related Pool of a skill, as that effectively creates a new skill that other characters aren't likely to have.  This might make future competitive and Resisted conflicts difficult.
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