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Party Tension Meter? Wowsers


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#1 Necrozius

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 07:44 AM

So how do people feel about the party Tension meter?

Any hypotheses on how it works?

In the video, not only was it raised if there were in-game character interactions, but if two PLAYERS were starting to go at it.

This is a phenomena that I've seen, personally. I've had a player so upset at the condition of his character due to Psychic Backlash (caused by my Psyker in Dark Heresy) that he spent Fortune Points to help him kill my character. He, as a person, wanted to kill my character.

Things got pretty awkward after he sawed my PCs throat open (well, I had to spend a Fate Point, and his hand was stopped by a Deux Ex Machina). Anyways, it was pretty bad, and it changed the course of our party interactions forever.

Have any of you had any bad experiences like this?

Do any of you think that this Tension meter might smooth out any game grudges between players?



#2 macd21

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 07:47 AM

Necrozius said:

So how do people feel about the party Tension meter?

Any hypotheses on how it works?

In the video, not only was it raised if there were in-game character interactions, but if two PLAYERS were starting to go at it.

This is a phenomena that I've seen, personally. I've had a player so upset at the condition of his character due to Psychic Backlash (caused by my Psyker in Dark Heresy) that he spent Fortune Points to help him kill my character. He, as a person, wanted to kill my character.

Things got pretty awkward after he sawed my PCs throat open (well, I had to spend a Fate Point, and his hand was stopped by a Deux Ex Machina). Anyways, it was pretty bad, and it changed the course of our party interactions forever.

Have any of you had any bad experiences like this?

Do any of you think that this Tension meter might smooth out any game grudges between players?

 

Plenty of people have had experiences like this, but I'm not sure the Tension meter is the way to go. I don't think it will really resolve these issues if your group has them and some players may find that the GM is restricting their roleplaying. I think it adds more problems than it solves.



#3 Nalanod

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 07:58 AM

I've been confused about what, if anything, it actually does to penalize players rather than characters.  I can't really figure out what he (the man in the video who seemed like someone I'd like to have a beer with) meant.  I was on track until he mentioned player conflict.  Sure, good ol' dwarf v. elf tomfoolery seems normal, but what about straight up jerky behavior between players?  Nothing diffuses a tense situation like ratcheting up the tension.

Also, I really don't know how the Tension Meter works.  It may rock and my opinion here is likely a gross misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the mechanic.



#4 Foolishboy

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 08:32 AM

I have looked at this a little and I have quite possibly not understood the concept. I don't feel any need to monitor the tension between Characters, I find that Players roleplay tension between each other. Does it mean that two characters that are don't like each other have to fight if it reaches a certain level? If it is something like that I'll probably just not use it.



#5 ymrar

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 09:16 AM

For me also tension meter does feel a bit artificial. I've witnessed couple of occasions where player(s) have rerolled to new characters because the characters couldn't logically follow the path the group is taking.

For example our current mercenary campaign has taken a turn towards Chaos, because of rampant mutations. Couple of characters fought hard with their conciensce. Duty for the mercenary group and honor in keeping your word. The decision was as hard for the player as it was for the character. Losing a char what you've played for months. Losing friends that have literally saved the chars life.

If I would have started with a tension meter.. no. I know that at least my players would have reacted every time I would've moved tension meter. They would have avoided conflict inside the group. If it's there it affects you, even if only in subconscious... But if they would avoided the conflict situation where a couple of characters run away from the regiment, we would have lost a beautiful moment. It was great. Stunning even. And not to mention a possible start for a spinoff.. ;)

 

On the other hand I can see how this could be beneficial to teach people to roleplay, but the problem with mechanics are that people tend to cling to them. This is the artificial part I fear of...



#6 Varnias Tybalt

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 09:30 AM

Never had such experiences in my group. While we've had intra-party conflicts and even deadly hatred, this has always been kept at a roleplaying level. It is our characters that hate eachother, the players are just bystanders. Sort of like viewers of a movie. And while a view of a movie can certainly dislike a character in that movie and wish that he or she dies, we've never allowed such sentiments to interfere with the roleplaying.

It's just a game after all. No reason to get personal about it.

As for a Party Tension Meter, im not sure if this sort of mechanic would see much use in my group. We tend to roleplay the tension and the different penalizing aspects that might arise from it (like two characters really disliking eachother and show complete lack of trust towards eachother can certainly screw up important parts of a mission).

In fact, we had such a situation in one of our acolyte cells in Dark Heresy, where I play the trash-talking, foul mouthed Untouchable Gunslinger, and another guy plays a fanatic, self-hating psyker. Psykers an Untouchables don't mix, and my character delights in making the Psyker feel like the butt end of any joke or smirk remark, knowing full well that the Psyker can't use his "spiffy powers" to enact revenge on him... However that didn't stop the psyker from putting a curse on my character's guns. (I might be completely unaffected by psychic powers, my guns however aren't)

Lucky enough for me, my PC is a habitual gun-nut and frequently cleans and do maintenance work on his weapons, effectively nullifying most "jam" results (whether they be natural or unnatural in nature). However I predict that this intra-party conflict will have reprecusions in the future.



#7 HedgeWizard

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 10:07 AM

 Like others here, I am not sure what to make of it. But I can see some potential uses:

  1. Putting a mechanical effect on the inter-party squabbles. The elf v. dwarf scenario already mentioned; now instead of it being *just* roleplaying that ancient animosity and distrust, it can affect the party's performance. This is true in the business world, it was true in the military. If tension exists between two people, it will affect the team.  

    This allows it to extend beyond the roleplaying and have a direct impact on the team members. Which could possibly incentivize the other party members to step-in and contribute to such scenes. Now leader type characters can have real impact on the PCs and not just NPCs.
     
  2. I don't play RPGs with people I don't know well. I have never experienced player fallout at the table except once (waaay back in junior high). Rather than it mitigating player interaction in that way, I see it as a way for GM's to arbitrate and bring in-game effects to the constant distractions and indecision that players go through when collaborating as a team.  Examples:
  • Players spend a lot of time discussing battle strategy going into the fight; this takes time and often players can't quite agree. Ratchet up the tension of the party a notch. 
     
  • Players are disagreeing about who's gonna stand last in the line. Or who gets an item. Or whatever. In my group, the conversation is never angry or personal, but this adds a way for the GM to include that group dynamic and make it "real" within the game. 

 

Just my thoughts. 



#8 donbaloo

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 10:49 AM

 We haven't seen too much on it yet but in theory I really like the Party Sheet/Meter.  If done properly something like this can certainly influence the style of game you are playing and it appears to be a focused design to incorporate, in a very real way, party cohesion.  I think its a great theme and one that most people at least roleplay around in their fantasy games that involve multiracial makeups anyway.  In a game like WFRP, where you have randomly selected careers and lots of potential for PCs to not necessarily even want to get along but have to, it might just be brilliant.  This way we actually have a real, game impacting mechanic that's tied viscerally to the narrative at hand.  I really like that.

We'll see what it actually turns out to be though...



#9 macd21

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 11:15 AM

From a realism point of view, it makes sense. If the party is constantly bickering with each other it'll increase stress, which will adversely affect their performance.

However, from a gameplay point of view I think this is likely to stifle conflict - and roleplaying. Now, I've been in games where PvP sometimes 'got out of hand'. The players spent more time argueing with each other than focusing on the game. A party tension meter might have helped reduce that. The problem is that half of us loved the conflict. It was what made the game for us. We loved roleplaying our character's antagonism towards each other. On the other hand, two of the players disliked it. One just wanted to concentrate on the story, the other found the squabling uncomfortable.

The tension meter might be a useful tool for a GM, but I think using it could be problematic. Many GMs will ignore it or use it sparingly, but novice GMs may feel that they are 'obliged' to use it because it is in the rules.



#10 jadrax

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 11:21 AM

The thing is, its a mechanic that interacs with what I would think is very intimate to each individual group. I think its gong to be one of thouse things that is going to be very hard to find any consensus on.

For some groups it could well be a godsend, for others a disaster.



#11 donbaloo

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 01:04 PM

 Also, I'm probably looking at it a little differently than some.  While considering the Party meter I haven't really looked at it as a method for deterring intraparty conflict.  I've been looking at it as more of a game mechanic that reflects the tension in the party.  So its not saying tension is bad, as its very often a lot of fun.  So definitely not a deterrent, but certainly a means for measuring those cool tense moments and how they can mechanically affect the game.



#12 Steerpike

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 01:07 PM

This wouldn't be much use to my group either, as my players handle this sort of thing via roleplaying.

 

I can see where it might be handy if you have an inexperienced group of players - at least if I am understanding it properly.  It could facilitate roleplaying to some extent, if the players take their cue in part from the meter (though it could be self-perpetuating).  For an experienced group of players I think it would be more of a hindrance to their usual roleplaying.



#13 donbaloo

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 01:23 PM

Steerpike said:

This wouldn't be much use to my group either, as my players handle this sort of thing via roleplaying.

 

I can see where it might be handy if you have an inexperienced group of players - at least if I am understanding it properly.  It could facilitate roleplaying to some extent, if the players take their cue in part from the meter (though it could be self-perpetuating).  For an experienced group of players I think it would be more of a hindrance to their usual roleplaying.

Why a hindrance to roleplaying Steerpike?  Like most of what happens in an RPG the roleplaying occurs organically through play.  Most mechanics just serve as measuring tools to systematically represent what various effects have taken place within the narrative.  In that regard I don't see the Tension Meter as any more than say, wounds for party cohesion.  My understanding is that roleplay will drive the tension meter, not the other way around.

Maybe I've grossly misinterpreted what the party sheet and tension meter are for.  If its simply a tool designed to actually reduce party tension then yeah, boo hiss from me.  But if it's what I think it is, its there to let you go just go wild with intraparty conflict roleplaying and actually have that be meaningful within the system itself.



#14 ejacobs

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 02:00 PM

I think the video may have given an overly simplistic description of the Party Tension Meter.  I await the game so I can read the rules.  I'm sure that there is more to this than what was said during the seminar.  I think there will be simply because of the way parties are now like another "PC" in the game.

E



#15 Steerpike

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 02:15 PM

donbaloo said:

 

Why a hindrance to roleplaying Steerpike?  Like most of what happens in an RPG the roleplaying occurs organically through play.  Most mechanics just serve as measuring tools to systematically represent what various effects have taken place within the narrative.  In that regard I don't see the Tension Meter as any more than say, wounds for party cohesion.  My understanding is that roleplay will drive the tension meter, not the other way around.

Maybe I've grossly misinterpreted what the party sheet and tension meter are for.  If its simply a tool designed to actually reduce party tension then yeah, boo hiss from me.  But if it's what I think it is, its there to let you go just go wild with intraparty conflict roleplaying and actually have that be meaningful within the system itself.

 

You could be right.  If RP aspects are driving the tension meter and it is simply something to reflect an existing state of tension in the party, I can see where it could be useful.

I was thinking that there might be mechanics that could cause the tension meter to move, though at this point I don't know if there is going to be any such mechanic or not.  Speaking hypothetically, if such mechanics exist, then I could an experienced group finding the tension meter pushing them away from where they'd naturally go if they felt they had to conform to it.  With my group, we don't really need such a meter.  But for an inexperienced group a meter could guide interactions between players.



#16 donbaloo

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 02:26 PM

 'Kay, I see what you're saying now and agree that may feel a bit restrictive.  I'm definitely looking forward to learning more about it, that's for sure.



#17 Varnias Tybalt

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 02:57 PM

Steerpike said:

I was thinking that there might be mechanics that could cause the tension meter to move, though at this point I don't know if there is going to be any such mechanic or not.

Hmm, this made me think of an episode of the cartoon series "Dungeons and Dragons" (yes, thye made a cartoon heavily inspired from the first editions of the RPG). I remember when the adventurers had to cross this labyrinth filled with obstacles, and in one area they discovered piles of skeletons clad in armour. They soon discovered that these corpses were from the same army and they had fought eachother to death. The reason why soon became apparentsince that part of the labyrinth was cursed, making people excessively angry and filled with rage towards one another, which wopuld eventually lead to bloodshed.

I wonder if some pre-written adventures might have similar "magical" effects on the tension meter. Imagine the players seeing that the GM suddenly increasing the party tension for no apparent reason. They have to roleplay the increased tension but at the same time try to think out why the tension meter suddenly increased.

.. If I was the GM I'd definetly use the tension meter for something like that.



#18 Steerpike

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 03:20 PM

Varnias Tybalt said:

 

Hmm, this made me think of an episode of the cartoon series "Dungeons and Dragons" (yes, thye made a cartoon heavily inspired from the first editions of the RPG). I remember when the adventurers had to cross this labyrinth filled with obstacles, and in one area they discovered piles of skeletons clad in armour. They soon discovered that these corpses were from the same army and they had fought eachother to death. The reason why soon became apparentsince that part of the labyrinth was cursed, making people excessively angry and filled with rage towards one another, which wopuld eventually lead to bloodshed.

I wonder if some pre-written adventures might have similar "magical" effects on the tension meter. Imagine the players seeing that the GM suddenly increasing the party tension for no apparent reason. They have to roleplay the increased tension but at the same time try to think out why the tension meter suddenly increased.

.. If I was the GM I'd definetly use the tension meter for something like that.

 

I remember when the cartoon was on, but I didn't catch very many episodes.  Never saw that one.

That's a good point, though.  It could give rise to some interesting roleplaying opportunities in the sense you suggest.  That would be interesting for a group of any level of experience.  And the GM could, of course, decide when to use it and when to not use it, so if it seemed to be interfering with RP for some reason, simply set it aside for a while.

I'm interested in seeing more about how this is intended to work.



#19 Redcrow

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 07:21 PM

I'm interested to learn more about how this Party Tension Meter is going to work, but based on what (little) I've heard so far, it doesn't seem like something I would use.



#20 ymrar

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 07:23 PM

Varnias Tybalt said:

 

Never had such experiences in my group. While we've had intra-party conflicts and even deadly hatred, this has always been kept at a roleplaying level. It is our characters that hate eachother, the players are just bystanders. Sort of like viewers of a movie. And while a view of a movie can certainly dislike a character in that movie and wish that he or she dies, we've never allowed such sentiments to interfere with the roleplaying.

It's just a game after all. No reason to get personal about it.

 

 

 

Oh no, there was nothing personal about it. I meant losing friends in the characters point of view. :) Nobody left the group or anything like that. In that case they just rerolled new characters from the regiment.






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