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Author Topic: How To: Interpret Charitably  (Read 4216 times)
TonyLB
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« on: April 08, 2005, 06:47:16 PM »

... or 'How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.'

Capes gives all players tremendous freedom to contribute to the Shared Imaginary Space.  Players don't have to justify anything and they don't have to explain anything.  In most cases they just say that something happens, and it does.  This gives them the power to do things that look, at first blush, stupid, counter-productive or outright spiteful.

If you go with your first reaction, and assume that the other player is, in fact, being stupid, counter-productive or outright spiteful, you guarantee two things:[list=1][*]You will fail to discern their actual motivation, which is (in almost all cases) productive and intelligent
[*]You will make yourself very unhappy for no reason at all[/list:o]A key skill in any roleplaying game (but especially in Capes) is the ability to treat the contributions of your fellow players with respect.  Assume that they know what they're doing, even if their plan isn't immediately apparent to you.  Interpret their contribution charitably, in other words, trying to find and enhance its benefits, rather than trying to locate (or invent) and exacerbate faults.

So that's what this thread is about:  How-To techniques for doing that.  Suggestions will be accepted in two categories:  Motive Templates (which showcase productive motives, and the ways that they can produce what looks like "bad" input) and Acceptance Strategies (which showcase ways to turn particular inputs from something that annoys you into something that excites and entertains you).

Motive Template... Template
Motive:  A brief (one sentence) description of the motive
Technique:  How they enact the motive
Goal:  What they intend to achieve in the long term
Discords: The apparently-bad inputs to the SIS that result from the technique.
Benefits:  The actually-good results that can come when the contribution is accepted and embraced.

Acceptance Strategy Template
Situation:  What happens that needs to be accepted
Outcome:  What happier (for you) situation can grow out of it
Strategy:  How you get from here to there
Example:  A quick few lines of narration showing the feel and the wording, if possible.
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Just published: Capes
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TonyLB
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2005, 06:48:08 PM »

So I'll toss out some examples.  I'll be interested to know whether people find these useful, and particularly interested to see how-to's from other players and their actual play experiences:

Hell in a handbasket
Motive:  Explore a dystopian, police-state situation
Technique: Something terrible goes wrong, and the government cracks down, particularly against super-heroes.
Goal:  An oppressive situation in which the heroes can be rebels and saviors.
Discords:
    [*]Heroes are suddenly treated as villains, undermining their self-image.[*]The world is changed massively, unilaterally, and often without mediating Conflicts.[*]Exemplars are often uprooted or threatened.[/list:u]Benefits:
      [*]The heroes can be rebels or saviors.[*]Lots of fun sneaking around and lying doggo.[*]No end of opportunity to stake Justice, Hope or Duty debt.[*]Heroes with a sketchy relationship to the law get to go bat-shit crazy beating up State Police without being plagued by moral ambiguity.[/list:u]


      Chew the scenery
      Situation:  A pale, low-stake situation where Conflict is hard to come by
      Outcome:  A screamingly conflicted situation where Life and Death hang in the balance
      Strategy:  Lead with Cliches, End with exclamation points.  First you reveal that the situation is much, much worse than it seems on the surface.  Hopeless, in fact.  Then you offer one slim chance, but say that it's clearly too dangerous, fraught with peril at every turn, and you'd be mad to pursue it.
      Example:
      Quote
      "Major Galactic is watering his lawn.  He sees that he's got dandelions growing in it."
      "MY GOD!  Those aren't just dandelions!  They're the spores of triffid advance scouts!  They'll have blanketed the entire northern hemisphere by now, just biding their time until sunlight and nature's good sweet rain turns them into a horde of unstoppable killers!  Earth is already DOOMED!  But wait... there might be one chance!  Empress Krang of the Star Khanate is rumored to have a weapon that can eradicate the triffids.  But the only way to get it would be to pose as one of her slave-boys in order to infiltrate the court.  Without my Quantum Bracers I would be all but defenseless should I be caught!  It's almost-certain death, but it's HUMANITY'S ONLY HOPE!"
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      TonyLB
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      « Reply #2 on: April 08, 2005, 07:01:30 PM »

      Urggh... "Chew the scenery" isn't even an Acceptance.  More of a "make your own fun" thing.  This is tricky stuff folks.   I knew I was trying to do it, and I still got it wrong.  Let me try again:


      Can't... stay... sane... much... longer...
      Situation:  Narrative continuity has completely broken down.  Crazy, inconsistent stuff is happening left and right.
      Outcome:  The craziness drives the conflict of the characters, and their reactions to it become the story.
      Strategy:  Two Goals:  "Don't give in to insanity" and "Discover the source of the madness."
      Example:
      Quote
      "And then the giant greyhound comes running down the road, barking wildly at you!"
      "No... it's not real... just a figment of my imagination.  That giant greyhound must really be... a BUS!  I leap back to the sidewalk just in time to avoid being run down.  We must find an antidote for Professor Hypnos's Umbra-Gas before the entire city loses touch with reality.  But how can we do it, when we can't even trust our own senses?"
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      John Harper
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      flip you for real


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      « Reply #3 on: April 11, 2005, 10:16:25 AM »

      Not much to add, Tony, except to say that this is looking good. I love all of the great toolbox stuff that you're making for Capes and this one promises to be a fine addition.
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      Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!
      TonyLB
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      « Reply #4 on: April 15, 2005, 03:47:29 AM »

      Beat you until you beat me back
      Motive: Set up an opposing player to achieve a massive come-back
      Technique: They put your character in a terrible situation, immediately and unilaterally, often when they are losing the relevant Conflict.
      Goal: When you get a narration you get out of all that, because your character is just that cool.
      Discords:If you assume that the other player wants to keep you in chains, and that you have to go along with that plan, then this is a sleazy, underhanded attempt to grab victory by fiat, rather than earn it.  This is particularly galling when they are narrating a Conflict where you are mechanically beating them.
      Benefits: If you recognize that these difficulties are created to be overcome then you have an open invitation to do some really cool superheroic stuff.
      Example:
      Quote
      Adam (playing Doc Terrible):  Okay, I roll my side of "Destroy Midnight up to a 4.  You've got seven, so you still control.  As Midnight charges forward, robotic chains lash out and clamp onto his wrists and ankles.  He is hoisted into the air.  Millions of volts of electric current surge through him.  He screams in agony, then sags.  And then...."
      Brian (playing Midnight):  Doctor Terrible cackles.  "Now, with you out of the way, I will be the Guardian of the Orb of Decency."  Midnight raises his head, his eyes fiery and furious.  "You will never have the Orb," he says, "It stands against every facet of your evil.  And so do I!"  With a shout he rips the chains out of the wall.  Whipping one hand around, he lashes a chain around Doc Terribles neck and starts dragging him close.  "We finish this... now!"
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