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 Post subject: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:04 pm 
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*intense drum rolls*

If you've been dying to get your paws on early EoS playtest, seek no further. This is it. A pre-alpha barebones playtesting thing. It is very raw and assumes the general understanding of how TROS works. One can't expect much from a mere fourteen pages, but this is as playable a thing I've managed to scrape together from the many discussions here in the forums. I've tried to take account as much consensus as possible, but there's no denying the presence my own personal vision. Whether that vision is beneficial or detrimental to the game will be determined by your feedback.

If you have the TROS core book, there is only two files you need:
- Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts 0.1
- EoS Sheet 0.1

If you don't have the TROS core book, you'll also be needing two downloads from official Driftwood website:
- The Appendix of TROS core book
- Maneuver Reference Cards

I occasionally reference something outside of those two downloads or outside of the core book. If it's confusing for you, just ask in this thread.

For making new suggestions to the tables and such, I'll include Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts 0.1 also in MS doc format. If you do change the values, however, please make them in different colour, so, I could make better sense of what you have changed if you send me the document back.

Have fun! :)

P.S.
My initial thought was for everyone to post their feedback in this thread, but it might be a better idea for each person to make his own topic for the sake of clarity. If making a new thread sounds too intimidating, you can post replies here as well. :)

Edit: I've removed the pre-alpha links as these files have been hopelessly dated. Visit songofsteel.net instead :)

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- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


Last edited by higgins on Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:29 am, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:17 pm 
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Awesome! I have a new group I'm going to be playing with who have never touched TRoS and some have never even Role played. It will be good to see what they think... Though I will probably invent house rules when I do I'll let you know based on the situation.


~Flint


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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:29 am 
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I've used my Cardinal's Guards priority table as an example, but if your game is going to be something different, just make a new thread in the EoS forums and we'll help you coming up with a custom priority table.

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- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:31 am 
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higgins wrote:
*intense drum rolls*


Good work Higgins! Thanks for putting some order to the chaos.

Oh, and as for the storms -- Cyclone Yasi was indeed the biggest in a century. Melbourne though is about 2,500km south of Innisfail, which is where the eye of the cyclone crossed onto dry land in Queensland.

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 7:27 am 
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Thanks, Higgins! I'm glad you put this all together. I was having a hard time going through all the EoS forum threads.

First some pleasantries...

Spoiler: show
Sorry I've been gone so long, but I am definitely back now and my New Year's resolution is to get my TRoS campaign in full swing. To help me do that - among other things - I have recently joined the local chapter of Jake Norwood's HEMA-Alliance. I hope to learn more about medieval martial arts and use that to enrich my players' TRoS experience. If you haven't already, I encourage everyone to watch Reclaiming the Blade, a documentary on the subject of medieval swordplay filled with awesome demonstrations - including your favorite maneuver and mine, half-blading.


Next, I wanted to say that I have always been unhappy with the term red/red or red/white. It's too metagame, don't you think? I think what Jake was trying to re-create was the Liechtenauer philosophy of vor versus nach. Read this excerpt from Wikipedia, and tell me this doesn't sound exactly like red/white and buying initiative.

Quote:
At the centre of the art lies emphasis on swiftness, as well as balance and good judgement:

(fol. 20r) vor noch swach stark Indes / an den selben woertern leit alle kunst / meister lichtnawers / Und sint dy gruntfeste und der / kern alles fechtens czu fusse ader czu rosse / blos ader in harnuesche

"'Before', 'after', 'weak', 'strong', Indes ('meanwhile'), on these five words hinges the entire art of master Lichtenauer, and they are the foundation and the core of all combat, on foot or on horseback, unarmoured or armoured."

The terms 'before' (vor) and 'after' (nach) correspond to offensive and defensive actions. While in the vor, one dictates his opponent's actions and thus is in control of the engagement, while in the nach, one responds to the decisions made by his opponent. Under Liechtenauer's system, a combatant must always strive to be in control of the engagement—that is, in the vor.

'Strong' (stark) and 'weak' (swach) relate to the amount of force that is applied in a bind of the swords. Here, neither is better than the other, but one needs to counter the opponent's action with a complementary reaction; strength is countered with weakness, and weakness with strength.

Indes means "meanwhile" or "interim", referring to the time it takes for the opponent to complete an action. At the instant of contact with the opponent's blade, an experienced fencer uses 'feeling' (fühlen) to immediately sense his opponent's pressure in order to know whether he should be "weak or "strong" against him. He then either attacks using the "vor" or remains in the bind until his opponent acts, depending on what he feels is right. When his opponent starts to act, the fencer acts "indes" (meanwhile) and regains the "vor" before the opponent can finish his action


Obviously not all storytellers will want to use medieval German terminology for their games, but I think saying VOR and NACH and talking about wards and hews adds a nice flavor to the game.

Glad to be back!

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"Remember it well, then... this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, 'I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!' . . . For it is the doom of men that they forget."


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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:18 am 
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Seanachai wrote:
(...) I have always been unhappy with the term red/red or red/white. It's too metagame, don't you think? I think what Jake was trying to re-create was the Liechtenauer philosophy of vor versus nach.
I think this might indeed have been what Jake meant, and I guess using the historical terms would indeed add a nice flavour to the game, but I think they would also make learning curve steeper for the new players. And if steepness can be lessened by more intuitive terminology (such as red/white), I'm all for it. :)

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"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


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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:01 pm 
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I'm not sure how you, Ian, et al. want to handle feedback on this Pre-Alfa, but I'll be so bold as to propose that you consider making a thread for "first impressions" and "playtesting concerns". I know there are 1,000+ posts which circle around these concepts, but it will be helpful to new eyes, such as myself, to get a summary like:

    Concept/Mechanic: Static TN6
    Consensus: Unanimous
    Rationale: Learning curve, simplicity
    Outstanding concerns: Bob doesn't like it because combat doesn't have static TNs and neither does several situations such as XYZ...

My first general impression -- and this might just be because Higgins wrote this up - is that EoS seems to have so far taken a lot of direction from (new) World of Darkness.

    Attribute + Attribute Formula
    Attribute + Skill (+ Skill Specialization Die)
    Health "Track"

I myself stumbled upon TRoS when I was trying to find something like WoD but different. However, for those who have enjoyed TRoS and want something more polished, I wonder how they might react. (Fortunately, I have a group of friends who play WoD regularly to playtest this on.) I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

Dropping derived attributes for Attributes + Attributes makes sense, but I don't think it's any easier. When playing nWoD, I always forget what makes up a perception roll, and whenever the storyteller tells me to combine attribute 1 and attribute 2, I usually have no idea what he's looking for. Is the concern here to save up space on the character sheet or reduce the vocabulary a player needs to know?

Finally -- because I'm going to be late for work if I don't leave now -- I raise my eyebrows at the health track. Was TRoS kidding itself when it sold itself as "the game without hit points"? Did TRoS HT feel like HP? Is it a design feature of EoS to be HP-less?

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:46 pm 
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Seanachai wrote:
My first general impression -- and this might just be because Higgins wrote this up - is that EoS seems to have so far taken a lot of direction from (new) World of Darkness.
I'm not going to deny that I've used nWoD as a primary system for years and this has influenced me (I like dots), however, if we go for standard TN, it makes very much sense to use Attribute+Skill as a main formula (this was suggested by Michael in a first place, IIRC). However, there are several points that come with that package:

- if we roll plain Attribute instead of Attribute+Attribute, the Attribute dice pools are generally half the size of Attribute+Skill
- if we keep Attribute and Skill values at 1-10, the amount of dice for a basic roll becomes huge -- in fact, it becomes too large for a single success to be considered as a successful roll. Michael's solution was to have different number of successes denoting basic success in different areas of the game (1 success in combat, 2 or 3 in skills, I think it was). I argued that it was far from intuitive and he challenged me to do better, so, I proposed decreasing the scale and to introduce Attribute+Attribute rolls. Michael liked it, but others complained of too little scaling.
- coincidentally, ST & TO having too much impact was also an issue. After a lengthy discussion, using half of the values of those attributes was deemed as the most elegant solution. This "fix" is basically "built into" the 1-5 range.
- The idea of broader skills was generally liked, IIRC, and so, specialities make sense.
- On the "health track" see below.

Seanachai wrote:
Dropping derived attributes for Attributes + Attributes makes sense, but I don't think it's any easier. When playing nWoD, I always forget what makes up a perception roll, and whenever the storyteller tells me to combine attribute 1 and attribute 2, I usually have no idea what he's looking for. Is the concern here to save up space on the character sheet or reduce the vocabulary a player needs to know?
For me, it is to make the game more flexible. I've never had a problem in taking a glance at the attributes and deciding which two are most relevant for the current situation (even if the formula comes out a bit different from what it says in the book).

Seanachai wrote:
Finally -- because I'm going to be late for work if I don't leave now -- I raise my eyebrows at the health track. Was TRoS kidding itself when it sold itself as "the game without hit points"? Did TRoS HT feel like HP? Is it a design feature of EoS to be HP-less?
Yes, EoS is HP-less.

Look at the TROS BL mechanic. You roll once per round no matter what. Your HT drops and drops as you fail the EN rolls and none of the blood loss has any impact on you. Then your HT drops to 1 and your dice pools are halved. Then you fail one more EN roll and you're dead. Does this reflect dying from blood loss to you? To me, it looks more like an arsenic poisoning. You're fine for a while and then drop dead in a matter of seconds.

The "health track" as you called it, replaces what was tracked by HT in TROS. The penalties start earlier and grow steeper to model the waning strength. Also the frequency of resisting the blood loss is tied to the seriousness of the wound. Does it really feel like hit points? Game mechanically speaking, to me, it feels more like Pain that kills you if it grows too large.

P.S.
My initial thought was for everyone to post their feedback in this thread, but now that you mention it, it might be a better idea for each person to make his own thread for the sake of clarity. If making a new thread sounds too intimidating, you can post replies here as well.

Edit: I created the concept/mechanic summaries thread: viewtopic.php?f=42&t=589

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- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:45 pm 
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First of all, thank you very much, higgins, for taking the pains to summarize our discussions and results. Very useful, that.

I've mentally chewed thorugh the first few pages of your document, and there are a few points, mostly minor.

Attribute definition: Instead of outright defining them as "a character's mental and physical capabilities", I'd much rather see a wording (and, more importantly, understanding) that they are "a character's effectiveness in performing mental and physical feats", or somesuch. We have discussed what we want EoS' attributes to represent, and I remember that there was quite a degree of concern not to have attributes in itself, on the character sheet, divorced from an actual action relate to very much and not to make a comparison of the naked ratings correspond actual to capability; this was in part to preemptively disarm possible realism-concerns about PAs totally disrupting attribute scaling. Therefore, I think that it is important to define attributes in a way relating to action.

Social: Another minor point, but I think that the definition of Social should really include something like social intelligence. A feeling for what it opportune in dealing with other people should certainly be part of Social, as I can see somebody who is neither especially attractive nor particularly charismatic but does simply have a feel for what people would like to hear and who knows how to make the right impression as having a decent Social rating.

Attribute range: A major point, as I seem to recall that the reception of the scaling-down-proposal was lukewarm at best. Higgins was all for it, Ian was seemed to have been rather against it, and I myself could have seen myself going either way. The total lack of positive reaction from others to the proposition gives me the impression that nobody cared for it - though I may be mistaken.

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 7:14 pm 
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Grettir wrote:
Attribute definition: Instead of outright defining them as "a character's mental and physical capabilities", I'd much rather see a wording (and, more importantly, understanding) that they are "a character's effectiveness in performing mental and physical feats", or somesuch.
Uh, yes, I struggled with those definitions. :) Let's give it another shot.

Attributes represent the fundamental traits common to all sapient life forms. While attributes are largely determined by genetic makeup, they can also be developed through training and experience.

Skills represent a character's learned abilities, but also factor in other elements such as raw talent and natural aptitude. Skills are mainly developed through training and experience.

Attributes and Skills should not be seen as actual capability, but merely the character's effectiveness in performing mental and physical feats.


Somehow I feel that the whole thing lost its clarity... Defining things is hard.

Grettir wrote:
Social: Another minor point, but I think that the definition of Social should really include something like social intelligence. A feeling for what it opportune in dealing with other people should certainly be part of Social, as I can see somebody who is neither especially attractive nor particularly charismatic but does simply have a feel for what people would like to hear and who knows how to make the right impression as having a decent Social rating.
Social: charisma, personal appeal and social intelligence. Sounds good to me. :)

Grettir wrote:
Attribute range: A major point, as I seem to recall that the reception of the scaling-down-proposal was lukewarm at best. Higgins was all for it, Ian was seemed to have been rather against it, and I myself could have seen myself going either way. The total lack of positive reaction from others to the proposition gives me the impression that nobody cared for it - though I may be mistaken.
I agree that you were the only one with anything positive to say about it, but it just fixed soooo many fundamental problems that I simply couldn't have brought myself together to compile this document had I discarded this solution.

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- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:35 pm 
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Grettir wrote:
Attribute definition:
higgins wrote:
Somehow I feel that the whole thing lost its clarity... Defining things is hard.

Maybe one could leave the definitions as they were and simply add this paragraph:

A direct comparison of attribute and skill ratings is only possible and telling for NPCs without PAs. With PCs and the rare NPCs with PAs, the actual, exact capabilities will only be revealed over the course of play and the use of PAs. Under no circumstances can it therefore be said that a PC with Strength 4 is twice as strong as a PC with Strength 2 or something alomg these lines. For characters with PAs, attribute and skill ratings should be viewed as only rough guidelines of actual capability.

Grettir wrote:
Attribute range:
higgins wrote:
I agree that you were the only one with anything positive to say about it, but it just fixed soooo many fundamental problems that I simply couldn't have brought myself together to compile this document had I discarded this solution.

I realize that. It is only the fact that scaling down did solve so many problems that I see merit in it at all; otherwise, I would clearly prefer a scaling with less granularity.

Still, as this proposition wasn’t particularly well received, I don’t think that we can simply use it as a basis. However, now that higgin’s document has been put forth as a basis to work from, I would like to encourage all supporters and detractors of scaling down to speak up. Qui tacet consentire videtur, as the Romans said – he who remains silent is held to be in agreement.

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:46 pm 
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Grettir wrote:
Attribute range:
Grettir wrote:
Still, as this proposition wasn’t particularly well received, I don’t think that we can simply use it as a basis. However, now that higgin’s document has been put forth as a basis to work from, I would like to encourage all supporters and detractors of scaling down to speak up.
Indeed! Ponder over it. Test it. Speak up, people! This is what the document is for. :)

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- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:29 pm 
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higgins wrote:
Michael's solution was to have different number of successes denoting basic success in different areas of the game (1 success in combat, 2 or 3 in skills, I think it was). I argued that it was far from intuitive and he challenged me to do better, so, I proposed decreasing the scale and to introduce Attribute+Attribute rolls. Michael liked it, but others complained of too little scaling.


That is one to go about it. In my own homebrew of TRoS, portions of which I hope to share in the near future for feedback, I take a lot of direction from Burning Wheel. One of the things I kept struggling with is this idea of obstacles, which means the number of successes a player is required to gain in order to achieve his exact intention.

I didn't like the way that felt for anything but extended rolls (ie. "You guys need to get 5 successes before you're done and each roll is an hour. Go!") But I DID like the MOS idea. I liked it so much that I decided to follow the advice of making ALL rolls CONTESTED rolls. The storyteller rolls against the player for everything, representing fate or circumstance. As you look at this list, please remember I am still using the old TROS scale.

Contest: Player rolls against another character. TN is SR for skills, TN6 for default Attribute tests, TN6-8 for resistances (eg. Stealth vs Perception).

Challenge: Player rolls against storyteller. TN is SR for skills, TN6 for default Attribute tests.
    Average: Needs little effort from those trained but a solid effort from someone untrained. Obstacle: 4d10.
    Tricky: Requires the full attention and effort of trained professionals. Obstacle: 6d10.
    Difficult: May prove too much even for professionals. Obstacle: 8d10
    Formidable: Only overcome by the best. Obstacle: 10d10.
    Heroic: An impossible feat known only in tall tales.

Along with this I have a simple MOS table. In Burning Wheel fashion, I describe outcomes as they relate to the player's declare intent. The more solid the MOS, the closer it is to his intention as worded - ie. the storyteller "earns" the right to compromise the story he he matches the player, and the player gets cool perks like gaining the right to describe the outcome ("Given the Narrative") if he has an overwhelming MOS.

The math both in theory and practice for making everything challenges or contests works out pretty well - and I think it's a lot more exciting than always having a static obstacle. That's not to say that I don't use static obstacles, but using this challenge system means I can focus more on the "Story Now" aspect where SOMETHING happens even in near successes.

higgins wrote:
Look at the TROS BL mechanic. You roll once per round no matter what. Your HT drops and drops as you fail the EN rolls and none of the blood loss has any impact on you. Then your HT drops to 1 and your dice pools are halved. Then you fail one more EN roll and you're dead. Does this reflect dying from blood loss to you? To me, it looks more like an arsenic poisoning. You're fine for a while and then drop dead in a matter of seconds.


I see your point, but I always assumed that the idea was that BL wasn't about tracking how dead you are but how long after a fight you'll be on the mend. Most times it's going to be Pain that kills you because your CP is so low, right? Since a bout only takes a minute anyway, you're not going to die from blood loss but from that darn Level 4 or Level 5 wound.

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:07 pm 
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Seanachai wrote:
The math both in theory and practice for making everything challenges or contests works out pretty well - and I think it's a lot more exciting than always having a static obstacle. That's not to say that I don't use static obstacles, but using this challenge system means I can focus more on the "Story Now" aspect where SOMETHING happens even in near successes.
I've tried something similar with d20 and at least from my own perspective, I can tell that rolling every time along with the players slows down the game and gets very old to the referee very quickly. Switch 1d20 with 10d10 and it becomes old even quicker (and probably slower as well).

That, and randomness aside, I don't see what's so different about this compared to my pre-alpha...

Also, I don't see how introducing randomness in the difficulty ladder helps to focus on "Story Now", but this is not an objection on principle, I just can't see how it helps. :)

Seanachai wrote:
I see your point, but I always assumed that the idea was that BL wasn't about tracking how dead you are but how long after a fight you'll be on the mend. Most times it's going to be Pain that kills you because your CP is so low, right? Since a bout only takes a minute anyway, you're not going to die from blood loss but from that darn Level 4 or Level 5 wound.
In TROS there's two things that can kill you:
a) wound table effect
b) BL through HT loss

Pain cannot kill you. If only by the effect that you CP is too low to resist you opponent finishing you off (through either A or B).

If HT is 0, you're dead. If you're not dead, HT restores one point per day. The first healing roll will be after a week. So, unless you're a HT9+ character who ended up on HT1, BL has no effect on how long one mends (Pain determines that). And since you roll BL once per round when fighting... you really can collapse and die from BL in less than a minute (while fighting).

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- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Pre-Alfa Playtesting - Controversial Concepts
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:24 pm 
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higgins wrote:
I've tried something similar with d20 and at least from my own perspective, I can tell that rolling every time along with the players slows down the game and gets very old to the referee very quickly. Switch 1d20 with 10d10 and it becomes old even quicker (and probably slower as well).

Also, I don't see how introducing randomness in the difficulty ladder helps to focus on "Story Now", but this is not an objection on principle, I just can't see how it helps. :)


I am assuming that rolling against another player is always more exciting. If the roll isn't significant enough to make a challenge, I usually ask myself if even needs to be a roll. In this way, using the challenge mechanic often speeds things up.

I am assuming that the challenge mechanic focuses on MOS rather than obstacle. "I'm looking for 3 successes" can sound to me like D&D's "I'm looking for an 18". If you don't get it, you fail. In opposition, focusing on MOS means that a player may achieve at the task but fail at the intent. For example: Blaine the thief is able to open the door but NOT before the guards show up. The MOS can also provide a graded success.

This is what I mean by "Story Now". The challenge mechanic - for me at least - removes a little gamist-ness and adds exciting uncertainty where players are paying attention to see if they beat chance, circumstance, or whatever stands in their way.

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