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BluSponge
BluSponge's picture
Progress Clocks
idea, dramatic sequence

 

After listening to the last episode of the Fear the Boot podcast, I've become intrigued by the possibilities presented by the Progress Clock mechanic used in John Harper's Blades in the Dark RPG.

Basically, progress clocks are used to track any task that takes more than one action to perform.  Want to seduce the duchess a the ball?  Progress clock.  Research a special alchemical formula?  Progress clock.  It works both ways too.  A progress clock can track failures leading to the guards being alerted while you are trying to steal the charts from your rival's ship.  AND you can have more than one of them running at any given time.

Now 7th Sea already uses something like this buried in the mechanics.  Story steps and Villainous schemes could EASILY be represented by progress clocks.  The whole idea of timed events in action sequences feels like it would map very closely to the way progress clocks can be used as well.

But with all the hand wringing about dramatic sequences, it strikes me that progress clocks might be a missing ingredient that makes the whole thing click that much better.  Consider if your players go into a dramatic sequence with three progress clocks running: 2 related to goals the players have set, and 1 detremental to their goals.  The players have to spend raises to tick off incriments on the two goal clocks as well as spend them to stall the third clock.  Meanwhile, the villain could have his own clock as well.

I don't have much more than that right now.  This is a VERY half baked idea.  But it feels like one more nice tool that could be added to the GM's toolbox to make the game work for him.  I'm considering elements that could give them features ala the "death spiral" (bonus dice, add to danger pool, etc.).

So I thought I'd throw this out there and see where other people take it.

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Alfredo Tarancón
Alfredo Tarancón's picture

There're a few mechanics in BitD that make it a great game, and progress clocks is one of them. It's easy and intuitive. I agree that they can be a nice addition to 7th sea... To a lot of games, actually. But with how 7S2 works, using raises, it seems quite fitting. 

I also love the flashback mechanics, and have been thinking about using them somehow in 7th Sea at some point, for some special adventures...

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

This seems like a visual representation of a mechanic already in 7th Sea?

The "4 Ticks until something happens" sounds like the Consequence or Opportunity that goes away at X Raises?

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

Sure. Like I said, it's already baked in...sorta. What I like is the visual metaphor. Since I play online (roll20) being able to create a visual piece to help emphasize the tension is intriguing to me.

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

Maybe this is something that would make a good Player Mat visualization :)

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

I was thinking laminated cards myself. Or a clo digital approximation.

Kevin Krupp
Kevin Krupp's picture

What I rather like about it is that it helps to address the fact that some things can't be resolved in a single "action" - instead allowing the hero to work towards degrees of something.

"I want to convince King Sandoval to kick the Inquisition out of Castille"

"I want to seduce Queen Elaine"

These simply can't be resolved in a single raise expenditure, so how do we address them in a way that's fair? This progress approach makes a lot of sense. It's also a good way to address DS. Some steps the PCs make will move them towards their stated intent while others are...not...they're essentially opportunities or distractions. By declaring up front "It's going to take 3 raise expenditures to sneak in and get the papers without getting caught" it avoids the GM railroad (I've actually been thinking a lot of DS lately and I think we've got them pegged wrong. I'll get to that some other time.)

I've been prepping to run Exile Game's excellent Hollow Earth Expedition. HEX uses the Ubiquity system, which is a basic success count against target system, but one really great is the "extended actions" mechanic, where something that can't be completed in a single action, such as fixing a car is assigned a target difficulty and a total difficulty. The PC then rolls against the target difficulty and for each sucess they make above the target difficulty they get to count that towards their progress on the total difficulty (e.g. fixing a car is difficulty 2 with a total difficulty 10. PC rolls 6 dice and gets lucky - 5 successes, they exceded the difficulty by 3, so now they only need to make 7 more successes before they've reached the total difficulty. - now it's about time because each progressive roll is them taking X amount longer...time is the commodity they don't have.)

1st Ed 7th Sea had the Repartee System's  Charm, which focused on slowly whittling away a targets willpower. Perhaps we could take a similar approach with the "seduce Elaine" where if Queen Elaine is a Rank 15 NPC, the PCs have to spend 15 raises (or maybe 15 favor wink) in order to succeed in seducing her. Or perhaps the GM establishes a target number of raises based on a combination of NPC rank and the NPC's predisposition (i.e. Elaine would be harder to seduce than say Berek, because Elaine specifically absconds the idea of romance as she's "Married to Avalon" while Berek is more than happy entertain any lovely lady that catches his fancy.) This would be similar to working away a villain's influence...of course I would assume if you have a Villain actively using their influence to control someone (ala Sandoval) in addition to working thorugh the stated difficulty, you'd also have to work through the Influence...this sort of thing is where those Progress Clocks could be very handy.

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

Kevin,

Exactly my thoughts.  It builds nicely on the "one action = success" mechanic to give it more nuance.

I also think it would be a great mechanism for tracking Villain Schemes the players know about (and the ones the players don't).

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
It is not THAT hard to seduce Queen Elaine. Step one is catch her in a night out being escorted by someone like Bors McAllister. Great Knight, boring companion. Pink roses to match the blush of her cheeks, some Montaigne poetry ( who knew?) And a few complements surrounding a plan to ditch "granny black Knight" for an interesting evening. And you are on your way. (Provided you spent a goodly focus on Seduction, appearance, panache, dangerous beauty and built some reputation dice). Now, convincing Bors not to kill you... That takes some extra work.
Kevin Krupp
Kevin Krupp's picture

It is not THAT hard to seduce Queen Elaine. Step one is catch her in a night out being escorted by someone like Bors McAllister. Great Knight, boring companion. Pink roses to match the blush of her cheeks, some Montaigne poetry ( who knew?) And a few complements surrounding a plan to ditch "granny black Knight" for an interesting evening. And you are on your way. (Provided you spent a goodly focus on Seduction, appearance, panache, dangerous beauty and built some reputation dice). Now, convincing Bors not to kill you... That takes some extra work.

Hehe, yeah...that's my favorite "abuse the system by min-maxing" combination:

  • Blessed Beauty (20 HP)
  • Dangerous Beauty (3 HP)
  • Indomitable Will (3 HP)
  • Seduction @ 3 (9 HP)
  • Panache/Wits @3 depending on your GM (16 HP/Trait)

Congratulations on your starting character who rolls 10k7 for Seduction.

And as for Bors...eh, well rolling 10k3 on Oratory (assuming you bought the Courtier Skill to get Seduction as an Advanced Knack) isn't half bad...

Kevin Krupp
Kevin Krupp's picture

Kevin,

Exactly my thoughts.  It builds nicely on the "one action = success" mechanic to give it more nuance.

I also think it would be a great mechanism for tracking Villain Schemes the players know about (and the ones the players don't).

Schemes and Influence...that's something that could use some fun player aids in a similar vein as this...I'll have to think on this a bit and come up with something.

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