[7 Seas] Imagined Contingencies

Started by Rustin, March 28, 2009, 07:02:36 PM

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There was a point in our 7seas game, where the players were discussing how best to capture a ship.

It seemed interesting to me, after the GM gave some facts, a player then offered some strategy of attack, and then together as a group, the players imagined how those things would play out.  It was very free form.  Anyone could chime in with their observations of what "would happen" or "should happen" or "wouldn't it be cool if..."  The GM quietly just listened.  Nothing was officially introduced into the shared imagined space, but there was this cycle of imaginations being tested, offered, elaborated on, savored, then rejected.  It was almost like an imaginary scientific exploration into possibilities and contingencies.  A micro-game within the game, perhaps.

Statements like "Oh yeah, and then my guy will climb up the ladder from this direction and take out this guard."
Or, "Oh, but what if that makes too much noise, we'll have to go around to this section here those guards won't hear us."

Eventually, (about an hour later) the group agreed to a course of action.  I think everyone was having fun with it, but at some point, a collective pressure to move-it-along grew and grew and finally we roleplayed it out, dice hit the table, the GM made judgments and the official shared imagined space changed.

I've seen this type of thing happen many times.
I suppose it acts as an informal way for the players to communicate their Intentions when there are no clear task/intention/goal rules available.  But, it is also subtle and non-confrontational.  It made me think of foreseeability in games and stakes discussions.   I remember Ron's description of "chesting" and compared that to this Imagined Contingency, done openly in front of the GM, as a round-about way to tell the GM what they thought the the implied stakes of the conflict were.

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

That concept lies at the heart of the resolution systems of all my games. It's most explicit in Trollbabe and It Was a Mutual Decision (which of the four is a little more "chesty" potentially), required but not formally named in Sorcerer, and more-or-less assumed in Elfs (which of the four is the most shut-up-and-roll). In all of them, saying it doesn't "make it so" until everyone's had a chance to talk a bit.

The core issue, as I've tried to explain many times, is that such talk doesn't dictate or even describe how the whole thing turns out, but arrives at what might be thought of as an inflection point of events-in-progress in the fiction.

In my games, it usually applies at the scale of a few seconds or minutes in action, but not necessarily. For instance, if the group is inclined to take over the ship in a fell swoop, in system terms, rather than eighty individual rolls step by step, then we'd do it just as you describe. The difference between that and how you did it in 7th Sea is that the Sorcerer talking is less hypothetical and more integrated with getting the dice ready to go.

Best, Ron