Conflicting Task Resolution, Part 3

In Part 1 I laid down some defintions, and in Part 2 I discussed some simple drift using techniques.  Now it’s time to go full on gonzo system-reconstruction.

(But first, a counterpoint to the techniques in Part 2.  I’d like to bring up that it’s incredibly easy to go from conflict resolution to task resolution, just by cutting things up into more parts.  Anyway.)

As you’ll remember, in Task resolution, we have a number of steps in a conflict:

*A series of actions, each one built on the results of what came before,

*A means of determining the success of each individual action,

*A means of determining the effect of each action,

*And, a means of declaring when the conflict is ‘over’

For Conflict Resolution, what you need is:

*An intent: one’s preferred outcome,

*A means of determining the outcome, 

*And a means of determining how it happened.

The difference I’m going to focus on here is step one: a series of actions, each one built on the results of what came before.  With the drifting techniques discussed in part 2, we can shove those intent-setting phases and narrattion-setting phases to the begin and end of the conflict.  So our initial conflict-task hybrid looks like this:

*An intent: one’s preferred outcome,

*A series of actions, each one built on the results of what came before,

*A means of determining the success of each individual action,

*A means of determining the effect of each action,

*And, a means of declaring when the conflict is ‘over’

*And a means of determining how the outcome happened (mostly redundant, but may be more important in later revisions).

 (Note that here, ‘a means of determining the outcome’ is simply our standard task-resolution system.)  The question now is: how do we squish those steps in the middle into one step?

Look at step 5- we need to know when to stop rolling dice.  In a D&D fight, this is when one side or the other is (finally!) defeated.  If we only roll once, there’s no need for step 5- the conflict is over as soon as we’ve rolled and figured everything out.  No need to keep on repeating the same old steps over and over.

Now let’s look at step 2- there’s lots and lots of actions.  If we reduce that to just one action, we can eliminate step 3 and 4, since we’re now looking at the conflict as a whole, not actions.  (And their conflict-related functions are nicely handled in step 6)

So, we’re back at our 3-step conflict resolution framework.  That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Actually, it was.  Because in my theoretical, structural explanation, I glossed all over the important bits: actually turning those steps of ‘rolling lots of dice’ into a single step of ‘roll dice, once.’  How on earth do we do that?

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3 thoughts on “Conflicting Task Resolution, Part 3

  1. Rahvin says:

    To answer your last question, Burning Wheel is pretty awesome at this with FoRKs. But that’s not my comment…

    Your third point:
    “* And a means of determining how it happened.”

    You know, I haven’t really seen anyone play around with this with any kind of mechanics. I would love to see more thought and development in this area, because this is the part that’s hardest for new GMs and the part most players seem to care about. Many see it as a “weakness of conflict resolution” but I just think that there’s room there for mechanics that no one’s really played with.

    Hopefully in time I’ll develop more specific (helpful) ideas, but in the meantime I thought I’d mention it to you to see if you had any thoughts on it.

  2. Willow says:

    “* And a means of determining how it happened.”

    Actually, I see rules for this sort of thing quite a bit. It’s commonly called “narration rights.”

  3. Rahvin says:

    Your right, I realized that later. There’s two that I know of, actually: narration rights (which govern who can narrate) and tokens (which usually determine the type or frequency of narration).

    That being said, narration is not a resolution mechanic. In a task-based system, we can still have a host of narration rights for different players and a token system if we wanted.

    Having a well-thought out system for narration rights will make a conflict resolution system (or any resolution system) better, but not necessarily satisfy the “how things happen requirement” of a conflict resolution system.

    I think the question of how things are resolved is such an important aspect to the playability of a conflict resolution system that it needs more detail/resolution than “players make stuff up”. Right now, there’s an inherent weakness in popular conflict resolution systems in this one area and there’s a large focus on narration rights to encourage players “make stuff up” to compensate for this weakness (which is always the way players compensate for a weakness in game systems).

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