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Mechanics
Topic Started: May 10 2014, 02:47 PM (1,158 Views)
MurderWeasel
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Usual my thoughts deal:

Grim
 
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.


I think this is an agree to disagree thing, and comes from a pre-V3-escape vs. post-V3-escape point of view. Basically, way back in before there were any escapes, the focus was on the game itself and the stories unfolding within; it wasn't building towards anything big and the story was that of the class as they struggled, not as they overcame. In fact, general consensus among the first three versions tends to favor V2 as the most consistently compelling, and it's the only game where everything has gone as planned (what with V1's terrorists on the island).

Grim
 
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).


The issue here is that it'd involve a ton of fiddly details and judgement calls on really subjective stuff, which we try to avoid. It also would open up loopholes no matter which way we took it, maybe encouraging handlers to just have their favorite kids plan escapes early. Plus, there are plenty of great ways to kill kids after initial success in escape attempts.

Grim
 
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.


In my opinion, this gets a little overly fiddly. I imagine staff would be willing to consider extensions due to narrative circumstances, but the big issue I see here is an automatic extension would likely lead to the kid spreading their info as far as possible during that period, making it way more likely that other characters also break free. The deck is stacked such that escapes are a very tall order, and I don't really want to see anything introduced that works against the challenge.

@everyone: I feel like this is getting a little tense; can we be sure to stay chill, please?

Rachel
 
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.


I'm not sure I agree here, unless an attempt ends the game. While an escape attempt would certainly force a reaction from the terrorists, so does, say, setting a new kill record or winning BKA or making them blow you up out of defiance. I don't think escape attempts are an intrinsic part of the SOTF experience but I don't think they're outside or alien to it either. If they were, we'd just flat out forbid them and call it a day.

Rachel
 
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.


I would argue this is true of any terrible plot. Escapes aren't immune, but I don't even think they're more subject to it than, say, high kill count players. Compare, say, V3's escape to V1's island terrorists.

Rachel
 
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!"


This is also true of premade players and honestly of a lot of hero sorts. I think separating escapes isn't really necessary. Premade anything tends to suck, if you're not subtle about it.

Rachel
 
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


This can depend. I think there are elements of it for sure. On the other hand, random flukes and brilliant ideas sometimes pull through in real life. It's just extremely rare.

Replies to the next three posts coming in a few. Posting now so this isn't too huge.
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MurderWeasel
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@Grim: I understand the rationale behind the idea of giving a delay. It's just something where I can't see any hard and fast rule going not leaving a lot of holes for abuse and unfortunately historically some handlers have been very give-an-inch-take-a-mile.

To use a V5 example: It's sort of like how, in the V5 attempt, you asked staff if we could hold off and not just post the results with Help, and we said sure 'cause it was better for the narrative even though that's actually an exception to the rules as written. I feel way more comfortable having strict rules and then loosening them when we know that a handler isn't going to abuse that loosening than having loose rules and then scrambling to fix things when an abuse case comes up.

Grim
 
Maybe rolled escapes are inherently doomed or forbidden.


We actually kicked that about during the planning phase and decided against it because it seemed too narratively heavy-handed. I'll need to go digging 'cause the discussion was a couple years ago, but we did hash through this a lot staffside.

Grim
 
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.


This isn't exactly accurate, though it may be difficult to see from an outside the staff perspective.

In V4, we actually had a certain setup going in: There was a spy in the AT's midst and there was gonna be an attack that killed Danya. In the very early planning stages (late V3, before I was actually staff), the idea was that there would be a rescue apropos of nothing, but as time went on the staff didn't like the idea at all because it felt too metaplot focused for something impacting the game. As such, we decided to roll with Danya dying instead, and established that STAR lacked the information necessary to save anyone.

That changed over the course of V4, when a. Ethan's team got the location of the island out and b. Liz forced a restructuring in how the collars' signals were transmitted. Staff looked at these ideas and actions and went "Hmm, what would this do to the game?" and realized it would give STAR an opportunity to act (we knew they had the resources given the original idea, but they lacked the few key elements provided by the kids on the island). Without Ethan and Liz and the others, there wouldn't have been a V4 rescue and the landscape of the game would've been very different.

Grim
 
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.


I disagree here! I think it means that a character's resolution must include the possibility of an unrolled death in the attempt, but I think there's a ton of potential to go further than that. To grab V4 examples, for that matter, I know both story and Rugga knew their kids would die as a result of their escape attempts. Ethan kicks it effectively in one post after starting. At the same time, a lot of what's interesting about Ethan is less his actions and more the rationales behind them, the way he balances some pretty negative motivations and feelings with his desires to help certain people and get revenge. It's an internal story, and one that could've worked if he became a player instead, with minimal changes.

Grim
 
But some people are going to attempt their own thing and if they succeed that doesn't negate what anyone else is doing.


I 100% agree with this. The one meta thing staff does do when it comes to escapes is do our best to ensure that any successful escape will not result in the entire end of a version for handlers who don't want any part of it. Basically, it's important that people who came to play bleak island deathmatch have that option even if someone finds a few puppies and rainbows in a shoebox somewhere.

Grim
 
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.


I disagree on the handlers vs. staff thing, though some of this may be due to internal workings. The way staff have it set up is we've got a playbook and we rule based on it, no matter how much we do or don't like any escape on a personal level. The adversarial mentality certainly can come up, but usually it just makes things more frustrating for everyone involved. It's also part of why we'd rather have tougher rules; if a handler decides to try to push every limit in an OOC way, we want to have an answer ready.

Doc
 
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.

This is an interesting point. We have seen escapes doomed from the start, though I think they fly more under the radar because they usually communicate with staff at the beginning what their aim is, at which point we tend to be pretty hands-off unless some kind of issue comes up.

Doc
 
In short? Use a story to serve game mechanics, rather than trying to bend and lawyer mechanics away to get the story you want.


I think this is perhaps a bit too little credit to most of our escape attempt handlers. That said, we've had a few instances where a handler basically declares that they're going to do their best to leverage every possible opportunity into an escape. That's fine, but it leads to the rules being written with that mentality in mind. It's an unfortunate situation where the rules have to be pretty firm and loophole free for the 5% of potential escapees who would abuse them otherwise.

Ciel
 
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.


It depends! I think the collars should react the same way every time for sure, because that gives enough clues that people can work off of something. That said, actual schematics and workings being announced was part of an April Fool's joke for a reason.

Ciel
 
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.


Grim's been nothing but polite and this is the exact forum and style for this sort of thing, so I 100% support this thread and method of handling stuff.

Ciel
 
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.


We'll succeed or fail you based on the playbook, no matter how much we personally like or hate your plan. That said, how painful the process of getting to that conclusion is depends a lot on communication and style. I know you're not specifically addressing Grim here, but I just want it to be known he's consistently been one of the best handlers to work with re: escape stuff and interfacing with staff across two versions.

Ciel
 
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.


This is a thing that really needs an on the book rule, but basically yeah, staff have way too much inside information to be allowed to do any sort of initiating. I don't think we'd slam a staffer if their kid was attached to someone else's escape attempt in a small role or whatever if they weren't abusing their position, but they'd blow up like everyone else (and also definitely be off the success/failure committee). But... yeah, if a staffer's character is leading an escape attempt, abandon all hope ye who follow.

Grim
 
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.


Mm hm! This is also the same as the people who gun to win from Day One. People do that. It will never make sense to me.

Grim
 
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.


Yeah, this is a good talk. And some of these are things that staff came to conclusions about during the attempt ourselves.

Not to get too overboard before it's fact, but my thoughts on collar explosions are that any collar explosion related death is gonna probably require a look-over by staff in V6 onwards. The issue is that if one handler writes something that implies things work a certain way (for example, a collar starting to beep when damaged instead of just instantly exploding) and staff see it another way (protip: collars instantly explode when damaged) that can be a serious issue for a handler reading along and gathering info. It's actually why we retconned Joey's death; communications got a bit complicated, handlers didn't have quite the right read on how collars reacted, and we knew there was an active escape attempt and didn't want them to get the wrong idea.

Again, just my opinions and stuff.
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