Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How to be Smert! (part 1)

Err. Smart!

Okay, things have been hectic here at the Nerve Center. I've been doing Wanton Wicked Chat, Gearing up for a friends Aberrant Game. Running My own larp, trying to manage a couple of trips out of town to do some Cam larps, and fiddling around with the Mage MET playtest. (I think we did some good work on it.)

But percolating in the back of my head have been some random tips that don't seem to have a home in a larger document. Rather than go any longer without posting any of it, i thought i'd throw it under the rubric of some basic tactic and smart tips to use in play or in GMing.

Stress Statting
This is an idea that i came up with to explain and work around certain disparities in what people can do and know in real life as opposed to what they can do and know in a game world. We've all seen people in larps or Tabletop that seem to have a certain social acumen that they can lean into at any time, even though none of that is reflected on their sheet. I have a character in one of my games, that is Eidetic, and has read multiple books on the occult, can discourse knowledgeably about this material in casual conversation and has zero dots of Occult.
The basic premise of the idea of stress statting is that statistics on a characters sheet only delineate what the character can do while in a stressful situation. For instance, to use a real world example. I am a professional actor, when i step on a stage, even in the face of a potentially hostile crowd, i have enough experience to command a good 4 dots of Expression when i bust out.
On the other hand, while i might be able to play my guitar in my room, or at a party where i am liquored up, with a certain degree of skill. If you put me in front of a group of people to play, my skill is going to drop to 1 dot at best. Do you see what i'm getting at?
Take the example of the guy with social skills playing a character with no dots. Do you have to follow him around and bust his balls each time he opens his mouth? certainly not. His character may be totally sauve while speaking one on one.
But put him in front of a bunch of other PC's or in front of a powerful NPC, and that's where the pressure is on, right?
In the example above, of my character, with no Occult dots, i basically rationalize that as knowledge without practical experience and a total lack of understanding or practice in term of controlling occult powers. Although, in play i've had some experience with the occult and i'm thinking i ought to raise it up some to reflect this.

The Reserve List
This is basically a contract between you and your GM that states what you think your character would have as part of his or her make-up despite what the rules might say about such things. Rules systems can be remarkably frustrating in terms of creating people that are as well rounded and multi-layered as real people. To help with this disparity, i have found that on occasion it's useful to talk with my GM about what sort of skills and abilities that i think would be right for my character even though i can't afford them at creation. At times, if it's a skill or ability that is narrow and has no real bearing on things i'm inclined to give you extra points and maybe a specialty in dutch expressionist painters for free.
If it's something that might be useful in play i might consider point debt. I might allow you to purchase it later without making you go through any kind of rigamarole (He actually had the skill, but now has the dots to back it up,) I might consider that the character's stress stat has gone up. (He always played the guitar, it's just now he's good enough at it that he's confident in a room full of people.) Or even the possibility that it's an old skill that he's just now "Dusting off" (Combat skills are perfect for this, many of them are frangible and degrade if not practiced.)
In this way, you can sort of give the ST an idea of what the fully rounded character looks like even if you don't have the dots yet to flesh it out.

The Methodical Approach to Power
I am constantly surprised and occasionally appauled at the number of people who play in roleplaying games that have no earthly idea of how their powers work. Maybe i'm atypical, but if you hand me a set of powers, especially powers that i'm unfamiliar with, the first thing i want to do is sit down and try to think up and list each and every single thing that that power can do. It saves me some effort of trying to think up what it can do while someone is trying to kill me. It saves my GM some effort if i've approached my GM at some point and asked him, "Okay, this power does this thing...Can i use it to do this, this and THIS?"
I'm serious, if you're a Mage, especially a Forces mage and you don't do this, you are asking to be killed. Make a list. every speck of thinking you do now saves you later when the pressure is on.


Post a Comment

<< Home