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Author Topic: My play stile  (Read 1839 times)
Khimus
Member

Posts: 16


« on: July 01, 2010, 09:56:19 AM »

Ok, following Ronīs advice on "Welcome to the First Thoughts Forum", I decided to create a thread about my experiencies and style in rpging.
First of all, I got introduced to RPG by my uncle, via a game created in the moment by him (I think it was a Mortal Kombat rpg), and my first years in the hobby were spent without any contact or knowledge of published games, so I always spent my time creating RPGs (obviously, when I was younger, they tended to be all fairly similar). This was also because I live in southamerica (Argentina), where getting games was hard and even more paying for them. Then I acquired Pendragon, and GMed LOTR, D&D 3.5, and a couple of other games.
That was until I discovered the first indie games. I started reading about them, and rpg theory, and instantly got engaged with them. The first one I acquired was Mouse Guard, and I tested it with my common group. It was amazing, my group liked it also, and little by little we were discovering a new gaming style we hadnīt tested before. We played a whole mouse guard "year" (something like 14 sessions), and then I started buying and reading many indie games: Burning wheel, Diaspora, 3:16, Reign, Apocalypse world, Lady Blackbird, etc. Sadly, my group doesnīt like changing games so often, so, after playing Mouse Guard so much time, weīve moved to The shadow of yesterday and Warhammer fantasy roleplay 3rd edition.
As to my own style, Iīm not very good at improvising adventures, so I prefer to plan a structure for them when I can. Thatīs why I liked so much Mouse Guard, and why I had some trouble running TSoY (but weīve only played 4 sessions of it), because I wasnīt able to improvise and make up NPCs, twists to the story, dramatic situations, etc. Iīm not an acting GM, I ussually donīt make special gestures and speech tones for my NPCs, but I try to make them interesting nonetheless by giving them interesting agendas.
I also had trouble moving to warhammer fantasy 3rd ed, as I found myself without the incredible aids other games used to give me, and I had to make adventures for characters that were like a tabula rasa. That confirmed me that I no longer want to play a game whose narrative direction lays only on the GM, with no input from the players. I also found that several WFRP3 rules were half broken and needed houseruling, the same as the extended conflicts, which needed too much effort put by the GM, when compared to other games like Mouse Guard. Anyway, I like many of the concepts behind WFRP3, like dices generating twists and complications aside from success or failure, or abstract combat ranges, but they donīt work so well during actual play as they should.

I posted Mouse Guard, TSoY and WFRP3 APs in other forums, but theyīre all in spanish. I post them anyway here, if anyone speaks spanish and wants to read through one of them.
Mouse Guard (the longer): http://www.salganalsol.com/foro/comments.php?DiscussionID=781&page=1
TSoY: http://www.salganalsol.com/foro/comments.php?DiscussionID=934&page=1
WFRPG3: http://www.derol.com.ar/foro/viewtopic.php?t=18886
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dugfromthearth
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2010, 09:32:48 PM »

so it sounds like you want a game with the system very tailored to the setting/game itself?
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Khimus
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2010, 05:03:41 AM »

so it sounds like you want a game with the system very tailored to the setting/game itself?
Yes, I want those games (thatīs why I prefer indie games right now), but I donīt think thatīs what I was talking about.
Iīd say I look, in a game, for narrative aids that let me know, as a GM, where to move the story. I donīt like those starting-game moments when I ask my players what kind of campaign they want, and they say "whatever you like, itīs up to you". Even less when the same game leaves me with all that burden.
I remember how difficult it was to spark a setting and a situation in BW for the group. In the end, I wrote several situation-setting ideas myself, and from that base we started discussing until we had done the characters (we never came to play that campaign, sadly).

Also, I look for (creating) games with explicit pacing structures that create an uniform play rithm. Thatīs why I like so much Mouse Guard. Iīm trying to put something like this in Shapeshifter, my project, but trying it not to be too rigid and limitating.
I liked how pacing structure in Apocalypse World is "both descriptive and prescriptive", which means that it has influence over play, but also that it changes due to player decisions.

PD: from my last post to this day, something changed though. We continued to play WFRP3, and I started to handle it better. This refers to confidence with the rules, but also running the game. I even started to improvise sessions with it, and it went really well (I didnīt think someone could improvise with WFRP3). I thought I wasnīt capable of that, but now I realise that I can do it, I just need to be very confident with the game, the group and the campaign itself.
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Caldis
Member

Posts: 392


« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2010, 01:19:28 PM »


I'm very interested in your early experiences where your uncle created a game and where you followed that up with your own created games.  Can you remember much about those games?   What were they about and how did the players interact with the game?  Were they adventurers invading dungeons to hunt for treasure like early D&D or did the play more resemble your later play with Pendragon and LOTR and emulating those kinds of adventure stories?  How did the play shift when you moved from your own invented games to the produced games?

For myself we shifted in the opposite direction.  I started playing published game systems like D&D in the early 80's and ran through a plethora of systems, in the 90's we found we didnt need all those rules and started creating our own games on the fly.
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Khimus
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2010, 08:56:39 PM »

I'm very interested in your early experiences where your uncle created a game and where you followed that up with your own created games.  Can you remember much about those games?   What were they about and how did the players interact with the game?  Were they adventurers invading dungeons to hunt for treasure like early D&D or did the play more resemble your later play with Pendragon and LOTR and emulating those kinds of adventure stories?  How did the play shift when you moved from your own invented games to the produced games?

For myself we shifted in the opposite direction.  I started playing published game systems like D&D in the early 80's and ran through a plethora of systems, in the 90's we found we didnt need all those rules and started creating our own games on the fly.
Yes, I remember those games, they were weird. They had a clear influence of d&d, even if neither I nor my uncle knew the game. But they werenīt coherent rule systems, just a bunch of numbers on a character sheet, a resolution system and GM fiat for the rest.
The first game I played, that one of Mortal Kombat, had indeed characteristics like d&d (although not exactly the same), which were rated from 3 to 18, and also HP. But then, the game used 3d6 to resolve actions, 9+ for common actions and 15+ for difficult ones. Characteristics didnīt influence rolls at all. In fact, I donīt know why they existed (probably it was what my uncle remembered of playing D&D). Everything else (including how much damage you did) was arranged by GM fiat. I enjoyed a lot those first experiences, but it was because of the excitment of discovering something new, not because of my uncle GMing skill or the game we used. I think that repeated along the first years of gaming: the urge to play (anything) was bigger than the urge to something good.

From then on, I developed my own systems, but always from traditional roots (rules for combat, characteristics, HP and damage, etc.), but adding something new on each new system I created: characteristics influencing rolls, skills, advancement for skills by using them (or just levels), hit locations, and magic. Then, I started toying with rules and trying new things: a magic system were spellcasters have to choose a combination of light and darkness values, and spells need rolls of them to be used (like light light darkness); 2 different HP values, vitality and resistance; specialisations, etc. As you see, creating games in isolation from the whole hobbie didnīt lead me to innovate a lot, and I never went away from a traditional game. In fact, they ressemble somewhat the heartbreakers, as conceived by Ron Edwards: games with sparks of good ideas but that, due to being created in isolation (and other factors), canīt offer a good overall game.

I donīt know if play shifted a lot when I moved to Pendragon and LOTR. In fact, those games werenīt what we wanted (d&d or something like that), so we played them a bit and then moved back to homemade games. I liked pendragon, but, for my age then, it was hard to GM well and was too different from the sort of fantasy I wanted then, but I know recognise itīs a very good game for its time. LOTR was simply awful, and even worse because we didnīt have a physical version of the rulebook, and had to print the tables we used. It was a total mess, and I think we never managed to run it RAW.

Then we moved to D&D 3.0 and I started to GM it. Even since then I began to houserule it to fix the numerous problems it had/has, even 3.5. My concerns were that it wasnīt as useful to play a bard as to play a wizard, and that tactical fun wasnīt evenly distributed (wizards had a broad range of options, while warriors had none). I also hated random deaths that used to happen with that games at the least interesting moments (like during minor encounters).
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2010, 09:44:07 AM »

Hi there,

This thread interests me for a lot of reasons, but these two are what I'd like to discuss, if you find them interesting too.

1. You've encountered the "new wave" in independent RPG design through games which are pretty late in the process. This is a very fine thing in many ways, as the games' entire texts have been through a lot of thoughtful design, and every game you mentioned is very well-written toward a particular audience in each case. But looking at your experiences and priorities, I'd like to suggest some free games that were written without the revolution supporting them, and instead were themselves the revolution.

They aren't as polished as the games you've mentioned, and they were certainly not written in a way that helps the reader through every little cognitive step to understand them. But if you think of the author as someone very much like yourself (as presented here in this thread), speaking directly to you instead of publishing a product for you, I think you'll find them very rewarding to play.

The titles I recommend (and this is to you personally, not a general announcement for anyone) are: (link on page), Wuthering Heights (goes directly to the game), and Ghost Light. Although none of them provide any help with actually GMing and organizing play (in other words, 100% different from Mouse Guard), again, if you simply read them and fill in what's missing with exactly what you like to do, I think you'll find them very rewarding.

2. I'm interested in some of the fictional content of the games you played with your uncle. Do you remember any of the characters you played, especially any which survived through several adventures or stories? This may seem like a strange question, but, if there was such a character, how did he or she change from the first time you played them compared to the final time?

Best, Ron
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Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 547


« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2010, 02:11:23 PM »

Hi

I chime in the thread only to add that if someone is searching for the later (march 2001) version of Wuthering Heights roleplay (the one in pdf with the pictures, the character sheet and the rule about "what floats in the wind" that was reviewed by Ron, it still can be downloaded here (the link goes directly to the pdf, if you prefere going a web page go here)
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Khimus
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2010, 10:31:59 AM »

1. You've encountered the "new wave" in independent RPG design through games which are pretty late in the process. This is a very fine thing in many ways, as the games' entire texts have been through a lot of thoughtful design, and every game you mentioned is very well-written toward a particular audience in each case. But looking at your experiences and priorities, I'd like to suggest some free games that were written without the revolution supporting them, and instead were themselves the revolution.

They aren't as polished as the games you've mentioned, and they were certainly not written in a way that helps the reader through every little cognitive step to understand them. But if you think of the author as someone very much like yourself (as presented here in this thread), speaking directly to you instead of publishing a product for you, I think you'll find them very rewarding to play.

The titles I recommend (and this is to you personally, not a general announcement for anyone) are: (link on page), Wuthering Heights (goes directly to the game), and Ghost Light. Although none of them provide any help with actually GMing and organizing play (in other words, 100% different from Mouse Guard), again, if you simply read them and fill in what's missing with exactly what you like to do, I think you'll find them very rewarding.

2. I'm interested in some of the fictional content of the games you played with your uncle. Do you remember any of the characters you played, especially any which survived through several adventures or stories? This may seem like a strange question, but, if there was such a character, how did he or she change from the first time you played them compared to the final time?

1.I read both Wuthering Heights and Gost Light, and liked both of them (particularly Wuthering Heights). Basing the PCsī attributes on emotions is great, and WH seems tailored to lead to great and tragic moments, which is something I like.
I had already read pool, and I always liked it (I ordered The questing beast recently), it is so simple yet it allows a lot of interesting possibilities by empowering players to contribute to the story. This is maybe the game I liked most of the three, and will try to play it if I can. But my groupīs not very keen on trying different games constantly, so maybe I need another group just for trying indie games.
May I ask why you thought these games related to my experience with rpgs? Obviously, my games never looked like those, since I imagine those games were conceived from experiences with other published rpgs, and some discussion between rpg gamers (or were they created just by their autorsī effort?), which is not certainly my case then.

2. Well, I played two PCs with my uncle. Sub-zero (from Mortal Kombat) and a CIA agent in USA killing terrorists (not very pollitically correct, donīt you think? I was too young...). In the first case, the game was simply some fights conected, and there wasnīt much background or PCīs personality, just fighting. But Iīd tell my uncle what I wanted to do, heīd tell me how to roll, and then the outcome of the action. I donīt think we played this more than once.
In the second case (CIA agent), there was a little more character development. It wasnīt just the missions and the killing, there was the mission briefing, the healing process in the hospital after the mission, the character preparation for a trip to france (for a mission), the character buying stuff, reading books to learn stuff, etc. There was even a sort of tough choice, when the terrorists were taking hostages and I had to shoot while avoiding to kill them, and then shoot another one who had a jacket with explosives, and try not to fire them. I played two or three times with this character, and I think he added a sort of character development in the middle (when I read or trained or used a skill, I started to advance it, and after some time would get it to the next level), but that was all. The character hadnīt family or other friends, as far as I recall. The game was pretty much centered in the missions.
Between one game and the other, though, he added skills, character development, money, equipment, and something else I canīt remember.
Why are you interested in knowing that (just to know)?

Later on, I was a player on other homemade games. First, we played what a friend remembered of AD&D (that is, no rulebooks), and so it was really arbitrary, but sort of fun nonetheless. From then on, I started to be very exigent as a player. Iīd demand for consistency within the rules, try to learn them as I could, and then Iīd be a sort of palladin of playing to the rules.
Then we played another homemade game, set in LOTR, with a very peculiar system: it had consistency (attributes and skills affected rolls, weapons had its own damage, there were magic objects which influenced also rolls and damage, character development and levels, etc.), but all of it relied on the GM. Heīd decide the target number you needed to roll to succeed (that is, how attributes influenced rolls), how much damage you did on attacks, when would you advance skills, etc. It was a weird experience, because the GM was good but the basic rules werenīt (an example. To succeed on every action, the base number to achieve with a d20 was 18; otherwise, failure). But as the game developed and I started to become more demanding, the game expanded on its principles and improved, but we never threatened the GM power over it (like demanding the damage to be determined not by GM-fiat).
I carried that conduct along all games we played. In 3.0 D&D, I knew the rules better than my GM, and would correct him always I could. On school breaks, we RPGed also. I designed with a friend some rules for paranoia, and he GMed it. We played also a spanish civil war game I designed for a friend, and he GMed it.
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