Regarding the plot point economy - we're definitely going to have to play more to get a better feel. However, the idea is that if you don't pile on out of the gate in order to stress out your opponent, you keep rolling. This increases your chance of immediate failure as well as taking stress, and rolling 1s.
You do realize that this is a game where you earn Plot Points by increasing the stress dice your oponent is inflicting on you right?
Yes. And the point of getting plot points is to get what you want, right? Plot points give you power and freedom to achieve outcomes you desire. However, the path to getting those plot points also increases the difficulty of getting what you desire. The cycle only makes sense if the trade is worth it. Otherwise, things are decided by a good roll up front or they necessarily get harder.
And all of those things, whether you get plot points or not, stack the deck against you long-term. Getting that plot point from rolling a 1 is only worth it if that plot point's power outweighs the stress and added power to the trouble pool.
Those 1s just give the GM more dice to bring interesting adversity to the game, rather than only relying on the players as sources of adversity for each other. You don't even know whether the GM is going to use that extra ztrouble Dice against you. Maybe it will be used to bring trouble to the guy sitting next to you.
Okay. And? Just by virtue of the size and die types in the trouble pool, unless the GM goes hogwild expending dice to generate a gigantic total, increasing the trouble pool has the overall effect of getting in the way of your achieving what you want in the game. That's fine all by itself, but the whole "you don't know what the GM will do!" comment isn't useful because you're going to face that meaner trouble pool. Why wouldn't
you face it?
The point I'm making remains unaddressed. Hampering yourself in order to get a plot point is situationally effective as far as I can tell, as opposed to an absolute goal. Because hampering yourself increases your chance at not achieving your immediate goals and then increases the number of rolls you make by making the gap between you and your opponent or you and the trouble pool smaller. More rolls means more chance at stress and more 1's, both of which continually hamper you. All those plot points you get are only worth that trade if they give you an advantage that is superior to the disadvantage brought upon you by that entire chain of events.
As far as I can tell, the only necessary advantage to that whole deal is that you get more in your growth pool. You risk or outright give up what your character is about in order to get a shot
at advancement. But the point of advancement is to help you get what you want. Why not skip the advancement step, not hamper yourself, and have a better shot at getting what you want in the first place?
Yes, stress does give you the ability to advance, but, frankly, I think the game's advancement is stupid. The chance to roll to improve is not rewarding. It forces you to build up your advancement dice so that you have a much higher chance. And that makes advancement tedious AND it includes the possibility that you'll fuck up. That's punishment.
I have never found it tedious. Regardless, the connection between Stress, Plot Points and advancement is the heart of the game. If you think the heart of the game is stupid, why play it?
I'm giving it a shot. I like a lot of the principles of the game and drawing out pathways was fun. I haven't made up my mind about the whole thing, but, so far, the system of using your growth pool for a shot at advancement is bad to me. And that impression is subject to change with more experience and information. Is the heart of the game THAT mechanic, or is it simply advancement/change? If that was unclear, I apologize, but I mean the way advancement is mechanically handled in Smallville, not advancement as a concept.
And on that same track, you advance by going against your stated values, never by pursuing them.
I would say, you get a big mechanical reward for having big, character altering moments that have the potential to change your character in profound ways and rewrite your character.
Your description is accurate. However, so is mine. The advancement mechanic encourages you to consider what you want to see in the game and then write your character as wanting the opposite. It's not only counter-intuitive, it contradicts sense, and, so far, hasn't been fun.
As a result, every time we've done this whole "I'm going against my value, so I get extra dice" thing, it feels artificial. It always felt cool to me. You seem to have decided to not like he game.
No. I blatantly state that I need more time with the system and these are just initial, in-progress reactions. Rather than explaining what I could try or what we should be aiming for, your tact is "you're doing it wrong." Which is particularly hard to swallow in light of this next bit...
If it's the GM's job to challenge my shit so that I have to rise to the occasion and pry what I want from adversity in order to create a compelling tale, why am I rewarded for folding no matter what? That's not the GM's job in Smallville. It's to put your character into scenes where your values come into conflict with those of other characters and see what drama results. The GMs job in Burning Wheel is to challenge your shit. Challenging your shit is your job, in Smallville.
If this is true, then the game is written like shit. Direct quote from the book:
PLAYERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR:
Deciding what their Leads do
Deciding whether their Leads stand up and fight or Give In
Confronting the problems Watchtower presents
Pointing their Leads in directions that make for good stories
Challenging other Leads and testing their assumptions, sometimes with Contests
Deciding how their Leads change and grow over time
In general, telling the story of their characters
WATCHTOWER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR:
Presenting problems (or apparent problems) for the Leads to confront
Deciding how Features can best provoke responses from Leads
Framing scenes and ending them
Calling for Tests
In general, stirring up trouble
The majority of the rules and advice on how to be the Watchtower is about generating conflict that opposes what the characters want. It's on the leads to react. The only scene the leads get to create are their tag scenes. Was there some major errata I missed? Or is this a situation where the best way to play the game is not according to the rules and proscribed approach?
And you were already getting rewarded for pursuing your values and goals, not just for going against them.Your reward for pursuing you goals is getting dice to roll into conflicts repeatedly.
Meaningful participation is the game
, not a reward.
Again, we haven't played a whole campaign, but my initial feeling is that Smallville's system either fails at promoting behavior or it's not designed to promote behavior. It is most definitely designed to promote behavior, possibly not behavior you prefer.
What behavior does it promote? Take FATE, for example. It promotes behaving in line with your aspects because doing so rewards you directly with fate points, which can be immediately used to help you put more of what you want in the game. Behavior of a certain type is promoted by rewarding you with power to tell the story you want to tell.
In my reading of the book and experience so far, Smallville sets you up to describe what your character is all about - similar to FATE's aspects in this regard. However, the system does not encourage you to pursue what your character is all about. It actually rewards sacrificing, breaking down, and rearranging what your character is all about. It encourages the GM to challenge you based on your drives and then follows that up by encouraging you to pile on more pressure or even fold under that pressure. To me, that's not a substantial behavior, it's two contradictory reactions. First, write down what you want. Then you can stick with it with no encouragement from the system, or you can trade it in for the new model that's necessarily opposed to that.
So my response is just that I'm going to play my character completely decoupled from the system and then keep a record of the arbitrary rewards that might come as a result of my actions. And at some point, I'm going to find that in playing my character naturally, I've been hurt or helped by the system. Maybe that successfully tells the tale of adversity of those who tend not to compromise their ideals, but that doesn't necessarily make it enjoyable.
The system is designed around you earning plot points when you choose to have your own distinctions work against you. I hope it goes well, but if you aren't willing to do that work, I think it's going to hobble the game.
The implication that the system doesn't work because we're lazy is disappointing. How about some constructive feedback instead of this passive-aggressiveness?
I stated very clearly, in multiple ways, that the game wants to draw you into hampering yourself to make more compelling conflict; however, it does not appear to incentivize that process properly. It's not that I or anyone else is specifically unwilling to choose to hamper our characters' efforts, but, rather, the car for getting you there shows signs of being a lemon. If you up and voluntarily hamper yourself and/or go against your drives just 'cause - I guess because the game gives you the option - then it probably works. So far, I have gone with and against my character's drives, every time a risk of some sort with potentially dangerous fallout even in success; but not because of the system. And that has worked. But that's not the system working, that's just us, making decisions independent of the mechanic.
I'm completely open to the possibility that with more play, my experience will change. That has been the case with almost every single RPG I've played, and it's fascinating to me to chart that ebb and flow of discovery, disappointment, and acclimation.