*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
June 12, 2021, 06:44:02 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: 221 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: 1 [2]
Print
Author Topic: Taking It All Too Seriously or Curse You Ron Edwards  (Read 13319 times)
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2001, 09:41:00 AM »

Quote

This wasn't directed at Jesse, or not at him alone, because I've noted that any number of Forge members are getting pretty TENSE about their actual play ... which, ultimately, is not the goal. Remember, the biggest box of all is FUN, and the inner boxes are about making sure it happens. Since only a halfwit thinks ANYTHING is fun, those inner boxes have structure, judgment, and even personal inclusion and exclusion involved with them. But let's not forget that biggest box, eh?


You actually just reminded me about something.  Even if this WERE directed at me I'd be the first to tell you that you were absolutely correct.  I'm an emotional schizo at the moment with regards to what exactly I'm trying to acomplish with my role-playing experiences.

However, I had a rather odd experience with the Chill game I ran at the con.  The scenario I ran is one I've run before and no group has finished it in under six hours.  So, I was a little worried about craming it into a four hour time slot.  So, I made up my mind in advance that I wouldn't do what I normally do which is try and control the order in which things dawn on the players.  

Basically, I relaxed as a GM.  If the players went some place where they logically could get a certain piece of information then I gave them the information rather than trying to come up with a reason why the information was currently unavailable.  The result was two fold.

Yes, several of the scenes that were meant to be shocking revelations fell a little flat because they'd already figured that part out.  I was surprised that it really didn't ruin the game for myself or the players.  It was clear to all that I had included the scene to get the information to the players but that this group had just been clever enough to get the information earlier by other means.

But most importantly I walked away from the game for the first time in years feeling exhilerated instead of exhausted.  I felt like I'd actually had the good time I was supposed to have been having all the other times.  I saw most clearly that it really IS possible to be planned, organized and focused without necessarily having to be controled as well.

Jesse
Logged
Blake Hutchins
Member

Posts: 614


« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2001, 11:26:00 AM »

Ron, this point about how tension impacts gameplay is really interesting. I'll add that it's important to know what pushes your buttons the wrong way and to be prepared to make some honest choices should things get tense. I, for example, take my games seriously enough that I have little patience for "vandals." You know, the guy who chimes in with a Monty Python quote during a darkly atmospheric scene. For some reason, this is especially frequent in Vampire games I've participated in, maybe as a subconscious effort to avoid dealing with disturbing emotions that arise from the whole bloodsucking/victimization thing.

Back on point: My wife and I opted out of my buddy's DnD game because although the characters were cool, the setting well done, and the story a pretty decent mirror of the "Ancient Evil Returns" schtick, the system frustrated us at every opportunity, focusing action scenes into tedious (my opinion) and excruciatingly long combat sequences featuring meticulous wargame-style maneuvering. That approach just ain't my style. Despite my friend's attempts to keep the energy level high, a two- to four-hour battle in that vein leaves me as drained as a bullet-riddled bucket. We dropped out because the game on the whole just wasn't fun, and our lack of fun would impact the rest of the group.

I've had other games where I found myself growing impatient -- as a player, I should add -- and had to ask myself what was wrong. Sometimes it's the circumstances (a twelve hour game session, for example), and other times, the GM sucked, other players were embroiled in a pointless rivalry, or the story just trickled out of lifeblood. As a GM, however, I never get tense, though I do grow concerned if it looks like a player or players aren't having fun.

I totally sympathize with Jesse. If anyone tells me as player or GM that a game "should" or "shouldn't" be played a certain way, I'm liable to tell that person to take a long walk off a short pier.

Best,

Blake

Logged
Blake Hutchins
Member

Posts: 614


« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2001, 11:31:00 AM »

Ron, this point about how tension impacts gameplay is really interesting. I'll add that it's important to know what pushes your buttons the wrong way and to be prepared to make some honest choices should things get tense. I, for example, take my games seriously enough that I have little patience for "vandals." You know, the guy who chimes in with a Monty Python quote during a darkly atmospheric scene. For some reason, this is especially frequent in Vampire games I've participated in, maybe as a subconscious effort to avoid dealing with disturbing emotions that arise from the whole bloodsucking/victimization thing.

Back on point: My wife and I opted out of my buddy's DnD game because although the characters were cool, the setting well done, and the story a pretty decent mirror of the "Ancient Evil Returns" schtick, the system frustrated us at every opportunity, focusing action scenes into tedious (my opinion) and excruciatingly long combat sequences featuring meticulous wargame-style maneuvering. That approach just ain't my style. Despite my friend's attempts to keep the energy level high, a two- to four-hour battle in that vein leaves me as drained as a bullet-riddled bucket. We dropped out because the game on the whole just wasn't fun, and our lack of fun would impact the rest of the group.

I've had other games where I found myself growing impatient -- as a player, I should add -- and had to ask myself what was wrong. Sometimes it's the circumstances (a twelve hour game session, for example), and other times, the GM sucked, other players were embroiled in a pointless rivalry, or the story just trickled out of lifeblood. As a GM, however, I never get tense, though I do grow concerned if it looks like a player or players aren't having fun.

I totally sympathize with Jesse. If anyone tells me as player or GM that a game "should" or "shouldn't" be played a certain way, I'm liable to tell that person to take a long walk off a short pier.

Best,

Blake

Logged
Cameron
Member

Posts: 46


WWW
« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2001, 02:13:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-09-05 15:26, Blake Hutchins wrote:
Ron, this point about how tension impacts gameplay is really interesting. I'll add that it's important to know what pushes your buttons the wrong way and to be prepared to make some honest choices should things get tense. I, for example, take my games seriously enough that I have little patience for "vandals." You know, the guy who chimes in with a Monty Python quote during a darkly atmospheric scene. For some reason, this is especially frequent in Vampire games I've participated in, maybe as a subconscious effort to avoid dealing with disturbing emotions that arise from the whole bloodsucking/victimization thing.


Wow Blake, you just condensed every frustration I've had as a "dark, atmospheric Storyteller" into a short, concise paragraph.  I can run a game for laughs. In fact, I can probably do it better than the dark brooding stuff. Sometimes, though, I WANT dark and brooding. Nothing ruins that more than a player who isn't willing to drop their guard for an evening and get into it with me.

It isn't even that my players want to be playing Elfs or something in that vein. They tell me they want a "storytelling game of personal horror." The characters are made and SEEM appropriate. Everything is going great. Than one of them can't resist the opportunity for a joke (and, in all fairness, some of my past players have been hilarious in real life). They may say it quietly and out of character, but then it's too late.

In my experience, lack-of focus is a virus that quickly spreads out of control. I would be okay with one player playing a sardonic comic relief character, but my players used to COMPETE for this coveted position. They all wanted to be the comic relief in an otherwise dark and gloomy game. Then they act surprised and a little disapointed when the game isn't able to support a dark mood anymore. Of course, there was always one player trying desperately to keep the game grounded, but it was always too little, too late.

That reoccuring nightmare was the closest I ever came to Knights of the Dinner Table moments I hear about from other gamers. It was like Silence of the Lambs with Jeneane Garafolo as Clarice and Rowan Atkinson as Dr. Lector.

I've had better luck since then, but have found that running games with more energetic moods (like 7th Sea) avoided the problem entirely. Now I'm thinking about getting back to a good dark Vampire story and am worried about finding players who will be able to take it seriously enough to be worth my time.

Damn the Vandals. They sacked Rome and then my Vampire chronicles!
Logged

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2001, 06:07:00 AM »

Cameron,

"In my experience, lack-of focus is a virus that quickly spreads out of control."

If this is the case, then something's wrong with some of the basic dynamics. Or, more accurately, I agree with your basic statement, but it surprises me that ONE out-of-character, offbeat comment can generate the spread. THAT'S what rings the alarm bell for me.

The darkest, most awful-horrific stuff I've EVER run was a while ago, with The Whispering Vault, Shattered Dreams, and certain brands of Sorcerer. More recent examples, in which the horror was not the #1 priority but nonetheless important, include Orkworld, Obsidian, and Hero Wars.

In these games, the horror was successful, and more importantly, the overall "saga" or "point" or what-have-you turned out well, with the horror feeding its success. But you know something? PLAYERS, INCLUDING ME, OCCASIONALLY CRACKED JOKES. It's all right. It's OK. It didn't spoil anything or divert the group effort.

One of my most crucial insights in the last few years is that focus and immersion are not the same thing. One can stay focused on play and still "pop out" into plain old hangout mode, for a little bit. The group can share a big laugh, or even a brief movie discussion or other totally non-game interaction, as a non-scheduled break, and then get back to it. (One of the true strengths of a Champions GM is to realize that the players WILL make up terribly accurate puns on your supervillain names, none of which you anticipated, and not to get upset about it.)

Now, that brings me to consider what you are describing, with which I am ALSO familiar, most recently from some of the games at the campus club group. Here, it's different (it helps to be 16-18 years older than the perpetrators, to see this) - the person in question is there ONLY for the humorous disruptions. He lies in wait, basically, figuring out which other individuals have shorter attention spans or are otherwise easily co-opted. His or her character does and says nothing unless prompted. And then, at the maximally disruptive moment, he directs his attention to another person, and jokes AND laughs.

See how that works? It's just like bullying, in two ways. (1) The MORE unfair a bully's actions or words, the BETTER the bullying. Appealing to fairness or sense only reinforces the bully's achievement. (2) The real goal of a bully is to enlist the support of a THIRD party in that same unfairness.

Therefore, my response to the offending person: "[Name], shut the fuck up." Delivered almost impassively, with neither heat nor disarming smile.

This is not a GM role necessarily. I was a player at the most recent example. Ideally, it would be several people at the table.

Now, if any of you are balking at the idea of being so remarkably rude - and in fact, socially vicious - toward another human being, consider this. (1) Such behavior toward a fellow player WOULD be intolerable; silencing another player is a terrible thing in role-playing. (2) However, the person committing the acts we're talking about is NOT a player. He is counting on our commitment to #1 to mask and support his bullying of the collective effort.

Thus the harshness of my tactic. It may not be for everyone; some might say that my personal presence and style of speech makes such a phrase especially chilling, or that my warm support of anyone's positive role-playing behavior is so definite that the people present can see the difference. Others might be suspicious that I am willing to use personal (verbal) force to "get my way" and "make" the group be as I want them to be.

But my goal is to establish (for everyone else) that relaxed, enjoyable, low-pressure but highly creative atmosphere that I was talking about in the previous post. And fortunately, such individuals are usually self-selecting themselves out of that kind of group anyway.

Best,
Ron



[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-09-06 13:15 ]
Logged
Cameron
Member

Posts: 46


WWW
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2001, 11:07:00 AM »

Ron,
It was even easier than that for me to solve my problem. I realized that it was a weird comraderie thing between the two most disruptive players. Once I split them up (that is, never attempt to run a dark game with both of them playing), everything was fine. Individually, they were able to take the whole thing very seriously and get into the moods and themes of the game. It was only when they were acting like catalysts on each other did it become a festival of sillyness. Without those two ebola monkeys, the other players never acted out either.

I don't know what it was about putting those two together, but I suspect that they were showing off to each other ("see how funny I am") and were allowing some sort of social caste system from the real world to bleed into the game. There might have also been a little homoerotic attraction, but I can't say for certain.

-Cameron
Logged

kwill
Member

Posts: 167


WWW
« Reply #21 on: September 07, 2001, 04:47:00 PM »

how to be a Bastard GM in-game:
http://www.johntynes.com/rl_mofo.html">Up Against The Wall! by John Tynes
(particularly orientated towards horror)

how to be a Bastard GM out-of-game:
http://www.wickedpress.com/essays/hurts.html">Hit 'em Where It Hurts by John Wick
(particularly orientated towards Edges & Flaws type games)

"Bastard GM" is used in a positive sense here, really ;>
Logged

d@vid
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #22 on: September 07, 2001, 07:24:00 PM »

David,

Actually, I'm not fond of either of those essays, as they seem, to me, to be exactly the kind of over-controlling, up-tight attitude that I warned Jesse about earlier in this thread.

[One of the Johns is aware of the high regard I have for him, and the other one probably really doesn't care whether I respect him or not (I do though).]

I do want to call attention to the way that these essays do not really draw a distinction between "person who is role-playing, but not in the way I'd most like," and "person who is simply not role-playing at all, despite being present, and is causing hassles."

I, on the other hand, draw a HUGE distinction between the two. The first requires an adjustment of MY behavior (as GM); the second requires a quick and decisive social amputation of the person from the group.

Neither essay seems to admit of the first possibility; no, the GM and his plans for tonight's scenario are God, and ne'er shall they be swayed. It astonishes me that Tynes would suggest physical coercion in support of this attitude. If anyone tried that on me as he suggests, he'd go to the hospital.

Best,
Ron
Logged
kwill
Member

Posts: 167


WWW
« Reply #23 on: September 07, 2001, 09:06:00 PM »

point taken -- I definitely take both of these with a good portion of salt
Logged

d@vid
Ian O'Rourke
Member

Posts: 273


WWW
« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2001, 07:28:00 AM »

Logged

Ian O'Rourke
www.fandomlife.net
The e-zine of SciFi media and Fandom Culture.
Emily Dresner
Member

Posts: 13


WWW
« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2001, 08:39:00 AM »

It's important to remember that gaming is a game.  It's a way to pass the time in an enjoyable way with friends, just like mountain biking, rock climbing, or hunting.  Neither your bills, nor your career, nor your finances rely in the slightest on gaming night.  If gaming night evaporates, there is neither pain nor gain.  

Next time you're feeling irritated with your friends because they aren't as "focused" as you, remind yourselves:

1. This is only a game.
2. These are my friends.
3. This is supposed to be fun.  The moment I get irritated or angry, it is no longer fun.
4. The instant the game is no longer fun, it is time to stop.

And when it is time to stop, it might be time to buy a bike and go tooling around.  You must stop.  You need to stop, because you're angry and it has ceased to be fun.  

Cons are kind of a catch-22.  You can't really leave, because you paid.  You can't get rid of players, because they paid.  If you're unwilling to take the risks of lousy games at cons, don't play.  It's just a game.  And if it gets you all riled up, use the money to go stay for a weekend in the woods or at the beach, instead.  
Logged

********************
Emily K. Dresner-Thornber
Robotz -- http://www.evilkitten.org/~zenith
james_west
Member

Posts: 292


WWW
« Reply #26 on: September 10, 2001, 08:45:00 AM »

Hello all -

Once again, a really nice collection of essays here. Quite impressed with everyone's thinking.

Several thoughts crossed my mind while reading this thread.

First, after my experience at the latest convention, I think I've decided that most of the players out there really enjoy having strong directorial power, and can even use it appropriately, assuming that you're all on the same page about what sort of game it is.

Second, I've also decided that the key to having a player enjoy a game is to essentially not only let him decide what his character attempts, but pretty much determine the outcome of what the character attempts. That way, you never have one of those jarring, "That wouldn't happen to my character !" scenes. The problem only lies with players who are just unwilling to describe failure of any sort for their character.

For instance, in the satyr/16 year old scene, I'm sure Jesse would have been less annoyed if (had he rolled a failure), he had been able to describe the reason that his attempt had failed, rather than having a description that blew his character conception/world view.

In my second "Elfs" session, I was essentially using the Elfs mechanic for a "serious" game, and it worked very well. The players interpreted the dumb luck rule to mean that if they failed a roll, they got to describe what happened then, too. I ran with it, because I thought it was an intereting interpretation, and they always did a good job (well, once or twice I had to tell them to amend it). Anyway, makes me think that such a mechanic would work very well as a standard piece of RPG.

On a different topic, many a GM (myself occasionally included) reflexively falls into the role of "figure out why the players' plans don't work." This, I think, leads to a lot of frustration. As many people have frequently said, games are more fun if the GM instead throws information and success at the players as fast as possible, and lets them work out what to do next. Of course, you have to throw in plot complications to keep things interesting, but these ought to take the form of something new and dynamic, instead of the form of, "That didn't work either, try something else."

Bottom line: what makes a game fun for players is having their characters work the way they expect them to, and having things continuously happening. What makes the game fun for the GM is to have the players properly address his premise and produce innovative solutions to his conflicts. I think the way to handle this is to give the players rather more power than is usual even in games that give a lot of directorial power, but make sure up front that they're familiar with the genre conventions and premise that you're trying to play from.

                 - James
Logged
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #27 on: September 13, 2001, 02:24:00 AM »

Hmm, well, I have some sympathy for these ideas as applied specifically to HORROR gaming.  I suspect that voluntary participation in a horror game implicitly grants a certain license to GM's to cross the normal bounds of the RPG interaction.  I make a point of asking players in horror games if they have any particular bugbears, buttons I should not push.  But once these no-go areas are established, I'm quite willing to push the bounds in order to generate the aura of tension and fear at quite a visceral level in the players proper (rather than the characters).  
Logged

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

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