Re: Augmenting to Augment?

From: bigblackcatmail <bigblackcatmail_at_...>
Date: Thu, 02 Dec 2004 17:40:28 -0000

Thanks for all the replies.

(from Mark)
> Just to cut in here, the rules state (p80) that if you augment
> someone else "you suffer the normal consequences of defeat in a
> group contest" if your side loses. So actually augments aren't
> the 'freebie' minimax option you suggest.

Thanks for clearing that up, Mark. Actually, it wasn't me suggesting that no one suffers consequences of a defeat when auto-augmenting another player. That was what Mike and other members of this board were saying, which is why I was having a problem with what they were saying. So, in essence, their take on auto-augments among players was a misinterpretation. Just like my thinking that players could only variably augment each other. Fair enough.

(from Mark)
> More broadly, though, NO rules system cannot be broken or abused,
> the players (or GM) are that desperate to break or abuse them.

Paul, Mark and Joshua all touch on this point in their replies to my post, with varying degrees of helpfulness. All ignore the fact that I say this in both my posts. Thanks for pointing it out to me but please keep in mind that I'm not a nutjob. I agree with this statement and am aware of it. Heck, any of you could've footnoted it in my last two posts.

(from Joshua)
> You're also getting really worked up over
> hypotheticals. Have you actually witnessed the HQ
> rules being taken advantage of by players to support
> the kind of play you seem so worried about? Have you
> actually seen a GM abuse his or her authority with HQ
> and refuse what seemed to you to be a suitable augment
> for no good reason? Or are you just worried that it
> *could* happen? If so...sure, it *could* happen. A lot
> of things *could* happen, but why work yourself into a
> frenzy about it until it *does* happen.

Hi Joshua. I'm not sure what level of upset you are with me in your post. The tone is a definite put-off for me but I'm willing to suck it up. I'm not really worked up in a sense that I'm angry/upset/crying-in-a-corner/swallowing-handfuls-of-pills. There is as much "tongue-in-cheek" stuff in my last post as there is heartfelt  torment. Really, can anyone take a guy who compares a ruleset with Roseanne Barr and Jack Black doing the lambada *that* seriously?

I think a rehash of the discussion might be valuable.

  1. Guy comes out and says "Hey, can players really just auto-augment to their heart's content?"
  2. A number of people say "yeah." and then talk about other things.
  3. I chime in: "Hold on, i thought players could only variable augment each other."
  4. Roderick comes back and says: "Nope. You're wrong. They can autoaugment too."
  5. I say: "I'm wrong? Whoops. My bad. I think I still like my way better though. It doesn't make any sense that they can auto-augment without suffering penalties for failure."
  6. Mike comes back: "Sure it makes sense. The only reason it doesn't is because you're not thinking about it properly."
  7. I reply with: "Well, I may not be thinking about it properly. But I'd like to stick with my way and add on consequences for autoaugmenting other players."
  8. Paul replies with: "Just do whatever supports the story."
  9. Mark replies with: "What are you talking about? Players who autoaugment suffer penalties for failure. It's on pg. 80! Now, what are you on about? (Having of course removed not just one, but all four legs of my soapbox. :)"
  10. Josh replies with: "Are you making this crap up? (to me, not Mark)"

In that light, I don't perceive myself as having anything to be worked up over (beyond everyone insisting that I'm worked up over something). Mark addressed the salient issue, for me, which was:

If PCs can auto-augment each other without suffering penalties for failure then --

  1. the rules are uncharacteristically inconsistent
  2. this aspect of the rules are open to misuse and manipulation
  3. having rules for variable augments makes no sense in comparison, further undermining one of the most coherent and consistent rulesets I've ever read/played

Mike and Paul essentially held similar positions. That, if you go for story and don't play with people who try to game the system, this will never be an issue. I disagree. IME, system stuff will always work its way into play in one way or another. Your experience might be different. I don't deny that.

I'm not in a frenzy. And, to me, these aren't hypotheticals. I have seen people try to game HeroQuest. Yes, I have. I have seen players try to augment with a wide number of abilities some of which I considered only marginally related to the contest in question (with no description given to their applicability to the contest). Nathan was a master of pulling out every augments imaginable. I still fear the day when I have to face off with him in an extended contest. To put it shortly, I will die.

I have also seen GMs (even been one) that either consciously or unconsciously denied the use of an ability as an augment that I, personally, disagreed with. Mike made a couple of calls like that in some of our very first Shadow World-HQ games, shortly before deciding to let the chips fall where they may as regards augments.

This kind of stuff happens, among even the "best" groups, IMO. I see it as part of playing a game. Inevitably people are going to try to play the game to "win", whatever that means for them.

Heck, Fred giving his mountain man a 5wX Strength in Mike's Shadow World game can be considered an attempt to test the boundaries of the HQ system. I had a player make a similar character as a brain-eating zombie. He took a 5wX Undead ability so that he *couldn't* be killed. An attempt, he later admitted to me, to try and break the HQ system.

Gaming the system is part of the package, IME, of having a system. Have you ever seen anyone consciously attempt to *lose* an extended contest? Those people are the exception, not the rule I would propose. And that's coming from the guy who played the least effective HeroQuest character ever (Lhan) in Mike's last Shadow World campaign. I think I "won" two contests (one with a significant "gift" in the augment department from Mike) the *entire* campaign.

One to get my amulet back after it had been grifted and the last one to sacrifice Aysha (Nathan's character) to the big-mamma jamma the amulet had conjured up. Mike cut me a break on the last amulet by letting me use the big-mamma jamma as an augment. Otherwise, I doubt I would've been able to beat Aysha. In fact, I wouldn't have. Nathan's just that good.

So, I'm not the type of person who "games" a system just to do it. I recognize that the system is there and affects things but the least it affects me (and my character's development) the better. I *do* know that there are players out there who do game the system. This will be hard to unconvince me of as it has frequently put me at odds with many a gaming group as I get overshadowed due to being unable, or disinterested, in gaming the system as effectively as the other players and my character development/story falls to the wayside because my character is too ineffective to make a real dent in what is being driven by other, better min-maxed characters. It's the ecology of Table-top.

In a sense, Lhan was an attempt by me to "game" HeroQuest. It was my attempt to make the most miserable, the weakest, most ineffective character in any RPG, to see if I could still develop my character and participate in a story in HeroQuest. Guess what? It worked.

And that's why I like HeroQuest so much. Because, IME, gaming the system is a zero-sum enterprise. There's give, there's take. But it all runs essentially the same. Fred's incredible strength isn't going to dominate the game like it would in D20 or practically every other RPG out there. The HeroQuest system (by virtue of its consistency and compartmentalization) handles these balance issues, not the GM. Which allows me to sit back, play the story and just let the system work like it was designed to do. Which is a beautiful thing, IMO.

That's why I got "worked up" over this little non-bug. It struck me as entirely inconsistent with everything I knew about HQ. Suddenly, there's something I had to "watch out" for from other players as Mike and others advised. Like HQ was just like all the other "man-behind- the-curtain" systems that rely *solely* on the benevolence/fairness of one player to make it "work". That discouraged me. It was uncharacteristic of the rest of the ruleset. Moreover, it was uncharacteristic of how the game played.

Which shouldn't be a surprise.

Because according to p.80 (and Mark), it's a misinterpretation. Just like my earlier misinterpretation regarding variable augments.

Does that mean I wasn't having fun in Mike's game? Certainly not.

Does that mean Mike has to *change* the way he runs his game? Hell no. That never even entered the conversation.

What has entered the conversation, however, is a sense that I must *defend* my position on this. That I'm incapable of following my own position on PC-augmenting without reprisal.

As far as I'm concerned, Mark's point above ends the discussion. Because if the initial premise is untrue ("PCs can auto-augment each other without suffering penalties for failure") then none of what follows holds either. That's a tidy ending, IMO.

What is discouraging to me, though, is that YGMV seems to have all but disappeared. There was no one who was willing (except maybe Mark) to look at what I was saying and address the salient points that I listed above. Most just digressed into either "you can't game HeroQuest, it's not right", "this is how you keep players from gaming HeroQuest" or "just don't play with those type of people".

None of which addressed my points about PC augmenting.

I'm not worked up. I'm not mad, frustrated, insulted or anything 
really. I am dismayed, however, that there was no voice 
saying: "Sounds OK to me, dude, run it how you want" or "I see what 
you're saying, but you might want to try this". It's astounding to me that if I found "auto-augments among PCs with no penalties for failure" uncharacteristic of the rest of the rules or open to potential abuse that I find myself debating whether or not people abuse systems (which is kind of a given, right?) rather than how to address the issue I raised. This discussion has left me with a sense that if I don't do things Mike's way then I'm just not a part of whatever's going on here.

That's pretty scary, IMO. Maybe I wasn't making my points clearly enough? Maybe I'm still not.

Thanks again to Mark, for giving clarity to this issue and restoring my fanboy adulation in HQ. I will still be passing out copies of HQgeneric  at bus-stops thoroughout the continental US. I'm also eagerly awaiting Mythic Russia.

I'm relieved that Mike (and others') interpretations of PCs augmenting each other isn't supported in the corebook. It saves me some concern (and braincramps) over how I would address the issue or the secondary issues that may (or likely) would develop over the long haul, according to my experiences within the gamer community.

I will still plan to participate in Mike's game, however, even with his augment rule tweak in place. The game is fun and it hasn't come up as an issue. Besides, it was NEVER a topic of discussion for him to change how he plays or runs.

For my own games, I'll follow the rules as written (and pointed out by Mark). No sense in fixing something that's not broken...


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