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Fusion school of design - why no difficulty?

Thanaeon

Mostly simulationist
Validated User
Yes. That section basically says pause the game, discuss the situation and ask questions, come to a consensus about what's going on and decide how you want to resolve it mechanically together, resolve the situation, then restart the game from that point. There's no bog standard PvP, it's all customized and individualized to the situation. So, if we're going to have a meaningful dialogue about these two PCs squaring off, we will need to start by reaching consensus on how we should handle it.I agree your first proposed resolution method doesn't make sense, so let's not do it that way.
Yes, I'm fully aware that's what the book says. It was implicitly built into my example. (The part about possible ways to handle the situation.) What is the point you're trying to make?
 

Noclue

Registered User
Validated User
Yes, I'm fully aware that's what the book says. It was implicitly built into my example. (The part about possible ways to handle the situation.) What is the point you're trying to make?
That none of what you said below is relevant.

However, if the two characters now get into a wrestling match, it suddenly produces extremely weird results. If the other character outmasses the other thrice over and they have specifically agreed to not pulling dirty tricks like eye-gouging and the like, it seems extremely odd that the odds are then fifty-fifty. Anyone who's engaged in any kind of wrestling or wrestling-like activity knows what a huge advantage mass is in that kind of activity.
The game doesn't produce these weird results where the odds are 50/50 between PCs that are obviously different, unless for some unknown reason you've decided you want to do something that we both agree makes no sense. Why would right minded people decide to do that and what's useful about discussing this weird use of mechanics that the book doesn't tell us to do? I mean, no one is doing this. If someone is thinking of doing this, they should do something else.

Your post begs the question. It assumes a problem that doesn't exist in "bog-standard, RAW Blades" where a massive PC and a little girl PC are wrestling and both evenly matched mechanically. You get there by taking M Maxen M 's example of using fortune rolls and applying them to a PVP combat as if that is part of "bog-standard, RAW Blades," even though the section on PC v PC conflicts doesn't tell us to do that. Then you provide solutions to this non-existant problem, none of which you find satisfactory:

At which point, we basically have three options: we let the tiny character cheat anyway to win; we let her somehow wrestle down someone in a way that strains credulity (assuming we're playing in a genre that's relatively plausible - this might not be a problem for some anime or supers genres); or we introduce character flavour based modifiers for one or both characters - whether adjusting effect, stance changes, dice reductions or simply rule out that due to fictional considerations, the match can only go one way.
The whole thing hinges on applying mechanics in a way that isn't in the book.
 
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1of3

Registered User
Validated User
Suppose you're Skirmishing with a master swordsman;
I think that is an important observation. Why do we suppose that? Does he have a reputation, then let's play to find out, if that holds. I think, that is what the term really means. The NPCs are somewhat fluid, until they have been found out.

On the other hand that might not be just any swordsmaster, so you can set up a custom move : When you fight THE swordsmaster...
 

Thanaeon

Mostly simulationist
Validated User
The game doesn't produce these weird results where the odds are 50/50 between PCs that are obviously different, unless for some unknown reason you've decided you want to do something that we both agree makes no sense. Why would right minded people decide to do that and what's useful about discussing this weird use of mechanics that the book doesn't tell us to do? I mean, no one is doing this. If someone is thinking of doing this, they should do something else.

Your post begs the question. It assumes a problem that doesn't exist in "bog standard Blades RAW" where a massive PC and a little girl PC are wrestling and both evenly matched mechanically. You get there by taking M Maxen M 's example of using fortune rolls and applying them to a PVP combat as if that is part of "bog standard Blades RAW," even though the section on PC v PC conflicts doesn't tell us to do that. Then you provide solutions to this non-existant problem, none of which you find satisfactory:

The whole thing hinges on applying mechanics in a way that isn't in the book.
(Emphases mine.)

Yeah, read that post again. If you're going to start nit-picking my posts to that degree of specificity, I'm going to nit-pick right the hell back and point out that that part of yours where you're referring to using fortune rolls is contradicted by the post you're referring to, which is referring to Skirmish dots (hance, action rolls, not fortune rolls) as the basis for the contest. (Which was the basis for the "50/50 before other considerations are accounted for" starting point.) I also find your characterisation "none of which you find satisfactory" rather at odds with my actual attitude, which is more accurately described as "hmm, interesting". Again, if you're going to nit-pick me, at least do so accurately rather than strawmanning; that last paragraph was not included by accident but, in fact, precisely to make it clear that this is not, to me, a big problem.

And yes, I'm fully aware that the PVP rules of the game advice the players to sit down and discuss how each instance will be handled. In fact, in cases like the one I pointed out, it's probably extra-important because it will require adjudicating for non-mechanical fiction for reasonable resolutions.

But none of this was ever actually even relevant to what was my point in the post, anyway. Which was that the system, to a degree which may well be negligible in actual use and therefore probably not a big problem in practice (note how I explicitly referred to this kind of situation as an "edge case"?), to produce reasonable outcomes in some situations, requires resorting to adjudicating for factors not on the character sheets (or at least, as fluff rather than mechanical bits there). That I chose a PVP situation was an incidental detail of my example, not the main thrust: I might have had the massive guy as an NPC and either the 12-year-old boy (I changed the girl to a boy in an edit because I didn't like the unintentional implication of "girls are weak") as a PC or a similarly-massive PC in opposition. In this case, too, fiction first would require incorporation of non-mechanical character bits into the mechanical resolution of the system.

P.S. Honestly, I'm very much not the kind of person who's opposed to making adjustments on the fly when it comes to mechanics, so this kind of accounting for non-mechanical fiction is pretty natural to me. I suspect it's one reason why Blades made such a huge impression on me, even if there are some aspects to the design school I disagree with. (One of which birthed this very thread.) I've also always been more interested in internal consistency (whether one wishes to call it realism or physics simulation or genre emulation or whatever else) than strict balance, though the latter is also important so as to not make some players feel unable to contribute. Point being, I'm not here to malign the game, so please consider being a little less defensive of it, okay? I didn't start this thread to argue but to discuss, nor have I been throwing about badwrongfun accusations at anyone for doing things differently from myself or having differing preferences, certainly not on purpose and I'm pretty sure not unintentionally, either.
 

Noclue

Registered User
Validated User
(Emphases mine.)
I also find your characterisation "none of which you find satisfactory" rather at odds with my actual attitude, which is more accurately described as "hmm, interesting". Again, if you're going to nit-pick me, at least do so accurately rather than strawmanning; that last paragraph was not included by accident but, in fact, precisely to make it clear that this is not, to me, a big problem.
Fair enough. I don't think I was nitpicking or trying to raise strawman arguments, but my tone could have been better. I admit, I bristled at what seemed to me, like personal challenge in the previous post. Not cool on my part.

And yes, I'm fully aware that the PVP rules of the game advice the players to sit down and discuss how each instance will be handled. In fact, in cases like the one I pointed out, it's probably extra-important because it will require adjudicating for non-mechanical fiction for reasonable resolutions.
Yeah, that's why I began the discussion asking if we were talking Blades or essentially a Blades hack, because it's not a PVP game and discussing how to resolve PC v. PC situations is really it's own thing and, I think, mostly relevant only to discussing other ways to handle the same PC v PC situation.

But, to address your point more directly, without the PC v. PC stuff:

...to produce reasonable outcomes in some situations, requires resorting to adjudicating for factors not on the character sheets (or at least, as fluff rather than mechanical bits there) .That I chose a PVP situation was an incidental detail of my example, not the main thrust:I might have had the massive guy as an NPC and either the 12-year-old boy (I changed the girl to a boy in an edit because I didn't like the unintentional implication of "girls are weak") as a PC or a similarly-massive PC in opposition. In this case, too, fiction first would require incorporation of non-mechanical character bits into the mechanical resolution of the system.
Okay, but that's not an incidental change. That's a fundamental change, because now we can actually look at how the system might operate in play. There's no weird 50/50 roll off to deal with, because only one character is rolling. I'm really not sure what you mean by "incorporation of non-mechanical character bits," but if you mean the the GM will have to make adjustments due to the size discrepancy between the opponents, you're absolutely correct. Assuming the PC is a 12 year old boy with 2 dots in skirmish if the player says they're going to wrestle the massive dude with Skirmish, then the GM would probably say (at least the GM in my head would) something like "Cool, your position is Desperate and you have No Effect," That doesn't shut the player down, but it does mean that they'll need to push themselves and/or offer a Devil's Bargain (or accept help) in order to roll any dice.

Point being, I'm not here to malign the game, so please consider being a little less defensive of it, okay?
That's fair. I actually didn't think you were maligning the game, just off on some weirdly irrelevant tangent. It's also perfectly fine if someone doesn't like a game that I like.
 

Thanaeon

Mostly simulationist
Validated User
Fair enough. I don't think I was nitpicking or trying to raise strawman arguments, but my tone could have been better. I admit, I bristled at what seemed to me, like personal challenge in the previous post. Not cool on my part.
Cool. Apology accepted and I'm happy we're understanding each other better now.

Yeah, that's why I began the discussion asking if we were talking Blades or essentially a Blades hack, because it's not a PVP game and discussing how to resolve PC v. PC situations is really it's own thing and, I think, mostly relevant only to discussing other ways to handle the same PC v PC situation.
I suppose the main reason I introduced the example as a PC vs PC case, exceptional as they are in the game in practice, was to get the neat "50/50 default" into the discussion to better illustrate this feature of the system.

Okay, but that's not an incidental change. That's a fundamental change, because now we can actually look at how the system might operate in play. There's no weird 50/50 roll off to deal with, because only one character is rolling. I'm really not sure what you mean by "incorporation of non-mechanical character bits," but if you mean the the GM will have to make adjustments due to the size discrepancy between the opponents, you're absolutely correct. Assuming the PC is a 12 year old boy with 2 dots in skirmish if the player says they're going to wrestle the massive dude with Skirmish, then the GM would probably say (at least the GM in my head would) something like "Cool, your position is Desperate and you have No Effect," That doesn't shut the player down, but it does mean that they'll need to push themselves and/or offer a Devil's Bargain (or accept help) in order to roll any dice.
You're entirely correct that the "50/50 default" thing becomes inapplicable once we move out of PVP actions. (Which are supposed to be a small minority, making this issue we're discussing even more of an edge case.) But by "incorporation of non-mechanical character bits", I mean exactly the sort of thing you correctly guess here: that one character is a 12-year-old boy is factored into teh parameters of a roll (effect and position, turning things into an extended test that it normally wouldn't, dice pool adjustments, what have you) despite there being nothing on the character sheet explicitly saying "this character takes increased effect/whatever when engaging in tasks dependent on physical streng or body mass" or something to that effect. There's no "special unpower" or "reverse action dot" on the sheet that explicitly denotes the character's weakness, it's just an application of common sense into the task resolution. (Especially since these games don't tend to have disadvantage systems like that I can recall. As in, characters having mechanical bits denoting individual weaknesses.)

That's fair. I actually didn't think you were maligning the game, just off on some weirdly irrelevant tangent. It's also perfectly fine if someone doesn't like a game that I like.
Tangential to the original topic of the thread, absolutely, though the thread has moved on since then to discussing the school more generally since then, I think. Irrelevant? Insomuch as I don't think it's an actual problem so long as the skills/action/moves/etc. in the game are chosen well enough to cover the sorts of things PCs are going to be doing most of the time? I wouldn't go quite that far, I think, though I would well use words like "negligible" or "not a big deal" with little hesitation.

Mainly, I thought it was an interesting feature of the game design that merited some discussion.
 

swammeyjoe

Registered User
Validated User
I think that is an important observation. Why do we suppose that? Does he have a reputation, then let's play to find out, if that holds. I think, that is what the term really means. The NPCs are somewhat fluid, until they have been found out.
For basically anyone who's had trouble with the lack of difficulty (myself sometimes included, I go back and forth) this answer would be totally unsatisfactory. Play to Find Out What Happens doesn't mean "there are no facts before the PCs interact" and it doesn't need to be wedged into every scene.
 

Noclue

Registered User
Validated User
For basically anyone who's had trouble with the lack of difficulty (myself sometimes included, I go back and forth) this answer would be totally unsatisfactory. Play to Find Out What Happens doesn't mean "there are no facts before the PCs interact" and it doesn't need to be wedged into every scene.
It's also reasonably clear in the book that NPC threat levels are generally decided by the GM, who would typically then describe the NPC as a Master, or not.
 

Octiron

Insufficiently Hopeful
Validated User
Here's what Vincent says on the matter in Apocalypse World 1E:
Here’s a custom threat move. People new to the game occasionally ask me for this one. It’s general, it modifies nearly every other move:
Things are tough. Whenever a players’ character makes a move, the MC judges it normal, difficult, or crazy difficult. If it’s difficult, the player takes -1 to the roll. If it’s crazy difficult, the player takes -2 to the roll.
Several groups in playtest wanted this move or one like it. All of them abandoned it after only one session. It didn’t add anything fun to the game, but did add a little hassle to every single move. So it’s a legal custom move, of course, and you can try it if you like, but I wouldn’t expect you to stick with it.
Uh, wow. I'd wager this experiment would have turned out differently if it was bonuses instead of penalties. :ROFLMAO:
 

Bankuei

Master of Folding Chair
Validated User
I can't say for other designs, but within Apocalypse World as it's own game?

The PCs are the action heroes of the world. They're a significant step above the NPCs, and, as such, their space for improvement in terms of raw effect is small (see the low range of stat improvements).

Difficulty for them is rarely "more challenging" rather than "more problems" getting thrown at them, which, simply going by the numbers of rolling dice, eventually will start kicking up failed rolls at some point. (And, since AW pre-loads consequences and costs and twists into most of the Moves, there's no "roll/nothing happens" kind of thing you see in a lot of games.).

Obviously, if you move away from this kind of genre trope for your fiction, then modeling difficulty becomes a bigger issue. (Aside from making a rule for each thing, you could probably create a sibling to "Act Under Fire" like "Push Yourself to the Limit" or something with it's own set of consequences and costs. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the games influenced by AW haven't already done something like this.)

- Chris
 
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