Warhammer; Chaos! Order! Molasses!

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Callan S.:
Played some warhammer RP (the new book) with some friends last night (Daniel and Matt, who are also brothers, Matt younger. Daniel is GM). There's this odd thing that I'm not sure I can describe well (I so wish a transcript was magically recorded during play), so maybe this threads shot in the knee already. But weve been hired to do a job, as sometimes happens. Anyway, it seemed in doing anything, particularly in traveling, I'd say "Okay, we head off then!" when I was sure Matt, the other player, was pretty much ready (I'm sure he'd instantly interupt that if not, so that's worked out). But nothing would happen? Well not nothing, but as far as my fuzzy memory goes, I'd say something like that then somehow the subject changes to some gear or something related or semi related. This would go on, for awhile and then we'd do this about twice more before we'd head off, down the road toward the destination. I don't think we were even doing anything at all that was 'against script', so to speak. It was like you just couldn't DO anything - not straight away - only after awhile would it sink in. I don't think this is new, but at the same time it was really quite noticeable this time.

Even just crossing a room with mini's and a grid - I think I moved my mini (not in combat) across a room and we then had to go into everything that happened before that (I think there were some mushrooms would could have found in the dark room). Even though the figure was across the room (not a remarkable thing), it couldn't just happen - all this stuff from before it happening had to be gone over first.

It's like moving through molasses! It's not a terrible thing, but it a little frustrating to not be able to just do something. And it makes me wonder what that is? I'm trying to get my head around it and I can't really grasp anything about it. Anyone heard of anything like it? Is it like some sort of responce to player action, but rather than getting onto what happens after a character does X or even what happens when they try to do X, it's like going "Ah, you made an action - and since you did that, now we have to work out a bunch of stuff leading up to the action you made/about to make!". Once it actually came to the action - like traveling out of the city for a day then staying at a coach in, it'd basically just happen in a snap. I'm wondering if it's just trying to fill out player actions in what would otherwise happen in a few seconds. Well, I'm trying to work out some sort of fun (doesn't have to be my sort of fun) reason for it.

Also on another topic, interesting to see that a 50XP bonus (the largest spontaniously handed out) was for Matt thinking an NPC's name sounded like it was from a certain region (it was) and when I recognised the past nesting spot of some ravens previously mentioned. All rewards for 'getting' the world, basically.

Jasper Flick:
Quote from: Callan S. on June 27, 2009, 11:41:40 PM

Even just crossing a room with mini's and a grid - I think I moved my mini (not in combat) across a room and we then had to go into everything that happened before that (I think there were some mushrooms would could have found in the dark room). Even though the figure was across the room (not a remarkable thing), it couldn't just happen - all this stuff from before it happening had to be gone over first.


I'm not sure I follow you completely, but this sounds like an obtrusive reality simulation engine is at work. Something that might work if performed in a millisecond by a computer, but not if it's manual. This might also reflect back on the first part of your post, which seems to be about inventory micromanagement versus action.

Does the new book give you the impression the game's written for computers, instead of for people? D&D 4e comes to mind...

Ron Edwards:
Hi Callan,

I've been thinking & thinking about this.

A while ago, I wrote about what I called "the murk," which primarily had to do with when and how conflicts (crises, fights, whatever) arose during play, and how people often seemed to play in a fashion in which trivial stuff was treated as a conflict and no one knew how "real" conflicts were supposed actually to start.

It's possible that you're talking about the same murk on a larger scale - not even really knowing how characters get from here to there. But I'm still trying to articulate how it relates to games of this kind, in which "roll to see if bandits attack" is a textual instruction regarding travel. The various questions for such games should include:

- is there travel which can be treated as instant? Must bandits or whatever be rolled for, always?

- how does it initiate? Do you have to play the decision to travel in "real-time play" in order for the traveling to occur?

- once initiated, can't it just start? Do you have to play the provisioning, the getting-around-to-it, and the various possible leave-taking events too?

The reason it reminds me of the murk is that there's this same funny emphasis on "if we skip something, we break the SIS." And oddly enough, playing everything means the stuff we want to play ends up not happening, happening rarely, or happening hit-and-miss.

Best, Ron

JoyWriter:
It reminds me of a criticism a friend of mine made; "Tolstoy is a terrible writer, he takes a page to describe a table!".

Tolstoy isn't terrible to me, but his prose is slow moving, because of the depth of description. Now it sounds to me like the GM is doing that to the max; when you move through a room, you might take a quick glance around and look for the exit, but the GM would notice the patterns of the light on the walls, and you are stuck with the GMs pacing for everything. Imagine the game runs at 50 details per second. Well because he wants more details per action, less happens. If your not into the colour, then you will just be like "come on, I said what I wanted hours ago!!", but he's like "yes you did, and so you walk through the hallway, decked out in the colours of ........ and through the door, which is in the style of ........ until you find yourself outside in the cool light of......" etc!

But accompanying that, I think the GM is just not getting what you are not caring about, and sticking it in anyway. So it's like he's thought what is in every book in a library, and you want one of them, but he can't resist telling you what's in the one's you didn't pick, cos he likes them too. Now that is just wanting to make your creative efforts count, not to waste them which I think you mentioned before as a concern of your own, but in this case he's not giving in and just going on about it anyway, backed up by GM power. Is there another way? Well one way to make what he is interested in relevant to you might be to build it into the

Ron, do you watch many soap operas? Cos they can be full of "weak" conflicts and low stakes, but some people like that! Friends and pre-teen dramas can be strangely similar in the lack of substantial things that happen. And some people don't like that, but aren't sure how to do much better. Does that stuff fit your part of your "murk" idea? Basically I'm trying to get a feel for what separates real and trivial conflicts from your perspective, is it just what we want to do vs what we feel is required as a pre-requisite?

Callan S.:
Thanks, Jasper & Ron!

I think that all ties in. Groping for a structure I think it's like "There has to be more to it than just...going there? So I'll ignore that and...ah ha, there is more to it!" when obviously if you ignore the travel request, more 'stuff' will happen before travel (unless I insistantly kept repeating 'were going', which I'm obviously not going to - instead I'm going to say something else to avoid being repetitive/rude - thus more stuff happens). It's like "Well, it's a dangerous, savage world - the books say so in it's fluff over and over. If just going means no real sense of danger or tension to travel, then the travel request isn't quite right compared with what the books always talk about...there must be something else to it...so I'll ignore it for now until we get it just right...".

I mean, as said, I even got that when I charged once - our mini's were placed and on my turn, I moved the amount of squares granted for a charge and placed my figure next to a chaos warrior...annnnd Dan says something like "Okay, your about to charge...". No, I have already charged! This is a dead parrot! ('scuse the python reference). It's a guess on my part, but I think it's trying to build it up to be so much more than a minature moving eight inches across a board. I'll grant it does add a tension to the RL atmosphere of play, but its composed of not a little frustration.

Also in the past Matt's asked my opinion on what to do with travel, for when he GM's (typically GM'ing for his friends/another group). I think he said something along the lines of "How do you do it, so it doesn't just happen - your not just suddenly in another spot?". At the time I suggested players briefly describe some events (what happened and how it ended), hand out some XP for description, and move on. I think I got what he meant - I also think, to a degree, that if your engaging this idea of a dangerous world, but then you have a suggestion of a huge track of land that's essentially safe and nothing happens, it waters down the whole thing. My idea, if I'm recalling it right (I might be inventing this now. I'm not sure), wasn't to really engage any mechanical risk, just have some narration of supposed risks dealt with - keep up an illusion of danger until we get to a place with some real danger.

That's probably another factor in this - players don't really contribute to a sense of tension in our game. You do stuff, but that doesn't build up any sense of tension in itself. That's all on the GM's shoulders. If I were to try and talk up the dangers in the world (I know, pure narration and an attempt to evoke the danger in the books fiction - but what else do I have? I can't make monsters appear), even just a sentence or two, I'd get a funny look - perhaps even a look of stepping outside my job as player. I think I've even done this in the past once or twice out of reflex - it's like I threw a ball toward someone else to catch and run with, then watched the ball hit the ground, bounce a little then lay still. Not even in a 'well, not that ball, but perhaps another type of ball' way. Anyway, basically it's all on the GM's shoulders. So maybe Dan was sitting there thinking "Traveling is supposed to be tense...nah, nah, your not traveling yet..." while I feel no sense of tension and just want to head to a place that has tension/conflict.

I'm also kind of thinking of the term 'hardcore', not for it's gamist context, but for the direct contact between social contract and mechanics - I'm wondering if this is an attempt to stuff fiction in between SC and mechanics rather than let the travel option contact directly with 'your figure is now here' mechanical outcome. Ron, doesn't your question about instant travel strike you as direct SC contact with mechanics? I have no issue with that myself, but I could imagine someone, perhaps in a defensive way, stuffing fiction in between SC and mechanical outcome "Oh, not always, all sorts of events could happen in the world that can get in the way of travel..." etc etc, quickly trying to jam fiction into the direct, almost audible contact of SC onto metal mechanics.

Also on that note, I'm pretty sure this edition of warhammer is another RPG with 'the GM can do anything' in it somewhere(in cheery prose, as usual). Ie, the GM is given a blank cheque. Or atleast I've assumed so - so I've agreed to a system that gives the GM a blank cheque. Or more directly, I've given the GM a blank cheque. So if he wants to write out a cheque for 'Stuffing fiction in between SC and mechanical outcome' I can't exactly argue it without dishonouring my agreement to hand him a blank one. So questions like "Must bandits be rolled for" could be answered with "Must I hand him a blank cheque to begin with, on the matter?". Alot of the questions come right back to me, in that regard.

I suppose, like for many years, I've wanted to sever the blank cheque shit, either from something I wrote or from an existing RPG (verbally, explicitly exponging it from a session I'd propose to my friends), but I want to know what is so important to him on the matter? What's the most important thing, if I can condense it down to something and cut off the extra time chewing stuff that isn't for me. Because without the old blank cheque model to allow it to exist, it'll need some sort of mechanical procedure to make sure it exists. But I need to know what it is before I could make that, assuming I could even make it. Or is it inseperable from the blank cheque model?

Note: Cross posted with Joywriter and I'm kind of spent having written this - I'll reread your post tomorrow, Joywriter :)

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