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Author Topic: [Notebook] Mass(ter)craft 2nd ed: Getting the ball rolling  (Read 6999 times)
Bill Whitmore
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« Reply #30 on: May 11, 2012, 12:23:34 PM »

nothing ruins insanity in a game faster than using rules to define and regulate it

Really? 6 editions of Call of Cthulhu disgree with you, quite vigorously!

And yet, of the half dozen or so times I have played it, the only good CoC game I have played pretty much ignored the insanity rules.
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« Reply #31 on: May 11, 2012, 02:46:48 PM »

And yet, of the half dozen or so times I have played it, the only good CoC game I have played pretty much ignored the insanity rules.

They worked pretty well for me for about 20 years or so.
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« Reply #32 on: May 11, 2012, 04:04:34 PM »

And yet, of the half dozen or so times I have played it, the only good CoC game I have played pretty much ignored the insanity rules.

They worked pretty well for me for about 20 years or so.

I know some people like it but I definitely don't and I can tell you precisely what I don't like about it.

As a player in a game I have exactly 1 character I control and I hate losing control of that character for any reason.  If I can't even dictate the actions of my 1 character, I may as well leave the table and watch a movie or something.  If I am not going to be able to control anything that goes on in the story I may as well do it through a more visually stimulating medium.*

Now, it is inevitable that it will happen from time to time.  I'll occasionally get knocked unconscious in a fight, fail a saving throw against a charm effect, get grappled by someone I couldn't possibly beat in a grapple, etc.  I get that.  But all of those are pretty temporary, lasting a few rounds or maybe an evening at worst.

But CoC has a core system that pervades the entirety of play that basically limits what actions I can take.  What's worse is it seems to punish players for taking the most interesting actions.  If you hear something scratching in a closet, your best bet is to walk away and forget you ever heard anything...unless you like going insane for some reason.  The system doesn't say "Wow, you did something interesting.  Here, have an Action Die."  Instead it says "Huh, that was dumb.  Looks like your f***** now."

The unfortunate thing is, I really do like the setting.  I loved Dark Corners of the Earth and I thought their depiction of insanity was well done.  It was interesting without being debilitating.

To be fair, I have only played CoC at conventions and convention games are notorious for their lethality.  Most of those games, I wasn't a investigator, since I couldn't really investigate anything, but rather I was a Supernatural Psychic Punching Bag(TM).  The one game where the sanity rules was ignored was the one game we really got a chance to explore and investigate what was happening, the one time the game had a payoff other than, "Well, looks like you are all bat-shit insane now", the one time the story was creepifying not because the game system said it was creepifying, but because we had a chance to actually find out what was actually out there to be creepified about.


* Note: I had a similar problem with OWoD Dominate.  I would not play a character with less than 10 Willpower in that game.
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« Reply #33 on: May 11, 2012, 04:30:17 PM »

Considering it's nature, Eclipse's Phase's concepts for the Exsurgence virus fit Indoctrination very well.

Basically you could treat it like a disease with Will in play instead of Fort. As the PC subcomes to the effects, you let him know. If he plays the subtle shift to agent or adjunct well he gets action dice and subplots. If he's not playing it up, then accelerate the process and make the PC a NPC.

Obviously, not only is indoctrination of PCs not something for all groups, it's also not something for every player. Some won't like the entire thought, some will find it a cool RP opportunity, etc. Even in the same group.
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« Reply #34 on: May 11, 2012, 05:03:12 PM »

The problem isn't that you could lose control of your character.  That's no worse than dying, it happens, it sucks, and the game goes on.  The problem is that it's supposed to be something the character isn't aware of.  And if the character is somehow aware, they shouldn't be able to have any sort of perspective of it.  But with a mechanic thrown in, the player is not just aware, but also well informed.  The player knows that he has X sanity points left, or has X% chance to make the next will save.  And now, possessing this very important and very detailed knowledge, the player is supposed to forget all that and play the character who does not know.  At best, this ruins whatever immersion or association the player had with the character.  At worst, it results in rampant meta-gaming.

I don't play CoC, precisely because sanity systems suck all the fun out of things.  If after making a mysterious will save my GM were to tell me that my character was now at the first stage of indoctrination, I would just hand him the character sheet and start rolling up a new character.  On the other hand, if my GM just decides that my character is being indoctrinated, and so hands me a note that says "something about the prothean artifact bothers you, and you feel it would be dangerous to activate", then now I'm interested.  And if after a few adventures of this, my GM hands me a note that says "you've been indoctrinated, that's what all the notes were about", that would be super cool and I would happily play out the scene before starting to roll up a new character.
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« Reply #35 on: May 11, 2012, 05:16:55 PM »

How's about we just agree to disagree due to reasons of diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks, and take advantage of the fact that Mastercraft's a toolbox system? Making it a subsystem with few hard links to the rest of the mechanics should, I hope, be satisfactory for both sides?
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« Reply #36 on: May 11, 2012, 06:37:31 PM »

Full disclosure here, I have never played Mass Effect so all I know about "indoctrination" is what I have gleaned from the context of this discussion.  Everything I posted above was purely about my opinion of CoC's insanity system.

As for likening losing control of character to dying, sure, I can see that, so long as creating a new character is an option.  As stated above, my CoC experience is from conventions where that is rarely an option.  Also, a system that seems designed to perpetually remove free-will, even with a new character, isn't something I am really interested in playing, any more than I would be interested in a game that was designed to kill you every other session.
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« Reply #37 on: May 11, 2012, 06:42:33 PM »

Indoctrination is a sort of hard core brainwashing that happens just by being in close proximity to the Reapers.  CoC insanity is an apt analogy, and it's what I had in mind when I brought up insanity  systems in the first place.
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« Reply #38 on: May 11, 2012, 06:59:21 PM »

Also note that person-remaining-useful Indocrination requires long term exposure to Reaper artifacts.

And I don't particularly like the idea of or want my character to die; character death/NPC conversion/otherwise being removed from the game should only be the result of extreme circumstances or breathtaking stupidity. Indoctrination should not be a mechanical part of the game mod, and is probably best handled as an individual subplot
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« Reply #39 on: May 12, 2012, 01:29:58 AM »

The problem is that it's supposed to be something the character isn't aware of.

And there's the first idea toward sorting this out. The character isn't aware. That doesn't mean that the player isn't aware.

I also agree that indoctrination = death, or the equivalent of, therefore it needs a simple, robust and complete system to handle. It's an integral part of the plot of all 3 games, and a vital part of the Reapers' strategy.

Short of imprisonment and forced brainwashing - under which circumstances they could just put a gun to your head and shoot you anyway - there should always be a chance to walk away from indoctrination.

(click to show/hide)

It makes me think of the process of Taint from Ravenloft. Is anyone familiar with this?
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« Reply #40 on: May 12, 2012, 04:28:00 AM »

Why are we even arguing about this?  Just make it an on/off campaign quality and you're done.

Ex:
Indoctrination (Perminent):  In the ME universe, characters are slowly corrupted by exposure to Reapers and their Artifacts.  You must choose one of the following options before the game begins.

Heroic Resistance:  Your players are big damn heroes with wills of iron, and as such are not likely to fall prey to Indoctrination.  Unless the player chooses to take a Subplot, they are immune to becoming Indoctrinated.

Fragile Minds:  The players are no different to anyone else, and fall prey to mental breakdown as much as anyone else.  Expanded stress, insanity and indroctrination rules are all in play.

Done.  Word it differently and expand on it, by all means.  But that kinda lets everyone have their prefered flavour of cake.

EDIT:  Mr A:  Hanar should have higher swim speed.  The ocean is their natural environment, so being a little better then a human just doesn't cut it.  Your solution is akin to giving a Dolphin a 20ft swim speed because "Hey, that's better then an average human gets".
« Last Edit: May 12, 2012, 04:32:32 AM by Sletchman » Logged
Mister Andersen
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« Reply #41 on: May 12, 2012, 04:52:25 AM »

Look at the hanar's physical form: they not hydrodynamic speedsters, lacking any sort of tail fin to provide extreme motive force. They're not even structured like squid, having a more bulbous jelly-fish-like body. A swim speed of 20 -- which is a lot more than a little bit better than standard human -- is plenty fast for how they're built.
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« Reply #42 on: May 12, 2012, 06:47:19 AM »

Look at the hanar's physical form: they not hydrodynamic speedsters, lacking any sort of tail fin to provide extreme motive force. They're not even structured like squid, having a more bulbous jelly-fish-like body. A swim speed of 20 -- which is a lot more than a little bit better than standard human -- is plenty fast for how they're built.

In the face of your clearly extensive xenobiology knowledge, I have no choice but to retract my argument.  Sure the games very clearly state otherwise, but you have now made it quite obvious that Bioware were simple in error (perhaps because they didn't have the forethrought to hire someone with knowledge of how aliens actually function - someone like yourself, perhaps).

Please, consider me in complete agreement with you.  You have my apologies for having doubted you.
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« Reply #43 on: May 12, 2012, 11:47:22 AM »

Is it worth mentioning that one of Call of Cthulu's central points is that learning more about "the true nature of the cosmos" is a mind breaking event.  Sanity loss is supposed to show the effects of the abyss staring back.

I like that split between our strong minded heroes and fragile minds.

As far as indoctrination "killing" PCs, it is really a metagaming interaction between the player and the GM, and having several options or suggestions for folks to run it is a good idea.
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« Reply #44 on: May 12, 2012, 01:27:31 PM »

Indoctrination (Perminent):  In the ME universe, characters are slowly corrupted by exposure to Reapers and their Artifacts.  You must choose one of the following options before the game begins.

Heroic Resistance:  Your players are big damn heroes with wills of iron, and as such are not likely to fall prey to Indoctrination.  Unless the player chooses to take a Subplot, they are immune to becoming Indoctrinated.

Fragile Minds:  The players are no different to anyone else, and fall prey to mental breakdown as much as anyone else.  Expanded stress, insanity and indroctrination rules are all in play.

Fucking A. Job done.
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