[Cold City] Help with conflict resolution

edited January 2009 in Play Advice
I ran a few players through Cold City’s introductory adventure Prisoner #8 last weekend. Overall we had some fun, everyone enjoyed the setting and their characters very much, but we had some difficulty with the rules. I had a few questions I was hoping you magnificent bastards could help me out with.

1) What’s the point of assigning negative trait to someone as a consequence to a conflict? Since negative traits only color narration but can still produce helpful die rolls, wouldn’t you be helping them?

For example, I wanted to give the negative trait “Wounded” so a PC who’d lost a conflict. Is that an appropriate use of negative traits? How would he turn that into a positive?

2) How do you end conflicts? I understand you set stakes and then see who gets narrative control, but I didn’t see any kind of “let it ride” rule (meaning that the stakes of a conflict cannot be brought up again unless there’s been some change in the situation to warrant it). So do you just keep going back and forth until someone gets 3 successes and can therefore drop an attribute to 0? Do you have to do that to every participant of the conflict on the other side?

Basically, it seems like the conflict resolution system is fine for small to medium things: handling some drunk Russians in a bar or breaking into an embassy to get at some damning evidence, but larger “big deal” conflicts I wasn’t sure what to do. Is EVERY conflict supposed to be resolved with one roll? Some zombies attack, the PC’s win the roll, and that’s it, zombies defeated? That can’t be right.

Things were going just fine with the investigation part of the session, lots of “say yes” was applied and clues were discovered in good time, but then when the shit hit the fan everything fell apart. As a friend of mine joked “So things went fine until you had to interface with the rules?” Well, yeah, basically. :(

Comments

  • edited January 2009
    Kevin, I'm not an expert on Cold City, but here's what I remember from the games I've played. Other people will explain it better than me.
    1) What’s the point of assigning negative trait to someone as a consequence to a conflict? Since negative traits only color narration but can still produce helpful die rolls, wouldn’t you be helping them?
    You help them mechanically, but you can screw them over narratively, and that's the fun.

    Giving someone a negative trait is a powerful way to dictate something about their character. Give them a negative trait of "Coward" or "Can't protect those he loves" or "Cracks under pressure". It's a really big, nasty, thing to do to someone's character.

    (I personally think that "Wounded" is a slightly weak use of negative trait. Give him "Pisses himself in battle" instead.)

    I'll let others answer question 2, since I'm not totally sure of the answer. I do remember that big conflicts were rarely resolved in one die roll.

    Hey, by the way, I'm surprised you're having trouble with Cold City. It's been really solid when I've played it.

    Graham
  • Posted By: kevin.weiser
    1) What’s the point of assigning negative trait to someone as a consequence to a conflict? Since negative traits only color narration but can still produce helpful die rolls, wouldn’t you be helping them?
    'Only colour narration' is quite powerful. Remember, if the highest die I roll is from a negative trait then, win or loose, I suffer a negative effect. If the negative trait is 'Hate Capt. Fredricks' and that comes up trumps, then perhaps I get so enraged that I smash up his office while searching it, instead of leaving things neat so that he doesn't notice that anyone's been in. If the trait is 'Wounded', then perhaps I drop something important in the struggle because my wounded hand can't grip it, or perhaps I leak blood over the nylons I spent ages getting for my mistress, or ... You get the idea.
    Posted By: kevin.weiser
    2) How do you end conflicts? I understand you set stakes and then see who gets narrative control, but I didn’t see any kind of “let it ride” rule (meaning that the stakes of a conflict cannot be brought up again unless there’s been some change in the situation to warrant it). So do you just keep going back and forth until someone gets 3 successes and can therefore drop an attribute to 0? Do you have to do that to every participant of the conflict on the other side?
    It's all to do with setting the stakes before the roll. Cold City doesn't have different systems for 'simple' and 'extended' resolution (unlike, say HeroQuest or The Shadow of Yesterday). When you're setting the stakes, make sure they're at a scale where the participants are comfortable with. If the players (and GM) are happy with the fight being determined with a single round of dice, that's fine. If they're not, set the stakes to something a bit smaller.

    One thing I would suggest is that you never have the repeat the same stakes for the next roll. That just gets boring.

    (A tip I heard that might be useful. If you think the stakes for a roll are too large, ask 'How are you going to do that?' and set the stakes as being the first stage of the process. If you think the stakes are too small, ask "Why are you doing that?" and set the stakes there. Repeat as necessary.)

    Hope this helps,

    Neil.
  • To add to what Neil said about stakes, part of why they're useful is to get the whole group bought into what you're going to the system in order to resolve. Because although you as GM might think the Zombie fight is the most important thing, the players might not think it warrants much detail. Although both sides state their stakes, this doesn't mean there can't be some discussion along the lines of "Oh, I thought you wanted X not Y' and then restating them more suitably for everybody.
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