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Author Topic: Why do I hate this resolution? Is this some Sim technique?  (Read 1483 times)
czipeter
Member

Posts: 13


« on: March 14, 2011, 06:52:35 AM »

Hi People,

last time, I played with my friends of old, with whom (at least as a group) I never really got on well in questions of gaming.
There was an in-game situation resolved(?) by talking, debating, probably even trying to convince the GM of some of the possible results first. (I don't know what was the agenda of each one of us and this is part of my question.) Finally something happened as the argument . I mean the situation was resolved, even if it was much less fun for me with the argument preceding it. This kind of resolution (or whatever) is not always used but still too frequent for me.
Me in the equation: I think I have Nar preferences but I can understand and use a Gam agenda as well. I think I don't really know what is Sim and why to game that way.
And my question is: what is the problem. Is their game functional (at least without me)? What is that?
I hope, you can grasp my concern. Thank you,
Peter
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My real name is Peter.
czipeter
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2011, 07:11:09 AM »

I want to add one more detail: I asked the GM player afterwards and he said he have chosen this because the others don't believe him (give credit to the resulting situation) if they don't get a word in the resolution.
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My real name is Peter.
Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2011, 07:21:02 AM »

Hi Peter,

Welcome to the Forge!

Feel free to say what you saw - if it was an argument, then it was an argument as you saw it.  No need to soften it. Let's avoid talking about Creative Agenda to start, and just talk about your game, first.

There's too little info to say if it was functional or not.   There is a branch of gaming (which is not related to Creative Agenda, specifically) in which a lot of things are resolved specifically by GM decision.   This sort of thing -could- work well, or -could- work crappy, depending on a lot of things.  

When this thing works, it's definitely not an argument- "Hey, shouldn't X, Y, Z, help me?" "Huh, but, 1, 2, 3 are against you.  I guess this happens." and you go on.   When it doesn't work, a lot of time and energy is put into "convincing" the GM every time, at which point, it's about who can badger whom the longest, or most effectively.

Since it's sporadic in your game, I guess a useful question is - Do these arguments revolve around things the rules don't cover at all, or around things that the rules DO cover?

That is, "I don't know what using Telepathy on a Griffon should do?" vs. "No man! I should totally get a +2 bonus to my armor because I have a faceplate and you said it was attacking from the front!" etc.?

Chris
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Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 547


« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2011, 08:05:48 AM »

Let's clear the table from the GNS question: no single technique, alone, is indicative of a Creative Agenda. Not even of the presence of a common CA.

If I had to take a guess, I would say that there was no common Creative Agenda at the table, but it's only a guess, based on my experience (I saw similar things in groups with a lot of CA problems), not "proof" of anything.

Said that, the technique you describe is very common in groups playing with no concrete way to "convince" any NPC: because the game has no rules for that, or because the GM usually ignore these rules using instead his judgment, so the most effective way to "convince the NPC"  is, really, to convince the GM.

"Convince the GM"... how? In theory, the GM, acting as the "NPC's player", judge what the NPC would do in that situation. In practice, what usually happen is that the players plead, push, beg, fight, cajole the GM to get him/her to judge in their favor

In this way, what was a game conflict become a social tug-of-war, in the social plane. In a way that depends, and reinforce, the social ladder in the group: the most popular player will "win" more often, the timid, introvert one will lose more often (or always), the GM ego is increased (if he is the social leader and people beg him) or crushed (if he is not the social leader and has to bend every time to the social leaders wishes).

I can't say that this happen every time: I can't be sure that it's not possible to avoid this. I simply have never, ever seen any gaming group that I know avoid this.  (it's one of the reason because these days I play only rpgs with concrete rules about convincing NPC.. and everything else)

What happen when somebody who is not usually part of the group play with them? He is not part of the social ladder, he is not part of "the way things are usually resolved". A group who rely often on the particular decision of a GM become a tribe, with tribal habit, customs and taboo. You were a "stranger", so you feel apart from the others. This happen if the GM ignore you, or even if the GM favor you: you still are apart from the others.

In the previous part of this post I talked specifically about a "convince the NPC" situation, because is one of the most common situation, but is not the only one: a group who rely often on the "convince the GM" technique will use it more and more often, because is usually easier and more cost-effective than using the game rules (if they exist: most traditional games have gaping holes in their rules. And the GM could ignore them anyway). A lot of GM can't stand indefinitely the constant buzzing of people trying to convince them to decide in their favor, even bending the rules, so this is a common cause of GM-burnout 

Returning to your case in particular: I can't say if your group is like this, or if they have found a functional way to make this work. I doubt it, but I can't exclude it in principle.  But if you observe these things happening in that group, my advice is "run away". These groups are poisoned, and poison everybody who play with them. They turn everything good about role-playing into a social tug-of-war for dominance, until there is no joy left in playing (you can see it: people playing every week for years showing no enjoyment at all for the game, and resenting more and more the other players). And they will not change, they will not even try to change this, because everybody in the group has some kind of social status they fear to lose, even if it's only "I belong in this tribe"

Find other players, and save yourself from a lot of grief.

[edit-before-posting: crosspost with Chris: I see that he answered while I was composing this. I don't think we disagree about these dysfunctional social mechanisms , but he is not jumping to the worst-case scenario as I did]
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
czipeter
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2011, 08:38:11 AM »

Oh, I'm very sorry. I had a hard time describing this... I just couldn't finish the sentence and posted blindly. This was to be something like: Finally something happened as the argument came to an end.

Yeah, the "GM decides every outcome" is absolutely true basically. Or rather, he decides who or what will have a final word. (He says that he delegates 99%, and I don't agree, but this is tangential I think.)

I think this were the worse case (at least for me :-D) but I don't really find this to my liking, either:
"Hey, shouldn't X, Y, Z, help me?" "Huh, but, 1, 2, 3 are against you.  I guess this happens."

I think everybody understands in the group -- at least subconsciously--, that rules are mainly for the GM to use or ignore. Concerning the thread's topic, we didn't know if the GM was about to delegate the decision-making to us, to dice or to keep it for himself. Then the argument erupted.

I was the only one that wanted to find the place for the mechanics (the so-called rule from the book) (what are they prescribing) in the equation or rather understand the meaning of them (what are they describing in the imaginary world), other people seemed to wanting to have a more plausible result and told, what was plausible for them. Or probably they wanted to win with their characters remaining the kings of cool. I don't think this is important. Is this?
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My real name is Peter.
Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2011, 10:36:27 AM »

Hi Peter,

Quote
I was the only one that wanted to find the place for the mechanics (the so-called rule from the book) (what are they prescribing) in the equation or rather understand the meaning of them (what are they describing in the imaginary world), other people seemed to wanting to have a more plausible result and told, what was plausible for them. Or probably they wanted to win with their characters remaining the kings of cool. I don't think this is important. Is this?

This sounds like the issue in whole.  "How do we play the game?" is a core issue for any game, though roleplaying games, as a culture, often fall into the pitfall of treating it as a minor issue when it's an absolute requirement for functional play.

Maybe some of the players were arguing for plausibility (what kind? "realism"? "genre appropriate"? See, there's room for divide within even that...), maybe some were arguing in the goal of advantage ("Calvinballing", named after the game in Calvin & Hobbes comic), etc.   Since the group doesn't have a clear guide as to what directs play, it becomes a battle of "what game are we playing?" rather than a minor bit of details.

Without a clear game (procedures, point of play to guide things) as a starting point, there's no reason to even talk about Creative Agenda, since no clear CA exists amongst the group or procedures of play as being played.

I wrote a little tool to nail down clarity on games:  http://bankuei.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/the-same-page-tool/  - I've got a feeling if you gave this to the different players, they'd probably be all over the map on how they think -this- game should be played.  (mind you, you shouldn't actually do that.  It won't help the game and will only spark more arguments.)

I mean, it sounds like you've already got a good bead on the situation- they way in which they are playing is not to your taste.  You don't have a clear idea on how the game -should- be played, and there's arguments erupting.

Chris
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David Berg
Member

Posts: 997


« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2011, 10:51:24 AM »

Hi Peter, I'd have to be pretty creative to show ways in which this type of play could be functional.  But I can do it if you want; just let me know.
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czipeter
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2011, 09:25:59 AM »

Hi Peter, I'd have to be pretty creative to show ways in which this type of play could be functional.  But I can do it if you want; just let me know.
Please, David! I'm curious.

Everybody else:

Thank you for your answers, they definitely helped me and tomorrow, I'll probably see if they help the group as a whole. I'll report.
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My real name is Peter.
David Berg
Member

Posts: 997


« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2011, 11:14:49 AM »

Okay, best case scenario: the GM makes his determinations not out of an arbitrary "what I like", but rather with reference to principles that the whole group values.  "We value realism!" can never be the whole story, but it can be a big part of it, and if this group's play history has shown that everyone (especially the GM) is in fact engaging in these arguments toward the end of a more vivid and mutually satisfying fiction, then the arguments are functional.  In a pre-resolution discussion, everyone gets to communicate their vision of the imagined place, characters and events, creating a richer whole than 4-5 separate (i.e., uncommunicated) imaginings.

This requires listening and genuine enthusiasm for other people's contributions; a simple desire to be heard (or, worse, "prove" that you are "right") is insufficient.  Based on the group's failure to enlist you in this, my guess is that they aren't actually listening enthusiastically, and the arguments aren't actually fun in the way I described.  But, it's always possible that they're just not good at communicating why and how to enjoy their style of play to others, and so you didn't get it.

You might be able to figure this out if you can remember when they seemed to be enjoying and not enjoying the arguments.  If they're not enjoying them, it's still possible that they're all working to uphold shared group principles, but they need a better way to do that.  So, y'know, playing in good faith, but with bad tools.

Or their play could just be dysfunctional.  I don't have enough info to know which option is most likely.
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