Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Apology And An Attempt

People have made the point that if you don't advance the idea first, you can't playtest it.  So to Zak, Symeon, C'nor, Griffin, Arduin and especially James (and anyone else I may have missed), I'll rescind my point somewhat.  I offer an apology.  I am in agreement - things have to be worked on and tried.  And blogs are useful for shooting out ideas blindly.

My mind remains unchanged, however, on the prospect of venturing forth material with less than 24-hours consideration.  Just putting that there for the record.

If there is anything I am working on that hasn't been thoroughly playtested, its the tables I proposed for the Tarot, and how they would work in the realm of wild magic.  Below, a piece of the reversed pentacles table:

It isn't getting finished in any short order, primarily because the right-hand column requires considerable thinking on how to make the drawing of the card an adventure, while not using it to excessively railroad the player.  It is somewhat like drawing from a deck of many things; the player does not need to draw ... and if the draw occurs, the player is given a warning on what not to do.  The warnings must be somewhat vague, or else the problem is too simple.  The consequence, in turn, requires considerable fast-thinking and imagination on the part of the DM, to subtly work the effects of the card into the overall campaign.

One can see how the player is approached with the Five of Pentacles.  A mage at an Inn hears that the party is on its way to deliver some person to another town far away, feels a moment of sympathy and forces a gold piece upon the player for trying to do the deed.

Now, how easy is it for the player to take that coin and throw it casually into his sack, and thereafter forget about it?  Quite easily, I would imagine, even after having read the card the session before.  (I've decided that for the best results, tarot cards can only be drawn at the end of the running, so that the effects don't result until the next session).

The act of heaping the stranger's coin on their own is a sad commentary on the human condition.  Like holding a door open for someone who doesn't bother to thank you, or does so gruffly.  The truly appreciative player would put the coin somewhere else, and identify exactly what the coin was spent on ... remembering the gift as a gift.

Now, it should be understood that doing otherwise would, in most cases, not matter.  It is only with the drawing of the card, which puts in motion the potentially condemning power of wild magic, that would thereafter punish the player.  The same is true for the Six of Pentacles ... where the result could be an unexpected boon.

Of course, the DM could play it that all the cards are in play, all the time, but this strikes me as unpleasantly intrusive.  I prefer to let my world be cruel and heartless, until its given a reason to be otherwise ... by drawing out the Tarot, for instance.

Getting back to the untested quality of the cards.  I have been able to test out a few that the party has chosen, but by no means all of them.  With 78 cards, 48 of which I have completed descriptions for, and each card having both forward and backward meanings (96 permeatations written so far), it would take a long, long time to play test them all.

In my defense, I believe I have the stuff to recognize what I could, and could not do, as a DM.  And I have been rattling my brain on these things for months.  I've rewritten the lists up to date twice already, being unsatisfied with the sentiments.

And because I want to post them when I am finished, I find I must concur with the majority.  I relax my stance, forthwith, on untested material, and repeat my apology.

But please, give it a week's cogitation, okay?


Zak S said...

I have a (tested) system for fortune-telling which might be adapted/hybridized with your system here...

The randomly chosen fortune has a condition implied "You will find wise counsel in the ninth month"--then, at any point, if the conditions implied in the fortune are right (like if it's a tuesday and your fortune is "You will meet a wizard on a tuesday") then either the DM or the player can "evoke" the fortune, and then it comes true (and a wizard shows up). Then it's gone and can't be used.

If the fortune is bad ("you will fail a test of strength when the moon is full"), then a player could evoke it pre-emptively on purpose (trying to lift a heavy rock for no particular reason during a full moon) so that the DM doesn't get to evoke it later when the stakes are high.

Arduin said...

Ah well.

Take it as a sign that people were inspired. That at least is a good thing.

But yes, looking before leaping does indeed help.

Anonymous said...

Since the apology wasn't at all necessary I accept it without condition. Waiting a whole week I'll have to consider more thoroughly, though. I'll let you know next Tuesday.