Thursday, June 4, 2015

Quotation on Qualities

Over on the ICONS mailing list (icons-rpg at Yahoo), John Clark asked a question about using Qualities and Trouble. (Following material quoted with permission.)

Initially, he thought the idea was essentially, "Take some Trouble, get an Advantage."

Which made sense to him, and I've often played that way. If you need an advantage so that you can push a power, taking trouble is a great way to get one. Sure, you can access the Uni-Beam but it will burn out your communications system. That sort of thing.

But John goes on. He said, "But then I realized, after reading the Tactics section again last night, that Tactics only allows you to take on Trouble so you can activate a Quality, in order to get an Advantage.

"If a character has to activate a Quality to use Tactics, if they don't have an appropriate Quality of their own to tag, would they have to go through the discovery process to find or create one first?"


All of this assumes that your character hasn't got an appropriate Quality.

This is what I suspect is the relevant text from ICONS Assembled:
Tactics: A character can choose to accept trouble (see Trouble, following) for the ability to activate a quality, such as accepting increased difficulty in defending against attacks in exchange for activating a quality to gain improved effort in making attacks (an “all-out attack” tactic).
 To get to the implication, John also added, "If a character has to activate a Quality to use Tactics, if they don't have an appropriate Quality of their own to tag, would they have to go through the discovery process to find or create one first?"

Steve Kenson responded. First he said essentially, that if the Trouble=Advantage thing works for you, do it, even if it's not rules-as-written.

Then he expanded:
Strictly according to the rules-as-written, yes, assuming the player absolutely couldn’t find a creative application of one of the hero’s existing qualities for the tactic.

Otherwise, you are supposed to come up with a new quality, either using the maneuver rules, or “borrowing” an existing quality from your opponent, the environment, etc. (that is, one established by the GM).

However, there is a bit of a loophole: I allow players, when they choose to cause trouble for their own characters, to take on a temporary quality associated with that trouble for the character, which can ALSO be activated for advantage, using the DP earned from the trouble!
 That does eliminate some of the extra complexity.

In fact, that's why I let Qualities be  tentative for the first few sessions.  It might be an  important part of your character to have "Hunted by an anti-mutant organization." That signals to the GM that you want it to be part of future games (important!) but does it help if you need to do a stunt or improved effort when dealing with Monstron, the Beast With A Thousand Appendages?

A large part of it is learning to write the Qualities well. Ideally, you want double-edged and specific Qualities, but a Quality you can activate in a large number of circumstances is better than a really specific Quality you can't. "Known mutant" is probably better than "Hunted by an anti-mutant organization" because you can twist it in a lot of different ways. Yeah, the anti-mutant organization can show up (here, have this determination point), or you can call that number for the pro-mutant organization you got on a card at the rally, or you can push some ability, or even recover, saying, "Because I'm a mutant, I can push myself further and therefore get a full recovery this panel." (Someone will now argue by listing Ten Things You Can Do With The Quality "Hunted by an anti-mutant organization".)

I'm looking forward to reading Steve's "Q is for Qualities" in the hopes that it talks in part about writing good Qualities, even if his ideas contradict mine.