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Author Topic: [3:16] the betrayal of planet Girlfriend  (Read 14836 times)
Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #30 on: December 22, 2008, 05:05:22 PM »

I think I'm going to have to disagree with you on Paul's #2, Ron. I think 3:16 very ably supports that interpretation of Hatred For Home. It was, in fact, my first assumption on what it meant. I'll concede that sympathy for the aliens may have been what was in Gregor's mind when he made that, (he'd have to answer himself for us to be sure) but I think the strength of the game is that the play emerges based on the assumptions and values of the players.

Imagine being a young, patriotic and quite possibly psychopathic youngster enlisted for the 16th Brigade, 3rd Army, Terran Expeditionary Forces. Finally! Some adventure, something more than the boring luxury of Earth, and nothing to look forward to but ennui, despair and a suicide chamber. Not only that, but you get adventure and glory in a good cause, protecting the riches of the mother world from the avaricious eyes that watch from the stars!

Then you get out there, and you're mistreated, like you're the worthless scum of the Earth, rather than a selfless hero. You're put into harm's way, and your rewards are dismissively granted. Corruption reigns in the upper ranks, and you begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, the psych evals weren't very thorough. That sadistic corporal watches you while you sleep, and you've started to lay awake nights, wondering what he plans for you. BUT! That corporal, the bossy sergeant, the arrogant lieutenant, and your equally disfunctional squad-mates are all you've got. You've saved each other's lives. Sure, you shot Trooper Valdez when he tried to steal your combat drugs, and you're pretty sure that Trooper Kee dropped that grenade in your lap on purpose.. But at least they're not the nameless, faceless higher ups who send you uncaring to your death, time and again.

Now you start gaining some rank. You get your orders. You begin to catch on to the real horridness of it. You, your young soldiers, your peers and your immediate subordinates may very be the scum of the earth, but you've also fought and died to save each other and to serve your planet. You realize that they don't care. They hate you, fear you, look down on you. They sent you away, and told the boss to never let you come back home. Baseball, apple pie and mom are all a lie. You start to kill the bugs, not just because you're told to, not just because you're a psychopath, not just to stay alive.. You kill them because you can't kill those sons of bitches that filled your head with tales of glory and honor, and sent you off to die brutally alone and afraid in the blackness. It's not sympathy for the travails of the aliens that drives you to hate your home. It's because home is worthy of your hatred.

If you survive to become Brigadier, and turn the fleet home to blow the shit out of the planet Earth, it's not because you want to save all the fuzzy-wuzzies of the galaxy from the vile human military. It's because you want to destroy those lying, no good, smug, self-righteous tree-hugging hippies. Because you're better than them. Because for all of your flaws (and the files listing your flaws take up terabytes upon terabytes of disc space), you didn't send the young off to die for your comfort.

...which at length is saying that Paul's #2 is by NO means a stretch.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #31 on: December 22, 2008, 05:33:57 PM »

Hi Lance,

That's a nuanced and deeper reading of #2 than #2, I think. Given the way you've stated it, I agree whole-heartedly.

Quote
They sent you away, and told the boss to never let you come back home. Baseball, apple pie and mom are all a lie. You start to kill the bugs, not just because you're told to, not just because you're a psychopath, not just to stay alive.. You kill them because you can't kill those sons of bitches that filled your head with tales of glory and honor, and sent you off to die brutally alone and afraid in the blackness. It's not sympathy for the travails of the aliens that drives you to hate your home. It's because home is worthy of your hatred.

Our views may be very close on this issue.

I think, even, that here you've stated something I agree with but didn't think of as #2. You might be reading a bit into what I was driving at, too; I don't think I said anything about sympathy for the aliens being involved for instance. The sources I referenced are all pretty much what you're saying in that quote, right on the money, to various degrees of intensity.

Best, Ron

edited because I was connection-cut in the middle - RE
« Last Edit: December 22, 2008, 05:43:16 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #32 on: December 22, 2008, 10:38:05 PM »

My previous response was 1 part a refutation of your claim that #2 was a stretch, 1 part my interpretation (at length) of how the basic idea of #2 could be interpreted in 3:16, and 1 part textual diarrhea.

The main thrust was summed up early on in my post, in this line: "I think the strength of the game is that the play emerges based on the assumptions and values of the players."

Approach it with criticism of war and the reasons we go to war, and you'll get one type of game. Approach it with the feeling of how our brave and young are disillusioned and mistreated upon return, and you'll get another type of game entirely. Approach it with the concept that war is sometimes righteous and necessary, but sometimes it gets confusing as to when those times are, and you'll come back with a completely different experience. 3:16 is a Rorshak test of your feelings about war, hidden behind the words "kill-happy machismo".

There was a recent thread about how serious 3:16 should be played on S-G. Dude seemed to think that the game was *supposed* to be played as beer and pretzels, and that the deeper themes lurking beneath the surface were incidental and accidental, and really digging into them would be drifting the game. At least one other guy seemed to share that same assumption. That there were deeper issues possible was apparent, much like seeing the tip of an iceberg; you know there's more there, but you may not realize how much.

The beauty of it is that how much lies below the surface is completely subjective.. because that content isn't *in* the game, it's in your mind, and those of your fellow players. You're not digging deep into the game, you're digging deep into your collective thoughts, feelings and values.

All of which may be completely worthless for this particular thread, but I think it bears thought and discussion. I'm probably not the person to guide that discussion though, partially due to my cockamamie sleep/work schedule, and partly my tendency to write stream-of-consciousness about anything that fires my interest or imagination. Floor's yours and/or Paul's. I'll keep contributing as you guide the discussion, and hopefully I'll be able to make enough sense to be of value.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
greyorm
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« Reply #33 on: December 23, 2008, 04:14:27 AM »

You sniveling maggots want to know how to run a real 3:16 campaign? I'll tell you how! You take a traditional seasonal theme, blowhard Faux News editorializing passed off as news, and go after that bastard Kris Kringle and his damned holiday elves! So get out there and kill some fat fuckin' faeries and bring the secular Christmas of your cherished childhood memories to its knees! Hoo-rah!

This is courtesy of my buddy Ran Ackels, and I'm tossing it up here because, as pointed out already by a couple folks, fiction that feels the way play should feel is the best primer for play: it informs play in ways that rules by themselves don't. It says: do stuff that sounds like and is meant to produce this. Yes, I also know it's a goofy example, but it is also faithful, which I think is the important part.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #34 on: December 23, 2008, 10:16:42 AM »

Gregor, have you run into this issue in actual play? If so, what did you do?

Best, Ron

I've not run into this when running the game myself, or in the playtests. And in that I include a fair few games at conventions with people who don't know me (or all the other players in some cases) at all. Though this has made me reflect on what I actually do when I run the game, especially for people I don't know. Why does my enthusiasm rub off, while Paul's in this case didn't?

I have to say, I'd be totally jazzed to play 3:16 with Paul running it and those planets and NPCs.

Anyway, after thinking about it I can say that the book is written assuming you are a group of friends, who want to play the game and are interested in being "Troopers" as portrayed in the book (and there's a lot of latitude there). I haven't played the game with people uninterested in that, or at least who were open to playing at being a "space marine" and "jumping in" for a few hours.

I'll focus on my experiences from some UK conventions in the last few months, because there I have been playing with people almost always unknown to me.

I begin by showing them the book cover, flicking through some pages to show the art and reading out some of the quotes (I guess the ones in black boxes on pages 7, 14, 18 and 19 are the ones I hit most). Up front: we are playing a game about being Space Troopers in a war far from home, we'll find our characters in play, just play, be involved! By showing the front of the book I can read from the back too. And straight to character creation.

I make them tell everyone their name, and then Rep, out loud (often we might not know a player's real name now I think about it -- here you find the loud and quiet players). Then we allocate stats and get the ranks. I always make a point of going through Troopers first, then Corporal, then Sergeant and I read out the quotes from each rank too, while giving out equipment. I hand the book over so they can copy the stats and take in the look and feel of the book.

Then play begins. With louder groups they are often pumped up and start announcing that they are doing shit straight off the bat: working out, dealing drugs, cleaning their guns, masturbating into their rolled-up field manual (a real example), whatever.

For quieter groups, and I've had them like this at first, I pick someone, anyone, and tell them they are in the barracks on board their space ship: the SS <stick name in here> (Good Hope, Dread Victory, whatever flits into my mind). Then I ask them: what are you doing? ("Sleeping in my bunk") Who with? ("No one", "Well, who has the bunk above you?" "Jackson has the bunk below me. I'm on the top bunk." "Oh, top bunk guy, huh? What's Jackson doing?") and so on.

I get them to tell me what they are doing and I feed off that. I sometimes ask for an NFA roll just so we can see that rolling the dice isn't hard, and how to see a success from a failure. I don't stay too long here, but enough to have them "in character".

And I get to role-play the Troopers they have invented, I write the names down if they are memorable. (I find that the quieter groups use my names list more than the louder groups, but that's OK.)

And at some point I will have the Sergeant dragged off to a meeting about the planet. They all get to listen in on the useless briefing. The plain, single-coloured circle as a planet map always gets a laugh (and I personally like it to have a little laughter). Then I ask: what are you doing while Sarge is away? It's always something naughty. I provoke it if it isn't. I guess I'm showing a difference between the Sarge and everyone else even if the Sarge is a good guy that the Troopers like (and that's about 50/50 -- the others Sergeants get high on their power and are total assholes after a mission if not an encounter, and that's fine too).

Then we have the parade to the drop ship. NFA tests to pass the snooty Lieutenant's sharp eye ("where is your entrenching tool, Trooper?" "Here, Sir!" "Take it out, Trooper." "It's not long enough, Sir!" "What?!" "It's not long enough to reach the planet from here, Sir!" ... there is always something that comes out of the dress inspection.)

On to the drop ship, NFA not to puke and into Encounter 1.

Every time, for me, they hit that encounter screaming as they run out the back of the drop ship guns blazing, grenade throwing and up to no fucking good.

I don't know if that helps, but it's been really interesting for me to look back at what I do with people I don't know.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #35 on: December 23, 2008, 05:59:46 PM »

The beauty of it is that how much lies below the surface is completely subjective.. because that content isn't *in* the game, it's in your mind, and those of your fellow players. You're not digging deep into the game, you're digging deep into your collective thoughts, feelings and values.
Right on!

I think many people focus so much on what's in front of their eyes they don't realise the neat things that are happening/they are feeling originate from something behind their eyes (or in their heart, if you prefer). They look only at what's in front of them and think every that matters to the activity, is there - and they will only talk about design/work in that context. Or where they do recognise its something behind their eyes, they want to discard system use entirely in relation to it, as if it could never be affected by hard mechanics and must be free always and ever! With no reflection on whether there's perhaps some value in 'it' being affected by system. So frustrating in terms of talking design. Anyway, right on! :)
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Valamir
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« Reply #36 on: December 24, 2008, 09:34:34 AM »

I think it would be selling the game short to imply that it can only deliver one sort of message, or one sort of Hatred for Home.

I can imagine a perfectly functional 3:16 campaign where the aliens really WERE bent on the destruction of earth really DID have the capability to carry out their nefarious plans and it really WAS necessary to go out there and do it them before them doing it to us.  No weanie anti-imperial anti-military message...an out and out campaign of John Wayne hero worshipping space cowboys where the injuns fall by the dozen and no one wastes even a second thinking that maybe those savages didn't deserve to die...with no sense of satire or irony at all...because they really really did.

Now examine the Brigadiers orders again in that context...and see what a very different sort of Hatred for Home develops.

There's alot of ways to spin the politics embedded in the game.  The "oh nos, we feel terrible for murdering the innocent babies" way is just the most obvious...and as a result perhaps the least interesting in the long run.

Or how about the one where due to budget cuts the equipment gets shoddier and shoddier.  The ship board conditions get worse and worse and since human life is deemed cheaper than fancy equipment eventually the players are using human horde techniques and dieing in droves because that's more economical than the suits of Mandel-Brite they started with.  It could be a completely legitimate war (in the sense of enough blame for the hostilities on all sides)...how different a flavor of Hatred for Home does that set up lead to.

So yeah.  I really like that Hatred for Home is left entirely open.  The innocence or culpability of the aliens is left pretty much open, and the decision whether the 3:16 are actually defenders of humanity, or just a gang of psychopathic murderers (or both) is left open to interpretation. 

I just wish there was more structure around the internal interactions to help steer attention to that part of play.  As it is the game requires a pretty aggressive GM and players really eager to steer in that direction themselves.  Without players eager to take play in that direction the game quickly becomes a rather repetitive bug hunt.  It sounds to me like Paul's players weren't eager in that direction (perhaps because they were just unaware that direction was theirs to take) and so in the absence of that, some aspects of play became a little flat.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #37 on: December 24, 2008, 01:50:47 PM »

Hi Paul,

Quote
But failed to provoke any character play, anything socially interesting, anything but one-dimensional focus on clearing the level.
Did their play provoke any character play in you?

I know their play was largely pure mechanics use. If that's the problem, would you say you can not respond in a character role when faced with mostly pure mechanics use?

You had the scene with the mother ape reaching for the baby, but you'd made that scene to provoke the players. I'm talking about you being provoked by the players. Like what they did shows up in your characters (NPCs) reactions/socialising?
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manatic
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« Reply #38 on: December 25, 2008, 07:00:20 PM »

There was a recent thread about how serious 3:16 should be played on S-G. Dude seemed to think that the game was *supposed* to be played as beer and pretzels, and that the deeper themes lurking beneath the surface were incidental and accidental, and really digging into them would be drifting the game. At least one other guy seemed to share that same assumption. That there were deeper issues possible was apparent, much like seeing the tip of an iceberg; you know there's more there, but you may not realize how much.

Being the "dude" in question I felt a need to comment on this. What I actually meant in the thread in question is that while all of us very rpg- as well as -apparently- socially conscious adult people here easily and correctly read all manners of content into 3:16, what would happen if you gave the game to your average gaming group of 15-year olds? In my mind there's a fair and very real chance that the game might indeed be interpreted as a system-light combat oriented Space-D&D slaughterfest with not much actual roleplaying content. Not everyone is big on subtle irony, and the game even has a playing map and tokens. Hence, "beer & pretzels". If this isn't apparent from the original posting or the follow-ups, then it's my bad. I also think that the questions I intended as theoretical seeds for discussion were interpreted as actual, concrete questions on my part.

As stated on that thread, what many people seem to overlook is that not everyone will read the intended critique of the military-industrial complex into the game. For some people "kill-happy machismo" is actually pretty cool, and makes for a fun game regardless of the ethical questions involved. This is something that we here on the somewhat elitist indie gaming forums tend to forget, and our views might differ radically from that of the roleplaying majority. Wolfen's post for example didn't even list this option as a possible approach. Just take a look at WH40K. The Imperium is pretty much a massively xenofobic military civilization laden with Nazi ideals and insignia, and hey - they're the hugely popular good guys of the setting.

When these two mindsets and interpretations crash into one another, the result is quite conceivably what happened in Paul's original game. I see it as a very real problem if it's not taken into account by the GM.

As for myself, I'm very much running the game with the idea that while it indeeds starts as kill-happy machismo, it eventually becomes grim, ugly, tragic and bitter. My original post on Story-Games dealt with the transition between these two completely different views. While the people I game with will deal with it appropriately and probably enjoy it a lot, for some people a theme-drift such as this might be a bit hard to handle, possibly leading to detachment from their characters.

3:16 is a lot like the military it deftly describes. There are people who think that doing their military service is the coolest thing ever (Bunny from Platoon, anyone?), and they might even become career soldiers. For some it's a necessary chore, and others -like myself- refrain from doing it altogether. None of these options is objectively any better or worse than the others, except of course from the POV of the group in question.
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #39 on: December 25, 2008, 08:50:41 PM »

Manatic,

I didn't overlook that, nor do I necessarily think that the others did. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure I stated that it was a perfectly valid way to play. My comment was based on my perception that you assumed that this was the intended way to play. This perception was based on your questions about whether or not you'd still be playing 3:16 properly if you start going into those deeper themes. If it seemed that I was downing you, believe me, I'm wasn't.

Also, desire for deeper game play isn't limited to us high-falutin' indies. After playing the first session or two of 3:16 with the players I've got now, whose collective experience barely extends beyond D&D, I was approached with the critique that 3:16 wasn't really much of a thinking game. That was around the time I started to turn up the heat. (note that this isn't a criticism of D&D players, just an observation that they're very much non-indie).

The point I'm trying to make is that 3:16 can accommodate various values and assumptions. That includes the assumption that kill-happy machismo is good fun. You can be the sort who watches war movies, and thinks military glorification is awesome. (though why do all these movies have to glorify the officers? How often do you see the hero of the movies being an NCO? Elitists!) You can be, like me, someone who pushes through the cynicism and does his best to keep some level of idealism and belief in what he's doing. You can be someone who thinks our war in Iraq is Imperialism at its worse. I think that 3:16, even with the Orders for each rank, equally adept at handling any of them.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Callan S.
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« Reply #40 on: December 26, 2008, 02:19:58 AM »

I think more to the point, you can show platoon or iron cross to some people and they will only see the 'rambo' in it.

Rather than theoretical discussion for its own sake and instead looking at practical problems, if the authors goal was to reach these particular people who are only seeing rambo (not the first rambo, either), and they are not being reached, then yeah, the design has problems.

Who did the author want to reach with the work? If it doesn't reach some excitable 14 year old rambo needer, that doesn't matter at all if it wasn't the authors goal to reach him. And I do mean what the authors original goals were - not any sort of sneak out of it "Oh, if you don't get it, then it wasn't intended for you" bullcrap (god, I want to get into how that's a total yes man cop out). It's like reviewing a movie - who was it that the movie was intended to reach?
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manatic
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« Reply #41 on: December 26, 2008, 06:36:21 AM »

Wolfen,

we are apparently both talking about the same thing, albeit with small inital misinterpretations. Oh well, such things happen on the internets. Some of our points simply weren't conveyed like we intended. No harm done!

You are right that the need for deeper gameplay isn't restricted to indie gamers. Still, it is very common to find a somewhat condescending "you're doing it wrong"-attitude both here and at Story Games, and that's really sad (however you wish to interpret that last word). Oh and do note that this is not aimed at anyone in particular, as it is only an observation from someone fairly new to indie gaming forums. I must say though, that the terms "easy fun" and "deep gameplay" are not mutually exclusive.

And now, to keep this thread on track: If anything, this thread illustrates that 3:16 as a game very much dependant on genre expectations. For some, Platoon is the epitome of a war movie. For some, it's Guns of Navarone. I remember watching Platoon as a little kid, and it was soooo boring. And ugly and dirty and sad, so not at all like war should be. Where were the heroics, who were the bad guys? This means that the GM has to be very sensitive and sometimes very upfront about the style of game he wants to run. 3:16 can very easily provide two very differing, almost irreconcilable views which can lead to difficult gaming. This, and especially the huge gray area between these two extremes is what makes 3:16 so intriguing. You can start out with the PCs as heroes, then make them murderers and then introduce an actual alien threat to Earth, making the PCs something resembling heroes again, only for them to have a Vietnam vet's reception back home. Doesn't get much better than that.

As to who the author wanted to reach, have a look at the 3:16 website, right column. What kind of player appears to be the target crowd, the deep immersionist gamer or the casual one? "War has never been simpler than in this little RPG with big tactical elements." Indeed. I'd rather say that war has never had such potential to be enjoyed by all gamers.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #42 on: December 27, 2008, 12:15:10 PM »

Yes, but I really am getting at the authors intended audience, rather than what you'd say. Gregor will probably swing by at some point.

I don't agree about the GM having to be sensitive to what you described. There's no reason I can see that says such responsiblity aught to be in his lap. However, it does make me think that if a game is for a certain audience but doesn't say so in it's text, the host of the game may very well invite people from outside that intended audience. That would indeed be a problem in shared authorship.
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #43 on: December 27, 2008, 12:51:15 PM »

 think quality play of this game doesn't require any upfront disclosure. I think if you, as the GM, play your NPCs consistently, and otherwise have no agenda, the play will emerge from the interactions of of the characters. Play your missions with a variety. Ravening monsters, sympathetic three-eyed apes, "corrupt" troopers who have decided to protect the aliens.. Do it all, and pass no judgment on the players, one way or the other. If they slaughter the baby apes and pretend to go along with the corrupt troopers just to betray them when they get in to see their leader.

Play will emerge from them. Take their lead. If they just shoot through your sympathetic planets without batting an eyelash, then maybe they want that beer and pretzels game. If they shoot through them, but there're some questionable looks, give 'em more. If one player just pushes ruthlessly through (especially the sergeant...) and everyone else questions, start giving questionable orders from above. See how far the sergeant will go, and how much the squad will take.

Now, the no-agenda GM style can be difficult if you want a certain type of play, and you think the players will go in a different direction. I've noticed this with Dogs in the Vineyard. I didn't necessarily have a particular judgment, but I was invested in there actually being some disagreement about a particular aspect of the town I set up, but instead, the PCs unanimously denounced it and moved on. In this case, you've got to learn to just let it go, or do it your way, and disclose your agenda up front. I think this tends to contribute to contrived play, but that can be fun, too.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
manatic
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« Reply #44 on: December 27, 2008, 03:06:08 PM »

The description above is precisely what I meant by saying that the GM has to be sensitive to the players' playing style. This of course holds true for any RPG, but especially for games such as 3:16 where the starting premise (troopers killing aliens) conjures up very different mental images for different people. I think a GM always has the responsibility to be as sensitive as possible to his players' wants and needs, and vice versa.

A GM learns to roll with the players the more he runs scenarios, but it isn't always fun for the GM even if it is so for the players. If you want to run Platoon and your group is playing Starship Troopers, you'll probably be more than a bit frustrated even if you roll with it. Now, to be upfront at this point most likely leads to an awkward, contrived game and that's really not what we want! So if the GM wants to be upfront, he should do that before the game. It's not really much trouble to ask your players before you start designing the scenarios whether they want to play a war-rpg in the vein of Platoon or in the vein of SST. Or rather, you can just drop this on your group or pool of players (I'm lucky that way since I have an abundance of players to choose from, 10+), and tell them what kind of game you intend to run and what themes the game will focus on etc. and play with the people interested. Of course, not nearly everyone has this option available, and that means we go back to the sensitivity discussed earlier. I can never see any harm done by discussing a game with your players before starting it. The intention is for all the people concerned to have as much fun as possible.



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