Further deconstruction of Resistance Rolls/Saving Throws.

I wanted to touch upon the subject of Resistance Rolls again, after a couple of discussion HERE & HERE and over at the FORUMS.

To start off, my “Deconstruction” articles are about stepping outside the box, and YOUR mental model built over 30+ years (based on the average age of the blog participants).

The basis for RR/Saving Throws were built out out of early war game mechanics. But even now they are so built into RPG systems that it’s hard not to use them in any future iteration. Let’s try?

Unless you want a early rpg “hand wave” mechanism to allow a player to avoid a mortal result (which can be dealt with via fate points) than we should apply a realistic approach to saving throws? ie verisimilitude.

So what should a character be allowed to save against? Should RR/ST be level based? Can we identify what certain types of attacks would require a “save”?

Physical biological attacks. Poison/disease/nano-particles/etc. Obviously this is a real, physical attack. It seems clear that a “constitution”, “hardiness”, “toughness” factor be applied to that.

Surprise/Dis-orientation. Most RPG’s treat these differently, but the ability to maintain clarity in quick, off-setting, or dis-orienting circumstances are separate from other abilities. Should there be a RR vs. Stun or other dis-orienting factors? Rolemaster places importance on stuns in it’s critical results; but it also can be a game changer. Should there be a RR vs. Stun given it’s impact on combat?

Physical Trauma. If you want a less specific game play, than a roll vs. shock might work. Is that constitution, endurance, will power or something else?

Mind Manipulation. Whether a sleep spell, mind reading or other than “will” comes into play. I think its reasonable to set up a “war of wills” for mind intrusion whether that is mind reading, patterning, charm or other types of personality or mental influence.

Unwanted physical manipulation. Do you “resist” spells or other actions that change your body or physical being? Is that the same as a mind/will resistance or should it be a physical or physical trauma attack?

These are the basic “resistance” situations in my game. Make an argument for more other others!

Saturday Whiskey Thoughts: Umwelt and fantasy roleplaying.

A recent article in The Atlantic, which is worth reading for it’s implications on bio-enchancement also mentioned a concept I hadn’t thought about in a while: the Umwelt. While the concept of umwelt is much more nuanced, in general it’s how the world is perceived by a specific organism. I wanted to comment on this from two roleplaying perspectives: the macro and micro.

Umwelt in the macro. Isn’t one of the foundations of roleplaying subverting our umwelt? Instead of changing how we perceive the world, we change the world we perceive by imagining a different setting with different rules (magic) and even formal reality (physics). Part of the enjoyment, for me at least, is the challenge of taking players out of the mundane or understood and presenting them with a new reality.

Umwelt in the micro. Conversely, we are also changing our umwelt by playing characters that are able to perceive the world different. Whether that is a Dwarf that can use infravision, an Elf with a keen sense of hearing or vision or a caster that can use a spell that allows them to see through stone. All of these are changes or expansion of our normal human-bound umwelt environment. Digging even deeper, we often look for motivations both physical and psychological to help us roleplay a character. Perhaps there is no better example than those damn Elves! Immortal, immune to disease and often with ethereal powers or auras, it’s a standard trope that Elves have a very different umwelt than humans. They just view the world in a completely different way–and as players we try to understand Elven umwelt to guide our roleplaying. It isn’t easy to play something that you can’t intrinsically understand, and I generally don’t allow players to choose “High Elves” as their race.

For whatever reason, this reminds me of Descartes’ thoughts on formal and objective reality:
The nature of an idea is such that of itself it requires no formal reality except what it derives from my thought, of which it is a mode. But in order for a given idea to contain such and such objective reality, it must surely derive it from some cause which contains at least as much formal reality as there is objective reality in the idea.”

While Descartes was arguing that any thought must be based in part in some formal reality (what is real) and was the basis for his argument for the existing of God, I think roleplayers are masters of creating and experiencing objective reality, and umwelt is the lense in which our characters experience it. That’s pretty cool and maybe the underlying, powerful allure of roleplaying?

Today’s whiskey thoughts are brought to you by Rip Van Winkle.

Inherent benefits of religions in Shadow World?

One of the ideas I’ve been playing around with are bestowed abilities from a characters God. Channeling spells are already premised on the idea that a God imparts powers to a Priest; and we use a mechanism called “Invocation” that allows a player to beseech their god for aid but I’m thinking of something different from those.

The idea is that a player (or Priest only) receives a part of their God’s aspect. Maybe this happens at a certain level or some other benchmark but the ability is imbued in the player and reflects their God’s nature. A Priest of a God of Luck might get a bonus to RR’s. A follower of a God of Fire gets a bonus vs Fire attacks, or is immune to natural heat and fire.

Of course many of these abilities are already encoded in Spell Law or BASiL, so it might be cool to think outside the box and have a power that isn’t already a spell. Since I already wrote specific spell lists for all the Shadow World gods, I’m finding it difficult to come up with some other inherent benefit. I’m also hesitant to grant powers at certain levels: this smacks of AD&D and I try to make my game as level-less as possible.

One method I may employ is imparting a benefit to any player (not just Priests) based on their ranks in the “Prayer” skill. I already use the Prayer skill for the SCR, Invocation and a general proxy for “religiosity” so using it as a measure for a god imparted bennie works as well. The rational being that as a player dedicates themselves to their god (measured by Prayer) they are able to tap into or connect in a way that transfers some base power.

Because religion & gods are inextricably linked to fantasy RPG’s, spell casting and Shadow World, I put a lot of energy into building it into the game play. I was recently re-watching Game of Thrones and liked how the followers of the Lord of Light were able to ignite their weapons in combat. That adds atmosphere to the game! I’m going through the various Orhanian Gods and trying to come up with an appropriate ability. I’m not worried about balance; some Gods may not impart anything while others may offer frivolous abilities (followers of Kieron can cleanse themselves from alcohol/drunkeness ).

If you have any ideas for the Orhanian gods, please comment!