*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 31, 2014, 02:37:26 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 24 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: 1 [2]
Print
Author Topic: Does chance favour a good story?  (Read 4088 times)
Unforgivingmuse
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2011, 09:44:48 AM »

Many games let chance (which is not the same as upredictable player input) affect that matrix through the use of dice, cards, etc.  Such Fortune mechanics have lead, in my experience, to the creation of good stories but only because the range of possible outcomes dictated by those mechanics had well thought-out relationships to System and Colour.

So you're saying: a good story only happens by chance, not by design?
Logged
Judd
Member

Posts: 1675

Please call me Judd.


WWW
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2011, 09:53:47 AM »

Many games let chance (which is not the same as upredictable player input) affect that matrix through the use of dice, cards, etc.  Such Fortune mechanics have lead, in my experience, to the creation of good stories but only because the range of possible outcomes dictated by those mechanics had well thought-out relationships to System and Colour.

So you're saying: a good story only happens by chance, not by design?

That is not at all what he is saying.  He is saying that there are games that will make the range of possible outcomes on the dice interesting and full of adventurous possibility.
Logged

Unforgivingmuse
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2011, 10:44:15 AM »

Okay I think I'm getting there: so the story can be determined more by the well designed mechanic of the system, than the designs of the Game Master/creator of the scenario.
Logged
Judd
Member

Posts: 1675

Please call me Judd.


WWW
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2011, 10:48:41 AM »

It isn't a matter of which is more important: players, GM, System or a good fireplace or snacks.  We don't have to choose just one.

My lame-ass metaphor is about swimming.

We've been GMing for years.  We're good at it.  Our friends like gaming with us.  We've developed certain creative muscles.

I had good and fun games before I played Burning Wheel and Apocalypse World and Sorcerer.  I had fun hacking Ars Magica to bend to my will and do what I wanted to do but I was swimming against the current, trying to make Ars Magica do stuff it wasn't meant to do.  It is easier with games that go along with the priorities me and my friends enjoy.  We're swimming with the current, so to speak, rather than swimming against it or finding strange rocks in our way.

You've designed your own game and I'm betting you designed it to compliment your own creative musculature.
Logged

Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2011, 10:51:47 AM »

Hi Simon,

I guess a useful question, tying back to your original post- have you asked the player what his motivation was in choosing to do what he did?

This is actually a pretty useful question when you're playtesting a game and trying to figure out when you see certain things, including expected behaviors (sometimes the reasons why something is happening might appear different to different folks).

Chris
Logged
Erik Weissengruber
Member

Posts: 601

Designing "In this Sign, Conquer:


WWW
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2011, 12:03:53 PM »

Many games let chance (which is not the same as upredictable player input) affect that matrix through the use of dice, cards, etc.  Such Fortune mechanics have lead, in my experience, to the creation of good stories but only because the range of possible outcomes dictated by those mechanics had well thought-out relationships to System and Colour.

So you're saying: a good story only happens by chance, not by design?

Well, um....

2 Actual Play Experiences:


Chance Works With Prep to Produce Neat Result
Burning Wheel, running an old FGU Bushido module "Valley of the Mists"
- there is an evil hag witch working with bandits
- If the players do nothing these banditos will do something to the town in which they live
- One player is a monk of samurai caste who is trying to do go but NOT return to his father's court
- In pursuing his beliefs this monk challenges the hag to convert to good.  He loses the Duel of Wits due to Fortune, not weak play at the scripting mechanic, and ends up the slave of the hag for one month

At no point did I plan the ending to a story arc.  The die rolls surprised me and the player too.  But the only reason we were in that Duel of Wits was to find a dramatic turning point for the story.  I just had a big setting (The Valley of the Mists), particular centres of gravity within that space, and NPCs with their own agendas that would unfold whatever the players chose to do.  But those choices where sure to take the form of very specific kinds of conflicts dictated by the rules of the game, its reward mechanics, and so on, and chance would come in to bring about outcomes unplanned in their specifics but in conformity with how the setting had been evolving to that date, and seeding changes for the future transformations of that space.

Chance Producing Fun Fluctuations in a Predetermined Story Arc- I was running HeroWars in the reissue of the old Griffin Mountain setting
- I had the idea that the PCs were going to band together to defend the interests of the local tribes against the depredations of the Lunar Empire
- Then they would protect the blessed golden child who would do a King Arthur, eventually they would go on some grailquest
- The game only got as far as step one
- The mechanics of HeroWars (and Heroquests 1 and 2) produce fairly predictible outcomes and bennies in the form of heropoints allow players and GM to get the outcomes they desire (FATE is sort of spongey in this way too).
- There were little defeats here and there, minor set backs, etc.  But the heroic journey continued onward and upward.  (One fan-made GM screen even has an abbreviated Joseph Campbell path of the hero diagram to help guide the story in a very particular direction)
- Failures were interesting.   They produced complications, repercussions, etc.  But failures were not dramatic.  PCs were not shaken to their core, they did not risk their communities and relationships and the other resources at their disposal.
- I liked having that GM-set story arc, with the freedom to bring in all of the wild colour of Stafford's fictional world.  Players were able to frame all sorts of interesting conflicts using the generic conflict mechanics of that games.  But at no point was chance ever going to bring about serious changes in the characters or dramatic variations in the tone of the setting or its fundamental points of gravity.  The players followed their cues, accomplised the major objectives I put in front of them, occasionally went off on their own little tangents, but the story arc proceded largely as planned.  And they were playing along so there were no big GM-player tensions.  Some folks were Gloranthaphiles and had fun exploring Griffin Mountain.  So did I.

Chance provided fun fluctuations in the story line but no major upsets.
It was fun at the time.  Now, I don't know if I would want to play that way.
It wasn't that chance favoured a good story.  Chance had a very particular role to play and played it well.

Logged
Erik Weissengruber
Member

Posts: 601

Designing "In this Sign, Conquer:


WWW
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2011, 12:21:25 PM »

I just did a heinous injustice to Robin Laws' Heroquest rules (and Greg Stafford's ideas about "heroquesting").

Going to the realms of the gods -- "heroquesting" -- is the most powerful way of shaping Glorantha.

And doing so comes with incredible risks to the characters, their communities, and their resources.

And chance plays a BIG role in the outcome of "heroquests" in ALL iterations of the rules.

The generic Heroquest rules provide a nice GM-structured/player-embroidered game.  But to make Glorantha have the kind of drama I like to see, I would bring in the Glorantha-specific rules about travelling to the realms of the gods.  And if I did that there is no way that I could sketch out reliable story arcs.
Logged
Unforgivingmuse
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2011, 02:37:12 PM »

You've designed your own game and I'm betting you designed it to compliment your own creative musculature.

Hi Judd, yes once again you are probably right there.

Chris, I haven't spoken to the player about it yet as the situation is not yet resolved (we had to stop half way through because we ran out of time), but I will. The answers I've had before, from others in similar situations, have usually been along the lines of 'it seemed the right thing to do at the time'.

Chance provided fun fluctuations in the story line but no major upsets.
It was fun at the time.  Now, I don't know if I would want to play that way.
It wasn't that chance favoured a good story.  Chance had a very particular role to play and played it well.

Thanks Erik, I think the chance element is what makes rpgs exciting to play both for GMs and players, (a form of gambling with your character's life that gets the adrenalin going). I guess the bigger the stakes, and the higher the odds against, the more thrilling the gamble. As well as the more epic, if successful.
Logged
Erik Weissengruber
Member

Posts: 601

Designing "In this Sign, Conquer:


WWW
« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2011, 06:58:04 PM »

We've been GMing for years.  We're good at it.  Our friends like gaming with us.  We've developed certain creative muscles.

Judd's comments on a recent Apocalypse World podcast reinforce the point he's making here.

Baker's procedures to guide the GM of that game are a distillation of effective GM practices that people have been doing for DECADES.

Read rules -- or read/listen to/watch actual play documents -- to find different mechanisms for incorporating aleatoric elements into your play.  But you should be doing so to sharpen/augment/bring more reliably into practice things you might have been doing already.  You might have labeled it "not being a dick" or "making a good story."  As you look back more on your actual play you can start to isolate very specific practices you want to repeat or codify into a game text.

Abstract discussions of chance (like my preceding verbiage) are just the start for getting towards actual play.

(Aleatoric is a high falutin' word for chance.  I use it here because it's built on old word for "dice" (alea) and directs discussion towards the use of randomizers.  I do not regard player input as "chance."  It's unpredictable (although not absolutely so, as your own posts indicate you have a feel for the kinds of things your players will do and the moves they are likely to make) and might even be capricious but it's not the same as the turn of a card, the roll of a die, or the spin of a teetotum.)
Logged
Erik Weissengruber
Member

Posts: 601

Designing "In this Sign, Conquer:


WWW
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2011, 05:20:30 PM »

http://www.lumpley.com/creatingtheme.html

Has a pertinent idea

"Dice. Dice are absolutely destructive to your theme in progress if they violate the logic or causality of your fiction. We human beings are very good at logic and causality; we ditch the dice easily, and successfully, at the first sign of such trouble.

Dice
are absolutely constructive to your theme in progress if they help create and sustain high-stakes conflict. We human beings are less good, as it happens, at making intense conflict fun and easy. We tend to take it personally, I think. Anyway, ditching dice often leads to duller, less highly charged play.

The trick to dice, then, is just to find dice mechanisms that give you all of the latter and none of the former. We have some very good such mechanisms available now, and more all the time!" [emphasis mine]
Logged
simon_hibbs
Member

Posts: 689


« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2011, 10:49:03 PM »

The trick to dice, then, is just to find dice mechanisms that give you all of the latter and none of the former. We have some very good such mechanisms available now, and more all the time!" [emphasis mine]

I had a discussion on exactly this at my local gaming group last Friday. I ran the game using a diceless karma based system somewhat derived from Amber. My argument on this is that in this system, if your character sheet says you are a remarkable swordsman, you are always a Remarkable swordsman. You never get to suddenly be a crap swordsman because some stupid piece of plastic came up 99.

However the point you raise about chance and risk is something I'm very aware of. I'm experimenting with using cards to inject some uncertainty. Each player gets 3 playing cards randomly at the beginning of the session. If after coming to a conclusion in a scene based on diceless play the player wants to push it, they can play a card which acts like a Hero Point or Plot Point. If I choose, I can oppose it with a randomly drawn card. The cards don't resolve the whole contest, they just spin the result slightly one way or the other form the way it would have gone otherwise. If you were about to get spitted, a card won't suddenly give you victory, but it might mean you're only badly injured.

This worked pretty well. The players can choose which of their cards to play, perhaps reserving their best cards for critical contests. It means most of the time I as narrator can push the envelope in contests and bring them to the brink because they do have a resource they can use to pull things back again. I think the mechanic works quite well, but I need to build up a bit more experience using it effectively so I plan to use this system for a few one-off games as and when I have the opportunity.

Simon Hibbs
Logged

Simon Hibbs
Pages: 1 [2]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!