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 Post subject: Desperation SA
PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:40 am 
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I have been toying with a concept of a desperation dice pool bonus.

It comes from some reading about battles and enemy armies. It has been said that entraped men with nothing to lose fight like lions. It reminds me of many a year ago learning about the table of needs.

When desperate for a need high on the table air for example one gets frantic and will basically kill to get air.

My thought is basically this. In a moment of desperation people act with passion and absolute conviction and energy, that seems like SA material to me.

So if you don't let those mooks run they'll become fierce desperate fighters suddenly, with an extra bonus to their CP.

Anyway just a thought.

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 Post subject: Re: Desperation SA
PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:55 am 
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Valthalion wrote:
I have been toying with a concept of a desperation dice pool bonus.


There are basically two interpretations for what SAs represent and therefore how they are constructed and played.

In one interpretation, SAs represent that which is dearest to the character were the character to be a real person or creature. SAs are based on the character's background and are largely unchanging during play. For an SA to change something massive must happen to the character in-game -- the fulfilling of a Destiny, the death of the object of a Passion. Scenes are generally not built around the character's SAs; SAs have an inferred connection to the scene.

In the other interpretation, SAs represent what the player wants the game to be about for their character. They revolve around the story that the player wants to tell through their character. They represent what is uppermost in the character's mind at the moment. SAs change regularly as the player takes up new plot arcs and disengages from old or stagnant ones. Some number of SAs are directly connected to each scene that the character participates in.

Personally, I am opposed to the first interpretation and I am all for the second interpretation. As a result, the idea of Desperation Dice sends shivers down my spine. To me, it is no different to the argument that every character should have a Will to Survive SA, as everybody fights harder when their life is on the line. The problem, of course, is that such an SA doesn't drive the plot anywhere and so does not fulfill the function that SAs were designed for -- to make the referee's job of creating scenes and scenarios easier.

But enough of my particular hobby-horse... :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Desperation SA
PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:17 am 
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I absolutely agree with you about the purpose of SAs. I think that I'd use it only for desperate NPCs, so really it wouldn't be an SA, maybe just bonus dice or something.

Perhaps it would be better in game terms if they became desperate and use all their CP on attack or something else more in tune with a narrativist agenda :)

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 Post subject: Re: Desperation SA
PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:50 pm 
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Valthalion wrote:
My thought is basically this. In a moment of desperation people act with passion and absolute conviction and energy, that seems like SA material to me.
That's a really, really good question you have here. How to model a desperate action that is unrelated to your SAs? World of Darkness has the Willpower mechanic for that, but firing SA works like constant spending of Willpower already.

Perhaps something in the lines of the proposed Drama mechanic for EoS? Drama lets you ignore some Pain on one hand, so, maybe on the other hand it could make the character ferocious? I'm not quite sure what the benefit should be though. CP addition would duplicate the SAs, -1ATN or DTN would be extremely mechanical (and not to mention, powerful) way to handle this and all players would want (frequent) access to such a feat.

A tough one. :|

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 Post subject: Re: Desperation SA
PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 5:09 pm 
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Oh boy, would I love to write a lengthy essay on this... :ugeek: :roll:

First of all, regulars of this forum know that Ian and myself are usually totally on the same page about SAs, so I need not add anything to what Ian said, apart from that I agree with it.

But knowing that you, Valthalion, are firmly grounded in classical Greek history I cannot but think about Desperation as an SA in the sense we find in the works of Euripides and Sophokles, and in the sense that the Greeks themselves, judging from the underlying theme of their most beloved plays and myths, regarded as central problems of their passionate souls. I is not for nothing that on the holiest of holy temples of ancient Greece, the temple of Apollon at Delphoi, they had inscribed the aphorisms “Know Thyself” and “Nothing Too Much” – these were the very things that were so hard for the greeks to achieve that they needed to remind themselves of them time and time again, and to thematize them in their greatest works of literature.

If Achilles is lacking anything, it is moderation.

From the viewpoint of what a passionate soul lacking moderation is able to commit out of desperation, Desperation would be an excellent SA – but only from this viewpoint, not as a mere lifesaver. Desperation drives Medeia to slaughter her own children, whom she loves dearly, just to get back at her husband, whom she still loves, too. Desperation has Oidipos blind himself when he realizes that he has slain his father and wed his mother. Desperation has Aias kill himself when he disgraces himself.

Ok, I’ll check my rant here. I’ll just say that I once designed a mechanic for a campaign set in Homeric Greece where the PCs’ passions were the prime drivers of their stories and led to horrible crimes being committed. In that vein, Desperation might be an excellent SA. Otherwise, I’d advise you to forget it, as it is lame and does not yield enough story material.

And damn, I’ve got to visit Delphoi again. It’s a magical place if ever I’ve seen one.

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 Post subject: Re: Desperation SA
PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:05 am 
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Grettir wrote:
I’d advise you to forget it, as it is lame and does not yield enough story material.


Yeah I think I was musing with my sim hat on. I wasn't really even thinking about PCs and stories more NPCs and slaughter and military history. I never even imagined it being availiable to a PC. It just occured to me that when you see things like "If you really want to see how well a man can fight surround him and give him no way of escape" and other sentiments from the past, and think about how most gamist and probably sim people deal with encounters, that it doesn't really work for me.
So the title of this thread was misleading.
As stories though these things can be poweful as the Alamo and Camarón suggest, but I suppose they are actually scenarios with other SAs


As an aside can you imagine a scenario where, the whole orc nation rises in fury concerning the slaughter to the man (orc) of their outpost, by the PCs. "Remember the Alamo" style :twisted:

Grettir wrote:
From the viewpoint of what a passionate soul lacking moderation is able to commit out of desperation, Desperation would be an excellent SA – but only from this viewpoint, not as a mere lifesaver. Desperation drives Medeia to slaughter her own children, whom she loves dearly, just to get back at her husband, whom she still loves, too. Desperation has Oidipos blind himself when he realizes that he has slain his father and wed his mother. Desperation has Aias kill himself when he disgraces himself.

Yeah I see what you mean, although I'm not sure that Desperation is the right word. :)
Grettir wrote:
. I’ll just say that I once designed a mechanic for a campaign set in Homeric Greece where the PCs’ passions were the prime drivers of their stories and led to horrible crimes being committed. In that vein, Desperation might be an excellent SA. Otherwise, I’d advise you to forget it, as it is lame and does not yield enough story material.


I have designed a campaign for Mythology/Bronze Age, but the SSC stopped the whole process in its tracks, but it had a heavy emphasis on flaws. A topic I'll open up soon in another thread.

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 Post subject: Re: Desperation SA
PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:54 am 
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Valthalion wrote:
Yeah I see what you mean, although I'm not sure that Desperation is the right word. :)

It indeed isn’t. :) I had christened the mechanic „Pathos“, in exactly the antique sense of the Greek word meaning any violent, unchecked, passionate agitation that can have somebody go against common sense and even conventional moral codes, unmindful of the consequences of his passion. Your Desperation just reminded me of this.

Valthalion wrote:
[As an aside can you imagine a scenario where, the whole orc nation rises in fury concerning the slaughter to the man (orc) of their outpost, by the PCs.

Sweet. :twisted:

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 Post subject: Re: Desperation SA
PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:02 pm 
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Well, the real question here is that we don't have a mechanic that would model a desperate effort. If the character doesn't have Luck or Destity SA and he happens to slip on a rooftop and obviously his life depends on it, he can't really boost his roll in any meaningful way. Sure Drama handles that as it gives you an option to buy a success... but as we discussed EoS, the general consensus seemed to shy away from the safety net usage. So, if this safety net usage is removed from the Drama of EoS, perhaps we need to come up with a way to model a desperate effort in general?

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 Post subject: Re: Desperation SA
PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:04 pm 
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higgins wrote:
Well, the real question here is that we don't have a mechanic that would model a desperate effort. If the character doesn't have Luck or Destiny SA and he happens to slip on a rooftop and obviously his life depends on it, he can't really boost his roll in any meaningful way. Sure Drama handles that as it gives you an option to buy a success... but as we discussed EoS, the general consensus seemed to shy away from the safety net usage. So, if this safety net usage is removed from the Drama of EoS, perhaps we need to come up with a way to model a desperate effort in general?


Well put higgins. This isn't a simple question. If we have a desperation mechanic, is it going to fire every time a PC or NPC approaches death? If so, it's going to fire a lot. Is it only available to PCs? If so, it is going to feel like a fudge. On the other hand, "No Meaningless Death!" would be a great motto for PCs in EoS. What to do?

For myself, while I understand Grettir's argument that Luck/Drama becomes insurance for players of a particular mindset -- and therefore doesn't get used for its intended purpose unless the player has a stockpile available -- I still lean in this direction. Mainly though because I can't see a viable alternative.

What to do for EoS?

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