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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: Creating Social Situations & Characters  (Read 3927 times)
wholeridge
Member

Posts: 21


« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2011, 07:10:18 AM »

I agree with Ron here. You need to actually talk to the players, to outline what everyone wants from roleplaying. There's no point trying to herd them into "correct" play, via in-world obstacles. In my experience, that'll just lead to a bad time for all, and potentially bad blood to boot.

Talk can be vague without concrete experiences; I'd give them an in-game experience first so that we would have something concrete to talk about. I believe that a lot of players would be pleased by the challenge of needing to find an alternate means to achieve their goals. If they aren't pleased and complain, then that's the beginning of a conversation about what everyone wants from roleplaying.

Eliminating easy solutions isn't "herding" the players, it's challenging them to be more creative. It's up to the players how they deal with the fact that bombs and beatings don't work to accomplish their goals.

As an "immersive" player, it makes perfect sense to me that the characters would take the easiest path to their goals -- just as we all do in real life -- regardless of what the players want out of roleplaying. "What the players want out of roleplaying" is not a valid character motivation. The characters need an in-story reason to do what the players will enjoy. Otherwise the characters are acting irrationally and cease to be "believable" (in the literary sense of a character being believable).
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Josh Porter
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Posts: 58

I want to be old.


« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2011, 10:05:30 AM »

I don't mean to be an ass, but why are you (plural) playing DFRPG?

You, as a GM, obviously want to get the most out of the system.  Using aspects, social combats, NPCs with real motivations, etc.  But your friends who control the PCs (and therefore the story) do not want that.  They sound like they want Shadowrun.  Which is awesome.  Some of my favorite times playing RPGs came from Shadowrun.  Because we blew shit up and robbed banks.

It sounds like the PCs want to shoot things.  Dresden has fun combat mechanics, for sure, but it's not the core of the game.  You are fighting the system instead of using it.  Have you considered a discussion on your frustrations and whether DFRPG is right for what they want?
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I am playtesting Flawed and Caterpillar.
I am playing Dresden Files.
Daniel36
Member

Posts: 63


« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2011, 12:44:10 PM »

"What the players want out of roleplaying" is not a valid character motivation. The characters need an in-story reason to do what the players will enjoy.

How is that? Character motivations are by default not valid, because the players don't play the characters because their characters want to, the players play because the players want to. Their motivation is more important than their character's motivation.

I am not saying they shouldn't be considerate about what you want out of the game (trust me, I have suffered the same problems), but their characters really have nothing to do with the game. Yes, they are a part of a story, and I agree the story would be way more fun for all involved if it were taken seriously, but if light hearted stuff is what your players want, then light hearted stuff you should give, or find another group (or game, as suggested)

There is no denying there should be a middle road. If you want their characters to have a good in-story reason, then they should respect that and come up with it. But if that is not going to be enough for you, you have to reconsider the current set-up.
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wholeridge
Member

Posts: 21


« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2011, 01:13:17 PM »

How is that? Character motivations are by default not valid, because the players don't play the characters because their characters want to, the players play because the players want to. Their motivation is more important than their character's motivation.

You can't compare the importance of character motivation vs. player motivation in role playing any more than you can compare the importance of character motivation vs. reader motivation in a novel. Serious readers want to read about characters with meaningful motivations; serious players wants to play characters with meaningful motivations.

I am not saying they shouldn't be considerate about what you want out of the game (trust me, I have suffered the same problems), but their characters really have nothing to do with the game. Yes, they are a part of a story, and I agree the story would be way more fun for all involved if it were taken seriously, but if light hearted stuff is what your players want, then light hearted stuff you should give, or find another group (or game, as suggested)

It is true that both some games and some fiction make no attempt at meaningful character motivation, but I don't see evidence in this thread that the players being discussed want to play silly characters. On the contrary, in taking the easy path of violence -- which the GM has inadvertently left open to them -- the players are having their characters behave very realistically.

There is no denying there should be a middle road. If you want their characters to have a good in-story reason, then they should respect that and come up with it. But if that is not going to be enough for you, you have to reconsider the current set-up.

Well, yes, you might be able to scold the players into both making their characters behave differently and inventing in-story reasons for that different behavior. But if, as I suspect, the real problem is that the GM created a scenario in which bombings and beatings were the quickest route to success, then doesn't it make more sense to plug this loophole in the scenario design than to sermonize at the players?

Dan (Wholeridge)
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happysmellyfish
Member

Posts: 49


« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2011, 02:01:14 AM »

Quote
As an "immersive" player, it makes perfect sense to me that the characters would take the easiest path to their goals -- just as we all do in real life -- regardless of what the players want out of roleplaying. "What the players want out of roleplaying" is not a valid character motivation. The characters need an in-story reason to do what the players will enjoy. Otherwise the characters are acting irrationally and cease to be "believable" (in the literary sense of a character being believable).

I'm talking about the higher level social contract of what the players want to get out of roleplaying. This is the real rule zero, and should feed into every other decision: what characters we create, according to which rules, for what purpose. I think it's important not to conflate player goals with character goals.

It could also be important to relate all this back to the opening post. If the characters are taking the easiest path to their goals, which apparently means blowing stuff up and wasting people, the characters are probably psychopathic. I mean that in the sense that they don't care about their actions, so long as the consequences don't negatively impact on them. If you do this in real life, you have serious problems. We should stop thinking of these characters as rational.

Like it or not, people will already have their own idea of what they want out of roleplaying. They will build characters and situations to suit those goals. So if your players are playing as psychopaths, it doesn't matter what in-world obstacles you place before them, they're still going to be playing psychopaths... in increasingly restricted environments.

It would be much quicker to simply talk to the players beforehand, and ask what they really want. They could tell you one of two things. 1 - they want to play more interesting characters, but tend to slip into psychopath mode. 2 - they're not interested in all this social stuff, and just want to kill dudes. In the first case, you can start working out ways to collaboratively head in the right direction. In  the second case, you can probably start playing Pathfinder.

This doesn't seem very controversial to me.

Quote
It is true that both some games and some fiction make no attempt at meaningful character motivation, but I don't see evidence in this thread that the players being discussed want to play silly characters. On the contrary, in taking the easy path of violence -- which the GM has inadvertently left open to them -- the players are having their characters behave very realistically.

How is avoiding violence silly? I question how realistic that sort of behaviour actually is (not that realism is necessarily anything to shoot for).

Quote
Well, yes, you might be able to scold the players into both making their characters behave differently and inventing in-story reasons for that different behavior. But if, as I suspect, the real problem is that the GM created a scenario in which bombings and beatings were the quickest route to success, then doesn't it make more sense to plug this loophole in the scenario design than to sermonize at the players?

I'm not suggesting the GM tell the players to do anything, simply ask if this is really the kind of game they're interested in playing. Your outlining of success is only one kind of success, from one perspective. Just talk to the players, to see if they share your outline!
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2011, 05:47:23 AM »

Guys, please hold off on your abstract discussion of player and character. It isn't helpful to the needs of the person who started the thread and in fact, may become a comforting distraction from the extremely concrete issue he is facing.

Best, Ron
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Roger
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Posts: 228


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« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2011, 08:27:21 AM »

I don't think this question has come up yet, so I'll ask it:  Who, among yourself and your players, have read (or seen) any of the Dresden Files original source material?  I may also have followup questions.


Cheers,
Roger
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DudesInCapes
Member

Posts: 5


« Reply #22 on: August 24, 2011, 09:57:56 AM »

I don't think this question has come up yet, so I'll ask it:  Who, among yourself and your players, have read (or seen) any of the Dresden Files original source material?  I may also have followup questions.


Cheers,
Roger


Only myself and one of my players have any experience with the source material.  I've read it all through and through and he's only on the sixth book.  Not to worry, though.  We're no longer playing DFRPG and we're looking into new games that they'd be more interested in.  I honestly didn't mean to seem like I was complaining, sorry.
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wholeridge
Member

Posts: 21


« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2011, 05:27:28 AM »

I'd like to challenge the advocates of "talking to the players" to give an example of what such a conversation would look like. I've read thousands of words from the old "narrativist wars" threads (and still have questions about what was meant by all that verbiage), but I doubt if any of the people I play with have ever even considered the question "what everyone wants from roleplaying". What could I say to them that wouldn't make them feel that I was wasting their time with abstract intellectual theories in which they had no interest?
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Andrew Norris
Member

Posts: 254


« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2011, 05:58:52 AM »

DudesInCapes,

I just wanted to say that I've been in your situation. I'll hold of on offering specific advice, but I can say that I didn't personally "get through" this issue with my players until I backed things up like Ron said and had a discussion about what we all wanted from the game. Best of luck!
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Daniel36
Member

Posts: 63


« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2011, 06:05:05 AM »

I'd like to challenge the advocates of "talking to the players" to give an example of what such a conversation would look like.

Well, for starters the best time to do so is before you start a new campaign, but if you are already in, it would go something like this:

"So, how did you like the last game? Give me some pointers, what did you like about it and what did you dislike?"
Answers
"So would you guys be willing to try an approach different from blowing things up next time?"
Answers

Roll from there. I mean, there is a certain colour that you like and a certain colour that each player likes, and as long as those colours aren't too far apart, it's fine, but if you have a contradicting colour to what all your players want, you either have to change your own game or ask them if they are willing to try and change.
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Brimshack
Member

Posts: 88


« Reply #26 on: August 27, 2011, 12:56:24 AM »

If you do wish to push the envelope, and I realize this cuts against prior posts, then I would suggest sticking close to combat and presenting social situations which are both obligatory and closely tied to tactical concerns.

E.g.s

- You have to kill someone. he is in a crowded room, and you don't know who it is. The social interactions involve identifying the target while maintaining secrecy and keeping a tactically sound position.

- Your goal is to protect someone. The fight will occur on someone else's initiative and social interactions go hand in hand with identifying potential threats.

- Four parties are poised for battle. No one party could take them all. Negotiations will determine whether or not the odds will be poor, even, or damned good.

- The party loses and they are prisoners. Luckily, there are factional differences among the enemy. Playing them off against each other through social interaction is the only way out.

No these aren't real specific to DF; it's just what comes to mind when I think of spinning a  little role playing for players that are gung-ho for battle
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wholeridge
Member

Posts: 21


« Reply #27 on: August 27, 2011, 04:49:34 AM »

If you do wish to push the envelope, and I realize this cuts against prior posts, then I would suggest sticking close to combat and presenting social situations which are both obligatory and closely tied to tactical concerns.

E.g.s

- You have to kill someone. he is in a crowded room, and you don't know who it is. The social interactions involve identifying the target while maintaining secrecy and keeping a tactically sound position.

- Your goal is to protect someone. The fight will occur on someone else's initiative and social interactions go hand in hand with identifying potential threats.

- Four parties are poised for battle. No one party could take them all. Negotiations will determine whether or not the odds will be poor, even, or damned good.

- The party loses and they are prisoners. Luckily, there are factional differences among the enemy. Playing them off against each other through social interaction is the only way out.

No these aren't real specific to DF; it's just what comes to mind when I think of spinning a  little role playing for players that are gung-ho for battle

Those are excellent suggestions for improving the story, and observing player reaction to such situations might well reveal more about what the players want than the players themselves would be able to put into words.

Having said that, I find myself wondering why I so strongly prefer these suggestions to some of the other proposals which have been made. I suspect that this preference results from what I myself want from roleplaying. As a player, I don't want to be part of some conscious conspiracy to create a story. I want to experience a story which exceeds my comprehension. I want to participate in creating that story from a script-less, improvisational "actor stance" (if I understand that term correctly) because that stance provides the most immersive experience of identification with the character.

I don't see any reason why The Dresden Files is an inappropriate choice for someone who wants what I want out of roleplaying, and it saddens me that a group of players has been dissuaded from exploring more interesting Dresden plots.

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #28 on: September 02, 2011, 03:18:54 PM »

Hi there,

Finally getting a chance to address this.

To the point of this thread
I have only rarely seen an instance of "Hey everyone, let's talk," resulting in improved play. I don't expect to see it here. What I see based on the limited information is people who really ought to part ways, with "play something else" being a limited or marginal alternative. It's brutally obvious that the group is not committed to what The Dresden Files has to offer, either procedurally or in content. My advice for them to talk is seriously directed toward clearing the air about that, with a maybe 10% proviso that it might work out.

Dan (wholeridge), you asked for an example of what that conversation would look like. I can tell you fairly that it would resemble nothing like the conversations here among people who've agreed to talk about role-playing at an ideas-based level. My best example - which comes from setting up for play, not from deep within a train wreck - can be found in my D&D threads:

Quote
From reading a number of posts here at the Forge over the years, I get the idea that role-players think these discussions need to be encounter groups - ripping the emotions out, revealing long-standing trauma, hugging as they collapse into, at last, honest tears. Maybe it does have to be among role-players, although I don't think so, but it certainly doesn't have to be so among non-role-players.

Let's see ...

Me: OK, there are two main ways we can do this. One is more like a video game, where overcoming the monsters and traps is the point. I'd set up a maze and you guys would try to clear it, win or lose. The characters' personalities are there mainly for fun, but not a big deal. The fighting rules are really cool and part of playing would be to get better at them. The other way is more like writing a script as we go along, where the characters are in a difficult situation and have to make decisions and put their lives on the line about it. Their personalities are therefore a really big deal and you should know, I won't be able to dictate what they do or what they think is important. Oh, and don't forget, they can die in the second kind of play, too.

Christopher: The second way.

Dan. The second way.

And that was it, and that's exactly what happened without fail, and without apparent effort or need to remind ourselves at any point - not one - during play.

Also, to fend off any reader-based projection, no, I did not curl my lip or otherwise imply with my tone or expression that "video game" type play was a lesser thing. I presented the options fairly and said I was willing to do my best as DM either way.
That's from [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon, the final thread of a several about a D&D 3.0/3.5 game I DM'd a few years ago. The whole thread might be worth visiting because of the "why was it Narrativist" question, related the stuff you're bringing up here.

[b[Making stories[/b]
Dan (wholeridge), I have run into this issue regarding the "conscious conspiracy" before. I think it's a bugaboo worry, based on either accidental or willful mis-reading.

When you say you'd like to participate in making a story (and here I mean, characters' decisions genuinely producing plot) through being deeply immersed in playing your charater, there's nothing in what you're saying which is incompatible with my notion of Narrativist play. The word I've used is "mindful," deliberately not "conscious" because of the latter term's connotation of distancing oneself from the experience.

The issue I've raised, causing much anger, is that such story creation (which is not the only way to produce a story in role-playing) doesn't happen wholly by accident, and does rely on a shared, genuine desire to play in this way. I am not sympathetic to the various reasons this point upsets people. Since I'm not saying everyone has to cross their arms, look serious, and direct their characters like little pawns, and since I think that "playing my character" and "making a great story" are in this case synonyms, there's no reason for anyone to be as upset as they've been.

I've been working up an extensive written response to your points in the Sorcerer thread. I think some of it will address your points here too. Let's 'port it all over to the new thread I'll start when I'm done with that response, which will link back to both older threads.

Best, Ron
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wholeridge
Member

Posts: 21


« Reply #29 on: September 02, 2011, 05:24:12 PM »

Quote
Me: OK, there are two main ways we can do this. One is more like a video game, where overcoming the monsters and traps is the point. I'd set up a maze and you guys would try to clear it, win or lose. The characters' personalities are there mainly for fun, but not a big deal. The fighting rules are really cool and part of playing would be to get better at them. The other way is more like writing a script as we go along, where the characters are in a difficult situation and have to make decisions and put their lives on the line about it. Their personalities are therefore a really big deal and you should know, I won't be able to dictate what they do or what they think is important. Oh, and don't forget, they can die in the second kind of play, too.

I don't think that I have ever played with any roleplayer who would choose the first alternative. Certain no roleplayer above the age of 15.

Dan (wholeridge), I have run into this issue regarding the "conscious conspiracy" before. I think it's a bugaboo worry, based on either accidental or willful mis-reading.

When you say you'd like to participate in making a story (and here I mean, characters' decisions genuinely producing plot) through being deeply immersed in playing your charater, there's nothing in what you're saying which is incompatible with my notion of Narrativist play. The word I've used is "mindful," deliberately not "conscious" because of the latter term's connotation of distancing oneself from the experience.

I suppose that it a matter of degree. Certainly one can be somewhat mindful of metagame considerations while being mostly immersed in one's character, but some of the examples of "good play" that I've seen offered here (for example in the "Zilch" thread) sound to me as though they would be very distanced from experiencing the character.

The issue I've raised, causing much anger, is that such story creation (which is not the only way to produce a story in role-playing) doesn't happen wholly by accident, and does rely on a shared, genuine desire to play in this way. I am not sympathetic to the various reasons this point upsets people. Since I'm not saying everyone has to cross their arms, look serious, and direct their characters like little pawns, and since I think that "playing my character" and "making a great story" are in this case synonyms, there's no reason for anyone to be as upset as they've been.

Who was crazy enough to get angry at something like that? "Not wholly by accident" is much too mild a claim to inspire anger in any rational individual. You are one of the most moderate voices on this forum.

Best, Dan (wholeridge)
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