Not allowed to participate?

Started by Callan S., December 03, 2011, 10:45:49 PM

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Callan S.

There's a campaign, from a premade module the GM downloaded. Very set piece combats, all requiring following A to B to C. Being run at the local game store. It's not a drop in game, pretty much the same players each (barring life events).

This just struck me though. Last game most of the characters got locked up for reporting a crime they didn't commit. While my character went to the pub.

The session, kind of before we all sat down to play, the GM comes up to me and wants to roleplay me at the pub, specifically a guy comes up, buying me drinks and asking what I'd done earlier during the evening. I think my guy would be semi cagey, but also simply boast about stuff unrelated simply from being drunk and not particularly focused. So I do some of that and ask the guy why he's asking questions. The GM produces a shiny D20 and asks me to roll, to see 'if I would ask that'. I roll low. That was the only roll involved. See here, this is where emperically, I can't say what would happen if I rolled high. However, I know one GM method - keep asking for rolls until it fails, or until the player roleplaying blunders.

Now, I've kind of guessed ahead in the script and actually said to the GM "Well, okay, so where do you want my character?". Not verbatim "Ah, no, don't meta game, we'll just play this out". I'm genuinely offering to just go along and we'll say this and that happened which lead to me to be...wherever the GM wants my PC to be. The idea of 'playing it out' like with some sort of genuine energy behind the character responces when I know the frozen end result is predecided actually gives me a literal sick feeling. Maybe if I were an actor, I'd get that stuff, I dunno. Then again an actor still gets to read the script. Anyway it hums along until apparently I'm so drunk they actually steal all my equipment off me and lead me to the prison. Yes, that drunk.

And not that the prison actually mattered - we got a stern talking to by a (revealed latter, corrupt) police captain and let go. Which was probably preset - you could probably have spat in the police guys face or even stabbed him and he'd still let you go, because to do otherwise would break the plot line.

Seriously, like enjoying a magicians show, pretending to yourself that the character has a choice but actually doesn't and we do that until we do combat (where you do have movement and power use choices that matter), I get that. But this...this is like lying to yourself that your not lying to yourself. Rather than just enjoy the idea (but not actual RL situation) anything could happen, I'm supposed to forget the pre decided ending and then enjoy the procedings as if genuinely 'anything could happen'. And that would be the enjoyment of the game? Massive denial? I suspect none of this occurs to the GM from the GM position, as the script is so clear in their head it's just getting from one part of the wonderful script to the other. Or so I'm trying to charitably read on his part. I guess because he wont acknowledge his part in the misstruth and let me read the script, it basically makes it a real misstruth. Which by itself is just a misstruth, still. "Your bum doesn't look big in those pants" misstruth. We all tell misstruths like that - but we define them as 'misstruths' somewhere in our head. Here, somehow he genuinely thinks, to give up the distinction itself, is a source of pleasure/fun gaming. I'm not sure how he'd dealio with it if he was on the barrel end of this. Maybe if he thought of it the other way around, he'd suddenly feel the sick. I think I may have to ask him how he'd have roleplayed that scene. Because it's like he's pushing forward some harmful chemical and through social pressure and expectation (and good ol' social contract) expecting me to imbibe. Maybe if he saw it the other way around, he'd stop. But then again he has a level 8 to 30 module in his hands, and people with hammers see everything as nails.

Just teasing out the exact details there, for my own interest if nothing else, rather than simply saying 'it sucks' without much sense of the details.

Filip Luszczyk

The obvious advice for future games is to avoid alcoholic drinks like fire and only drink water from your own canteen. Also, when refilling your canteen always check for toxins by any means available, preferrably in a way that does not normally trigger dice rolls. Use auto-success detection magic or always have a cage with rats just for that purpose at hand, whatever goes. That's how you take at least one tool of control out of GM's hands - and hopefully the guy is not creative enough to think up effective counter-measures fast enough.


There was this guy who ran a convention game of Crystalicum for me once. He ran it freeform so he had a complete control over the direction and outcomes. However, I still had my spells written on my character sheet - and not limited by my character's stamina at that, due to the lack of "hard" mechanics in his game. I felt compelled to use those in a sort of narrative tug-of-war with the guy (and that was my whole fun for the evening, trying to find some gameplay where there wasn't any).

He didn't place the characters in the same place at start, so obviously it was our duty to join the party in play. Otherwise, no party and no game. However, it was a very weak, implicit assumption and the fact he didn't say it explicitly was sort of annoying.

So, I started alone in a room with some crates and a conveyor belt, some strange sound drawing me to one of the moving crates. My character was from a insatiably curious race, but hey, no hard mechanics to back it up! Instead of falling into the crate and being carried away by the conveyor belt as planned by the GM, I used my telekinesis to move the crate towards me and check it securely. The GM clearly didn't had any idea about the actual source or the sound or the contents of the crate, but hey - quick change of topic, some other crates fell down knocking me out and I finished up on the conveyor belt regardless. Still, seeing the GM thrown by my unexpected actions at least gave me some satisfaction.

For the rest of the session, I pretty much tagged along behind the party. Since the adventure was clearly about sightseeing - felt like a tourist trip through the setting, as if the players could not just read the relevant chapter in the book - I entertained myself toying with the curiosity racial trait. Which amounted to persistently asking "Why?" at every opportunity, and following all and any answers with "But why?"

After the game, I was congratulated for my awesome role-playing. It sort of baffled me, as I couldn't care less.

Some months later, the same guy played in my Skype game of Crystalicum Lite. Same setting, but this time the game actually had some rules, including a social combat mechanic - which he said that he had read and even used running a LARP once. At some point the guy was in a charged discussion with some NPC, so I called for social combat and asked for the stakes. The guy appeared like he didn't hear and just continued to role-play with no apparent direction or purpose. I repeated my stakes request, and still nothing, the guy was clearly confused. Me and the other player tried to rephrase the question in a number of ways, asking for scene goals and the like, and still nothing. Finally, asked something like "what's your intent in this dialog, as a player", he gave me his answer.

"I just want to say some witty lines, that's all."

And that was all indeed. In fact, that was all his character was doing in that game for the whole time: saying witty lines and tagging along. We sort of pushed the dice and resolved the conflict, but it seemed like the guy suddenly felt out of place and a few minutes later - he suddenly "had to go". We scheduled another session, but it did not happen.

For this type, the entire point of the activity is acting out their character's words, without being constrained by rules or consequences or reminded it's all fake by going meta. That's the entire point of activity - and I won't call it "point of the game", because I refuse to acknowledge there's any gameplay involved in that.

Sounds like your GM, actually.

Callan S.

Actually I should note that, despite him being a bit older than me, he's said he's never GM'ed before. Basically he's been leaning on the structure the module gives, but once he went off the structure as with the bar thing, it seems a repeat of common human patterns when granted that latitude of authority for the first time. I wont slip into the common trend of talking about him 'becoming a better GM' as THE solution - the books grant him all these powers through the rule structure. The warts and foibles of RL human character are what should shine though, rather than be bottled up simply to be a good GM. Just need rules that ensure it's not just one persons warts and foibles that get the chance. We all deserve a turn at that! By a visible rule structure, not invisible SC whinging (and for anyone going to drop the old 'well, the guy could just ignore those rules', actually no - without a golden rule, if he drops such rules then it's blatently obvious he has ceased to play the game that I, atleast, had come to play. So if I ceased to come to the activity - well, the game I came for ended already anyway. But the golden rule always denies you this knowledge, you never know really if you've ceased to play the game you've come for.)

I'm not sure about going all the way to thirty - he wants us to be faster in combat, but I'm not sure he notices how he sort of hovers on his turn, wavering on what to do with each monster. I haven't emperically timed all the players turns Vs his turn time, but! So were not exactly racing through the module. I guess I was extra bummed because after asking for my character sheet (handwritten by me) last fortnight, so he could print it out, he then went and forgot to bring it to this session! So I ended up having to make up a bunch of stats that sounded kinda right - this is incredibly unsatisfying in playing out a pair of combats. It's like cheating, but without it actually being fun to do so.

But I'm not sure on what principle one leaves - with the golden rule in there, it's all legitimate. The game was played properly, but I'm considering ceasing to play in it? Bwuh? I guess I could say that I find proper play of that sometimes ends up in something I find toxic. And that'll keep happening unless the golden rule is invoked to remove itself and we all acknowledge were co building a game while we play it (instead of some sort of denial where we pretend were 'just playing'), for the most part. But by the same terms, it was played properly, so no need to remove the golden rule. It's just me ceasing to play cause I find some things don't agree with me. Like some foods don't.