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Ufnal

What is the point of abilities and advancement in HQG?

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At the end of the day, it's the narrator's job to balance his own game (assuming they give a stickpicker's damn about this mythical "balance"). This requires them to weigh the procedural difficulty of the task against the narrative thrust of the scene and make a call. The suggested DN table in HQ:G can help with that, but isn't the final arbiter - that's the narrator's job.

In my opinion, that's a common thread in all games in which the thrust of the story is the "GM's" responsibility. So, outside of purely narrative games like Hillpeople, a GMs have to think on his toes and make their own calls. Sure, there may be rules in place to guide that, maybe even to try to force the GM down a certain path (like universal threat escalation), but its probably only a shaved-tail GM that's going to adhere slavishly to the rules. Their job is to run an enjoyable game for their players, not gratify some stranger's game design philosophy.

Speaking of which, it's my firm belief as a game designer that some mechanism exist purely to satiate a player's expectations of the game and are not integral to the functioning of the game beyond that. 

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1 hour ago, Shawn Carpenter said:

At the end of the day, it's the narrator's job to balance his own game (assuming they give a stickpicker's damn about this mythical "balance"). This requires them to weigh the procedural difficulty of the task against the narrative thrust of the scene and make a call. The suggested DN table in HQ:G can help with that, but isn't the final arbiter - that's the narrator's job.

Exactly.

1 hour ago, Shawn Carpenter said:

In my opinion, that's a common thread in all games in which the thrust of the story is the "GM's" responsibility. So, outside of purely narrative games like Hillpeople, a GMs have to think on his toes and make their own calls. Sure, there may be rules in place to guide that, maybe even to try to force the GM down a certain path (like universal threat escalation), but its probably only a shaved-tail GM that's going to adhere slavishly to the rules. Their job is to run an enjoyable game for their players, not gratify some stranger's game design philosophy.

Quite true. My concern is that when RPGs put in some sort of mechanism to try and do this, even as a guideline, then that guideline becomes accepted as "the way things are done" and that a GM is doing something wrong if he doesn't follow those guidelines. Look at D&D and it's history of XP formulas, Challen ge Ratings and "balanced" encounters. It's reach the point where not following the CR guidleines, such as they are is treated as doing things wrong.

 

1 hour ago, Shawn Carpenter said:

Speaking of which, it's my firm belief as a game designer that some mechanism exist purely to satiate a player's expectations of the game and are not integral to the functioning of the game beyond that. 

Probably. I think it varies from game to game. I believe that there has been a tendency to try and make games easier/simpler not so much to streamline rules or to focus on role-playing, but merely to compete with computer RPGs and other games. RPGs demand a lot from the GMs running them, compared to other types of games. I think "quick and dirty" guidelines, really just try to make things easier than they are to try and encourage more people to GM. It's not that the guidelines themselves are bad, only that any sort of foumulatic method becomes gospel.  But it is better if a GM (and the players) have an understanding on what such guidleines are for and what the ultimate goals are of the game.,

 

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On 11/8/2019 at 2:25 AM, jajagappa said:

I haven't found that to be the case. I identify the situation, the players determine what abilities they wish to use to address it. Some difficulties are situational - they are facing a Runemaster and that person is very, very good. Sometimes the difficulties are more relative, or less critical, to the plot. But they know where they have strengths. They also understand that abilities are not universally relevant. And they do come up with interesting ways to apply their abilities (though there's certainly not a guarantee of success). And advancement in the abilities both gives them a feeling of advancement/change, and does increase the likelihood of success (assuming I don't ramp up the difficulty in the same way). But they will face other obstacles that aren't as clearly mastered by that ability, and that's part of what makes the story/narrative enjoyable.

See, reading the rulebook I was under the impression that it encouraged the GM to first decide what resistance is good for the pacing and branching of the story and then modify the situation to make the difficulty seem appropriate, and to ramp up the difficulty in the same pace that the players advance their abilities. But it may be that I'm reading way too much into it, as everybody chiming in here seems to play in a way that doesn't reach those narrativist heights, so I may be misinterpreting or having problems with something that doesn't really get used in play.

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2 hours ago, Ufnal said:

See, reading the rulebook I was under the impression that it encouraged the GM to first decide what resistance is good for the pacing and branching of the story and then modify the situation to make the difficulty seem appropriate, and to ramp up the difficulty in the same pace that the players advance their abilities. But it may be that I'm reading way too much into it, as everybody chiming in here seems to play in a way that doesn't reach those narrativist heights, so I may be misinterpreting or having problems with something that doesn't really get used in play.

Have you got a copy of the HQ Core Rules? If you haven't, it's well worth picking up a copy of the PDF. I found that reading it after I'd ready HQG was very helpful. I feel that in writing HQG, a little too much of the general advice and (particularly) the examples found in the HQ CR was cut out (understandably, since they had to put in a lot more Glorantha content), and that detracted from understanding some of the intentions behind the rules.

 

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2 hours ago, Ufnal said:

See, reading the rulebook I was under the impression that it encouraged the GM to first decide what resistance is good for the pacing and branching of the story and then modify the situation to make the difficulty seem appropriate, and to ramp up the difficulty in the same pace that the players advance their abilities. But it may be that I'm reading way too much into it, as everybody chiming in here seems to play in a way that doesn't reach those narrativist heights, so I may be misinterpreting or having problems with something that doesn't really get used in play.

I'm sure GM's will vary in approach. Ian Cooper's 11 Lights campaign offers various suggestions regarding pacing, etc.

I rarely have a difficulty in mind in advance, other than that the central action and final conclusion need to be very difficult to get the right feeling of achievement to overcome.

For instance, in game, a hero tries to think if they know about or have heard of a particular myth or story that may be relevant to their situation. If it should be common knowledge, they just know it, no difficulty needed. If it seems outside their typical lore, then it's likely hard or very hard difficulty. In those cases, I don't look at it in relation to pacing, but in relation to believability. And it's not surprising if they fail that. 

Sometimes they face a test, and there isn't even a roll - it's literally their choice as to what to do. So when recently a couple of the heroes came to the Table of the Six Bells in the Underworld, they could discern that each bell was of a different metal. They randomly chose to ring the gold one. No difficulty there, but they did have to dodge the shards of darkness that subsequently crashed down around them which felt like it should be a hard difficulty. Oddly, when the hero fumbled their dodging ability, and the difficulty was also fumbled, resulting in a tie, some of the shards of darkness turned out to be shadows and did no damage! (Aside from the hero becoming striped with dark lines).

As with any RPG, there are approaches that can be used as players get very high with abilities. Our scribe Harrik, has some very high knowledge skills, and with an augment, can get very close to equaling the very high difficulty. Where those skills apply, he will usually achieve a victory. I don't raise the difficulty if he should have some knowledge in this case. What I may do is give him too much knowledge! Now Harrik has to make a choice as to what to do with that knowledge - he gets to/has to shape the narrative/story with his decisions.

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On 11/5/2019 at 3:37 PM, JonL said:

Advancement & escalating resistance are one of the big warts on HQ2/G as written.

Laws's "Why advance Characters at all?" side-bar in HQ2CR is a totally legit approach if you're leaning more towards "Ratings are relative measures of abstract problem solving power" and away from "Ratings ratings reflect in-fiction capabilities and effectiveness."  In that context, I'd let players shuffle points around between ratings over time to reflect what aspects of their character they wish to emphasize in play, (Many Fate-based games take a similar approach.) 

Yeah.  The resistance treadmill is pointlessly confusing.  If fixed resistances had been the default that would have been so much clearer, and they could have added value by providing rules for character development rather than advancement.

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4 hours ago, Roko Joko said:

Yeah.  The resistance treadmill is pointlessly confusing.  If fixed resistances had been the default that would have been so much clearer, and they could have added value by providing rules for character development rather than advancement.

That was the way they did it in the earlier editions.

 

In a nutshell it comes down to two goals that tend to oppose each other.

On the one hand a fixed scale of competency helps the GM to rate challenges and characters as well  as give the players a idea of what to expect and an understanding of just what their particular skill ratings mean. Taken in a vacuum, 17 mean nothing. Take\en with 1d20, 17 looks pretty good, until you hear about masteries.   

On the other hand, a relative competency  scale helps the GM to keep adventures and opponents challenging to the player characters. If the bad guy is rating as character skill +10r some such,  then he will always be better than the players and thus a challenge.

The goal is always to try to blend these two goals in some way.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

That was the way they did it in the earlier editions.

No, I didn't mean HQ1 style, I meant what Laws said in the sidebar and JonL said in the post: HQ2 style, but without the treadmill.

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7 minutes ago, Roko Joko said:

No, I didn't mean HQ1 style, I meant what Laws said in the sidebar and JonL said in the post: HQ2 style, but without the treadmill.

I'm not sure you can have HQ2 style without the treadmill. The treadmill is a byproduct of PC advancement, and is inherent in most RPGs. As soon  as the PKS can improve select NPCs need to as well to keep up the challenge.  It's just that in most RPGs it isn't as noticeable. HQ, by virtue of it's simplify, having one mechanic to do everything, becomes easier to notice what is going on. We get to see the man behind the curtain and spot the illusion. 

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Yeah, and I said no advancement.

"I'd let players shuffle points around between ratings over time to reflect what aspects of their character they wish to emphasize in play, (Many Fate-based games take a similar approach.) "  That.

Character development like in literature, but not advancement which is an illusion in HQ2 since resistances are defined relative to the PCs and advancement is independent of whether a character becomes more skilled in the fiction.

Edited by Roko Joko

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