Say Yes, Or Pay the Price

If you’re familiar with indie theory, you’ve heard the phrase ‘say yes, or roll the dice.’  (Its derivative of one of the principles in Nobilis, which is as a GM to never flat out say no; ask how, ask why, or say yes, but don’t say no.  It’s come into its own in Dogs in the Vinyard as a principle that’s all grown up.)

So in Shattered Vistas, I’ve got twin mechanisms for Task and Conflict resolution.  The Task is interesting, because the GM gets an initial pool for free, and has to buy extra dice.  So if you want a lock to be hard to pick, you have to pay extra dice (out of your limited resources) to give the PCs a harder time getting around it.  I think this is pretty novel.

So then, I’m going one step further: if you, as a GM, force the PCs to roll for a task, they can force you to spend at least one of your dice to make it more difficult.  Use your GM powers of calling for rolls too often, and you’ll find that the players bleed you out of dice and roll over your important antagonists later.

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3 thoughts on “Say Yes, Or Pay the Price

  1. Daniel says:

    Willow, you should take a look at Agon. There’s a lot there you can mine for this sort of thing. Primetime Adventures, too.

    Regards,
    Daniel

  2. Rahvin says:

    Love the thought process behind all this, but are you sure this will go where you want it to go?

    Don’t most players (and GMs) like games to get harder, building toward a climax in some cases?

    It seems like this would be a simple way to make the game easier. Also, the same laws of game theory apply to players as to GMs, so if you give the GM discouraging activities, some may never focus in those activities. I realize that to a point, this is what you’re going for, but it sounds like you’re encouraging only one or two task rolls per game to prevent this bleeding of pools.

    If players can bleed a GMs pool at will though, the game has little challenge.

  3. Tim says:

    This is a good concept, but the form it takes leaves me to wonder:
    Is the game a contest between the player characters and the GM’s adversarial NPCs? Or a contest between the players and the GM? If the latter, then it should be just as possible for the GM to force the players to run out of resources too.
    One way to do this might be to engender rivalry between the players…make them squander their dice fighting or competing against each other instead of you, the poor, harmless game master. 😉

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