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Things I really don't want to see as Edges

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  • Things I really don't want to see as Edges

    So, Edges are supposed to be a thing in the new Storypath system, similar to Merits. I've not exactly been thrilled with how Merits have gone down in the last few games, so there are a few complaints I would like to voice before we are just married to the system, hopefully.

    1. Tired Survivalist Bullshit

    The thing is lots of RPGs have a comparable trait to Merits/Edges: Advantages, Feats, Talents, Metiers, Perks, Quirks, etcetera. I keep seeing the same things pop up: Direction Sense. Resistance to Disease. Iron Stomach. Mostly, this is all stuff that really only makes sense if you are doing some low level stick-and-potato live off the land style D&D campaign - most of this shit doesn't make sense for a modern character. Direction sense? You have GPS for fuck's sake. This is a great ability for a fantasy dungeon crawler where you may wind up not knowing which way is up, but in a modern or post-modern campaign setting it's silly. Resistance to disease? What, so you don't die of dysentery on the Oregon Trail? Avoiding sepsis during the inevitable rout when your campaign against the Zulus turns over ambitious? Almost no one plays with disease rules, and most of the time if you are being hit with a disease, it'll be some magical/high-tech/super-powered things you could do fuck all about anyway. Iron Stomach -- are you seriously going to starve to death? When was the last time a Storyteller let you starve to death in a game? Tell me. Default rules for WoD assume a default lower-middle class existence, and hamburgers are not going to break you, man.

    The primary reason we have these things is laziness, pure and simple. It got put in the first few games with these kind of traits and they have just been photocopied into multiple successive games without any thought as to whether they are appropriate, or justified, or interesting. Of course you have to have an internal compass perk and a "I can carry heavy stuff longer" schtick (Why? Good god, we don't have to steal every piece of furniture to survive any more; what is the point of all this extra carrying capacity?) and a "hold my breathe a long time" feat (That'll impress the Aeon Society, Threepwood) because every other game on the market did it too. It's patently silly.

    Can you contrive ways to make these things useful? Sure! I can contrive ways to make "Superior Quiche Creation" into the most useful thing ever, but is that really where I want to put the focus of the game? Is that really where the relevant stories lie?

    2. Mandatory Skill Buffs

    Crack Driver: +2 to Drive Checks. Martial Arts Style, Advanced: +3 strike bonus. Script Kiddie: +2 Hacking Actions.

    Really, there is only so long I should be chasing being good at something. If I decide to make my character a master martial artist, and thus have put my Attributes in the right places, and carefully arranged the primary skills for such, and carefully chosen my supplementary skills, and correctly chosen the equipment I need, only to be told "lol, no, you didn't take the kung-fu master merit, so you are just gonna suck", then fuck your game. Seriously, just fuck it.

    First of all, these things are annoying newbie traps.

    Secondly, searching constantly for little bonuses is not fun. It's homework.

    Thirdly, this doesn't really challenge the player to think about there character except in the range of a very narrow specialty. If you use a system like old school Backgrounds, for instance, and a player comes up with a concept that boils down to "My character hits stuff" or "I'm a computer hacker", when they get to that step they have to think about something other just their one defined area of expertise. They have to think about relationships, they have to think about things outside their character, and how that interacts with the setting*. This helps flesh them out and make them be more three dimensional, even if it's as simple as "I have a mentor who taught me to hit stuff" or "I'm part of a whole online hacker gang". Bland skill buffs just encourage more "I hit stuff, really really really really really well, guys. Really."

    *Unless they just said fuck it and took Generation or Arcane or the equivalent. Nothing is perfect.

  • #2
    What DO I want to see?

    I want to see these traits expand on my character's abilities. I want them to open up new options I couldn't take before. Bonuses are bland, options are interesting.

    I want to see traits that are defining. Taking a given trait should have some meaning besides mechanical optimization. If I take a trait, that should imply something about the character, and there place in the world.

    Traits that are relevant to the setting and the stories that are naturally emergent from that setting.

    Traits that deal with relationships to NPCs, the setting, and even myself in a cool and interesting way.

    It's a tall order but I believe the designers are up to the task.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Wolfgar View Post
      So, Edges are supposed to be a thing in the new Storypath system, similar to Merits. I've not exactly been thrilled with how Merits have gone down in the last few games, so there are a few complaints I would like to voice before we are just married to the system, hopefully.

      1. Tired Survivalist Bullshit

      The thing is lots of RPGs have a comparable trait to Merits/Edges: Advantages, Feats, Talents, Metiers, Perks, Quirks, etcetera. I keep seeing the same things pop up: Direction Sense. Resistance to Disease. Iron Stomach. Mostly, this is all stuff that really only makes sense if you are doing some low level stick-and-potato live off the land style D&D campaign - most of this shit doesn't make sense for a modern character. Direction sense? You have GPS for fuck's sake. This is a great ability for a fantasy dungeon crawler where you may wind up not knowing which way is up, but in a modern or post-modern campaign setting it's silly. Resistance to disease? What, so you don't die of dysentery on the Oregon Trail? Avoiding sepsis during the inevitable rout when your campaign against the Zulus turns over ambitious? Almost no one plays with disease rules, and most of the time if you are being hit with a disease, it'll be some magical/high-tech/super-powered things you could do fuck all about anyway. Iron Stomach -- are you seriously going to starve to death? When was the last time a Storyteller let you starve to death in a game? Tell me. Default rules for WoD assume a default lower-middle class existence, and hamburgers are not going to break you, man.
      Funny that, it's almost like post-apocalyptic, survival horror, war or "lost/stranded away from home" weren't whole genres of films, books or games, who could have thought...

      Not your cup of tea? Fine, you have all right to your preferences but that doesn't mean every game set in modern times has to be in middle to high class confortable urban fantasy.

      Part of the point of making a core book should be flexibility to enable STs the room to devise a number of different games, settings or locales. Even more so in the case of the Storypath, where you don't have that safe, convenient urban slice of life and politicking games as base setting assumption as one might expect. Damn, it stopped being a certainty in WoD/CoD itself the moment Dogs of War came out.

      As an aside that your own Oregon Trail example points out, lack of resources is a viable obstacle for ST use in scenarios with little to nothing to do with D&D. PCs acting as soldiers or super-soldiers could lose themselves for days or weeks in desert, jungle, steppe, mountains or a number of other locales while tracking down guerrilas, terrorists or drug traffickers, be an unlucky sod in the wrong bit of nowhere, the just erupted fool in a city that just entered a martial law state, your power is the outbreak crisis, for just some examples that don't even go into making full blown alternate settings like a zombie apocalypse or Fallout-style game, that are pretty viable series option, should be said.

      If you're not into this type of game, ok, i haven't that many of them myself, but disparaging something as "useless" and "inadequate for the game" because it doesn't fit one's own style is quite hasty and kind of disrespectful toward gamers with other tastes in a game. Not even going into you basically equating "D&D campaign" and "shit" along the way - kind of disrespectful to the game and those around who might also play it, no?

      So, really, chill out.
      Last edited by Baaldam; 01-10-2016, 11:33 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Wolfgar
        I want to see these traits expand on my character's abilities. I want them to open up new options I couldn't take before. Bonuses are bland, options are interesting.
        This is mostly covered by Skill Tricks...

        Originally posted by Wolfgar
        I want to see traits that are defining. Taking a given trait should have some meaning besides mechanical optimization. If I take a trait, that should imply something about the character, and there place in the world.
        ...this is covered by Edges...

        Originally posted by Wolfgar
        Traits that are relevant to the setting and the stories that are naturally emergent from that setting.

        Traits that deal with relationships to NPCs, the setting, and even myself in a cool and interesting way.
        ...and these are handled by Paths.

        From a writing point of view, Edges are “Edge cases” - meant to fill in gaps, rather than fight for space. Those tired survivalist tropes, as you said, are the purview of the Survival Skill. Stuff like Alternate Identities, individual bonuses that allow you to switch parts of the system (use different Attribute for things), or modify some aspect of an already-extant capability into something new are Edges. Something like Striking Looks (a CofD Merit) is an Edge.

        Skill Tricks carve out a space for such “super-human” skills away from other parts of the system (i.e. Edges), in anticipation of specific systems, to reduce the risk of later overlap or confusion. Skill Tricks are meant, from a design standpoint, to replicate very low-level dramatic editing or the narrative contrivances that competent, experienced characters possess - things like extra clips or bullet counting, stuff that are pulp superpowers rather than actual powers. "Better skilled than lucky" is the design motto, but from a narrative standpoint there's no real difference. Daredevil Knacks up these a notch, and dramatic editing represents a broad or brute-force change.


        Neall Raemonn Price
        Beleaguered Scion Developer

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        • #5
          Not even going into you basically equating "D&D campaign" and "shit" along the way - kind of disrespectful to the game and those around who might also play it, no?
          I run an ongoing D&D campaign right now. Last session was yesterday. If I thought it was shit, that would be kind of stupid, yes?

          So, really, chill out.
          I'm not the one getting radically defensive here.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Neall View Post

            This is mostly covered by Skill Tricks...
            Sounds good. I'm hoping skill tricks aren't just too situational bonus type stuff-that gets hard to track as a player and harder to track as a ST, and asymmetrical information can make challenges harder to put together-that is, it's easy for the player to put together super badass whatever because they just have to track the traits that do that for one character, but it's harder track that for multiple fields for multiple characters as a ST.


            ...this is covered by Edges...
            Expected, really.


            ...and these are handled by Paths.
            Paths are still super-mysterious. I'm hoping there is some interesting system bite to them, not just "Oh yeah, you also know a guy."

            Honestly I'm more interested in this than powers right now - there are a good hundred RPGs with power lists for me to choose from, but if Paths are mechanically interesting enough it might be what sells me on the whole system. No pressure.

            From a writing point of view, Edges are “Edge cases” - meant to fill in gaps, rather than fight for space. Those tired survivalist tropes, as you said, are the purview of the Survival Skill. Stuff like Alternate Identities, individual bonuses that allow you to switch parts of the system (use different Attribute for things), or modify some aspect of an already-extant capability into something new are Edges. Something like Striking Looks (a CofD Merit) is an Edge.
            Hearing that about Survival makes me quite happy, and the rest sounds cool as well. I miss the "Good Looks" trait having a more granular scale, because I have been in an unusually large number of groups where everyone was competing for the hottest character, but I suppose that can't be helped.

            Skill Tricks carve out a space for such “super-human” skills away from other parts of the system (i.e. Edges), in anticipation of specific systems, to reduce the risk of later overlap or confusion. Skill Tricks are meant, from a design standpoint, to replicate very low-level dramatic editing or the narrative contrivances that competent, experienced characters possess - things like extra clips or bullet counting, stuff that are pulp superpowers rather than actual powers. "Better skilled than lucky" is the design motto, but from a narrative standpoint there's no real difference. Daredevil Knacks up these a notch, and dramatic editing represents a broad or brute-force change.
            Very cool.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Wolfgar View Post

              I run an ongoing D&D campaign right now. Last session was yesterday. If I thought it was shit, that would be kind of stupid, yes?
              Good to know i misunderstood you and the mistake was mine there.

              Originally posted by Wolfgar View Post
              I'm not the one getting radically defensive here.
              The way you presented your views seemed agressive to me with the way you expressed yourself in the "Tired Survivalist Bullshit" complaints, so the commentary - and i still feel most of what you said there pertains to preferences and style more than anything with not much reason to be "more appropriate" to a game than another.

              But speaking of other things, in the "Mandatory Skill Buffs" and other tiresome bean-counting crap you make a pretty valid point about how much of a chore and inductive to min-maxing one's initial concept instead of branching and adding details to its backstory. I agree with you in pretty much everything in that part i guess.

              Comment


              • #8
                What are the Paths gonna beeeee? I gotta know, or I'm gonna dieeeee...

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Wolfgar View Post
                  What are the Paths gonna beeeee? I gotta know, or I'm gonna dieeeee...
                  Oh, all right. Paths represent pieces of a chronicle setting which characters can interact with and be a part of. Paths are the organizations characters belong to, the societies they join, the place they came from, or even a concept or setting topic that relates to their character. Each Path is important not only to a single character, but are meant to give substance and meaning to the entire chronicle, as well as a holistic sense to the character’s history beyond Edges, Attributes, and Skills. In some cases, these are setting-specific groups and organizations a character can be a part of; in others, these are specific to a certain chronicle or group. They descend, mechanically speaking and as far as Storyteller goes, from Adventure!'s Allegiances and Evoked Merits in Mirrors, but when you see the design you'll probably pick out a few other inspirations (here's a freebie: Loresheets from Legends of the Wulin). They're meant to pretty much wholesale replace Allies, Contacts, Resources, Status, and Influence.

                  Players create a one-sentence statement, defining a character’s relationship to the Path and tie to the setting. Often, this can actually wholly define the Path, creating it from nothing. A statement relating to an Orgotek Path might be "Psion Scion", if the family's deep Orgotek, for example. You typically have two to three Paths - an Origin Path, a Role Path, and an Allegiance/Pantheon Path. You can have up to five, but if you don't use them more than a few times in an Arc, they fall off your character. That piece of your character's history isn't gone, it's just no longer relevant. See how much Skye in Agents of SHIELD uses her hacking anymore. She's still got Hacking on her character sheet - she's just no longer spending her days in hacker collective chatrooms and running an anti-SHIELD org, so her Hacker Collective Path isn't there anymore.

                  As an aside, I wholly reject the Allegiance language present in Adventure! that gives tacit permission for a player character to exist without some connection to other people. A man might be out for himself, but he's not an island. There's language and systems in Paths that allows a character to be created without an Origin if you want to define that in play, though, but I've always found the lone wolf archetype to be complete bullshit. Even freaking Ogami Ittō has Paths like "Exiled Kogi Kaishakunin".

                  When writing Paths, I tried to fit a lot of characters into the model to replicate how they were viewing the world around them. Foggy Nelson in Daredevil is evoking his Paths like a champion - every scene he's in, he's pulling relationships, accessing legal files,

                  • Common Edges: Most Paths will have Edges associated with them, such as Toughness for an ex-boxer, or Performer for a character more-or-less raised in a conservatory. Occasionally, a Path might have specific Edges only available to an individual on that Path, granted by access to special training or equipment. In this case, if the Pathway would grant permission for the Edge, the player may purchase it.
                  • Relationships: Frequently, characters on a Path will have other characters who are useful acquaintances, acquired over the course of her life and work. You can sketch out the most basic examples of these, but you (or the Director) may evoke some extrapolated relationship out of these.
                  • Asset Skills/Specialties: When a character takes this Path at character creation, they receive Specialties of the player’s choice in the two listed Asset Skills.
                  • Gate: If a Path requires some sort of gateway or requirement to join, it's detailed here.

                  At about 3 Skill dots, a character is knowledgeable and skilled enough that she’s likely known in her field - part of a community, in other words, which can share their enthusiasm or insight, or serve as a useful resource for Dramatic Editing. This is usually reflected by a particular Path - if your Gunnery is at 4, you've probably got your gun nuttery reflected somewhere in your character - but most Skills above 3 can act as Paths for the purposes of accessing Networks or Relationships (see below).

                  Paths can do a lot of things:

                  • Access Equipment. The character can gain access to any equipment relevant to the Path. Abusing this leads to a special type of Challenge called Path Challenge, which essentially locks down your access to the Path until it's resolved. If John’s character is a “Century City Cop,” his character gaining access to restraints, restricted law enforcement files, and even an extra firearm or two is no problem. If he wanted something bigger — riot gear and tear gas grenades — he’d have to call in some favors and take a Challenge to his character. If John lets his buddies roam through the evidence locker to find a psychic artifact, he's gonna have to answer to da chief.
                  • Access Location. Some locations in the game might be restricted for most characters —military bases, exclusive clubs, a hacker collective’s private chat, an underground fighting ring, a corporate boardroom. In the above example, John's character flashing his badge gets him into a lot of places.
                  • Access Networking/Relationship. Paths infer connections to an entire ecosystem of individuals, and this effect allows a player to evoke that for the purposes of creating or associating with an ally or contact. Additionally, when a character meets someone else who shares a similar Path for the first time, they immediately form a Bond (1 point) based on shared experiences. This need not be a positive one, but similar experiences generally mean a positive Bond or Attitude. Since it took a scene to establish, it only persists for that scene, though roleplaying and work can extend this further.
                  • Momentum Expenditure. A player may evoke one of her Paths to justify a Momentum expenditure. So long as she has 4 Momentum in her black pool, she may expend that number of Momentum to add four dice to any roll applicable to the Path. While this may be done as many times as the player desires, it generally won’t be performed more than thrice in any one scene, because the total size of the black pool is 12. In John's case of being a cop, any invocation of authority, or combat with weapons he's trained in, or driving to subdue, can benefit from this evocation. This is pretty notable because Storypath almost never modifies the number of dice rolled, and four dice is a lot. The Director is encouraged to suggest when a Momentum expenditure is applicable, and be extremely lenient.
                  • Innate Talent. Once per Episode, the character may automatically match the Difficulty on one applicable roll related to one of his Path’s asset skills. This resolves the roll as it if had met the action’s base Difficulty; successes on the actual roll may then go towards any Complications. I'm still fiddling with this a little bit.
                  • Trait Bonus. A number of derived Traits can be affected by the Path: Defense, the stress track, Initiative roster, Speed. In certain situations, a Path might modify one of these traits for a scene, adding a +2 bonus to a derived trait. This aspect of Paths may only be evoked once per scene.
                  Last edited by Neall; 01-31-2016, 10:16 AM.


                  Neall Raemonn Price
                  Beleaguered Scion Developer

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                  • #10
                    Wow, whining worked.

                    Amazing stuff, Neal! I am greatly looking forward to it!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Wolfgar View Post
                      Wow, whining worked.

                      Amazing stuff, Neal! I am greatly looking forward to it!
                      Well, you got about 70% of the mechanics right there, so. The rest is advice on how to plot out the interactions to help the Director build a stable of NPCs.


                      Neall Raemonn Price
                      Beleaguered Scion Developer

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I wonder… are there any Edges that couldn't reasonably be associated with a Path? That is, could Edges be presented as an extension of the Paths system much like Skill Tricks are an extension of the Skills system?


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                          I wonder… are there any Edges that couldn't reasonably be associated with a Path?
                          No.

                          That is, could Edges be presented as an extension of the Paths system much like Skill Tricks are an extension of the Skills system?
                          Yes!


                          Neall Raemonn Price
                          Beleaguered Scion Developer

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                          • #14
                            Now, are Edges usually associated with only one Path, or typically with multiple Paths?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Wolfgar View Post
                              Now, are Edges usually associated with only one Path, or typically with multiple Paths?
                              Multiple Paths, though there are proprietary Edges.

                              Person of Interest S3 spoiler...

                              But just because you have an Edge that stems from your connection to an all-seeing surveillance Machine doesn't mean a rival organization like Samaritan that has similar characteristics can't have the exact same Edge.


                              Neall Raemonn Price
                              Beleaguered Scion Developer

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