Grimm Comments on Spirit of the Century

edited September 2007 in Story Games
So, I was listening to the Grimm Studio Podcast this morning and they started talking about "indie" or "story" games in general and Spirit of the Century in particular. I like the 'cast and they seem nice as well, but I felt their comments were off base and, filled with spit and vinegar, I jumped onto their site and posted a reply. They were very welcoming in their reply and I almost regretted my earlier irrascible tone...almost :)

With some trepidation, I thought I would cross-post here as well. Actually, I think they bring up interesting points that come up when speaking to 'traditional' gamers on the topic of 'story' games.
I am in the middle of listening to your comments on indie games and find myself gnashing my teeth and screaming at my iPod. I don't personally care if you like story games or not, but I do think you should at least know what you're talking about before you speak. A few points:

1. Speaking about all indie games while talking about only one of them (Spirit of the Century) is patently unfair.
2. You obviously have never played Spirit of the Century. Your point of view about the game would be more relevant if you know what you were talking about.

To clarify. Yes Spirit of the Century codifies traits called Aspects. Aspects are how you tell the GM what you want the story to be "about." If you have the "Don't tell me the odds" aspect, you are saying "I want my character to get into risky situations." Its not about GM railroading. You choose it because you want it. Contrast that to D&D where you may roll up a thief because you want to be cool and sneaky but the story may be all about battle fields or gladiator combat.

Second, the players are all involved in creating story in the game. That means the players want conflict and complications for their own characters. You mention the GM can force the character's hand by putting a chip down. That's called a compell in the game. The GM *offers* the character a chip for having his aspect create further complications in the story, because the GM is saying "I think it would be cool story if your character did this...". The player has chips as well and if he does not like the GMs offer he can pay a chip to get out of it, essentially saying "I don't think that sounds like cool story." If the player he accepts, he gets the chip. They're called Fate Points, btw. The player spends Fate Points to invoke his aspect in a conflict to do awesome things, like get a +2 to his roll (which is a huge + in SOTC). So if the player has "I always protect little critters" as an aspect and she's fighting to protect fluffy, the player can spend a fate point and say "but, you know, 'I always protect little critters!" and invoke their aspect to be more awesome.

Lastly, the player can compell his own negative aspects. They may be chasing the bad guy but want to add further complication by seizing narrative control. They compell their aspect "I always protect little critters!" this time getting a Fate Point rather than spending one, and say "I see fluffy caught in a tree and a wrecking ball is swinging towards her, what do I do?" And that's the other cool thing. You, the player, can spend fate points to put aspects on scenes to use in conflict like "Its dark in that corner" or "The ground is uneven." You can also put aspects on your oponent rather than damage, like "I push you and you're off balance" or "there's sand in your eyes." Then other players can compell those aspects to get benefits.

My last point is that you may hate spirit of the century and games like it, which is fine with me. But I think you should play the game first, speak second.
posted by: Noclue on Wed, 9/5 12:20 PM EDT

First welcome to the 'cast!

Great comments all. I hope you'll cut and paste this in the forum, it will probably get a little more attention there.

I don't think we really got it wrong, but there definitely is some room for clarification.

There seems to be, from the people I'm talking about, the concept that 'indie' games are 'story games'. I personally consider Cheap Ass Games, or any beer and pretzel system, to be part of the indie game scene as well, but hardly pushing story.

My problem, specifically with SotC, is "he can pay a chip to get out of it," There's mechanics for the GM to force your character in a direction. Eventually the player runs out of chips. When a player plays a thief, the decision to pick a pocket is solely that of the player. In this system the GM can push the player in a direction through a mechanics.

Don't take our dislike of part of a system as condemnation of a game. I've got huge issues with large parts of D&D, I still play it. So, take the conversation, using SotC as an example, was more about a style rules, over a condemnation of a specific game.

Keep the feedback coming!
Grimm Studios Episod 9
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Comments


  • My problem, specifically with SotC, is "he can pay a chip to get out of it," There's mechanics for the GM to force your character in a direction. Eventually the player runs out of chips. When a player plays a thief, the decision to pick a pocket is solely that of the player. In this system the GM can push the player in a direction through a mechanics.
    No. No. Wrong. Wrong.

    The mechanics do not force a player into a certain direction. It "forces" a player to occasionally play to their weaknesses, which does not necessarily lead in any given direction. The resolution of a scene that involves a Compel is still very much up to the GM and the players, through their Aspects. A Compel is not a switch on a railroad track and I honestly believe that anyone who has read the relevant section in SotC would at least know that.

    The other thing they'd know, if they had read into that section at all is that anyone can Compel an aspect. Do the podcasters then object to another player being able to "force a character in a direction" ?
  • They haven't played the game and I don't think they have read the game. I would assume the answer to your question is yes, they object conceptually, but you can ask them yourself on their forum.

    For what its worth, they seem to be responding to some anti-traditional game statements made over on the Harping Monkey podcast. I haven't heard those comments so I can only respond to them third hand.
  • A "GM Force" is entirely possible in a situation where a player has zero fate points and faces a compel.

    That said:

    - A "good compel" is about creating a choice that is defined by the aspect being compelled -- not about saying "there is no choice, you're doing X". I am pretty sure the SOTC text says this explicitly in at least one location.

    - The player chose his aspects, and chose aspects that produce the story he wants. So exactly how much does it suck when you're forced into... producing the story you want?
  • Fred, the SotC text says also clearly: don't consider failure as an outcome, unless it is interesting and/or fun. It's pretty straightforward in my mind that this also applies as a guideline for compels. Don't Compel if it's not for a fun and interesting consequence. And since fun is "fun for all the players". If the GM is compelling in an unfun and railroady way he is going against the rules AND being a dick.

    And "don't be a dick" is the true and only Rule Zero of RPGs
  • If I do the SOTC-for-science-fiction-mod* like I've been thinking of doing, I would probably take out the "spend a point not to do it." I feel if people don't think it's cool, it probably shouldn't happen.

    * I'm thinking of calling it Zeitgeist.
  • Posted By: noclueThey haven't played the game and I don't think they have read the game.
    I find it consistently bewildering how readily people will dismiss something they have not seen, especially gamers dismissing mechanics or RPGs they've never played or used. I can't tell you how many threads/conversations I've been in where people with no experience using real social mechanics will make definitive statements about how they "get in the way of roleplaying."

    Not to mention, when I ran SotC for my former HERO group, our regular HERO GM made exactly the same comment about Aspects facilitating railroading. This from a guy who champions (no pun intended) a system that gives GMs carte blanche to push players in any direction they want without offering up any compensation (unlike SotC).

    James, it seem like a dick move, but I'd go back to their forums, skip right past trying to convince them of anything, and just flat-out declare that they are 100% wrong. Because, honestly, they are. They don't know what they're talking about. Point them to the SotC SRD and suggest they actually read it.
  • Posted By: buzz
    I find it consistently bewildering how readily people will dismiss something they have not seen, especially gamers dismissing mechanics or RPGs they've never played or used.
    Yep. It's a continual thing accross all RPG fora and can be quite frustrating. I remember arguing with someone about BESM 3rd on RPG.net for several pages until it came out that the poster hadn't even read the game...

    Probably not the podcast for me.
  • Posted By: Robert BohlIf I do the SOTC-for-science-fiction-mod* (...)
    * I'm thinking of calling itZeitgeist.
    If you're gonna call it that, it should definitely be a time travel game.

    IMAO.

    CU
  • Posted By: Robert BohlIf I do the SOTC-for-science-fiction-mod* like I've been thinking of doing, I would probably take out the "spend a point not to do it." I feel if people don't think it's cool, it probably shouldn't happen.

    * I'm thinking of calling itZeitgeist.
    You can do that, though (for me) that takes a lot of wind out of a compel's sails -- and for the Dresden Files RPG, at least, the way we look at Fate Points as semi-equivalent to expressions of free will, it'd be game-breaking to remove that feature. That said, it's not game-breaky in the generic Fate perspective, even if it's not to my taste -- though I'd definitely recommend playtesting such a mod before you take my word as truth, there. :)
    Posted By: buzzJames, it seem like a dick move, but I'd go back to their forums, skip right past trying to convince them of anything, and just flat-out declare that they are 100% wrong. Because, honestly, they are. They don't know what they're talking about. Point them to the SotC SRD and suggest they actually read it.
    I would ask that folks not be hostile towards these guys. It's just peanut gallery kibbutzing when it comes down to it. I've contacted them, and offered to come on their show to talk about it once I get a chance to listen to the episode. They're very friendly to their listening public, based on their responses, so let's just think of this as "[good] enthusiasm for gaming which has managed to be a little misdirected".
  • Posted By: iagoPosted By: Robert BohlIf I do the SOTC-for-science-fiction-mod* like I've been thinking of doing, I would probably take out the "spend a point not to do it." I feel if people don't think it's cool, it probably shouldn't happen.

    * I'm thinking of calling itZeitgeist.
    You can do that, though (for me) that takes a lot of wind out of a compel's sails -- and for the Dresden Files RPG, at least, the way we look at Fate Points as semi-equivalent to expressions of free will, it'd be game-breaking to remove that feature. That said, it's not game-breaky in the generic Fate perspective, even if it's not to my taste -- though I'd definitely recommend playtesting such a mod before you take my word as truth, there. :)

    In what way, taking the wind out of the sails? To me, "you have to do this or spend resources," feels weird and controlly in ways I'm no longer comfortable with. If you're saying "no" to a compel, it means it's a bad Aspect for you or the GM isn't understanding it/playing it like you wanted.

    (I'm having a hard time making my tone here clear, so for those of you who are not-Fred and don't know, there can be no hostility read in my response because Fred is one of my design sensei.)

    Posted By: chaduPosted By: Robert BohlIf I do the SOTC-for-science-fiction-mod* (...)
    * I'm thinking of calling itZeitgeist.
    If you're gonna call it that, it should definitely be a time travel game.

    IMAO.

    In My Awsome Opinion?

    Anyway, yeah, well, time travel is one thing you can do with science fiction.
  • Posted By: Robert Bohl
    Posted By: chaduIMAO.
    In My Awsome Opinion?

    Arrogant.

    ;)

    CU
  • Posted By: Robert BohlPosted By: iago

    You can do that, though (for me) that takes a lot of wind out of a compel's sails -- and for the Dresden Files RPG, at least, the way we look at Fate Points as semi-equivalent to expressions of free will, it'd be game-breaking to remove that feature. That said, it's not game-breaky in the generic Fate perspective, even if it's not to my taste -- though I'd definitely recommend playtesting such a mod before you take my word as truth, there. :)
    In what way, taking the wind out of the sails? To me, "you have to do this or spend resources," feels weird and controlly in ways I'm no longer comfortable with. If you're saying "no" to a compel, it means it's a bad Aspect for you or the GM isn't understanding it/playing it like you wanted.

    (I'm having a hard time making my tone here clear, so for those of you who are not-Fred and don't know, there can be no hostility read in my response because Fred is one of my design sensei.)

    Let's talk Star Wars.

    Anakin's running around with an aspect, Temptations from the Dark Side.

    The GM compels it, with a sort of, "Don't you think it would be worth your time to listen to the Senator?"

    Do you think it should cost Anakin nothing to resist the Dark Side? Especially given that he put Temptations from the Dark Side as an aspect on his sheet, already flagging it as a cool thing he wants story to happen around? From where I stand, the answer to that question is "no".

    IME, players accept compels 90% of the time -- the aspects on their sheet are there and compellable because that's where the heart of their character's story lives.

    That remaining 10%, where they want to resist it, gains a feeling of real significance when they have to pay for it. Not having to pay for it can have the effect of cheapening the story value of resisting the temptation.

    This is not to say that a GM can't decide to back off if he's not feeling the love for the compel. GMs are human, and can misread the situation, misunderstand that this is a case where the player wants to have to make a tough choice around their aspect. So it's still apropos to try to filter yourself, as a GM, with a "Is this a cool enough situation to warrant bringing compels into it?"

    But when you're committed to a compel, when you're seeing the player (as his character) wrestle with the choice you've just hit 'em with, being able to say "that choice doesn't matter and doesn't apply" by resisting the compel at no cost... i dunno. It just feels cheap to me.
  • Posted By: iago
    But when you're committed to a compel, when you're seeing the player (as his character) wrestle with the choice you've just hit 'em with, being able to say "that choice doesn't matter and doesn't apply" by resisting the compel at no cost... i dunno. It just feels cheap to me.
    Successfully grokked. I'll consider.
  • jznjzn
    edited September 2007
    The hosts' comments about Spirit of the Century were quite ignorant. Interestingly, I think the reason for their scoffing can be traced right back to early forge discussion (and before? historians, help!). It is a trickle-down misconception, which is this idea of GM Railroading as the ultimate sin, rather than just an application of GM force, a valuable tool.

    The forge eventually mellowed on this topic, but to maintain the negative connotations of the word, it now defines railroading as "When GM force breaks the social contract". But in the common vocabulary, Railroading is like a swastika in your game in terms of its ability, as a buzzword, to incite instant condemnation.
  • Posted By: iagoI would ask that folks not be hostile towards these guys. It's just peanut gallery kibbutzing when it comes down to it. I've contacted them, and offered to come on their show to talk about it once I get a chance to listen to the episode. They're very friendly to their listening public, based on their responses, so let's just think of this as "[good] enthusiasm for gaming which has managed to be a little misdirected".
    Fred is, indeed, a saner and less grumpy man than I. :)
  • While I didn't particularly like the voting system Ryan Dancey suggests on his blog , I did like the reinforcement of the fact that not every is a good idea. Every once in a while someone will suggest something that wasn't thought-through or otherwise rubs someone at the table the wrong way. I totally agree with this:
    Posted By: iago
    This is not to say that a GM can't decide to back off if he's not feeling the love for the compel. GMs are human, and can misread the situation, misunderstand that this is a case where the player wants to have to make a tough choice around their aspect. So it's still apropos to try to filter yourself, as a GM, with a "Is this a cool enough situation to warrant bringing compels into it?"
    I think the attitude of the above quote is found all over the SotC book, but I think that the rules text would be even stronger if you had stated a few more things explicitly. For example: the GM can back down from a compel if the other players think that the GM is interpreting the aspect wrong. The GM says, "My mistake - we'll talk about [insert aspect here] after the game," puts the counter back in his stack, and play continues.
  • I thought that not getting the fate point for the compel was already a cost. After all, you end up with one point less than you would have if you'd given in. :)
  • Posted By: buzz
    Fred is, indeed, a saner and less grumpy man than I. :)
    As he himself has admitted more than one time, he has just practiced very much at it :)
  • Posted By: Robert BohlIf I do the SOTC-for-science-fiction-mod* like I've been thinking of doing, I would probably take out the "spend a point not to do it." I feel if people don't think it's cool, it probably shouldn't happen.

    * I'm thinking of calling it Zeitgeist.
    Imagine the confusion and mass hysteria when both pieces are translated into German!
  • Posted By: buzzpeople with no experience using real social mechanics will make definitive statements about how they "get in the way of roleplaying."
    Yeah, they do that too. "Who needs rules for conversation?" Followed by a discussion of how they use D&D's diplomacy roll to resolve verbal conflicts, but if the player makes a compelling argument the DM "starts adding up modifiers in his head." I think that fosters a game where more outgoing players, or players who the DM likes more, get arbitrary benefits. I'm not sure why that is better than the Duel of Wits mechanic in BW or Dogs' "just talking" mechanics. I've posted as much on the forum.

    Fred: No worries, its all in the spirit of a good debate. I'm trying to strike an opinionated tone, but not over-bearing one. They're also making nice-nice by the way.
  • Posted By: ptevisThis reminded me ofa story I needed to tell.
    Cool story and you've nicely described the reasons why I like social systems myself. (Technically, my favorite are games without those distinctions in the first place and use the same system for any kind of conflict, but the end result is the same...)
  • Posted By: zoatebixFor example: the GM can back down from a compel if the other players think that the GM is interpreting the aspect wrong. The GM says, "My mistake - we'll talk about [insert aspect here] after the game," puts the counter back in his stack, and play continues.
    Good suggestion. Thanks!
    Posted By: xenopulseI thought that not getting the fate point for the compel was already a cost. After all, you end up with one point less than you would have if you'd given in. :)
    From my perspective, if your fate point stack is unchanged from what it was like before the compel started, there was no cost.
  • edited September 2007
    Posted By: noclue
    Yeah, they do that too. "Who needs rules for conversation?" Followed by a discussion of how they use D&D's diplomacy roll to resolve verbal conflicts, but if theplayermakes a compelling argument the DM "starts adding up modifiers in his head." I think that fosters a game where more outgoing players, or players who the DM likes more, get arbitrary benefits. I'm not sure why that is better than the Duel of Wits mechanic in BW or Dogs' "just talking" mechanics. I've posted as much on the forum.
    (shrug) That's the way I run things, and I've yet to hear a compelling argument to do otherwise. This may be the sim-gamer in me talking, but I don't feel it's appropriate to not give the PC with a better diplomacy score due benefit in an interactive scene, nor do I feel it appropriate not to factor in a player-prompted faux pas into an NPC's response.

    Due the nature of PCs as icons of the players, but the desire to let players play characters who are different from them, I think it works well to conflate the two. I sort of see the players narration as a matter of "announcing intent" and the mechanics reflecting the delivery, to include intangible social aspects such as tone and body language and timing that aren't implicit in the player narrative.
  • Alan, do you do the same with combat, to the same degree?
  • edited September 2007
    withdrawn
  • edited September 2007
  • edited September 2007
    Posted By: Caesar Slaad
    I sort of see the players narration as a matter of "announcing intent" and the mechanics reflecting the delivery, to include intangible social aspects such as tone and body language and timing that aren't implicit in the player narrative.
    My point is there's no theoretical difference between rolling diplomacy skill plus modifiers and a full-on Battle of Wits. You're still using mechanics to resolve conflict. The difference is 1. how much you leave open to GM fiat and 2. How quickly you resolve the conflict and move on to other stuff. In BW, the Battle of Wits is what the games is "about" at that particular moment. You don't want to get on to the real story. So the mechanics let you play it out and play it out hard in a series of exchanges. The dice tell you who wins an exchange and GM and players call bullshit if there is an obvious faux pas or mis-statement, but otherwise the dice guide the action as in a physical conflict. In a diplomacy roll, it gets the talking part out of the way quickly and implies that the mechanics don't view social conflict as worth spending much time on.
  • Posted By: xenopulseAlan, do you do the same with combat, to the same degree?
    Er, does this warrant a new thread?

    I think it does...
    LINK
  • Noclue... responding to you in the other thread too.
  • Hiya everybody!

    Thought I'd swing by from Grimm Studios and possibly clear a few things up.

    First clarification, no, we haven't played SotC. We were using it as an example of a concept, which we, mostly disagree with. Again, some of the hosts (Tate comes immediately to mind) did see a place for such mechanics, but still prefers a more open character situation. This was not meant as a review of the product, merely a discussion of a game style.

    Hopefully, iago (great name) will come on and talk about Spirit of the Century with a little more depth. Just so everyone is clear, that's an open invite to him. Non confrontational, relaxed atmosphere, with him getting final nod on releasing the interview.

    I talked a little with noclue on our discussion of diplomacy roles and how that is indeed a social mechanic already. He is right, we have been using them. But it doesn't mean I like them. Some of the players at are table right now are very new. I'm trying to change as few of the rules as possible so they don't get frustrated by the books not being accurate. That, unfortunately, means things such as diplomacy, etc. I believe I also mentioned that in the game I wrote for myself, Int, Wis, Char, or any social or similar stat is ultimately unnecessary, because it can be covered with good RP. Which is my preference.

    I see rules as restrictions, and when you put one in my social structure I can’t help but feel that what you just did. I’ve yet to hear a gaming story from a social system that couldn’t be done with good RP. Ultimately, it’s about what each of us need from gaming. And that's why open gaming, and lots of different systems are good. Even if you're just pillaging the rules you like into one game for your table (the way we used to do it).

    At the end of all of it, it's 5ish of us talking and all of you listening. Odds are were going to disagree with some of you, even most of you from time to time. It's a matter of numbers, and not everyone has the same experience. Hopefully that won't stop people from listening, if so, then I'm sorry. Jim (one of the hosts) and I disagree on quite a few things about gaming, but we still have a blast gaming with each other.

    We take our audience really seriously. We know we’re not the only way to game. But if you don’t tell us your point of view, we can’t talk about it on the show. If you do decide to swing by, and give us a listen, be a little forgiving of episodes before #9. The recording gear was ... harsh... so sound quality my vary.

    Return to flaming.

    Chris
  • Flame on! Welcome, Chris. I think you'll have a really fun time interviewing Fred, who is passionate and articulate.
  • Posted By: GrimmInt, Wis, Char, or any social or similar stat is ultimately unnecessary, because it can be covered with good RP.
    The thing I'm trying to say is: So can everything else. There is nothing about the relations of these stats to player input into the fiction that's different from STR, DEX, or CON.

    Here's me talking: "I tell him that his eyes are the sweetest shade of blue a mermaid could ever find in the depths of the ocean." CHA, diplomacy, rhetoric, charming, whatever other skill you want. I'm describing something specific that my character does, namely say exactly these words.

    Here's me talking: "I grab his arm with both hands as he strikes at me, pushing my body into him, and turn to shove his hand into the glowing ambers of the forge." STR, DEX, attack, maneuver, or whatever other skill you want. I'm describing something specific my character does, namely move in this way.

    In NEITHER case is there any reason to believe that my, the player's, input into the fiction does not come out of my creativity, linked to how I see my character, in the very same way. Whether it's a quip of the tongue, a good use of social networks, a cool maneuver, or a dirty little fighting trick, it all comes out of my head and is narrated into the fiction. My character would have done neither of these things without me making them up. He is capable of a certain amount of tactics as well as charm because of me, the player.

    I just don't see why a maneuver of the tongue is somehow supposed to be fundamentally dependent on the player, while a maneuver of the swordarm is fundamentally dependent on the character. It makes absolutely no sense to me. The only reason this divide exists is that it's a historical artifact: RPGs grew out of wargames, which modeled combat and didn't have any rules for anything else. And they didn't need to, because it was all about fighting monsters and taking their stuff. But there is no logical reason why this divide should be upheld as we come to expand the range of actions within the fiction.
  • Welcome to Story Games, Chris! We like diverse opinions here. That being said, I'd like to discuss this point:
    Posted By: GrimmI’ve yet to hear a gaming story from a social system that couldn’t be done with good RP.
    I am breaking off a discussion of successful uses of social mechanics here.
  • edited September 2007
    Posted By: xenopulseThe thing I'm trying to say is: So can everything else. There is nothing about the relations of these stats to player input into the fiction that's different from STR, DEX, or CON.
    Sort of, but not really. The social debate can actually be had at the table. Outside of a LARP the fight actually can't. I view systems as things necesairy for that which can't actually be done, or reasonablly extrapolated.

    Everytime you pick up a die (or any other system for resolving disputes), naration slows. We wait for the mechanic to resolve and carry on.

    Furthermore, In a social dynamic you can't actually make someone change their mind if they don't want to. In a physical one you can actually make them bleed if they don't want to. A mechanic to determine the winner is needed.

    And that's one outsider's view on such systems. If you're going to get someone to plunk down $x for a book, you have to convince the buyer that this will add something to their play. More rules to do something they can just act out is a hard sell. Couple it with the feeling of loosing control of your character, and we move further down that road to the bargin bin of a FLGS.

    I'm a rules slut. I'll be buying all these books just to pillage ideas. But I know that my table will frown the first time I try and play a compel chip, or use a mechanic that inhibits their character's persona. They're used to things being more open for them.
  • Posted By: GrimmI'm a rules slut. I'll be buying all these books just to pillage ideas. But I know that my table will frown the first time I try and play a compel chip, or use a mechanic that inhibits their character's persona. They're used to things being more open for them.
    This actually leads to the question that has stuck in my mind: How do you feel about full-bore drawbacks? Things like, say, GURPS or HERO style physiological disadvantages like phobias or the like, which are not a matter of something being harder or costly, but rather being a mandatory thing to play?

    -Rob D.
  • The social debate can actually be had at the table.
    Grimm,
    Problem is, not everyone can act out the social interaction. Just as physical combat rules allow people who couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag to totally devastate a dragon, so should social combat rules allow people who can't talk their way out of the bag to totally dominate a debate. We can try to play out such things at the table, but it really only comes down to trying to describe how we want our characters to behave. A complete rules set should allow players to simply say, "I want to convince this guy to X" and roll for it, as easily as they say, "I want to kill this guy" and roll for it. 'Course, just 'cause a rule set is complete, doesn't mean you have to use all the rules if they don't fit the play group (but then, that's another debate entirely).

    Q
  • edited September 2007
    The other thing that I don't see anyone saying is that the players author those aspects.

    If they have an aspect: Thief, that means they want to be do thief-y stuff and want to run from the law.

    Honestly, though, if someone put down Thief, I'd want more. I'd ask them to toss in an adjective to describe what kind of thief they are, so I know better how to compel it.

    Are you a dashing thief? a king of thieves? a dirty thief?

    And from that I take cues on how to compel stuff.

    Prince of Thieves Compel:

    Player: I want to walk through the market and size up the upcoming target.

    GM: You are walking through the market and the King's Justicar is walking on the other side of the fruit cart you are on. Here's a Fate Point if he sees you, recognizes you, which will make life more difficult later but for now, it is just going to be some social back and forth.

    Gritty Thief Compel:

    Player: I want to walk through the market and size up the upcoming target.

    GM: You are walking through the market and there's the knight who hung your brother. He's sniffing around the market like a hound dog. Here's a compel if he sees you right off, leading to a brutal chase through the market.

    Dashing Thief Compel:

    Player: I want to walk through the market and size up the upcoming target.

    GM: You are walking through the market and there is Zaronna, the Spider of the Seven Seas. She's sizing up the same target. Here's a compel if you make eye contact, each knowing what the other is up to, leading to some romantic repartee.
  • Ok, I'll try and take these in order.

    Rob -
    Physical draw backs. Big fan. Last character I played was a cripple with a crushed hip. Lowered movement, penalty to all kinds of rolls, and limited ability and skills. Did it with 3.5 rules. Just chose to run the draw back as a way to explain a low dex. The rest of the skill/feat hits were voluntary. This, again, is something that afects mechanics that can't be acted out.

    Q-
    That is a problem of the completely open end of things. When that happens the players have to open their RP a bit and accept some things. Some of our new players are still really shy, I let them get away with 'tell me the jist of what you're going for' then let them know the results as if their character would have delivered the speech. It takes some inference on the GM's part, but done well, I've been slowly helping them open up, and do more and more with interaction. I feel like if there was a mechanic, they'd use it as more of a crutch, and that progress might be slower. Just my feeling though.

    Judd -
    Doing all with out compels, or social mechanics:

    Prince of Thieves
    "Excuse me peasant." as the guard reaches for some fruit. If the player says anything, does anything that continues to call attention to them. Familiarity ensues. If not, they don't form a lasting impression.

    Gritty Thief
    The guard is turning your direction, still searching.

    "I want him to see me..." oh boy.
    "I duck into the crowd" Hide check.

    Dashing Thief Compel:
    This hardly needs any compel. Try and score an accomplace, or loot the place on your own, but know now that time is ticking, and she'll be trying to beet you to the goods.

    Sometimes "Acccidental" exposition on the GM's part will dangle that twist of fate before them. Give the players consiquences for their actions, any actions, and everything becomes a compel. Give them a hint at the possible things that could come from their choices, either way, and watch them wiggle with the decision. Play the little devil on their shoulder. Goad them forward. But don't force. Forget to tell them all the bad things about facing their brother's hanger. LIke jail time. Just remind them, that a quick fight, and over the wall, and revenge is had right now.
  • Alan,

    We're not communicating here; we're trying to convince each other.

    I'm not trying to convince you.

    I'm show that the way you thought compels worked was not how they worked. They aren't a railroad and they aren't forcing the player to do anything. I know as well as you how this works without compels and I play plenty of games without aspects.

    It is just another technique, another tool for the ole toolbox.

    Thassall,

    Judd
  • Posted By: Rob DonoghuePosted By: GrimmI'm a rules slut. I'll be buying all these books just to pillage ideas. But I know that my table will frown the first time I try and play a compel chip, or use a mechanic that inhibits their character's persona. They're used to things being more open for them.
    This actually leads to the question that has stuck in my mind: How do you feel about full-bore drawbacks? Things like, say, GURPS or HERO style physiological disadvantages like phobias or the like, which are not a matter of something being harder or costly, but rather being a mandatory thing to play?

    Funny you bring this up, Rob.

    Wanna know why I dig SotC? (Other than the fact it uses Fudge, which I already appreciated.) Once upon a time on RPG-create (an old mailing list/egroup/yahoo group some of you may be familiar with) I was tinkering with a mechanic around compulsory effects in traditional RPGs. Things like the fear mechanic in D&D (or artificial means of eliciting fear in players, like level drain) always sort of made me feel uncomfortable with baldly removing player choice. But at the same time, I wanted them to behave appropriately.

    So I came up with a mechanic I called conviction. The players would have points that they could spend to
    - avoid such compulsions, or
    - to gain benefit from their traits.
    I reasoned that instead of forcing players to act appropriately, you could sort of bribe them to do so.

    And lo, I get FATE (and later on, SotC, which more strongly resembles my old compulsion mechanic than FATE does), and there's aspects, which strongly resembles my old compulsion mechanic. Great minds and all that.

    Given this, I find it oddly ironic to see someone point to unnecessary compulsion of their characters under SotC, when I came up with a mechanic very similar to the aspect mechanic precisely to deal with my concern over how heavy handed methods of compelling behavior were in traditional games.
  • Alan?

    Ok, anyway, sorry if I miss understood the intent. I've been getting a lot of 'persuasion' from this little episode we ran. Knee jerk reaction, my bad.

    In this new light, I'll try again. I'm not against specialized tools. I know some gamers may really thrive with them. It just feels like it's a tool to fix something that isn't broken.

    One thing Grimm Studios is very much behind is the thought that no two tables are the same. We all play what works for us. (I think we said that too).
  • Why do techniques need to "fix" things about other games?
    Why can't they just be good on their own?

    This is a generic question open to all, spurred by Grimm's post but not specifically directed at him.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • The reason why I like these tools is that they make my job as GM easier.

    Muscle that I was using before to steer the game can now just be used to weave and wave shit together. I know that it can be done without it and I'm sure you GM and GM well.

    But for me, many of these games and their mechanics are like swimming with the stream rather than swimming sideways or against it. The systems right behind us, pushing the game along as hard as we are pushing on each other.

    I haven't heard your podcast yet.

    I will go back and give a listen when I have a moment.
  • edited September 2007
    Endless back and forth debates about social mechanics with each side trying to win rather than listen are hilarious.

    Why?

    Those debates are the reason why many people want social mechanics to begin with. To stop those debates from happening in game!

    Please note, I am not using this conversation as an example of an endless back and forth debate where people aren't listening. So far this thread has been respectful. This conversation just reminded me of other debates I've read that didn't turn out so well.
  • Judd's examples are actually the opposite of GM railroading. He's actually offering the player the chance to put the character into a tricky situation. Granted, some players do not want any part of narrative control. But it should be pointed out that the compell here is very different from "You have x aspect, you must do x behavior." Its about letting the story focus on the aspect itself.
  • Posted By: jenskotEndlessly back and forth debates about social mechanics with each side trying to win rather than listen are hilarious.

    Why?

    Those debates are the reason why many people want social mechanics to begin with. To stop those debates from happening in game!

    Please note, I am not using this conversation as an example of an endless back and forth debate where people aren't listening. So far this thread has been respectful. This conversation just reminded me of other debates I've read that didn't turn out so well.
    That's it!!! We're settling this argument with a Battle of Wits! Everyone start scripting!
  • Hahahaahaha! Awesome!
  • edited September 2007
    Posted By: Ben LehmanWhy do techniques need to "fix" things about other games?
    Why can't they just be good on their own?
    This sounds like a whole other thread to me. Really, I'm saying I'm lazy, and want to be able to bookmark such a discussion for later reference under its own name. :)

    Regarding the original thread topic specifically, I'd like to point out that the rules don't specifically prohibit a player from negotiating the terms of a compel into one that preserves the character's status better, or whatever. This is something I have flagged for more explicit mention in future Fate games.

    Example: SotC has a classic love triangle between the iconic characters - Sally Slick has a "Hidden Crush" on Mack Silver, and Jet Black has "Unspoken Love" for Sally Slick. Mack... well, he has "A Girl in Every Port".

    So when Russian supervillain Rocket Red seduces Mack and tries to steal Mack's hi-tech plane, the Century Clipper, for Mother Russia, leaving Jet and Sally on the tarmac as the plane takes off, there's potential for this love triangle to create some tension. I'm talking specifically about the three-player SotC demo I ran to death at GenCon, from which this scenario comes.

    So, in one of the demos, I compel Jet Black's player, and say, "Mack Silver is always doing this kind of shit, and there's probably nothing suspicious going on. You just know Sally's going to check things out and get jealous and disappointed because he's taking some girl he met last night for a joyride. You totally need to convince her to stay on the ground."

    Instead of buying off the compel, the player looks at me and says, "No... actually, here's what the deal is. I'm tired of him always doing this crap to Sally and hurting her feelings, because I love her, and I'm going to fly up there and beat the living tar out of Mack Silver and give him a piece of my mind, regardless of whether or not he's really in trouble."

    Naturally, I gave him the fate point and looked at Mack's player and said, "Man, you're in deep shit."

    Really, what a compel does is signal that drama should play a greater role in resolving events than dice. If the GM throws down for a compel, it's a signal that he or she wants to see something interesting and dramatic happen, for things to get complicated, and the specific terms are the one idea he or she came up with. That doesn't necessarily mean it's the GMs way or the highway - if your GM uses compels to establish absolute authority over your character, dunk their head in the damn toilet, repeatedly, and then exit to the nearest pub.

    Instead, the player should look for an opportunity to call for their own dramatic complication, one that might fit how they envision their character better.

    So, you have "Greedy as a Greedy Fool", and a big crime boss is offering you money to sell out your friends. The GM holds up the tasty fate point. You can say, "You know... I don't see him really selling out his friends. But I do see him lying to this guy about it to get the money, and this guy finding out about it later." If I were the GM there, I'd go, "Make an enemy of a big crime boss in exchange for automatic success on Deceit? Deal," and hand the point over.

    Just sayin'. Many things can be remedied by the bringing of your own awesome.
  • Ben -

    I don't know about anyone else, but my comment was about fixing other systems, but fixing a problem within gaming. Specifically, interaction. I've never found it broken, and think tables that are lacking in some area could probably be remedied by a less invasive approach.

    That said, I've met people who could have a church fall on them and still not get the message.

    Judd -

    I think something you said is pretty much why I don't run into any of the problems needing such rules. Steer the game.

    I don't ever steer my games. My philosophy is that the GM is a set designer and not a director. He builds the props, the stage, and handles the supporting cast. But the players drive the story, just not the setting.

    And thanks for the GM compliment. I'm sure anyone who puts enough time into their GMing to read this board, and think about how to do it better is a damn find GM.
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