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Mechanics
Topic Started: May 10 2014, 02:47 PM (1,090 Views)
Grim Wolf
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So I've been thinking a lot about escape attempts and the mechanics of SotF. There's been a pretty consistent move towards realism for a long time now (since about V3, as far as I can figure), and in some ways that's good and in some ways that's bad. I'm always of the opinion that a story is better when it clings to the rough contours of reality while changing what it needs to to be awesome, but some of the changes we've made makes me think it might be better to have some mechanics set in stone.

So, some thoughts/questions/ideas, and I'd like people's input. My opinions are just that, and they're not critiques of the game but rather an analysis of what I think is necessary.

1. Rolled deaths as escapes.

It hasn't happened yet, but let's imagine that a rolled character decided to use their death as their escape attempt. But what if the escape attempt was successful? Do we then kill the character off all the same, mitigating the impact of a successful attempt? If we're going to go ahead and accept that an attempt can lead to an unrolled death, it might be necessary to say that a success might mitigate a roll. With sufficient policing to make sure no one's abusing the system.

2. Collar explosions

The size and nature of the collar explosion has been left to player fiat, but I'm not sure that can be the case anymore. The size of the explosion can radically change how a handler might use it. For instance, I considered having Mirabelle Nesa place her collar against Baines' throat so that it would kill them both, but based on previous explosions didn't know if that would make sense. But if it's an explosion that just destroys veins or straight-up beheads a man, that could change a lot.

3. Collar size and design.

In general, collar design is pretty consistent, we get blueprints...but we don't know how they're sized for people, or where the clasp is (and there must be a clasp or weakpoint, since that's the only way they could be put on).

4. The Task Force/Back and Forth

If we're going to treat escape attempts (and the game as a whole) with genuine realism, then I think there's going to need to be more of a back-and-forth between staff and the handlers. From my own experience, I can say that I'm generally happy with how staff handled it, but if we genuinely intend to make a realistic game, then there's going to need to be more of a consensus between staff and handlers. The nice thing about the old model was we got to treat attempts as thematically significant, rather than technically. I think it's the reason that Liz's escape works--it's not the science, but the character and the sacrifice. She paid a worthy price for collar removal that couldn't be replicated, and died for her attempt.

I think we can actually have it both ways, but not while staff and handlers are operating in slightly different worlds. Reality requires consensus, but we don't have that--everyone's playing the game differently, and while that can work find, it damages any attempt at realism.

This is actually my main reason for writing this post. I've enjoyed V5, and there's been a lot of discussion about how tonally interesting it is, kind of fundamentally bleak and hopeless based and it seems kind of based around how realistic we're being this time around. It's been interesting. But when V6 comes along, I think we're going to have to make a more conscious decisions as a site as to what kind of game we're going to want to play, and reach a consensus.

So. Thoughts?
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Badb
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disclaimer these are just my opinions and the answer to a lot of these questions are subjective.

1. No. It's unfair to the other people who are rolled. Granting a roll null to people who make escape plots is pretty fucking silly.

2. yeah there really need to be consistent collar rules rather than subject to handler whims. personally i'm a fan of explosives directed inwards b/c using collars as an offensive weapon is just kinda hokey. (tho tbh neck-strapped exploding collars are an inherently silly concept so don't think too hard about it i guess)

3. tbh neck-strapped exploding collars are an inherently silly concept so don't think too hard about it i guess

4. i don't really see where you're coming from here. staff are usually fairly willing to work with escape groups (team ego represent never 4get)?? idk tho. i'm not quite sure why we need to all form some big concensus on what game we want to play before we play it. i'd rather shit like that happens organically.

also stop putting realism on a pedestal everyone like jesus christ realism is not a noble truth we should strive for it is a tool to create empathy and sympathy for characters
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TwelveFourtyFive
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Heh, hi Grim!

I kinda agree with you and to be honest, Gavin's escape plan could've succeeded IC if they were in the V1 physics (because August was shot in the collar and it took very long to detonate). But yeah, the collars improve throughout the versions IC, too. And in Test Run 8 lots of people escaped, too. So for every attempt of escape it's harder to escape. So people have to be more creative I guess.

The first point makes sense, but I think it would be contraproductive if they would be saved. I mean in the Mini rules about the ten kill escape it's also stated that the character has to die even if they succeed to kill 10 people and are rolled. Even though it won't matter to the other people, as they are out of the game either way and wouldn't be a problem like nulls, it wouldn't be really fair, because rolled people should die. And it probably would encourage people to do an escape attempt death. And having 20% of the students die of escape attempts aren't...that realistic either. And I personally think it's more entertaining reading one character to die in an escape, while the others succeed. Maybe because it's more dramatic, or because I'm a bad person and enjoy the bittersweet ending. I think some V3 escape attempt deaths were cooly handled, even though they somehow sucked, because they were mostly inactivity deaths. And the deaths in the V4 Rescue thread were also pretty interesting to me, because...they were sooo near to escape. Yes, I'm probably a bad person.

And about the collars. I think the collars in general are sci-fi stuff taken from BR, that is way too complicated for anybody and knowing the mechanics would be meta the students wouldn't know anyway. So I think the exciting thing about escapes in SOTF is it to ignore the collar, which are unrealistic magic things probably and think outside of the box. I, for example have many, many ideas how to escape the island easily with using facts about...well I don't want to spoiler anybody, but I think it is possible to escape in many different ways after all. So if there was a clasp, it probably wouldn't be visible for students, maybe the terrorists have improved their collars due to the V4 escape (which probably gives the most canon collar details that currently exists, because I think it revamped the v1-3 stuff), but even then no one would notice but the terrorists, else it would've been mentioned by staff in the collar description. And I guess the explosion is the detonation size of the BR collars (because...it's based of them...else it wouldn't make sense). I'd suggest you to read the BR manga, because it shows a scene where it explodes. It's pretty interestingly drawn, but very, very gory ._.

But agree with you in the last point, that handlers and staffers should have a better connection together! On the other hand I kinda understand why the Main Escape rules are so rough and hard. It's because there already were 3 escapes in the SOTF history, and having yet another one would make Danya and his henchmen look like complete idiots, because, hell, they are military trained adults who got tricked by childs who just graduated, and would look like complete geniuses. That's also a reason why I think Main had enough successful escapes, maybe in some versions it could happen again, but not so many times in a row. And Mini? Mini had no escapes at all. No Roleplayed at least. And the Mini Escape rules are really more easy, and it would be awesome if people would successfully escape there instead in Main. Because it's easier there and it might or might not be encouraged by the staff, because in TV2 for example the collar have flaws and it could be possible to escape there. So I'd look forward for a Mini Escape, so maybe you can try that there if you want, because maybe there the collars are easier to remove. Tv2 also gave much information about them. And it would put more plot in the announcements in the Minis, which would expand the universe a bit. So it would be a win/win situation. Even though Tracen hasn't reacted to an escape attempt, I think he's smarter than his father, who was somehow schizophrenic and insane and killed his own people and stuff. So that could also mean that the new V5+ AT are more organized, smarter and more safe, which reduces the chances of escape. And to be honest, I'd rather read Adams or Ritzy react to an escape than to see how AT will probably go: Detonate random collars as punishment to have a creative way for inactivity deaths as a punishment, Liz Polanski or SADD style and we'll send Richard and Baines...Even though it might be fun to see them together in action again.

So another random thought of mine is that...if this thing, SOTF, really happened...I think the government would've probably try to find a way to escape the island and tell that to school children. Or they would've researched that on the corpses they found after it was broadcasted, as the terrorists left them at the island there. Or they would've sent an introduction of what to do when you're abducted into an SOTF, like a video that says: Do this and that, so the terrorists lose. Or McAllister would've done something different and they'd have done something smart.

But neither of it happen.

And do you know what that means, Grim Wolf? Cody Jenkins was fucking right.

Yeah that were my thoughts about it. Sorry, I barely have a clue about this and I'm neither a good writer nor am I a friend of realism, but I think I wrote my thoughts down, because...I don't know. I'm bored and want to talk about something. This post may or may not contain ignorance, grammar errors and lots of stupidity, but I wanna reply. And of course, I'll also look forward to V6, so maybe we might do something there together or not.
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MurderWeasel
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I did not read the replies yet, so apologies for any redundancies.

My thoughts:

1. We discussed this a lot while creating the system, and decided that rolls are rolls no matter what. The reason for this is, simply, that anything else would lead to the potential for massive abuse. By allowing any way to mitigate rolls, that then becomes the logical solution for every single instance in which a handler wants to keep their character alive and isn't saved.

The logic behind the escape changes is that escapes are, in the grand scheme of things, the exception rather than the rule. They're a huge shakeup of the core premise of the game, and part of the rules change was reminding the site of that fact. The risk to escape attempts exists to prevent successful escapes from being a common occurrence. It's one of those feature not a bug deals.

2. I am ~75% sure there was an official ruling on this once and it got ignored. There's a rule in the drafting for this come V6, though, because there are a lot of collar inconsistencies that have proved problematic in the past.

3. That's a good point! We've actually got this written out staffside, but it's a bit hard to explain; the short of it (IIRC, this may be wrong 'cause it's been a while) is that collars are two-part constructions, that slide together and latch internally (think putting on a pen's cap, but with more serious internal stuff). This results in a nearly seamless connection absent any of the typical screws and hinges.

4. We definitely consider themes, and actually that's part of how the new rules came into being! Speaking solely for myself, two escapes in a row was thematically extremely problematic, in a way that's a little hard to see I think for handlers who joined after the reveal of the V3 escape attempt. That reveal really changed a lot of the feel of the story/world, and V4 continued that trend, while V5 has been more of a return to the V2 form (V1 meanwhile was way darker, with Danya acting capriciously and even the slim hope of survival through winning uncertain).

I'm always interested in hearing members' takes on the theme, plot, etc. of the game. At the moment, the staff stance is that escapes should be rare and costly, largely because an extremely high bar for success makes that success more satisfying and compelling as a story. If escape is common or risk-free, it can become such a repeat occurrence to dilute its meaning or otherwise cheapen it, not to mention removing the teeth of the general game premise (a class has been picked to die, except for one person).

To use BR and The Hunger Games as an example (spoilered for those who haven't read them):

Spoiler: click to toggle


So basically, my take is that change and different results can be great and interesting, but you can't have change or difference without a firm baseline to deviate from. The rules for V5 were written with an eye towards allowing the possibility of success but at the same time making it much more grueling, so as to firm up that baseline.

This was all whipped up off the cuff without input from other staff, so it solely represents my opinions. As such, take it with a grain of salt. :)
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MurderWeasel
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May 10 2014, 05:08 PM
And about the collars. I think the collars in general are sci-fi stuff taken from BR, that is way too complicated for anybody and knowing the mechanics would be meta the students wouldn't know anyway. So I think the exciting thing about escapes in SOTF is it to ignore the collar, which are unrealistic magic things probably and think outside of the box.
I actually spent a really long time dredging through everything the internet knows about RL bomb collars (which sadly do exist). It was really soul-crushing honestly and I'm probably on every FBI watch-list on the planet now, but that's where a lot of the basis of the current iteration of SOTF collars comes from.

RC
 
maybe the terrorists have improved their collars due to the V4 escape

Yeah, they got revamped pretty heavily in ways that mostly haven't come up yet due to people not trying certain things.

RC
 
And the Mini Escape rules are really more easy, and it would be awesome if people would successfully escape there instead in Main. Because it's easier there and it might or might not be encouraged by the staff, because in TV2 for example the collar have flaws and it could be possible to escape there. So I'd look forward for a Mini Escape, so maybe you can try that there if you want, because maybe there the collars are easier to remove.


This is half thematics, half Mini's status as learning ground. This has gotten a bit lost over the years as the Mini and Main populations cross over a ton, but Mini was originally designed as a place for handlers who weren't yet up to snuff for Main. Since then, it's become a lot more of a practice ground, with smaller games and different styles. Since it's smaller and since we don't see tons and tons of escape attempts/any thematic aftershocks thereof, it's basically still running on the V4 rules. If we saw a bunch of escapes on Mini, we'd probably a. move to the V5 rules, b. use this other set I came up with but that's pretty much shelved for being really meta, or c. just flat out go "No escapes for a while". The latter option's much more of a Mini thing due to its training ground status; on Main, with its continuing plot and such, we want there to always be a chance.

RC
 
Or they would've researched that on the corpses they found after it was broadcasted, as the terrorists left them at the island there.


This is why I'm ~98% sure that the bodies aren't left behind, or, at the very least, the collars are removed from them beforehand.

@RC: It's always interesting to hear input; no need to apologize/self-deprecate. :)

Blahblah just my opinion disclaimer stuff.
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The Burned Handler
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May 10 2014, 04:13 PM

3. tbh neck-strapped exploding collars are an inherently silly concept so don't think too hard about it i guess

To be fair, these are an actual thing that show up sometimes! There's been at least one notable incident with a bomb collar being used on somebody.

Also, re: escapee rolled, wouldn't the really, really obvious solution be to just go "the attempt fails" and have that be how they die? It isn't a complication, if someone suggests an escape then gets rolled just go "you can try but it has to fail" or whatever.
Edited by The Burned Handler, May 11 2014, 04:41 AM.
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TwelveFourtyFive
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I think an escape attempt has always multiple people (I can't think of a single person trying to escape alone, other than Ken Mendel. Even Ernest Decarteret had temporarily a group, although he was probably the only escapist in V2 that had a good plan/tried. If he'd met Ricky's group they'd have better chances to escape) and when one of them is rolled and they try to escape it shouldn't fail just because one person of it is rolled. I mean if it is logical and legit, not everybody has to die/having the plan fail. Having an attempt escape fail because of rolls would probably just exclude the rolled character, which would be pretty mean towards the handler of the rolled character. The escape could succeed, but maybe the rolled person dies after they succeed or something, Sean O'Cann style. Or the other collars are removed and the last person who gets them removed is the rolled character, whose collar gets blown up. Or the other people remove the collar wrongly from the rolled one.

Also what counts as an successful escape (attempt)? Removing the collar or go away from the island? Because even if they remove the collar, the escapists could die via terrorist squads or stupid classmates.

Yeah the fact that the collars exist is terrible.

There's also differences between the manga and the movie (I think the manga decapicated, while the movie just let him bleed out or something), how the collars work, but I think the manga's more canon, because the creator of BR has co-written it.

Yeah, I agree with you Toben, that Mini shouldn't have too many escapes, but it hasn't happened yet. But if (a good) one happens it could be pretty cool for everybody, as the staff would write the announcements differently and therefore would expand the universe. The writers would also be happy, because it might or might not be easier for them and it would be cool for the readers because it's never happened and could be interestingly written. The Epilogue could be like the V3 Epilogue! Just finished, which would make it even more awesome. Or like the Tv1 epilogue, where there were multiple winners, too.

But yeah, I'd hate a fleet of escapes, because...they aren't interesting when there are so many. I think the interesting ones are the ones that are creative. On the other hand it is realistic that some people want to escape.
V1 had some escape groups (even though some of them did actually do nothing to escape. They basically just were groups): Jeremy Torres' group, which have done actually nothing, Umi Hunter's group, which have also done nothing to escape, aside from talking about how to communicate without the terrorists knowing, Jacob/Dorian, which was basically lead to nothing, Jack's group, which was successful, Sarge, who was in various groups and had potential to escape in my opinion, Ken Mendel, who was basically commiting suicide, Duncan Wright, who also could've tried to escape if Angharad wouldn't have killed him, Mason, who also died, the Intrepid Six, which did nothing about escape. The only thing the Intrepid Six doing about the game was Dodd ranting, and when there were with River, they also talked about. Oh, and yeah David blew up the collar of Rais.
V2 had the Andi/Peter/Ernest/Alexander/Vesa/Felix/whoever group which broke after a time and Ricky's. I think it's the only notable ones.
V3 had the great escape, so yeah.
V4 had Aaron Hughes, Team Ego, Liz' group and probably some groups that also tried to escape, I haven't read of.
V5 had Gavin, which failed, Jesse Jenning, which also failed, Joey Caputo's, which also failed and Zubin, who might or might not fail.

I think a difference between the version might be that in the earlier version they didn't try it (which made many escape groups last long), while in the current versions they DO try it. V1-2 was "planning and not executing", V3-4 probably was "executing and succeeding or failing" and V5 was "execute and fail"
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MurderWeasel
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RC
 
There's also differences between the manga and the movie (I think the manga decapicated, while the movie just let him bleed out or something), how the collars work, but I think the manga's more canon, because the creator of BR has co-written it.


SOTF takes its cues (nowadays, not back in the V1 era though) way more from novel/film BR than the manga, where any remaining influences exist.

As to groups: Yeah, a big change has been that there is actual framework for escapes now. V1/2, there wasn't really any specific way that groups could enact their ideas, so far as I know.
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Grim Wolf
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Well, V5 is fundamentally bleak, at least based on my read of it. Previous versions had streaks of optimism or hope (in the forms of attempted escape attempts or narrative arcs that gave characters a little hope even when the game was going to end properly). This isn't a bad thing, but it's an interesting play experience.

On the note of escapes-as-narratives, yes, I get that it's a little strange to see repeated successes, which is why I'm mostly okay with the rules, but consider that it's a little uninteresting to play a "session that went as planned". It essentially turns the players into background information. There's also going to be numerous students in any version accepting the game's premise and doing their own thing, so the necessary background is there. I'm not sure escapes really dilute it much further, as much as they add a different dimension to the game.

Pinning down the collar mechanics is really just a subcategory of staff/board consensus. Again, this isn't a critique, because you guys generally do well with this from my own experience, it just strikes me as the thing that has to be done right as we continue our swing towards realism. And yeah, explosions that cause decapitations seem like something a little odd in all this.

My main concern with escape not acting as a roll null is that it becomes narratively awkward if the escape attempt was successful. Like if a character had all the supplies and guts ready to attempt an escape and it succeeds, handling it so that they die right after strikes me as pretty much narratively impossible. It seems like something pretty easy to monitor for abuse (for instance, if they had no prior thought of escape, they can't just decide to do it).

I also don't really have a problem with the roll still applying, just at a later time. Maybe a successful escape on a roll could function as a roll delay? Your name is simply automatically added to the next rolls? I realize the risk factor is mitigated somewhat because the student can then just delay until they're rolled to try and escape, but then, the very act of preparing for an escape might cause them to die unrolled, so it just strikes me a fair balance so that a successful, risky escape can be written well.
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I see no circumstances whatsoever that would make a 'roll delay' fair to the rest of the handlers in any way, shape or form. Narratives get cut short in SOTF all of the time, it's part and parcel of how the game is played and an unfortunate symptom thereof. However, it's also completely necessary for the game's health, because as soon as deaths go from 'when rolled' to 'when I'm ready', well, that's when delays stack up, things get slow and staff members have to force the death.

To my mind there is no reason somebody should get to put off a death for an escape plot. An escape might be the most important thing to THAT character, but to rate it above any other character's plot in importance and to therefore give special dispensation and death time to 'conclude' said plot is incredibly unbalanced and unfair.
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Well, V5 is fundamentally bleak, at least based on my read of it.


lol the version where we had weekend at bernies happen is fundamentally bleak

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but consider that it's a little uninteresting to play a "session that went as planned". It essentially turns the players into background information.


yes, this is why mini is so boring to read and why all of the characters on mini are so dull, flat and lifeless. individual characters are the story not the players and certainly not the ~doomed tragic escape attempt martyrs who broke the system~

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I'm not sure escapes really dilute it much further, as much as they add a different dimension to the game.


yeah escape attempts can create a great narrative when readers are already invested in a character but considering them an intrinsic aspect of the games is narcissistic because the very nature of an escape plan is taking a character and making them the central focus of the plot.

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it just strikes me as the thing that has to be done right as we continue our swing towards realism.


"also stop putting realism on a pedestal everyone like jesus christ realism is not a noble truth we should strive for it is a tool to create empathy and sympathy for characters" - Rachel, 2014.

escape plans are boring as fuck anyway. i'd rather read about characters who are normal people who react to & accept their circumstances in interesting ways than ~look at us~ characters who were created to be part of a setpiece escape. escapes are just too bogged down in OOC bullshit.

like, there's two things that make escape plans boring as fuck and it's:
1. the instigator of the escape plot was made to facilitate an escape plot and thus from the moment their profile is submitted to the moment they die their entire narrative tension is "i wonder if this handler's escape plot will get through staff" rather than "i wonder what will happen to this character!"
2. they rely super heavily on OOC shit b/c if the game is so focused on ~realism~ then how would starving, exhausted and sleep deprived teenagers even come up with the plan that beats a team of mit graduate technicians with zero equipment. there's an underdog story and there's having your characters be tony stark building a robot suit in a cave with a box of scraps
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[18:10] <Laurels> WWJD? Fuck corpses, apparently

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Grim Wolf
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I appear to be starting some flames. My apologies.

To my mind, everything in SotF comes down to two fundamental character reactions. When confronted with the reality of the game and the fact that they're probably going to die, a character a) tries to find a way to give their death meaning (by hunting players, adopting pacifism, leaving art behind, protecting their friends, having sex with as many people as possible, or trying to hurt their captors in some way) or b) tries to survive however they can (by hiding, killing their fellow students, trying to break the game, trying to escape). Often, people vary between these two, and watching that variance can be great: watching an ostensible killer try to protect people they care for, or a pacifist kill someone to survive. Watching noble characters fall or monstrous characters be sympathetic or bad people redeem themselves or friends managing to stick it out even through the nightmare, it's all terrific. Every reaction is an intrinsic part of the game, and all the characters have their own stories that bounce off each other's, changing as they go.

But I think that also means you have to consider escape attempts as an intrinsic part of the game, if only because in Main they are a terrorist act. In BR, they're an Institution: they've persisted for years. Opposing it then is opposing the full weight of a government that sanctions these activities. But in the case of a terrorist act, it's something abnormal, something that can be reacted to and fought against (particularly in light of V3 and V4). These aren't sanctioned events the students have been conditioned towards. They're abnormal, and they demand abnormal responses, which is why playing SotF is so fun.

@Namira

That's a fair point, but I don't think it fully takes the rule change into effect. I'm saying, from a perspective of the very act of attempting an escape can kill you in a way nothing else but inactivity on the site can, it sort of changes the rules a little. It made my V5 attempt exciting as shit and I don't regret it, but it was just a logical problem that occurred to me. The great part about the rolls is they add this dramatic tension and weight to everything, and there's a million ways to die--random killer, suicide, injury, tragic accident, hilarious accident (YOU WIN THIS TIME, GRAVITY!)--so even if you kind of have to jam it right into the middle of a narrative arc it's pretty easy. In the original context (handler can bounce ideas off staff until something works), it would be silly as balls to try and delay anything, because you can easily just say, "Character's rolled, attempt failed, dead."

That's why I'm focusing on a very specific case, because I think it's kind of a hole in the new escape rule. Because an escape attempt now carries so much baggage behind it now (with potential unrolled deaths), it's a riskier proposition that's changed the nature of escapes. Success in this case happens under specific conditions and the entire act of doing so can be undone if you succeed and then die apropos of nothing. It's a mechanic that I'm trying to address to see what the consensus is.

In this situation, I think obvious protocol would be what happened to Polanski--send in a team to stop her while also putting a bounty on her head for the players. That could easily and quickly end in an escapee's death, but given the risk that now goes into making an attempt possible it feels contrived/heavy-handed/self-defeating to have a character (possibly) escape, only to get shot or trip and die in a way that's totally unrelated to the act. It totally destroys the risk the character was taking by making the attempt in the first place, and it's a narrative change that other characters don't have to deal with as much. It's easier to write a good death-as-conclusion when you know the actual specifics of what's about to happen. The rolls give you a chance to choose the manner of your death, even if the timing isn't ideal.

If the consensus on the board is "Just the way it is", so be it, but I think it's worth addressing. Maybe rolled escapes are inherently doomed or forbidden. But the escape rules are a heavy rule change that ultimately turns escape attempts into "possible character angles" into "fully committed decisions with tangible consequences that almost no other act on SotF has." There wasn't that much discussion going into it, and while I'm sure this hypothetical situation is almost never going to happen, it's worth thinking about.

@Kalopsia

Wasn't saying that at all. Considered that of the escapes we've seen, one was a concerted, planned effort on the part of the whole board (V3) and one emerged organically from a variety of actions across the board (V4). The little attempts have helped in their small ways, but ultimately some of the things (the virus in V1, Ethan Kent and Polanski in V4) were at best minor contributions to otherwise existing structures or cool but ultimately fruitless distractions. Escape attempts are part of the landscape: successful ones, up into this point, have been pretty much entirely at staff fiat.

I don't think we're in any danger of escapes totally corrupting the SotF narrative. I've made my own stance on realism (useful insofar as it tells a better story) pretty clear, and I'm pushing for a broader board consensus on certain game details because it'll put us all in an even more coherent universe and so make the stories we tell better and more strongly connected.

All of SotF demands willing suspension of disbelief, from the terrorists to the escape attempts to the student battles. I like writing bleak, no hope scenarios because you can really push a character's limits while doing so, but some characters are going to try to beat the system and the new escape rules mean that such a character has to be wholly focused on doing so, because they risk dying unrolled. Yes, it's going to make escape attempts fewer and probably way more awesome, but it's a major change.

And no, that doesn't mean escape attempts are going to be the centerpoint of SotF, but it's irrational to assume that they aren't part of the landscape, particularly since they've happened before. It sort of feels like you're saying "The very act of attempting an escape downplays what everyone else is doing", but it's just one among many stories happening. Yeah, some people do want to make themselves the protagonists of SotF, and most of the time those people pay a heavy cost (there's a great inspirational speech one of the SADD members tries to give during the V3 attempt that like everyone else just shuts down and I always thought that bit was great). But some people are going to attempt their own thing and if they succeed that doesn't negate what anyone else is doing.

Some people give up and some people play the game on their own terms and some play it on SotF's terms and some try to break the game entirely. None of these stories downplay each other. I just thought of a potential murky area with the new rules and wanted to address it, since it changes the nature of escapes to "good in context of characters" to, essentially "handlers versus staff". If people are going to be playing such a game, the rules should be as clear as possible.
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I have some big issues with the first bit that I don't think have been touched on much yet, so I'll add my two cents.

The fundamental problem with a lot of escapes, that I've read, is that people are approaching them from the OOC perspective that they want to succeed. It completely consumes the characters involved, and often throws a very weird group of people together that really either don't belong together or aren't being written as a cohesive unit with purpose, but instead a group of individuals standing around waiting to escape. This leads to a lot of character stagnation, and the escape itself becomes the character we're following and reading, rather than the individuals involved with it.

The idea that a successful escape attempt would nullify a character being rolled basically personifies this issue. I'm going to choose to interpret this as something other than an attempt to circumvent the rules of death within this game and instead see it as an attempt to continue and support the escape despite complications. This is actually where the much bigger problem comes in, because it further relegates the characters to being vehicles of the escape. They don't live because they should live, or because it betters their story, but because for the escape to work using survival as a success/failure metric, it needs them to live.

This is kind of disheartening to me, because I think really good, realistic escape plots can be written, if you assume the escape will and should fail because these are untrained, exhausted, terrified high school students. Actually escaping is a really neat idea, but if you want to talk about realism, realistically we're dealing with a group that's handled this situation multiple times, has almost complete control of the flow of information for it, and controls all of the assets that these kids are going to have at their disposal. Escape should not happen without outside assistance. So what would be really refreshing is seeing people write escape plots that are intended, 100%, to fail. To try to legitimately approach insufficient the resources and knowledge that our students would have focused through the lens of their increasingly chaotic and fragile mindset and watch the entire thing unironically flame-out in glorious failure. Don't try to create an attempt that's actually going to work using OOC resources, don't try to lobby back and forth to survive, don't plan around rolls and try to hero out "important" members to keep the escape alive, let it dissolve into the unabashed clusterfuck that it would almost certainly be in this scenario.

In short? Use a story to serve game mechanics, rather than trying to bend and lawyer mechanics away to get the story you want. Embrace them, don't break them. Regular escape attempts are a great idea. Regular successful escape attempts, however, are poisonous to the tension of the game and in my opinion we'd be better off if we didn't see one for a couple versions.
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Lemme put my two cents in here. I feel like the details of the collars, specific details, should be left up in the air to discourage people. If there were honest to god schematics of the collars available for everyone to read then everyone will be gunning for it. SotF isn't about overcoming a terrorist plot it's about killing your friends and dying and stuff. It also confuses me when people bring realism into the equation. V5 has a stuttering cowboy and a girl who ate someone's guts because she wants the terrorists to like her. Suspension of disbelief yo.

Seriously though, Grim. if you've got an idea that is awesome and you think it'll work then this was not the way to do it. It's just going to stir the pot to a boil and get people salty. You're a nice guy and I'm very certain you wanted to start a discussion without tomatoes being thrown.

For anyone thinking of an escape plan, not just grim, here's my advice. Do not put in insane amounts of planning and put your plan into action without warning. If you have an idea you should talk to staff and be transparent. The staff are not going to talk about you behind your back, FFS these people are here to help you, not hinder you. I know staff well enough that they do not want to see people throw their characters away. They are not going to give you the answers and they are not going to make special exceptions just because they like you, but they will be able to assist you if you've got questions and maybe, just maybe, if they see how willing you work with them, maybe they might consider the notion of letting you succeed.

The only technicality to this I can think of is that I don't think a staff member's character can be directly involved with the escape. So if you were looking to rope Sean into riding a pirate ship off the island then I got bad news for you son.

In general V3 burnt me out over the idea of escape so I am a biased fuck. Way I see it, though, if you can manage an escape plan that shakes things up for everyone on the island and not for a select group of people that would be best. Everyone gets salty over Liz but at the end of the day that shit affected everyone not just her. (Also I like Liz fight me)
Edited by Ciel, May 12 2014, 02:48 PM.
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I see what you mean, Doc. If success is the sole metric by which you're measuring the attempt you're not playing the same SotF as everyone else on the board.

And Ciel, I agree that there are many details that can be left kind of vague, but some (particularly the nature of collar explosions) can't. I should alsom mention that these aren't thoughts towards a future escape attempt on my part--if they were, I'd probably have just PMed a staff--but more thoughts I had both before, during, and after my own escape attempt in this version that I thought I should bring up. In general, I feel the new rule's solid, but this is the one specific case I kept coming back to that I felt iffy on, and since I had some general thoughts on SotF/new rules/collars/realism, I thought I'd bring'em up here and see what people had to say.

Roll null's dumb and would change the nature of a game, I yield that point immediately. But again, in this situation where an escape is conceptually possible, I just wondered what would happen this specific case wherein the format of SotF requires they die but story execution makes more difficult. Which...I guess could wait until the case itself emerges, if it ever does. It was just a rule hole that occurred to me.
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