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Author Topic: [D&D 3.5] "I don't play for endings" (way too long)  (Read 7075 times)
Callan S.
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« on: January 19, 2008, 04:31:06 PM »

So, there's Daniel, Chris and Bourke. Chris and Daniel are old friends, Bourke is from Chris's work. Chris is GM. Were all around age thirty mark. Characters are level 3 in this game. I have trouble remembering the session - I even think during it 'I know I'm not going to remember this for latter'. It's kind of how play and out of game topics start to blend into each other alot. Also after sitting down at the play table, pre game chatter and GM screen placements take long enough that I've finished my first beer. Oh, I think around this time we poked fun at old D&D giving xp for gold. Then I mention a Dave Arneston rule I heard about, where you get XP for gold spent on what your character cares about. Daniel says cool in a genuinely appreciative way, but then Chris goes 'Oh, but you'd have to have those things defined in advance'. I think I said no and said it wouldn't be like buying +5 swords. Then he started saying oh yeah, but you could buy chickens with it then make money off that and so on. For fucks sake - It's all 'players cannot be in control for a goddamn second, their always out to betray the game' (betray their own fun as well, apparently).

Last game I wasn't there and some powerful wizard name Yaztromo (yes, I know) had sent 'us' to go kill a hag for the greater good. Daniel says we head straight there but Chris says it'd be easier to head through town then go there. I was about to write here how odd that is, but it clicks now that the encounter we have after leaving town was part of that (why it would matter to have us run into the encounter instead of making it run into us? Dunno). At the time I was thinking 'You know, if heading there through town is an option, why are you telling us it's the best?'

It's a group of hill goblins! Their formation gets spread out and its sort of hinted they are in oblivious mode. Can anyone speak goblin? Well, I can and their going to town to beat them up, with orders just to attack humans - but that orders just there so they don't fight with the other groups heading to town. Side chatter: Chris described the enemy coming but that we can duck down, to which Daniel takes the piss on that a bit by our cart ducks down as well - I add in some stuff about a cart that's like one of those pimped up suspension cars (yeah, I add to this side chatter - when it's one of the main thing, what else do you do). Bourke suggests running in and distracting. Then we sort of ditch that since then they wont be flat footed and my ninja (yes, I know), wont get sudden strike. Anyway, I'm weighing up whether to fight the big guy at the back or one of the smaller ones when Daniel moves my figure behind the big one (combat hasn't started yet, it's still set up). Since I was in two minds I let it stay there, but on reflection now I'm thinking I didn't percieve the shepherding that was intended.

Okay, fight starts - I miss my big opening attack. The ninja has turned out to be pretty weak sauce the last few games - he can only get sudden strike bonus damage when their flat footed, and can't get that from flanking (nerfed rogue backstab, basically). Daniel sleep spells a bunch and Bourke wanders in and smashes some. At some point here Daniels brother, Matt, arrives. And since we left his character with the cart - apparently he wont be included the battle. So he sits eating a kebab during the rest of the time it takes to run this battle. Latter the big guy is sort of retreating/stepping away and I say 'Oh, towards the cart!' hopefully - it'd seem to fit. No, I'm quite wrong, Chris and Dan emphasize that the cart is definately the other way. Why put effort into emphasizing something that adds absolutely nothing?

I think I ended up doing 13 and 14 damage, in the end, due to beating his initiative and using my once per day vanish ability. Okay in the end, I suppose - but the number of misses just seems to stack up. In one of the side chatters Bourke brought up rogues in warcraft and I added how their stun lock methods basically mean your not playing the game for the next 20 seconds or so. Missing attacks are the same - you've chosen to do an activity rather than sit idle - then the activity makes you sit idle. Well, you roll but it adds as much as if you had elected to pass on your turn. Oh, and the big guy turned around and took 90% of my hitpoints in one hit. Meanwhile Dan kills two goblins in one spellcast of magic missile.

Anyway, this big guy heals himself. And I'm sitting there thinking how this is one of the most pointless powers ever - unless he has an escape path, it's not going to do anything but make it take longer to kill him. Bourkes on him now and I withdraw and shoot some arrows. Yes, he dies...eventually.

So, we wrap up. Daniel decides to search the bodies for gold and gets about fifty. I think we go back to town - Chris hints we should go to a druid friend to get heals and I say I thought she was way out of town. No, apparently. Again if it's an option, why are you telling us it's the best? We go there and she heals us and I don't hear this properly, but Daniel goes and spends all the money he found on buying healing potions from her. About this time I've realised that A: D&D is gear-centric, B: My ninja could do with some magic clothing to give armour and C: I have four silver to my name (everyone else has a few hundred gold). So I'm a bit changrined over it not being split. But latter in the session I find it doesn't matter - Chris doesn't like you just being able to buy magic armour, including the stuff under two thousand gold which your supposed to be able to buy. For fucks sake. So I'm going to sit behind everyone else until I'm such a charity case I'm given magic cloth.

We get attacked by hill goblins at some point, then in the night by fat demons things. Can't remember the fight much - there wasn't much to it, except the demons explode acid on death and my +6 reflex of course failed and I got chewed up by that. OH, and I think it was here we got an invocation of 'the golden rule'. My initiative apparently equaled the goblins, so we attacked 'simultanously'. In other words, when I actually killed one, instead of feeling the reward of a threat removed, he gets one more attack on me. That annoyed me too - even that petty sense of satisfaction from getting rid of another monster, just fucked with. The rules don't work that way and...did I say that? Can't remember, but Chris announced he can do that because of the golden rule. These words, these fucking words are like the tip of an iceberg. You could engage the words, but that's missing the real bulk that lies under the murky water - and that stuff will rip your hull open if you run into it. The first thing I think of is asking 'Well, who decides when that rule is used' so as to point out there's a rule above the golden rule and that it's just the GM who decides it. But I think that wont hit the mark. Then I think to say 'Well, only if I agreed you can use the golden rule to begin with'. Then I think that's conflicting to say. Then I say nothing - yay, Callan, you add to the murk by leaving the impression you agreed to the golden rule! Well done, Cal! But what am I supposed to do, I say to my own sarcasm - it's a fucking iceberg! I have micro seconds to respond and a behemoth to dismantle. I didn't consent! I lacked the skill to deal with it!! But my sarcasm says 'And how are you going to explain that to anyone when it comes down to it? You don't have the skill to describe that! And since you don't, and since they think you consented, just accept it. If you can't make a case your just the same as someone who is weaseling out of somthing they agreed to'.

Enough self pitying crap. We encounter a floating eyeball thing latter that observes us. After awhile I suggest talking to it, but Matt and Dan remind me it's just an eyeball, it doesn't have a mouth! Their very certain. I note how that doesn't need to matter in this world, but meh. Anyway, they sling spears and spells at it when it follows us. It runs away, but comes back latter - can't remember what happened in between. Chris takes Matt to the kitchen to talk and when Matt comes back he suggests we talk to it. Oh, really? We do and it speaks telepathically (god, as if lacking a mouth is a barrier in a magic world). Reflecting on it now, there's no brief 'Oh, you were right, Cal'. All too ready to assert their right, but no recognition when their wrong.

The eyeball offers us a proposition from the big bad guy (BBG). He wants us to join his side, with all sorts of offerings made. Bourkes character is neutral evil and is interested straight away. Again here alot of stuff happens that's hard to remember. Basically Daniel and (I think) Matt are going to go over to the BBG. I ask, as my character, why they are accepting a master - we had no master before. But it seems to be some diabolical Dan plan to screw the BBG over for his stuff. Really there is no big question, it's just more micro managing in a game set up where you can't lose anyway. I thought some question of real allegence had come up, but it got taken as just another thing to do petty manouvering over. I say petty, because when your not going to lose or win, what the hell are you trying to avoid or gain? In the past such manouvering might have made me think you could win - now I just don't care either way. Someone can come and explicitly tell me the stakes if they really care about winning, none of this inferred shit.

Anyway, I think the debate goes on for a bit - it's almost interesting but now I can see its undercut by 'clever manouvering plans'. God, I'm gamist inclined and yet I'm giving shit to clever manouvering? But as said, it's all ass without win/lose. Eventually we go with it, which involves meeting the hag we were going to kill. She's on some mountain with about 500 bug bears. Hmm, and if we had declined the BBG's offer - hardly an option, really. So we go up and...it's more GM stalling, as we get nothing from her but some info guys she hates that we can kill for treasure. And we get one bug bear scout when we were offered minions - and he dies in the first round of combat latter, Bourke saying what everyone knew, that that he'd die that quick. So in yet another way there's no big question, because the GM is only offering breadcrumbs to string out play - there's no change in dynamic, we may as well have been sent by Yaztromo to beat these guys and get exactly the same stuff.

We go to them, they are slavers. We pretend to be friendly at first. Bourke shows his evil side and whips a elf chick chained to the wall. I try to bluff a guard into watching then sap him, collapsing him into the alcove where the others wont notice, but my rolls fail at the sap of course. Everyone else was just talking at the time. Standard fight breaks out, some fiddleyness with getting around monster reach, but then it finishes. We take their gold and stuff - at this point I decide to gather some gold just for myself. I get 250. I get a look from Dan. I just make my move, just as much as his move wasn't to split the gold before. That is manouvering. So they tally up the rest, and I expect to be kept out of it and probably miss out on more - I dunno, maybe they forget and I get an even split, taking me to about 1500 gold in total. It was about this time that I asked for the GM book, Chris asks why, I say I want to look at the magic items you can buy and he drops that I can't be buying the low level magic armour. For fucks stake. About the only reward cycle I was looking ahead to and it's neutered.

Oh, and there's this last bit where Dan and Bourke are saying they are the leaders of the party to each other in a hur hur way. Okay, whatever, I'll plan around that. Then Dan goes 'Especially with Callans rolling problems tonight'. It's like, goes completely out from their PC's being in charge to our own social hierarchy and who's in charge of that. "I thought you were talking about your characters", I say. He says something I can't remember, and I repeat my line. You know, when I thought there was actually a difficulty involved, just during the game session I would pay that to someone who had done better - they get to stand on the higher part of the winners podium, so to speak. But this isn't the same - it's like the power play against the BBG, but here it's a power play in our social hierachy in order to consolidate power to...fucking what? Ah, found it. This is like I see in my sons school playground, where they supposedly play games with each other but it's a thin pretense for social position jockeying. Man, that's why I avoided sports in school - I couldn't articulate it back then, but I could sense what was really on the line. Is this what drives this petty manouvering when there is no win or lose in their game? You know, I'm pretty sure I can find the words which will shank this, while not leaving a ripple at the social politeness level. Or I'll just not play those games. Either's good.

That's the end of that game. Poor Bourke though - Chris brought up that he wanted to run a game of star wars. I say poor Bourke, because while my friends games slip through the net, I don't really know him and I'm not actually as willing as I seem to jump into any old game, so I asked questions about what'd it be like. You know, actually finding out whether something will be fun before jumping in. He went through some responces that made me feel I was at RPG.net, like saying "You wont die...unless you do something stupid". I couldn't help but say "If someone does something, they do it cause they think it's good". He was confused, as gamers seem to be, with me asking about roughly how it would end. I'm getting this revelation now, that gamers just don't 'get' an ending, even though every fucking medium they are exposed to, every book, movie, show, comic, has a fucking ending. Chris at one point said 'I don't play for endings'. WTF? It's yet another iceburg, but this time it doesn't matter to me because I'm asking about what I find fun. Anyway, eventually Bourke articulates a surprising clear case for participationism, where I'd been asking about the end and whether you can change it, he said 'Well, as characters in the heat of the moment you might think it'll change the ending, but you can't be sure' and 'I'll seem important, but it might not change the end that much'. Okay, participationism! You can socialise over coffee, beer, or participationism. Okay, I get that! Though I asked how damn serious it was going to be taken - I said I didn't want to be thinking on each move like it's chess, when the ending wont change anyway. I think he got me on that, which is good mutual ground.

Wow, what a long post of trivial details. See why I don't give AP accounts often - they're boring to write up! I haven't got any questions, maybe I'll think of some latter.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2008, 07:46:06 PM »

Quote
'I'll seem important, but it might not change the end that much'
That should read
'It'll seem important, but it might not change the end that much'


Also I think I got what confused me about that 'leaders of the party' thing. It's part of the phenomina that happens when rules don't actually resolve issues, so it falls to raw social contract to deal with it, usually via rank pulling. This is an extension of that - just like the manipulation of the BBG is part of 'winning', so is manipulation of the raw social contract/social hierarchy in order to achieve something. But of course that manipulation, if it works, results in real shifts in social position - just for a game. Jeez, over a hot woman or a country, you'd expect it there...but a game? I'm going to consider it a bad habit that's a result of non resolving rules - doesn't mean I'll put up with it any more than if it were completely deliberate/desired, though.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2008, 11:14:52 AM »

Blink. You call that a non-engaging play account? Callan, it's a gold mine. The terrible thing is trying to come up with insightful responses, when you provided so many of them.

The thing I like best is that you're not posting merely to bitch and rip on your friends. You're talking about how (a) you were able to dope out what they wanted, and (b) how they in fact did a number of things that were counter to what they wanted, or related to it in an interesting way.

You've read my and others' posts about Exalted, right? This is exactly the same stuff. The GM "has a story" which is allegedly pretty damned brilliant, even if it's mostly composed of visiting places and seeing yet another "thing" in each one (a hag? cool. a high mountain? cool. goblin bandits? cool. a donkey? cool?). I think you posted about that before, something about griffins and other monsters just sort of nestled in prep-space for the player-characters to see, one after the other. Meanwhile, the players are engaged in a sort of trivial semi-Gamism, which as you say becomes more about minor I-shoved-you rights, based on meaningless crap like dice outcomes (especially with a high Whiff Factor), rather than any kind of actual or consequential challenge. Each unit of such play is effectively independent and bobs, inconsequentially, on the sea of the aforementioned "story." However, everyone pretends it's real Gamism and that that's the point of play; to do this, their prioritized moments and minor rewards become more and more juvenile.

The combat's really the giveaway: you guys have fights in order to ... um, well, because you're supposed to have fights. Losing hit points is exciting, right? But you know you can grind down the foes' points eventually, and you know you aren't going to get killed by anyone or anything.

Here's the weird thing to me: if Participationism is the desired process, why bother with all that silly low-level competitive noise? Why keep pushing the buttons which, in a lot of D&D play, do a fine job of prompting intra-party conflict and thus provide a valuable nuance to the genuine Gamism? (example: my guy is evil so he whips the elf chick; who's gonna try to stop me, and how is that gonna affect our team tactics in the next fight or the treasure-divvying after it?) Whereas here, it's merely distracting, at most the opportunity to grin 'round the table about being sooo evil.

Why bother to take the guy into the kitchen? Clearly it's all about how the BBG is getting Matt's character on his side for the Secret Party Betrayal Character Story (tm). So your desire to talk to it has to get shut down - the plan is for you all to talk to it, but not until Matt gets to in private, so anything you say about talking to it before that can't be permitted to enter the SIS. But again, why bother? Can't we ... you know ... participate in the "Matt's gonna betray us!" storyline?

Again, this isn't about ripping on people for being stupid role-players, it's about looking at a true mental tangle. It's about keeping the trappings of Gamism without any of its guts. It's about wanting a "story" and being willing to step all over people's actual engagement in play in order to promote yet another repetition of a boring, hackneyed, well-known, and predictable semi-story. It's about constantly looking up the rules and yet maintaining a weird social space in which disallowing various rules is a particular person's purview. The question is why any of this stuff is perceived as how we do things, and why it continues to be done, repetitively. I am convinced it has everything to do with the same fallacies that govern gambling: Whoa! This time, it was almost fun! OK, OK, here it comes, I'll try it again, just like last time .... damn! Almost fun, again! Well, I'm not giving up. I'm all about fun. Here we go, here it comes, gonna get ready, OK, OK, almost there ...

One last thing: geez, that ninja really blows. Is it really that bad a rules combo? Or were you pretty much just screwed by the whiff?

One really last thing: you know that play of this kind almost always requires a butt person at the table, right? As in, the butt of the joke?

Best, Ron
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2008, 02:40:22 PM »

A-Fucking-Men, Ron. Callan, this shit is hot.

The GM "has a story" which is allegedly pretty damned brilliant, even if it's mostly composed of visiting places and seeing yet another "thing" in each one (a hag? cool. a high mountain? cool. goblin bandits? cool. a donkey? cool?). I think you posted about that before, something about griffins and other monsters just sort of nestled in prep-space for the player-characters to see, one after the other. Meanwhile, the players are engaged in a sort of trivial semi-Gamism, which as you say becomes more about minor I-shoved-you rights, based on meaningless crap like dice outcomes (especially with a high Whiff Factor), rather than any kind of actual or consequential challenge. Each unit of such play is effectively independent and bobs, inconsequentially, on the sea of the aforementioned "story." However, everyone pretends it's real Gamism and that that's the point of play; to do this, their prioritized moments and minor rewards become more and more juvenile.

Wow. This is a fucking dead-on description of the main campaign I was referencing over in the Mother-May-I thread (the first example).That's pretty much all we've been doing, week after week (at least we rotate to other, more engaging campaigns), with sometimes a fight, sometimes not. We're recruited by a secret society as Chosen Ones to stop The End of All That Is (someday), the city HQ is attacked, we retreat to a floating sky island (cool!) HQ, it passes over a dungeon of way ancient ruins (cool!) so we go explore it at GM direction, we touch an artifact that sends us to the Plane of Order (cool!), whose denizens send us to Earth, but it's waaay back in time at the Golden Age of Magic (cool!) where we visit a town and find the proprietor of the Magic Shop is a bound Devil (cool!) who we free and he starts sending us to dungeons and making us magic items, until we meet up with the Secret Society, thriving even way back when (cool!) who make preparations to send us back to our time (cool!), where. . .

Whew. That's pretty much all of play. Any attempt to go off the rails (me: "I wanna lead a rebellion against the Red Wizards of Thay!" Secret society: "Nope, the ENd of the World is more important and [ostensibly] urgent.") is rebuffed. Another player has some secret plan cooking that the GM appears from all the little notes and rolls and secret meetings to be colluding with, which the GM bemoans (but appreciatively) for screwing up major stuff, but we'll see if it really [ichanges[/i] anything. And that could run into social position issues, too--that guy gets to have a cool plan or side quest, but you don't. I dunno.

Looking at encounters through this lens, I definitely see the pattern hold up. Some of them are herding mechanisms (like the dragon attacking HQ to make us retreat, or the halfling caravan that led us to the town where we met the devil), but many are there just to go "ooh, ahh" at, like the sleeping Hydra in the Dungeon, who we just avoided, closed the door quietly and moved on (me: we've explored the rest of the area, let's figure out how to kill the Hydra to see what's beyond!" everyone else: "Are you CRAZY? We can't fight that thing!"), or the Dwarven Good Lich in the Dwarf ruins, who was just hanging out there for us to see "oh, a good Lich! cool!" and talk to and move on, after seeing him transcend to the afterlife. I've been starting to see the game for what it is over time, but Ron, your paragraph there illuminates it so eloquently and succinctly, there's not a doubt in my mind.

Here's the weird thing to me: if Participationism is the desired process, why bother with all that silly low-level competitive noise? Why keep pushing the buttons which, in a lot of D&D play, do a fine job of prompting intra-party conflict and thus provide a valuable nuance to the genuine Gamism? (example: my guy is evil so he whips the elf chick; who's gonna try to stop me, and how is that gonna affect our team tactics in the next fight or the treasure-divvying after it?) Whereas here, it's merely distracting, at most the opportunity to grin 'round the table about being sooo evil.

I can only think that it's because people don't know any other way to do it or think about it. I've been observing this for years in my group, and I'm pretty sure nobody actually wants to not have fun, but I think there's an assumption buried in the group tangle of understanding, that there just are mutually defeating elements to the activity of roleplaying, which are just sort of an interference you overcome to play. Sure, people might be frustrated by that interference at times, but wishing you could get what you want without the friction is like wishing you could eat without taking a shit, or get where you're going without walking or driving, or being in shape without exercising. Something like that, anyway.

Like, in the case of my group's constant "is he passing by me so I can talk to him yet?" I don't think anyone thinks that they can say "I talk to the guy as he passes" without vetting it through the GM--maybe the GM has something else set to happen before he passes. Maybe something'll happen and he won't ever pass by that spot. Maybe. . .etc etc etc. After all, "the GM runs the world," right? It's just. . .something you either make work for you, or at least work around or through to have your fun. Like a monarchy, your best hope is to get a kind king, or to curry favor/avoid displeasure. Not have a king? Huh? Whatever do you mean? Who'll issue decrees and live off our largess and stuff?

When I tried to decentralize Authority a bit in my Over the Edge game, I started with tweaking the scene framing, asking players what scenes they'd like to have next. When I got to one character, she started listing off all the NPCs she wanted to meet with, and I said, "OK, which one would you most like to do first?" SHe looked at me in blank confusion and said, "But. . .I don't know, you're the GM, I don't know what you're doing with the NPCs or if they're available, I can't decide that. . ." And it's not like she lacks the skill; she GMs several games herself and is confident and adept at it. She just didn't seem to even have the idea in her head that anyone but a GM could frame scenes with NPCs.

Callan,

I'm trying to find a quote to pull from your post to encapsulate what I took away from it, but I can't. That's because it drips from every damn word. What you describe in terms of social reinforcement, power structures, and pointless petty maneuvering in play is more concentrated and, I dunno, solidified than in my game, but for all that it looks like a mirror of my group. You've identified the underlying factors quite well and clearly. I especially like the playground sports analogy.

A couple of bits that stood out to me:
So in yet another way there's no big question, because the GM is only offering breadcrumbs to string out play - there's no change in dynamic, we may as well have been sent by Yaztromo to beat these guys and get exactly the same stuff.

This is very reminiscent of the campaign I'm talking about. I'm struck by just how much effort on the participants' part is required for anything to happen.

Is this what drives this petty manouvering when there is no win or lose in their game? You know, I'm pretty sure I can find the words which will shank this, while not leaving a ripple at the social politeness level. Or I'll just not play those games. Either's good.

This intrigues me on a very practical level. What sorts of things do you imagine you'll say to "shank" the petty playground maneuvering without making a scene? 'Cause I certainly haven't figured that one out. . .your little sarcastic dialogue with yourself as the opportunity to speak up passes you by is a frequent and familiar one. Anyway, the stuff you did say sounded right on the money, and the "who decides when the rule is used?" question you considered seems like a good one, much less confrontational then the secnd option. What else would you say in a game like this to avoid or defuse the social-jockeying thing?

In any case, thanks for this thread. Your thorough and meticulous report has immense emotional, and I hope practical, value to me. If it wasn't so long I'd almost wish it was a post in my own thread. :)

Peace,
-Joel
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
David B. Goode
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« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2008, 09:51:38 PM »

Callan,

That sounds so freaking frustrating. Sadly, I know in my gaming life I've both been one of those GMs whose word is law and who has his players on the tracks - and pretty much the same tracks over and over.

It was how my first GM ran his games, and honestly just the way I thought rpgs were supposed to be. I began to become aware of the problem
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"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." ~Gandalf the Grey

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David B. Goode
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« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2008, 10:32:08 PM »

Sorry, it looks like I posted in mid-post somehow. Here's what I actually wrote in full:

Callan,

That sounds so freaking frustrating. Sadly, I know in my gaming life I've both been one of those GMs whose word is law and who has his players on the tracks - and pretty much the same tracks over and over.

It was how my first GM ran his games, and honestly just the way I thought rpgs were supposed to be. I began to become aware of the problem in college when I noticed an increase in my old GMs tendency to say "your character wouldn't do that."

"How do you know?" I finally manned up and asked.

"He's a [insert stereotypical class]."

Our GM moved away eventually. I became the new regular GM. Years passed. All of us remembered how amazing this guys games were - and they were. Great semi-stories [no ends, really, but hell, we didn't know any better]. He came back in town and we had one night to play again. By now I was married, and my wife was in the group. They'd never really met. She started to describe the kind of character she wanted to play. Then, he started telling her about the kind of character she was going to play. (I had really hoped they would get along. They did not.) It was a second murmur in my gamer's heart that maybe the GM didn't have to be the absolute authority. I still couldn't conceive of another way to do it, I just didn't like the way it was.

Now, in my late thirties, I've been blessed with the best gaming group I've ever had. But a year ago, we were still sitting in a very similar place that you describe. We were 1) playing a game that couldn't be won or lost, where 2) the GM alone guided the semi-story until it fizzled out, and 3) the players (not characters) with the highest charisma called the shots.

I wasn't aware of the Forge (in fact I'm still very new here), and most other sights I was familiar with had a pretty old-school mentality. But I started listening to gaming podcasts like "Theory from the Closet", "Master Plan", "2d6 Feet in a Random Direction" and many, many others. I started picking up on the notion of player control. I caught a few ideas of how to introduce it. I tried them out. I talked to the players before games and when we were hanging out, kinda testing the waters.

And now? Well, now we still play games with a centralized GM, but with a helluva lot more player control. We've integrated social mechanics, so even the old min/maxer has decided charisma isn't a dump-stat. Our stories have endings, even if we pick up those old characters again for a sequel. And, there are so many consequences beyond gold and magic items, it seems like we all win and lose every game.

Now, I'm not sure this would have been possible with any group, and I'd still like to see us try out some things. Some players want to just "kill more monsters and get better loot". And as much as that makes me shiver, I think its a legitimate form of play. But then, half of my group started out that way a few years back, and now generally expect a deeper story with more input and equality.

What you did by asking Chris some solid questions about the type of game he was running, and the great point you made with Bourke, could be the first steps toward more enjoyable games, not just for you, but for the group.

You know, monarchs often have a much easier time of instituting democracies than do rebellions.

Just curious, but do you GM?

~David

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Callan S.
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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2008, 02:39:38 PM »

Erk, awkward sentence in my post. Bourke was going to run a starwars game, not Chris
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That's the end of that game. Poor Bourke though - Chris brought up that he wanted to run a game of star wars.
Chris brought the subject up, but Bourke was going to run the game - that's why I was aiming questions at him (I wouldn't have otherwise - it'd be a bit in your face to hit him with those questions if he's just another player, unless we had talked about that stuff for awhile). Basically while I'll deal with Chris's campaign, that doesn't mean I'll join with any old campaign like that (old friend = I'll give your campaign a shot. New aquaintance = I'll find out if the games actually fun, first). It also says something about presumed social arrangement that Chris brought it up, not Bourke. But nothing that's a big deal as far as I can see. Just clearing that up.


Hi Ron,

It's great to see some parralel thought here, with Joel too! But I have to nit pick about it being and great to give - giving the account is like describing how the balls fell in a pachinko machine (8 left, 2 right, one bounced then went right...). It's all just random trivia, dull as dishwater. Now yeah, it's not random, there are reasons and it's interesting to figure those reasons out. But before then it's random bits of trivia. Dat no fun 2 write!

And in terms of coming up with insightful responces, that's mostly a reflection of my time at the forge. :)

I've read some of your Exalted posts. I found much of it could have been speaking about Rifts or D&D play as I've experienced it. My experience of play is kind of like Joel described, except he seems to describe more cool locations and being somewhat hearded through them. I think keeping the trappings of gamism in my campaign is to help hide that, as if yeah, it's about the fight and yeah, now the fights over you head to here to recuperate, of course...

I once had a talk with Dan about Chris's GM'ing, I think it started from talking about the time he'd run a game where all the events from one of the Trollslayer novels happened (as an odd aside, I'd read a preview of one book he thought I hadn't read at all. During play I joked about invading skaven coming up, not realising that that was exactly what was going to happen, while he looked flustered but went with the books events anyway). Anyway, at one point I was giving Chris's GM'ing a bit of a laying into and Dan was agreeing and adding anecdotes (like the one above) - I described Chris's GM'ing as "It's like the rules are just there to give players something to do while the GM tells his story" and there was this pregnant pause from Dan. Some time latter it clicked that I'd described it just as he saw it. Except as a flaw, not a feature.

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Why bother to take the guy into the kitchen? Clearly it's all about how the BBG is getting Matt's character on his side for the Secret Party Betrayal Character Story (tm). So your desire to talk to it has to get shut down - the plan is for you all to talk to it, but not until Matt gets to in private, so anything you say about talking to it before that can't be permitted to enter the SIS. But again, why bother? Can't we ... you know ... participate in the "Matt's gonna betray us!" storyline?
Man, I must be getting rusty!! Totally didn't think of a betrayal! I'd suppose that again, it'd be keeping it secret to keep the trappings of gamism. You wouldn't get 'surprised'. Also it means portioning out some trust and power to players if they know there's a betrayal, because then they're in charge of managing character and player knowledge (at the very least). Remember Chris was going on before (when I mentioned the Dave Arneston XP rule) about how players would buy chickens with their gold, to get xp from the gold, then gold from the chickens. Clearly players will just abuse the system! (As I side idea I wonder if he actually finds some sort of gamist thrill about 'predicting' player abuse and supposedly countering it).

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Again, this isn't about ripping on people for being stupid role-players, it's about looking at a true mental tangle. It's about keeping the trappings of Gamism without any of its guts. It's about wanting a "story" and being willing to step all over people's actual engagement in play in order to promote yet another repetition of a boring, hackneyed, well-known, and predictable semi-story. It's about constantly looking up the rules and yet maintaining a weird social space in which disallowing various rules is a particular person's purview. The question is why any of this stuff is perceived as how we do things, and why it continues to be done, repetitively. I am convinced it has everything to do with the same fallacies that govern gambling: Whoa! This time, it was almost fun! OK, OK, here it comes, I'll try it again, just like last time .... damn! Almost fun, again! Well, I'm not giving up. I'm all about fun. Here we go, here it comes, gonna get ready, OK, OK, almost there ...
Yes, quite the opposite of stupid role-players - I'd say it's actually very, very smart play. It's like Ralph's old design example, where players would take flaws for their characters for the points, then whine when the GM tried to introduce them. And that's because whining had a small chance of avoiding the application of the flaw, and thus was rewarded. That's smart play (I say, whilst grinding my teeth). Everything in my account is in some sort of context, smart play. Otherwise my friends wouldn't do it - no one deliberately decides to do dumb play (except as a trick, which still makes it smart play).

In the same way I'd say gambling is smart play too. It's endorsed by society in general, since society gives it's blessings to use it's backbone - money - in gambling. That blessing shouldn't be underestimated - it's made ideas like conscription work, and that involves more than bankruptcy. Further, gambling never ends your play/kicks you out - it's always losing 'just this time' but having another chance to play. It's encouraged, the choices you can make wont end up ejecting you from play (though you may pause to gather more cash). The gambling pattern you describe is smart play (I say, whilst grinding my teeth).

From the players perspective if what he's doing is so bad, why is someone/a number of other people advocating the activity? If it's bad, why doesn't the design kick him out of play? That it doesn't stop him, further advocates what he's doing.

But I don't think it's just designers irresponsibly advocating certain activities. Thinking on it for some time, it's a sort of common habit to miss-associate authority or power with responsibility. It's a video game example, but on RPG.nets video games forum a fairly common thread type is the 'Why do gankers do it?'. Gank being to kill another player of considerably lower level than you, then kill him again when he revives, then again, and so on. These threads posts gain some length as people go on and on trying to make some sort of moral code about the whole thing, usually going 'Well, THIS is being an asshole, while THIS is being alright'. I bring up a video game, because it's incredibly clear cut - the designers put that option in there - they are responsible for the events, not the person who 'ganked'. But rather than re-evaluate the product these designers made, the thread is devoted to evaluating the other player/ganker.

In fact, on reflection I'm doing that here. One example is; Chris says you can't buy magic armour and I go 'For fucks sake'. I strongly associate the call with him. And with it, responsiblity. The book has rules like 'The GM decides what's on sale' or even some 'golden rule' style BS in the GM's handbook. If it were chess and he moved his knight to take my rook, it'd be a clear execution of the rules. But deciding we can't buy armour 'cause he doesn't like that' is so organic, and even Chris would assert he's doing his own thing. If you think he's doing his own thing, and he thinks that, isn't he? Well yeah, he is - but that still doesn't mean he's responsible for his own actions.

Well, I ran that past my partner, and she didn't buy into it! Heh. She thought the 'let you buy/won't let you buy' was a really broad choice and he's responsible for it. While the chess example is following a certain path, as she put it. Hmm, there's something here and it's hard to articulate. It might be to do with how in chess the other player is affecting his own path when he affects yours. While with this gear example and in the ganking example, the other person is just deciding your path and not their own. In society when someone weilds that sort of power over an individual, people en mass call for them to have moral constraint (otherwise the people group up and take out that power). Perhaps here, that reflex distracts from who gave him power in the first place. The designers and myself for agreeing to play. I was definately distracted from that fact.

Have I made yet another of those posts that makes no sense, writing this stuff? I think I've used establishment and support, but if it seems oddball can you tell me where it goes from 'Yeah, I can see what your establishing' to 'But where are you going with that??'.

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One last thing: geez, that ninja really blows. Is it really that bad a rules combo? Or were you pretty much just screwed by the whiff?
I think it's partly both - basically the D&D system relies on averaged out results. Say a rogue misses his sneak attacks, he can then flank and keep doing it, eventually getting his specialty niche backstab in. The ninja gets one shot at it, two if he beat their initiative, then that's it unless he uses his (currently), once per day vanish ability, which gives one more shot at it (I can bluff and get another go, but that uses up a whole round without the feat for it). He can't ride the averaging train, you have to roll good at the right times, I didn't, and bar cheating there's nothing to do but ride the suck. I have to say, with his low HP he's almost been killed a few times so far - that's been exciting and if he dies, I'm done with him. But he hasn't died, and he hasn't done much. I also looked up poisons, as he gets poison use - I thought it might be some way of making him a glass cannon. But the prices are prohibitive - around 300gp for one dose. Maybe the ninja's an in joke the designers made up?

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One really last thing: you know that play of this kind almost always requires a butt person at the table, right? As in, the butt of the joke?
Really? I'll ask them next time. Whether they need that to have any fun at all.



Hi Joel,

Thanks for the kind words!
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This intrigues me on a very practical level. What sorts of things do you imagine you'll say to "shank" the petty playground maneuvering without making a scene? 'Cause I certainly haven't figured that one out. . .your little sarcastic dialogue with yourself as the opportunity to speak up passes you by is a frequent and familiar one. Anyway, the stuff you did say sounded right on the money, and the "who decides when the rule is used?"
"who decides when the rule is used?" doesn't really cut to the bone, even if I said it. Because any old answer could be given and if I stop playing - there's no logical connection there as to why I stopped. Perhaps a moral code thing, but no logical connection.

However, politely asking "Oh, so method X is part of this game? Ah, didn't realise, sorry about that, my mistake I didn't mean to join a game with that. I'll just head out and watch some DVD's". No judgement, no accusation, simply apologetic. It shanks as much as it allows the other person to choose exactly what they want - without you. It's not a bluff, just genuine acceptance of them taking a path that goes in a seperate direction from you. What hurts is that acceptance and supports of anyones personal preferences/choices is such a rare quality, it hurts to leave that behind. Mind you, some will go a seperate way - which is good too, since they must find it really important.

Then again, perhaps I read too many of the 'Prince of nothing' novels! LOL!



Hi David,

I GM, but not for awhile now. We have another party of characters of around 10th level, which basically got started off because I'd just started reading the D&D3.0 books and GM'ed alot. Mind you, I used a random map generator from the web, altered some details, made up a story introduction to get them into it (usually the monsters of the random dungeon would inspire something) and proceed from there. But...after awhile D&D offers no more material that's new and surprising. I guess I'd say it offers no more reward for GM'ing (buying new books doesn't make sense to me - the original books should contain a reward still). And I find prep lothesome - writing even a town and dungeon while warping it in the interests of 'a better story/roleplay session' just dries up my inspiration and desire. Haven't GM'ed for awhile except for an off the cuff warhammer game.

Anyway, as I said it was Bourke who was going to run the starwars games, that's why I directed questions to him.
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2008, 10:14:21 PM »

At the risk of sounding off topic, I don't want to derail the thread so I'm referencing some ideas that I'm working on at the moment for a collaborative role-playing game with a de-centralised plot development mechanism.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=25591.0

I've been getting the same sorts of issues in a number of groups and I'm trying to find some ways to resolve them...so if you've got any input it would be much appreciated.

V
 

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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2008, 12:31:17 PM »

Callan, I actually understood just fine that it was Bourke who wanted to GM and Chris who brought it up. So no terrible sentence as far as I can tell.

I think the whole deal with the Golden Rule is that it simply isn't something you can agree with if you want a solid ruleset to support any contract. Nothing matters if "I can do anything whenever I want" is an option.

Chris can run a game where you won't gain any gear, but it isn't the default assumption when playing D&D. If you want gear out, state it up front and figure out how it's going to change the game (casters rule even more). You want to play gear-less D&D? Tell the players it's gonna be gear-less D&D and not default D&D!

As for the ninja... I think your analysis is quite on target. It's a rogue-monk hybrid and inferior to both; only the opening move of the rogue and the AC mechanic of the monk but none of its specialist tricks and without its mobility.
If you want to keep him: I would stick to ranged attacks, focus on improving attack modifiers and initiative and disregard AC. Use the rest of your money to get cheap poison that has paralyzation or uncounsciousness as initial damage because half measures and secondary effects are worthless in combat. Drow poison is perfect, otherwise Carrion crawler brain juice. Or even better: use Craft (poisonmaking) to make it yourself. Of course the big problem is that whether you can get poison is completely up to the GM.
Your niches?
1) Opening-turn killer - though not really at low level.
2) Low-fortitude-opponent (mage) disabler (if you've got poison), which would actually work quite well at low level.
3) Possibly scout.
The rest of the combat is staying out of harm's way and shooting arrows for slow damage.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2008, 02:43:37 PM »

Hi Jasper,

I there's an essential illusionism to rule zero - it's put there as if for the GM to add cool stuff. But adding can also be taking away (Eg, 'add' to shops that they don't sell magic cloth). It's ability to not only remove rules, but all rules, is hidden. Not to mention it's usually tucked away in some relatively obscure spot.

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Chris can run a game where you won't gain any gear, but it isn't the default assumption when playing D&D. If you want gear out, state it up front and figure out how it's going to change the game (casters rule even more). You want to play gear-less D&D? Tell the players it's gonna be gear-less D&D and not default D&D!
I've said things like that - particularly in going 'For fucks sake'. And in relation to that, I think I just have to let go of Chris's role in this. Essentially the golden rule negates every other rule - imagine one page with the golden rule and several hundred blank pages - that's D&D as much as you definiately know what it is (again, those hundreds of pages hide the golden rule). And Chris followed that rule perfectly. Sure I had to run into his power trip, but I'm sure there's parts of my personality he wouldn't want to face full bore. Were all like this.

In fact, since he followed the rule perfectly, I think I have been practicing illusionism to say it isn't the default, when factually it is. My intuition tells me that's the source of murk, when defensive illusionism on the players part clashes with the illusionism of the golden rule (I don't have a technical explaination, just a hunch).

But historically I don't think the golden rule has been actually mentioned in our group before this instance. Instead a number of other, almost identical variations have been (usually nameless, more like assumptions or reflexes). Like the GM decides what skill roll you make (hidden: Which means he can decide when you don't get to make a skill roll at all). Personally I saw them as filling in gaps in the games rules. I think at a time it was like that, but then it somehow became procedural within the group. That's an even more hidden version of the golden rule - atleast when it's printed, it's there in ink somewhere.

On a lighter note...
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Use the rest of your money to get cheap poison that has paralyzation or uncounsciousness as initial damage because half measures and secondary effects are worthless in combat. Drow poison is perfect, otherwise Carrion crawler brain juice. Or even better: use Craft (poisonmaking) to make it yourself.
Stop it! Stop it! ;) I'm trying to look at how the game wasn't an activity I enjoyed, but I've already looked at the poisons page and you had me at the comp, GM's handbook open yet again! I didn't have fun, really, but I have this urge which thinks 'Well, maybe I didn't play it right'. That urge has been right in some computer games. There was this game that was really easy and dull - but then I found if you keep to a certain timer you get huge amounts of points - and that was hard and really engaging. I think what mitigates it in that circumstance is that the comp game was atleast mildly amusing, so the activity was valid to a certain extent anyway. I think with D&D, rather than working out new strategies, I have to consider whether it was even mildly amusing.

I should have said this in the main post, but after Chris's game we all headed out to get some food and stuff - during the walk Chris offered, perhaps slightly shyly, that I could 'respec' if I want. He couched it in mmorpg terms, oddly - but what he went on to say is I could just change my character to a full on rogue, or something else in that theme. He said he thought I probably wasn't enjoying the class. I appreciate it, but at the time felt it was just letting go of another choice to GM fudging 'in the interests of a better game'. I said I'd think about it.

Really, there are board games out there that suck - and you should just play them and find they suck, rather than someone trying to rearrange all the rules mid play to keep you playing. But Chris is invested in what parts of the world he's plotted out - he's also on the sharp end of these crappy rules, not just me. He's got something to lose if I find the rules just suck and walk away. Well, actually I guess he's rounded up Bourke, Dan and Matt before - that's a few players even without me. Perhaps he was just trying to look after me.
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Grinning Moon
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2008, 07:28:37 PM »

Oh, ho, MAN; have I ever got to say something here. Callan, dude... how could you even stand 'playing' like this for as long as you did? That takes some real fortitude, though not the kind I'd envy having.

I think I ran into a GM trying to run a game this way one time in all of ever (of course, now that I think about it, I usually wind-up being the GM... and I'm pretty sure this was also the only time I was going to sit down and play a GM'd RPG where I wasn't the GM. Which I now scratch my head at, but anyway...). It wasn't even that long ago - about three years, I believe (I'd just turned 20, moved to the city and started poking around for RPG groups in local stores). The GM's name was Sean, and I didn't know him or his play group very well (we'd more or less just met the night prior to the game being run). He was going to kick-off a d20 Modern campaign.

It began as the very same idea as what's been said here; GM has us following a pre-planned, completely linear plot (actually, since I hadn't encountered this before, I thought it was kind of fun at first. Though the novelty quickly began to wane...), he invoked 'special GM privileges' if we did something that he felt would knock us off track or if he got frustrated at how easily we dispatched certain minions (this normally frustrates me immediately to the point of finding something else to do - but, in this case, I thought it was tolerable for the 'greater sake' of the linear plot - the story of which was at least interesting. A benefit that Callan wasn't even afforded), and finally - the real deal-breaker for me - when I requested the rulebook (if I recall correctly, it was to read-up on some of the firearm combat rule intracacies), Sean said 'no'.

Now, this is part of my personality: I don't just sit around doing boring things, even if that means I have to be a party-pooper. I also don't just take insults (and I felt pretty insulted by Sean's response) without saying something, even if that means there's going to be an uncomfortable moment.

I didn't lose my temper, start an argument or otherwise create a confrontation. I just told Sean the truth. "Man, I've got to be honest - I'm not having any fun." I think that those were, perhaps, the wisest words to ever come out of my mouth.

Now, I didn't know Sean, and I pretty much just assumed he was some asshat, 'I don't want you messing with none of my things' power-tripping geek. So, as I said that stuff, I just began grabbing my die, rolling-up my sheet and pushing-out my chair...

...But my assumption, as it turns-out, was dead wrong.

"Oh. I'm really sorry. Is there something you usually do that makes the game more fun for you?"

So I pull my chair back in, smooth my sheet out, get the die out of my pocket, and talk. And TALK. It turns-out that nobody else was having fun either (Sean least of all, since his story that he worked so hard on wasn't delivering on the level he wanted it to - he wanted to use it to 'show-off' to me, the new guy) because we all sort-of 'assumed' a social contract was in place... but, I mean, of COURSE there wasn't, because not a single one of us bothered to mention what we would be doing to make the game fun. We were too busy making uber l33t robo-gangsters to discuss something so trivial as 'fun'.

Sean is actually a really fantastic human being and roleplayer. We just had to communicate properly. After we'd done that, the campaign actually kicked-off again with a lot of enthusiasm and wound-up being very memorable.


I know the situations are different, Callan, and maybe Chris (I assume you know him better than I knew Sean at the time) really IS just an asshat... but it doesn't look like you tried to communicate with him. It's great that you kept your hostile thoughts in your head, but you really should've said SOMETHING. Something polite and something even-toned, yes - but Chris can't read your mind, and he can't know for sure that you aren't having fun if you don't say so. Next time - be honest with them. Tell them you're not having fun.

Maybe they'll just flip you off, sure. Then you might want to consider why you bother hanging with them in the first place (they clearly aren't worth your time). Or, maybe they'll discuss the matter with you, and it'll make future sessions better for everybody.
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2008, 10:16:56 PM »

Hi, Callan!

"who decides when the rule is used?" doesn't really cut to the bone, even if I said it. Because any old answer could be given and if I stop playing - there's no logical connection there as to why I stopped. Perhaps a moral code thing, but no logical connection.

I was thinking of this question being more of a gateway, an opening of further dialogue. Like, the answer could be "oh, uh. . .I guess the GM decides." And you could probe that further: "so what can players reasonably expect from the GM in terms of consistency and stability?" and so forth. Or perhaps the answer would be "Well, of course, anyone can decide to invoke it." And again with the probing: "Really? Could I decide that my PC's attack should ignore an NPC's defense, 'cause it would be more fun or tell a better story?"

I dunno, this is definitely a debate sort of scenario, i.e. NOT an open-minded discussion among freethinking equals, but a clash of entrenched positions. So I'm not sure what kind of effect I'd expect or want it to have; accord is unlikely, understanding a bit dicey, and polarization rather probable. But there is some appeal to me in everyone knowing where I stand even if it divides us (though often my debate, like yours, is internal).

Maybe a more functional version would be "Who decides? Oh, the GM? Well, I personally don't like that, because. . ." Of course this looks like your:
However, politely asking "Oh, so method X is part of this game? Ah, didn't realise, sorry about that, my mistake I didn't mean to join a game with that. I'll just head out and watch some DVD's"
. . .but the key difference is that I'm looking for ways to discuss what I want out of a game, my desires and dissatisfactions both, in a way that doesn't involve quitting. :) I think my current group may be beyond salvage (as per the other thread), but I'd still like to develop a robust set of conversational and behavioral tools for addressing this functionally in future groups.

Peace,
-Joel
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Callan S.
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2008, 12:34:45 AM »

Hi Grinning Moon,

Hooo, let me cast back, back through the mysts of time. I could say it's the gaps between games that make me forget, or the art of illusionism adding one just sucky thing at a time so as not to break the camels back. Or the going there for the social catch up. Or a bunch of other trivia.

But what's sad is it's trust - not in Chris or anyone else, but in that games are actually fun. Just as an idea - one pretty well supported by chess, or frisbee, or monopo...well, frisbee and snakes and ladders and shoot 'em up video games, and so on.

Do you remember the fable of stone soup? Where the guy basically cons everyone into adding an ingrediant - and the soups fantastic in the end, but only cause they thought stone soup by itself was going to be great?

I do not want to have a chat with everyone to make it a really fun game - I want the soup I paid for. The soup I trusted was there. The basic unit of trust that you give money, you get some sort of product. So I say FUCK making this stone soup good! I have sat and I have waited patiently for the product to pay, and it kept acting like it would. But it is flawed. What's worse is that if I waved the companies responsibility to actually earn their money and we had a good old chat to get some fun, those flaws would still freaking undermine the work we could do, until every one of them is ironed OUT. Not only do they not provide a product, if you accept that you still have to fight to get their monkey off your back!

I've spoken with Daniel about making a whole new game (though that's fallen to the back burner, but simply because he didn't want the gamism I thought he did all these years). I'm fine with talking about how to get our fun in a game...that were making. Of course when it comes to design, I absolutely agree alot of talk is needed. But a purchased product is another matter.

I know alot of people take it as 'yeah, of course you do that' these days that everyone has to have a big creative chat before you can play, including at the forge. It's simply not true, unless the instructions say 'Sit around and have a big creative chat'. If the instructions don't tell you you need to do this, but you need to do it to play, the game is flawed. It doesn't matter how much fun you have, it's treating a flawed product as if its a good one. That wont be healthy.

Oh, and I'm a sucker - see up above where I say I broke open the books looking for the poison rules. I'm just a bit of a sucker. Also Chris didn't ask for any advice (in your example, Sean basically did). Honestly, alot of advice material at the forge will burn a mans cherised RP ideals to the ground. But that can't happen unless he asks first - I've learnt that from forge threads - people will only absorb something related to their question. Until they ask, it's water off a ducks back.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2008, 03:55:17 PM »

That's a strong, thought-provoking post, Callan. I think I agree with a lot of it.

One thing that strikes me is the "big creative chat" criticism. My thinking is that a pre-game conversation does best to serve the same purpose it does for any other activity, whether it's formal or informal. That purpose is best described as getting on the same page.

I remember when I played volleyball for fun years ago ... one thing you learned to find out, and it was usually through informal and unconstructed conversations, was how ruthless or violent the game was to be. Once you knew you should find out, then it became clear that everyone expected everyone to find out beforehand, and for groups to coalesce based on shared values about it. I don't know if it's the same for long-term players of card games or anything similar, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Like you, I am suspicious of some of the advice that gets tossed around, less so on the Forge perhaps, that sounds to me more like ... well, like deciding who is going to win, or who is going to look the best, or how it's going to feel to play. I don't think that kind of conversation is useful and I also think it's going to cause more problems than it solves.

It might be a good topic one day to consider the difference between getting on the same page about an activity, versus destroying the activity's content by over-controlling it or being too reassuring beforehand. I've spent a hell of a lot of time setting up successful groups and setting up successful games within those groups. I wonder what I'm doing at the border, or somewhere in the functional zone, of these things?

Best, Ron
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Callan S.
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« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2008, 06:11:58 PM »

I think the volleyball example shows people chosing variations on a game - a more ruthless game, or a more peaceful one. The big creative chats that I see advocated appear to be at the level of 'Well, should we use a ball at all?'. Fundimental elements.

And that's perfectly fine if they had set out to design a whole new game for themselves - if one of the designers doesn't like balls, lets talk and find that out! We don't have to have a game with balls, lets do something different! That's a really healthy process going on in that case, IMO.

That's probably why it seems healthy to choose to buy a game, then go through that level of creative chat. But...it's hard to articulate - I think that level of chat means not facing the result of your own choices. To choose a game that uses a ball, but then have that chat about whether you use a ball...well, lets say your crap with a ball and that's not as fun as being good with it. Either you don't get rid of the ball, which "doesn't make sense" cause surely you don't do things which aren't fun! Or you get rid of the ball and not face the results of your own choice. But what's the point of making choices if you don't see their results? It's a catch 22 situation.

I think that's why I have a stubborn urge to stick with my ninja. Yes, it sucks. But I want to find out the result of my choice, otherwise I wouldn't have made a choice. The game doesn't have an ending/a result, so I'm left to making my own results system - ie, does it suck? The month or two between games probably makes the feeling of suck slowly dissipate, not to mention some GM management of suck in game, means I never rise to a results level of 'this definately sucks'. Kind of a limbo.
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