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Author Topic: Relationship Maps: Your Story or Their Story?  (Read 4791 times)
hix
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Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« on: September 08, 2004, 08:47:20 PM »

I've had fun drawing players into relationship maps during a Buffy mini-series and a pick-up game of The Pool. But now I'm thinking about running Sorceror for the first time, there's this question bugging me:

Most of the r-maps I've assembled have a Bang inherent to them. An example from the Art-Deco thread is the disappearance of the plane carrying the sorcerous drugs in Session 1.

Once you've linked the PCs into a relationship map and the players have created their Kickers, doesn't this inherent Bang take attention away from the stories the players have said they're interested in? It feels like it's trumping them with the "GM plot they're supposed to investigate".

I'm sure I'm missing the point here, so I'd appreciate anyone who could point me in the direction of some relevant threads, or educate me.
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
sirogit
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Posts: 503


« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2004, 09:11:46 PM »

I don't think that R-maps, as a technique, lead to loss of Player-story-ness at all. I think that if a GM is accustomed to doing the whole "and the gm writes the story!" thing, than he's going to use R-maps to tell the story of the NPCs, not the PCs.

R-maps are all about being versatile. Versatility is the number one need of GM's that want to make their game more about the player's story.
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Bill Cook
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2004, 01:11:27 PM »

This is an actual play post of my first session of my first Sorcerer campaign. In it, I wrestled with this same issue: perceiving the back-story to compete with players telling their stories. Check out the 3rd, 13th and following posts. The second and third-to-last posts are especially relevant.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2004, 05:50:06 PM »

Hiya,

It's fundamental to relationship maps in Sorcerer that the protagonists' presence acts as a catalyst.

This can create the illusion or initial misconception that the story is the NPCs' story - after all, they are making decisions and responding and running around all over the place. The wanderings of the book fragments in my Forbidden Tome example in The Sorcerer's Soul, for instance, and all the murders.

But it is a misconception, because, as Jesse and I have thrashed out over many dialogues, it doesn't matter to the GM how the NPCs turn out. Who dies, who gets chosen as sympathetic if anyone, who gets the money, who ends up dismembered ... Nope, that's all role-playing, but it's not the story.

The story goes like this:

Player-character faces Kicker
Kicker is elaborated by back-story (with the Kicker's details ranging from being almost entirely obscured to being arc-lit from all sides)

Back-story blows up like a bomb
Player-characters engage in terms of value-judgments and decisions
Repeat, mix, blend, deconstruct, and reconstruct the previous two items

Climax - key decisions, guts on the line, intense (that word) stuff (important: we are talking about the player-characters, not the NPCs; NPCs may have reached climaxes of their own even before play starts!)
Fallout, resolutions, Kickers either continuing onwards to the next "thing" or finding their final resting points

The biggest failing of The Sorcerer's Soul is that I did not emphasize how the relationship map method relates to Kickers. The Demon Cops supplement is going to be about practically nothing else but.

Best,
Ron
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hix
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Steve Hickey


« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2004, 10:55:55 PM »

Thanks for the responses. I'm still mulling them over. Meantime, I wondered about this:

Quote
R-maps are all about being versatile. Versatility is the number one need of GM's that want to make their game more about the player's story.


sirogit, could you expand on what you mean by 'versatility' in this context?
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
matthijs
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« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2004, 02:49:20 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
The Demon Cops supplement is going to be about practically nothing else but.


"Going to be"? I thought it had been around for a while - or is this a new version?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2004, 05:09:10 AM »

Hello,

M, I'm talking now about the possibility of expanding Demon Cops into a very extensive print supplement.

Sirogit, yes, do discuss the versatility issue. It's a big deal.

Best,
Ron
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sirogit
Member

Posts: 503


« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2004, 04:58:37 AM »

Note - Ron, as soon as you put Demon Cops on print, I'm ordering a copy. Two if that helps.

Versatility - I guess more people call it "flexibility", but I prefer the word versatility(I'll explain later.). Your prep work(R-maps in this case) being "Versatile" means that you can use the prep you've written down well with whatever context that develops within the actual game.

Very non-versatile prep - The old school D&D scenario. A list of encounters, and how to string people along from scene A to scene B. When faced with a player that wants to excersize choice outside of the prescripted scenario, the GM has two options: Use force to push them back into the limited set of choices or go free-form. Because we're assuming you want to avoid forcing people into a pre-set story, this sort of prep is very non-versatile, you can only use it in one pre-set context, and once players diverge from it, its awkward to swing them back into it.

Fairly versatile prep - A list of bangs without a relationship map, usually depending if people get intereasted in certain NPC's or if they take certain decisions. This night I played in such a Riddle of Steel game and let me tell you, that game was freakin' awesome. But I do feel bad for my brother who was running it, because he was only to use half a page of prep out of 3 and a half pages he wrote for it, on account that alot of it was depending on situations that didn't materialize in the game(And some of it was really fantastic stuff, which is the pity.)

Extremely versatile prep - Relationship maps and bangs. I'll stick to two reasons why I find it versatile.

1) because it provides a strong network of activity that fluctuates to a degree that you can pick up any NPC, and they'd have an involvement in the story. This means that you can let the players pick up an NPC within the relationship map, and that NPC will have a lot of thematic-juice.

2)There are infinite ways that you can express a daughter's conflicts with her father. Its extremely more adaptable than say, a paticular mystery for the players have to solve, because the player's characters could be involved with the father or daughter anywhere and for a myriad of reasons, wheras the mystery depends on player's characters being in a specific place and having very paticular motivations.

Now, why I choose the word Versatile rather than flexible? Because to most people, a "flexible" game can and usually does include abandoning your prep entirely and just going freeform. Therefore a "flexible" game is almost entirely dependent on a specific quality of a GM; that he's willing to let people go free-form.

I'm using "Versatile" mainly as a definition of prep; you have solid gaming material that you're able to use in a wide variety of contexts, and therefore have little reason to abandon your prep work.
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hix
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Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2004, 12:08:44 PM »

Thanks Sirogit. What I've taken from that is that versatility includes: 1) NPCs who are proactive about 'grabbing' onto and needing the PCs; 2) being able to express conflict in more than one preset-encounter sort of a way; and 3) that the r-map is highly responsive to player decisions.

It looks like a GM has to deliberately choose a relationship map that's enhances the players' Kickers. That is: if there's a Bang that's inherent to the map, then when it goes off it intensifies all the PC's situations (rather than distracting from their stories).

I'm still mulling, but is that the right direction?

(Also, a Bang seems like it's a question to the player. A weak Bang is a closed "Yes/No" question, while a strong Bang is like an open question - a "What do you do," or a "How do you do that?")

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Kicker is elaborated by back-story (with the Kicker's details ranging from being almost entirely obscured to being arc-lit from all sides)


Also, Ron, this is a metaphor I'm not familiar with. Care to expand?
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
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