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Party Tension Meter - how can this be made to not suck


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#1 Emirikol

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 11:06 PM

http://www.fantasyfl...ws.asp?eidn=768

http://www.fantasyfl...ws.asp?eidn=729

 

I've made no secret about how bad I think that this thing sucks. I think that the "party punishement meter", as I like to call it, needs to be dumped and the party sheet saved.

 

How are you guys using it?  Any cool experiences to share?

 

 



#2 herrquisling

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 01:03 AM

We use the party tension meter; the effects of pt aren't very harmful so it is not feared; although right now the party members lose a fortune point when the meter reaches the final spot (oath bound). We use it because it is funny and sometimes it serves to illustrate where the players make fools out of their pc:s.  

 

Examples

 

Reinhardt, a thief/agent/assassin/marksman character, makes snide remarks about the jade order witch. More than once. This raises the party tension. Obviously. Especially since he actually broke down once, while interrogated by a witch hunter, and accused the wizard of being a real witch and a servant of chaos (just to get the witch hunter of his back). The party tension meter helps illustrate this without the players actually having to have a verbal argument each time. 

 

Reinhardt runs into the temple of Verena and starts talking loudly. All the clerks and a priestess look at the pc:s who were quietly waiting in a corner. Party tension. 

 

Joseph, a sigmarite initiate/disciple/zealot, is hiding an important secret from another pc and feels guilty about it. Party tension.

 

Waldenfrau, the apprentice/scholar/apotechary, refuses to heal a party member because he is sick and infectious. Party tension.

 

Joseph defends the actions of the witch hunter who threw them in a dungeon, which led to some of them being beaten and one almost dead from hunger and illness. The rest of the party wants him dead. Party tension.

 

And so on. Works fine. Could do without it, but it adds more good than bad. 


Edited by herrquisling, 20 December 2013 - 01:19 AM.

/herrquisling


#3 Ralzar

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 04:19 AM

This is how I have used it:

 

The tracker does NOT curve around to zero when it reaches the top. It just stays at the top until something makes it decrease.

 

Any Stress and Fatigue caused by the tracker can not be removed from the characters in any other way than through lowering the tracker.

 

The party tension is dictated by basically how much the players mess up and how tense the story is. When the characters screw up and their situation worsens, the party tension increases. When they succeed at something and makes the situation better, it decreases. I basically use it as an ingame representation of how tense the situation generally is.



#4 Keeop

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:23 AM

I've not had any negative experiences with it yet. If anything my group has a lot of fun with it, especially the Dwarf and the Elf, or the Wizard and the Witch Hunter who are constantly at each other's throats :) It's fun, lines up with the "**** happens" vibe of the setting, and hasn't hit the group in any kind of way that derails their enjoyment. With all of that said, I can totally see Jay's issues with it having read some of his experiences and I believe that without the proper table mindset it could become a fiddly, negative mechanic. I'd go as far as to say that once you've decided that it's a "Punishment Meter" that's exactly what it becomes. I don't say that as a criticism, truly. It just is what it is. I've honestly got more problems with a couple of my "gamists" playing up the shared sockets on the group card. They're not out of control with it yet, but they put a lot more emphasis on it than what I believe they should. Lord knows I've been a huge flag-bearer for this edition but if there's one thing I won't deny it's the fact that you really have to ensure that you utilize some of the components and aides as tools to storytelling. The second they become a "mechanical thing" the spirit of the whole system buckles a bit, imo.


Edited by Keeop, 20 December 2013 - 09:23 AM.


#5 Keeop

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:25 AM

This is how I have used it:

 

The tracker does NOT curve around to zero when it reaches the top. It just stays at the top until something makes it decrease.

 

Any Stress and Fatigue caused by the tracker can not be removed from the characters in any other way than through lowering the tracker.

 

The party tension is dictated by basically how much the players mess up and how tense the story is. When the characters screw up and their situation worsens, the party tension increases. When they succeed at something and makes the situation better, it decreases. I basically use it as an ingame representation of how tense the situation generally is.

Neat take on it. I see a lot of folks forgetting about the "decrease" part. There is an ebb and flow to it that I think gets overlooked sometimes..



#6 Keeop

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 10:33 AM

God, reading back through the first few comments on those original release articles makes me want to vomit. Want to know what's wrong with our gaming communities? That. Right there. Those people could go run out into oncoming traffic and I could decrease our party tension meter by 10, easily. Good stuff. Hopefully they're sharpening their witsticks for this summers D&D Next release. We're gonna need a fresh generation of crybabies to fuel the pyre.

 

/rant off


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#7 r_b_bergstrom

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 03:25 PM

I actually like the Party Tension Meter, and wish it were tied in to more things in the game. I like how party tension provides a tiny little incremental penalty, as one more way for the GM to track or model all the little intangibles of life (and social relationships) that usually get glossed over in RPGs. Used well, it can set the tone of a scene and enhance the roleplay.

 

Any of the following would be okay with me:

  • a 1 bane universal effect on social checks that raises tension by 1, and a 1 boon line effect that lowers it by 1
  • assess the situation or guarded position affecting party tension
  • a general ruling that firing into a melee upped party tension
  • any time a PC is wounded party tension increases, any action taken to heal or defend another PC reduces tension

I use it for those sort of things sometimes, when I think about it, but not as often as I might if it were expressly reminded on various cards or in the rules.

 

Per the rules, all it takes is 3 or 4 Stress to make most characters literally go insane. That makes me somewhat reluctant to use Stress as an ad-hoc "something bad just happened, and you're very worried about it" effect. In theory Party Tension should be the go-to mechanic there. You can click up a point or two of it with minimal concern, just enough to build dramatic tension and remind the PCs that they need to work together.  

 

It's a really cool idea, but I'm not convinced the current execution is ideal, at least not for all the existing party cards.

 

What I don't like about the Tension meter is how uneven the triggered effects are. I wish the effects were smaller and more gradual. You get this weird dynamic because of the uneven spaces: 1 or even 2 party tension are usually far less troublesome than 1 stress, unless your counter is sitting on space nine when that last point of party tension means the entire party gains 1 stress each and something else bad happens. Then, assuming you survive the bad thing that happened, the tension that had been building doesn't seem to matter again (for another 4 to 9 steps on the track).

 

I also don't like how abilities that lower tension are great if you're in the middle of a track, but useless (or even dangerous) once you've already triggered an event space. It's not ideal, especially when the thing that lowers tension is on a power thats unreliably triggered (such as a boon line).

 

A better execution might be if the Tension meter ihad stages and continual effects, kind of like the Secret Society and Organization cards do. Something like "when tension is 4 or more, add 1 bane to all PC die rolls" and "when tension is 8 or more, all PC actions gain: '1 bane: pick a member of the party, they suffer 1 stress". Don't have it wrap around at the end, but just max out stuck at 8 or 10 until the party works together enough to lower it again.


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#8 Emirikol

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 04:33 PM

http://www.fantasyfl....asp?eidn=2627 

http://community.fan...-investigators/

 

I'm thinking that I'd like to REVERSE the flow of the meter.  I'd like it to start at 9 or 10 and go backwards.  I'd like to see instead of punishing the group for having group dynamics and interesting conflicts, rather a benefit to the group for advancing the story and advancing group dynamics.

 

I'm thinking it could be just that simple.  Reversing the flow and as R_B notes, make them more like secret societies, or like Nemesis sheets.

WHF05_NemesisOrganisation.png

 

warhammer-fantasy-roleplay-gang-of-thugs

 

 

 

whfrp3editedlogo.jpg

 

p3qmg.jpg

 

 

http://www.fantasyfl...s.asp?eidn=1146

 

 

..Component_PartySheet_Front.png


Edited by Emirikol, 20 December 2013 - 04:39 PM.

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#9 valvorik

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 06:50 PM

I tried to replace it with a "action card" (see my livejournal entry a bit back).  That particular effort didn't really work all that well.

 

It's a great "concept" but does have problems in practice.

 

My players never really play a cooperative party so I just use an Awkward Companions card with no benefits on it.



#10 Terrorist Dwarf

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 07:31 PM

Since I'm a fan of Faustian mechanics, why not allow the tension meter grant them bonuses but slowly delve into madness.  A few ways to do this:

 

  • The Star Wars Light Side/Dark Side fortune point mechanic. Increase the tension by 1, and you receive a free Fortune Point. The DM, on the other hand, can decrease tension by 1 and give an enemy a fortune point, or a player character a misfortune die. Tension does not reset.
  • As above, but instead of a Misfortune/Fortune die, the GM can force a character to suffer the consequences of the benchmark which they have yet to pass up. This reduces Tension by 1.
  • Link Tension and Fortune Point gain. As players gain Tension, they also get Fortune Points on their sheet. If using the above method, they may only gain Fortune Points from the GM decreasing Tension.
  • Allow the players to increase tension to give themselves small abilities. 

These are crudely formed ideas and meant to only encourage thought. I do not suggest using the above as written.


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#11 k7e9

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:53 PM

A thought I have had is that the when party tension increases the talent slots on the party sheet would become unavaliable until the party has lowered the tension sufficiently. That would make a high party tension "hurt" more, and it also seems appropriate that you cannot aid the group with your knowledge (talents) when everyone is angry with eachother. I haven't tried this idea yet.



#12 Emirikol

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 12:17 AM

I'd probably use this backwards.  I'd allow more talent slots to open up as the "tension went down" and progress improved on scenario.


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#13 Glorian Underhill

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 07:22 AM

Actually I'm on the boat with Emirikol.

 

Inter Party conflicts are fun.

 

The elf should hate the dwarf and vice versa. Series like Game of Thrones depend on social conflicts. That makes a story interesting.

 

Not the players should be at their throats but the PCs should.

This is Warhammer and not some D&D group consisting of brave Paladins and wise men.

As Felix Jäger has pointed it out, most adventurers he has met where haunted people not capable of staying where they once belong. They didnt chose the adventuring life for fun.

 

So the Party Tension meter in its current staty supports more the Paladin-D&D-Fellowship-of-the-ring group.

I dont use it as I forget it most of the time.



#14 Kaic

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 09:32 AM

I haven't had a chance to run the game yet, but from reading the rules I'm a bit hesitant about the Party Tension meter.  It just seems like a punishment for good roleplaying.  I will probably use it when I run the demo adventure for my group and then ask their opinion on it.

 

However, I do have some thoughts on it, just keep in mind that this is coming just from a reading of the rules, not really any experience playing.  I do see what they are trying to do with the party tension meter and in the hands of the right group it could be very useful as a roleplaying tool (though I really dislike the idea of it resetting to 0 from 10, just seems a bit unnatural).  In the hands of the right group who would change the way they roleplay depending on where the tension meter is there might not be a need for penalties at all and you could just use it as a representation of the tension between party members.



#15 Emirikol

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 10:10 PM

I think as long as you keep it away from the penalty of having interesting roleplaying, and if that's going to occur let the players declare it.



#16 herrquisling

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 12:17 PM

I don't really see why you have to view the party tension meter as a penalty for good roleplaying. If the meter goes up, then it is at times a measure of good roleplaying; more of a visible reward, really. I have to ask why should players would want to avoid negative in-game effects if they contribute to the story being told? Especially when they aren't worse than losing at worst a fortune point or gaining some fatigue/stress.

 

With my group, that's not a problem; they more or less invent trouble for themselves all the time..!


/herrquisling


#17 valvorik

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 12:32 PM

Agreed, I do not adjust PT up for "bad roleplaying".  A particularly feeble effort means no bonus die into pool for associated roll or even bad dice (well that was a really bad attempt at negotiating, two misfortune dice - though that doesn't happen much as players 'see that coming and correct course').  My players tend to play naturally fractious lot and usually PT goes up because of good roleplaying which they accept "yup, the fact I didn't invite the rest along increases party tension".



#18 jondifool

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 06:29 AM

I have mostly let the players organize and use it them self, specially when it comes to the characters internal relations. It is mostly only when story line itself orders it i have forced party tension on the group

Then i have thrown some fortune dice in as rewards occasionally for good, fun or "staying in character" roleplay involving party tension.

It has been a rare evening where the players didn't manage to push the tension up where there where a penalty at least once.



#19 ragnar63

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 07:45 AM

Unfortunately the party tension meter and the party card generally depend entirely on the group of players using it as to whether it is a good tool or a bad one. GM's with a mechanistic group of players may have a serious problem with it. Again this is down to the limited playtest group that FFG used with the Core set. Look at the credits to see how many they used.

 

In the end our group used the card sparingly and only when the GM reckoned that it would work with the story. Used sparingly the party tension meter did not affect the roleplaying at all, particularly as the GM only raised it surrupticiously so we did not notice it until we hit the end of the meter.



#20 Emirikol

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 09:25 AM

I've just removed the party tension meter.  Any effect that would raise or lower it simply grants a white or black die to next action for everyone in the party.  Problem solved.  If players remember to use the party sheet, good for them.  They never do :)

 

I always thought it was a sucky, GM-plays-prison-warden mechanic anyways.  Most GMs don't want to play an aversarial or parenting role with their players, and being on the receiving end as a player, I always thought that it made the GM look like a jerk.

 

I'd really love to see the playtest notes for this game.  They must have been buried in they hype of Lord of the Rings.  


Edited by Emirikol, 30 January 2014 - 09:31 AM.





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