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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 39 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: GM's teach the players how to play in their game  (Read 2129 times)
contracycle
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Posts: 2984


« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2010, 07:29:57 PM »

Gonna quote here something I said in Cllan;s molasses thread which seems pertinent:

Quote
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.

Thus, I think the issue is not that it is normal and inevitable that GM's figure out a methodology of play and then impose it on ther group.  Firstly this is a silly arrangement for a voluntary activity that needs to win everyone's consent, and secondly it highlights something that I think is a problem, in the non-combat portion of RPG is still pretty much unexplored terrain, with a few notable exceptions.  This chimes with my recent discussion of procedural story structuring.  We know how to shoot and kill things, we largely don't know how to embed the shooting and killing of things in a broader and more meanginful structure.

Hence, we have again recently had a spate of "game" propositions posted for comment that start from, and consist of nothing else than, the combat mechanics.  This basically tells us nothing about "what the game is about", and if it isn't about anything then it's no surprise if it all ends up as nothing but a series of fights.  And so surprisingly for a medium that is in fact so based on the personal perspective, much of our gaming is impersonal and mechanistic. Whole swathes of fiction are unavialable, notably things like the crime or hospital or legal procedural drama, things that do very well on TV and should be natural topics for RPG's to explore.
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