It is currently Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:25 am

All times are UTC




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 26 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: So -- what is TRoS actually about?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:09 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Crow Caller wrote:
Ok but how does the Player justify the Mage-Character not rescueing the Princess? If he is aware that his companion needs to rescue her and it is well within his power then why would he not do it? Also there would have to be a very good reason why the Prince would not enlist the mage's help.


Yes! I think you've got it. Naturally it falls to the players to come up with the rationale. It is their responsibility, and in my opinion this is a large part of the skill a player develops in the game, where their creativity comes through and really shines. During the group SA development this rationale will be determined. It will probably evidence itself in other SAs that the characters take. It will be a large part of the story that the players want to tell.

After all, its not like the players create their SAs in secret. If it is done in secret (apart from the referee) then there is no way for the players to promote each other's stories until they have managed to deduce each other's SAs. In TRoS, how can you help the other players to have a great game if you don't know what their character's SAs are? The character's SAs define why the player is at the gaming table, what is bringing them back each time. Everyone at the gaming table shares in the responsibility of ensuring that everyone else has a good time. In TRoS, you can't do that unless you know the SAs.

Crow Caller wrote:
What I see as a good exmple of why balance is essential can be seen in the Tale of the Mage and the Thief. The Player playing the Theif obvisouly wants to play a character that lives off his wits and is able to sneak into places unseen and get information or pilfer goods, who is able to open locks and climb nigh-unscalable walls. Now I agree this is all what Ian would label as External, however I don't think everything is so black and white, I think alot of internal issues are directly linked to external circumstances, the Saving the Princess cause she's my sister, is a good example.


Hmmmm -- I actually don't understand this bit.

Are you saying that a player wants to play a character because of the cool things he can do in the game world with the skills and abilities of that character?

I should clarify that Internal and External are relative to the player, not the character. "Save the Princess" is a scenario written by the referee in a traditional RPG. The goal of the scenario has been determined by the referee. It does not have to be written with any particular set of player characters in mind. Thus the goal of the scenario is External. "Save my half-sister, the Princess" is a Drive for a character in TRoS. It has been defined by the player in consultation with the referee and other players. Thus it is Internal to the player.

Regards,

_________________
Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Lyonpaedia
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: So -- what is TRoS actually about?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:54 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:33 am
Posts: 110
Location: Not Iraq, and that's the important thing.
This is some really great discussion, guys. And it does a better job verbalizing my philosophy on "game balance" than I was able to back in 2002. I think one of the big things that changed over time with the new direction TROS took around the time of the companion (which I think is a fine product, incidentally, albeit different from what I would have created) was the idea of balancing out TROS in game terms and not story terms. For a very, very wide audience that was a reasonable move.

But Ian and Michael, etc., make great points here. For me, TROS was about story, and not just story, but a certain kind of story. Likewise, you guys are absolutely correct that we're trying to recreate fiction, not reality. Fiction is often grounded more solidly in reality than RPGs are, however, so my early attempts at "realism" were, in fact, actually attempts at getting fiction right (even if I didn't understand that at the time).

It's funny to me to see how much stuff I stumbled upon on accident or though that no one would get and therefore dumbed down. I had no idea that SAs were going to catch on like they did (except in my very early meglomaniacal rants about my own genius as a fledgeling designer). I wish that I'd been bolder with them...but history is what it is.

That's why the combat is so satisfying to me. The intesity isn't great because it's "real." It's intense because it's about real, tangible risks in the face of what's important to each character's story.

As for magic...yeah. There's no balance there because it was never about that. If a game is about decision and consequence (as TROS and its kin are), then the punch doesn't come from what decisions are available to your character, but rather what decision they take. Destroy the world for a woman? What a story! Throw a fireball for some treasure...lame!

Anyway, I didn't have much constructive to add, but the discussion was too good not to chime in.

Jake

_________________
Jake Norwood
It's broke. I know, I know...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: So -- what is TRoS actually about?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:41 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:33 am
Posts: 110
Location: Not Iraq, and that's the important thing.
Ian.Plumb wrote:
Crow Caller wrote:
What I see as a good exmple of why balance is essential can be seen in the Tale of the Mage and the Thief. The Player playing the Theif obvisouly wants to play a character that lives off his wits and is able to sneak into places unseen and get information or pilfer goods, who is able to open locks and climb nigh-unscalable walls. Now I agree this is all what Ian would label as External, however I don't think everything is so black and white, I think alot of internal issues are directly linked to external circumstances, the Saving the Princess cause she's my sister, is a good example.


Hmmmm -- I actually don't understand this bit.

Are you saying that a player wants to play a character because of the cool things he can do in the game world with the skills and abilities of that character?

I should clarify that Internal and External are relative to the player, not the character. "Save the Princess" is a scenario written by the referee in a traditional RPG. The goal of the scenario has been determined by the referee. It does not have to be written with any particular set of player characters in mind. Thus the goal of the scenario is External. "Save my half-sister, the Princess" is a Drive for a character in TRoS. It has been defined by the player in consultation with the referee and other players. Thus it is Internal to the player.



I'm going to pitch in here. I hope I'm keeping with the spirit of the discussion.

In the example of the thief (or the mage or anyone else), how powerful he is doesn't matter so much. In fact, if it does, it works in TROS's favor. It's like this...

How often have you played a game (any game) where you want an awesome thief (or warrior, or whatever) so that you can tell his story and walk in his shoes...but you can't, because you suck. Your character is balanced out according to the game world so that you're actually no form of badass thief or whatever. Instead you're imagining that your character is awesome as a guy who lives by his wits (internal), while in the actual game you're off doing the GM's big thing and facing those challenges which have nothing to do with the story you want to face (external).

Power level only changes the challenge and the details of the story. If you're a hyper-powered mage in TROS and you want to save the princess then it's easy, right? I mean, you're a TROS sorcerer. You can do almost *anything.*

Wrong! You can't make the princess want to be saved. What if you save her only for her to get in trouble again...because she's a magnet for it. She constantly does this kind of "cry for help" crap that has your awesome mage getting into all kinds of horrible situations--the kind that magic can't fix, because they're relationship-based. Now the awesome mage is truly challenged, because it isn't about power level. It's about what's at stake in the real story.

When you make a character in TROS you have two major toolsets to tell the GM (and other players) what you want: Concept/Philosophy and your SAs. Everyone overlooks that first pair, but it's important.

Concept: Thief who lives by his wits.
Philosophy: Why buy what you can steal? Why go to battle when a knife in the back is enough?
SA: Save the Princess

So the GM and other players know you want this stuff. The conflicts you face need to both show that these things are true *and* challenge them. Think about Superman...he can do just about anything, but he still has real conflicts because his conflicts aren't about what he can do (stop time, stop bullets, save the world), they're about the stuff that's hard (win Lois Lane's heart, figure out his own history, etc.).

Now we've got a story. And, as Ian says, if this is on the table, it's everyone's shared responsibility to support this...because you'll be returning the favor for the other characters.

It can be supported in two major ways. First, by helping. You want to save the princess? Then your buddies back you up. This is the standard idea of support which is common in external conflicts in game.

Second, your other players can support the SA by providing it with more conflict. Just as your thief is about to save the princess, her brother the mage wisks her away. Yikes! Conflict! Where did he take her? Why? Did he think she was in danger?

A good GM will run with this stuff. You, as a player, can encourage him. Let's say that when the mage teleports the sister away and your player comes up empty handed, she decides that it was him that saved her and not the thief...so she decides the thief doesn't love her after all, and she doesn't want anything to do with him.

Now she's safe, but the thief's story just got more complicated. Now he changes his SA to "win the Princess's heart," and he goes to try and explain. "Well, baby, I did try to save you, but your brother..."

Bam! Great internal conflict. Good story, great roleplaying.

Does that help? Did I run the wrong direction here on your issues?

Jake

_________________
Jake Norwood
It's broke. I know, I know...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: So -- what is TRoS actually about?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:17 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Jake Norwood wrote:
...The Companion


:evil:

Jake Norwood wrote:
... (which I think is a fine product, incidentally...


:shock:

Jake Norwood wrote:
... albeit different from what I would have created)


8-)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: So -- what is TRoS actually about?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:02 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Jake Norwood wrote:
In the example of the thief (or the mage or anyone else), how powerful he is doesn't matter so much. In fact, if it does, it works in TROS's favor. It's like this...

How often have you played a game (any game) where you want an awesome thief (or warrior, or whatever) so that you can tell his story and walk in his shoes...but you can't, because you suck. Your character is balanced out according to the game world so that you're actually no form of badass thief or whatever. Instead you're imagining that your character is awesome as a guy who lives by his wits (internal), while in the actual game you're off doing the GM's big thing and facing those challenges which have nothing to do with the story you want to face (external).


That describes every session of Chivalry and Sorcery that I ever played!

You weren't there were you...?

Jake Norwood wrote:
Power level only changes the challenge and the details of the story. If you're a hyper-powered mage in TROS and you want to save the princess then it's easy, right? I mean, you're a TROS sorcerer. You can do almost *anything.*

Wrong! You can't make the princess want to be saved. What if you save her only for her to get in trouble again...because she's a magnet for it. She constantly does this kind of "cry for help" crap that has your awesome mage getting into all kinds of horrible situations--the kind that magic can't fix, because they're relationship-based. Now the awesome mage is truly challenged, because it isn't about power level. It's about what's at stake in the real story.


Now I think we've side-stepped neatly into that other aspect of "what TRoS is actually about" and that is relationship-driven gaming (as opposed to event-driven gaming).

In External gaming almost everything that happens is event-driven. The referee creates a nefarious plot that will be executed by the NPCs. The events unfold, the player characters react to these unfolding events, the referee ensures that the player characters are one step behind the NPCs, and eventually the players work out what is going on and events culminate in the final scene. The reason the players get involved in the scenario might start out by paying lip-service to a relationship -- "Your lord the Baron of Blaine requests..." or "Your cousin the Abbess of St Mary's requests that you..." -- but events will quickly overtake relationships as the prime driver for player character activity.

In TRoS most scenes are driven at an important level by relationships; relationships between the player characters and relationships between the player characters and the non-player characters. When scenes are event-driven the absolute and relative power of each player charactre is very important. It determines the player's perception of how successful they are likely to be in the scene. When events are relationship-driven, relative and absolute power are far less important.

Jake Norwood wrote:
Second, your other players can support the SA by providing it with more conflict. Just as your thief is about to save the princess, her brother the mage wisks her away. Yikes! Conflict! Where did he take her? Why? Did he think she was in danger?


I'd also point out that this is a great no-no in External gaming. The referee does not want player character conflict -- it deflects attention from his plot, his goals for the scenario. In addition, when the goals of the scenario are external messing with another player's "stuff" -- whatever that might be -- is tantamount to an attack on the player.

In Internal gaming, this is the summit. The players are thinking about each others goals for the game to the point where they are comfortable adding narrative conflict as well as the standard narrative support. They are thinking about what it will take to make your time at the table more interesting. A laudable goal.

Jake Norwood wrote:
A good GM will run with this stuff. You, as a player, can encourage him. Let's say that when the mage teleports the sister away and your player comes up empty handed, she decides that it was him that saved her and not the thief...so she decides the thief doesn't love her after all, and she doesn't want anything to do with him.

Now she's safe, but the thief's story just got more complicated. Now he changes his SA to "win the Princess's heart," and he goes to try and explain. "Well, baby, I did try to save you, but your brother..."

Bam! Great internal conflict. Good story, great roleplaying.


Dynamic SAs, codified on the character sheet as the plot hook is tantalizingly cast out by another player or the referee. Fantastic. It can be ignored by the player or grasped with both hands -- depending on where they want their character's story to go.

That is what TRoS is about.

Regards,

_________________
Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Lyonpaedia
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: So -- what is TRoS actually about?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:44 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 8:06 am
Posts: 1495
Location: Vienna, Austria, Europe
Great post, Ian! I would like to single out this one of your many very valid and important points:

Ian.Plumb wrote:
In External gaming almost everything that happens is event-driven. The referee creates a nefarious plot that will be executed by the NPCs. The events unfold, the player characters react to these unfolding events, the referee ensures that the player characters are one step behind the NPCs, and eventually the players work out what is going on and events culminate in the final scene. The reason the players get involved in the scenario might start out by paying lip-service to a relationship -- "Your lord the Baron of Blaine requests..." or "Your cousin the Abbess of St Mary's requests that you..." -- but events will quickly overtake relationships as the prime driver for player character activity.

In TRoS most scenes are driven at an important level by relationships; relationships between the player characters and relationships between the player characters and the non-player characters. When scenes are event-driven the absolute and relative power of each player charactre is very important. It determines the player's perception of how successful they are likely to be in the scene. When events are relationship-driven, relative and absolute power are far less important.


Adventure fiction, the model for roleplaying stories, knows three, and only three, kinds of conflict:

Man Against Nature
Man Against Man
Man Against Self

Speaking generally, the order in which I numbered them is also the order in which these conflicts speak to us modern people. Man Against Nature was all very fine and exciting 3000 years ago, when our distant ancestors were still really struggling with nature on an almost daily basis and actually threatened by it, but to us modern people this kind of conflict has lost much of its bite. We can’t relate to this kind of conflict anymore, and that’s why roleplaying adventures that revolve around braving hostile nature, as in traversing a desert or climbing a mountain, are mostly lame.

Conflicts we modern people like to see, conflicts we can relate to, are those with other men and those with ourselves. This is really what roleplaying adventures should be about.

Many modern roleplaying games, like for instance BW, make it nowadays part of character creation that the player must also create (only as names, not with stats!) several NPCs or organisations he is linked to. I have made it a firm rule that every PC in my games, without exception, needs to start out with at least three “relations” he cares about, among them at least one that can be viewed as positive (love, friendship, etc.) and one negative one (hate, rivalry, etc.). And I tell my players that these relations of their characters will be involved in the game. They are the fuel for relationship-driven events, and by creating the relations themselves, the players tell me on what and what kind of relations they would like the story to hinge. In that way, these relations are quite similar to SAs – they are a means for the players to tell me what interests them.

And SAs in themselves, together with the Philosophy Jake has reminded us of, are also a great means to provide for that most sublime of conflicts – Man Against Self. So a PC believes something (Philosophy/SA)? Fine. I see it as my duty as referee to challenge this belief: “So you hold this true? Now what if that happens? Still? Ok, but what if this happens? Still? Ok, but what if…”

Quite a few instances of this technique, applied to a game of TRoS set in Weyrth, can be found in this thread on game prep and actual play.

It comes down to this: When a character’s believes are challenged, he is forced to review them and either abandon them or stick to them. Either is a statement about who the character is, reveals him to us, and makes for good stories. The SAs and the Philosophy are perfect devices to get this kind of “Man Against Self” stories going, and this is for me what TRoS is really all about. The great combat system is, at the end of the day, merely window dressing. It’s not “Can you win the fight?”, it’s “What will you fight for?”, and the answer to this question is arrived at by a “Man Against Self” conflict.

That's what TRoS is about, that's the Riddle of Steel.

_________________
My real name is Michael; use it, if you like.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: So -- what is TRoS actually about?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:51 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Grettir wrote:
Many modern roleplaying games, like for instance BW, make it nowadays part of character creation that the player must also create (only as names, not with stats!) several NPCs or organisations he is linked to. I have made it a firm rule that every PC in my games, without exception, needs to start out with at least three “relations” he cares about, among them at least one that can be viewed as positive (love, friendship, etc.) and one negative one (hate, rivalry, etc.). And I tell my players that these relations of their characters will be involved in the game. They are the fuel for relationship-driven events, and by creating the relations themselves, the players tell me on what and what kind of relations they would like the story to hinge. In that way, these relations are quite similar to SAs – they are a means for the players to tell me what interests them.


This is a really solid way to start a new character. I also think it is a great way to introduce a new player to TRoS. By emphasizing the character relationships during the character generation process you are alerting the new player to the fact that TRoS may be quite different from other RPGs they've tried -- or if the player is new to role-playing, you are setting up right from the start the fact that relationships drive the plot. In TRoS you can't emphasize that enough.

Grettir wrote:
The great combat system is, at the end of the day, merely window dressing.


I'd like to head off at a tangent at this point. In TFoB, the Mass Combat System is just that -- window dressing. It is designed to construct the backdrop against which you can set your relationship-driven scenes. The Mass Combat System is a quick and dirty mechanic for detailing how the battle goes. It is very abstract, allowing for the ebb and flow of a battle but emphasizing (over emphasizing...?) the effect that the player characters have on the battle.

The very way in which the system is built -- battle turns in which each character may perform an Heroic Action -- allows the referee to describe the flow of the battle in broad terms while focusing on the individual scenes of the characters. This for me is a clear guide to TRoS' idea that events, grand-scale and tragic though they might be, are in the end the backdrop for the stage on which the player characters will play out their relationship-driven scenes.

Regards,

_________________
Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Lyonpaedia
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: So -- what is TRoS actually about?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:28 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 6:37 pm
Posts: 205
The main combat system is about as much window dressing as combat in general is, in my opinion. It allows for believable combat, which in turn makes for exciting combat. If combat is a part of that story, then surely it should be just as interesting as the rest, if not more so, or else it is just a chore. And if it's just a chore, what is it doing in the game?

To put it another way, with single combat in D&D you have two people flailing at each other with no discernible effect until one of the two simply drops dead. Also, if one of the characters is noticeably better on the sheet than the other, that one will win. There is no drama or suspense in that.

In TRoS, on the other hand, every hit counts, fighting smart counts. No matter who the participants are, either of the two could win, especially in an important fight where SAs even the odds between two otherwise poorly matched opponents. This provides suspense, which in turn makes the combat as interesting to watch or take part in as the rest of the story, rather than a chore that must be completed before one can get back to the good stuff.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: So -- what is TRoS actually about?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:44 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 1:07 am
Posts: 953
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Ian.Plumb wrote:
Jake Norwood wrote:
...The Companion


:evil:


:)

Quote:
Jake Norwood wrote:
... (which I think is a fine product, incidentally...


:shock:


:D

Quote:
Jake Norwood wrote:
... albeit different from what I would have created)


8-)


:lol:

_________________
"It was hard-fought, a desperate affair that could have gone badly; if God had not helped me, the outcome would have been quick and fatal" (115) ~ Beowulf after defeating Grendle's Mother.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: So -- what is TRoS actually about?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:59 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:05 pm
Posts: 2035
Location: Estonia
Ian.Plumb wrote:
In External gaming almost everything that happens is event-driven. The referee creates a nefarious plot that will be executed by the NPCs. The events unfold, the player characters react to these unfolding events, the referee ensures that the player characters are one step behind the NPCs, and eventually the players work out what is going on and events culminate in the final scene.
Well, I don't think this is as black and white. Nefarious or not, pre-determined plots can be good if they are the direct results of NPC motivations (especially if the PCs interact with the said NPCs). In our games, there's constantly 4-5 major NPC motivated plots running and PCs are connected with some of those, each (usually) from a different angle, and some of those plots might never even be interfered by the PCs and thus they remain in the Backdrop. I believe that the gaming environment shouldn't stop breathing when a PC should happen to feel unmotivated for some reason. Also, I don't see the "one step behind" as mandatory. PCs can catch up as well so that NPCs have to think on their feet and rework their plans...

_________________
"Brothels are a much sounder investment than ships, I've found. Whores seldom sink, and when they are boarded by pirates, why, the pirates pay good coin like everyone else."
- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: So -- what is TRoS actually about?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 2:02 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Oct 10, 2010 9:46 am
Posts: 29
Location: Bunbury, Western Australia
* bump *

I only wanted to comment that this thread is a phenomenal read. Thanks to all involved. It should be sticky taped to the front of the pdf's, or declared required reading before all ten-sided dice purchases, or something.

If it will be noticed and read by a few more TRoS newbies or Trosfans guests because I've bumped it to the top of the heap, so much the better...

_________________
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe."
- Carl Sagan

"You can't have everything. Where would you put it?" - Ann Landers


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 26 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron


Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group              Designed by QuakeZone