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Author Topic: [TSoY] How many times do Keys activate? Variant Buyoff?  (Read 7939 times)
Christoph Boeckle
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Posts: 455

Geneva, Switzerland


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« on: July 05, 2006, 07:14:47 AM »

Hello,

In the revised print edition of Shadow of Yesterday, there's this comment in parenthesis in the description of "Everything Else" Keys on page 69, saying (You can use this three times per session. This applies to all Keys below.), just after the 1XP reward explanation.
How am I supposed to understand this?
I didn't see anything in the TSOY wiki addressing this.


Slightly related but different question: I found a note on the buyoff on the wiki.
I find the idea very interesting, but am a bit confused, as the Harper Summary reads more as a variant than a summary to me.
According to the first reading, when you buyoff the Key, it generates as much XP as it already has during the game.
According to the second reading, you either get two advances (is this voluntary?) or the amount already earned, whichever is less.

What have people been using and what works best? Why formulate the buyoff in terms of advances rather than in XPs?
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Regards,
Christoph
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2006, 07:20:39 AM »

Artanis,

All 1/2/5 Keys have a max of three times per session you can get the 1XP reward. Ignore this if you feel like it.

That buyoff page on the wiki - I should go edit that and say that it's absolutely wrong, because it is. Keys should not equal two advances, but 10 XP. "Key Churn" is a made-up fear by gamers who can't quit worrying that everyone else might ruin their game. If that page has one good idea, it's that the XP you get might should equal 10 XP or the XP the key has earned you whichever is higher. I can get behind that rule.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
colin roald
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2006, 07:52:02 AM »

According to the first reading, when you buyoff the Key, it generates as much XP as it already has during the game.
According to the second reading, you either get two advances (is this voluntary?) or the amount already earned, whichever is less.

"However much XP it's earned so far, up to a maximum of 2 advances' worth" should be the same thing as "2 advances' worth, or  however much XP it's earned so far, whichever is less".

There are some players, myself occasionally included, who don't particulary want to break the system, but nevertheless can't really be happy playing with rules that leave loopholes.  If the possibility of key churn bothers your group, go ahead and use this variant.  Otherwise, don't bother with the bookkeeping.
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colin roald

i cannot, yet i must.  how do you calculate that?  at what point on the graph do `must' and `cannot' meet?  yet i must, but i cannot.
-- Ro-Man, the introspective gorilla-suited destroyer of worlds
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2006, 07:58:26 AM »

There are some players, myself occasionally included, who don't particulary want to break the system, but nevertheless can't really be happy playing with rules that leave loopholes.  If the possibility of key churn bothers your group, go ahead and use this variant.  Otherwise, don't bother with the bookkeeping.

Colin,

I don't want to argue with you, as whatever you decide for your group is right. Rules are made to be changed. I would like to address your worry, though: key churn is nigh impossible. Each key has a buyoff which isn't necessarily easy to do. In addition, each Key can only be taken once ever per character. Lastly, playing with someone who really, truly, manages to find a way to do this means you're playing with a genius or a dick.

Anyway, the point is: I'm not sure that's a loophole, as much as a feature. Again, though - however you play TSOY is the correct way to play TSOY. That's the most important rule.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2006, 08:14:26 AM »

Even my most aggressive XP-maxing player -- Tony Lower-Basch, author of Capes, which is driven by resource churn -- hasn't come anywhere near "breaking" the Key system, whatever that would mean. At his most intense, he took a Key (Imposter) at the beginning of a session, hit it for the 5 at least once, and then bought it off at the end, for a net gain of at least 10 XP.... but it also produced beautifully dramatic play, as his character pretended to still be bound by various religious dicta she'd actually renounced the episode before, only to reveal her apostasy and take public revenge against her religious superior at the end of the session. So no problem for the story, there.

Nor for the mechanics: Yes, Tony's character has become significantly more powerful than the other two players', but (a) he rather deserves it, as he's driven more than his share of drama in his fierce quest to hit his Keys; and (b) the diminishing-returns effect -- that it takes exponentially more XP to buy up Abilities as they advance -- has kept him from racing so far ahead it beomes a problem.

I have my criticisms of The Shadow of Yesterday as a system: After experiences with Dogs in the Vineyard, My Life With Master, and Capes, I find myself missing some kind of mechanical system to help the GM gauge proper adversity, pressure, and tempo, including in particular a procedure for handling "whose turn is it to act?" (i.e. IIEE) that goes beyond a GM juggling act; but those are problems common to 99% of published games.

And meanwhile the Keys system is sheer glorious brilliance with rocket boosters. Screw "roleplaying vs. rollplaying" and the old "munchkin" canard: In this system, the more greedily your players seek XPs, the better the story will be.
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rafial
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2006, 08:32:13 AM »

I'm the author of the "key powerup variant" on the Wiki, and clearly Clinton & Sydney play with different people than I do.  You know not from key churn.  Yeah, I've seen the Imposter trick used, only it was bought off in the first five minutes of play.  We've been using the variant in our Tales from the Aether campaign, and like it it alot, but it is exactly what it says, an unofficial variant that has worked well for us.

As to my phrasing of my variant with the "two advances", that's because I've always maintained that if you really want the buyoff reward cycle in your game, then it should scale with the size of an advance.  Mostly moot, since everybody I've ever heard of plays with 5XP advances, but there you have my reasoning.  Clearly Clinton disagrees. And it's not wrong, because it's my variant dammit! ;)  If y'all want to have your own variant, then you can do whatever you want :)
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Threlicus
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aka George Heintzelman


« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2006, 09:15:30 AM »

I haven't done much actual play, yet, so take my comments for what they're worth (not much)... It seems to me that using rafial's variant would allow you to chuck the rule about not taking a Key more than once, without worrying about "Oh, I act out of character, so I'll take some XP; hey, I want to be back in character now so I'll buy it again with those XP, and start taking XP again," which seems to be what we are trying to avoid with that rule.

Seems to me we might want to be able to do things like what happened with Sloane on Alias. He had Key of Obsession (Rambaldi) for the first 3 seasons or so, then bought it off and bought True Love for his daughter Nadia; then as the series came to a close he bought the Obsession again -- something that had clearly been contemplated by the writers.

Also a question for Clinton -- a lot of the Keys, like the ones I mentioned, have specific targets. By the rules, you can't buy that key, with a different target, either, once you've bought one off?
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2006, 09:25:16 AM »

Also a question for Clinton -- a lot of the Keys, like the ones I mentioned, have specific targets. By the rules, you can't buy that key, with a different target, either, once you've bought one off?

Correct. That throws people a lot of the time. You can certainly be in love again, or have a new mission, or be obsessive, or whatever. You can do these things as many times as you like. You can get XP for them for one run, though - after you buy off that key, you won't get XP for that ever again.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2006, 09:30:57 AM »

"Oh, I act out of character, so I'll take some XP; hey, I want to be back in character now so I'll buy it again with those XP, and start taking XP again,"

What's "out of character"? If your character did X, then it's in-character. Real people get to be complex, self-contradictory, and inconsistent; why not fictional people?
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TonyLB
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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2006, 09:53:26 AM »

You know not from key churn.  Yeah, I've seen the Imposter trick used, only it was bought off in the first five minutes of play.

Well, I was going to buy it off that quickly, but then I started earning XP off of it.

So I figured, "Eh, what the hell, I'll keep it around for as long as it's churning out masses and masses of XPs, then dump it," which is what I did.

And here's the thing I love, now that I've experienced that:  this sequence is what makes the game be about people who cross lines in society.  My character is now somebody who knows what it was like when she was a liar.  She is someone who knows what it was like when she wanted to hurt herself, and who knows what it was like when she deferred to any man in authority.  She is exactly the person who can sympathize with people who feel that way, but who is no longer caught up in their same cycles of self-destruction.  She is the knowledgeable outsider.

The game system made me do that, and that's cool.
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Threlicus
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Posts: 35

aka George Heintzelman


« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2006, 09:56:37 AM »

What's "out of character"? If your character did X, then it's in-character. Real people get to be complex, self-contradictory, and inconsistent; why not fictional people?

'Out-of-character' may have been a poor choice of words. What I mean is this: The Key system promotes characters who usually behave in certain ways. Of course, they *can* behave differently, but it's not incentivized -- except for the one time the player decides to buy off (N.B. I think 'sell off' is a better term. ;) the Key. As best I can tell, this is intended to model character growth and change; once I buy off Key of Bloodlust, getting into fights is no longer incentivized, so I will tend to not get into so many fights. If one could simply buy a Key back, this breaks the system -- now, both behaving along the Key and behaving against the Key are both incentivized perpetually. Behavior against the Key is, of course, what I meant by out-of-character.

By the way, I disagree with your tautology. We talk about real people doing things which are out-of-character for them, so I see no reason why we can't talk about fictional people the same way. That's not to say they can't do such things, of course -- I don't want the old "You can't do that, that's out of character!" calls going up -- but I don't think it is a useless term the way your quote would suggest.
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rafial
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« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2006, 10:32:16 AM »

So I figured, "Eh, what the hell, I'll keep it around for as long as it's churning out masses and masses of XPs, then dump it," which is what I did.

And that's pretty much what my variant is intended to formalize.  I have no problem with rewarding quick buyoff of Keys, as long as the player has gone to the effort of "hitting" them a few times to give the buy off a little thematic punch.  What gets annoying, is "hello to you my very good friend, I never want to see you ever again!"
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Christoph Boeckle
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Geneva, Switzerland


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« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2006, 03:01:08 PM »

Thanks for the answers guys, I appreciate your help!

@Rafial: You could ask the players who buyoff their Keys without having used them to play a few scenes in the past, were we learn how that friendship was like.
This could actually make some really interesting narration, with a few flashbacks scattered across the session as the enmity between the two former friends grows to a climax (taking into account the severed relationship will probably make your players think twice about buying keys and selling them off).
For all intents and purposes, you'd use the character's current keys to determine XP (not the ones he was supposed to have at the time), because the story is about what's going on in the present and it should show, even in the past.

This is just an idea off the top of my head, but in an abstract manner at least, this could be a way to make buyoffs of the type you describe into a narrative strength.


Some design questions for Clinton:

What's the intended purpose for the 3 times per session limit on the 1XP award for the Everything else type of Keys? Why a limit only on this particular reward?

What were your motivations behind the rule that a key that was bought off could not ever be taken again?

I know I can do it whichever way I feel like, but I'd like to know the concerns that made you write the rules the way they are.
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Regards,
Christoph
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