My group had a whole bunch of problems mastering the mechanics – in fact, we didn’t and gave up – but the underlying problem was a sense that when we rolled dice, there was a lot of counting on fingers and clattering on the table that, often as not, didn’t add up to much. I’m trying to figure out what we were doing wrong.
- Linked Test Troubles
One big specific example was linked tests. We all liked the idea of gaming these tests to give yourself advantages in the future – I was a bit giddy over it – but in practice +1D just didn’t mean a lot, since with ForKs and Help we were consistently rolling 6-10 dice on anything we really cared about. Plus there was the nasty downside of +1 Ob if you screwed up, which made people cautious.
I was tempted to make it possible for a really successful roll to give more than +1D to the linked test, but instead I stuck strictly to the rules (as interpreted on the forum). I did make people say what Obstacle their initial test had beaten, and restricting them to linking the +1D only to a subsequent test with an equal or lower Obstacle – which I understand is the rule – but that didn’t in practice create much differentiation among degrees of success in Linked Tests, either.
- Circle = Zero?
Similarly, Circles tests were an idea we were all excited about – “Room Service, please send up two minor characters with exponent 4 skills and a bad attitude about the Church!” – but we couldn’t extract the coolness in practice.
One big thing: I never actually invoked the Emnity Clause, in part because we never cared enough about the minor character we’d just invented (but not yet named or roleplayed) to enjoy fighting with him, but mainly because we did a bunch of tests where finding an enemy wasn’t a failure, e.g. our biggest Circles test was finding a rival to frame for something.
The bigger problem wasn’t unexciting failed Circles tests, though: It was unexciting successful Circles tests. Because the Obstacle penalties for getting a really skilled or powerful character are pretty high, at least compared to the Circles scores of our characters, the guys we successfully Circles’d up didn’t actually do very much for us, mechanically – maybe a +1D for Help, maybe a +1D circumstantial advantage.
As with linked tests, Circles seemed a lot of input for not much output, even for our characters with high Circles scores. By stark contrast, our characters with high Resources scores could buy equipment giving a +2D bonus pretty reliably. If we’d been more interested in tech, or more creative about describing social advantages as technology (Cleavage, +2D to Seduction, Resources Obstacle 5), that’d have been fun, but as Circles and Linked tests appealed to us more on a gut level, it just felt weird.