Saturday, September 2, 2017

Mechanics Talk: Contention

All right, so I heard there were some requests for discussion about the player conflict system? I am here to provide!

The system in question here is called Contention, and it refers exclusively to when Heroes - player characters - are in conflict with each other. It's a pretty easy rule of thumb whether contention rules or combat rules are in effect; if you're fighting an NPC, it's combat, and if you're fighting a player, it's contention.

Of course, "fighting" is something of a misnomer here, or at least not the whole story. Contention doesn't just refer to actually taking a swing at each other, although it certainly does cover that situation; it has to do with any time the player characters are in direct conflict with each other. That means also when they want to use powers on each other, when they want to stop one another from doing something, when they want to mess around with each others' important resources (like mortal families or companies they own), or any other time they're about to get peanut butter in each others' chocolate. Contention covers any situation in which the players come into conflict with each other, which doesn't necessarily always need to mean violence (although it definitely can!).

The contention "system" is also kind of a misnomer, because it's by far the least systemy system in the game. Contention is specifically the mechanical system that turns off mechanics.

When Heroes get into conflict with each other, contention kicks in, and during contention, the game pauses while the players decide how to proceed. Instead of basing the results of a Hero vs. Hero situation on a random roll or on who has stats where, the players discuss how the conflict should go, and what the most interesting story to come out of it should be. Oh, stats and powers still matter - players get to bring up their Heroes' skills and how they might affect the situation, and they can use random rolls to make decisions if they want to as long as everyone agrees to it - but in the end, the players have to reach a consensus about what happens. Does one Hero triumph over the other, and if so, how, and how is the situation awesome and heroic, not just for the winner but for the loser, too? Are other characters getting involved, either players or NPCs, and if so, what might they do? What kinds of consequences would this conflict have for the game in the future, and how can the players weave it into their story? Once the players figure out what they want to happen, they decide (with Destiny's help) what resources were spent and what injuries sustained, and describe the impressive conflict that just occurred between them, and then they move on to continue the game on the other side.

Contention gives all the players the opportunity to make sure that the players are telling the story together, even if the characters are doing their level best to beat each others' faces in. It lets them talk about motivations and themes, about where they think these conflicts might drive the Saga, and about what cool scene resolutions they'd love to have as part of their heroic canon. From Jason trying to drag Herakles back onto the Argo to Hanuman getting into it with Arjuna over the latter's disrespect of Rama, Heroes fighting and disagreeing with each other is an awesome part of many a mythic tale, but we want to make sure it's also an awesome part of the game, which means it should be something that gives every player a voice and the option to help shape the outcome. And if the players can't come to an agreement about what would happen, no harm is done; the conflict is canceled, and the game goes on without anyone having to feel like their Hero's story is being trampled.

So, in a game that has lots of your usual crunchy rules and mechanics, why is it that Hero vs. Hero conflict is subject to mediation instead of having rules about who wins? You might remember that, a long time ago, we talked about how Hero's Journey is a game that assumes a certain amount of cooperation among the players of the game, and that's the major reason for this as well. This isn't a PvP game; by nature, while groups of Heroes certainly have squabbles and arguments, it's a game where they're trying to work together to achieve common goals, not one where they're trying to triumph over each other. Contention also prevents players - whether accidentally or on purpose - from bullying other players at the table, and from setting up a story where some of the players are winners and others are losers. This is a game where everyone is telling a story together; the whole group should get to tell a story that they find interesting and satisfying, so there should never be anyone who "loses" when they came to play and enjoy themself (although of course a Hero having a tragically heroic death or setback within the game is perfectly all right!).

So contention it is. Heroes who work well together get to do so, and Heroes who hate each others' guts or can't stand each others' goals can tell those more antagonistic stories without their players worrying that they'll wreck the game for everyone else. Everyone gets to be a part of the ongoing Saga, and while there are specific rules attached to the system - when contention kicks in and when it can be considered resolved, as well as guidelines for Destiny to mediate contention and possible solutions and storytelling choices - in the end, the power to weave the heroic tale of two Heroes going head to head is all in the hands of the players, where it belongs.

(P.S.: I'm writing this post from the past, since there was medical stuff was earlier this week; I queued in it advance for all you beautiful people. Please pardon me if I'm slow on comment responses for a while!)


  1. weird to me. If the players have issues in game as players, then they talk it out, or else you have a problem in your gaming group. We've all been through that - no set of rules will resolve it. And if the players are still getting along, but their characters aren't, then you deal with that in game as the characters, either through discussion or through actual in-game conflict [and I'm pretty sure we've all been through that as well]. I'm not sure that a system for dealing with this is going to be useful, convenient, or necessary. I really can't ever see myself saying, "Okay, hold up; if Aaron and Brittany are debating how to deal with the Ogres, then we need to consult the Conflict Rules to see how it comes out. Everyone take 5." I'd just let good role-players figure it out in game [bad role-players are another thing, but not likely to use a system, either], including other PCs, the NPCs, resources, and so on. If your group wants to proceed, then they need to work out a way to do so in game as part of the story; having rules to make them do one thing or the other seems arbitrary, and isn’t likely to prevent any hurt feelings [“You only got the upper hand because the Conflict rules said so - otherwise, I’d have come out on top, and you know it.”]. Maybe it will make more sense in context, but sorry to say, it isn’t exciting me right now.

    1. A lot of things you're describing actually don't involve Contention at all!

      For example, Aaron and Brittany debating how to deal with the ogres doesn't invoke contention. That's a normal part of gameplay. Conversation in- or out-of-character about what to do next is a regular thing everyone does, and doesn't put the game into stop any more than usual. Contention ONLY comes into play if either Aaron or Brittany decide to take an action blatantly against one another, and conversation ain't it.

      Also, Contention isn't and shouldn't be "everyone take five" - it should be a part of the game everyone participates in. Aaron and Brittany may be the ones disagreeing, but they aren't the only players - the other players should also be discussing the potential story in contention, including ideas for what might happen or what their own characters could be doing, even if they aren't taking a side. This is about collaborative storytelling, not stopping to let some players monopolize the game. The point of contention isn't to have "conflict rules" that tell you how it comes out - it's for Aaron and Brittany, along with the rest of the team, to decide how it comes out. The only rules involved are the ones that say "you can't resolve inter-PC conflict by forcing a roll and refusing to discuss it".

      You're right, good role-players - or at least, role-players who are good at rolling with the punches of reacting and recognizing an interesting story on the fly - will invoke contention less, and that's cool, there's no problem with that. If Aaron says "I'd really like to punch your PC because X reasons" and Brittany says "I'm down for that, sounds dramatic and makes sense, go on and do a punch to make your point and we'll go from there", contention doesn't need to happen unless further hostilities commence. How much a given group needs or uses contention will depend a lot on who's in it and what kind of characters they're playing.

      Again, there aren't any conflict rules that say a character has the upper hand - this is the opposite of that. Neither Aaron nor Brittany gets priority over the other; the only rule is that they can't have a conflict unless they both agree what happens in it. (Slimmed down but essentially accurate.) If you want to get into it with another Hero, you have to discuss it; that's the essence of contention. In a system where you can just say "well, I have more Warrior than you, so I win", or "well, I have mind control, so I win", you DO have people who can just throw their weight around without letting other players necessarily have as much effect on the flow of the story, simply because they chose to be a different kind of Hero or one with a different skillset, and that's what contention avoids.

    2. Essentially, the point is that all the PCs are Heroes - the system doesn't allow them to arbitrarily bully each other because they purchased one set of stats over another, because each kind of Hero has their own important story arc. Contention allows them to still have conflict - Heroes fight and beat each other at things all the time - without any particular "build" being the automatic winner, and that's the purpose of having it in the game at all. Creator Heroes should be just as much the main character as Leader Heroes, which means Leader Heroes can't be out there automatically browbeating all the Creator Heroes into doing what they want whether or not their players are interested in that story. That subjugates the PLAYER, not just the character, which is counter to the spirit of the game. (Of course, if the players invoke contention and decide that the Leader should browbeat the Creator into something because that's a cool story they both want to pursue, that's awesome. Contention as intended. But if the Creator's player says "hey now, we frequently do that thing you want, I would like to make sure my Hero gets to have some spotlight or that this situation includes their important goals too, let's find a way to do that", contention makes sure they get to do so without the automatic answer being "doesn't matter, I have Leader powers".)

      And, of course, contention has nothing to do with NPCs, against whom all your rolls and powers are exactly what they say on the box. Go forth and browbeat or punch away. Counter-NPC action is the vast majority of the game, so contention should comparatively be playing a smaller role.

  2. I'm still not sure how/why this would require a system. If Aaron and Brittany have a disagreement in game, and the other PCs want to get involved, they can - it has happened a lot on the games I've run over the years, in several different systems. They can take sides, throw their resources behind each other, argue/debate, and use their abilities/skills/powers/whatever to facilitate this, all in game, and without another set of rules to adjudicate the outcome. If the in-game punch is thrown, and further hostilities commence, that's played out through the usual skill/combat systems in the game; I don't feel the need to invoke an extra set of special rules just to handle "conflict". If the players are decent role-players, they can [and should] be able to handle this in game, and make a better story for it; if they aren't good players, no set of rules will fix that. I guess I just don't see how the rules would make a difference - there's nothing in your examples that say to me, "you can't handle this with good GMing and decent role-playing, you need special Conflict rules instead." I'm not trying to rain on the parade; I just honestly don't see the purpose of an additional set of systems to handle what should be meat and potatoes of a role-playing campaign.

    1. You're not raining, it's a very interesting conversation! :) I think maybe the issue here is just one of expectations. Different RPGs handle PvP differently, and players used to one style may blink at another one. There are a lot of different ways a game could decide to go with that:

      Pure RP, no PvP: The players explicitly can't target or attack one another, only challenges/enemies that the GM creates. The most common place you see this is in FATE games, because the FATE system is designed for very collaborative, RP-focused games. You also see it a lot in non-codified form - many, many D&D games start with a GM saying "this is a no PvP campaign, if you don't like it, find another game", because they want the players to cooperate without worrying about getting stabbed in their sleep.
      Mixed RP/PVP: Players primarily focus on fighting NPCs and challenges from the GM, but they CAN fight each other if they want to, and usually use the same system to do so. This is cmmon in some of the biggest and most accessible tabletop games, like D&D and WW/OP properties, so it's often one that people think of as the "default".
      Pure PVP: Players HAVE to fight one another to win the game or stay alive. Games like Agon, Paranoia, or the Munchkin tabletop RPG do this, where the other PCs are literally your enemies and you explicitly have to defeat them at some point.

      If you walk in expecting a game that is set up like option B, mixed PVP and RP, because that's what you usually play, it makes sense you might blink at a game that is actually option A or C instead.

      So in answer to your question, the problem isn't that these are situations that couldn't be handled using the combat system in a mixed type-B game. It's that Hero's Journey ISN'T a mixed type-B game - it's much closer to a type-A game, where PvP can exist narratively and be a cool part of the story, but is not part of the system.

    2. HJ is a type-A game for a few reasons:

      1) The core idea of Hero's Journey is exactly that - the hero's journey, and your character finding their way along it, growing, changing, building new myths, conquering cosmic dangers, changing the world. That's also the core idea for all your party members as well, many of whom may be doing it in a totally different way. PvP does not add an appreciably useful or helpful dynamic to this game concept; at best, it could add seasoning, at worst, it's derailing and forces some PCs to assert their heroic cycles over the others, which is counterproductive. The point is for your PCs to go be part of their amazing heroic myth against the forces of darkness/chaos/evil/whatever; fighting each other doesn't help them do that.

      2) Designing characters and stats for PvP is always different than doing so for a game that doesn't use PvP, and we don't want players constrained in their build choices by the presence of the other players. Games with high-lethality PvP force the players to all take combat stats even if they want to be a totally different kind of Hero just because they want to live; we want to avoid that. And non-lethal PvP has the same problems - we don't want there to be a player sitting there saying, "Well, I want to be this awesome Companion/Savior Hero and change the world by saving people and making the lives of the world's population better, but I can't because everyone else in my party is taking a ton of Leader, so I need to go invest in some other stats because if I don't have Determination, they'll just run over me if we ever have a conflict of interest."

      3) Some systems create combat and powers specifically for use in normal gameplay, some specifically for use in PvP, and some try to hit setups that are useful for both (with varying degrees of success, given all the variables of different possible PC builds). We decided early on that we wanted this to be a game where the players (and designers!) are free to maximize their design based on what they want to do, the kind of Hero they want to be, and how they want to interact with their heroic saga, so systems and powers are explicitly designed to be used against the saga, enemies, and challenges designed by the GM, not against each other.

      4) Another assumption that may be at play here is that PCs and NPCs are built/behave generally the same way and therefore can use the same combat system without much tinkering, but this isn't actually the case. NPCs use a lot of the same stats, but they aren't designed or built the same way the PCs are, and as a result combat against them doesn't take into account a lot of the things it would have to versus PCs, who have a ton of additional nonsense going on.

    3. Now, of course, PvP is a thing in mythology, and a neat and important thing, at that. Heroes don't generally speaking fight a LOT, but they do fight and it's usually spectacular when they do. The Trojan War alone is just a sort of protracted Heroic slugfest, not to mention the examples in the post above. People being your friends, allies, or adventuring companions doesn't force you to like or agree with them, or prevent you from opposing them. Sometimes, it's an important growth moment for both - think every time a superhero opposes and talks down a villain, and that villain realizes they're right and decides to convert to being an antihero instead!

      So this is why contention exists. We could have blanket said "there's no PvP" and called it a day, but that would have taken the RP challenges and mythic resonance of inter-Hero conflict away from the players, and we didn't want that. Contention instead allows that conflict to occur and explicitly forces players to come up with a mutually interesting story to tell about it, but sidesteps all the issues of the game having an open PvP setup. It makes the conflict part of the heroic journey for all the characters involved, instead of something that one or more Heroes gets to add to their heroic canon and the other(s) has to just like or lump.

      Boiled down, HJ is an RPG that allows PvP as NARRATIVE, but not as MECHANIC. It forces PvP to be an RP event instead of a mechanical one, and this is very much on purpose!

  3. It’s actually funny that we’re debating like this over the “Conflict” mechanic…  I’m not arguing PvP vs. RP here. My expectation is that HJ is a roleplaying game, not a board or console game, and one of the big selling points to RPGs, for me, is that the GM and players have the freedom to tell and react to the narrative as they feel is appropriate. Rules exist to randomize combat [otherwise who would admit that they lost?], to quantify the limits of skills and abilities, and to provide a framework so that everyone is using the same basic playing field. But the players are ultimately responsible for the decisions of their characters, for good or for bad.

    I personally think that PCs should be cooperative, otherwise there’s no point to playing a cooperative game, but conflicts do happen, occasionally violent, usually just verbal and philosophical. And when that happens, then IMHO, the players should RP it out. If a GM wants to forbid PvP, that’s a valid choice; I personally chafe at making people behave a certain way, unless it fits the specific tone of the campaign - but then you make that clear at the start. What’s hanging me up with the “Conflict” system, is that it seems to take away autonomy and use a set of rules to govern something that should be prime RP fuel.

    Example: Aaron, Brittany, and Cadwyr face a situation where a band of hostile Jotun are preparing to attack a human settlement. The Leader, Aaron, feels they should go to the citizens and help them train and reinforce their settlement; the Warrior, Brittany, thinks they should kick the Jotun back to Jotunheim; the Lover, Cadwyr, thinks he should try to seduce the leader of the Jotun into calling off hostilities. They each dig in and stand by their own positions, while the rest of the band of heroes watches.

    1. I think we're agreeing on most of the basic concepts (and also you're right, the irony of arguing over contention)! PCs should be cooperative, RP should be the rule of the day, and players are responsible for their choices.

      Where we're disagreeing is over the idea that stat-based combat can be an equal playing field part of RP. For the reasons in comments above and below, we don't think it can, not unless a system is designed for pure PvP, and this isn't that system (nor do we want it to be). So we're looking for conflict resolution that is not affected by stats.

      Your example is great! Roleplaying abounds! Contention doesn't kick in unless Brittany decides to punch Cadwyr, or Aaron starts marching off elsewhere and Brittany jumps him to stop him. The RP of conflict is still all good; it's only when stats would come into play that any contention is needed.

  4. You suggest, if I understand, that the Conflict system should come in to play here, and provide the means to settle the dispute by comparing resources, skills, power levels, roles, and so on, to determine which way the party goes. The problem, for me, is that this takes away their freedom to choose for themselves; maybe they end up trying all three options, or someone else comes up with another solution, or maybe the Warrior just kicks their butts and does what she wants - that’s the point of roleplaying.

    If a system makes the decision for them, or reduces it to a mechanic/table/roll, then it’s gone from RP to a board game, where rules make your decisions for you, and that isn’t what I perceive HJ as being. And if you suggest that the Conflict system isn’t charts and dice, but just a way of the group sitting and negotiating a solution amongst themselves, then that’s roleplaying, and doesn’t really need a set of rules to govern how it proceeds.

    And if you have particularly fractious players who can’t work it out in game, to a mutual agreement, then a system to force one will just cause bad feelings and grudges anyway.

    Or maybe I’m just completely misunderstanding the Conflict system entirely. :-/

    1. I may be totally misunderstanding this as well, so Anne please jump in and correct me if so, but I think the Contention "system" in HJ in the above situation does not reduce anything to a set of rolls... per Anne's description above, it suspends rolls.

      What it actually does, again from what I can understand, is categorically forbid Aaron from going "I roll Sovereignty to make the other two go along with my plan", Brittany from going "I roll Unarmed to beat the other two up until they go along with my plan" and Carwyn from going "I roll Persuasion to seduce them into going along with my plan".

      Instead the Players of the three characters get together to decide what course of action would be overall best for the story... this could be the characters unanimously going along with one plan, or it could be them deciding that friction between the team is good for the story so one or more of the characters huffs off to do their own thing, but it doesn't stop RP, just asks the payers to do some co-operative RP for a bit considering the whole story instead of just their own characters.

      In that respect it seems more of a souped up version of Exalted 3e's Red Rule "A player-controlled character can only be seduced or otherwise put in a sexual situation if the player is okay with it." Many people say that that rule is useless since mature groups won't need to be told that and immature groups will ignore it, and you might have similar (perfectly valid) thoughts about Contention, but I don't think it's presence detracts much, though I'll need to see the final 'system' before I make a decision.

    2. That's pretty much what I got from it as well, but I don't see how you need a special system for it; the players can just sit and work it out, if they want to take the diplomatic route, or fight it out, if they prefer fisticuffs. Putting inter-player negotiations into a specific sandbox of rules won't pave over hard feelings or egos, and it won't do anything that mature discussion [in-character r otherwise] won't do.
      The Red Rule exists because sexual assault is a serious issue and trigger for a lot of people [rightfully so]. "Which decision should we make to go forward on our journey, friends?" isn't nearly the same thing.
      I play primarily GURPS, so I'm used to rules-intensive stuff, but I've played Pathfinder/D&D, White Wolf games, Scion, Hero System, and a few others, and I can honestly say that, in my experience, a set of rules/guidelines would never have prevented or aided in an inter-player conflict. Maybe it's just me; maybe it will make sense in the context of the game once we have the rules, but what's being described to me seems...unnecessary.

    3. Further to that...if the game switches from role playing the characters and their dispute/solutions in-game, to the players discussing the best way forward that fits the needs of the campaign, that's pretty destructive to the narrative. It's as if, during the film, the Avengers have a disagreement on how to proceed against the aliens, then the movie stops, the actors discuss the script and where it should go on camera, they hash it out, then go back in character and continue. Funny, yes. But not good for story flow or suspension of disbelief. Anyway, as I said, I might have this all wrong, so my concerns might be completely misplaced.

    4. I think there's definitely some confusion somewhere, so mea culpa if I didn't explain well! I'm not sure where I gave folks the idea that the system resolves the conflict for you, but it doesn't. Contention does not solve anything; it has no mechanics and no rolls to resolve a situation in any direction. All it does is force the players to decide how to write the story to resolve it.

      Contention also doesn't kick in when there's conflict between players necessarily - it kicks in when players take actions against each other. Most of the time, you're right, roleplaying will just take care of the issue, and that's what we expect! Encouraging roleplaying is the main key here. If Bob wants to kill the prisoner and Alicia thinks that would be terrible, Bob and Alicia should roleplay their disagreement all they want. Argue about it; passionately discuss it; try to convince each other; some people might storm off, some people might make threats. Roleplay your hearts out. Contention isn't invoked. Contention isn't even invoked if Bob just goes ahead and coup de grace's the NPC involved, because it's an NPC and contention doesn't apply.

      If Alice tries to grab Bob to stop him, NOW contention is invoked, because she's directly taking an action against another PC.

      I think there's a perception here that contention means roleplaying is over, which is definitely not the case. On the contrary, you're just figuring out what would happen and what people would do without rolling any dice - it's ENFORCED roleplaying, without anyone being able to use stats and dice to dictate what's happening without discussion between the players. The players are doing pure roleplay - my character would do this, mine would do that, mine would react in such a way - and if they don't agree that's how it would go down, they discuss it and figure out a way they both DO agree on. They're telling a story with no crunch involved - that's not roleplaying being canceled, it's just roleplaying in a different framework.

      I think your metaphor is flawed because when you're watching the Avengers, you're a passive audience; you're watching someone else tell their story, so yeah, if they stopped and hashed out the script, you would no longer be watching the story unfold, and you would lose cohesion. But you're not a passive audience in a game; you ARE the writers, writing the story in real-time, and the writers of every script occasionally have to go "wait, I have a counter-offer" or "what if we did this, that would be an awesome story" to get where they're going. Nobody is improvising The Avengers that we watched in theaters, and your game isn't producing a movie for someone else's passive consumption - that's apples and oranges.

      I think the issue here is just this idea that you aren't roleplaying in contention, which isn't true. You might have to talk about it out of character some to explain your take on the scene or why you think it would come out that way, but that's a pretty natural thing that happens in roleplay a lot anyway. You're not stopping to describe something in a boring, debate-until-we-decide manner, and then resuming the actual fun part. You're telling the story together, roleplaying and describing your character's thoughts, feelings, and actions as well as how the scene everyone is involved in might go as a result, and doing so collaboratively with the other players who are doing the same thing. (I mean, I guess you CAN just say "I would do A and then B, with result of C, and I refuse to roleplay or describe any of it", but why on earth would y'all choose to do that instead of roleplaying it? This seems like a problem that wouldn't happen unless someone already struggled with how to RP a character.)

    5. Contention is designed FOR roleplay, not against. It says "roleplay is literally the only way to resolve the conflict; figure out what the story is about and what happens in it". It says "you can't decide what happens based on random dice-rolling or who bought what stats six months ago; you decide based on what you want the story to be about". You're literally roleplaying ONLY, and removing the elements of a system enforcing certain outcomes from the equation.

      I could definitely see that someone whose RP style is all about in-the-moment improvisation and not story arc might have trouble with contention - once your character wants to act against another character, you have to take other peoples' ideas of the scene into account and decide what happens collaboratively, which makes it harder to just react to what's going on in the moment. It might not be some folks' favorite cup of tea, or might just take some getting used to.

      You come back a few times to the idea of this being unnecessary, and for your games, it might be! In which case, that's groovy, we're not going to come to your house and prevent you from never having to invoke contention because y'all always RP a peaceful solution out before anyone throws a punch. But just because it might not be necessary for your specific group doesn't mean it isn't necessary for groups that don't have the same people or comfort levels in them; for example, groups with people who aren't great at roleplaying and can use asking for input from others about what to do or what would be a good scene, or groups where some strong personalities would run roughshod over others by buying stats that make them "win" in PvP.

      It boils down to the fact that HJ has very specific goals for PVP:

      1) It shouldn't affect how people build/design their characters.
      2) It shouldn't make any character builds or powersets less valid than others.
      3) It shouldn't allow any players to dictate what happens in the scene without the other players' agreement.

      And contention is necessary for those things, because any system where a random roll or a stat vs. stat measurement of who prevails decides who gets their way does not meet those goals.

    6. My bad; the Avengers example was intended to say, "the story goes along, then it doesn't because the participants are debating something in an out-of-context way, then it continues" - perhaps using a play that you are participating in would have been a better example.
      At any rate, I think this is an "agree to disagree" moment, with the caveat that it might make more sense to me once I see the actual HJ game. If Conflict isn't a dice-rolling mechanic, but a roleplaying one, then there's nothing added - for me, anyway - that "regular" roleplaying can't resolve; that's literally the name of the game. Obviously, you found use for it in playtesting, or it wouldn't be a thing, but I honestly don't see where I could ever use it. And that's okay; this game will get into many hands, and at least some of them might find it the Most Useful Thing Ever, while hating my favorite game mechanic.
      But sometimes a lively debate is a good thing, no? :-)

    7. Ha, of course! Lively debate in the gaming world can always bring up new ideas and viewpoints. Lord knows we've had amazing conversations with y'all over the years. :)

      And yeah, maybe you'll like it more in context, maybe you won't but someone else will - and that's all good. Every play group is different, and if some groups didn't need this system and for others it works well, we'll be very happy designers!

  5. If I can give my opinion, I think I can see the point of Anne, there's certainly some moment in my roleplaying history where something like this could have been useful.
    From what I get, and please correct me if I'm wrong, as long as the conflict is just character debating about a course of action, roleplaying the discussion between the characters, there's no point in this rule. But if at one moment, there's a statistic involved in the conversation, then the Contention rule applies. It's like in D&D if the Bard try to make his point by casting Charm Person. No one like to have his character personality reduced to a failed saving throw. Sure, the Bard COULD do this, but if the result is detrimental to the fun of the other player, what's the point ? And if a situation has come to this, maybe stepping out a bit of the character isn't a bad thing.
    That's a rule I hope I would almost never see used but I can't say it's completely useless either.