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Web Weaver

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About Web Weaver

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  • RPG Biography
    Long time player of Glorantha based games.
  • Current games
    HQ primarily. Outside of Chaosium mostly Dogs in the Vineyard
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    RPG System Geek
  1. I have been reading this thread with interest but finally made a profile so I could add a couple of things. - Firstly, the thread has very clearly come to a conclusion that we need more than just a brief description of a contest to properly explore this idea. Examples are hard, but context is absolutely everything. Creating an example where “I try and kill the Orc” is the whole context is kind of cheating, because that is never the complete context. The term 'framing the conflict' implies external information. We are cropping the wider picture and narrowing down our focus to the conflict at the heart of the issue. Taken in the abstract there is a difference between asking “what are you doing” and asking “what is the conflict here” but that difference gets minimised if we only focus on examples that are already narrow. This brings me to a cautionary point about the way Task Resolution vs. Conflict Resolution is often described online. Almost everyone uses Vincent’s example with the safe cracker, and it is a terrible example that was designed to tease out an entirely different issue. It takes for granted that the reader already has some idea of what the two things are and is asking a wider question about stakes. RPG theory is littered with misunderstandings and people arguing over each other’s shoulders, but that single blog post is the cause of more than its fair share of confusion and argument. We would be better off forgetting all about it. It is far better to think of Conflict Resolution as an element of a system that decides the outcome of two conflicting desires of characters or things. Nothing more. In examples that include fights the whole point is that we need to know why the fight is happening. This often rightly goes unexamined in the heat of the moment because usually when there is a fight in a game everyone is well aware of what the stakes are from the context. This technically means we don’t need to discuss the stakes much, if at all. However what is important to bear in mind is something that has already been handled in this thread, that we are going to resolve the whole thing with this element of the system (regardless of whether the system used is simple contest a group extended contest or any degree of complexity in between). As a side note, even RQ had a very basic Conflict Resolution system built into it. The resistance table gave you a resolution between an active and passive force so you could tell how successful something was when you weren’t quite using Task Resolution. There is nothing new or weird about conflict resolution, it is just a way of looking at the ‘why’ of the dice roll. - My second point is that the HQ text as written is a little weak in this regard. As is often the case with the way RPGs are written there are a lot of implied ideas and concepts boiled down into simple procedures of play, and sometimes these concepts get a little obscured in the rules as written and leave things open to interpretation. In HQ “Naming the Prize” gets a little muddy. It is vital that the sakes of a contest are understood and the game rightly emphasises this. Many games use a ‘Stake Setting’ step in their Conflict Resolution mechanics, and the most successful ones don’t overcomplicate this. It is easy to fall into the trap of defining too much before you roll the dice. Nowhere does HQ encourage us to work towards a process of “if you win this happens and if I win this happens” but some people drift into this as a habit, maybe because they have played other games where this is encouraged, or maybe because a trusted blog or forum poster appears to be telling us this is how it works. That kind of stake setting actively works against us in HQ. The important thing to remember is that the prize is not quite the same as the stakes, but the rules kind of mix these two concepts together. The prize and the attribute chosen go a long way towards defining the stakes, and usually at this point we understand what is going on enough to not discuss anything else, but in HQ the stakes are actually an abstract concept in the head of the GM based partly upon the conflicting desire of the other party. I call this tendency to over define the stakes “prenarration” and the danger is it can rob the conflict of all of its nuance by boiling down the conflict too much, too early. The beauty of HQ, in any of its forms, and the reason it rightly gets a lot of love from system nerds like me, is the way the conflict’s resolution actually hangs on the middle part of the process. Once we have an understanding of the nature of the conflict and what attributes are being used, and once the dice have hit the table, then and only then are we into the heart of the beast. This is when the stakes are really apparent. That is the moment we know how things are shaping up and the hero gets to decide if they wish to spend Hero Points. The danger of over defining the conflict and prenarrating the stakes before this point is that it narrows interpretation. It hampers us from using our creativity at this key moment in the system. The final narration should be informed by this middle part. Even the choice not to spend hero points can be reflected in this narration. This is why RPG theorists describe the HQ system as a “fortune in the middle” system. The meat of the mechanics is at the point of rolling and applying Hero Points. That is the part that should be informing us. The grabby part. The part that allows us to make sure the outcome of the conflict is meaningful to the player. This is what makes it more compatible with conflict resolution. Fortune at the end games sew everything up before the roll, and the roll just gives us a procedural outcome. That makes for good task resolution, ( ie. the dice give us a level of success and a corresponding damage location and a damage quantity) but less than satisfying conflict resolution. You can do either with both, but each is better suited to one approach. We are best avoiding turning the HQ System into a Fortune at the End system. It was not designed to do that.
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