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Last Frontiersman
Last Frontiersman's picture
Spend Danger point to conceal consequences
Unexpected consequences

No one expects the ______________

 

The reddit posting "7th Sea Second Edition and the Tyranny of the Perfectly Expected" goes into a rather looooooooooong discussion of the lost value of the unexpected. I agree with much, how do you get that movie film moment when the Hero thinks they have succeeded, and then look down to find themselves shot or impaled, then the villain laughs takes the shiny thing, and escapes just as the rest of the group rushes in to get their companion to direly needed medical attention?

This situation is much more difficult for the GM when consequences are declared beforehand as part of the mechanic. I do agree in general with declaring consequences, but what is a world without surprises and suspense. So, a rule presented here for public comment.

"The GM may state at the beginning of a Sequence that the Heroes actions may have unintended consequences, and set aside one Danger Point dice, to be reserved to allow the GM to not announce the nature of the consequences of a single Heroes approach until after Raises have been spent.  The approach which is chosen is determined at the time the Danger Point is spent."  

This of course could be a bluff on the GM's part, but knowing that something unexpected might happen. .. just having that dice in reserve looming over the Scene will add the proper excitement, suspense, and overall dramatic potential of the scene.

One danger point per scene is sufficient, more would be excessive although if appropriate the GM could set aside a second drama dice. ..lol Danger Point, but as a condition of the 2nd dice grant each player one Hero Point for the duration of that scene.  One that does not carry on beyond the sequence that is.

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Last Frontiersman
Last Frontiersman's picture

An afterthought, this would have to be used wisely as a GM.  Using it on every scene or even, the "most" of the scenes (grammar play woo-hoo) would negate the value of the dice.  It should only be used when the fun of the players could benefit from uncertainty. 

For example:  A player announces that they are getting kind of bored of winning.  Frankly, that's why most people give up checkers & Tic Tac Toe.  Once you know the solution, the outcome is inevitable.

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

Ok, please forgive my cold-addled state. 

LFM, I gotta ask. Are you coming at this from actual play experience? Are you reading the core book and disagreeing with the theory therein? 

Despite what you may think, presenting the consequences of a Risk does not diminish surprise in the game. Usually, consequences are pretty obvious: the heroes are escaping a burning room, sailing a ship through a storm, sneaking up on a bandit camp, etc. The big difference here is than reactionary results (you failed your roll, so this happens), the GM front loads the possibilities (you suffer X wounds and are cut off from your companions). 

Now, you COULD present everything by the numbers: "as you creep up on the bandit encampment, there are three consequences. How many would you like to by off?" But that doesn't sound very satisfying, does it. And from what we've been told, that's the way things went in playtesting.

But the GM isn't obligated to explain the full extent of a consequence either. "Cut off from your companions" can take on many forms in play. It's okay to be vague as long as a consequence a) does not invalidate the hero's intent or b) doesn't violate trust between the player and GM. Let me unpack that last one a bit. The GM shouldn't play bait and switch with the consequences. So "cut off from your companions" shouldn't mean "all the remaining heroes get hurled into a fiery pit" or similar death trap.

But more importantly, the big surprises and reveals in play are not going to come from consequences (though maybe opportunities). I've surprised my players on numerous occasions by simply subverting their expectations, or taking advantage of their overconfidence, giving them a hard choice when they weren't expecting it. And because of the collaborative nature of play, the players have surprised each other and me too! It's sort of the Apocalypse World principle "play to find out what happens".

So long story short, I think you have created a solution where no problem exists. I don't NEED to spend a Danger Point to hide the consequences because I can already do that as a GM. But doing so also devalues the play experience because it robs players of choice or worse, singles out a "hidden consequence" that the players will generally pounce upon and thus rob you of the effect you are looking for.

Also consider that despite the procedures of a Risk, the heroes' actions during a Risk can create new consequences that weren't outlined at the beginning of a round. Classic example: crossing the rope bridge over a gorge. One of the heroes spends a raise to sever the ropes. This action creates new consequences that ripple through the rest of the Risk.

Ultimately, this all comes back to the initial question: are you currently playing/running the game? Or are you reading the rules? (And seriously, if it's the former, put some of these practices into play and let the rest of us know the results!)

Last Frontiersman
Last Frontiersman's picture

I've played & run 1st edition, although the running was much more briefly..... I mostly run Mage from White Wolf, and Palladium's Rifts.  I noted elsewhere that I was holding off reading my digital copy of the Core Rulebook on the hopes I'd get hard copy on Christmas.  Which, I didn't so I'm reading the new rules and commenting as I go.  Perhaps I'll have to run a few sessions before I truly see how it works.  I got Shadows of War (LOTR) for Christmas anyway so that's fun.

I appreciate your corrections, I hope to run the game once I settle in to the Spring semester at University.

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

I'm not really trying to "correct" you.  A lot of your points in this thread and other were hashed out early on when the game premiered.  If players always succeed at their action, how can you ever create tension in play?  If duelists can chew up 10 brutes a round, how can you ever challenge them?  How am I supposed to come up with XX consequences for every risk to challenge the players?

Turns out, after some consistent play, most of these issues either resolve themselves or become non-issues.  Or the group decides the game isn't a good fit for their style of play and move on to something else (a completely valid choice!).  Players don't always succeed.  Duelists CAN be challenged.  And not every Raise needs to get soaked up by a consequence.  If you are coming at it from a traditionalist standpoint (like I do), the game is going to force you to reconsider a lot of your base assumptions and the way you've been doing things (for the better, I think, in my case).  People coming at it from other narrativist systems (PbtA, FATE) have an easier time adjusting – or so I've heard.  And unfortunately, aside from a handful of standout episodes, there aren't a lot of good Actual Plays that really showcase the different parts of the game.  The closest is the Geek and Sundry Starter Kit season that John Wick recently hosted, and even that plays fast and loose enough with the rules that I wouldn't recommend it as your only example of play (though it is good and easily worth the effort to sign up for the free trial).

So yeah, while it may sound like a bad cliche (Savage Worlds is the same way, BTW), you really owe it to yourself to play a few sessions of the game before you start second guessing the intent of the game.  It isn't perfect (which is why I made my own Chase and Sea Battles rule expansions), but once you start to get the hang of it, it really is a fun game.

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

I've been 'veiling' my Opportunities and Consequences since we started playing and the players prefer it. Like Blu said, you can already do that so I wouldn't add in the Spend a Danger Point. You just have to be vague enough that you aren't giving away the details but clear enough that the players can make meaningful choices.

Some examples:

1) I never say "The consequence is taking 1 Wound/3 Wounds/5 Wounds", I would say "There is a consequence of getting mildly/heavily/severely burned"

2) I never say "The consequence is you get ambushed by 6 brutes", I would say "There is a consequence of being noticed by a group of unsavory types"

3) I never say "The consequence is you lose 1/3/5 Wealth", I would say "There is a consequence you may lose a few/some/much coin"

4) I never say "The opportunity is you will notice that the Princess is flirting with the guard", I would say "There is an opportunity to notice a secret about the Princess"

5) I never say "The opportunity is you can grab the map to the hidden treasure of Prince Villanova", I would say "There is an opportunity to grab a rolled up piece of parchment with some type of official seal on it."

Not a lot of examples but just showing how you can accomplish things while still leaving uncertainly for the players to make choices around.

John

Star West
Star West's picture

I have a major concern with this approach, and I'll get to it a bit further in the post.

In general, based on watching how John Wick himself runs the game, I'd argue that you don't actually need to declare consequences. Stuff can just happen in response to what the Heroes do. Seriously, I don't recall him saying "The consequence" even once during his entire Project Alpha run. I would probably still declare consequences up front if they're obvious (i.e. John's go to of the 'burning room,') but feel free to change things up as you go as long as it is a reasonable result of the heroe's actions and you give them an opportunity to address it (i.e. it's presented as a choice and doesn't unfairly detract from the Hero's accomplishments.)

For example, this is fair:

Clara: "I'm going to swing across the room on the chandelier and land on the opposite balcony. Spends a Raise."

GM: "Okay, but it's going to pull loose on its anchors and come crashing down. The countess is frozen in terror, watching as it comes crashing down on top of her. You can spend a Raise to save her."

Clara: "I only have 1 Raise left...hmmm..."

GM: "If you want, I'll late you take the Raise you spent to land on the opposite balcony and use it to save the countess instead. That'll leave you with one final raise.

Clara: "I turn to salute the musketeers adieu just in time to see the chandelier come crashing down. Without hesitating, I dive to the ballroom floor, grab the countess just in time and safely get her out of the way as the chandelier shatters on ballroom floor. I give the countess a little dip and a smile, "My apologies, please add that to my tab as well."

In general, I would declare consequences up front if it's going to be particularly disasterous, especially if it's something the Hero should reasonably be aware of, as introducing consequences after the fact can cause some really un-fun negotiation that leaves everyone feeling badly. which is my problem with making it "surprise" result of the Hero's action and not caused by someone else in the scene doing something: 

Clara: "'Damn you, Heidleburg. I won't let you escape!' I slash at a line, grab it, and it launches me into the air, and I let go, landing onto the deck of Heidleburg's barque.

GM: "I set aside a Danger Point"

Clara: "A little surprise, huh? Okay, I spend my Raise."

GM: "You launch into the air and land right in front of Heidleburg -- your sword drawn, as the weight of your main gaff comes crashing down on your schooner's main deck. He whimpers--"

Clara: "What?! I think I would know not to slash that line."

GM: "There aren't really many other lines on a schooner that would give you enough lift to launch like that. If you want, you can can spend a Raise to say that it lands in a way that it doesn't damage the schooner. Or you could easily find a different way over to Heidelburg's barque."

Clara: "Really? I'm a goddamn pirate."

GM: "I set aside a Danger Point. I warned you."

Clara: "Yeah, I thought you were going to have me land among a squad of brutes, or drop my sword or something, not completely trash my ship."

At least if the declaration is made up-front and the Player has some sense of the stakes and they go into it with a sense of expectation rather than getting blind-sided after the fact.

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