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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 9:33 am 
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*dives into core*

*comes back*

Well, core seems to me pretty rigid on changing SAs, saying:

Core p. 66 wrote:
Should a player ever wish to change the focus of a Spiritual Attribute (such as a change in religion, love or ideals) that attribute and any one other Spiritual Attribute must be dropped to zero and the focus re-written. It may then progress as normal. An even rarer and more dramatic event is when a Spiritual Attribute changes entirely (e.g. replacing "Destiny" with "Passion"). This is only possible if (1) the Seneschal approves and if (2) 10 Spirit points (explained below) are spent top facilitate the change-over.


Apparently, core supports the "don't change your SAs unless you really have to, and then not for free" theory. Not saying that your way of doing things is wrong, definitely not, I think it's quite interesting, but I prefer develloping those original traits selected at character creation and build the story around those rather than exhausting and moving on. As said before, no one's right, no one's wrong, we just do it differently is all.


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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 11:53 am 
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TRoS Core p. 66 wrote:
Should a player ever wish to change the focus of a Spiritual Attribute (such as a change in religion, love or ideals) that attribute and any one other Spiritual Attribute must be dropped to zero and the focus re-written. It may then progress as normal. An even rarer and more dramatic event is when a Spiritual Attribute changes entirely (e.g. replacing "Destiny" with "Passion"). This is only possible if (1) the Seneschal approves and if (2) 10 Spirit points (explained below) are spent top facilitate the change-over.


Taho wrote:
Apparently, core supports the "don't change your SAs unless you really have to, and then not for free" theory. Not saying that your way of doing things is wrong, definitely not, I think it's quite interesting, but I prefer develloping those original traits selected at character creation and build the story around those rather than exhausting and moving on. As said before, no one's right, no one's wrong, we just do it differently is all.


This is a Social Contract issue.

As described in Spiritual Attributes -- from a Game Design point of view, the Spiritual Attributes are meta game, providing a mechanism wherein the referee gains certainty that the players will engage with the prepared material while the players gain assurance that their goals for the game will be met through the referee's scenario material. The mechanic is directly linked, in fact enforces, the Social Contract.

The situation described above is one where the player is breaking the Social Contract and teh rules describe how he or she is to be punished for doing so. What does this mean? In short, it describes the situation where a player creates a character with an array of Spiritual Attributes. The referee creates a bunch of material revolving around those SAs, with various plot threads slated to evolve over the next four or five gaming sessions. Ten minutes into the first game the player announces that they are no longer interested in pursuing those SAs -- and will therefore change them.

The referee has already prepared the material, the other players are already invested in their SAs -- this situation is painful for everybody at the table except the player looking to change their SAs. The Social Contract is, generally speaking, enough to encourage the player in question to pull their head in and stick with their original commitment. However, there are players for whom that isn't enough and TRoS caters for that situation. It weighs up how much effort the referee has probably gone to in preparing material for the player and then looks to wipe out a commensurate amount of effort from the player's character.

TRoS Core p. 66 wrote:
Should a player ever wish to change the focus of a Spiritual Attribute (such as a change in religion, love or ideals) that attribute and any one other Spiritual Attribute must be dropped to zero and the focus re-written.


As soon as you've spent two SAs to zero to increase your stats or skills or proficiencies or vagaries or buying a Gift or buying off a Flaw the above rule says you are free to change the focus of any existing SAs. In other words, during or at the end of just about every gaming session a player can initiate this change.

TRoS Core p. 66 wrote:
An even rarer and more dramatic event is when a Spiritual Attribute changes entirely (e.g. replacing "Destiny" with "Passion"). This is only possible if (1) the Seneschal approves and if (2) 10 Spirit points (explained below) are spent to facilitate the change-over.


This is the big one -- where the player instructs the referee to abandon all prepared material relating to one SA and to create scenes revolving around a completely different SA. This is a major pain in the butt for the referee and may even cause continuity issues for the other players. The referee will have to juggle a lot of material to accommodate the players desire for the game. But this is TRoS -- where the players dictate where the game goes, not the referee. So TRoS has rules for accommodating even this extreme a change.

Keep in mind that both of these situations are "hostile" -- where the player is initiating something without the referee's foreknowledge. This is completely different to the situation where the referee throws a new plot arc into a scene. If a player decides to pick up on that plot arc, by changing one or more of their character's SAs, there is no Social Contract break. The referee is already prepared for the change, and in fact probably hopes that somebody will decide to follow the new thread. As such if I was the referee in this situation I wouldn't enforce either of the above rules. There's no pain to me as referee so why should I seek to punish the player?

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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 12:04 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
1) When Captain Brogha has a 5 in this SA he gets five extra dice to his rolls when the SA is relevant to the scene. When he has a 0 in this SA he gets no extra dice even when the scene is clearly relevant to the SA. From a Sim perspective it is therefore clear that the degree of passion Captain Brogha feels for his wife is directly related to the value in the SA. The more he loves her the better he performs.

2) The player decides to change his character's SA "Passion: Love for wife, Stephanie" to "Drive: Find the killer of Stephanie's brother" because Stephanie's brother Philippe has been found murdered in the current scene. This means Captain Brogha no longer loves his wife, Stephanie.


simon burling wrote:
On point 2 Last sentence, No it just means that Captain Brouga's love for Stephanie is currently not inspiring him.


That is my understanding also. Nothing else makes sense. Why is a character limited to one Drive, one Destiny, and so on? The answer is that there is a limit to what influences can be motivating someone in any given moment, in any given situation. Any reasonable man loves his wife and each of his children. They can't all be SAs. However, I wouldn't hesitate to have this SA changed from "Passion: Love for wife, Stephanie" to "Passion: Love for eldest daughter, Beatrice" if Beatrice were being threatened in the current scene. To say that someone can only have a handful of motivations based on their entire life experience and that these motivations remain the same for months and years? That doesn't make sense to me at a logic level, leaving out the game mechanics for a moment.

simon burling wrote:
I may consider allowing the rating in the Drive to be subsumed into the Passion at the end of this arc, providing that there is some logical overlap, but, of course, at a reduced rate. Probably at 1 in 2 (down).


So why punish the player in this manner? What is the benefit in doing so?

simon burling wrote:
I would also consider allowing Captain Brouga to have 6+ SA's but only allowing 5 to be higher than 0. Also only long term SA's can be replaced like this and kept at 0.


Why would you do this? Can you give us an in-game situation where this would be handy?

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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 12:19 pm 
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Wow... This is getting waaaay too "out there". I've never considered a game in terms of "social contract" or "punishment", or even "players dictating where the game goes" .

To me, there's a world, there are characters, things happen, the characters react (generally according to their SAs). That's all.

All those concepts of social contract and stuff seems a bit too much mental masturbation with no practical application to me (which explains why I stay away from the discussions taking place in the "University" part of trosfans :mrgreen: ). I believe that, in terms of RPGs, abandonning the practical realm for the purely theoretical is a bit of a waste of time.

It may not be theoretical to you, I guess. You probably sit down around the table with your players and go "OK, so, where's this game gonna go and what we gonna do?" I don't. I give a basic layout of the campaign, the players make characters and I build a scenario around these characters bearing the basic concept of the campaign in mind. I suppose if players aren't happy about it, I'd let them go, but it hasn't happened so far.

I have a feeling that getting too involved with the theoretical and interpreting reactions and intentions of players can ruin the "game" part, maybe to favour the "role-playing" part, but I believe in balancing those out, and if I have to give precedence over to one, it would be the game. I don't like getting too serious or too worked up on something. If a player wants to change an SA after the first couple games, it's fine by me and he can do it for free if it's relevent, but I won't change my scenario for it. I don't have too, cause I don't calculate how much SAs will have to fire in any given scene. I don't even plan the scenes at all, actually. :D They just happen as a logical succession of events.

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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 3:05 pm 
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I do both really.

1) State overall theme that I'd be happy to run with and produce character guidelines (brief document to aid character creation within the theme).

2) Get characters back from players along with initial ideas for SAs. Provided I can think of enough material that overlaps at this stage I continue, other wise I discuss SA changes with players so the group has goals that overlap at least slightly.

3) Write scenarios around SA mixtures.

4) Let chaos commence!

I used to run purely free-form logical progression games, but I lost faith in the majority of role players to avoid doing anything but the standard "barely controlled chaos" without any real forward progression, even with SAs helping along. Players in general are the kind of people who burn down a town at the end of a long random string of events that all started out of something vaguely plot related. I'm not having it anymore, I need more structure and focus.

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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 9:33 am 
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Taho wrote:
To me, there's a world, there are characters, things happen, the characters react (generally according to their SAs). That's all.


In a traditional RPG -- I guess what players of Indie RPGs would generally call mainstream RPGs -- the game play consists broadly of the referee buying or creating a gaming environment and writing a scenario. The scenario usually consists of a particular format: some NPCs are up to no good, they are operating to a particular timeline, and they trigger certain events according to this timeline. At the start of the scenario the players are unaware of what is going on. As time progresses they see these timelined events occurring and are left to sort out the Mystery -- the link behind the events. If they are able to work out what is going on in time they can stop the NPCs plan from being successfully concluded.

This is what you might call a reactive scenario. The players are on the outside of the plot, looking in. They see snippets of events, aftermaths of events, and are left to sort out the unrelated events from the related, piecing together the puzzle hopefully in time to save the day.

This style of play isn't well suited to TRoS. A TRoS scenario is based on the SAs of the player characters. The skill of the referee is in the capacity to write the scenario and it's scenes based on the SAs of the player characters. It is far more seat-of-the-pants refereeing than traditional gaming. As the SAs dictate the scenario content or at least the direction of the scenario, the players are in control of the broad themes that will be examined in the scenario. So the game model moves from one where the referee owns the game world and the scenario content and the players explore that world through their characters (often largely Simulationist play) to one where the unfolding story is centered on the player characters (often largely Narrativist play) and thus somewhat shared story creation.

What makes TRoS' SAs so cool is that it enshrines the style of play within its mechanics.

Taho wrote:
All those concepts of social contract and stuff seems a bit too much mental masturbation with no practical application to me...


I understand it takes a long time to get your head around the game theory concepts, and its not everyone's cup of tea. No problem. I like it because it has a defined lexicon. When someone says Simulationist it has a specific meaning, one that is different from simulationist. From a TRoS perspective the language issue comes to a head when someone suggests changing the mechanics to make the game more "realistic". It's a completely subjective term and is unlikely to be the real reason why someone wants to change a rule. And this is where the practical application lies -- it allows people to discuss what they're looking for in a game with a common vocabulary. So much time is spent misunderstanding others points because we always read what someone says from the point of view of our own experiences and our terminology.

Taho wrote:
You probably sit down around the table with your players and go "OK, so, where's this game gonna go and what we gonna do?"


To me, this is what is so clever about the SA mechanic. There is no need to do this -- the players have already told you what they want the game to be about through the definition of their individual SAs and the group have already defined the common thread(s) through the definition of their shared or opposing SAs. In other games you do need to go through more or less of what you describe as it is a pain in the butt to have completely disparate characters and players who have completely different ideas about the style of game to be played.

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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 11:06 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
This style of play isn't well suited to TRoS.

I think something like "I believe" or "according to me" here could help. Others might take it badly thinking you're saying what they do sucks and what you do is the way it should be done ;)

I've been playing RPGs for ten years in two different countries and I'd NEVER heard this "Simulationist"/"Narativist" debate... ever. I have no idea where it comes from and what the point is, so I won't be much use if we start talking about those concepts (that, I have to admit, I'm not exactly passionate about ;) ).


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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 9:51 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
This style of play isn't well suited to TRoS.


Taho wrote:
I think something like "I believe" or "according to me" here could help. Others might take it badly thinking you're saying what they do sucks and what you do is the way it should be done ;)


I'm not suggesting that you or anyone else plays in any specific manner. I am trying to bring this back to the original topic -- when do SAs apply in a scene. In order to do that I am trying to juxtapose traditional gaming and the way it typically constructs scenes -- that is, event driven scene framing -- with the way TRoS and its mechanics encourage scenes to be constructed -- that is, character-driven scene framing through the SAs.

This concept is fairly central to the topic at hand. If scenes are tenuously linked to the SAs of the characters then providing illustrations for new players/referees of when SAs should apply is somewhat problematic. There will be times when it is clear and there will be times when it will look like referee fiat. On the other hand, when the scenes are firmly linked to the character's SAs the new player/referee can quickly come to an understanding of when SAs should apply in a scene.

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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 10:05 pm 
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GaGrin wrote:
1) State overall theme that I'd be happy to run with and produce character guidelines (brief document to aid character creation within the theme).


Do you find this is only necessary at the start of a new campaign or a new gaming environment? For a player who has to create a new character in an established game would this be skipped?

GaGrin wrote:
2) Get characters back from players along with initial ideas for SAs. Provided I can think of enough material that overlaps at this stage I continue, other wise I discuss SA changes with players so the group has goals that overlap at least slightly.


In the case of the established campaign and new character (not new player) do you find that the SAs they create are a hand-in-glove fit for the group and the campaign? Or is it still necessary to vet and make suggestions?

GaGrin wrote:
3) Write scenarios around SA mixtures.


In the case of the established campaign and new character do you find that the player usually wants to take the campaign in a new direction or do they tend to fit their new character's SAs in line with the material that is already under way?

GaGrin wrote:
I used to run purely free-form logical progression games, but I lost faith in the majority of role players to avoid doing anything but the standard "barely controlled chaos" without any real forward progression, even with SAs helping along. Players in general are the kind of people who burn down a town at the end of a long random string of events that all started out of something vaguely plot related. I'm not having it anymore, I need more structure and focus.


This is a subject worthy of its own thread. This might come down to an issue of control over the gaming environment and what transpires within it. If it is a shared responsibility -- "Your character is a landed knight, yeah? OK, I want you to do the layout for the fortified manor and the river-village. You can create up to six NPCs that represent your established contacts in the area. You need to define who they are, what they do, and how they are linked to you. (and so on)" -- and you set some of your scenes within this character's domain then you'll find that the care-factor amongst the players regarding the long term consequences of actions within the setting increases. There are of course many other ways to get the players to a place where they are generating as many long-term plot arcs as they are following them. An interesting topic.

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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 5:37 am 
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Unfortuantly I have never had the experience to answer those specific questions. Most of my games ended due to SA fulfillment and a lack of player focus in re-envigorating them; personal changes in situation (i.e. leaving University, my ex-gf and my gaming group behind in a matter of weeks) and I've only ever lost a single PC to combat - and that was in a solo game I was running.

Given that I do most of these steps just so I have enough notes and ideas, I'd imagine they'd apply all the time. And I've yet to meet a player who I could ask that much of in relation to point 5. Getting 5 SAs out of my players is a struggle and times and we don't get to play enough for them to really "get" it.

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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 6:28 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
I am trying to juxtapose traditional gaming and the way it typically constructs scenes -- that is, event driven scene framing -- with the way TRoS and its mechanics encourage scenes to be constructed -- that is, character-driven scene framing through the SAs.

I have the impression that you can't imagine having an event driven scenario that, through SA and character commitment, gives birth to character driven scenes. I see it happening at my tables all the time, so I don't see those aspects as two different things. I believe SAs are just as important in an event-driven scenario, because they allow the characters to really go forward into the story and reshape it by clever use of who they are and what they want.

That's why when you say that scenes in TRoS are different from a "mainstream" RPG, and that running it like one is "not well suited" I don't agree, and I think it is your own personal opinion. What makes a game good is that whichever way you choose to run it it is still fun for your players, and TRoS has this thing called Spiritual Attributes that makes it fun no matter how you play it and who you play it with, because whatever happens you're bound to have more character-driven scenes and plot-arcs than in other games.


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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 8:59 am 
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GaGrin wrote:
Unfortuantly I have never had the experience to answer those specific questions.


Fair enough. I hope you find a good group of like-minded gamers to play TRoS with on a consistent basis, to explore its potential together.

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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 9:27 am 
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Taho wrote:
That's why when you say that scenes in TRoS are different from a "mainstream" RPG, and that running it like one is "not well suited" I don't agree, and I think it is your own personal opinion.


Everything that is posted in these threads that isn't a quote from the rulebooks is more often than not an opinion. These forums are here to encourage the discussion of ideas, of opinions, of in-game experiences, of suggestions, and of concepts. There is no science under discussion here -- so there can be no absolutely right or wrong viewpoint. "This is the way I game and it works for me and my group" is a perfectly valid viewpoint, one that I and everyone else here would encourage every member of the community to put forward. The more of these viewpoints we get recorded, the more explanation we provide on how to make TRoS work in these many guises, the more useful this space becomes as a resource for others. That, for me, is it's primary purpose -- as a resource for others.

To fall back upon GNS terminology one last time, TRoS is a Simulationist/Narrativist hybrid design. It is one of the few games out there that has managed a cohesive hybrid design. What is more, and this is a testament to the skill involved in Jake and later Brian's work, TRoS is very easy to Drift in either direction. If you want a completely Simulationist game you can modify TRoS to be that game for you and your group and the game design remains cohesive. You can also Drift it completely in the Narrativist direction with a little modification to the rules. Showing others how this is achieved successfully is something we should be aiming for as a community.

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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 6:10 pm 
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I guess I'm more from the "Sim" end if you have not guessed :D

I think with some modifications TROS can be Sim based. The toughest thing is the lethalness of the system. I'm in favor of no hit poit based games where a single blow can do someone in, but with TROS that single blow does you in and many times you have no chance of surviving, unless you get into high fantasy magical healing which to me is going back down the D&D road of healing potions, which is not what I like.

Tros provides SA "armour" in essence to make PC's somewhat immune to the lethalness of the system to a point.

What I like better is not the use of SA's, which feel artificial, but making the characters able to survive severe wounds. While surviving severe wounds may not be entirely realisitc, it's one of the areas that I'm OK with breaking somewhat from reality :D

What I don't care for with the SA's is it is said they reward good role plaing, but in my opinion they drag the PC's by the nose with an aura of preordainment about it.

A system I preferred strictly from a role playing aid was Pendragon, where the traits and drives guided one, and not following your tratis and drives changes one's personality. This IMO is more of an aid to roleplaying while still allowing PC free-will.

There are some points to the SA's, to where a PC will rarely die if adhering to the plot until a pivotal moment. But I like the events to define what a pivotal moment is. The major "plot" of a scenario may be getting a decent healer and or herbs for a badly injured PC. Who is to say that this does not make an exiting or pivotal issue to the plot?

The character could die before help is received, or could even die while under care. But to me this is better than when you watch a TV series for instance, and you know the main character will probably not die in most situations.

I think TROS without SA's could work for something like I mentioned, just there would have to be some changes made to make combat a bit more surviveable. Not pumping up the PC and making them tougher, but just allowing them to "take a licking and keep on ticking" to quote Timex :D


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 Post subject: Re: When do SAs apply in a scene?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:31 pm 
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turin wrote:
I guess I'm more from the "Sim" end if you have not guessed :D


If there's one thing I learned from TRoS, it's to not put "The only RPG approved by the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts" on the back cover of a largely Narrativist-designed game. :D

turin wrote:
Tros provides SA "armour" in essence to make PC's somewhat immune to the lethalness of the system to a point.


Inherent in the design of TRoS is the idea that players do not fight unless they have SA-involvement in a scene. The other side of this coin, less often mentioned, is that it is equally important (if not more so) that the referee not present scenes in which the players have no SA-involvement particularly scenes where the most likely exit point to the scene is combat.

turin wrote:
What I don't care for with the SA's is it is said they reward good role plaing, but in my opinion they drag the PC's by the nose with an aura of preordainment about it.


This peaked my curiosity. If the referee created the PC's SAs, or if the referee created a scenario in which the players SAs were only tangentially relevant, then I'd say that the player was being railroaded. But when the players create the SAs -- and are free to change them as they see fit -- and the referee is required to incorporate them into the scenes of the scenario I'm not sure that's railroading.

It certainly changes the nature of refereeing. In a sense the referee is being railroaded into incorporating the player's goals for the game into the scenario material. More accurately though it removes sole-responsibility for scenario creation and makes it into a shared-responsibility.

turin wrote:
There are some points to the SA's, to where a PC will rarely die if adhering to the plot until a pivotal moment. But I like the events to define what a pivotal moment is. The major "plot" of a scenario may be getting a decent healer and or herbs for a badly injured PC. Who is to say that this does not make an exiting or pivotal issue to the plot?


An ivory tower perspective (we are, after all, in the Philosopher's Quarter):

PC gets badly injured. He's taken to a hospice where they have a reasonable healer. The referee throws out a new plot hook. A great healer is available in the next county. He's a hermit, a recluse, part mystic. He could be persuaded to visit the hospice -- he has done so on occasion in the past.

No player change's their SA to Drive: Locate the Mystic.

At this point the referee knows that nobody at the table is interested in this plot arc. This tells the referee not to spend in-camera time with this. If the referee needs the hermit to visit for some other aspect of the current to pan out, that's fine. Have the hermit visit or even have the PCs locate the hermit and retrieve him -- just don't play out more than one scene in-camera on this plot arc.

On the other hand two of the player's immediately change their SAs to Drive: Locate the Mystic.

At this point the referee knows that at least two players are intrigued by the mystic, and are showing their commitment to the injured PC by stating that this objective is uppermost on their mind. Devote a whole gaming session to locating and retrieving the Mystic, at the completion of which the players may revert their SA or create a new one freely (as a reward for heading down the path the referee needed).

turin wrote:
I think TROS without SA's could work for something like I mentioned, just there would have to be some changes made to make combat a bit more surviveable. Not pumping up the PC and making them tougher, but just allowing them to "take a licking and keep on ticking" to quote Timex :D


If you remove SAs you would need a new character-development mechanism. What would you suggest?

All RPGs that I can think of are predicated on the idea that PCs are exceptional and that they develop quicker than NPCs. How would you reflect that notion? Or would you set it aside and have all characters created equally, PC and NPC?

What do you think of Sorceror's PC-death mechanism, where any result that says that the character has died is ignored -- but requires the player to work out a death-scene for their character with the referee, and that scene is played out sometime in the following game or two?

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