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Author Topic: [Over the Edge] Bangs or Wimpers?  (Read 7157 times)
Joel P. Shempert
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« on: June 25, 2006, 10:13:55 AM »

So it's been rather a while since I ran my OTE game. In fact, this AP (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19018.msg200097#msg200097) was almost the last session.

We have a huge group; something like 11 people. . .we just kind of accrued them 1 by 1 over the last 6-7 years, and no one wants to be a dick and kick people out. Our other GM is running about 3 campaigns, and I have my OTE, and one other guy has started up his own D&D, so air time is scarce, and sessions proceed at a crawl. Plus OTE for that many people is like herding cats, not that i want "party play," especially; I'd much rather have intertwining plotlines, but withOUT the party structure the snail's pace of a session is even slower.

So in a way it was actually a boon Friday when the other GM wasn't feeling well, so she and her boyfriend (my brother) couldn't make it. I'd been trying to politely suggest to the group for several weeks that I would like to have a go at OTE, since I had asked everyone point blank if they wanted to continue the game or quit and move on to something else, and everyone in theory wanted to go on. But I saw now an opportunity to startback up with a smaller group. I made calls and got 3 guys on board. I was so excited I was jumping up and down. At least 2 of the 3 guys seemed to be as excited as I was.

A lot of why I was excited was, I've been rethinking my entire roleplaying approach, and I was finally going to get to try it out. I already had flag framing worked up for everyone, and I set out compiling a list of possible Bangs for play. (I also just played my first session of Heroquest, in Fred's Regain the Stars campaign, and it made me actually excited to roleplay.) I was like: YES! I'm going to do this! It's al gonna be fit characters in rising conflict across a moral line and EVERYTHING!

Well, play wasn't all bad. Definitely more fun than any play in a while (Fred's HQ excepting!) But it wasn't quite what I hoped. We didn't get started til late because we were waiting for one guy to get off work, and I started to lose my buzz a bit. So when we DID get going, we didn't have time for too many scenes. I don't think, though, that this would have bugged me if the scenes we DID do had gone off a bit better. But back to that in a bit.

To start off I talked a bit about changes i wanted to make in my GMing style. I talked about about Flags, I talked about Conflict Res (didn't use the term, just referenced VIncent's "So what you're trying to accomplish is. . ."), I talked about story not just emerging without trying, I talked about ALL players trying to help EVERYBODY have fun. WHen I mentioned Scene Framing, one guy got up and walked across the room to give me a great big bear hug.Everyone seemed pretty cool with the concepts.

So I took off running with the Bangs. After a quick recap of where the story had left off, I realized that a lot of my favorite bangs wouldn't be practical right now, so I went with some that fit the story at the moment. Which is what I understand you're supposed to do (not railroad toward the event that's "supposed" to happen). . .I think the problem lies in poor framing of Bangs, and/or me dropping the fucking ball in resolving the Bangs at hand.

The lineup:

Ben plays James, an assassin trying to leave the biz (riffing on Replacement Killers); he's trying to protect his former target, a kindly tinkerer named Dimitri, and find out who wants him dead. In his new mission to help the downtrodden, he's also forged positive ties to the Lurkers, a secret society of tunnel-dwellers, and an ostracized comunity of mutants congregating in Justice Barrio. He's earned the emnity of Codename: Isis, whose contract on Dimitri he welshed on, and Otto's Men, the mutie-hating lynch-mob vigilantes of Justice Barrio.

Cranston plays Frank, a photojournalist who saw too much at a compound in Iraq, and spent the last 5 years in a military prison. . .when the prison was shut down, he was released in the confusion, and is now on Al Amarja seeking a low profile and photo ops. He also has ties with the Lurkers, though less strong, and contacts at a newspaper, including Islam Petri, seeming reporter but actually head of the local cell of Neutralizers, a Men in Black outfit that keeps inhuman shenanigans under control.

Sheldon plays Philip, a paranormal investigator and popular author on same, specializing in ritual cultic deaths. Everyoe close to him, culminating in his wife and partner (not together) fell prey to such deaths, and Phil under investigation for them. He's followed a lead to the island that answers await him here. Philip is fresh off the presses so not much under his belt yet, just a single session. He did meet up with James; they visited the mutant bar, and had a nasty dust-up with Otto-s men, fleeing the scene after killing several. He does not yet know that his flea-bitten hotel is run by bodysnatching aliens.

This is what I wrote up for Bangs:

(Disclaimer: I am aware that many of these are limp, maybe even not really bangs at all. By all means let's discuss it, which ones work well and which don't, and why. I just don't need a load of voices chiming in with "you know, that's not a Bang." I know, let's move past that, and fix it. :) )

James
  • Encounters fleeing, wounded Lurker, pursued by Armada (bouncer for the mutie bar, on good terms)
  • The gang that protects Dimitri's shop chases off a rival gang (universally hated by PCs) terrorizing the place, then start beating and torturing a straggler
  • Islam asks for help with a "News Story," then starts acting more and more suspicious
  • Otto's Men leave mutilated Mutie body as a warning, then flee--but an assassin James is tailing is also getting away

Phil
  • Shady cultist types get all cozy with Phil, while normal folks want to leave him alone (He knowingly bought a noose--worn in Al Amarja as neckties) from a shop that sells only nooses used for lynchings).
  • There's room for rent in Great Men Barrio with great leads on cultist shit, but there's something eerily wrong about the E-Z sleep hotel, too. . .
  • Finds his wife alive and well--and married to one of Otto's Men.

Frank
  • Catches wind that Islam is going on a juicy assignment, but doesn't want a photog along
  • Spots someone from the Iraqi camp; when he snams a photo he feels a crossbow in his back and a voice demands he surrender the film
  • Someone is making threatening overtures in a seemingly genial social setting. The prison thing to do would be to shank 'im to save face.

We ran, like, four scenes. One with James and Philip, one with Frank, another with James and Phil, then one with everyone together, setting up for big goings-on next session. I ended up using the "gang harrasses Dimitri, gets tortured" and "Islam going out on hot story" Bangs. In Frank's solo scene, he was having lunch with a guy, and I thought about the "guy making threatening overtures" Bang, but realized that i had no clear idea of who would be making the overtures and why, so I let it go.

Scene framing seemed to work pretty well. Everyone was pretty cool with stuff like "so you spend the rest of the day settling into your apartment, and the NEXT day. . .rather than having to follow "a day in the life of Frank" from sunup to sundown. I swear, our usual MO is to follow everything but the bathroom breaks. No wonder Ben hugged me.

So, the Bangs. James and Philip were paying Dimitri a visit when some Satanist gangbangers dropped in to harrass the coot; Dimitri doesn't welcome Satanists in his shop, so it gets their goat. James challenged them, a fight broke out, and after a couple of rounds the local gang showed up to earn their protection money. The lone human sicced her attack baboons on the Satanists, they all fled but one (plus 2 unconscious), and the chick started torturing him with a soldering iron. Sheldon announced that Phil was going outside to throw up. I asked Ben, "you doing anything?" and he replied, "no, she has the situation well in hand."

Now, I don't necessarily fault Ben's choice on Frank's reaction. The Bang was a question, do you step in to stop torture or don't you? As such, answering "no, I don't" is totally valid. James has been portrayed as a ruthless killing machine (all Ben's attack descriptions are intentionally lethal, he never tries to just "brawl" or fight them off, it's like, "crossbow in the heart!" or "knife in the throat!"), but I thought perhaps torture might be a different story. Guess not. (I played up the victim, too, as the scared, wet-behind-the-ears, runt of the gang.) What DOES bother me is my reaction to his reaction. . .there was basically none. No fallout, no repercussions. The chick wrung some info out of him on ominous doings in the Satanist gang, and sent him packing with a message for his boss. And the players shrugged and moved on.

My big failure, I think, was Dimitri. Dude just stood there mutely the whole time. I should've had HIM react to the torture in some way, whether he actually tries to stop it orno. Best of all would have been to have him shocked at James' callous allowing of the turture, and alienated from him now. SO why didn't I? I think I was afraid of "punishing" the player for choosing "wrong," like so many GMs, myself included, have done in so much tratidional play. It's even in the GM advice in the OTE book! And I didn't want Dimitri to taker over the scene--it's the PCs show--and have HIM jumping in to bravely stop the torture. hat again would signal: "Hey, you guys are supposed to step in on things like this. Play it right!" So I did nothing. And was left with a limp Bang.

In the final scene, James, having enlisted Phil's help to track down Dimitri's malefactor, goes with him to the newspaper for some research. Islam burst out of his office and seized upon James and told him he was on the trail of a juicy story he thought he'd be interested in. He mentioned ritual killings and Phil was in. Then Frank happened by and was like, *ahem* need a photographer? Islam said, no, no photos, then reconsidered and, haggling with him, eventually offered him triple the paper's rate to tag along, but give HIM the film and nothing gets in the papers. And off they went.

Now, I have no problem with this scene as it was, but. . .it sure weren't no Bang. JUst a scene settingup for something interesting to happen in the NEXT scene. Told you some of those bangs I listed were pathetic. Yeah, as advertised, Islam is acting "suspicious," but so what, it doesn't invite any particular action. Like I said, it wasn't a problematic scene, it just wasn't a Bang and I was foolish to think it would be.

So. All in all, things went reasonably well. This is a step up for "so-so," or "kinda crappy," which is where I'd place a lot of past play (like most of it). I think I just discovered that I have a lot to learn about crafting and running Bangs, even after following some excellent discussions liek Barna's requestr for aid in the Heroquest forums. One thing I'd like out of this discussion is some dissection of my bangs, and suggestions on how I could improve them, soI can get a better idea of how to craft them in the first place. And any other insights people have would be fine too.

Peace,
-Joel
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colin roald
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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2006, 05:07:50 AM »

If it helps any, I had the same kind of fizzles the first time I started trying to use Bangs.  I think I'm getting better, and I think this kind of processing helps.  It's a skill, you have to learn it, and the first few times you'll screw up.  As long as you're focusing on "what should I have done?" for the purpose of being ready to do it better next time, rather than just beating yourself up, it's helpful.

How about a suggestion for a followup Bang:  James gets a call from Dimitri, who's panicky and whispering and you can't really understand him.  The Satanists have come back and are trashing his shop, because they want revenge for the torture of their guy.  And Dimitri is hiding up in the rafters and he doesn't know how long it'll be 'til they find him.  Question:  How important is it to James to really protect this guy?

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colin roald

i cannot, yet i must.  how do you calculate that?  at what point on the graph do `must' and `cannot' meet?  yet i must, but i cannot.
-- Ro-Man, the introspective gorilla-suited destroyer of worlds
Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2006, 09:22:27 AM »

Thanks for the input, Colin. yeah, I'm not beating myself up too much. A little sad because I know it coulda been better, bet everyone DID nove fun, including me, so why worry?

I don't know if that's such a good Bang with James and Dimitri, by itself anyway, for this reason: it's an easy choice. of COURSE James will rush rush rush to help Dimitri, not onlybecause "help Dimitri" is his primary goal, but because there's guys he hates that need beating on. The Satanist gang have been a favorinte foil throughout this game. . .they're vile and obnoxious, and everyone loves laying a hurt on them. So while I'm sure Ben would have a good time with James bloodying up Dimitri's shop and all, I think it would only be Bangy if there was something else that James values at stake, that he must abandon to help Dimitri. Perhaps one of the other groups that he's interested in helping/defending, like the Lurkers or the mutants. Hmmm. . .
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Web_Weaver
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2006, 03:31:23 AM »

Further to the don't beat yourself up theme, bangs don't have to impact heavily, the word 'Bang' is a little misleading in this respect.

from the Glossary we have:

Quote
Bang:     The Technique of introducing events into the game which make a thematically-significant or at least evocative choice necessary for a player.

So, even a low key scene with a simple choice can be a bang, as long as the theme is developed later (Just as you are musing now). Just keep plugging away with dilemmas and choices based on their earlier decisions.
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2006, 08:56:09 AM »

Sorry 'bout the delay in posting to this thread; I was caught up (like about everyone, of course) in following Ron Edwards' D&D thread. But now that that's about petered out, I'd still like to continue here if anyone's interested.

Further to the don't beat yourself up theme, bangs don't have to impact heavily, the word 'Bang' is a little misleading in this respect.

You're right, I was confused on this point. . .the name, plus Ron's quote from Sorcerer in the essays ("Get to the Bangs!"), and the fact that the classic bangexamples that get thrown around ("Luke, I am your Father," Kaiser Soze walking in on his family's rape and torture), all contributed to a conception of Bangs that they gotta be. . .jaw-dropping or something.

That, and I think I'm kind of impatient, how that I'm starting to see how, to get the kind of play that I want, RIGHT NOW.

Anyway, I still would like some help in homing in on good Bangs for my game, starting with a diagnostic of the Bangs(or at leas so-called) that I listed. Some I'm pretty sure are duds; f'rinstance, even if Bangs are allowed to be low-key, the "Islam is chasing a story but acting kinda fishy" bit doesn't "make a thematically-significant or at least evocative choice necessary for a player;" rather it's building toward a later potential scene where the player must decide if his character trusts Islam. Which is just fine, so long as I realize that what I'm doing ain't Banging.

I'm starting to be able to recognize the bad ones, I think, as above, but i'm still having a hard time coming up with the good ones. If anyone could give me a nudge in the right directions by tweaking my bum Bangs or suggesting alternate ones, I'd be most grateful.

Peace,
-Joel
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2006, 09:12:44 AM »

What would help here would be a list of flags.

You say you talked about them, some of the character concepts seem to have more than others.
Did any of the players establish goals, possible themes, or potential conflicts that they would like to flag up to you that were not in the descriptions above?

If you have these to hand you can directly confront them.

I will list the possible player flags (probably not exhaustive)

Ben plays James:
  • trying to leave the assassin biz
  • protect his former target and find out who wants him dead
  • ostracized comunity of mutants
  • Lurkers
  • enmity of Codename: Isis
  • enmity of Otto's Men
This guy is hot to trot as far as flags go


Cranston plays Frank:
  • saw too much at a compound in Iraq
  • released in the confusion
  • seeking a low profile
  • contacts at a newspaper
  • local cell of Neutralizers
this guy seems a little flat at the moment I would ask for more varied flags from the player (but some to run with).

Sheldon plays Philip
  • ritual cultic deaths of Everyone close to him
  • under investigation for murder
  • answers await at the island
You are probably going to need more for this guy.

Now, as I am sure you are already aware, the trick is to rub these goals against each other to present dilemmas.

So picking the most awkward guy Philip and trying to tie in all of his flags (in this case without reference to the others to make it harder for us):

A lawman warns against taking a trip oversees and implies that he is under observation, pointing out a dark car.
The next day, a trusted occult seer warns of impending doom unless he gets out of town quick, but that car is everywhere.

This way you present him with difficult choices. Lay it on thick. And, get more flags from him by asking questions during the scenes like:

Does Phil believe in fate or fortune?
Has he had any strange dreams?
Who in town would he find difficult to leave behind?
Does he feel any guilt over the crimes he didn't commit?
Are any of his shady cultist friends in the Police?

Then, if he chooses to run and your not ready for that, block his attempts with tantalising clues to the murders or unusual checks ahead in the airport queue.

Its about making Sheldon choose for his character and getting more things out of him for later choices.

Bang!
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2006, 01:12:05 PM »

This is good stuff. Thanks, Jamie!

You're right, James is loaded compared to the other two. This is in large part because he's the oldest character, though also because Ben really seems to drive toward stuff, compared to Cranston, particularly.

Philip, conversely, is the newest character, just off the boat, so to speak, which is partly why he's light on the flags. So far he's picked up Otto's men's emnity (guilt by association, he was palling with James and saved his life from OM attack), both started investigating and attracted the attention of, Arthur Compton, the island's premier dark sorcerer, and been checking out the newspaper where Islam (seeming reporter but really Men-in-black-ish paranormal policer) has invited him along to investigate some cultic killings. And his fleabitten hotel is run by aliens and little incongruities about that are starting to eat at him (me and Shel have  decided that Phil's real gift is discerning patterns).

In Frank's case, what you see is what you get, though I do plan to hit strongly on the mystery of what's behind the operation in Iraq. if you're not familiar with the OTE background, the US government is secretly controlled by the Pharaohs, ancient beings bred to control humans, and their human Quislings. And James' codename: Isis just happens to work for both them AND the Neutralizers. . .

For James, there's also emnity with the Glorious Lords, the Satanist gang. If you can count that, 'cause ALL the players tend to have their players make enemies of the Lords, as they're generally obnoxious and aggressive and repulsive. (Lately I've been trying to introduce a few more sympathetic gang members to mix things up.) What IS interesting, for James, is that he seems, through protecting Dimitri, to be on the road to being tight with the Dog-face Gang, whereas the majority of PCs are buddy-buddy with the rival Aries gang, with whom James has had less than amicable relations so far. (I should state for the record that there are several more players, I'm just concentrating on the three that actually played last time.) Also, James has a budding romance, possibly, with Mary, who happens to be a ruthless agent of a vast conspiracy who'd love James as a pawn.





So. As far as your suggestions for Philip, the questions about his beliefs and values and such are great, unfortunately your suggestions for play events (and they're such damn good ones, too.) are a little tough to implement because we've already skipped past that point, just beginning (as with all the players in turn) with his arrival on the island. I'd like to find a way to use this stuff, though. Perhaps a flashback or two, sure, we'd already know he makes it to the island, but we'd really be assuming that anyway if we'd played them out first. (this reminds me, Phil's got a tie-in with the Pharaohs as well, at the airport he overheard a conversation between a Quisling and a supplier of alien technology, though he doesn't yet understand all of what was discussed.

It occurs to me that some of the above doesn't sound like Flags, being events I intruduced into play. But I've introduced them based on what players wanted: Shel, for instance, wanted Phil to have an intuition for patterns, so I'm giving him this "something's not right" vibe about the hotel to tantalize him as the pieces slide into place. (also, I asked him if he wanted a nice hotel or a cheap one, and the cheap one just happens to be run by Aliens. I'll admit i was hoping for it, but i didn't push it.) And he designed the flaw "wrong door" for Phil, to represent a tendency to stumble upon juicy and dangerous goings-on, hence the Quisling-and-alien encounter.

I think I'm having the toughest time with Cranston, who often seems mainly interested in fiddling around, doing little bits (usually comedy) with his characters, and generally amusing himself without actually driving his characters toward anything. Of all his flags, he hasn't really pursued any of them himself except "take pictures, preferably of peopl ewho don't want 'em took." And "Lay low," I guess, but thatprety passive. I've decided I need to have people actually hunting him to make this interesting. But he hasn't, say, lifted a finger to investigate the mystery of the Iraq compound. He DID tell me directly in our little "Flags and Bangs" talk that he wanted to see more on that, so that at least assures me that this is what he wants. . .it just seems he's waiting for me to provide it, rather than being proactive. Probably a lot of roleplaying tradition at work there.

Now, as I am sure you are already aware, the trick is to rub these goals against each other to present dilemmas.

This was like a bold of lightning. . .sure, I've read words to that effect before, but I guess they didn't really sink in. They have now, brother! Not just hitting Flags, but tension between Flags! Yes! And looking up above, it seems I've got some good chances to rub Flags between different characters as well. That one little sentence helps a lot.

Peace,
-Joel
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« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2006, 08:39:31 AM »

This was like a bold of lightning. . .sure, I've read words to that effect before, but I guess they didn't really sink in. They have now, brother! Not just hitting Flags, but tension between Flags! Yes! And looking up above, it seems I've got some good chances to rub Flags between different characters as well. That one little sentence helps a lot.

Thanks, glad to have helped it click, I could have just used that line, but I think it only really sinks in when you see it in context. (The whole point of an actual play forum I guess.)
 
And yes, you have loads of ways to rub the goals of the characters against each other, i just chose the more difficult path to help point out you have plenty to go with.

You and your players have actually done a good job of putting motivation and useful backstory into the game, so as long as you keep note of new flags and keep putting them together in interesting ways you will probably find it easy going once things start to roll.

Also, I think players coming up with scenes, is only likely to happen when it clicks with them what you are doing to create the story. Once they see how it works and why its fun they will start to pitch in with "wouldn't it be cool if...".

If, after a few sessions you haven't observed this try being making it more transparent with a trick I have been considering : when you start a scene with only one character give a quick gloss of what is going to happen in vague terms and which flags it is aimmed at, then ask the other players if they have any flags it may link to, and put them in the scene if they have.

Example

You: I have a scene where Phil finds a corpse of an old cultist acquaintance, it will play to his "under investigation" and "find answers at the island", anyone else have a reason to be there, and if so why?

Ben: Could he be one of James' Lurker friends?

You: possibly.. lets find out.

You can then feel free to twist it from Ben's suggestion as long as it hits the flag he suggested.
I think this is a cool way to let players get a feel for how scenes work, but not tried it myself so let me know if you do.
 

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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2006, 03:18:37 PM »

Yes, Jamie, myriad possibilities are starting to unfold in my head. Hell, I didn't even realize that all three characters had Pharaoh hooks until I typed it out here. I can't wait to expand this process to account for all the other PCs as well.

Which is one daunting thing about the process. . .and GMing the campaign in general. There are so many players that it becomes overwhelming to keep track of all the PCs and their plotlines, relationships, etc, to say nothing of actually playing with any of them. Just a symptom of our bloated group. I'm hoping, particularly as I continue to focus and refine my end of things, to pare things down, not in the sense of booting people, but more along the lines of everyone voluntarily forming a more focused group as they discover their own play styles and understand what they actually enjoy. But that won't happen while my game is still an incoherent mess. . .:)

Example

You: I have a scene where Phil finds a corpse of an old cultist acquaintance, it will play to his "under investigation" and "find answers at the island", anyone else have a reason to be there, and if so why?

Ben: Could he be one of James' Lurker friends?

You: possibly.. lets find out.

You can then feel free to twist it from Ben's suggestion as long as it hits the flag he suggested.

This looks like a very exciting way to play. I'm pretty stoked to try it out, though maybe not right away, seeing first if players respond to more subtle cuses, like you said. I think this will be a pretty jarring switch for most of my players; whether they dig it or not remains to be seen. They're definitely used to a more spoon-feeding non-player-empowered GMing approach. For instance, as I said, Cranston was basically waiting for me to give him the dirt on his backstory mystery, which I took for indifference, but it turns out he really wants to explore that. They're also very much in a "take it as it comes" mode of playing, so telling them "hey, I'm gonna do a scene touching on whatever" would porbably shock the hell out of them; they'd just expect to do the scene and not have any meta-knowledge of what it's "about" or what the PCs will discover. Particularly the phrase "what reason do you have to be there?" is alien to our style of play; of COURSE you're just supposed to "play out' the day's events ("In the morning I have breakfast at the Breakneck Cafe. Then I take a Taxi down to. . .") and where you happen to be is where you happen to be. "Reason to be there" (except explicit, non-metagame PC motivations, "I'm sneaking into Compton's place to see if he's responsible for my wife's death") doesn't enter into it.

I'm not bringing all this up to disparage the idea, just pointing out how rough the terrain is But I think this'll be a good thing; I'll see who likes it and who doesn't; we may actually (gasp!) discuss these feelings, and we'll all come out understanding our own and each others gaming preferences. And hey, Ben did hug me when I explained Scene Framing as "skipping to the good stuff," so I'm guessing there's some receptivity to these techniques in the group. :)

Peace,
-Joel
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2006, 03:49:28 PM »

Hey Joel,

To take it back to non-experimental territory, here's my concept for you - that perhaps too much internet-dialogue has built up over the years about whether Bangs are "good" or "bad" in an absolute sense. I submit, instead, that contributed events during play have Bang-ness based mainly on the inclinations of the people you are playing with.

In one group I regularly play with, "A woman walks through the door" is a Bang. One or more of the players will commit to that input without anything else said on my part.

In another, such a statement would fall flat as a bathmat; it takes hitting specific and overt flags on sheets to qualify as a Bang for them.

So if you're getting Bangs out of statements that seem a little pale when written down in text form, so what? What works in play for this group, works in play. I'm beginning to wonder whether you're anxiously curling your toes over a non-issue.

Best, Ron
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« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2006, 07:18:13 AM »


Ron,

I was struggling to say this at one point above and copped out.
Without knowing how the people round the table react its impossible to be more than vague with ideas, as they may just think everythings cool, or they may be saying "and...?".

Joel,
 
Whatever you try next, radical or simple, let us know how at least one scene went in detail, as you did up front with the satanist scene. Not the background detail, that's just too bewildering for me, just what you presented, why you did it and how it went down.

As pointed out earlier, you have all the ingredients there, just make it happen and good luck!
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2006, 09:40:56 AM »

Jeez, I meant to reply to this ages ago. Bah, real life. Hey, wait, I'm in love. Yay, real life!

Anyway, point well taken, Ron. As was brought to light earlier in the thread, I've been thinking of Bangs as big, explosive things, when they don't have to be. So maybe I'm beating myself up because the ones I tried weren't earth-shattering.

On the other hand, I hasten to point out that I'm not in a "doing it right all along, but worrying needlessly all these years" kind of position. I have been genuinely unhappy with the majority of my play over the years, and am now taking steps to correct that. So there IS a real problem to fix here, but I can accept that I'm being unnecessarily anxious while repairs are proceeding just fine.

One thing I'm curious about; the way you're talking about Bangs it seems to me that you're equating them with "stuff happens." OK, so more accurately, "stuff happens that engages the players," sure, but that seems to fall short of "events. . .which make a thematically-significant or at least evocative choice necessary for a player," which is what I've been working off of. I think that "gotta have a thematic choice" pressure may be part of my anxiety; I mean, I could just run wall-to-wall Satanist fights and many of the players would jump at them. But these same players are saying, anyway, by both their character design and their verbal cues, that they want something deeper than that, so I'm trying to provide that (since that's what I desperately want, too!).

Jamie, sorry if I'm including too much background material in my descriptions. Just give the word and I'll scale it back. OTE is labyrinthine to say the least, and it's hard knowing what details are pertinent to understanding the play instance, and which aren't.

Anyway, thanks, I'm feeling better about everything. I'm probably going to run some tonight, so I'll let y'all know how it goes. I may even end up running all 8 players simultaneously. Wish me luck.

Peace,
-Joel
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
colin roald
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« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2006, 09:57:32 AM »

Anyway, thanks, I'm feeling better about everything. I'm probably going to run some tonight, so I'll let y'all know how it goes. I may even end up running all 8 players simultaneously. Wish me luck.

All I can say is, man, I'm having a hard enough time coming up with interesting stuff to tie four PCs into one story.  Going with eight players sounds overwhelming to me.  I don't think I could even run D&D with that many.
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colin roald

i cannot, yet i must.  how do you calculate that?  at what point on the graph do `must' and `cannot' meet?  yet i must, but i cannot.
-- Ro-Man, the introspective gorilla-suited destroyer of worlds
Joel P. Shempert
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Posts: 451


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« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2006, 10:20:04 AM »

Brother, it ain't easy. We've had to hold discussions recently to establish simple behavior standards so we can get anything done, plus working out a rotation schedule for our various campaigns.

As far as running my game, the problem IS alleviated somewhat by the fact that only about half of the group was around when I started, so we were able to establish their characters and relationships and goals pretty well before the "second wave" (of which Ben, Cranston and Sheldon are all a part) showed up. Now I can concentrate on the establishing cool shit with the new folks while keeping the balls in the air with the old. But it's still a huge hassle.

Hopefully as this new direction in my GMing proceeds, it'll become a worthwhile hassle.
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
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