Even in a "storytelling game" or whatever pseudo chuff
speak calls them these days the GM doesn't make
"arbitrary" decisions. The decisions are usually based
on three things:
- Consistency with the known world
- How much the GM wants it to happen
- Keeping the character conception alive
You don't have to have a detailed model of what
happens in the real world to make a guess that fits
So, for Whitewall to Whitewall via Boldhome (a) is
answered by looking at a map ("Looks like a bloody
long way, there are all those mountains and Sartar's
roads haven't been the same since Bovis took over
their maintenance"), (b) is answered by the GM
deciding what is optimal to the story ("I'd like them
to do it in plenty of time/I'd like it to be close/I'd
like them to get back well after the bat's sat on the
place") and (c) is answered by considering the geezer
doing it ("Hervald's known for moving like shit off a
shovel, if anyone could do it, he could/Hervald
couldn't move that fast if he had the runs and the
nearest khazi was in Boldhome").
Once you know the answers to those three questions
(which take far longer to write up than do) you can
come up with a difficulty, some examples:
- Hervald is a quick geezer, no problem, don't bother
rolling, Mastakos is behind him all the way.
- I doesn't mind what happens, so I'll make the
difficulty 1 mastery better than his best ability so
with a decent bit of roleplaying and rollplaying he
can pull it off if he really wants to.
- Hervald may be quick but it's through really
mountainous terrain and I'd rather he didn't make it
back, I can't be arsed working out what would happen
if he did. I'll say 2 masteries more than his best
ability so he will have to be lucky, augment to the
hilt and burn a hero point. If he does it though, it's
going to be the stuff of legends.
Another trick is to work out the adventurer's ability
before setting a difficulty. If they really work at
augments and put a long time into describing what
they're doing, consider giving them an easier time if
it fits in with the story. How much time they spend
preparing is a good way of working out how much it
matters to the players. Someone who details the route
he'll take to avoid storms Orlanth's told him about,
uses relationships with clans he knows on the way to
get new horses, talks to some Elves to get drugs to
keep him awake and oratory to get the best horse in
the city out of Broyan then he wants to succeed and
will probably entertained everyone with the
roleplaying. If all he says is "I'm using ride 2W2
augmented with Movement Affinity 1W" then sod 'em. The
player obviously doesn't care that much, so do what's
easiest for the story.
- Paul May <kax_at_...> wrote:
> At 06:34 PM 1/12/04, ABarton wrote:
> >Mike Holmes made several comments that make sense
> to me. I think the
> >overriding issue is the needs of the story ...
> That's true. But the GM can't use arbitrary values
> for things all the
> time. As Jane's original problem went, there is a
> fixed distance and a
> fixed time, and difficulty values have to be based
> around that and the
> variation from 'normal' travel speed.
> | Paul May |
> | Kax Hoplodyne, Ltd | kax_at_...
> | MIB 1138; RD Australia | the_kax_at_...
> | PGP key on www.pgp.net | spell_at_...
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