Really interesting conversation came about after our excellent turn tonight. Player D. says he feels like he doesn’t want to take risks because the risk is disconnected from the Obstacle of the roll: If I have 6 dice and the Ob is 3, then I’ll accept equal stakes. If I have 6 dice and the Ob is 5, then by golly I’d better get better stakes…way, way better stakes.
I think he was feeling like he had to play conservatively because he didn’t feel like the Ob was negotiable, particularly since I set the Ob after the task is described and the stakes are set. It never came up in actual play ™ but conceptually it’s seriously hindering his desire to go for bigger stakes.
Some concepts I want to make sure I’m clear on:
The Ob is based on the actual task you’re trying to accomplish, not the size of the stakes, and
Nobody is trapped into rolling anything if they don’t like the risk vs. reward balance once the Ob is set.
My understanding is that the Ob is negotiable to a point, but it’s up to the GM to set the final Ob. My understanding is also that either side can back out of the stakes, based on the Ob, if they feel the reward isn’t worth the risk. True? Or is there a “gotcha” bit of timing there in which the GM can set an Ob that’s unbalanced with what the stakes are, and the player is stuck with the stakes and a shitty roll?
My sense is that a test is a three-sided bit of negotiation: my stakes, your stakes, the Ob. We get to keep working out all three sides of the deal until we all agree with the final deal, and only then do we roll.
From a player POV I get his position. As a player, he doesn’t want to fail – ever. Despite the fact he can always say “no” to whatever stakes I’m offering, he simply does not want to fail. He also wants to be able to gauge his risk and his reward as he tries to plan out his play. It’s hard to do when there’s no table there telling you how hard something is (Circles and Resources excepted). When in doubt, I defaulted to Ob3.
It was kind of stressful, particularly for a problem that never actually came up in play. It was weird: On the one hand, he complained about having to play totally risk-averse; on the other, he said later that he thought I wasn’t setting tough enough stakes for my side.
I’m hoping to get my player to post up here so he can explain his issue better. I’m probably doing his position a disservice but this is the best I can explain it. It may, in fact, simply be a play style conflict.