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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 39 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Dresden Files] It‘s not Zilch play, but what is it?  (Read 5230 times)
Callan S.
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« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2011, 07:37:21 PM »

Wholeridge, I think there's some pidgeon holing, but even if mary sue play (as an example) is inside the social contract, it's still mary sue play. So it's not trashing anyone (as in saying they are a SC breaker) to suggest that. Not that I'm lending extra support to the Mary sue hypothesis - I'm still going with my own, that she's been burned in the past by imposed consequencs and so she's figured out how to game what system there is to basically do solo play. No negative connotation in 'game the system' either - we are playing games, after all.

I think your post does raise the interesting question of why is it a matter of "Why does she play that way?" when in terms of what mutual agreements/system there is, the way she plays is completely valid/within what mutual agreement there was? Aught this turn to look at the system instead and ask "Why does this play this way?", rather than the player who's play seemingly fitted quite well within the system?
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2011, 11:50:54 PM »

Wholeridge, I think you are reading too much judgment into this thread. My posts are not about complaining that she ruined my fun (which she didn’t, by the way). I am simply stating my perceptions, including the fact that her way of playing seemed pointless and weird to me. The reason for that is not that Half-Japanese Werecat girls are not my type of cheesy. The reason is that I understand role-playing, fundamentally, as a group activity. And the Werecat player seemed so disconnected from the group.

Roger, you make some interesting points. I had a slightly different understanding of Mary Sue play, but I’m not sure whether that’s a material point or just a matter of definition. I thought Mary Sue play to be some sort of omnipotent, uber-cool NPC outshining the PCs by way of GM force. Or, in the rare case of a Mary Sue player character, by way of min-maxing / rules-fudging and application of social pressure by the player toward the GM in particular. This was not really what the Werecat player did, instead, she deliberately made her character ineffective.

Now, I’ve done that myself, had my character make bad choices, or deliberately built a character with a weakness. But she repeatedly did it in a way that would take her out of whatever the group was doing, and I think she did it on purpose. I gather from Roger’s and Callan’s replies that one explanation might be she did not want anyone to mess with her character.

This reminds me of the Immersion and Play for Show definitions of the Jeepers. Essentially, everything the Big Model covers is Play for Show according to those definitions. You interact with others, you play together, that’s what role-playing is about. Immersion as defined by the Jeepers is essentially something you do by yourself. Thus I wonder, why would you do that while you are sitting at a table with other people who also do it? In our group, we only had one player who acted like that, but what happens when all of the players do it? I’m afraid I don’t really get it.

- Frank
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Paolo D.
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« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2011, 01:01:18 AM »

Hi guys,

to the TO: I think that what you saw was a symptome of Abused Gamer Syndrome, in particular (I quote from my link):

Quote
a. Come up with as colorful a concept as possible, preferably somewhat irrational, so that you can carry out the following safety-measures from “in character” and blame the character for “making” you role-play in this way.

...which, by the way, is pretty close to what Callan stated in his first post here.

However, I think that Abused gamer syndrome and Mary Sue play aren't mutually exclusive: playing a MS, at the player's side, is (also) about "protecting" your character from unexpected input at the social level, and from unexpected events at the fictional level... So it could be a symptome of Abused gamer syndrome.
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wholeridge
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« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2011, 06:10:07 AM »


You interact with others, you play together, that’s what role-playing is about. Immersion as defined by the Jeepers is essentially something you do by yourself. Thus I wonder, why would you do that while you are sitting at a table with other people who also do it? In our group, we only had one player who acted like that, but what happens when all of the players do it? I’m afraid I don’t really get it.

I think that I do get it, which is why I feel called to defend the girl. I don't know the "Jeepers" (I'm struggling enough trying to get a handle on GNS and its predecessors without a whole new set of definitions to argue about)  but immersion is not something you can do by yourself. If you are by yourself, you have to be the whole world, which prevents you from immersing yourself in your character. An immersion needs others to be the "not my character" parts of the world. I imagine that the other characters were important to werecat girl's experience, even she didn't make her character important to you. Think of "why did her character act that way?" as a story which never got explored. I'm imagining that she is exploring that story over many episodes of play (probably with similar rather than identical characters), and you only saw a small, incomprehensible slice of her exploration. I further imagine that this is one of the main limitations of immersionist play: it plays best over a long campaign (similar to a novel in which one comes to deeply identify with one or more characters) and is much less satisfying in a single encounter with strangers (which is more like a short story).

What if all of the players do it? That depends on how the characters interact. With the right characters and situation I think it can work very will, generating novel-quality stories, rather than merely short-story quality stories. But it is more difficult, and it might take more time to come together. A player with the ability to work in multiple modes might be well advised not to try too much immersion in a one-time game with strangers, but not every player is a master of multiple modes. Of course, the girl might just be a jerk, but based on the information provided I see a possibility that she was engaged in serious exploration of a very troubled character.



- Frank
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2011, 07:17:57 AM »

No, she wasn’t being a jerk, she seemed to be enjoying what she did and did not seem mindful of any reservations the other players might have had toward her style of play. I was just wondering about her motives and expectations. Frank, you make some interesting points.

Have you ever been to a Goth party? I think what you are saying is that the sort of “immersive play” you are describing is like Goths dancing: Very immersed in the music and their own motion, dancing all by themselves, but still it makes a difference that the other people are there, also dancing, also doing their thing. That would make the GM something of a DJ, in charge of playing the right music at the right time.

Whereas in the Dresden Files game, the other players were dancing together, sometimes touching, sometimes posing, singing along loudly, and frequently requesting songs from the DJ.

Does any of that make sense?

- Frank
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wholeridge
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« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2011, 11:32:14 AM »

Sorry about the confusion, but I'm Dan. That "-Frank" was a part of quoting you that I forgot to delete.

I haven't been to a Goth party, but one thing about that analogy seems to me not to fit. I don't see the werecat girl character as wanting to be separate so much as struggling against separation. When I read your description of her behavior, I imagine a backstory of betrayal and alienation that has burdened her with dysfunctional patterns of behavior. In a sense, she is a character who has wandered in from a different -- and darker -- story. She (the character) doesn't enjoy the freedom and adaptability that the other (healthier, more well adjusted) characters display. She doesn't respond to your overtures because she is too broken to respond. I would hope that the player is exploring how such brokenness might be overcome, what sacrifices are necessary to overcome it, and whether the result is worth the cost. To a great extent those answers depend on the outside ("not my character") world, but immersive play is a first-person viewpoint which experiences that world as impacts on the character. She needs you to portray the world which her character struggles to embrace. (I do not believe that the player needs to have consciously formulated this understanding; most humans operate far more on emotion than on intellect.)

"Immersive", as I understand it, is about the submersion of the player in the character. It doesn't require lonely, alienated characters like werecat girl. One can just as well immerse oneself in an outgoing character. My guess would be that with more experience this player will become more adaptable to different types of characters and different degrees of immersion. Right now she is fascinated with the power of heavy immersion in a very neurotic character -- but didn't most of us start playing because we sensed some possibility which fascinated us in a similar (if, perhaps, not so annoying) way?

Dan Holdgreiwe
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2011, 12:43:38 PM »

Hey Dan, to be clear, my analogy was meant to describe the players, not the characters.

I can't really second-guess the backstory or what went on inside the player's head. Your interpretation is interesting in particular looking at the "angelic euthanasia" scene--from the other scenes, I would not have felt anything dark or broken about the character.

- Frank
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Dan Maruschak
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« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2011, 01:09:23 PM »

One thing that the Dresden Files RPG rules do with the refresh/powers chargen economy is promise that any Dresden-appropriate character is playable (I don't think the game delivers on this promise, but I can't blame a player for buying what the game is selling them). The source material says that the most common supernatural humans are the kinds with flavorful-but-useless powers, so it may be that she just got excited about this idea as a way to celebrate the source material, was told by the game that it was a good and workable idea, and just went with it. From a certain POV, being aloof and non-contributing is pretty good characterization for a housecat. Self-compelling to inaction is similar: it is easy to interpret the game as telling you that this is "good play". Since she's a fan of the source material, she may have been deriving enough fun from just experiencing the Dresden story the rest of you were creating that she didn't want to rock the boat and risk "ruining" the story by doing to much to change the direction. The source material also suggests that the forces of darkness are scary and dangerous, so that may also cause risk-averse players to play more conservatively than is ideal for the somewhat action-oriented FATE system.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2011, 02:10:56 PM »

Without wanting to derail the discussion about the Werecat player, I think that’s an interesting tangent about the Dresden Files RPG. Now, I haven’t read the RPG and I’ve only read the first Dresden Files novel, “Storm Front”. I’ve also read FreeFATE and spent some thought on it but only played FATE one and a half time, all DFRPG. Based on that somewhat limited experience, I would view it like this:

1) In the novel, life is just a bitch. Harry Dresden is one unlucky bastard if there ever was one, and life has a habit of kicking him when he’s down (so hard, in fact, that I kind of hated the novel for it). But when push comes to shove, Harry somehow, by the skin of his teeth, manages to pull some incredibly kick-ass stunt to save the day. Compelling Aspects, gathering FATE points, and then spending them in large quantities when it really matters, seems to capture that pretty well.

2) The novel is action-packed. Demons get fought and blown to pieces, there is fire and thunder and lightning and some solid scrapping, too. Yeah sure, the forces of darkness are extremely powerful, and no one in their right mind would mess with them, but the point is, the protagonist is one stubborn bastard who just can’t seem to bother. FATE handles this kind of action pretty well, temporary Aspects are a Color generation machine, and Consequences make sure that things keep going somewhere.

3) The novel is a hell of a thriller, the likes of which I have rarely seen. The suspense is highly intense, the atmosphere of danger and overwhelming odds masterfully built up. One might fall for the notion that this kind of suspense would best be reflected in a role-playing game by enforcing the danger and overwhelming odds through the rules. But that is a red herring. Such “deadly” rules would only force players into careful, very tactical play in order to not gamble the characters they are invested in. They would punish the players for being stubborn and risk their luck like Harry Dresden.

Conclusion: The atmosphere of danger and overwhelming odds is make-belief and has to be. Rules that really simulate the dangerous and deadly powers of darkness would ruin the game.

To get back to our little Werecat, celebration of source material was most definitely going on. As for seeing deliberately ineffective actions as “good role-playing”, well, that’s not unheard of. In particular from players who complain about “powergamers” who aren’t “real role-players”.

- Frank
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2011, 02:19:35 PM »

Paolo, thanks for the link, "My Guy Syndrome" rings a bell and might be sort of fitting, from a more critical perpective.

- Frank
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wholeridge
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« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2011, 03:09:41 PM »

Hey Dan, to be clear, my analogy was meant to describe the players, not the characters.

I can't really second-guess the backstory or what went on inside the player's head. Your interpretation is interesting in particular looking at the "angelic euthanasia" scene--from the other scenes, I would not have felt anything dark or broken about the character.

- Frank

I pretty much jumped to the conclusion that the player was acting out of fascination with the character, rather than for any reason relating to social contact with other players. When I read of the character's acts of self-sabotage and flight from contact with others, I though about why a real person would act as this character was acting, which led me to view the character as broken even before I came to the part about angelic euthanasia. It never occurred to me to instead ask "why is the player manipulating her game token in this fashion?" which, I suppose, says something about my own creative agenda.

Dan
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sirogit
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« Reply #26 on: June 12, 2011, 06:08:57 PM »

I think the description of events is vague enough that trying to formulate what's going on involves less diagnosis and more making up your own little story, but I kind of want to make up my own little story so I'll go ahead:

I think most of the players minus cat lady are playing into a very top-down game play structure. GM provides stuff to do, players say how they do it and provide color. Not cat lady, she plays by her own rules.

Is the first scene about talking? NO. Its about me being a cat.

Is the second scene about sneaking around? NO. Its about my cat being up a tree.

Is the third scene about fighting a bad guy? NO. Its about my being naked.

Is the fourth scene about some dude in a coma laying there silently? NO. Its this little poignant thing about being a fake angel.

What's wrong with her play styles? Well, its difficult to interact with the other players, as they're set in this top-down-GM-provides-what-we're-doing play style, so she's largely doing stuff solo. Its also difficult to create interesting conflict, as the play style of the rest of the group only empowers the GM to do that. Also, I think there's a very real power struggle between her and the GM, evidenced in people moving to shut down her little coma contribution (That honestly seemed a bit nasty to me.)

What would a table with only players with her be like? It could be totally sweet! It could be everyone making challenging situations for each other, people jumping on other people's situations because they're genuinely intrigued by them, and developing them further. (I try to rescue the cat from the tree! I call the firemen and its awkward because he's an ex!)

Maybe it would sometimes making little situations that no one else jumps on to. That's okay. That's an expected consequence of an open exchange of situations instead of a closed exchange dependent on a GM.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2011, 03:08:37 AM »

Hey Sirogit, sure, it‘s all speculative. Even if I told everything I remember about her to the last detail, it would remain so. I was kind of hoping for others to jump in with some experience of their own to add to the topic because, as I said, I found myself at something of a loss.

From how I perceived it at the table, there was no power struggle between the Werecat player and the GM. She accepted his plot authority, just using what he provided as a backdrop for her “own game”. As for the “people moving to shut her down”, all the other player characters were around and could have stopped her, and not everyone approves of euthanasia, so there was a bit more to it than just “shutting her down” because she played “wrong”.

Would a group of players like that be making challenging situations for each other? I don’t know. I tried to bounce something off her “naked” scene and others tried in different scenes, but she blocked literally everything. I had a very strong impression that she was deliberately preventing any sort of consequential interaction with her character.

- Frank

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Callan S.
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« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2011, 03:47:05 PM »

Quote
Would a group of players like that be making challenging situations for each other? I don’t know.
Why does this matter to you, Frank? I mean, what they'd be doing in their little group is what they'd be doing. Is your interest beyond the practical concern of how your own game activities go?
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #29 on: June 13, 2011, 11:26:12 PM »

Well, mostly I'm just curious. Also, I wonder what I and the other players could have done to make play more rewarding to the Werecat player, if anything.

- Frank
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