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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 32 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: head games  (Read 4071 times)
Paul Czege
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« Reply #30 on: March 06, 2011, 06:11:59 PM »

Hey Matt,

Your relationship with Khaia is the most dramatically powerful thing about your character. I think every player has been waiting on the resolution of that situation. If other NPCs are a distraction, my advice is to bypass them and pursue the things that are important to you.

(I lost track of Amycus because you scrambled his head. I have no idea what he's thinking. Maybe you and I need to talk through the ending of the quest scene so I can figure him out.)

Paul

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"[My Life with Master] is anything but a safe game to have designed. It has balls, and then some. It is as bold, as fresh, and as incisive  now as it was when it came out." -- Gregor Hutton
Paul Czege
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« Reply #31 on: March 06, 2011, 06:22:44 PM »

This is a great thread. 

You know this is what The Forge is all about? Everyone confronting gaming with honesty, and getting your hands dirty with game design and creative challenges in an effort to be a better gamer and create better games.

Paul
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"[My Life with Master] is anything but a safe game to have designed. It has balls, and then some. It is as bold, as fresh, and as incisive  now as it was when it came out." -- Gregor Hutton
contracycle
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« Reply #32 on: March 06, 2011, 06:46:48 PM »

Wrote a moderate sized post about why I thought Ben was wrong, but I've had to ditch it due to subsequent remarks.  This thread makes me think of two things, one that I'm having some sort of flashback to 2001, and two that it serves as a fine example of why the word "story" should be taken out and shot and never, ever referred to again.

Will say this though.  There's old school GMing and there's new old-school GMing.  Contrary to Ben's description, that stuff worked perfectly well until someone got the bright idea that play should conform to some sort of "story".  It was that novelty that lead to most of the impositional GM control that seems to give it its bad name.  Players and GM's in an open world type of game can have a perfectly healthy relationship based on the explicit understanding that not all the world is prepped and that the GM, by offering jobs etc, is flagging up the bits that are.  And players too can flag up to them which bits they would like to see detailed for future play.  Given Matt's account of the experience, it does not seem to me that there was the kind of pernicious game-sabotaging rebellion against the GM that Ben alludes to, but more a mismatch in terms of recognising interests and expectations.  If so, that should ber a much easier problem to solve.
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stefoid
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« Reply #33 on: March 06, 2011, 06:48:26 PM »

This is great for me to hear, actually, because it is reinforcing a design decision in my own game that I am currently working on -- to have players set explicit goals for their character and then to explicitly reward the player for (a) introducing them (b) elaborating on them and (c) achieving them.  As well as instructions for the GM to concentrate dramatic action specifically around those goals and to mix in hooks and revelations concerning the goals whenever possible.

This is possibly getting tangential, but are there any games out there that reward desired GM behaviour explicitly?

Paul,
My character's primary focus since the beginning of the campaign has been his relationship with with the NPC Kaya. From his very first scene in fact. Yet over and over he is confronted with NPC after NPC that have continually led him away from that story.  I kind of agree with Ben and Renee about the situations placed before our characters. Many times they are distractions or obstacles that clutter up our story, yet we feel compelled to participate in them, especially since we know how much effort you have put into creating those story arcs.
 
The one time I made a concerted effort to ignore one of those obstacles the system kicked me back and I was forced to waste a scene on it. Which by the way are huge resources to us. With 4 players who usually do not share scenes we only get a few scenes per session, sometimes only 1, so what we do in those scenes HAS to matter to us.

I have hoped that ultimately all of the different story arcs placed before my character would lead him back to the Kaya storyline, that they somehow all tied together, but either they're not or they're taking too long. I've been saying it for weeks that there are too many NPCs to keep track of and that's a result of adding more and more story arcs that seem to be cluttering things up and preventing us from grasping on to a single goal to focus on. I think the new feature that we recently added about our goals might help curtail this kind of thing and more clearly alert you to what we find compelling. I now find myself forcing the issue trying to get back to the story which has clearly been at my character's core.

Going back to the scene with the seed, my character's actions were in part influenced by his desire to return to that original storyline with Kaya. While impersonating the dead woman he took the opportunity to convince his employer that he (the employer) needed to find some kind of quest to give him fulfillment. I knew full well that I'd be offering up that very opportunity once the scene reached a conclusion.  That quest was to help my character find the woman he loves. And since his employer is indeed accompanying him on that quest, I consider the scene to have been a success. The fact that you forgot that he was even with my character the next session highlights that we clearly see different aspects of the campaign interesting.
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Judd
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« Reply #34 on: March 06, 2011, 07:55:38 PM »

This reminds me of the player-version of running zig-zag patterns so that the GM can't get a bead on you and can't hit you with the trap that is set.  I have played with folks who do things like this and it feels like they are trying to avoid something terrible I have planned, rather than trusting that I am going to enjoy what their character would do.

It is, in my experience, playing to the GM as another player, rather than staying in character and playing to the situation and fiction at hand.
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David Berg
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« Reply #35 on: March 06, 2011, 08:02:53 PM »

Pretty much everything Gareth just said resonates with my own experience.  I just wanted to highlight this:
players too can flag up to [the GM] which bits they would like to see detailed for future play
as a particularly effective technique to combat the failed promise Ben spoke of.  I've seen it work perfectly with this:
The promise to the players isn't that they can go anywhere and do anything, but that they can have an impact on situations created by the GM, and that they can switch into different situations fairly readily if they want.
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David Berg
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« Reply #36 on: March 06, 2011, 08:03:59 PM »

Hi Paul,

It sounds to me like you and Matt have an important disconnect about roles.  He thinks he's supposed to look to you for where the plot's at, you think he's supposed to make decisions that dictate the plot for his character, and neither option is fully supported by what you guys are doing at the table.  I don't know whether the lack of support is causing the disconnect or the disconnect is causing the lack of support.

My own solution to this tends to revolve around signalling to the players "here's what you can get out of my various situations" so that they can make an informed choice between them.  I can trace pretty much every between-missions lag or weak mission buy-in in a Delve session to a failure on my part to do that.  (Of course, it's also necessary to signal opportunities the players actually want, but I've found that part far easier.)

I'm saying all this based on my reading that you like this:
Matt's character in particular has been across the landscape of the game and back, across numerous situations.
less than this:
The point at which he chooses to create some expectations, that's when he'll be a protagonist.
If I'm wrong, then never mind.
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #37 on: March 06, 2011, 08:11:21 PM »

David,

I'm saying all this based on my reading that you like this:
Matt's character in particular has been across the landscape of the game and back, across numerous situations.
less than this:
The point at which he chooses to create some expectations, that's when he'll be a protagonist.

Absolutely. All those numerous situations is just me throwing more pasta hoping something will stick, because to me it seemed obvious that Matt had back-burnered the situation with Khaia.

I do think that once a character's protagonism is established by everyone knowing about an inevitable event--in Matt's case his reunion with Khaia--then the management and release of tension about when and how that inevitable event will occur is a joint effort by all. But Matt and I haven't been playing that...it hasn't felt like anything but a back-burnered thing.

Paul
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"[My Life with Master] is anything but a safe game to have designed. It has balls, and then some. It is as bold, as fresh, and as incisive  now as it was when it came out." -- Gregor Hutton
Paul Czege
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« Reply #38 on: March 06, 2011, 08:22:20 PM »

Hey Judd,

It is, in my experience, playing to the GM as another player, rather than staying in character and playing to the situation and fiction at hand.

Can you play to the GM as another player in character?

Paul
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"[My Life with Master] is anything but a safe game to have designed. It has balls, and then some. It is as bold, as fresh, and as incisive  now as it was when it came out." -- Gregor Hutton
Matt Gwinn
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« Reply #39 on: March 06, 2011, 08:47:03 PM »

I think part of the disconnect is that is that my character has "back-burnered" the Khaia situation while he tries to get his head together about how he's going to deal with it, but I as a player never intended to back-burner the story at all. I always intended it to maintain it's place in the spotlight while my character kind of stalked his way around the situation. Their ultimate reunion is going to be awkward as she doesn't feel the same way he does and that is something he's concerned about. He's been stalling in a sense.

I think part of my problem with the whole spaghetti launcher concept is that the pasta isn't flavored right. I think your story arcs are interesting and pretty entertaining, but ultimately they rarely tie in with my character. They consistently focus on NPCs and quite consistently with NPCs that have no ties to the Khaia storyline. That leaves me in the situation that Ben mentioned where I either go with the story arcs placed before me or don't play.
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David Berg
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« Reply #40 on: March 06, 2011, 09:19:06 PM »

Matt, do you think my signalling idea would help that?
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Matt Gwinn
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« Reply #41 on: March 06, 2011, 09:31:07 PM »

Matt, do you think my signalling idea would help that?

I don't think that would work in this game. I don't need to know what the possible outcomes are as much as I need to know that those outcomes are going to advance my character's story in some way.

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David Berg
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« Reply #42 on: March 06, 2011, 09:42:34 PM »

Er, wait, aren't all options potential opportunities to advance your character's story?  Is there any reason to have ones that aren't?
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Renee
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« Reply #43 on: March 06, 2011, 09:54:07 PM »

This has been a really fun thread, and I hope it continues. Paul, Matt, and I have been discussing the situation all day long.

My summation of the problem is that there are two things going on:

1. We're not communicating what interests us very well. We're an experienced group and we've been through the ringer together, but part of what's getting in our way is that chargen explicitly denies the use of flags, and there's very little in the way of author stance (and no director's stance...do we even use those terms around here anymore? It's been so long...). There is a game mechanic that, among other things, can be used to flag stuff we consider important or cool, but we're not necessarily using it all that well (and that goes both ways...we need to use it, but it also needs to be noted and implemented effectively by the GM). At any rate, our failure to communicate our interests and/or see them manifest in the game leads us to enact certain "defense mechanisms"...mine is to sit there and let Paul talk to himself until something changes, while others try to engage in the best way they can (but not always with universal approval, which leads me to my second point).

2. Sometimes we fail to appreciate each others contributions. This is pretty normal, I think; everyone in our group has a slightly different aesthetic sensibility, and sometimes a thing that seems cool to a couple of us falls flat for the others. As a group we can work on being more appreciative, or at least not critical, of others contributions, but for the purpose of advancing Paul's design, we do need to identify which parts are merely this failure to share the love and which parts are legitimate failures to communicate via the game's rules. Not always an easy task.

And we're not the only ones involved...there are two other players who haven't chimed in, so there may actually be additional phenomena that haven't been teased out yet. But those are my feelings on day two of this conversation, which really aren't that different than my feelings on day one (and do not necessarily reflect the views of Paul or Matt).

In reply to stefoid, I think your question is an interesting one, but I do think it's too tangential to be included in this thread. Maybe something for a new thread?

Best,
Renee
« Last Edit: March 06, 2011, 09:56:02 PM by hardcoremoose » Logged
Matt Gwinn
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« Reply #44 on: March 06, 2011, 09:58:41 PM »

Er, wait, aren't all options potential opportunities to advance your character's story?  Is there any reason to have ones that aren't?

No, not if the scene had nothing to do with my character's story. I most cases the scenes have been about the NPC's story that I happened to be participating in.

I guess you can argue that simply being in the scene makes it part of my character's story, but only in a tangential way.
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