2009-07-15 : Abstract Actions in Rock of Tahamaat
Bwian asked about abstract actions down here and I think it'll make a fun example.
This is about resolving the actions of characters who are not Rock of Tahamaat. Please read up on the rules, here; scroll down to RESOLUTION - Characters' Actions, not Rock of Tahamaat's.
For our example abstract action, let's use Bwian's "I climb the social ladder," and let's use my character, Iana of the Family Lark.
In Rock of Tahamaat, as in every functional fictional form, nothing happens outside of a scene. A player never just announces "I climb the social ladder" without the character first being somewhere, in some circumstance. So let's suppose a scene where "I climb the social ladder" is a reasonable thing for the player to say.
The Family Lark is in turmoil. Rock of Tahamaat's enforcers have been arresting them, apparently without plan or reason. Some get released after brief, polite questioning, some disappear forever, some turn up after a few days dazed and drugged and bearing wounds from their questioning. Some of the Family Lark have gone into hiding, others are proudly going about their business-as-usual, most don't know what to do.
Iana isn't on Joron, the Family Lark's native planetoid, she's in the magistrate's city on Bheto, so she's doesn't think herself in immediate danger. She's at the magistrate's annual dinner-reception-fancy dress ball-circus-orgy; as a scion of the Family Lark she's entitled to attend, and to eat, although she isn't entitled to approach the stage beyond the blue sashing or participate in the circus-orgy herself. ("That's fine, believe me," her player says.)
"There you are!" I say. "The circus-orgy is underway, you can ... hear it. You've eaten. Out here at the third-seating tables, the brandy is watered, the crustaceans are overcooked, and the salad herbs were arranged upon your plate with bare perfunction. You're here amongst your peers and your just-betters. What do you do?"
"I climb the social ladder."
It's not super concrete, but it's obviously an action that'll bring her into conflict with other characters. So let's go with it and see what happens.
First, I have Iana's player roll for "I'm craven," let's say 3 dice. Her high die's a 6, so yes, Iana starts to climb the social ladder. "Cool," I say. "You start to climb the social ladder."
Now I have to judge. Is Iana attacking someone, blocking someone, exposing herself to personal danger, exposing herself to impersonal danger, or none? I get to ask her player questions until I can judge, and right now I just don't know. "So, like, what are you doing?" I say. "You talk to somebody?"
"Oh you know," says Iana's player. "I leave the third-seating tables and go casually among the second-seating tables. I'm looking for somebody likely, somebody obviously connected, but maybe bored by the event-"
"Sure," I say. "A young man, handsome and very well-dressed, surrounded by people clamoring for his attention but trying not to seem desperate. He's ignoring the circus-orgy, picking over the carcass of his crustacean with his crustacean-needle. Like him?"
"Perfect," she says. "I wait for an opening and sit next to him."
"Do that, you'll be cutting in line," I say. "There's obviously a pecking order. Now and then he'll even glance at one, and they all practically swoon. You want to cut in?"
"Yeah. Screw them."
Perfect! Iana's blocking someone, preventing this guy and his friends from doing their accustomed thing. "Roll for 'I'm desperate,'" I say. (You can see what's happened. By asking Iana's player for more information, I've led her to tell me a concrete action instead of an abstract action.)
So she rolls 2 dice for "I'm desperate" and gets a 4, for a sum of 10.
If she'd gotten a 1, for a sum of 7, something would interrupt Iana's action. I think I'd've gone with "knocked down," and brought out the nasty side of these sycophants. But she got a 10, which means that Iana does her action uninterrupted, and it's time for me to choose possible effects.
"Cool, you cut in," I say. "He glances at you with a fleeting moment's hope that you'll say something interesting. What do you do?" I need to know this before I can choose effects.
"This guy's an ass," Iana's player says. "I look just as bored as he does, and I say to him, 'I recognize you. Your mother - she's the sprong-clown on stage, isn't she?'"
Oh baby. NOW I can choose effects. I know that she's hoping to climb the social ladder, so that's how I'll choose my best-good-worst. Accordingly: at best, she'll overawe him. Good, she'll put him off course. At worst, she'll be left culpable.
Since she might not kill or hurt anyone, I say "roll for 'I'm craven.'" She rolls her 3 dice and gets another 6, for a sum of 16. The good effect comes true: she puts him off course.
"His mouth falls open," I say. "He stares at you, and all his friends draw back, wondering what will happen. You have a few beats before they regather themselves."
That's the end of this action's resolution; we've resolved Iana's intent into concrete action, and into the action's final effect. So I mark the transition out of resolution as I generally do: "what do you do?"
1. On 2009-07-16, Bwian said:
2. On 2009-07-16, Vincent said:
3. On 2009-07-16, Roger said:
4. On 2009-07-16, Vincent said:
5. On 2009-07-16, Vincent said:
6. On 2009-07-16, Roger said:
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8. On 2009-07-17, Carsten said:
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