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Author Topic: [Death's Door] I Wasn't Interested But...  (Read 9114 times)
greyorm
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« on: April 10, 2006, 08:22:30 PM »

I have to admit, I had no interest in either playing or purchasing Death's Door. When I heard about it, the idea just didn't grab me, what I heard about how you played sounded a bit hokey, and the subject matter was a bit...off-putting.

Boy, was I wrong.

I had just finished playing Dogs and was standing around waiting to see what sort of game was going to happen next when Ron asked me if I wanted to play Death's Door. Given the above, I don't know precisely why I said yes, or why I didn't even think about agreeing to try it out -- someone (I don't recall who) even cracked the joke, "Wow, he's a hard sell, isn't he?" Heh -- but willing to test my own preconceptions, I did so, and tried to go into it with a blank slate despite the above notions.

I am very glad I did. It was Ron, myself, Ivan, Tim (Koppang), and Seth (MetalFatigue) playing, with James (Brown) sitting in to explain the rules and to play as Tod's antagonist[1].

Also, originally, almost all of us thought we heard James tell us we had one day until death claimed our character, and thus one day to achieve our character's goals, but half-way through the game, he corrected us. That changed play considerably once it came up, and our frantic narrations to reach our goals in twenty-four hours calmed down a bit.

I found the set-up itself very interesting: I had to come up with five things I wanted to do before I died -- ME, the PLAYER, not my character. It took me a bit to come up with five things, and a couple of mine were fairly esoteric (though after I had done that, I actually thought of even more).

During the game, I felt slightly uncomfortable, even embarrassed, about having those things in the pot with other people reading them, because of my feeling of "ownership" of that information, how personal that kind of information is when you think about it...and here I was letting strangers into that world!

I also realized that because you are (randomly) picking goals from the bowl at the middle of the table, you are always playing out someone else's -- one of your fellow player's -- goals. That realization was a bit of a "woah" moment for me, though it came after the game. I'm still a bit floored by it. Someone there at the table with me wanted to do these things we were playing out the achievement of.

But enough self-reflection, the characters were fairly interesting, and made more so because of the communal character creation aspect to the game's protagonists. We had a number of interesting relationships for our various characters that, for whatever reason, left them with various drug-addictions! We had a musician, an automotive mechanic, a college football jock, a welder and a...er, I forget because I don't recall the character's profession ever coming up during play (Sorry, Tim!).

In play, I was paired with/against Ivan, which was grand, because even though he ended up pwning me narratively, it was an absolute blast. Quite honestly, it was that back and forth structure of the game, the duelling narrative, that was truly inspiring and really won me over. Even better were the audience dice aspect of play! I loved being able to toss someone a die to show appreciation for how badly the other guy had just screwed them or how clever, appropriate or engaging their comback had been.

My only complaint is that there were not more audience dice available! We ended up "shoveling" fake dice to the players with our hands because we ran out too early and there were some brilliant and inspired moments from everyone...(too many! But in such a way that you want More! More!).

There were any number of great moments involving momentary complications thwarting the protagonists' movement towards their goals, as well as just "that is SO life" moments -- from breaking up with girlfriends to the evils of bankers, to the politics of college professors and the best way to manipulate music agents -- but I'm only going to concentrate on what I did in the game: I don't want to steal anyone else's spotlight, and they are more than welcome to post their own experiences and reactions to the game in this thread!

As mentioned, I was acting as Ivan's antagonist, and after all sorts of complication, stress and fury as his protagonist attempted to get from Tokyo to New Zealand, there was a beautiful, touching scene with a young Buddhist convert that simply blew me out of the water.

At the airport, Ivan's character found "an earnest young American convert to Buddhism", whom he asked for a passport, earnestly telling him he needed the monk's compassion. That he needed an American passport (which I had the police strip him of earlier) to get on the plane in order to help ease his last moments.

That was so damn clever, and there was no way that character right there could refuse him, being what he was, so I almost gave in and gave up the die to him...but then I made him work for it. That's where the "I walk with him" line that James mentioned over the "Midwest Forge Love" thread comes in -- the character ended up walking for hours across Tokyo with this Buddhist convert to retrieve the monk's passport from his apartment, and then back to the airport with it.

I really don't want to steal Ivan's spotlight by describing what happened there, but it was the highlight of that game for me right there. It was a powerful moment with a nearly physical presence -- it honestly hit me square in the chest and hasn't let go -- really speaking to the whole premise of the game and to living life itself: "You are going to die...how do you feel about it? How do you deal with it? How do you come to terms with it?"

Ivan was my antagonist, and I played the college football player, a star player being considered for the draft in the NFL. I put that to good use in bullying the professors into allowing me to go on an archeology trip by pointing out the professor's refusal to the dean (because, of course, the college's star football/infant-NFL player is worth a lot of money and prestige to the college...). Strangely enough, he was allowed to go on the trip.

In the course of trying to make this trip, the character killed his steroid dealer -- who was being "problematic" -- and set-up his death as an accident at the party they were both at: beating him unconscious then pouring beer and pills down his throat. I scared Ivan. Heh.

This did cause a problem in the narrative for me: the jock used the dealer's kidneys as punching bags before killing him, and yet I narrated that no questions were asked by the police. That was bad on my part, since questions would have been asked. I think I was getting too competitive, since Ivan was laying waste to all my efforts at reaching my goal, so I narrated something he would not have an easy out from.

I also felt Ron became a little pushy towards the end, but I don't know if that was due to my being particularly indecisive or not. I did try to decide on a response/course-of-action a bit more quickly at that point and probably shouldn't have.

I asked James about this after the game but went with it during the game just to keep things moving, unsure of what the boundaries for discussion/arguing about the narration were -- Ivan had narrated that the Peruvian police (where the dig was located) found cocaine in my character's bags, planted by the pusher's bosses. But I was thinking that didn't sound right since there had been no questions regarding foul play in the pusher's death, so how would his bosses have known?

Despite that, and my misgivings, I didn't want to hold things up and ran with it.

The jock succeeded in the final roll-off to make it where he was going, though Ron commented, "Raven, that guy so did not deserve to reach his goal." Man, I KNOW he didn't. Now I can't help thinking, "Geez, I just ruined someone's dream with my asshole character's antics," though I'm really hoping I didn't.

After the game, I realized I might have had better luck with trying for the "Produce a movie" goal, because the archeology trip goal seemed a bit flat to me -- not as a goal, but in terms of why my character wanted to do it. I just didn't have a motivation ready. I considered that a young football jock who realized he was dying might just want to fund an inspirational movie about his life. There would have been more for me to hold on to, and I felt as though I was floundering with the character.

Something else I realized is that none of us ever described what was going to kill our characters, just leaving it up to this nebulous idea that we would die somehow in the near future, though I believe James had hinted that was perfectly OK to describe what might be killing the character.

But that was the game. We only played out one session, rather than the full three sessions per character, but the taste was enough to hook me and I ended up deciding to get the game right then and there. Hopefully this post was not too long and rambling.

In all seriousness, if you've bypassed this game because you think it sounded uncomfortable or boring, do yourself a favor and play it at least once! This game is awesome. I plan to play this with my wife and a couple of her friends (hopefully) this week -- in fact, I just spoke to her on the phone (and not the cell phone! hah!) and we are planning to play this Saturday.

[1] Question for James: Aaron and I discussed the game on the drive back to Minnesota, and we were wondering how one plays with an odd number of players? That is, how is the antagonist established among an odd number of players? (If this is answered in the rulesbook, I apologize, I haven't read through it all yet.)
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2006, 06:28:36 AM »

Raven beat me to this one ... actually, that's good too, because I was having a hard time remembering the names of everyone involved. James acted pretty much as overseer and rules-explainer, without playing either protagonist and antagonist.

To clarify for folks reading this, the game proceeds in three acts for each protagonist. We did one "go" around the table, so each protagonist began and concluded his first act. Oh yes, and you make up a couple things about the protagonist, but most of the key NPCs are provided by everyone else at the table.

My protagonist was a musican named Emil, whose big problem was debt. He wanted to start an international company, to see "S." one last time, and to see the Highlands, and Seth was my antagonist.

I was pretty intrigued by the "S" goal, because as I saw it, someone at the table might have spilled a little emotional blood when writing it and was taking a bit of a risk to make it public and available for our fiction. My reaction of the moment was to save it for the second or third act, which as it turned out, meant we didn't get to it. But whoever you were (and I'd prefer that you not reveal yourself), if I'm right about the potential intensity, you were heard. Or maybe I'm being Mr. Sensitive for nothing and that was merely a bit of mysterious filler, I dunno.

In my protagonist's story, I really liked the first scene a lot, in which Emil had to get his record-producer committed to his company startup despite his debts. Seth really, really provided great adversity through the guy's son, and then through the producer's honest desire to help but equally honest doubts. It was way better than merely obstructing.

This is probably the right place to talk about the reward system in Death's Door. The reward system isn't about success, but about interaction. It shares tremendous affinity with Breaking the Ice. In both games, the protagonists are pretty much angling for one thing, and dice which facilitate a Fortune-at-the-End do-or-die roll are awarded through approval of particular narrations. In Death's Door, the protagonist is going to die after the third act, and there's no mechanical or procedural consequence of succeeding or failing at goals. It all comes down to when the antagonist player sympathizes with the specific effort just made by the protagonist. If this can happen after three dice have been "given," then the roll arrives. In other words, resolution of the scene occurs only, or almost only, after the protagonist and antagonist players have reached an emotional or thematic accord about how the protagonist handles the situation. Death's Door is about coming to terms about life with one another.

For which James deserves major credit. I really liked the goals step in the beginning, which shares some of my notions in Zero at the Bone, for the same reasons.

Now, in Seth's protagonist's story, I faced a very damn difficult set of goals for his character: write novel, publish novel, and repair finances, because everyone at the table immediately sympathized with the goals, including myself. I also think that this sequence was the least successful of the bunch, because "write a novel" ultimately came down to me either saying he creatively couldn't, which I pretty much saw as blocking, or introducing distractions like the needy psychiatrist and logistic hassles like the mom hooking chapter three. I didn't want the novel to be bad, or the process of writing it be blocked. So if the book could get written, well, there we were, with logistic hassles. "Goal: write a novel." "It's written." "Dog runs off with it." "I have a backup." "Police bust you." "Police go away." And so on, until the group as a whole enlists on the beleaguered victim's side.

This became No Fun for me, fast - all Seth had to do, to counter a logistic obstruction, was play "no it doesn't" and "yes I do" to whatever was said, which doesn't really have anything to do with addressing the Premise ("what is it to live," etc). I'm pretty sure it stopped being fun for him just as quickly.

Here's the issue. If the person playing the antagonist simply doesn't sympathize with the protagonist's actions and - thematically, not to "win" - commits to providing maximum adversity, then I'm not sure whether the game handles this well. Basically, the protagonist player can just wear the other guy out through narrational dodges. I saw this again with Raven's character, who was a murderer.

It seems to be a one-way street: if the protagonist enlists the sympathy of the antagonist player, well and good, they get to the roll and see what the dice say in a state of agreement. However, there seems to be no way for the antagonist player, through play, to do the reverse - to illustrate or introduce the notion that the protagonist shouldn't get the goal, as opposed to merely "can't."

I would have given in a heartbeat if Seth were to have had his character actually behave less depressively and selfishly, and at first, that's what happened when the guy buckled down and wrote the thing. After that, though, we got this Keystone Cops repetition of "here's a problem" matched by "no it's not a problem, I have a backup," in which I was about to have extra-dimensional goldfish swim through the windows for yet another over-the-top distraction. We were stuck in precisely the situation that I'd just been mentally praising Seth, as antagonist, for avoiding for my protagonist.

I think Seth was stuck too, at that point, because his portrayal of the actual writing of the novel was brilliant and I sympathized with that very much.

I'm not saying that the antagonist should automatically win in these situations, but that the game's structure is built to facilitate one thing - sympathy toward the protagonist and revealing when the people playing can see eye to eye. Without either or both of those, play shifts all too easily to Gamism, and the best (well, not "best," most effective) way to win narrational Gamism is passive-aggressiveness. If I'm reading Seth right, this is something he can do, but doesn't like it any more than I do.

Raven, I'm having a hard time with your "pushy" comment. It seems like you're talking about something I said during your character's scene, but then you also agreed with me that your character deserved immense adversity (i.e. dice-opposition) regarding his goal. Since I wasn't your antagonist anyway, and I recall giving you dice as well as Ivan, I'm at sea. What are you saying? Are you talking about me playing Seth's character's antagonist?

Oh yeah, and one thing I really liked about Ivan's story was that his first use of "tell Antagonist character I'm gonna die" was, as I saw it, very manipulative on the character's part, but then after a couple of exchanges with the young Buddhist, Ivan shifted his approach and the character opened up to the possibility that he had something to learn from this guy.

Best, Ron
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TonyLB
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2006, 06:46:39 AM »

I also think that this sequence was the least successful of the bunch, because "write a novel" ultimately came down to me either saying he creatively couldn't, which I pretty much saw as blocking, or introducing distractions like the needy psychiatrist and logistic hassles like the mom hooking chapter three. I didn't want the novel to be bad, or the process of writing it be blocked.

That's really interesting to me.† Any idea why you felt that the idea of saying "You have a creative block" is so much more difficult for the other player to work around than the logistical blocks?† I'd think that hitting him with the kind of creative hurdles that we all feel when creating these works would rock.† Things like "You've got a first chapter.† You're totally convinced that it sucks, but it's the best you can do.† You can't even bear to look at it.† You can't move forward until you get past that feeling.† What do you do?"

I assume that you are right in your analysis of the situation, and that I am wrong.† You were there.† I wasn't.† I'd love to hear why the creative block wasn't the right move, though.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2006, 07:12:06 AM »

This isn't a right/wrong discussion, Tony. James commented, as we played through this, that the writer's block was exactly what he would have stated as antagonist.

I don't claim my feelings/priorities were the right ones, only that they were the ones in my head as I chose my antagonist statements. If that was wrong, so be it, but my goal here is to report, not justify.

Best, Ron
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ivan23
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2006, 08:26:38 AM »

I told James that I nearly bailed at the beginning of the game, since it didn't sound like my cup of tea. I'm really glad I didn't.

I liked the game. The mechanic appealed to my sense of simplicity and my style of play, which is to try to be quick on my feet Ė I ruled in my head that if I had to think about how to block or overcome something for more than a minute, Iíd accept the die and the penalty, but that was a self-imposed rule on my part, not in the rules. That may have something to do with Ravenís getting the goal his character didnít deserve Ė I didnít want to be throwing up all kinds of nutty complications just because I didnít personally like the character, you know what I mean?

Also,† the fact that once the audience dice pool is drained, thereís no reason for the other players to maintain that level of attention to whatís happening in the game. Rather than risk four other people sitting around bored, I gave when I felt it was dramatically appropriate. Dunno if there's any way to work around that other than kickass narration.

Speaking of the reward mechanic, awesometastic. I was glad we got to hear *why* the mechanic was designed that way, as well as the fact that it worked so well.

Iím glad the Buddhist moment hit everyone so well! In terms of manipulative, I donít know. I donít like hypocrites, but I figured that anyone willing to leave their home, travel halfway around the world, and live in poverty in order to show their faith would probably be willing to walk their walk. And once we took our stroll around Tokyo, I figured that anyone that committed and that trusting might be onto something in terms of inner peace, which is why a good Polish Catholic would start thinking about what heíd heard on the course of that walk.

Ravenís narration was a lot of fun to play against. He threw stuff at me that I could never see coming in a game that originally seemed to me to be centered in the idea of peace and redemption Ė but I also figured that not everyone whoís going to die is going to be polite about it. Raven's character wasn't going to let anything stand in his way once he'd chosen a goal, and heck, that's got its own kind of coolness about it as a character trait. It also avoided the game being "Five nice guys die nicely."

It also appealed to me because, hey. I drove home thinking about the things I really do want to accomplish, and a little more aware that I donít have all the time in the world to make sure they happen. Iím not going to lie and say I started writing a novel the moment I got home, but I did treat myself to a homecooked dinner and made sure that on Sunday we got some things accomplished that have been back-burnered a while. For that reason alone, I think James deserves major applause Ė it did get me to think, thatís for damn sure, and Iím spending this afternoon researching lawyers to set up wills and power of attorney.

Iím watching out for Blankshieldís next projects, thatís for damn sure.
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greyorm
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« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2006, 01:37:58 PM »

Ron,

From my perspective, I enjoyed the back-and-forth between you and Seth. Towards the end it began to become a case of weird complication vs. sudden save, but I think you both broke and rolled right before it started dragging on too long, so I didn't cross the line to "not enjoying this anymore" myself, though it was coming close at the end. I can see how that might have happened earlier if I had been in your seat as the antagonist, however.

Raven, I'm having a hard time with your "pushy" comment. It seems like you're talking about something I said during your character's scene, but then you also agreed with me that your character deserved immense adversity (i.e. dice-opposition) regarding his goal. Since I wasn't your antagonist anyway, and I recall giving you dice as well as Ivan, I'm at sea. What are you saying? Are you talking about me playing Seth's character's antagonist?

No, no. This may/probably is just me being oversensitive to the situation.

A couple of times while I was considering how to respond, you would cheerlead -- encourage me to say something, such as: "Come on, Raven, what's he do?" though you were smiling and it was friendly encouragement, not an exasperated sort of "get the lead out" statement -- or you would offer a suggestion right before I was about to offer the same or something similar, such as "Tenure doesn't mean squat, take it to the dean anyways".

Those rubbed me the wrong way, though I also realized I shouldn't be feeling that way, pushed off the feeling of aggravation, and figured I was just taking too long to respond. I even asked James or Ivan (I forget now) if they had thought I was moving too slowly, because of your statements, and their response had been they thought you were just trying to keep things moving.

So, reflecting on it, the body language at the table, knowing you, etc, I think the problem was wholly me. To understand why I reacted that way, you would have to know my parents and my history with my family in that I have always been (including to this day) marginalized or ignored in conversations and discussions, am constantly having to repeat myself, and quite often uselessly at that -- to the point where I simply give up trying to be heard. Because of that I am conditioned towards being insanely protective of my "spotlight time", and having to both fight for it and smash people down who intrude on it, as well as taking any interruption as a hostile act or personal attack. Obviously there was no way for you to know any of that, so I can see how my statement/reaction would have been completely confusing for anyone who isn't me (or my wife and her friends).

Sorry, man.

(Also, I hope you don't mind that I made the decision to talk about this publically. I think it's good Actual Play on the social level, and relates to a number of aspects of the Big Model and the roots of dysfunctional play -- as well as how functional play groups interact with one another as people.)

Quote
Here's the issue. If the person playing the antagonist simply doesn't sympathize with the protagonist's actions and - thematically, not to "win" - commits to providing maximum adversity, then I'm not sure whether the game handles this well. Basically, the protagonist player can just wear the other guy out through narrational dodges. I saw this again with Raven's character, who was a murderer.

It seems to be a one-way street: if the protagonist enlists the sympathy of the antagonist player, well and good, they get to the roll and see what the dice say in a state of agreement. However, there seems to be no way for the antagonist player, through play, to do the reverse - to illustrate or introduce the notion that the protagonist shouldn't get the goal, as opposed to merely "can't."

This is interesting because I did not like my character much either; he was an ass and then a killer.  A completely unsympathetic protagonist. Part of the reason the character ended up being just inhumanely unsympathetic way was my own failed grasp of the character, particularly in reference to the goals he had and why he might desire those things. I was working from a limited concept, and I am betting that with the break between sessions, I might have been able to add more depth and humanity to the character the next time through.

At the same time, I think Ivan is very right that it was good to have had that in there, since it made it so the game wasn't just about "five guys die nicely". Here was an obviously competitive, win-at-all-costs, there-are-no-barriers-for-me sort of kid, and knowing he's going to die, breaks down the last of the barriers keeping him from getting what he wants in the most extreme, horrible and inhuman way possible. I have been wondering if we had played in the other two sessions, could I have turned that around and made the character into a complete (if completely flawed) human who was actually worth some sympathy?
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TonyLB
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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2006, 01:45:40 PM »

I don't claim my feelings/priorities were the right ones, only that they were the ones in my head as I chose my antagonist statements. If that was wrong, so be it, but my goal here is to report, not justify.

Okay, fair enough.† Right/wrong isn't really what I was interested in anyway.† I guess it's just ... you felt this thing that is interestingly different than what I would have felt in your place.† Can you elaborate a little, on that particular point?† I'd really like to understand your feelings in that situation a little better.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2006, 02:21:06 PM »

Tony, there's not much to tell you beyond the observation that my head-activity at the moment was fully summed up by, "novel gets written, so now what." That's what was there.

The only motive or attitude that might possibly qualify as interesting is something I know about myself, which is that in a story, when a protagonist is writing something, I'm never engaged by a conflict about how he "can't write." Let's see ... examples, all qualified with the big "to me" tag ... Throw Mama from the Train has some funny bits, but I was bored by the writer's block concept after the first scene and simply paid attention to the farcical set-pieces ... the writing process (or its lack) in Adaptation seems to me like a case-study in pathology with nothing intrinsically interesting about it ... in fact, the only writing-process story that I really like is True West, a play by Sam Shepard, and that's mainly because the screenplay does get under way fairly quickly.

Raven, one thing I've been encouraging and experiencing for a few years now, is that spotlight time during role-playing is not monologuing, but rather being the recipient of enthusiastic suggestions, cheerleading, and a general verbal barrage. This is the norm in my current regular group, and any time the spotlight-person doesn't feel like dealing with it, he or she just says, "shut up, let me do it," and everyone else does.

Remember the excited chatter that accompanied every stated action in our game of It Was a Mutual Decision? Not only was it present within a given team (all the guys / all the gals) but also across teams, and in many cases, suggestions from the other "side" were accepted and utilized. It may have been our turn to "speak" as a group, but if Juli or Kelli said X, we listened to X as if it had been piped up by anyone in the group. When you see the rules, you'll see that this wasn't a happy accident in that particular group, but explicitly present in the rules with procedures to make it happen.

This is a big deal. I've been pretty fervent about this topic in narration-heavy games ranging from The Pool to Trollbabe to Polaris. Everyone can talk. One person has the rubber-stamp, possibly a conductor's baton, and if they want to use it, the gavel. They do not have a conch, which inflicts silence and deference upon everyone else as soon as one person has it. Major principle: conch play is no fun.

Conchs may seem reassuring if the person has been trained in play or (as you describe, Raven) has a background of being ignored or silenced. But that reassuring quality is an illusion, a sweet notion that disappears as soon as you hold it for a bit and play turns into a series of struggling monologues delivered in voids, and people dread their turn to speak, not out of shyness, but because it's dull.

Unlike my point to Tony, above, this doesn't have the "to me" tag on it. This is a conclusion I've developed over a hundred-plus separate games played in the last decade, many of which experimented with narrational-authority mechanics. I urge anyone in this hobby to consider gavels, conductor's batons, and rubber-stamps, and to throw away the conchs.

Best, Ron
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greyorm
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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2006, 04:44:02 PM »

Oh, hell yeah, I agree with you on all points. It was a kneejerk, emotional, Pavlovian reaction kicking in at the table on my part. I do not want anyone to confuse it as a defense of the behavior as a "good" thing in any way, but I figured I owed you an explanation.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Blankshield
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« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2006, 05:38:44 PM »

Heya folks,

I'm glad you folks enjoyed playing the game as much as I enjoyed facilitating it. †I'm going to respond as best I can; if I miss something, it's probably because I missed it. †I'm just on the other side of some oral surgery, and that's always a "fun" place to be...

Raven: Odd numbers is indeed addressed in the rulebook. †On your turn, the antagonist is whoever is sitting most directly across from you. †If you happen to arrange yourselves into an equilateral triangle, you're on your own...

The Bhuddist thing (I walk with him) is one of my favorite protagonist moments. †It's right up there with my favorite antagonist moment: †The protagonist is in the hall, ready to go see the priest and make confession (the goal). †From the basement comes "Hey honey, if you're going out, can you grab a six-pack at the store?"

Audience dice: I think, if I were working with that big an audience next time, I would add a pair of audience dice, but no more than that. †Because the initial ratio of conflict dice to audience dice is important, and adding too many would muck with that. †Also, didja notice that in the first two conflicts, there were still audience dice on the table when the protagonist called the roll? †Like fan mail, it takes a bit before you remember to use them, then you use them too much, then you find the right balance for your group. †I predict that if we'd kept going, the audience dice in rounds 2 and 3 of play would have flowed nicely along.

Ron: One of the things I thought about bringing up, and decided it was more explanatory overhead than the game would benefit from at the time was the whole "Stop at the skin/Dive right in" idea presented in the "Who Gets to Say What?" aside. †I noticed that you were sticking pretty hard to Stop at the Skin, which makes your job as antagonist a whole lot harder for something that's fairly far inside the skin like 'write a novel'. †That being said, I'm with Raven - from the audience, it played out fairly cleanly.

Regarding comments from the peanut gallery, those are also encouraged right from the text, in the example of play. †It's always an interesting challenge doing a con game where most of the people will only know †the rules as explained in play - you need to explain fully enough that the game plays "properly" but not shut down interest with talking head syndrome. †I hope I found a good balance with you folks.

Ivan: Thank you. †If I wind back the clock to when I first starting seriously considering this game, I had a conversation with Ken Burnside where he asked me what I wanted to accomplish. †I said "If I sell 10 copies, I'll be thrilled. †If I sell 20, I'll pick up my jaw and blink a lot. †But if someone, somewhere plays this game, and walks away thinking 'Huh, that's not so difficult', and does something about it, that's what I want this game to do." †So, wow. †Thanks.

Regarding the football player: Assholes die too. †And that's all I'm a gonna say to that.

thanks,

James
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Callan S.
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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2006, 10:56:26 PM »

Ron: One of the things I thought about bringing up, and decided it was more explanatory overhead than the game would benefit from at the time was the whole "Stop at the skin/Dive right in" idea presented in the "Who Gets to Say What?" aside. †I noticed that you were sticking pretty hard to Stop at the Skin, which makes your job as antagonist a whole lot harder for something that's fairly far inside the skin like 'write a novel'. †That being said, I'm with Raven - from the audience, it played out fairly cleanly.
From what Ron just noted about non interest in writers block, perhaps that issue stopped at Rons skin?

Perhaps if an issue doesn't get past your own skin, you wont be interested in going past someone elses skin with it? (Clearly I'm asking Ron this as well) If so, it'd be worth checking, perhaps with some mechanic or note in the text, that each issue does get past the skin of the antagonist player in question?

It might address the issue Ron raised
Quote
Here's the issue. If the person playing the antagonist simply doesn't sympathize with the protagonist's actions and - thematically, not to "win" - commits to providing maximum adversity, then I'm not sure whether the game handles this well. Basically, the protagonist player can just wear the other guy out through narrational dodges. I saw this again with Raven's character, who was a murderer.
If it the conflict gets past your own skin, then your quite likely to sympathize?

Although that kind of avoids the narrational dodges rather than solving them (I'd like to hear more about narrational dodges).
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2006, 04:28:50 AM »

I ought to clarify that the disproportionate time I spent on that issue in my post does not reflect the same proportion of my experience of play. In other words, I spent more time talking about a littler issue. So let's not seize upon it as if it were the whole or even major part of play.

I agree that the issue stopped at my skin, and I appreciate you pointing that out, Callan - it really provides a great answer to Tony's question. However, that still doesn't mean I couldn't have done a better job with out-of-skin approaches.

I also think that my portraying Seth as providing narrational dodges should be recognized as an experiential description on my part, of my experience, rather than a public accusation of what he was actually doing or how he was playing. Very bluntly, Seth brought some real power to the game and was a great partner (antagonist/protagonist).

This is key: I think the dodging was an outcome of how we grappled with the issue at hand as partners, not a specific tactic or response that can be laid as his door as "see what he did." I know that my part of the picture specifically lies with the limitations of my own interest and imagination when faced with "write a novel" and clinical depression as features of a protagonist's situation.

Best, Ron
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