*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
March 02, 2021, 01:01:29 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 182 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: Non-silly D&D  (Read 11129 times)
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« on: September 20, 2002, 03:33:06 PM »

In Thanks to the Forge for Helping Me Enjoy D&D nipfipgip...dip said
Quote
AD&D cannot function other than (very silly) gamism

"Whoa, nelly!"  I say.
Despite my proclivities towards narrativism (though I've been more of an utterly-honest gamist lately), I mostly play D&D.  Rather, that is, D&D of the non-silly variety.

Sure, D&D's mechanics are all about gaining experience so you have more cool powers and can beat up bigger things of greater cool power, but that's the name of the game.

What's missing from this picture?
Protaganism. That is, all those fights, all that power-leveling and treasure grabbing MEANING something.

D&D does not remove or deny the ability for such to exist in a game of itself.  D&D does not have to be nothing but silly hacking and looting.

I've been playing D&D for a long time, now, and 3E since it came out. Until this year, my games were horrid, messy, frustrating affairs that left me drained and upset afterwards.  I knew all about GNS, subscribed to it as a theory, and spent time examining my game, but I didn't know what I was doing WRONG...why I couldn't make my D&D sessions smoother and more captivating.

Getting silly wasn't the answer.
Borrowing a page (or three) from Narrativism was.

Yet I haven't changed any rules, haven't modified the system in any way.
So, am I claiming to run a Narrativist D&D game?  Heck no.

All I'm doing is protagonizing the characters...that is, I'm offering them choices and options that matter, creating conflicts that matter; that matter RIGHT NOW to that specific character or characters.

Here's what I mean:
The party recently confronted a weak-and-worn avatar of the Goddess of Dragons...they don't trust her, and with good reason, but the situation she offered, the choices created by it, were the kinds of stuff you find in good fiction.

The choice she gave was simple: agree to help her find a missing piece of her Heart, to restore her power, and she would provide them with the knowledge to successfully complete their current task.

But I threw a curve-ball in there, too: one of the characters found out that her family was in mortal danger RIGHT NOW.  If she helped out the Dragon Goddess, they would be slain and her empire would fall...and she would be risking losing or damning a former companion (the currently inactive, secondary character of another player).

Then I threw another curve: the goddess revealed that if the party did not help her with her task, they would fail to prevent a future catastrophe that would cost the lives of hundreds-of-thousands, and bring a new and terrible age to the world, as foretold in prophecy.

But...they don't know if she's lying...and they don't trust her...but what if she's telling the truth? (for, you see, she never tried to paint her intentions as anything but selfish, and outright stated her desires were motivated by pure selfishness...so chances are...)

Finally, the goddess resorted to a play on the party's honor...pointing out that her current state is a direct result of their actions in an earlier quest, when they failed to slay the sorcerer who currently possess her Heart and outright gave it over into his power.

All that in mind, they made their choice -- they denied the Dragon Goddess their help, the one character placing her family's safety first, trusting to her gut mistrust of the goddess, presuming she might just be able to prevent the foretold catastrophe and same her family, her former companion and the world at the same time.

And the Dragon Goddess? She just isn't down with that...in fact, the PCs suspect that even with the choice they made, they might just be playing into her hands thanks to a frightening little detail of her behavior they noted just as they were forced from her "furious" presence.

I wouldn't call any of the above "silly" or "just gamism."
Even so, we rolled like mad, too, "Diplomacy," "Bluff," and "Sense Motive" all came into play (they were smart enough not to try "Intimidate!" ;D )
But ultimately, despite the mechanics underlying it all, it came down to personal choice...very personal choice.

Another example of the same is when the same goddess later drew aside one of the dwarves, pleading for his help (and playing on his greed), then demanding it, then finally blackmailing him with the welfare and wealth of his clan.  The dwarf hates the goddess, his whole people know her to be a liar and murderer...but to secure the party's success in their current mission and under the threat of his own family's material and physical welfare, he accepted her terms.

Of course, there is more to all of this, too, because the party's own personal welfare is also bound up in their success.  If they don't succeed, they believe they will be trapped for the rest of their lives in a realm haunted by the very demons they just saved a lost dwarven clan from, along with those same survivors and the ancient city one dwarf came to find and restore and so gain glory in his clan.

Heck, beyond all this, the one character is risking her life returning to help her family...she was escorted to the borders of the empire and told never to return, upon pain of death, and she knows as a citizen that they weren't kidding.  She will be slain on sight.  Damn, what a decision on her part!

But the dwarf has agreed to help the Dragon Goddess...she has to go a different direction than the others...party-conflict...who is going with who?  Where will everyone else's loyalties lie?

And what's more?

I didn't create any of this.  I merely responded to it with elements I'd already placed.

All these conflicts and events arose directly via creation by and through the decisions of the players and their characters. I didn't have to march them into any danger or problems, they did it -- chose it -- of their own free will.

The dwarven clan in need of help, the ancient city?  Yes, I created that.  The player decided this was the lost city her clan had been searching for for a thousand years, that her character was dedicated to finding, looting and leading the rest of her clan back to.

The sorcerer destroying the warrior-character's family? I created that...she created her family, she created her quest to restore their fortunes, she chose their importance and then acted on it when confronted with a decision about that importance, she chose to return to the empire knowing full-well the consequences.

The Dragon Goddess' threats to the dwarf's clan? I created that...but it was created as a direct result of the player deciding what she had about her character's priorities, and it mattered because it showed everyone else what mattered to that character.  It matters because it would matter to one of us in the same situation...they created choice and conflict for themselves.

This is some damn DEEP role-playing, honestly the best I've seen in years...and by "role-playing" I don't mean wooden, in-character posing and acting.  I mean what's going on in my game right now.

In fact, I couldn't have told you any of this two sessions ago...I didn't plan any of this, I didn't story-arc it, I didn't even dream of it...and unlike my old games, it isn't work, it isn't frustration. I don't have to try, I can finally just GM and enjoy myself.

But this is where the secret lies, folks.
It isn't "story someday" it's "story NOW."

Give your players protagonism.
"Silly gamism?"  Hell, no.

More than that, we're using the system as it was meant to be used...the characters are powering up, gaining treasure and experience, planning out their future progression and knowing as players that it eventually boils down to bigger fights against tougher opponents...that those gamist choices actually end up mattering in the resolution of these conflicts.  And that's a blast, too. I've never enjoyed a game on so many levels.

And all that is why I say, "Whoa, nelly!"
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Marco
Member

Posts: 1741


WWW
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2002, 04:56:22 AM »

Have you seen the big thread about this in RPG Theory? You make my point exactly.

-Marco
Logged

---------------------------------------------
JAGS (Just Another Gaming System)
a free, high-quality, universal system at:
http://www.jagsrpg.org
Just Released: JAGS Wonderland
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2002, 06:00:11 AM »

Hi there,

I think the old-timers need to cut people slack for enthusiasm. Raven, Marco, and everyone, it's OK to give people some slack when they say "can only" and "can never" and things like that. Or at least to recognize that that kind of phrasing can't be literally correct, so let's edit our own reactions to its extremism.

Or maybe you don't agree. Maybe everyone, always, has to say exactly the right thing exactly the way we want them to say it. If not - ut!! "Time to correct that, let me tell you."

It's a personal call. I tend toward the former outlook, and permit some give in the discussion, let enthusiasm and over-stated judgments bubble a little once in a while. Marco tends to want the dialogue to be purer and more fair at every single phrase. However, as moderator, what I don't want to see is another jackass thread like the one between Zak and Peter, so long ago - one off-the-cuff remark about D&D and hack-and-slash led to one person freaking out like a wolverine, and the other one digging in his heels because he didn't want to be bullied. For something like 50 posts of semi-hysterical bullshit on all sides.

So: sure, "can never" and "will always" and that sort of thing is over-statement. When you see someone talk like that, your reaction can lead to some good points, and the stuff Raven's posted about is an excellent Actual Play post, exactly what the forum is for.

However, leaping on it at first blush, like a college philosophy student, to correct it, to root out the evil of judgment and over-generalization, typically results in no discussion at all - just posts and posts of people typing on an anger high.

And that ain't happening here.

Best,
Ron
Logged
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2002, 12:01:40 PM »

Well, Ron, I'll take the criticism for what it's worth, if you'll chalk my statements up to my usual bluntness.  Mostly, I've been thinking about posting my latest play experiences with D&D and this just happened to give me an excuse to sit down and write it all out.

So ng(er, whatever)...dip, just FYI, I'm not trying start a conflict of wills here with you or anything, and if I came off as "talking down" or anything similar, forgive me. And BTW, ...dip, is there another name we can call you, a different nick or your actual name?  It's really hard to attribute stuff to you with the current one :)

Finally, Marco, no I haven't read that discussion.
What's the thread name?
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
C. Edwards
Member

Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2002, 02:21:08 PM »

Well, I'm not Marco, but the thread is "A Theory: System doesn't matter during RP moments" over in the RPG Theory forum.  I must warn you though, the thread is mostly a morass of semantic crossfire.

 -Chris
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2002, 07:06:40 AM »

Hi Raven,

Excellent. Let's go to the Actual Play, then. As I see it, my friend, you have shifted strongly over to Narrativist play, and it works for you - story now, protagonism as an experience to be appreciated by everyone right during play ... these are Narrativism.

This is a fine example of how system is one element within the concept of the People and How They Act, which is the biggest and most inclusive category of my model.

Are there any rules or (more accurately) "spheres of play" that are explicit in the rules text that you find yourself minimizing? (Bearing in mind that since you play on-line, there are many rules and so forth that cannot be used as indicated.)

Best,
Ron
Logged
Zak Arntson
Member

Posts: 839


WWW
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2002, 07:55:41 AM »

Here's the link to my and Peter's thread: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=238. Ron, you're exaggerating a bit, but that thread certainly does present the unproductive "never/always" statement and some sour debate.

Also, People and How They Act is a biggie and one that hadn't sunk in until I read this thread and reread that older one. Thanks for pointing that out.

---

I'm with Ron on seeing what "spheres" you concentrate on or minimize. I'm considering getting back into D&D in the future, and your Narrativist take interests me. Is it a general consensus on the group's part to start creating this story? For example:

Quote
The dwarven clan in need of help, the ancient city? Yes, I created that. The player decided this was the lost city her clan had been searching for for a thousand years, that her character was dedicated to finding, looting and leading the rest of her clan back to.


You presented the city to the group. When and how did the player decide it was her PC's lost city? My personal experience (as a Player in various D&D games) has led to the GM specifically not allowing improvisation like that. I'm not sure what the reasons were, possibly control/continuity reasons ("That could mess up the module!") or tradition ("The module is played as presented").

In any case, how does your group go about creating this shared world? Do you set aside time outside of the actual game for this? Or do you run it all during play?
Logged

Jeremy Cole
Member

Posts: 133


« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2002, 08:25:33 AM »

Quote from: greyorm

Quote:
AD&D cannot function other than (very silly) gamism

"Whoa, nelly!" I say.
I mostly play D&D. Rather, that is, D&D of the non-silly variety.


I should have said;
'the mechanics of AD&D, to me, demand combat focussed gamism.  The bizarre mental images created by the combat mechanics, and the high fantasy character options, mean that I personally have only enjoyed AD&D campaigns where any seriousness is left at the door, and realism or character development are abandoned in favour of dungeon hacking goodness.'

Good GMing and a communicative, mature group can overcome system problems (such as the AD&D lack of support for narratavism) and perhaps I am not blessed with such a group, or suck as a GM.  Here, in my circumstance, System does Matter, and a system which doesn't support what I and my players are trying to get at normally fails.  So for me, AD&D cannot function other than (very silly) gamism.

Jeremy
Logged

what is this looming thing
not money, not flesh, nor happiness
but this which makes me sing

augie march
Jeremy Cole
Member

Posts: 133


« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2002, 08:27:10 AM »

Quote from: greyorm

So ng(er, whatever)...dip, just FYI, I'm not trying start a conflict of wills here with you or anything, and if I came off as "talking down" or anything similar, forgive me.


Jeremy is fine, but so is ng(er, whatever)...dip.  No, you didn't talk come off as talking me down.

Jeremy
Logged

what is this looming thing
not money, not flesh, nor happiness
but this which makes me sing

augie march
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2002, 01:33:44 AM »

Good questions...ones I started thinking about myself after I read and responded to Marco's post over in the indicated thread. What Gamist principles have been diluted to provide for Narrativist ones, if any...that is, have I minimized any aspects of the system in favor of producing protaganism?

I realized I have...but only if you view my methods in a certain light and really stretch the concept of "system."

I've wholly abandoned the "scripted module/scenario" approach to D&D; the "there's a story here...just wait!" preplotting and campaign designing that plagued my last campaign with this same group. That's part of where the answer lies, I think, but I don't see it as a change to the actual rules of the game (the social rules, yes, but not the mechanical rules).

To use the examples from Chapter Four of the DMG, which describes how to create "Adventures," foremost, I am specifically avoiding all the "Bad Structure" detailed.

Further, my adventures are not about world-events and happenings around the characters (and their reactions to them), they are specifically about the characters and their reactions to those events...I know it sounds like splitting hairs, but having run adventures of the former style for years, I can see the clear differences between it and the latter.

The sites where the adventures occur fluctuate, based on the needs of the game...on what's INTERESTING. That is, I no longer let the PCs wander aimlessly if they don't "get" the clue or head down the "wrong" tunnel, something always happens to make things interesting and move things -- not towards a specified goal or conclusion -- but a relevant, interesting conflict.

Thus, as stated, I'm not certain this really qualifies as an affirmative reply the question about marginalization of one aspect to enhance another, since module design isn't a core part of the mechanics, more of a metagame issue.

To switch gears into a related topic, the main problem folks have with the above idea is the worry or preconception that, "How can you do that? Something interesting might occur if you just let it happen!" Which is (frankly) bunkum. Yes, something might, anything is possible, but why wait around to find out?

That's what the thread Get to the Point is all about.

Further, I do use published modules or adventure notes, but only to provide the loose framework and setting-color necessary to play. I'll move parts of the adventure site around and change room contents dependent upon the needs of the game. Simply, if it isn't previously established, it's fair game. I don't care what it says should be in that room in the module, unless the contents of that room have somehow been previously established in play, they ain't there.

And, obviously, this all ties into Zak's question and concerns about consistency.

But before I get to the specific question, a quick overview of the situation: I used "Forge of Fury" as my framework. Things were changed as necessary, the orcs and troglodytes became demons (though I altered their stats not a whit), the halls were buried deep in the earth (not in a mountain), the prisoners found at one point in the module were part of the lost clan of dwarves (not a pair of human merchants) and thus kin to the two dwarves in the party (direct kin in one place), the interiors were not exact...that is, I described things to seem as though the actual city took up much more space than the halls described in the module.

Mechanically, everything remained the same, the encounters were of the specified difficulty and level (even if exact locations changed in a few instances), the amount of treasures found were all of the same value (though I altered a few items into similar but more character-relevant or story-now-relevant items), etc.

A specific example of this follows:
In one room, there is a magical rapier which is unused by the ogrish occupant. The occupant in this case became the ruler of the demons of the city, and the rapier became an ancient sword of the empire -- a magical bastard sword, discarded and forgotten among piles of other weaponry and junk the demon had forced the dwarves to craft for him over the years.

Encounter-wise, at one point the characters can enter an ancient barracks where undead skeletons lie in wait. Nearby, in another room, there was a hidden treasure of gold coin and gems. I combined the two into one and placed this as the second encounter the party made in the long-sealed, spirit-haunted sections of the city, to showcase the haunting and the dangers of which led to it being sealed, and to make it more interesting than going from room-to-room fighting and searching.

Initially, I had planned they would encounter the Dragon Goddess in the first chamber they entered, but changed my mind as one of the players wasn't available for that session. I felt the situation with the goddess was too important for her character to miss out on. The skeletons made a great color-encounter, plus the treasure in the room added a bit of personal conflict/relevancy to the situation, as the dwarf greedily refused to give up on getting the treasure, despite the undead horror.

So, yes, I do some preplanning, but it isn't set-in-stone-this-must-happen-or-my-adventure-is-ruined sort of planning. Had the player been out for longer, or had to drop my game completely, I could have scrapped every bit of it and moved on very easily, focusing on the other players' characters and their conflicts, reactions to events and choices.

The game's entire direction would have changed, since that player would not have been available to focus on her relevant conflicts (such as saving her family and her empire) and I wouldn't force the other players to follow her path (ie: returning to the empire, confronting the sorcerer controlling the royal family, etc).

I suddenly just realized what was different between my first adventure, when I ran "The Sunless Citadel," and this adventure...

Despite my having carefully tied the original adventure personally to each of the characters (ie: a self-created test of manhood for one and show up his disapproving father, a chance to restore family fortune for another, etc.) the game fell apart once one of the players decided they actually hated like their character and with the top-down (ie: plot-down) view I was using to run it.

Yes, I based campaign-structure and events on the characters, weaving them into the campaign's story and yes, I'm doing that still, but now I'm doing it in a much different way...the difference between top-down and bottom-up...this is the splitting hairs I mention above, and it leads to two very different results in play.

"My character is important because they are tied to the plot."
"My character is important because they ARE the plot."

Take some time to think about that, especially as it relates to what else I mention about losing a player messing up a game, and how that doesn't happen in the case of the latter despite that the character is the plot.

Quote from: Zak Arntson
You presented the city to the group. When and how did the player decide it was her PC's lost city?

Upon their finding it.

It had been previously established that the dwarf was out in the wasteland searching for treasure left in the ancient ruins of the human's empire, which is where he met the other characters. That was the end-all, be-all for the character's reason for being out-and-about at the time of the dwarf's introduction...nothing about the dwarf's clan's lost city or anything was even part of the character.

When the party came upon the doors to the lost city -- while fleeing from something "really bad(tm)" they'd unleashed in a ruined temple/tomb buried beneath the wastes -- I responded as follows to a question asked by the dwarf's player, "You realize you are heading westward, and yes, getting deeper...in fact, this might be what you were looking for..." then I described the doors and that they led to a lost dwarven city out of legend.

The player jumped on this, fleshing out over the next few sessions that this was what her character had specifically been looking for. With no prior preparation, between the two of us and without breaking from the game, we spot-created the idea.

While this is also a good example of what I mean by anything not previously established being fair game, the thing I should emphasize, however, was that I didn't dicatate the city's importance to the character, she gave personal meaning to the lost city herself and made her character a member of clan that once inhabited it.

The player could easily have decided that the lost city was NOT what her character had been looking for, just a really good find, a great place to loot, or whatever, and didn't have to decide that it was also the home of her character's own clan, who had been searching for it for generations.

At that moment, however, it was so obviously compelling that she and I established it as part of her character, because it made the game that much more interesting...

With the guideline that anything established in a session or during pre-play by the group is off-limits to change, consistency has never been an issue. But this is why I am not certain how to explain the method. It simply seems to work...

That is, I have specifically given up the "Perfect Encounter" or the "Oooo...I'm slowly revealing my complicated plot/highly detailed world" deal I relied on for so many years to establish stories (not that it ever worked to do so), and have opened it up to natural input by the players.

A vague idea of what is going on in the world at large is still there, along with key personalities and their behaviors/goals/desires, but I'm not the author with my little actors jumping and running as I require anymore.

If anything, it's almost vaguely a Relationship Map...that is, the Map is established by me prior to play and anything that occurs after that is hands-off and occurs as a direct result of character action or inaction.

For example, it has been established through play that a rather mad sorcerer has gained control of a powerful artifact, that in so doing he also gained control of the royal family of the empire.

I didn't plan this in advance, it arose as a consequence of play. The party could have easily slain the sorcerer in an earlier adventure, but they needed his help in order to secure the artifact in the first place, and to escape from the goblins who were hunting them (and blocking the way back to the surface).

My "background facts" are that through his control of the emperor and his family, this sorcerer is responsible for the party's subsequent exile from the empire. BUT this hasn't been established as fact yet in actual play, or rather, in the experience of the characters.

I presume this is where you would worry about consistency, Zak?
(Suppose one of the players decides their conflict isn't really with the sorcerer, but the emperor himself, or some other unknown power they establish, and that's who is responsible for the exile, et al?)

And the second problem, how do you create anything if the facts...aren't?

Simple: play as if they are. They're the DM's background facts, to help establish a framework in which to play or cause relevant, interesting events to arise (insert sudden epiphany about the qualitative differences between event-based adventures and character-relevant event-based adventures here -- I hope).

More simply, quit trying to be an author.

...I also just realized now that the whole situation (including parts not mentioned due relevancy/space-costraints...yes, despite appearances, I am trying to keep this short) are an example of the "building the world as we go" method detailed in "Sorcerer & Sword" and used in the fiction that supplement emulates.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
This is a fine example of how system is one element within the concept of the People and How They Act, which is the biggest and most inclusive category of my model.

Are there any rules or (more accurately) "spheres of play" that are explicit in the rules text that you find yourself minimizing? (Bearing in mind that since you play on-line, there are many rules and so forth that cannot be used as indicated.)

Whew, backtracking all the way to the top of the post, besides the questionable item I mentioned there, the only specific thing I can note for that is the implemention of tactical movement, which is a big part of 3E combat. The nature of the beast is such that there is no graphical way to represent or move miniatures in a text only envrionment (ie: IRC, which is our current mode of play).

Our group is, however, currently exploring the possibility of using a seperate program for such, like OpenRPG or (my preference) Klooge's Digital Gaming Table, chat-clients specifically written to include a graphical grid-table and miniatures on them.

But, I know that's not what you're asking.

Is there anything I've minimized to allow protagonism?
No.  Not that I can think of.

Even comparing my game against the two alternating games run by players, nothing is handled different, nothing about the basic rules is stressed differently from campaign to campaign.

In my experience, this is probably fairly abnormal for a single group that plays under different GMs -- I know that with a similar situation in my long-ago highschool group, the games run by one GM in our group played much differently than a game run by another GM from the same, as we each emphasized or ignored certain rules for various reasons.

Similar anecdotes repeated endlessly on many RPG discussion forums bear this out as the "standard." In this group, however, none of us have yet to institute any house rules (spoken or unspoken) that make game play notably different under each different DM. There isn't anything either of the other GMs handle differently or award/emphasize differently than I do.

This may be because we all learned 3E together at the same time, and we're all schooled in old-style AD&D; when we switched over, we didn't want to run different game-styles or rulesets -- it was easier for each of us to play by the same rules, thus supporting one another's learning of the ins-and-outs of the new 3E system and keeping everything consistent for the other players common to the group, too. This wasn't even conscious decision on our part, but occurred naturally due the circumstances.

So, that which appears to be the only difference between my game and the other two is the idea of creating "story NOW" and making the current conflicts personally and immediately engaging to the players: avoiding preplotting and story-creation on the part of the DM.

I've gone through the index in the PHB to see if realize I'm minimizing anything in the rules.  From what I can see, the following have less importance: Carrying Capacity (I ignore the whole STR & Lbs Carried deal to save time...if someone is carrying alot of gear, I'll make a ruling about any effects it has on their movement or Dexterity), Vision & Light (for obvious reasons, this is marginalized like miniatures) and Movement (again).

I'm trying very hard to find something here of more immediate import to play style than the above, which don't have any notable effect on protagonism that I can see, but coming up short. I could certainly be wrong, and missing the obvious by being too close to it, but I can't really say. I'll just report my experiences and suggest what appears to be happening.

I'm finding that I encourage a great deal of number-crunching behavior, which I knew already, but it's nice to measure it out.

In combat, I encourage the use of the given modifiers and make suggestions to players about possibilities that can help their rolls (frex, during one game I noted to the human warrior: "You could jump up on the table and get a +1 to hit due to being on higher ground; you could also do a flying leap off the table at your opponent and I'll count that as a 'Charge,' giving you a total of +3 to hit. You'd still take -2 to your AC due the Charge.")

When two players are having their characters argue over a course of action, I call for skill checks, like Diplomacy or Intimidate, or just a straight Charisma check, with the winner knowing that their plan is the one decided upon.

XP awards are handed out for: encounter strength of what you killed/defeated/bypassed, as per DMG guidelines; plus I've added small XP awards for skill use, class ability use and active use of Feats. This has led the players to make certain they try to do these things once per session (I know because they've each-and-every-one told me they try to specifically because of the awards).

I even had one player complain about the Feat bonus because they didn't have any Feats that qualified (nothing they could "activate" or "invoke" like Power Attack or Scribe Scroll) so they could never get the bonus.

I also use "story awards" as presented in the DMG when a goal is achieved or a plotline is advanced (that is, when trouble is made). Frex, choosing to save the lost dwarven clan from the demons resulted in a story award, as did actually saving the lost clan; telling the Dragon Goddess where to go and how to get off also resulted in a story award, but the group would have also gotten one for taking her up on her offer. Whatever they do to make it interesting, they get a small bonus for it.

XP likely comes more swiftly than would be usual in other 3E games, at least in per adventure comparison, but this is compensated for by the fact that our sessions are generally shorter than average (3 hours max, often closer to 2 hours), so for the players, it ends up being about the same number of sessions between levels.

(And trust me, there's nothing worse than gaining one level after a whole year of play in a campaign, unless it's not gaining a level at all...shudder)

In short, from what I see, the social role/behavior of the DM changes between groups, but nothing else.

Additionally, discussion seems to bear this out. One of the other DMs and I have discussed his style of GMing, specifically that I'd really like it if the things that were happening were more directly character-relevant, and more directly emphasized the characters and their personal struggles/revelations about them, instead of simply letting such arise as they would in some other plot/story, or artificially trying to insert them into whatever is happening. He wants to do so, as well, and can see it isn't quite happening yet; he's trying to wrap his head around it, much the same as I was six months ago.

A counter-example, that is something that highlights the differences between my "open unless established" style and more "pre-established detail" styles, is a situation which arose in one of the alternating games last week.

We had a new player join our group. The DM assumed our characters would make it out of the area we were in in short order and introduction of the new character could proceed. It didn't happen that way, and the new player basically sat around bored for all but five minutes of the evening.

I can't tell you how many times I had similar situations crop up in my own game when new players joined, or new characters entered to replace old ones, or when one player or players were seperated from the group, all because I was focused on the details -- on the "perfect story" in my head.

Had I been more awake that night, I would have realized what was going on and suggested to the DM that he introduce the new character to our situation somehow, instead of watching as he waited for the "perfect opportunity" to present itself or the planned event (our escape) to occur. We've since discussed it as a group, since the DM apologized to us for the game while we were doing our regular social chatting before the start of that week's following game.

I made the same mistake myself one evening not so incredibly long ago...I deprotagonized a character by so limiting their options there was nothing they could do but "wait for the cavalry"...and through no fault of their own.

The dwarf's player had missed a couple sessions, and so I had writ the character's disappearance during a battle as a means to explain it. And upon the player's return, created the discovery by the party of the character's capture. They, of course, immediately went off to rescue him.

I knew such a session would take a bit, and knowing that I should have done one of two things:

Brought the other characters immediately to the situation where they could free the dwarf, glossing over the travel there instead of filling it with obstacles to their goal and leaving the dwarf's player out of the action for most of the evening.

Or I should have created a situation for the player that involved her dwarf escaping: either put him in a situation where he could grab his captor's cell keys or find another way out of the cell, or established that his captor had unwittingly left the cell door unlocked -- for whatever reason.

Frex, the dwarf was supposedly unconscious and they were not worrying about escape, the ancientness and disuse of the lock on the cell finally caught up to it so it was only thought to be locked, or the dwarf was about to be escorted elsewhere else and thus out of his cell -- anything to protagonize the character in the situation.

As it stands, I did none of the above and the player sat through most of the evening bored...I kick myself about this one, though on the positive, it was a defining moment in the alteration of my playstyle, because it showed me exactly what I needed to alter and why -- up until then, how I understood the changes I'd made to my style and why they worked had been vague at best.

Endless hours spent by me designing the "perfect encounter" or "plot revelation" only to have it ruined (sic) by the players, who either responded the wrong way or didn't "get it" are no more. I've shifted the bulk of "what occurs" from the planning stages to the playing stage. I'm encouraging my fellow DMs to do so as well.  I've made choice relevant to the players and made the games revolve around them, not the plot.

Above I said, "Quit trying to be an author."
Now I'll add a second half to that statement: "Be a facilitator."

So, in closing, this was a damn long post, and I'm sorry I jumped around from answering Ron to answring Zak to answering Ron again, but I felt it was all rather tied up together.  I hope it makes sense and answers understandably the various questions.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
...these are Narrativism.

I was going to ask about that.  I found myself thinking last night, "Is protaganism and player-driven conflict exclusively Narrativist?  That is, are all such instances of such, an instance of Narrativist play?"
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2002, 05:59:35 AM »

Hi Raven,

Amazing post. This is great stuff. I do agree that GNS-mode shifting can occur with little or no system change, theoretically. But I think that your claim that you are changing "nothing but" the social system and GM-interactions is clearly not correct; you are, I think, too close to the process of Drift to be perceiving it.

You wrote,
... the following have less importance: Carrying Capacity (I ignore the whole STR & Lbs Carried deal to save time...if someone is carrying alot of gear, I'll make a ruling about any effects it has on their movement or Dexterity), Vision & Light (for obvious reasons, this is marginalized like miniatures) and Movement (again).

I'm trying very hard to find something here of more immediate import to play style than the above, which don't have any notable effect on protagonism that I can see, but coming up short.[/i]

Imagine what play would be like if you put the same attention and energy into reinforcing and enacting Carrying Capacity, Vision & Light (which is a big freakin' deal in a lot of D&D play!), and Movement (ditto!). Imagine retaining precisely the written guidelines which reinforce the miniatures-association, notably the way Carrying Capacity and Movement interact.

My point is that it doesn't seem like much to you to de-emphasize and evidently ignore that stuff (and yes, you are ignoring the rules, even if you do maintain attention to weight/load plausibility in-game) because that very stuff does is not important to you. That's the essence of Drift. It never seems like "changing the rules" to the person doing it, because it feels instead like "using the rules to their maximum fun."

Imagine a group which latches onto the Exploration of System and Situation inherent in the rules for movement and weight, specifically the combat-relevant interactions between the two. Imagine how to them, character survival and levels-advancement rely heavily on the players' and GM's ability to manage these exact things most effectively. (These guys are not hypothetical, but represent quite a few D&D players I know, especially notably-older ones and notably-younger ones). To them, you have "free-formed" play and quite likely "ruined" the game.

Add to this your changes to the reward system, with the consequence of the rate of level-gain changing as you describe, and man! You're playing Raven-and-pals D&D, my friend, and it's certainly going to terrify and upset any number of other people who've taken pains not to Drift at all, or to Drift the game their way.

Many, many experiences of mine of playing across groups of D&D and also of Champions have clarified to me that one man's Drift is another man's abominable gutting of the crucial elements of play. They've also clarified to me that each group doing so is astonished by (a) one another's practices and (b) any implication that they've tweaked the system themselves.

Last point, regarding Narrativism: protagonists can exist in non-Narrativist play, but the concept of Story Now via player decisions, and the GM-as-facilitator, and the shared aesthetic (overt or covert) of an Egri-style Premise are features of Narrativist play.

Best,
Ron
Logged
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2002, 12:35:36 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Amazing post. This is great stuff.

Danke!

Quote
I do agree that GNS-mode shifting can occur with little or no system change, theoretically. But I think that your claim that you are changing "nothing but" the social system and GM-interactions is clearly not correct; you are, I think, too close to the process of Drift to be perceiving it.

You're quite likely correct in that assessment, which I guessed might be true anyways. I'm glad you pointed all this out.

One thing about what you mention, however: the Vision & Light and Movement/Positioning aren't things we've minimalized because we want to, but out of necessity -- that is, due the limitations of the medium.
As you said
Quote
Bearing in mind that since you play on-line, there are many rules and so forth that cannot be used as indicated.)

Exactness in regards to these is impossible when you are playing in a text-only medium. When I say that our group would love to use these things as written, trust me (the number of difficulties that has arisen due a lack of visual aids is notable)...unfortunately, the technology to support such isn't quite there yet (at least among those items we've looked into).

Thus, what I am reduced to is describing only that which is within the radius of their light and what I believe might be on the dim edges of that, where things in a scene initially stand, how far it is between individuals or objects when necessary to know (or when asked), and letting imagination fill in the rest.

I'm sorry if I gave the impression that we were ignoring these things wholesale, or for any other reason than lack of ability to properly implement them.

Carrying Capacity is another issue. I feel it's too concrete for the abstractness of the system, so I agree with you there, that this change might bother some used to or desiring to play with that rule intact.

Quote
Imagine retaining precisely the written guidelines which reinforce the miniatures-association, notably the way Carrying Capacity and Movement interact.

If possible, we would retain this; movement, however, gets "fuzzy" since we don't have any miniatures to push along or position on a map.

When it counts, armor still slows you down, but I don't force the players to count the weight of every coin and coil of rope (they may if they wish).

Interestingly, I was flipping through the PHB last night and because of this conversation, decided to read up on the Movement rules et al. to see what I wasn't using or ignoring. What I read seems to indicate the way I'm doing it is apparently the suggested way...armor slows you down, don't worry about the rest unless you want to, it's already figured in.

Quote
Add to this your changes to the reward system, with the consequence of the rate of level-gain changing as you describe

This I have to disagree with you on.

The rate of level-gain changes only in perspective to the amount of a published adventure completed; the rate of level-gain does not change in regards to the number of sessions completed. So, if in 3E as written you are supposed to level up every twelve sessions (on average), then that is what is occuring in my games.

Hrm...now that I look at the characters' current levels and the adventure module they have almost just completed, they are directly on-mark for it. Odd.

I think there's more to the XP issue I haven't consciously examined. I'm wondering if they're engaging in fewer combats, with that being balanced out by the extraneous awards given for use of skills & abilities...which only makes sense, in retrospect.

Quote
Last point, regarding Narrativism: protagonists can exist in non-Narrativist play, but the concept of Story Now via player decisions, and the GM-as-facilitator, and the shared aesthetic (overt or covert) of an Egri-style Premise are features of Narrativist play.

Question then: we don't have an Egri-style premise, spoken or unspoken, there isn't really a "theme" to it all, or a moral/philosophical question that the games and the conflicts used and choices made can be boiled down to.

Is this what is known as "Vanilla Narrativism"?
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2002, 01:25:43 PM »

Quote from: greyorm
Is this what is known as "Vanilla Narrativism"?
Yep. As long as the layers are actually adressing issues of thier own choosing in play, creating themes by addressing moral questions and the like, then they are playing Narrativist. It's vanilla because there aren't a lot (or indeed any in your case) of special rules or powers encouraging them to play this way. Assuming that I understand the term correctly.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Seth L. Blumberg
Member

Posts: 303


« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2002, 01:46:08 PM »

Quote from: Raven
Question then: we don't have an Egri-style premise, spoken or unspoken, there isn't really a "theme" to it all, or a moral/philosophical question that the games and the conflicts used and choices made can be boiled down to.

Is this what is known as "Vanilla Narrativism"?

One of the things that Ron has said many times before is that it's almost impossible to correctly identify the modes in use in someone else's game without observing Actual Play.

I would add that it can be really hard, in many cases, to identify what modes are in use in a given instance of play if you are one of the players. Playing the game distracts you from analyzing it.

If you are correct that there is no Egri-style Premise, spoken or unspoken, then you are not playing in a Narrativist mode, Vanilla or otherwise. On the other hand, it is possible that your fellow players would not agree with you about the absence of Premise--GNS incoherence--or that you have arrived at a consensus Premise without conscious intent. Unspoken Premises can be sneaky.
Logged

the gamer formerly known as Metal Fatigue
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2002, 06:40:33 PM »

Hi guys,

Unspoken Premises can be very sneaky. Given (a) everything else Raven's described and (b) goin' on five years that he and I have been nearly-constantly engaged in dialogue about role-playing, I'm 99% sure that we're dealing with exactly that.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Jump to:  

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