Back to Basics: Relationship of Commitment to Initial Intent and Defections

Started by Erik Weissengruber, April 24, 2012, 07:50:49 PM

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Erik Weissengruber

I had a good run of Sorcerer games.  But I still do not have the relationship of the mechanics down; this, despite Christopher Kubasic's notes on playing Sorcerer.

Bear with me as I go back to basics.

Alphonzo rolls 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 trying to face punch Bernardo.
Bernardo rolls   6, 6, 6, 5 intending to steal the Blue Monkey diamond from Calvin
Calvin rolls 6, 6, 5, 4  as part of a Full Defense Action
Xemu, Alphonzo's demon, rolls 5,5, 5 to zap Bernardo with a Special Damage of filth spores.

Alphonzo commits to his action.  His roll gives him initiatinve and a satisfying 4 victories.  He doesn't change anything.

Bernardo sees the punch coming and would rather  stay on his feet.  So he decides to defect and go for defence.  He keeps his dice on the table, but gets to roll a full stat in his defence, say 3 dice for his Stamina in a dodge.

Desipte his full Defense, Calvin loses to Bernardo.  Bernardo didn't acquire a Full Victory, so let's say he gets his hands on the Blue Monkey, but hasn't grabed it fully.

Now it comes around to Xemu.  Bernardo's first roll was not half bad.  It easily beats Xemu.  And we kept the dice on the table for other reference purposes.  But as Bernardo panicked and wne for a desperate defence, isn't he in a corner now?  Doesn't he just get the pitiful 1 die minimum roll for acting after he has acted?  Or does he get the use of his full Stamina?


Erik, you're making things harder by trying to use the rolls as both attacks and defenses.  Don't do that.  You compare these rolls against each other for ordering ONLY.  So it looks like this.

Alphonso goes first.  So Bernardo has a choice.  He can keep his action and roll one die or discard is action and roll full dice to defend.  (I'll use your example choices).  It looks like he wants to defend.  So his dice on the table go away.  They are no longer relevant.  He rolls (a fresh roll) his full defense and he either does or doesn't get punched by Alphonso.

Since Bernardo gave up his action we now move directly to Calvin.  His declared action is now irrelevant since Bernardo canceled his action and no other upcoming actions target him.  So he stands there hugging his Blue Monkey.

Xemu now attacks Bernardo.  Bernado now defends again with his full dice (a fresh roll).

Ron Edwards


Jesse's fully correct with one possible exception at the very end. If it so happened that Bernardo had been struck by Alphonso, then Bernardo's roll to defend against Xemu would be penalized according to whatever damage he took. Jesse is completely correct that the baseline for that roll would be Bernardo's full dice.

Oh, and a minor narration point. Considering that Calvin's full-defense action was not overcome by any roll, it's worth pointing out that he competently hugs his Blue Monkey, complete with whatever movement and details of action were implied by his player's initial description of what he was doing.

Personally, I think he hunkered down in a kind of protective hugging crouch, perhaps even closing his eyes ... and so the narration of his action on his turn is kind of funny, as he looks up and takes a moment to realize that he and his Monkey are fine.

Erik, try it with real dice and tell us what happens.

Best, Ron

Erik Weissengruber

Sorry, the Actual Play examples are a few weeks back and I didn't note any numbers down.

Erik Weissengruber

Quote from: jburneko on April 25, 2012, 01:43:29 AM
Xemu now attacks Bernardo.  Bernado now defends again with his full dice (a fresh roll).

I get it!

If Bernardo were in full defense mode, he would have 2 more dice to add to his relevant 1st. Roll.
He was not, however.  So Bernardo abandons his initial intention and is doing multiple defenses, but those defenses are not as good as they could have been.

The one who is committing to full defense has the same flexibility to do multiple defenses AND does so with a two-dice bonus.  My first impression was that choosing to go full defense was sub-optimal: gaining two dice but losing any ability to push your agenda is a bad deal.  But the fictional circumstances might be such that abstaining for a round might be a smart move (to have someone reveal intentions, reveal a hidden power, bring a demon into the open).

Erik Weissengruber

Quote from: Ron Edwards on April 26, 2012, 03:58:11 AM
If it so happened that Bernardo had been struck by Alphonso, then Bernardo's roll to defend against Xemu would be penalized according to whatever damage he took. Jesse is completely correct that the baseline for that roll would be Bernardo's full dice.

Good reminder: Bernardo gets to defend with all of his Stamina (and the descriptor of that stat comes into the fiction), but the effects of Alphonso's success knock on into Bernardo's next action.  A piece of a prior moment in the fiction pops up again in the emerging situation.

Quote from: Ron Edwards on April 26, 2012, 03:58:11 AMErik, try it with real dice and tell us what happens.

I had very gung-ho players.  They were either using full defense or sticking with declared intentions and never defecting to a defensive posture.  I think once or twice I had antagonists and NPCs defect to defense, so my mistake in leaving those who had defected to a defensive posture with only 1 die in subsequent defensive rolls didn't really matter.

I think I did uncover my biggest misunderstanding of the system before our mini-campaign: when you are sorting out the fiction, and discussing and role-playing, you are playing the game.  The game is being played even when dice are not rolling.  It took me 10 years to notice that rule.

Ron Edwards

Full defense is an excellent thing.

1. Your Blue Monkey is a good example of priorities. Considering that two other characters are hitting Bernardo, Calvin is optimizing the chances of not losing the Monkey to him in the long run of the whole fight, right now at the start when Bernardo is probably at his best in terms of foundation dice.

2. Consider as well that specific narration of action is crucial - if Calvin's full defense narration includes some degree of getting away from Bernardo, or interposing some object between him and the Monkey (unlike my hypothetical narration above), then this content enters into the fiction and is potentially mechanically significant for later rolls.

Specific advanced trick. In this case, Calvin's roll is just floating there in the mechanics of the round. Let's say we wanted to see how well Calvin did whatever he did, as a possible roll-over modifier of someone's next roll to acquire the Monkey. I'd roll a single die right there and then, to see how Calvin's roll does against it, as an indicator of how many dice Calvin's full defense managed to establish into the fiction, just in case Calvin's next roll has anything to do with grabbing the Monkey again. If it doesn't, then those dice vanish into the ether.

3. Let's say that Bernardo didn't abort his action, and was fortunate enough to evade Alphonso's blow with a mere single-die roll. So his grab for the Monkey is still active. Now it's Calvin's turn to make his choice ... uniquely in the system, his defense roll is already on the table and we know it's not good enough to stop Bernardo's grab. But look! Calvin has the option (which he'll obviously take) to abort his full defense action and roll full defense!

The mechanics are clear: he now rolls Stamina without any two-dice bonus.

The narration is clear: whatever action Calvin took to protect the Monkey didn't work and he can see that grab coming in successfully ... so he shifts to some desperate, impromptu action instead.

Do you see how full defense provides you with two potential rolls against an attacker? The first, with its bonus dice, might do the job, and if you're fortunate enough to roll higher than all of your attackers, you might even waltz away from the entire situation as they grab or strike empty air. (In a recent game, a character did exactly this by drawing upon several demon abilities to gain a bagful of dice adding to his full defense, and a whole alley full of gunmen shot up the walls and each other as he simply ... stepped away from the fight before any bullets left their guns.) But if the full defense roll isn't itself good enough, you still have your basic full-dice roll to abort to, as well.

4. Apply any and all of the above to situations in which you just took a nasty load of next-roll penalties. Note as well that those penalties do not apply to the full following round, only to your next roll. Therefore, say "full defense," and that roll is horribly knocked down to nothing by all your penalties ... then, assuming that it was a poor roll, abort it when the first attack comes in and there you are, with all your Stamina dice in hand for all your defense rolls that round, modified only by the permanent penalties if any.

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards

I just split a ton of complex debate about this issue into its own thread.

For this one, I want to acknowledge that my advice above is a modification of the textual rules. If you go by them, then the person announcing Full Defense doesn't roll, and when and if any attack comes in at that person, he or she then rolls the defensive dice (including the two-dice bonus), and can do so again, against all incoming attacks, insofar as the character remains able to act.

Best, Ron