Trollbabe: the meaning of "active"

Started by Aetius, January 10, 2011, 11:21:40 PM

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Ciao to all ;-)

Playing and talking about TB a doubt has emerged, about the precise meaning of the term "active" in the definition of the goal.
A goal must be active and transitive in form. A Trollbabe conflicting must DO something to SOMEOME/THING and the goal cannot be totally defensive in nature.

So, let's think about Valeria, a trollbabe at scale 1, surrounded by an angry mob. She want escape from them. It seems to me that: "I run away" isn't a feasible goal, it's purely defensive and isn't realy transitive. Is: "I lost them" more valid? It's active and transitive but... meh. It's still pretty defensive. It sounds to me like: "I evade his blow".
In this situation isn't: "I confound them" a lot better? It seems to me a lot better, but I cannot wrap my mind about why. Can someone help me?
As a side question: at this scale is basically impossible for a PC evade a group of hunters, right? The GM must downgrade the goal to scale 1 so SOME of the hunter will be confused, the others... is up to the GM good heart: they can lost courage seeing a couple of friends lost in the woods, but it isn't compulsory by far.

Another example.
Let's increase the scale: we are at 5, now. Valeria is defending a fortified city in a siege, during an assalt. The goal: "I rebuff them, they didn't conquer the city" seems a recolour at high octane of the old: "I parry his blow". In this case aren't: "I broke their will" or: "I make them run for their lives" better solutions?
Ciao, I'm Ezio and I'm Italian.
And I'm sorry for my bad English, I'll keep studying ;-)

Ron Edwards

Hi Ezio!!

1. "I run away" is not a bad goal. At least the trollbabe is physically doing something, and the narrations involved during the resolution will tell us where she goes and what it's like to get there. The key issue is whether her success makes things change, and her circumstances have changed. She isn't where she was any more.

This is not the same as "I evade his blow," because "I evade his blow" merely restores the status quo. "I run away" has changed the situation from the status quo.

i) Initial situation
ii) Changed situation (some kind of problem or opportunity)
iii) Succeeding in a goal - changes situation more

The whole point of that rule is to make sure that (iii) is never simply returning to (i). "I run away" doesn't have that problem if you remember how important narration is during the resolution process itself.

Trollbabe does not have the pervasive problem found in many more recent "story games." (I use that term with a certain degree of contempt. Many games self-identified as such, although not all, are quite badly designed.) This problem is knowing everything about the possible outcomes of a resolution before the mechanics are applied. In Trollbabe, the details of the narrations which are developed after the die is rolled (or dice, in many cases) play an enormous roll in the fiction.

2. "I lose them" is neither better nor worse than "I run away." In fact, "I run away" only makes sense as a goal if it includes "I lost them" through implication.anyway. That's probably why it seems like better phrasing to you. In other words, you're right that it's more precise in rules terms, but I think in practice, saying "I run away" carries the implication of losing the pursuers strongly enough that I would have no trouble with it.

3. It's true that if Valeria is being pursued by a group, then "I run away" or "I lose them" can only apply to a single pursuer. At its most basic application, this rule means that someone is going to catch up with her. I don't recommend that GMs interpret their authority over higher-Scale results in the trollbabe's favor; that dilutes the importance of the Scale mechanic.

More subtly, the rule may be applied in the trollbabe's favor, depending on who is pursuing her, in terms of differing personalities. Let's say the group is fairly generic in identity except for one person who really hates the trollbabe and may well be leading the group. If the roll is successful, it's part of the rules for the GM to protagonize Valeria as much as possible, so if one person is definitely the worst one who could find her, then that person is the one she evades. This could be quite important as she could follow up with a Social conflict against the people who catch her - but who are more emotionally neutral than the angered NPC.

4. "I confound them" would experience exactly the same Scale limitations as "I escape them." The only difference is that it's a Social conflict, whereas "I escape them" would be either Fighting or Social as defined by the person who called the conflict. (That raises a side issue: if someone defines "I escape them" as a Fighting conflict, then if the trollbabe wins, one of her pursuers has to get hurt as part of the narration.)

5. When you increase the Scale to the besieged city, the same point applies as in #1, especially my little list of (i-iii). "I rebuff them" is a fine goal if and only if it does not merely restore the circumstances to (i).

Your proposed alternate suggestions, as with the chase scene, are not quite confronting this issue because all you're doing is changing the goals to things which are very definitely Social conflicts. That leads me to think that you are simply more comfortable thinking about (iii) for Social conflicts rather than for Fighting ones. This is understandable because Social goals can change others' behavior (make them stop chasing, make them stop attacking the city) whereas Fighting goals do not; at most they can stop someone from doing something via force.

However, as long as you keep (i-iii) in mind, you'll be all right no matter what the Action Type is.

Best, Ron


The doubt was partially due to the nature of "transitive" in Italian (I'm not sure it has the same meaning in English): it indicates a verb whose action goes directly on the phrase object (thus, the verb has a direct object); we were wondering if it has to be read that way, from which the difference between "I run away" (no direct object) and "I escape them" (direct object).
I think the fact the latter is more appealing to me is because it states the opponent: in defining that Goal, I've in mind not only my Trollbabe ("I run away"), but also my opponent ("I escape them").

Ron Edwards

The meaning is the same in English. The reason that I find "I run away" acceptable is that I think only the most argumentative and annoying people would fail to identify it with "I take action to get away from them such that they cease pursuing me." If you really want to avoid the very small possibility of that failure, then use a phrase such as "I escape them."

"I escape them" is actually better than "I lose them," because the latter is starting to describe how, and the goal statement should be restricted to what, leaving how for the post-roll narration(s).

Best, Ron


Quote from: Ron Edwards on January 11, 2011, 04:42:04 PM
only the most argumentative and annoying people

Ok, you're describing exactly me and Mauro, here XD

Just for clearing every doubt in the "active and transitive" field... let's say Valeria is trying to transform herself in a dragon for whatever reason and someone calls for a Conflict on this.
"I transform myself in a flying, fire-breathing monster" isn't a valid goal: it's totally reflexive, the action don't affect anyone else . The "whatever reason" is the real goal. "I kick Donner ass"... by means of transforming in a dragon. Active and transitive. It changes the status quo and it affects something other than the Trollbabe.
Is this right?
Ciao, I'm Ezio and I'm Italian.
And I'm sorry for my bad English, I'll keep studying ;-)

Ron Edwards


Wonderful! All clear... till next time.
Thank you for helping, Ron. I'll buy you a drink at InternosCON ;-)
Ciao, I'm Ezio and I'm Italian.
And I'm sorry for my bad English, I'll keep studying ;-)


I was thinking about why "I escape them" sounds better to me than "I run away", and I think I got it: it clearly states an opponent. Some of my friends are still almost-only D&D players, so a thing like, "Yes, they are not chasing you, but who knows? You could stumble on them and/or they could find you by chance" to some of them'd not sound so strange.
So, the reason is I think it could be clearer for people too used to (a flawed?) task resolution, where it's normal to roll also without any opposition, since to me "I escape them" (or it's better "I left them behind"? My example, in Italian, clearly implies an active pursuer) shows that they are actively trying to catch up with me.
Does this make sense to you?

Ron Edwards

Hi Mauro,

You have it exactly right.

Best, Ron