• 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 8
 
gyrovague
Topic Author
Posts: 390
Joined: Tue 28 Apr 2020, 16:52

Councils too simple?

Thu 01 Jul 2021, 19:49

Reading through the new Council rules, I notice that the initial use of Insight to learn about what approaches might work has been removed. That's too bad; I liked that.

Similarly, the Reluctant/Open/Friendly mechanic seems under-utilized. Sure, it can be used as-is to adjust difficulty, but it could also be used to make Councils more variable. Maybe a Gandalf or could raise this factor (can we call it "Disposition") one level, or an Extraordinary Success could be spent to raise it one (instead of adding two points to the tally) and a failure on an Eye of Sauron could lower it one. That could be done either exclusively in the introduction, or on any Interaction roll.

Alternately, a player could declare their intent to either rack up successes *or* change Disposition. Or use Insight to learn which skills have bonuses/penalties (assuming those are added back in).

I dunno, it doesn't feel like there's enough richness to the Councils. It's a simple algorithm: choose you best skill that you haven't used yet, roll the dice, hope for the best. The only decisions to be made are how to roleplay the various skills, as you work your way down the list from your best skills to your worst skills. But there's no point where you have to choose between various strategies. There are no trade-offs, which are the essence of what makes a game (any game, not just RPGs) interesting.

As an example, I'd like to be thinking, "Hmm, my best skill here is Song, but we've figured out that he doesn't have much patience for Singing. I'm not sure whether I should go for it anyway..."

Or am I missing something?
 
Davi
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon 15 Feb 2021, 04:16

Re: Councils too simple?

Thu 01 Jul 2021, 19:55

I agree that further Loremaster aids must be included to increase the replayability on the council encounters. I don't think it must be detailed, but it must be suggested that previous actions from the character, gifts, important non player characters and playing with the desires, fears and objectives of the the target may impact those variables.
 
gyrovague
Topic Author
Posts: 390
Joined: Tue 28 Apr 2020, 16:52

Re: Councils too simple?

Thu 01 Jul 2021, 20:27

I agree that further Loremaster aids must be included to increase the replayability on the council encounters. I don't think it must be detailed, but it must be suggested that previous actions from the character, gifts, important non player characters and playing with the desires, fears and objectives of the the target may impact those variables.
Oooh....Gifts are a GREAT idea.
 
Vuriche
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon 01 Jun 2020, 23:38

Re: Councils too simple?

Sat 03 Jul 2021, 00:53

I agree with everything you write in your original post gyrovague. Council as a term is a vast improvement on the original, but that also seems to be the end of the positives at an initial glance.

Reducing Councils to challenges with entirely binary outcomes, success or failure, robs them of a lot of their complexity and appeal.

I also found myself wishing for a more nuanced description of the very setup of a Council. The way it is presented is very much that the Company is expected to want something specific from the Council and be focused on working towards their specific end-goal, whereas I have found in practice that it is equally, or even more common, that the "opposing party" is the one that wants something from the Company and that the Player-heroes are often left with the vague and generic goal of trying to impress their "opponent" in order to maximise their gain from the exchange. Maybe that's just me applying the experiences of the written adventures from 1E misguidedly on this new iteration though.
 
Mythicos
Posts: 123
Joined: Tue 16 Jun 2020, 03:46

Re: Councils too simple?

Sat 03 Jul 2021, 02:04

Social mechanics in RPGs are always a very difficult thing to implement.

Do you go completely freeform and let the players use their real-life talents to persuade the LM? In that case, why have social attributes and skills at all?

On the other hand, put too many mechanics and the flow of conversation ends up being constantly stopped because dice have to be thrown, and the conversation between PCs and NPCs end up feeling very unnatural.

For me and my players, 1st edition ended up too far towards the "too many mechanics" end of the spectrum.

So at first glance, I like that mechanics seem a bit less intrusive in the alpha rules.

But I agree with gyrovague that there's maybe too few interesting choices and decisions to be made by the players.
 
RichKarp
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue 29 Jun 2021, 19:37

Re: Councils too simple?

Sat 03 Jul 2021, 05:16

I think because during actual play, these things tend to range in scope between “Council of Elrond” to a couple of people sitting around a dinner table or around a campfire, there should be a little more here to indicate whether it’s a simple or a complex council.

Simple councils might be the yes/no or succeed/fail binary discussions whether the NPCs help you or they don’t, or you please or upset them. Basic.

Complex councils could include mechanics for setting an agenda of two or three items, with multiple outcomes possible, not all of them positive. The players agree to do an errand for the King, but they are promised a certain reward. Or the players convince the lord to issue a stay of execution if they can prove their ally’s innocence, but they must do so within a week - and arising from a separate line of questioning, a Wizard offers them helpful information because of how they conducted themselves.

While it might sound hard to do, I’ve built a lot of multi-faction dispute tables for my Darkening of Mirkwood game. Ensuring that everyone leaves an encounter with at least some satisfactions but also concerns is what keeps the game interesting for me. It’d be nice to have mechanical flow that facilitates those kind of RP discussions without having to build it from scratch every time.
 
Lucasse
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri 02 Jul 2021, 17:03

Re: Councils too simple?

Sat 03 Jul 2021, 05:54

I agree with the general feeling here!

Ideally, for me, Council mechanics would be a bit similar to Journeys, with the possibility of random events improvised upon an abstract table - in many counsel/decision scenes in Tolkien, there is a character offering bad advice (grabbing randomly from the Lost Tales, Ufedhin and Meglin), and they can't always get the Wormtongue treatment. :D

Then there's less serious setbacks like Celeborn's initial reaction to Gimli. Or conversely the risk somebody might be struck with a deadly tankard of beer in the face, for having a loose tongue!

A bit of randomness in the mechanical structure might avoid Councils always resolving with the same sequence of highest-skills-available -- "Alright guys, you know the drill. Notagorn makes his awesome first impression, Bungo plays his theme song, Smartin presents our case, and the elves magic it through with bright smiles if we're still missing successes."
 
RichKarp
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue 29 Jun 2021, 19:37

Re: Councils too simple?

Sat 03 Jul 2021, 06:05

So far gifts and random events, and probably news/messages too would be fantastic additions to the introduction phase.

How cool would it be to have a member of the arranges council as a mysterious no-show? Or to bring good tidings that make your message better received, or to bring scary/sad news that builds sympathy? Or to present a well chosen gift, or to pass on a letter from a Patron?
 
gyrovague
Topic Author
Posts: 390
Joined: Tue 28 Apr 2020, 16:52

Re: Councils too simple?

Sat 03 Jul 2021, 06:47

So far gifts and random events, and probably news/messages too would be fantastic additions to the introduction phase.

How cool would it be to have a member of the arranges council as a mysterious no-show? Or to bring good tidings that make your message better received, or to bring scary/sad news that builds sympathy? Or to present a well chosen gift, or to pass on a letter from a Patron?
...or just be the first person to bring interesting news/stories from the rest of the world.
 
Lucasse
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri 02 Jul 2021, 17:03

Re: Councils too simple?

Sat 03 Jul 2021, 09:23

Here’s a hastily cobbled together example of what an events table for Councils could look like, inspired by the journey events table on p. 111. One placeholder idea would be to roll after every 3 interaction skill rolls, since Council Resistance seems to operate in multiples of 3. The roll could be Favoured in secure settings (probably not many stabbings at Bilbo’s birthday party!) or Ill-favoured in hostile ones (e.g. parleying with a chieftain of Evil Men).

Feat Die result - Consequence
Gandalf rune - Fortune smiles: The council receives heartening tidings, a prophecy is recollected that backs the Company’s quest, or a traditional celebration happens to occur at the same time that lifts everyone’s spirits. Everyone regains 1 Hope, and a free success is gained towards matching the council’s Resistance.
10 - Support from unexpected quarters: someone important in the council vouches for the Company’s request, or some news changes things in favor of an agreement, or the host himself recalls an argument in the Company’s favor. A free success is gained towards matching the council’s Resistance.
8-9 - Extra time: An opportunity for a display of skill; a free chance to use a skill in the council without counting towards the time limit.
4-7 - Unexpected resistance or objection: someone in the council is taking an antagonistic position, or some news or mishap harms the Company’s argument, or simply a strong counterargument comes up. A PC has to succeed at a Wits-related interaction skill roll (Persuade, Riddle or Lore, usually) or the time limit will be lowered by 1.
2-3 - Bitter words/discourtesy: a random PC is involved in a regrettable exchange; they must succeed at a Heart-related interaction skill roll (Courtesy, Enhearten or Insight most likely) or gain 1 Shadow point.
1 - Fell tidings: The council receives grim news, a dark omen seems to condemn the Company’s quest, or tragedy strikes making everyone miserable. A single PC may attempt to overcome this mood by succeeding at an Ill-favoured, Strength-related interaction skill roll (Awe or Song) or else all PCs gain 1 Shadow point, and the Council’s time limit is lowered by 1.
Eye of Sauron - A PC causes a dangerous accident, an unexpected threat or attack highlights the risk of assisting the Company, or disagreements lead to a mood so heated blades are drawn with careless intent; a random PC must pass a WISDOM roll or choose between being Wounded or causing the council to fail.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 8

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Aiden Harrison, Asgo and 5 guests