PF2 Embedding Level Into The Narrative

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Personally I love "gimmick points" in systems designed for them, but I don't like to have them in games that already have buffers and checks to limit character death.

Clear examples:

Warhammer FRP: with a system designed to be deadly, where you basically can soak only one solid hit, Fate Points have been there from the very first edition and feel very appropriate.

D&D games: with levels and hit points you already have mechanisms in play designed to control and limit sudden character death, especially in more modern iterations where save or die is not a major issue any longer.

In simpler terms: since the risk of a D&D character dying once off the lowest levels is slimmer and slimmer, I really don't want to reduce that feeling of danger and excitement even more.

If you practically can't die, stakes are lower, and the game loses an edge as a result.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
As an aside, we stopped using Inspiration in 5E. As a gimmick point it obviously doesn't have power over life and death.

Still, in a game with so little crunch, it felt entirely wrong that one character works tirelessly to set up elaborate combos and use refined tactics to gain advantage (pretty much the only bonus you could work towards).

At the same time, the other character simply spends a point of Inspiration to achieve the same end result.

Worse, those two efforts don't stack - meaning the Inspiration mechanic actively disincentivizes you from engaging with the gameplay trying to pull of sound combos.

We ditched Inspiration completely once we realized it essentially offered a shortcut to not having to engage with the little crunch there is.
 

Parmandur

Legend
As an aside, we stopped using Inspiration in 5E. As a gimmick point it obviously doesn't have power over life and death.

Still, in a game with so little crunch, it felt entirely wrong that one character works tirelessly to set up elaborate combos and use refined tactics to gain advantage (pretty much the only bonus you could work towards).

At the same time, the other character simply spends a point of Inspiration to achieve the same end result.

Worse, those two efforts don't stack - meaning the Inspiration mechanic actively disincentivizes you from engaging with the gameplay trying to pull of sound combos.

We ditched Inspiration completely once we realized it essentially offered a shortcut to not having to engage with the little crunch there is.
Well, sure, it rewards role-playing...?
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
@CapnZapp

You get one at the start of each session, can never have more than 3, and lose them at the end of the session.

You are right that after the first one each session it is entirely up to the GM to hand them out.

Right now I'm not entirely sure how I feel about them. For a more dungeon crawl focused game I would probably remove them. For a more character focused game I think I'm okay with them, at least heroic recovery because you are still like unconscious. Not sure about the reroll.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Well, sure, it rewards role-playing...?
It sure is intended as such, but it does a poor job of it. But don't trust me on that, go ask Angry GM.

"It’s just this thing that’s easy to forget and sits in the game not really doing anything. It feels tacked on. Vestigial. An afterthought. It certainly doesn’t seem to have a clear purpose, as evidenced by the fact that the DM and the players get different advice about it and how it is weirdly disconnected from the mechanics that it seems to be connected to. It seems thrown in."
https://theangrygm.com/take-the-suck-out-of-inspiration/ (warning: longy rambly ranty, as always with ADM)

Based on this I created a simple replacement Inspiration system, but my players dislike for house rules coupled with their disinterest in "fluff intruding upon the crunch", meant we instead ditched Inspiration entirely.

Had the 5E devs offered a more mature better integrated system, that most importantly didn't displace good optimization, then maybe.
 

Parmandur

Legend
It sure is intended as such, but it does a poor job of it. But don't trust me on that, go ask Angry GM.

"It’s just this thing that’s easy to forget and sits in the game not really doing anything. It feels tacked on. Vestigial. An afterthought. It certainly doesn’t seem to have a clear purpose, as evidenced by the fact that the DM and the players get different advice about it and how it is weirdly disconnected from the mechanics that it seems to be connected to. It seems thrown in."
https://theangrygm.com/take-the-suck-out-of-inspiration/ (warning: longy rambly ranty, as always with ADM)

Based on this I created a simple replacement Inspiration system, but my players dislike for house rules coupled with their disinterest in "fluff intruding upon the crunch", meant we instead ditched Inspiration entirely.

Had the 5E devs offered a more mature better integrated system, that most importantly didn't displace good optimization, then maybe.
The displacement of optimization seems one of the points in Inspiration's favor, but easy enough to cut it out.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
@CapnZapp

You get one at the start of each session, can never have more than 3, and lose them at the end of the session.

You are right that after the first one each session it is entirely up to the GM to hand them out.

Right now I'm not entirely sure how I feel about them. For a more dungeon crawl focused game I would probably remove them. For a more character focused game I think I'm okay with them, at least heroic recovery because you are still like unconscious. Not sure about the reroll.
The Pathfinder 2 system I disliked already from the start. No veteran player would ever use up his last Hero Point for something as fleeting as roleplay advantages (and would hate it if his character perma-died because he did).

So the system can be rephrased as such:
  • each session you get one bonus life, which you can use to stabilize et at (per the rules)
  • each session you also get zero or more rerolls

What I still don't like is the mixing of combat boosts and roleplay/characterization boosts.

It feels weird in a game where you're supposed to desperately scrounge for every little +1 bonus here and Clumsy 1 debuff there... and then, out of the blue, you can have a full reroll which amounts to up to a +5 bonus!!!

If the points were limited to making sure your personality and character motivations come across, I'd like them better. Of course, then a reroll is just stupid, since evoking a character is not a game - just say each point grants you automatic success on the social (or exploratory) roll you deem critical to your character's core beliefs and skills, and get on with the role-play.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
The displacement of optimization seems one of the points in Inspiration's favor, but easy enough to cut it out.
I guess my point is, as soon as you start tweaking Inspiration at all, it quickly ends up easier to just shuck it completely.

Had the system in the core book not been its own curiously stand-alone section, and had it been better thought through to actually hook into your character's beliefs, alignment and background (etc), and had it not intruded upon advantage in combat, then we just might have ended up using it.
 

Parmandur

Legend
I guess my point is, as soon as you start tweaking Inspiration at all, it quickly ends up easier to just shuck it completely.

Had the system in the core book not been its own curiously stand-alone section, and had it been better thought through to actually hook into your character's beliefs, alignment and background (etc), and had it not intruded upon advantage in combat, then we just might have ended up using it.
I got your viewpoint, just saying that supplanting situation manipulation in combat with RP rewards is part of what I like about the system. The open-ended nature of the reward based on DM discretion is also a nice bonus.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
I got your viewpoint, just saying that supplanting situation manipulation in combat with RP rewards is part of what I like about the system. The open-ended nature of the reward based on DM discretion is also a nice bonus.
And I get your viewpoint; just that the system doesn't achieve those goals very cleanly or elegantly or even at all.

Basically, are we evaluating the system as-is or what it could have been. I'm a teeny weeny too experienced (call it jaded if you will) to just give half-cooked systems a pass, but if you feel more generous than I, sure the system does do it.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
My issue with Inspiration as written is that it tends to reward characterization (sticking to personality quirks, getting into trouble in predictable ways) rather than playing a character as if they were a person with meaningful personal goals they try to accomplish.
 

Parmandur

Legend
My issue with Inspiration as written is that it tends to reward characterization (sticking to personality quirks, getting into trouble in predictable ways) rather than playing a character as if they were a person with meaningful personal goals they try to accomplish.
The latter usually evolves from the former in time.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
My issue with Inspiration as written is that it tends to reward characterization (sticking to personality quirks, getting into trouble in predictable ways) rather than playing a character as if they were a person with meaningful personal goals they try to accomplish.
Here we agree.

Having gone through systems where you define your personality and tie it to "points" I keep coming back to how the best roleplaying, most evocative, most reactive and resilient- always came out in games where the "who" was not tied to points.

Did not matter whether it was pay-then-play (many systems, like HERO points up front for chargen for "disads") or pay-for-play (many systems like Cortex iirc or 5e inspiration where you get points when your point-traits play-in) the aspect of linking them to point values or success fail outside their nature tended to keep them static.

When they are just "who am i?" that has more freedom to change and evolve.

You play more person than looking for ways to hit that button.

As a GM, I reward roleplaying with role-playing - in-campaign story based stuff. The character's engagement brings things about.

For mechanical style benefits, some of the best I saw were more simple kinds of bonuses, like virtues from Ars Magica iirc. When you were acting with your virtues just added bonus. When opposed ' minus.

That way you didnt try roleplay your tripwire for inspiration that was chosen to get good flow for more rerolls... to use for death saves and not being dead. (If you were inspired by mechanics.)

Instead you role played a thing that was important to the character by actually doing that thing because (if inspired by its mechanics) it made you better at that.

All that said, a low resolution high gimmick system can be fine. But other than that I find the mix of cruch and gimmick driven to fail to play interesting.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
I find that the thing you want from a "gimmick point" system is narrative control. The ability as a player to say "my character knows this, he manages".

But in D&D the ability to say "My expertise is combat, let me handle it" makes no sense, since everything about D&D is geared toward actually playing out the combat in great detail, with large effort put towards everyone sharing the spotlight equally. In newer iterations of D&D every hero automatically knows combat and is expected to manage an about equal share of the glory.

Plus: combat is dozens of checks. Social and exploratory often hinges on the one roll, or half a dozen rolls at most. (Not to mention what Gumshoe et al has discovered, namely that investigative rolls are not meant to fail at all)

So.

Inspiration in combat makes no sense. Not only do you affect one out of twenty rolls, you don't need it to help bring out your character. Hitting and missing in combat is a fact of life equal to all heroes. Combat is strictly controlled and balance is paramount.

What separates one hero from the other is the abilities OUTSIDE combat. I might play the super sneak, whose reputation would be ruined if he somehow failed at a crucial character-defining pickpocketing attempt, or maybe to sneak past the guards.

You might play a self-described casanova and value the ability to not fail at seducing Countess Ivanova. The party druid might feel her concept would be tarnished by not befriending that owlbear. And so on.

But Inspiration only gives you a reroll. You can still fail.

That's so wrong. The whole idea is to not game it as usual, but provide narrative control to the player.

So.

Inspiration should definitely not be usable to decide a combat. And I guess it kind of isn't since few combats hinge on a single roll. (If one roll turns defeat into victory, chances are you would have won anyway).

Inspiration should definitely give out a success. No reroll, no bonus, just plain "don't roll just succeed".

Having said this, we haven't even started discussing the missed opportunity in integrating Inspiration better into the system, particularly the flaws and beliefs and whatnot you chose during chargen.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Inspiration giving you advantage is a huge structural problem. I am playing an Ancestral Guardian Barbarian in the Fifth Edition game I am a player in. Nearly every element of the character touches on the advantage/disadvantage rules. I am pretty much already getting advantage to every meaningful action the character takes. Inspiration can do no work.
 

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