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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: Creating a Community  (Read 6286 times)
Reithan
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« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2008, 09:00:37 AM »

I put a little more thought in on it and was thinking, with the Peace-Corps 'hub effect' on a community, perhaps it would be useful, when constructing an NPC community for players to interact with, to create a sort of 'web' diagram?

Like, you could put that hub person or persons at the top, then link from that person to others in the community, and put a short description of what that link is, then maybe even links from those down to another level.

I figure if you put in 2 or 3 levels and then just fleshed out the links you could probably create a lot of depth there - then just 'background' the rest of the social structure.
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2008, 02:04:06 PM »

Hey,

How do I tie this all together and make it feel more like the players are part of this community?"

I think you're close to doing it. But I think you might not be truly processing the advice that folks have given into a general paradigm for achieving "community". I think you might be looking at the advice as suggested techniques. "Superiors" are a problem if it means the player characters have no authority. But "left to their own devices" is just as much a problem if it means the player characters aren't being troubled by people's needs, and those needs coming into conflict with responsibilities, and the needs of others.

What you want always in the front of your mind is that the player characters are inherently *significant* in this community. That means they have people relying on them, they have responsibilities, and those responsibilities come with problems.

"Captain, my mother is dire sick. I just can't do the morning watch tomorrow. And maybe not for a few days."
"Sir, it's clear the councilman is open to our bribes. Should I pay him for his vote?"
"Dammit Kenneth, your so called 'guards' are the brothel's most regular customers!"

And if they don't have responsibilities then they have people who want them to assume responsibilities.

"Gladwin, you're highly spoken of. My daughter has been gravely dishonored by the Baron. I'd be grateful if you'd press her honor upon the villain in a duel. I'm sorely tempted to do it myself, but I'm an old man."
"Draco, we need your help."
"Carlton, my daughter has put her mind to making a husband of you. It'll be a lot less painful if you just accept it."

If you're making the players work for this significance you're working against your goal of having them integrated in the community. And it's not about crafting some static background web you hope will grab them with its depth. When you're thinking of how an individual NPC should react to a player character, simply imagine how they need the character, or if the character has responsibilities, or the player has real desires for the character, imagine how the NPC's needs might be a problem for those responsibilities and desires. Treat the characters like everyone in the community unconsciously knows they're significant.

Paul
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Reithan
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« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2008, 04:27:31 PM »

"Superiors" are a problem if it means the player characters have no authority.
The way the structure of authority is set up in this setting (based on the game books) is about analogous to the setup between State & Federal in the US Government.
The player characters' 'Cabal' is the State level here. They manage they own members and their own area and are the 'law' in that arena.
The local 'Consilium' has authority ove disputes between cabals, or over issues that would affect more than one cabal, or the community in general.

So, the players have plenty of authority in their own 'arena'.

But "left to their own devices" is just as much a problem if it means the player characters aren't being troubled by people's needs, and those needs coming into conflict with responsibilities, and the needs of others.
Hmm, if I follow your logic here, then the problem is my players' characters have a decent dose of responsibilities, but aren't been troubled by other people's needs.

Their main responsibility is to reside over their own members and their chosen/assigned territory.
Unfortunately, in the setting of the game, disparate cabals and mages in general are fairly standoffish. It's a game system that serves to promote political positioning and intrigue. I suppose in terms of this setting, the common way another mage or cabal of mages would express a need to the characters would be in terms of a request for a favor, or in the form of some type of jockeying to get them to take care of something by either placing it in their juisdiction, or trying to trick them into thinking it already is...

What you want always in the front of your mind is that the player characters are inherently *significant* in this community. That means they have people relying on them, they have responsibilities, and those responsibilities come with problems.

And if they don't have responsibilities then they have people who want them to assume responsibilities.
I think this may actually be part of the problem: the players' responsibilities. The community here basically 'gifted' the player characters at the start of the game (over a year ago, IRL) with their own territory. The catch here is that they gave it to them because it's a trouble area no one else wanted. So, the players' responsibility is basically to either solve, or at least contain the trouble this area causes.

This seems like it may be antithetical to the rest of what you're suggesting.

If you're making the players work for this significance you're working against your goal of having them integrated in the community. And it's not about crafting some static background web you hope will grab them with its depth. When you're thinking of how an individual NPC should react to a player character, simply imagine how they need the character, or if the character has responsibilities, or the player has real desires for the character, imagine how the NPC's needs might be a problem for those responsibilities and desires. Treat the characters like everyone in the community unconsciously knows they're significant.
I don't think I'm making them work for significance. They have significance, I'm mroe trying to make them work for respect, as in this setting the heirarchy is a 'meritocracy'. Respect is basically the key factor to the whole political system. So, I don't want the players walking in with a couple cool tricks and having the whole community suddenly swoon over them - it would create a huge power upset and a big play imbalance.

I'm fine with the NPCs needing the characters to do something, or expecting them to handle certain things, or helping the characters out when they need it.

Not sure how to tie this all together, so I'm gonna stop typing for the moment and think some more on it. Please feel free to expand on any of this in the meantime. That would be most helpful.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2008, 05:14:48 PM »

I once played in a game of Dark Ages Vampire where the GM tried the exact same thing, using the Constantinople sourcebook: The player characters came there, a disconnected band of Vampires without real goals or ties, and they easily became part of the community. It was the best part of that game (one of my favourites, ever). We embraced the rich tapestry of NPCs, the different fractions and all that stuff. Each of us started earning his place in the community, quickly picking their “leader” among the NPCs (and each a different one, as if were). Some minor NPCs gained significance as some player just grabbed them, making them a romantic interest or whatever. Others we made up during play, like servants, ghouls, even a childe.

What was the difference to your situation? I think it was the players’ attitude. In my example, two things were there on the players’ side: (a) a genuine interest in colourful NPCs and the game’s background, and (b) a willingness to let our PCs get into trouble.

I certainly see a lack of the second with your group. Maybe this is just a die-hard gamer habit from those games where the GM would just always spoil your plans because, y’know, that was his job. The players need to understand that getting their PCs into trouble will make the game more interesting. They need to trust you that you’ll give them a chance to sort that trouble out again.

The first part, now, if that’s lacking, then maybe you need different NPCs—or your players just aren’t interested at all in what you are trying to achieve. But let’s assume they would generally be interested. Maybe they have their own idea of what kind of NPC they’d like to meet and engage with.

Now, how can you tackle both of these issues? I suggest that the good old trick of “talking about it up front” might be a solution worth considering. Have you tried it?
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Reithan
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« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2008, 05:40:11 PM »

I certainly see a lack of the second with your group. Maybe this is just a die-hard gamer habit from those games where the GM would just always spoil your plans because, y’know, that was his job. The players need to understand that getting their PCs into trouble will make the game more interesting. They need to trust you that you’ll give them a chance to sort that trouble out again.

...

I suggest that the good old trick of “talking about it up front” might be a solution worth considering. Have you tried it?
I think you've hit the nail squarely on the head with this one.

They are, definitely most concerned about me killing them off. Granted a few player characters have died during the course of the game...but I'll explain it like I've explained it to them. I DO NOT kill characters. What I DO do is let characters kill themselves. To explain further. There are dangerous things in the game. I do not conspire and plot and lpan to find ways to kill the characters, but I do believe in the importance of consequences.

For example, so far 2 characters have died because, in the midst of a dangerous situation, they seperated from the group without any sort of plan or safeguards in place.
One was ambushed while out of sight of the other characters by an opponent they already knew to be in the area, the other KNOWINGLY walking out into a battle to act as bait - without discussing this plan with the others.

That fully explained, I try very hard to NOT become an adversarial GM.

But I think, so far, the group's combined extensive history of playing games with GMs who thought otherwise is handicapping them quite severly.

I did discuss everything up-front before we even wrote up characters, and we all agree we wanted to play a strictly Narrativist game. (after discussing the GNS model and other games we'd all played and the type of play we'd like to see in the future game, including specific examples)...however, they were unwilling to let any risk in and slowly strategized their way fully into Gamist territory.

So, we sat down and talked it all up again, and we settled on "Narrativist/Gamist"...

...a few months later we're now into "Gamist/Narrativist" territory,  I think. It's hard to tell anymore.

So, I suppose we could have yet another talk, but I feel like it's going to be more of the same: Everyone saying "Yeah, we wanna play narrativist, we all love a great story!" But then, when push comes to show, they'll stick to strategizing everything out so I don't come along and drop a safe on them...even though I'm not trying to.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2008, 05:56:28 PM »

Okay, here's a suggestion. It's not meant as a criticism, just as an example of how I handle situations like the ones you described, where player characters might get killed. Heck, maybe you even did something of the likes.

In your first example, I would have told the player: "You know that NPC X is out there, don't you?" Just to make sure he does. "He might attack you, and he's more capable than you are." And if that player still insists on going there, so be it. Let the PC die.

Same in the second example. "You know, you might get killed", is a line that I sometimes used. It's a warning sign. What it achieves is that the players don't constantly look for potentially lethal traps because they know there will be a clear warning. Players in my games have decided to ignore the warning several times. That was a real statement, about what mattered to them. It was fun. Sometimes the PCs survived, sometimes they didn't. I was in a comfortable position: I had warned them. I had not forced them into taking that risk.

As for the gamist/narrativist thing, I very strongly recommend to spare these two words (and the third one that goes along) when talking about this with your players. I'm not going to play the GNS cop because that's not my job, but I have a feeling it would also benefit this discussion if we could just leave the jargon out of it.

- Frank
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Reithan
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« Reply #21 on: January 23, 2008, 10:53:17 PM »

Heck, maybe you even did something of the likes.
Yup, I always do. Though, I don't give more than 1 warning, and it isn't always explicit.
For example, when the character left and got ambushed, I mentioned that "you don't know where <enemy> is right now, are you sure you wanna go up there?" and he proceeded anyway.

As for the gamist/narrativist thing, I very strongly recommend to spare these two words (and the third one that goes along) when talking about this with your players. I'm not going to play the GNS cop because that's not my job, but I have a feeling it would also benefit this discussion if we could just leave the jargon out of it.
I don't usually bring it up in specifically those terms. I bring it up more in terms of "combat & strategy" versus "drama, plot & intrigue".
They're not so much into the theory-whoring as I am, and though they're smart enough to grasp it, they just don't care to.
So, I have the GNS wheels turning in my head as well as they can, but the conversation is generally along the lines of what sort of scenes they'd like to see, what sort of activities they want the characters to do, etc.

So far theie "ideal itenerary" for their characters has involved politics, mystery, drama, horror and exploring points of the theme of the game.
Their actual play though, has mostly involved plotting, strategizing and killing things and taking their stuff.
Normally I'd just go "whatever" and go with the flow as I have nothing against gamist play - but this doesn't seem to be entirely satisfying for them, as they know it's not what they're trying to do - it's just what they keep doing...

Not sure if that makes sense.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #22 on: January 24, 2008, 01:27:03 AM »

Hi Reithan,

Sure, this makes sense!

Quote
I bring it up more in terms of "combat & strategy" versus "drama, plot & intrigue"

Good to hear. So, what they say and what they do is not the same thing. I can only guess as to why, and my guess remains: Die-hard gamer habits. They just don’t know what else they should do, in order to engage with your background in the way they say they want to engage.

There is a lot of good advice to you as the GM in this thread, and I can point you to several other threads that might help you further improve your GMing techniques for this mode of play, but really I think that’s not the problem. The problem is, as long as your players block, you are not getting anywhere.

Maybe I am overstressing the point, but I have a feeling, so I’ll press it a bit further. While you play, do you comment a lot “out of character” on what’s happening? Do you explicitly and communicate about your ideas and goals as players (and authors) of a given scene while you are playing that scene? Do you, the GM, explain stuff to the players that their characters don’t know, in order to help them understand the situation and be able to address it like authors and push it in a direction they find interesting?

Or is it more like: Whatever you say your character says; you only know what your character knows?

- Frank
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TonyLB
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« Reply #23 on: January 24, 2008, 05:26:19 AM »

I think what you're trying to say is the create a sort of "community liason" NPC. There has been this NPC at times, in the player's herald NPC - however he was killed and has yet to be successfully replaced (one of the players killed his successor [another player] in a duel). So - this position may be filled again in the future, but for very in-character reasons the position's beginning to be looked on as somewhat 'cursed.'
Wellll ... yes, and no.  I do think that a character who is conscious of how he's tied in to the whole community is important.  But I also think that it's important that there be NPCs who are not aware of the fact that they (like everyone else) are tied in to the whole community.

Look at it this way:  As GM, you have all of the connections and interactions in mind, yes?  It takes a lot of mental energy, in fact, to keep them all in mind.  "If Edgar sets a dismantled car up on blocks in his yard, Morgan his Homes-and-Gardens-obsessed neighbor across the street is going to be incensed, which means that as union boss he's going to be more intransigent in the strike talks, which means ...."  This is a chain of cause and effect which should crop up pretty well instantly when you think about the community.

The trick I'm suggesting is to make sure that, even though you the GM have that in mind, Edgar the character does not realize any of that.  Actual people have different levels of understanding of their impact on the community, and its impact upon them.

And the people who don't get it are, fundamentally, one of the main driving factors for good community-related PC missions.  Why is Maggie on the edge of bankruptcy?  Because she can't work in the factory, because the union talks are so screwed up, because of Edgar and his stupid '67 Thunderbird!  The PCs are the ones (one presumes) who are connected throughout the community, and have the leverage to go and convince Edgar of a better plan (or perhaps just help him fix the car!) in order to untangle the whole chain of human consequence.

You've got to have people who are filamented through the community, and can work with it as a whole, and you've got to have people who barely even understand that they're part of a community at all.  Together, they create the funny, push-and-pull reality of a vibrant human community.

Does that make any sense?  I'm having the hardest time getting this intuition out into the open light of words.
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Reithan
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« Reply #24 on: January 24, 2008, 07:04:59 AM »

Good to hear. So, what they say and what they do is not the same thing. I can only guess as to why, and my guess remains: Die-hard gamer habits. They just don’t know what else they should do, in order to engage with your background in the way they say they want to engage.

There is a lot of good advice to you as the GM in this thread, and I can point you to several other threads that might help you further improve your GMing techniques for this mode of play, but really I think that’s not the problem. The problem is, as long as your players block, you are not getting anywhere.
I definitely agree here. As such, I wouldn't even be so worried about it if it was just them blocking because the game is currently already how they like it, but they currently seem to WANT the game to be where we were talking about - but seem incapable of letting the game do that.

Maybe I am overstressing the point, but I have a feeling, so I’ll press it a bit further. While you play, do you comment a lot “out of character” on what’s happening? Do you explicitly and communicate about your ideas and goals as players (and authors) of a given scene while you are playing that scene? Do you, the GM, explain stuff to the players that their characters don’t know, in order to help them understand the situation and be able to address it like authors and push it in a direction they find interesting?

Or is it more like: Whatever you say your character says; you only know what your character knows?
I think what you might be getting at here is the difference between Nar and Sim. I think you may be right. We've talked a lot about wanting to foster certain themes, wanting to develop certain character aspects and different types of drama we'd like to see in game, but overall in game, I think my tending has been more towards, as you're saying, just trying to get everyone immersed in the setting.

Honestly, 99% of my gaming experience as a player has been with strictly Gamist venues, so I think it's just a matter of me not being fully polished when it comes to other types of gameplay there, though, I don't fully think this invalidates the problem of the players blocking any non-Gamist play inadvertantly. I would say, during a game, we do tend to think/say things more towards an in-character mindset, outside of any random off-topic discussion.

I'm not sure if this swings us hard into Sim territory, because it seems to me that to explore things like Theme and Character Development, you'd need a Setting and Character with which to explore them...maybe that's just my inexperience with good Nar gaming talking, though.

Wellll ... yes, and no.  I do think that a character who is conscious of how he's tied in to the whole community is important.  But I also think that it's important that there be NPCs who are not aware of the fact that they (like everyone else) are tied in to the whole community.
You may be onto something here, though, I must have missed it in your initial discussion.

The trick I'm suggesting is to make sure that, even though you the GM have that in mind, Edgar the character does not realize any of that.  Actual people have different levels of understanding of their impact on the community, and its impact upon them.

And the people who don't get it are, fundamentally, one of the main driving factors for good community-related PC missions.  Why is Maggie on the edge of bankruptcy?  Because she can't work in the factory, because the union talks are so screwed up, because of Edgar and his stupid '67 Thunderbird!  The PCs are the ones (one presumes) who are connected throughout the community, and have the leverage to go and convince Edgar of a better plan (or perhaps just help him fix the car!) in order to untangle the whole chain of human consequence.
I suppose then, a better way to get into this sort of web is to build it from the other side. Instead of building a web of connections and trying to get it to shine through in the plot, build a plot hook, and then connect it back up into the community.

Using you example, rather than starting from Edgar's end and saying, "Well, Edgar lives near Morgan, what can we do with that? Ok - Edgar pissed off Moragn, what happens? Ok, Maggie lost her job and she goes looking to the PCs for help.
Instead, go, "Maggie's been laid off at he factory and is looking for help - why? Well, maybe there was a strike, who's in charge of that? Morgan. Ok - why would he do that? He's pissed off. Why? Well, maybe his neighbor pissed him off, who's that? Edgar. How's Edgar piss him off? Wrecked up his neighborhood with an eyesore in his front lawn."

That jive better with your idea?

Does that make any sense?  I'm having the hardest time getting this intuition out into the open light of words.
Yeah, it's making sense, I'm just not sure it's the same sense you're wanting it to make, so if I don't seem to have grasped it still, please explain further, or at least let me know I got it right, if that's the case. :)

Thanks again, guys!
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #25 on: January 24, 2008, 07:51:10 AM »

Okay, I don’t mean to be rude, but we need to get GNS off the table for now. What we are talking about here, in Big Model terms, are Techniques and Ephemera, and Exploration when it comes to actual content. We are talking about the blow-by-blow “what happens at the table”. GNS is the large scale interpretation over a long instance of play, so it’s not relevant at this moment.

Your Techniques and Ephemera (i.e. what you do, moment-to-moment, while you play) do not enable your stated goals for Exploration results, “plot, drama, intrigue” and “creating a feel of community”. That’s the disconnect I see, at the moment. As long as you don’t have that disconnect sorted out, I daresay you are nowhere near any Shared Creative Agenda happening in your group.

What you are doing is emphatically not Sim. It may, however, be something that has been termed “Sim by habit” (which I as an advocate of Sim don’t find entirely fair). “Sim by habit” refers to a whole bundle of Techniques that some gamers just continue applying, without reflection, because “it has to be that way”.

So, you can state a goal (“drama”), but if you only ever “play your character” because you think that’s just “how role-playing works”, then you’re not getting anywhere. Especially when you feel that for your character to succeed (which you want him too), you are required to keep him out of trouble, because that’s also just “how role-playing works”.
   
It’s like saying: “I want to cook Chinese food tonight, so I’ll buy a steak and grill it because that’s just how cooking works.”

You can only ever get past those habits if you create an awareness of the disconnect in all participants. And as unlearning those habits is hard to do, I suggest you can only do it if you maintain an ongoing communication about it. It’s not enough to have some vague idea of wanting to change something before you start. You need to state clearly that you want to change the way you play, and how, in the moment-by-moment interaction, and then see to it that you really do.

And you also need to get the concerns your players might have off the table. You need to accept their concerns and you need to resist the urge to get self-defendant. You need to reassure them and make sure they understand what you are about.

- Frank
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Reithan
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« Reply #26 on: January 24, 2008, 08:22:30 AM »

Okay, I don’t mean to be rude, but we need to get GNS off the table for now. What we are talking about here, in Big Model terms, are Techniques and Ephemera, and Exploration when it comes to actual content. We are talking about the blow-by-blow “what happens at the table”. GNS is the large scale interpretation over a long instance of play, so it’s not relevant at this moment.

Your Techniques and Ephemera (i.e. what you do, moment-to-moment, while you play) do not enable your stated goals for Exploration results, “plot, drama, intrigue” and “creating a feel of community”. That’s the disconnect I see, at the moment. As long as you don’t have that disconnect sorted out, I daresay you are nowhere near any Shared Creative Agenda happening in your group.
Ok, while I don't find this rude, I do find it incredibly frustrating and counter-intuitive.
I've run into this sort of talk a lot here on the Forge and I guess I'll come right out with it: I don't get it.
I understand that Technique and Ephemera don't inherently define a SCA, but they are still peices of it, and they still impact it, just like every other peice of the puzzle.
It's, to me, like saying, "Well, you can make a lot of different types of houses out of bricks, so the type of bricks you use really has no effect on what type of house you end up with." It's a logical fallacy.
I'm not really sure were to go with this past that, so I'll just leave it there. Please explain or argue it as you see fit.

What you are doing is emphatically not Sim. It may, however, be something that has been termed “Sim by habit” (which I as an advocate of Sim don’t find entirely fair). “Sim by habit” refers to a whole bundle of Techniques that some gamers just continue applying, without reflection, because “it has to be that way”.

So, you can state a goal (“drama”), but if you only ever “play your character” because you think that’s just “how role-playing works”, then you’re not getting anywhere. Especially when you feel that for your character to succeed (which you want him too), you are required to keep him out of trouble, because that’s also just “how role-playing works”.
   
It’s like saying: “I want to cook Chinese food tonight, so I’ll buy a steak and grill it because that’s just how cooking works.”
I have an idea what you're getting at here, and as I said, I think we do fall into this category.
However, this doesn't really shed any light on where this is wrong - just that you think it is wrong.
So, I direct you back to my previous statement. To explore theme & character development & drama, does one not need characters and settings defined at some point?
I mean, if we all just started without characters, with no setting and litterally anything could happen: knights, unicorns, mecha, ponies, spacemen, cavemen, anything. Then, I'd see that as just a garbled lump of chaos - not a story. And "Story Now" is somewhat nuetered with no story, wouldn't you agree?

You can only ever get past those habits if you create an awareness of the disconnect in all participants. And as unlearning those habits is hard to do, I suggest you can only do it if you maintain an ongoing communication about it. It’s not enough to have some vague idea of wanting to change something before you start. You need to state clearly that you want to change the way you play, and how, in the moment-by-moment interaction, and then see to it that you really do.

And you also need to get the concerns your players might have off the table. You need to accept their concerns and you need to resist the urge to get self-defendant. You need to reassure them and make sure they understand what you are about.
I'd like to come back to this point after the above-mentioned ones are resolved.
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Reithan
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« Reply #27 on: January 24, 2008, 08:54:54 AM »

Okay, I don’t mean to be rude, but we need to get GNS off the table for now. What we are talking about here, in Big Model terms, are Techniques and Ephemera, and Exploration when it comes to actual content. We are talking about the blow-by-blow “what happens at the table”. GNS is the large scale interpretation over a long instance of play, so it’s not relevant at this moment.

Your Techniques and Ephemera (i.e. what you do, moment-to-moment, while you play) do not enable your stated goals for Exploration results, “plot, drama, intrigue” and “creating a feel of community”. That’s the disconnect I see, at the moment. As long as you don’t have that disconnect sorted out, I daresay you are nowhere near any Shared Creative Agenda happening in your group.
Ok, while I don't find this rude, I do find it incredibly frustrating and counter-intuitive.
I've run into this sort of talk a lot here on the Forge and I guess I'll come right out with it: I don't get it.
I understand that Technique and Ephemera don't inherently define a SCA, but they are still peices of it, and they still impact it, just like every other peice of the puzzle.
It's, to me, like saying, "Well, you can make a lot of different types of houses out of bricks, so the type of bricks you use really has no effect on what type of house you end up with." It's a logical fallacy.
I'm not really sure were to go with this past that, so I'll just leave it there. Please explain or argue it as you see fit.

What you are doing is emphatically not Sim. It may, however, be something that has been termed “Sim by habit” (which I as an advocate of Sim don’t find entirely fair). “Sim by habit” refers to a whole bundle of Techniques that some gamers just continue applying, without reflection, because “it has to be that way”.

So, you can state a goal (“drama”), but if you only ever “play your character” because you think that’s just “how role-playing works”, then you’re not getting anywhere. Especially when you feel that for your character to succeed (which you want him too), you are required to keep him out of trouble, because that’s also just “how role-playing works”.
   
It’s like saying: “I want to cook Chinese food tonight, so I’ll buy a steak and grill it because that’s just how cooking works.”
I have an idea what you're getting at here, and as I said, I think we do fall into this category.
However, this doesn't really shed any light on where this is wrong - just that you think it is wrong.
So, I direct you back to my previous statement. To explore theme & character development & drama, does one not need characters and settings defined at some point?
I mean, if we all just started without characters, with no setting and litterally anything could happen: knights, unicorns, mecha, ponies, spacemen, cavemen, anything. Then, I'd see that as just a garbled lump of chaos - not a story. And "Story Now" is somewhat nuetered with no story, wouldn't you agree?

You can only ever get past those habits if you create an awareness of the disconnect in all participants. And as unlearning those habits is hard to do, I suggest you can only do it if you maintain an ongoing communication about it. It’s not enough to have some vague idea of wanting to change something before you start. You need to state clearly that you want to change the way you play, and how, in the moment-by-moment interaction, and then see to it that you really do.

And you also need to get the concerns your players might have off the table. You need to accept their concerns and you need to resist the urge to get self-defendant. You need to reassure them and make sure they understand what you are about.
I'd like to come back to this point after the above-mentioned ones are resolved.
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Bret Gillan
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That's Bret with one 't' damn it.


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« Reply #28 on: January 24, 2008, 09:25:42 AM »

I learned this from Vincent and DitV, but it seems to be the best way to make a community is to create situations, determine what individual NPCs want out of that situation, and specifically what they want from the PCs with regards to that situation. A large part of community is social aid and social pressure. I live in an apartment with a few other people. There are certain things they expect from me: cleanliness, regard for their space and belongings, not having loud sex with my bedroom door open. They also occasionally pressure me to do things: watch movies with them or wash the dishes or whatever.

Now, all that makes for a boring game, but if you blow it up to situations that make for cool stories it still makes sense. A dragon hatchling is discovered. A local hunter wants the PCs to help him hunt it and get it's claws and scales and skull as a trophy. A local druid things it is a sign from the gods of benevolence or whatever, and wants the PCs to help her tame it. The PCs become a part of that community when those wants are expressed, and as they witness and get caught up in the tension that emerges between the hunter and the druid. Also bring in the fact that whichever way they go will have consequences on the community as a whole, the relationship between the druid and the hunter, and so on.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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a.k.a. Frank T


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« Reply #29 on: January 24, 2008, 09:31:45 AM »

I understand your frustration and know it from first hand experience, but I think we can only do one of two things in this thread: Explain the Big Model, or talk about strategies to improve your play experience. Both at the same time simply will not work out.

Also, I am frustrated myself because I clumsily deleted the long reply I had been writing, so I’ll try again. Please bear in mind that I don’t know you and your group and might just plainly be wrong.

I think your players right now don’t see it as their job to actively work towards the stated goal (“drama”), but rather, they just play their characters like “these guys would act”, and how “these guys would act” is most likely to stay out of trouble. The players are doing all of this without reflecting much about it, because it’s how they learned it and how they think it has to be. This is what you need to make clear to them, without offending them.

You can only get to the “drama” if they start keeping “drama” as a goal in the back of their heads, and start thinking about how what their characters do helps or hinders “drama” to happen. However, you can only ask that of them if you also convince them that you, as well, are working towards the goal to create “drama” (as opposed to, say, “spoiling their plans.”) If they have some concerns about this, based on past experiences, then you need to accept these concerns as valid and work that out. You are requesting them to change how they play, so it’s only fair that they may ask as much of you.

Also, I suggest you tell them up front what your goals were in creating that set-up of NPCs. Invite them to request any NPC they would like to see in the community. Get as much of their input as you can, and be sure to use it! Also, be sure to listen to the good advice in this thread with regard to specific GMing Techniques you can use.

And the crucial part is: Continue to talk about it while you play. If you don’t, you’ll fall back into old patterns all too easily. Specifically, all of you state up front their intentions, whenever they're not obvious. Not the character’s intention, the player’s intention! If a scene is just about getting to know an NPC, then the players might as well know it, so they don’t feel inclined to question him for some kind of plot-relevant information they think you want to reveal to them. If the player wants to force a certain conflict, then you might as well know so you can work with him instead of unintentionally spoiling it. And so forth.

When you start doing that, you’ll start developing Techniques that will enable you, as a group, to go where you want to go with your game. That’s necessary, because right now, you always wind up in the same ol’ place instead. So once these new Techniques start working, then you can think about exactly where it is that you want to go. Then you can think about what it is about “drama” and “feel of community” that you as a group are interested in, in terms of personal investment and long term pay-off. And then, if you get that together, you’ll have the big picture. Then you’ll have Creative Agenda nailed down.

Does that make sense?

- Frank
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