Torchbearer 2nd ed: first impressions

pemerton

Legend
The rules text on traits is pretty clear. From the DH, p 80:

There’s a phenomenon with traits that we call reaching. It’s a situation when a trait clearly doesn’t fit, but a player is working really hard to convince the group that it’ll work. This behavior is not creative. It’s just short of begging, and it’s certainly always bull.

If you feel a player is reaching, tell them so. Give them a moment to readjust. If they don’t have anything better to add, then move on. The trait doesn’t apply.​

And here's what's said on pp 79, 80, 82, 177:

When you want to use a trait to benefit a roll, describe your action and incorporate the trait into your narration. If the group feels it’s appropriate, take your trait benefit for that test.

Be creative with your traits. They are open to interpretation, so you can be inventive and surprise the other players with interesting descriptions of your character. . . .

If you can incorporate a trait into your description of your character’s actions so that it hinders you, you apply a penalty to your roll. . . .
Using traits against yourself allows you to demonstrate your character’s quirks and foibles. . . .

The following section describes each trait. The entries offer suggestions on how to use the trait, both to benefit your character and get them into trouble.​

It is the player who invokes traits, via their action declarations. The player is expected to be creative, inventive and even surprising: the suggestions given in the trait list are just that; they are not prescriptions. This can include the GM, given that NPCs (but not monsters) have traits that the GM is able to invoke in their action declarations for those NPCs.

The group is expected to ensure that there is no "reaching": so it will be the interplay between the creativity of members and their sense of what does or doesn't fall under a given trait that will shape the meaning of various traits at a given table. Different tables will likely draw the boundaries and shape the meaning in different ways.

There's no unilateral GM power mentioned here. It is the player who invokes, and the GM can't deem the trait to have been invoked by a player's action declaration. (and thus consume a use, and modify a dice pool). And when the GM is playing a NPC, they can't unilaterally deem a trait to be appropriate: the rules are clear that this is the group's role. Similarly, the GM does not unilaterally police reaching. The group does this, as part of its judgements of appropriate uses.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Yikes, unilateral is a big word. Lets say player A invokes a trait, and players B through D, for whatever reason, don't identify it as a reach. Is the GM then bound to allow it? I think not. The GM can still identify it as a reach and bat it back to the table. Unless you think the GM has to allow it I dont see much to argue about.
 

pemerton

Legend
Yikes, unilateral is a big word. Lets say player A invokes a trait, and players B through D, for whatever reason, don't identify it as a reach. Is the GM then bound to allow it? I think not. The GM can still identify it as a reach and bat it back to the table. Unless you think the GM has to allow it I dont see much to argue about.
For me the big word is not "unilateral" but "GM". So I think the key point is that the GM is no different, in this process, from players B through D. The GM is simply player E. Anyone can query whether something is a reach.

The rules don't prescribe a method for reaching finality on what "the group" thinks is appropriate. I guess, inspired by BW, there could be a vote. But I'd expect that most tables most of the time will reach consensus without the need for a vote, because the objector will withdraw their objection if they see that others really think it's not well-founded.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
For me the big word is not "unilateral" but "GM". So I think the key point is that the GM is no different, in this process, from players B through D. The GM is simply player E. Anyone can query whether something is a reach.

The rules don't prescribe a method for reaching finality on what "the group" thinks is appropriate. I guess, inspired by BW, there could be a vote. But I'd expect that most tables most of the time will reach consensus without the need for a vote, because the objector will withdraw their objection if they see that others really think it's not well-founded.
That's fair, and I agree. Even then the GM is more likely to be the final bump before something hits the fiction and is going to have a different set of concerns vis a vis exercising that particular bit of agency. The GM's set of responsibilities at the table mitigate, I think, for a level of attention to issues like this that the other players can more safely ignore, at least on occasion.
 

pemerton

Legend
the GM is more likely to be the final bump before something hits the fiction and is going to have a different set of concerns vis a vis exercising that particular bit of agency.
I think this distinction, between what is especially salient to the GM, given their role at the table and the authority that the GM enjoys, is a very important one.

I see it elided very often. And very often the upshot (if not the self-conscious purpose) of the elision is to present a shift from responsibility or attention or whose job it it to keep an eye on that? to a claim about power and decision-making and primacy at the table as if that shift was an inevitable one. It's not. It can be someone's job to keep an eye out - and other aspects of their role can be configured to make it easy and even "automatic" for them to do that job - without having to give them any special power over other participants in the shared endeavour.
 

Just for my part, my overall philosophy with things like this is to be somewhat permissive in what I accept, and somewhat conservative in what I propose. That being said, I will often float an idea about how to use something like a trait and see what people think. I'm pretty sure even back in my 2e days I pretty much ran a game where everyone decided what would be fun and it got done. lol. Certainly that was the way most of our 4e got played.
 

pemerton

Legend
I'm pretty sure even back in my 2e days I pretty much ran a game where everyone decided what would be fun and it got done. lol. Certainly that was the way most of our 4e got played.
But . . . but . . . what about all the players who will insist that their PCs can jump all the way to the moon while carrying 20 longswords strapped to their belts, backs and thighs? Without an authoritative GM, who will keep the rabble in order and the fiction pure?
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I think this distinction, between what is especially salient to the GM, given their role at the table and the authority that the GM enjoys, is a very important one.

I see it elided very often. And very often the upshot (if not the self-conscious purpose) of the elision is to present a shift from responsibility or attention or whose job it it to keep an eye on that? to a claim about power and decision-making and primacy at the table as if that shift was an inevitable one. It's not. It can be someone's job to keep an eye out - and other aspects of their role can be configured to make it easy and even "automatic" for them to do that job - without having to give them any special power over other participants in the shared endeavour.
I'd agree that those two ideas are often conflated, at the cost of the former, in a lot of conversations about agency.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
The rules text on traits is pretty clear. From the DH, p 80:

There’s a phenomenon with traits that we call reaching. It’s a situation when a trait clearly doesn’t fit, but a player is working really hard to convince the group that it’ll work. This behavior is not creative. It’s just short of begging, and it’s certainly always bull.​
If you feel a player is reaching, tell them so. Give them a moment to readjust. If they don’t have anything better to add, then move on. The trait doesn’t apply.​

And here's what's said on pp 79, 80, 82, 177:

When you want to use a trait to benefit a roll, describe your action and incorporate the trait into your narration. If the group feels it’s appropriate, take your trait benefit for that test.​
Be creative with your traits. They are open to interpretation, so you can be inventive and surprise the other players with interesting descriptions of your character. . . .​
If you can incorporate a trait into your description of your character’s actions so that it hinders you, you apply a penalty to your roll. . . .​
Using traits against yourself allows you to demonstrate your character’s quirks and foibles. . . .​
The following section describes each trait. The entries offer suggestions on how to use the trait, both to benefit your character and get them into trouble.​

It is the player who invokes traits, via their action declarations. The player is expected to be creative, inventive and even surprising: the suggestions given in the trait list are just that; they are not prescriptions. This can include the GM, given that NPCs (but not monsters) have traits that the GM is able to invoke in their action declarations for those NPCs.

The group is expected to ensure that there is no "reaching": so it will be the interplay between the creativity of members and their sense of what does or doesn't fall under a given trait that will shape the meaning of various traits at a given table. Different tables will likely draw the boundaries and shape the meaning in different ways.

There's no unilateral GM power mentioned here. It is the player who invokes, and the GM can't deem the trait to have been invoked by a player's action declaration. (and thus consume a use, and modify a dice pool). And when the GM is playing a NPC, they can't unilaterally deem a trait to be appropriate: the rules are clear that this is the group's role. Similarly, the GM does not unilaterally police reaching. The group does this, as part of its judgements of appropriate uses.
That is exactly the text I was thinking of in framing my question, and you highlight its key elements.

I didn't intend to limit my question to just GM (notwithstanding that my actual words did precisely that!) I intended to ask - do you feel that anyone is permitted in TB2 to rule that an instance of using a trait against oneself isn't legitimate? Does such a requirement (to legitmate) exist at all. I believe that the text on reaching firmly implies that it does, because your group can say that your trait doesn't fit the situation.

The flow I have experienced in play is of legitimating narrative being creatively appended, fitting @AbdulAlhazred description. Even so, I feel like a rule folk are tacitly applying is whether said narrative feels true to the trait in the circumstances? Exactly as guided to in the text on reaching.

The first part - being true to the trait - speaks to what is established by virtue of being written on the character sheet and perhaps consistency in interpretation over the arc of play. The second part - in the circumstances - must take into account the fictional positioning. Meaning that to me what is entailed by the text on reaching is that a player cannot use their trait against themselves unless they have said something that is legitimate in the current circumstances; being thus grounded in the fictional position.
 


Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top