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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Who's your Pep-Squad?  (Read 11736 times)
TonyLB
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« on: August 24, 2005, 05:46:58 AM »

So I was chatting with Andrew Cooper at GenCon, and we were talking about how Capes falls apart if nobody brings the excitement to the table.  It's like people come to a basketball court, put a basketball down in the middle of it, then sit around in a circle and stare at the ball.  Eventually someone says (quite rightly) "This is stupid."

And Andrew said a wonderful thing, which I can only paraphrase:  "In a normal game, everybody understands that it's the GM who brings the excitement to the table.  In Capes, there's nobody singled out for that role."

That role.

Can you tell that I'm excited by this idea?  Let me transmit that excitement to you.

As with many other roles that must be fulfilled in a game (provider of adversity, manager of pacing, resolver of conflicts) the role of provider-of-excitement (herafter Pep-Squad) is absolutely indispensible.  This is where the gaming fun begins.  If you haven't got it, you haven't got it.  Period.

Centralizing other responsibilities will often (but not always) make people feel responsible for the Pep-Squad role.  But I've certainly seen many games where the Pep-Squad is visibly one of the players.

Okay, you've got enough to run with here.  Do you see it?  Do you see it in your games?  Do you see how to use it in your games?

Right now I'm talking about individuals, and what their excitement is.  You want to know how excited I am, though?  I think that this may be my Grand Unified Theory of gaming, starting right here.  Because game systems and gaming techniques mediate the way in which excitement flows, rebounds and changes in a group.  It mediates that flow of resource between the players.

I'll give one example (though I now see it everywhere).  In my super-fast demo of Capes, I have a bunch of pre-made Conflicts, including "Humiliate Major Victory."  I hand them out and say "Pick one of these to pursue."  Then, if "Humiliate" doesn't come out, I put on the cheesy MV voice, and say "Give it up Iron Brain!  You should know by now that Justice will always lead... to VICTORY!"

I kid you not, every single time I do this, people go back through the cards, pull out "Humiliate Major Victory" and replace whatever other goal they put down with it.  Always with gleaming eyes and a predatory grin.

I've just taken my excitement (as semi-official Pep-Squad) and succeeded in infusing it into another player.  Reliably!  But if it were D&D, and I was being that obnoxious as a Paladin, I'd evoke no excitement in return.  The Capes rules system creates a structure that lets me transmit that excitement effectively.  All of our rules systems create channels through which excitement flows, increasing as it is transmitted.  Keep those channels clear and wide and nothing else matters.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2005, 05:14:33 AM »

Hi Tony,

I hope you can see that you've paraphrased the Big Model.

No, really. Check out the first two pages of the Glossary and you'll see.

Best,
Ron
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TonyLB
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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2005, 05:43:23 AM »

Yep!  But, like I said, it's my Grand Unified Theory... the way of saying it for me that lets me get my mental grips around it, and communicate it to others.
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Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2005, 05:48:33 AM »

Right now I'm talking about individuals, and what their excitement is.  You want to know how excited I am, though?  I think that this may be my Grand Unified Theory of gaming, starting right here.  Because game systems and gaming techniques mediate the way in which excitement flows, rebounds and changes in a group.  It mediates that flow of resource between the players.

Ron,

Is this the core of what you're talking about?  If it is, I think I suddenly understand the Big Model much better than I did.

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2005, 06:07:25 AM »

Hi Andrew,

Yes, it is. Go and read those pages yourself. Spend a little time thinking about reward systems, and contrast (say) L5R with (say) The Mountain Witch. Don't twist yourself into knots about identifying Creative Agendas. Then go post a lot in Actual Play.

Most people who grapple with the Big Model are trying to make it really hard and arcane so they can object to something. It's very easy.

Best,
Ron
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Larry L.
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aka Miskatonic


« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2005, 07:42:23 AM »

I hope you can see that you've paraphrased the Big Model.

No, really. Check out the first two pages of the Glossary and you'll see.

Whuh? (Checks the glossary to be sure.) Uh, I've never seen anything in the Big Model that says what Tony just said. At best, I can go back and liberally interpret statements in the Glossary to support this "pep squad" thing Tony's talking about.

And Ron is certainly the last person to try to get away with "well, that's what I meant." So... now I'm just confused. Ron, could you elaborate or something?


Tony, I totally dig what you're saying, and when I think about actual games I've played, that seems to be a major factor in suck vs fun. That I've played more Capes than any other single game in the last year may have influeced this understanding, though. Wavelength or something.
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Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2005, 08:03:29 AM »

Larry,

I'll give an explanation a shot.

Tony said this...
Quote
Because game systems and gaming techniques mediate the way in which excitement flows, rebounds and changes in a group.  It mediates that flow of resource between the players.

This is the Big Model in a nutshell.  The model simply diagrams visually how the "excitement" or "fun" or what-have-you flows in a group engaged in the activity of role-playing.  Dysfunction is when some part of the model is messed up and that flow doesn't take place.  I don't think Ron was talking about a specific someone (the Pep-Squad) being the Big Model.

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2005, 08:29:05 AM »

Hello,

Andrew's right. The Pep Squad is a good term for the (crucial) part of the Big Model that states:

a) Reward Systems are the heart of System

b) System is what makes Situation (the heart of Exploration/SIS) "go"

c) Group commitment to sharing the Exploration creates the SIS and reinforces its continuing to be created

d) The specific features of what the real people get out of this, specifically concerning the fictional events, nail (a)-(c) together as well as extending "deeper" into specific techniques and ephemera, in groups/families.

(d) is Creative Agenda. The Pep Squad is a good term for what makes Creative Agenda exist. It's why I consistently ask people in Actual Play threads what the real people said to one another, or how they looked at one another, about one another's statements about what characters did or said.

Best,
Ron
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Larry L.
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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2005, 09:35:57 AM »

Ron,

Okay cool, I think that's sufficient for me to get it, but I'll have to stew on it a while. I keep wanting to bring Lumpley Diagrams into this.

I'll see if I notice these things at the game this weekend.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2005, 11:35:31 AM »

At least for me, however, while Big Model is interpretable in Pep-Squad terms, there are also fascinating practical "use this right now" type techniques that I get from Pep Squad.  Probably because I can combine with other Big Model derivatives.

For instance, long ago I was struck by Vincent's description of how he demos Puppies:  "So the kitten is in the blender.  It looks at you with big, wide, innocent eyes.  You don't... push the button, do you?"  "YEAH!  YEAH!  We push the button!"  "Eeeeeugh!  You don't... drink it, do you?"

That, right there, is a tricky technique for transmitting maximum excitement.  If you say "What do you do next?" then the other players have to be responsible for pushing the frappe button on a kitten.  They don't know whether that's something that will be accepted or appreciated.  That's a barrier, and even if they're excited about doing it they're not going to be as excited as if the barrier didn't exist.

Likewise, if you said "So you push the frappe button, right?" then you're not letting your excitement become their excitement.  You're making your decisions, and acting them out through other characters, rather than sharing protagonization and credit.  You're only being excited about your own contributions.

By proposing the solution yourself, but giving the other players full control and credit, you increase the percentage of your excitement which gets transmitted to the other players and returned as their excitement.


And, yes, CA coherency is a key technique (perhaps the key technique) for channelling excitement.  If you are consistently directing your excitement toward things that do not excite another player in the table then it's like you're trying to have a conversation by shouting into a canyon.  You'll never get their excitement redoubled back in return, only weak echoes of your own.  You can waste a lot of breath that way if you're naturally excitable (like me).  It's exhausting, not least because you have those moments where (because you've made a huge amount of effort) the weak echoes sound pretty good for a moment, before fading away.
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Eric Provost
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« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2005, 11:40:58 AM »

It's a really wonderful illumination on the big model.  Thanks for sharing Tony.

-Eric
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2005, 11:46:46 AM »

That final paragraph was freakin' gorgeous, Tony.

Best,
Ron

'cept Coherence ends with an "e."
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J. Tuomas Harviainen
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« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2005, 01:31:05 PM »

If you are consistently directing your excitement toward things that do not excite another player in the table then it's like you're trying to have a conversation by shouting into a canyon. You'll never get their excitement redoubled back in return, only weak echoes of your own.

Just because it may be of interest to some: One of the key virtues in Swedish ensemble-play larps is (currently, at least) the ability to reflect the role-play of others. In Forge-speak, it is the idea that it's each player's responsibility to be receptive to the CAs of others, to heighten the experience for other participants than oneself. They're gunning for the same result as mentioned above, but from the directly opposite vector. Everyone yields in response to what the others require, not because they receive a weaker reception. So, in comparison, one there reduces one's experience in advance, but gains more feedback in return, which (for many players, but definitely not all) more than compensates for the loss .

-Jiituomas
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Josh Roby
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« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2005, 02:23:28 PM »

That sounds positively awesome, Jiituomas.  Can you give us some concrete examples of how that works?  I'm grasping for something similar myself, but I'd love to hear if somebody else has already nabbed it.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2005, 06:46:34 PM »

Wow! It's times like these when RPG Theory reveals itself.

Yes, more, folks. Talk here. This is wonderful. And take it to Actual Play threads as soon as you remember something that applies.

Best,
Ron
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