Capturing the "feel" of Tolkien.

Reynard

Legend
I'll counter with the the thought that I really, really, don't want a mechanic that precise for whom might be alerted at what distance by what use of magic. The idea that the use of magic might attract the wrong sort of attention is an awesome narrative tool, and I don't want it sullied with numbers, if you get my meaning. I'd much rather use it as, to use some loose PtbA terminology, a harbinger of future trouble move, or even a harder immediate trouble happens kind of move. In both cases I'd want to use it either flat out in the case of immoderate use, or even better, in a case of failed but moderate use, probably with some sort of countdown clock.

What I don't want, or need, is a blast template. That's too cut and dried for me. Maybe a closer, lesser evil notices, or maybe the necromancer in the far heart of his dark empire does, who knows what might happen. I don't want to constrain a tool as cool as this with anything as plebian as a range. A rough guide might be in order, maybe, but the first time someone tries to calculate how many miles they are from Minas Morgul before they crack off a magic missile I've done something wrong IMO.
In general, I feel like very loose narrative tools result in more railroading than GM interpretation of traditional RPG mechanics. It might seem counterintuitive, but the reason is that if a GM has a story in mind to tell "at" the players, narrative systems enable that. If the PCs are only supposed to fight the BBEG at the end of the adventure, after finding the widget, then it is easy for the GM to say some other enemies were alerted even though they decided to use their Very Loud Power too close to his lair. But if you use a traditional RPG mechanic that says the BBEG was in range, that's too bad for the PCs but really good for emergent storytelling. Now everyone, GM and players alike, are responding to an unexpected story prompt.
 
If I'm using PtbA style powers it would be in a PtbA style game, which pretty much elides railroading as a thing.

Beyond that though, in what world would I want to have to know exactly how far the party is from dude X at time Y? That sounds like an enormous pain in the ass. I'd rather have the failure of use trigger some kind of problem, one of which is that something 'noticed'. In a more mechanical game, I'd rather treat it like a wandering monster roll - something with a range of possibilities. If the fact that someone might notice is supposed to be a constraint on casting, there needs to be the chance of something going wrong no matter where the PC is at that particular time. The players shouldn't know exactly what did the noticing anyway, IMO, as it takes away from the 'I have a bad feeling about this' moment.

I'm not suggesting that the GM should decide whether something notices, that should come from a mechanic of some kind, only that they should have a lot of latitude over what exactly does the noticing and what that might mean for the party.
 

Reynard

Legend
Different strokes. I roll dice in front of the players always and I never fudge away a character success or failure. I stick with the results of random encounter or treasure rolls if I decide to use them. I believe in letting the players do whatever they want and trying to adjudicate the "logical" consequences for those actions based on the established rules of the game and the world in which it occurs. All those things combined result in, for me, a much more satisfying gaming experience. Everyone still gets to be creative and have fun and tell stories, but it is extremely responsive and emergent. It does make me pretty bad at running canned adventure paths and the like, though.
 
Different strokes. I roll dice in front of the players always and I never fudge away a character success or failure. I stick with the results of random encounter or treasure rolls if I decide to use them. I believe in letting the players do whatever they want and trying to adjudicate the "logical" consequences for those actions based on the established rules of the game and the world in which it occurs. All those things combined result in, for me, a much more satisfying gaming experience. Everyone still gets to be creative and have fun and tell stories, but it is extremely responsive and emergent. It does make me pretty bad at running canned adventure paths and the like, though.
What makes you think I advocate abandoning any of these fine things? I don't. In a PtbA game what I suggested above is all these things. I suggested the PbtA version because that's the system that I thought would be the one I'd pick to manage a game that felt like LotR. The whole point of Powered by the Apocalypse is logical consequences and responsive and emergent play, so I think we're more on the same page than it might seem.
 

Reynard

Legend
What makes you think I advocate abandoning any of these fine things? I don't. In a PtbA game what I suggested above is all these things. I suggested the PbtA version because that's the system that I thought would be the one I'd pick to manage a game that felt like LotR. The whole point of Powered by the Apocalypse is logical consequences and responsive and emergent play, so I think we're more on the same page than it might seem.
I have repeatedly bounced off PbtA games. The system just rubs me the wrong way. I don't like "moves." Obviously lots of people love PbtA games and that's wonderful. If I decide to run a game with a more narrative style system, I almost always use some flavor of FATE. But generally, traditional RPGs like D&D or WEG d6 work better for me.
 
I'd run what we're talking about in FATE pretty similarly to what I outlined above - failures and a clock. For a D&D or WEG style game you'd definitely have to lean into the mechanics a little more, for sure. That's cool too, we all have different tastes when it comes to games.
 

pemerton

Legend
I tend to prefer more "traditional" RPGs, although I do like some narrative mechanics. So I would lean toward a mechanic that has direct, measurable (though not necessarily immediate) consequences. "Whenever you (Gandalf) cast a spell, roll a 1d6. If you you roll equal to or lower than the spell level plus 1, you have alerted any enemies with spell level plus 1 miles of your location, and twice that distance of your presence and direction." Something like that anyway. Now it is a choice, not only for Gandalf's player but for the rest of the party. DO they ask him to blast those wolves coming into the camp or do they try and fight them off by more mundane means to avoid bringing something even worse?
MERP and some RM options did this. Personally I find it a bit fiddly and also a bit at odds with the overall feel of things, for similar reasons to Fenris-77.

I might also say that use of Narya in any flashy way is an auto-alert right to Sauron.
Well, that's what the growing Doom Pool is for. In a LotR game, it's the growing reach of the shadow.

In the session we played, a Doom Pool die was spent to have a second Nazgul turn up - Adunaphel joined Khamul (I was using the ICE identities for the Nazgul). Just as in LotR, so in the game we don't to investigate the precise causal mechanism whereby these influences operate.

I'll counter with the the thought that I really, really, don't want a mechanic that precise for whom might be alerted at what distance by what use of magic. The idea that the use of magic might attract the wrong sort of attention is an awesome narrative tool, and I don't want it sullied with numbers, if you get my meaning.

<snip>

the first time someone tries to calculate how many miles they are from Minas Morgul before they crack off a magic missile I've done something wrong IMO.
Exactly this.
 

pemerton

Legend
I don't get where this stuff about "railroading" and "canned adventure paths" came from. Can we go back to talking about Tolkienesque RPGing?

In my case, I started the session at Rivendell and got each player to establish a reason for leaving. The ranger had heard of orcs re-entering Angmar; Gandalf had hear rumours of a palantir discovered in the north.

The growth of the Doom Pool is something that is managed mechanically. As I already posted, part of what led it to grow was Gandalf cutting loose with Narya. The rules of Cortex+ Heroic enable the GM to spend 2d12 from the Doom Pool to end the scene. Which is what I did, to give the growth of the shadow a concrete meaning (ie a group of orcs carrying the palantir south).

What worked was that Gandalf was able to drive off Nazgul - which seems right - but that in doing so, he alerted the shadow to his presence which therefore stepped up its efforts (ie the orcs carry off the palantir). I personally feel this produces a better narrative "flow" than a wandering-monster style framework, where there are more obstacles immediately in front of the PCs but it's pure GM fiat whether or not the palantir is still in the north once the PCs overcome those extra obstacles.

I think I already mentioned what came next - the situation being one of uncertainty and the ranger resolving the doubt (mechanically, by eliminating the salient Scene Distinction). The group therefore set off in pursuit of the orcs. In this pursuit Gandalf used his magic to reach out to the palantir and infuence it to slow the orcs and sow dissension among them. This succeeded. (It also reminded me of Gandalf tricking the trolls in The Hobbit.)

I don't know how The One Ring handles this sort of thing, but I feel that a system that works in terms of scenes, - for pacing, for effects, for consequences - is probably better for producing LotR-ish action than one that is based more on range of effect, causal immediacy in consequences, etc.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
What worked was that Gandalf was able to drive off Nazgul - which seems right - but that in doing so, he alerted the shadow to his presence which therefore stepped up its efforts (ie the orcs carry off the palantir). I personally feel this produces a better narrative "flow" than a wandering-monster style framework, where there are more obstacles immediately in front of the PCs but it's pure GM fiat whether or not the palantir is still in the north once the PCs overcome those extra obstacles.

I think I already mentioned what came next - the situation being one of uncertainty and the ranger resolving the doubt (mechanically, by eliminating the salient Scene Distinction). The group therefore set off in pursuit of the orcs. In this pursuit Gandalf used his magic to reach out to the palantir and infuence it to slow the orcs and sow dissension among them. This succeeded. (It also reminded me of Gandalf tricking the trolls in The Hobbit.)

I don't know how The One Ring handles this sort of thing, but I feel that a system that works in terms of scenes, - for pacing, for effects, for consequences - is probably better for producing LotR-ish action than one that is based more on range of effect, causal immediacy in consequences, etc.
The TOR rules don't cover the powers of the Istari. But... assuming the same mechanics as high elves, a good or great success on a common skill can trigger a magical effect... at the cost of notifying Sauron something magical is happening.

So, Gandalf's "You Shall Not Pass!" could be an Awe roll with at least 2 ⚅ 's showing... or a battle roll, or some other roll relevant.

Mechanically, it may have been that Gandalf was making a series of awe rolls while the others made escape rolls, and the GM dropped the cap of 2x⚅, and Gandalf rolled 6⚅ and a G-Rune, and ran the balrog out of hate, but it got to run him out of endurance in the process. Possibly as a non-rules, negotiated trait-powered special case.
 

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