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Framing Scenes for NPCs

Started by 5niper9, January 03, 2010, 05:43:37 AM

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Hello Ron,
after reading the nice thread about how to play Sorcerer I am wondering about framing scenes for NPCs. You said the GM should frame scenes guided by
Quote from: Ron Edwards on December 27, 2009, 09:58:48 PM
ii) His or her own conclusions regarding what the GM characters will do next. Sometimes what they do is so urgent that it will either disrupt one of the scenes framed according to (i), or it will begin a scene of its own.
When you say begin a scene of its own, did you include scenes in which no player character is present? For example one sorcerer giving his demon a specific task which has relevance to the player characters.

I think I have never framed a scene without a PC in a game of Sorcerer.


Ron Edwards

Hi René,

QuoteWhen you say begin a scene of its own, did you include scenes in which no player character is present?

Yes. I definitely do not mean an all-NPC scene. I am talking about a scene with at least one player-character in it.

There are two nuances to consider as well.

1. When and where is this newly-conceived scene to occur? The easiest is to go with whatever scene would occur based on what a player said, and then frame the relevant event either within it, or just before and near it. The opposite extreme is to come up with an entirely novel place well ahead of the time of the player-based "next" scene; to do this, you must get the player's permission to have "played" his PC into that situation.

For example:

PLAYER: I (meaning Larry, his PC) am starting that Contain ritual! I'm off to my basement la-bore-atory.

GM: (to himself) H'mmm, Roger my NPC is so hot to trot to seduce Larry, he can't stand it any more.

Easy version: When Roger arrives home, Larry is waiting on his doorstep.

Other-extreme version: the GM says, "I would like to see Larry at the fern bar between work and home first. Can he stop off there to clear his head with a lighter-than-light brew?" The player says, "Sure," knowing that this means the GM is framing a scene before the Contain attempt.

(I am obviously being a little tongue-in-cheek. Also, different groups have different local phrasing for how they request/negotiate upcoming scenes. Another GM in a different group might say, "Does Larry feel like a beer? There's that fern bar a block away, remember?" But in yet another group, such phrasing might be how that GM employs Force. The rule in Sorcerer is, no Force. Use whatever phrasing which ensures that understanding in your group.)

2. When I have conflicts between NPCs which simply cannot be conceived as present with player-characters, then I consider the conflict carefully in terms of how the player-characters would encounter the outcome. An easy example, drawn from a game from a couple of years ago which featured many instances of this, is if NPC A and NPC B are each trying to find/intercept a player-character before the other NPC does.

So I roll the relevant scores of A vs. B, and whoever wins, that's the character who shows up first in whatever actual scene is framed which includes the player-character. It's kind of a non-played, "inter-stitial" roll.

Let me know if any or all of that makes sense.

Best, Ron


Is your first point an example of what you called weaving in Sex and Sorcery?

This reminds me of a player doing this once in a Dictionary of Mu game. He played Oghma and in this scene the Jarl of spiders is arguing with a warlord. As the warlord introduces himself the player of Oghma asks me "Oh, could I have met him on the way to this place?" and we're off on a tangent playing the meeting of the two.

The second is a nice little technique which I have not used yet, but is now in my repertoire.

So yes, your points do make sense.


Ron Edwards


My first point is related to Weaving, or rather, it's clearly compatible with the concept. Typically I think of Weaving as involving more than one player-character, particularly when their stories-so-far have not been obviously intersecting. It's a way to get two separate stories into the same SIS without forcing them to become directly interconnected.

Crude technique = my guy hates his father; your guy works for a tough business executive. Hey! I know! My guy's father turns out to be your guy's boss! This is not absolutely awful technique, but I have found through experience that it can be badly overused. I'm presenting this to show why I stress Weaving in GMing Sorcerer, as a direct alternative to doing this.

Weaving technique = while your guy argues with his father in the coffee shop, the boss storms by in anger, walking down the sidewalk, shouting into his cell phone - note that in the previous scene, the boss and your guy had a conflict in which the boss didn't do so well.

Comparing these two, it may seem as if Weaving is a weak and not-especially productive technique by comparison. This perception is illusory. Weaving permits stories to become inter-causal through play itself, without forcing it, when and if anyone wants to make them so. In practice, it means that the group literally authors primary features of the developing plot without any need to anticipate that plot's outcomes.

I built many features of Spione based on that observation alone.

Best, Ron