A collection of rambling posts about gaming, running, and politics. (and, in 2009, photography.)

Friday, September 5, 2008

More on Stakes in TSOY

(As a followup to my previous post on our recent Shadow of Yesterday game)

For simplicity sake, here are some ways that stakes can work in tsoy:

win/lose: "If you win this dice roll, your action is a success. If you lose, its not and you fail." I generally think that these kind of stakes are boring and try to avoid them.

win/complicated win: "If you win the dice roll, your action goes off without a hitch. If you lose, you still did what you wanted to do, but it just got complicated - more guards just came in, or you realized that its a trap and they were waiting on you, or your sword/lockpick/gun/tools break during the process, etc" I love this kind of stakes, and usually try for this kind of thing. I think that it is important to note that these stakes are actually toying with the facts in the game, beyond "Am I successful or not?".

Its worth noting that Role Playing games are all about using dice to determine facts - Dungeons and Dragons does it - you roll your d20 to hit the orc, pick the lock, jump the wall, etc. Did you succeed at your task, or fail, you ask. The dice answer.

TSOY has taken this a step further, and that's one of the reasons that I love the game so much. Dice checks are usually very binary, the answer is either Yes or No. TSOY changes that, and lets you talk about what "yes" or "no" means.

I recently got to play with Inspectres, and read through Houses of the Blooded. Both systems use mechanics that turn over some narrative control of the game to the players. The players get to say "This happens." Which is totally cool.

I have always run TSOY in a somewhat traditional fashion. I, the GM, know what is happening in the story, and through the game I share that with the players. I have a cast of good guys and bad guys, I have a plot, I know where the McGuffin is, and what it does. The players are along for the ride, to interact with the story that I've created. The difference with this game was that I pitched that out the window. Kindof by accident. I mentioned in my previous post that we did some stakes like: "Win - Stephan walks right into you, Lose - he went into hiding somewhere that is going to be damn tough to reach." This makes me froth at the mouth a little because I let the players decide how the game goes. Right now, brewing in my head are stakes like "We arrive at the keep of our dear Uncle Bob, how's he doing these days? We'll roll our Socialize skill. On a win - he's doing just dandy and there's going to be a huge gala held here in just two days, woo! On a loss - he just died from an assassins dagger, like - two minutes ago. The keep is in an uproar!"

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