Problems with Assets/Advantages

Suppose the bad guy has super thick armor, and my first slash didn't penetrate it to damage him.

Now suppose I attempt a solution: I charge the guy full-speed, putting all my weight behind my attack! As a player, I love this type of thing. It might work, it's colorful, it opens up new possibilities for consequences.

Or, suppose I attempt a multi-step solution: I race up the stairs, then once he's pursuing me, I turn on a dime and jump down at him, using gravity to aid my blow. I like this even better! It's colorful and consequence-abetting, and also a bit clever, and there's some suspense as we see whether the steps unfold as intended.

But now we get to system. "It might work" and "it's clever" need to be supported there, or I'll be disappointed. If our system is freeform and the GM buys what I'm selling, great! If it's a difficulties & bonuses system, and the GM and I can agree on a target number and which situational rules apply ("higher ground +1", "bull rush +2", etc.), also great! But if we haven't enjoyed those systems and we're trying FATE or Marvel Heroic or some other modern game with mechanics for creating an Asset or Advantage or positive Condition or whatever -- well, to date I haven't loved those.

In my experience, "create an asset" gets rules-first really quick, and winds up divorced from the fictional particulars. Great ideas and barely sufficient ideas all get lumped into the same "you performed that game action so now you have the +2 available for use" bag. Also, spending the action to create the asset is often not worth it if we take actions in turns, because I'm losing time or hit points or whatever while trying to tackle a problem in a greater number of steps. And, finally, once there's a system in place for creating assets, we run into trouble trying to match fictional positioning to that concept. If my forward momentum from charging an "asset"? If it isn't, does that mean it's worthless, because I thought fictionally instead of mechanically?

Has anyone played a "create an asset" system which didn't produce these downsides? The rules concept actually appeals to me quite a bit, so I'm curious!
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Comments

  • I don't know if I would go so far as to say that it manages to completely eliminate the downsides, but one thing I thought interesting about Shinobigami was that this kind of "asset" system can only be used by other players for your character, rather than you using it for yourself. This feels more like a response to the game's structure, which often has characters acting alone or in small groups, so it gives the other players a chance to contribute to scenes in which their characters aren't the primary subject.

    While it does relegate a player's own description of their character's actions to being simply atmospheric, it also means that you don't ever risk losing something for trying to undertake too complicated an action (though that probably has as much to do with the game's "one resolution per scene" ethos). Because of the sometimes-PvP nature of the game and the limitations on when the rule can be invoked by another player, it's not something you can always rely on happening, so it's less likely to "get rules-first." And because it's a genre-emulation game (inspired by classic ninja fiction tropes, for what that's worth) and takes a very "you are directing scenes like a movie director" approach, there is a pretty big bag of tropes and cliches that you can readily reach into and slip into a scene that will fit with the fiction.

    Like I said, I don't think that it's necessarily a good answer to your question. But I do think that the choice to off-load the decision as to how and when you get bonuses to the other players makes it feel, I don't know, slightly less problematic in general. Of course, it also can make you feel robbed of a particularly creative description of your own action, or possibly make you feel discouraged from doing it at all, so it could also be introducing its own new problem in the process.
  • Your example would not involve the creation of an Asset in Marvel Heroic or an Aspect in Fate so it doesn't surprise me that doing either of those things in that situation would work out in a dissatisfying way.
  • I think that this is solid gold RPG development territory, and to me it seems like one we could easily solve. (Well, maybe not, like, *easily* easily, but it's feasible.)

    One key method I can think of is placing human judgement of the fiction first, and then constructing a framework of mechanical options which get applied accordingly. Your example of "+1 for high ground" is an example of this, but there could be other ways to do it.

    Here's an example:

    You're doing something, and suddenly a danger looms into view. Something is happening which threatens you, and you're in trouble. How do you deal with it?

    Let's say the game is Apocalypse World-like: we have moves.

    In this hypothetical* game, we have three available moves:

    * When you act to avoid a threat's immediate effects...
    * When you make a last-ditch effort to mitigate the damage from a threat...
    * When you act to eliminate a threat for good...

    And each has appropriate outcomes, like getting ready of the threat entirely, slowing it down for a moment, or reducing its effects.

    When you go to do something about the threat, we must consider:

    The actions you're taking, could they eliminate the threat altogether? No? Then it's not the third move... Would they help you avoid it? Yes, ok, it's the first move.

    Something like that could work, I think.

    *: Yeah, right...
  • On another topic, I don't know if I agree with you on the "freeform" example. It has the bonus of human judgement but the drawback of not knowing how to proceed afterwards.

    For instance, imagine you make an attempt at something difficult. My enemy is running across the courtyard, and I throw a dart at him. The GM considers this for a moment, and describes that you didn't notice the wind and therefore your dart misses by a hand's breadth.

    You might have time for a second throw. Do you go for it? What are your odds?

    Sometimes it seems like you have a guaranteed success on your hands: "Ok, I adjust for the wind and throw again!"

    But it could also be totally hopeless: The GM has decided that this shot is too difficult for you.

    And it's almost impossible to tell the difference without asking outright. (And what can the GM really say, if you ask outright, without giving away the outcome of the potential action?)

    This sort of thing can be really tricky to handle. I'd love to hear any tips for doing so; I've seen many such awkward situations in play.

    (My own approach is to try to work a choice into the matter, with clear consequences: "Ok, you can try that again, but it will cost you X. Do you want to?" Maybe in this case I'd say, "If you threw all your darts - including the poisoned ones - you'd probably have a good chance of getting lucky and hitting her. But you won't have time to check which dart you're throwing or aim carefully, so anything could happen. What do you do?")
  • I do think that the choice to off-load the decision as to how and when you get bonuses to the other players makes it feel, I don't know, slightly less problematic in general. Of course, it also can make you feel robbed of a particularly creative description of your own action, or possibly make you feel discouraged from doing it at all, so it could also be introducing its own new problem in the process.
    Yeah, it's cool but different, and doesn't support the thing I want to do where I cleverly (or interestingly) tackle the situation and reap some rewards (or apt consequences) for that.
    Your example would not involve the creation of an Asset in Marvel Heroic or an Aspect in Fate so it doesn't surprise me that doing either of those things in that situation would work out in a dissatisfying way.
    Right. Do a thing that doesn't fit the rules? Okay, the rules are mute on it, it's as if you hadn't done it. It's not that an Asset isn't a cool tool, it's that it nudges play toward the bases it covers and away from the bases it doesn't cover. A lot of the time, my inspirations are not covered!
    In this hypothetical game, we have three available moves:

    * When you act to avoid a threat's immediate effects...
    * When you make a last-ditch effort to mitigate the damage from a threat...
    * When you act to eliminate a threat for good...

    And each has appropriate outcomes, like getting ready of the threat entirely, slowing it down for a moment, or reducing its effects.

    When you go to do something about the threat, we must consider:

    The actions you're taking, could they eliminate the threat altogether? No? Then it's not the third move... Would they help you avoid it? Yes, ok, it's the first move.
    I certainly wouldn't call them Moves! I'll call them Approaches.

    So, yeah, a fictional situation arises, my character responds, and when we want to see how that response works out, we:

    - classify the situation so as to pick the right Approaches list
    - classify the Approach so as to pick the right outcomes list
    - roll for which outcome actually happens

    I think that has potential! I only see readings of type, not quality, though. I don't want a system that's entirely mute on whether my idea was genius or useless.

    I also think we need outcomes with specific mechanical teeth. Going from intent: kick guy down stairs to outcome: put opponent in vulnerable position to narration: "you kick him down the stairs" adds nothing. We ultimately need to parse my idea in terms of hit point loss or whatever the key currencies of combat are.

    I guess if each outcome nicely matches mechanics (e.g. opponent loses 2 HP and will defend at -2 next round and misses their next attack) with the fictional particulars that allow that outcome to occur (can't get the Brutal Knockdown benefits without narrating a thing which could then, upon success, be classified as a brutal knockdown), then maybe we're in a happy place, but now I'm starting to sound like Pathfinder...
  • I attacked this problem from a different perspective. I created a rule system that formed itself around what the players wanted to achieve rules-wise.

    In combat, you had a couple of combat maneuvers that was combined with the attack: Lower you chance to hit to do more damage; delay your action to increase your chance to hit; lower your chance to hit to do a quick attack; lower both your own and the opponent's chances to succeed.

    The rules stated that if the players wanted to use these maneuvers, then they had to describe how it looked like after the roll, but it happened that they described before the roll. The game master then interpreted what they wanted and declared a combat maneuver that affected the combat roll. Did they sneak up behind their back? Seems like a delayed maneuver. Did they jump down on someone? Seems like they wanted to do more damage. Did they throw something in someone's face? That will decrease both combatants' values.

    Sometimes I asked them what they wanted to achieve when I wasn't sure what they intended to achieve when it came to the numbers.
  • edited April 2016
    If you threw all your darts . . . you'd probably have a good chance of getting lucky and hitting her.
    That is the essential part. Communicate that and you're fine. We then roll for "a good chance" and everyone accepts the outcome.

    Clarify the perceived odds. Clarify the perceived odds. Clarify the perceived odds.

    Delve has 3 core prompts, and, "I try to judge if..." is one of them. The GM then has 4 permissible responses: Yes, No, You Can't Tell, and the perceived odds.
  • edited April 2016
    Dungeon Crawl Classics' "Mighty Deed of Arms" rule does this fairly well, I think.

    You declare your mighty deed before your attack, describe it (stair jumps, rope swings, blinding, disarming, whathaveyou) and then roll your "deed dice" in addition to your attack. If the attack hits and the deed die is 3+ you do that much extra damage and your manoeuvre is a success.
  • edited April 2016
    Oh, interesting! So we resolve multiple things at once. And the matrix of, for example, (1) successful stair jump, successful hit, (2) successful stair jump, failed hit, (3) failed stair jump, successful hit, (4) failed stair jump, failed hit give us all sorts of feedback to make sense of what happened in the fiction.

    Maybe there could even be different relationships between these factors, like the player or group or GM looks at the "stair jump slash" and decides that in this case, you need a successful deed to land a hit but that if you do land a hit your deed dice count double (or something). Maybe that idea isn't a good one, but I like the presence of multiple levers to pull on there in the name of matching rules to fiction. Maybe the deed could get classified into one of 3 categories as per Paul's danger response approaches, with each category having different particulars for difficulty, benefit, and independence/interdependence.

  • Right. Do a thing that doesn't fit the rules? Okay, the rules are mute on it, it's as if you hadn't done it. It's not that an Asset isn't a cool tool, it's that it nudges play toward the bases it covers and away from the bases it doesn't cover. A lot of the time, my inspirations are not covered!
    So...then what's the problem with the rule? Like, okay, it doesn't do what you're ~inspired~ by. I assume all the other rules in the game don't either, so why is this one of interest?
  • Dave,

    Here's another idea, looking for a middle ground:

    When a character attempts something, you have a list of possible effects.

    In combat, perhaps they are things like "damage the enemy", "create an advantage", "overwhelm or get past defenses", "move to a better position".

    Then your system's output does something like this:

    * On a failure, things go poorly. Maybe the GM decides, a la AW, or the opponent gets some of these options, or whatever.
    * On a not-so-great roll, the GM picks some applicable options, but only up to a certain limit. (And maybe gives one to the opposition, as well.)
    * On a good roll, the GM picks all the options which seem applicable. ("Ok, you're attacking with additional momentum, so let's say you pierce the armour - that's "get past defenses", and you "damage the enemy".)
    * On a really unusually good roll, the GM does the same, and/or the player gets to choose an additional one. (Or the GM is called to choose an additional option which is surprising or unexpected, on top of the ones which seem fitting to the action.)

    I've been thinking about this kind of thing for a while, and I think some nice middle ground between "rules and effects-based" and "freeform player judgement" could be found. I haven't taken the time to develop something in detail, but, as you can see, I've been pondering.

    As for communicating the odds, that's great when there are dice in play. You're right that getting that in the open solves a lot of these issues. When it becomes really tricky is in freeform play, which is what I thought we were talking about (you said in your original post that "if our system is freeform, then great!"). If you can't communicate odds because there's no random element, and the player knows that ultimately you're just deciding anyway, how do you do THAT?
  • Like, okay, it doesn't do what you're ~inspired~ by. I assume all the other rules in the game don't either, so why is this one of interest?
    Because it comes the closest! It is no big stretch to interpret it as an attempted solution to arbitrating my inspirations. So I'm wondering what other similar-but-different solutions might be out there.
  • Aha, okay. But what do you want in the situation you described? (Racing down the stairs at the dude instead of just fighting him.) My guess is you want a GM or system who shares your view of the suitability of such an action in such a situation and who rewards you accordingly?
  • edited April 2016
    My guess is you want a GM or system who shares your view of the suitability of such an action in such a situation and who rewards you accordingly?
    Yep, that's exactly what I want!

    I mean, I don't want my first impressions to deform the fiction -- I'm happy to offer up what sounds like a good idea at first, and then discover that there are extant reasons why it wouldn't work. I'm also happy to accept that there might be things that are hidden from my character which will render my idea unsuccessful. But, basically, yeah, what you said.

    I should also add that I'm looking for something that has concrete rules or procedures as key components. I already know how to achieve this kind of situational arbitration in pure freeform.
  • (Will you address my question about the freeform, Dave? I'm dying to hear the answer.)
  • So I actually think you're going way way backwards from what the actual problem is, which is why I got confused. Assets in Marvel Heroic and Aspects in Fate Core don't actually express anything about your (or your character's) cleverness/effectiveness/coolness (more on this division below.) That is, they might, but don't necessarily. They have a mechanical/fictional weight all their own.

    Your core problem is instead that you want to be able to do something that you feel should give you a leg up on the bad guys, more than the dull-eyed player lazing next to you who just describes an attack - perhaps you're clever, cool, or effective, or perhaps your character is. And there are many times and contexts in which you are disappointed to find that you thought you were doing something really great and nobody else cared, or worse, thought you were doing something stupid, and you couldn't call on mechanics to demonstrate you were right and they were wrong (and they couldn't either.)

    What you have in this situation is an aesthetic mismatch. not a mechanical hole that can be fixed. A guy who grew up watching 1950s Westerns is going to think of cinematic gunfights a lot differently from a lady who grew up watching 1990s Hong Kong gangster movies. Both can be playing in a cinematic gunfight, even with the same broad concept of genre and mechanics to accomplish it, but they'll hate, hate, haaaaate each other's contributions.

    So I do think the correct answer is not in mechanics but in social level agreements and discussions about how to use the mechanics of whatever game you're playing to accomplish this. Famously, aesthetic conflicts are not resolvable in any way other than mutual agreement. I suspect that there are ways to use even Aspects and Assets in a way that would accomplish what you want in certain contexts! But honestly, I don't give out a lot of bonuses for advantages or disadvantages in my games; the other player characters and the logistics of system normally provides far more of an advantage than "the high ground" ever could - in the end being a little higher for one stab of one sword is a drop in the bucket compared to just "being a PC." I would definitely change my practice if you and the other players asked me to, though.
  • edited April 2016
    And there are many times and contexts in which you are disappointed to find that you thought you were doing something really great and nobody else cared, or worse, thought you were doing something stupid, and you couldn't call on mechanics to demonstrate you were right and they were wrong (and they couldn't either.)
    Nope! That's not it at all. I agree that that's a problem in play -- it just doesn't happen to be mine. I tend not to over-inflate my ideas, and I tend to play with pretty agreeable people, so, "I think I was awesome but no one else does," is super rare.

    My problem is when my cool idea doesn't smoothly fit into the mechanics even when everyone else at the table is down with it. I mean, sure, my FATE GM could ad lib any old thing, like a +2 bonus, or discarding my worst rolled die, or even "it just works". But that guy wanted to play FATE instead of freeform in part because he wanted answers to scenarios like these. And, speaking just for one dude I know, he thought Aspects were those answers! "Dave comes up with a creative situational action, and tags in an Aspect!" I'm not blaming FATE for the fact that it didn't work out the way we would have liked. I'm just wondering about alternatives, and I find the Asset or Aspect level of category-based abstraction more appealing than (e.g.) the "endless list of micro-specific moves" approach, where we flip a bunch of pages until we find "downward jumping slash" on page 245 or something.

    I also think there's some virtue in covering bases other than "total clear agreement between me and the GM that what I did was awesome". There's also agreement that what I did was entertaining but non-optimal, or agreement that what I did was high-risk high-reward, or agreement that what I did is kinda hard to gauge... or even occasionally maybe I did something for roleplay reasons that we both agree is totally stupid! And then there's also "close enough", agree-to-not-100%-agree scenarios. I don't expect any ruleset to fix true disagreement, but for all these other cases, I can at least imagine possibilities.

    Maybe the best possibilities don't overlap much with assets and advantages and the like, but I dunno, I haven't played those to death the way I have with some other approaches, so perhaps there's cool options there that I haven't encountered yet.
  • @Paul_T, as for freeform, there's all different kinds of freeform. Most of them are down with sometimes acknowledging randomness and flipping a coin or something to resolve that. Personally, I think of "here's how the resolution roll works, but we only invoke it when we subjectively determine that it perfectly models the fiction" as being freeform. So, sorry if my terminology was misleading!

    So depending on our type of freeform, my reward for cleverness could be anything from, "Great idea, it works, you win the fight!" to "Hitting this guy through his armor is normally near impossible, but your maneuver makes it merely very difficult -- 5 or 6 on a d6."

    I'll respond to your system ideas later when I have more brainpower!
  • edited April 2016
    My problem is when my cool idea doesn't smoothly fit into the mechanics even when everyone else at the table is down with it. I mean, sure, my FATE GM could ad lib any old thing, like a +2 bonus, or discarding my worst rolled die, or even "it just works". But that guy wanted to play FATE instead of freeform in part because he wanted answers to scenarios like these. And, speaking just for one dude I know, he thought Aspects were those answers!
    Wait, so you want a system to mediate something that you both actually agree on? If everyone agrees on the range of appropriate rewards, what will any system ever add to that interaction except suffering?

    (Also, in Fate Core, for simple descriptions like you describe, you would get a boost, not create and tag an Aspect.)
  • edited April 2016

    Wait, so you want a system to mediate something that you both actually agree on? If everyone agrees on the range of appropriate rewards, what will any system ever add to that interaction except suffering?
    Time for Rule Zero, eh?

    Doesn't always work smoothy, though, does it? If we're playing chess and I describe my pawns setting your rook on fire, we might giggle for a moment because we both like that idea, but then you'll eventually say, "Ok, but seriously, what's your move?"

    So, sorry if my terminology was misleading!
    Oh, that *is* disappointing! I was hoping to learn some cool diceless freeform tricks. I've only got the one I mentioned, above.

  • Paul - Under such circumstances, would adding a rule to chess about setting the rook on fire be apropos? It doesn't seem so, since both sides agree we're just having a goof.
  • How do you like custom Goals in Anima Prime? They're just one small step more mechanized than "make it up". Example from the book (http://www.animaprimerpg.com/main/docs/Anima_Prime_CC_04-07-2011.pdf, page 65):
    Fighting Ice with Fire

    The PCs are in the middle of a fight with a tough group of ice demons in the
    center of a dark metropolis. The PCs are having a hard time hurting them, and
    while the ice demons are vulnerable to fire, the PCs don’t have anyone with fire-based
    powers or weapon effects among them. What now? Improvise.
    The player of a PC talks to the GM about thrusting his sword into the tank of a
    car, thereby covering it with gasoline, and then setting it on fire. The GM smiles
    and creates the following goal:

    Set Sword Afire [4]: Character’s next strike counts as fire-based

    The GM makes the goal easy because it’s a neat idea but the payoff only applies
    once; she doesn’t think the fuel will stick after a serious strike. If the player comes
    up with a plan that could keep the sword fire-based, she will create a goal that
    applies the fire-based effect for the rest of the conflict, probably at a higher
    difficulty.
  • edited April 2016
    I use the dice both as a way to define if an action resolves positively or negatively (nowadays I have eliminated the option that "it doesn't resolve" for the sake of making things happen all the time) AND to determine if a ruling made on the go applies (but just if there's any doubt).

    The Rule zero I apply is "If it's fun say yes, if you're not sure roll the dice, and if you got a better idea, built it over the previous one and keep things in motion"
  • To me, personally, the solution to this kind of problem has been… Apocalypse World, the way I play it. Doing away with most abstractions in representing an action situation (not all abstractions - f'rex, AW includes abstract Harm) and especially with boardgamey turns. Only retaining the rules of conversation and aesthetic conventions of the game fiction as our ordering structure. Emphasizing fictional positioning and leverage - i.e. what we describe, both general descriptions and minute details, matters more than the game's existing abstractions for most (but not all) concerns.
    Of course, the specific agenda & principles of AW are key to making this work. Specifically, when I'm MCing AW I'm not invested in the outcome of a fight, like, at all (because I'm looking at my NPCs through crosshair and playing to find out what happens, and also because I've disclaimed any decision-making regarding survival of the PCs, which is the other players' and the abstract harm rules' concern, not mine). Thus my role in a fight scene is strictly that of choreographer and stage director, and I find that entertaining, not at all overwhelming. Notably, when I tried something similar back when I didn't have access to those agenda, principles and tools (and man, have I tried!) it did often feel overwhelming.
  • edited April 2016
    Catching up to various comments here:
    Wait, so you want a system to mediate something that you both actually agree on? If everyone agrees on the range of appropriate rewards, what will any system ever add to that interaction except suffering?
    Agreeing that an action is cool and might help a fictional endeavor while entailing new risks is one thing. Translating "might help" and "entails new risks" into system terms is another. It's that second step for which I'm seeking new alternatives. (Well, and maybe also the part where you're reminded or required to think about whether it entails new risks.)
    When a character attempts something, you have a list of possible effects.

    In combat, perhaps they are things like "damage the enemy", "create an advantage", "overwhelm or get past defenses", "move to a better position".

    Then your system's output does something like this:

    * On a good roll, the GM picks all the options which seem applicable. ("Ok, you're attacking with additional momentum, so let's say you pierce the armour - that's "get past defenses", and you "damage the enemy".)
    Yeah, I think pre-made categories have some potential. I guess the goal would be to have broad enough categories that you don't wind up with a Pathfinder-like list, but narrow enough categories that the specifics of character action don't matter. I mean, I'm fine if my jumping slash invokes the same rules as all other "surprise moves" and "momentum assists"; I just don't want it to invoke the same rules as all other "combat improv". Actually, hmm, maybe multiple categories is a good way to have emergent complexity without exhaustive lists. If my jumping slash is TWO action types, then maybe we can define action types more simply.

    I wonder if there's any virtue in defining types of set-up approaches. Similar to Blades in the Dark's mission approaches and your proposed Moves above which I wanted to call Approaches, but attempting to divvy up and categorize the space of advantage-seeking. Too broad? Haven't thought this through, just wanted to type it out before forgetting.
    As for communicating the odds, that's great when there are dice in play. You're right that getting that in the open solves a lot of these issues. When it becomes really tricky is in freeform play, which is what I thought we were talking about (you said in your original post that "if our system is freeform, then great!").
    No no no, my opening post was intended to convey "we already know how to do freeform, we already know how to stack +1s, now let's talk about a different solution that maybe we don't know how to apply to this sort of play yet."

    So, back to play that isn't freeform, I'm still pondering the best way to distinguish dumb ideas from great ideas from risky ideas etc. Maybe there are negative categories like "leaves you vulnerable" and "is a longshot" which the GM can invoke?

    (You know, with a good enough matching of actions to outcomes, I guess dice aren't necessarily required... but I think "likelihood of working" is a frequent fictional concern, and dice odds are certainly handy for representing that.)
    I use the dice . . . as a way to . . . determine if a ruling made on the go applies
    Yeah, I've done this too. Once a group is good at inventing/applying "if success, X happens; if failure, Y happens" then it's kinda hard to go wrong. Right now, though, I'm wondering if I can get contributions I like from rules systems in there.
    Apocalypse World, the way I play it . . . Emphasizing fictional positioning and leverage - i.e. what we describe, both general descriptions and minute details, matters more than the game's existing abstractions for most (but not all) concerns.
    Sounds to me like you handle clever advantage-seeking with your group's freeform skills and AW doesn't stop you. :)
  • How do you like custom Goals in Anima Prime? They're just one small step more mechanized than "make it up".
    Hmm, yeah! With something like "I want to create a fire attack!" where we already know what the mechanical results of success will be, it seems fine to let the GM slap a difficulty (plus whatever conditions fictionally apply) on the attempt and roll for it. The difference between "clever idea" and "dumb idea" is manifest in two ways: the utility of the achievement, and the attainability of the achievement.

    I wonder, though, what happens in my stair-jump example? Do we need to flip through the book until we find a category like "fire-based attack" that fits my action, so that we know what its effects will be?

    Also, even if I do use a rules-defined action or quantity, do we need to look up how it interfaces with different fictional particulars? Suppose I try a fire-based attack on a tar monster. Does it do more damage? Less?

    Maybe these details are beside the point, though, and the relevant bit for this thread is "name what advantage you'd like to achieve and then roll for that". My stair-jumping guy wants to achieve enough extra force to penetrate his foe's armor. So we could roll for whether I'm able to successfully get the force of my fall into a slash aimed at him, with the GM doing their best to arbitrate how tough that'd be. Succeed in that roll, and boom, the extra force is there.

    At some point (probably before the roll, so I can confirm that it's worth bothering), we also have to label that armor-penetrating extra force mechanically (+5 damage, e.g.).

    I'm not sure what I think of this. I think a lot comes down to the particulars. If it's "figure out the odds and effects on your own" or "find them in an exhaustive reference book", I might be a little underwhelmed. I do like the process, though, of defining your hopes and rolling to see if you achieve them, on this particular scale.
  • Sounds to me like you handle clever advantage-seeking with your group's freeform skills and AW doesn't stop you. :)
    Could be read that way, sure. Though I do feel actively enable by AW rules, as opposite to merely allowed or not-stopped. But then, just my feeling.
    How do you like custom Goals in Anima Prime?
    I wonder, though, what happens in my stair-jump example? Do we need to flip through the book until we find a category like "fire-based attack" that fits my action, so that we know what its effects will be?
    Not really… But that's because, in Anima Prime, something like your stair-jump example is called a Maneuver and it's required, not optional. If you don't stair-jump around or the like, you don't get any dice to roll in your attack pool.
    Whereas "setting a sword on fire" works as an example custom goal only because "fire" is set apart as a specific rule, not folded into the basic action of building up your dice pool (the game uses damage "tags" such as fire, lightning and ice, with different characters being differently armored against each, etc.): "my next attack counts as fire" equals "I'm asking to do something outside of my character's standard range of abilities", like a D&D fighter casting a spell.

  • edited April 2016
    I do feel actively enable by AW rules, as opposite to merely allowed or not-stopped. But then, just my feeling.
    If any specifics occur to you, like how Holds or +Fwd or +Ongoing contribute, or other rules stuff, I'd love to hear them!
    in Anima Prime, something like your stair-jump example is called a Maneuver and it's required, not optional. If you don't stair-jump around or the like, you don't get any dice to roll in your attack pool.
    Ah! Good to know. I've actually been thinking about that -- carving out a niche for "is there anything you're doing here to try to maximize your efforts beyond the basic effort itself?" Making that one of the three sources of dice for a three-die pool, or something like that. If it's constantly a factor, then hopefully whatever rules and judgments govern it will be mastered faster by the group.

    Unfortunately, the first thing that comes to mind -- if GM thinks it's dumb; no die, if GM thinks it's sufficient, 1 die; if GM thinks it's brilliant, 2 dice -- isn't very interesting. Maybe if I'd been strategic in this thread, I'd have focused on untangling the "quality determination" issue first. :)
  • One potential concern I have is that all this sounds a little bit like...okay, you know the old story about the GM who asks what the characters are doing, and when they say "We search the room!", doesn't give them the clue because they didn't specifically say they looked under the rug? Literally nobody thinks that's a good idea, right?

    And sure, this time it's voluntary on your part, and you're hoping to get a bonus or something from it to make your character more effective, but it's still taking a clear, quickly-resolved thing and turning it into something more elaborate than it probably deserves. Honestly, going beyond the level of abstraction of "yeah, okay, take the default 'special effort' bonus for that move" may not actually be something you'd want if you got it, unless the whole point of these scenes is to be busting your brains for a +1 here and a +2 there and a +fire damage on the other thing.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't do what you think is fun, I'm just saying maybe be cautious about getting TOO involved in that kind of finicky pixel-hunting thing, if it's going to make you lose sight of the rest of the game.
  • If any specifics occur to you, like how Holds or +Fwd or +Ongoing contribute, or other rules stuff, I'd love to hear them!
    I'm thinking about it, but so far it looks more like a matter of flow - how the flow of conversation and the back and forth of player-initiated moves and MC moves goes, so much more solid than any boardgame-like turn-taking ever shoehorned into an RPG. That, and having clear Agendas and Principles, as I said.
    Ah! Good to know. I've actually been thinking about that -- carving out a niche for "is there anything you're doing here to try to maximize your efforts beyond the basic effort itself?"
    Just to be clear, in Anima Prime there's no dice for "basic effort": you have to Maneuver. Specifically, you start a battle scene with a number of dice in your Action pool, but (usually) no dice in your Strike pool. When you choose to Maneuver, you describe what awesome things you do and roll some dice from your Action pool, plus some bonus dice from your skill ratings and possibly traits. Other players can give you dice from their own Action pools as well, to compliment on your choice of maneuver, and the GM can grant you an Awesome token (but if they don't, you still get an Awesome token if you roll awesomely). You roll those and, depending on the number showing, dice go into your Strike pool or your Power pool (used to fuel your magical/psychic/whatever tricks) or back into your Action pool or are discarded. If there are dice in your Strike pool you can now spend an Awesome token to take a Strike action, rolling those dice vs. an opponent's defensive rating (successes turn into wounds and # wounds, typically four, take an opponent out of the fight); or you can save those Strike dice and take your Strike action at a later turn, in place of a Maneuver. Crucially, Strikes unlike Maneuvers are only described after rolling, or even kept an abstraction; whereas narrating Maneuvers is the focus of battle scenes.
    Making that one of the three sources of dice for a three-die pool, or something like that. If it's constantly a factor, then hopefully whatever rules and judgments govern it will be mastered faster by the group.
    Oh, yes, on paper at least I always like the idea of "building up" a pool of dice from a list of factors. Like: one die if you're trained/skilled into the thing, one die if you're making use of your environment, one die if you've got the perfect equipment for it, and one die if you're changing your approach from one which didn't work last time… and no "default" die, of course: start from zero.
    Unfortunately, the first thing that comes to mind -- if GM thinks it's dumb; no die, if GM thinks it's sufficient, 1 die; if GM thinks it's brilliant, 2 dice -- isn't very interesting.
    That's actually pretty close to how Sorcerer works, RAW. It's also the one thing I struggle with when GMing Sorcerer - having to make to many judgment calls about bonus dice - and I ended up trying to house-rule it away (sharing this responsibility with all players like fanmail, creating a short checklist of factors like the above to make it feel "objective"…) but that's still a work-in-progress.
  • edited April 2016

    I'm not saying you shouldn't do what you think is fun, I'm just saying maybe be cautious about getting TOO involved in that kind of finicky pixel-hunting thing, if it's going to make you lose sight of the rest of the game.
    I'm with AccountingForTaste on this, you see, I tried something similar with a tag mechanic on a recent design I'm working on. At first I was excited at how I could convert everything to tags and let players combine them as they see fit, I even tried a table so players could clearly see which tags couldn't be combined at all and on top of that had an overview of what kind of things they could do. Then I noticed that I should add there a list of negative tags as some things can't be done without some specific risk, like you can't use a heavy weapon to make quick, multiple attacks.

    So far so good, I was proud of this list, so I made a few more lists to get a more specific atmosphere for every major type of special abilities in the game, like "martial arts" "armed attacks", "magic", etc. It ended up filling half a page, but it was the equivalent of the whole rulebook on the character sheet.

    A player complained about the character sheet looking too cramped and complex, so I reduced the tag lists to two generic ones of ten tags each, one positive and one negative, and left space for player to write only the tags their characters used, while I kept the large lists for GM use only. It was still good and left the Character sheet almost clean.

    Testing time comes and then it hit me what was going wrong with this design. Players got analysis paralysis trying to decide the right combination of tags for each of their turns, increasing gameplay time twofold. And while this might not be an actual problem for some players, for me it meant that a task we usually do intuitivally in no time at all, was now being slowed down by a mechanic that didn't actually add too much of any other kind of fun to the game. Well, maybe added more layers to the tactical part, but then again, that wasn't something we actually didn't had before.

    Tags, at least in the way I used them, won't work so well. In fact, anything that doesn't resemble usual human communication or adds extra layers over it will have this result. I mean, our brains actually use Tags unconsciously: both GMs and players quiclky identify specific words or phrases in the game conversation and engage with different game rules as a response.

    Adding tags in this fashion is like adding an implied rule that says "Ok, now each time someone says Quick Attack you have to think both in the mental image of the PC making a quick attack and the fact that she's talking about a tag, that implies that her character can do an additional attack" which, if you notice, it's just thinking the same thing twice.

    That's where AW's "to do something, do it" shines, simplifying rules back to the conversation and negotiation. Maybe that's where your answer could be, in a mechanic to make negotiation less GM-dependable, maybe using a resource exchange to support a player's argument that then the GM can use later in another negotiation. Maybe everyone rolls to see who arbitrates that this time, maybe there's a vote or well, maybe just another way of using tags.

  • Adding tags in this fashion is like adding an implied rule that says "Ok, now each time someone says Quick Attack you have to think both in the mental image of the PC making a quick attack and the fact that she's talking about a tag, that implies that her character can do an additional attack" which, if you notice, it's just thinking the same thing twice.
    (I've never quite understood the point of AW-style Tags, and I haven't been able to explain why to other people. I think you just crystallized my thoughts for me! Thanks. Anyway, back to the thread...)

  • @AccountingForTaste, good point -- I've been going on about wanting to reap rewards from clever maneuvers without really saying why. I agree that lots of "extra" narration or rules-consultation for a +1 is a poor trade-off. If the resolution system is "always roll; sometimes at -1, sometimes at +1, sometimes unmodified", then there's absolutely no point in spin-jump-slashes off stairs.

    But, to me, that's kind of the problem.

    I like spin-jump-slashes off stairs. I like the orientation to the game and fiction whereby we consider whether such a move is brilliant or terrible or irrelevant. And, for the sake of fostering that orientation, I'm happy to have the "extra" narration be extremely relevant. Forget +1. How about, "if this is a brilliant move, your enemy is dead"?

    The key, though, is something we haven't solved in this thread -- how to distinguish between Brilliant and Neat and Okay and Weak and how to match those to outcomes. Maybe Corley's right that "brilliant" (etc.) is only determinable by inter-player agreement, so maybe we could take those 4 categories I just spat out and write outcome ranges for those, to be parsed back into fictional particulars in play?

    But then, sometimes brilliance is less about glorious success and more about staving off sure defeat, so a one-size-fits-all list wouldn't serve that.

    That's an angle we could pursue, or not. Without shoehorning this discussion into one particular direction system-wise, hopefully this clarifies what I'm pursuing here. I want to reward concrete, clever, creative, detailed in-fiction problem-solving as strongly as I can. Maybe that can include some sort of "useful entity" mechanical bit like an Asset, or maybe not.
  • I want to reward concrete, clever, creative, detailed in-fiction problem-solving as strongly as I can.
    Torchbearer has the "Good Idea". Everything you do (roll) takes a turn except spellcasting or actions that fit in your character's Instinct. But if it's a concrete, clever, creative, not-necessarily-detailed, in-fiction solution, GM can say "Good Idea" and it doesn't take a turn.

    Maybe the only way is inter-player agreement plus system-specific significant mechanical benefit... if so that goes on a checklist for game design that's good for you. "If the game seems to be missing this reward, find a resource expenditure to remove that feels like 'free!' or a bonus to give that feels like 'super effective!' and add the Good Idea rule"
  • I think it's crucial that we recognise that it's the GM having some criteria of judgement that's important here.

    The most obvious - and easily debatable - criteria is some attempt at realism. So we can decide if a move deserves an advantage because it matches up with some notion we have of, typically, tactics and combat: Attacking from the high-ground? Ok, advantage. Several backflips? Maybe not. (This is how Torchbearer's Good Idea works, but also D&D DC adjudications since the dawn of time.)

    If we shift the criteria to something else we can alter the genre of the game. So if my criteria is "being awesome" then perhaps describing all the backflippin' kung-fu gets you that advantage but merely attacking from the high-ground doesn't. How pedestrian. (This is how Whitewolf's Exalted plays out with stunts.)

    So it's not about the description, or the advantage given, but what merits we're looking for.
  • edited April 2016
    Ok then, I started googling out "Deterministic combat system". First idea that hit me is States; a hit happens when your character is in a state like "ready" or "attacking" and your opponent is in another or a combination of others, like "blinded", "Guard down", "off balance", "distracted". You would definitely need to impose more than one state in you opponent to kill him and you will need to be in more than one state to be able to hit properly at a vital point, so that's where brilliant tactics come in play. The rest of the space between the attacker state and the defender state and how you switch from attacking to defending should be more or less left to negotiating in the fiction, perhaps with a resource like "stamina" to back up the negotiation.

    With that you will have a more deterministic system, but still light enough so it doesn't overwhelm players and open enough so all kind of situations can be considered. What do you think?
  • Second idea, which can still be built over the previous one: precise weapon range/reach to decide how much damage is inflicted on the oponent.

    So, your attacks will miss only if the enemy dodges (which would, say, reduce stamina) but otherwise the opponent has to block (which can only be done with the proper weapon, right footing and right amount of str) or receive a hit.

    If it hits, then the damage is somewhat fixed, but influenced by the states the character are into. Say, hand axe attacks are always str+3. Momentum adds a fixed +3, leather armor only offers a protection of 1. But then reach comes into play. If you maneuvered right and your opponent is 5 feet away from you, you do full damage. If you were a bit too far or too close because the opponent moved, it's -2 to the damage. So, weapons have an optimal range and you need to take this in account before hitting, or you may rist doing less damage or even missing totally.

    Before applying damage there's armor to be considered. Again, a fixed number is reduced from the attack and the rest is either enough to pierce through (depending on the armor material and the type of damage applied, of course) or just bound or get stuck on the defenses (if it's a wooden shield, for example)

    Effects this may cause: players will try to maximize their chances by using ther weapon's reach and PCs with higher reach would strike first. So far so good I think.
  • @Rafu, gotcha re: flow. I've found that merely good in AW, not great, but that might be a result of uneven player assertiveness, too much character success, and a little bit of system unfamiliarity. With less need for "hang on, we haven't heard from Adam in a bit" and less "okay, let me find the outcome list" and more "Argh, rolled a 5, over to you, GM!" I can imagine getting there. I still usually get more of the back-and-forth conversational type of flow in freeform, but maybe I'm just weird.

    As for Anima Prime, thank you for the full description! That sounds pretty awesome, actually. I'd love to try that.
  • Apologies to @WarriorMonk and everyone else I haven't gotten to yet. I am kinda busy right now, and just replying to stuff I can do quickly.
  • Ah, it's ok, a forum isn't a chat and even then I understand that people have to do things other than reply. I'll keep shooting ideas as they come.
  • edited April 2016
    @David_Berg you may also be interested in Beast Hunters, the precursor to Anima Prime.

    When making a maneuver, you describe what you do. The GM evaluates how awesome or likely that seemed, and offers you a number of advantage points (similar to Anima Prime's strike dice). You can either take that offer, or roll to see how many advantage points you get, which could be 0. The GM must offer at least 2 points.

    In play I found calculating the offers bogged down a bit unless I kept a sheet of player roll bonuses to compare against. It also explicitly puts the GM in the position of judging other players' input, which may be good or bad depending on your group.
  • First idea that hit me is States; a hit happens when your character is in a state like "ready" or "attacking" and your opponent is in another or a combination of others, like "blinded", "Guard down", "off balance", "distracted". You would definitely need to impose more than one state in you opponent to kill him and you will need to be in more than one state to be able to hit properly at a vital point, so that's where brilliant tactics come in play.
    This is a cool idea I'm possibly going to steal someday! Thank you!
  • Ah, I noticed something important about the design, there doesn't need to be a random part of it, but there should be some sort of bet: you may or may not have guessed correctly your opponent's tactic, so it should be defined, but remain hidden until acted, like in real world fights. Could it be done through cards perhaps?

  • edited April 2016
    Full Disclosure: I haven't read the entirety of this thread, but I keep thinking of an idea that might suit your needs or maybe it's terrible. I often struggle with the whole Asset/Advantage thing, primarily because I'm looking to use it as a way to bribe my players to give me more than just, "I attack." I don't think that's why you're into it, but I'm hoping this might help with the whole "judging the quality of an asset" conundrum.
    If you take the default action, roll the standard die roll.
    If you flavor it up with something clever but risky, here's an extra die.
    The greater the risk inherent in the idea, the larger the extra die type (d4 to d20 for example). However, it's up to the player to decide the level of risk their character is willing to take in service of this maneuver. Think an idea is worth only a minor risk? Take a d4 or d6.
    The extra die adds to your total roll result, but carries a threat range. If it lands on that threat range, the inherent danger manifests along with the bonus granted from the roll.
    So, my idea is this: Let the players define how clever they think an idea really is. The point of coupling it to danger is to keep them honest and have a player think twice before granting themselves a massive bonus for a half-baked idea. You're pretty sure that maneuver you came up with is incredibly clever and creative? Great, give it a larger die size, but do so knowing that it carries a greater risk. It's no longer just a 1 or 2 HP loss, now it can be stuff like hobbling your character, maybe as far as tearing a hole in the fabric of reality. Rather than do all the grunt work yourself, you could perhaps give players a guideline of what kind of danger a die type is worth:
    • d6s are minor injuries and setbacks
    • d8s are serious threats, but not life-threatening
    • d10s are critical threats with the possibility of death
    • d20s are assuredly life ending or horribly devastating threats
    Last but not least, each die type could have a scale of terrible that comes through. Ex: on a d6, 1 = Minimal Threat, 2 = Moderate threat, 3 = Full Threat. In any event, the players can use that guide to gauge the level of risk they take with any given die. It's really asking the player, how clever do you feel the idea is? So clever as to take a much higher risk seeing it come through? Admittedly, the flat percentage of threat manifesting is not ideal, but hopefully it's a starting point to work with. To return to your example:

    Player decides to pull the old spin-jump stair attack. Excellent! They think its a clever idea and thus worth some mechanical advantage. It's up to them what extra die they pick up. Is this maneuver clever enough that it's worth taking on more danger? Theoretically, jumping from stairs can end in a horrible fall resulting in death or paralysis. Is the spin attack worth that outcome? If so, pick up a d10 and get cracking. If not, they'll pick up something smaller like a d6 or d8. The die the player chooses informs the GM what kind of risk they're willing to take. If that threat range comes true, the GM then imposes something fictionally appropriate and congruent with the threat level.
  • Ok, taking Luzelli's input and building over it to make it more deterministic:

    -The player or the GM has the option of leaving things to chance, rolling the dice. No bonuses. GM may estimate the chances as he sees fit, but if player has a different estimate and reasons for it, we're back into the deterministic system.

    -Character stats indicate what kind of things he may do, like amount of damage, max load , speed of his attack, range, amount of times he can dodge or the speed of his dodge, etc without considering putting an effort to it. Whenever he does that, he spents stamina to increase his output.

    -The thing is that the DC isn't known and even changes depending on the states the characters are into, so this part of the combat is a bet. You might not be putting enough effort and thus fail, or put too much and overdo it, wasting stamina without need. So, skills that allow you to estimate the DC in any given time are crucial, but when used still give just an estimation, not an exact number.

    -On top of that, tactics aren't revealed until acted, which doesn't prevent a tactic from being a feint behind which another tactic hides. It can be done in several layers for added complexity.

    Now imagine the next example with the players revealing or switching cards each time you see a word or phrase in italics. These cards have been chosen from each layer's deck before the round. Statuses inflicted are written in bold.

    Player A: I lower my guard and look to the right.
    GM: Hmm, I was going to charge with my axe but I cancel it and put up my guard instead.
    Player B: Ok, since you didn't look you're distracted and I can shoot an arrow from your left flank, right behind the line of trees
    GM: That bypasses my guard. Great! Do you use just your strength or put some effort?.
    Player B: I'll add 1 point of stamina.
    GM: Ok, you strike but the arrow just gets stuck on the opponent's soulder pad.
    Player A: Hmm, let me try. Since he's distracted by the arrow attack I charge and hit his weapon to lower his guard. I'll add four stamina points.
    GM ok, you hit and disarm him.
    Player B: I think you used too much, but at least this is going to end quick. I shoot again, he's distracted by that new attack and has no guard. I'll take time enough to aim at his head.
    GM: The oponent goes to player's A left flank to get cover
    Player A: But he's still unguarded and has no cover against me, so I aim to strike his leg
    GM: ok, he falls down and rolls to put some space between you two. He still has cover.
    Player B: I change my aim to his other leg or whatever I can see through the cover
    GM: you can see his other leg, he's trying to pull a knife from his boot. You shoot him on the leg.
    Player A: That went too close, does that distract me?
    GM: yes, he's got a knife now, but can't stand properly with his two legs wounded
    Player A: I step aside for player B to shoot
    Player B: He can't move too fast and has no cover, I take my time to aim at his head and shoot.
    GM: your arrow strikes through his eye as he screams in pain, then he falls on his back.
    Player A: Ok, I check he's dead and then I loot him.
  • Catching up!
    I think it's crucial that we recognise that it's the GM having some criteria of judgement that's important here.
    I'm actually not sold at all that the judgment must be in the GM's hands, but yes, whoever is judging needs some solid criteria.

    For my particular example in this thread, the criteria is probably "how would that work out in the fiction?" with a lot of particular factors feeding into that analysis like surprise, gravity, awkwardness, difficulty, etc. I think it's probably okay to admit fallibility on this front (does anyone at the table really know what'd work here?) and fill in the blanks with a bit of extra love for neat or colorful ideas.

    Within "how would that work out?", I think we have tons of room for diverse implementations, including, perhaps, how we apportion judgment between rules, GM, acting player, audience, and full group.
    First idea that hit me is States; a hit happens when your character is in a state like "ready" or "attacking" and your opponent is in another or a combination of others, like "blinded", "Guard down", "off balance", "distracted". You would definitely need to impose more than one state in you opponent to kill him and you will need to be in more than one state to be able to hit properly at a vital point, so that's where brilliant tactics come in play. The rest of the space between the attacker state and the defender state and how you switch from attacking to defending should be more or less left to negotiating in the fiction, perhaps with a resource like "stamina" to back up the negotiation.
    Yeah, that strikes me as a useful re-framing of advantages like "high ground" or whatnot. Rather than modifying an action that's fundamentally about attributes or weapon skills or whatnot, positioning could really be the whole deal. Perhaps there could be different intersections of states which confer different options going forward. For example, let's say I render an opponent "dazed". If "dazed" plus "trapped" equals "dead" on the States Matrix, then I have an incentive to push my enemy into a corner before he recovers. But if he's too far from a corner, that's a risky play, as he may come un-dazed first. So I may take the safer, but less rewarding option, and go for "lined up" (i.e. for a good skewering), because "dazed" plus "lined up" on the States Matrix equals "badly injured", and "badly injured" imposes severe penalties on my foe going forward.

    Wait, crap, am I designing a board game? Is the narration of how I trap my foe or line him up for a hit going to feel clever, or is it just going to feel like reading the rules, picking the best option, and making it so? Probably the latter. Gehn.

    Maybe your less elaborate suggestion was better. Maybe it's just "more good States is better" and then you try to narrate in such a way as to maximize the rules-noted categories that fit. Or maybe not, because in that case, you get that awkward moment where the player does something in the fiction, and no one sees its utility, and then the players says, "I'm going for Distracted!" and then the other players kinda grudgingly see it, but it comes off as begging, not cleverness.

    Hey, wait, maybe the acting player isn't allowed to invoke any mechanics? Maybe they just narrate, and then stop, and when they stop, the other players go over it and judge (based on solid criteria like "how would that work out?") what categories of advantage it comprises? Oh, and also, what categories of disadvantage!

    That might be the key, right there. There's no penalty to failed attempts to rope in Dogs Traits or BW Wises that don't really apply; worst that can happen is someone at the table says, "I don't buy it, stop begging." But if a narration simply stands, for good and for bad, then the acting player probably has to use the same criteria as the judging players (e.g. "how would that work out?").

    Maybe there could be multiple axes of resolution, so an idea isn't simply good, mediocre, or bad. There could be, for example, Risk and Reward. So the best idea is low-Risk, high-Reward... but high-Risk, high-Reward might be okay too, depending on what the acting player prioritizes.

    I can see myself, as another player at the table, asking myself, "How risky was that?" and "How rewarding would that be if it worked?" and "How likely is it to work?" and maybe spitting out a number from 1 to 3 (or 0 to 3, or 1 to 5) for each. Or, I could see going over some criteria like States, and ticking off all that apply, for example:

    - Requires exact timing: -2 Likely
    - Completely un-practiced: -1 Likely, +1 Risky
    - Awkward: +1 Risky
    - Exposing vulnerable targets: +1 Risky
    - Unexpected by target: +1 Likely, +1 Rewarding
    - Extra powerful: +2 Rewarding

    The group might ponder my spinning stair jump, deem it all of the above, and determine that my action is extremely Risky (+3), fairly difficult to pull off (-2 Likely), but very Rewarding if I make it (+3).

    That sounds like it might get a little slow and tedious to do the ratings, but otherwise I like it.

    Thanks for bearing with the brainstorming!
  • edited May 2016
    precise weapon range/reach . . . miss only if the enemy dodges (which would, say, reduce stamina) but otherwise the opponent has to block (which can only be done with the proper weapon, right footing and right amount of str) . . . damage is somewhat fixed, but influenced by the states the character are in
    Yeah, now we're really thinking in board game terms. Unlike my States Matrix example, though, it's a challenging enough board game that success genuinely does require cleverness! I like it... but I don't think checking off the right rules boxes to get the optimal result is what I'm looking for here.
    you may also be interested in Beast Hunters . . . The GM evaluates how awesome or likely that seemed, and offers you a number of advantage points (similar to Anima Prime's strike dice). You can either take that offer, or roll to see how many advantage points you get . . . In play I found calculating the offers bogged down a bit unless I kept a sheet of player roll bonuses to compare against.
    Interesting! So the GM is judging subjectively, but also performing calculations? Can you describe that further? Is it simply a matter of "given that the character is X good at this sort of thing, success is Y likely"? Is that determined across multiple bases at once? Is "awesome" an alternative criteria to "likely" or an additional one?

    I seem to recall the Finnish FLOW system functioning somewhat similarly, but that was described to me as being quick. I think there are two categories representing two components of "would that work?" and the GM subjectively rates both (with no reference to character stats) and then multiplies them together for an outcome.
    there should be some sort of bet: you may or may not have guessed correctly your opponent's tactic, so it should be defined, but remain hidden until acted
    With predetermined action categories and category interactions, we basically have the Fight! system from Burning Wheel. In a more freeform setting, though, I do like factoring in some guessing at what the opponent will do, so as to reward unexpected moves.

    So maybe as I'm just starting to cook up my spinning stair-jump, the GM secretly writes down the NPC's expectation. It'll probably be something mundane and irrelevant, so no impact... but if I've been doing this move before, or have made a habit of doing crazy acrobatic attacks, the GM might just guess "spinning stair jump", and if so, give me a massive penalty. :)
    . . . putting an effort to it. Whenever he does that, he spends stamina to increase his output . . . the DC isn't known and even changes depending on the states the characters are into, so this part of the combat is a bet. You might not be putting enough effort and thus fail, or put too much and overdo it, wasting stamina without need.
    I do like point spends for effort and commitment and prioritization. Supposing we had a solid "good idea"/"not so good idea" system in place, staking points might be a sort of way to bet on yourself. Think your idea will be judged "clever"? Stake more points on it! If you're right, those points will be brought to bear to the fullest!
  • it's up to the player to decide the level of risk their character is willing to take in service of this maneuver. Think an idea is worth only a minor risk? Take a d4 or d6 . . . You're pretty sure that maneuver you came up with is incredibly clever and creative? Great, give it a larger die size, but do so knowing that it carries a greater risk. It's no longer just a 1 or 2 HP loss, now it can be stuff like hobbling your character, maybe as far as tearing a hole in the fabric of reality
    This is fantastic! I see it more as commitment feedback than cleverness reward -- the actual idea doesn't really matter, just the player's willingness to go all-in on it -- but it absolutely rewards flavor and gives maneuvers center stage. I can definitely imagine psyching myself up about how my stair-jump move is gonna be so cool, and grabbing a big ol' die... and I'm probably okay with utter disaster at least being theoretically on the table...

    After that, though, I probably want the odds of the various outcomes to reflect the fiction somewhat. So maybe a little bit of subjective bonus/penalty to that die, as pondered elsewhere in this thread, would be a good supplemental step.
  • I glanced through the whole thread, I promise, but:
    Great ideas and barely sufficient ideas all get lumped into the same "you performed that game action so now you have the +2 available for use" bag. Also, spending the action to create the asset is often not worth it if we take actions in turns, because I'm losing time or hit points or whatever while trying to tackle a problem in a greater number of steps.
    The great vs barely sufficient ideas I think is fine to be lumped together. Greatness is its own reward. If it's sufficient, you should get a success, right? Otherwise it wasn't sufficient. I don't want to be the quality judge but I can take being a sufficiency judge.
    If something feels greater to the player then it will feel greater.


    The take a separate turn to create asset, I agree with you. It's either "interesting gameplay" or it's just a useless turn depending on how the game is designed. From a dice & clouds perspective I'd rather it be one single turn a la AW.

  • edited May 2016
    Hmmm okey, deterministic but less board-gamey, bets and risk involved, still tactical, less interruption for the narration, all players participate on every turn...? How about this:

    The gm frames the challenge and prepares his bet in secret. Then the player states his action. All the rest are trying to spot anything that the player says that can be turned into an advantage, whenever they do, they move a token from a communal pile to the player's side. The GM and the players are also trying to spot anything that could be considered an additional risk, when they do, one token is moved from the communal pile to the GM's side. This will add to the GM bet.

    Next the player guesses if that's enough to beat the GM's bet and can add tokens from his personal pile of Stamina (recharged after a rest).

    Then, the GM reveals his bet, higher one wins narrative rights or just things get done. If the player took any risks and won, the pool of tokens in front of the GM go back to the communal pile, if not the player gets as much consequences/fallout as tokens are in that pile.

    This way you can still overdo and waste resources or not make enough and still don't suffer immediate consequences; or risk immediate consequences and gain an advantage from it. Clever ideas can be rewarded better (The GM can add more tokens to the player's pile for a particularily clever one, and maybe players themselves can share another token from their personal pile too)

    You can also have players make their bet in secret too and have the GM on edge about resources. The main thing is that this way it wouldn't be just about the resources, but about doing anything smart to preserve them or take risks to earn more.

    Oh, and you could take out states or pre-written advantages from the mechanics, this way the boardgamey feel can be greatly reduced.
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