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Author Topic: Hacking the Storyteller System  (Read 7544 times)

BoxCrayonTales

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« Reply #30 on: November 18, 2019, 02:38:36 PM »
Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1114194
Much obliged, and I'll reiterate the invitation to other readers as well. I actually feel kind of guilty for monopolizing your conversation.

I suspect that the interest in WoD retroclones has been steadily waning as indie games have been steadily growing in popularity. When I was much younger I used to think that WoD was the best thing since sliced bread, but after getting life experience and familiarity with vampire media in general (thanks to Taliesin and Maven for their reviews and analyses) I now see WoD as arbitrary and restrictive.

Nowadays games like Urban Shadows, Monsterhearts, Feed, Liminal, Night Shift, Dresden Files and more can scratch the urban fantasy itch that White Wolf long held monopoly over.

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« Reply #31 on: December 04, 2019, 06:21:24 AM »
Stephen, if you're still there, I'd be interested in seeing your metaphorical takes on the other splats. For example, Changeling: The Lost and Deviant are both about human trafficking, and Promethean is Pinocchio.

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« Reply #32 on: December 05, 2019, 11:41:15 AM »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1115596
Stephen, if you're still there, I'd be interested in seeing your metaphorical takes on the other splats. For example, Changeling: The Lost and Deviant are both about human trafficking, and Promethean is Pinocchio.

Problem there is that I'm not as familiar with these games as the other ones. Any recommendations for a good "Gameplay 101" web page for them would give me a place to start from; it would still be spitballing, but I could probably come up with something semi-readable to say about them with a little work.

Based on what little I do know, this description, and two minutes' scan of the Onyx Path pages, for example, I'd say that C:tL strikes me more as being about trauma management and recovery, Deviant strikes me as being about balancing between the drive for justice and the need for revenge -- parallels with Nazi hunters and eco-/political activists galore there too -- and Promethean is about desperately trying to overcome parental issues by refusing to be what someone else tried very hard to make of you, as well as trying to figure out which parts of your deepest essence can be changed and which parts can't. But I'd need to know more about the games to be able to say anything useful at greater length, I think.
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BoxCrayonTales

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« Reply #33 on: December 06, 2019, 08:23:53 AM »
Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1115706
Problem there is that I'm not as familiar with these games as the other ones. Any recommendations for a good "Gameplay 101" web page for them would give me a place to start from; it would still be spitballing, but I could probably come up with something semi-readable to say about them with a little work.

Based on what little I do know, this description, and two minutes' scan of the Onyx Path pages, for example, I'd say that C:tL strikes me more as being about trauma management and recovery, Deviant strikes me as being about balancing between the drive for justice and the need for revenge -- parallels with Nazi hunters and eco-/political activists galore there too -- and Promethean is about desperately trying to overcome parental issues by refusing to be what someone else tried very hard to make of you, as well as trying to figure out which parts of your deepest essence can be changed and which parts can't. But I'd need to know more about the games to be able to say anything useful at greater length, I think.

I don't know where to send you. I haven't been interested in these books for years. Sorry.

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« Reply #34 on: December 06, 2019, 01:08:33 PM »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1115793
I don't know where to send you. I haven't been interested in these books for years. Sorry.

In that case, I think that for purposes of a hack you can probably just start with the Big Four that have already been covered.

The thing that all the original WoD splats had, to make one note that I think will have to be added into whatever splats are provided, is one of the things that was unique to all the WoD games and was actually quite rare in other RPGs: all of them had mechanics in which the PC's power, as it increased, was counterbalanced by a mechanic of internal self-destruction in some way -- both the physical and the moral self, the latter reflected in some variety of mechanic that essentially took character control away from the player and then made them responsible for the consequences of that loss of control.  If the entirety of the World of Darkness has a theme, that razor's edge between power and self-destruction is it, and some notes on the generic mechanic of how to represent this will be useful across all the splats being considered.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2019, 01:13:55 PM by Stephen Tannhauser »
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« Reply #35 on: December 06, 2019, 03:04:04 PM »
Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1115818
In that case, I think that for purposes of a hack you can probably just start with the Big Four that have already been covered.
I remembered we're forgetting ghosts! Do you have any advice on that?

Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1115818
The thing that all the original WoD splats had, to make one note that I think will have to be added into whatever splats are provided, is one of the things that was unique to all the WoD games and was actually quite rare in other RPGs: all of them had mechanics in which the PC's power, as it increased, was counterbalanced by a mechanic of internal self-destruction in some way -- both the physical and the moral self, the latter reflected in some variety of mechanic that essentially took character control away from the player and then made them responsible for the consequences of that loss of control.  If the entirety of the World of Darkness has a theme, that razor's edge between power and self-destruction is it, and some notes on the generic mechanic of how to represent this will be useful across all the splats being considered.
Yep. This appeared in World of Darkness and Chronicles of Darkness as the various karma meters. Humanity was the first. The Everlasting called this mechanic "Torment" and had a torment for every one of its splats, ranging from "Damnation" to "Ennui."

Do you have any specific suggestions?

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« Reply #36 on: December 06, 2019, 03:38:02 PM »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1115834
I remembered we're forgetting ghosts! Do you have any advice on that?


Ironically ghosts were the one part of the WoD I never bought into at all. I've always believed that to tell a story from the Ghost's point of view is to basically destroy everything that makes the trope horrifying, especially when in order to maintain the stakes necessary to a character-survival game, the game had to sneak the ideas of Transcendence and Oblivion in through the "back door" of the setting anyway. I loved the concepts and the art of Wraith: The Oblivion, which is why I've always kept my copy, but I think a Ghost protagonist/PC is just a fundamental category error for horror or dark fantasy gaming/storytelling.

I recognize that's supremely unhelpful, of course, and I apologize, but I could certainly provide reactions to any ideas you had.

Quote
This appeared in World of Darkness and Chronicles of Darkness as the various karma meters. ...Do you have any specific suggestions?


Well, to make up for dropping the ball on the Wraith setting, I did in fact come up with my own very generic version, which I post in full below.  Some of the internal references here will not be applicable, but the basic structure should still be yoinkable:

Psyche and Traits

Traits are of three types, all rated from 1 to 5:
Virtues:      Compassion, Faith, Honour
Passions:      Devotion, Drive, Hatred
Flaws:      Hubris, Hunger, Rage

All Virtues start at 1; Passions start at 0.  Distribute points equal to your Willpower score among your Virtues and Passions.  Your Psyche begins equal to 5 plus your highest Virtue score.

Vampires start with Hunger 1.  Wyrfolk start with Rage 1.  Mages start with Hubris 1.  You can take additional points in Flaws at -5 XPs per point, but cannot start with any Flaw score over 2.

To Call Upon a Trait: spend 1 WP, then add the rating of that Trait to your AP for the appropriate roll.  You can call upon more than one Trait (at 1 WP per Trait), but the maximum bonus is +5 AP, as this is an Effort Bonus.
- If you are Calling Upon a Passion or a Flaw, you can spend 1 Urge instead of 1 WP.  However, this may count as a Violation.

To Conquer a Trait (which must be done whenever the character wants to do something that goes against the Trait, or to refuse to do an action encouraged by the Trait), characters have several options.
- Spend 1 WPR to act against the Trait, but take an AP penalty equal to the Trait's value to any Action Roll involved.  If Conquering a Passion or a Flaw, this adds 1 Urge to your running total.
- Spend 2 WPR to act against the Trait with no AP penalty.  If Conquering a Passion or a Flaw, this adds 2 Urge to your running total.
- Roll Willpower against a DF equal to (Trait + 4).  One success allows you to act at an AP penalty equal to Trait's value; every additional success reduces this penalty by 1.  No Urge is added to your running total if making a roll; however, if you are trying to Conquer a Passion or Flaw, add current total Urge to DF.   (Maximum DF is 10, if this totals more than 10.)  If your character is On the Edge and you lose this roll, character suffers an Eruption.
- If you are trying to Conquer a Virtue, you can spend Urge instead of WPR. However, this will almost certainly count as a Violation!

If you do not do any of these, the character cannot take the action that contradicts the Trait in question.

Urge and Eruptions
Urge is a kind of "anti-Willpower".  It represents the internal tension of being unable to act on your Passions and Flaws, and adds to the difficulty of Conquering them.  It starts from 0 and accumulates from various sources:
- Vampires automatically gain Urge whenever they wake for the night with a BP reserve lower than their Hunger + 5 (a fledgeling vampire with Hunger 1 gains Urge whenever he wakes with fewer than 6 BP).  They gain 1 Urge for each point their BP is below this limit.  This Urge is accumulative--a vampire who skips feeding for three nights after he begins feeling the thirst will have accumulated 6 Urge total (1 when he wakes with 5 BP, 2 when he wakes next night with 4 BP, 3 when he wakes again with 3 BP!)  Vampires can reduce Urge by 1 for every BP taken from a victim, even if that Urge was not gained from their blood-hunger
- Wyrfolk gain 1 Urge for every three days they go without shifting into their Therios or Myrmidon forms at least once, and this Urge cannot be reduced at all until the wyr shifts; every shift eliminates 1 Urge point.
- Mages gain 1 Urge if they go for a week without using a single casting of any type, and cannot reduce this Urge at all until they cast at least one spell; every spell cast eliminates 1 Urge point.

Once Urge surpasses your current WPR reserves, a character is On the Edge.  Roll a Contest of Willpower vs. Urge (both DF 6) whenever more Urge is taken; if the Willpower roll loses, character undergoes an Eruption.  If Urge hits 10 or higher, an Eruption is automatic and irresistible.  All Urge currently possessed is expended in the Eruption, dropping to 0 when done.

Scope of Eruption varies with the amount of Urge being expended:
< 4:  Minor
5-7:  Major
8+:  Critical
A character's actions during an Eruption are chosen by the Director, NOT the player, and will almost always be direct gratifications of the character's strongest Flaw.  This is almost certain to cause Violations to the character's Psyche.

Violations

A Violation is the term for any event, experience or choice that constitutes a fundamental injury to your very self. Conquering a Virtue, Calling Upon a Flaw (or a Passion in the wrong circumstances), choosing to commit a morally questionable action, or undergoing a traumatic or shattering experience can all be Violations, incurring psychic damage to one's morality, identity and personality.

Violations are ranked by their Scope, from 1 (extremely minor offenses or traumas) to 5 (world-wrecking sins, betrayals, horrors or losses).  What exactly constitutes a Violation, and how severe it is, is left deliberately vague, but it is often defined by the cultural paradigm in which someone grows up.  Different characters may consider the same action to be widely different in scope of Violation; wyrfolk Call Upon their Rage all the time without incurring much damage, but a vampire who constantly Calls Upon his Hunger will fall to madness faster than one would believe. A Violation may also vary in effective scope depending on the specific character's Psyche; the higher your Psyche, the "purer" and more idealistic and innocent you are, and the more damaging a particular action or experience will usually be. Screwing over, or getting screwed over by, a co-worker is probably only a 1d Violation for a jaded cynic with Psyche 6, but for the innocent newbie with Psyche 9, it may well be a 3d or even 4d Violation!

Whenever a character experiences or commits a Violation, he must make a Degeneration Test.  This is a Contest Roll of the Violation's Scope (1 to 5) against one of his Virtues; both rolls are DF 6.  The Virtue used depends on the cause and nature of the Violation:
- If the Violation is the result of an action you took or choice you made yourself, roll against your Honour--you are struggling to come to terms with your own betrayal of your principles, conscience and integrity.
- If the Violation is the result of someone else's action against you, either an individual or an identifiable group, roll against your Compassion--you are fighting to understand and forgive the one(s) who hurt you.
- If the Violation is a general event that "just happened", with no identifiable necessary reason or directly responsible person/group, roll against your Faith--you are attempting to reconcile the fact of your misfortune with belief in a supposedly meaningful, impartial or benevolent universe.

You cannot spend WPs or Call Upon another Trait to help with a Degeneration Test.  With a sufficiently clever explanation (the GM must decide if it fits the specific Violation), a player may substitute another Virtue for the one normally used, but the DF for the Virtue roll rises to 7.

If the Virtue roll wins or ties the Contest, the character has integrated the experience, action or event into his Psyche without significant permanent trauma--he may be "sadder but wiser", but is still essentially the same person. At the GM's option, if the Virtue roll beats the Violation roll by 5 successes or more (remember that 10s count for 2 successes), the insight or enlightenment of the experience may allow the character to raise his Psyche by 1: his suffering has literally made his spirit stronger!

If the Virtue roll loses, the character undergoes Degeneration.  In its basic form this causes the character's Psyche score to drop by 1, permanently.  At the player's preference, an alternate form of Degeneration may be incurred:
- The player may permanently reduce the score of the Virtue used in the Degeneration Test by 1.
- If the Violation was related to the subject of a Passion (a loved one betrayed the character, for example), the player may permanently reduce the score of that Passion by the amount of the Violation's successes--if the Violation roll beat the Virtue by 3, for example, the related Passion must be reduced by 3.
- The player may increase the score of an appropriate Flaw by 1.
- The character may gain a Trauma Trait of 1, or increase an existing Trauma by 1 if appropriate.
- The player may reduce his character's permanent Willpower score by 1.

The player may choose any one of these options, but cannot select that same option again until he reduces Psyche by 1.  If he has already used all these options and then undergoes Degeneration again, he must reduce Psyche by 1; at this point he can use any of the options again, but each kind only once until Psyche once again drops.

A character whose overall Psyche falls to 0 has suffered a complete break with humanity, and can no longer be played as a PC.
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BoxCrayonTales

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« Reply #37 on: December 06, 2019, 07:52:00 PM »
Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1115836
Well, to make up for dropping the ball on the Wraith setting, I did in fact come up with my own very generic version, which I post in full below.  Some of the internal references here will not be applicable, but the basic structure should still be yoinkable:

Looks a bit complicated? I'll need more time to look it over. But your ideas for Urge accumulation seem novel to me. Vampires need to feed, werewolves need to change, witches need to cast spells... feels more evocative than WoD standard.

I forget to mention that Exalted has loosely similar mechanics in the form of "Limit" and "Limit Break." Opening the Dark has similar mechanics for "Emotional Traits," "Ethos", and "Madness." The latter set are adapted from VtM's Virtues, Paths, and derangements.

Limit and Limit Break is analogous to your Urge and Eruption mechanic. Emotional Traits, Ethos, and Madness are analogous to your Traits, Psyche, and Trauma mechanics. Your personality mechanics as a whole seem to be a combination of all these.

I think it may be possible to adapt your mechanics to Opening the Dark's. This would require expanding the Emotional Traits, which are currently limited to Passion, Prudence, and Stoicism. These aren't really comparable to your Traits on a 1:1 basis.

I noticed that your vampire rules mention blood points (OtD uses a universal "Essence" mechanic for magic points). What do you think of replacing blood points with a hunger mechanic like that in V5? Rather than losing blood points, vampires accrue hunger and satisfy their hunger by drinking blood. In terms of your rules, vampires would gain Urge instead of losing blood points.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 08:01:12 AM by BoxCrayonTales »

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« Reply #38 on: December 09, 2019, 08:00:35 AM »
Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1115836
Ironically ghosts were the one part of the WoD I never bought into at all. I've always believed that to tell a story from the Ghost's point of view is to basically destroy everything that makes the trope horrifying, especially when in order to maintain the stakes necessary to a character-survival game, the game had to sneak the ideas of Transcendence and Oblivion in through the "back door" of the setting anyway. I loved the concepts and the art of Wraith: The Oblivion, which is why I've always kept my copy, but I think a Ghost protagonist/PC is just a fundamental category error for horror or dark fantasy gaming/storytelling.

I recognize that's supremely unhelpful, of course, and I apologize, but I could certainly provide reactions to any ideas you had.


The way I heard someone else put it, the Ghost game's metaphor was for grieving. Herein literal death and haunting the earth as a ghost is used as a metaphor for surviving some major heartbreak or other change and then grieving over it. Crossing over into the real afterlife is a metaphor for acceptance and moving on with your life afterward. Conversely, a second opinion was that it is a metaphor for holding on to hope and never giving up even when things seem the bleakest. Although I feel that distinction might be a false dichotomy.

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« Reply #39 on: December 09, 2019, 09:58:51 AM »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1116035
The way I heard someone else put it, the Ghost game's metaphor was for grieving. Herein literal death and haunting the earth as a ghost is used as a metaphor for surviving some major heartbreak or other change and then grieving over it. Crossing over into the real afterlife is a metaphor for acceptance and moving on with your life afterward. Conversely, a second opinion was that it is a metaphor for holding on to hope and never giving up even when things seem the bleakest. Although I feel that distinction might be a false dichotomy.

Certainly that doesn't have to be a dichotomy. Processing grief and holding on to hope are often related, though they can be different enough to make very different stories. I have to admit that that actually makes me think a little better of the game as a game, though I still think it's pretty much an undoing of the Ghost as a fictional archetype.

One of the other reasons I think it's very difficult to tell ghost stories from the POV of the ghost in an RPG these days is that in my view, you can't really do it satisfyingly without committing to an actual vision of the afterlife, which (because it treads on the grounds of real-world religions and theologies) most commercial RPGs are very reluctant to do so as to avoid alienating possible market segments.

Quote
What do you think of replacing blood points with a hunger mechanic like that in V5?

I'd have to see it in action; my initial reaction is that I prefer the points economy, but I'm open to having my mind changed.
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BoxCrayonTales

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« Reply #40 on: December 09, 2019, 10:30:47 AM »
Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1116039
Certainly that doesn't have to be a dichotomy. Processing grief and holding on to hope are often related, though they can be different enough to make very different stories. I have to admit that that actually makes me think a little better of the game as a game, though I still think it's pretty much an undoing of the Ghost as a fictional archetype.
Aren't there plenty of stories where the protagonist is a ghost? Beetlejuice, Ghost, Ghost Dad, The Crow, Dead Like Me?

Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1116039
One of the other reasons I think it's very difficult to tell ghost stories from the POV of the ghost in an RPG these days is that in my view, you can't really do it satisfyingly without committing to an actual vision of the afterlife, which (because it treads on the grounds of real-world religions and theologies) most commercial RPGs are very reluctant to do so as to avoid alienating possible market segments.

The thing about ghosts is that, by definition, they aren't in the afterlife. Depending on how you define afterlife, anyway, since in reincarnation beliefs a ghost is a type of reincarnation. This means that you can keep the afterlife mysterious.

The religious contrast could be explored in the game itself. An uncompleted fan remake of Wraith called "Wraith: The Arising" tried this: it never defined the nature of the afterlife since nobody ever came back and included a couple of religious factions with different beliefs. One was a neo-Etruscan group called the Order who venerated Charun, another was a Christian group called the Believers.

Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1116039
I'd have to see it in action; my initial reaction is that I prefer the points economy, but I'm open to having my mind changed.
There are different ways of representing this in different systems. It could be a simplistic reversal of the BP mechanic. V5 uses a more complicated mechanic involving "rouse checks" and "hunger dice".
« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 10:33:21 AM by BoxCrayonTales »

Stephen Tannhauser

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« Reply #41 on: December 09, 2019, 03:23:32 PM »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;1116041
Aren't there plenty of stories where the protagonist is a ghost? Beetlejuice, Ghost, Ghost Dad, The Crow, Dead Like Me?

Yes, but I've never seen one which was a real and terrifying horror story, nor any which worked as the kind of indefinitely extendable storyline I think an RPG setting really needs to work well. Even Dead Like Me only lasted a couple of seasons and was more black comedy than anything else, and the Reapers still interacted with living humans without being perceived for what they were.

Quote
The religious contrast could be explored in the game itself. An uncompleted fan remake of Wraith called "Wraith: The Arising" tried this: it never defined the nature of the afterlife since nobody ever came back and included a couple of religious factions with different beliefs. One was a neo-Etruscan group called the Order who venerated Charun, another was a Christian group called the Believers.

Fair enough, but as long as the game itself refuses to say which faction is right, one still gets the basic copout, as far as I'm concerned.  Since, as you note yourself, the ghosts of Wraith aren't really in the True Afterlife yet, all the game really does with the Mystery of Death is push the goalposts back a little; the PCs aren't really Ghosts, they're just heroes stuck in permanent Insubstantiality mode.

Now all that said, as noted I would still be willing to help with a hack designed to address making the surface-level concepts mechanically playable, even if I probably wouldn't see eye to eye with you on the best thematic interpretation for them.

Quote
V5 uses a more complicated mechanic involving "rouse checks" and "hunger dice".

I did a quick review of it; it seems like the primary effect is less to constrict the character's power through weakness and more to constrict their effectiveness through loss of control, by skewing even "successful" outcomes against the PC if he's built up too much power-refreshment delay.

It's an interesting take but it seems like it might veer a little too far towards the extreme of player control removal. For myself I prefer the dynamic of juggling tradeoffs until you go one step too far and things hit the fan; removing control of the character from the player is in a very real sense the ultimate punishment in any game, and my preference is for rare but high-grade catastrophe -- which can be put off, if not indefinitely then for a good long time, by careful choices -- rather than constant low-grade erosion (hence my designing everything around the moment of Eruption in my own mechanics).

Replacing part of the die pool with Urge dice also works better with fixed TNs, and my own hack used floating TNs, so my disinclination is clear. Nonetheless, I could run with it if you want to get your hack away from the resource-tracking model.
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« Reply #42 on: December 10, 2019, 07:47:48 AM »
Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1116068
Yes, but I've never seen one which was a real and terrifying horror story, nor any which worked as the kind of indefinitely extendable storyline I think an RPG setting really needs to work well. Even Dead Like Me only lasted a couple of seasons and was more black comedy than anything else, and the Reapers still interacted with living humans without being perceived for what they were.
Why would it be a terrifying horror story, though? How is that different from other monster PCs? Why couldn't ghosts have ways to pass for living? Vanishing hitchhikers are a common ghost story.

Quote from: Stephen Tannhauser;1116068
I did a quick review of it; it seems like the primary effect is less to constrict the character's power through weakness and more to constrict their effectiveness through loss of control, by skewing even "successful" outcomes against the PC if he's built up too much power-refreshment delay.

It's an interesting take but it seems like it might veer a little too far towards the extreme of player control removal. For myself I prefer the dynamic of juggling tradeoffs until you go one step too far and things hit the fan; removing control of the character from the player is in a very real sense the ultimate punishment in any game, and my preference is for rare but high-grade catastrophe -- which can be put off, if not indefinitely then for a good long time, by careful choices -- rather than constant low-grade erosion (hence my designing everything around the moment of Eruption in my own mechanics).

Replacing part of the die pool with Urge dice also works better with fixed TNs, and my own hack used floating TNs, so my disinclination is clear. Nonetheless, I could run with it if you want to get your hack away from the resource-tracking model.
I can understand your POV from a game design perspective. I think that gradual erosion and sudden catastrophe could be offered as options for the GMs to decide. I do think, however, that reducing resource tracking might make gameplay easier. It might also, I don't know, make gameplay better support the intended themes. If vampires need to feed, werewolves need to change, and wizards need to cast, then IMO it feels more thematic if this is representing by accumulating stress rather than spending power points. Both could be presented as options.

So that gives us a few options for how to represent things: sudden catastrophe vs gradual erosion, power points vs stress tracks.

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« Reply #43 on: January 15, 2020, 10:14:09 PM »
BCT,

I'm working on my own version of Storyteller, but with a much simpler aim, both in terms of system and theme. I have a system question: which WW mechanic do you prefer (and feel free to correct the names):

OWoD: Dice pool vs. a TN that's usually 6, but can range from 2 to 9.  Probability sliders included adjusting the TN as well as adjusting the dice pool.  
Aeon: Dice pool vs. a fixed TN 7. Probability sliders are increasing the number of required successes.
NWoD: Dice pool vs. a fixed TN 8. Probability sliders are adjusting the dice pool.

I'm sure there are versions I missed (Exalted? Scion? God Machine?) And I know all three versions had different implemenations of exploding dice and subtracting dice, which I'd like to stay away from. In my opinion, it really doesn't add much except an increase in handling time.

I'm trying to use OWoD, adjusting the TN but not the dice pool, and no exploding or subtracting dice. But the odds of getting one success look way too easy at TN 6 and even TN 7. Only at TN 8 do things start to look reasonable, which makes me think that's why they went for 8 in the NWoD.



Thoughts?
I know it's hard to keep an open heart,
When even friends seem out to harm you.
But if you could heal a broken heart,
Wouldn't time be out to charm you?

- Axl Rose, "November Rain"

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Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #44 on: January 16, 2020, 08:36:45 AM »
Quote from: Aglondir;1119232
BCT,

I'm working on my own version of Storyteller, but with a much simpler aim, both in terms of system and theme. I have a system question: which WW mechanic do you prefer (and feel free to correct the names):

OWoD: Dice pool vs. a TN that's usually 6, but can range from 2 to 9.  Probability sliders included adjusting the TN as well as adjusting the dice pool.  
Aeon: Dice pool vs. a fixed TN 7. Probability sliders are increasing the number of required successes.
NWoD: Dice pool vs. a fixed TN 8. Probability sliders are adjusting the dice pool.

I'm sure there are versions I missed (Exalted? Scion? God Machine?) And I know all three versions had different implemenations of exploding dice and subtracting dice, which I'd like to stay away from. In my opinion, it really doesn't add much except an increase in handling time.

I'm trying to use OWoD, adjusting the TN but not the dice pool, and no exploding or subtracting dice. But the odds of getting one success look way too easy at TN 6 and even TN 7. Only at TN 8 do things start to look reasonable, which makes me think that's why they went for 8 in the NWoD.



Thoughts?


What you call Aeon and NWoD I'll refer to as Storypath System (SP) and Storytelling System (STg), respectively. The former are specific campaign settings, whereas the latter are the rules in isolation.

Both SP and STg roll dice pools against fixed TNs and count the number of pips that pass as successes/hits/passes/whatever. They seem equally usable. The key difference is that STg applies modifiers to the dice pool before the roll is made, whereas SP applies modifiers to the net hits after the roll is made.

These have different strengths and weaknesses depending on your playstyle. I previously mentioned them, but I'll repeat myself here.

With STg the player knows the modifiers to the dice pool before they roll, so they may elect to avoid making an action with a low chance of success even if it doesn't make sense for the PC to do so in-character. This also removes many opportunities for the GM to surprise the player by concealing sources of modifiers.

With SP, the player doesn't necessarily know the modifiers to the net hits until the GM describes the results. The GM is free to tell the player of any modifiers that the PC would be aware of, but may also conceal any source of modifiers that the PC would not be aware of.

However, there are plenty of other probability issues that I haven't mentioned and may not be entirely aware of.

Quote from: Aglondir;1119232
And I know all three versions had different implemenations of exploding dice and subtracting dice, which I'd like to stay away from. In my opinion, it really doesn't add much except an increase in handling time.

The main problem with this attitude is that dice pools with fixed TNs and no exploding dice suffer from two unique problems.

Without exploding dice, the maximum number of successes the dice pool may ever score is always a fixed number. If modifiers are applied to successes after the roll, then this gives negative modifiers far more power. I would think so, anyway. The whole pass/fail paradigm of task resolution in general seems iffy to me and the modifiers mechanics generally falls into a "mother may I" situation so I stopped trying to make sense of it.

The other problem: As a character's traits increase, the effects of modifiers become increasingly irrelevant unless you scale them with the character's traits--which defeats the purpose of using dice pools to avoid complex math. The exploding and subtracting dice rules were presumably added to make up for this.

A percentile dice system doesn't suffer from this problem since you can set difficulty steps as a multiplier. E.g. the character rolls their unadjusted trait for regular difficulty, x2 for easy difficulty, /2 for harder difficulty, etc.

However, the disadvantage compared to dice pool systems is trait synergy: percentile systems require complicated math to do something like accounting for a character's natural strength when performing a strength-based skill, whereas dice pools just add the two traits together. Unless you don't have inherent abilities/attributes as distinct from skills, in which case this problem vanishes.

Conversely, percentile mechanics are superior when it comes to simplifying performing tasks that rely on multiple traits: if the character is performing a task that requires expertise in multiple traits, he can simply roll once and use the same result for both. This isn't possible for dice pools, which must always be rolled separately for each trait. Dice pools may be combined, but as this stacks the chances of success it raises logical questions unless you're totally fine with abstracting everything to that degree.

Quote from: Aglondir;1119232
I'm trying to use OWoD, adjusting the TN but not the dice pool, and no exploding or subtracting dice. But the odds of getting one success look way too easy at TN 6 and even TN 7. Only at TN 8 do things start to look reasonable, which makes me think that's why they went for 8 in the NWoD.
I got some anydice inputs from stackexchange. If I understand you correctly, then your intent is TN8 and no exploding dice. Do you want 10s to count as two successes?

Here's the anydice input for that. On average, a die has a 40% chance of success. Each additional die adds another 40%.

In general I found that a d100 task resolution system is far easier to work with than these finicky dice pool mechanics. The player will always know the PC's exact chances of success on any action, not including modifiers concealed by the GM. The chance of success is not occluded by harebrained attempts to simplify the math.