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(Ghouls are on MM p 148 for anyone following along, or here if you don’t have your books nearby.)
I’ve found that it’s hard to do D&D without it being riddled with annoying exceptions.
Before I look at ghouls specifically; my general philosophy for this system is that effects (such as the slow from Ray of Frost) should be applied.
That means that I do want to keep the “if Alice fails her defense roll, she has to make a DC 10 con save” effect. I have to rewrite the monster move so that that can happen.
How about the ghoul having these moves (skipping past the bite which is obv):
“Slash at!” The ghoul lashes out with one of its arms at you, what do you do?
If no diegetic defense: roll lingering injury, maybe roll system shock or get some DSFs, be paralyzed
If diegetic defense: OK make defense roll.
If defense roll failed, go for a “Slash follow up!” The ghoul makes it past your quarterstaff that you parried with (or w/e) and now the claws are trying to pierce your skin, what do you do?
If no diegetic defense: see above
If diegetic defense: OK, spend 10 hp and make a DC 10 con save to do that.
If con save failed: inflict a festering wound [rather than a random roll] & paralyze for 1 min save ends.
Further saves representing your beating heart tryna shake the poison!
Festering wounds (DMG p 272) are great; they heal with any magical healing but can be a real pain if you don’t have access to that. They also make a lot more sense than a rando roll in this sitch.
To be clear, the above is untested & something I cooked up just now for the purps of this thread but I’m also gonna implement it in my game.
The one I’ve been thinking about the most myself lately are the crocodiles’ grappling bites.
If diegetic defense: OK, spend 10 hp and make a DC 10 con save to do that.If con save failed: inflict…
@2097 just speaking from the standpoint of D&D player psychology here, they're going to be a lot more likely to voluntarily drop the flashlight if that means rolling with a penalty vs automatically failing.
The basic principle is ‘when one TIBF interferes with another TIBF, gain insp’.
@AlexanderWhite those are still given the presumption that we’re going to go with the “two traits collide” thing; which I’m not sure about [as in honestly not sure; haven’t dismissed it yet].
Partly I think it might be too hard—I want traits to be able to collide not just with each other but with common decency, with the party, with other people’s traits. Partly I think it might be too easy to set up a pair of traits specifically designed to exploit this. ← cue standard “oh i wouldn’t play with cheaters anyway” spiel
For me, the specific design challenge I have right now is making the mechanic character-facing rather than author-facing.
@Trent_W ’s suggestion made the mechanic milder but didn’t really change this issue.
Alexander’s suggestion made the mechanic apply to fewer cases; and the way he phrases his diegetic examples make them seem character facing, buuut the challenge of creating a character-facing “diegesis↔dice” mapping remains. (That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to start on the diegetic level; as @lumpley clarified playing fiction first doesn’t mean you have to play as if you were unaware of your own moves or your own stats. So for example the fighter’s “Second Wind” ability is a dice-level ability but can still be character facing; a character might decide she needs to focus her breath for a second.)
And if that challenge is solved, then Alexander’s or Trent’s suggestions might be unnecessary, or they might be the absolute gravy that makes the mechanic fly even higher.
Sorta like the first mapping issue I had in this thread; the “wound threshold”/“wounding time” thing that I thought would make the diegesis↔dice thing fly hasn’t really helped at all and I’ve been thinking about dropping it, while Paul’s idea of turning HP from lose to spend has been an absolute cornerstone.
Basically I think what needs to happen is that the traits need to become almost like abilities that you can use. Peeps been reporting good success with the keys in The Shadow of Yesterday, right? I obv don’t want the 1/2/5 granularity but I want to figure out why/how people have made them work. They’re even phrased “Your character loves wealth” instead of “you love wealth” and still they’ve worked for some peeps.
Here’s an example trait from the PHB “Flattery is my preferred trick for getting what I want.” [Yes, write-your-own traits are cooler, I get that, especially the bonds. But in my experience some people love rolling up random traits from the book. IDK why but they really do.]
While I (for a paper-based quick character generator I used for a con game) illegally typed in every single background from the PHB into TeX back in July 2015, (yes yes I know, #manic2097 ), I can’t easily rephrase them all and expect everyone I ever play with to have a character using these rather than from the book. Or idk, maybe.
So ideally I want a universal way to, uh, mechanize these using the move & “diegetic ludeme” tech we’ve got going here. Like, some might look misleadingly easy: “I’m a born gambler who can’t resist taking a risk for a potential payoff.”
So the ultimate goal of this is so that DM don’t have to memorize all of the players’ stuff all the time! I want the characters to, through diegetical action/inaction in a way that is noticable to everyone at the table, can get insp, just like how the Second Wind fighter ability can give you HP or the Action Surge ability can give you action econ. I’m especially looking at the category of insp that I’ve called “taking a dive”. Obviously no one wants to take a dive! That was a stupid way to write it up. Since I wrote the rules that way, no-one has ever went for that dive insp. (They’ve still been playing their character true to the traits though; they’re just not claiming insp for it. But then later being like “why don’t we have more insp”. Which, understandable, not blaming them, my rules are at fault here.) (Yes, the keys in The Shadow of Yesterday also have some of what I called “quest inspiration” in there.)
We had a lot of insp at our table because I knew the characters well (not necessarily studying their traits list but being able to think “ok, no normal munchkinhobo would’ve ever done that, that has to be a character thing”) and so I’d go “It seems like there just was a spontaneous Hillfolk scene, or there just was someone giving in to their trait, here have some insp” and trying to move to a more player-initiated take on insp hasn’t worked out yet [granted, it’s only been three sessions, all of which also had this remarkable new fighting system and an elaborate & blorby heist being pulled off].
(The reason for my Λυσιστράτη-like withholding of insp is again to not have to learn all their stuff and also because I had gotten somewhat sloppy like “oh you reminded me of a rule that I have forgotten but the rule is gonna kill you but you said it anyway? here have some insp”. Which, OK, either I change the rules to include that kinda stuff or I don’t do that kinda stuff.)
So part of what made the HP spending thing have such dramatic results right away was, just as Paul predicted:
you initiate a hard af move (inflicting death or serious pain) diegetically, and the only way to be able to negate it is to either make the defense roll or spend the HP. It’s a mechanic you have to engage with or else you die. My insp rules as currently written are the opposite of that. If you do engage with them, it sucks. You drop a rope or whatever.
I need to find the perfect, uh, “teeth” for these mechanics.
OK, kinda typing-as-I-think here, but… extending the Hillfolk dramatic tokens to procedural.
The semantics I want is that “If someone gives into you” you give them insp, from the bank if you have none. Wait, that’s backwards. I don’t want “someone” doing things, I want you doing things. “If you win an argument” you have to pay them insp (from the bank if you have none). OK, better, but it’s not always arguments it can also be things like validation, acknowledgement, trust etc. Also the “if/when” trigger stuff is great for things that the DM can be arsed to care about but not as good for things that are player initiatated. [Yes, a lot of PbtA moves are phrased that way but I don’t think they work that well.]
Guh working on the socks darned fighting rules took two weeks and now I’ve immediately jumped into another challenge why do I do this to myself
So here are ideas for names for moves:
Face a challenge
Start a challenging conversation.
Sketching out these moves…
Look through either your own or someone elses traits, ideals, bonds or flaws, or look at the relationship itself between the two of you.
Place the inspiration bowl between the two of you.
Challenge that trait or relationship through conversation. The “winner” pays an inspiration to whoever gave in. Pay from the bowl if you don’t have any.
Pro tip: giving in to those who don’t have any insp increases the net insp that the group has. However, you still have to be ready to deal with the consequences of giving in.
Forcing & countering [yada yada rules for 2 insp and 3 insp go here].
Examples [yada yada examples go here. I want an example of someone challenging their OWN bond to go save their boyfriend prince or w/e and the other person giving in which makes them set out on the quest uh maybe I’m pushing it at this point]
When others rely on you to do something, you can face a challenge.
Immediately grab an insp from the bowl, and then either show, or tell, how your trait, ideal, bond or flaw prevents you from succeeding.
You can do this before attempting the task (before the die is rolled [if it’s an ability check, saving throw, attack roll, STC, or defense roll] or before the time is spent if it’s a time-consuming task), or after (flipping your successfully rolled d20 to 1). You don’t gain the insp if you did roll but failed.
Examples [yada yada examples go here]
These are all from the the personality section of the charlatan background.
Start a challenging conversation; this seems like it could work in many ways. Try to get something [doesn’t have to be an object] from another player or NPC is straightforward. Challenging this trait in another person also seems possible. For example talking with them more sincerely, or questioning their flattery, or falling for them seriously and they’re stuck with you that they weren’t really into etc.
Face a challenge; when asked to do any practical challenge; grab the insp and go “well, you who is so handsome and strong might be better suited for this task?” or similar.
Start a challenging conversation; “wanna make a bet? Odds are neck in neck”…
Face a challenge; oh, man! I was starting to feel pretty good about the two moves I had and that maybe they would cover all bases. But here we have a trait more defined by action than inaction. Which is great! Which is why I wanted to do this example. So that tells me I need to ☐TODO make a move about action rather than inaction.
Similar to flattery above.
Start a challenging conversation; Wow, I could easily see challenging someone who has this trait by expressing truthfully to them how hurtful their insults really are to you. Using this to challenge someone else could easily get mean pretty quickly as per Laws’ “needling” examples in Unframed.
Wow, I could see this evolving into a very complicated relationship with a more dedicated faith.
As promised, the “action rather than inaction” move. Even more WIP than the other two moves.
Shooting smack as discussed upthread is also an example of this.
When you do something you don’t want to do that has serious consequences, grab insp and tell or show how your trait makes you do it.
[Uh, that phrasing is weird & oxymoronic; I want to represent “giving in to the inner voice temptation”, idk]
I might add certain important things that all characters get for free. For instance, haulin' loot out of dungeons.
SIS: Max screams in terror, throws his lantern on the floor and runs.
When you make a choice that seems cowardly, questionable, or unwise, the GM will ask you:"Are you doing that because it feels true/authentic to the character, despite the risks to the party?"If the player says "yes", everyone in the party immediately gains Inspiration.
This would also help on the GM's side, because it's unfortunate if when I'm hitting all my rolls against the Ogre the combat doesn't feel any different than if I was missing all of them.
In other words, I'd use "successful defense" for "snatched the arrow out of the air", but the Desperation Point/HP spend would be a graze or a close call. One is a confident defense; the other is a desperately close call, barely avoided.
A wizard with a magical aura of protection could narrate bursts of light turning away blows, for instance.
If you have mage armor on: maybe doves come out and eat the bullets like in a John Woo film
It seems to me that, if this is the purpose of the rules, the *other* players getting something out of a situation where Alex effectively screwed them over might be even more important than Alex getting something. (I thought about making the rule "everyone except Alex gets Inspiration", too, [...]
But that’s wasting a level of signification that’s already given.I am talking about the difference between hit and HP. The difference between high and low HP being subjective, you can’t use it as is for narrating significant difference. You can if you use thresholds like 50% HP but it requires more working memory space.So, why not make something of this given is what I am saying.
Trying for years to make sense of this difference, this redundancy, this frustration with “aren’t they kinda the same” and then bam! Paul comes up with a way to actually make them the same and suddenly everything clicks.
Also, since defense rolls don’t cost action econ (unlike Kutulu, a game that otherwise has inspired me muchly), it’s awesome & symmetrical that it costs hit points. You spend action econ to fight, you spend hit points to activate your second line defense. And the more skilled you are (higher defense roll), the longer you can stretch that hp pool, and the more competent you look because your first line defense is enough a larger portion of the time.
The fact that you can mix&match is great too because you can go shield block first, morningstar parry second the one round and the other way around the second; in fact, because how the diegetics shape the fights, alternating that way is often necessary.
Yes, as I said to Andye, sometimes there are extra costs beyond just the HP to avoid the wound, such as the con check vs the ghouls. It’s just… I want to keep playtesting these rules because I’m super optimistic re them, before I make that kind of extremely radical & disruptive change to them. I take ABT seriously and the current iteration still deserves more testing. Maybe I’ll eat crow in a few months when I’ve changed to something more akin to what you and Paul are suggesting now, but that’s then. We only play twice a week so I don’t have infinity time testing. Also, fighting works now, further improvement is diminishing returns compared to the insp rules which are currently broken & need attention!
The ogre snatching an arrow at 57 HP, that's wasting a level of signification that's already given.