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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 31 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Lacuna] OK so I tried it... [SPOILER ALERT]  (Read 6668 times)
JC
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« on: January 12, 2008, 03:15:53 PM »

[SPOILER ALERT] [SPOILER ALERT] [SPOILER ALERT] [SPOILER ALERT] [SPOILER ALERT]

if you want to play Lacuna and not GM it, you probably want to stop reading now

[SPOILER ALERT] [SPOILER ALERT] [SPOILER ALERT] [SPOILER ALERT] [SPOILER ALERT]



OK so I just finished GMing my first game of Lacuna

to my surprise, it was very much an old-school experience

I mean, the system is clever and all, and the Static mechanic is great

but boy was it GM-centric and GM-intensive

I had prepared some bangs and stuff beforehand, as well as a couple of proto-missions

then I tried to feed what the characters "were about" into the game (their Mentors, the Talents...)

but I felt like I should have prepped way more, including NPCs, their motivations, etc.

maybe I shouldn't be surprised, but after playing DITV, Polaris, Contenders and the like for a while, I had forgotten how much of a pain GMing could be

has anybody else experienced this with Lacuna?

or, since the game is apparently a Rorschach Test for the GM, does that just mean that I fell back on my big bad Illusionist GM habits?


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JC
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2008, 02:32:23 AM »

let me expand on that a little, now that I've slept on it :)

we started out like this: the player declares his intentions ("I want to see if that creepy guy is following us.")

then the player rolls

if he succeeds, the player (not the GM) decides what happens ("Yes he's following us.")

this felt very comfortable, as GM

I only had to throw little tidbits into the game here and there (my bangs), and play some NPCs

but the players felt like they were playing their own opposition

they also felt that their lending intentions to NPCs was incompatible with the "world full of secrets" style of the game

so we dropped that modus operandi, and reverted to "GM calls for rolls and narrates the outcome"

thinking back, I think we should have stuck with the first way to play

after all, the dice provide the opposition (will I succeed, and is it worth rolling in the first place?)

and maybe I should have been open and said: "guys, there's not pre-established story here, so instead of me making it up behind my screen, let's make it up together"

I guess I was swayed by the how the game reads (or how I took it to read): keep the players in the dark about everything (the rules, the background, their own characters...)
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Darcy Burgess
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2008, 04:45:01 AM »

Hi JC,

I'm going to talk about what I experienced (as a player) during my first game of Lacuna, and what worked.

I knew about the 'roll an eleven' rule, the heart-rate rules, the no-gm-dice rules, a hint of the static rules, and the basic hook of the setting (you're agents in the matrix hunting bugs).

What really drove play for me was the tension between needing to get stuff done (roll dice) versus raising heart rate.  That totally handled any concerns over "setting your own adversity" or whatnot -- the stuff happening on the character sheet was (for me) just as important vis-a-vis my continued enjoyment of the game as the stuff happening in the fiction.  (I also submit that in practice, that divide is completely imaginary.  However, it's a useful deliniation for the purposes of this discussion.)

Cheers,
Darcy
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JC
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2008, 12:33:11 PM »

hey Darcy :)

so did you get to participate in building the story during play?

for example, when succeeding on a persuasion roll, could you, as a player, say "I get him to admit that he's working for Senior Agent Chambers", even though no one had any idea up to that point that Senior Agent Chambers was in fact still alive?
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Darcy Burgess
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2008, 06:18:55 PM »

Hi JC,

Yes.  However, not in the way you're implying.  We'd declare what we wanted to happen before rolling the dice.  The GM (usually) held the stamp of narrative authority over the results, but he had to keep it in line with our declarations, so it was cool.

I don't know how that compares to the rules.

Cheers,
Darcy
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Danny_K
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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2008, 02:20:24 PM »

I don't think (not having run it yet) that Lacuna is a pure player-driven game like Donjon.  I think it would be completely kosher for the GM to have a couple guys following the Agents with no preset backstory about why they are -- just roll with how it turns out in play.  If they win the roll to get the guy to admit to working with Agent Chambers, boom, that's part of the game now.  If not, you come up with something else.  The main thing is that they're raising their heart rate and possibly generating Static.  If they're getting bogged down in trying to find out who "Mr. Big" is, throw another Bang at them or have Control yell at them for wasting time.

 
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JC
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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2008, 02:35:14 PM »

I don't think (not having run it yet) that Lacuna is a pure player-driven game like Donjon.  I think it would be completely kosher for the GM to have a couple guys following the Agents with no preset backstory about why they are -- just roll with how it turns out in play.  If they win the roll to get the guy to admit to working with Agent Chambers, boom, that's part of the game now.  If not, you come up with something else.  The main thing is that they're raising their heart rate and possibly generating Static.  If they're getting bogged down in trying to find out who "Mr. Big" is, throw another Bang at them or have Control yell at them for wasting time.

you know, that's almost exactly the conclusion I came to after thinking about it some more

you can just set up a starting situation

if the players want to contribute to the story, fine

if not, that's fine too, you can make it up yourself

I wonder if that means that with Lacuna, you can have people playing Nar (contributing to the story) and people playing Sim (using the GM as a black box) together in the same game in a functional manner
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2008, 06:10:18 PM »

Hi JC,

I thought I'd jump in at this point, beginning with the Creative Agenda stuff and then talking about Lacuna.

1. I think you might be entangled in a common misunderstanding about Narrativist vs. Simulationist play: the idea that in the former, everyone makes up what's going on (setting, back-story) right there during play, and that in the latter, one person (the GM) has made up that stuff and treats it as a given piece of preparation.

That comparison, however, is totally irrelevant to whether it's Narrativist or Simulationist play. In Sorcerer, the GM has total power over the back-story and is expected to have prepped it in some detail; it is a powerfully Narrativist-facilitating game and is demonstrably not fun to Drift to another CA. Whereas in Dead of Night, in some variants, the GM is merely playing hapless NPCs and the players all have GM-type authority over the back-stories of the monster or monsters; it is a powerfully Simulationist-facilitating game and I suspect would not be fun to Drift out of that.

Do you want to talk about that stuff any more in this thread? I'd be glad to help it make more sense for you. Or would you rather say, "Ah, that was just a tossed-off comment and who cares anyway"? If so, that's cool too.

2. Now, let's talk about Lacuna. I'm actually glad that the game broke some implied expectations: "Hey, this is a Forge game [Story game, Sorensen game, whatever] and so there won't be any GM control!"

One question is whether the game text itself gives that impression or offers any way to make that kind of play possible. I suggest there isn't. My reading of Lacuna is that it explicitly says, "This game book does not provide a back-story or explanation, but it does provide an immense amount of stuff that's going on. The GM will have to fill in the gap of the big picture by himself." This isn't actually all that wild or kooky; it's pretty common among games written in the early 1990s, for instance. I think the book is pretty clear that playing requires the GM to bust his butt, either before or during play, to generate some semblance of sense "behind it all."

A lot of Jared's games and interest in game design are aimed at building the situation at the same time as playing it; InSpectres is one of the great seminal game designs based on this idea, in which the Scooby-Doo like problem or case is constructed by the players' successful rolls as the characters guess and investigate. Another of his games, octaNe, permits constant contributions by the players as well to an even greater extent.

However, Lacuna just doesn't do this. Resolution rolls really are about whether the Agent successfully manages to do X or Y, as announced as X or Y. In many ways, I think one of the design goals of the game is to prompt quality setting creation on the part of the GM as opposed to providing a setting for the GM to transmit. It's not like there's nothing at all to work with, either. There are some pretty strong nuggets of explicit back-story - especially the business about where the Agents come from, and what they were before getting their memories wiped. Jared was pretty cunning to pretend, for promotional purposes, that the game offers "no setting," but he is of course lying through his teeth in saying that.

3. I hope you don't get the wrong idea - I'm not trying to tell you that you didn't understand the game or whatever, and looking over my post so far, I realize that I wrote #2 above as much, or more, to the general reader (to explain this aspect of the text) as to you and your inquiry. So, to provide feedback on your basic question: "Yes!" I agree. It's not like Contenders or Polaris at all.

Funny thing, though - you mentioned Dogs in the Vineyard, which is more like (hell, exactly like) Lacuna and Sorcerer. The GM owns the back-story and presents it; there's no way for a player to roll successfully and thereby dictate "what's going on" at that level of situation and scenario. Did you play Dogs differently, in which this Technique was present?

Best, Ron
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JC
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2008, 06:49:15 AM »

Do you want to talk about that stuff any more in this thread?

Absolutely!

After thinking about it, I realize I confused players having narrative power with Nar. As you point out, Nar does not require players to have narrative power.

You can play Lacuna with a Nar approach, without players having narrative powers. That doesnít necessarily require a whole lot of prep by the GM. About as much as prepping a DITV town, Iíd say. A mission order, an NPC or two, some generic bangs, and youíre good to go.

It does, however, make for a big GM workload during the game, since he needs to keep coming up with bangs. This is what I complain about in my original post.

On the other hand, if you do give players narrative power, you keep the light prep, and combine that with a lighter GM workload during the game. Thatís what I was hoping for. Again, something like DITV, which I find pretty easy on the GM during the game.

To clarify, when I say narrative power, I mean something like this: after succeeding a roll, a player narrates how he spots Senior Agent Chambers hiding in the shadows, while players and GM alike previously considered her to be dead. I think Lacuna allows for this manner of playing, as written. I may be wrong.

About DITV: no, players donít have that kind of narrative power when I play DITV. I still found it a lot less work for the GM during play, though. I think thatís because of the sin ďchain-reactionĒ thatís hardwired into the game. The bangs practically write themselves.
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Danny_K
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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2008, 09:03:42 PM »

Very brief note: Ron is right about narrating outcomes.  I've read the rules literally a dozen times -- how did I make such a basic mistake?
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JC
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« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2008, 02:13:11 AM »

Very brief note: Ron is right about narrating outcomes.  I've read the rules literally a dozen times -- how did I make such a basic mistake?

you mean about who narrates outcomes?

I'm reading the rules right now, and nowhere does it state that Control narrates the outcomes of the rolls

better yet, it states that the player states his intent, and succeeds if he rolls 11+

what keeps a player from saying "I want to roll Instinct/Intuition to spot Senior Agent Chambers spying on us from the shadows"?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2008, 02:35:49 PM »

H'mmm, that's kind of an odd response.

JC, I posted in this thread to agree with you about how GMing Lacuna is a lot of work. I'm not sure why you're posting to argue about this other issue, and I don't see an immediate reason to debate with you about it. No one's saying "you played wrong!" or anything like that. You've allowed as how the game can be played the way I described, and I did not plan on pushing you farther than you want to go about that.

If it's really important to you, please let me know why that is, and maybe we can discuss it. But it shouldn't be about "argue with Ron so I don't look stupid," or anything like that. People can read the game for themselves and decide whether I'm right about what I posted, or wrong, and it doesn't reflect badly on you either way.

Best, Ron

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JC
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« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2008, 11:44:41 PM »

H'mmm, that's kind of an odd response.

JC, I posted in this thread to agree with you about how GMing Lacuna is a lot of work. I'm not sure why you're posting to argue about this other issue, and I don't see an immediate reason to debate with you about it. No one's saying "you played wrong!" or anything like that. You've allowed as how the game can be played the way I described, and I did not plan on pushing you farther than you want to go about that.

If it's really important to you, please let me know why that is, and maybe we can discuss it. But it shouldn't be about "argue with Ron so I don't look stupid," or anything like that. People can read the game for themselves and decide whether I'm right about what I posted, or wrong, and it doesn't reflect badly on you either way.

Best, Ron

oh, hey, I certainly didn't mean to argue for argument's sake

sorry if it looks that way

let me come back in a little while and see if I can post a better answer
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2008, 04:37:06 AM »

Hey, I read over my post again, and it's true, I wrote really didactically - "it is this and it is that," and so on. So I'll cool my own jets too and post better as we continue.

Best, Ron
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JC
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« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2008, 12:14:51 PM »

OK, let's see if I can express myself a little more clearly this time around...

JC, I posted in this thread to agree with you about how GMing Lacuna is a lot of work. I'm not sure why you're posting to argue about this other issue, and I don't see an immediate reason to debate with you about it. No one's saying "you played wrong!" or anything like that. You've allowed as how the game can be played the way I described, and I did not plan on pushing you farther than you want to go about that.

If it's really important to you, please let me know why that is, and maybe we can discuss it. But it shouldn't be about "argue with Ron so I don't look stupid," or anything like that. People can read the game for themselves and decide whether I'm right about what I posted, or wrong, and it doesn't reflect badly on you either way.

I think there may be a misunderstanding here

we both agree that, if the GM has to come up with the back-story by himself, either before or during play, Lacuna is a lot of work

and yes, I was wrong to believe that all Forge-games were necessarily light on GM-prep

the reason I'm "arguing", is that I think that Lacuna allows for a mode of play where both GM and players contribute to the back-story during the game

true, there's nothing in the rules to support this, but they also don't state the opposite

so why not?

I'd be glad to talk about this, since we seem to disagree

and the reason it's important to me is that I believe that, when played like this, Lacuna becomes a lot less work for the GM

then, if we can agree that Lacuna can be played like this, I'd like to talk about the possibility of playing the game with a "mixed" group: some players contributing to the back-story, and others not


now, about Nar being different from "everyone can contribute to the back-story"

I think the difference is clearer to me now

I must confess I have a hard time wrapping my head around a Sim game where the players have authority over the back-story, but if you say it can be done, I believe you

out of curiosity, could you provide an example, or a link or something?

or should I just look up Dead of Night?


finally, on a related topic: if players can't contribute to the back-story, how does Lacuna facilitate Nar?

the only thing I see are the Static rules, that make characters choose whether to stick with an incompetent or even hostile Company

(and I see that Nar does not equate "players contribute to back-story", but "players contribute to back-story on a succesful roll" does seem to me like a Nar-facilitating rule)
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