Thursday, March 09, 2006


Manouver Resolution

Here's something that made my brain go "sweet!" It's from Story-Games, at the end of a thread entitled Sell Me On: Task Resolution

John Harper Said:

Maneuver Resolution. Yeah, that's pretty nifty.

However! I don't think MR has a "pre-defined result". Because if you have agreed to the result before the roll... well, you're resolving stakes. :-)

Remember, this is stakes resolution:
"If you roll a 25 or better, you hit and do 2d8 damage."

So, maneuver resolution would be:
"Roll to hit. DC 25."

"That would take a climbing roll. +2 for your rope."

"Make a stealth roll."

There's no agreement before the roll about what is being resolved (no stakes, in other words). It's just a roll "to see if you do it." The consequence of the action is not explicit and agreed-upon beforehand.

This makes total intuitive sense to me, and has a very clear empirical determinent: do you establish the results of the roll before you make it? If yes, its stakes resolution, with the stakes being whatever that result you established is. If no, its manouver resolution, and (here's the exciting part) something else has to happen after you roll to establish the result.

In a lot of gaming, this is by fiat by whoever has the authority over that roll - like, in D&D, the GM calls for a Perception roll. A character succeeds. All that has been established is that he succeeded at the Perception roll - now, the GM says "You see rustling in the bushes." Thats the system of GM authority kicking in to establish the result of the manouver.

Another system from D&D - the random roll tables. Like, with a Wand of Wonder - say you have to make an Intelligence or Spellcraft roll to use it (stakes resolution). Then the system says "Roll on this table of random magical effects." The GM rolls (manouver resolution) and gets a shower of flowers. Stuff like that.

Looking at it from this perspective, resolution mechanics can have quite the range of combinations of Stakes and Manouver mechanics. Like Dogs - overall mechanic is Stakes Res. Each Raise, though, is Manouver Res - the system asks "Can you beat this dice result with that dice result?" If you can, you get to narrate something, but the result of the raise itself is not set before you make it. The player has authority to narrate in something appropriate.

It seems to me that the field of "what happens after you succeed at a manouver roll" could be quite a fertile field for design.

Edit: John Harper has provided his term definitions at Story Games. Very nice.

I see this as a special application of the Forge concepts of IIEE combined with Drama/Fortune/Karma(*) and distribution of authority. Maneuver vs. Stakes is a particular breakdown of the above which may be fruitful as a construction for game design, but other breakdowns will also be useful.

(*To my mind, DFK is an oversimplification, but it gets the idea across so that if you happen to think that "resource bidding" or "physical skill" or whatever isn't covered by DFK, you can still swap it in and know what you're doing.)
The thing I like to remind everyone- D&D combat is conflict resolution. Why is it a conflict resolution? Because it tells you when the conflict is over, and even has hardwired stakes built into it.

Where you get task resolution is that there is no mechanical backing to when the conflict is over, or what the stakes will be, usually falling on GM Fiat as the case.
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