The spicey die roll - Middel Earth (home brew) Sim

Started by Silmenume, September 29, 2009, 11:14:25 AM

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Ar Kayon

You make many thought-provoking points, and I think reflecting upon them will help me make the intentions of my own game clear, especially in regards to encouraging a coherent worldview between GM and players.

David Berg

Hi Jay,

For now I'm making no assumptions about what the rules in this sort of game ought to manage, and about what a text ought to cover.  Social stuff, conflict resolution, task resolution, drama, fortune, karma, guidelines, suggestions, inspiration, story structure, activity structure, turns, play modes, taking breaks, mood music... it's all on the table, as far as I'm concerned.  (I'm sure I could whittle that list down somewhat, but I'd rather wait on that task.)

Quote from: Silmenume on February 02, 2010, 10:27:15 AM
Quote from: David Berg on February 01, 2010, 09:15:13 PMDuring play itself, attention is kept largely on the immediate action.  Sights, sounds, actions, etc.  There are few pauses for explanation of the people, places, events and stories that are glimpsed only partially.  When play finally ends, the players do what fans of any mysterious TV series do: they question, theorize, interpret and predict.  "Why did that happen?  Did it mean X?  I bet Y is up to Z!  Maybe when we go to A, we'll discover B!"

Indeed it is much like you describe, but you miss by half!  This process goes on during our play as well – in fact it is the central engine.  The key is that it all happens not from an objective stand point but rather from a restricted/limited/subjective point of view.  IOW these questions and thought processes are restricted to that of our individual character's perspective.

I have no idea if this is vital to our discussion here, but I just want to understand you clearly, so I'll ask:

The questioning/theorizing/etc. that goes on during play -- is this in character, and regarding only stuff that is relevant to the characters?  Whereas the pre- and post-game chat is likely to involve purely player interests which would be mere trivia to the characters?

It is really interesting to hear you call the questioning/theorizing/etc. "the central engine".  By that do you mean that it's the fuel for player-initiated situation creation?  As in, "Having processed that last event, I'm now interested in going to Spot X on the map and attempting to accomplish Y!"?

As opposed to the GM dropping clear "next thing to do"s in front of you, which obviates any need for questioning/theorizing?  (Of course they could still do it, but it wouldn't influence meaningful decisions as much.)

Quote from: Silmenume on February 02, 2010, 10:27:15 AM
Rules that foster character POV . . .
Source material is everything!  . . .  History!  Maps!  Relationships!  Social institutions and mores ...and of course juicy conflict . . .
Critically important - avoid offering absolutes . . .

I hope you will forgive me for skipping over this for now.  These are some excellent observations that totally apply to my own play as well... I'm just worried about too many topics in one thread at one time to manage!  Maybe come back to it later?

Quote from: Silmenume on February 02, 2010, 10:27:15 AM
Getting players to engage in "post-game talk" shouldn't be that difficult if one has run an engaging session.  Like in your example above, the hunger to fill in the blanks should be there after an exciting game.  That being said, as the GM, you can start the process by asking probing questions of the players about the night's game.  Ask the players if they have any questions.

That sounds easy enough to do, but only if you've budgeted time for it.  In most similar games I've played, everyone stays inside the fiction until a clock tells them they need to go home, so any post-game chat lasts the duration of shoelace-tying.  Do you guys intentionally end before you have to?

Quote from: Silmenume on February 02, 2010, 10:27:15 AM
. . . nearly all games end with a big climatic ending (the easiest being a battle) but then end the game before all the lose ends are tied up.  Its the old show biz adage of, "always leave 'em wanting more."  You don't want a session to end at a dead halt.  Its a terrible energy killer.  Momentum is your friend.  Use it.  Exploit it ruthlessly!  Remember what I said about absolutes?  A sharp conclusive ending is a type of absolute.

You know, I do the same thing: end after climax, but before dangling threads can be addressed.  "You've cleaned out the haunted castle!  Next session we'll see what you find upon searching its library and treasury!"  I'd never thought about it in terms of a purposeful technique, though.  "Avoid absolutes" -- I wonder if that has Memorable Phrase potential, like "say yes or roll the dice".

I have a suspicion that such phrases might be key to reproducing this style of play.  Is that what we need?  Workhorse principles that can be called upon or referred to when play goes through a lull or a hitch?  That's where I was starting to head with those cartoons I linked, but those are probably too varied and specific.

(Speaking of neat phrases, I'd love it if we had one for "this play style" -- preferably without the words immersion, realism, or Sim.)

Quote from: Silmenume on February 02, 2010, 10:27:15 AM
"Pre-game talk" is a little tougher, because you need games to have been played to have something to talk about.  As the GM the easiest way to get this talk going is again to ask players probing questions about their characters.  However, ask the questions in such a manner that the player is required to consider the answer from his character's perspective.

Well, that sounds easy enough to me.  The hard part is:

Quote from: Silmenume on February 02, 2010, 10:27:15 AM
Have what they say matter.

This means that their statements feed back into play in a relevant way.  If this is the GM's means of gathering fuel to populate the game with events and opportunities and obstacles, great.  But if he already has those set up, he's going to have to ask just the right questions in order to get answers he can then incorporate.

How does this generally work in your game? 

I'm skipping your ranger baton example, as I think that brings up a whole other issue of how large-scale setting facts get established.

Quote from: Silmenume on February 02, 2010, 10:27:15 AM
There is a saying that I am going to mangle, but it goes something like this, "The media is the message."  Don't have a system that claims that it is all about living/experiencing the Dream and then have 200 pages of mechanics with only a paragraph on how you want the players to play the game.

Well, White Wolf proved this from a marketing standpoint, right?  "Live the Dream.  Here's a book where you have to dig the rules out of huge blocks of flavor text, but the flavor text is good (or at least aptly themed) and so is the art.  Oh, and every chapter is basically a new setting feature."

Of course, setting-based inspiration was, alone, not a sufficient explanation of "how to play the game".  There was missing procedural guidance.  Which is exactly what we're working on in this thread (I hope!).

Quote from: Silmenume on February 02, 2010, 10:27:15 AM
I'm going to cut my reply here and address the remainder of your questions in a follow up post.

Sounds good.  I'll-

Quote from: Silmenume on February 02, 2010, 10:27:15 AM
So you seen that even before the GM "strung me along" he was already adding to the situation making it more intense.  He was already adding his "flourishes", as it were.  It's not as if the GM suddenly starting mucking with the scenario to make it more intense, he was actively working it all night!

Hey!  You kept going and said something interesting again!  Well, I don't know which of these distinctions are useful, but I'll classify a few types of GM situation escalation:
1) events that inject uncertainty into a static situation
2) events that inject meaningful risk into an uncertain situation
3) events that heighten the risk in a risky situation
4) events that heighten the dramatic experience of a risky situation without changing the risk itself

A lot of GMs create #1 and #2 in pre-game prep.  This is "basic situation".  Sometimes #2 is sufficient for fun, even without #3 and #4. 

I've never seen #4 prepped, and play is feasible without it.  So that's a "flourish".

#3 (e.g. "brother captured, ups risk from geo-political to filial") can sort of be both or neither, depending on how you look at it.

I'm losing track of my point, but I'm basically concerned with what goes into good GMing (for this play style) and how to help people do as much of that as they need.

here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development