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Author Topic: "Old Schol D&D"  (Read 7352 times)
stingray20166
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« on: April 13, 2004, 12:57:54 PM »

Played real "old schol D&D" the other night.  And yeah, that is misspelled -- at one point in the game my fellow Forge reader and I just looked at each other in disbelief at the hell we were going through, at which point I declared "Just relax -- we are playing old school D&D -- I'm even going to write it on my character sheet so I don't forget."  When I wrote it down I misspelled it and it somehow seemed appropriate, so I left it that way.

Setting:  GM and a buddy he has known since before time began.  Myself and another Forge reader.  All friends through different conduits and we've been playing together with a few other people for 1.5 years.  I was the youngest at 32.

GM's buddy was looking for lost glory -- he wanted to replay the game he played 20 years ago when he and the GM were still in high school.  So he collected the handwritten notes of GM and scanned them and he and GM eventually produced a document.  Nay, a tome.  

After all of this effort, we felt compelled to at least try it out when he shared it with us.  So what has my friend the GM produced?

A textbook example of a fantasy heartbreaker.  

It is D&D but with with more spells.  It is D&D but with more weapons, weapons subdivided into classes, weapons of every kind and description from every culture on earth. Some descriptions of the weapons have even slipped the memory of the GM because the weapons themselves are so obscure (he has a penchant for remembering obscure information -- a bit of a Kenneth Hite).  

You can just see the rules that were added because of players in the old game.  GM's buddy likes to chuck oil flasks during combat at every opportunity.  So there was a page of rules about throwing flasks in combat, including chances that the flask doesn't break.  GM loves the repeating crossbow, so there are special rules for that.  And so on.
Truly heartbreaking.

So how was Actual Play?
Play began by GM handing out the player creation packets -- some 20 pages of charts and tables and skills.  The skills seems like a great idea until you hear the rest -- there are only two "classes" -- fighter and magic-user.  The "skills" allow you to create the other AD&D classes by adding them to the base class.  For instance, adding "track" to the Fighter gives you a Ranger.  Essentially he took all of the special abilities of each AD&D class, ripped them into a big list, and then let you take whatever you want.  (If it sounds a bit power-gamey, well, yeah, that's the point.)

Saying that there were two classes is a bit of a misnomer.  In the pre-game setup, the GM said "Magicians are really powerful once they get to 20th level or so.  Until then it is really hard to keep a magician alive.  You will be almost powerless."  In a classic Forge moment, my friend asked "So could we all play 20th level magicians?".  "No," the GM replies, "you have to start at 1st level."

Naturally, we all created fighters.  

Play then began with all of us arriving  in the big city on the coast from our home islands -- kind of a rednecks in the city start.  Great description of the ships in the bay, the dock life, sense of wonder at being somewhere new.  And then we were on the docks.

At which point all the players glanced around as if to say "Now what?".  At which point GM's buddy says "Perhaps I should explain.  Nothing happens unless we do something.  If you want to sit in a bar all night and drink [GM]'ll do that."

It is in short the perfect simulation.  It's essentially a computer RPG run for the enjoyment of -- who?  Not sure yet.

We spent the rest of the session with what were essentially "random city encounters" and going to job interviews and  being turned down because of our lack of experience.  I wish I were joking.  On the 4th interview I managed to get us all hired as a caravan guard -- just as the session ended.  Every time I thought the game was going to take off -- it didn't.  

During the course of the game we tried:
-- hiring ourselves out as caravan guards.  It turned out that the caravan was going to travel for 6 months to another part of the world and then return.  My friend in the meantime had a job as an armorer.  I turned to him and joked "We take the job.  Now, one year later. . ." but my Director stance attempt at humor didn't lead anywhere.
--   applied for jobs as guards at a jewelry store (note the theme -- the only thing we could think of to do with these characters was to hit somebody).  Could have been interesting -- foil an Ocean's 11 heist, etc..  Nope, turned down.

3 hours later. . .

My friend and I had a few words as we were leaving.  We have decided to play once more (mainly for our own amusement as two of the other members of the group will be there) and then usurp the game in favor of Sorcerer.  

May Ron have mercy on our souls.

Nick Caldwell
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DannyK
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2004, 01:06:04 PM »

Do I understand you? You didn't fight anybody all session?  That's just wrong.  There should have at least been a barfight or something.
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clehrich
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2004, 01:24:35 PM »

Danny's right.  This isn't old-school D&D at all, at least not the way I always saw it played.

Clearly what needed to happen, if you were going to set it up this way, was you needed to be attacked by a random wandering city annoying-person (see table, attached) the first time you turned off a main street.  After a fair bit of this sort of thing, and maybe some hiring up as caravan guards or whatever to pass the time, you should have been handed the Rumors list -- the stuff you overheard in a bar.  That stuff would include a lot of silliness, and a little politics, and one thing that essentially says, "There is a dungeon at the spot marked X, now go there and stop wanking around or I'll up the number and level of the monsters."  So you do that, after a few sessions of tallying up all your equipment and encumbrance and whatnot.  Since you're first level, you may have to walk because you'll only be able to afford a small amount of transport, but that's OK.

Now you go into the dungeon, demonstrate your amazing facility with the complicated rules, thereby destroying everything alive (or moving, anyway) in the dungeon systematically.  You load your stuff into the cart, hitch it to the pony, and walk home.  You are now probably 2d level or so.

Now, flushed with victory and ready for something actually interesting, you go and do it all again for no apparent reason.

Sincerely Old-School AD&D [note: that's SOSADD] cannot be done without regular fighting.

Furthermore, the DM screwed up.  What do you mean you got turned down by the caravan leader?  What, he's a person or something?  Tell him he has to roll, damn it; otherwise he's cheating the simulation by having it arbitrarily determined that you can't do certain things.

To put this in different terms, and a little more seriously, this guy is trying to do absolutely pure simulationism and at the same time railroad you.  If you want textbook case, this is a textbook case of severe incoherence.  You can't have it both ways, you see.  If it's really, really pure simulation, the DM has no business responding to your creative notions with a flat-out block: all he can do is let the world react.

I say kill the DM and take his stuff.  :>
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Chris Lehrich
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2004, 01:26:46 PM »

Hello,

It reminds me of the time a fellow ran 7th Sea for our campus group and absolutely nothing happened. My character and the two female characters, run by women, eventually left for another bar. The GM was not prepared for this, so somewhat bully-ishly, I and the other two players proclaimed that "our characters have a great time all night long" and stopped paying attention to what wasn't happening in the bar, effectively exiting ourselves from play.

More generally, there are two features that I'm pulling from your description, and they both come down to the nostalgic quality of the game being run, for the GM. It makes me think that my Fantasy Heartbreakers essays are less relevant to your experience than the D&D history essay.

Here's what you ran into in this guy's head, I think.

1. The anticipated satisfaction gained from re-living one's first Social Contract that permitted a leisure group activity. Most kids have to tolerate an adult-generated Social Contract when they play anything fairly formalized (i.e. with shared goals and some sort of interactive system at work). But doing it yourself is a major undertaking; some kids never do it, some kids manage to get there by organizing pickup sports (e.g. inner-city basketball is an amazing example), but some few do so via role-playing.

But you can't go home again. You can't be ol' Bob and Scooter and Nguyen, back on the block after school let out, when Snickers bars weighed at least four pounds and your shoes were magical speed machines. "Let's play ball like when we were kids!" is a whole different thing when you're all much older and not with the same people at all.

2. Prepping for play and dreaming about how awesome it "would be if," in lieu of actually playing. Of course he couldn't have anything happen - it would spoil the possibilities, cherished over years of rosy memory, of (a) what did happen and (b) what could happen.

It's like having a memory of a high-school sweetheart who let you touch her "there" (and nothing else), and dreaming of all those Hot Chix who might "do you" if you "get lucky." A real live woman, reasonably interested in you and herself a little uncertain, with actual anatomy and an actual schedule to her time, is way more problematic than these memories and fantasies. Many people shy away from her as if she were wired for shock.

Basically, you guys were stuck in another man's "dream world," and not in a good sense either.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2004, 01:59:26 PM »

C'mon, Ron. A little overblown there, dontcha think? I'm seeing someone who's decided, like John Kim, to just play "open sim."

You guys want to have some fun with this game? I tell this story a lot, so forgive me if you've heard it. One time playing in a straight dungeon crawl, a friend and I were rolling up D&D characters, and thinking about what we wanted to do. Looking at the classes, the same thing that always strikes me, struck me, "What do these people do for a living?" I mean, really, what does an Illusionist do that puts bread on his table? If you look at a character, and can't think of how this happens, then I'd posit you haven't made anything like a real human being.

So, Dave, my friend is looking over the weapons list having decided to be a fighter (and I a wizard, as I like magic), and he sees the man-catcher. "Hmm, how about we be slavers?" says Dave in a non-chalant way that only Dave can. Perfect, I'm thinking. My indecision over which spells to take is suddenly erased - I take Charm person, Friends, and Sleep. Sleep, most importantly (arguably the most powerful spell in D&D).

When we join up with the other first level PCs, they're outside of an old mine getting ready to venture back in (did I mention dungeon crawl?). They say that they could use some help - being good players and all - and we ask what's inside. Kobolds is the response. And they'll give us a share of the treasure if we come along.

Dave, international software consultant says, "How about you keep all the treasure and we get all the kobolds." A collective 120 years of RPG playing experience stares at us having no idea what to do. Eventually they agree. A couple of hours later, and here's me and Dave, our characters coralling 30 kobolds out of the dungeon (the GM had to wing a lot of it, I give him credit - just what are the D&D rules for netting kobolds?)

Me, "So who do you sell kobolds to?"
Dave, "I dunno, evil overlords?"
Me, "Wait, I know, weee could be evil overlords!"

Uh, the point? If you have lemons make lemonade. Basically we drifted the game in subtle ways to be a lot more like what we wanted. If the GM is giving you all this lattitude, then play with it. Don't apply for jobs, or wait to stop an Ocean's 11 heist, perform the Oceans 11 heist. Go to the library and research some nifty treasure, and then go get it. Your characters are "adventurers" right? Well, go get some adventure. I can garuntee that this is what the GM wants you to do. He's sitting home right now thinking, "damn players, I give them a huge beautiful world, and the best they can think of is to go to the bar and apply for jobs?"

You can really push this if you think the GM will cope. Use unauthorized director stance, "I go see my buddy Joachim at the quay." If the GM says you have no buddy, then ask him to list all of your buddies and where they'd be so that you can go see them. If he says there are none, then, "What? Is my character some sort of sociopath that only hangs out with these other smelly adventurers?" Tell him that, in realistic western societies that the average person knows about 2000 people. Ask to see your family. Tell them that your uncle Morris always knows where there's treasure to be found. Ask to go the the smithy where you learned those blacksmithing skills on your character sheet, and see your mentor who's skilled in creating magical arms and armor. Tell the GM that your character heard that he was being strongarmed by the local organized crime band, and you want to help out. Tell the GM that you want to see Morlag, the guy who taught you everything you know about swordsmanship, and that he once said that you could hide out at the guild - opportune given those weird guys in the red cloaks who've been following you around lately making odd signs in the air, scaring away your Snail-drug business contacts from Norikhar (kicker anyone?).

Drive the game the way you want it to go. Create friction between the PCs (not the players), and split up the party. Have fights. Get involved in city factions, and politics. Run for magistrate. Make your own adventure.

Just what I'd do. If the GM decides it's hot his purview to inject "adventure" into the game, make it yours.

Mike
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DannyK
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2004, 03:29:35 PM »

That's a good story, but I think it may not speak to stingray's problem.  From his description, it sounds like stingray and his buddies *did* try to make their own fun, beating the bushes for jobs.

(and I still can't believe that.  There has never been a caravan in the history of roleplaying that was adequately guarded.  How is it possible that they weren't hiring at Caravan Guard's Union Hall?)

I think perhaps a little OOC conversation is in order.  Or wearing a T-shirt that says I'M HERE TO CHEW BUBBLEGUM AND KILL ORCS, or something.
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clehrich
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2004, 05:30:35 PM »

No, actually I'm with Mike on this one.  If he's going to do "old-school D&D" without the old school, I mean without dungeon-crawling, caravan-guarding, or hanging out in bars getting hired for no particular reason, then you've got a pretty car and no driver.  So hop in the driver's seat.  Now, you'd need some help on this one; one guy can't do it alone.  Basically what you're going to do here is railroad the GM -- not in the narrow sense of railroading an adventure, but in the more general sense of simply forcing him to do what you want, whether he likes it or not.

See, this whole thing feels to me as though he expects mildly passive players who will follow when he lays down the bread crumbs, so he's trying to be all clever by hiding the bread crumbs themselves.  The idea is that you wander around, find one crumb, and then devote your lives to finding the rest of them -- all so that you can go do his adventure.

Instead, be so active he just doesn't know what to do, and has to fall back on refereeing a simulation.

"I go talk to my cousin Harry the armorer."
"I go have a drink with my old girlfriend Sonja, who likes me but won't sleep with me."
"We go down to the wharf where the King of the Beggars hangs out, and see if we can't cut ourselves in on the big bank job that's going down."

Now if he tells you you can't do any of these things, or anything like them, then you do have to talk to him OOC.  You say, "Look, we tried asking around for jobs, like we're supposed to, but you said we didn't get anything at all.  So now we're trying actively to make stuff happen, but w can't do that either.  So what are we supposed to do?  Spell it out."  And when he says, as he's almost guaranteed to do, "You can do anything you want that fits with the world," you have to throw in the towel.

You can up the ante, of course.  You have some skills, if not a lot.  Go roll some drunks in an alley and see what happens.  I mean, are the cops really high-level?  They won't even notice if you do it right, after all.  Try hanging out in the theater district after dark; you might be able to waylay a hot actress -- even an heiress if you're lucky -- and can hold her for ransom or sell her into prostitution.  If you pull that off, you've got a little money and the organized crime syndicates know you're an up-and-coming little group.  Maybe they could use you.  And if they don't like you, they're going to have to attack (which is fun) or else send you on a mission you can't possibly survive (which is also fun).

I'm rambling here, but I think if all else fails, go break some laws and cause some trouble.  If he just blocks you at every turn, give up and go home.  If he lets you do stuff, either things have to happen or you will end up very rich, very evil, and with a burning town behind you.

If you want some suggestions, incidentally, you might read the Delacorta novel Nana, in which our pal Gorodish stirs a harmless little town into open warfare and walks off with a huge amount of money.
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Chris Lehrich
CPXB
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2004, 09:29:31 PM »

I can feel Stingray's pain from here.  :)

I'm actually in a fairly Old Skool D&D game and its light fun.  We sort of go around getting into fights with some sort of connection that we're not entirely sure about much of the time -- but the BAD PEOPLE ARE GETTIN' KILT, so its all good.  Role-play mostly amounts to my character having a crush on the character of another player and banter akin to the later seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

What Stingray has ain't no Old Skool game.  As everyone has noticed . . . how can you NOT get hired as caravan guards?  Or get into a barfight as the half-orc decides he doesn't like the way you look?  Or get hired by the Duke's men to clear out that goblin infested old castle that he's thinking of fixing up?  He's breakin' the Old Skool rules.

So, sure, try to usurp the game.  But be aware that if you try to usurp the game and it doesn't work out well, you might have made an enemy in the GM and maybe the players.  This might be a motivation to do go through with the proposed coup, I know, but I had to bring up the possibility that a grudge might get held if you, without the least notification, decide to become slavers or whatever, hehe.

LOVED the kobold slaver story, BTW.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2004, 06:34:04 AM »

Hello,

Well, I'm irked. Mike and Chris, you're talking about solutions to the basic problem, whereas I'm describing the problem itself. Presenting solutions does not refute the actual nature of the problem.

Furthermore, charming as the kobold story is, I don't see it as a solution that will ultimately lead to successful play, over time. It certainly works as a survival tactic for a particular session, presumably before walking out of the problem-group situation. But it is very unlikely to work as a "conversion" tactic to result in more successful play in that group.

Did the DM in the kobold-slaving session "get it"? As I recall from the last re-telling of the story, no, he didn't, nor did anyone else in the group. Mike, you and your buddy were able to have fun at the expense of everyone else in the group, which is only justified insofar as they weren't offering (or having, apparently) any fun back anyway.

If a player (such as stingray and his friend) are not willing to say, basically, "fuck you," to everyone right there in play and usurp it, then typically the DM/GM is going to get his way - i.e., nothing happens, for the reasons I outlined. Not everyone is as accomplished a "fuck you"-er as you, Mike, and in many cases, it's beyond what people consider common courtesy, especially if they're guests of someone they don't know well. And if my 7th Sea experience is anything to go by, some GMs are determined unto death that nothing will happen: you never saw so many attempts to pick fights, divine clues, and observe whatever might be observed as in that session, all of which were stymied by the GM's interminable desire to role-play the tics and twitches of various NPCs.

As a closing note, I agree that we are not talking about Old School Gamist D&D play. That's fun stuff, if arcane and also highly contextual to the participants' personal histories. But we are talking about a real and identifiable form of dysfunctional play which is associated with playing "my old game." So let's stick with that and not get into the unnecessary process of defending functional play of some kind.

Best,
Ron
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kwill
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« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2004, 07:58:01 AM »

I don't understand: what was the GM *wanting* to do? were the players supposed to be figuring out what he wanted the characters to do, or were "random city encounters" the whole point? (maybe they would go up in difficulty as you levelled up?)

was anything at all discussed beyond "create some characters for this game"?

ron, are you suggesting the activity ("let's play D&D again") ended as the game began for real? (there was nothing prepped?)

that's a lot of question marks, but I gotta lotta questions
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d@vid
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2004, 08:13:57 AM »

Hi there,

David, you asked,

Quote
ron, are you suggesting the activity ("let's play D&D again") ended as the game began for real? (there was nothing prepped?)


Pretty much, yes. Or perhaps he did prep, but it was irrelevant when the game started - he couldn't emotionally put that prep into practice, being frozen in time/memory. Based on the similar experiences I've had, the DMs in question often spent a lot of time reminiscing about scenes and situations from the old days. In, say, five hours spent together, only perhaps 45-90 minutes constituted Exploration, dispersed in 5-15 minute chunks. The rest was jokes, reminiscences (often punctuated with giggling, acting-out how he and his friends played scenes), extended explanations and justifications for house rules, and similar.

And afterward (here I'm thinking of the 7th Sea guy), he talked all about what we didn't or hadn't picked up on. "That guy with the eye-patch? He was really up to something."

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2004, 10:08:26 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Well, I'm irked. Mike and Chris, you're talking about solutions to the basic problem, whereas I'm describing the problem itself. Presenting solutions does not refute the actual nature of the problem.
This is true, but I think that part of the problem is that we can't be sure what the problem is, precisely. Does the GM want to have nothing happen as you suggest? Does he want the players to make their own action as I suggest? Or is Chris' hypothesis that he's got tiny hooks out there that are just nigh imperceptible the correct theory?

Quote
Did the DM in the kobold-slaving session "get it"? As I recall from the last re-telling of the story, no, he didn't, nor did anyone else in the group. Mike, you and your buddy were able to have fun at the expense of everyone else in the group, which is only justified insofar as they weren't offering (or having, apparently) any fun back anyway.
They didn't get it for about five minutes. Then, as I mention above, the GM did get it, and rolled with it well. And the other players sorta played their normal game around us. It was actually quite functional. We were invited back, and I think with time probably would have gotten the game to shift overall CA somewhat in our direction.

Game was in Chicago, however, making attendance difficult, and I wasn't sure that even the modified CA that we'd created would hold my attention for long. Uncertain enough that I declined. But there were no problems at all at any point outside of some momentary culture shock for some of the players.

Quote
Not everyone is as accomplished a "fuck you"-er as you, Mike, and in many cases, it's beyond what people consider common courtesy, especially if they're guests of someone they don't know well.
I don't know whether to be flattered or insulted. So I'll be flattered.

Still, this is not what I'm suggesting.

To be really clear, as always, the first thing that I'd advocate trying in this case, or any like it, is straightforward communication. If we don't know how the GM expects us to have fun, then it's probably best to ask. But I think it'd be more fun to "party crash." Note that, if my estimation is correct that the GM in question will roll with it, and fun will be had by all. But even if it isn't, then you'll quickly be able to call a time out, and discuss what happened. You can say, "Well, you didn't seem to be giving us anything interesting to do, so I thought I'd just do that. If that, too is incorrect, then what is it we're supposed to be doing?" This will indicate to the GM, as well, what it is you're looking for in the game.

Quote
And if my 7th Sea experience is anything to go by, some GMs are determined unto death that nothing will happen: you never saw so many attempts to pick fights, divine clues, and observe whatever might be observed as in that session, all of which were stymied by the GM's interminable desire to role-play the tics and twitches of various NPCs.
Again, if this is true, as Chris points out, only by prodding will you find out (barring the communication method).

Maybe it's that I know that GMs are committing so many of these sorts of tricks in order to manipulate players that I want to see some of it done in reverse. Yes, two wrongs, and all that, but I think that if you go into something like this knowing what you're doing, and with good intent, that you can make it work out right.

Yeah there's a risk of causing a problem. But if you're not having fun already, better for the game to disintigrate entirely than to continue in some dysfunctional death march.

Mike
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greyorm
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2004, 06:49:26 PM »

Interrupting Mike and Ron for a moment to point out that regardless of whether it's a situation of the fantasy being better than the reality (no pun intended), or a pure character-focused Simulationist exercise, the game is obviously dysfunctional, and thus, undefendable for any reason.
Quote
Nothing happens unless we do something. If you want to sit in a bar all night and drink...

And it's all right there. "Nothing happens unless we do something" -- they tried to do something, a number of somethings by the account, yet nothing happened regardless. They may as well have sat at the bar drinking, as suggested, at least then they would have all been on the same page regarding play then.

I submit that the "nothing happens unless you do something" line given by the GM as incentive is bullshit. I used it myself in the days of my Illusionist gaming, when trying to get my players to (re)act to the world, and it was bullshit then, despite my intentions of "getting them to do stuff."

I would bet money on the following: this GM has some grand plot/scheme/event in store for the players. When they ditch for "Sorcerer" (or some other game) -- however he actually happens to put it, even if only internally or to others he complains to about the game, he is going to sigh and be upset that they're "missing out on all the cool plans he had for them."

More bullshit.

I was there. I did that too.
The players will never be nearly as engaged by the cool plans you make for them as you are. That's the time tested, play approved truth. But, even if that becomes arguable, the unarguable real problem is that in these cases, the form followed is usually that the GM wants the players to "discover the plot naturally" rather than trying to "force" it on them in a linear way. Again, betting real money on it.

This is the worst sort of Illusionist/would-be Simulationist technique to employ, because it's a "say one thing, mean another" mode of interacting and communicating with the rest of the group. It's "Yeah, baby, I love you the way you are (but I wish you weighed less, were better in bed, and knew what I liked without my saying)."

The GM is saying "Do something and I'll react" (heck, it's reported up there in black-and-white), but what he really means is "Guess what I want you to do, then I'll show you this cool thing."

I know all about this sort of play, much to my own embarassment. And like I said, I'm betting money on the above. I think it's a very solid bet, even given Mike's beliefs that it's "just pure Sim."

But regardless of what you want to argue "is really going on," it is a complete breakdown of communication between parties.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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John Kim
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« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2004, 07:43:14 PM »

Quote from: greyorm
Quote
Nothing happens unless we do something. If you want to sit in a bar all night and drink...

And it's all right there. "Nothing happens unless we do something" -- they tried to do something, a number of somethings by the account, yet nothing happened regardless. They may as well have sat at the bar drinking, as suggested, at least then they would have all been on the same page regarding play then.

OK, as far as I see from stingray's post, the only things which the PCs tried to do were apply for boring guard duty jobs (of a caravan and of a jewelry store).  Well, surprise surprise, that isn't terribly interesting to play out.  Now, it could be true that genuinely interesting actions would have been shot down -- I don't know.  But Mike and Chris both allow for that possibility.  As they say, it's better to try something and be shot down, then hash it out as an issue or just leave.  

Now, I say this with a caveat, because I was in a pretty similar situation with the Lord of the Rings campaign very recently and didn't do this.  Instead, I stuck with a pretty mediocre campaign for a while, with only moderate attempts to do interesting stuff.  Now, the more traditional me's instinct was to cut loose as Mike and Chris describe, but my feeling was that I would piss off the GM and alienate the other two.  If I had had another player on my side I might have tried more.  The GM eventually dropped that campaign, and I started GMing the James Bond 007 campaign with this group -- which has gone pretty well.  

I think the "cut loose" approach of Mike and Chris can certainly work.  I've done it in several prior campaigns -- occaisionally being shot down, and occaisionally having it take off.  But it can strain social relations.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2004, 05:51:12 AM »

Yeah, Raven, we all agree that the situation is dysfunctional. No disagreement on anybody's part there as far as I can tell. Probably the GM employing contradictory techniques or something, yeah, that's likely. But even if the GM is actually playing a theoretically functional mode, as I postulate is possible, the players aren't playing along with that mode. As John points out, aplying for jobs is hardly adventurous, and still expecting the GM to provide the plot as a response to whatever they do (which we know he's not willing to do). So, no matter what the analysis, yeah, it's problematic.

The question is what to do about it. Like I've said, the straightforward thing to do is to bring these issues up in an open conversation and hash them out. The "advantage" to my method is that it either play works fine, or, if not, some diagnosis occurs (and then you can move on to discussion). At the risk, as I admit and John confirms, of pootentially alienating someone. So take my advice at your own risk.

From a philosophical standpoint, the method that I'm advocating is based on my Americanized Taoist ideas about education. Better to be an example; show, don't tell. Without the excercise that I advocate, I think that the discussion of what's going on is going to be a very difficult one.

As always, the best, or possibly only, solution here may be to just stop playing. Even with the best of techniques or the most cogent of discussions, it may be that the situation is unresolvable. Either the GM may be unwilling to actually commit to play (like Ron says), or the mode he want to use may be something that the players can't enjoy.

But at this point I think it's worth a try.

Mike
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