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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 25 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Creating a Community  (Read 6024 times)
Reithan
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Posts: 108

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« Reply #45 on: January 26, 2008, 07:30:18 PM »

From here:

Ok, I'd like to step back a bit, and try to get this back on a civil note.

I think, to put it in "Forge Terms" this thread is completely 'incoherent'. :P

I'd like to clarify my intent here, and maybe clarify a few things about the 'where I'm coming from' bits. (stuff about my game)

Ok, first, as Caldis said, the group IS flitting from between 2 CAs. HOWEVER, in every discussion we have about what they want out of the game they all throw straight bullseyes at Nar, so I think that intent IS established - but this is open for discussion.

Maybe reward cycle is the disconnect here, I don't know - I've never been fully brought up to speed on all the intricacies of Reward Cycles, I don't think.

Also, Contracycle did bring up a good point - the game is not totally screwed. It has it's ups and downs - but over the course of a YEAR playing, I think that's fairly normal. Overall we all have a good time and look forward to the games. This is more of a question on "My players want X, I want X - we've discussed it and talked about X...but we KEEP GETTING Y!? WHY??"

One thing I would like to point out, though, Frank, and I'm not trying to poke you and rile you, I'm just trying to get you to further explain yourself, as you said this thread is for explainations, anyway:
You said Gareth (though I don't know who that is, I think Caldis? lol) was wrong that you'd never said that any given technique can be used to support any given agenda. I don't think you've said exactly that, but you have repeatedly stated that techniques do not matter to the CA. Any technique can be used with any CA. This seems like the closest shades of grey imaginable, and I'd like it if you could explain a little further to clarify your intent here, if you don't mind.

So, to clarify, one more time, want I wanted was not "ZOMG! FIX MY BROKEN GAME!" what I wanted was "My group keeps doing X, even though they say they want Y, what can I do?"

The obvious answer is: nothing - if the game works, why screw with it?

My answer, even the GAME works and we have fun - I think if we had the fun everone says they want, we'd have MORE fun. I'm trying to IMPROVE my game here, not FIX it.
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Penetrator - WIP, Cyberpunk/Sci-fi RPG
ks13
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Posts: 67


« Reply #46 on: January 28, 2008, 10:08:10 AM »

Reithan,

I took a quick look at the Creative Agenda spin-off thread, but I want to avoid getting bogged down Big Model discussion so I will post here in the original discussion instead.

I had some concerns about the fact that players chose to kill of their characters. This is usually a bad sign (lack of engagement), but it seems that they were couple of extreme concepts that just didn't work. That's OK. However in the cases when there were character kills as a result of player versus player conflict, did this cause any carryover friction? For example, when the new character was created, was he hostile or otherwise opposed (different faction/beliefs) to character that did the killing? Any kind of "you screwed me last time, so now its payback" stuff going on (and it might be very subtle)?

You also indicated how the game could facilitate the goal you are striving for, but I am not sure if those are just window dressings and will infact help to create that sense of drama and story or theme oriented play. I am sure that the game has rules for casting spells, combat, and probably a list of skills or abilities to apply to "social conflicts", but beyond that maybe not enough to get you to where you want. What are experience points awarded for? With the Vice/Virtue system, is a vice always a disadvantage, or could the player realize some benefits by playing out his Vice? Could a player make an agrgument that his Greedy character is better at guessing who could be bribed or not, and thus get a bonus to pick out the right guard to pay off? Does a player get extra experience points for putting himself at a disadvantage (say in a tactical situation) just to remain true to his Virtue? If not, if staying true to your Virtue will screw you over during a combat situation, and the only driving force to succeed (i.e. not die) is to optimize combat tactics. In this case the Virtue rules cannot be supporting good story or drama since the players will avoid using them. If I am trying to play for X, but that approach has a high chance of losing my character, then I will stick with the safer Y option, thank you very much.

I don't want to get caught in detailed analysis of the game rules, but only to suggest that there might not be rules that truly support your desired goals. They are essentially just color. What I would consider a much clearer rules for your goals would be something that said if the player described a dramatic action (and a sample list of what is considered dramatic by the game standards is provided) then he gets a bonus of some type. And if the GM is the final authority on what is dramatic or not, then deciding it was not a dramatic enough move should not screw the character, just not give the bonus (or the rule indicates that what the player described was intent, not actual action - if the GM agrees the action proceed with the proper bonus, if he disagrees the player can declare a new, safer action but with no further chance at a bonus). That would be first guess as to why you always get pulled away from your desired intent.

Of course you can drift the rules, add house rules, or put in other techniques that can minimize the lack of support from the game system. As you said, you are not looking for a whole change, just to kick things up a notch. And that should still be possible.

-Al
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Reithan
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Posts: 108

I'm a ninja


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« Reply #47 on: January 28, 2008, 12:21:10 PM »

I had some concerns about the fact that players chose to kill of their characters. This is usually a bad sign (lack of engagement), but it seems that they were couple of extreme concepts that just didn't work. That's OK. However in the cases when there were character kills as a result of player versus player conflict, did this cause any carryover friction? For example, when the new character was created, was he hostile or otherwise opposed (different faction/beliefs) to character that did the killing? Any kind of "you screwed me last time, so now its payback" stuff going on (and it might be very subtle)?
I would so, so far, no. However, I think there may be a subtle bit of resentment over the last PvP conflict, because the winning character won by exploiting an oversight on the other character's behalf. I did warn the loser about this oversight previous to it being a problem, both OOC as the GM, and in-character as an NPC who'd read over their duel agreement...but he chose to proceed anyway. I think, if there is any animosity there, hopefully it will be slight in regard to this.

You also indicated how the game could facilitate the goal you are striving for, but I am not sure if those are just window dressings and will infact help to create that sense of drama and story or theme oriented play. I am sure that the game has rules for casting spells, combat, and probably a list of skills or abilities to apply to "social conflicts", but beyond that maybe not enough to get you to where you want. What are experience points awarded for? With the Vice/Virtue system, is a vice always a disadvantage, or could the player realize some benefits by playing out his Vice? Could a player make an agrgument that his Greedy character is better at guessing who could be bribed or not, and thus get a bonus to pick out the right guard to pay off? Does a player get extra experience points for putting himself at a disadvantage (say in a tactical situation) just to remain true to his Virtue? If not, if staying true to your Virtue will screw you over during a combat situation, and the only driving force to succeed (i.e. not die) is to optimize combat tactics. In this case the Virtue rules cannot be supporting good story or drama since the players will avoid using them. If I am trying to play for X, but that approach has a high chance of losing my character, then I will stick with the safer Y option, thank you very much.
In my opinion, this is White-Wolf's biggest triumph of their new system over the old one. All the old system's "dramatic" tools WERE window dressing, I think otherwise of the new one.

To answers you questions directly:
Experience is awarded in several categries, each with at least 3 subcategories. Combat is only represented as one of the subcategories under one of the main categories, only. There are subcategories for drama, character portrayal, research and investigation of mysteries and a bunch of other things. Each subcategory alone can only provide very small amounts of XP, so characters earn the best XP by participating in all parts of the story.

For Virtue/Vice, each character has a pool of "Willpower" points that they can spend to add dice to rolls, or remove dice from rolls against them. These points are replenished ONLY through using the character's Vice or Virtue.
Vice can be engaged very often, though each reward is small, while Virtue can only be awarded once per game, but has a HUGE payoff.
You get an award for Virtue or Vice when you act according to that precept OUTSIDE of what would be considered the 'normal' action in that situation. This is usually supposed to involve some risk of lose for your character, as well.
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Penetrator - WIP, Cyberpunk/Sci-fi RPG
ks13
Member

Posts: 67


« Reply #48 on: January 28, 2008, 05:12:41 PM »

Quote
Experience is awarded in several categries, each with at least 3 subcategories. Combat is only represented as one of the subcategories under one of the main categories, only. There are subcategories for drama, character portrayal, research and investigation of mysteries and a bunch of other things.

Can you elaborate on the drama subcategory? What does the player have to do to get these, how often are they awarded, etc. Would the action of the player who chose to explore the area and risk an ambush be dramatic or just stupid? If there is a indistinct transition line between moment (a) we "role play" - have in character discussions, roll social skills, and make dramatic statements and (b) "we are in a tactical combat situation, let's not say or do anything that could be used against us", then I would not be at all surprised for players to be guarded at all times just in case they wandered into region (b). Especially where the GM goes all out in terms of a "realistic" or "logical" response to their action and thus a potential character kill. The exception are the players that no longer care about the characters and actively push those limits. And when their character gets smacked down for their ill thought out actions, it reinforces that sense of never being safe or able to relax.

If drama based experience are already available, why not discuss with the group what you consider to be appropriate, and up the experience value? Of course drama alone might not be the primary concern, but just one element of what you are after. Getting back to the very first question of making the players (not the characters, but the PLAYERS) be interested in getting their characters more involved with the community....You may be working against the original setup of the game where orginary humans are not to learn of magic or mage's abilities, on-goings, etc. Are the players simply not satisfying that requirement? I am sure they would suffer all kinds of nasty fallout if they revealed too much. Better safe then sorry. To me it looks like you are asking for opposite things.

Though its always possible to get around that by having specific house rules or exceptions. The method I used for establishing trust between PCs and NPC was to create "supporting cast characters". Each player choses an NPC, any NPC from the town, to be their SCC. It could be the town drunk, or the mayor. Doesn't matter, in the end the value of this supporting character will the be the same. Interacting with these characters should provide useful information, good source of experience points, access to neat items, or maybe a useful lackey to successfully take care of basic stuff. And these SCC's are off limits to the GM from any sort of a screw job. No kiddnapings, no turning informant or betraying the PC, no need to be rescused, no being followed to the secret hang out...none of that. If the SCC is part of some dangerous NPC-only mission or event, they are the ones that come out alive. On the other hand, they are not minions for the players, and they can refuse or become "unavailable" if the PC's try to use them as pawns. If you can have a very direct agreement with the players that these SCCs are an available and protected resource, always there as long as they don't push the bounds of reason on what the players can expect from them (and these bounds also need to be stated very clearly up front), then right away you establish ties to the community. The SCC the specific relationship has to be approved by the player. That is also key. Everyone should make suggestions, but the player has the final say as to what they accept (and how that relation might change during play). The SCC's themselves don't offer the any secret paths to drama or epic conflicts, at least not in the beginning. The player could change that if they wish, but the main goal is to establish trustworthy connection between the PCs and the community.

Not sure if that is making sense, or if you want to have a house rule that is very much outside of the scope of what is presented in the rule books. The group I used this with was learning RPG's from the ground up, so it evolved organically. But for any group of "experienced" players, this has to be introduced in a very explicit way. Not all players have to accept an SCC, and it could be on a trial basis; if they chose against it the SCC goes back to being a background NPC and the players gain a few extra experience points for their troubles. What all this can eventually lead to is a case where the players are willing to make a dramatic statement during what would otherwise be a "hardcore tactics" situation, and know that the GM will be on the same page to allow the dramatic statement to be made without necessarily hanging everything on the dice. I knew this was working when the players would discuss (OOC) their plans and strageties with me as the GM. The whole idea of secret planing, revealing nothing till the last moment, and "trust none cause the GM will use them to screw you" was absent. The game stops feeling as players versus GM, and becomes us-in-the-imaginary-world. This is of course only one of many tools needed, and is so much easier if these tools come prepacked with the game system. Let me know if that is on the right track, or if its off base of what you are after.

Cheers,

-Al
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Reithan
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Posts: 108

I'm a ninja


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« Reply #49 on: January 29, 2008, 07:50:53 AM »

Our group is using a SLIGHTLY modified XP rubrick from presented in the book, mainly just to clear up some instances of "grey areas"

Each game session each player gets 1 xp just for being there. Then, if they're taken the option to include a "Flaw" in their character, if that flaw hindered them that session they get 1 more XP.

On top of that, they may get 0-2 XP for combat, 0-2 XP for contributing 'in-character' and 0-2 XP for Participating in Planning or Investigation stuff in game.

Then, after each individual in-game plot or story is resolved, they get xp for the story.

Each character that participated in that story gets 1 XP.
Then each may recieve 0-2 XP for the story being a "success", this can mean anything from "We didn't die" to "We made a new friend". Just if something good came out of this plot, you get XP.
0-2 XP if the plot was dangerous, either in combat terms, or terms of political peril.
0-2 XP if the character showed Wisdom or Leadership over the course of that story.

Also, in either category (game or story) they can earn additional "Arcane XP" which can only be put towards their main magic stat. They can get 1 point for contact with the supernatural, 1 for Solving a riddle or mystery, 1 for Resolving a story or plot involving the supernatural and also, any points gained in an astral realm automatically convert to Arcane XP.

I got a little more in-depth with the Mages vs. Humans rules in the sister thread to this one, so I'll just paraphrase here. The game is setup so that Mages are encouraged to interact with humans to varying degrees of closeness, though it CAN put them in sticky situations sometimes.

Also, SCCs are already included in the game rules. You can buy them at character creation or with XP in several different "flavors". You can get "Allies", "Contacts", "Mentor" and "Retainer".

As for adversarial player vs GM situations, I've tried VERY VERY hard not to fall into this, even though several of my players seem to expect it. I generally give my players several warnings and the benefit of the doubt, usually, but at some point it does fall to the dice. If a player is 100% dead-set on doing something that he's been completely notified that is dangerous, well then it does fall to the dice, and I don't see anything wrong with that per-se. I also am striving to give my players a lot of imput on the rules we use, as well as the in-game content. I'm encouraging them to create their own scenes, come up with things THEY want to do in game and I generally oblige any request that hasn't already been pre-empted by something else (like: "I wanna go to see NPC A at Location B" "er, but you blew up location B last week" "Oh...right..."). If it's something that's 'iffy', as in either that character would honestly not have easy/immediate access to that thing/person/place, or some other thing calls that request into question, again, we let it fall to dice. ("I wanna find a gun-smuggler" "Those are not exactly waiting on every street corner, do you have an Ally or Contact that could help?" "No" "Ok, we'll roll Intelligence + Streetwise to see if you can find one (rolls - success) Ok, you find one, frame your scene." "Sweet"
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Penetrator - WIP, Cyberpunk/Sci-fi RPG
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