Story Aspect Basics

Talk about any rules that don't directly fall under personal combat
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higgins
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Story Aspect Basics

Post by higgins » 05 Jun 2014, 08:37

Marras wrote:Are Story Aspect points something like Fate points in FATE?
Short answer? Yes and no.

Long answer?

Basically, let's say that a character has a Story Aspect called "All McGregors deserve to rot in hell" which is rated at 3 (with a maximum of 5).

When at any point characters acts in accordance with that SA, such as making sure McGregors lose a land dispute, they receive three bonus dice for all their actions. Regardless of whether they succeed or not, by acting upon that belief, the character receives an SA point, bringing the SA rating to 4, and they get four extra dice the next time.

Also, the wording of the SA essentially says to the Narrator: "I as a player wan my character to deal with McGregors. My character wants them to rot in hell. Make sure to put him in situations where I can act upon that."

The character can, and indeed must, have more than one SA.

Say, the other SA is to "Build a cathedral for St. Guinefort" rated at 2.

That second SA essentially says to the Narrator: "While I as a player probably didn't envision it like this, please make the McGregors a skillful clan of masons and builders whom my character needs to rely upon while pursuing this dream. Juggling these two often contradictory goals will make some good drama and blood will flow on the ornate church floor."

When you add Flaws to the mix, then characters can receive more SA points by acting upon their Flaws, or need to pay up in SA points when they want to ignore their Flaws.

BUT in addition, the SA points can be burned for narrative tasks such as establishing that there's a sword on above the chimney or to say "I know we didn't mention this, but of course we brought the rope" or reducing a lethal wound to a merely crippling one (my playtest game has that last one levered out for tone and feel). There's a lot of cool stuff to burn SAs on.

And also, for purely non-essential, tertiary purpose, the SAs can be burned to improve the character's skills, attributes, etc.

So, there are some parallels with FATE, but there's much more to it than that. :)
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by Marras » 06 Jun 2014, 04:32

Looks promising.

So, if SA applies to a situation, you can add all the extra dice to all actions that further that SA? You don't have to split it between rolls or anything?

How do you burn SAs to have that rope after all or improve a skill? Do you just decide what SA to lower to get that benefit or am I missing something?

Please note that I am not that familiar with TROS (I don't even know if it has a similar system or not) as I have not yet found it from my cellar :(
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by higgins » 06 Jun 2014, 05:43

Marras wrote:So, if SA applies to a situation, you can add all the extra dice to all actions that further that SA?
Correct. This is one of the reasons you want to avoid random fights and pick the ones you care about.
Marras wrote:You don't have to split it between rolls or anything?
The bonus simply adds to your pool. If it adds three, then it's +3 dice regardless of whether the pool has to be divided or not. It's slightly disproportionate, but we haven't found this to be a problem.
Marras wrote:How do you burn SAs to have that rope after all or improve a skill? Do you just decide what SA to lower to get that benefit or am I missing something?
Yes, you get to choose which ones to lower. Similarly, if you get SA points via Flaws, you get to choose where to add them.

It is also important to note that the SA value has no bearing on how important the issue is to the character. If a character has a dilemma between an SA with 1 point in it and an SA with 4 points in it, there's no encouragement for the player to act towards the higher rated one. These numbers don't represent the strength of conviction, bus just the mental resolve available at the time.
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by Daeruin » 08 Jun 2014, 00:44

Sounds like the main difference with TROS is having Flaws grant SA points. I love that you've given a motivation for actually using Flaws. It's perfect.
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by higgins » 08 Jun 2014, 03:29

Plus, because of Temptation mechanic, it is really easy for other players to offer up their own SA points as payment if they want to take advantage of someone else's Flaw... if that kind of play is your cup of tea.

The one that pays it, gets to define the specifics of the action, etc.

Or you can leave that power solely into the hands of the GM. Totally up to the individual group. :)
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by Daeruin » 08 Jun 2014, 22:59

Could you also describe the Temptation mechanic for us? I think I understand based on the few times you mentioned it, but I'm not sure.
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by Marras » 09 Jun 2014, 02:43

higgins wrote: It is also important to note that the SA value has no bearing on how important the issue is to the character. If a character has a dilemma between an SA with 1 point in it and an SA with 4 points in it, there's no encouragement for the player to act towards the higher rated one. These numbers don't represent the strength of conviction, bus just the mental resolve available at the time.
But if you pick the SA of value 1 you get to benefit from only one bonus die instead of 4 bonus die, so I can see that most players would choose that SA with higher value.

I suppose you can fire only one SA at a time?
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by Agamemnon » 09 Jun 2014, 03:49

Marras wrote:
higgins wrote: It is also important to note that the SA value has no bearing on how important the issue is to the character. If a character has a dilemma between an SA with 1 point in it and an SA with 4 points in it, there's no encouragement for the player to act towards the higher rated one. These numbers don't represent the strength of conviction, bus just the mental resolve available at the time.
But if you pick the SA of value 1 you get to benefit from only one bonus die instead of 4 bonus die, so I can see that most players would choose that SA with higher value.

I suppose you can fire only one SA at a time?
By default, it is only one at a time. However, one of the Levers already on the books is basically "Use as many SAs as apply." Can't remember the name off of the top of my head.

That said, the thing you have to remember about SAs is that they are very fluid by nature. You might have Reclaim my throne at 4 and Prove my innocence at 2 and find yourself in a situation where both would apply to a scene. Which one you choose to use has a surprising level of tactical consideration.

If it's an important scene, you could and probably will use Reclaim my throne that time, but once you do, it's now at 5 and you can only have a maximum of 5 points in any given SA at any given time. So you can hold onto that and use it, but then you're wasting the opportunity to earn more SA points. Once it hits 5, the temptation is to burn it down so it can continue earning -- for Karma, if nothing else. Since one of the more popular choices for SA expenditure is character advancement, there's a decent chance you'll have spent that SA significantly under the 4 it was prior.

On the other hand, if it's only a minor conflict, it may actually be smarter to use the SA with fewer dice. Prove my innocence is only at 2 for this scene, but using it will improve it to 3 and you will still have that 4 dice bonus to cash in on a more important scene later.

SA management becomes an interesting kind of mini-game in and of itself, if done correctly. The more gamist of players is going to try to keep their SAs balanced and as equally high as they can manage, which will frequently mean playing the lesser SAs over the higher ones in order to avoid capping them out.

The neat side effect is when the scene calls for opposing SAs, and letting one fire or the other requires the player to make an action that chooses the side. Then you have a whole other layer of drama - does the player make their character do the thing with the biggest bonus, or the smaller bonus that allows them to further accrue SAs? What if this choice is actually different than what the player themselves would prefer the character do? Incentive makes for some interesting and difficult choices.
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by higgins » 09 Jun 2014, 16:31

Agamemnon nails the mechanical aspects, but there's also a much more mundane, human side to it. As in... would you prefer to clear your name before you claim the throne, or afterwards?

Regardless of game mechanics, the first would probably mean that the smallfolk would perceive the character as a hero that cleared his name when on the run and then won the throne... and doing it the other way around could mean that your character would be seen as a villain who claimed the throne and then used his newly gained influence and coin to erase his rotten past.
Daeruin wrote:Could you also describe the Temptation mechanic for us? I think I understand based on the few times you mentioned it, but I'm not sure.
http://www.grandheresy.com/blog/2014/1/ ... er-4-flaws

It's an older write up, but Temptation is basically the "major" effect. Now we've defined that mechanic as Temptation and simply say that the major flaw is subject to it.
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by Marras » 12 Jun 2014, 17:02

Sounds really promising as it is not a "free" bonus but to benefit from it, you have to roleplay it out to, too.
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by Marras » 27 Mar 2015, 17:52

So, the bonus provided by the SA is in effect for the whole scene, right? Not just for a single round or skill check?

Every time SA is fired it will rise to a next level unless it is already at level 5. I still don't understand why you don't want to raise it to level 5 except that it won't raise any further. It still provides a bonus of , right?
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by higgins » 28 Mar 2015, 16:11

Marras wrote:So, the bonus provided by the SA is in effect for the whole scene, right? Not just for a single round or skill check?
Yes.
Marras wrote:Every time SA is fired it will rise to a next level unless it is already at level 5. I still don't understand why you don't want to raise it to level 5 except that it won't raise any further. It still provides a bonus of , right?
The hook is that you can burn, a.k.a. permanently spend SA points to achieve narrative effects, or even advance your character's skills, proficiencies, etc. So, if you are fine scrapping both those things in favor of having more extra dice in your SA moments, sure, you can do that.
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by Agamemnon » 28 Mar 2015, 16:42

I'd add that it isn't necessarily every time it's "Fired" in the sense that it provided a bonus to a die roll. Your SA grows on a scene-by-scene basis, so using the same SA on five rolls within a scene only still gives you the one increase.

In addition, an SA does not necessarily require a roll of some kind to be invoked before you reap its benefits.

An SA increases for any scene in which one of the following is true:
1) Through the player's actions in the scene, they have done something to further progress towards that SA, particularly if the SA is phrased as a goal (Win Lady MacCleod's hand)
2) The player's SA has come up as part of a conflict, and they have gained bonus dice for it. (Defending lady' MacCleod's honor, your dice fire for a duel)
or
3) The player chooses to act in accordance with that SA in a situation that creates a future conflict, complication, or incurs great personal cost (You are offered a substantial reward by a powerful figure for information that you know would be damaging to the MacCleod's, including your lady love. You turn it down based on your SA, and in the process not only don't get the reward, but potentially make an enemy)
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by Marras » 28 Mar 2015, 19:06

Thanks for clarifying how SAs fire and how they can be used!

I didn't mean that burning SA is something I don't understand, on the contrary. What I still don't understand is why raising level 4 SA to level 5 is less beneficial than raising level 2 SA to level 3. Both can be burned and if they will probably come up about as often, what's the catch?
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Re: Story Aspect Basics

Post by Agamemnon » 28 Mar 2015, 23:39

Marras wrote:Thanks for clarifying how SAs fire and how they can be used!

I didn't mean that burning SA is something I don't understand, on the contrary. What I still don't understand is why raising level 4 SA to level 5 is less beneficial than raising level 2 SA to level 3. Both can be burned and if they will probably come up about as often, what's the catch?
We've actually decided to go forward with shifting things a bit.

At one point, it was just +1 point per scene no matter what with no real risks involved. We have recently changed it back to the way we originally wrote it, which is something like:

+1 for a scene above in which you tried a thing. +2 if you were in conflict, made significant progress, or so on and succeeded. So if you're fighting for your Lady's honor and win it's worth two points instead of one.

On the other hand, if you act against your SA (say, allowing a challenge to her honor go unchallenged, aiding her enemies, etc) you can actually lose a point of SA.

So why is this important?

You can sit on your sweet 5 points of SA bonus. There's nothing wrong with that. The problem is that every time it would have kicked in (and you benefit from it) you would have earned another point or two. But now you won't, because you're SA is full. You're effectively letting 1-2 points go off into the abyss. 2 points that you could have spent on anything from advancement to narrative effects or some of the other cool things SA points can be burnt for.

You're also missing out on Karma. For every point you burn, you gain another point of karma that actually counts towards your creation of the next character in the same campaign.

So when your character is disemboweled in session 10 or something and dies, the total SA points he spent/burnt count towards the creation of your next character - giving them more points to spend at character creation, making them more powerful and so on. It's a kind of consolation prize for the fact that in a system like this, death is always just around the corner.

So yeah, there's nothing at all stopping you from maxing out all of your SAs and just sitting on them, but you effectively create a static character at that point and just begin wasting all of the sweet advancements, effects, and karma-gains you could be making along the way. It might be an advantage in the shortest of terms, but given that you should be earning anything from 3-5 SA points (or more, if you're playing up Flaws and other nonsense) per session, it's a lot of lost opportunity.
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Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: "Now it’s complete because it’s ended here."
Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib, the Princess Irulan
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