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Karbonara
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Complications and Climactic Trouble

Sat 28 Jan 2017, 13:01

I've been running a couple of playtests by now and some key rules edits have come up:
1) Complications seem unclear
2) Helping kids is unbalanced
3) Sometimes, Trouble needs to feel even more intense...

So, for 2), I've decided to run with a quite simple rule from Mouse Guard (with some edits):
  • When a Kid helps another Kid, she doesn't roll. The Kid doing the main roll simply gets +1 dice, BUT the helping Kid is now bound by the result, meaning that failure automatically gives the helper a condition.
  • Only one Kid is allowed to help, unless all Kids helping have a skill level that is equal to, or higher, than the number of kids helping: So, A kid with skill level 1 can only help on her own. Two kids with skill level at 2 or more, can both help (giving one dice each), and Three kids, all having 3 or more in the skill, can help at the same time. (Since +3 is the maximum bonus from any one bonus source - there you have the cap). 
This may seem really powerful, but keep in mind that you only get successes on sixes, so three helpers only gives you a 50% chance of a six, with four kids risking a condition (roller + helpers). And in the end, we want conditions, for those juicy Everyday Life scenes.

For the other two issues, I've made a rules edit sheet which I'd love for any playtesters to look through.
I've already played one session with these rules, and it ran smoothly.
1) Complications works better in Mouse Guard so I've stolen some clarifications from that game, but I've also removed the choice between a complication or a condition from pushing. So, now Pushing ALWAYS gives you a condition, and (just like the rules are now) you get that condition before you know the outcome of the second roll.
2) Climactic Trouble - for those times when a single roll just isn't enough. When you go up against the robot, or desperately make up a plan to get your friend out of the mad scientist's clasp. Here, you make a plan, set a goal (counter to the Troubles goal of, well, "putting you in serious trouble"), and then each Kid has ONE action. All successes are pooled and when everyone have acted, the total number of successes is compared to the Threat Level of the Climactic Trouble. 

There's more to it, like compromises and checking conditions to get more successes if the rolls are bad, but please download and try it out:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_icL ... GVlUEVJSGs
Last edited by Karbonara on Sat 28 Jan 2017, 14:08, edited 1 time in total.
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Nilo
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Re: Compromises and Climactic Trouble

Sat 28 Jan 2017, 13:41

When you say compromises I guess you mean consequences. They are meant to work exactly as you describe in the document. It should be a cost, and could be really bad, and it could be a condition if the GM can't think of anything else. The point is that the player chooses between a certainty (condition and success) or an uncertain "tainted" success that can blow up in her face now or later, it could be quite mild or really hard. The question asked is: how badly do you need this to work well? Are you ready to gamble to get what you want?
 
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Karbonara
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Re: Compromises and Climactic Trouble

Sat 28 Jan 2017, 14:27

When you say compromises I guess you mean consequences.
Edited above. I actually meant Complications (but had just finished writing about compromises for climactic trouble, so my brain lingered...)

So, it's one of the possible consequences, but it's connected to a failure that still requires some success (see "no roadblocks"), and it's removed as a player-choice for pushing.

A complication is when something takes longer than expected, when the result don't reveal the full extent of a success, when the GM want to force the players to deviate from their plans, or suffer the consequences of new trouble.

Sometimes, a failed roll leads to a new trouble, or a dead end at this specific clue (if the Mystery allows for other clues to be gathered, leading to the same conclusion).
That is not a complication.

Sometimes a failed roll sets things in motion which the players can act on, to lessen, or avoid. It might be the threat of future trouble (Everyday Life or Mystery), or the threat of a future Condition.
That's a complication.

In Mouse Guard, these are know as Twists and Complications.

And in some cases, the GM can allow the kids to succeed, even though they failed - but just with a Condition.

What the changes eliminates is the issue of failing, choosing a complication, rolling again and failing ("you fail, but..." - but what?) as well as the problem of actually succeeding, but still getting a new threat of Trouble.

The territory between consequences were muddy and playtesters I've spoken to had all handled the Trouble resolution differently, by houseruling the outcome.
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Nilo
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Re: Complications and Climactic Trouble

Sat 28 Jan 2017, 14:42

Consequences are meant to be the 7-9 of Apocalyse World-moves, if you played that game.

When you fail the consequence doesn't apply. It's bad enough to fail.
 
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Karbonara
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Re: Complications and Climactic Trouble

Sat 28 Jan 2017, 14:59

I haven't, but please (if you can) break down those rules for me.

Failing in TFTL always brings the story forward, and I interpret complications as one way this happens. The GM decides how direct of a consequence she wants, from the condition, through threat of trouble, to actual new (unavoidable) trouble.

In a sense, talking about trouble in those terms of "degree of possibility", takes us to a place where the specific term of Complication can be removed.

If we instead say that failure has the following options of outcome for the GM (and players):
- "degree of success", how much does the Trouble still allow the players to achieve?
- "condition" (yes, no, which?)
- "following outcome", what scene or set of scenes does the failed trouble lead to?
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Nilo
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Re: Complications and Climactic Trouble

Sat 28 Jan 2017, 15:57

This is how the system is meant to work:

The Kid Rocky is played by Nils. Rocky is cornered by the bully Tank at school, and Tank tries to beat him and humiliate him in front of the whole school. But Rocky fights back. 

Nils describes how Rocky kicks and punches, and rolls Force. 
Success --> Rocky beats Tank in front of everyone and scares and humiliates him
Failure --> Tank beats Rocky to a pulp, everyone laughs at Rocky and shy away from him. Rocky can't help himself from crying. 

Let's say Nils & Rocky fails but Nils doesn't like that, he decides to push the roll. The Gamemaster gives him a choice, either mark a condition and roll again (the safe choice) or choose consequence and roll again. 

Nils chooses condition and marks injured. 
Success-->  Nils describes that Rocky gets an elbow in the face (and gets injured) and then Rocky beats Tank in front of everyone and scares and humiliates him
Failure --> Tank beats Rocky to a pulp, everyone laughs at Rocky and shy away from him. Rocky can't help himself from crying. 

Nils chooses consequence 
Success --> Rocky beats Tank but something bad happens. The Gamemaster decides. Some examples:
* Rocky's dad happens to pass by and sees the whole fight, how Rocky punches his classmate and then celebrates his victory. When Rocky comes home he gets punished. 
* Rocky wins but after a while he notices that the whole school is afraid of him, his friends too. He gets a reputation as a bad guy
* He gets a black eye and looses a tooth. 
* He gets a condition, Injured
* He really hurts Tank, putting him in the hospital. He doesn't wake up
* etc 
Failure --> Tank beats Rocky to a pulp, everyone laughs at Rocky and shy away from him. Rocky can't help himself from crying. 

It's not a problem if the player chooses consequence every single time, the Kids will end up in so much trouble the game will play itself. 

___________

Another situation is if the Trouble is something the Kids must pass for the story to go on. In that case the failure is something really bad AND they pass the thing. Kinda like a consequence but worse. If they have to pass a locked door a failure could be that they all get injured and discovered, that one of them is stuck on the wrong side. 

Hope this makes things clearer! :)

/ Nils
 
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Karbonara
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Re: Complications and Climactic Trouble

Sat 28 Jan 2017, 17:15

Nils chooses condition and marks injured. 
Success-->  Nils describes that Rocky gets an elbow in the face (and gets injured) and then Rocky beats Tank in front of everyone and scares and humiliates him
Failure --> Tank beats Rocky to a pulp, everyone laughs at Rocky and shy away from him. Rocky can't help himself from crying.
Is "can't help himself from crying" another condition, or is the "everyone laughing" the actual outcome? 
What I mean is, maybe Rocky wanted to talk to some of the classmates to find out clues, but now, Tank beating him makes that hard - he has to rethink what to do.
The actual outcome is that he can't get access to the action he wanted to do, due to the "blocker" that is Tank.

Look at this section of the rules:
  • Pushing the Roll: "If the Trouble came with a threat of a Condition, you may have to check two Conditions if you first choose to check one for pushing the roll but still fail at it. "
The example you had above would be a possible "double condition".
Nils chooses consequence 
Success --> Rocky beats Tank but something bad happens. The Gamemaster decides. Some examples:
* Rocky's dad happens to pass by and sees the whole fight, how Rocky punches his classmate and then celebrates his victory. When Rocky comes home he gets punished. 
* Rocky wins but after a while he notices that the whole school is afraid of him, his friends too. He gets a reputation as a bad guy
* He gets a black eye and looses a tooth. 
* He gets a condition, Injured
The injury is then the same as in taking a Condition? 
And I'm assuming that since you use "Consequence" instead of "Complication", something has already changed from the Alpha PDF rules, or?
Because the problem with the wording of the Complications paragraph is that it has no text describing what failure means.

If you...
  • Push, choose a Condition, and succeed – you get that condition, but no additional fallout from the outcome (since you made it)
  • Push, choose a Condition, and fail – you get that condition, and any additional consequence from failing (another condition, new trouble, threat of new trouble etc...)
  • Push, choose a Complication, and succeed – the rules says you get a "succeed, but..." (some twist that will haunt you going forward – but it can't be huge, right, like guaranteeing a new Trouble, because then it really feels like a failure rather than a success, and is somewhat off the scale from just taking a Condition: another potential roll and condition in the future, versus a -1 now).
  • Push, choose Complication, and fail – this has no mention in the rules at all. You "fail, but..."? That doesn't seem plausible. When failing you kind of get the consequence anyway. So by choosing this, you get the same as a regular failure, but without the extra condition from pushing. This is where you today can "game the system".
And for some skills and Trouble, a Complication seem right, but what happens when you use an investigate, or a skill and Trouble that isn't really about a confrontation, or about making something, but rather is about finding clues?

By removing it as a player choice, and placing it fully in the hands of the Gamemaster, you enable the GM to judge the outcome of the situation, and use it just like a new Trouble or a Condition.

I still think the best way to handle it is to simply redefine Complications as "a threat of future Trouble".
For example, in a play session I had my Kids arguing (using the versus rules). They used a complication, which allowed me to add the sound of security guards on their way - flashlights flickering in the forest. The kids had to just get the hell out of there, or they would be facing a new Trouble. But, and this is the important bit, the complication was that they could see that they had to change their current behaviour. The complication forced them to make a decision on what their next scene would be.
It's not a problem if the player chooses consequence every single time, the Kids will end up in so much trouble the game will play itself. 
Well. Constantly failing will also just put them in more Trouble, or give them Conditions, which kind of goes against the clue-fidning of the Mystery.
Unless failure can also bring some clue as to "how to move forward", I think Complications as a different kind of failure just adds to the burden. 
By instead allowing soft failure, or partial success (with a condition or a consequence) then you drive the plot forward, but force the players to act differently – change their plans etc.

I have "hijacked" Complications as a means to describe this (since I don't think its current definition holds).

If Complication makes pushing complicated (no pun intended), I would say, remove that choice. It muddles the rules.
Instead use Conditions (for pushing):
  • Conditions are definitive.
  • Pushing gives Condition.
  • Conditions lead to interesting Everyday Life scenes. 
We want the game to go back and forth between Mystery scenes and Everyday Life (not one straight after the other, but they should interject over the course of the mystery. Activity VS Downtime).

If Complications essentially are "new trouble", then let's just define it as new trouble. But if they are the "threat of new trouble", or the "catalyst for interjecting Everyday Life scenes", then it's still worth keeping as a definition, but then it has to communicate "uncertainty of future trouble". Essentially, a Complication is something that can be avoided, while if a consequence from failing one Trouble is another Trouble – then that's not a Complication – that is Trouble.

The text in red (failing) above is what fails the rules definition for me, and I do like how MG has done it, where they allow the story to continue, but allows the Complication to fork the progress into something that can have more effect further on.
Another situation is if the Trouble is something the Kids must pass for the story to go on. In that case the failure is something really bad AND they pass the thing. Kinda like a consequence but worse. If they have to pass a locked door a failure could be that they all get injured and discovered, that one of them is stuck on the wrong side. 
This is my problem. Here you describe an ACTUAL failure: One of them on the wrong side might be a New Trouble, all getting Injured is a group-based Condition, getting discovered is a New Trouble
Actually, getting discovered and CAUGHT is an outcome, rather than a new Trouble. But that in turn might lead to the Kids' parents picking them up at the police station, with some individual new Trouble (grounding, beating, removal of someones toys or things etc) that has to be played before the Mystery can continue.
It all comes down to clarity, which I don't think we have now. And that a definition covers all alternatives, which Complications don't currently do.
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Nilo
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Re: Complications and Climactic Trouble

Sun 29 Jan 2017, 01:01

Failure is always the same, whether you push or not, wether you choose Complication or not. It doesn't matter. There is no Failure but... That wouldn't make sense. 

The outcome is what happens in the story. In my example Tank wants to bet Rocky in the face. And if that happens, that's the failure. It doesn't have to "block"something. 

My example is not an example of Double condition.  It would be if the Gamemaster told Nils that Rocky would get a Condition if he fails, and then Nils fails his roll, and decides to push and take a condition, and fails again.

A complication (Didn't know we changed the word from consequence) could be hard or soft, it could be new Trouble, it could be almost nothing. It could be a broken tooth, it could be that the neighbors doesn't like you anymore. It depends on what we, the players put into the system. The conversation and the fictions decides what is plausible. The player takes a risk by taking the complication, it could mean more Trouble, which could happen in the Mystery scenes, or in Everyday life. It is the Gamemaster who decides what the complication is. 

A complication of a visit to the library to find a clue, could be
* Some information is missing
* Information that makes everything harder (he has guards on his ship or whatever)
* You run into the girl you tried to kiss last night, but who didn't kiss you back
* The tough kids see that you study on a weekend and will mock you for it
* The bad guy is also there and see that you are investigating things about him, he will be more prepared when you meet him 

The important part about rolling the dice is that things happens. A failure as well as a success and a success with a complication brings the story forward. None of it should block the story.  
 
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Karbonara
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Re: Complications and Climactic Trouble

Sun 29 Jan 2017, 01:53

So, do I understand this correctly:
- there is no complication to a failure?

Ergo, if I push, and choose Complication instead of Condition, failure means the same as it would if I hadn't pushed and failed on the first roll instead?

Which means if I choose Condition instead, when I push, I get double punished – a failure AND the condition from pushing.

And if I succeed, I could either succeed fully after a push, but with a condition – or I could succeed without a chosen condition, but I now get a complication that will bring me new trouble, due to that choice during the push.

And how does that complication-induced trouble (from a success) differ from a failure-induced trouble?

I see what you are saying, and I see how a GM can houserule their way through this. I'm just saying that the way it is written and the examples given in the rulebook are unclear and up for both heavy interpretation, and rules misuse.

As a GM, I want the players to know the framework, so that they understand the cause and effect of their choices and actions. The Assist rule and the definition of Complications are the two blockers in achieving that.

They may make sense to you, writing this, or working as you test it – but I've had both players and myself questioning the definitions.

It doesn't break the game, since I can always remove or houserule it – but it does make it unclear.
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Karbonara
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Re: Complications and Climactic Trouble

Sun 29 Jan 2017, 02:14

I'm trying to think of how I actually used it in my first playtest.

I did use it as an option during pushes (condition or complication).
However, regardless of success or failure, I introduced an element to the current scene that hint of a possible, future trouble.

In addition to that, the actual failure brought on a condition or new trouble.

1) I had a kid climb above cold water. He failed, and failed to push (but choose complication). So he fell into the water (failure=Angry, at himself), with the complication that he would freeze (threat of getting condition Exhausted) unless he managed to get dry in the kids' next scene.

2) The kids' stole a motorboat, pushing with a complication, and succeeding. They drive out from the harbor, but a car stops and the boat's owner reaches the water, hearing and seeing his boat leaving. He's now off to call the police!

3) The kids are arguing in the forest. They use the versus rules to do a threeway argument. Their first roll is done and I decide that they can either take a complication (allowing all of them to push) or an individual condition (allowing only the individual to push). They choose complication. One of the kids manage to convince the others to follow her – but the noise they made now have security guards and flashlights coming through the forest. The kids have to get away, now – or they will face a new trouble.

All three of these kind of worked, but ONLY if I discarded the "success, but..." description from the rules and instead went with "...and something interrupts your plan."
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