[In A Wicked Age] Liars, and the Lying Lies They Tell

edited May 2009 in Actual Play
A group I play with sometimes ran up against a severe player shortage last night, so I offered to run In A Wicked Age. (I can think of many games that claim to be designed to run with no prep, but for me, IAWA is the only one I can think of where this is literally true).

The game went well, everyone enjoyed it, but we ran across a situation I didn't quite handle well.

In addition to myself, there were three players, two of whom are down with story/hippie games (I play in a Burning Wheel campaign with them), and one of whom, Colin, is definitely more of a tradiational, D&D, let's-just-kill-orcs kind of player.

He enjoyed the game too, but at one point, when his character had come off the worse in a conflict, I suggested they could negotiate an alternate outcome, rather than have him lose dice. He was into that, and offered to have his character give up the location of the noble house signatory ring [read: MacGuffin], which John, the other player, agreed to, since that's what the conflict was about anyway.

However, John's next move was to move the scene to the location Colin had given him for the ring, only to have Colin announce that he'd been lying, and his character had the ring all along. Ha za!

So, not a big game-ending deal .. everyone is friends, there was some joking about Colin "cheating", and we moved on.

I was at a loss as to how to resolve this at the time, though. I knew Colin wasn't totally on board with the "It's cool if the players know what's up, even if the characters don't" way of thinking, and some context clues led me to believe that the negotiated outcome might not be "true".

The rules-as-written, as lovely as they are, do not offer any guidance for using in-fiction trades in exchange for mechanical damage when negotiating fallout (ie - "Okay, keep your 'Directly' dice, but your guy has to let my guy escape with the magic hat"), at least in the sense of those fictional offers being binding.

Comments

  • edited May 2009
    Uh, Colin broke the rules, flat out.

    Negotiations from conflict resolution are not done in character. They're done between players about the fiction. If I agree that my character gives you the location of the ring, that's what my guy does. My guy is not *claiming* he's giving you the location of the ring, he either is or he isn't.

    Jesse
  • That seems right to me, although the rules do not actually say that, unless I missed something.

    In this case, Colin's character did indeed go through a big "Okay! I'll tell! I'll tell!" scene, and give up the information. It's just that the information was false.
  • edited May 2009
    Yeah, as a GM, I would have said, "No you can't do that." And then I would have rewound the fiction and given him the choice over. Give up the location of the ring FOR REAL, or take the damage.

    Jesse
  • edited May 2009
    The rules do actually say that. The players have to agree to the negotiated outcome.

    "Your guy tells my guy where the ring is. Okay?"
    "Okay."

    If, later, he says "But my guy didn't tell you after all," then he didn't actually agree to the outcome, did he?
  • What they said. ;)
  • Another way to deal with this is to treat the deal as valid, and Colin's information as incorrect. He thought he had the ring and was giving them the wrong location. It turns out, Colin's character was wrong. The ring he has is a fake and he has inadvertantly given the enemy a clue to finding the real ring.

    This is a bit of a farce, but does fit the rules and the deal. It also sets Colin's PC in a bad situation where he looks like he rolled over on his allies, when he thought he was being clever.

    That being said, all that is a bit passive-aggressive in dealing with a "bad form" play issue.
  • edited May 2009
    I would have just turned to Colin and said, That's awesome! But if you're going to renege on your deal, John's not bound by it either. John, which would you like? Exhaust him or injure him?

    Aren't contracts a bitch?
  • Or just remind the other player not to trust his word anymore and go for injury and exhaustion next time they have a conflict. And if I had just been burned by his character and lied to, then my very next scene would involve knifing his character ;)

    - Colin
  • edited May 2009
    Posted By: John HarperThe rules do actually say that. Theplayershave to agree to the negotiated outcome.
    I guess the thing I was looking for in the rules was something about such in-fiction agreements being binding. But, as you say, since it does refer to agreements between players, rather than characters, the binding nature can be inferred.

    In retrospect, I should have probably insisted that Colin take the exhaustion/injury dice loss when the truth about the ring changed. That seems like the fairest suggestion.

    Like I said, this was not a terrible thing that happened. So lesson learned.
  • As a side note, having now played IAWA with a) people who are into indie-type games, b) people who are not into indie-type games, and c) people who are not into games at all, I can report that grokking the rules comes least easily to group B.
  • Posted By: BWAAs a side note, having now played IAWA with a) people who are into indie-type games, b) people who are not into indie-type games, and c) people who are not into games at all, I can report that grokking the rules comes least easily to group B.
    I think most of the "indie-type" games this community is familiar with could be classified similarly.
  • RyRy
    edited May 2009
    John Harper is right; the players agree, not the characters.
  • As for future consequences, it is not recommended
  • If I were GM, it'd be just like this:

    "Ha ha! The ring isn't there at all! It's been with me the entire time!"
    "Actually, when you search your belongings, you discover you don't have the ring with you."

    So, yeah, the character was lying. Can characters lie? They sure can. But they can also be wrong.

    That's just my take on it.
  • Huh. So applying the damage after the fact is not recommended by the game designer.

    In this case, the falsehood was not revealed until some scenes later. So the only choices (aside from the chosen course of being all "Uh." and ignoring it) would be for the character to take the damage they avoided taking earlier, or to retroactively narrate a new reality, as some here have suggested. ("Ah ha! But you do NOT have the ring after all!")

    I wish Vince had elaborated on his reasoning in that post.
  • Posted By: BWAHuh. So applying the damage after the fact is not recommended by the game designer.

    In this case, the falsehood was not revealed until some scenes later. So the only choices (aside from the chosen course of being all "Uh." and ignoring it) would be for the character to take the damage they avoided taking earlier, or to retroactively narrate a new reality, as some here have suggested. ("Ah ha! But you do NOT have the ring after all!")

    I wish Vince had elaborated on his reasoning in that post.
    I think somewhere in the rules it recommends against negotiating for something to occur in the future. Its hard to tell from Vincent's response, but he may be commenting on the whole idea of negotiating something that will occur later, rather than commenting on the "if I do X anyway, I take dice." Its not clear though. Vincent will probably come along soon and clear it up...

    I like the idea of the negotiation being a contract and if either player reneges, it voids the deal. But there is something to be said for just allowing the social contract to self correct this behavior. Brian, let me ask you, how many times do you think someone can get away with going back on their negotiations? The next time he loses at dice he's going to be all "wait! How bout if..." And the other player's going to go "Don't insult me. Shut your yap and take the injury!"
  • Posted By: noclueBrian, let me ask you, how many times do you think someone can get away with going back on their negotiations? The next time he loses at dice he's going to be all "wait! How bout if..." And the other player's going to go "Don't insult me. Shut your yap and take the injury!"
    Oh, absolutely, I agree. Another reason why this wasn't so great a transgression. Self-correcting behavior.

    But I suspect this particular group might not play IAWA again anytime soon, and this is definitely my go-to game for a quick session with a group of people who don't really game, or who don't game together often; it's the ideal one-shot game for me. My reason for posing the question was to see what others thought, since I can imagine encountering this problem again.
  • edited May 2009
    Posted By: noclue
    I like the idea of the negotiation being a contract and if either player reneges, it voids the deal. But there is something to be said for just allowing the social contract to self correct this behavior. Brian, let me ask you, how many times do you think someone can get away with going back on their negotiations? The next time he loses at dice he's going to be all "wait! How bout if..." And the other player's going to go "Don't insult me. Shut your yap and take the injury!"
    I'm not sure this will work. When players see one player act like this, and appear to get away with it, the whole group may start to distrust the negotiation element of resolving conflicts. So you end up with people tending to just accept the exhaust or injury option, and conflicts become less interesting.
    Far better in my view to openly declare this was a mistake, so the group understands how it was meant to work for the future.
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