Lessons Learned

Playtest/campaign of a fantasy-themed conversion of Spirit of the Century, run by devlin1
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Lessons Learned

Post by devlin1 » Mon Mar 16, 2009 11:28 am

I'm leaning strongly towards limiting the Item, Companion, and Heritage boons to allow only one of the three to be taken at character creation. Otherwise, there's the potential for way to much stuff to keep track of at once, and that's really at odds with the whole idea of generic boons instead of stunts. It also raises the specter of min-maxing abuse, something which doesn't really concern me with this group, but which could easily pop up with, say, most other groups. "SotS" isn't about game balance uber alles or anything, but it's still a concern.

Chris, upon reflection, I think maybe we should change Gaius's Companion boon. It doesn't make sense to me for it to mean you have six faceless nobodies who follow you around. If you want to have a half-dozen minions for this particular mission, then fine -- you've got 'em. No boon required. It's part of the mission, after all. But I can think of a lot of situations in which it would be awkward to have your entourage following you wherever you go. And if they end up being killed, what does that mean for your boon? It wasn't really intended to model that sort of thing. It's supposed to be for, like, an animal companion, or a single trusted henchman who's an actual person with a name and everything. So I encourage you to replace that with another boon, or rework the Companion boon to give you a single sidekick. Either way, you still have your six guys for this mission.

I was really pleased when Chris gave three of you a story aspect -- it was perfectly appropriate, and I'm curious to see how that plays out. Good for the playtesting!
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Post by jimmy corrigan » Mon Mar 16, 2009 11:33 am

i agree with your initial assessment and wariness of possible future boon abuse. i think it wholly fair to limit players to only one "special" boon. i mean, my character sheet looked pretty ridiculous with six boons stuffed into two lines. that is, before you corrected it, much to sam's dismay.

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Post by SpaceMonkey » Mon Mar 16, 2009 11:38 am

yeah, i was mostly dismayed at having to pick other things when I already had a couple slots I couldn't seem to fill yet (read: lazy). I think I got it sorted out to my satisfaction in the end, though I'm sure i'll be tweaking a bit as things progress.
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Post by jimmy corrigan » Mon Mar 16, 2009 11:52 am

tweaking caveat for me, too.

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Post by devlin1 » Mon Mar 16, 2009 12:19 pm


[quote="dnd3eplayer"]yeah, i was mostly dismayed at having to pick other things when I already had a couple slots I couldn't seem to fill yet (read: lazy). I think I got it sorted out to my satisfaction in the end, though I'm sure i'll be tweaking a bit as things progress.[/quote]
I wouldn't have a problem with leaving a boon slot or two blank and filling them in as we go, when inspiration strikes. As I recall, you did round out your five eventually, but if you aren't happy with them, then yeah, feel free to tweak. And if there's any advice you can give or wisdom you've gleaned based on that process, then post it here, if you'd be so kind.

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Post by SpaceMonkey » Mon Mar 16, 2009 1:34 pm


[quote="devlin1"]I wouldn't have a problem with leaving a boon slot or two blank and filling them in as we go, when inspiration strikes. As I recall, you did round out your five eventually, but if you aren't happy with them, then yeah, feel free to tweak. And if there's any advice you can give or wisdom you've gleaned based on that process, then post it here, if you'd be so kind.[/quote]

Yeah, I almost left a couple blank at one point, but then we were waiting on something else anyway (pizza?) so I just knuckled down and finished them off.



I think the main issue with the boons is that they require a better understanding of the SotC 'fiddly bits' than aspects do. That makes it a little harder to think of what they should be if, for example, you don't recall exactly what rule X does... How do you know you want it to reduce penalty X in situation Y if you don't remember that is normally an issue? And while I have a decent understanding of the rules, I probably don't play enough SotC/FATE to remember a lot of corner cases or out of the way rules. That would be an even bigger hurdle for a SotC newb I'm sure. Probably part of the reason i was digging the gifts, as they had a nice little list to pick from...

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Post by devlin1 » Mon Mar 16, 2009 1:56 pm


[quote="dnd3eplayer"]Yeah, I almost left a couple blank at one point, but then we were waiting on something else anyway (pizza?) so I just knuckled down and finished them off.



I think the main issue with the boons is that they require a better understanding of the SotC 'fiddly bits' than aspects do. That makes it a little harder to think of what they should be if, for example, you don't recall exactly what rule X does... How do you know you want it to reduce penalty X in situation Y if you don't remember that is normally an issue? And while I have a decent understanding of the rules, I probably don't play enough SotC/FATE to remember a lot of corner cases or out of the way rules. That would be an even bigger hurdle for a SotC newb I'm sure. Probably part of the reason i was digging the gifts, as they had a nice little list to pick from...[/quote]

This is a good point -- I was/am concerned that the sheer freedom of boons would make them difficult for some (or a lot of) people to come up with. It's one of the reasons I was trying to figure out if I could limit what types of boons you could get from the various phases. With a few limitations in place, it's a lot easier to think of something appropriate, but I don't want to limit unnecessarily, either.



Would a list of examples help?



Or what about limiting PCs to no more than one instance of a particular type of boon? Like, if you've taken Focus with a skill for one of your boons, you can't take Focus again. At least that way you'd eliminate the question of whether you'd rather take Focus or Substitution with a skill. One less internal debate to resolve. Maybe. Or something.

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Post by SpaceMonkey » Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:02 pm


[quote="devlin1"]This is a good point -- I was/am concerned that the sheer freedom of boons would make them difficult for some (or a lot of) people to come up with. It's one of the reasons I was trying to figure out if I could limit what types of boons you could get from the various phases. With a few limitations in place, it's a lot easier to think of something appropriate, but I don't want to limit unnecessarily, either.



Would a list of examples help?



Or what about limiting PCs to no more than one instance of a particular type of boon? Like, if you've taken Focus with a skill for one of your boons, you can't take Focus again. At least that way you'd eliminate the question of whether you'd rather take Focus or Substitution with a skill. One less internal debate to resolve. Maybe. Or something.[/quote]




Hm.. list of examples is probably better than limiting the kind you can do in my opinion. Sometimes it will make sense to have a +1 boon to a skill for 2 different skills, and I don't really see a need to limit that.

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Post by cczernia » Mon Mar 16, 2009 4:00 pm


[quote="dnd3eplayer"]Hm.. list of examples is probably better than limiting the kind you can do in my opinion. Sometimes it will make sense to have a +1 boon to a skill for 2 different skills, and I don't really see a need to limit that.[/quote]

I agree with this. Later I was thinking about boons and for some reason I had the thought that a book would be released full of a list of boons similar to the way Don't Loose Your Mind was a list of powers for DRYH.



Also, I'm cool with the revision to the Companion rules. Do they still count as Companions during the mission?

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Post by cczernia » Mon Mar 16, 2009 4:07 pm

Also, I would detach boon from aspects. I think it is cool in theory to have all the elements in the character work together but in the head in was a huge hassle for very little benefit.

I think you should be able to come up with any boon you want and it doesn't matter if it is relevant to the aspect next to it.
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Post by devlin1 » Mon Mar 16, 2009 4:13 pm


[quote="cczernia"]I agree with this. Later I was thinking about boons and for some reason I had the thought that a book would be released full of a list of boons similar to the way Don't Loose Your Mind was a list of powers for DRYH.[/quote]
I'm all for coming up with some lists of sample boons -- I intend to start with all of your boons, in fact.




[quote="cczernia"]Also, I'm cool with the revision to the Companion rules. Do they still count as Companions during the mission?[/quote]
No, they'd just be minions under your command. In other words, nothing will change except for the fact that their presence in the mission doesn't require you to spend a boon to have them there.




[quote="cczernia"]Also, I would detach boon from aspects. I think it is cool in theory to have all the elements in the character work together but in the head in was a huge hassle for very little benefit.



I think you should be able to come up with any boon you want and it doesn't matter if it is relevant to the aspect next to it.[/quote]

Fair enough. You're right -- I don't want concept or theory to trump playability. If anyone wants to tweak his boons with that in mind, go right ahead.

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Post by devlin1 » Mon May 11, 2009 2:52 pm

This isn't specific to "SotS," but, listening to the recording of the last session, I realized it's vitally important in FATE to always be explicit about target numbers. If you don't know what you're shooting for, you can't accurately judge whether you want or need to spend Fate Points. The tension isn't in discovering the number you need to hit, as it sometimes is in D&D, but in deciding how much of your resource pool you're willing to spend to succeed.

I mean, I guess I knew this already on some level, but listening to that recording really brought it home. So... there.
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Post by devlin1 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:28 am

I woke up with this thought re: armor in my head this morning, and I have no idea why it didn't occur to me before.

I want to change the way armor works. Instead of rolling your armor as a skill to defend, you can add a number of Fudge dice to your defense roll (Melee, Athletics, etc.) equal to the armor's rating, then keep the best four Fudge dice. If the pool of spare dice -- the dice you didn't use -- has at least as many minus dice as your Endurance skill, then you get a temporary aspect of "Fatigued."

For example: Wind-Walking-Stone has Good (+3) drakescale armor. While fending off an attack from this freakish wolf-headed spider thing that shoots spiders out of its mouth when it barks, he rolls his Good (+3) Athletics, and can add up to 3dF to his roll (for a total of 7dF) and take the best 4dF. This he now does, and rolls 000++--, for a total roll of +2 (the best four dice). However, his Endurance is only Fair (+2), so those two minuses he's "Fatigued." If his Endurance had been Good (+3), or if one fewer die had come up a minus, he'd be fine.

The upshot is that people with low Endurance really can't handle wearing armor that well -- it tires them out pretty quickly in a fight. Someone with Great (+4) Endurance will almost always be fine, but once in a blue moon it'll be too much for him.

What I like about this is that it eliminates the extra rolling: that fiddly Endurance roll, and the rerolling of the minus dice. I also like that it makes use of those spare dice instead of just ignoring them.

How does that strike everyone? Better? Worse?
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Post by SpaceMonkey » Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:08 pm


[quote="devlin1"]I woke up with this thought re: armor in my head this morning, and I have no idea why it didn't occur to me before.



I want to change the way armor works. Instead of rolling your armor as a skill to defend, you can add a number of Fudge dice to your defense roll (Melee, Athletics, etc.) equal to the armor's rating, then keep the best four Fudge dice. If the pool of spare dice -- the dice you [i]didn't[/i] use -- has at least as many minus dice as your Endurance skill, then you get a temporary aspect of "Fatigued."



For example: Wind-Walking-Stone has Good (+3) drakescale armor. While fending off an attack from this freakish wolf-headed spider thing that shoots spiders out of its mouth when it barks[b]

[*][/b], he rolls his Good (+3) Athletics, and can add up to 3dF to his roll (for a total of 7dF) and take the best 4dF. This he now does, and rolls 000++--, for a total roll of +2 (the best four dice). However, his Endurance is only Fair (+2), so those two minuses he's "Fatigued." If his Endurance had been Good (+3), or if one fewer die had come up a minus, he'd be fine.



The upshot is that people with low Endurance really can't handle wearing armor that well -- it tires them out pretty quickly in a fight. Someone with Great (+4) Endurance will almost always be fine, but once in a blue moon it'll be too much for him.



What I like about this is that it eliminates the extra rolling: that fiddly Endurance roll, and the rerolling of the minus dice. I also like that it makes use of those spare dice instead of just ignoring them.



How does that strike everyone? Better? Worse?[/quote]


I like it better in theory.. would have to see it in action to judge for sure of course.





[*] also acceptable would have been the Robotic Richard Simmons.

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Post by cczernia » Wed Sep 16, 2009 3:51 pm


[quote="devlin1"]
How does that strike everyone? Better? Worse?[/quote]


I like the rule. It should take less time than making a second skill roll and also adds a new element to fate that could be fun.



Couple questions:



If my Endurance is 0 and none of my extra dice are negative am I fatigued?



If I am already have an untagged fatigued aspect and I get more minuses than my endurance do I get a second fatigued consequence.

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Post by devlin1 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 4:31 pm


[quote="cczernia"]Couple questions:



If my Endurance is 0 and none of my extra dice are negative am I fatigued?[/quote]

No -- at least one of those dice needs to come up negative for there to be a chance of being fatigued. If you have Mediocre (+0) Endurance and roll a minus in the above case, you're fatigued.


[quote]If I am already have an untagged fatigued aspect and I get more minuses than my endurance do I get a second fatigued consequence.[/quote]
No, because it's a [i]temporary aspect[/i], not a [i]consequence[/i]. Being fatigued gives your opponent an advantage, but it doesn't directly move you any closer to being Taken Out.

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Post by cczernia » Wed Sep 16, 2009 5:29 pm


[quote="devlin1"]
...has at least as many minus dice as your Endurance skill, then you get a temporary aspect of "Fatigued...



No -- at least one of those dice needs to come up negative for there to be a chance of being fatigued. If you have Mediocre (+0) Endurance and roll a minus in the above case, you're fatigued.[/quote]


If that is the case than the rule should be you are fatigued if there are more minuses than your Endurance skill. The reason for this is that you have the same chance of getting fatigued at Endurance of +0 and +1 the way it is.

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Post by mcellis » Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:49 pm

How temporary is the fatigued consequence? How long does it stay around for? Cause if it lasts too long then I might as well not wear armor an just take the minor consequence. Is it fragile so once it has been tagged it's gone? Or does it only last a round or two? Also what happens when you are already fatigued and you use the armor's extra fudge dice again and roll a lot of -'s?

Other then that it seems like a very elegant mechanic. It also makes wearing lighter armor make sense, and not turning everyone into a platemail wearing tank. And it's a good reason to keep the Endurance skill around. Also it could easily allow for armor piercing type weapons or stunts as well, just subtract from you're opponent's armor dice and voila.

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Post by devlin1 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:49 pm


[quote="cczernia"]If that is the case than the rule should be you are fatigued if there are more minuses than your Endurance skill. The reason for this is that you have the same chance of getting fatigued at Endurance of +0 and +1 the way it is.[/quote]
Well, the reason I have it at "equal to or greater than" right now is that I want someone with Great Endurance to have a fightin' chance of getting fatigued. Because you're only counting the [i]spare [/i]dice, y'see. I'd rather have a slim chance of fatiguing the Great Endurance guy than fiddle with the low end Average and Mediocre guys. There are other reasons to rank Endurance, anyway -- not big ones, but if you only have Average Endurance, it couldn't have been [i]that[/i] important to you in the first place.


[quote="mcellis"]How temporary is the fatigued consequence? How long does it stay around for? Cause if it lasts too long then I might as well not wear armor an just take the minor consequence. Is it fragile so once it has been tagged it's gone? Or does it only last a round or two? Also what happens when you are already fatigued and you use the armor's extra fudge dice again and roll a lot of -'s?[/quote]
I figured it'd last for the length of the encounter/scene. I tag it once for free, as the GM; after that, I have to pay Fate Points to tag it, and those Fate Points go to you, the player. This seems like a pretty good deal to me.



If you get additional minus dice that would make you fatigued while you're already fatigued, then... nothing happens. I don't want to have to develop a condition track here or anything.



I guess it could be fragile instead, which would make it possible to get fatigued several times in a combat, but honestly I wouldn't want to have to track that. I'd just as soon lock it in and let it be. Heck, I'll even throw you a "Fatigued" token of some kind to make it that much clearer.


[quote]Other then that it seems like a very elegant mechanic. It also makes wearing lighter armor make sense, and not turning everyone into a platemail wearing tank. And it's a good reason to keep the Endurance skill around. Also it could easily allow for armor piercing type weapons or stunts as well, just subtract from you're opponent's armor dice and voila.[/quote]
Ah, I like that armor piercing idea. Good call. Something else to fiddle with.

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Post by devlin1 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:24 am


Here's a great idea a reader posted on my blog:
[quote="Adam Flynn"]


I like your proposal a lot. Here's a slight change that keeps the simplicity but I think addresses the negatives of armor better.



When you roll a defensive skill against an attack that Armor would be effective against (e.g. melee attack, arrows, unarmed attack) you add the Armor's bonus Fudge dice and take the best four.



When you roll a skill that would be negatively impacted by Armor (because of bulk, weight, fatigue, etc) you add the Armor's bonus Fudge dice and take the worst four.[/quote]


Done and [i]done[/i].

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Post by cczernia » Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:06 pm


[quote="devlin1"]Here's a great idea a reader posted on my blog:





Done and [i]done[/i].[/quote]


I actually like your rule better. The rule above falls becomes the responsibility of the GM and if he isn't thinking about it on every roll the PC makes the disadvantage of armor is gone as the penalty never gets applied.



It reminds me a lot of disadvantages players would buy for extra points that never come into play.



Your rule you pay attention when a player says he is using armor to defend. You are also more likely to tag an aspect that you just placed on the player.



Anyway, it might work for you but I other groups used it I could see GMs easily forgetting about the penalty.

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