Okay, so this is just gonna be a personal thread I come back to time and again to clarify stuff for me as I prepare to GM the game. We're a new group of people getting ready to have some adventures in space and time, and I just want a repository of knowledge - given the absence of rules errata.
So, my first question is:
The distinction between Doers and Fighters. Is it to do with the intent? I.E, if you take the Master's Laser Screwdriver, if he's using it for a purpose beyond attacking someone else, does that count it as a Doer, or is it still a Fighter by virtue of the weapons nature? The same goes for any Gadget with the "Entrap" feature, seeing as its not necessarily an attack, moreso a hindrance.
And what do you roll with gadgets? Just the relevant stats to shooting? Again with an Entrapping gadget, you'd just roll Coordination + Marksman, I presume? I can imagine exceptions to rolling, I.E, with a Squareness gun at a wall. So I guess that'd just occur as their move for the round, narratively.
I hope to see your thoughts on the matter, this is my first post here!
I am an extremely poor substitute for the people who have dedicated more of their time to these boards, but, in the name of all things Whovian, we welcome you!
I and my children, play, and take turns GMing, and to us, it is the INTENT of the ACTION - not the PURPOSE of the ITEM - that defines what happens when. "Doers" go before "Fighters": If a player wants to use the Laser Screwdriver to free a captive comrade, then he is DOING that (a little common sense applies - is there a FIGHT going on here? No, he's just cutting some rope, or whatever.) If he was using the Laser Screwdriver to disable a Cyberman chasing him down a long, dank tunnel, on the way to freeing his captive comrade, then he is FIGHTING the Cyberman (Oh, hey - a FIGHT situation! He goes last!).
This interpretation depends, of course, on the basic idea that in the televised show, killing and dying happens as a last resort as a plot device. To this day, I still choke up as the final credits roll on "Earthshock", with Adric's broken star displayed with no accompanying theme music...
With regards to Gadgets (or anything else!) and their rolls: as GM, I will propose a potential Attribute and Skill combination, and then let the kiddos have at it with their interpretations of what these "specifically, non-random elements" should be, with Story Point Rewards/Punishments (less emphasis on the Punishments, though) as an added incentive. This serves both to draw all at the table into the story/discussion/altercation while also promoting a sense of personal accomplishment.
Just my personal thoughts on the matter, feel free to disagree.
Last Edit: Aug 4, 2018 2:45:56 GMT by fordfjord: Grammar... Not your relatives, but still important...
Thanks for the quick response, man. As I suspected, Intent is king, rather than the item being used for it!
This next question I have is far more general, since I'm hesitant to step on things Doctor Who has done before:
The Daleks. How do you all use them in a story arc? How do you make the PCs so indispensable they don't get exterminated on sight? How do you set up those dramatic cliffhangers with ways out? How do you DEFEAT the Daleks? And make it original?
Forgive the double post as well, but Story Points.
I presume the players can't just spend them to achieve a specific effect, but rather still have to make the rolling actions to create the effect.
I.E, with the Pandorica, the whomever plays the Doctor doesn't just get in the Pandorica and fly it smooth sailing to reboot the universe, but still has to roll a set of attributes or something with which to get to that point? Or the Doctor with the Delta Wave in the Parting of the Ways, he still has to roll all his jiggery-pokery and all that to create the Delta Wave? Or do Story Points completely allow the mechanical aspects of the game to be subverted, and thereby entirely descriptive?
I'm trying to figure out what kinda roll would go for these sort of situations where the Doctor just handwaves and the Daleks start blowing up everywhere, you see.
You don't make the PCs too indispensable to exterminate on sight. You give them Story Points. It's up to the players to decide how to spend their Story Points. They had better save some for when they run into Daleks who otherwise just want to exterminate them.
I've said before: Doctor Who without Story Points should be an impossible death-trap.
And if players run out of Story Points, encourage them to generate more. Let themselves be captured. Use their Bad Traits to their own disadvantage. Have them help you create the challenges they'll face in the game.
Players certainly can spend Story Points to achieve the effects they want. But the cost is commensurate with how much it changes the plot.
Discovering that the air ducts in the room in which you're trapped are big enough to crawl through? 1 Story Point. Your character happening to know how to get into the Pandorica before it's ready to open? 10 Story Points. Realizing that you can reboot the universe by piloting the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS? A whole boatload of Story Points, which the character can only gain by taking on some huge, story-driving plot device, like a Time Lord becoming human and losing his memory.
Story Points are the most vital currency in a Doctor Who game. They should flow back and forth plentifully. And remember to give them to your villains too, in quantities that reflect their importance to the plot.
So what's the point of using the Story Points to do anything beyond the glorious Deus Ex Machina? Like, why bother using them to bolster an important roll if you can just spend a large amount to pull off something anyway? Heck, the Story Point Guidelines in the core book even imply that the most important events shouldn't boil down to Story point transactions anyway:
"Massive: It is rare that something quite as plot defining as this will boil down to spending or receiving Story Points, but this is reaching the levels of Rose absorbing the heart of the TARDIS, and the sacrifice she (and later the Doctor) makes to remove the Daleks from the universe."
Sorry if I'm seeming unhelpful or deliberately contrary, I just want to figure it out. I'm not quite used to GMing a system such as this where massive plot developments are free to just have story/fate/force/whatever points thrown at them.
Another side note; the grenade rules in the UNIT sourcebook seem absolutely random in this passage:
"Just like the firearms above, grenades and explosives have a ‘range increment’, only this time the numbers reflect the size of the explosion. For example, a typical grenade has a range increment of 2/5/7. When the grenade goes off, everything within 1m takes the Fantastic result damage (x1.5), within 3m takes Good result damage (x1) and up to 5m takes Success result damage (x0.5). Outside this range, the target may still be stunned by the blast, but they do not take physical injury."
Where on Earth do these measurements for the damage come from? They seem to completely disregard the range increment entirely.
So what's the point of using the Story Points to do anything beyond the glorious Deus Ex Machina? Like, why bother using them to bolster an important roll if you can just spend a large amount to pull off something anyway?
"Hang on, I have an idea" is where you get to make something external to yourself be true. You don't get to roll dice to decide these things. "We only get one shot at this" and "That was close, nearly didn't make it" are all about the dice you rolled or the dice rolled against you. You can't use them to manipulate anything external to yourself.
Furthermore, the game master gets to approve and set the cost of every instance of "Hang on, I have an idea." If it's going to completely short-circuit the adventure, he's within his rights to either disallow the expenditure, or to fairly decide how many Story Points' worth of adventure the players are bypassing.
So suppose you absolutely have to crack the computer security code on a government computer in five minutes or Bad Things will happen. You've got Ingenuity 5, and Technology 4, and though you're not a computer specialist (no Area of Expertise), you've got a strong background in using computers. It's even money you roll at least a 16. Unfortunately, hacking into a government computer system is listed in the rule book as being Improbable! (27) difficulty, so you'll probably need help to achieve it.
You might think, I'll just spend Story Points on "Hang on, I have an idea" and just waltz my way past the system. How do you do it? You can't declare that your hacking just happens to magically work; you need to roll for something you're actively doing. You might decide that the last authorized user dropped his wallet in the seat and left his password written on a card in it, but the GM is going to raise his eyebrows and say, "Oh yeah? That's pretty unlikely. 7 Story Points." 7 Story Points is a huge expenditure when the average person only starts with 12. You might think it worth it and take it. And now you don't have those Story Points anymore. You get past the system, but now you're going to have to work really hard at making the adventure more interesting for everyone in order to earn back those Story Points. That's a win for everyone.
Or you might decide that you don't want to spend that many Story Points, and instead you'll use "We only get one shot at this" to just roll more dice. Just spending 1 Story Point makes 23 your average result; it might be worth it. If the GM allows it, you might spend second or third Story Point to add more dice.
Or you might decide that a Success result is good enough: you'll probably get into the system but trip alarms. In this case, you're okay with that. You roll and get a 12: a Disastrous! result. You expected that. You spend 3 Story Points to bump your result up to a Success. You get in and, as expected, security is onto you.
Exactly what you choose to do depends on what effect you really want, and what the GM will allow. If you, as a player, want to win, win, win all the time, you're going to run out of Story Points fast. You have to ration them, and put yourself into greater danger to earn more of them.
And, frankly, most of the time the players should win, or at least get out alive. Companions in Doctor Who don't die all that often. You know you've done your job as GM well if, at the end of the game, lots of stuff happened and the players are JUST about out of Story Points. That's the ideal outcome.
So you could theoretically spend a ton of Story Points if you were to, say, use the Power of the Time Vortex to disintegrate a ton of Daleks. But it'd be closer to "We only get one shot at this" to trigger detonations in all their casings as with the Metacrisis Doctor in Journey's End?
It'd be a "Hang on, I have an idea" to reveal the Pandorica can reset the universe and set that into motion, yes? But a "We only get one shot at this" for River to fire perfectly at the Dalek's eyestalk to destroy it? Or, perhaps a better set of examples, "Hang on, I have an idea" for the gravity to fail on the Byzantium with the Weeping Angels, but "We only get one shot at this" for shooting the gravity globe so the group ends up on the base of the shuttle, for example?
I'm just throwing more examples as I go here. But taking another one. It mentions the Family of Blood for "Do something remarkable", getting that heavy dose of Story Points. When using those, would you suppose it'd be "We only get one shot at this" or "Hang on, I have an idea" to have the Family of Blood's ship go into self destruct by the Doctor's apparent blundering, thereby, subduing the family?
The Deus ex being anything external to the character, but the others relying heavily on character actions.
I would avoid trying too hard to link specific events to specific uses of Story Points. They're ubiquitous to the pla
It mentions the Family of Blood for "Do something remarkable", getting that heavy dose of Story Points. When using those, would you suppose it'd be "We only get one shot at this" or "Hang on, I have an idea" to have the Family of Blood's ship go into self destruct by the Doctor's apparent blundering, thereby, subduing the family?
I don't think it was either. I think it was just a roll of Presence + Convince to convince them that he was still clueless John Smith, and Ingenuity + Technology to make the ship blow up. If any Story Points were used at all, it was of the "We only get one shot at this" variety. "Hang on, I have an idea" would only have applied if the player added something new to the plot that the GM hadn't come up with.
SPENDING STORY POINTS
"I dunno… I'm stumped..." Get a hint from the GM.
"We only get one shot at this." Add dice to your roll before you roll.
"That was close, nearly didn't make it!" Improve the result of your roll to a maximum of Success.
"It was just a scratch" Reduce damage to your attributes.
"Doing something remarkable" Voluntarily take a huge disadvantage for a lot of Story Points, then spend those Story Points to be able to do something outrageously advantageous, without explaining how you can do it.
"Hang on, I have an idea!" Add a plot element not added by the GM. The more plot-bending the element, the greater the cost.
"What's that you're building?" Make a Gadget or invest more Story Points in a Gadget.
"Like this, Doctor?" Show another character how to perform a basic task for one scene with results no greater than Success.
"You can do it, I know you can." Transfer Story Points to another character.
GAINING STORY POINTS
"I won't leave them behind!" Act heroically at great risk or cost to yourself.
"Captured... yet again." Allowing your character to be captured.
"I can't do that, I just can't..." Play your Bad Traits in a way that disadvantages you.
LOSING STORY POINTS
"As if I would ask her to kill." If you kill in cold blood, lose all your Story Points. If you allow another character to kill in a particularly cold-hearted way, lose half your Story Points.
The only reason I was asking about specific events from the show was simply because it helps me to contextualise the nature of Story Point usage, but your explanations are proving perfect in their own right! So thanks! Getting a clearer idea of how they're used in play!
Yes, the rules are only meant to emulate the show, not to explain everything you see on it. Game situations develop organically and need rules to govern them in the style of the show without being slavish to what happened on it. The GM, of course, should always have the last say in any situation.
I just presume, in the case of "Doing Something Remarkable", the hefty amount of Story Points you get for taking on the massive handicap can be spent in any way the player chooses? Be it "We only get one shot at this", and so on? Rather than just spending the amount of Story Points given to achieve whatever impressive thing the player has in mind; so they still have to roll for it, as opposed to it just happening?
Doing Something Remarkable requires an agreement ahead of time between GM and player that the Story Points will be used to achieve the resolution they have in mind. It's not necessarily that making the sacrifice triggers a complete resolution all at once; it's that you get those Story Points to spend in various ways in a predefined way.
Let's take the Family of Blood example. The GM wants to turn the Doctor human for an adventure, and in return he'll give the character, say, 40 Story Points to deal with the Family of Blood in an especially dramatic way. The player can't spend those Story Points any way he wants; they have to be used to deal with the Family in a dramatic way. The player has to come up with HOW he does this, and he'll use those Story Points in their other capacities—extra dice, adding plot elements, etc. The player comes up with the trapped-in-a-mirror, suspended-animation-scarecrow, and so on, and uses the Story Points to achieve them.
So yes, they still have to figure out what to do and to do it. It isn't just one big "Hang on, I have an idea."
Okay, I get it. So it's literally "You get these Story Points BUT..."; the agreement is in place so that, by the end of the adventure, the player who obtained the story points must've fulfilled the "contract", so to speak. In the case of the Family of Blood, they must've used the story points to defeat the Family suitably dramatically, not just using them for bland or otherwise non-descript, uninteresting uses. Its an agreement ahead of time to ensure the story gets its most dramatic oomph to it, I suppose.