So last night I finished reading the new version of Trollbabe. I can't help but wonder what the me of 10 years ago would have thought of it. I did have one question and two comments.
Here's the question:
Is the diagram on page 61 accurate? That's the diagram that shows Relationship status relative to Trollbabe status at the end of the conflict. The success half seems a little wonky but makes some narrative sense and matches the surrounding example text. However the failure half I'm a little more concerned about. Not only does it not make a lot of sense, it doesn't really match the example text either.
And now the comments:
The section on how to prep an adventure dovetails nicely with some of my own personal revelations as of late. So, I've been doing A LOT of gaming lately across various groups of people. This means that my time and focus to actually prepare material has dropped. My prep has been very minimal and in some cases so minimal that I feared I was being out and out boring. I thought that this was going to degrade the quality of the games. Actually, the exact opposite turned out to be true. The games got exponentially, across the board BETTER. So when the Trollbabe text says, "this is all you need," I believe it. I think even two months ago, I would have been looking at that skeptically.
The stuff of the "screwdown" is pure gold and speaks a LOT to my weaknesses as a GM. I particularly like how in the worked example Rhetta (or however you spell that goofball's name) is never directly confronted with an opportunity to *directly* determine the fate of the Stakes. Not that, that should be avoided either but that it doesn't NEED to happen. In the example, the human apprentice goes off and completes the transformation ritual on her own. That's something I shy away from doing because for some reason I have this hang up about not resolving central points like that without the PC taking deliberate and directed action to "push" the crisis one way or the other. That tends to mean that my NPCs don't ever quite reach that "desperation" state described because I don't want their actions to be the source of resolution. So they spend a lot of time, looming and shouting and threatening and never really DOING because I'm waiting for the PC to decide where they "stand" among all the shouting and looming and threatening.
I'm sure more will come to me as a I mull it over but that's what really sticks out to me.
Thanks for asking about p.61 Jesse. It's the one page I scratched my head on when I read through the book. Retta is Inconvenienced when she brings in Ingarde for a re-roll. By the diagram Retta can succeed and Ingarde will be Injured or Fine depending on whether the success comes when Inconvenienced or Injured (ie on the first or second re-roll, right?).
If Retta fails with the Ingarde re-roll then Retta is now Injured and so is Ingarde. If there's a further re-roll then Retta may be Incapacitated but Ingarde is still only injured.
I'm confused as to how Ingarde could be killed - how do you fail a re-roll and leave yourself at Inconvenienced. I think I'm being fuzzy headed. Any helpful explanation appreciated.
Now for page 61-62. Looking it over, I think it may have been hit by version control issues in the final edits. I know the very-very last edits included that section.
I'll explain what to do, without trying to defend the text. Then I'll look over the text vs. my explanation here and see whether it's fatally-flawed or not.
OK, first: the diagrams are correct. Follow them. Every outcome is mechanically possible. ... Wait a second. Is the Failed + Inconvenienced possible? Damn it, I could swear this read differently in draft. You fail a roll and are inconvenienced, you pull in a Relationship for a re-roll, and you fail. So! Yes, Gregor is right, this is messed up. The "She is currently" column should have Injured in the top box of the Fails section (or rather third one down overall) and Incapacitated in the one below that.
Going through the final column, top to bottom, box by box, think of: (i) foe lying dead, trollbabe grimacing and blowing on a scrape, relationship character (who saved the day) spurting blood but going to live; (ii) foe lying dead, trollbabe spurting blood but going to live, relationship character (who saved the day) pumping his or her fist in the air; (iii) foe not dead, trollbabe spurting blood but going to live, relationship character lying dead; (iv) foe not dead, trollbabe lying unconscious in pool of blood, relationship character spurting blood but going to live, and in this case, the relevant point is that he or she is still mobile/active.
By the way, Jesse, regarding the Success part of the diagram, I have grown accustomed to posts from you that simultaneously accuse a rule of mine of being wonky, i.e. weird or non-intuitive, and making narrative sense. I still don't know how to respond to them though.
Now for the example ... I should also point out that the example isn't intended to illustrate the diagram but rather to show how a suddenly-appearing Relationship character may be dealt with following a finished conflict. Still, it should at least be correct. Looking it over, I see that the first part is the Success + trollbabe injured + relationship character is fine, so that works. The second part is Failure + trollbabe incapacitated + relationship character injured; in this case, the example probably needs a reference to the possible roll dictating the final narrator of the conflict's outcome. And neither part mentions the status of the trollbabe, which makes it hard to match them to the diagram.
Jesse (or Jhesse, as I should start calling you), here are a couple of minor replies to your other points. I hope you post about those lesser-prep games with special emphasis on what you did exactly prep. I've tried to get some of this across for many years, without much success. I hope you also try out the more-active, do-something approach to playing NPCs in a game soon, because I think it'll make Sorcerer in particular way more fun.
In old Trollbabe the rule was simply "the relationship ends up one step worse." So if I'm Inconvenienced then he's injured. If I'm injured then he's incapacitated. If I'm incapacitated then he's dead. It's a straight forward progression of risk. The more risk I take on myself then the relationships I've used take on even MORE risk.
But in the new version that risk see-saws. If I win at Inconvenienced then my relationship is Injured but if I win at Injured nothing at all happens to my relationship. Which at first glanced seemed odd. Given the error in the failure half it seemed REALLY odd. I basically was able to sort of think out the four examples you enumerated above and was able to squint a little and go, "Hmmm... okay... maybe" which is where the "some narrative sense" comes in.
So the way you read those posts is this: "There is a hazy pattern here I can sort of make out. Please spell it out."
The less prep thing is wholly new. I will post about it in actual play.
The NPC lock up issue for me is not 100%. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't. You see it most often in my Dogs in the Vineyard play. I have Towns that rock because I'm able to get the NPCs moving and Towns that fall flat because the NPCs lock up. I have yet to identify the creative warning flag that distinguishes between the two other than hindsight.
Yes, the rule has changed dramatically. The old rules didn't work very well; relationship NPCs tended to get smacked out of the immediate story or killed outright too easily, and the nuances of possible who-saved-whom, who-got-hurt-for-whom were absent. The new rule is way, way better.
My perception is that you were simply thrown by the unfamiliarity; you understood the old rule and were used to its intent, and here was this new thing. However, having played the game as much as I have, I know it only sort-of worked. Your reading that "hey, this might work, maybe," is absolutely on track. It does.
Thanks, Ron. Yes, that makes perfect sense and I like the choice the rules offer. If Retta fails that relationship re-roll then she either has Ingarde die (ouch!) or takes a further re-roll that leads to either success (and an uninjured Ingarde saving the day for the injured Retta) or failure with Retta now Incapacitated but Ingarde alive (a price worth paying, and why you take the re-roll, right?).
That's right, although in addition, the framework is flexible enough to allow for a lot of nuances, depending on the details of what's going on.
Yes, and I like that injured Trollbabes, by starting a new conflict series already Inconvenienced, have a more interesting, um, relationship to Relationship NPCs than earlier Trollbabe rules. Now, in those circumstances it's a question of whether your Relationship NPC will be fine and save the day or be Injured or Killed in failing to help you. I'm excited by those dynamics.
Oh, the only other diagram confusion/error that caught my eye on the plane home is on p.41. The top two examples with boxes are repeated, but it's obvious from the crystal clear text that one of them should have the final box say "Third Fails".
Per has a Sorcerer game planned for 3 of us soon, and I'm sure Trollbabe will be on the plate after that.
I'm also very happy with the "Cost to Relationship NPCs" section. The new rules about the presence, play, and narration of consequences for relationship characters are very helpful; using the 2002 rules, I thought that any relationship would always be available for an appropriate re-roll, without establishing them as previously available, and explaining the character's presence would be up the the GM.
Now I'm curious about the status of this rule from the 2002 edition (p31):
QuoteA relationship may be used as a first action, in the sense that the player has announced the person to be "going in front" or taking the lead in the conflict ahead of the trollbabe herself. The advantage to this is that, if the roll fails, the trollbabe is not deemed to have lost the conflict in any way and may begin the series with the next roll.
I always took this to mean that relationship characters could be "at large" in the world, giving players multiple views of the setting, and allowing them to have their own scenes without being chaperoned around by their attending trollbabes.
The new rules on "presence" make it clear that relationship characters must be announced to arrive in the setting with the trollbabe (or discontinued), which negates both the possibility of the NPCs having their own quests in different parts of the world, and the prospect of relationship characters "staying at home" and called as a re-roll by way of flashback: "Reroll: I remember my arcane training with Troll Shaman McGee, in which she specifically warned me about this kind of thing." Is that right?
So, can a trollbabe player's announced actions for a relationship character bring a conflict into being in which the trollbabe is not involved, as in the "going in front" example above? If so, would the trollbabe character risk injury and incapacitation according to the normal rules? Since injury and death of the relationship character is contingent on the trollbabe's status, how would you determine the impact of a conflict on an NPC who has "gone ahead" into a new scene without the trollbabe?
QuoteThe new rules on "presence" make it clear that relationship characters must be announced to arrive in the setting with the trollbabe (or discontinued), which negates both the possibility of the NPCs having their own quests in different parts of the world, and the prospect of relationship characters "staying at home" and called as a re-roll by way of flashback: "Reroll: I remember my arcane training with Troll Shaman McGee, in which she specifically warned me about this kind of thing." Is that right?
That's right. I decided both of those applications were too squishy, causing more problems than they solved, as well as muting the focus on the trollbabe herself. The "go in front" idea isn't a bad one, but it is definitely an add-on-top kind of rule, and furthermore, it reduces too much risk. One of my concerns in the rewrite was to make sure risk to the trollbabe was never entirely absent.
QuoteSo, can a trollbabe player's announced actions for a relationship character bring a conflict into being in which the trollbabe is not involved, as in the "going in front" example above? If so, would the trollbabe character risk injury and incapacitation according to the normal rules? Since injury and death of the relationship character is contingent on the trollbabe's status, how would you determine the impact of a conflict on an NPC who has "gone ahead" into a new scene without the trollbabe?
To answer the questions in order:
1. No, the trollbabe must be involved. The relationship character may be stated as "going in front" as part of the Free-and-clear, as Color
with minor narrational consequences, but such a description in no way provides insulation for the trollbabe.
2. The trollbabe risks injury, et cetera, normally.
3. Since "going ahead" in a scene without the trollbabe is not possible, there isn't any need for rules regarding the system's impact on them.
That's all awesomely clear, thanks. So, if a trollbabe player asks for a scene without one of her relationship characters present, nothing eventful can happen to that NPC during the time they are split up, especially something that challenges the relationship character's competence.