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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 62 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Lendrhald] helping GMs create Challenges  (Read 4058 times)
masqueradeball
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Posts: 170


« Reply #30 on: October 28, 2007, 02:31:27 PM »

After reading your golem example, I think some of my original thoughts would still be a good basis. First, make a list of available avenues for tackling the problem, hopefully spread over a large range of skill or character types so that any player character who makes the right choices has some chance of success. This is assuming that you want all PCs to have said chance, which isn't exactly realistic, but for game play's sake, I'll assume that a goal/concern. Once you have all the avenues laid out (one combat, one social, etc... probably divided along whatever lines are used to divide character skills (classes, skill groups, governing attributes, whatever)... place keys in the game world that would suggest the outcome.

For instance
Starting from your example lets create a list of solutions:
1) Combat: Find and kill the demon.
2) Social: Here I'll expand a bit on your initial premise. What if the demon is a child/novice and his master/father is angry that he's escaped into the world. If he can be found and convinced to help (which his anger makes possible) he will force his son to return using his superior power/authority.
3) Magical: More expanding required: If the characters can find the three pieces to the ancient Ars Demonica than they can learn the ritual to exercise the demon.
etc...

As for the extremely difficult part, I would control that through three means: the cost of making the attempt, the skill level required to succeed related check (how hard the demon is to hit, how hard the demon's master is to persuade, etc...) and the consequence of failing. The cost of making the attempt could be measured in in game time, actual money or player resources. For instance, if it would take three months to find the Ars Demonica and would require in investment of manna to restore it, both of these would be "costs to attempt. The skill roll would be split between the difficulty of the rolls and how many rolls, on average, the player would be required to make. Armor Class and Hit Points cover this in D&D and similar games for fighting monsters. The social mechanic could have something like Wits and Resolve. The search for the magical book would have different difficulties for investigation checks and maybe to total amount of successful checks required before the final clue would be revealed. Finally, the cost of failure would be split between injury, potential death, insanity, loss of resources, loss of status/fame, whatever would be significant within the context of the game.

Each of these things would have associated point values. The relevant difficulty level would have a total number of points that would they would need to add up to, and the rule book would have some extensive lists of potential costs/rolls/loses that could be selected from to build the encounter.

As to the keys, or what I said earlier about map/timelines, I'm not talking about pigeon holing or leading the players by the nose, what I'm talking about is putting in place the information the PC's need to see course X as a possible solution and determining how they will/can find it.
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Nolan Callender
David Berg
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Posts: 612


« Reply #31 on: October 30, 2007, 08:48:00 AM »

Nolan,

Thanks for expounding further, I now have a much clearer idea of your suggestions.  Some of them sound pretty appropriate.

make a list of available avenues for tackling the problem, hopefully spread over a large range of skill or character types so that any player character who makes the right choices has some chance of success.

Thinking about it in terms of "solution avenues" is probably a good way for GMs to build the kind of challenges that I'm aspiring toward.  Perhaps a prior step would be for the GM to think of multiple solutions -- after all, pursuing different avenues will accomplish slightly different things.  This is largely what I would like to help GMs with: thinking up multiple "solutions", some of which even hopelessly outclassed PCs could pull off.

Unfortunately, your "range of skill types" suggestion is more well-suited to games with magic use and, as you said, "classes, skill groups, governing attributes" etc. that have significant separation.  My game enforces none of these (though players can certainly choose to be specialists if they want).  Plus, I don't think designing an entire avenue with the idea in mind that, "One character could make this work while the rest just sort of watch," is to be aimed for -- such specialized circumstances should probably be sub-avenues, so, y'know, everybody gets to contribute at some point.

More often, the range I had in mind was more of picking who, when, and how to (for example) fight, as opposed to whether to fight or socialize.  But maybe there's a good way to synthesize both...

Once you have all the avenues laid out . . . place keys in the game world that would suggest the outcome
. . .
1) Combat: Find and kill the demon.

So I guess a "key in the gameworld" would be a way to achieve this, right?  The location of the demon, any sources of information re: that location; the demon's weakness, any sources of info re: that weakness; etc.

2) Social:

Social is never an option for dealing with Evil.  Dealing with humans, definitely.  Perhaps the PCs could try to lead the entranced villagers away, in hopes of breaking the demon's influence over them.  Encouraging GMs to think of ways in which this could be done is a good call.

3) Magical: More expanding required: If the characters can find the three pieces to the ancient Ars Demonica than they can learn the ritual to exercise the demon.

The game includes a "quest mode" in which this book could be a big deal and pretty much the whole game could be about getting it.  If, on the other hand, the group is playing "extended mode", it's probably best for solutions to be kept local.  So instead of a book that gives you power over all daemons, a book that gives you power over just this one would be more appropriate.  (This would be a GM note to not accidentally break the world.)

Reminder to self: think about viability of exorcisms.

As for the extremely difficult part, I would control that through three means:
1) the cost of making the attempt,
2) the skill level required to succeed related check . . .
3) and the consequence of failing.
(numbers mine)

Interesting, I hadn't thought about it in those terms.  I'd been thinking of "difficulty" as #2. 

#3 is that the bad thing you wanted to stop happens, and/or you don't get paid, and/or you die.  But tweaking those ahead of time instead of simply letting the situation's other facets dictate is a possibility...  I wonder if maybe a "lower difficulty" mission should result in a "enemy would rather humiliate you than kill you" formulation or some such.

As for #1, maybe "higher difficulty" missions could entail more avenues wherein costs are included.  Missions with lots of bribery, quid pro quos, or even just obstacles that rob you of gear get pretty harsh even if no "to hit" #s are raised.  Maybe a good option to point out to GMs.

Each of these things would have associated point values. The relevant difficulty level would have a total number of points that would they would need to add up to, and the rule book would have some extensive lists of potential costs/rolls/loses that could be selected from to build the encounter.

Being aware of your options to inflict costs upon the players is good.  I actually have a list of "types of threat presented by monsters" along similar lines.

As to the keys, or what I said earlier about map/timelines, I'm not talking about pigeon holing or leading the players by the nose, what I'm talking about is putting in place the information the PC's need to see course X as a possible solution and determining how they will/can find it.

I think I get it.  If I've said something in this post that demonstrates that I don't get it, please elaborate.  I'll try to post a synthesized, "GMs, here's a process" soon.
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David Berg
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« Reply #32 on: November 01, 2007, 10:55:52 AM »

How long does the hypothetical GM have to resolve and generate new encounters for their party? Are they preparing for a solid week between games with no full time job or studies to get in their way?

This is what has happened in the past, with the results being:
1) great games, and
2) quick GM burnout

So, I'm attempting to ease the burden on the GM, if possible, by giving him tools to maximize efficiency of his prep.

Are we looking at a purely character driven storyline, where the players can immerse themselves in the game world by exploring at their own whim?

Yes, but with one huge qualifier: the players must all agree to play characters who will pursue dangerous missions for simple reasons like money or thrills. 

If you're trying to get all of these options resolved into a coherent and "easy to use" system that doesn't require high end computing power sitting along side you and displaying options on a screen, personally I don't think it can be done.

Well, I don't intend to do all the work for the GM to the point where he can just push an Idea Ball into the Challenge Combine and get something playable.  But I do want to help him prep what he needs and only what he needs.

Note: low-end computing power is fine... throwing up some simple number-cruncher on my website is certainly an option...
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David Berg
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« Reply #33 on: November 02, 2007, 12:52:11 PM »

Okay, here's what I came up with.  My first thought is that it seems like too much work.  Please feel free to offer suggestions, but you should probably read my next post first.

I have divided prep up into 3 phases for clarity of presentation.  Phases A and B will often overlap, and can be done in whatever order the GM sees fit.  Phase C can likewise occur simultaneously with A and B if the GM finds this suitable; the below order is just an organizational assist for those who want one.

PHASE A - Creating the challenge

1) Come up with a situation that you think the players will want to tackle as a challenge.  Such situations should provide opportunities for rewards, in the form of local esteem at the very least, and Imperial payment at the almost-very-least.
Example:
"Something has posioned the water of a village, but both times someone's gone upstream to investigate, they've disappeared.  The villagers are so desperate for help, they're offering a mule, two chickens, and two sacks of chicken feed to anyone who can solve the predicament.  The culprit is some sort of mutant animal with a weird power or two."

2) Make the Difficulty Randomizer Roll.  Then assign your Evil Threat / Tricky Puzzle / etc. the according stats / complexity / etc.  See also steps C5 and C7.

3) Map any dungeons/tunnels/mountain passes that are an intrinsic part of the challenge.

PHASE B - Placing the challenge in the world

1) Review material on the relevant area of the world.  Be particularly aware of any features that are new to the PCs.

2) If you have questions about how anything in the area works, make up sensible answers.  Simplest solutions are best.

3) Give appropriate names to any nearby places (villages, mountains, roads, etc.) the PCs may encounter or discuss.  Also draw up a list of appropriate names for people.

4) Make a map of the area.

PHASE C - Making the challenge playable

1) Think of multiple "solutions" to the challenge, ranging from various forms of utter personal victory over it (hack it, burn it, cage it) to a subtle contribution against it (tattle on it).  See our list of What The Empire Pays For for some ideas, and add your own as appropriate to the context of the specific situation, and, most importantly, to the desires of the players.  Some groups like saving a damsel in distress for its own sake; others don't.

2) Make a list of available "avenues" for achieving those solutions (at least 1 ave/sol, possibly more).  Try to cover different player problem-solving options:
hacking, shooting, sneaking, thieving, moving, trapping, convincing, deceiving, paying, trading, building, induction, deduction, and combos of these

3) If you've come up with more avenues than you need, pick the best ones (2 to 5 avenues, depending on the obviousness of the situation).  Don't throw away any notes you've already made, though -- the players may initiate something on their own that coincides with one of your discarded ideas.

4) Go through your chosen avenues and decide upon "elements" to make these avenues viable.  A cave, a helpful villager, a road, a careless Orc sentry, a sundial, etc.

5) Also decide upon further "elements" to threaten and challenge the PCs (if not already covered).  Think about the costs of pursuing each avenue, in terms of time, money, equipment, renown, etc.

6) Give an identity (name, location, relevant timing & stats) to each of your elements.  [Note: Maybe this step need not be done before play?  Maybe ad-libbed during play?  Maybe GM dictates "come up for air" when avenue is chosen, and does step #4 then?]

7) Note the reuslt of a failed pursuit of each avenue you come up with.  Occasionally, it will differ from "die" or "don't get paid".

Cool Map any relevant areas not previously covered by other maps.

9) Maybe make a timeline or flowchart to track how and when your elements come into play.


Supporting notes:

What The Empire Pays For
- Killing/destroying Evil Threats to Men
- Neutralizing Evil Threats to Men
- Organizing/leading local missions to kill/destroy/neutralize Evil Threats to Men
- Providing info/resources that will enable the empire to kill/destroy/neutralize Evil Threats to Men
- Acquiring special objects

Note: "human threats to the Empire and its citizens" can be appended to "evil threats to men".

Possible Assistance
- 1-100 villagers (with no combat experience, except in certain areas)
- 1-10 independent mercenary adventurers
- 1 mercenary adventurer band
- 2-6 Imperial soldiers stationed at roadhouse
- The Legions
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David Berg
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Posts: 612


« Reply #34 on: November 02, 2007, 12:55:25 PM »

I am thinking of ditching the whole "let the PCs wander around in the world and decide what to tackle" angle and replacing it with, "let the players talk out-of-game about what to tackle next and then have the GM prep that and just plop them into it".  The GM will have to cover a lot fewer bases that way.

World atmosphere and richness suffers, but maybe Step On Up benefits.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #35 on: November 04, 2007, 10:30:59 PM »

No! Smiley If what I PM'ed you about is somewhat true, world atmosphere and richness doesn't suffer, but is developed in another way for another purpose. It's developed as a stake for the gamist gamble/play, like money is used as a stake in a poker game or whatever. World richness might be a very apt word! Bit sketchy on how right now, but you'd have a sort of 'get pumped about the game world' session. Through that process some object or such in the game world would be identified for each player - and it can only be something they talk about excitedly. Once identified, this is their stake - like having some money to put down on a gamble.

Don't take it as a see saw, that world richness has to go down for gamism to go up. That way will ruin the stakes from the outset (unless you actually roleplay for cash/roleplay for who pays for the pizza).
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David Berg
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« Reply #36 on: November 05, 2007, 12:23:14 PM »

By "sacrificing richness", I just meant that without actually "being immersed" for encounters with road wardens, tax collectors, impoversihed villages, etc., the impression of the world that the player is left with is less multifaceted.  I would think that if my only experience of a place was running and jumping and killing, the place wouldn't quite feel "real".  But if I am trying for Step On Up play, I feel like maybe I shouldn't expect the players to WANT to "wander around in the world" more than absolutely necessary.  Regardless, for now I'm going to try to focus on the Step On Up reward structure, and only the "immersionist" concerns whose intersection with that are make-or-break (richness probably isn't).

you'd have a sort of 'get pumped about the game world' session. Through that process some object or such in the game world would be identified for each player - and it can only be something they talk about excitedly. Once identified, this is their stake - like having some money to put down on a gamble.

If I can figure out a way to do this without giving the players too much information that their characters wouldn't know, and to maintain a functional "we're doing this together" mission, then this would be fantastic.  Some problems with those, though:

Keeping the players playing at the same time:

I wonder about letting each player pick a separate stakes.  What happens if the various stakes have nothing to do with each other?  Is it the GM's job, after the stakes have been set, to arrange the world in such away that the stakes do have something to do with each other?  If the players assume this'll happen, it'll feel really contrived when it does.

Getting all the players to agree on a single group stakes would make life much easier... the downside of course is that usually someone will "just go along with it" without actually being pumped.

Keeping players ignorant about the world

One of the best ways to make immersion satisfying is to keep player knowledge and character knowledge as close together as possible -- reactions to in-game events are more genuine.  So how do the players pick what they want to play without lots of "just wandering around in the world"?  My solution thus far has relied mostly on the players telling the GM what they want in general terms to start, and then getting more specific once their characters have gone out and done stuff and discovered things that interest them.  Things called "Destinations" are chosen by the players... not sure whether or not these qualify as Stakes in the sense you're discussing.  I'm still fuzzy on the identity of the $5 in your $5 bet analogy.  I'll post my current text on Destinations shortly.
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #37 on: November 05, 2007, 07:25:58 PM »

One of the best ways to make immersion satisfying is to keep player knowledge and character knowledge as close together as possible -- reactions to in-game events are more genuine.  So how do the players pick what they want to play without lots of "just wandering around in the world"?  My solution thus far has relied mostly on the players telling the GM what they want in general terms to start, and then getting more specific once their characters have gone out and done stuff and discovered things that interest them.  Things called "Destinations" are chosen by the players... not sure whether or not these qualify as Stakes in the sense you're discussing.  I'm still fuzzy on the identity of the $5 in your $5 bet analogy.  I'll post my current text on Destinations shortly.

I'm starting a new campaign now in a "sandbox" type setting.

What I've done so far is to set up a group of character history events and link them to a long term goal that the character wants to achieve and a secret that the character wants to keep hidden about this event in their past.    All of these character aspects are linked to the nemesis at the end of the campaign, but hopefully it will take a few sessions for players to link these aspects together (after all it is in their best interests to keep their own secrets intact due to XP bonuses). Hopefully these aligned background facets will be a motivating factor for the characters to personally pursue similar goals.

Yet in addition to these, the character will be able to choose other goals more personal to the players expectations within the game.

If we look at the game as an episodic series, at this stage I'm looking toward using the character facets I've generated to work as the series story arcs, while player chosen goals and motivations will work as episode storylines.

Knowing in advance what those goals are and how they tie together I can have some kind of approximation of the type of events that will be pursued by the characters, I can write these aspects up in more detail and hopefully the richness and texture of these storylines will help bring those characters with less storyline stakes into the scene. Especially since players will be told in advance that if they are willing to indulge another players storylines during one session, they will themselves be indulged in another session.

Over the course of a few games, everyone should have been the focal character for a scene (or even a whole session if it's proving worthwhile for the whole group) at least once.

It's sort of veering away from the topic of the thread, but as character's evolve and players present new goals into the mix, it does me give an indication of the type of stories they want to follow (and therefore the types of scenes I should be preparing). Logically following on from this, if a character is acting in a coherent manner and the player is staying true to their characters goals and ideals this should keep the flow of the story moving without seeming to contrived.

I guess it all depends how the GM presents the scenes.

V
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Callan S.
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« Reply #38 on: November 06, 2007, 04:52:38 PM »

Hi David,

When it comes to developing the gamist stake (ie, something the player thinks is cool to lose to someone else or gain himself), you seem to slip into full on simulationist play in order to get that stake. It's kind of like were about to play poker for a cash stake...and you leave the game, running out the door to your day job since you need money for that stake. But you've stopped playing poker.

Way back before you ever roleplayed, you would have thought something in some imaginary world was cool, right? When I was young, not having roleplayed yet, I thought the gun on Megatrons arm was way bad ass cool! Silly example (I hope you remember first gen transformers), but I didn't need to have roleplayed and explored and immersed in a world in at an ignorant level to get excited about that. Introduced to gamist play, gettting that gun or losing it to another player is an awesome stake.

If people in your group will only think of game world stuff being cool if its in the context of this explorative system you describe (playing ignorant, nothing contrived, etc), then they are devoting themselves to the integrity of that system. The more devotion there is, the more it excludes gamism. And really that devotion doesn't pay off unless its absolute and the dream has full integrity, as I understand this post.

I think people can and do think game world stuff is cool without devoting themselves to its integrity. I like megatrons gun, I like sonic screw drivers, I like down to earth operatives under terrible pressure*. Your posts questions bring up dream integrity issues, when A: I don't think that gets in the way of thinking stuff is cool and B: I don't think a hybrid is possible (just the idea of it damages the integrity of the dream). I don't think working up a game world stake might have problems to overcome, but I don't think these are the problems.

Quote
I wonder about letting each player pick a separate stakes.  What happens if the various stakes have nothing to do with each other?  Is it the GM's job, after the stakes have been set, to arrange the world in such away that the stakes do have something to do with each other?
I think the group would work out a way for them to have something to do with each other. I think I've addressed the idea of contrivance in doing that.

Quote
Things called "Destinations" are chosen by the players... not sure whether or not these qualify as Stakes in the sense you're discussing.  I'm still fuzzy on the identity of the $5 in your $5 bet analogy.  I'll post my current text on Destinations shortly.
I'd really like to hear about the work you've done on 'Destinations'. And I didn't use any analogy. I get the feeling your going to suddenly think 'Gah, he couldn't have meant THAT when he said $5, he just meant it as analogy'. Again, there was no analogy Smiley

* Don't let this make you think I'm not using my real name as my handle! Smiley
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Philosopher Gamer
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David Berg
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« Reply #39 on: November 08, 2007, 10:56:09 AM »

If people in your group will only think of game world stuff being cool if its in the context of this explorative system you describe (playing ignorant, nothing contrived, etc), then they are devoting themselves to the integrity of that system. The more devotion there is, the more it excludes gamism. And really that devotion doesn't pay off unless its absolute and the dream has full integrity, as I understand this post.

I think that's the crucial issue here.  I don't see why it shouldn't be possible to get just as pumped about saving a village in a gritty, immersive game as about getting Megatron's gun in a (e.g.) competitive, unrealistic game.  The excitement and investment comes from the Challenge: "Can I pull this off?"

If there's no real suspense about pulling it off and no one really cares if they pull it off as long as it's played a certain way, then yeah, that had better be Sim if it's coherent, cuz it's not Gamism.

Do you think intense devotion to the dream necessarily excludes Stepping On Up, or that it's just hard to make both happen at once?  I full accept the latter, and am doing my best...

What if play were structured with a certain goal, agreed on by the players, as the stakes (see Quest Mode in next post).  The goal is an in-gameworld outcome.  Once that goal is either achieved or rendered impossible to achieve, the game is over.  Team PCs wins or loses.  Is that fun gamist play, or do you see "an in-gameworld outcome" as being a problematic stakes?
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David Berg
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« Reply #40 on: November 08, 2007, 11:04:51 AM »

CAMPAIGN TYPES

Before the players create characters and the GM creates Challenge opportunities, it is important to establish what kind of Campaign the players (collectively) are looking to pursue with these characters.  Lendrhald provides rules for making characters and Challenges in three distinct types of Campaigns:

1) A Single Challenge.  This type of play requires the least preparation for everyone.  It's exactly what it sounds like: a finite mission that can often be resolved in a few hours of play.

After the Challenge is over, the players may want to use the same characters to pursue another Challenge.  This should work fine.  However, there will be no cumulative progress over many successive Single-Challenge games, as the characters and Challenge opportunities have not been developed for that purpose.

2) An Extended Campaign.  The game can go as long as players want it to go, and the result should be more satisfying than the sum of the individual Challenges.  This type of game is wired for cumulative and long-term progress toward flexible goals.  Much of the content of this book is intended to enable this type of play.  This type of play requires up-front prep by the players and continuous work between sessions on the part of the GM. 

3) A Quest.  This type of play requires just as much up-front preparation as an Extended Campaign, but has a different focus.  Character goals and Challenge opportunities are all designed with a specific end point in mind.  All players must design characters with a shared purpose of the moment, or at least multiple purposes served by the exact same end.  Once that end is achieved (or rendered impossible to achieve -- e.g., all PCs killed), the game is over.

A quest to find and kill a certain evil man in a small village is basically a Single Challenge, while a quest to learn the true nature of a unique, possibly magical gemstone and use it for whatever it can do may resemble an Extended Campaign.  Our advice is: if you want to play something simple, play a Single Challenge, if you want to play something so extensive that you may or may not play long enough to finish it, play an Extended Campaign.  The central notion of a Quest is that you WILL get to the end of it, and either succeed or fail -- just like a Single Challenge.  Unlike a Single Challenge, a Quest may be a combination of many different Challenges that each act as steps toward the Final Challenge.  The length of the Quest must not exceed the players' interest in their characters' motivations for that Quest.  "I wish to avenge the dishonor of my family," as the *totality* of a character's motivation, probably won't be fun to play for months and months.


Everyone must agree on one campaign type.


The GM will then prepare accordingly:

1) A Single Challenge - a single Challenge

2) An Extended Campaign - many Challenge opportunities.  The players, through their characters, decide what Challenges actually get played.  They, and the GM, must be entirely aware of this as the persistent state of affairs.  It does not matter what the GM has prepped: if the players want to send their characters in a certain direction, that is the direction they'll go.  How can any GM prepare for this?  The key is to divorce logistics (stats of enemies, difficulty levels of physical situations, puzzles) from contexts (the identities of the enemies, the locations of the physical situations, the effect of failing or succeeding at the puzzles).  This is discussed further in Chapter 9: Making Challenges.

3) A Quest - a series of Challenge opportunities which lead toward resolution of the Quest.  As with an Extended Campaign, players may not be forced (and should not even be overly influenced) by the GM to follow a certain path.  However, the focused nature of the characters' goals should make it very easy for the GM to guess which opportunities the players will take.  If he wishes, the GM can do a very large portion of his total prep for the game before the first session.  It is always a good idea to have something in mind for the Final Challenge before play begins.

PLANNING CHALLENGE OPPORTUNITIES<The Life Goal

For Single Challenge games, characters do not have Life Goals.

For Quest games, characters have only one part of a Life Goal: the Destination.  All characters in a Quest must have the same Destination (or different Destinations achieved by the same accomplishment).

For Extended Campaigns, the Life Goal becomes a little more complex and far more important.  In open-ended games, where the player characters can and will go any which way, the GM needs to form some expectations of what the players want to play; similarly, the players need to come to some consensus about what they wish to play.  Creating a Life Goal for your character is a way to let everyone else at the table know what you want to play.

A Life Goal is a statement about where your character would eventually like to wind up.  This MUST be something that would be a source of satisfaction to the player.  Achieving a goal you no longer care about is less fun!  There is no rule against players changing their characters' Life Goals; indeed, if you are getting bored with yours, change it!  However, the most effective way to achieve long-term satisfaction over Extended play is to pick a really good Life Goal and stick with it through the entirety of play.

Given that characters will be starting with virtually nothing, a Life Goal does not have to be overly dramatic to qualify as a massive accomplishment.  Most of the population of Lendrhald are subsistence farmers, and earning a much better lot in life takes some doing!  Here are some example Life Goals:

- Retire wealthy to raise a family.

- Have your name known up and down the West Coast as a killer of monsters.

- Become a landed noble with a title and some influence over the people of a region.

- Found a guild that will outlive you.

- Become the biggest combat badass you know of.

- Find a worthy cause or master to follow.

The one attribute a Life Goal MUST have is that it must be, in your eyes, advanced through tackling the Challenges that are Lendrhald play; and, further, the *types* of Challenges the players agree they want to play.  If everyone wants to get in lots of fights, don't pick a Life Goal of being a monk!  Remember, you will not be forced into any Challenges -- there should be a reason why your character *wants* to do this!  (See more on this in the next section, Backstory.)

Once you have come up with a Life Goal that you think is cool and inspires you to go ahead and play your character, it's time to define the two things that will best allow the GM to create Challenge opportunities you can pursue with that character.  These are Path and Destination.

A Destination is the more immediate version of the Life Goal.  A Destination en route to the Life Goal of "become a landed noble" might be "make friends with an influential noble", or "get a noble drunk and wager him his title for something" depending on what Path you follow and your character's personality.  Destinations get changed all the time, as goals are fulfilled, abandoned, or modified.  What's important is that you always have some idea in mind of what you would like to be working on accomplishing next.  This way, the GM can provide you with content you're interested in because it gets you somewhere meaningful.

The player should always let the GM know how quickly he wants or expects to achieve his current Destination, so the GM can either make that possible or tell the player to re-think things.  Since all first-time players must start their characters from relative poverty, some Destinations simply will not be achievable without extended play.  If you want to meet your first Lendrhald objectives quickly, make them modest.

A Path is a description of what motivates your character, and a predictor of what choices he will make.  A Path can have implications on matters outside of your Life Goal.  Think carefully about the personality you wish to play, and whether you *can* play it (Lendrhald includes no stats and rules to help you do this!) before you pick a Path.  E.g., a player who wants his character to forego personal gain in order to help others should probably not choose the Path of Power, even if his Life Goal is a position of some influence.  If the Path of Power is pretty close, however, he might wish to change the name a bit to be more reflective of his true intentions (Path of Leadership?).  Customize away!  The Paths provided here are the most general categories, which we expect will play well with others in an Extended Campaign<Quest
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David Berg
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« Reply #41 on: November 08, 2007, 11:25:53 AM »

For anyone reading who doesn't want to go through that whole blurb, the most relevant topic of the moment can be found about 2/3 of the way down, at:

"A Destination is the more immediate version of the Life Goal . . ."
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« Reply #42 on: November 08, 2007, 01:37:35 PM »

This is an interesting set up. It's like setting up a social contract between the group at the start of play, where each players combines their interests to determine a collective goal and theme for the game while giving them the scope to explore their own storylines in the longer term forms of play.

I like it.

I think that's the crucial issue here.  I don't see why it shouldn't be possible to get just as pumped about saving a village in a gritty, immersive game as about getting Megatron's gun in a (e.g.) competitive, unrealistic game.  The excitement and investment comes from the Challenge: "Can I pull this off?"

I agree with you on this point, which is seriously making me wonder whether I understand the whole GNS paradigm. But then again, it could be just that different people have radically different interpretations of how GNS works...some of whom are incredibly staunch in their beliefs.

I think that if you're going to get the adrenaline pumping over an issue, you should have an emotional connection to it. This may come in the form of a vested interest in the storyline, or a physical $5 note. Otherwise you might as well say "if I roll a 1 on this d20 I get Megatron's gun"...with no context linking it to anything, you don't get as excited about the physical act of rolling the die. After all, it's not like the physical act of rolling the die will cause the gun to manifest in the players reality.

(...of course, if this is the case, what are you doing on a roleplaying forum?? Go out and change the world.)

Actually, I think that it's more likely for someone to get pumped about saving a village in a well crafted and immersive game; and less likely to get pumped about mechanics completely devoid of story or context.

But maybe that's just me.

V

In the context of the topic heading, I guess that we are now looking at ways for the GM to make challenges that are meaningful to the life goals of their characters. Challenges that will make the destinations meaningful for both characters and players alike.
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David Berg
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« Reply #43 on: November 08, 2007, 03:04:35 PM »

Michael,

My understanding of the relevant GNS concepts is:

All roleplaying includes Exploration.  Any Creative Agenda can have relatively low or high degrees of exploration of any of Character, Setting, Situation, System, and Color.  High-character-exploration Gamism or high-setting-exploration Narrativism are totally possible -- "high-exploration" does not dictate "Simulationist".  As I understand it, if an effective Gamist reward structure is in place, then you're playing Gamist, regardless of your degree of exploration of any component(s).  If you are playing a very high-exploration game with no Gamist (or Narrativist) reward structure occurring, then you might be playing Simulationist, or there might be no coherent C.A. at all.  If everyone is on the same page that the payoff of play is all about enjoying the imagined experience and its resilience against violation (see Ron's "constructive denial" post that Callan linked), then Sim oughta be happening (other confounding factors notwithstanding).

Ron's take on high-exploration pseudo-Gamism can be found in his essay on Step On Up -- it's called "The Bitterest Roleplayer in the World".

I'm going to start a new thread in Actual Play discussing a game I played that may have had some Sim moments and some Gamist moments.

Away from theory and back to the point of the thread, this thread has officially been derailed from "helping the GM of my game make challenges" to "helping make sure that the challenges I'm making actually are played as Challenges (in the Gamist sense) and not just 'something to do while immersed'."  I'm fine with this change of direction, because my former concern can't be resolved without discussing the latter.  I think I missed the proper point to close this thread and start a new one, so I'd just like to continue the discussion in progress.

Quote
Actually, I think that it's more likely for someone to get pumped about saving a village in a well crafted and immersive game

Makes sense, right?  The problem is how you get there.  If you've grown attached to the village because you spent a lot of time wandering through it and experiencing its quirks and conversing with its people, then you likely (but not definitely -- I hope) weren't playing Gamist while you were doing that.  A game can have all kinds of fights and dramatic PC victories and failures and still not be Gamist.  The question is whether the actual players are being challenged and could flatly lose.  I'm a little fuzzy on exactly what counts as losing in the abstract -- I have a better sense of it in the context of well-described actual play. 

I played a game recently that had a lot of Gamist appearances -- tons of strategizing, plenty of informal recognition of strategic prowess around the table -- that Ron ultimately diagnosed as Simulationist.  The more I described our game, the more it became clear that the GM wasn't really going to let us all die and fail in our mission, and that most of the player friction in the game came from breaking the simulation, and that most of the shared enjoyment amongst us came from "doing it right" ("it" being basically "X-Men-style dysfunctional superhero tac team in World of Darkness").

Lendrhald is not supposed to be that game.  The world of Lendrhald is a place that I personally would love to play Sim; but my current effort is to make Gamist play happen there, because in a world that feels so real, I really like trying to accomplish stuff (i.e. winning -- I think).  Players don't have to give a fuck about the world at all, they just have to trust that it works in a predictable manner when they try to do stuff (resolution rules that model real-world physics) so they are on top of their options when they try to beat Challenges.  A lot of the immersionist stuff is there so everyone knows exactly what they can and can't do during a Challenge and no one ever says, "I can/can't do X?  That doesn't make sense."

Will provide links to above references if requested; no time right now.
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David Berg
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« Reply #44 on: November 09, 2007, 01:47:51 PM »

I'm going to start a new thread in Actual Play discussing a game I played that may have had some Sim moments and some Gamist moments.

Here it is.
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