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Re: The key to a character is...

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  • Seamus
    If I may... I think it really works the opposite way. Qualities should be a double edged sword (like in FATE). If you don t want it to be Compelled, then it s
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 14, 2012
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      If I may...

      I think it really works the opposite way. Qualities should be a double edged sword (like in FATE). If you don't want it to be Compelled, then it's not really a Quality.

      Taking the Superman example: the fact that he's from Krypton isn't a Quality. That's part of his Origin. A Quality for Superman might be "Last Son of Krypton" and the way to challenge that would be to introduce a new villain from Krypton (say, General Zod) and when that villain's life is in danger, Compel Superman to save him because Zod being alive means that Superman isn't as alone in the universe as he thought.

      A Quality is generally a good thing for characters to have, and it makes for good storytelling when a good thing becomes a hurdle to overcome. Think Spider-Man and Mary Jane. MJ gets kidnapped all the time, sometimes distracting Spidey from the things he really wants to accomplish (a Compel). In a fight with a villain, however, where MJ has been kidnapped, Web-Head can Tag her because of his all-encompassing need to save her.

      Anything as life altering as changing the hero's Origin should be something that the GM and player discuss and come to an agreement on. A GM can't just spring something like that on a player, and that whole idea doesn't really have anything to do with Aspects. Keep in mind, no matter what happens over the course of play, Aspect shouldn't really change all that much. Compelling an Aspect should be a decision point.

      I hope that helps.

      SEAMUS
    • John McMullen
      No, that s a valid point, as far as I m concerned. I dislike some of the things that FATE does for aspects, and ICONS does not go as far for those things--but
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 14, 2012
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        No, that's a valid point, as far as I'm concerned. I dislike some of the things that FATE does for aspects, and ICONS does not go as far for those things--but that's me, that's not the game system.  Many people feel that FATE promotes roleplaying, that little bit extra that it has leaves me feeling like it's all too mechanical, that I'm just pushing a cardboard piece around a track.
         
        Remembering that those aspects have a definite mechanical role is important too, and often I forget it.
         
        But it seems to me like you're saying, "These things are aspects, and those things are not. If I'm not willing to have those things be aspects and be compelled, I'm not willing to use them as aspects in every sense of them. So they shouldn't be aspects."
         
        But...ICONS does make the distinction between qualities and challenges. And it seems to me (I don't have the book handy, and I am like almost everyone prone to misremembering in the way that is advantageous to me, end disclaimer) that it says something like, though you can compell qualities with the player's permission, it should be a rare thing.  So how rare? And do the player and the GM need to discuss it separately? I suspect, L M, you'd say no, it's in the rules as written, but I might be putting words in your mouth.
         
        I'll address Seamus in the next message. :)
         
        John
         
        John McMullen (Searching for a .sig)
        jhmcmullen@...

        From: L M <lordblacksteel@...>
        To: icons-rpg@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Friday, December 14, 2012 1:54 PM
        Subject: Re: [icons-rpg] The key to a character is...



        De-Lurking for a moment here to say that it seems pretty simple to me: as a player, you can write whatever descriptive stuff you want on your character sheet. However, Qualities and Challenges have a defined mechanical purpose in the game: they can be tagged or compelled for Determination. If a player doesn't want some aspect (lower case here) to have a mechanical impact on the game then they are totally free to make that decision and not use it as a Quality or Challenge. If they do make it an Aspect (in the game mechanic sense) then they are opening it up to be used in play. Adding another layer of "should the GM use these" seems confusing, counter-productive, and likely to be forgotten in play anyway. I think that's a conversation you have when the character is created, not in the middle of a game.

        Anyway, there's $.02 on that.

        On Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 10:22 AM, John McMullen <jhmcmullen@...> wrote:
         
        I was reading this article (http://www.campaignmastery.com/blog/the-acceptable-favoritism/) and one of the suggestions (I hesitate to call them rules) is this:
         
        Weaken a Character
        This is in the sense of defining what the key to the character is and not removing it. A strong guy might still be a strong guy, even with his Strength reduced to 1--that's challenging the Quality "strong in body and mind". But the idea is that if the core of the character is an exuberant sense of fun (to use his example), putting the character in a situation where he has no choice but to be a drab Punisher type is not playing to the character.
         
        And I wondered: How do you tell what's an aspect you can challenge (and generate a determination point for the player), and what's a core part of the character?
         
        Because it seems to me (if this statement is correct), anything that you label as a challenge is something you don't mind coming up--that's why you labeled it that way. But something you label as a quality might not be. That would be different than, say, FATE, where Aspects are intentionally double-edged.
         
        Should you use Aspects only for things that you are willing to be challenged? ID: Lawyer might just be a quality, but it can generate challenges as well: the threat of being disbarred, strange cases showing up that this or other qualities mean the character just has to take despite how they will interfere with superheroing, and so on.
         
        Should you talk the qualities over with your GM, or establish a kind of shorthand that says, "Sure, challenge those things too," or "Never challenge those"?
         
        I mean, Aspects are a great role-playing tool, but maybe I don't want the GM to infringe on something I think is essential to my character, or so basic that it shouldn't be messed with--it would be like saying, "Hey, Superman, you're not really from Krypton. You're a mutant, and everything you knew was a lie. Why do you think you look so human?" A valid point, but maybe it's not what the player wants to game.
         
        Thoughts?
         
        John
         
        John McMullen (Searching for a .sig)
        jhmcmullen@...



        --
        Blacksteel




      • L M
        I tend to play ICONS fast and loose, mapless and mini-less, unlike many of the other games we play here, so I m not as much of a hard rules guy with it as may
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 14, 2012
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          I tend to play ICONS fast and loose, mapless and mini-less, unlike many of the other games we play here, so I'm not as much of a hard rules guy with it as may have come across*. But, to me this one just isn't an area of fuzziness. There's nothing about the GM needing player permissions to compel a quality - it's right there on page 78 under "Compelling", and to me that's a feature, not a bug. Qualities are not automatically positive and that makes them that much more interesting than having a black and white "qualities are positive, challenges are negative" approach.

          Another thing to keep in mind (that is mentioned right in that same section) is that a player can always refuse a compel - it just costs them a point of Determination. If a player really doesn't like this particular GM decision, they have a mechanical "out" as well.

          I think the Aspects are one of the "tentpoles" of ICONS, something that makes it unique, so I tend to stay on them in play and push players to keep them top of mind, for the good guys and the bad. What would be mere "background fluff" in so many other games is instead, a vital part of the flow of the game in ICONS. That's one reason I said it's important to talk about them at creation, as once they are in play they are going to get used.. It also helps when your players know the system well, and I find that their 3rd or 4th characters tend to have somewhat more nuanced and interesting qualities and challenges than their first or second character.

          Now all that said if the GM is repeatedly doing something that irritates the player, well sure, that's worth a conversation, regardless of whether it's a mechanics issue or not. If it was something as simple as a misunderstanding of how this would all work in play let 'em change those aspects to something they can live with and move on from there.

          *like when the 13-year old rolls up a character with Transmutation-8 and starts turning parts of things to rubber or plastic and wants to play junior physicist about the secondary effects of said change. Urgh. 

          On Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 3:20 PM, John McMullen <jhmcmullen@...> wrote:
           

          No, that's a valid point, as far as I'm concerned. I dislike some of the things that FATE does for aspects, and ICONS does not go as far for those things--but that's me, that's not the game system.  Many people feel that FATE promotes roleplaying, that little bit extra that it has leaves me feeling like it's all too mechanical, that I'm just pushing a cardboard piece around a track.
           
          Remembering that those aspects have a definite mechanical role is important too, and often I forget it.
           
          But it seems to me like you're saying, "These things are aspects, and those things are not. If I'm not willing to have those things be aspects and be compelled, I'm not willing to use them as aspects in every sense of them. So they shouldn't be aspects."
           
          But...ICONS does make the distinction between qualities and challenges. And it seems to me (I don't have the book handy, and I am like almost everyone prone to misremembering in the way that is advantageous to me, end disclaimer) that it says something like, though you can compell qualities with the player's permission, it should be a rare thing.  So how rare? And do the player and the GM need to discuss it separately? I suspect, L M, you'd say no, it's in the rules as written, but I might be putting words in your mouth.
           
          I'll address Seamus in the next message. :)
           
          John
           
          John McMullen (Searching for a .sig)
          jhmcmullen@...

          From: L M <lordblacksteel@...>
          To: icons-rpg@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Friday, December 14, 2012 1:54 PM
          Subject: Re: [icons-rpg] The key to a character is...



          De-Lurking for a moment here to say that it seems pretty simple to me: as a player, you can write whatever descriptive stuff you want on your character sheet. However, Qualities and Challenges have a defined mechanical purpose in the game: they can be tagged or compelled for Determination. If a player doesn't want some aspect (lower case here) to have a mechanical impact on the game then they are totally free to make that decision and not use it as a Quality or Challenge. If they do make it an Aspect (in the game mechanic sense) then they are opening it up to be used in play. Adding another layer of "should the GM use these" seems confusing, counter-productive, and likely to be forgotten in play anyway. I think that's a conversation you have when the character is created, not in the middle of a game.

          Anyway, there's $.02 on that.

          On Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 10:22 AM, John McMullen <jhmcmullen@...> wrote:
           
          I was reading this article (http://www.campaignmastery.com/blog/the-acceptable-favoritism/) and one of the suggestions (I hesitate to call them rules) is this:
           
          Weaken a Character
          This is in the sense of defining what the key to the character is and not removing it. A strong guy might still be a strong guy, even with his Strength reduced to 1--that's challenging the Quality "strong in body and mind". But the idea is that if the core of the character is an exuberant sense of fun (to use his example), putting the character in a situation where he has no choice but to be a drab Punisher type is not playing to the character.
           
          And I wondered: How do you tell what's an aspect you can challenge (and generate a determination point for the player), and what's a core part of the character?
           
          Because it seems to me (if this statement is correct), anything that you label as a challenge is something you don't mind coming up--that's why you labeled it that way. But something you label as a quality might not be. That would be different than, say, FATE, where Aspects are intentionally double-edged.
           
          Should you use Aspects only for things that you are willing to be challenged? ID: Lawyer might just be a quality, but it can generate challenges as well: the threat of being disbarred, strange cases showing up that this or other qualities mean the character just has to take despite how they will interfere with superheroing, and so on.
           
          Should you talk the qualities over with your GM, or establish a kind of shorthand that says, "Sure, challenge those things too," or "Never challenge those"?
           
          I mean, Aspects are a great role-playing tool, but maybe I don't want the GM to infringe on something I think is essential to my character, or so basic that it shouldn't be messed with--it would be like saying, "Hey, Superman, you're not really from Krypton. You're a mutant, and everything you knew was a lie. Why do you think you look so human?" A valid point, but maybe it's not what the player wants to game.
           
          Thoughts?
           
          John
           
          John McMullen (Searching for a .sig)
          jhmcmullen@...



          --
          Blacksteel







          --
          Blacksteel
        • Icosahedrophilia
          Dear friends, ... Since I carry ICONS with me everywhere in PDF form on my iOS devices, I do have the rulebook handy … and I can’t find any such caveat
          Message 4 of 7 , Dec 14, 2012
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            Dear friends,

            On Dec 14, 2012, at 1:20 PM, John McMullen <jhmcmullen@...> wrote:
            But...ICONS does make the distinction between qualities and challenges. And it seems to me (I don't have the book handy, and I am like almost everyone prone to misremembering in the way that is advantageous to me, end disclaimer) that it says something like, though you can compell qualities with the player's permission, it should be a rare thing.  So how rare? And do the player and the GM need to discuss it separately? I suspect, L M, you'd say no, it's in the rules as written, but I might be putting words in your mouth.

            Since I carry ICONS with me everywhere in PDF form on my iOS devices, I do have the rulebook handy … and I can’t find any such caveat about rarity of compelling qualities. In fact, several of the sample qualities in the book—all of them except Catchphrase, as a matter of fact—draw specific attention to how the GM might compel them.

            In my mind, the “Last Son of Krypton” quality discussed earlier in this thread provided a great reminder that compelling an aspect means leveraging that aspect to create a situation that complicates the hero’s life. Remember, Superman was still the “Last Son of Krypton” even after discovering that Braniac had Kandor in a bottle.

            As I understand the RAW, qualities are supposed to be “double-edged swords.” While this may sound somewhat unbalanced—the GM can compel both qualities and challenges but the player can only tag qualities—the other side of it all is that this structure offers the player twice as many avenues to receive determination as to spend it. Also, don’t forget that players can tag villains’ aspects to the heroes’ advantage, so it all gets spread around pretty evenly.

            If you want your hero to have a quality that the GM can’t compel, I’d suggest just negotiating that with the GM. My impression is that most ICONS GMs are pretty flexible; it goes with the territory (i.e., the system is not very hospitable to rules lawyers). But personally, I think that’s a wasted quality slot. I want my qualities to be able to generate Determination for me, not just to use it up.

            As always, please insert another US$.02 for additional ramblings.

            Chris

            Chris Heard
            Icosahedrophilia Blog and Podcast
            http://drchris.me/d20
            ><>



          • Soylent Green
            There is one school of thought regarding Aspects, and this applies just as much to Fate, that says a good Aspect is one that get s a lot of use and as such
            Message 5 of 7 , Dec 14, 2012
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              There is one school of thought regarding Aspects, and this applies just as much to Fate, that says a good Aspect is one that get's a lot of use and as such when you considering an Aspect you should think of at least three ways in which it can be invoked or compelled before writing it down. 

              I get what they are saying, but I disagree. For me, when it come to roleplaying I always go with my heart and not my brains. I think Aspects are first and foremost a descriptive tool, and way to communicate character. The mechanic effect of Aspects is of secondary importance. In fact if you look at the history of Fate,  Aspects as descriptors existed way back in the older version (2.0). What has changed over time is the mechanical implementation.

              For me as long as the Aspect means something to the player, even if is never invoked it is still a good Aspect. But that's why you get so many of them, so that the player doesn't have to worry about making them all useful. And if you look at the write up of the NPCs I think they all follow the principle of descriptor first.

              Going back to your question, by extension, I don't believe any Aspect on the character sheet is an explicit invitation to the GM to mess with it. You are right, the GM can't always tell but then the safeguard is the fact that the player can refuse the compel. By the rules refusing a compel cost a DP (or Fate Point in Fate) but I've waved that penalty, as do many other GMs. The opportunity cost of not gaining a DP seems like enough of a price to pay and to be honest I can't even remember the last time a player refused a compel.


              To: icons-rpg@yahoogroups.com
              From: jhmcmullen@...
              Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2012 08:22:49 -0800
              Subject: [icons-rpg] The key to a character is...

               

              I was reading this article (http://www.campaignmastery.com/blog/the-acceptable-favoritism/) and one of the suggestions (I hesitate to call them rules) is this:
               
              Weaken a Character
              This is in the sense of defining what the key to the character is and not removing it. A strong guy might still be a strong guy, even with his Strength reduced to 1--that's challenging the Quality "strong in body and mind". But the idea is that if the core of the character is an exuberant sense of fun (to use his example), putting the character in a situation where he has no choice but to be a drab Punisher type is not playing to the character.
               
              And I wondered: How do you tell what's an aspect you can challenge (and generate a determination point for the player), and what's a core part of the character?
               
              Because it seems to me (if this statement is correct), anything that you label as a challenge is something you don't mind coming up--that's why you labeled it that way. But something you label as a quality might not be. That would be different than, say, FATE, where Aspects are intentionally double-edged.
               
              Should you use Aspects only for things that you are willing to be challenged? ID: Lawyer might just be a quality, but it can generate challenges as well: the threat of being disbarred, strange cases showing up that this or other qualities mean the character just has to take despite how they will interfere with superheroing, and so on.
               
              Should you talk the qualities over with your GM, or establish a kind of shorthand that says, "Sure, challenge those things too," or "Never challenge those"?
               
              I mean, Aspects are a great role-playing tool, but maybe I don't want the GM to infringe on something I think is essential to my character, or so basic that it shouldn't be messed with--it would be like saying, "Hey, Superman, you're not really from Krypton. You're a mutant, and everything you knew was a lie. Why do you think you look so human?" A valid point, but maybe it's not what the player wants to game.
               
              Thoughts?
               
              John
               
              John McMullen (Searching for a .sig)
              jhmcmullen@...

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