Questions about sample conflict in “Putting it All Together”
I’ve just reread the sample conflict in Chapter V, in the section titled “Putting it All Together” (which, by the way, I love), and have a few questions:
- Sometimes a player seems to just play destiny beads, and sometimes they ask the GM for permission. How does that work?
- I found it interesting that you could play destiny beads instead of narrating a trait or when narrating a trait. In the latter case, the one narration counts for both the trait and the beads, right?
- How do you decide who narrates success? In the example I see that Elemar’s player narrates the success. How is that decided in practice?
- Shouldn’t the GM have narrated something in that example, too? The players won and none of them spent their death die, so he couldn’t inflict death or a fate worse than death on them, but he should get to narrate something? Or did he simply pass?
- Shade spent two destiny beads in that conflict — shouldn’t he have gotten a lasting circumstance instead of a fleeting circumstance? Also, Jin spent two destiny beads, but seems to have narrated an outcome more than gotten a change to his character (and, does it matter that he spent one bead twice instead of two at once?).
- The GM seemed to be spending doom beads — shouldn’t they have been GM’s beads as specified in Chapter VI in the section titled “The GM’s Beads”?
Hey Peter! I’ll try to answer your questions in order.
In short, as your play group gets more comfortable spending beads, you should see less of the asking and more of the doing. We expect players to just throw down beads without apology or remorse. However, it’s not atypical to have a bit of table talk about it - it just depends on the group.
Again, this comes down to play-style. Some players want to emphasize that they’re using the trait in a particularly dramatic and powerful way (narrating them all-together) and others stretch it out a bit and narrate the beads separately. Either way is fine.
So this may be something not explained very well in the example but is covered in the conflict rules a bit earlier; each person on the winning side narrates something, in order of their own personal role. (Almost always the order doesn’t matter, but that’s how you’d determine.) As well, each person on the losing side narrates something.
We elided the GM narration; it is totally permissible to pass on narrating something. This is something we should’ve stated explicitly, however.
This is entirely my fault - we were in a deep edit panic and I tried to keep track of the conflict in my head while re-writing some of the text. I simply glitched on how many beads Shade had spent. You are correct, you can take a lasting circumstance as a result of spending two destiny. A player may also, if desired, take a smaller circumstance if desired.
It doesn’t matter in what order you spend beads - the circumstances are assessed at the end, so three separate one-point spends will accumulate to a three-point spend. Ergo, when you narrate each spend, make sure to suitably up the ante. Also important: whether your beads count as destiny or doom (per the creeping doom rules) is determined at the end, so if you spend two destiny and the beginning and a doom at the end, you’re suddenly +18 to the roll and, of course, handing the GM a big stick of fun times.
- Again, entirely my fault; the name for the GM beads changed during our last edit pass and it seems we missed this. Thanks for bringing it up; we’ll fix the PDF and get you a new copy soon. :)
Thanks for the response! That helps a lot. I assume that it possible, then, that Jin could have chosen to take no circumstance from the two beads he spent?
I noticed in the Conflict Review on page 43, entry 7 read: “In order, each player narrates what they get beyond stakes.” This is actually the only place where I could find a reference to each player narrating. As I read it, the Resolving a Conflict section in Chapter V doesn’t really say one way or another. But I could easily be missing something. It never ceases to surprise me how many times I can read the same document and still miss the same piece of information.
Reading the Mass Conflict section made me wonder about the something about regular conflict: how do you handle heroes vs moderate numbers of minions? Say the Evil Prince is accompanied by 20 Black Knights. Are they simply part of his consequence? Or can he get a die for each lance (5) of them narrated in, so that they are basically four identical traits? Or would they simply be one trait or even just color?
Re: taking no circumstance: Possible, but not recommended. Often what I’ll do when I have a player who is unable to come up with something is have them hold it in reserve. That way, they might discover what they need later through play. This works more than it has any right to.
Re: narration: Yes, exactly that. We probably should’ve been more explicit, and it’s something you see immediately in one game. Every player gets to narrate something after deciding the stakes.
Re: small-scale mass conflicts: This is also per taste, and somewhat depends on your setting. If you’re borrowing from something like Exalted or Wu-shu, you might not invoke mass combat until the numbers are truly epic.
Here’s several styles of dealing with this:
- Treat the mass of them as one character with traits.
- If there’s a villain in the scene or a liutenant, you can treat the entire mob as a single extra die for that villain. A circumstance of Has Mooks.
- Break out mass combat.
My personal favorite is number 2 - just use an extra die. This makes things simple and keeps the action moving. However, it depends on what else is going on, and there has to be someone to add the circumstance to. If you’re using number 1, you can assign the 20 knights their own set of traits, and just leverage them. But if they’re ALL scary Death Knights of Deathiness, then mass combat is the best way to handle it, and will most likely end in defeat for the characters.
Did that make sense?
That pretty much covers all my questions on this topic — thanks!