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#RPGaDAY2020 Day 21 Push

Day 8 Shade.

Pushing rolls is a central mechanism in the Year Zero Engine. In many ways it plays the same role as FATE points or Momentum in other systems. It is a limited ingame currency that can be used to buy success.

Each Zero Engine game has pushing as an option but they are all subtly different.

This week is all filled with Tales from the Loop and so the example below is from that game. This is a Push in action.

EXAMPLE
Player 2 (Anita): I look her in the eyes and try to look sad. “But please mom, if you don’t drive us we’ll miss the party.”
The Gamemaster: Roll charm.
Player 2: Damn, I miss.
The Gamemaster: She looks stern and is about to say something, do you push?
Player 2: Yes, of course. I look away and say with a cold voice, “If dad was alive he would have done it.”
The Gamemaster: What Condition do you check?
Player 2: I’m getting really Upset now.
The Gamemaster: Ok. Reroll all dice.
Player 2: No successes this time either.
The Gamemaster: She doesn’t say anything, just looks at you.
Player 2: I start crying for real, with shame, and go to my room. I feel horrible.

This example, I feel, sums up TftL perfectly. In essence, this is a classic NPC blocking your character, the player uses a skill to attempt to influence. What makes Tales stand out is the emphasis on how you are going to apply the skill and then the push. In the example the line that says I look away and say with a cold voice, “If dad was alive he would have done it.” is quite a powerful bit of roleplaying.

That scene could so easily have been:

Player 2 (Anita): I look her in the eyes and try to look sad. “But please mom, if you don’t drive us we’ll miss the party.”
The Gamemaster: Roll charm.
Player 2: Damn, I miss.
The Gamemaster: She looks stern and is about to say something, do you push?
Player 2: Yes, of course.
The Gamemaster: What Condition do you check?
Player 2: I’m getting really Upset now.
The Gamemaster: Ok. Reroll all dice.
Player 2: No successes this time either.
The Gamemaster: She doesn’t say anything, just looks at you.
Player 2: I start crying for real, with shame, and go to my room. I feel horrible.

That single sentence makes a massive difference to the power of the scene.

Of all the Zero Engine games, Tales from the Loop is the lightest in terms of rules. There are no special dice and no banes to cancel out successes. The implications of gear/items has been massively simplified. Even the settings are lightweight.

All the effort has gone into the design of the mystery and emphasising the role playing aspects. When you push a roll in Tales, you are rarely going to achieve the super human, in a game that is about simply being human, and child at that.

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