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Author Topic: "Losing!? No, my imagination will have me win!"...over the other player...  (Read 3570 times)
Callan S.
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« on: December 07, 2010, 02:25:56 PM »

Play by post rifts-like game. So, a character who'd had a bad past and then shouted the wrong thing to an NPC with a hard past and had some fisticuffs. Eventually the PC goes gets a modification and comes back for revenge, but another players PC fights him.

That's not really important, but is the fun context.

Anyway, one players PC fighting another players PC, and it's pretty slanted against one of them as we go through the blow by blow of attack rolls, over the days.

What's up is that the player who's character is pretty much losing the battle because his knife can't get around the others armour, private messsages me asking what'd it take to get an arm around the other PC's neck instead, and choke him out?

It's funny, it looks innoculous at first.

I mean, as clumsy and slow as the 'I hit you, you hit me' thing is, it is a resolving system for the fight. There are no pre-existing grappling rules.

To me it sort of starkly shows something which is pretty much hidden when fighting goblins or other NPC stuff. Here it seems obvious - the player thinks their imagination comes first, so very, very much, that it comes ahead of the other persons imagination. A supposed dominant imagination. I mean, what's the other player going to imagine? Him blocking it off, of course! So who's imagination comes first? Well we had this blow by blow thing...but...

It's seemingly a recurring thing with gamers, where they genuinely believe that if they imagine X could happen and X would have them win, then they should win. It's not so starkly obvious against NPC's, but with PC Vs PC it is obvious. The player would imagine his PC chocking the other PC - well, the other players gunna imagine him not choking, isn't he?

To me, for this very reason, imagination as a resolution process is UTTERLY BOGUS. Who's freakin imagination do you pick out of the two? Heck, even if the other side goes 'oh wow, your choke would totally work', it's not resolving how anything in reality would work out - I've tried to resign at chess, imagining I was going to lose, only for the other person to push me on to continue - and I won. My imagination was no method of definately determining the future result. But alot of gamers sort of think engaging their imagination is like engaging the physical world, and their imagination can be used in this way as a resolution system in itself.

Actually if 'Okay, I'll throw the fight' is a resolution system, then it can work that way. I'll pay that. I'm not against it, either, as long as it's not dressed up as more than it actually is.

Anyway, back directly to the AP - the player is losing, and losing slowly I'll grant (which in my experience isn't fun). And here I am with the great news that...I think his desire to do a choke now, where we'd change the rules after his PC started losing, is bogus? And I have a complicated way of describing that, that anyone under pressure is unlikely to really ponder?

Note: I've said prior to this that even though each character might end up wanting to kill the other, as GM I'd likely (read: I will but humouring the idea I might not) set off a series of miraculous events that lets the losing character get away to fight another day (which lets us see them clash latter and see more of the ways in which they clash and over what, than if one just killed the other from the get go).

But here I am - I'm stuck with no pleasant way of dealing with this. And by that I mean, with no way that I'd call 'a game'. Games are fun. When someone pushes to change or ignore the rules because they've been encouraged to think their imagination comes first regardless, it's not fun dealing with that.

Maybe I'm reading it into his PM, but there's just this zealous certainty that he doesn't have to just face, like, losing. No, he can 'use his imagination and find a way out' like perhaps he's been told a million times by gamers in RL and on forums. There no sort of social nod from him to me that it could be any other way. And so it's not even within a societal structure between us, so it's a with me or against me setup. Maybe nothing ugly will happen, but that's what I see at it's core - nothing better than with me or against me. And not because he wants to be that way to me - just because he believes so very much that he can imagine his way out of losing. Except in PC Vs PC, someone has to lose (even if it's of the 'escapes to fight another day' variety). Thinking you can imagine your way out of it is thinking somehow it's only the other player who can lose, not you.

I dunno.
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contracycle
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2010, 06:25:43 PM »

Meh.  I think you're getting totally carried away with those whole thing.

There is a difference between "there isn't a rule that covers grappling" and "there is a rule that prevents grappling".  To me it is tendentious to say that this request is "against the rules"; it's not, it's merely improvisational and innovative.  Which, incidentally, many would cite as the primary purpose for playing an RPG over another sort of game - the ability of a human ref to apply human judgement, unlike a computer game which frex won't let you climb trees, ever.

In addition, you seem to be assuming a state of mind - the refusal to accept losing.  That might be true, I'm not privy to the exchanges, so I can't say; but from the actions described, maybe the player is not denying defeat so much as being caught up in the struggle and reaching for any tool that comes to hand.  That would be real positive engagement, excited enjoyment, rather than bitter rejectiopn of the outcome.

So, whatever.  You;re perfectly within your rights to say that there are not rules for the eventuality and that it would be unfair on the other player to make some up.  That would of course be totally legitimate.  But I'm not buying the idea that this is either necessarily symptomatic of a refusal to accept defeat, or that total rule strictness to the point of inflexibility is an unalloyed virtue.
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2010, 06:30:22 PM »

What about the Nomic idea: you have a number of rules permitting participants to make rules that cover cases not covered in the original set of rules?

The adjudication or judgment made now gets fixed into the set of acceptable behaviours and you move into the future with solid jurisprudence behind you.

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Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2010, 08:58:09 PM »

I'll clarify what I mean when I said 'can't he just face, like, losing'. I don't think he's trying to refuse to accept losing - he genuinely thinks the 'imagination get out' is a physical, emperical move, like say using a pawn to take a rook in chess that was putting your king in check, to get your king out of check, is valid. Because he's been encouraged to think this way and because he can really clearly imagine the neck grapple in his mind, that neck grapple, to him, exists as much as the pawn from the chess example. Except it doesn't exist. Or more importantly, in terms of the game I've communicated (communicated in the way I'd describe chess's rules, where I can), it has nothing to do with it. He's just used to this idea that if he can imagine something, it's part of the game. So of course when he seems to be losing, he grasps for a way out of that that appears, to him, to be part of the game.

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it's not, it's merely improvisational and innovative.  Which, incidentally, many would cite as the primary purpose for playing an RPG over another sort of game - the ability of a human ref to apply human judgement, unlike a computer game which frex won't let you climb trees, ever.
I'm just not seeing any nod from him toward the notion that hey, perhaps the game I'm running is run by some other set of standards other than that.
Quote
or that total rule strictness to the point of inflexibility is an unalloyed virtue.
I'm not trying to sell what I've done as a virtue? I'm talking about dealing with someone who seems to be pell mell in one direction, even though I'm in the other direction. Indeed, so pell mell, there is no nod to any other direction being a possibility.


Hi Erik, well, there is no case. Try stripping out the fictional descriptor and what your left with is 'So, I'm losing - can you add a rule for me that makes me win, or makes it quite likely I win?'. The whole 'special case' is a red herring from the starting days of roleplay. There is no special case here. I can strongly imagine my guy in monopoly is an escape artist - that doesn't mean a special case suddenly exists. I know, you might say roleplay isn't about that or such. That's probably the key problem here - an intense certainty that the activity is about X, so much so that the certain individual has entirely not considered that the host might be going for Y or Z.
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2984


« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2010, 01:16:24 AM »

I'm not trying to sell what I've done as a virtue? I'm talking about dealing with someone who seems to be pell mell in one direction, even though I'm in the other direction. Indeed, so pell mell, there is no nod to any other direction being a possibility.

Well, under some circumstances I'll grant your argument; if you had made your view sufficiently clear, you'd be entitlted to a claim a violation of the social contract.

But.  I think your analogy with chess is misleading.  If you sit down to play chess, you know the components of which it is composed: board and pieces.  An appeal to anything beyond these known components would be invalid.  However, I would suggest that one of the known components of RPG is the imaginary space, and that appealing to it is not automatically invalid.

Now you may well be correct that this is an assumption, into which he has been "trained".  But I would then say that your position is so radical and unusual he could easily be forgiven for this "error".  Because I would myself assume that this was implicit in suggesting that we play an RPG in the first place as opposed to other sorts of games.

You say that nothing exists outside of the rules, but can that really be true?  The characters walk into town, must you have rules to define everything they see, every person they might encounter, every building and vehicle, without exception?  Because if not, surely, they don't exist, being not defined by rules.  I have difficulty understanding what playing such a game would really be like; even saying something like "strict and absolute adherence to the rules is required" would not cover it.  Maybe even describing your game as an RPG implicitly communicates something that you don't mean?

I once played/refereed a space battle game from 2300AD, according to their wargame rules.  In this battle, one particular fighter craft (among the carnage of a capship battle) had a lot of luck on its side and performed heroically, and was noted by the players.  It was however crippled by losing its main drive, which meant it was lost as stranded in space.  But this didn't sit well with us, and we discussed its possible fate.  It occurred to us that given it had an MHD turbine as a powerplant, it could theoretically use this as a conventional reaction drive, and after running some numbers we "ruled" that its fuel was sufficient for it to limp back to friendly space and for the crew to be rescued.

There was, obviously, no rules of any sort covering this sort of event.  The caluclations on its reaction mass required my making assumptions and erring on the side of generosity.  There was also no significance or consequence to this decision, other than it made us, the players, feel a little happy.  And probably, if we were not roleaplayers, with a sense of ownership over and interest in the imaginary space, we would never have bothered.  Without a referenceable IS, what is there to be an RPG?
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Caldis
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Posts: 392


« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2010, 09:57:11 AM »


It looks to me like the game you are playing sucks to put it nicely, if a player gets stuck in a death spiral of slowly depleting hit points and has no real options except to slowly play out being beaten to death.  Your player is trying to be proactive, to create a more interesting situation in the game, the problem seems to be the rules dont support it.  I dont see it as a failure on the players part rather that of the rules you've chosen, they dont sound fun and they dont allow for realistic options like moving to grappling.  Facing risk and losing can be fun but stuck in a slow rut when you know you've lost but you have to stay there and have no chance to change your fate is just torture.

So there you have it.  Get a better set of rules if you want the risk of loss to be acceptable rather than torture.



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DWeird
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Posts: 87


« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2010, 11:40:05 AM »

I know nothing about RIFTs, but this is what I would do, in broad strokes:

Look at the mechanics the game already has.
See if there is anything that is similar enough to the current situation to be applied.
Steal what I can from those mechanics.
Add in what is lacking to resolve the current situation WHILE:
Attempting my darnest to abstract my ruling from this particular instance, applying it, in my mind at least, as broadly as I can.


So, if the game had some sort of "skills" mechanic, I'd say "Alright, roll you "skill X" versus his "attribute Y" and we'll base the results on these general skill mechanics here, alright?" If the game instead said something of the 'You must have a particular power to do in-combat stuff.', I'd instead say "Sorry dude, you do not have Awesome Choking Training. I can write that up for you, if you want?"


Is this something you could do and stay true to your gaming philosophy? If not, why?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2010, 12:48:56 PM »

Gareth,

I don't know if I gave the impression I was, but you seem to be looking at this in terms of who's right and who's wrong? I don't care. This is just a mountain before me - the mountain isn't right or wrong, it's just a matter of how to climb it? What method? And indeed, whether climbing it has ceased to be fun, which is an indicator to potentially give up on these sorts of mountains. I'm attributing no moral tresspass to him - instead a very large mountain has suddenly shot out of the ground in my path.

Quote
You say that nothing exists outside of the rules, but can that really be true?  The characters walk into town, must you have rules to define everything they see, every person they might encounter, every building and vehicle, without exception?  Because if not, surely, they don't exist, being not defined by rules.  I have difficulty understanding what playing such a game would really be like;
Capes was an early one to do that. 3:16 seems to have a complete procedure and has actual play just straight by the rules. More recently Dr Chaos  - note Sams/SamuelRivs responce, as it may echo your own. There seem to be quite a few complete procedure games coming out over time now (them all beating me to it, dammit!), although none of the authors seem to talk about it as any different from what you see in traditional RPG books. It's a strange, eery silence on that subject.

Quote
Without a referenceable IS, what is there to be an RPG?
Traditional games 'referencing' the IS method - ignore rules.

Another method: Having something like a book defined amount of currency, like up to 10 points a person at the table can hand out in reaction to the prior spoken fiction (your IS), at a point in the procedure as defined by the book.

I think the design age of having to be able reference the IS at any single damn moment is coming to an end, and an age, where referencing the IS just at discrete points in the design is becoming an accepted second option, is starting.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2010, 01:06:36 PM »

Caldis,

Well, that's a solution/a method of climbing the mountain for the future - it's not one for right at this moment, as I'm kind of in the midst of play right now. Given the proposition that the losing PC escapes to fight another day, I've proposed to him via PM he could simply concede now and as GM I'd go to the 'miraculous escape events'. So he's got that option to end it right now. Perhaps I should say I'd place him somewhere away from the action and continue play - he might think it'd involve sitting out and so is inclined not to take the option for that reason (who wants to sit out, eh?).


DWeird,
I'm not sure what your describing - in as much as I don't understand why you'd do it? The player described some fiction and suddenly your off and racing, doing all this making new rules stuff - why? I'm not sure I could describe why I wouldn't do that, when I don't know why you do? If it's just because you want to do it, well then I don't want to do it, at this juncture, as much as you do want to.

Basically working with tradtional systems, by my measure, is always playtesting as they don't have a complete procedure. Sadly, really my entire (I think?) gaming history has only really consisted of playtesting, never just playing an RPG. Simply because of incomplete procedures. By that measure, alot of other people have only ever playtested as well, but gamer identity wouldn't let them admit that.
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Phil K.
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Posts: 31


« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2010, 01:54:19 PM »

Callan,

You have a player who wants to act creatively. My take is that your problem is not that he's being creative, but that he is only being creative to get himself out of a bind. Your posts give the impression that this is the first time the player has wanted to do something outside the rules and that he's not expressed particular creativity in general game play for color or non-consequential things. While creativity is normally encouraged in RPGs, it seems that the player's motivations are based on a desire to not lose. Please note that this is not the same as having a desire to win.

The rules system you're using doesn't seem to support the actions he wants to take, so you're left in bit of a lurch. I see two paths for you to explore:
1) explain to him that it really isn't part of the system and that he should find a different way to not lose the combat; or
2) accede to his requests and invent some grappling mechanics on the fly, making them as difficult or easy as you see fit.

Most people, when faced with a life and death situation, choose to flee. Why can this not be a valid option for the character? Concede the fight, run like the wind and live to fight another day.

I'm going to assume that the combat you're talking about is armed combat. It may help to explain to the player that his action isn't likely to succeed, either as a rationale for encouraging other action or for setting the difficulty of ad-hoc grappling rules. People use weapons is because, by and large, they are more effective than bare hands. If you get in a fight with a guy who has a knife, the best thing you can do is have a sword. If your opponent has a sword, bring a gun. Escalation has occurred throughout human history and is one of the primary motivators in the development of technology.  We even have a term for it: the arms race. It's been going on for thousands of years. Basically, I'm saying that choking out an armed opponent isn't very likely, especially if the character is not an extremely talented martial artist.

I would handle it the first way. The middle of a conflict, especially against another PC, is not the time to invent or revise rules in a game. If a player doesn't like the way things are going in a fight you picked, s/he find a way to get out of it that works in the system. The social contract should guide players. Rules are there to describe the intent of the game and maybe the game you're playing isn't meant to have grappling as a valid means of defeating an opponent. Just my 2cp.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2010, 05:26:38 PM »

Hi Phil,

As I said to Caldis, he has the option to concede early and I'd scene frame him as escaping and now on the edge of town, seething with a desire for revenge or whatever his PC feels. However, on the other hand I remember that players never retreat, never surrender. But that's okay in a way, as even if it seems a losing and worse, slow battle, it's the player himself making himself go through the slow part by sticking there.

Anyway, the NPC that punched his character prior, well the PC did a firebreathing attack on him already - so he's already gotten burning revenge to an extent.
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2984


« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2010, 09:00:34 PM »

I don't know if I gave the impression I was, but you seem to be looking at this in terms of who's right and who's wrong? I don't care. This is just a mountain before me - the mountain isn't right or wrong, it's just a matter of how to climb it? What method? And indeed, whether climbing it has ceased to be fun, which is an indicator to potentially give up on these sorts of mountains. I'm attributing no moral tresspass to him - instead a very large mountain has suddenly shot out of the ground in my path.

I'm only looking at it in that light inasmuch you framed the issue as if the player was being a bad sport, trying to circumvent the rules.  In addition, you describe the game as Rifts-like, and I'm suggesting that it would not be surprising for a player to therefore approach such a game with the much the same mentality they would have conventionally applied to Rifts.

Quote
Capes was an early one to do that. 3:16 seems to have a complete procedure and has actual play just straight by the rules. More recently Dr Chaos  - note Sams/SamuelRivs responce, as it may echo your own. There seem to be quite a few complete procedure games coming out over time now (them all beating me to it, dammit!), although none of the authors seem to talk about it as any different from what you see in traditional RPG books. It's a strange, eery silence on that subject.

That's certainly not my impression of either Capes or 3:16.  Certainly for the latter, from the AP's I've read, and I've read quite a few, most of the normal scene setting and improvistion from terrain still relies on the IS, as far as I can tell.  Much of what would have been IS referencing in earlier games has been proceduralised, yes, and I think thats good, but I'm unconvinced that it has all been eliminated, or that it ever can be.

Because in that light I could make the same claim for red box D&D.  As was recently menioned in another thread, combat does not resolve blows but exchanges, and the exact means of damage is not concretrely defined; it could be choking as much as stabbing in any given case.  This would lead to the slightly counterintuitive position that choking someone with a dagger in your hand would do 1d4 damage while the same choke-hold with a sword in your hand would do 1d8, but that interpretation would be perfectly consistent with the rules.

Quote
I think the design age of having to be able reference the IS at any single damn moment is coming to an end, and an age, where referencing the IS just at discrete points in the design is becoming an accepted second option, is starting.

On the whole, I agree with this conclusion, but I will point again at my example of description of surroundings.  The problem with attempting to totally eliminate the referenceability of the IS is that it would require rules so absolutely comprehensive that I doubt they can be built.  Or at least, not built and used by human beings.

But my main point is this.  You say, here, that these "becoming an accepted option", but if we are only at the start of this process, I really don't understand why you expect someone playing a game specifically described as "Rifts-like", to know to play in this manner, or why you attribute to them such psychological states as "zealous certainty that he doesn't have to just face, like, losing".  Can't you just write it off to misunderstanding, or being confronted by something unexpected?

Thats why I said you're I think you're getting carried away; because you seem to impute malicious intent or dishonesty or simply idiocy.  I don't see the grounds for that sort of thing if, as you acknowledge, you are probably trying to play in a manner with which this player would not be previously familiar.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2010, 02:42:17 PM »

Quote
That's certainly not my impression of either Capes or 3:16
I didn't explain well at all - as I'm reading you, your saying that either A: you must have rules to define everything they see, every person they might encounter, every building and vehicle or B: You/someone makes up/ignore rules on the spot, mid play.

Through sheer abstraction (which obviously weve been using since somehow a D20 roll represented all the intricacies of an attack), capes and such cover alot of ground without needing option B or A. And maybe they don't actually cover every situation, they just cover huge swaths of situation - to me, huge swaths is fine. For some, perhaps they'd say unless every single situation is covered, the whole sense of a world is utterly shattered. I'm inclined to think that's indicates a sim as a first priority, which doesn't match my priorities. So, ignoring the whole shattered issue, what I'm saying is neither A nor B is needed.

Quote
Thats why I said you're I think you're getting carried away
I think your approaching this in some way that I am not. If I were talking about a car and what parts might be missing, there is no 'carried away'. There is only a hypothesis to test and check. Concerns about being carried away are for something else entirely. Top gear, perhaps.
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contracycle
Member

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« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2010, 03:47:11 PM »

As to the first point, I am not arguing that it is either A or B, I am arguing that its really C, someone interprets the IS.  It seems to be your proposition, as I understand it, that interpreting the IS in that manner constitutes making up or ignoring rules.  I'm not making any appeal to the consistenty of the world or whatever; I'm just extending your argument, if anything.  That is, I don;t understand what the dividing line would be, in your scheme, between narration and world description, and breaking or making rules. 

As to the second part, what is bothering me is that you have basically accused someone of cheating, or attempting to.  This seems an overreaction.  At the very least, if someone has been trained, as you say, to respond to the IS in certain ways, then doing what they ahve been trained to do, and which they have previous experience to indicate is a valid form of play, then it doesn't make any sense to accuse them of malice and being unwilling to lose.  These two don't fit together.  The way you approach it doesn't sound like an anodyne description of a faulty car, it sound like someone offended by bad behaviour.
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Daniel B
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Posts: 196

Co-inventor of the Normal Engine


« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2010, 12:09:28 PM »

@Callan

Just my own humble thoughts: I would've approached the situation as a GM from the opposite angle.

As a player (at least in most games), you can't just arbitrarily say "I hit the goblin, so now I'll roll damage." Instead, you have to say "I'm going to TRY and hit the goblin." Nothing can stop the PC from the attempt.

It's the same thing with the grapple. Really, what's stopping the character from *attempting* the chokehold? Not gravity or a magic force-field.

If you think that such a move is impractical to pull off, make it impractical. Personally I agree that you couldn't really do a chokehold in the middle of swordplay combat without extenuating circumstances. I'd have advised the player that he can try it, but to slip in *that far* behind the enemy PC's defences without being deflected first requires an attack roll with the defender getting, oooh, say a +10 bonus to AC.

The player may still want justification, in which case, deflect to the other player and moderate. If it's his imagination versus yours, it can seem arbitrary (and it's tricky when NPCs are involved because this is usually the case). However, PCs are on the same level as each other, so they'll find it hard to argue if you settle a dispute between them while acting as a neutral party.

Daniel
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Arthur: "It's times like these that make me wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was little."
Ford: "Why? What did she tell you?"
Arthur: "I don't know. I didn't listen."
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