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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 32 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [IAWA] Exclusivity of Forms?  (Read 2940 times)
Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2008, 06:43:15 AM »

Yeah, I admit that I threw out "Discuss to consensus" as sort of an absurdist and undesirable example. Perhaps my question should've been phrased, "Is there an alternative, ANY alternative, pleasefertheluvagawd, to simply 'discussing to consensus?'" ;)

This does bring up a whole 'nother issue, of how much "good play of a game" is transpitted* through the game text, and how much is received through other sources (discussion with author, general internet discussion, how other games do it, your own best guess)? I mean, is the ideal that I should be able to buy IaWA and read it, and play a good game from just that? Or is author accessibility part of the package, so needing to ask questions is a feature, not a bug? Or is it just that there are some things a game text can never give you, regarding real-people interactions? But I dunno, that's probably a bigger discussion than this thread's designed for.

peace,
-Joel

*typo, but I'm keepin' it.
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
lumpley
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« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2008, 08:14:34 AM »

It's a big discussion! I can answer the little piece of it specific to this game, and we can have the big discussion in its own thread if you want.

I hear regularly that Dogs in the Vineyard is one of the best- and most clearly written games. Nevertheless, for the first year and more of its existence I had to answer, answer and reanswer fundamental questions about how to play it. I had to lead people through the text. Not everybody, of course, but always somebody. I had to pop into actual play threads and say, "yeah, you played that part wrong" all the time. I still do sometimes, as new people find the game (although now I can rely on the game's many and enthusiastic fans to do it for me if I'm busy elsewhere. Thank you my friends!).

When I wrote In a Wicked Age the way I did, my theory was that I could experiment with the text (imply more than I said, hope my readers would make the right leaps instead of the wrong leaps, demand active and repeated reading, hide rules under one another) and the downside would be ... that for the first year of its existence I would have to answer, answer and reanswer fundamental questions about how to play it. I'd have to lead people through the text, not everybody, but always somebody, you know?

I was right! For all the "Vincent, I don't understand, Dogs is so CLEAR and In a Wicked Age is so BAFFLING," my own experience of the two is the same. Some people, I have to hold their hand through the text, lead them from point to point until it finally clicks for them. It's not more people, it's just about the same number. Some of them never get it - but that was true of Dogs too. If Dogs in the Vineyard is a successful text, In a Wicked Age is too, by the same measure.

I mean, is the ideal that I should be able to buy IaWA and read it, and play a good game from just that?

That's the ideal, and it mostly comes true.

-Vincent

« Last Edit: November 14, 2008, 08:16:27 AM by lumpley » Logged
David Artman
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« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2008, 08:35:44 AM »

The rules DO provide you with a single player (the GM) who reliably has nothing riding on the outcome, and can therefore make impartial rulings, and who has already taken additional responsibility for making the game go. I strongly recommend that, instead of discussing to consensus (shudder), you let that player just resolve disputes.
I hear ya... and I was all-good with "GM is God" right up until I had a thought this morning, during my... uh... constitutional:

The GM is a facilitator, not a dictator. THAT's really all I meant by "consensus," I think--the group decides, with the Gm going along with the majority (and, yes, logically breaking ties). For instance, if all my players think "Drug-Induced Magic" is far-reaching, even though I had envisioned it more as "personal buffs for localized effects," then I go with their vision of it, their consensus (their shared imagining?).

Not to veer wildly off into theory stuff--this IS a practical play advice thread, and the questions ARE answered--but that's the only authority or agency I'd ever take, as a mature GM in fear of being illusionist or a railroader or a sole story author. Just sayin'....
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Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
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Moreno R.
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« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2008, 01:26:45 PM »

I was right! For all the "Vincent, I don't understand, Dogs is so CLEAR and In a Wicked Age is so BAFFLING," my own experience of the two is the same. Some people, I have to hold their hand through the text, lead them from point to point until it finally clicks for them. It's not more people, it's just about the same number. Some of them never get it - but that was true of Dogs too. If Dogs in the Vineyard is a successful text, In a Wicked Age is too, by the same measure.

Mmmm....  I just re-read recently my first post in the forum (early 2006...  how time flies...) and noticed that most, if not all, of my questions and problems were caused by not trusting the game text. I was used to "traditional rpgs" and DitV was really my first experience with something so different, and my first posts were a mixture of my misreading what was really written and my asking questions about how it could work. Sometimes I was baffled by some "not answers" I did got from you, and then in time I discovered that the answer was already in the book, or it was in playing it by-the-book and seeing what happened (my current opinion about Dogs as a game text come pretty much from this later phase, not from the first reading)

This, I noticed, is a rather common experience: both here and in the Italian forums the most common answers I have given to question about dogs is "play it like it's written", or "the answer is on page xxx" or "play it and then you will see". My "work" in explaining how to play dogs to Italian players is 10% explaining the rules and 90% telling people to play it exactly as it's written, and not house-ruling it without even trying it once

The problems with IAWA, if not in quantity, are different in quality. The people baffled by the texts are not the people who brought the manual coming from a traditional background (that at this time, from the sales level, I would say make up the majority of Dogs readers), but are people who already played a lot of dirty hippy games (the traditional gamers have LESS problems, it would seem). I did read again and again the game texts and the forum posts, and in the forum post you gave a TON of instructions that aren't simply there in the game text. I had to explain how to play IAWA, too (a rather difficult task, thinking that I still not really sure I was playing it right) and I noticed that not once I cited the game text, and instead I gave people a lot of forum threads links with your explanations.

Talking about the amount of people who have problems with DitV and IAWA, and the number of questions...  when you say that the number is the same, are you talking about absolute numbers, or percentage of the readers? And what about the percentage of people who after the answer "get it" and then begin to answer other people's questions? It's he same for IAWA and DitV?

But, more than about people's reaction, I am interested in the reasoning behind the stylistic change: you say you guessed that the amount of explanation you would have to give would have been the same. OK, but this is a "it will cost the same" motivation. What was the positive motivation for the change?
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
GreatWolf
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« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2008, 05:10:58 PM »

Um. This may be one of those distinctions that works perfectly inside my own brain, and isn't portable elsewhere.

For what it's worth, Far Reaching made sense really quickly to me, because of my Alyria experience. You roll your own dice, even if your minions are doing your dirty work for you. Far Reaching seems pretty much the same idea.

And Ralph's "Master Strategist" particular strength was way cool.
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
lumpley
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« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2008, 04:16:51 AM »

Moreno: as it happens, you hit upon the reason exactly.

the traditional gamers have LESS problems, it would seem

I wrote it the way I did to best reach its primary audience, within the strict page-count limit I set myself.

Seth: great!

-Vincent
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