Read a person - do you use holds?

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Read a person - do you use holds?
« on: December 01, 2016, 07:31:35 PM »
This topic is a rough survey of sorts:

When you use the "read a person" move, how often you do use the "holds" mechanic and play out the rest of the conversation?

I've seen a lot of people ask all the questions right away (just like for Read a Sitch), so I'm curious how many don't do it that way, but keep the hold and spend it during the conversation.

If you do:

What makes it work, or what encourages people to do it?

Does it improve your game?

Re: Read a person - do you use holds?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2016, 07:59:33 PM »
Most of the time, but it depends on when the move gets rolled, whether they hit a 10+, and many other things besides. It's pretty common in my experience for someone to decide to Read a Person due to something that has come up in a conversation -- e.g. to discover if what they just said is truthful or not -- but it is also common to use the move because someone is generally acting suspicious, and then to engage in conversation; in the latter case, holding your questions makes the most sense.

I also think players often have one main question in mind when they roll the move, and so 10+ results mean that they run out of immediate, obvious questions before using up their three hold -- this can happen in both the general cases described above. Extending the conversation allows them to both see if anything else comes up OR specifically guide the conversation towards something they'd like to use their last (few) hold on.

Probably the most common time I see the hold mechanic being used is when PCs are reading other PCs, because that's the most common case where the roll seems valuable as a purely speculative roll -- you're practically guaranteed to want to know something about another PC over the course of a scene, especially if that scene has dramatic charge.

Sometimes this is done to clarify to what degree the character understands what is obvious to the player -- since the player often has a much better idea of how the other PC is feeling, having watched all their previous scenes, etc. So sometimes I will see players decide to Read the other PC and then use a question to confirm that they definitely know, as a character, that the other PC is upset/lying/whatever. But other times they will just roll the move to indicate a general curiousity or wariness, and in that case the hold mechanic is particularly useful.

Re: Read a person - do you use holds?
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2016, 08:27:04 PM »
Great answer, Daniel!

One question:

Extending the conversation allows them to both see if anything else comes up OR specifically guide the conversation towards something they'd like to use their last (few) hold on.

Why do they feel the need to "guide the conversation" this way? Why don't they just ask the question immediately? Is it something you enforce at the table, a "principled play" thing, or something else?

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Ebok

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Re: Read a person - do you use holds?
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2016, 09:15:16 PM »
I suspect that would be done to be a fan of the characters. Extending the content to get the full benefits of their move.

Although I've very rarely worried about this myself, the scenes tend towards longer side, and the characters are more likely to run out of hold long before then run out of things they want to know; so they actually tend to hoard and treasure the holds like they were chess pieces to be used at just the right times. Sudden and unexpected ends of a scene do eat hold now and then, but I let them "stop time" when they ask and I answer, so even then they can get some last second intel.

Basically, in my games, everyone is malleable to some extent, if you know the right places to push; and the NPCs have shiftable agendas. Information is key to victory, or well, key to the victory my players tend to chase. They love having the upper hand, but I constantly push to make it hard for them to keep it. Read a sitch is basically a gold mine, and it provides the characters way to prompt conversations with npcs, to get people to open up, to be tactical about knowledge, or emotional responses. It allows them to read the other npcs like a book, but only a little bit at a time.

---Edit---

It might be that while NPC's wants tend to be simple, their emotional states tend to be very dynamic. There are many ways to sate a want for an NPC as well as a PC, many ways to put food on the table, many ways to lift their pride, many ways to despair. They're almost never black and white utterly horrible people, so when the the conflicts come to a head, or start there, the characters almost never know all the moving parts before they got there. These circumstances provide huge piles of opportunity for them to learn enough to change the entire scene with just the right choices of words, the right offers, to the right people.

They are things that could be achieved by Hot and Hard too, mind you. However, there are parts of the conversation still under the water. Will this happen again? Why did this happen in the first place? Was someone putting on a facade through the scene? How do they feel about you stepping in and ending it like you did? Good use of Sharp allows a PC to choose a resolution to a conflict with much more precision, often times earning admiration, fear, reputation, or getting a chance to decide if someone really does deserve to get a bullet in the head--or if they are better off collected for another purpose.

Basically, what sharp does to my game is provide the characters a way to understand the ticks, quirks, and mannerisms of people they study with an awareness otherwise impossible. It definitely adds to the game. Let me provide you a quick example using hold over time (which is the default in my games, rarely do they want to spend it all at once).

Two characters are just off talking somewhere, the scene isn't charged but the players are starting to have questions about each other, under the surface they're feeling each other out. The first character decides they want to know something, but rather then get the calm surface thoughts on whatever they were talking about, they reach out and grab the other one, growling and putting on a "mock?" display of violence and turning the conversation to exactly what they want to know. Then they both decide to roll Read a Person, but neither interfere, because they're not really trying to hide their cards so much as see what the other is holding. "Do I trust them, Can I trust them? I want to trust them." They want to know what the other is feeling, not just what they're saying.

Now the characters both hit a 10+. The first asks 1 right away, because they steered the scene into this for this piece of information. They get to learn something, and their conversation snowballs all by itself. The conversation becomes tactical, how to get the other one thinking about the thing they want to read from them, or saying the thing they want to know if a truth or lie. How are you feeling right now? Will be different if they're peacefully gazing out into a sea of grass, then if they're being confronted over their sins. The more hold they have, the more they can go after in that conversation. Often times they get much more out of this, because it wasn't just the hold that mattered, sometimes the thing that was standing in the way was the confidence/prompt to just ask a hard question to begin with, and the hold provided them the security that they would learn something from that answer, even if it wasn't what they wanted to hear. Many times they would actually get the answer and believe it without spending the hold, but it got them out of the shell enough to ask for that answer.

Now this was a very specific example, there are hundreds of way to do these charged conversational battles without actually using force to shake up the other person. The key is to get them off balance somehow, or you'll probably end up with more prepared responses. These things happen quickly in person, I tend to be rather quick on my feet in these types of conversations, so it also might be that the hold allows them to be sure about what they're getting out of it. Plus, missing these are also pretty cool, since I almost always turn the move around and use it in return to try to get what the NPC wants too. (that also tends to reveal things to the observant player)

Trust is a big thing in my games. Also yes, I think hold over time adds a great deal to it.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2016, 12:58:44 AM by Ebok »

Re: Read a person - do you use holds?
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2016, 10:20:22 PM »
One question:

Why do they feel the need to "guide the conversation" this way? Why don't they just ask the question immediately? Is it something you enforce at the table, a "principled play" thing, or something else?

Some of the questions address a specific context -- you can't just ask 'is he lying?' immediately if he hasn't said anything you're interested in knowing the truth about. Or maybe you want to bring up a particular person or topic before asking how they're feeling. Things like that.

Re: Read a person - do you use holds?
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2016, 08:26:35 PM »
Excellent answers!

I'd love to hear more about your - or other people's - experience of timing the hold-spend process.

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Ebok

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Re: Read a person - do you use holds?
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2016, 12:21:28 AM »
I let my players spend them as they feel the urgency. Sometimes they are too cautious and wait until the last second, but other times I've seen them ask the same question three times throughout the conversation to get drastically different answers. What someone is feeling at one moment could change as the scene changes.

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Munin

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Re: Read a person - do you use holds?
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2016, 02:01:49 PM »
It's also worth pointing out that knowing you have hold available to you gives you the ability to dig more, and most importantly to dig in a specific direction. It lets you know you can ask that direct question and still have "Is your character telling the truth?" in your hip pocket when you need it.

In my games, players typically either spend or use their hold depending on the nature of the answers they receive. If you've got a pretty good handle on things, maybe the answers are not terribly surprising, or they simply confirm what you might already suspect - as a result you blow through all of your questions at once. But sometimes, the answers are surprising, and this prompts the conversation to go in a different direction. This is when hold becomes more important - because now you're looking for the answers to questions you did not initially know you needed to ask.