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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 25 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [gamist RPGs] Player Driven Games and  (Read 7362 times)
Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #45 on: February 19, 2011, 03:20:11 PM »

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Nate, to genuinely do it, then I think every mechanical action a player takes either takes them mechanically closer to the end, or mechanically closer to the start. Imagine 1000 is the end and you start at zero, and each mechanical action you take increases your number up or down (possibly back to zero). If you think about it, that's how zelda was - every movement got you closer to something, either that gets you nearer to the end, or sets you back/further away from it.

Mollases and murk. What happens in roleplay, I think, and makes people cease leading themselves, is that play ends up just alot of talk. "I go to the tavern" "Okay, you go to the tavern, it's half full". Did going to the tavern get you closer to the final victory? Or did it send you further away? Or are we just talk, talk talking and have ceased to go forward or backward at all? Are we wading through molasses or stumbling blind in murk, not getting toward either direction? Hell, even if we roll dice, did a pass get us closer (or even further away)? In traditional design even dice rolls aren't connected to the win/lose track/even the dice have no traction.

Excellent post! I'm going to benefit a lot from this!!!

The molasses situation even arises in chess, when neither player makes useful moves for a while. It never lasts forever, but can kill a game. Molasses is sort of where DM quests come in- when the players are doing "stupid" things you offer them something better to do.

A Zelda player is also capable of wasting time... but generally he gets rupees and bombs and stuff to make it worthwhile. hmm...

A good way to use the "tavern" situation: don't overpopulate the world. Then everywhere can potentially be important for getting to the end goal- exploration and ruling off options. Maybe the tavern provides useful rumors, NPCs, a rest base, etc.

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ow to me, that first paragraph is the genuine way to do it. The non genuine way is that players already were self leaders, they talk fiction about what their character 'does' and they think and feel they are getting somewhere. And the GM humours this feeling, unless it gets too big when they aren't that close to the GM's decided end, in which case he swats down their self leading with something, but not too much, don't want to extinguish it. To me, it's pretty illusionist. And I mean illusionist whether you wanted it to be or not. I've run games that way without wanting to be illusionist - and that west marches would fall into this as well, barring it having some overall mechanical spine like in the first paragraph and traveling on it on every single mechanical action the players take.

What if you make it painfully obvious that a useless action IS useless? If they waste a lot of time in taverns or try to set up a brothel (both real game situations I've had to get through), it's easy to tone down the excitement and show them how boring and useless their idea is- unless, of course, if they make it interesting. Luckily they did in this case.

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If it's a gamist game, they are NEVER going to genuinely follow their characters own goals

I disagree with dividing gamism out of sim/narr. You can make a situation where the game IS fulfilling the character's goal; or where the game IS playing as competitive adventurers. You can combine them a lot, imho. You still get incoherent games- D&D early editions, Rifts, omg!- but you CAN combine them.

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In a genuine win/lose track - it might become apparent to them that their destiny is back in their hands.

I feel like this precludes shared authorship with the players. I think shared authorship in a gamist or sim game might be a bad thing to an extent- it pollutes the world in a way. I mean, they can endlessly enrich the world- but then it ceases to be an "external" challenge for them to overcome and react to.

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And finally, the more you really want the PC's to pursue their own goals, probably the more your drifting toward narrativist inclinations. If it's a gamist game, they are NEVER going to genuinely follow their characters own goals - it is always going to be contaminated with the pursuit of the final win of this real life game. If contaminated PC goals aren't good enough for you, then you'll just have to go full on narrativism. If contaminated PC goals is okay, then I've given my suggestions above :)

I'm going to read more about narrativism this weekend.
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2984


« Reply #46 on: February 19, 2011, 04:46:36 PM »

In my experience it's up to the DM to organize the games and ensure participation; lay down ground rules for play; keep things on track, and, well, design the adventures. For me it's been a leadership role. The DMs I know who don't do the organizing quickly lose their players; those who don't keep things on track lose their players to smirnoff; those without ground rules lead to some real chaos. It'd be interesting to play without a GM leader role.

Yeah.  Sounds like work to me, rather than fun.

One of the ambitions behind reapproaching how games work was to break out of this sort of potentially poisonous interpersonal relationship stuff.  The danger is that this sort of game has only one really interested player, and the rest are just allowing themselves to be nagged or bullied into playing along, which is pretty much a drag for everyone concerned.  It can also lead to whole bunch of at-the-table blackmail, where someone basically makes it clear that if they don't get the magical doohickey they want for their character they'll walk, because after all they're not really interested in the proceedings.

So all in all it can make the experience of play pretty negative, and it can lead to posturing and power plays among the people, which in turn has fed back into RPG culture itself.  A lot of that the-GM-is-God-and-brooks-no-argument type stuff is often an attempt to smooth this sort of thing over.  Wouldn't it be more fun for everyone if playing an RPG was more like (to use an old analogy) playing in a band, where everyone was committed to actually making music?  Where everyone wanted to be there, and to master their instruments, and produce the best music they could?  Yeah, that would be much more fun.

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I'm afraid that's a little vague. Could you clarify and use an example?

Games like, say, My Life With Master are pretty tightly framed in the way they create a particular situation, and have them play out along certain patterns,  In this game the characters are all the minions of an sort of villainous overlord figure and have to resolve their own identity and relationship with the Master.  This doesn't mean identical play in every instance, of course, but the direction of play is implicit in the design itself.  It's certainly not the conventional sort of RPG which has a world, some loosely attached system, and then says "go figure out what to do to and how to do it yourself".  
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Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


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« Reply #47 on: February 19, 2011, 10:03:14 PM »

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The molasses situation even arises in chess, when neither player makes useful moves for a while. It never lasts forever, but can kill a game. Molasses is sort of where DM quests come in- when the players are doing "stupid" things you offer them something better to do.
But this kills self leadership - they were leading themselves and you think it was stupid, even if you didn't say they can tell. So they give up self leading.

At an even bigger scale, this isn't about players pursuing their own goals, it's about them pursuing your goals. If you think what they're doing isn't a goal but stupid, then the only goals they can pursue are the ones...you want to pursue. Your goals. They will/have realised that and have given up. If your really interested in them pursuing their own goals, your undercutting your own agenda by calling anything stupid. Really.

Granted in traditional design someone could piddle about growing a cabbage patch or something like that, describing all the fiction to go along with it, and it gets to no conclusion or anywhere. I've heard an account of players spending four real life hours of game time with their vampires working out a photocopying machine. Yes, really. So in responce to traditional design, the above is understandable. It just ends up at talk and more talk. However, I think we can make new designs that ensure that we are mechanically headed toward a result. We can work it out here.

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What if you make it painfully obvious that a useless action IS useless?
Because this is this
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in which case he swats down their self leading with something, but not too much, don't want to extinguish it.
And pretty much the above paragraphs again applies.


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I disagree with dividing gamism out of sim/narr. You can make a situation where the game IS fulfilling the character's goal; or where the game IS playing as competitive adventurers. You can combine them a lot, imho. You still get incoherent games- D&D early editions, Rifts, omg!- but you CAN combine them.
As much as a group could play a nar game one weekend and a gamist game the next weekend, I grant they can play nar, then shift gears and go gamism at the very same sitting. But it takes everyone knowing when they should shift, and how to shift. And not only that, they have to want to shift - you cannot write some design masterpiece that makes them want to shift just when you decide they shall. Not as far as I know, anyway. Here's a thread about trying to sneak up on mode.

But if they do want to, I totally grant this can happen - I kind of envision a gear box with G, N and S on it. I'd call it driving stick.

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I feel like this precludes shared authorship with the players. I think shared authorship in a gamist or sim game might be a bad thing to an extent- it pollutes the world in a way. I mean, they can endlessly enrich the world- but then it ceases to be an "external" challenge for them to overcome and react to.
I'm not sure about it applying to sim, but in terms of gamism I'd fully agree!
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Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #48 on: February 20, 2011, 09:19:12 AM »

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However, I think we can make new designs that ensure that we are mechanically headed toward a result. We can work it out here.

Quote
Games like, say, My Life With Master are pretty tightly framed in the way they create a particular situation, and have them play out along certain patterns,  In this game the characters are all the minions of an sort of villainous overlord figure and have to resolve their own identity and relationship with the Master.  This doesn't mean identical play in every instance, of course, but the direction of play is implicit in the design itself.  It's certainly not the conventional sort of RPG which has a world, some loosely attached system, and then says "go figure out what to do to and how to do it yourself". 

What are some other games which implicitly, mechanically head toward a result? Where the "goal" is part of the game design? How do they do it? I like this line of thought...

In the meantime, off to go DM for an afternoon...
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Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #49 on: February 23, 2011, 10:18:17 AM »

On sunday I ran a game for 3 other players that lasted nine hours. Let me try to summarize the interesting points:

1. The Blue Dragon.

Earlier in the campaign the party sailed to what they thought was the slaver's island. Instead they found a rocky island with an adult blue dragon who tried to devour them. Somehow, while the level 1 party fled, the warden rolled a crit on a shield slam attack and backhanded the devil out of the sky, and caused it to tumble down part of the mountainside. Embarrassed, the dragon contented itself to blackmail the party, demanding periodic sacrifices in exchange for their safety.

The paladin outright dedicated himself to murder this dragon- a player-set goal. At the moment it's his major campaign goal. His current plan is to outrageously poison a sacrifice to the dragon- either let the poison kill it or kill it after the poison weakens it. The party's hunted down an orc bloodrager and now they're after the halfling pirates because rumor has it they can get poison. This quest drives him pretty well- it's exactly how the dragon was supposed to affect the players.

2. Resurrection mechanic.

One PC aims to be a god hunter. After the parrot cult hinted that the Great Parrot was divine he immediately dedicated himself to somehow murder it. Another player-set goal. He's highly dedicated to it. I'm pretty happy about it, though...

This thwarts my resurrection mechanic, but I have a new idea. Since a previous character's come back as a ghost and keeps persuading new dead people to join him as ghosts, I'm making this ghost into an NPC who will rescue the PCs in the case of a TPK. He'll probably just recover their heads and some basic items/gold- the party would have to sometimes recover their bodies and gear afterwards (raise dead only requires a part of the corpse). I can assign the ghost priorities (to build a ghost empire/army), and do a lot with this.

There needs to be a failure mechanic that allows combat failure- I hate dumbing down encounters to prevent TPKs. Next big fight, someone's gonna die again.

3. While they sailed around seeking the halfling's island (the 'Ire), they found a surviving retainer of the princess. Reunited, they stated that they needed 20 additional retainers returned to the princess- living or dead. They intend to raise the dead ones and become a dependable force again. Perhaps undo the harm the princess did with her contract and the lizardmen.

This is the DM-set-goal that will unite this section of the campaign. After this they'll add a massive new area to the campaign.

At this point, NPCs have given them about a half-dozen or more quests, though the bulk of the adventuring is strictly  player driven- there was never any problem of not knowing what to do. Every time there was slack they rapidly defaulted to a DM quest, or worked on a previous uncompleted, multi-part quest. These DM quests are sort of the thing the PCs tackle when their own plans get low on steam. All the PCs but one has major goals now.

4. Thwarting the PCs. There's a bottom level of a dungeon they explored that's full of water. They can't breath underwater and it's infested with ghoul lizardmen. They're actively seeking out a way to clear that level.

The dragon tried to eat them- they're dedicated to killing it now. Good luck...

There's missing corpses/retinue members that the PCs can't find. They're looking everywhere and getting creative.

The barkeep refuses to offer the PCs quests because they lack fame. He says they're nobodies. They hired a bard to tell their tale ;D They're building up fame.

They never know what island they're on- it's constant guesswork. They've taken to kidnapping NPCs and forcing them to identify islands and navigate for them- a good thing!

In short, by thwarting the PCs I'm making them dig in a bit and invest in the campaign. It's actually working! yay!

5. Few areas/monsters exist in my campaign in isolation. They're all part of factions and subfactions. Every action the PCs make stirs up the pot a little more, they're involved in a balancing act. This sort of acts as automatic plot tension over time without needing to intervene in the plot.

6. I decided to give out random treasure parcels. Since unwanted magic items sell for 1/5 of the original price, I'm giving out 2-3x the number of parcels per level. The net effect is that the PC's actions are more often rewarded, and it adds a suspense/gambling aspect to the game- "what will we get this time? Hope it's a bow this time..." I can more frequently reward desirable actions- like goal setting and cleverness- this way. Also, they get to use a variety of items they wouldn't normally experiment with.

By default in 4e, you're supposed to basically get the PCs to hand you a wish list and give them that stuff. Weak.




So, nine hours of playing. I ended it when I started to run out of material for that region of the map. Next session's gonna rock.

I think this style of game requires a few "training" sessions and, like you guys say, a DM goal of the 0-1000 sort. I'm going to encourage the last player to set some goals for her character, and I'm really optimistic about the next few games.

Plans are to tweak a few mechanics and create a more concrete world that I won't arbitrarily alter to accommodate PC ideas- cut out part of the shared authorship insofar as challenge and setting go, while keeping parts of it that help with story and characters.
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Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #50 on: March 02, 2011, 03:41:04 PM »

I found a great link btw, credit to somebody in the balance thread:

http://angrydm.com/2010/08/schrodinger-chekhov-samus/6/
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