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Author Topic: Reduced enjoinment playing RPG  (Read 11945 times)
Rocco
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Posts: 14


« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2010, 07:11:38 AM »

I would also like to explain better the reason for my actual disenjoinment as I feel it:

1) Part of the problem is with my actual gaming group. We are 7 (GM included) and here is how I perceive the other players: two of them play with us only to stay toghether: for them playing in a RPG, playing a video game or going all toghether in a pub and having a beer is the same. I'm happy that we stay toghether, but I don't really like to play with them because they are not commited to "play". One of them is difficult to understand as a player (he is usually the mastermind, acting after having thought about every possible consequences. For him is more like playing chess than a RPG) but I like to play with him, even though I think that he should partecipate more in actual play. Another one I completely dislike as a person. Period. I don't like to play with him but....he cannot be excluded (because I'm the only one that has this strong adversion of him). He is the one that usually try to force his rules on the game, with th GM avail. He also usually play for himself alone, never trying to include the other players in his PC actions. Then there is the last fellow player, which I consider a friend. Even though we don't like excatly the same things in a RPG we play well toghether. And then there is the GM, which recently I started to dislike.

2) The other part is that I don't find anymore D&D as appealling to me as it used to be.

Point 1 is a big part of my problem and actually I'm trying to leave behind my old group and trying to find new people to game with. Part of the problem is that not all of my friend like RPGs and I don't have so many friends to start with.
Point 2 is what drived me to the Forge. But I think that the two are interwined and that I can understand better my favourite hobby talking here with you.

Rocco
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2010, 05:00:31 PM »

Hi Rocco,

I apologize for the lateness of this reply. The good part of the delay is that I decided exactly what I want to do with you.

Let's start with Color. I mean, nothing but Color, just the fun and image-rich description of some topic or genre or whatever that you'd like to play. In fact, try to forget anything you ever knew about what role-playing games are about. Never mind dungeons, vampires, or anything of the kind. Never mind any sort of subculture you share with others and the way you may dress or talk when you're with them. Think instead about books, movies, comics, history, biography, sex, politics, music, humor, cartoons, advertising ... anything you like to experience as media. What's a topic that turns you on? Or for that matter, pisses you off to the extent that you'd like to do something about it?

I ask this because role-playing begins with Color, and it is effective only insofar as the content deep within the Color - a highly personal thing - finds expression through the processes of play. The essence of Exploration, or if we talk in terms of process, Shared Imagined Space, is giving the primal and initial Color some kind of weight among as a group of people who are talking and listening to one another.

Let me know!

Best, Ron
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Rocco
Member

Posts: 14


« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2010, 06:19:20 AM »

Hi Ron

Thank you for your help. I hoper I have clearly understood what you would like to know, so if it's not correct, please let me know. There are many things that I really like. I will start with some of them:

1) One of my first love was "The Silmarillion". I like a world inhabited by creature greater than mere human, like the elves of the First Era. The elves were fighting for something greater than themselves and they almost succeded. But what really caught me in the Silmarillion is the impending tragedy always at the door, the sense of sadness of the elves...and at the same time the struggle to succed no matter what (especially, in this regard, the frail human).
2) I like the stories told by G.R.R. Martin in " A song of Ice and Fire". I like the idea of an almost real medieval country, rich in misteries but at the same time more real than the Middle-Earth. I also like the political maneuver behind the stories of Martin, seeing them as a struggle to put reason and consequences above mere luck.
3) I like a lot of different Japanese Anime. I can cite a few and the reason why: Escaflowne (great story with epic characters struggling against lot of powerful enemies), Neon Genesis Evangelion (mistery and machinations), Trigun ( I really like the character of Vash the Stampede, powerful but at the same time humble), Saint Seya (I was a child and I liked great heroes fighting in shining armors...)
4) Star Wars (the films): flashing laserswords and people trying to uphold their higher moral ground in spite of a gritter reality.

If you want me to give you some other information on my interests or if I completely missed what you were asking me, I will do my best to correct myself.

Thanks
Rocco
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2010, 10:05:20 AM »

Wow! That is fantastic, exactly what I hoped for. This is one of those times I wish that the internet would just stop for a while so we can talk in peace, and I both apologize (and am myself frustrated) that you've had to wait so long for me to reply. I'll summarize a bit ...

1. Gritty tough reality. Most people have a hard time just getting by. Injustice is wide-spread, and privileged people can indulge their petty power-trips and feuds at the expense of the under-privileged. The privileged are making a tough situation really bad, unnecessarily, because they are really dicks.

2. Moral fibre under fire. There are codes and viewpoints which a person can learn and try to uphold, and they are indeed valid - effective and admirable. But those who uphold these views are marginalized for any number of reasons, and they have an uphill social battle as well as dealing with the more direct dangers and injustices they encounter. A lot of the time, they suffer and die, and their victories are often local, or one small step in a larger struggle they'll never see.

3. Friends and relationships. Other characters' opinions matter. The hero's own values don't really come under question or doubt, or not much, but they can be threatening to others. Or inspire others. The hero is a catalyst for bringing out others' core values, or helping those core values mature for either good or evil.

Conclusion: the most exciting conflicts in this role-playing game (the one you and I wish existed) concern a character who is very powerful, but facing foes which are socially better positioned and absolutely uninterested in his or her ethical views, in circumstances which are very adverse, with the fate of individuals and probably communities at stake. The hero may well be already paying a terrible price for doing this, and has done so in the past, and bears the mental and physical scars for it. The real point is that there is no guarantee he or she will prevail this time either. Maybe "prevailing" will consist, after the hero is dead or horribly maimed, and after the victimized people have been killed and further abused or oppressed, of one small child remembering the event and vowing someday to revive the fight. And even if the hero is victorious, it is likely that he or she will have to flee or otherwise move on, with little reward.

Do I have that right? Would this kind of thing be the personal payoff for you in play, at least if we're talking about this one role-playing game which you and I wish existed?

If so, then it's clear that no version of D&D will facilitate this. Oh, it's possible you might get this kind of play with nominal use of D&D (again, of whatever version), but only with a group which is 100% on the same page as you, and almost certainly by re-writing and selectively editing the textual rules pretty extensively.

And furthermore, it's clear that your current group is not going to be fun for you to play with. I can't put that any better than you have described yourself.

I suggest one thing: find two people who are as jazzed about that material as you are. Maybe one from this group and one from somewhere else, maybe one from this group, maybe from somewhere else entirely. I don't think you need more than that.

That now leads to the next question ... given those exciting moments of play, what about them would be most gratifying, especially if everyone at the table were committed to it? (i) Your personal, real-person strategy and guts in using the game system to beat the odds? This would be more like a video game version. (ii) Your personal and perhaps conflicted involvement with the issues exemplified by the conflict, and eagerness to see how it plays out in terms of a thematic statement? This would be more like becoming a weird blend of both author and audience. (iii) Your excitement about the source material cast into a new mold? This would be more like fan-style celebration of the original material or certain aspects of it.

Correct me if I'm off track about any of this. If I am, then ignore the above paragraph.

Best, Ron
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Rocco
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Posts: 14


« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2010, 02:21:11 AM »

Hi Ron

I always like to discuss my interests with people who can understand them and like to elaborate on them, even if we disagree on the matter. And don't worry for the timing of your reply, life is busy and every help comes in its own time. I'm happy that you (and everybody else here in the forum) found out enough time to reply to my posts.

Now, for the matter at hand: You perfectly caught what I meant with my previous list of interesting topics. That's what I really like to see in play.

For your second question my answer resides between point II and III. I will explain myself better: as I said earlier I like to discuss principle and ideas important to me with other people. Their inputs can spin my mind on paths I never thought of, or make me reflect upon what I think is "carved in stone" and elaborate on them. Therefore I think that point II is what I'm searching.
However, even though principle and ideas are "abstract" matters, they have a strong reflection on the material world, and this interaction goes two-way, from abstract to material and viceversa. Thus the material aspect of certains idea must be reflected upon, and different situations and different settings can lead to very different interaction between "abstract" and "real" aspects of a certain topic. Different source materials can lead to different answer to the same question. And that's something that I like to explore. So maybe, point III is not far away from what I search, even though is not the principal object of my interest.

I hope I have made clearer what I meant.

Thanks
Rocco
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2010, 09:04:40 AM »

Hi Rocco,

You're being perfectly clear! I think we may be nearer to Creative Agenda discussion than I thought.

Or more accurately, we may be near to Creative Agenda preference discussion for you, which as a practical reality is unfortunately quite out of reach as far as your current gaming group is concerned. I think that you've been clear that we can't be discussing how to make play more fun for you in this group, because it is flatly not fun and shows no sign of possible improvement. This means that our conversation will be more hypothetical than I'd like.

This next part of our conversation may be difficult because I'm asking a weird question. It is ... if we were to be role-playing, and if such a character and such scenes were actually becoming the climactic, payoff moments of play, and if those moments were neither constant (because that's exhausting and trivializes them) nor forever in the future (which is frustrating) ...

... then would you like to see some kind of game mechanic that illustrates a change in the character when/after that kind of scene happens?

I need to be careful in talking about this because we all reflexively snap back to what's familiar to us instead of thinking about all the possibilities. I'll list some examples from existing games:

1. The chance of death, meaning the final end of that character, and in many cases, the end of that player's investment in the game to date
2. The chance of impairment or limitation of effectiveness for that character
3. The chance or guarantee of improved effectiveness and/or resources for future character actions
4. The chance or guarantee of cosmetic, visual alterations in the character
5. The potential transformation of views, values, relationships, and other psychological aspects of the character, or other characters
6. The potential transformation of features of the setting: other characters, communities, structures and other aspects of locations, or even large-scale phenomena

Casting all your previous experience with role-playing systems to the winds - for example, #1 and #3 are often assumed to be givens, and they don't have to be - which of these, perhaps more than one, and perhaps any you think of that I didn't mention, strike you as the most enjoyable risks and consequences of the kind of scenes we're talking about?

Note as well that the fully negative option exists too: that no such mechanic exists, and the character and the setting are not changed by such scenes - at least, not by referring to special numbers or check-marks or tokens or any other kind of procedural features. In that case, all that stuff I numbered above would be worked out or established strictly through people talking without structure, or even through one person's imposed decree. If you would prefer that, then say so.

I suggest that saying "all of them" is not especially insightful or practical. Remember, I'm not talking about whether these things happen, but rather about specifically mechanical aspects of a role-playing system, whose outcomes are strongly influenced by decisions and procedural outcomes during play.

Best, Ron

P.S. For those following along, the above questions are not a "GNS test." Any number of responses would be consistent with any of the three known Creative Agendas. The GNS-relevant information has already been established prior to this post; I'm merely not talking about it yet.
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Ar Kayon
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Posts: 438


« Reply #21 on: September 05, 2010, 02:51:52 AM »

Rocco,

To begin, your GM is clearly bad at what he does.  A good GM can make an underwater battle - in space - against zombie pirates - the most fun you've ever had.  It's all about build-up, proper cadence, and most of all: coherence, even if the concept itself is absurd.

If you don't want to put the effort behind trying to find a new group of friends, I suggest either game mastering yourself or having the "mastermind" do it, as someone who thinks everything through is least likely to fall victim to the pitfalls your current GM seems to chronically walk into: being guided by the players like the dog on the leash dictating where it wants to sniff around (in soviet Russia, Players GM you!); insisting on combat being the only real aspect of play, with all the other role-playing treated as obligatory filler-content, etc.

Finally, it appears as if the players are merely reflecting the GM; that they aren't immersing themselves into the story simply because the GM's story isn't immersive.  You can't blame them for that.  Show them a better way to game, and maybe they'll start playing along.  Hopefully, instead of saying, "...but the combat was fun", your friends will start saying, "Hey, wasn't tonight's session awesome?"  "Yeah, but the pizza sucked".
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oculusverit
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Posts: 27


« Reply #22 on: September 05, 2010, 08:40:55 AM »


Ron, I know you're trying to have a one-on-one conversation with Rocco, but for those of us reading, a clarification. You seem to be asking if Rocco would like a game mechanic that reflects a change in the character after any of the situations listed, but the first one you list:

1. The chance of death, meaning the final end of that character, and in many cases, the end of that player's investment in the game to date

Doesn't this one imply a mechanical change no matter what game you're playing? After all, a character's death would in almost all cases indicate that the player can no longer play the character? Possible ways "out" of this, of course, are either some sort of resurrection or "ghost", both of which necessitate changes to the character (with resurrection, character is rendered unplayable until the resurrection mechanic is performed; if the character is now a ghost, then there are new mechanical limitations and perhaps even new powers as the character has undergone a critical phase change). Therefore, isn't character death inherently a mechanical phase change regardless of system?

Again, I ask this merely for clarification of this one point.
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Kinch
Rocco
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Posts: 14


« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2010, 02:11:23 AM »

Hi Ron

I'm sorry of replying to your post so late, but this weekend one of my best friends married and I was quite busy (and happy too!).

Ok, I was tempted to say "all of them" but, thinking carefully about the options suggested I think that the two that I would prefer to see in the scenes we were talking about are number 6 (mostly) but also number 5.

On the other hand I don't think that number 1 should be a "necessary mechanic". I would like to be the one, also in agreement with the other people playing with me, to decide "when, where and how" a given character ends his usufulness for the scenes/story/idea we are playing.

Thank you very much

Rocco
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Rocco
Member

Posts: 14


« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2010, 02:52:27 AM »

Rocco,

To begin, your GM is clearly bad at what he does.  A good GM can make an underwater battle - in space - against zombie pirates - the most fun you've ever had.  It's all about build-up, proper cadence, and most of all: coherence, even if the concept itself is absurd.

If you don't want to put the effort behind trying to find a new group of friends, I suggest either game mastering yourself or having the "mastermind" do it, as someone who thinks everything through is least likely to fall victim to the pitfalls your current GM seems to chronically walk into: being guided by the players like the dog on the leash dictating where it wants to sniff around (in soviet Russia, Players GM you!); insisting on combat being the only real aspect of play, with all the other role-playing treated as obligatory filler-content, etc.

Finally, it appears as if the players are merely reflecting the GM; that they aren't immersing themselves into the story simply because the GM's story isn't immersive.  You can't blame them for that.  Show them a better way to game, and maybe they'll start playing along.  Hopefully, instead of saying, "...but the combat was fun", your friends will start saying, "Hey, wasn't tonight's session awesome?"  "Yeah, but the pizza sucked".

Hi Ar Kayon

I appreciate your suggestion but, as I explained in a previous post, I realized that I don't really want to play with them anymore. And the cause it's something on a human person level, before than on a RPG level.
I tried many time to put something different in our playtime, trying to make the other understand my point of view about what is fun and what not for me. The majority of them simply don't care for the same thing that I do. Every time I tried to discuss these things with them they rejected my ideas, and every time I was more and more embittered.

As a tangential note, but related to your suggestion: some months ago I decided, feelin more and more disheartened with the playtime that I had, I decided that being the GM of another group could be the solution to my problem. It was difficult to create a group but finally I conviced my wife to give a try to RPGing, togheter with other two friends of us. They live in a different city, far away from us and so we decided to play using internet. After a bit of time (before starting playing) two cousins of our friends asked to be included and I accepted.
All of them, with the exclusion of my wife, had some experience with D&D 3rd Ed., playing togheter. I thought that explaining them my view of what constitutes a "satisfing" RPG experience was a good starting point, and I also asked them to give me suggestion on what was fun for them.
Here I encountered the first problems. They had problem explaining to me what was fun, without referring, in some way or another, to the "D&D mechanics". I was trying to communicate (maybe unsuccesfuly) on a human level, from player to player. They were answering only on a D&D level. I was a bit disappointed but tried to take their "suggestion" in count when preparing my first session.

Now I realize that there was a communication problem arising from the fact that their only experience was D&D and that, in contrast with me, they still enjoied D&D. They were not interested in anything different from "their D&D" (I'm referring with this sentece to a previous affermation of Ron in this thread that every group, through drift, play his own D&D, different from that experience by another group of players). I found out, in my limited experience, that a lot of D&D players have problem in explaining what is fun for them as persons, not as "D&D players". But this is tangential.

The first session was interesting but then, after some more play, my enjoinment started to decrease (this is not true for the other players, or so they say) in the same way as it happened in the other game. And it was even worse, because this time I was the GM. I was the one "managing" everything. How could this be possible? Moreover, with the passing time, I had less and less time to prepare everything for the next session. I was really ashemed of myself. And then I started to realize that it was not only a problem of time, it was also a problem of fun. Not having fun during play meant that I didn't have desire to put more effort in preparing our adventures. (On a side note, this unpreparation made every session worse for me). And one of the main reason for this unhappines was the complete absence of the other players input in the game. They were only reacting, during our game, to what I presented them. I felt like I was the only player, even though I asked them to give me some idea of what they wanted to do in game, what they wanted to explore through the game. Nothing happened.

During this time I started to read what was written in the Forge essays. What I read is starting to give me a better understand of the RPG experience. I think that the D&D system isn't helping me to have the kind of playing experience that I want. And without any other experience, is also difficult to explain to other players that can be more than D&D.

So now I have stopped playing with this second group, putting everything on a hiatus. And I wrote this topic searching for some help and a better understanding of myself in the context of the RPG experience.

Rocco
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #25 on: September 06, 2010, 10:59:25 AM »

Hello,

One thing I forgot to include in my earlier post was to open the discussion again to everyone. So anyone's who's interested, post away.

To oculusverit, you asked whether my #1, character death, wasn't necessarily a game mechanic. That's a good question, because the answer is "no." Or rather, let me be more specific to be more clear - by game mechanic, I mean any of the following: quantitative threshold, plot/event threshold, or special sequence of spoken terms. Most RPGs, historically, have imitated the most well-known early designs which used a quantitative threshold, i.e. hit points. But many have not. Of those, a few have not used any game mechanic (as used in this post) at all. See Interview with Vincent and me, 3rd page, Marshall's question to me and my answer, for a brief overview.

To Ar Kayon, you're proposing the classic role-playing tautology: if the GM is good, then everyone has fun; and if everyone had fun, then it must be because the GM is good. This is a cycle of beautiful nothing. If you want to state something substantive instead, you must describe what this alleged GM does which is so good, and causally, how that results consistently in others having fun, and if it's supposed to be independent of the system in question, explain that independence. All of which is possible and viable, but you might discover that your definition of "good," or anyone's, is not universal. I suggest this topic belongs in its own Actual Play thread.

Rocco, I appreciate your patience and attention to the conversation. Clearly, #1-4 can certainly be involved in the hypothetical game we're talking about, whether as narrations using the ordinary mechanics or as subordinate mechanics, leaving #5 and #6 to be "the biggies" in rules terms.

So far, looking over your current ideal game (shall we call it Rocco the RPG?) we have Color, Situation, Reward system and strongly-related mechanics. I submit that we are very nearly done actually designing it. The specific setting - far future, otherdimensional, historical, semi-historical, whatever - actually doesn't matter except insofar as you really like it. The characters, character creation, and resolution mechanics should all be recognizable as subsets of the reward mechanic, even if in some details they are divorced from it. So whatever you'd pick for starting features of a character, or whatever you'd like to use as a resolution device, well, it's whatever you might enjoy greatly and the only real design-job is to hook it to the methods for generating relevant situations, immediately or eventually, and for applying the reward mechanics at their harshest and most exciting.

I suggest further that your extremely strong answer to my "three possible aesthetic approaches" has already covered the Creative Agenda question: you are aiming at Narrativist play quite coherently - even urgently. A certain attention to genre or source inspiration is no impediment to this.

Are there existing games which you might turn to? I think there are. FATE isn't one of them; its Aspect system is pretty mild compared to (say) The Riddle of Steel or The Shadow of Yesterday and would be anemic in light of the intensity of what you're describing. Certain applications of Burning Wheel would be quite excellent, as would a hack of HeroQuest, but I think your technical preferences are pointing in a different direction, toward The Pool. If you were thinking in terms of animated TV series, which is consistent with some of your inspirations, then Primetime Adventures, definitely a daughter of The Pool, would do the job.

Let me know if you think this discussion has helped.

Best, Ron
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Rocco
Member

Posts: 14


« Reply #26 on: September 06, 2010, 11:56:48 PM »

Hi Ron

I think that this discussion has helped me a lot in understanding my own preferences about RPG, because I was able to express this preferences, examine them once they were written and discuss them with other people. Really, really useful.

When I read your post a smile appeared on my face: you suggested "The Pool" and "Prime Time Adventures". During the last week I read the "pool" mechanics and some discussion and Actual Play of Prime Time Adventures and, when I was reading, a thought suddenly stroke my mind: "WOW, that's the way I would like to play! This games seems to help generating the kind of conflict that I would like to see!" and "It's fantastic! I can put my idea in game with this games, and the other players can too, and we can collaborate!"

So, as you see, talking with you and all the other people here at the forge, helped me clear some disillusionment that I had acquired toward RPG and cast some light on what is "good and fun" for me.

Thanks you a lot.

Rocco

P.S: When I will have some Actual Play I will post them and I would really appreciate to discuss them.
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Ar Kayon
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Posts: 438


« Reply #27 on: September 15, 2010, 11:23:32 AM »

Ron,
You've made a strawman argument out of my statement.  I said that a good GM can make a play experience fun, not that a good GM will make the play experience fun, as if by some arbitrary force.  The audience is not passive - they interact - and the mechanics of the game itself must be taken into consideration.  It would be pure absurdity for me to subscribe to the assumption you've made, preach such assumptions, and then go on designing the elaborate game systems that I do. 
By good I mean a general consensus.  And while it is impossible for every single person to have similar ideas of fun, in the context of gaming there are underlying principles which make a positive consensus more likely.  If this were not true, then you would have wasted your time with your articles.  To spare myself walls upon walls of clarifying text, I assume that veteran role-players, of all people, can intuit these underlying principles.  I see no sane reason for going into autistic mode whenever I have an informal conversation with my fellow gamer.


Rocco,
You've said that you've tried online gaming.  Have you tried OpenRPG yet?  It has a platform that supports the actual gameplay (chat room with dice rollers, battle grids, miniatures, etc.), and users from all over inhabit the hub, making it very easy to set up gaming groups.  Personally, I think it's superior to face to face gaming for several reasons.  1) You don't have to look at or smell your fellow nerds.  2) If you don't like them, you can ditch them and set up another gaming group in the same day.  3) Which means you don't have to feel bad about killing their characters.  4) They've actually played something other than D&D.  5) No painful drama club acting.
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