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Author Topic: [SS / TWoN] Mechanics questions  (Read 11963 times)
Paolo D.
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Posts: 78


« on: May 28, 2010, 02:07:13 AM »

After playing at SS (in the Star Wars setting) and TWoN, I've got some questions about the rules:

1) Introduction cost of equipment with imbuements
I must pay the introduction cost for such an equipment only when I use it (for the first time in a scene) for its mechanical effects (ratings & imbuements) or even when it's only fictionally relevant (something like "I intimidate you with my sword". I'm using the sword in the fiction, but without applying any rating or imbuement - yet, of course -).

2) Rolling for an Effect for someone else
In the SS handbook, there's an example with a hero making a motivational speech for a crowd (or something similar), to explain that you can make an Effect even from a check made by another character (but paying it yourself, of course). In this example, the hero is motivated to give a benefit to the crowd, so I (being part the crowd) can pay 1 Pool to make an Effect from his check.
But can I make an Effect from a check made by another character, even if that character wasn't motivated to give a benefit to me?

Actual play example: yesterday night we was playing TWoN and an Ammeni npc raped one of our character. They went into conflict, and the character lost. So the player, suggested by the SG, made an Effect from the check of the Ammeni, writing "An Ammeni raped me 2/I" on his character sheet.... Even if the Ammeni wasn't motivated to give a benefit for the character.

3) Refreshment scene
This last one is more a urban legend than a real question, however I'll ask for the sake of clarity... ;-)

If I end up a scene without rolling any dice, does this scene count as a refreshment?

We are enjoying very much these games, so thanks a lot! :-)
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2010, 04:43:27 AM »

After playing at SS (in the Star Wars setting) and TWoN, I've got some questions about the rules:

This works well for us, considering how I like answering those.

Quote
1) Introduction cost of equipment with imbuements

You  only pay when the equipment comes into play mechanically. So you can definitely strut the stuff in the narrative to your heart's content, but when and if the equipment is used the first time for its ratings or imbuements, that's when you pay the introduction cost. Note that you only pay the cost when using the equipment for its ratings or imbuements. There are a few marginal ways of using equipment that do not involve either of those, and in those cases you don't need to pay. For instance, if you're selling the equipment or using it merely to justify some leverage (such as being able to use a swordfighting skill in a fight), those do not require payment. It's only when the equipment's special mechanical flavour is invoked that you pay for it.

Quote
2) Rolling for an Effect for someone else
In the SS handbook, there's an example with a hero making a motivational speech for a crowd (or something similar), to explain that you can make an Effect even from a check made by another character (but paying it yourself, of course). In this example, the hero is motivated to give a benefit to the crowd, so I (being part the crowd) can pay 1 Pool to make an Effect from his check.
But can I make an Effect from a check made by another character, even if that character wasn't motivated to give a benefit to me?

Actual play example: yesterday night we was playing TWoN and an Ammeni npc raped one of our character. They went into conflict, and the character lost. So the player, suggested by the SG, made an Effect from the check of the Ammeni, writing "An Ammeni raped me 2/I" on his character sheet.... Even if the Ammeni wasn't motivated to give a benefit for the character.

An interesting question. My first instinct would be that the character generating the Ability check gets a veto (or rather, his player gets it) on who gains the mechanical benefit from the check. My logic here is that Ability checks are a measure of dramatic force a character generates in defense of whatever it is that he stands for, insofar as narrative analysis is concerned, and therefore suborning those forces and even turning them against the character himself seems like a potentially deprotagonizing rule. In other words, you shouldn't be punished for rolling well. I would be unlikely to allow this as the rapist's player; to the contrary, I would probably make an Effect off the event myself just to wield it against my victim in the future.

On the other hand, the situation you describe makes some sense in that the character is turning an event in her life into a strength, and it's actually incidental that there was another character involved in the misfortune... you know, I would probably handle this particular situation by having the player declare that his character is trying to get over the event, at which point a check of Resist (R) could be made (against the value of the rape if the rapist preserved it as an Effect himself, or against no resistance otherwise). That check result could then be written down as an Effect such as "An Ammeni raped me and I'm angry/mortified/traumatized/whatever about it". This way the value of the Effect would derive from something the character herself does about the event instead of the the antagonist's actions.

Then again, technically I would call no actual fault in rules application in how you handled the case - the SG runs the NPCs, so if he thinks that it's fine for the character to make an Effect from this, that's his prerogative as the advocate of the rapist. Perhaps the NPC didn't simply care one way or the other, and thus allowed his actions to turn into a hidden strength for the victim? This sort of thing would only have an ability to turn into a real problem if the group considered it a rule that you could always and without fail make an Effect from anything other people do and then pump that Effect into bonus dice for yourself in acting against those people. As a general principle this would introduce a really weird dice loop into the system, one in which it might at times be questionable whether it is preferable to roll good results. The system presumes that the character is never punished for good rolls, so that's tricky.

So, in a nutshell I'd say that your application was fine if it's understood that it's a case-by-case call of the player who plays the rolling character, and his choice does not necessarily have to have a firm relationship to what the character thinks about it. When and if this sort of thing starts to bother the player in his role as a character advocate, do allow him to limit the Effect-generation.

Of course, I would see no problem in having a Secret that allows you to leech Effects from the rolls others make. Something like this, perhaps:

Secret of Observing Prey
When the character observes an Ability check made by another, he can make an Effect out of the check result regardless of other considerations, such as whether the check wins or loses a fight or such. The Effect has to explicitly refer to the target of the observation, and you can only have one observation per target at a time. When in conflict against an observed target, the player can swap any Panther-Style (I) check result with the value of the observation Effect by describing how the insight helps him in the struggle. Cost: 2 Instinct to observe, nothing to swap.

Could probably make a more generic "you get to always make Effects out of anything you want" Secret, too, if such were required.

Quote
3) Refreshment scene
This last one is more a urban legend than a real question, however I'll ask for the sake of clarity... ;-)

If I end up a scene without rolling any dice, does this scene count as a refreshment?

Whether dice are rolled or not is not the crux of whether a scene is appropriate as refreshment. The key requirement of a refreshment scene is that it's an appropriate social activity engaged in for its own sake. Clear signs of the refreshing nature of a scene are if it's an empty beat in the plot, it's sympathetic, if the SG gets to introduce new fictional elements without immediate antagonism, and if the character lets his hair down and does things he might later regret. There might be Ability checks involved in a refreshment scene just to give it a bit of fun color; for example, in He-Man the characters are always having playful duels or playing Chess as refreshment scenes, and we usually get to find out who wins the duel - that might be resolved by a simple conflict without making the scene non-refreshing. On the other hand, even if He-Man makes no Ability checks in those frequent travel scenes through the jungles of Eternia, that does not make those scenes refreshment; he's clearly going somewhere instead of just hiking for fun.

(No idea where He-Man came from here; just run with it.)

Although I haven't witnessed it, I suppose that it would be possible to play a scene and decide that it was a refreshment post-facto. It's much more usual for a player to require a refreshment scene (obliging the SG to throw out an opportunity) or declare such (by pursuing a refreshing course of action), though.
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Paolo D.
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Posts: 78


« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2010, 05:22:22 AM »

Wow! Thanks for your answers. That post was very clear and full of useful explainations. :-)

Only one thing about the "Effect from others" issue:
so, as a rule of thumb, we could say that you can make an Effect from a check made by another character, paying Pool for it as always, if:

1) the player of that character (or the SG if it's an NPC) thinks it's ok, and
2) of course, if it makes sense in the fiction.

Does it makes sense?
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2010, 05:44:30 AM »

Yeah, that's pretty much it. If the Effect-creation is in danger of undermining the character whose Ability was used to make the Effect, then it's up to the player of that character to object. And as always, it's up to the whole group to maintain a robust fiction by objecting to fictionally incomprehensible stuff like characters deriving Effects from events they have no connection to.
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Aetius
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Posts: 17


« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2010, 03:01:47 AM »

Hi Eero!
I'm Ezio, and I'm the current Guide for Paolo and our group.

Can I bother you with another clarification about refresh scenes?
Let's see a situation like this:

Robert is playing his character, Conan, end he's in a refresh scene... say he's refreshing Instinct
We all know how Conan refresh his Instinct: he's in a stinky tavern, drunk like a baboon, gloating about stealing the Eye of Gungrun from his temple, with a wench under each arm, one blonde, one brunette.
I, as the story guide, know what to do: the door slams open, the temple guards storm into the room, accusing Conan to be the sacrilegious thief.

Now... what can happen?
I give myself 3 possible answers:

1) The refresh scene is over! New scene, conflict! The guards are listed for a swift, barbaric death. Than we can have another scene and another refreshment, with Conan back to alcool and cheap sex. The innkeeper pour sawdust on the bloodstains.
2) It's a refresh scene! Conan's guard is down (he's soooo drunk)! The guards have their way with him and the next scene start with our barbarian chained next a bloody altar...
3) Conflict! They fought, Conan win, THEN the refresh is over.

Now, there's an answer which is really wrong or they're all possible interpretation, and is to the group to decide what makes sense?
Personally I sense something "not totally right" in the 3rd option. It seems to me that this course of action transform a slow point in the drama in something different.
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Ciao, I'm Ezio and I'm Italian.
And I'm sorry for my bad English, I'll keep studying ;-)
Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2010, 10:10:59 AM »

Sure thing, let's look at your examples.

Your example is a bit incomplete in that we don't know why the SG is introducing the temple guards. There are essentially two legit reasons: either the SG wants to start a new scene with a bang right after the Refresh (either a "you fight guards" scene or "you wake up in jail" scene, doesn't matter), or he wants to bring in a chance at a Vigor refresh via a harmless tavern brawl. So if the guards are boisterous comic drunks Conan bests with ease (perhaps a simple unresisted Ability check, failure signifying that Conan is bested himself, but to no ill effect), then that's just a typical Vigor refreshing scene.

The third and more insidious motivation here would be that the SG wants to ruin the refresh scene by sending in a dangerous complication. This is not what refresh scenes are for: once a player requests a refresh scene, the SG is obligated to provide one (unless there is an outstanding situation going on mandating the character's attention), and once the scene is under way, he's obligated to not ruin it as a refresh by bringing in serious threats. Either the refresh finishes before the guards arrive, or the guards are not a serious threat, but rather a part of the refresh tableau. If the SG is intent on springing the guards, he should tell the player that he can't have a refresh because guards are hunting Conan, and in fact when Conan is at the tavern that night, guards arrive, looking for him... in other words, give an adventure scene instead of refresh.

In general, the activity of fighting does not disqualify a refresh per se, or even the act of making an Ability check. Only once your situation is so serious as to engage the conflict resolution system and set serious stakes will the situation be clearly inappropriate for a refresh. Note the distinction between task and conflict resolution here: we can resolve tasks in a refresh scene, such as the non-consequential dueling that happens at the beginning of a He-Man episode; once the characters start to really care and consequences start flying, though, it's obvious that the scene is not a refresh. The SG should not instigate this change in the nature of the scene, but sometimes players do: two players declare that they want their characters to make out, but then an argument breaks out and it so happens that the scene evolves into high drama, instead. The same goes for PCs interacting with NPCs, of course; the players don't always realize the hidden tensions in the scenes they go for, and thus a scene intended as a refresh might prove to be something else entirely.
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Aetius
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Posts: 17


« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2010, 02:41:51 PM »

Ok, Eero, sorry for the unspecified thing. In my head was obvious that the guards aren't here to negate the refresh, but evidently I failed somewhere to write it :-P

You confirmed some of my thoughts of these days (down to the "Ehi, we can call this easy fight a Vigor refresh, right?" thing) and clarified even more the topic of the thread for me, thank you very much ^^
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Ciao, I'm Ezio and I'm Italian.
And I'm sorry for my bad English, I'll keep studying ;-)
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