*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 27, 2018, 12:03:54 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 161 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: [D+D-like system] Analysing play styles  (Read 8550 times)
David Hallett
Member

Posts: 23


« on: February 28, 2006, 06:44:31 AM »

I've been playing in an adaptation of the Night Below campaign, with GM-written system that is probably best described as simulating Heroic Fantasy. The mechanics are quite different from D+D, more rules-light for one thing, but the overall result is not so very different.

Recently, the party came to a nexus of tunnels being controlled by a bunch of Derro (Duergar) on ledges with siege crossbows. We managed some recon without being detected. A debate then broke out over whether we should attack them or try to go around them, whether attacking them was likely to raise an alarm and damage our chances of achieving surprise in later, more significant combats, or whether the information we might get from captives would outweigh this consideration, and the best approach to the fight considering their good defensive position. Etc.

Some of us were talking "in character" (Actor stance), others (myself included) were discussing tactics OOC to a large extent (some Author, maybe some Pawn stances, not sure). This produced some mild conflict, as one of the Actor stance players has a character who is incurably optimistic. When trying to assess the risks of a plan, having someone suggest improbable ways in which things could turn out better than expected, isn't exactly helpful! But we coped. Eventually we chose to attack, and it went quite well, despite the arrival of some Kua-Toa.

My question is: how do you assess these playing styles in a Big Model way, particularly those of us talking OOC? On one level, it looks quite Gamist - we were trying to "win", and we weren't too concerned with whether our characters would necessarily share these opinions, or whether it was the "right thing for the story". OTOH, we were keeping a strict line between SIS issues and mechanical stuff. No-one was interested in how to manipulate the game system to get the best result. No-one suggested that actually we needed to kill as many Derro as possible between here and the bigger fights, in the hope of "levelling up" by the time we got there. That kind of distinction looks quite Sim to me.

Is this just a Gam/Sim crossbreed, somewhere on a spectrum between two extremes? Or is my Big Model understanding faulty?
Logged
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2006, 06:53:45 AM »

I do think there are many Gam/Sim semi-functional "hybrids" out there, but opinion differs.

They to CA determination is to think about, and better, write down or otherwise express the Coolest Moments you had in these games; if you do this here, then we might be able to see what kind of cA the game favours.

It might also be an interesting exercise to ask other players in the game to do likewise.  That may show if you are all grooving on the same thing, or different things.
Logged

Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
John Burdick
Member

Posts: 105


« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2006, 07:17:14 AM »

David,

Looks like standard Gamism. All you are saying is that you play normal instead of Hardcore. See the Gamism article for explanation of Hardcore play.

John
Logged
David Hallett
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2006, 08:01:50 AM »

contracycle: Maybe I should have been clearer that my purpose is mostly to see whether I understand Big Model terms. I'm new to the BM - only started reading stuff here a few days ago - but I've found it useful in analysing moments of play, esp. wrt moments of tension between players (when their characters were getting along fine). I appreciate its Big Tent approach (it doesn't dismiss people's experience as Not Roleplaying) and the way it tries to see the good side of all playing styles. But sometimes I find it confusing, and this is one of the simplest situations I could find where I was unsure how to think about what had happened. I could feel the slight tension between me and the person playing the optimistic dwarf (though they were clearly less bothered about it than I was). And I wanted to hear what the Model had to say about it.

John: I don't want to put words in your mouth here, but are you saying that if someone *had* raised the issue of killing the Derro because we might need the experience points later, we would have been into Hardcore gamist territory? That doesn't seem to match any of the four examples in the essay.

I must say, I feel some identification with the Bitterest Man in the World in that essay, except that I'm not bitter. Maybe because I'm a bit more adaptable than that.
Logged
Kesher
Member

Posts: 174


« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2006, 08:07:48 AM »

David, welcome to the Forge!

I think contracycle's dead on; sussing out what you were all really interested in would be helpful for clarifying what sort of CA your group "naturally" (i.e., without explicitly talking about it) leans toward.  The "obvious" CA isn't always actually the base of what's happening.  

Also, it can be tricky to try and define CAs through the Techniques being utilized (different stances, etc.),  most of which can  be used equally effectively in any CA ; which I guess just reinforces the importance of nailing down what jazzed you most during the play-instance at hand...

Aaron
Logged

contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2006, 09:31:55 AM »

The problem is it can be very hard to focus on a specific thing and say "it was X".  It might have been, or it might be that one bit of data that wasn;t mentioned shows conclusively that is was Y.  The other thing is, you can and will switch in and out of all modes, probably, in the course of a single game.  And if you are one mode and interacting with a player in another, your communication might be highly distorted and not in itself say anything about your goals.

So, it is better to take an overview first.  I don't mean to eliminate the specifics, but first concentrate on the moments when you were beaming from ear to ear, loving every minute of it.  What you ACTUALLY enjoyed, viscerally, is important.  Think about a handful of those, and they will illustrate what really rocks your boat, as opposed to things you just like, or worse, tolerate.
Logged

Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
David Hallett
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2006, 10:05:25 AM »

Thanks for the welcome! I think I get your drift.

The bits that have made me grin the most, and I think met with universal approval, were the times when the aforesaid Optimistic Dwarf threw himself headlong into combats where prudent council would have dictated otherwise, and by a combination of sneaky tactics (mostly involving the rolling-on-the-floor school of brawling) and good luck, managed to prevail over far more dangerous opponents, such as a high-level wizard. Also the time when he hitched a ride on a Black Pudding, and then set fire to it using his lantern. Someone had to pull him out in the end, and he lost a pair of boots, but it was all very entertaining. We enjoy those bits the more because they are not only great theatre, but because they represent a triumph of "playing the character as written" over "common sense", IMO. Similarly the half-orc monk attempting to negotiate with a fire-breathing wyrm-thing, rather than attacking it, was much enjoyed, even though it was doomed to fail.

Is that helpful?
Logged
John Burdick
Member

Posts: 105


« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2006, 12:18:12 PM »

David,

If you were to treat the imagined game and the mechanical stuff as completely equivalent and manipulated the reward/effectiveness system to win no matter how contrived or silly that makes your actions, you'd be powergaming.

In my recent Castles and Crusades play, I'm playing a knight who's into "lead, follow, or get out of the way" thinking. The local authority figure claims that the main threat is the goblins in the forest. Others claim that the danger is from Blacktooth Ridge. Given the module has "Blacktooth Ridge" in the title, I'm guessing that the peasant was the correct one. I also guess that we want XP from the forest before moving to Blacktooth Ridge. I say during the game something like "We go to XP Forest to deal with the threat the local authority thinks is there. That way we get some XP off the disorganized goblins." I want to use the reward system to manage risk in a way that produces game play we all feel good about. I wouldn't have gone off hunting XP without some way to fit it into how we were imagining the characters.

John
Logged
David Hallett
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2006, 12:50:22 PM »

John,

I see where you're coming from, and I agree that I don't find that approach satisfactory either. I would have said though, that a truly hardcore Powergamer views the story and setting elements as mere window dressing to the central concern of character advancement, not as equivalents. Whether the things killed are goblins or Balrogs doesn't really matter, nor does whether the party as a whole succeed or fail. What matters is (i) did their character survive; (ii) did they become more powerful (iii) did they get powerful stuff to use in the next session. No doubt this is an extreme picture, but it's the one I get from Ron's essay. And from my early years of play, when I did meet players like that.

To get back to your original diagnosis, it makes me wonder: What does it mean to be less hardcore? Does that mean that there are more Sim/Nar aspects involved by way of compensation? Or  what? And if the play I described is mainstream Gamist, how much less hardcore would it have to be before you started to reconsider?

But these are just my idle wonderings. Only attempt to answer if you would enjoy doing so...
Logged
John Burdick
Member

Posts: 105


« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2006, 01:52:59 PM »

David,

Your wording is better than mine.

I wouldn't see your play description as Gamist if there were nothing to indicate the use of Exploration to meet Challenge in interesting, cool ways, or if the overall context showed that to be of lesser importance. If the examples you present as representative continue to be about meeting Challenge in effective or cool ways, I'll continue to see Gamism as fitting. That is largely independent of how much Exploration richness is required to make meeting the Challenge cool.  I really should have emphasized more that the intensity of Exploration varies in Gamist play, instead of jumping to the category where it was pushed aside.

You may be coloring your examples with your own expectations in a way that oversuggests Gamism, but there's not much I can do about that possiblity. I welcome a more extended example, if only because I like interesting actual play writeups. Your group sounds like fun guys.

The point I want to make is that the presence of Exploration doesn't cancel out Gamism. If you were to produce an example of players addressing Premise during play, the presence of Exploration wouldn't cancel out Narrativism either.

John
Logged
Kesher
Member

Posts: 174


« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2006, 05:48:57 PM »

Quote from: David
What does it mean to be less hardcore? Does that mean that there are more Sim/Nar aspects involved by way of compensation?

I would say definitely not to this.  Your examples sound to me like playing "in character", even if tactically ambiguous (I can't say it ever occurred to me to hitch a ride on a black pudding...) is simply part of the way your group Steps on Up.  If no one dies, well, that just just sweetens the soup, so to speak.  You guys aren't powergaming, intentionally or otherwise, but it still seems like you're grooving to the Gamist side of things.  The "tension" you mention in your orignal post seems to me to be mostly a product of a kink in the wire, with two different techniques to Step on Up momentarily stepping on each other's toes.

Kesher
Logged

David Hallett
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2006, 02:47:47 AM »

Kesher, I was following you until the final sentence, which probably indicates where my understanding of Gamist play is faulty.

Quote
two different techniques to Step on Up

Why is making unhelpful suggestions "because that's what the character would do in this situation" a kind of Gamism? It looks more like my understanding of Sim play to me. Can you explain?
Logged
Tommi Brander
Member

Posts: 114


WWW
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2006, 09:10:00 AM »

Quote from: David Hallett
Can you explain?
I'll try.

The challenge is enhanced: not only do you defeat the challenge, but you defeat it while stayting true to your character (a handicap). Greater risk, greater fun.

Another option: a gamist does not (always) only enjoy stepping on up. It is the fundamental, but not the only reason. A bit of entertainment enhances the overall experience. Kind of like the presence of friends (as opposed to random people) enhances it.
Logged
Kesher
Member

Posts: 174


« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2006, 11:29:09 AM »

Quote from: Tonni
The challenge is enhanced: not only do you defeat the challenge, but you defeat it while stayting true to your character (a handicap). Greater risk, greater fun.

Another option: a gamist does not (always) only enjoy stepping on up. It is the fundamental, but not the only reason. A bit of entertainment enhances the overall experience. Kind of like the presence of friends (as opposed to random people) enhances it.

Umm, yeah.  Nicely put!  From your example, David, it seemed to me that your group maybe wasn't realizing that you all liked both of these things (verity of character & tactical thinking) as a part of the meet-the-challenge process.  The tension arose from different people in the group placing a different priority on the two techniques at the same time.

A player staying "in-character" no matter what else they might want to do, even if it means the death of that character (or other player's characters!) is simply a technique that can be used to address the central issues/actions at the core of each individual CA.  It's a technique that often gets associated with Sim play because of assumptions made by early gamers (read Gygax, et. al.) and game texts (D&D, etc.) about what correct gaming was, in a much more general, all-encompassing, sense. 

Does that make sense?  I know there've been some good threads even in the past year about OOC Sim play; if anyone can provide links, it might be useful here.

Aaron
Logged

Anna B
Member

Posts: 32


« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2006, 01:00:21 PM »

How did the optimistic characters player recact to all this?

OK, it is my understanding[*] that individual instances of play don't really have CAs on their own. A gamist game can have bits or moral dilemmas and Nar game can have tactical choices once in a while. Instead of looking at moments you have to look at the whole of play and what the system (meaning of course both the rules and the SC) rewards.

You've said what style of fansty the game is, and that you enjoyed a bunch of tactical moments, but you have not really talked about rewards either social or exp.  Are they also D+D like?


[*] I'm fairly new at this and could be wrong.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!