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Triumphant Despair

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Listening to several podcasts regarding Genesys got me thinking.  Originally I was going to houserule that triumph and despair cancel each other out, since it just seemed bonkers to try to adjudicate the diametrically opposite results on the same roll.  But I've reconsidered just because of the rich storytelling possibilities.  With that in mind, I started trying to come up with cinematic examples of "triumphant despair" and thought I'd open a post for examples that might help gaming groups out there handle such a paradoxical roll.

Anyway, I'll start.  In the most recent Godzilla remake, big G does a spinning tail swipe that absolutely devastates the monster he's attacking, killing it (triumphant crit!) and sending it flying...directly into a building much taller than Godzilla himself, which, while he catches his breath (no doubt trying to shake off a couple threats) proceeds to fall directly on him, burying him in a mountain of steel, glass, concrete, and despair.

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Triumph and Despair need not be opposite as is succeed/fail.  You are right... you do something really well or beneficial, but there is a price or a chain of bad that starts off.

Luke running the Death Star trench is about to be killed by Vader. Han flies in getting a Triumph that kills one of the escort TIEs, causes the other TIE pilot to pull off killing himself and knocking Vader into space in the process (Triumph). However, Han's action also allowed the Sith Lord to escape the destruction and will later come to haunt him (despair)!

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I would definitely not cancel Triumphs and Despairs.  The fact they don't cancel is what makes the upgrades so interesting.  No matter how many Yellow dice you throw at a problem, that Red die can still get you.  

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No way cancel them.  In my fantasy game the goblin shaman ended up with a successful cast, a Triumph, Despair, a couple Advantages, and a couple successes.  I had him hit the group with his spell, crit one of them, and then he exploded, thought it was a great dice pool result myself.

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LOL, thanks folks!  Just to clarify though: I already agree with not cancelling them.  I was hoping to read some other examples of cinematic (or literary, or in 2P51's case actual gameplay) triumphant despairs since I figured they'd be helpful to others like me who were slow to wrap my head around the seemingly paradoxical result.

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Well, it's a nice part of this system the possibility to create a lot of new things and change the scene so deeply in this way. Usually trium-desp would represent something very good happenig at a high cost, or at least change the scene dramatically.

Some examples could be:

The character did what he want but he goes so deep insite the enemy lines that he found himself in trouble after this (new enemys arrived).

The party did the mission, but lost vital things or allies.

The character discovered a vital information (hacking, perception, knowledge, etc.) but also missed something important.

The character could done something great but he harmed himself doing this.

In diplomacy or charm or coercion, could represent the character, after the test, discovered something really bad about the person or community, like there was a big guy who should protect your target, incoming to give vengeance or the target was so affected to be motivated to do something that could be a real problem to the character.

 

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It's good to resolve the dice roll in the proper order of things too, that really sets up things in a fun way. triumphs before despairs and such.

 

 

So a success with triumph & despair when a character shoots: Jim Starrunner the Duros gunslinger shoots a hail of fire at Gezzo the mobster Rodian. One shot finds purchase in Gezzo's hand, crippling it and making him drop his blaster (critical hit with triumph). Unfortunately, he runs out of ammo with that very last shot! (despair)

 

Or it could be in narrative gameplay some ridiculous stuff. I always tell my players that triumph and despair are over-the-top, they are especially ridiculous.

 

An athletics check to jump over a roof at night could be:

triumph: you grab the princess next to you and leap with her in your arms, both of you landing safely on the next roof.

despair: the roof was rotting, you both fall through. you manage to grab onto the remains of the roof but you begin to hear shouting from just outside the building! someone is coming!

 

a medicine check could be:

triumph: in addition to (or instead of if you failed) healing wounds, you heal a critical injury on your ally.

despair: you accidentally inject yourself with a seditive and your leg falls asleep. you treat the terrain as difficult terrain for the next couple of rounds/minutes before it wears off!

 

A knowledge check could be something interesting but requires the players to be honest and not meta-game knowledge. say it's about a planet

triumph: you remember tales of a hidden cache of pirate goods from your days running guns for hooba  the hutt on this planet, in addition to whatever information you glean. Something about the cache being located near a uniquely shaped body of water.

 

despair: you forget that the cache will be booby trapped or your forget a vital piece of information about the planet itself (dangerous predators, toxic atmosphere, blockaded by the empire, etc). This information doesn't necessarily have to be given to the players, you can keep it secret until they find out naturally.

 

EDIT: okay obviously this is heavily star wars themed advice with the combat check and the knowledge check. >_>

 

to throw in some non-star wars ones:

 

skullduggery to break into a locked chest could be pretty simple:

triumph: you find some extra item or boone.

despair: you break your lockpit set.

 

magic curse check:

triumph: you add some additional effect on the target cuz of how awesome oppossum your wizard is. maybe you turn them into a frog temporarily or you silence them on top of restricting their movements.

despair: you take additional strain, you curse yourself too, you begin to turn into a goblin the longer you concentrate on the spell, your entire mouth begins to taste of metal, the magic is wild and harms you, etc...

Edited by GroggyGolem

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36 minutes ago, GroggyGolem said:

This information doesn't necessarily have to be given to the players, you can keep it secret until they find out naturally.

This kind of thing is SO much fun. Tell the players something bad happened but they don't know what. Maybe that gang of bandits that's been tracking them found a clue and is that much closer to finding them. Maybe the database back at HQ is being hacked and the despair means they planted a virus. Maybe you get to punch an adversary through a wall, but it's a load-bearing wall and when the players go upstairs the floor will give way. The sense of dread when they realize that there are machinations that they're unaware of, which could be unleashed at any moment, is palpable. Really ratchets up the tension.

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One from a Star Wars game I GM was:

Heroes throw grenade into the bridge of the imperial ship; roll ends up being a couple of sucesses double triumph and single despair. Player activates blast and critical with the triumphs killing the minions on the bridge... despair effect they also hit the console controlling the artificial gravity deactivating it.

Safe to say chaos ensued.

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18 hours ago, Richardbuxton said:

Goldeneye:

“I AM INVINCIBLE!!!” 

*actor stands with arms raised in triumph 

** huge tank of liquid nitrogen ruptures instantly freezing actor

 

 

 

Dangit, now I have to watch the movie again!  It's been awhile, so another viewing is overdue anyway.

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On 1/18/2018 at 11:07 AM, Doomgrin75 said:

Luke running the Death Star trench is about to be killed by Vader. Han flies in getting a Triumph that kills one of the escort TIEs, causes the other TIE pilot to pull off killing himself and knocking Vader into space in the process (Triumph). However, Han's action also allowed the Sith Lord to escape the destruction and will later come to haunt him (despair)!

And in Empire, Luke's defeat is a Despair, but a Triumph lets him not fall entirely out of the Cloud City.

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