Let's See - Rethinking "Sim"

Started by Simon C, May 13, 2009, 04:09:24 AM

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Simon C

Quote from: lumpley on May 13, 2009, 12:49:29 PM
Hey Simon!

Here's what jumps out at me:

Quote from: Simon C on May 13, 2009, 04:09:24 AM
It was fun when "just playing my character" got us into trouble.  I think all the players enjoyed these moments to some extent, and each character had their own traits that could be relied upon to cause trouble.

What kinds of traits? What was up with Ook that put him in conflict with reality and got them into trouble, for instance? What was up with your favorite other characters?


Hi Vincent!

Ook's deal was a bit more complicated than other characters.  He was chronically lazy, didn't care much for the opinions of humans, had a cultural belief (smoking dope) that got him in trouble with the law frequently, and would rather sleep all day than go out and steal something. 

Other characters were way more simple.  Butch was a bruiser.  There was one very memorable scene where Butch, and a few other characters were hanging out in yet another grimy spaceport bar, and a colonial marine walks past carrying a tray of drinks for his buddies.  Butch's player describes Butch sticking his foot out and tripping the guy.  We roll to see how well the guy recovers, and he rolls a 1.  He stands up, picking bits of broken glass out of his face, and growls "that was a mistake." Butch's player looks the GM straight in the face and she says "No it wasn't."  Gunfire ensues, and all semblance of a "plot" gets thrown out the window.

It kind of makes me yawn now, but at the time that was the coolest thing that ever happened in a game.


That's a very interesting example for me. Most of my play in the last ten years has been with a GM who loves adding such random elements into the game, including extensive use of the Random Encounter Table in Harn. It created some very memorable sessions, and on other occasions, some very frustrating ones. On some occasions, the random element acted as a force majeure, forcing us to radically change the party's plans, or even accept failure in our mission. On other occasions, I've simply lost patience with them, because they meant hours of playing time spent wrestling with something I, as a player, had no interest in.

The technique does a great job of making the world feel lived in, like things happen for reasons that have nothing to do with the PCs. One of the standard reasons I hear for perpetuating it is that "those things really would happen, if you lived there and then." I've always associated that sort of language with Right to Dream play.
My real name is Jason Larke.

Filip Luszczyk

QuoteReading back over this, the phrase that stands out is "Let's see".  That seems as best a summary of the agenda of play as any.


Whenever I see the phrase "Right to Dream" I have no idea what sort of play the person using it is trying to refer to - other than it's some sort of vague non-gam/non-nar thing. While I'm certain I must have been doing some non-gam/non-nar thing myself, I simply fail to relate to the phrase. In itself it tells me exactly nothing regarding what "Right to Dream" play is actually about.

Now, "Let's See", that's another thing. I can totally relate to "Let's See". This phrase resonates with some quite specific experiences - and "exploration" in general is definitely not what it immediately makes me think about. It seems to me "Let's See (what happens if X+Y)" neatly pins down a large portion of that vague non-gam/non-nar play.

It also neatly describes the sort of play I've rarely been experiencing throughout the last few years, since moving from trad stuff to playing Forge-style games exclusively. Dogs in the Vineyard is perhaps the only exception, at least the only one that comes to my mind at the moment, screw the whole narrativist talk. In fact, most of my design work this year was focused on achieving various sorts of "Let's See" play as opposed to the plot-focused thing that I had plenty enough with standard issue indie games.

However, at the same time, I see no real connection between the "Let's See" play and that other vague non-gam/non-nar thing, the sort of play first and foremost concerned with the accurate portrayal of stuff rather than observing the results of things interacting. I'm pretty sure I've seen quite a lot of attempts at it, and despite not fitting this "Let's See" thing, it seems unmistakingly non-gam/non-nar to me as well. I'm thinking about the "My character is Ventrue, so I'm going to act all Ventrue, all the time, no matter what happens" play, or the "Listen to my excruciatingly long and detailed description of how my totally mundane guy buys his grocery, spends the evening watching James Bond videos and takes a bath" play, or the "All I want from play is to sit quietly for a couple of hours, being content my guy has this awesome tattoo from Naruto that has all those awesome powers and is oh so awesome!" play, or even the "Your party meets in a tavern... now spend the next four real-time hours talking about last year's crops with the patrons and not having adventures" play.