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Of Complications And Plot
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Wajeb Deb Kaadeb
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:14 am    Post subject: Of Complications And Plot Reply with quote

I read something recently that I must have forgotten. Page 74 SW R&E, it is suggested that a GM use complications only once or twice and adventure.

Quote:
You should use complications to help tell a more interesting and exciting story. Complications should only happen a couple of times in an adventure — most often during its dramatic conclusion — and should get the players excited and more involved in the game.






This means, for the rest of the time--most of the time--when a "1" is rolled on the Wild Die, the result should either be add up normally or subtract the 1 and the highest die from the total.

I think an easy way to do this is just to look at the total of the throw. If the toss equals an even number, then add up normally. If the toss equals an odd number, then subtract the "1" and the highest.





COMPLICATIONS and PLOT

Something else I read on page 75 of SW R&E got me to thinking....

Quote:
Pushing the Story Along

Notice that Han's stepping on the twig advances the story. Without the scout troops getting away, the Rebels never would have met the Ewoks, who ultimately disrupt the Emperor's carefully laid trap. The Alliance fleet would have been decimated by the Death Star, while the Emperor would
have continued his domination of the galaxy... the fate of the galaxy hinged on Han Solo failing a sneak roll![/b]


If you're only going to use complications a few times in an adventure, a GM can use them to trigger Events in his game.

For example, let's say that you've got an idea to take the adventure in a new direction. The PCs are escaping Hoth base, and you want to introduce a new character to the PCs, the NPC Lando Calrissian, someone from the past of one of the PCs and now Administrator of a gas mining facility on Bespin.

What you've decided is this: The next time the players roll a Wild Die "1" on an Astrogation roll as the PC ship goes into hyperspace, this will indicate a Complication. And, that complication is that the hyperdrive will malfunction. When the players start looking for a place to limp off to using the backup drive, the only port within the limited range of that drive will be Bespin.

Thus, the triggering of the Bespin Event that you have planned happens on a die roll and is somewhat random.





PREPPING COMPLICATIONS

When prepping for an adventure, a GM can look at the flow chart or frame work or plot of his adventure, identifying a few spots in the adventure where interesting complications can occur. He can pre-think some really interesting and involving, maybe plot changing, events that are triggered by these complications. And, he can decide in what parts of the story complications are active--where they will trigger events--and the parts of the story where complications won't happen at all.

Continuing the example above, the GM doesn't want the Bespin Event to happen too early in the game, so it cannot be triggered until after the PCs play the scene in the asteroid belt that the GM has created for the adventure. If "1" on the Wild Die shows up before the asteroid encounter, then the result is either add up normally or subtract the 1 and the highest. Anytime after the asteroid scene, a Wild Die "1" on any Astrogation roll will trigger the Bespin Event.

And, since we're talking about die rolls, there's a good chance that the Bespin Event is not triggered at all. The GM can decide how best to administer this in his game.





COMPLICATONS SUMMARY

-- Complications only occur once or twice in an adventure.

-- A GM can pre-plan some good, interesting complications for use in his game.

-- A GM can use complications to trigger story events or plot changes in his game.

-- Most of the time, a "1" on the Wild Die does not indicate a complication. Instead, the dice should be added normally or have the 1 and the highest die removed from the total of the throw.
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Bren
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Of Complications And Plot Reply with quote

Wajeb Deb Kaadeb wrote:
I read something recently that I must have forgotten. Page 74 SW R&E, it is suggested that a GM use complications only once or twice and adventure.
This formalizes what always seemed to me to be common sense. Complications should only happen occasionally or rarely during play. To do otherwise turns the game into constant slapstick.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wajeb, thanks for posting this. I agree complications should not be overused, and it is good to have some ready. I think the astrogation mishap adventure idea was even suggested in 1e, before they had the wild die. I have done that one for complications.

I'll add that some complications are also just spur-of-the-moment things that often couldn't be thought of in advance. Sometimes the adventure even goes in an unexpected direction for the GM.
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Wajeb Deb Kaadeb
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whill wrote:
I'll add that some complications are also just spur-of-the-moment things that often couldn't be thought of in advance. Sometimes the adventure even goes in an unexpected direction for the GM.


The problem to avoid is players feeling like they are being picked on. For example, near the climax of an adventure, a PC rolls a blaster shot and ends up with a "1" on the Wild Die. The GM decides it is time to implement a complication. The PCs were heading for an air speeder. It was their goal--the way they'd get away from the bad guys and basically end the adventure successfully.

But, the complication is that the shot missed its target (because the attack was not a success), and the bolt slammed into tibanna gas canisters that are in the hangar. Those canisters blow, taking the back wall and the air speeder with it, leading the PCs (they don't know this yet) to another part of the adventure that the GM has devised.

But...the players don't see it like that. What they see is the GM using his power to block their successful escape, because, for the last two game sessions, the GM hasn't once called for a complication.

A GM needs to be mindful that some players may feel this way and resent his call (implementing the complication right then).
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wajeb Deb Kaadeb wrote:
A GM needs to be mindful that some players may feel this way and resent his call (implementing the complication right then).
Those players sound like they are not a good fit for a GM who uses complications. It's an expectation-system mismatch in the same way that players who object to their opponents getting a few sixes on the wild die are not a good fit for using a wild die and that players who object to their PC rolling bad when it matters are not a good fit for playing without character points.
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Wajeb Deb Kaadeb
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My players are like that. They trust me. I doesn't sound like it, I know, but we have few arguments. And, I do a lot of things in secret. I always roll behind the screen--I avoid players knowing a throw if I can help it.

But, the players know that a complication is whim of the GM. And, they're big time roleplayers who get very invested in their characters. So, they're protective.

If there's a roll that indicates a complication, they're OK with that. But, if its a whim, then they feel that the whim could easily go another way or not happen at all.

If I ever use complications again, I think that I'll pre-select what the complications are, determine what roll they'll could happen upon, while I'm prepping the adventure. My players would accept that as it was pre-planned and not a whim of mine to just have something cool happen at the expense of their characters.

The spur-of-the-moment, whim aspect of implementing the complication is what they object to--not the actual complication.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wajeb Deb Kaadeb wrote:
My players are like that. They trust me. I doesn't sound like it, I know, but we have few arguments.
First let me say that I don't know that trust is really the right word to use here. That said, it sounds like your players certainly do trust you to roll fairly even when they can't see the rolls, to run the villains fairly, and to interpret the rules fairly. But they are uncomfortable with you adding in complications on the fly based on your judgement or, as you say your whim. I don't know that this is an issue of lack of trust. It quite likely is an issue of play preference which is why I called that an expectation mismatch.

Quote:
But, if its a whim, then they feel that the whim could easily go another way or not happen at all.
Allowing the GM to introduce a certain complication or to not introduce any complication based on their judgement of what is likely to make the game more interesting and entertaining for the table is the intent of the rule.
    If the adventure has been unusually difficult because the players have been rolling especially badly and I have been rolling especially well for their opponents, I'm unlikely to introduce a complication at that point.
    If one player has been rolling terribly almost all night, I'm unlikely to introduce a complication for that PC.
    If we are about to get a nice, dramatic resolution of the adventure I'm unlikely to introduce a complication that steals their victory or delays it until next week.
    If we are about out of time in the session and we are at a good break point I'm unlikely to introduce a complication that will prevent having a good break point to the action.

On the other hand...
    If the players have been rolling especially well or the villains especially badly a complication may level the playing field a bit and make the adventure a little more challenging and thus more dramatic and the eventual victory more enjoyable. So I might introduce a complication in that case.
    If we are about to run out of time in the session and we are still in the middle of the action then a complication could add an exciting cliff hanger so I might introduce one in this case.

Complications are left in the hands and judgement of the GM so that the GM can use complications to add in the sort of dramatic complications that we see in the movies and sometimes to adjust the difficulty level of the opposition. Complications are supposed to make the game more interesting, more exciting, and more fun for the players. Complications are not supposed to steal victory from the PCs and their players nor to punish the players.

That's my 2 credits.
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Wajeb Deb Kaadeb
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bren wrote:
Complications are not supposed to steal victory from the PCs and their players nor to punish the players.


I dig what you are saying, and I'm glad you said it. I needed to hear your perspective as, in this case, it informs my perspective and gives me good stuff to think about.

But, I will say that your comment quoted above is not a fair point at all. Several of the examples of complications given in the 2E R&E core rulebook are examples of exactly what you say above: The complication does punish the players with an event that goes against them or giving them another/bigger obstacle to overcome.





The example on Endor with Han sneaking up on the scout trooper sees hand failing his sneak roll and stepping on a twig that goes SNAP and alerts the trooper.

Luke's complication when he searches for the bridge controls on the Death Star...he just blasted them.

Han, on the Death Star, has a complication where the troopers he is chasing run into a dead end--and they realize that he's alone.

Lando makes his roll to take the Falcon through a narrow spot inside the Death Star II, but also rolls a complication with that success. And, that complication is that he knocks off the sensor dish.

Every one of these examples punish the players in one way or the other.



Complications, by definition, complicate a PC's life.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wajeb Deb Kaadeb wrote:
Bren wrote:
Complications are not supposed to steal victory from the PCs and their players nor to punish the players.


I dig what you are saying, and I'm glad you said it. I needed to hear your perspective as, in this case, it informs my perspective and gives me good stuff to think about.
Thanks for saying that. I'm trying to make clear how I use complications which is, I think, pretty close to how the designers intended complications to be used.

Wajeb Deb Kaadeb wrote:
But, I will say that your comment quoted above is not a fair point at all. Several of the examples of complications given in the 2E R&E core rulebook are examples of exactly what you say above: The complication does punish the players with an event that goes against them or giving them another/bigger obstacle to overcome.
An event going against the player or a bigger obstacle to overcome is not necessarily punishment.

Quote:
<snipped examples>
Every one of these examples punish the players in one way or the other.
First those are movie examples so they can’t be examples of punishing players in a game. But let’s pretend that they are examples from a game. We don’t have the context to know if those complications are intended by the GM to punish the players or even if the players themselves would consider the complications to be punishment (regardless of GM intent). Failures, fumbles, and complications do not in and of themselves equal punishment for the players.
Quote:
Complications, by definition, complicate a PC's life.
Of course they complicate the life of the PC. The question is does adding the occasional complication to the life of their PCs (and their opponents) make for a more enjoyable play experience?
    Do the players enjoy an extra challenge every now and then when their success otherwise seems assured or they greatly outclass their foes?
    Do the players (like the movie audience) find an occasional complication amusing?
    (When Han steps on a twig, Luke shoots out the bridge controls, or Han rounds a corner to see he is greatly outnumbered, and then each of them makes that “Oh crap!” face, the audience is amused.)
    Do the players find that the occasional complication make the game feel more like the movies?

These are all subjective judgments. For some players the answer to one or even all of the above questions is yes. For others the answers may be
    No I don’t ever want the challenge to increase when things are going easy. I want my easy wins when they occur and taking them away from me for any reason (including a bad die roll) feels like punishment.
    No I don’t want that kind of humor. My character doing something that seems silly, foolish, or poorly thought out because of a die roll is no fun for me. I want my character to always be tough, competent, skillful, clever, and wise.
    No I don’t want the dramatic ups and downs or narrative conventions of a movie. I want my play experience to be determined only by player choices, previously planned GM decisions, and good or bad die rolls.

Let me be very clear. These are all questions of subjective preference and system and setting expectations. There are no right or wrong answers here.
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Wajeb Deb Kaadeb
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bren wrote:
An event going against the player or a bigger obstacle to overcome is not necessarily punishment.


My players look at GM fiat complications that way. They have a greater obstacle in their way simply because I felt like it, and it doesn't feel genuine to them. It doesn't feel like a more interesting story. It feels like the GM hampering them right when they are about to succeed.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wajeb Deb Kaadeb wrote:
Bren wrote:
An event going against the player or a bigger obstacle to overcome is not necessarily punishment.


My players look at GM fiat complications that way. They have a greater obstacle in their way simply because I felt like it, and it doesn't feel genuine to them. It doesn't feel like a more interesting story. It feels like the GM hampering them right when they are about to succeed.
I get. This is why I said that your "players sound like they are not a good fit for a GM who uses complications." D6 complications are a mismatch of their expectations about play and the method of generating complications. They'd probably prefer a result from a fumble table to a GM driven ad hoc complication even if the fumble result from the table was a worse outcome for their PC than was the GM invented complication because the table result feels fair and impartial and the latter feels unfair and undeserved and possibly partial.
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Wajeb Deb Kaadeb
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bren wrote:
Wajeb Deb Kaadeb wrote:
Bren wrote:
An event going against the player or a bigger obstacle to overcome is not necessarily punishment.


My players look at GM fiat complications that way. They have a greater obstacle in their way simply because I felt like it, and it doesn't feel genuine to them. It doesn't feel like a more interesting story. It feels like the GM hampering them right when they are about to succeed.
I get. This is why I said that your "players sound like they are not a good fit for a GM who uses complications." D6 complications are a mismatch of their expectations about play and the method of generating complications. They'd probably prefer a result from a fumble table to a GM driven ad hoc complication even if the fumble result from the table was a worse outcome for their PC than was the GM invented complication because the table result feels fair and impartial and the latter feels unfair and undeserved and possibly partial.


Exactly.
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