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NezziR

Example of natural use of narrative dice

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This is a cross post from Strike to Stun. It's in reply to a posters comments about game quality varying with GM skill and the length of individual combats.

 

...and I think this is a very important concept. Like all roleplaying games, it's only going to be as good as it's presented. Once you are past that, then you look at the mechanics and see if they are helpful or detrimental to the process.

The combats in this version are more involved, but again perception plays a part. If you put your head down and trudge through them, then they aren't going to be as fun. I think the mechanics are engaging, but if you want that 'quick resolution' then it might get in the way.

However, if you roleplay your actions out and use the mechanics to support what you are doing then the system starts to shine. Combine that with the ability to look at the dice and see exactly what happened and things start looking pretty swank.

Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about from our demo:

Troll Slayer: "I grind my axes together and [move] engage the beastman. I attack with both axes."
[the player closes with the beastman, plays double-strike and builds his pool]

GM: "The beastman ignores the wounded Road Warden and focuses on you. You can see he hates you. He brings his full might and cunning to bear."
[GM plays Parry and adds a misfortune to the players pool along with 1 more for defense]

Troll Slayer: "I'm not letting this thing get the best of me this early on."
[player spends 2 fortune to add [WW] to his pool to counteract parry]

The dice are rolled. The result was an exact wash. There were very few blanks and every success was countered by a challenge. Every boon was countered by a bane. We noticed this as we were tallying the dice (about 4 seconds). The net result is a miss.

I thought this was a rare and very cool roll, so I took a few seconds and narrated it.

"You pull together everything you've got. Years of bitterness and shame, tempered by training and expertise. You attack in a whirl wind. However, the beastman has spent his life fighting for position in the herd. He musters up all that strength and cunning and counters your blow. The two of you struggle against each other, weapons locked."

Of course I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea. This took way longer than a standard roll-and-a-miss, but I think the net result was worth the effort. It was a cool scene

So, like I said. Perception. If you go in jazzed about it, you'll have fun no matter what system you use. It's all about the players, not the game. Enthusiasm is infectious.

 

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This here is the kind of storytelling that I like.

Granted, it's a bit easier to grasp fate, misfortune and such when there's more to a dice roll in this game than just pass/fail.

I'm probably going to have to bribe one or two of my players with an extra Fortune Point or two in order to get them to be as descriptive as yours, though.

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Necrozius said:

I'm probably going to have to bribe one or two of my players with an extra Fortune Point or two in order to get them to be as descriptive as yours, though.

Yes, do that. Reward it.

But, that was a pretty natural conversations. The guy had been roleplaying grinding his axes together the whole game, but things like 'get the best of me' was just him mumbling under his breath.

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Necrozius said:

This here is the kind of storytelling that I like.

Granted, it's a bit easier to grasp fate, misfortune and such when there's more to a dice roll in this game than just pass/fail.

I'm probably going to have to bribe one or two of my players with an extra Fortune Point or two in order to get them to be as descriptive as yours, though.

That's exactly what I did in the demos. I reminded the players a few times, especially when they got a bit too focused on the cards.  I would gently remind them that I would award [W] for describing their action or for roleplaying/speaking what there character was saying or thinking.  It almost always got at least a few lines of action, and everyone seemed to enjoy it more.

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NezziR said:

So, like I said. Perception. If you go in jazzed about it, you'll have fun no matter what system you use. It's all about the players, not the game. Enthusiasm is infectious.

While I agree that sounds nice, it seems to me that its a lot for every dice roll and exchange. I would be happy if there was someway that the focus could move in and out depending on the dramatic importance of the moment (other RPGs do this so its not that novel an idea).

In an earlier interview, Jay Little mentioned that you could ignore or roll less dice if you wanted in less important moments. Has anyone seen anything that resembles what he is referring to?

 

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There will be times when you will simply total the successes/boons and such and apply the results.  It really move quickly in that regard.

No roll for a block or parry, no roll for damage.  All resolved in a single toss of the dice.

Before anyone's first combat or social encounter is complete, reading the results will be second nature.

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No offence, but how is that a natural use of narative dice?

The naration could have been applied to any roll/s resulting in a neutral outcome.  While the Narative capability of dice will always lie with the people using the, not the dice themselves.

The result could have also blandly been said as "I miss".

I do agree that naration does take longer but is usually worth it.

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Loswaith said:

No offence, but how is that a natural use of narative dice?

The naration could have been applied to any roll/s resulting in a neutral outcome.  While the Narative capability of dice will always lie with the people using the, not the dice themselves.

The result could have also blandly been said as "I miss".

I do agree that naration does take longer but is usually worth it.

I've been finding that the built-in implications (success by luck, skill, or other factors) give hints and unexpected triggers.  I just roleplay as a hobby; I'm no expert improv thespian; so I find that somewhat tangible results help inspire on-the-spot narrative that I might not come to otherwise.

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Skywalker said:

I would be happy if there was someway that the focus could move in and out depending on the dramatic importance of the moment (other RPGs do this so its not that novel an idea).

This is something I've been thinking about as well.

Honestly, Nezzir's examples are exactly what I'm looking for in a game.  Back when I still roleplayed, I liked to keep my fights rare, but intense.  Many times I was willing to sacrifice the speed of a combat scene to increase its dramatic narrative.  However, I realize that A) not everyone likes this approach and B) there are times when you want to keep the pacing snappy.

So how do you have the best of both worlds?  How can you interpret the dice, describe the large amounts of information a single pool can offer up and not get bogged down in too many details or get derailed into silliness by unexpected results?

While far from perfect, my personal solution is three fold:

1) The Full Monty

To get my players in the mood of descriptive, gritty combat, I would have them narrate their first roll in detail.  To do this, I would ask them to describe how some or all of the different dice affect their character's action.  For example, I would have them integrate into their roleplaying how the skill dice is relevant to this particular sword swing, bow shot or leap across a chasm.

I could then create a fitting "wrap up" narrative to the character's action based on the result of individual dice rolls.  To me, this is superior than slapping some description on at the end which might come across as hokey or stale (e.g. a character trips and falls if they roll a delay, or too many banes).  Instead, any negative outcomes would stem directly from information provided by the player (most likely influenced by the character's background and generation).  In this way the story, character sheet and dice really start to mesh, and the player feels empowered.

2) Once is Enough

I would only do this for the first roll (or at least the first "meaty" roll of the encounter, one that offered up a lot of player in-put).  After that, I would only slow things down if I knew it was critical to the story.  Otherwise I would just count successes and such in a straightforward, non-narrative manner.  Of course, if my players wanted to go whole hog on their descriptions more often, I wouldn't stop them.

Why only one roll?  Well, I think it's like Skywalker said, it might end up being too much.  As for making it the first roll, I've found it helps stimulate creative roleplay when everyone at the table gets into character right from the start.  That way no one feels awkward.  I imagine it's like being at a nudist colony - it's weird if everyone isn't naked.  Not that I would know.  And moving right along...

If everyone knows their first action is going to be heavily narrated, they can get mentally prepared to be in the spotlight.  Sure, most players aren't going to need this kind of coaxing, but I've roleplayed with a few shy people where putting them on the spot unexpectedly just made them feel uncomfortable.  And who knows, if everybody starts off strong, then maybe the creative juices will be flowing when they're generally needed most - for the finale!

3) Hold the Bane

Finally, I would allow the GM to set aside bane/fatigue/delay results when they were unwanted or inappropriate to the situation.  I feel this would avoid the potential for cliched effects (which are often slapstick in nature) that can occur when GMs are forced to come up with negative modifiers on the fly.  It might be part of Warhammer's dark humor, but I find that type of thing breaks my immersion.

Here's the house rule I had in mind:

When the GM sets aside a bane/fatigue/delay result, he gets a "fate counter" (or whatever you want to name it).  By itself this fate counter is worthless.  But if the GM collects X number of fate counters (3 perhaps) in a single combat scene he can then begin to use them.  To what purpose?  Perhaps each counter can be used to add a die to an enemy's pool (i.e. the characters have been opening themselves up to attack and the enemy chooses to retaliate now), or he could move the initiative order of a hero by so many spots, or something else that will challenge the players.

The trade off is that the GM has to wait until he has enough fate counters before he can use any of them.  If the combat scene ends before he hits that mark, then any results he's set aside are void.  Still, if the GM times it right or the players are rolling especially bad, he can spend several counters back-to-back (or all on one roll) and hit the party hard.

Anyway, just some random thoughts from someone who has yet to read the rules.

 

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NezziR said:

 


So, like I said. Perception. If you go in jazzed about it, you'll have fun no matter what system you use. It's all about the players, not the game. Enthusiasm is infectious.

 

 

Perception? So if I buy a game with an RPG with a single D6 & 4 lines of rules & then don't enjoy my gaming experience it's not the game's fault for being a turd, it's my perception that is at fault? Next time I play a crap game Me & my buddies will bring along our pom-poms, cheerleading outfits & shiny happy people masks & no matter what we play it will be great because it's all about the players not the game.

Are you talking nonsense or is my perception wrong? 

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crimsontree said:

NezziR said:

 


So, like I said. Perception. If you go in jazzed about it, you'll have fun no matter what system you use. It's all about the players, not the game. Enthusiasm is infectious.

 

 

Perception? So if I buy a game with an RPG with a single D6 & 4 lines of rules & then don't enjoy my gaming experience it's not the game's fault for being a turd, it's my perception that is at fault? Next time I play a crap game Me & my buddies will bring along our pom-poms, cheerleading outfits & shiny happy people masks & no matter what we play it will be great because it's all about the players not the game.

Are you talking nonsense or is my perception wrong? 

 

I see what you are saying but you could state that the opposite is also true.  You could have the best game in the world, but if the players are horrible no one will have any fun. 

I don't think he meant the players are the ONLY aspect that is important, but it helps a heck of a lot.  I can still remember playing 3rd ed. DnD with one group and having a blast then when I played it with a second group of friends it was a complete waste of time.  People could argue all day whether 3rd ed. DnD was good, bad, great, horrible, etc., but in the end I had fun when the rest of my group was into it and at least putting forth some sort of effort.

So, while NezziR may have been exaggerating, he still does have a valid point.

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NezziR said:

So, like I said. Perception. If you go in jazzed about it, you'll have fun no matter what system you use. It's all about the players, not the game. Enthusiasm is infectious.

This line contradicted your entire post.  System matters.  You need enthusiasm, but the system helped you narrate in a way that you liked.  There is nothing wrong w/ that!

And yes, Warhammer has a simple built in mechanic for this when players narrate in a way that you like, chuck fortune dice in their pool.

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