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H'okay.  Question was posed:  What is the purpose of the conversations mechanic?  The 'everything said is mechanically significant' is fine, but why the 'GM gets to say who can speak to whom' part?  --Vitenka

Short answer: The War doesn't care about your relationships.
Long answer: Interludes are a very powerful resource and in short supply in BlissStage by design.  The GM can call for a few to happen if s/he's feeling benevolent today and because it makes thematic sense (for example, after a disastrous mission or one where the Anchors were a little too quick with the eject button you can bet your arse that Dr. Eloise Schwartzchild, the Authority Figure, will have words with you,) and each Pilot's character is given a Priviliged Interlude at the conclusion of a Mission.  But unless you use your Privs wisely, then your relationships are probably going to collapse. 
Of course, the reason I love this game is because the players in MY games inevitably pick up on this, and go, "Aw hell no.  I am NOT letting Alice and Lloyd break up because of these (ObsceneGerund?) aliens screwing with our heads!" - ElliottBelser

Ok, so it's an artificial limit to make it more gamey?  It might be better expressed as being a limit on 'on camera' interaction, rather than interaction at all.  (It seems to work really badly on IRC, is all.)  --Vitenka

I think it's intended to limit "on camera" interaction, and to be fair the interaction that the players had between Pilot and Anchor were immensely flavorful.  I would have felt bad NOT giving them the Intimacy and Trust bonuses for RP that inspired. - ElliottBelser


...I have a new theory on the If You RP, It Is An Interlude rule.

How many times in a D&D campaign have you heard "Enough with the characterization!  Get to the fighty bits!"

I think this rule is in place to... encourage... a certain level of focus in your quiet, character-based scenes.  And therefore prevent you from chewing the scenery with Pilot-Anchor small talk when there's more important things to do from a narrative standpoint. --ElliottBelser.

How often?  Well... never.  But I see what you mean.  I guess I just don't like such 'play the game the right way' mechanics like these.  --Vitenka
I like it on the grounds that it encourages good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior. - ElliottBelser

Never. Of course I've never played D&D either. But never in Exalted or Fading Suns or Nobilis. Conflict is just a device for developing characters, anyway. If people aren't talking during combat (before combat, after combat) something is wrong. --SF
Unfortunately, I've been in some wretched games where this did happen. - ElliottBelser
[I heartily endorse this guy's approach to gaming].  --Vitenka (though I don't like many of his actual games.  Go figure.)

How does it encourage good behaviour to limit artificially which scenes may be played?  --CanSignWillNotSign?? (ChiarkPerson)
By making indulgences in chewing the scenery or irrelevant fluff mechanically unattractive options.  Wanted that 4th point of Intimacy with Tarragon?  Too bad!  You wasted your time shooting the breeze with your Anchor and got Stress Relief you didn't really need. -ElliottBelser
... and could you repeat that, in English, please?  --ChiarkPerson
Dissuade you from conversing pointlessly and dragging down the game in an EndlessCouncilMeeting? by making that waste an opportunity that could have had a better mechanical benefit later.  --Vitenka

...sorry about that, Vitenka.  Let me try again.  (Also, adding ShootingTheBreeze to CategoryAmericanism - I honestly did not realize that.  The British equivalent is probably "Faffing About...")  This is going to be LONG, so bear with me:

What Vitenka said.  Incidental small talk that has absolutely no bearing on the current situation isn't exactly punished: rather, since your stats can only be improved through roleplaying, and your opportunites for roleplay are limited by the rules, you're given ample reason to only roleplay situations that advance the plot, deepen characterization, or preferably both.

To understand why, you have to understand that "Relationships," capital R, are the basic "weapons" your characters (or rather, ANIMa Pilots) posess - the ANIMa converts them into psychic abilities used to kill the aliens For Real.  As such, Relationships can suffer damage and be disabled.  Damage to a Relationship is measured in two ways: first off, the amount of faith or "Trust" you have in a person directly translates to the hit points of that weapon in ANIMa combat, and in a way left deliberately unexplained in the rules, damage to that component in psychic combat results in / serves to underscore lost Trust: When you lose all Trust in that Relationship due to actions in the real world, the component is irreparably broken - and when the component is irreperably broken due to ANIMa combat damage, you lose all Trust in the relationship IRL.  Trust dropping to zilch also results in the Pilot with that newly-broken Relationship gaining a metric ton of Bliss, which is not a Good Thing.  Getting over 108 Bliss means that your Pilot is written out of the story.  What that means exactly is left as an exercise to the player.

With me so far?

Now, there's an intermediate form of damage to a Relationship known as "Stress," which can only be inflicted in ANIMa combat.  This results in Trust that is merely frayed, not outright broken, in the waking world.  You can have Stress in a Rel equal to your Trust with no immediate ill effect; the moment Stress exceeds Trust, Trust drops one point and Stress resets to zero. 

So you can hopefully see by this that having one point of Stress in a very trusting relationship isn't that much to be concerned over.  It tends to work out as far as I have seen from play that this isn't much cause for concern IC'ly either.  Much more important is improving or destroying Trust, deepening Intimacy (which makes the weapon related to the, er, Relationship more powerful in ANIMa combat), or removing Trauma (Like hit points for the Pilot rather than the relationship: exceed 6 and your character is written out of the story.  What that means exactly is that they messily die.)

The thing is that improving Trust requires you to deepen your character by re-affirming or re-defining the reasons your character has a Relationship to begin with: improving Trust requires you to deepen your character by becoming more romantic, more sexual, or more estranged (Minimum action for Intimacy 3 includes "Heated argument:" Minimum for Int 4 includes "Fisticuffs and/or other forms of physical violence") with the object of the Relationship: reducing Trauma requires you to deepen your character by playing out a scene focusing on thier inner demons.

The practical upshot of limiting the opportunities to do this is that you must focus on dramatic situations or die, often literally.  This is a Good Thing.  If you waste time boring people with idle chat about the weather with your character's 5 Intimacy, 5 Trust, 1 Stress lover, then you have wasted your opportunity to punch out someone for insulting said lover and gaining a far-more-useful point of Intimacy in the process.

In my arrogant opinion, this mechanically-reinforced focus is categorically a good thing in a roleplaying game.

Does this make sense? - ElliottBelser
Okay, EB posted an explanation while I was still writing mine, but I'll post mine anyway as my contribution to the redundant department of redundancy.  Basic glossary: Anchor: effectively the most important person to you.  Intimacy: how useful the relationship is from a mechanical perspective.  Trust: how durable the relationship is.  Stress: how much pressure the relationship is under.
Having said that, translation: enable!  An unneccessary conversation with the person most important to you is mechanically less useful if there is nothing putting external pressures on the relationship.  If you have a highly durable relationship that is only under a little pressure, would you prefer to remove the small amount of pressure, or do an action that will result in you immediately becoming more powerful, which incidentally will create brand new plot threads?  Does that make more sense? --SoylentWhite
Why on Earth do you think that my actions when roleplaying have anything to do with what will make my character more powerful?
Because that's the entire point of the goddamn game!  - ElliottBelser, losing his patience
I thought the point of a roleplaying game was to roleplay. Sometimes that means making the character more powerful; more often it means doing interesting, dramatic things just because they are interesting and dramatic, regardless of whether they happen you make your character's numbers bigger. --ChiarkPerson
You have successfuly demonstrated to me that the combination is unneeded.  You have not convinced me that the combination is a Bad Thing. --ElliottBelser

"I hit him with my (conversation)".  --Vitenka (paraphrases the rules)
Not quite.  "I hit him with my love for you" is more accurate.  "I level up my love for you so it can hit harder" is an Intimacy Building action.  Or a Hentai? peice; see IntimacyV. - ElliottBelser

Okay, my take on this is actually *slightly* different.  The interludes are a clock.  Now, I'll try and explain this from the top, please forgive any repetition of what is above.  Assume, for the sake of argument, that all 'normal' conversation takes place off camera, just like a movie only shows the interesting coversations (assuming a decent editor).  Therefore, *by definition*, all conversation that is shown is conversation that has an effect on the relationship, otherwise it wouldn't be shown, just like if a scene is in a movie, that scene has a purpose.  So, if all *seen* conversation has an effect, the interludes simply act as a clock between alien attacks: when you run out of interludes, however long that takes, the aliens attack before any further significant conversations take place.
Now, why can we be so sure that all seen conversation is important?  Because the scene must involve some kind of character development to get an effect. Though all scenes gain *some* effect, the player will in all likelihood be angling for a particular one, and so will push development strongly in one direction in order to get that effect.  This naturally results in good, rounded development, as balanced relationships are required, so the different areas will be developed approximately equally.
The clock idea basically goes back to the 'war is merciless' theme.  The interludes, especially as so many are GM assigned, give just enough 'time' to patch up the biggest holes in the pilot's relationships, prioritising those over the small holes.  The problem being, those small holes grow until they're left with nothing but big holes and everything falls apart.  In short, this is a mechanical way to replicate the 'everything slowly falling apart' idea regularly seen in tragedies (I'm thinking Grave of the Fireflies, but not sure how good and example of this that is, my memory is too hazy).  So, in response to Vitenka's original response, I would argue it is an artificial limitation to ensure games emulate the genre it is aiming for.  I'm hoping that actually makes some sense, rather than coming across as a simple brain dump. --SoylentWhite
That makes a lot of sense to me. Especially in light of BenLehman?'s other published game, Polaris?: which was explictly designed to encourage tragedy.  - ElliottBelser



Making it a countdown clock makes slightly more sense, though I'm still stunned by the idea either that someone might think it necessary to 'encourage' people to roleplay or might think it a good idea to take the worthwhile bits of the pastime and chain them down with mechanics. As I said in the conversation, if you want to know how much a character cares for another, the least interesting way of doing that is to assign it a number between one and five. Why not set up a dilemma of some kind? Drama is about choices, not statistics.

I can't imagine the horribly twisted roleplaying experiences that might lead someone to write a system that seems to assume that players will be uninterested in actual roleplaying unless it helps munchkinise their character.
My first Vampire game, meet Chiark. Chiark, my first Vampire game.
And the first game I played in.
Exalted was slightly better. - ElliottBelser.
It is White Wolf's fault then. I suspected as much. Why not just find a group who aren't dysfunctional and roleplay with them?
...I was certian that I said "first Dungeons and Dragons" or at least "D&D" as the second line. - ElliottBelser

Would it not be easier to just, you know, roleplay, without artificial limits and awarding points for character interaction and underage cybersex? Just... roleplay?

After all, the best bits of any game are the bits where the rules are left far behind, so a mechanic which seems designed to ensure that the rules intrude even on the dramatic heart of the story is... perverse.

--ChiarkPerson

I beleive that a better mark of the game is "you WANT the drama to be created through the rules."  YMMV.

That being said, let's try an ElliottBelser/StrawmanSpecialWithCheese.

1: Run a d20 game set in the world of Evangelion.
2: Run a MektonZeta? game set in the world of Evangelion.
2: Run a BlissStage game set in the world of Evangelion.

Which one is more likely to have the tone and feel of Evangelion?  My money is on Bliss Stage, every time. (For extra credit, try running a game set in the world of Macross with the same systems.  My money will be on Mekton Z.)

SystemDoesMatter?.  I have run across several games that have changed the way I play and think about RP, precisely because these rules encourage behavior different from the norm.  DungeonsAndDragons encourages you to Kill Them And Take Thier Stuff.  Period (though Fourth Edition makes it more likely you'll use tactics from fantasy novels to do so - It makes a LOT of mechanical sense for the Fighter in particular to stand in the doorway screaming YouShallNotPass?).  You don't need these rules to encourage deep characterization in RP.  True enough.

But DAMN does it ever help. - ElliottBelser

Oh, yes, system does matter. That's why I will never ever ever run a D20 game, and why I'd recommend avoiding systems that overload the bits of the game that should be fun, like roleplaying, with rules. If I were to run a giant-robots game -- can't see why I would, but just say -- I'd probably use Big Eyes, Small Mouth as it has the lightest rules set which could cope with the fast action of robot fights with the minimum of faffing.

But there's the stuff which is covered by the rules: system stuff, fights and whatnot, that you really want taken care of in the most lightweight least-faffy way possible so that you can concentrate on creating a story. Weighing down the 'creating a story' bit with rules is like trying to fly by bolting bigger and heavier engines onto your wings: sure, you might eventually find a point where you get off the ground, but it's more likely that it'll collapse under its own weight and it'll never be as much fun as if you forget the jet fuel altogether and become a bird.

If you want to roleplay dramatic and significant character stories, just find the fewest rules you can get away with and do that. Adding rules, especially weighing down the character interaction with rules, won't help you soar.  --ChiarkPerson


Right, once again, I write stuff and people edit in before I post.  Apologies if any of this is now irrelevant, but I spent the last hour writing this, and I'll post it if it kills me.
Right, you've made 2 responses along similar lines, so although 1 was technically a response to me simply attempting to translate Elliot, I will attempt to field both here.  Firstly, I should point out I don't neccessarily *agree* with the way the game has chosen to do this, I simply posited an explanation as to why it did do it that made sense to me.
The first response was basically: why the assumption that everything I do is done to advance my character?  The second simply took this point further, and I will attempt to address each point in turn.
1) I don't really understand why you conflate character advancement with munchkinism.  To me, character advancement is normal in RPGs.  Static characters are fine for short-term games, but certainly the majority of roleplayers I am familiar with (although I freely admit this is a small number) gain some measure of enjoyment from their character getting better at something, and I am among their number.  Munchkinism, to me, is when this advancement becomes the *only focus* of the game.  Becoming more powerful/richer/stronger, etc. is the sole reason to play, and this dates back to the original D&D as a style of play!  You cannot blame this particular ill on White Wolf!  So, why do I think that your (and I mean 'your' in the general sense, rather than you as an individual) actions have to do with advancing your character?  Because the reward system, from the dawn of RPGs, has simply boiled down to 'Do good thing, get reward.'  When this was D&D, the good thing was hitting monsters about the head and you got stuff that made you stronger at hitting other monsters about the head.  In Bliss Stage, the good thing is developing your relationships with the people around you, and you get rewarded with stronger relationships, which help slow the deacy of these relationships.
2) It's neccessary to encourage people to roleplay?  This is going to be difficult to explain, (a) as I'm not amazingly articulate and (b) as we seem to be looking at this from wildly different directions, but I will try.  Roleplaying has been a part of playing RPGs since they were first made, and you are utterly correct that no mechanics for this were required then, and none are required now.  People *will* roleplay, as that's a big part of what we enjoy doing.  However, Bliss Stage simply experiments with the thought: "What if?".  In this case, "What if we adjust the 'experience' mechanic so that instead of giving rewards for shooting aliens, we give rewards for the *roleplaying* aspect of it?  That would make clear where the focus of the game is- not about how you kill the aliens with a vorpal beam+5, but about how you and the people around you deal emotionally with an unimaginable crisis.  What if we didn't just say 'Oh, yeah, and here are a few suggestions how you can roleplay this', but used the mechanics to *support* the roleplaying?".  Now I think one of the key issues with your understanding this is *it doesn't entirely succeed*.  I certainly wouldn't call it a failed experiment, but my impression so far is that it doesn't *quite* seem to hit what it appears to be aiming for, but I can't point to one thing and say "that's wrong!".  You are correct that the mechanics *do* get in the way of roleplaying to an extent: just last session, we had to break off Thomas supporting Jessica because we knew that if we contined for more than about 2 lines, we'd get interluded, but it's important to realise what kind of atmosphere is being aimed for here.  This is aiming to be a tense, fast-paced game that reminds me of '24' as much as it does Evangelion: There's never enough *time* to get done what you need to and the 'clock' (bliss count up, stress up, trust down, number of interludes remaining down) is *always* ticking.  Thomas supporting Jessica?  Yes, she would need it, yes, he would do it.  We know this, we had a similar interlude the first session.  Cut it.  Move to something *new*.  If we had additional bonus-free interludes, yes, it would retain the balance *and* we would have more 'time' for roleplay, but it's that lack of 'time' that gives the game a lot of it's tenseness.  Does it come at a cost?  Yes.  Is it worth the cost?  To some.  These small-print games are not aimed at a mass-market (as much as one exists for RPGs), they are, to my mind, best described as experiments: 'This hasn't been done this way before, let's see what happens when we try it.'.  If you don't like the experiment, you are not part of the target audience and should look around for something else that is.
The final point I wish to address is your statement at the end: The best bits of roleplay are when the rules are left behind.  Fine, I agree that a roleplayed conversation is always a lot more interesting than simply making a diplomacy check.  What Bliss stage, to me, simply tries to do is actually *overcome* that limitation, and let the mechanics and the roleplay synergise into something new and exciting.  Does it succeed?  Depends on the individual. 
Now, I've rambled enough, and probably bored everyone silly, so I'm off to bed.  --SoylentWhite

Rewards, in the form of hero points, experience points, or what-have-you, have been given for roleplaying rather than killing since... was Dungeons & Dragons actually the last game to explicitly tie experience to killing monsters and gathering treasure? If it wasn't, there certainly haven't been many since. Every other game I've played has specified that experience points are to be given out for roleplaying.

As to your first point, personally I've never thought that experience was that interesting a part of roleplaying. I mean, how often do characters become gradually more powerful in the middle of a novel or a film? That's a proper novel or film, not one based on a roleplaying game. In general, they don't. Philip Marlowe doesn't become a better shot after chapter six because he got enough experience points, and Ellen Ripley doesn't become stronger halfway through the film as a reward for saving Newt.

Character advancement is just a way of keeping score, and keeping score doesn't really have a place in roleplaying games. They're not about making it to the next level like computer games, or about getting one over on your neighbour, like real life.

(The one exception to this is games that are supposed to tell the story of a character's entire life, like Ars Magica, where it makes sense for characters to grow and change because the game is played out over a timescale of decades.)

Which is not to say that characters shouldn't change -- they should -- but the interesting changes aren't to do with getting more points in an ability,they're to do with the character's dramatic choices changing. Rick Blaine sticks his neck out for somebody: that's an interesting change. To represent that by an increase in his idealism score would miss the point entirely.

As to your second, making it clear where the focus of the game is is something the players do, not the rules. The rules just, as you point out, get in the way.

(I haven't played many of the vanity-published RPGs, no: to be honest I'm not interested in experiments in rules, and can't really see the point. The rules are the least interesting part of the game, and you're not going to change that by making them more convoluted and intruding on the bits of the game that are interesting. The only one of the kind I think I have played was Dogs in the Vineyard and while it many have been intriguing as an experiment it wasn't very interesting as an actual roleplaying experience).

Though for all that, the 'ticking clock' thing does sound like a good idea: but wouldn't it better be implemented just by the GM saying 'and the scramble singla sounds' at dramatically appropriate moments, rather than having some arbitrarily fixed number of scenes? After all, a good GM's judgement will always be better than some abstract rule's (and if you haven't got a good GM, find one).
Speaking as someone who enjoyed DogsInTheVineyard? (and who understands that other people don't)... The thing is, that when the 'ticking clock's' alarm goes off would be difficult to judge without that rule.  What makes a 'good GM' is usually NOT presented in an RPG. 

There is one, count it, one independently published RPG that I will reccommend without reservations to anyone.  BlissStage is not that game.  It is called SpiritOfTheCentury?, and the reason I can always reccommend this is because the chapter on how to GM is 10 pages of rules (at most) and 100 of time-tested and nearly-universally applicable tools for Game Masters that apply to ANY game in ANY genre.

I object to the statment that RPG's are not about "keeping score."  They don't need to be, but they don't need not to, either, and a great deal of fun of BlissStage comes from "beating the game" - that is, "Aw HELL no, Jessica and Tarragon (to use examples from our campaign) are going to beat this!  They're going to survive, build a better feature, and beat back the Bliss if not the aliens!" and then relentlessly, yes, power-gaming (as distinct from being a munchkin, which I define as "powergaming for the purpose of breaking the game") to ensure that they have Intimacy and Trust through the roof, have been rebuilding civilization, and have good working rels with the rest of La Resistance so that when one of the pilots Bliss Out or die they acheive thier Hope.

I hate overly-rules heavy games myself.  But games with few, incredibly meaningful rules appeal to me.  Games with rules that influence the drama appeal to me.  I understand that this isn't everyone's cup of tea: but it's mine, and if SoylentWhite and ChessyPig aren't enjoying themselves... well, I heartily suggest that they speak up so I can fix it :D and doubt they need to overmuch.

I also must confess I like tinkering with the rules in the ways that the Macho Narr Yangers down at http:/www.story-games.com enjoy, but I also admit that most of these games are experimental.  Some work very well (BlissStage, SOTC:) some are disasters (Shock: Social Science Fiction, [=oCtane=]).  Some are inbetween (Dogs, much as I love it).  And BlissStage is rough around the edges, which BenLehman?, being perfectionist, is a little annoyed with.  But it works well enough.  I like it, my players seem to like it, and well if you don't like it, that suggests that you shouldn't play it, correct me if I'm wrong?  - ElliottBelser

Of course it's difficult to judge: that's why you need a good GM doing the judging, not an arbitrary rule! A good GM will let scenes that are dramatic run as long as they're dramatic,and interrupt ones that aren't or are repetitive by some means, without cutting them out for rules reasons.

If you're trying to beat the game, that's not really roleplaying. You might as well be playing Arkham Horror or the Lord of the Rings game.
Bull.  --Vitenka

If these rules are just ways of getting around bad GMs and bad players... don't play with bad GMs or bad players. Then you don't need the rules. Simple.
Sh*t.  --Vitenka

Whew, this idiot argument exploded, didn't it?  Most of the unsigned comments above are, of coure, ChiarkPerson.  I think the root misunderstanding here is one person is saying "Roleplaying" as in 'playing a role' and another is saying it as 'playing a game in the class of games known as roleplaying games'.  For the record - I also most enjoy the 'throw away the rulebook' games (and run all games that way, whether written as such or not) but I don't see why this (I thought it was Polaris-like) game can't be a good game.  Just not the kind I like.  --Vitenka
Those are two unrelated things.  Whether something is or isn't a roleplaying game has nothing to do with whether or not it's a good game, and saying something isn't roleplaying doesn't mean it's not fun.  Also, saying something is a roleplaying game doesn't mean it contains roleplaying any more than the-people-formerly-known-as Red Indians are from India. --SGB
I think you're arguing with the wrong person. Vitenka agrees with you. - MoonShadow
Really?  He strongly disagreed with "If you're trying to beat the game, that's not really roleplaying", which I agree with more than I disagree with; I'd say that if you have your character do things in order to beat the game, rather than because they are the things the character would do, then you aren't roleplaying.  I'd also say that if you have your character do things in order to make a better story, rather than because they are the things the character would do, then you aren't roleplaying.  That's not to say neither are ways to make a game in which you do also roleplay, more fun. --SGB
Whoa, no need to third person me, I'm here :)  I said, and meant: "Roleplaying games encompass many different things."  Telling stories, interacting with characters, rolling dice, improving stats, beating adventures are amongst the 'things' most such games have in greater or lesser measure.  I'm saying that 'roleplaying' can be used to mean 'playing a role' and ALSO to mean 'playing in a roleplaying game' - and conflating the two meanings leads to very silly arguments.  Especially when it leads to saying: "That's not a roleplaying game."  --Vitenka (who, yes, agrees with you in mostly disliking problem-solvery games, but thinks they still count as roleplaying games.)
I'm not talking about like or dislike at all - just what roleplaying is and isn't.  It does seem to be the fashion to say that roleplaying is what happens in roleplaying games, and roleplaying games therefore must have roleplaying in, so it's OK to call them roleplaying games - but that's just using circular logic to please everyone at the expense of being able to have meaningful conversation.  So, while you're right in the sense that that's what some people fail-to-mean when they talk, insofar as we agree to use meaningful words, I disagree with you.  The other things - stories, dice and stats, and adventures - are there to make roleplaying games fun, and they work to a greater or lesser degree depending on the temperaments of the players, and they don't *stop* a game from being a roleplaying game; but the actual roleplaying happens around them.  -- SGB

What's silly about saying 'that's not a roleplaying game'? -- no-reverse
Well, people have defined roleplaying game out of meaning, so it's a bit like like saying "that's not a " and then just wondering off.  Which is, of course, silly.  --SGB
What's silly is that you've just tried to define DnD? as commonly played 'not a roleplaying game'.  It's no more circular a classification than saying "The species 'cat' consists of things which can breed with these known cats".  --Vitenka
Dungeons & Dragons (as currently played, and as originally intended) can be a roleplaying game, but often isn't, being instead a skirmish-scale wargame. -- no-reverse
Indeed.  And say 'species' around a proper biologist, and you'll get the smirk you deserve.  -- SGB

Something that confuses me slightly. Are the characters (not the players) aware of all the mechanics? Do they *know* that they have only enough emotional energy to deal with a couple of the many crises facing them before the next time the aliens are likely to arrive? Are they aware that making everyone around them either love or hate them - and it doesn't matter which - is their best hope for saving humanity? If the answer's yes, I think that's awesome; if no, these rules leave a sour taste in my mouth. Still trying to analyse why. --Requiem
The characters are aware of the mechanics in as much as they go "Holy shit!  My peashooter got upgraded to the BFG 9K RIGHT AFTER I kissed a girl for the first time!  ...I wonder what'll happen if I [WhenIRuleTheWorld DELETED BY THE AGENCY]? her?"
The rules are silent on the matter, but it makes no sense not to assume some awareness of the functioning of the ANIMa (they had BETTER be aware of it's basic workings, as they've had a year to perfect the damn thing according to [[BenLehman? Word Of God.]])  In our own campaign, the Seasoned (and very bitter) Veteran pilot Lloyd was trying to set up Innocent Sweetheart pilot Jessica with some poor sap precisely because he figured that it would increase the capabilities of her ANIMa.  Mind, he wasn't aware that this was because thier Rel would gain a point of Intimacy (or that this wasn't a given), and when thier leader Dr. Schwartzchild became aware of it her response was along the lines of "I think having a durable ANIMa is a higher priority... or were you not aware of that aspect of it's function?"  In other words, Dr. S  (at least) was aware that trusting relationships make more durable ANIMa.
Characters are also aware that exposure to the dreamworld will eventually cause a Bliss Out, as will severe relationship problems, but they couldn't tell you "You Bliss Out at 109+ Bliss Points and gain Bliss when a Relationship breaks" (though even here, Dr. S. might come up with some sort of Phlebotinum Dectector to find out).  They are aware that non-Pilots who turn 18 Bliss Out, period, with the exception of some rare insomniacs.
So yes, the characters are very aware of the workings of the ANIMa.  This causes it's own problems, of course (see any interlude write-up involving Lloyd for abundant examples). - ElliottBelser
Yeah, saw those, they're good. I think this is one of the things the system does right - I absolutely hate a situation where the mechanics are so OOC the characters don't know about them, unless they're pointedly *not aware* of them, like Limit Breaks in Exalted. This is because I don't like to go outside my character's head too much, so I'd like to be able to make the decision from their perspective without having to drop OOC to work out what that would imply from a rules point of view. I found Dogs in the Vineyard and Primetime Adventures somewhat icky in that regard, and it's given me a distaste for narrativist RPGs in general. (While I'm following your campaign avidly in the fashion of one watching a TV series, I really wouldn't want to play in it.) --Requiem
I can definitely see that.  One telling example of DitV? Not Working As Intended was an actual play report where someone started a conflict to pump a Mountain Woman (Apache AmericanIndian?) for information.  The entire conflict: "She tries to seduce you: raise 7."  "Awesome, that's what I wanted.  I fold."  (That thudding sound you hear is me as I HeadDesk repeatedly.)
That's... deeply wrong play from the player there, though.  --Vitenka
Actually, I quite like it: I think it's good roleplaying.
It's just *so* not what the system is about. In the conflict "I get the information from this woman", which takes a scene to resolve, the correct response to "She tries to seduce you: raise 7." is "I reciprocate (I'll see your seven, and can I roll my Coat dice for taking it off?) and we spend a diverting evening together while I pump her for information, hur hur. (I'll raise you another seven.)" Except that that's *not* how it goes, because you know the GM has many dice still to use in this conflict and you'd rather like your character to actually succeed in getting the information that evening. So you say "I demur (I'll see your seven) and try and engage her in conversation in other things, such as whether she's let the King of Life into her life (Rolling 'Dog', I'll raise you seven)." And then after you've artificially strung out the conflict for sufficient time you can move in for the kill with "OK, she succeeds in seducing me but I do get the information I wanted. Raise ten, looks like you're out of numbers." And unless the GM wants to throw a spanner in the works it just works. --Requiem
Bugger the system. 'I want her to seduce me, and I know she uses seduction to get what she wants, so I'll manouevre her into figthing with me and then give in at the right time' is good roleplaying. If you want to work a system, play a board game. That's why games like Dogs in the Vineyard are stupid: they try to systematise the roleplaying, and so end up making it no more than a game. A good roleplaying game the system provides a basis for answering questions like 'do I die?' but gets out of the way of the actual roleplaying.
Agreed, although I tend to mince words more than that. Far be it from me to use the phrase 'BadWrongFun' to describe what the people who claim to enjoy this game are doing, though. --Requiem
Whatever it is, whether it's bad or not and whether it's fun or not, it's not roleplaying.
On a related note, "I reciprocate to get her off her guard.  Reverse the Blow with a d10 reading 9!" is a play in CategoryMadeOfWin. --ElliottBelser
Also, odd thought on the aware of mechanics side: "They are aware of the consequences of thier actions, but it's not like when they gain a point of Intimacy some voice from nowhere says "WE ART THOU AND THOU ART WE.  THOU SHALT GAIN OUR BLESSING WHEN THOU MAKEST A FUCKING HUGE ROBOT OF THE LOVERS ARCANA."" - ElliottBelser, who is a fan of Persona3
BlissStage: The Exalted Years? (No. Bad idea. Bad Requiem. No cookie.)
Starring the Fair Folk as the aliens and an orichalcum throne with hearthstone as the ANIMa...  God damn you.  Now I need to run this.  Unconquered Sun have mercy on your soul! --ElliottBelser
It occurs to me that this makes a wonderful in-game excuse for infidelity. "Honestly, Amanda, I don't know why you're so hung up about me kissing Alice. It was all for the resistance - the aliens have been getting stronger, and I really needed an impressive gun-arm on both sides." --CH
Given Lloyd, that sounds eerily plausible for our game.  (As Amanda's player, of course, I KNOW she'll have none of that bullshit, but that's an Interlude for another time...  not that she'd needfully be opposed to being part of a triad...) - ElliottBelser
You think the people who play the giant sex-powered robot game need an excuse? --ChiarkPerson
Come on, n-r. Now who's conflating the players and the characters? He specifically said "in-game" excuse. --AC

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