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Author Topic: fiction-based rule use (one fun option)  (Read 5092 times)
Callan S.
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« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2010, 04:20:14 PM »

It depends on what you mean by freedom, David. Quite often in RPG's currently, they have rules who's words are in no way objectively measurable - they rely on someones interpretation. Usually a GM. So basically your trying to be creative, but then because of this subjective rule wording, someone else can step in and mess or fiat your creativity. That's just annoying. That's like some artist having a boss standing over them and telling them when they 'created wrong'. It's just really annoying. I think that too.

On the other hand, if you have 5 karate points but it takes 6 karate points to do a flying, spinning roundhouse to the head, then you know you just don't have the karate points. You know that before you even set out to be creative - you don't set out to be creative but then have someone pop out of the blue and say nuh uh as they interpret some weasel worded rules. You know from the start you just don't have enough points. So you have absolute freedom in the sense that you know exactly what you have to work with creatively and can use what you have to its utmost, if you so wish.

So it depends on what you mean by freedom. Do you really want complete freedom? Or do you just want to know the exact size of the sandbox you have to work within, then simply go to town as you will within that sandbox, without any surprise 'Nuh uh, can't do that!' coming up?

Quote
    * a) watch for certain conditions: "If Fred hasn't been in a scene in a while," "If Larry's scene has come to a natural conclusion," "If the group is getting bored," etc.
    * b) when the conditions are met, take action: "Work toward revealing the monster," "Escalate what's at stake," "Reveal a new piece of information," etc.
This isn't what I'm asking - I'm asking what options do the rules grant a player (GM or otherwise) to manipulate game currencies? If any? Rather than 'If fred hasn't been in a scene for awhile' I want to know what game points the GM is granted the power to manipulate, upon his thinking someone hasn't had a scene in 'awhile'?

This is all resting on the big assumption that atleast some of gameplay arises from game currencies. That they aren't just ignored or treated as an adornment - that people are using them as one of their sources for inspiration in speaking fiction. Which in turn means rules which grant you the ability to change currencies grant you an ability to change the gameplay. As much as the rule grants you the capacity to change the currency.

Some groups are practically allergic to using currency as a source of inspiration. Fortunately these groups are just long time gamers. I'm pretty sure most people who have never roleplayed before are just fine with using the currency as a source of fictional inspiration.

The quoted wording above just isn't important to system design, except where the person is granted currency manipulation options, based on their judgement. Either that, or the above wording expects the person to work around the systems design and get things done without the games currencies/get things to work despite the game system. Yet another 'Herbie the great GM' text.

I really see zero value in such wording alone. I like to think of me printing 'If the games not fun, make it fun!' alone on a sheet of paper, and charging $5 for the paper and $3 for the PDF. Sounds worthless? The quoted words, by themselves, are just as worthless. They just tell you to do things all by yourself, and act as if you should pay money for that. How many RPG's are out there, being bought right now, which, with alot more flowery text, simply say 'if the games not fun, make it fun!'?

Without the words also granting you a mechanical tool you use to that affects further gaming, to me they are just wank. The ruleset has to provide some sort of mechanical support in running the game, otherwise it's like my worthless 'fun' game from above. Another stone soup design, where if the end result tastes great, it's because of all the ingrediants the end user group put in, not because the design itself has any taste to it at all.

Bah, I go on and on. Rather than the IF statements, I want to hear the THEN statements 'then you have five scene points you may spend on options X, Y and Z'...
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Callan S.
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« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2010, 04:44:20 PM »

Quote
The ruleset has to provide some sort of mechanical support in running the game, otherwise it's like my worthless 'fun' game from above.
No, not support. It has to be the game, for it to have any worth. That's what I should have said.

The rules being the actual game doesn't preclude fiction at all. When the rules grant you options X, Y and Z you can reference the spoken fiction, as you've heard it, and base your X,Y, Z choice off of it. But if you want the fiction itself to be the game - well then no written text can help or change or grant you any value to the way you play, as far as I can tell.

Possibly an unnecessary foot note.
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David Berg
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« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2010, 09:37:20 AM »

Callan,

Interesting stuff.  I think I'm following you.  Can you give me an example (real or hypothetical) of rules for manipulating game currencies to achieve something akin to the effects I mentioned ("if Larry's scene wrapping up" -> "reveal monster")?

I'll give it a shot:

Each player has a budget of 5 tokens they can use to push their scenes forward, introducing new facts or demanding new NPC responses.  Once these 5 tokens are spent, that player's scene is over.

Once a player's scene ends, the GM sets up a scene for the next player to the left.  Each scene has certain requirements ...  In the last scene of the first round of scenes, the GM must spend at least one of his Threat points on the game's primary monster.  The more Threat points allotted to a given threat, the more options that Threat has for attacking the PCs.


Is that what you had in mind?

Also, I'm curious if you've played Dead of Night and whether that covers any/all of these important bases.  I also recommend Burning Empires, I think you might enjoy it -- the currency movement there is pretty pervasive.

Ps,
-David
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Callan S.
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« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2010, 05:01:02 PM »

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Each player has a budget of 5 tokens they can use to push their scenes forward, introducing new facts or demanding new NPC responses.  Once these 5 tokens are spent, that player's scene is over.
This is spending points to prompt new fiction as far as I can tell.

Instead, something like you can spend a token if you wish after reflecting on what fictions been spoken and if you want to (not someone else or what the 'group' wants), to add a 1d4-3 'Old girlfriend shows up' modifier onto the other characters rolls. (forgive the clunkyness of the 1d4-3 here...)

Okay, now the first thing here is that I'm designing this with it in mind that player with the token decides this on his lonesome, simply listening to what is said and consulting his own muse on whether to take the option or not at that point. Alot of gamers demand no one take a mechanical option unless it's cool with the 'whole group'. It depends if your devoted to the latter.

Second, basically this is taking an option from which new fiction can arrise. Which old girlfriend? How is she influencing him? Emotions? Outright physical sabotage (spiking his drink?). And if a four is rolled, somehow she's boosted him? How?

And yet at the same time it's modifying the rolls and affecting how the game currencies shift. And as those currencies shift, they trigger more fiction inspiration. So it's not just working at the fictional level, like if we just said an old girlfriend shows up. And it's not just working from a mechanical level, where like if we just slapped on a 1D4-3 modifier. And it's not just spending tokens to prompt more fiction. It's currencies and fiction intermingled. Player consults fiction on whether they take a mechanical choice (and say they do), then mechanical choice inspires further fiction - which players consult on whether they take a mechanical choice - and so on and so forth.

Finally I have a bit of trepidation about your 'introducing new facts' from above. It has recently occured to me that some gamers get quite metagamey at this - it's not that they are hearing made up fiction, or what their character, with it's limited perceptions, is percieving (and thus with limited perceptions, can be wrong). It's instead an actual fact between GM and player, and for the GM to go back on this fact is the GM being dishonest. As if this fact is a concrete agreement between them. Now I'm not saying you couldn't have a design where that is the case. But we need to be clear on whether it is, or whether it's a 'fact' or a fact.

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Once a player's scene ends, the GM sets up a scene for the next player to the left.  Each scene has certain requirements ...  In the last scene of the first round of scenes, the GM must spend at least one of his Threat points on the game's primary monster.  The more Threat points allotted to a given threat, the more options that Threat has for attacking the PCs.
Not really what I'm thinking of, as it has procedural gaps through it. Who decides when a scene is over? Who or what decides when it's the last scene of the first round?

Looking past scenes and onto the monster : If the monster has some sort of list of attacks and the GM's spent a threat token to unlock attack C, well...nothing has happened yet, at a fictional level. It's merely unlocked capacity. There is no fictional level to it, and there is no currency level to it (it's been unlocked, but the attack has not affected other currencies yet). Not saying you can't have this in your design, but to me it's a book keeping moment where the game has not 'moved along', as nothing has happened. If something else were to happen at both a fictional and currency level, like you both unlock and launch the attack at the same time, cool. You know, like it bursts out a tentacle and lashes out with it. A big swinging tentacle - it might inspire the fiction in other players minds that it smashed some stalegmites or something (which would only matter in terms of fiction/currency intermingling if the player had some option along the lines of using a free piece of stalegmite. But I'm getting ahead of myself).


Quote
Also, I'm curious if you've played Dead of Night and whether that covers any/all of these important bases.  I also recommend Burning Empires, I think you might enjoy it -- the currency movement there is pretty pervasive.
I'm in Australia, which makes my prefered purchasing method - at a brick and morter store, conflict with being able to get these titles. I don't like mobile phones and I don't like ordering online - just my quirks. Have asked at the city store about some indie titles and gotten a "Dogs in the what??" responce. Though that was awhile ago - perhaps I might try again at some point soon. So no, haven't played dead of night or BE. And in terms of currency movement - well, I don't enjoy it for it's own sake. Like I don't enjoy a book not missing any of it's pages. I just kind of expect it.
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David Berg
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« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2010, 10:12:19 PM »

Those girlfriend and tentacle examples are great; they nicely illustrate a positive synergy between game currencies and fiction.  I'm having some trouble teasing out methods to use beyond those examples, though. 

Would you be willing to construct an example of ending one scene and beginning another scene that also utilizes the above-mentioned synergy?  I think that'll help me figure out how to better relate your points to my own experience playing and designing.

Thanks,
-David
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Callan S.
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« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2010, 03:16:15 PM »

David,

Well the thing about a 'scene' is that it has no fictional equivalent at all. You don't get characters walking around saying "Shit, did a scene just end there?" "Yeah, I think it did" (unless you made a fourth wall breaking satire setting and went with the notion). So scenes can't tie into the synergy for having no fictional representative. Scenes are like paragraphs in a book - they are a convention for managing reading - the paragraphs aren't somehow in the fiction, even as they shape the stories presentation explicitly.

But instead of just saying 'it don't work like that' I'll try and provide some actual content. Now the way I'm reading you is that your thinking of a series of if statements...specifically for the GM to work from. To me this gives the impression that the players just kinda...do whatever, and there's supposed to be this moment one can identify amongst all that whatever, to say 'cut!' and that'll be a great scene.

Okay, how I think is that you have a set real time, like ten minutes, and at the end that's a scene. Perhaps have a couple of cues '@ 5 minutes, foreshadow a cliffhanger situation' '@ 9 minutes, if you aren't already, get that cliffhanger into place'.

The thing is here the players know this time limit and the cue - and in how I imagine it, they don't just do whatever - they actively start shaping their spoken fiction to try and complete a scene at ten minutes and include the cues. So pretty much everyone is working together toward the same point, rather than they do whatever and then the GM somehow encapsulates it into a scene.

I guess I'm being a bit flippant in refering to it as 'do whatever'. What I mean is that not only does the players character do whatever its gunna do, but procedurally the player pretty much does whatever comes to mind as well. The uninhibited character portrayal has sort of mutated into also the player doing whatever at the table. Actually that raises a good question - does the player need alot of freedom, or just the character needs that freedom?

Really I guess I'm presenting an advert again, for consideration. But it's because scenes aren't something that's inside the fiction, the are outside the fiction. Since scenes aren't inside the fiction, they can't engage in that mechano/fictional synergy.

What is your own experience playing and designing, in terms of scenes? Indeed, why do you try to employ the notion of scenes? What prompted you and what value did it say scenes had? I don't think I've ever tried in my own play - at best if there were scenes, they came sort of organically with changes in fictional setting "Were at the tavern" "Were in the forest" "Were skirting the outside of broken down, yet occupied castles walls" etc. Indeed 'we go there' was usually the mark of 'ok, you head there and it's', which was as much scene change as my groups ever done, if I understand what you mean by scene change? Oh, or if one characters at another fictional location, cutting back to them to see what they do or if they do anything, then cutting to the main group. What's your own experience?
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David Berg
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« Reply #21 on: September 27, 2010, 12:53:20 PM »

Callan,

You're right, there is no way that the interaction between mechanics and fiction can apply to scene framing in exactly the same way as it applies to fiction-creation.

I'm hoping, though, that the same logic can be applied to the process of establishing "who, what, when, where".

My questions about scene framing emerge from two rather different approaches, best epitomized by my games of Delve and Primetime Adventures.

In Delve:
There are no units of play labelled as "scenes", but there are moments where the pace of the fictional coverage shifts.  "We've destroyed the demon's body, now we want to cross the sea, and find the fabled castle where the demon's soul is purportedly bound."  So, do we roleplay through the voyage, or just jump ahead to, "You arrive outside the fabled castle"?  The group discusses this, and the players tell the GM, "If nothing important happens on the trip, yeah, let's skip it."  So the GM has some decisions to make.  He has the authority and duty to invent and introduce the world the player characters interact with, including obstacles and antagonists.  Before playing, the GM plans out some, but not all of this.  He doesn't have a specific plan for what the characters ought to encounter on their sea voyage. 

So, what should he do?  Pick some cool "sea monster" stuff out of the book to introduce?  Offer social connections to useful NPCs int eh ship's captain and first mate?  Create an opportunity for the characters to benefit -- like the ship is carrying a treasure?  Further, if he does want to introduce a monster or a treasure, how does he know whether to start the scene in evening or morning, above or below decks, with or without NPCs present, etc.?  "Do what feels right" works for me, but is hardly the thorough instruction we've been discussing in this thread.

Primetime Adventures
This is probably the more clearly relevant example.  When I've played, the player characters were often not in the same place, crossing paths occasionally.  The purpose of each scene is to address at least one character Issue, and in my play there's been a fair amount of group brainstorming.  "Hmm, Father Alvaro's wrestling with Obsolescence?  Let's see how he reacts when he sees the robot that's been built to replace his friend Pegg!"  And so we play that scene until it seems like Alvaro's caught between breaking down and laughing it off, and we draw some cards to see which one happens, and then we narrate that outcome.  And then it's back to brainstorming the next scene, often with, "So, who hasn't seen action in a while?"

So, there are two examples from my own experience.  Perhaps the design-and-instruction approach you've described doesn't mesh easily with these...  I dunno.  I'm curious to see what you think!

(At the same time, I'm still processing the points you made with the girlfriend and tentacle examples.)

Ps,
-David
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Callan S.
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« Reply #22 on: September 27, 2010, 10:51:27 PM »

Okay, on the first example your players really have no way to speak into the fiction on this level. Sure they have lots of character stuff they can do that inspires fiction at a character action level, but at a 'what's in the world level' - they just don't have any tools for that. So it's all punted onto the GM.

Here's a primitive idea to start out with. It starts when the GM judges some sort of voyage would be in order. He declares to players as such, and they all know to roll randomly, determining which of three options in front of them is active. Each has an option like 'Abandoned church', 'Tornado' and 'Nothing at this time'. The GM's instructions is to lead into what the start of the journey would entail and involve, having already began - then trail off, looking around. No one knows what each other has rolled and if players want to, they say something like 'But then we see an abandoned church!', if that's what they indeed rolled.

Okay, here's the tricky part - that 'ball' has to be picked up by another player. Otherwise it's like when a movie shows a beautiful mountain or forrest, or red dots crawling across a map in Indiana Jones, it's not really a story moment, just a nice thing to look at for a moment and then the GM just, after leaving it for ten seconds or so to see if anyone else is sparked, just goes on to the voyage destination. See, the procedure is, if saying that somehow sparks an idea in the mind of another player(or GM) other than the one who pointed out the abandoned church, then they have caught the fictional ball and were working on something as a group. If the guy who pointed out the church just keeps working on it by himself, were just in extended narration mode. Parlour narration? No good - gotta throw the ball in the air - if someone takes it up, good. If not, GM just moves play on to voyage destination.

Okay, that's a start. Procedurally clear cut enough? I'd write it out more, but it seems so to me at the moment. Also you might note there is no currency effect right now - that's because it's more work and actually relatively straight forward. Ie, attach a 'crisis of faith - wisdom: 1d4-3' or such.

On the second PTA example,

Quote
Let's see how he reacts when he sees the robot that's been built to replace his friend Pegg!"  And so we play that scene until it seems like Alvaro's caught between breaking down and laughing it off, and we draw some cards to see which one happens,
First off, I'm wondering, wha? Draw cards to see whether he breaks down or laughs it off?

Anyway, looking at it - nothing has happened. He breaks down or laughs - well, nothings happened? Well, if it were the end of the game such a emotional collapse works, since it's the end. But nothings happened that would further a continuing game.

As a procedure I'd suggest along the lines of having two things, one of which (or perhaps both) will be affected by his responce regardless. How to determine these things - think of something five or more NPC's would get pissed off at (or mix in PC's if you think you can guess what would piss them off). Or what would piss off an NPC who could be considered a boss. Perhaps even have a chart to determine if A: they are pissed off, B: pissed off to the point of violence right away or C: pissed off to the point of begining the act of commiting murder right now.

Okay, now the procedure tells you the fictions rigged. Father Alvaro is fucked. He laughs, he insults the dignity of/pisses off the diplomatic party here for war negotiations. If he collapses, then he fails to go and get X done in time, something burns down and he pisses off someone else. One (or both) of those two things that will piss someone off, will get wrecked and piss those people off. Can't avoid it. Which maybe sounds dreadful if you roleplay to play a guy who farms cabbages all day long, but hey.

And hey, maybe he'll kill the NPC's all in the end, but even if he does, it's story that he'd kill over such a thing. Or atleast to me it's story. And if he doesn't - well, with pissed off people, don't future scenes start to form in your head? Play out those NPC's pissed off attitude.

Again, sans currency effects. But I think adding it onto the structure is kind of straight forward after having made a structure to begin with.

This is really rough, written on a napkin stuff at this point. But the more clear I get, the more I'm literally designing an actual RPG in front of you rather than just giving examples.
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David Berg
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« Reply #23 on: September 27, 2010, 11:36:15 PM »

I get the first example: "If [characters take lengthy journey] then take the following steps: 1) GM intro narrate; 2) player die roll; 3) if player inspired by roll, narrate brief intro; 4) if other player inspired by intro, narrate more; 5) otherwise, skip journey narration."  Unfortunately, it is not obvious to me how this would interact with any sort of currency.  Care to explain?  I don't know what "crisis of faith - wisdom: 1d4-3" might mean in this play context.

As for the second example, my specifics might have been distracting.  The Father Alvaro game was very much about character development for its own sake.  The group cared how he was affected by this experience.  My question was more about the style of procedural guidance used to end one scene and begin another.  I found it functional, but there were no currencies involved (that I can see), and the issue of "Do we know what's at stake YET?" (and thus, "Should we employ the resolution procedures yet?") got muddy at times.
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Marshall Burns
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« Reply #24 on: September 28, 2010, 07:28:09 AM »

Hi guys,
Been trying to get back to y'all, but I haven't had much time and you keep posting more stuff :)

So, anyway:

Quote
P.S. Marshall, I'm guessing you fall somewhere in between "all-encompassing instructions" and "screw instructions; perfect aesthetic!" but I'd be interested in hearing your own take on that.

I'm not sure what you mean by that. I try to make rules all-encompassing, but not wholly in a mechanical/computer sort of way. Because, as I said, human brains are not computers, and can calculate in ways that computers can't. Ergo, I should take advantage of that, or else write a computer game instead.

Quote
The ironic thing being 'everybody else thinks the same as me and makes intuitive leaps in the same direction as me' is probably the only thinking or intuitive leap that people share in common. Otherwise their minds head in the same direction about as much as a herd of cats all head in the same direction. This includes people in the same gaming group (well, perhaps except for some who can practically finish each others sentences like they are married)

The best trick is to leave the gaps for intuitive leaps in places where they don't require everyone to leap in the same direction. In other words, put them in places that are served by individual and perhaps-diverging creative perspectives.

A less good, but still good, trick is to leave a gap, alert the reader that you're leaving that gap, and tell them that they'll need to come to their own standards on a group level in order for this rule to function. An example is the definitions of the attributes in the Rustbelt, which are highly (and deliberately) subjective. There's a sidebar that calls this out, so that everyone is aware of this. It helps that you can arrive at a standard gradually, through play, without the game failing, and that you can revise that standard easily, and that your next scenario can operate with a totally different standard without breaking anything.

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1: It's alot harder to write explicitly/technical writing rather than airy prose

I don't think it's hard at all. It's hard for me to NOT write explicit, technical writing. The problem is that such technical writing is not useful.

A rules text must first and foremost be an act of communication. Technical writing, even while containing ALL the data and ALL the procedures you need, isn't good communication unless you're talking to engineers or computers. Some people will fail to read it because it's boring and they can't/aren't willing to focus on it. Some people will just skim it, scanning for key details (or what they interpret as key details) that are recognizable to them, just like some people do with ANY set of instructions (from assembly of things to recipes). Some people will read it cover-to-cover and STILL misunderstand things.

I've come to the conclusion that the best way to write an RPG rules text is to do it in an engaging, conversational manner (which precludes some measure of the detail and data of technical writing), then invite the reader to further avenues of communication (email, forums, etc.) in case of misunderstandings. I think expecting the text to stand by itself forever for everyone is a ridiculous and impracticable standard. The text should do A LOT by itself -- there isn't an excuse for texts that don't make any sense no matter how you slice them. But the real issue is communication. Why limit that communication to the book?

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Quite often in RPG's currently, they have rules who's words are in no way objectively measurable - they rely on someones interpretation. Usually a GM. So basically your trying to be creative, but then because of this subjective rule wording, someone else can step in and mess or fiat your creativity. That's just annoying. That's like some artist having a boss standing over them and telling them when they 'created wrong'. It's just really annoying. I think that too.

I strongly disagree here. I stand behind subjectively interpretation in RPGs. You just have to be careful where you put it -- only put it where it is useful. When it's not useful, use something else.

As for 'creating wrong,' it does exist. If we're playing music, and I started off in the key of F and now you're joining in the key of E, you are creating wrong. Editors and directors are bosses that have to stand over people and tell them when they're creating wrong. They don't do it to be annoying, they do it to help -- to make the work stronger. Done right, it's a good thing.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #25 on: September 28, 2010, 02:55:50 PM »

David,

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Unfortunately, it is not obvious to me how this would interact with any sort of currency.  Care to explain?  I don't know what "crisis of faith - wisdom: 1d4-3" might mean in this play context.
Well, the church, if the ball is taken up, ends up with a wisdom penalty. Yep, I hadn't said who it's assigned to, your right. Also I've gone and assumed we have a stat called 'wisdom'. This depends on what actual numbers your going to have in the game, and the name given to them. Here I'm assuming characters have a stat called wisdom, for examples sake.

Anyway, since were going for a crude example, just have any player have a chance of getting it. Perhaps even count the GM as one player, and if he randomly gets it, he assigns it to an NPC of his choice (crude, as he might assign it to one that'll not be involved in game - if I were writing out rules, this is where I'd leave a note to myself to work on this further, latter on).

The thing is, in the end if the ball is taken up, a 'crisis of faith' modifier is assigned. Now other players or that player ask themselves why would he suddenly have a crisis of faith on seeing the church? Had he given up his faith in former years? In the past did he attack people of this faith in a war, but now without the war he fears them? I mean, to me ideas/fictional speculation starts to form about it.

Though thinking on it, crisis of faith may be too internal a fiction, as compared to old girlfriend shows up. So perhaps the crisis fiction needs to be changed to a more externalised fiction. Heh, old priest who watched the PC grow up as a child, shows up?

Anyway, what stats does Delve have? Perhaps I could make up an example if you tell me a few of the numbers Delve uses, and what they are named?

Quote
As for the second example, my specifics might have been distracting.  The Father Alvaro game was very much about character development for its own sake.  The group cared how he was affected by this experience.  My question was more about the style of procedural guidance used to end one scene and begin another.  I found it functional, but there were no currencies involved (that I can see), and the issue of "Do we know what's at stake YET?" (and thus, "Should we employ the resolution procedures yet?") got muddy at times.
I'm maybe not getting what you wanted?

You already describe "Let's see how he reacts when he sees the robot that's been built to replace his friend Pegg!". Your already setting up a scene.

On top of doing that, my procedure says to determine two things that will get wrecked, each of which will piss off five or more NPC's.

Quote
"Do we know what's at stake YET?" (and thus, "Should we employ the resolution procedures yet?") got muddy at times.
You just made what's at stake. The two things that will piss of a bunch of NPC's. 1. You decided to have a scene. 2. The rules told you when you've decided to have a scene to invent two things, of which atleast one will get wrecked and the wrecking of either will piss off a bunch of NPC's.

And there is no resolution system except that the player portrays his character. Now you said he either laughs it off or breaks down. Okay, I didn't outline that at this point the GM decides, which thing get wrecked (or if both get wrecked). One or the other must get wrecked.

So we have the start of the scene, because your already thinking "Let's see how he reacts when he sees the robot that's been built to replace his friend Pegg!". I mean, if your thinking that, you've already decided to start a scene, haven't you?

On currencies, just name four or so that are used in PTA or Delve. I'll tie them in and write out this example in a better draft.

On ending a scene - I don't know. We have a bunch of reactions to work with now already?

See, with this
"Let's see how he reacts when he sees the robot that's been built to replace his friend Pegg!"
It's not just setting a scene, your kind of pushing the characters buttons.

See, we can have a procedure that simply picks up after the one of the two things have been wrecked and NPC's pissed off.

Like it says 'Take the thing that was wrecked. Consider how it relates to the button you tried to press on the character, and whether the wreckage and actions of pissed off NPC's could either A: Push another button of the character or B: push the same button (preferably A if you can manage it, but B is okay). Once you find that, repeat the procedure from above - determine two things that could get wrecked that would piss off five NPC's, etc. Repeat about ten times, sessions done! If desired by the majority, in the next session pick up from the fictional wreckage from the last session!

As I said above, tell me some currency names either from PTA or Delve and I'll work them in, rather than just invent my own currencies from thin air, that you might not relate to.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #26 on: September 28, 2010, 04:39:09 PM »

Just to clarify this
Quote
And there is no resolution system except that the player portrays his character. Now you said he either laughs it off or breaks down. Okay, I didn't outline that at this point the GM decides, which thing get wrecked (or if both get wrecked). One or the other must get wrecked.
Procedure is: The player portrays character. The GM just decides which of the two things gets wrecked (or if both do). The connection between the two is that if the GM finds it fun to draw upon the character portrayal in making his decision, he does. If he doesn't find any fun connection, procedure is he just has to choose one or the other (at random, if necessary).

I think this is a radical departure from alot of what of roleplayers seem to use, so I'm noting it. Alot of roleplayers seem to use "It doesn't matter if you find it fun or not, you choose the one that makes sense!'. When of course there are billions of versions of 'what makes sense' on two legs, walking around on this planet. Or so I estimate.
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David Berg
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« Reply #27 on: September 30, 2010, 09:56:07 AM »

Callan,

Thanks for the explanations, I think I get it now. 

1) Passing the ball gets someone an attribute penalty.  Now the decisions of whether to introduce and accept "church" are informed by more than just aesthetic preference and fictional inspiration -- there's also a currency to consider.  To me, this doesn't look like a great example of the synergy you described earlier, but I know we're just making stuff up out of thin air here, so maybe we just haven't developed it enough yet.

2) You're right to point out that my PtA example already has plenty of functional processes going on, and doesn't call out for more procedural guidance.  I was hesitant to introduce an example of floundering play, because I'm fuzzy on the actual rulebook instructions, and any given snafu might actually be addressed. 

The reason I omitted game currencies from my example is that PtA doesn't really have any.  "This session, my character is the focus of attention; next session, yours is," is really the only quantity that's measured and tracked.

My main point was that the procedures for (a) setting a scene, (b) forming and identifying a scene's conflict/question, and (c) declaring "time for the next scene" are all participant judgment calls with no mechanical weight.  It works for me, because I never get tired of coming up with "what I think would be cool here" and suggesting that to the group.  But if I'm not inspired, there's no mechanical synergy (or mechanics, period) to fall back on.  If everyone looks at "issue: obsolescence" and at "situation: aging priest on ship with new robot" and no one has an idea for a scene, the game would die.

So, I'm not asking a question about PtA at all; rather, I'm wondering if you can envision a way to make a game that addresses what PtA addresses (individual character issues, with multiple characters, in a TV-like framework), but using mechanics that demonstrate your synergistic principle.

I'm sorry that I just keep saying, "Hey Callan, do more work to clue me in!"  I'm hoping that it's fun and not a chore.

If it'd help for me to mkae up some stats, just let me know.

Ps,
-David

P.S.  I suspect Sorcerer or Shadow of Yesterday would be better examples, but alas, I don't know those games very well.  (Actually, tSoY's dynamic of "I need to refresh my Reason stat, so I'll set a scene where I'm engaged in a chess match with a worthy opponent" might be a good example of a strong interaction between mechanics and scene-framing.  But I don't know what you do in that scene besides refresh your pool, so it might just amount to "if you want to refresh your pool, narrate how.")
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David Berg
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Posts: 997


« Reply #28 on: September 30, 2010, 10:14:43 AM »

Marshall,

I think we all agree that instructions should be clear, and I'd rather not discuss what presentation is clearest in this thread.  If you start a new thread about that, I will totally jump all up in there with comic books and bullet points.

I think we all agree that there should be standards for contributing, too.  It's just a question of who establishes those standards and how they're communicated.  (Good rulebook: "GM, pick a key, and tell the band of players what key you picked, and make sure they know how to play in that key."  Bad rulebook: "GM, pick a key.")

The best trick is to leave the gaps for intuitive leaps in places where they don't require everyone to leap in the same direction. In other words, put them in places that are served by individual and perhaps-diverging creative perspectives.

I love this when it gets down to fictional specifics or emergent strategies.  I hate this when it's a question of "What is this rule telling us to do?"  I'm not sure which was being discussed.

Ps,
-David
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Callan S.
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Posts: 4268


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« Reply #29 on: October 01, 2010, 05:51:50 PM »

Hi David,

Quote
1) Passing the ball gets someone an attribute penalty.  Now the decisions of whether to introduce and accept "church" are informed by more than just aesthetic preference and fictional inspiration -- there's also a currency to consider.  To me, this doesn't look like a great example of the synergy you described earlier, but I know we're just making stuff up out of thin air here, so maybe we just haven't developed it enough yet.
Well, you have to remember that your working from a blank fictional slate in looking at this. Your not mid game. Perhaps some character prior to this quoted the bible, and you get curious and this option comes up. So you bring in the church. But then another guy gets the penalty - so why did he get it? And let's say he fails a roll because of the penalty, why did that happen? Is it connected to the bible quote, the church? Is there a subtext story building up here? Well, building up as in were inventing it? For failing at the task, how does the character feel with his crisis of faith? How he feels might inspire someones location choice, etc.

Quote
My main point was that the procedures for (a) setting a scene, (b) forming and identifying a scene's conflict/question, and (c) declaring "time for the next scene" are all participant judgment calls with no mechanical weight.  It works for me, because I never get tired of coming up with "what I think would be cool here" and suggesting that to the group.  But if I'm not inspired, there's no mechanical synergy (or mechanics, period) to fall back on.  If everyone looks at "issue: obsolescence" and at "situation: aging priest on ship with new robot" and no one has an idea for a scene, the game would die.
I've observed this very same thing, I'm really glad you brought it up! What I would quibble about is how you say it works for you, but then you say your not always inspired. It might be time to say 'It works some of the time' instead of 'it works'. You do get tired and run out of inspiration. We all do - it's natural. Except [advert]a complete reversal happens, were we try to get inspired not because it's fun, but for the sake of the continuing game. In other words instead of the game working for us, we start working for the game[/advert]

Of course that's an advert so not really a discussion thing, but hey, atleast you can dismiss it as an advert as I'm not pretending I'm discussing on that!

The big issue I see is how you describe 'no inspiration=game dies'. This is bigger than the synergy - it encapsulates the synergy.

To me, what this means is that nothing happens. This provides no further fictional grist to the mill, which means a complete and terminal stall.

I feel kind of furtive as I describe this, like I'm showing some thing amongst fake watches and jewelry under my jacket.

The thing is, could you stand the idea of roleplay that goes for stretches at a time on pure mechanics with no fictional input from anyone? Perhaps even ending the game purely by the the mechanical procedure saying it's done? By imagine, I mean can you imagine liking it? Not in a huge way, but like you might enjoy playing some board game with others?

Because as you said, the inspiration runs out sometimes. That's normal. But with RPG's which rely exclusively on fictional inspiration on what to roll next for anything to happen next, this produces a terminal stall. And most traditional RPG's are written that way.

What if you had 'out of ideas, roll on these amusing charts until you do, or you get to the wrap up the session chart'. You might be rolling for some time, without any fictional input as the inspiration isn't there. BUT these charts atleast let play move forward, if mechanically, providing bits and pieces of fiction. Fiction which may ignite inspiration at a latter point.

Or does it sound anathema and horrible to go pure mechanical for stretches at a time? I've certainly had some old hands bitch at me about the idea of going hardcore, but that was gamism so maybe it doesn't apply here.

To me, I see no way past the inspiration gap except via mechanical play for a time. OR you start forcing yourself to get inspired for the sake of continuing the game - ie, you start working for the game, rather than the game works for you.

I think this terminal inspiration stall is a bigger issue than the currency synergy. But how you solve it is how you implement currency synergy, if at all. So I need to talk about the bigger issue before I can talk about the smaller ones inside.

I can see no other way past the inspiration gap that isn't mechanical, except to start working for the game. This is discussion as perhaps I'm missing something. Though I wont entertain any arguements which say it works, which are just prettied up versions of 'work for the game - the games not there to work for you'. I'm anticipating Mr Burns writing one of those :p

So what do you think - is mechanical the only functional way past a inspiration gap? Or is there some way I just haven't seen?

And sorry for not answering the currency synergy directly - if I seem sucky for it, fair enough. Perhaps I could have somehow. I dunno.

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