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Oct. 3rd, 2008 @ 02:31 pm Strategies of the Rustbelt

These are ramifications and implications of various rules in the Rustbelt.  I still don't know if I want to include them in the first (ie non-ashcan) edition, or if it's cooler for people to figure them out on their own.

THE THREAT OF VIOLENCE
The effects of violence are HUGE.  It is really, really easy to inflict lethal amounts of damage on someone.  They won't actually die unless their player agrees, but they must at least be maimed.  So, yeah, violence is scary.  Because of this, the threat of violence is a huge bargaining tool.  You want something?  Pull a gun and demand it.  If the other guy isn't willing to get shot, he's gonna have to give it to you.

A TERRIBLE RESOLVE
There is nothing more dangerous than the terrible resolve of someone who is willing to suffer more than you.  You wanted something, so you pulled a gun and demanded it?  Well, if that other guy is willing to get shot, you're in trouble.  Due to the way that orthogonal conflict is handled, he can take your gun away from you, or gut you with a knife, or any other such nasty thing while you're trying to shoot him -- and if he's willing to get shot, there ain't jack shit you can do about it.

CUTTING WORDS
You can damage someone through your words.  Their Woes become your weapons -- triggering a Woe can lead to a Tears hit (and 60 Tears can kill you).  You don't even have to roll for it, unless someone is trying to stop you from speaking.  But you know what?  It doesn't have to hurt them, because they can always choose to have an Outburst instead.  And that Outburst might very well be violent.

SCREW THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT THE THINGS YOU CAN'T CHANGE
You have the strength to accomplish anything in the game.  Catch is, if you use it every time, you're gonna burn out and die.

DICE DON'T RESOLVE CONFLICTS, PEOPLE DO
(But the dice help.)  In fights, the dice tell us who gets hurt, but the fight ends when somebody decides to stay down, and the other guy decides to stop kicking him.  In social conflicts, I can make you like me by rolling Personable, I can make you afraid of me by rolling Grizzled, I can freak you the fuck out by rolling Uncanny, I can confuse you by rolling Savvy, but I can't force you to take any particular course of action.  All I can do is make certain actions harder for you to take, in the hopes that you'll acquiesce to my will.  And I can offer bargains, I can beg, I can threaten, I can make promises, I can lie, but you always have authority over your own decisions.

And that's how conflicts are resolved throughout the whole game.  It's a matter of bargaining pressure to try to get you to acquiesce.  You can always hold out, but sooner or later it's gonna hurt pretty bad.  Then it's time to do the math, the cold equations, the Algebra of Need.
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From:davidberg
Date:October 11th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)

Rustbelt rolling

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Kudos for getting this game into the hands of some folks and generating some very interesting discussion on the Forge!

Did you just show up at GenCon with $10 ashcans and everything rolled from there? Or was there more to it?

As for the new Beyond the Wire forum under Independent Games, I've always wondered about the organizational logic there. Some games seem to get talked about more in Actual Play than in their own forums, others are split 50/50, and others (mostly older, established games like Sorcerer, I think) keep mostly to their own forums. Regardless, I'll be sure to scroll down the forum index and check your stuff out from time to time.
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From:americanwizard
Date:October 14th, 2008 10:23 pm (UTC)

Re: Rustbelt rolling

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I wasn't able to make it to GenCon. Paul Czege represented it on my behalf, at the Ashcan Front booth. I prepared a playtest scenario for him to run, which he did, although I don't think that anyone who played bought the book.

There really wasn't much to it. I did only a modicum of advertising. I think the fairly frequent playtesting posts on the Forge helped, especially since so many of them were by someone who wasn't me.

My idea with the BtW forum is to have a place where people can ask questions and make comments without tying anything directly to any sort of play account. And also to discuss issues with the ashcan.
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From:davidberg
Date:October 15th, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC)

Re: Rustbelt rolling

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Sounds perfect!

How were people other than you posting about before you'd gotten the ashcan out? Were they just Forge readers who read your threads and said, "I wanna try that?"
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From:americanwizard
Date:October 15th, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)

Re: Rustbelt rolling

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Yep, pretty much. And I've also had the pre-ashcan playtest documents online the whole time. Heck, they're still there.