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Author Topic: Warhammer; Chaos! Order! Molasses!  (Read 6698 times)
JoyWriter
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also known as Josh W


« Reply #30 on: July 16, 2009, 07:09:50 AM »

It’s a bit like those guidebooks for sex: They cannot promote the one way to do it, they can only help you along in finding out what works for you, at the time, with the partner(s) you have. And next time you’ll have to figure out a new way to do it that fits the time and the partner(s) you have then. Plus, there are a lot of different functional ways to do it, pick yours for today. It’s only problematic if you pick kinky and your partner picked nice and slow. Also, some of those guidebooks have been invaluable to some couples, while other couples may have found the same guidebook entirely useless. All of this transfers very well to role-playing, and role-playing guidebooks.

This is so true it's funny! The rules text in a book acts like an inheritance thing between your end and their's:
On one side there is your experience of play and the systems you use to get there (by analogy your good sex).
On the other there are all the other experiences you want people to have (their own good sex).

Because this is a personal thing, you have to make your own experience a prototype, and (in a programming analogy) use the rules text as a form of inheritance, allowing people to create similar but different experiences. Your experience is acting as a similar but different centre, to a whole tree of different experiences.

In dealing with that difference, you either have to leave parts unknown, or make them options for people to pick, otherwise it is not acting as a flexible enough bridge to reproduce an experience that is as personal to them as it is to you, unless they are already ridiculously similar to you.


Now in commenting on that I don't want to obscure the question/points you made, about hallucination and gameplay vision, so I'll just leave this line here as a reminder to look back.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #31 on: July 17, 2009, 04:25:18 PM »

Thank you for that, Frank.

The thing I get from it is that a group finding or inventing their own way, is just working with numbers anyway. If, in the heat of play, they decide the fire mage can't use his spells while it's raining - it's still just numbers. IF raining = 1 THEN firespell_control = 0.

There may be this afterglow of having taken the imaginary ideas and made system, but once it's system, it's cold, hard numbers. Either that, or as I see it, no system/agreement was actually made and people are just humouring the idea it was for moment to moment gain (the gain may even be 'Everyone doesn't leave the table'). I seem to be getting into that on Vincents blog - I have certain standards about what is and isn't an agreement. Now that's just me, obviously, but it means where some people (like Vincent) call it agreement/lumpley principle, I see people just humouring the idea they have agreed and there is no agreement/lumpley principle. I'm pretty sure I've had this conversation with Guy Shalev, in terms of standards and what is a game and what are people simply sitting around a table.

So it either boils down to numbers, or it's nothing I'd call an agreement (does that prove anything in a global sense? I don't know. But in such a case I don't see agreement rather like the little boy who didn't see clothes on the emporer).

In responce to that situation, taking it as existing, I give this (simplistic) case for exact instructions: If the fire mage player has the mechanical option of not using his fire powers AND he sees some sort of truth (a vision, mayhap?) in someone elses narration of rain blocking out fire spells, he can support that truth by just taking the option in the rules of not using his powers. NO NEW RULES ARE MADE UP! No new system is made up! This is supporting the vision with what you already have and it doesn't turn into hard numbers as system creation does. It rests on peoples choices - a thing which truely captures the wierd, magical unknown of imagined worlds, since peoples choices are neither number, nor are they raw meaningless chaos. Peoples choices are some magical inbetween, if I may get sappy for a moment. Peoples choices are the stuff dreams are made of. Endless system creation is not - once it's cooled on the baking tray, it's just a bunch of numbers.

With my hundred random rules example, I see a group who 'gets it' as wasting their own time with a half arsed product (zero arsed, actually - I designed it to be a complete write off). That's system mattering, to me. Them, sitting around and working out system according to some vision isn't anything more than writing out more and more cold numbers. And yet it's the only thing traditional games, the ones everyone were exposed to in their youth, supplied. So it's become synonymous with the idea of roleplay, when it's just a half echo of a greater idea. That or maybe I have some other idea entirely that isn't representative of what those traditional games tried to get at, at all.

I'll just repeat, in case a "That's what I was talking about!" comes up when it wasn't - that person with the fire mage - he gets a real choice. There's no little, unspoken, tension at the table where if he uses the spells after narration of rain, he'll get tense, perhaps nasty looks from other players, or whatever. That's just more, cold, hard playing with numbers, but because it's unspoken they are pretending it's not numbers play. I think from teenage years we all have a cringe that if you really let someone have a choice, they'll fuck it all up. Here in my example, it's a real choice - which means it isn't system making/were not working out how to get 'there' in terms of system anymore - we already are there and he's making a choice that's inside of a pre-existing system.

I can think of about half a dozen ways that could, by some chance, be useless as a responce. Another stumble in a dark room for me, waiting to crack my shins on something (which seems to be the only way to find things!).


Hi Jasper,

Yeah, but you have to remember, this is Daniel's baby, not mine. He initiated this game. Now I'm not saying that just to protect him, but myself as well. My own internal code is that if I can push around his game, well then why can't he push around any game I initiate? As much as this isn't my cup of tea, I'm not interested in being forced to compromise anything I make because I made him compromise what he made. So I don't - thought to a degree I think by asking for faster, I would be being somewhat pushy.

My first post is framed not in terms of how to fix his game, but I'm trying to grok what he gets out of it, then see if I can surgically remove that from the molasses and put it into a game I make up. Because I would like to add something that he likes, into such a thing.

But I'll totally grant in the smaller picture, while was there, I'm like "This really seems to be dragging out!". But that's already happened and the solution to that is pretty clear - don't play if I don't like it. So I'm looking at the bigger picture.
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #32 on: July 18, 2009, 02:15:53 AM »

All right, I didn't pick up on your focus on Dan, I looked at you.

Interesting, so you sit in on his game and he should do the same with yours? And you want to accommodate him, even though he doesn't really accommodate you. Or is this hypothetical?

What does he get out of it his game? Well, it's his game, his suburbs, his routine. But does he really enjoy it, or does he just go through the motions? Does he look to broaden his scope, even just little things in his own game, or is he conservative like hell?

And so far it's been Dan the GM, but how is Dan the player? In your game, is he gonna GM or is he gonna play? Would he actually like to play in his own game?

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Callan S.
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« Reply #33 on: July 18, 2009, 03:45:16 AM »

All right, I didn't pick up on your focus on Dan, I looked at you.

Interesting, so you sit in on his game and he should do the same with yours?
There's no 'should'? Well, I suppose after playing in his game I'd like him to seriously consider any invitation I offer, but I don't expect that he should, in turn, play in mine. I play in his games so as to try and support what he's getting at and yeah, because of shared history as well. If I didn't want to support him, I wouldn't. Mind you, I'm not sure he's considered the idea of a supportive approach himself. Not that, normally, a game should need it (in terms of procedure), IMO.

Quote
And you want to accommodate him, even though he doesn't really accommodate you. Or is this hypothetical?
Hard question? Isn't all roleplay design/session design accomidating someone - even if it's just the vague generic notion of someone else? Here it's just more specific? Whether that other person would accomidate you is kind of moot? Either you accomidate them to some degree, or atleast some generic person, or don't bother trying to make an RPG?

Quote
What does he get out of it his game? Well, it's his game, his suburbs, his routine. But does he really enjoy it, or does he just go through the motions? Does he look to broaden his scope, even just little things in his own game, or is he conservative like hell?

And so far it's been Dan the GM, but how is Dan the player? In your game, is he gonna GM or is he gonna play? Would he actually like to play in his own game?
Well, that'd be a really interesting question - what would he have done in the game, had he been playing? And if I ran a game he'd be playing, but I hadn't considered prepping/making something, then he runs it - never thought of that. I'll chew on that.

In terms of broadening his scope - you know, I've thought about your question and I have no damn idea what he might have thought about it all in advance of doing it - I'm scratching my head? Most of this game and it's prior session were made up as he went along, he said to us at the end. I think, like any of us might feel like a beer, he sometimes feels like roleplaying - he just goes and gets one from the fridge, so to speak.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #34 on: July 19, 2009, 07:20:12 AM »

Callan, that's good strong talk. Personally, I think the re-definition of "System" via the Lumpley Principle has caused some pitfalls here. I have a lot of sympathy for your point about what is or isn't an agreement.

However, your remark about the "game of numbers" makes me sort of uneasy. What I'm talking about is emotional investment into fictional content as a driving force of play, as opposed to mechical rewards. I'm not quite sure what you are talking about.

- Frank
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Callan S.
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« Reply #35 on: July 19, 2009, 02:16:58 PM »

Hi Frank,

With my hundred random rules A: I think a group would be making system as they go, and if they wanted rain to mess with fire magic, the general tendency is that they would say you can't use fire magic if rain has been narrated.

They typically wouldn't think to B: give the player the choice to use his fire magic or not, then rely on his sympathetic reaction to the narrated fiction that rain messes with fire magic, and not use his spells when rain is narrated.

With case A, it's just making up numbers play. It may feel like B, because in the heat of play they made this stuff up, and at the time the fire mage was sympathetic with the fiction of the proposed rule and went with it. But while that sympathy was there, what they made up would be a board game/a numbers game. It's just a board game rule - can't use fire spells when there's rain. That's like a rule that says bishops can only move on diagnals - completely boardgame.

When you leave it up to people to find their own way, they generally start making boardgame rules that support their idea of how the fiction goes. It's counter intuitive to them to provide a second option to go against the fiction as they see it.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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a.k.a. Frank T


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« Reply #36 on: July 20, 2009, 12:06:07 AM »

Okay, so you’re talking about resolution here. You are of course right that numbers are usually involved at that stage or even if they aren’t it’s still essentially the same. That is however not what I meant by “a game of numbers”. As long as the decisions by the participants are aimed at fictional outcomes, as opposed to Currency flow, the numbers are not what the game is about. And even if some mechanical reward is involved, it’s still not necessarily my “game of numbers”.

But what I’ve seen happen in games where the players try to do “what the designer wants them to do” is this: First they figure out the rules part, the part with the numbers (or tokens or whatever). And then, almost as an afterthought, they establish what that means in the SIS. That’s the artificial, emotionally detached sort of play I call “game of numbers”. It lacks the joyful “let’s pretend” quality of a childhood game.
   
That’s why I have come to the conclusion that “the designer knows best” doesn’t work and “the group knows best” is really without alternative. The best thing a designer can do is to inspire, and to help players make an informed decision.

- Frank
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contracycle
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« Reply #37 on: July 20, 2009, 06:37:25 PM »

I think it s probably true that the group forms its own system, and that you can't really compel thewm to do otherwise short of standing in the room with a whip and threatening to lash them, but: even if the endpoint is not attainable, this conviction is preventing is from trying certain things at all

Lets face it, most non-Narr RPG texts are indeed nothing more than a set of combat rules.  There is no "how to play" there is no real "game" there at all.  In saying that the this function devolves to the group, we merely decline to engage with the question.

I suspect some of this is relevant to the "old skool" stuff of late, because you know, going in to a duingeon to kill things and take their stuff is in fact really focussed and knows what its about.  Deep, meaningful, insightful?  No, but at least everyone knows what they are there for.  But ever since this style of gaming came out of the dungeon, there has been the drive to do something more epic, more story-like, more than merely grinding your way through monsters: to have dramatic villains, greater purposes, Quests with a capital Q.  There's no rules for any of that stuff, there is no procedure for play, except what the players themselves assemble from the components they actually have: the dungeon crawl-descended mechanics.

Sometimes it is just marching from dungeon to dungeon in the abstract, but a lot of the time its much more fluid, and the systems don't really survive.  Take a rule that grants you use of a power X times per day, of which there are many.  Who controls the rate of time?  Either the GM outright, or the players by "consensus".  A power that you could use a certain number of times per day made sense and makes sense in the dungeon context, where one day will contain many encounters; but if you are freewheeling over the landscape, travelling from place to place, having encounters dispersed in time and space, it means much less - it really means something like x uses per encounter.  The meaning of the rule has been totally changed by the migration out of the strictly defined dungeon, and it has become a function of GM fiat more than rules.

There is indeed a gaping chasm here which, it seems to me, we are studiously ignoring.  Railroading and participationism are in fact viable solutions to this problem; at least they do lend play some purpose and direction.  And part of the quid pro quo, then, is to allow players to faff and fiddle, take their time in their planning, so they are at least not totally the GM's hapless creatures being driven before him like cattle, the whole game descending into one huge power trip.  It may not change a whole lot but it least it softens the impact, makes it more palatable.  I do not think it is surprising, therefore, that so many people arrive at the conclusion that that is how it should be done.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #38 on: July 20, 2009, 10:42:37 PM »

Hi Frank,

Well, the first thing that strikes me is that if they keep trying to do what the designer wants them to do, then they aren't envisioning (within what mechanical options are presented) their own idea to follow? Why aren't they learning the mechanics, then envisioning some idea that they emotionally attached to but is also something that is facilitated or dealt with with the ruleset? A cynical part of me thinks it's a sign of a group who, unless they have absolutely free reign, will not invest in the imagined space? Which takes me to 'lets pretend' - a written game aught to lack the joyfulness of let's pretend! Because it's a different game than let's pretend. We all own a copy of let's pretend, basically. A new game really should lack the same taste as let's pretend, as it aught to be providing some new and different taste. New games aught to fail at having the overall same joy as let's pretend (a new game could include, as part of it, some of the joy that was let's pretend, but if that's all the game provides, it's not exactly a new game).

Anyway, in terms of a group who keeps trying to do what the designer wants them to do, I think it'd be good to continue with an actual play account in it's own thread so it gets proper attention (or; you gave a link before - should I read through that in relation to this?). I think that'd really help answer why they don't start envisioning something they are attached to.



Hi Jasper,

I've been chewing over your comments on accomidating. I don't think because I accomidate, someone else aught to. But your points did make me think that if the other guy doesn't realise your accomidating them - what's the point of accomidating them? Particularly if they don't even see the stuff as being anything they do in their games. It's just adding stuff to my designs/altering my designs in ways that no one actually appreciates the accomidation/compromise (even if it by and large matches what they do/run in their games).
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #39 on: July 22, 2009, 07:47:54 AM »

Hi Callan!

Indeed, what's the point of accomodating? If it's all one-way then surely it won't last.

Pulling this into design, what would you really be designing for? A game you think Dan wants to play? Through compromising, you might well be diluting whatever makes the game cool for yourself. Basically, you're designing by committee, but it's worse because you're using a second-guessed-Dan as your partner. You might end up with a stale compromise that doesn't actually accomodate Dan at all.
If you really want to find a common ground with Dan and tweak or create a game for that, at least make him a full collaborator. If he doesn't like that idea, it's a doomed venture either way.

Personally, I can't imagine me succesfully creating a game if it wasn't aimed squarely at myself.


Now a little tangent about the joyfulness of let's pretend. What joyfulness? This is probably highly subjective. I abhor pure "let's pretend" because in my experience it's system is social bullying. By chance it might work out, but given enough time "The Disagreement" will be encountered and the game will be destroyed for at least for one person.

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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #40 on: July 22, 2009, 08:09:38 AM »

Anyway, in terms of a group who keeps trying to do what the designer wants them to do, I think it'd be good to continue with an actual play account in it's own thread so it gets proper attention (or; you gave a link before - should I read through that in relation to this?). I think that'd really help answer why they don't start envisioning something they are attached to.

Well, I'm happy with closing the case here. The thread I linked above is not about this particular phenomenon. Maybe I'll feel in the mood to defend my case with a new thread another day, but right now I really don't.

- Frank
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Callan S.
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« Reply #41 on: July 22, 2009, 02:50:04 PM »

Fair enough, it's there for potential latter discussion. Though I don't know about the word 'defend' - defend connotates trying to preserve something regardless, rather than scrutinising whether you want to preserve it.


Hi Jasper,

Quote
You might end up with a stale compromise that doesn't actually accomodate Dan at all.
I'll nod to that, but I'm thinking its worse than that (with your statement, one could try again and again until one does accomidate - which I think I have tried). If the other person doesn't recognise that you've made a compromise, have you made one at all? It's a bit like the old tree falls in a forest but no one is there to hear it; does it make a sound? If you make a compromise and no one recognises it, have you made a compromise? And yet the design is definately compromised.

I suggested a game of rifts some time in future, but only doing a fraction of the char gen at the start so we can get into play. Nah nah, they wanted to fully make out characters - spend a session just making characters, even. I think likewise, I'm going to make the following session a 'make up how we play' session rather than actually play. They'll probably say 'Oh, however you want' - but I didn't want to make up full characters, but nah, we had to. What else do I want to do, but can't? Let's get into that, rather than me being told I can do anything, but then finding otherwise via body language. Finding out like that makes it like creeping across a minefield. I just want to know the procedure - I don't want us all to kind of 'find' a procedure mid play - it's not fun anymore, it just gets in the way of actually going to places (places that were glimpsed in previous procedure generation).

Quote
Personally, I can't imagine me succesfully creating a game if it wasn't aimed squarely at myself.
Yeah, but doesn't that strike you as self conflicting? I'll expand it...
Quote
Personally, I can't imagine me succesfully creating an activity aimed at including other people and not just me, if it wasn't aimed squarely at myself.
How do you meld these ideas together?
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #42 on: July 23, 2009, 03:43:41 AM »

Whether the tree makes a sound depends on how you define "making a sound". When this example surfaces it warns us that we are getting lost in semantics.
So! What's a compromise, to me? You have two extremes and you settle on something in between. Both sides make concessions. I don't care whether that's done consciously or not, as long as people believe they're being reasonable themselves. I consider the possible range of outcomes inclusive, that is, the extremes are valid results themselves. That means I include a 0-100 concession ratio as a valid compromise, semantically.

Now practially, any concession that's greatly lopsided means trouble, whether it's 30-70, 20-80, or 0-100. We agree on that.
The trouble is improving that ratio. First, if it's not conscious then you'll have to make it so for all parties involved, otherwise you can't talk about it. Second, it's a hard sell, because the dominant side suddenly has to yield some of what it previously considered a perfectly fair share.


But you need not be accomodating. It can be really refreshing and enlightening to say "My way or not at all!" and jump out of a local optimum. The thing is, you must be willing to face the consequences. You must be willing to accept a "No". If people go along with you, they do so willingly and how it works out will teach you lots of things. Getting a "No" in response to a specific offer will teach you lots of things too.
The trouble is that once you've started compromising on a deal, there's no way back. If you want to offer a fixed deal it must be a completely new one.

So you could pitch something like, I dunno, "D&D with premade throwaway characters, no character-building session, I'm gonna do my best to kill ya". Then if they say no to that, well, then that's just not their thing.


Quote
Personally, I can't imagine me succesfully creating an activity aimed at including other people and not just me, if it wasn't aimed squarely at myself.

It only looks conflicting to me if you don't put bounds on "other people", which is madness. It reeks of the Geek Social Fallacies #1 (Ostracizers Are Evil) and #5 (Friends Do Everything Together).

The thing is, I cannot possibly become passionate in a productive way about something I don't like. If I'm not passionate, whatever I create is mediocre at best, and thus a waste of my time. So if I want to create a great game, it has to be something I'm passionate about, something I'd love to play myself. This automatically puts bounds on my target audience. People that are not compatible with me probably won't like the game much. I wouldn't want to play the game with them. I would advise them to go play another game, with other people.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #43 on: July 23, 2009, 05:00:45 PM »

The tree falling example only goes wrong if you ask for an answer in a general sense. If you just ask Jim Bob what he thinks and he says it's silent, then in his particular peception it's silent. It's that easy. That's what I'm refering to here - in Daniels and Matts perception, am I not appearing to compromise at all? Thus it's a waste of time felling the tree, so to speak?

Quote
It only looks conflicting to me if you don't put bounds on "other people", which is madness. It reeks of the Geek Social Fallacies #1 (Ostracizers Are Evil) and #5 (Friends Do Everything Together).
What do you mean 'bounds'? It's aimed at you - those other people would have to be you, in order for it to be aimed at them. While you get one reek, I get a reek of narcissism? I'm not saying that in a 'you bad' way - it may very well somehow fit. But is this how most RPG designers, design? I'm asking because that would mean I've been very much mistaken what fundimental principles of design people were operating from here on the forge and in general (and I'm not saying 'very much mistaken' in the BS internet way to imply my way is right - I really mean I may have been very much mistaken for a long time)?

I mean, I think I have bounds as in; this is aimed at Daniel and/or Matt and/or Chris - not some hobo down the street. Not some nag on RPG.net. I have some bounds - but it cannot be aimed at me, soley, without adding the bound that they have to be me, for this game to aimed at them.

I have recently idled the idea that designing may, to make anything at all, involve leadership and leading others somewhere (leaving the idea of 'somewhere' vague for the moment). Just saying that to try and figure a way of what your saying, working somehow that I can grasp (not just trying to tear down ideas - looking to tear down what needs to be torn down, but also looking for what might have been strong amongst everything else)

Another, very blue sky theory of mine is that when you say it's aimed at you, what's happened is that you've essentially absorbed your groups ways so much it IS you to play something that fits them. That's a very blue sky theory and is probably best ignored. Again just saying it so as to try and grasp.
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #44 on: July 24, 2009, 03:35:18 AM »

There's only one way to know how you appear to Dan and Matt: ask them honestly.

Defining bounds is not narcissism, it's knowing what you're good at, and focusing on that. It's striving for quality. If I decline to work for a client, it's not because I think I'm too good for it, it's because I think it's not a good fit. The client would be better served by someone else, and I would be more useful to someone else as well.

Suppose I'm asked to create a game specifically for Dan and Matt. The first thing I'll do is try to figure out what kind of people they are, what they like. I'll determine if there is enough of a match between us so that I can declare them compatible with me. Of course, they also have to be compatible with themselves. In short, I'll determine whether they're within my bounds. If I'm confident it's a positive match, them we're on. If not, then I have two options:
A) Try it anyway, and perhaps, through much unfun toiling, end up with something mediocre that they could play, but it won't really shine. In other words, it'll be not fun for me to create and it probably won't add significant value for Dan and Matt.
B) Gracefully decline and do something more fun and more productive, while generating more value.

Why would I ever pick option A? Even if offered an exorbitant amount of money I rather do something else. Doing it for free is absolutely out of the question.
(By the way, I've seen a lot of miserable and unproductive people, and it's mostly because they're unaware of option B, and in the worst case fervently deny it as a valid option.)


You could consider RPG design to be like leadership, as you're leading the people at the table through some kind of game experience. But you only lead by consensus. If your leadership is not approved, you will be deposed, either by corruption of your command (drift) or by replacing you with another leader (play another game).
It's sheer hubris to think you could lead everyone. It could be like the cultural clash when you'd let a German monarch lead an African tribe. That's a fine example of picking the wrong man for the job. Now if you're aware that you're a German monarch, and you also know that there are African tribes, then you can take precaution so this mismatch won't occur. If you could clearly articulate what kind of leader you are, then the tribe won't pick you by mistake.


Quote
Another, very blue sky theory of mine is that when you say it's aimed at you, what's happened is that you've essentially absorbed your groups ways so much it IS you to play something that fits them. That's a very blue sky theory and is probably best ignored. Again just saying it so as to try and grasp.

Do you mean the situation where someone basically assumes a group's common indentity as his own? I think that could happen if your gaming experience is very isolated, when you only every play with one fixed group all your life. If the group's play is functional, I guess that would be great, because everyone in the group is totally on the same page. Not much fun if it's a nonfunctional mess though, then your own identity is a mess as well. In either case, when you do step out into the wide world, it's gonna mean trouble.
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