Asymmetry between actor and opponent

From: Alexandre Lanciani <alexanl_at_...>
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000 12:37:32 +0200

Tim (and Mikael and Simon and Dave, whose messages I deleted in a raptus of erasing frenzy):

> Alexandre says
> >The two situations seem to me very
> >different, but since the APs that are going to be lost/transferred are
> >the same, the game system does not tell the difference.
> This is as it should be, IMO. Who can say whether one defence is better
> than the other?

        Then why the game system should tell the difference between a risky attack and cautious one and not between a risky defense and a cautious one? While I agree that one can say which tactics is better only after seeing the results (i.e. after rolling the dice), I'm not talking about modifiers. I'm talking about AP, which only measure the risks and the possible rewards of a given action. If you can judge this things for an attack, and factor them in the measure of the "ebb and flow of advantages", as you say below, then why can't you when it comes to defense?

> The Games system is not trying to mimic the mechanical
> process of the combat, but the overall ebb and flow of advantages until
> one character emerges as the victor. Someone (Mikko? I forget)
> suggested that the lack of system effect meant players would not bother
> to describe their defence.

        I think I am the culprit. ;)

> I find that a very false argument, since it
> is describing the actions that you get to see the differences between
> them.

        But only if the game system reflects this difference, otherwise it is not observable in the game reality. Now please don't answer me with a variation on the "but what matters in a RPG is the role-playing, not the roll-playing", but try to see the point I'm clumsily trying to make.

        What I mean is that the mechanics of a RPG, of whatever kind, should represent the reality they are modeling, otherwise they are useless. If I'm concerned only with descriptions I can play a ruleless game. There is nothing wrong in that. But HW is not ruleless. And these rules are used to determine the story flow in a way that is (or should be) consistent with the descriptions. The AP mechanic is great because it allows for many factors which are usually neglected in non-ruleless/diceless systems. It isn't an arcade game's energy bar like D&D's hit points.

        But the APs are supposed to subsume (most of) all the factors that come into play during an exchange. To be more specific, all those factors that are not clear advantages for one side or another (these are parameterized by modifiers/edges). Clearly defense tactics belong to this category, so should be factored into the AP bid. Otherwise the bid does not represent correctly the effort the characters are putting into the contest - rather, it represents only one side's.

        Then the story will be inconsistent as the mechanics that are used to determine its flow fail to consistently track its state. All of your explanations about how you'd differentiate the situations I described are very nifty, but they miss the point, which is: why is there this asymmetry between the actor and the opponent, when everyone is saying that the distinction is just one of simplicity and convenience?



"It's not that we lack the vision, only quick decision.
Who will blame us? Rules restrain us...
It's all in history."

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