The players' covenant

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
paltrysum
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The players' covenant

Postby paltrysum » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:15 pm

When a player rerolls, either out of desire for a new character or because their previous one was killed or otherwise removed from the story, there must be a reason for the other characters in the group to accept and incorporate the new character. It would often be easy for the players to reject the new character on various grounds, but in the name of fun and cooperation I urge my players to adhere to a "players' covenant." Instead of looking for reasons to reject a new character, they're supposed to find a reason why they would want that character in their group, even when it somewhat defies willing suspension of disbelief.

There are ways to remedy possible problems:
  • Have the referee preroll all player characters
  • Have the players communicate clearly what they want the player to reroll to help him achieve the desirable result
  • Have the players participate in the reroll, offering advice and guidance during the process
The problem with these solutions is that they impinge upon the freedom of the player making the reroll. There's a certain joy to creating a new character, seeing all the possibilities before you and exploring the possibilities as you see the character come to life. When you put boundaries on it, it takes away some of the fun and serendipity that one can experience in the process.

In your game, have you run into any difficulties with a reroll? How did you handle it? How did the players (especially the one rerolling) handle it?
"Spacers lead a sedentary life. They live at home, and their home is always with them—their starship, and so is their country—the depths of space."
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Thu Sep 27, 2018 5:32 am

My games are character-driven. So a player can roll up any character and use it without issues.
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:04 am

But couldn’t that still result in a clash between characters if one of the players wants to re-roll and create a new character?

I mean, if the characters are more important, then the chemistry between them would be too, as opposed to a campaign where the characters are mainly stat blocks? If the stat blocks are the important part, the only thing to think about is that the new astrogator char has the relevant skill, whereas a new member of a tightly knit gang needs to fit in and become accepted and liked by the others?

Of course, the process of gaining entry to the group could result in a session itself, without need for external plot devices to force the story onwards.
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby NOLATrav » Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:50 am

Possibly a bit off topic but this did crop in my OTU campaign. We muddled thru it, and it was fine after a few sessions when the unsatisfactory character had earned their stripes so to speak.

The off topic part (perhaps) is that for my new ATU campaign I started with no sandbox/setting whatsoever. Just a blank 4x4 subsector quadrant map. As the group rolled up characters in “Session 0” if you will, we marked locations on the map for every thing that happened to each character in their individual terms. Some random, some chosen by a player or myself. So the Scout gave us a Scout base, the Marine gave us a military installation and so forth. Events, contacts, allies, etc all added locations or built upon existing ones. As the players worked out their connections to one another, I fleshed out the map a bit with backwater “connector” systems, placed a few pertinent NPCs yet to be met and so forth. Then I gave each character a few rumors to wonder about.

The result was that everyone was immediately invested in the universe. The two (out of four total) nominally subpar characters were more relevant than normal because they knew certain neighborhoods and rumors that the others didn’t so even though their skills/stats were somewhat underwhelming they had role play opportunities the others didn’t. I didn’t know if it would work but it did. The players really stepped up to the plate and it has been the best start to any campaign so far.

I guess the upshot is that re-rolling a character is a viable thing if it will help a player enjoy the game and contribute to the story but by giving them something to latch on to from the get go, the desire to re-roll and disrupt the genesis of a campaign seems to lessen somewhat.
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby Pyromancer » Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:43 am

For me, there are two types of games:
1) In an adventure centric game, I expect everyone to suspend their disbelief and accept a new character, if that wouldn't be too outlandish. BUT, for that to work, PvP isn't allowed. No "you fools, why did you trust this shady character?! Now he has betrayed you! Didn't you see that coming?"
2) In a character centric game, with the possibility of PvP conflicts, it can well be that the group won't accept your new character, and I won't run solo sessions for you, so it might be wise to talk to the other players and make a character that will fit.
ochd
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby ochd » Thu Sep 27, 2018 9:07 am

paltrysum wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:15 pm
In your game, have you run into any difficulties with a reroll? How did you handle it? How did the players (especially the one rerolling) handle it?
This hasn't come up in my game yet, but it has in other games I have played in (other rpgs, not Traveller), and I do have two new players about to join, so will face a similar issue in the next session. My plan is to contrive some situation that will give some reason for the established characters to accept the newbies. As long as it gives a nod to realism, I think that is fine.

I do rely on the players in the group not being too picky about that kind of thing - an assumed covenant of the kind you refer to - and there are, after all, so many other holes in the narrative thus far, it would be odd if they started to get picky about this one.

Dan.
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 5:47 pm

Pyromancer wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:43 am
For me, there are two types of games:
1) In an adventure centric game, I expect everyone to suspend their disbelief and accept a new character, if that wouldn't be too outlandish. BUT, for that to work, PvP isn't allowed. No "you fools, why did you trust this shady character?! Now he has betrayed you! Didn't you see that coming?"
2) In a character centric game, with the possibility of PvP conflicts, it can well be that the group won't accept your new character, and I won't run solo sessions for you, so it might be wise to talk to the other players and make a character that will fit.
Most of the Traveller rerolls I have personally seen have been because of the "shopkeep rule". Inherited from D&D, in Traveller it comes out to, "if the sum of the 6 rolled stats (before race or other adjustments, background skills, or anything else) comes to 21 or less, reroll immediately". This being before the character can meet anyone else, there's no acceptance problem, so this is slightly off of what the OP means.

When I have introduced a new character mid-campaign as a GM, I have required the introducing player to work with the other players to make sure the new character is acceptable and that there is a reason the other characters would let this new one travel with them. This can be more or less stringent depending on the campaign, but there is always at least a token conversation. (To date, I have exactly once - and not as a GM, though I tried to advise the GM about this - seen a "lonely loner who lones" PC with no reason to go with the party and some reason not to. This PC was dropped from the game after a few sessions when, predictably, said PC split from the party and went off on his own adventure; this outcome took the player completely by surprise and the GM somewhat by surprise. This is something worth a bit of foresight to avoid.)
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby Condottiere » Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:26 am

Character interactive dynamics tends to depend more on player interactive dynamics.

You can always retcon a reason why Loki is related to you, when he gets teleported in with the TARDIS.
Saladman
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby Saladman » Sat Sep 29, 2018 4:52 am

Each player controls his character, and within reason, his character's backstory. This being the case, it's easy to ask the players with existing characters how they know the new guy. Friends, relatives, overlapping service, met once in a crisis and bonded, whatever. The player who insists on auditioning/hazing/rejecting the new guy is already making a decision OOC as a player to say their character doesn't know him, which is on him, not on the player with the new character.

Now in fact, in the wild in actual play, I've never had any problems with introducing new characters. People generally accept they're there to play a game with the other players, and don't give new player characters too much grief. But if it did come up, I would call time out and ask the problem player(s), as GM to player and not in character, wtf?
Linwood
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby Linwood » Sat Sep 29, 2018 11:01 pm

That rule about an additional skill level associated with a connection between two characters can help a lot with this. It convinced my players to put some thought into how they knew each other and what experiences they shared.

I really like NOLATraveller’s approach to this!
NOLATrav
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby NOLATrav » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:16 am

Linwood wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 11:01 pm

I really like NOLATraveller’s approach to this!
Thank you! But it wouldn’t really work for a pre-existing campaign or setting. Well, it would take a lot of tweaking and finagling I think. Also, if you play a game where the last campaign’s characters have influenced and shaped the universe, it’s harder to start whole cloth like we did. The players may want some link to their previous characters.
dmclean62
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby dmclean62 » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:45 pm

For player characters, I've always agreed with something I read (don't remember which rule system) about them more than ordinary. Since average rolls would give a character a characteristic total of 6*7 = 42, I have a 45 minimum. The player can either re roll until they get a 45 or higher. Or they can take what they got as a starting point nad add to it until they have exactly 45 (but nothing higher than 12).

But for the most part, I would be hard pressed to imagine a situation where not accepting another player's character wouldn't be jerk behaviour.
steve98052
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby steve98052 » Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:32 pm

One way to take care of the problem is to use something like the troupe system. Suppose the player group is a referee and four players. Everyone including the referee rolls up three or more characters: a primary, a secondary, and one or more extras. You don't even have to decide which of the three or more is the primary, secondary, or extra until you've rolled up the whole crowd. Run through all of the character connection rules do that they all know each other.

When play begins, if the party has a ship that fits the whole crowd, everyone is aboard, but only the primaries are played regularly. Everyone else collects their shares or salaries, but isn't actively played.

If a primary goes off stage for a while (in jail, left behind for months of intensive training in Zero-Gravity Basket-Weaving, medical low berth awaiting the growth of a new liver for transplant, etc.), the player runs their secondary. If an extra is ideally suited for a specific session (the only one who speaks fluent Oynprith), the player with the least useful primary takes over the extra, even if he or she didn't create that extra. (Primaries and secondaries belong to individual players, but extras belong to the group.)

Occasionally, the referee might have a special adventure aimed at secondaries or extras, to maintain the feeling that they're part of the group.

If the party doesn't have a ship that will fit the whole crowd, limit the group to primaries and a few cool extras.

If a character dies, the player takes over with the secondary, or maybe an extra, which becomes a new primary. If there's significant carnage, everyone rolls another extra, and the connection rules link them together and to the existing characters. If a new player joins temporarily, he or she can pick an extra. If a new player joins permanently, everyone rolls a new extra, and the new player rolls a primary, secondary, and extra, and again the connection rules bring them into the crowd.

The reason for rolling a group of characters when one or more completely new characters are needed is that the connection rules pretty much assume a group already, so they work better for several additions at a time.

This originated with Ars Magica, where the primary was a wizard (magus), the secondary was a substantial non-wizard (possibly with innate magic, but no spells), and extras were termed "grogs". But the idea is nor tied to any system or setting.
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby Condottiere » Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:57 pm

I always felt that playing Ars Magica requires considerable maturity.

A Troupe system is a way of playing role-playing games in which a group of players takes different roles at different times. The term was coined in Ars Magica, where it referred to each player using multiple characters and, crucially, sharing a pool of characters held in common by the entire group (referred to as the "troupe").[1]
Troupe Play in Ars Magica[edit]
In Ars Magica, the troupe's characters all belong to a single Covenant - a small group dedicated to the study and utilization of the magical arts. Each player's primary character is their Magus, one of the wizards who form the core of the Covenant. Each player also creates a Companion, a "skilled person who aids magi but is not necessarily in their pay." Finally the group (or troupe) as a whole creates a number of Grogs, mercenaries and other servants hired by the magi.[1]
A typical session of Ars Magica features one player running their Magus while the other players take on the role of either a Companion or Grog. The Grogs are a communal asset, and, thus, over the course of several sessions the same grog may be played by several different players.[1]
The Ars Magica rulebooks also provide for a single player taking on "secondary roles" and playing multiple characters simultaneously (a Magus and their Companion, for example, or multiple Grog). It is also noted that, "since players switch characters, it is easy to switch storyguides from story to story as well."[1] neither of these features, however, is considered the primary defining trait of "troupe-style play", although they are common features in many Ars Magica campaigns.[2]
Other Examples of Troupe Play[edit]
Troupe-style play can also be found in other role-playing games, such as Circle of Hands, (which actually prohibits any player from playing the same character two sessions in a row)[3], and Shock: Human Contact, a science fiction game which starts with a session on a research ship, then a session on a colony, and then additional sessions where characters can be selected from either location.[4]
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Re: The players' covenant

Postby steve98052 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:56 pm

I would agree that Ars Magica requires mature play. The setting premise implies that magi are pretty creepy to be around, even for other magi, unless they have Gentle Gift. That could be played as reason to make player-against-player more justified, because the magi all carry around their creepy aura. The main in-setting thing keeping magi from murdering each other is the threat of Wizard's March, and if a magus is losing his respect for consequences due to Twilight or Infernal corruption, the result could be a murder spree. Players need to restrain their characters from anti-social acts.

But that doesn't mean troupe play has to be like that. The character connection rules in Mongoose Traveller are an in-game justification for getting along. It's easy to tune the troupe rules to fit a special campaign. Maybe instead of a primary and a secondary, players have only a primary, or maybe two equal co-primaries. Maybe to play an extra, one needs permission from the player who generated it, or maybe anyone other than the player who created it can play it. Maybe a player can claim an extra exclusively after playing it for two sessions. Maybe there's no need for formal rules, because things are easy to work out when they come up.

On the other side of things, it's always good to have mature players.

I ran Research Station Gamma with slightly tweaked Savage Worlds rules at a convention some years ago. It's primarily a mystery adventure, with little place for combat other than the security robot. But one guy at the table had a gaming style that assumed that combat was the normal means to resolve problems. "No, don't shoot the Chirper! It's offering us a job." "Wait! Let's check the door before you try to shoot through it." "No, that's a janitorial robot. No need to shoot it." Besides his preference for unnecessary violence, he wasn't good at sharing center stage with the other players. He largely spoiled the session, but it was partly my fault for not emphasizing the low-combat nature of the planned adventure. The mature players at the table, mercifully, blamed Mr Shoot-'em-up, rather than me, but I still screwed up by not intervening sooner.

I later played the same adventure with mature players I knew, with Risus rules(though PDQ# probably would have fit better, had I been familiar with it then). It went very well; the main problem was that the session was only about three hours, and we only got as far as defeating the security robot.

Mature players are always a good thing, unless one is specifically prepared for players who are not.

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