It is currently Sat Jul 11, 2020 8:57 pm

All times are UTC




Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 6 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Questions About Spiritual Attributes
PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 9:53 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
This thread is taken from Questions About Spiritual Attributes.

The thread starts out with a couple of misconceptions about the SA mechanics but soon moves on to a more interesting general discussion on the SA mechanics from a game design and an in-play perspective. It's this part that I'm covering below.

Keep in mind that these opinions are from years ago. People's opinions change over time, even about things as seemingly clear cut as the purpose behind mechanics that the author wrote himself. As always, read the original thread to see the whole context for what is written.

Regards,

_________________
Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Lyonpaedia
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Questions About Spiritual Attributes
PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 10:17 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Wolfen wrote:
Characters advanced enough to be looking at raising attributes to 9 or 10 are going to have to severely deplete their SAs to get the required amount of points. I either assume this is intentional, or it is possible to spend points over time into raising an attribute?

Example: I want to raise my agility from 9 to 10, because I'm just a badass like that. That's going to cost me 22 points.. I only have about 17 points spread across my 5 SAs. I opt to spend 5 points now, and spend a few more over the next several sessions until I have met 22.

Is the above example possible, or must all points be spent at once?

Also, I noted that there is a cost listed for raising attributes from 10. I thought that 10 was the cap? Or are you allowed to raise to 11 the attributes that you got a bonus for due to your racial/national modifiers? If that is so, then do attributes that you received a penalty in have a lower cap, or is it still 10?



Nick Pagnucco wrote:
I would imagine the 11s are for those ethnic groups who have a bonus to an attribute (+1 Toughness or something)

Also, and this is JUST my opinion, I would force players to pay off the Spiritual Attribute Costs as onelump sum, not over time. I would do this specifically BECAUSE its draining the character.

A lot of RPGs make self-improvement WAY too mechanical. The player decides the character should have something increased, they have enough XP to have it increased, its spent, and Bang, ya got it. There are some variations on this, but this really is a core theme.

This isn't how it works in TROS. For skills, they improve as you use them successfully. Every three successes, you get to roll to see if it improves. This rewards using skills, which is good.

Attributes are for TROS (And most RPGs that have them) something a bit more central to the characters being. How strong or willful or knowlegeable one is, compared to how good he is at say mathematics, is more central to who the character actually is. And from personal experience, I can say that making serious improvements on one's core being is not always easy or pleasant. Sometimes it takes a lot of work, and a lot of struggle. Often, by doing so, other things suffer.

In my view, having a character get KNOCKED in the spiritual attributes simulates this very well. Going from a 9 to a 10 basically means you're approaching maximum human potential. Essentially, perfection. Imagine in real life the kind of total commitment it takes to reach that level. The self-sacrifice and character necessary and determination. Not everyone is willing to do what that takes. They aren't being lazy necessarily; it just doesn't make sense for them to expend that level of effort, even for perfection.

The one lump sum approach puts players in the same dilemma for character development. Sure, a character could move one step closer to human perfection in an area, but the level of focus on that specific thing will mentally and spiritually drain him. In game terms, his Spiritual attributes would get sucked dry, and it would take a few game sessions for him to recover. A player would need to decide if such a vunerability (even if its temporary) is worthwhile to him/her and the character being played.

What will happen if you do this in a TROS game? It would limit the number of characters running around with 10s in their most useful attributes. Sure, it would be useful, but the character was never safe enough that the player was willing to drain him so much. In stead, they would have reasonably high attributes, spread in many different areas, and maybe a few enhanced skills (through a few forced rolls), perhaps a new advantage or a flaw overcome.

What would happen if you let them pay over time, in small doses? You'd have players carefully creating a layaway plan to perfection (assuming there was enough time in the campaign, and they had enough SAs). This would result in more characters with very high attributes, as there wouldn't be as much of a threat of having them pumped up.

In my personal view, the former path of character development is more in line with my vission of how TROS should be played.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Questions About Spiritual Attributes
PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 10:22 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Jake Norwood wrote:
No "Layaway Plan" was ever intended...I'd make you do it in one lump sum, with reasons being roughly identical to those stated by Neverment, above.

BUT that doesn't mean that you can't do it any way you want at home. That's just how I do it.


Jaif wrote:
The difficulty I have is this:

Imagine that a campaign has moved on in a different direction. Right now we're all helping one of our buddies on his personal quest, a many-adventure epic. My drive & destiny are at a low point, and aren't being exercised. I'm living off my faith, conscience, and luck as I play a supporting character for a time.

This is all well & good, but now there's no way for me to muster 20 points. Say my drive and destiny are at 1s (I spent them at the end of the last epic), the best I can muster w/o layaway is 17.

I don't expect this to come up all that often, but if I was GMing a player with that situation I'd certainly allow him to tuck points away.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Questions About Spiritual Attributes
PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 10:23 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Nick Pagnucco wrote:
Hmm... yeah, I can see how that would get a bit touchy. I can think of two things, though, that make it still 'work' for me.

1) If the GM was planning it to be a campaign cenetered around one character's personal question, he may or may not want to make sure everyone's SAs support that. This goes back to another comment in another thread that making sure everyone's spiritual attributes are complementary is one of the most important things to do before play starts.

2) Chances are, if a character is living off of conscience, faith, and luck in such a campaign, they may very well be getting a lot of it. In my view, I'd like to stick to the "3 to 5 points per session" rule in the book. That means if your character is specifically playing a supporting role (the voice of reason, the conscience of the party, etc), they're SAs will flow from that. In other words, their supply of SAs will be specialized, but not necessarily less, than the 'main character.' The result of this is that the main character will be able to be the one most likely to make the Big Improvements (be the greatest swordsman ever, or whatever), while everyone else get to be a support cast with a ton of moderate-to-good skills and attributes to back him up. If the campaign is really supposed to be based around one character's deeply personal quest, then I would think this overview of who is specialized and who isn't would be a valid one.

And also, yeah... this won't come up very often. The issue of needing all your SAs near maxed only comes up when a character is trying to improve to an 8 or higher in a stat, having a proficiency in the mid teens or higher, or getting rid of a major flaw. Unless different characters are trying to do one of those things, then this won't be a huge issue in play.


Ron Edwards wrote:
I would never permit the layaway plan under any circumstances of TROS.

Why are SA's the basis for Insight Points at all? Why not kill-count? Why not accumulated riches? Why not the total of one's attributes and/or skills (as in L5R)?

I trust the answer to this question is clear: reward systems generate value systems. TROS has a distinctive value system: passionate and committed protagonist decision-making is the most important thing.

Therefore, it seems to me, a player who is not playing to his or her SA's has chosen to reduce his or her Insight benefits as a matter of course.

Jaif's example of the character whose Drive and Destiny are not involved illustrates, to me, this very case. No one makes the player bring the character into that story.

I suspect I am seeing an unspoken assumption that the GM preps "the story" and the players line up their PCs to be involved in it. I also think I am seeing the assumption that "just participating," being at the session, should reap equal rewards.

Here are the options, as I see it.

1) A "story" (actually, Situation) shapes up via play. The character stays involved in this story and bluntly, doesn't reap the Insight benefits that he might, because his Drive and Destiny aren't involved. He is, as Jaif said, a secondary character in the story. Hence, he is a secondary character (and the player is a secondary player) in terms of rewards. This strikes me as fair, fine, and desirable - up to and including the distinct difference in how the rewards play out, even though all the characters "participated" in play.

2) The player decides that this Situation isn't for this character, whose Drive and Destiny are about totally other things. The player walks the character away from the action, so to speak, into other action. Now, in some traditional modes of play, this is defiant, angry role-playing: "My guy doesn't wanna!" In TROS, as I conceive it, the story is what the characters do want to do. If someone does this in TROS play, they are not "defying" me as GM. They are simply exercising their perfectly good right as co-author of the overall story, and that's what one of the heroes is doing. I don't think that the "squad" model of character-groups is viable in many settings, and the TROS setting least of all. (If anyone wants to discuss multiple-simultaneous-scene play, I will be happy to explain how easy it is, in an appropriate forum.)

Both of these options seem fine to me.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Questions About Spiritual Attributes
PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 10:24 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Jake Norwood wrote:
Ron Edwards wrote:
Therefore, it seems to me, a player who is not playing to his or her SA's has chosen to reduce his or her Insight benefits as a matter of course.


Yeah, this is definitely true. As I see it, it kinda works like this: most groups have that one "worthless" player...the guy that made the "quiet lone bladeslinger that doens't like anyone, but is a hero/anti-hero anyway." Truth be told my favorite books are often about this guy, and I've made many characters like him...but those guys, unless it's just you and the Seneschal, aren't any fun to play, and they're even less fun to play with in a group. The SAs do two things in this context: They don't reward someone that isn't interested in adding to the story and to the experience, and they inspire people to get their characters personally involved (thus co-authoring the story, as Ron said).

Ron Edwards wrote:
Jaif's example of the character whose Drive and Destiny are not involved illustrates, to me, this very case. No one makes the player bring the character into that story.


This involves two things as well. First, it is the responsibility of the Seneschal to involve at least one SA from every character into every session. If that isn't happening, the players need to talk with them. Really good players will find ways to use the SAs that the Seneschal has prepped for, as well as the ones that he hasn't, through clever roleplaying, etc. The Seneschal, in turn, should be aware of the possible reactions characters with certain SAs will have in a multitude of situations, making the players thankfully predictable to a perceptive Seneschal.

Second, remember that it is very easy in TROS to change your SAs if they're not working out in the given campaign. There's no XP penalty for changing allignment, so to speak, although it does require a certain "bottoming out" of an SA or two, those points aren't lost...you can spend them.

Overall the solution to this (and many) game issues is communication of desires between player and Seneschal--the SAs facillitate that to a large degree, but nothing will ever replace good-old-fashioned discussion and communication. There's a reason that we spend several pages on metagame issues in the Senechal's chapter.

Ron Edwards wrote:
I suspect I am seeing an unspoken assumption that the GM preps "the story" and the players line up their PCs to be involved in it. I also think I am seeing the assumption that "just participating," being at the session, should reap equal rewards.


TROS will either be the best game the "bottled up" players ever encounter because it will open them up, or they'll get bored to death by it because it isn't D&D, and the only way to improve (and part of the reason we like RPGs is to see the numbers go up...admit it) is to get involved--personally and emotionally--with the story.

Last night we began a new campaign (I'll tell y'all about it once we've gotten past the first big surprise, just in case my players read this forum, too). We had 4 players (an optimum TROS number, I might add), and every one of them pulled about 5 SA points, some of them more. Now, I was being intentionally generous, but everyone got into character, and we had some of the best dialogue I've seen in a game in a long time, excellent inter-player reaction, and I found it very easy as Seneschal to "set the players up" for important plot events, because I had all of their SA's written down and I knew that most of the time my players would react in a certain way because (1) that's the story they want to write/tell...their SA's told me so and (2) they wanted those SA points, and were willing to work for them as long as they knew that I was handing them out.

Again, it's important to hand out SAs during play when possible...give a dog a bone when it did good, it'll do good again. Give it to it tomorrow, and it might or might not. My editor questioned by parallells between players and dogs (I'm not sure if it stayed in or not), but I used to train border collies, and let me tell you--it's the same darn thing!

Ron Edwards wrote:
In TROS, as I conceive it, the story is what the characters do want to do. If someone does this in TROS play, they are not "defying" me as GM. They are simply exercising their perfectly good right as co-author of the overall story, and that's what one of the heroes is doing.


Amen and amen. And if you're a good little GM and wrote down their SAs beforehand, you can plan on what they'll do to a large degree. Writing a linear adventure for TROS is easy, IF you know the PC's SAs. That's what makes writing a module damn hard, but being Seneschal easy. Of course, the players won't see it as linear, because whether they realize it or not, they wrote it.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Questions About Spiritual Attributes
PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 10:24 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Jaif wrote:
Let me toss a more specific example out there, because I get the sense we use some words (e.g. story) slightly differently.

Imagine the group decides to play a game centered around the cold war between Stahl & Gelure. Everyone, with this setting in mind, makes their characters and does a reasonable job of keeping them consistant to group play.

I make a character who comes from the fallen kingdom of Farrenshire. He has a Drive: Oppose Gelure and Passion: Hatred for the current Military Governor in Farrenshire. Having seen enough carnage and unholy magics to last a lifetime, this character turns to Stahl Atheism in spades. A decent conscience & some luck rounds out this character.

We play many adventures in this setting: revealing Gelure agents in Stahl, tracking down rogue sorcerers heading to join Gelure, the underground railroad from Farrenshire, and so on. Lots of happy-happy sessions.

Another character in the group happened to pick the Prophet as his faith, and plays a relatively faithful but cosmopolitan adventurer. He's always helping, and adds color to the situation.

One day our young Propheteer runs into a wise man of his people. They spend some time around the fire telling tales, when the wise man asks the fatefull question: what did you feel during your pilgramage to Hakhmah? The character is embarassed: he never made his pilgrimage. In fact, he realizes now that he's been avoiding it, and risking death while so doing. He decides to make the pilgrimage.

All the characters decide to come along. No, not a sheep-like maneuver; they're all friends, comrades in arms, and if one of them needs to make a trek of this magnitude, then all will assist. On the flip side, all the players agree this would be a fun excursion, and a welcome change of pace.

Now the players are working this out. It's a many game-session affair, and my character's drive & passion have nothing to do with it. In mechanical terms, my drive & passion are low right now anyway, simply because I've bought up some skills.

So now I'm out playing a supporting role, while the Propheteer guy gets lead for a time. I do a really good job: I come up with some brilliant plans, memorable die-rolls, make tough choices at the right time and follow-through on them, and actually survive many challenges to my faith.

I build up points over the sessions, and soon my luck/passion/conscience are maxed. I want to buy this one attribute up: it's what I've been working towards. But I can't and by the game system I'm forced to spend my points elsewhere (or lose them, I suppose).


Sorry for the length. All I was saying before is that in this situation, where the mechanics smack into decent gaming, as a GM I'd be happy to let a player slide a bit and stash some points away.

Now, if a character is only playing one of his SAs all the time, I can see being dictatorial. But for me there's got to be some flexibility on the GM's part when the system starts to arbitrarily penalize people who are just having fun.

Last point - this is a situation "at the edge". Frankly, the layaway shouldn't be needed at all normally.


Ron Edwards wrote:
Jeff (Jaif),
I see your point, and I also want to say that working this stuff out with you in dialogue is always a pleasure.

I think (if I'm not reading the system wrong) that the solution exists already.

We're talking about the Passion and Destiny attributes being "left out," right? Wouldn't the very fact that the character is, for all intents and purposes, ignoring his Passion and Destiny (the latter being pretty in-character psych and the latter being more metagame-y) lead to those SA's dropping? All the while he's helping his Prophet-worshipping pal, God knows what's going on back in Farrenshire, etc.

So they have an adventure on the way to Hakhmah, and when they're done, our hero has to decide - OK, turn back? Go home and fight the good fight? Or proceed further to this (frankly) heathen place? If he proceeds, drop that Passion.

So I see his Passion and (maybe) Destiny dropping. They might drop to 0. I can see his Passion (loyal to pal) growing. All sorts of things can happen from there: e.g., he might leave Destiny down at 0 and just build it back up again when they get back to war-torn Gelure-fighting again. At the most extreme, the character could change radically.

My real point, though, is for the duration of this excursion or detour, the character's SAs will almost certainly change, starting with a nosedive to 0 for at least one of them. The Passion seems inevitable in this regard; so would a Drive. Destiny is kind of funny, of course; he might find that a black-clad squad of Propheteer horsemen think he's just the coolest, so he brings them back home (which is a kickass Destiny development).


Jake Norwood wrote:
Ron's solution is the one that I myself always imagined, but by the same token I think that the "extreme circumstances" layaway plan that you describe has potential. It all goes back to the "make the game what you need it to be" principle, and you're proposal for a layaway plan fits that bill perfectly.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 6 posts ] 

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron


Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group              Designed by QuakeZone