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johntfs

Remake/Remodel: Land Below/Living Land

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The alternative would be to make it universally possible to know anything and think of anything, but not actually use what you're speaking of. It would be like knowing that a rock will hurt someone if thrown at them, while not ever being able to throw rocks. (For some reason.)

 

That would seem to be as big a problem, disbelief wise.

 

I have a lot less of a problem with that, actually.

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I have a lot less of a problem with that, actually.
It's possible we're thinking of two different things.

 

What I'm imagining is this: a person who knows how to throw a rock, who understands it completely, and who has a ready supply of rocks at hand. They can pick one up, and drop one. Yet they cannot throw one, even a few inches.

 

Extrapolated, that would seem to be a giant can of worms. The situation seems totally contrary to reality, so much so that it's unbelievable.

 

But, like I said above, we may not understand each other here. If you're thinking of the issue in a different way, feel free to let me know.

Edited by Apieros

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Granted that your rock example is absurd. There is, however, a real-life example that is not. Consider Leonardo da Vinci. According to the TORG R&E Rulebook, Core Earth was at Tech 15 in 1500, right around the time da Vinci was active. During that time, he designed multiple inventions which were clearly beyond the Tech axiom of the day, So, Leonardo was able to conceive of things beyond his axiom without necessarily having them function at that time.

 

Certainly, you could apply your Core Earth World Laws to that situation, but it still exists as an example that people can conceive of things that are beyond their current axiom level to attain.

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John, I think you may have misunderstood my point. I didn't say "No one can ever violate axioms." In the official rules, in Dominant Zones only, they can.

 

What my point was: If we ban actions, but not thoughts it inevitably leads to the rock example. (In a Pure Zone, obviously.)

 

So, once again:

 

What I'm imagining is this: a person who knows how to throw a rock, who understands it completely, and who has a ready supply of rocks at hand. They can pick one up, and drop one. Yet they cannot throw one, even a few inches.

 

The situation seems totally contrary to reality, so much so that it's unbelievable. Having reality influence the thoughts of characters is far more reasonable.

 

And "thoughts but not actions" means this example is mandatory. This specific example would happen in low Tech Pure Zone, but other examples would happen in other places, none of which make sense to me.

 

IMHO YMMV.

 

EDIT: Or were you trying to suggest that, in the official rules, character's thoughts are never limited by axioms? They aren't, in Dominant Zones only. If they disconnect, they are. And in a Pure Zone, they are. So in the official rules, axioms do limit thoughts, all axioms not just Social.

Edited by Apieros

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I suppose that the real question is, what does the social axiom add to the game that couldn't be better provided through a combination of setting details (description of the dominant social trends) and application of World Laws such as the Law of Savagery?

 

In terms of game rules, the carrot is always better than the stick. If you provide a benefit for role-playing in a specific manner, you'll get better results (and less bickering and rules-lawyering, and players willing to learn and bring up the applicable rules for you) than if you just tell them that they are unable to do something.

 

Consider a group of Storm Knights in the Living Land. One of them, a combat-engineer from Core Earth, suggests taking a vote to decide what plan of action to take, and the game-master rules that he has to roll for disconnection. He rolls a 1, and disconnects. Now, he has no ability to create any type of contradiction. He can't use any of his equipment, he can't understand it, and can't think in terms of a higher social structure. The player is now very upset, as his character is now forced to be a completely different character than he created, at least temporarily. From his point of view, he may as well hand over his character to the GM and go watch a movie in the next room until his character can re-connect. If he's in a Pure Zone, he never even got the roll; he automatically gets all of these limitations for any 15-minute period that he doesn't spend a Possibility.

 

Now, consider using something along the lines of the Law of Savagery, instead. That character has no difficulty in getting his group to take a vote, but the GM is encouraged to have the environment take it's toll on his equipment. He is forced to use improvised, hand-made equipment. Now, instead of explosives, he makes pitfalls, snares and Ewok-esque traps out of trees and vines. In Perhaps, adding a bit to the World Law, he could be granted a possibility, or just an Up condition or some other minor game benefit, by dealing with his group like the alpha of a wolf pack, demanding they follow his suggestion or challenge him physically or through intimidation. This is more similar to Tharkold's Law of Domination (or whatever it's called; I'm too lazy to reach over and pull the book out right now), but would fit into the theme well.

 

Which option is more fun?

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What I'm imagining is this: a person who knows how to throw a rock, who understands it completely, and who has a ready supply of rocks at hand. They can pick one up, and drop one. Yet they cannot throw one, even a few inches.

 

Yes, this is what I'm thinking of. The axioms interfere with a character's physical interactions with the world around him.

 

Extrapolated, that would seem to be a giant can of worms. The situation seems totally contrary to reality, so much so that it's unbelievable.

 

I find DDs with mind control powers a bigger can of worms.

 

And, again, I'll exempt those who have been Transformed.

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In terms of game rules, the carrot is always better than the stick.
Let me attempt to rephrase your objection:

 

1.) The Social axiom doesn't do anything for players, no tools, no benefits, nothing cool. (Aka "no carrot.")

 

plus

 

2.) When they disconnect, the player gets screwed. (Aka "all stick.")

 

So why have it? It's the appendix of the game: does nothing most of the time, and when it does something, it's always bad.

 

My response:

 

I see why some people don't like the Axiom, and most Torg players/GM's probably ignored it. In the game as written, the Social axiom didn't provide enough tools nor have much impact on game play.

 

I find it useful, for reasons stated previously. More, for my campaign, I've tried to expand the Social axiom so there are more concrete benefits and tools.

 

In the Living Land (earlier in the thread), this includes: mindsculpting, cultural viruses, predictive sociology ("psychohistory"), meta-linguistics, waking hypnosis, and (newly added) the insight skill. That's a whole lot of concrete, useful, deployable tools for SK's to use.

 

The Social axiom can have them and should have them. It doesn't.

 

Again, I know this is just my house rules, and while it's nice for my game and for me, other's won't be using them. The Social axiom will seem pointless, for them. I understand that point of view.

 

(As an aside, your argument about punitive disconnection applies to all axioms, not just Social. You can—and probably would—argue that it's balanced by the benefits those axioms provide, benefits not provided by Social. I can see why you'd make that argument and why people would accept it.)

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I find DDs with mind control powers a bigger can of worms.
If Social = "DD's with mind control" then this is true for all axioms. Tech ="DD's get mind control", Spirit = "DD's with mind control", Magic = "DD's get mind control."

 

If we should eliminate Social for this, then we should eliminate all axioms, as they all do the exact same thing.

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Consider a group of Storm Knights in the Living Land. One of them, a combat-engineer from Core Earth, suggests taking a vote to decide what plan of action to take, and the game-master rules that he has to roll for disconnection. He rolls a 1, and disconnects. Now, he has no ability to create any type of contradiction. He can't use any of his equipment, he can't understand it, and can't think in terms of a higher social structure. The player is now very upset, as his character is now forced to be a completely different character than he created, at least temporarily. From his point of view, he may as well hand over his character to the GM and go watch a movie in the next room until his character can re-connect. If he's in a Pure Zone, he never even got the roll; he automatically gets all of these limitations for any 15-minute period that he doesn't spend a Possibility.

And how is this disconnection any different from him using binoculars in the Living Land and disconnecting, or a magician trying to cast a spell there and disconnecting? They're also "forced to be a completely different character".

 

Or am I misunderstanding and you're saying we should completely eliminate disconnections as a game mechanic?

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If Social = "DD's with mind control" then this is true for all axioms. Tech ="DD's get mind control", Spirit = "DD's with mind control", Magic = "DD's get mind control."

 

If we should eliminate Social for this, then we should eliminate all axioms, as they all do the exact same thing.

 

I obviously don't consider them the same thing. Use the Social axiom if you want; i won't.

 

OTOH, the Social axiom isn't my biggest problem with Torg.

Edited by copeab

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I obviously don't consider them the same thing.
Why? You've never explained why, or given any examples or reasons to support your claim.

 

Your claim: "Only the Social axiom influences thoughts" is mistaken, so far as I can tell by reading the official material. I've provided clear examples why I think other axioms also do that.

 

More, so do world laws. In fact, many world laws have specific rules that describe how they affect emotions.

 

  • Nile's Law of Morality dictates Good or Evil thoughts and actions, and nothing else but Good or Evil.
     
  • Nippon Tech's Law of Intrigue guarantees someone turns traitor. It has to affect thought patterns.
     
  • The Way of Zinatt World Law (Space Gods) gives three alignment paths, and how characters of each path think and see the world.
     
  • From Tharkold: "[T]he Laws of Ferocity and Domination combine to create suspicion and chauvinism to any idea not developed by the character's culture."
     
  • Last: Orrorsh's Power of Fear. An entire World Law devoted to casing fear. An emotional state, hence the reality affects people's thoughts.

World Laws affect thoughts and emotions. In basic, unmodified Torg, reality influences thoughts. Including all the axioms.

 

So all of those things, in your phrase, equivalate to to "DD's controlling minds."

Edited by Apieros

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So all of those things, in your phrase, equivalate to to "DD's controlling minds."

 

If this is the case, the Torg is not a game that interests me anymore.

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If this is the case, the Torg is not a game that interests me anymore.

 

Except it's not really the case. And even if it is, there's ways around it. First off, recall that just because most people are in thrall to some axiom or world law, that doesn't mean it applies to your character, at least not all the time. If your group is in Nippon and there are 11 PCs in it, that doesn't mean that one of them is a traitor since they're all Storm Knights and Storm Knights have the power to choose their behaviors (even if that means spending a possibility point or getting a talisman).

 

So, let's look at Jasyn's bullet points are consider how Storm Knights deal with them.

 

* Nile's Law of Morality dictates Good or Evil thoughts and actions, and nothing else but Good or Evil.

 

Recall that almost by definition, Storm Knights are already heroes and therefore "Good" anyway. "Good" in this case doesn't mean acting like one of the Super Friends. The tough private eye who roughs up criminals for infomation is as Good as the virtuous Rocket Ranger who helps little old ladies across the street. And beyond that, one can still spend a possibility point to act more should one wish.

 

* Nippon Tech's Law of Intrigue guarantees someone turns traitor. It has to affect thought patterns.

 

We just covered this one above. As usual, this (and most other World Laws) tend to affect NPCs more than PCs. The Law of Intrigue guarantees that someone will turn traitor. It does not guarantee that you or one of the other player characters with you will turn traitor. You and they have the free will to make that choice.

 

* The Way of Zinatt World Law (Space Gods) gives three alignment paths, and how characters of each path think and see the world.

 

Which first of all only affects characters actually of the Star Sphere reality. That same reality specifically "protects" other beings from disconnecting through the affects of their World Laws. So, a Nile character could use his "Detect Alignment" ability that's linked to the Law of Morality without risking disconnection. Second of all, the Zinatt alignment define general tendencies, not specific actions. An Aka character can still shoot at you. A Coar character can still go "full defensive" on you. And a Zinatt character can choose to do either of those things at any given time.

 

* From Tharkold: "[T]he Laws of Ferocity and Domination combine to create suspicion and chauvinism to any idea not developed by the character's culture."

 

Which doesn't rule out the idea that your own character is more open-minded and accepting that the rest of his culture. The whole point of Storm Knights is that they are not trapped in being stereotypes of their culture.

 

* Last: Orrorsh's Power of Fear. An entire World Law devoted to casing fear. An emotional state, hence the reality affects people's thoughts.

 

I'll grant you, this is much tougher to beat. Not even possibilities or a talisman can insulate you from the Power of Fear (hell, an Orrorshan creature who is in your reality can inflict this on you). That said, recall that the Perseverance mechanism continually rises as the creature targeted does horrible things and your group gathers clues to kill it. Ultimately, if you gain even enough Perseverance, you can tell the Gaunt Man himself to go piss up a rope.

Edited by johntfs

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Storm Knights have the power to choose their behaviors.
I agree exactly. World Laws and axioms influence thoughts and emotions, they do not dictate them. They do limit them in Pure Zones or while a character is disconnected. And even when they limit them, the SK's have the ability to choose how to behave (which is what you pointed out). Or they can reconnect or create a reality bubble.

 

(And, in my opinion, ords can choose their behaviors as well. Not as forcefully as SK's, but they can.)

 

"Mind control" is inaccurate. Influencing thoughts and emotions isn't equivalent to Mind Control, axioms dictating actions and thoughts.

Edited by Apieros

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The best illustration I've found for the effects of realities other than your own is drink or drugs. When you're in the Dominant zone of another reality, you're a little buzzed. You're still you, you're just "under the influence" of another reality. In a Pure Zone, you're flat-out stoned. The good news is that in either of those situations, you can "shake it off" for awhile by spending a P-Point.

 

One other thing to recall is that the other realities are also other genre's. It's not that your character is being mind-cotnrolled by some outside force, it's that your character is in different styles of stories, each with their differing conventions. In Orrorsh, you're in a horror movie. In the Nile, you're in a Pulp-superhero movie. Like that.

 

As an illustration, there was an adventure seed about the high officials of some town in the Nile trying to summon a Martian or something. When the SKs went to confront them, the villains were wearing masks and costumes. Those knights from the Nile were utterly incapable of seeing the true identities of the villains until they'd been unmasked. Those knights from other realities were able to easily discern their identities based on body types, etc. It's not that the Nile folks were stupid or mind-controlled. It's just that the reality/genre of the Nile was such that the Law of Drama (presumably) protects the identity of masked individuals.

 

In any of the other realities, everyone would be able to notice that Clark Kent was Superman. In the Nile, the glasses would completely protect his identity.

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The best illustration I've found for the effects of realities other than your own is drink or drugs.
That would have been me, on the old Torg boards. 8-)

 

In fact "Under the Influence" became my shorthand for one of the four possible ways to play in an alien reality:

 

1.) Fish Out of Water

2.) Under the Influence

3.) Gone Native

4.) Through New Eyes

 

Here's a description of what each means:

 

1.) Fish Out of Water: I'm me, same as always, but in a strange place. (Also known as "We're Not in Kansas Anymore.")

 

2.) Under the Influence: I'm me, in a strange place, but I'm not quite myself.

 

3.) Gone Native: I'm me, but I'm acting like everybody else in this strange place.

 

4.) Through New Eyes: I'm not the same me, anymore. There's no going back.

 

These are the four fundamental modes when a person crosses into a new reality and the reality begins to affect them: No influence, some influence, total influence, you've changed. They come into effect when:

 

1.) Just entered the alien reality for the first time.

2.) After some amount of time in the alien reality.

3.) Disconnected or Pure Zone

4.) Transformed.

 

This is, as far as I know, not directly stated in the official rules. It's just my guidelines.

 

#2 comes into effect when the Knight has spent a significant amount of time in the reality, or a good length of time disconnected or in a Pure Zone. In my mind, it's a cumulative thing. The longer you spend in a reality, the more you acclimatize and the easier it is to slip into its mindset.

Edited by Apieros

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So, if I were to summarize what I took away from the discussion, in terms of the Social Axiom, it'd be this.

 

1.) The Social axiom offers few tools for Storm Knights to use. It's vague and inconsistently applied.

 

2.) As a consequence, it's difficult to use in play, especially in the case of disconnection. It's hard to say what should happen when disconnected, hard to describe what being disconnected in a lower Social zone means, and almost impossible to give mechanics for.

 

3.) As a result it's mostly useless in practical terms. It's easier to get rid of it or just ignore it. [ignoring it was, AFAICT, what most GM's & players ended up doing.]

 

Some people will prefer to continue ignoring it. Some will prefer to ignore it to the point of excising it from their game.

 

For me, for my campaign, I'm going with a third option: producing descriptions of what being disconnected in an alien reality means [Note 1, below], and guidelines on how and when this affects the character.

 

In addition, I am fleshing out and detailing the Social axiom, so I have a concrete, internally consistent axiom that makes it easy to tell what each level means.

 

Last, I am trying to add new tools, or detail old tools, so they can be used in play. This gives concrete benefits for higher Social realms. It also makes it so that disconnection has clear effects.

 

When you disconnect in a lower Axiom, you can't use your gun. Or spell. Or miracle. There is a clear, visceral impact.

 

With Social tools, there should be tools as clearly defined, so the player immediately knows: I'm disconnected in a lower Social, so I can't use my insight skill, or psychology, or linguistics. (Or whatever else.)

 

This gives the Social clear effects, and gives losing it clear effects, just like the other axioms. So far as I can tell, if done and done right, this would eliminate the drawbacks identified above.

 

[Note 1: This is actually done, and posted to The List. I may as well post it here, at some point.]

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To my mind, the best example of the Social Axiom being applied so far is in ROLE PLAYING, but as noted the Social Axiom is too diffused a concept so far even for that.

Most (if not ALL) instances of "mind control" are more appropriately recognized as guides for playing a character in the respective genre, and no more unacceptable than the GM refusing access to an AK-47 in a basic/average D&D fantasy game.

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To my mind, the best example of the Social Axiom being applied so far is in ROLE PLAYING
I wholly agree with, and endorse this post.

 

(Note: No payment or other considerations were received as compensation for this endorsement.)

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And how is this disconnection any different from him using binoculars in the Living Land and disconnecting, or a magician trying to cast a spell there and disconnecting? They're also "forced to be a completely different character".

 

Or am I misunderstanding and you're saying we should completely eliminate disconnections as a game mechanic?

 

No, disconnection serves a distinct game purpose. I don't know, perhaps there could be better ways of managing it, but it's not entirely broken.

 

My point is that, while taking away a character's tools (high-tech weapons, spells, etc.) is par for the course in the game, the demands of the Social axiom dig deeply into a character's behavior and thought. It's realistic within the scope of the game to have the character be unable to think in more advanced ways, but it can be very un-fun. If you pick up a gun and pull the trigger, and it does nothing, you have a dramatic situation. If you try to organize a night watch rotation and the GM tells you that you can't do that because you couldn't think of that, it's not so dramatic as it is authoritarian. If the player doesn't want to play Chaka from Land of the Lost, he shouldn't have to.

 

Now, in cases where everyone is up for falling into primitive modes of thought, that can be very fun. My groups have always been more likely to go that route. But a world law that grants bonuses for doing so would influence the players more effectively than just a rule saying that they can't do otherwise.

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May I suggest that we continue the discussion of the Social axiom in a thread dedicated to it.

 

As for the Living Land, I like the idea of a low Social and Tech Axiom together. The Living Land isn't just the primitive world. It's the post-apocalypse world. It's a world that's taken thousands of years of learning and development and thrown it completely out in favor of an alien religion. It's a world where you can go to what used to be your home on modern Earth and see that it's got trees growing in it. A good example for the Living Land would be pictures from Detroit where abandoned homes and building are getting reclaimed by the natural environment.

 

But that's just the stick. There's also the carrot of Kata-Kelles. Miracles have power in the Living Land. Just on the sheer number scale, edeinos should have a living standard as good as or better than that of someone in Nippon Tech. Want food? Just pray for it. Hurt? Pray for healing. Need to run really damn fast because a dino-thing is coming to eat your ass? Pray for it. Don't believe in Kata-Kelles. Sucks to be you, then. That dino's getting closer...

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Of course, from the viewpoint of visitors to the realm, it really is likely to suck. Characters without adds in faith and focus skills can't get any advantage out of the higher Spiritual axiom, and they're not likely to buy any or to convert to the local religion.

 

Here's a thought. It seems to have been assumed that communities that are transformed to Living Land reality take on the religion of Lanala. Certainly, they will be aware of the literal, pervasive and immanent presence of Lanala. However, what about groups, and even just individuals, who are highly devoted to their own religion (let's say, Christianity, as an example). For a devout individual, a person's faith is very central to his person; a conversion to a new religion shouldn't be something that can happen without a choice being made. What about a Catholic priest who transforms to Living Land reality, but remains a Christian? He can benefit from the higher Spirit axiom, but are there any other rules considerations? Certainly, he will approach his faith in a different manner than before.

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All other Faiths LOSE power at the Living Land's Spirit Axiom level, so even if they had another belief system it wouldn't help them.

If anything, the Spirit Axiom might need lowering -- UNLESS, the rival Rek Stalek could have a grouping of Miracles beneficial to Storm Knights.

Which would make more sense actually and reinforce Baruk Kaah's story of "bringing life/Lanala" to other Cosms when the Edeinos can see such Miracles being performed.

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All other Faiths LOSE power at the Living Land's Spirit Axiom level, so even if they had another belief system it wouldn't help them.

If anything, the Spirit Axiom might need lowering -- UNLESS, the rival Rek Stalek could have a grouping of Miracles beneficial to Storm Knights.

Which would make more sense actually and reinforce Baruk Kaah's story of "bringing life/Lanala" to other Cosms when the Edeinos can see such Miracles being performed.

 

Yeah, I had thought of that (the way that miracles of faiths other than the dominant faith become contradictory at high Spirit axiom levels), but I kind of skipped over it. That rule has always seemed a bit dodgy. After all, not all faiths are exclusivist. Many embrace the validity of other faiths; so, if the dominant faith of a cosm is non-exclusivist, how does this rule apply?

 

Plus, on a dramatic note, it would mean that spiritual conflict (particularly conflict between faiths, or even interaction between faiths) would become rarer and rarer, and finally impossible, as the Spirit axiom rises. How is this similar to other axioms? You don't see one branch of science or one arcane knowledge becoming dominant in high Tech or Magic axiom levels.

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Well, there is a tangle for certain.

I never really liked the "Our Faith pwns you all" aspect of the Living Land.

But in the current spread, 33 offers a totally true and preeminent belief system as close as possible to the being(s)/force(s) being worshiped.

As such, there would be a level at which foreign faiths (those not of the Cosm) would begin to lose power.

If, for example, there was an Egyptian Cosm with a Spirit of 24 or so, Osiris and Set would still be opposing forces accepted by the Cosm and neither would have lost any power.

Takta Ker simply needs more deities in its Cosm, so that there is a choice and therefore conflict.

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