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Author Topic: [PTA] Players wanting their PCs to fail?  (Read 26523 times)
Halzebier
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Posts: 216


« Reply #30 on: July 18, 2008, 06:13:14 AM »

Quote from: ”Ron”
1. Upon re-reading, I realized that the original D&D game context for the PTA show may well be a core problem.

Okay, so let me fill in everybody on some of the background of this particular game.

The group has been playing  the D&Dish German FRPG “Das Schwarze Auge” for about ten years.  For the past five years the game has been run by Kevin, who is currently on a business trip.

This is the game I’ve dropped out of and we’re using its world for PTA.

*-*-*

Is PTA an attempt to fix our regular fantasy game?

I became frustrated with DSA – and enamored of the idea of Indie games (no actual play yet) –  years ago and started to pitch them to the group. Our earliest experiment was The Pool – also set in the DSA world – and it was a big success. (I'll hunt down the link later.) Everyone’s still talking about it to this day and Violet even tried to run The Pool during a holiday (I wasn’t there, but according to Carl, it was an unmitigated disaster).
 
I then ran The Mountain Witch, Under the Bed, and InSpectres (usually when Kevin, the regular DM, was on a business trip).  None of these games ran smoothly or were as well received as The Pool. This did not faze me, as I was fascinated by the things that worked (or seemed to work, perhaps) and attributed the things that didn’t work to “having to learn the ropes”.

(Oddly, we never went back to The Pool. I suspect that I secretly fear that it wouldn’t be as magical as the first time and have thus offered other Indie games and perhaps hid behind the “having to learn the ropes” excuse.)

I did not set out to fix our DSA game, but I certainly set out to convert the group to other games. I have failed in this, but just now, things seemed to be looking up:

(1) I’m no longer part of the DSA game. This makes it easier for me to run Indie games as I’m not suffering from a weekly case of hyper-frustration about that game. As a result, my zealotry has diminished considerably. After all, I don’t have to find a way to stop the pain anymore. (I do have another group which plays D&D 3.5/4e. I greatly look forward to game night every week.)

(2) PTA has sparked considerable enthusiasm – before and after the first sessions – and Carl has suggested a follow-up. The beginning of a conversion after I had given up all hope?

So I’m not under as much pressure as before, but I certainly care a lot about this game.

Quote from: ”Ron”
Mysterious origins is not an issue, and this is not merely quibbling, it's like saying "that opera singer is dead." There is literally no way it can do what it's supposed to, because "solving the riddle" is pure information. It isn't "mysterious," it's merely absent, and as such, is solved when the hole is filled. Compounding that, Carl even already had the answer made up!

I only saw the compounding problem, but not the root. I’d like to thank both of you.

Quote from: ”Ron”
3. You asked me how I'd handle the "fake ink" scene. The answer is that I wouldn't have to. Since the character literally has no issue, there can no conflict about it, and hence there isn't a way to handle it. What that situation at your table was about, was solely about seizing authority in order to maintain control over the back-story. [..…] Anyway, I dunno - I think I can only say that (a) you need characters with issues, (b) you need conflicts of interests among characters (not preferred outcomes) in order to have a draw, and (c) you need to follow the PTA rules in order to enjoy PTA's strengths.

The distinction of (b) in particular rings true and matches my diffuse concern about the players failing to play their characters “as usual”. I have difficulties expressing this – the players seem to abandon the SIS too quickly to talk about it from the outside. Rather than saying “I go to the baron and say …” or “My guy goes over to the baron and attempts to persuade him…” it’s all, IFs, THENs, WOULDN’T IT BE COOLs, THAT’S A GOOD IDEAs etc.

Some of that feels splendid, mind you, but there’s only so much the game can take. (If or to what extent this is good, is a question I’m grappling with.)

Quote from: ”Ron”
What I'm saying is that people at your table, mainly Carl in your examples, are not playing anything, much less PTA. They are grabbing, as if the whole game posed the SIS as a prize. Whether it's back-story, others' characters' actions, outcomes of scenes, or visions of what is to come, they are using scene framing, establishing conflicts (actually pre-narration), dice rolls, and final narrations as methods for that competition. They are not actually framing scenes to play in, in the sense of not knowing what will happen in play itself; nor are they posing conflicts as opportunities to see character issues in action; nor are they utilizing the system as written as the opportunity for non-negotiable collaboration that it is.

I think (or hope, at this point) we had genuinely successful instances of play in there as well, but the problems you describe certainly fit the bill. I’ll try to describe some of the good instances in a future post.

Quote from: ”Ron”
I strongly suggest examining the behavior of the real people at that very moment. How much interpersonal drama, in the negative posturing sense of the word, do you see? There may be laughter: is it really fun laughter, or tense? There may be engagement: is it really in the fiction, or in the chance to dominate? There may be expressions and tones you've been selectively forgetting: a certain hysteria, a choked kind of breathing, a weird "you got me" letdown for the loser, and often, facial expressions that connote resentment and aggression. I say again - I have observed all of these, and then been surprised to see people publicly proclaiming how good & awesome their experience was, only they never seem to want to play that particular game again.

You’ve hit a sore spot, here. Why did my group never want to have another run of The Mountain Witch or Under the Bed? And looking at the past sessions of PTA, there are instances where some of your hard questions may require a hard answer.
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Halzebier
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Posts: 216


« Reply #31 on: July 18, 2008, 06:22:00 AM »

Quote from:  “Paul Czege”
But I'm interested to know whether you think it's possible to put players into a constructive and fun frame of play behaviors more with good advice than with admonishments and stipulated requirements? And if so, what advice you'd give to achieve that?

I’ll second Paul’s query because this is just the dilemma I am facing now. I’d like to get things on track but how? Of course, a lot depends on the social interactions at our table which I’ll have to judge for myself, but the current discussion (and any advice) is very welcome.

I'm currently considering three points: I'd like to...

(1) appeal to the players to police themselves regarding the craziness (and gently remind them to reconsider something, if necessary).

(2) stop shirking my GM duties, i.e. enforce the PTA rules (this entails all sorts of things and is not easy where my own understanding is problematic) and take firm control of NPCs and scene framing where this is my responsibility

(3) appeal to the players to keep an open mind (that's wishy-washy and I have no idea how to really do this).

Quote from: ”Ron”
So with PTA, it's true, specific scenes are designated as Conflict Scenes from the outset. I see that as an agreement for everyone to be mindful, as we play, of the possibility of in-fiction, among-character conflicts of interest coming to be expressed by the characters in word or deed.

We’ve mostly abandoned declaring a scene’s purpose, i.e. we go through the motions, if that. Your statement confuses me a bit – should we ditch this or take extra care? The former is alluring (less work) and the latter seems fraught with danger (yet more pre-scene discussion).

Quote from: ”Jesse (in its entirety because it’s so good)”
I think Ron's analysis of the social issues resulting from the misapplication of Stakes is brilliant.  For a while now I've been calling this phenomenon, "player-side railroading."  Players build characters and then pre-play get all invested in the story their going to tell about that character.  Then they use Stakes as the arbiter of who gets to deliver the next bit of their story.

This is the biggest hurdle I have when introducing Sorcerer to players who came to indie-games via Stakes oriented games taught to them badly.  They end up whining about how little *direct* control over the direction of the narrative (i.e. outcomes) they really have.  They feel like they're wrestling with the system to tell *their* story.  They bitch about how they can't *make* anything happening.  We're seeing this played out with In A Wicked Age... as well.

It's all classic Story Before except instead of one one person herding a group of players together it's six people fighting over who gets to herd next.

This sounds painfully true.

After I had pitched the game to the group (“How about a wandering circus in the DSA world with a nifty new set of rules?”), I discussed it with one player (who ultimately didn’t find the time to participate) on the way home and later on the phone. He was extremely enthusiastic about it and immediately started to work out what kind of characters we’d need, who he’d play, what backstory the circus should have, and all sorts of particulars. I felt like SCREAMING “For God’s sake, keep your mind open. Wait for the brainstorming of the first session. Wait for the others’ ideas. Work out your character then.”

(To be fair, I also had all sorts of ideas tumbling around in my mind, but I emphatically did not want to go there at that time.)

Quote from: ”Ron”
Now for a totally different point ... as it happens, there may well be an enjoyable version that bears mention, which we might call "story conferencing" without the negative connotation I've been including with the phrase. Imagine playing PTA with little or no in-character depiction, taking the designated Conflict scenes very seriously as such, and having nearly every step be highly influenced by an all-included talk among the participants. I'm still pretty sure that pre-narration of outcomes would not be functional, but perhaps character goals would be stated in such detailed ways that they were almost pre-narrations.

I think some good parts of our PTA game went down like that. My problem is (a) figuring out whether that’s a consistently fun way to play for us (which isn’t up to me, really) and (b) how to transition to a more character-centric (for lack of a better word) way if it is not. And during the game, too, as I suspect a bit of story-conferencing is natural.
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Halzebier
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Posts: 216


« Reply #32 on: July 18, 2008, 06:37:32 AM »

Okay, here's the link to this group's first Indie game, a nice experience indeed: [The Pool] First Experience (long)

I should note that Violet = Vicky and Hank = Henry. I'm not using the players' real names and am using a pen name myself for personal reasons. I know that Forge etiquette and custom is different. I intend no disrespect to our community.

Best Regards,

Hal
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Marshall Burns
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« Reply #33 on: July 18, 2008, 09:58:24 AM »

I don't think the issue here is really misreading of "stakes" or of pre-narrating outcomes.  It would seem that there is a misreading of "stakes" involved and that there are pre-narrations of outcomes involved, but they look like they stem from something else.

The root of the problem here, the toad under the fountain that's causing all the problems, is authority.  Who has authority over Character X's back-story?  Who has authority over X's actions and decisions?  Who has authority over the outcomes and consequences of those actions?  Who has authority over what independently happens to X?  In what situations might this authority change hands?

From what I can tell, the answers to these questions in Hal's game are up-in-the-air, at least from time-to-time, and they are re-purposing the resolution mechanics to arbitrate who has authority over what at what time.  That is a very spiky way to play ANYTHING, and it calls for a very particular Social Contract, or else someone's gonna get spiked.

The reason it's a problematic way to play is that it leaves two fundamental questions unanswered:  "What should I contribute to the game?" and "How should I treat others' contributions?"

A good system answers those questions by delineating who has authority over what, at what times, and to what extent that authority goes.  That authority can be apportioned in any way, as long as the arrangement is understood.  You can even yield authority.  Let's say that I have authority over my guy's actions and decisions.  Bob says to me, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if your guy did blahblahblah?"  I could say, "Yeah, that would be cool!  My guy does blahblahblah," or "Nah, I don't so," or "Yeah, that would be cool, but I don't think it would make sense," or any permutation thereof.  Point is, when Bob said "Wouldn't it be cool?" he was contributing something to the game, so I ask myself, "How do I treat Bob's contribution?"  The answer in this case is that I accept or reject it based on my authority over the thing in question.

Now, here's a thing:  the pertinent part of the answer to "What should I contribute to the game?" in Bob's case here is, "I should contribute suggestions to other players when I deem appropriate, but I should do so with the knowledge that they might accept or reject them based on their apportioned authority."  If Bob is not aware of this, and I reject his suggestion, he is subject to feel very put-out about it.

Now, I haven't read PTA, so there's a limit to how useful I can be in this discussion.  But, Hal, I'd strongly recommend that you give the rules a once-over, looking for the various answers to the questions "What should I contribute to the game?" and "How should I treat others' contributions?" in the various situations (lower-case S, not Big Model Situation) that arise in play.

-Marshall
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Alan
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« Reply #34 on: July 18, 2008, 10:56:14 AM »

Marshall,

Let's say that I have authority over my guy's actions and decisions.  Bob says to me, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if your guy did blahblahblah?"  I could say, "Yeah, that would be cool!  My guy does blahblahblah," or "Nah, I don't so," or "Yeah, that would be cool, but I don't think it would make sense," or any permutation thereof.  Point is, when Bob said "Wouldn't it be cool?" he was contributing something to the game, so I ask myself, "How do I treat Bob's contribution?"  The answer in this case is that I accept or reject it based on my authority over the thing in question.

Table talk like "Wouldn't it be cool if my character does this?" just isn't a use of any kind of authority. It's just speculation -- testing the water. And a conflict resolution system is not for testing if you should use your existing authority to put something into the "reality" of the SIS -- it's a test of what has already been put into the SIS. PTA conflict resolution in particular works best when the elements of the conflict have already been entered into the SIS through play before the draw.

Speculation about actions and outcomes between players bypasses the system. When, as in the case of discussing the outcome of a conflict before actual resolution, it becomes a detailed and exciting image that short circuits the creative energy of the outcome of the conflict system.

It does take a certain amount of courage for a player to just put an action in play without testing the idea with other players or the GM. Particularly if they're used to a system where the GM can just undercut their statements. I'd suggest encouraging the players to put their ideas directly into action instead of testing them. Story games in general are designed to make this safe. Trust the system, Luke.
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Marshall Burns
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« Reply #35 on: July 18, 2008, 11:06:47 AM »

Hang on there, the made-up example with Bob there was one of a player suggesting what someone else's character does.  Which is an important distinction, because that someone-else's response to that suggestion IS an application of authority, and it is part of System even if it's not part of the "resolution mechanics."
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #36 on: July 22, 2008, 08:52:27 AM »

Hello,

I'm not sure what I can offer as a prescriptive, except these three abstract points. For a social, proactive activity to be successful, three things must necessarily be in place.

1. The people must trust that the activity's procedures actually work and they must be willing to understand them and use them for what they are.

2. They must want to do exactly this thing, at this time (to the exclusion of other things), and with these particular people with whom they are doing it (as opposed to "just anyone").

3. They must be willing to make mistakes as they learn how to do the activity, as well as to accept however-well-it-works at a given time as a means to enjoy it better next time.

All of these are normal and common expectations for most people engaged in most such activities. They're not really well-established in gaming culture, as I see it.

Regarding your last two posts, it seems to me that your group might do well to consider whether #1-3 are in place, and whether they want them to be in place.

But even before that, I recommend thinking about something that you wrote: your goal to convert the other players. That makes me less confident about the whole endeavor. It's not the same as the more positive situation of people gathering to do what they want even if some of them aren't sure about how to do it exactly. It doesn't lend itself well to the points listed above.

Best, Ron
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morgue
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« Reply #37 on: July 25, 2008, 06:13:57 PM »

I sent a PM to Ron about this thread that he suggested I post.These are the relevant parts.

My response to your comments on this subject (I read the "chesting" threads on S-G a couple years ago and have seen other instances over the years) has consistently been an intuitive agreement that you're dead right and that's how it ought to be, and in my (sadly infrequent) play of these games since, I've pushed in that direction with success.

However, I have to acknowledge that a mid-length game of PTA I played through with friends (run by hix) before I'd encountered this line of thought did, heavily, get into the pre-conflict discussion - and it was incredibly successful. I think it delivered exactly the right play experience, with conflicts that were always the most awesome conflict that we could come to. Often, but not always, the outcomes would be relatively settled, and narration rights tended to be used in play to throw crucial details in the mix and to mess with and elaborate on the main outcome, which seemed to be enough for our group, although it fits perfectly with your concerns about that general play making narrators disappear - for many conflicts, the narration wasn't really worth much in the final analysis. (I am compelled to add that there were many conflicts that did work exactly as you recommend, with no pre-narration at all, and they worked fine as well.)

I'm not sure how that works, that I can feel you're right but have direct experience of a contradictory example. I'm not convinced that what we were doing fits Valamir's counterargument either.

My current thoughts on this are that we stumbled into a functional version of this play that might well not generalise (even to us trying to do the same thing again now); that this kind of play therefore is risky but not inevitably dysfunctional; and, crucially, that there were specific things we were doing that allowed us to be successful. The trick, of course, is that I'm not sure what those specific things were. I suspect that there might be something of value in figuring them out, not so we can say "here's the way to do pre-narration right!" but just of general use in understanding how people are interacting with these kinds of resolution systems.

So I guess I'm wondering if you've previously addressed people saying they've had functional play in this mode - I'd be keen to read a thread on this subject.

---

[I'll resist the urge to add extra context now, mostly because I need to leave the house in ten minutes and have many things to do. Of course, I invite comment from more than just Ron, as appropriate.]
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My given name is Morgan but everyone calls me morgue. (Well, except my beloved grandma.)
I contribute to
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hix
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Steve Hickey


« Reply #38 on: July 25, 2008, 10:50:39 PM »

To elaborate on what Morgue's said, our process seemed to be driven by the joy of discovering what made our characters tick. Thinking about it, I'd say the following steps were involved:

+ As a group, we always had a unanimous consensus about whether a situation had turned into a conflict.

+ All of us were willing and curious to explore what the precise nature of that conflict was. Usually, that meant probing (as a group) the psychologies of the characters involved, and how their Issues could manifest.

+ Sometimes, after going through that process, we'd think we'd settled on a conflict but someone would express a reservation that we hadn't gone 'deep' enough. We'd then reexplore it, and come up with something that satisfied all of us.

+ There was always a point where, as a group, we'd say that we'd clarified what the conflict was about in everyone's minds, and that we were ready to go to the Draw.

+ As a consequence of all that discussion, possibilities for good and bad outcomes would usually have emerged. While this was a case of us pre-determining the outcomes, I think we focused strongly on characters' emotional states and on the immediate changes to their relationships with other characters involved in the conflict. There was never any massive forward planning on our parts.

My interpretation of what we were doing was that we took great pleasure in making our characters' lives as difficult as possible, because we were all fascinated with what they would do next.



(The write-up for our game, Phoenix, is here. Inspired by the seige of the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, it's essentially a small town drama crossed with a creepy sci-fi vibe about a cult that might be taking over all of the locals.)

(Matt, who joined us for Season 2, also talks about the joy of character failure in PTA here.)
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Cheers,
Steve

Find out more about Left Coast (a game about writers, inspired by the life of Philip K. Dick) on Twitter: @leftcoastrpg
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #39 on: July 26, 2008, 06:15:22 AM »

Thanks guys! It's a big day so my reply will probably be delayed.

Best, Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #40 on: July 28, 2008, 10:39:31 AM »

Hi guys,

Morgan, I think you have it backwards. I suggest that you are describing a specialized version of what I’m talking about as positive, not a “good version” of what I’m criticizing.

I think I know exactly what you’re talking about because I’ve done it myself. A fair amount of our PTA show “The Heel” tended in that direction in play, as did the PTA game run by Georgios that I played in Berlin. I also think it’s a constructive feature of playing Polaris.

Marshall’s correct that Authority is the key issue, as I mentioned in my posts as well. In “rules” PTA play, Content and Situation Authority lie with the Producer, with the latter developing further into conflict-situations via near-standard role-playing within scenes. Outcome Authority lies with the narrator’s interpretation of card outcomes. Plot Authority lies partly with the process of deciding who’s got a scene next and whether it’s character or conflict, but mostly simply by springboarding off whatever happened in the last scene.

In this other way we’re talking about, basically, it revises the distribution of Situation Authority by spreading it around, maximizing the basic idea of “everyone can talk” into “everyone does talk,” and shrinking the Producer’s role over Situation into Authority-discussion-leader rather than Authority-person. It also shifts the Outcome Authority to the group as a whole and thereby shrinks the narrator’s role.

What I’m saying is that none of these forms of Authority are broken or thrown into a fragile state; they are merely distributed differently from textual-rules PTA play.

The Situation/Outcome discussion can also introduce a stronger element of Plot Authority into the whole of play, more into a Polaris mode instead of leaving it as loosey-goosey as textual-rules PTA play (which is very like Sorcerer and Dust Devils in this regard).

(I’m not surprised that a number of people have contacted me over the last year or so requesting explanation of the difference between Situation and Plot Authority. I have always replied, post in Actual Play about a scene from any role-playing game you’ve ever participated in, and I will use that to explain it to you. To date, no one has.)

To sum up, the big shift in the actual rules-of-play is toward a consensus-based approach, which I claim is the opposite of what I’m criticizing, which is clearly an individually-competitive based approach.

What makes them appear superficially similar is that the resolution mechanics are Drifted significantly toward Fortune-at-the-End instead of Middle.

However, I’m suggesting that in your (and my) case, this is perfectly valid and interesting Drift, and whether it’s “still PTA” is interesting but not an urgent matter. It’s valid because Authority and related concerns are altered from the PTA rules, but altered in a new, functional, and group-affirming configuration of their own. It’s sort of Polaris-by-way-of-PTA.

Whereas in the version of play which I’m criticizing, the group investment in play (specifically the SIS, “what is happening) is ruptured by the proposed alternate narrations, rather than confirmed. The seeming social unity of the discussion is actually social tension rather than collaboration.

Here are some points in your posts which I think support this conclusion.

1. Steve, you make it clear that the topic at hand in the SIS is still character-centric conflict exactly as I described in my posts above. Although the method of discussing and resolving it is different from the PTA rules, the “it” remains precisely the same.

2. Morgan, I think it’s very important that you specified that this Drift or shift or whatever is an added technique to play which otherwise is very like what I describe above (the positive kind, PTA by the rules kind). In other words, it’s a kind of Drift-y enrichment of playing PTA rather than breaking with it.

I think both of these points show that what you’re talking about is really different from what Hal and I are discussing about his play experience.

3. Granted, this last point is comparatively lightweight. Steve, you specified that the discussions generated possibilities of future outcomes, which may mean as distinct from absolute dictations of them. That might mean that although the final narrator’s role is diminished, it is in fact present, and might still carry some weight if called for. Based on my experience, though, I do find that the final narration using these techniques is mainly filling in Color, so I’m not going to claim this point as a big part of my argument. I’m pretty much pointing to a care in phrasing your post which leads me to devote further attention to it in later play.

Let me know what you think. This is a very important topic.

Best, Ron
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morgue
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« Reply #41 on: July 29, 2008, 01:38:07 AM »

Hi Ron,
I've been mulling on this all day, and I'm entirely comfortable with your characterization.

Hmm. Here's a further comment - I'm curious to see if I'm thinking about this in the same way as you are.
 
Our Drifted local-PTA is functional in its own right, but with its emphasis on (a) fortune-at-the-end and (b) shared situation authority, it would be even more prone to the social tension you have talked about. If we sat down again and played that way, we might find ourselves moving into the style of play you criticise more easily than we would if we were playing it as written, because (a) is a point of similarity and (b) is a point of vulnerability to exploitation/abuse.

Steve's description earlier reminds me of a specific aspect of our play that emerged over several sessions. We began structuring conflicts heavily towards a very specific model - that *every* conflict should be a test of the character's issue. Success would involve the character somehow taking a step towards resolving their character issue (say, by living up to their ideals), and failure should involve the character taking a backwards step or complicating their issue (say, by succumbing to habit or temptation or whatever). In this way, we ended up taking key character-behaviour decisions out of the hands of players and putting them at stake in the resolution system. You could phrase the conflicts thus: "I hope Joe Character acts like *this* - but I'm afraid they'll act like *that*."
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My given name is Morgan but everyone calls me morgue. (Well, except my beloved grandma.)
I contribute to
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #42 on: July 29, 2008, 08:03:45 AM »

Hi Morgan (I find myself standing with your grandma regarding your name),

Here's my take on your statement: I don't think it's fair or valid to say that this Drifted-local version (which I think is very common) is more prone to dysfunctional social tension of the Chesting sort. My point is that I don't think this kind of play is related to the Chesting-type phenomenon at all.

Basically, there are three kinds of play we're talking about: A, PTA by the textual rules; B, PTA as you and I and others have Drifted it in a characteristic way; and C, Chesting-play which cannot really be called playing PTA despite the book being present at the table. As you can see, I'm saying that C is the odd man out, not B & C together. That means that it's not necessary to be concerned with how B might become C. To get see, you have to break with A, B, and any other form of functional Drift of A, as an entire group.

Now, that does leave open the question of whether B play harbors certain pitfalls of its own. I think it does, actually. At least in my experience, it tends to open the door for one or another person to start narrating scene-events more or less as a monologue, telling everyone else what's going on. I've also seen the nominal central player of the moment be steamrolled by a fellow player, which is more likely to happen in B than in A. And finally, speaking for what makes B less fun for me than A (when B becomes really the mode rather than an add-on), slightly-hyper group discussions about what exactly the conflict is happening and what it's about are extremely not-fun when they don't work well. When that happens, it's not a glitch or slightly-lessened moment, it's a brick wall that brings down the enjoyment of the whole session, for me.

So B play, as I see it, works much better as a modifier of A than as a full replacement for it. It seems to me that you, Steve, and the others may have been able to enjoy it maximally specifically for that reason.

Frank, I wonder if you and Giorgios might be able to enjoy PTA play together with that distinction in mind? I think the three of us could do it pretty well, actually. Maybe next time in Berlin.

Your point about every conflict becoming explicitly about the character's issue is a good one. I agree with your points and I think playing in this way tends to diminish the Issue rather than magnify it. There's never any situational context for a really meaty Issue-centric crisis, if every conflict is that crisis.

It's a hard thing to explain, because we spent so many years here beating the idea that "conflicts are relevant to the character" into people's heads, because they were baffled by the very notion of a "character issue." This is definitely the other side of the coin: "Now that you know conflicts can be relevant to an Issue, realize that it's OK to lighten up a little bit and touch upon issues only as commentary within the events of a conflict which doesn't light up the issue like a Christmas tree." This way a series of interesting Plot scenes can occur which generate mounting tension on a character's Issue, as the session proceeds - and the Christmas-tree, hard-core, My-Issue-In-Lights conflict will appear when it's most germane to the player via the character, in its own good time.

I really think that throwing the character's decision about what to do into the outcome of the resolution mechanic isn't a strong modification, in fact, I think it's considerably weaker. I have found repeatedly that PTA resolution works very well when everyone knows exactly what the character is really doing, just as in Dust Devils. The narrator in these games has remarkable leeway to establish the character's competence and the scope of the action's direct effects, in the context of the success or failure.

The above two points are actually related, because if you play in the sense described in the first one, then conflicts are often initiated by characters doing things, and so the problem in the second one tends not to arise.

Best, Ron
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #43 on: July 29, 2008, 08:47:12 AM »

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Frank, I wonder if you and Giorgios might be able to enjoy PTA play together with that distinction in mind? I think the three of us could do it pretty well, actually.

Sure! I never doubted that.

Quote
Your point about every conflict becoming explicitly about the character's issue is a good one.

Thanks! I remember making that point (and a few related ones) in an older discussion, [Heritage] Fun, but oddly unsatisfying play. Not in this thread, though. ;o)

- Frank
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Frank Tarcikowski
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a.k.a. Frank T


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« Reply #44 on: July 29, 2008, 08:52:33 AM »

Oh, silly me. You meant the point Morgan made. Of course you did. Um, yeah. I agree.

- Frank
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