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Questions about Momentum and Tension.

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  • RIKIWARREN
    started a topic Questions about Momentum and Tension.

    Questions about Momentum and Tension.

    So, as a GM, I’m having trouble keeping the tension pool filled. As a result, I tend to hoard it, instead of using it more freely to throw grit into the player’s gears. I also feel like the players aren’t getting (and therefore aren’t using) momentum as easily as I’d like.

    One issue is the interpretation of “Failure Deeds”. Do I get a point of threat anytime a character performs any action that could be considered a failure deed? Or only when they explicitly perform a failure deed to change one of their callings? We’ve been playing the later interpretation—but the earlier one would put more threat in my pool.

    I’ve also been toying with the idea of letting players convert extra successes into momentum that they can put into their pool (up to the 2x player max). Similarly, there are often times when the rules say a roll should have a complication, but I can’t come up with anything good. It would be great if I could just convert the complication’s level into Tension if the complication isn’t paid off. This mirror’s the way 2d20 games handle their momentum/threat economy, and I feel like the momentum/threat economy flows a lot better in those games. Does anyone see any problems with these changes?

    Alternatively, does anyone have any other suggestions on how to better increase the flow of momentum and tension?

  • literatzi
    replied
    I also don't use the tension pool that often, but save it for big boss fights and things. Your mileage will depend on how your arcs and episodes are structured, but I've found it works pretty well when I reserve it for those solo Titanspawn or Nemesis fights where Action Interrupt or Increase Defense lets the big bad survive a little longer or do a bit more in a way that players don't find aggravating because they can see the Tension being spent and know there is a limit to that kind of shenanigan.

    I run Failure Deeds as any time a character does something that goes against one of their Callings, but I also try to keep it to dramatic moments that are worthy of becoming part of their Legend. If a Warrior walks away from a fight with a drunk person at a bar because it's not worth it, probably not a Failure Deed.

    In terms of adding to the Tension Pool, I'm with Mateus, Conditions Conditions Conditions. Truthfully we don't use a ton of them at the table in my game because I and my players forget about them, but they do take damage and Injury Conditions are still Conditions. Whenever a character resolves an Injury Condition, add to the Tension pool. This lets you have smaller fights where maybe one or two characters take a Bruised level, and you can add a bit more to the Tension pool later. I've found this also helps you create a sense of rising action.

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  • Mateus Luz
    replied
    Not paying off the complication don’t result Momentum but may result Conditions, and Conditions may result momentum if cause any issue to the players (including increasing difficulty and causing complications, for example).

    Tension is a Scion thing, not exactly a Storypath thing, so I honestly don’t use it. So I think you are probably right in the way you think for your game and group.

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  • RIKIWARREN
    replied
    I’m not sure how adding complications would increase momentum gained by players. As far as I can tell, not paying off the complication doesn’t generate momentum. So, if the player rolls, and decides to succeed at the task but not pay off the complication, they just suffer the effect of the complication, right?

    Also, I don’t have trouble coming up with the effects of complications when they are complications that I add. It’s when the rules automatically add complications to actions that I often have trouble.

    However, the more I think about it, the more I think having the effect of the complication be to increase the tension is perfectly fine and within the bounds of the rules. So I think I’ll start doing that whenever I need a generic, “make sure nothing bad happens” type complication.

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  • Mateus Luz
    replied
    Momentum is kind of tricky, my suggestion is using more Conditions impacting the actions, as you gain more Momentum more often, and try to remember them they must use Momentum, once the players We the advantages of Momentum in game you hardly have to remember them to use, AND it may generate extra tension to you (as GM), as they will often spend more momentum than should.

    On the other side, gaining extra momentum by not spending successes is the opposite of the idea of momentum (yes, it fits with the name and the inertia reference, but not the idea of moving forward even when failing).

    On complications, it’s actually hard to think about them on the fly, it’s not part of the GM mind, usually it’s failure or success, no partial success. My suggestion is break the activity into parts and make them complications, like when you attack you must hit AND hurt as different parts of the action. For example, the idea is open a safe, you can have the action of opening, and the complication of an alarm connected to it, or you want to do some maneuvers during a chase, a complication would cause damage to the vehicle or things in the path. Breaking the actions into parts usually results in less failures (and less momentum), as you need less success to hit, but may result more conditions not related to injuries, like you have an alarm ringing causing you to lose focus, or you Car os too beaten up, so the policie will notice it for sure, what can result a much larger amount of momentum in the next few rounds or scenes.

    Personally, I use little to no tension, with more adjusts happening on the fly during the game as needed to keep the story flowing, but I do it with all games, not just SP.

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