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Re: [icons-rpg] Trouble Pool variant

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  • Tim K.
    ... Usually, I only use Determination for bad guys I want to win at a given time. At least win for a little while to frustrate the characters, that way, when
    Message 1 of 9 , May 23, 2013
      On 5/23/2013 7:32 AM, Soylent Green wrote:
      Also, addressing the thrust of you email, while I agree that  GMs spending DPs to nullify player action isn't very exciting, spending them offensively just feels mean sometimes.

      In the instance the GM spends a DP to allow his NPC to regain some lost Stamina  as per the Recover rules, as long as this isn't done immediately after the NPC was hit,  the player disappointment factor is shared pretty equally among everyone.

      Using DP offensively is a little trickier in that it forces the GM specifically to single out and target one player, potentially taking him out of the scene. Of course that sort of things is always going to happen, that's what you do when running NPCs in a fight, but loading the NPC's offensive action with DP makes it feel that little more cold and deliberate. 

      Again, this might just be a British thing.

      Basically, all I am saying is that villain use of DPs remains one of those areas I struggle with. In game I muddle may way through, make on the spot judgement calls, but it's not something I feel I am using with clarity of purpose and precision.

      Usually, I only use Determination for bad guys I want to win at a given time. At least win for a little while to frustrate the characters, that way, when they take him down they know it wasn't me making it easy on them. Mind you, I also give them a lot of Determination so that's not always an easy task.

    • John McMullen
      In my group and for me, using Determination Points for the villain s defense carries a strong whiff of we play until the GM decides the villain has had enough
      Message 2 of 9 , May 23, 2013
        In my group and for me, using Determination Points for the villain's defense carries a strong whiff of "we play until the GM decides the villain has had enough and falls down." Now, a known and limited supply of DPs for the GM--a Trouble Pool--might alleviate that.

        I suspect that the Trouble Pool does reduce the possibility that a player character might deliberately do a non-optimal thing that plays into a Challenge, in order to earn some Determination Points. (Why do I figure that? Well, because the players only have to survive until the GM/villain has used up his Trouble Pool, and then they can spend *their* Determination Points...or I've misunderstood again. I do that a lot.) It doesn't eliminate the possibility (though I suddenly have this image of Jerkman bringing Sally The Girlfriend Hostage to crime scenes just so that he can get the Determination Point when she's threatened).

        I think the advice to use a villain's Determination Points offensively is good, despite the fact that it means that the GM has to pick on a player. (If you sequentially pick on each player, they don't mind so much.) 

        In my mind, using Determination offensively means that the GM  is using the Determination to make the villain's actions better rather than to negate player actions, if that makes any sense. I don't know about you, but I've sometimes (usually accidentally) created villains who have glass jaws---the PCs have a power I just plain forgot about, or they used a stunt and managed to pull in the one thing I had set up as a weakness, or were just sensible, or I created a single villain against five PCs (which is a terrible habit of mine).

        I mean, superhero games are inherently reactive anyway: the bad guy sets a plan in motion, and the heroes try to figure it out and stop it. Negating *player* action has the sad side effect of making them have less effect in the game. (And, in fact, when the players do something clever and legitimately beat the bad guy in far less time than I expected, I generally go the conspiracy theorist route and claim that *someone* wanted that to happen in order to set them up for this other plan, that I have to quickly make up.)

        John McMullen (Searching for a .sig)

        From: Soylent Green <gsoylent@...>
        To: icons group <icons-rpg@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, May 23, 2013 8:02 AM
        Subject: RE: [icons-rpg] Trouble Pool variant

        I'm not sure that is universally true ("Icons is best when players are really being challenged"). In my circles I've noticed that players get easily stressed and while of course they want a challenge they don't actually want to be challenged that intensely. As such upping the challenge can result in a game is paradoxically less exciting. 

        The more challenging the game gets the more likely the players will become cautious and guarded in their approach. They might stop making those dumb but glorious in-character choices, act protective about their DP pool and look with suspicion at offered compels.  

        Worse still they might actually distance themselves emotionally from their own characters, possibly because at some level they don't want to be associated with their character's potential misfortune. 

        Experiences will vary but I find if I want players to embrace the game with joy and fearlessness, have their characters to leap before they think and make all the wrong choices for for those right for the character reasons (regardless of whether DPs end up changing hands or not) then there has to be slack in how the game is run. There has to be a margin of tolerance within which the players are comfortable enough to focus a little more on style than on efficiency. 

        Then again soft GMs and easily stressed players... that might just be a British thing. And yes, we do enjoy a good cup of tea as we play, even decaffeinated tea for one of the guys.  

        To: icons-rpg@yahoogroups.com
        From: devlin1@...
        Date: Wed, 22 May 2013 16:03:05 -0700
        Subject: Re: [icons-rpg] Trouble Pool variant


        This is almost exactly how Fate Core handles the GM's fate point budget. In completely unrelated news, the final version of the Fate Core PDF was released to backers this week.

        By contrast as a GM using DP to nullify a player character’s actions or tip the balance in the villains favour feels very deliberate and forceful. That’s what I struggle with that.

        I find that a game like Icons or Fate is at its best when the players are really being challenged. Otherwise, it can easily be a cakewalk (and boring). My advice: Use your Trouble Pool primarily for the villains' offense, as opposed to their defense. It's more fun if the opposition is more dangerous rather than more resilient. It's just super-dull, and almost a dick move, to bolster the badguys' defenses. Like, they're just NPCs. They're there for two purposes: to make the PCs' lives more difficult and dramatic, and to eventually be defeated (at the PCs' expense). Yeah, they might win the battle and see their evil plan through, but all that's really doing is setting the PCs up for more difficulty and drama in their lives and another chance to take 'em down.

        TL;DR: Don't spend the Trouble Pool on "nullifying a player character's actions." Spend it on making that PC's player think they might not make it through this one.


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