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Author Topic: [Dead of Night] Nice Mr. Fitzgerald  (Read 7164 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #30 on: November 25, 2008, 11:50:03 AM »

This may sound weird, David, but I think it will help the discussion a lot: please re-phrase your question without the word "just" in it. Change or add anything to clarify what you mean. Don't try to dope out what I mean or what I'm after.

This isn't some kind of Zen thing to make you realize anything. It will, however, change the nature of your question in such a way as to be answerable.

Best, Ron
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David Berg
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« Reply #31 on: November 25, 2008, 12:42:58 PM »

Sure.

Part 1:
Under what circumstances would it be fun for a character in DoN to leave the place where the horror is at?  Under what circumstances would it mess things up?

Part 2:
Whose job is it to make the fun version happen, and make the messed-up version not happen?  The character's player's?  The GM's?  The rules'?  All of the above?

Part 2 is what I'm interested in.  Please feel no need to answer Part 1 in any detail beyond what's sufficient to provide context for Part 2.
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jrs
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« Reply #32 on: November 25, 2008, 01:54:06 PM »

Part 1: Does not compute. Seriously. Avoidance would be the anathema of fun.
Part 2: This is going to sound like a pat answer, but it is everyone's job to make the fun happen.

Going back to your campsite example, of course my character would try to leave. The character will want to escape, but I as the player would not want that to be successful (if at all) until the end of the game. There will be events, be it an injured camp mate, dead car battery, blizzard, stupidity, whatever, that prevent the character from leaving. The barriers wouldn't even need be particularly onerous. I would fully expect the GM to establish those events. And if the character does succeed in escaping early in the game, then I would expect the horror to follow.

I suggest watching Alien, and answer this: Why does Ripley go back for the cat?

Julie
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jrs
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« Reply #33 on: November 25, 2008, 01:59:57 PM »

Postscript

I just want to add that barriers to escape should not even be considered conflicts as such. At some level (early in the game, maybe) those barriers should simply be part of the setting. I am speaking out of my love for horror; I'm not sure if Dead of Night addresses this in its text.

Julie
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David Berg
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« Reply #34 on: November 25, 2008, 02:40:04 PM »

Gotcha.  GM and player both collaborate to keep the character where the fun is at.

"Just play your character", in this context, doesn't mean "get into your character's head and use your wits for optimum advantage, the same as you yourself would in that situation" -- it means steer your character the way a good horror film director would.  That might sound obvious; it's just that I'm used to GMing for the former rather than the latter.

Thanks!
-David
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Callan S.
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« Reply #35 on: November 25, 2008, 03:10:28 PM »

Hi David,

As I understand it here, you don't collaberate to get to the fun - the collaboration IS the fun. It's not like you collaborate to keep the character there merely as a procedure that then gets you to something else which is the actual fun. Right there, bam!, that collaboration IS the fun. It's just like when someones telling a story about something they did with you in RL (like a camping story), to a third person. And maybe they forget and stumble at some point in the telling and you swing in there to help them get that story told (and they may swing back in latter, and it goes back and forth). You both carry your shared story together, 'cause you like the story you carry together.

I probably shouldn't have posted - but as I understand it, it's far more organic and natural to do than your making it out to be. But I might be way off.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #36 on: November 26, 2008, 07:30:55 AM »

Hey everyone,

Callan, my post focused on a very specific thing you mentioned: the intertwining of fiction-so-far to the immediate application of a given game mechanic. That's what I'm saying is the easy baseline for play in my current experience. I'm not talking about depth or intensity of the fiction itself, nor about any effort it does or doesn't require. This easy baseline's existence serves as the perfect foundation or matrix in which any Creative Agenda is expressed through time.

Your contrast between Narrativist and Simulationist play raises some issues that aren't really suited for the immediate topic. One of them is historical trends in Simulationist-leaning game design vs. modern innovations; another is the distinction between complex and intertwining rules (not always a bad thing) vs. elegant and punchy rules, and how my point applies in either case as long as the rules are not stupid. And finally, most importantly, there is no way to characterize all Narrativist play (for instance) aside from the basic presence of that agenda in action; every other aspect of play is up for grabs.

David, I don't think you're getting it yet. Julie's points are valid, but I'm suspicious that they can be interpreted in certain familiar, screwy ways. I, and I think Julie too, are not saying either "play my character stupidly so that the story can continue," or "everyone accords with story type X so we can have story type X." Well maybe a little bit of the latter, but not much. Let me go back to your re-stated version of your question and dissect it.

Quote
Under what circumstances would it be fun for a character in DoN to leave the place where the horror is at?  Under what circumstances would it mess things up?

These are social questions, which do factor into creative ones, but are not themselves not creative/procedural. So I'm going to focus on the social circumstances in each case.

ii) If the social, interpersonal interactions among everyone are positive and humming, all feeding into what's going on in play, then a character's attempt to escape is like any other action. And in possible confusing contrast to what Julie is saying (but actually not disagreeing with her!), this is perfectly OK if that character does escape. By "escape," I don't mean simply making a successful dise roll, although it might start there. I mean doing so (getting in one's Chevy, gunning it, going fast down the road away from the scary church) and then Tension tops out at 15, and the immediate conflict concludes, without having dragged the character back in or bushwhacked him or her down the road.

I mean, I dunno how to say it any clearer: it doesn't matter where your character goes or what he does, as long as Tension isn't topped out, he or she is still in play. Go to fucking Hawaii, the monster can get him: a later Pursue roll in a new scene, at the very least. And, if Tension is topped out, then by definition the game is nigh over, and if your character is still "away" while the final scenes are concluded ... then he or she did escape! And how cool is that? It's very cool, obviously. There's no downside to any outcome of any of this.

ii) However, if the social, interpersonal interactions among everyone are jumpy and fucked and mis-communicated, then when someone says, "Screw this, my guy is leaving," it's basically a way of saying "I'm not having fun and don't want to play any more." That sentiment is perfectly reasonable, but to express it from within play, via a character's actions and comments, is a cowardly and juvenile method. If the person doesn't want to play, they can stand up and say, "I need to stop, it's not working for me." Yet in our gamer culture, that is considered horrible and awful, as opposed to "staying in character" and fucking up the SIS for everyone else, which is apparently OK.

In these circumstances, I say, "Look, broken play, broken social contract, emotionally dishonest bullshit," and shrug. There is no rules-solution for such things, beyond the existence of fun and functional rules.

Quote
Whose job is it to make the fun version happen, and make the messed-up version not happen?  The character's player's?  The GM's?  The rules'?  All of the above?

None of the above. The job belongs to the people, which supercedes such terms as GM or player (especially in contrast with one another, itself a poisonous concept in this context). The rules have nothing to do with it; the only questions about them are whether they are any good in the first place, and whether they are being utilized by the people for purposes of enjoyment.

I want to emphasize that what I'm saying is not the commonly and uncritically repeated phrase that a primary rule is "Don't be a dick." In application, that usually means "don't disturb the unspoken social dynamic" or "subordinate yourself to the dominant personality." What I am saying is that we begin with the notion that we are here to have fun, and as such, any notion that someone makes sure that happens is evidence that the primary notion is, for this group, not reliably present.

A long time ago, when Sorcerer was in its first PDF forms, people would say to me, "This sounds great, but you'd really need to have good players." By which they meant, people who were genuinely there to have a good time in this particular way. My answer was always, "Yes, that's right. Why are you playing with anyone else?"

Best, Ron
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Judd
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« Reply #37 on: November 26, 2008, 10:04:59 AM »

ii) However, if the social, interpersonal interactions among everyone are jumpy and fucked and mis-communicated, then when someone says, "Screw this, my guy is leaving," it's basically a way of saying "I'm not having fun and don't want to play any more." That sentiment is perfectly reasonable, but to express it from within play, via a character's actions and comments, is a cowardly and juvenile method. If the person doesn't want to play, they can stand up and say, "I need to stop, it's not working for me." Yet in our gamer culture, that is considered horrible and awful, as opposed to "staying in character" and fucking up the SIS for everyone else, which is apparently OK.

This is great, just great.

I want to kick take that whole tradition of acting out in character due to real life shit and kick it squarely in the junk.

In my local gaming, I have done so but it has taken years of pruning out passive aggressive pricks to get here.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #38 on: November 26, 2008, 02:19:30 PM »

Hi Ron,

I think I get what your saying by the baseline. I was trying to say that if you were all woodworkers making a cabinet, as a group you didn't just make a baseline cabinet - it had wonderful, intricate carvings of people living lives, grain lined up, careful choosing of the wood, many layers of lacquer giving it a deep finish and more. I'll stop rambling now. Thanks for the feedback!
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David Berg
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« Reply #39 on: November 30, 2008, 09:11:29 PM »

Hi Ron,

The Hawaii example is great.  Thanks.

My questions about characters leaving actually comes from the majority of my past play following a model of "the characters are all in one place so their players never have to take breaks from contributing to the SIS".  If everyone expects that, then the player whose character gets away goes, "Dang, now I don't get to contribute."  The idea that it's okay to sit and watch the other players play, and limit your participation to purely social actions (high fives, compliments, whatever), is pretty alien to my players.  I suspect I'd need to explicitly establish "character separation might happen, but it's okay!" beforehand to help them avoid, "well, if my character had any brains, he'd go to Hawaii, but that'd end my gaming, so I guess I'll play him like a moron."

As for your other point: "I'm not having fun, and I'll use my character to say 'Screw you guys, I'm going home!'" is something I haven't experienced since middle school.  Not that 100% of my play has been so rockin' that no one ever wanted to stop... but, uh, we can, y'know, actually communicate when that happens.  "Dave, we're getting bored!  Conjure some drama ASAP!" is something I've heard more than once.  Sure, dissatisfaction can seep into play, and sometimes someone waits a little too long before saying, "Guys, let's stop," -- but really, your version of "our gamer culture" sounds quite scary to me.  I hope you haven't had to suffer through too much of that...

If my probing about DoN makes it sound like I think it'll break horribly if my buddies and I touch it, that's actually not the case.  I'm not wondering whether it'll allow my group to have a good time, merely in what way.

...and I think this thread has gone a long way toward answering that.

Thanks,
-David

P.S. Callan, as far as I understand it, I'm with you 100%.  I think that indications to the contrary have just been imprecise language on my part.
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David Berg
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« Reply #40 on: November 30, 2008, 09:55:12 PM »

I just realized my last post might sound nonsensical after asking "whose job is it to make the fun version happen?"
Let me see if I can phrase that differently:

1) Given that everyone present is there to have some sort of a fun time, and
2) given that Dead of Night is there to offer a specific sort of fun, and
3) given that Dead of Night offers systems (intended to facilitate said fun) which include assigning some tasks to the GM and other tasks to the other players,
then:

Does Dead of Night specify player or GM as primarily responsible for heading off unwelcome developments in the fiction?  If it does, what does it say?  If not, are any particularly developed skills necessary to fill in the gap, or will basic human communication suffice?

I believe this is moot, as my example of an unwelcome development actually isn't one, and no others leap to mind that aren't easily covered by basic human communication.  But feel free to point out if I've missed something...
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David Berg
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« Reply #41 on: December 01, 2008, 01:39:25 PM »

...and just when I think I've said my piece on this, more thoughts jump to mind. 

I think many of my later questions in this thread regard Constructive Denial.  In my past Sim play, this has often been present to a workable degree, but somewhat fragile and high-maintenance.  Julie and Ron, it seems that your group's Constructive Denial was more easy, intuitive, and resilient.  I'm inclined to attribute that to a blend of genre clarity and group play-history, and I suspect that that's the foundation upon which DoN's rules were free to do their thing.
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jrs
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« Reply #42 on: December 01, 2008, 05:00:44 PM »

Hey David,

Can you explain what you mean by "constructive denial"? I don't think I know what that is.

Julie

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David Berg
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« Reply #43 on: December 01, 2008, 05:30:28 PM »

Sure!  I've found it kind of hard to get a handle on, so I've come up with a pretty scientific formulation of it.

From my thread on the topic:

We could say that Exploration is prioritized as Simulationism precisely when:
a) the constraints on player contributions to the SIS are dictated by the players' reference to a package of shared input-material, and
b) these constraints are the primary criteria in determining player contributions to the SIS, and
c) the process of dictating constraints is experienced as if the package itself was doing the dictating rather than the players, which is only possible if
d) the players deny that they themselves created, and continue to create, the shared package.

So, Constructive Denial (Part D) enables a certain type of natural-feeling play (Part C), as opposed to self-conscious "play my character like a moron" or "try really hard to do Cinema Horror right."
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