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the level of framed contests


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I often get into a situation in which all characters aim for the same general goal, but they use very different means.


For example:

General goal: defend against an attacking enemy warrior group.

Character 1 climbs a roof to shout tactical instructions

Character 2 joins the shield wall of his comrades-in-arms

Character 3 summons ghostly craws to wreak confusion in the enemy lines

Character 4 takes a sniper position to shoot arrows at the enemies

Character 5 transmutes in his bear shape and assaults the enemy with load roars


What kind of test would you take? Are this 5 seperate simple tests? Or is it a group contest?

Is there any rule of thumb that could ease my insecurity?

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From my perspective this is a Group Contest. All members of the group have a common goal using different means to achieve this goal. Depending on your story and the importance of this attack for the story this could be even an Extended Group Contest, which would make it more obvious, that every group member follows his own way to achieve the goal by fighting their own enemy combatant(s).

I think this mainly depends on your view of how important you want to make the scene and its result for the players ...

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1 hour ago, Chiarina said:

What kind of test would you take? Are this 5 seperate simple tests? Or is it a group contest?

As @Oracle noted, this is definitely a Group Contest.

If it's not a climactic scene and you don't want a major delay in the story, I'd use a Group Simple Contest.  In this case you are just making one rule each (usually) and you would likely abstract the level of Difficulty for the whole event. 

I.e. you've come across a band of hostile Tusk Riders. They won't back down and you're in for a fight. They are vicious, so this will be a Hard Difficulty (e.g. 20).  As you noted above, each hero identifies how they are participating.  Have each roll their abilities (adding any augments) and then GM makes the Difficulty roll.  Compare results and see what happens.  Either player or GM can narrate what the outcome is.

If for some reason the actions should be sequenced (with consequences applied down the line), it becomes a "Chained" contest.  In that case, after each result, a bonus or penalty may apply to the next hero's roll in the sequence.

If it's a climactic or final scene, I always use the Extended Group Contest, and usually have distinct foes (or groups of foes) that each hero is dealing with.  It takes longer to play out, and may require changing tactics by individual heroes.  The person shouting out tactics is providing Assists to others at that point - still an action, but it's less direct.

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Yes. I understand... but perhaps, I wasn´t able to describe my problem adequatly. Let me try it this way:


I´m describing the situation: "The enemy is coming! What´s you´re goal?"

And now, one of the players says: I´m swinging with my talisman to summon ghostly craws and let them wreak confusion in the enemy lines!

The next player says: I transmute into my bear shape!


Initially that sounds like two different goals.

Sometimes it is difficult for me, to realize that all the single goals my players have in mind essentially serve the same purpose - and this purpose is the group goal.


The more I think about it, the more I see it as a framing problem.

What does the framing process in your groups look like?

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@Chiarina, what you have described in your previous post seems to be tactics not goals.

In Group Simple Contests and Group Extended Contests, the goal is common to all the characters.

So, when you ask the players "what is your goal?", they should reply something like : "we want them to step back and retreat" or "we want to repell the assault"...

Then you should ask them, "how do you try to do that?", and then they should tell you: "I transform myself into a bear and I charge into the fray", "I climb over the roof to shoot arrows at them", "I summon ghosts that will attack them", etc. One goal but different tactics used by each participant in its pursuit.

The Tactics determine the traits used during the contest.

The situation you describe is in my opinion either a "group simple contest" (each character rolls a single time and you compare the RP scored by each side to determine the final result) or a "group extended contest" (opponents are organized into pairs where a contestant wins over a paired opponent by scoring 5 RP).

Although stating a goal is mandatory when it comes to simple group contests, I am less and less convinced by static goals in extended contests. Though I think it is a good thing that the players state a general goal at the beginning of an extended contest, as it helps the GM to describe the ebb and flow of the action, a goal should be allowed to evolve during a contest. What is the point of stating a goal like "kill them all" or "drive them off" when the game system gives you two methods (rising action and climactic contest) for determining the final consequences of the contest and when the GM can (and should) decide that the opponents flee when the fight becomes hopeless, when they have suffered too many casualties or when the leader is taken down...

Lately, I am asking the players what their starting goal is and I then let the extended contest evolve "organically" one exchange after the other. There is one thing I have not yet found a way to manage properly in an extended contest: a player using a trait in a way that should give an advantage to all the players at once. A group blessing for example.

Edited by Corvantir
Typos and grammatical errors replaced by other ones
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