Stats, Advancement, why?

  • 22 Replies
  • 18133 Views
Re: Stats, Advancement, why?
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2011, 10:42:32 AM »
Mike:

I don't think wanting to get the highest total on the roll (wanting my character to succeed to have more control (or is this really more or just an ephemeral stroke of feeling powerful?)) and acting purely on my vision of him/her and the situation produce the same thing (the same move or non-move action) every time. Is this one any clearer now?
In other words, I think, they have more to them ("real people" and AW characters) than their stats to base their decisions on.


Stefoid:

Why have a psychic maelstrom?
I think that's mainly for color reasons and whether it exists or not doesn't have a major/direct effect on resolution or the things I'm currently probing into. So I can't answer your question yet.

I think when you campaign, and this is a game supports campaigning, the general theme is one of rising stakes, rising challenge.  For balance, you want your characters to improve at the same rate the challenges do.
I don't think campaign play must groove on this thing which is a strong contender nonetheless. I may be mistaken, but I have a feeling about Improvement not being about balance, not on purpose, at least. (Though it could be as it can fill some permanent stat damage gaps.)


John:

Good one about escalating stakes, but I don't know if/how Improvement brings this to us.

Re: Stats, Advancement, why?
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2011, 03:23:28 PM »
they have more to them ("real people" and AW characters) than their stats to base their decisions on.

Oh, absolutely. But this doesn't lead to a conflict, for me.

Re: Stats, Advancement, why?
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2011, 06:12:29 PM »
The general growth of characters is a tool used by a lot games designed with character growth and strong adversity in mind. They allow the stakes in play to shift over time. Character growth and change is an important feature of most character-centric fiction, and it seems to me that this is what AW is going for.

Re: Stats, Advancement, why?
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2011, 06:54:17 PM »
John:

Good one about escalating stakes, but I don't know if/how Improvement brings this to us.


In theory terms: Risk = chance of failure * cost of failure.  As chance of failure decreases, the cost of failure can be increased without increasing the over all risk.

The players/characters don't do this math explicitly, but it is built right into our decision making process (psychologically).  So as the chance of failing a roll decreases, our willingness to put more at stake in a given roll will increase.  Hence the stakes rise.

(Rolls are just an easy place to highlight.  As characters become more capable in general they'll be more willing to enter high stakes situations in general.)

Note that all this risk assessment the player does then indirectly affects the options of the MC.  It means they can up the stakes without the players/characters balking.

Re: Stats, Advancement, why?
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2011, 06:31:45 AM »

Stefoid:

Why have a psychic maelstrom?
I think that's mainly for color reasons and whether it exists or not doesn't have a major/direct effect on resolution or the things I'm currently probing into. So I can't answer your question yet.

Well yeah, the game has 'magic', so my assumption is VB is trying to broaden its appeal by including some stuff which generally appears in mainstream games such as stat advancement and armor and stuff.

Re: Stats, Advancement, why?
« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2011, 06:41:45 AM »
John:

Good one about escalating stakes, but I don't know if/how Improvement brings this to us.


In theory terms: Risk = chance of failure * cost of failure.  As chance of failure decreases, the cost of failure can be increased without increasing the over all risk.

The players/characters don't do this math explicitly, but it is built right into our decision making process (psychologically).  So as the chance of failing a roll decreases, our willingness to put more at stake in a given roll will increase.  Hence the stakes rise.

(Rolls are just an easy place to highlight.  As characters become more capable in general they'll be more willing to enter high stakes situations in general.)

Note that all this risk assessment the player does then indirectly affects the options of the MC.  It means they can up the stakes without the players/characters balking.

good point!

Re: Stats, Advancement, why?
« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2011, 01:14:50 AM »
Czipeter, I believe the 'inability' you have to 'do two things simultaneously' is actually a big part of any really good RPG, including AW.  What's happening is this:  Your interest as a player is to 'win'- to do well, to succeed at whatever it is the overall goal is perceived to be.  Your character's interest, however, is to pursue their desires, dreams, and reasoning- sometimes at the cost of 'winning'.  When you are asked to 'play your character', these two interests are in conflict.

Example of character interest trumping player interest:  Dickinson and friends are fleeing a burning building.  Dickinson sees the heavy steel door closing, and charges ahead to squeeze through right before it closes, shoving aside a wounded comrade to do so like the selfish git she is.  The friends are trapped inside the burning building, and so are the documents they were paid to retrieve.  Oops.

Example of player interest trumping character interest:  Dickinson, a normally selfish character, holds open a heavy steel door long enough for the rest of the party to escape with the documents.. but not long enough for herself, so she dies in the conflagration.  Oops.

The situation isn't always clear-cut, and sometimes you have to weigh one player's interests against another player's interests, or against everybody else's interests, and so on... but conflicting interests done well generates drama, which makes the situations interesting.

Some folks are used to this approach to role-playing, and some folks are not.  Once you get used to it, though, it's a lot of fun.  Hope it works out for you and yours!

Re: Stats, Advancement, why?
« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2011, 07:18:40 PM »

Not sure how alive this thread is, but since nobody quite explicitly said it:

One of the major reasons for advancement is to give the characters more power, and greater freedom from mechanical consequences, so that what the characters choose to do -- which is kind of what we're all playing to find out, really -- takes on a new dimension.

At first, what the characters choose to do is generally influenced by in-fiction concerns about survival/basic needs and out-of-fiction concerns about risk management and development. Your stats are lower, so you fail more, which creates adversity from outside. You also tend to focus more on your highlighted stats, because the options for advancement are wider and often more effective in terms of both not-failing-rolls (stat bonuses) and getting what you want out of your character in the fiction (identity-defining moves.)

Later, the characters are less likely to be concerned about survival or basic goals; they can usually get what they need with relatively little risk. Players are less worried about rolling 5- and so can take more actions, using a broader range of moves. Less failures means less external opposition in the form of hard moves. Instead, opposition comes out of the positive consequences of their actions, and from fallout from the more desperate actions they took earlier, when they had to make more difficult choices. At some point just being able to kill or seduce or mind-rape everyone in the room stops being a solution -- because of course it never was a solution to the problem of the apocalypse, it was only ever a solution to the problem of short-term survival.

So the question of 'what do the characters do?' changes shape -- its less about 'how do they cope with this basic shittiness' and more about 'now that they have coped, what now? What next?' Basically the game transitions between two aspects of the post-apocalyptic genre: from a story about survival to one about (re)building, from reactive actions to proactive ones. The characters grow powerful enough to pass judgment on civilization -- is it worth saving? is it worth rebuilding? and how? -- instead of just dealing with its absence.