*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 30, 2014, 10:15:25 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 123 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: Hello to everyone (and a question about how to save our gaming sessions)  (Read 2600 times)
Caracol
Member

Posts: 17


« on: March 04, 2009, 09:04:40 AM »

Hello to everyone, I'm a new member and a amateur game creator. I heard of this community only recently, and my interest in gaming creation makes this place useful to get advices and sincere feedback.
I'm a newbie here, so forgive me for my stupid questions and proposals (and for my terrible english, I'm not a native speaker), obviously you people are light years beyond in game creations, but I would really like to share my stuff and get critics, advices and opinions by expert users (playtesting is fine too!).

Now for the question:
I come from a long experience of roleplaying and board games. Recently playing in my gaming group has become impossible and endless arguments ruin almost every session. All the work of the DM is usually wasted and unused, since most campaings don't even continue after the first argument or the players lost interest after the first games.
I tought that the problem was in the gaming system (we use D&D 3.5), abused both by declared powerplayers and regular gamers. So I tried a different approach, and DMed a campaing using the True20 system (I think is REALLY good, any toughts about it?). The sessions went good, with no abuses, but it didn't last long: the players lost interest and then they went back using D&D under another DM. Then all the problems stated above came back: now nobody has fun anymore and no one wants to DM because he knows it will be only a waste of time.
What can we do? Was the alternative system a good solution? For the sake of fun, please give me some advices.
Logged

Damn you not-editable posts! I apologize for the english massacre.
Vulpinoid
Member

Posts: 936

Kitsune Trickster


WWW
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2009, 01:01:44 PM »

Honestly, the best advice I can give you would be to read the articles...see the link up at the top right-hand side of the screen.

They'll give you some good ideas about what may have been happening in your game, I'm sure you'll find a couple of instances in the articles where you think..."Oh, now I see what player X was probably trying to do and why player Y hated that idea".

The next piece of advice I'd have to give would be not to obsess over the information in the articles, don't consider them to be a gospel from on high (No offense intended if you're reading this Ron). Arguments can arise just as easily about the theory of roleplaying as the arise from the actual application of games. Use the words as a new tool to help shed new light on the events that you've seen.

Beyond that I can only hazard guesses at what may have happened...

Perhaps the players operated under a certain social contract (or lack thereof) when playing D&D. They had certain expectations of what they wanted from play, but were never willing to accept the expectations of other players present.

When you took the simple switch to True20, the players didn't quite know what to expect and you had the chance to develop a new social contract with them. Their normal D&D ideas were in the backs of their minds, but they were more open to the potential differences in the system, but if you threw them the same types of stories with the same scene development and the same methods of interaction, then the players probably didn't see much difference between True20 and D&D. So they go back to the system they know how to use and abuse. You had the chance to really shock them out of their shells, maybe with spectacularly positive results...maybe as a catastrophic failure. Either way they probably would have taken a new experience into their roleplaying repertoire.

Hopefully once you've read through the articles you'll have a better idea of how to bring certain roleplaying concepts to the table.

Then if you really want some good advice, you might want to post about a particular session over on the "Actual Play" part of the forum. Offer as much detail as you can remember about the game, then you can hypothesize about some of the things that might have gone wrong, and a dozen people will either agree with you or shoot your concepts down (probably both).

Anyway...Welcome to the Forge.

V
Logged

A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


WWW
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2009, 02:15:56 PM »

Hi Caracol,

Do the arguements start in regards to what rules procedure to use next? Perhaps it's as simple as whether you can five foot step diagonally near an opponent, or something like whether the ghoul would use coup-de-grace on a downed character, even when others are still up and fighting?

Quote
The sessions went good, with no abuses,
Do you mean it went good because there were no abuses, or that something good happened in it and at the same time there was no abuses either?

And could you give an example (doesn't have to be long - a sentence or two is fine) of when your group actually did have fun?

*ear pressed to the bonnet, listening to the engine...*
Logged

Caracol
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2009, 06:25:02 AM »

Thanks for the quick replies. As for the right place for this discussion, perhaps the mods could consider moving this thread to the proper forum.

Honestly, the best advice I can give you would be to read the articles...see the link up at the top right-hand side of the screen.

I'm starting to do that and to approach the RPG theory (of wich I've never heard about before yesterday). It looks intersting on paper, the problem is the actual application of it in the small amount of time I can dedicate to gaming.
At a first glance, it seems that the problem derives from different styles of game we prefer. I think I can be included in the Narrativist (with a bit of Simulationist) type, but all the other players are different from me as from each other.
Quote
Perhaps the players operated under a certain social contract (or lack thereof) when playing D&D. They had certain expectations of what they wanted from play, but were never willing to accept the expectations of other players present.
I don't think they even grasp the concept of social contract in the first place. Everyone wants different things: I've already realized that, but is separating the group in smaller parts a solution? We are not a big group, but we are a "hystorical" group of friends: some of them left gaming, some of them came later, but the nucleus is still the same and we find difficult to even consider playing with others (also because we are the ONLY ones that play RPG in my town).

Quote
When you took the simple switch to True20, the players didn't quite know what to expect and you had the chance to develop a new social contract with them. Their normal D&D ideas were in the backs of their minds, but they were more open to the potential differences in the system, but if you threw them the same types of stories with the same scene development and the same methods of interaction, then the players probably didn't see much difference between True20 and D&D. So they go back to the system they know how to use and abuse. You had the chance to really shock them out of their shells, maybe with spectacularly positive results...maybe as a catastrophic failure. Either way they probably would have taken a new experience into their roleplaying repertoire.

It's what I actually tried to do: I wanted to create a new game different from what we used to do. True20 doesn't give much options to be abused, and the unknown system was a chance for the player to reconsider the character creation phase, and eventually to start to actually ROLEplay their characters. I did not come up with a railroaded plot, but I gave them dozens (I'm not kidding) options to accept missions or join factions.
But I admit that, altough the setting was unusual, I gave them the old and classic "standard fantasy" world. They weren't enthusiasts, it's obvious, but the campaing was not different by what they use to play.

Do the arguements start in regards to what rules procedure to use next? Perhaps it's as simple as whether you can five foot step diagonally near an opponent, or something like whether the ghoul would use coup-de-grace on a downed character, even when others are still up and fighting?

Argumets start form practically everything: how the others roleplay their character, if a certain spell can be used because "umbalaced", about continuously aligment changes... Every campaing or session ends up with the characters going berseker on each other or on useful NPCs just to "show muscles" or because a NPC dares to insult them, because they are level 8 and can take up the world (they think). Sometimes they kill each other too for the most stupid reason. Results: the plot is ruined, the DM's work is wasted and the players start arguing on everything, and sometimes this goes ever beyond the gaming table. Accuses of being a powerplayer, to abuse the rules or to not care for the other's enjoyment are common. Everyone that DMs (we have turns) now just knows everything will be screwed in his campaing and therefore becomes lazy and uninterested.
Quote
Do you mean it went good because there were no abuses, or that something good happened in it and at the same time there was no abuses either?
And could you give an example (doesn't have to be long - a sentence or two is fine) of when your group actually did have fun?

It went good because, even if the players were not following most of the hooks I gave them, at least they weren't screwing up the game as they usually do.

We had so much fun in the beginning, about 5 years ago, when we starded all togheter with experienced players and all seemed good and new. There were problems of course, but nothing so bad like this. Thinking about it, I can't really realize what actually changed or when this situation starded.
Logged

Damn you not-editable posts! I apologize for the english massacre.
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2775


WWW
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2009, 07:33:01 AM »

Sounds to me that you all just need a complete change of scene. Play something that doesn't break along your usual faul lines. If GM prep is getting ruined, play something that doesn't have GM prep. If players are having their characters express their personal frustration, play something that doesn't allow this, or perhaps something where the players can't make "wrong" plays because the game allows all choices as equally valid. In a word: play something that is completely different from D&D.

As for what such a game might be, you're probably the best judge of that. Many people have got fine results with Baron Munchausen, Shab-al-Hiri Roach and InSpectres, to name a few games among many: all of those games resolve many of D&D's issues by building the game up orthogonally and making all players responsible for important parts of gameplay. In my experience this simple conceit works wonders in making a factitious group play together simply because even the dullest player realizes at some point that he's not making a grand stand for his own fun, but rather ruining the fun of everybody by not striving for harmony. In games like D&D this is easy to forget because the game has an illusionary layer of GM responsibility on top of the real interaction - everybody at the table believes that they can act like jackasses and it's the GM's job to save the game. In many other games, such as the ones I mention above, the relationships in the group are much more public; if somebody is ruining the game, he can't hide behind his character, behind the rules or behind the supposed responsibility of somebody else (the GM) to rescue the game from his antics.

Interestingly enough, a common response to this simple advice is often that many players in the group don't want to play new games, they only want D&D. One is left to wonder whether such opinions in a dysfunctional group are a sign of players actually enjoying their comfortably frustrating play experiences. Humans are weird like that, I've met players who actively want to play a game they ruin each time simply because they are really more interested in socially dominating the environment than getting any play done.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Caracol
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2009, 08:51:38 AM »

Sounds to me that you all just need a complete change of scene....In a word: play something that is completely different from D&D.
This is what I tried: but changing the ruleset, not the setting. A change of setting too could have made things better? Is True20 too similar to D&D? I tought that a similar sistem they could be familiar with but that they could not abuse would have been enough.

About new games, I'm ok with that, the problem is the others. We have most of the D&D manuals, and nobody wants to spend money on a new system. How about open and free system, you say? How about some nice indipent game this forum is so full of? Well, they are ALL in english, and I'm actually the only one in the group that is capable of reading english and wants to spend time with foreing language material. As for True20, I translated all the pages and rules necessary in Italian before playing, spending a F@CKLOAD of time. I don't want to do that again, especially after those results.
Making my own game system is alright, but it takes time, it's difficult (a reason why I registered here, to get advices), and probably they won't like it anyway.
Logged

Damn you not-editable posts! I apologize for the english massacre.
chance.thirteen
Member

Posts: 211


« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2009, 10:51:59 AM »

I think Eero is on the most applicable track here. It's time to break out of the D&D game as being the problem, and get into the players and their interactions as the problem. At the point where everyone has had their GM work ruined by the players behaviors, they should ALL understand that the problems lay in how they choose to act when "playing a RPG" together.

It sounds like their are serious issues of trust, and in being trustworthy.

Sadly, it can be very hard for players to break out of their mentality that has been built up since their first experiences playing games, or playing RPGs.

I spent a decade trying to get my friends to understand that a RPG isn't just about being the toughest most unstoppable character possible. Playing Champions, a point based super hero game gave free rein to this behavior. Eventually I have up. About three years later, as these players tried to rekindle their own GMing efforts, they suddenly realized how destructive their behaviors had been. Suddenly I was hearing about "enjoyment in play" or "character over constant victory".  These were people with about 20 years of experience as players finally looking at how various games they had played before had formed attitudes that may have been applicable in those games, but were not unshakable laws of playing in RPGs.

This is the sort of realization I think you friends need. Mind you, there is a great deal of fun to be had blowing things up in a game and backstabbing and so on, as long as thats the fun of the game setting, not the fun of hurting or screwing over your "friends". So I am not coming down on any style of play or what people enjoy as in game action.

Why do they want to attack one another? Why attack their helper NPCs? Why are they so attached to the rules? Is it a safety net which they hope will keep the others from cheating them? Is it a chance to protect themselves from an unfair GM? Or is it a manual of how to gain an advanatage over the players and GM? Why does someone change their alignments so often, is it to express their character, or to avoid being limited? Or is it to change to a game specified trait  that "allows" them to decalre an action must be done, thus putting the blame on the character instead of on the player?

A simpler approach may be to go full on tyrant. Declare that certain kinds of actions, in game or out, are not allowed, and will be dealt with. It's not ideal, but it is a familiar situation to gamers who often play with people who do not get along well. So alignment changes cost xps, and cause allied factions to now dislike you. Attacking NPCs means that there is no replacement for that NPCs abilities and later on the players will fail or use up more resources, and you can say "Sure would be nice to have a guide through these mountains now." You can also have other NPCs offer to provide said services at double or triple the cost, and I mean in things the player care about like magic items, and have them bring armed guards. Have poor behaving character be targetting singly. They either rely on help from the party or they are replaced. And so on. It's not the best, but if you can get back to at least enjoying play for a while, maybe other changes can happen.
Logged
Alan
Member

Posts: 1012


WWW
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2009, 11:41:31 AM »

Hi Caracol,

Before looking for a new game system, I'd suggest stepping back and looking at your group. What changed in their social lives recently? Has someone had an argument, lost a girlfriend, gotten married? Are you all moving from school to full time jobs? What does each one want from getting together? Do they just want to spend time together? Do they even want to play a game or is that just old habit?

Logged

- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


WWW
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2009, 02:30:17 PM »

Hi Caracol,

Wow. Okay, I don't have a great deal of evidence for the following hypothesis, but:

The played your true20 game, were relatively calm and collected, then went back to the other GM and had the old troubles. I think Michael (Vulpinoid) suggestion that it was a fresh slate, social contract wise, is correct.

The fact they went back to the other GM makes me form the hypothesis they like to fight with each other.

It's the same as women who can only go out with bad men, who misstreat them (or men who go out with bad women who misstreat them, to also recognise that). There was a very old Charlie Brown comic where for multiple panels he argues about who shot who in cowboys and indians. At the end another character asks him "I thought you hated cowboys and indians" he replies "I do. I just play for the arguments"

I'd hypothesize that even if you made an enjoyable little ruleset to play under, they would likely move away from it, precisely because it's good. Because it's like the women who goes out with a good guy, when really she craves the self destructive 'drama' of a bad boy. She'll leave whats good - precisely because it's good.

Or I'm completely wrong. It comes to mind as a possiblity, but I might be way off in reading what evidence there is - so I just bring it up in case you want to mull over the idea for awhile, to see if it fits as far as you see things?
Logged

Caracol
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2009, 06:04:20 AM »

Thanks to everybody for the advices.

I think Eero is on the most applicable track here. It's time to break out of the D&D game as being the problem, and get into the players and their interactions as the problem. At the point where everyone has had their GM work ruined by the players behaviors, they should ALL understand that the problems lay in how they choose to act when "playing a RPG" together....
...Sadly, it can be very hard for players to break out of their mentality that has been built up since their first experiences playing games, or playing RPGs.

I think some of them already realized or are about to realize that we all need to change in order to have fun again. It's been a year since I first stated that a change of system, a new beginning was necessary to solve the problem. They all admitted that there were problems indeed, but they think that the problem was this or that player that with his behavior ruined that particular session. At the time, I accused them of not being "roleplayers", in a sense that they didn't care about making their character good and interesting and about the plot. Of course I was completely unaware of terms like "gamist", "narrativist" and "simulationist", and the other players just replied to me that they played like they like to do.

The latter problem is really persistent in my group. No one else except me consider roleplaying to be something else than D&D. Even if we play since 5 years, and a couple of players since 10 years, trials of other system has been sporadic, if nonhexistent. 

Quote
Why do they want to attack one another? Why attack their helper NPCs? Why are they so attached to the rules? Is it a safety net which they hope will keep the others from cheating them? Is it a chance to protect themselves from an unfair GM? Or is it a manual of how to gain an advanatage over the players and GM? Why does someone change their alignments so often, is it to express their character, or to avoid being limited? Or is it to change to a game specified trait  that "allows" them to decalre an action must be done, thus putting the blame on the character instead of on the player?

A simpler approach may be to go full on tyrant. Declare that certain kinds of actions, in game or out, are not allowed, and will be dealt with. It's not ideal, but it is a familiar situation to gamers who often play with people who do not get along well. So alignment changes cost xps, and cause allied factions to now dislike you. Attacking NPCs means that there is no replacement for that NPCs abilities and later on the players will fail or use up more resources, and you can say "Sure would be nice to have a guide through these mountains now." You can also have other NPCs offer to provide said services at double or triple the cost, and I mean in things the player care about like magic items, and have them bring armed guards. Have poor behaving character be targetting singly. They either rely on help from the party or they are replaced. And so on. It's not the best, but if you can get back to at least enjoying play for a while, maybe other changes can happen.

These seem like very good advices, I'll try some of them. They seem to limitate player's freedom too much, tough (not that I don't like they idea, but they won't). Making all the players use this method when they DM won't be easy.

Before looking for a new game system, I'd suggest stepping back and looking at your group. What changed in their social lives recently? Has someone had an argument, lost a girlfriend, gotten married? Are you all moving from school to full time jobs? What does each one want from getting together? Do they just want to spend time together? Do they even want to play a game or is that just old habit?

A lot of interesting question, I didn't think about consider these factors too. Well, a lot changed in our personal lifes, of course, but our group still does the same stuff. I'll spend some time to get the answers. Do you consider useful asking them what "game style" they prefer too? Does a proper "test" exists?

Hi Caracol,

Wow. Okay, I don't have a great deal of evidence for the following hypothesis, but:

The played your true20 game, were relatively calm and collected, then went back to the other GM and had the old troubles. I think Michael (Vulpinoid) suggestion that it was a fresh slate, social contract wise, is correct.

The fact they went back to the other GM makes me form the hypothesis they like to fight with each other.

It's the same as women who can only go out with bad men, who misstreat them (or men who go out with bad women who misstreat them, to also recognise that). There was a very old Charlie Brown comic where for multiple panels he argues about who shot who in cowboys and indians. At the end another character asks him "I thought you hated cowboys and indians" he replies "I do. I just play for the arguments"

I'd hypothesize that even if you made an enjoyable little ruleset to play under, they would likely move away from it, precisely because it's good. Because it's like the women who goes out with a good guy, when really she craves the self destructive 'drama' of a bad boy. She'll leave whats good - precisely because it's good.

I don't know, this leaves me perplexed. Nobody seem to have fun having arguments; on the other hand, arguments arise so easily that there must be something else. Maybe it's just their daily fruxstation. But even if you're right, and they DO like to fight with each other, what solutions do you propose?
Logged

Damn you not-editable posts! I apologize for the english massacre.
Caracol
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2009, 06:08:55 AM »

A stupid question: where the hell is the "Edit" button? I need to correct some of my awful grammar.
Logged

Damn you not-editable posts! I apologize for the english massacre.
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2775


WWW
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2009, 09:48:59 AM »

There's no editing after what, 30 minutes from finishing the post. Something like that. This place has some pretty weird features, and having no editing presumably encourages thinking before posting. At least it prevents historical revisionism (read: changing your own posts later to suit your mood), which apparently is something of a problem when the Internet melts down and the flame cannons get equipped.

One thing I wanted to say about True20 and D&D - you seem to consider these two quite different games, but roleplaying is a really wide medium with a near infinite number of variants. Looking at the whole field of possibilities True20 is just a minor D&D variant. This is especially important in that those faultlines I mentioned before - I would expect players to follow fundamentally the same behaviors in any game so D&D-like, at least if those behaviors are supported by the game system to begin with. To get a really new start I'd recommend playing something that is so different that the players simply can't relate with the game in the same way they relate with D&D; they might not like it, but at least you'd get out of the rut.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
chance.thirteen
Member

Posts: 211


« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2009, 09:40:19 PM »

Id like to add something here. I used the term Tyrant, and I mean it both in the original sense of someone with emergency powers to deal with a crisis, and the more typical use as a despot.  Do be careful, the despot doesn't care for their subjects, but these people are in theory your friends.

And they may very well enjoy constructing carefully made characters who are good at a certain type of action. However, this should not involve deceiving your fellow players, or any for of cheating.

You may need to ask a given person, alone, to respond to why they acted in a certain fashion. Find out what triggered it, and what they hoped to accomplish.
Logged
Caracol
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2009, 07:27:11 AM »

There's no editing after what, 30 minutes from finishing the post. Something like that. This place has some pretty weird features, and having no editing presumably encourages thinking before posting. At least it prevents historical revisionism (read: changing your own posts later to suit your mood), which apparently is something of a problem when the Internet melts down and the flame cannons get equipped.
That's wierd, but justifable.
Quote
One thing I wanted to say about True20 and D&D - you seem to consider these two quite different games, but roleplaying is a really wide medium with a near infinite number of variants. Looking at the whole field of possibilities True20 is just a minor D&D variant. This is especially important in that those faultlines I mentioned before - I would expect players to follow fundamentally the same behaviors in any game so D&D-like, at least if those behaviors are supported by the game system to begin with. To get a really new start I'd recommend playing something that is so different that the players simply can't relate with the game in the same way they relate with D&D; they might not like it, but at least you'd get out of the rut.

I picked up True20 because I liked the magic system and the character creation system. It looked familiar and better than D&D at the same time. I realize now that there's much more to choose, but what do you suggest as a new system? Something entirely different? Keep in mind our main problem, no indie rpg is published in Italy or traslated. We need a different but well known system to use, any suggestions? Just tell what you think is worth a try, then I'll check if is available in our language.

Id like to add something here. I used the term Tyrant, and I mean it both in the original sense of someone with emergency powers to deal with a crisis, and the more typical use as a despot.  Do be careful, the despot doesn't care for their subjects, but these people are in theory your friends.

And they may very well enjoy constructing carefully made characters who are good at a certain type of action. However, this should not involve deceiving your fellow players, or any for of cheating.

You may need to ask a given person, alone, to respond to why they acted in a certain fashion. Find out what triggered it, and what they hoped to accomplish.

Since I started reading the main articles by Ron, I'm starting to think that my fellow players are mostly Gamist, so my attempts to make them interested in the plot are destined to fail. Maybe D&D isn't just the game for me anymore, and the next time I have to be the DM, I'll try the tecniques you suggest, but if they aren't enough and the problems rise up again, I might as well just stop playing D&D, as DM or player.   
Logged

Damn you not-editable posts! I apologize for the english massacre.
Alan
Member

Posts: 1012


WWW
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2009, 08:49:08 AM »

Hi Caracol,

I think you're right that DnD (or True 20) may not be the game you want to be playing right now. And trying to drift it toward something you're interested in will be difficult, both because of the general design of the system and the preferences of the other players. When you do feel ready to introduce them to a different creative agenda, I'd suggest a game that strongly supports what you're looking for. After a period of disorientation, some of your friends may find they like that--not better but as well. To do that you first have to find the game -- and I'd suggest the best way, rather than asking for advice, is to actually play some -- go to game cons and try the indie or small press games and see what works for you. Then bring one and suggest a session or two with your friends.
Logged

- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!