TSoY - Harm

edited February 6 in Story Games
Why is it just a ticking clock? A Stick instead of a Carrot? Why couldn't it be something else?
I mean, is harm always a warning? A slap on the wrist?
It's a shame it's tied so tightly to rpgs of it's era, because damage in fiction, and it's effects are varied.
Why is there no reward for taking Harm? I get that during the game, there's benefit. The outcome is something that player views as unacceptable to their character.
I'm not saying it should be connected to XP, but maybe... why shouldn't it be?

I wish Harm did more than it did.

Comments

  • I couldn't agree more.

    This reminds of me a tangentially related topic we discussed a while back:

    http://www.story-games.com/forums/discussion/8645/tsoy-so-you-think-you-know-how-harm-works

    ...and now I'm kicking myself for not including a link to the discussion in question.

    I'll have to look for it.
  • The Harm system is the one I'd be most likely to streamline for a new version of the game. It's pretty heavy-weight for its purpose - a lot of mechanical system for something fundamentally simple.

    Harm has only two real purposes in TSoY:
    - It tells you when a conflict ends.
    - Healing can be an useful Pool sink.

    There's an universe of possibilities for replacing Harm with alternative mechanics. I don't mind its base nature, though: having players pay for the privilege of continuing to press a conflict is a tried-and-true dramatic core activity.
  • TSoY harm is interesting, but arguably overly complex for what it does.

    I found the link I was looking for earlier (you can see how everyone interprets the rules a little differently), and added it to the thread I linked above.

    Personally, I would want Harm in a game like TSoY to interact more with character, drama, and refreshment (which it does, indirectly). Treating Harm as some form of Effects (from Solar System) or Keys seems promising, for example.
  • There's an universe of possibilities for replacing Harm with alternative mechanics. I don't mind its base nature, though: having players pay for the privilege of continuing to press a conflict is a tried-and-true dramatic core activity.
    Eero, But they don't really pay for it with any resource, right? It's a risk, and the reward is that what they want for their character, in the end, becomes what happens.

    It seems a shame for Keys to of gone by the wayside, to of been replaced with vague highlighted stats, in one game, and simply renamed and left flavorless in another. To be fair, Apocalypse World is just the slightest nod to TSoY, which is fine. I mean, it has all right to be it's own thing. I just miss Keys.

    I just wish that, what was good about TSoY, could be seen in games that took ideas from it(Apocalypse World & Fate).

  • edited February 7
    I mean, ultimately a player tells you when they're done taking Harm, unless the SG just dishes out Harm, like a Hard Move.
    Right? At least in Bringing Down the Pain?
    It's like in Fate, you can bow out of the conflict at any point, and suffer the narrative effects, without the semi-lasting mechanical ones.

    Harm is just the hit points of old, with an interesting, if overly complicated regenerative system. Yes, it opens Hit Points up to allow social, and mental damage, along with purely physical. Which is a thing that I think about from time to time, TSoYs separation of character into thirds. Attributes, any attempt at universalism is always problematic.

    Look, in fiction Harm is either a Don't Go There Yet sign, or a This Is Gonna Hurt, But It's Necessary sign. It shows that the characters are human, even though they aren't. It helps sell the fact that these idea-things are real.
  • This last part would be great if it was modulated : in most western fiction, due to christian symbolism (...) Because, you know, there are also fictions where there is harm because the story says something else about pain and violence. Let's say the alternative you present is the default.
  • This last part would be great if it was modulated : in most western fiction, due to christian symbolism (...) Because, you know, there are also fictions where there is harm because the story says something else about pain and violence. Let's say the alternative you present is the default.
    I'd appreciate a link to these stories that contain pain-free transformation?

    So, Harm in TSoY can represent social damage(standing, humbling), like the kind seen in sitcoms.

  • And it's the personal role of it(Harm), you can represent violence, damage in a couple ways. It needn't be tied to a fiddley bit like Harm or Bringing Down the Pain.
  • I don't think martyrdom, or self-sacrifice unattached to that word, is solely a part of Abrahamic religion.
  • I thought the idea was great and I wanted to refine it.
    I am not going to argue, it's an incident of no importance.
  • My game uses a similar system for damage/Harm and it functions very much how Eero outlines in the beginning.

    Harm has only two real purposes in TSoY:
    - It tells you when a conflict ends.
    - Healing can be an useful Pool sink.
    Originally, I used something complex and multifaceted like in TsoY or other games where Harm has varying severity and several possible effects, but I found the game just works better when it's sharper. I settled on "Physical damage puts a pretty hard penalty to all actions that can only be removed by a doctor." If players take damage, they are left somewhat helpless and need to beg up to another PC or a self-serving NPC.

    I've tried many alternatives. I've done status effects where you take another type of damage whenever they do something- running with a broken leg, choosing not to run away when there's a clown nearby, that sort of thing. I've done status effects that allow other characters can use to compel.

    More theoretically, it feels important that a game has a "Stop" mechanic. Games, traditionally, had few or no "develop" mechanics and TONS of "Stop" mechanics, but I've seen perhaps too much push-back against that. If everything is a "develop" mechanic, I find it very hard to build tension.
  • My main issue with harm is that it's too granular for my taste. Players may have their characters absorb so much damage before realizing they need to retreat, that bringing down the pain takes almost always too long. Most times you know who's going to lose, so it's a matter of time before reaching that point. And then, healing is painful and long.

    I'd perhaps reduce the amount of boxes of damage (from 7 to 5 for example), to allow for shorter conflicts and less information to keep in mind.
    Why is it just a ticking clock? A Stick instead of a Carrot? Why couldn't it be something else?
    I mean, is harm always a warning? A slap on the wrist?
    Well, that shouldn't be so difficult to change. There might be crunch (secrets & keys) addressing this and allowing a more nuanced interpretation of what harm is. I always like that detail about a damage spell in Torchbearer, where you get a +1d to cast it if you're angry. Perhaps that might be done too for tsoy.
  • Players may have their characters absorb so much damage before realizing they need to retreat, that bringing down the pain takes almost always too long. Most times you know who's going to lose, so it's a matter of time before reaching that point.
    This definitely seems like an issue with TSoY. One oft-repeated piece of advice for playing or running the game is "keep reminding people that they can give up early!" - in my opinion, that shouldn't be necessary in a design with the proper incentives.

    When I play Dogs in the Vineyard, for example, I like offering an incentive for folding early (like carrying your best two dice forward to the next conflict).

    Part of the issue with TSoY, it seems to me, is that Bringing Down the Pain is something you should engage in when you're losing a conflict that you'd really like to win, and be willing to take to the bitter end. However, Bringing Down the Pain favours the stronger party, so in those times where it would be most interesting and dramatic to Bring it Down is when you really shouldn't do it (or you will most likely get that long, drawn-out, diminishing-returns, frustrating battle you'll eventually need to cave on anyway.
  • edited February 9
    Harm and Bringing Down the Pain are two different things.
    A player can receive Harm without ever getting involved in BDtP.

    I almost think it'd be better as a silent, secret auction - Bringing Down the Pain.
    Like a player bids however much they're willing to give... maybe there's a limit to the amount a Story Guide can put toward these things, like Budget in Primetime Adventures? or maybe it's a hidden vote? It should be quick and not too much require mental backtracking, which it kind of already does. I think giving the winner of the Scene resolution a bonus is strange, but I imagine there's a reason for it.
    You'd think putting something up, something tangible would be enough? It might be cool to put up an Ability, and if you lose BDtP, you have to black it out, but maybe you get something in return?

    Why don't Abilities have buy-off?

    I do like the idea of it being a tangible risk.
    Is it a waste of time to spend thinking about a game that might be outdated in some ways? I mean, other than Keys, what's it got going for it?
    It still requires one person to do a lot more work than the others.
    It still requires that person to roll sometimes.
    I mean, you can view these things as positives, structures in older role-playing games.
  • I think that, while TSoY is a slightly outdated design, it still has a lot going for it that no other game has yet emerged to do better. It should be possible, yes, but we haven't actually made a good replacement. When I want to play something like TSoY, there is no newer game that does the same thing better.
  • To be fair, I've put up quite a few "TSoY Heartbreakers" myself over the years. Here are two recent ones that are really fun to play:

    http://www.story-games.com/forums/discussion/20513/thus-began-the-adventures-of-eowyn

    http://story-games.com/forums/discussion/17652/apocalypse-world-for-kids-the-bureau-an-aw-hack-with-different-die-types

    They're both pretty specific in application/genre, but it would take very little effort to turn them into generic rulesets, if you're comfortable writing your own Keys. (Or using the directions in the Eowyn thread.)

    I'm quite fond of my own version of Lady Blackbird, too (using Otherkind dice), but I've never properly published that. Perhaps I should!
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