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Author Topic: [Solar System] Check-Determined Narrative Authority  (Read 6004 times)
Courage75
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Posts: 57


« on: February 10, 2009, 03:40:51 PM »

I really like the Privilege mechanics from John Wick's Houses of the Blooded and I am thinking of using them in the Solar System when narrating the outcome of non-extended conflicts. Here is what I have come up with so far:

  • Authority on Single Check: If a player makes a successful check, he holds Authority for the result. This means the player may narrate the whether his character succeeds or fails. If the player fails the check, the SG holds Authority and can narrate whether the character succeeds or fails. Note that both player and SG can accept suggestions from anyone else, although the one with Authority ultimately decides if the suggestion is accepted.
  • Additional Facts: For every additional success level above the first, player with Authority may add a single fact or detail to the result, whether it is a success or failure. The fact or detail must not contradict what is already true about the subject.
  • SG Veto: The Story Guide can veto a narration or fact that would break continuity or mood, or would otherwise fail to progress the story.
  • Authority on Opposed Check: Where two or more characters are making opposed checks, the winner gets Authority and may spend additional successes as Additional Facts. However, if the losers keep half their successes (rounded down) to spend as Additional Facts, if they so wish. Each character declares one Additional Fact in order, the winner going first, then the next highest, etc.
  • Converting Additional Successes to Pool: A player with Authority may instead convert Additional Successes to the appropriate Pool on a one-for-one basis.
  • Extended Conflict: Authority does not change hands in Extended Conflict. Instead, each player in Extended Conflict narrates the results of their actions, such as how they deal Harm to an opponent or how they gain bonus dice.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2009, 01:34:19 AM »

This sort of thing isn't impossible if you swing that way. These points I would reconsider:
  • The Ability check determines whether the character succeeds or fails. This is important for how SS works, making the check be about whether the player gets to decide his character's success throws the game out of whack. If you want to fail, don't roll at all; remember, however, that your job in this game is not to create interesting twists in the story, but to advocate for your character's interests. This is fundamental.
  • It'd be more elegant to allow the loser their full success level as facts, but make them pay one Pool per fact they want to actually use.
  • Converting unused facts into resources is not a good idea; among other things, you don't want to let the players avoid Refresh scenes. I'd be more inclined to make this fact-narration stuff expend the other ways the game uses success level: each fact you establish lowers the effective success level by one for purposes of chained checks, Effect-creation, Harm or such, for instance. I'm not sure if anybody'd want to use facts if this were the case, though.
  • I personally wouldn't use SG veto if I used this sort of narration-sharing system. Seems to make an already weak and situational option a good bit weaker. Depends on the group, I imagine.

In general I'm not swept away by the notion of combining the HoB resolution into SS mostly because the games require rather different stances from the players. In HoB you're supposed to be a co-author of a story, in SS you're supposed to advocate for the protagonist and let story emerge without analytical choice. What would a player in the latter situation need fact-creation powers for? In practical play the players do create all sorts of facts about the setting all the time, but this does not happen as a result of mechanical brow-beating, or in conflict in general; rather, we establish the setting to accord with the dramatic needs of the characters. HoB-style fact bidding seems more suited for a game where the players are fighting each other for the direction of the story, perhaps, or a game where the players are supposed to create the adversity for their own characters. (Wick discusses these possible agenda frames for his game in the book.)
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Courage75
Member

Posts: 57


« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2009, 02:38:51 AM »

Thanks for your comments, Euro. It helps to see the intention behind the design, which I can see is quite different than HoB.

I like all your suggestions and will probably use them in the game. Thanks for the insight into refreshing Pool - I know that is a key part of SS, so it makes sense not to allow the players to refresh it easily.

I am attracted to a game that allows check results build the story and allows the players to narrate results themselves. I know that SS does this, but I find the levels of success a little difficult to interpret. For example, how much difference is there between a Good Result and a Great Result in story terms? I understand that it is up to the group to interpret the difference in successes in ways that make sense to them, but if the group has to consider every success in that way, it could slow the game down. There is also the issue of determining who the narrator is. If everyone is happy taking turns narrating, that is fine, but if not, then it could be difficult to ensure that everyone gets a go at narrating an outcome.

The reason I like the HoB Privilege and Wager mechanics is because the difference between getting two success and three successes is that you get to narrate an additional fact straight in the game. It seems more straight-forward. The added benefit is that the players are adding detail the game through their checks, which is something I really like. I agree it can lead to players fighting for control of the story, but I think it can also add to the story itself.

I think players can be co-authors as well as advocates for their characters - I don't see these as mutually-exclusive stances. Indeed, this is the reason a player may decide to quit early in extended conflict even though her character might feel like fighting to collapse. She might decide she wants her character to become compromised and see what happens to the story from there. At the same time, she is also advocating for her character - she doesn't want her character to take too much Harm so as to be completely helpless in the next scene.
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dindenver
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2009, 12:31:08 PM »

C75,
  First, I don't know HoB. So, there's that.
  I think I would do two things different from vanilla SS if I wanted to update it in a similar vein to what you have done here:
1) Use Vanilla, but give the players one "fact" per extra level of success. That adds some narrative oomph to a good roll/good skill.
2) Also, for opposed rolls, I would let the loser assert facts for each level of success past the first one. Maybe either make the loser assert their facts first and allow the winner to reverse them with their facts, OR make the winners assert their facts first and don't let the loser reverse any facts with their successes.
 Whatever you decide, please do not include veto rules, trust your players. This is a game that doesn't work if they players don't trust the SG. So, its doomed if you don't have that.
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Dave M
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Courage75
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Posts: 57


« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2009, 07:39:30 PM »

I think I would do two things different from vanilla SS if I wanted to update it in a similar vein to what you have done here:
1) Use Vanilla, but give the players one "fact" per extra level of success. That adds some narrative oomph to a good roll/good skill.
2) Also, for opposed rolls, I would let the loser assert facts for each level of success past the first one. Maybe either make the loser assert their facts first and allow the winner to reverse them with their facts, OR make the winners assert their facts first and don't let the loser reverse any facts with their successes.

1) Yes, I think I'll leave it as one extra fact per success rather than decide if you succeed or fail.
2) I would prefer to allow the loser to assert facts at the cost of Pool rather than allow the winner to reverse any facts the loser makes, since that feels like "blocking". I would also prefer to alternate the narration of extra facts to create a situation where there is interplay between the winner and the loser(s) in building the scene.

Whatever you decide, please do not include veto rules, trust your players. This is a game that doesn't work if they players don't trust the SG. So, its doomed if you don't have that.

Yeah, I'll probably drop the SG veto if it creates mistrust. It is really only there to ensure the story moves along and is not intended to be exercised on a regular basis. I trust my players, which is why I am interested in giving them more authority in the narration of outcomes.
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