*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 22, 2014, 05:43:34 PM

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: 36 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Author Topic: Lamentations of the Flame Princess: my job as GM  (Read 6616 times)
lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3656


WWW
« on: November 08, 2011, 09:26:47 AM »

Session 2 was fun. (Here's some about character creation and session 1: Lamentations of the Flame Princess is made of lies. Please don't bring discusson of that thread's topics into this thread.)

The PCs' guide, Phillip the converted Mioonkhtuck, abandoned the PCs on the edge of Rechgawawanc territory, perhaps made nervous by the idea of cannibal giants. Eventually they tried to follow him, but got lost in the forest. At night they encountered a pair of spider-monsters, one of which Brom killed when it leapt upon Brother Leobald. The rest of the night, the other complained from the darkness that it was lonely because they had murdered its spouse, and begged one or another of them to come out from their camp and console it in its grief. None of them did, even after it promised them that it had hidden gold, arrowheads, and a silver crucifix in a deep well, and would be willing to lower them down on its line to retrieve them.

They eventually found their way to the trappers' camp, which was celebrating a bounty of colony scrip. (Zef, a trapper, had taken an antique Vikano-dwarfish gold bedknob down to the colony stockade for trade, on the camp's behalf, and had returned with the shares.) They had a pleasant, companionable, and drunken evening. In the morning, Brother Leobald (and most likely the dwarf Van Joost) left Northward to visit the crazy old man with the mountain lions, the source of Zef's antique Vikano-dwarfish gold bedknob, about whom we know nothing else. Brom and Leike stayed in camp to work, being now in the camp's debt, and had an unfortunate then hilarious time wading through giant leeches and baiting wolverines with poisoned offal.

Both Meg and Rob were nodding off during the game, so we called it pretty early.

I want to say what I've taken to be my job, as GM, in this game:

1st, wherever the PCs decide to go and whatever they decide to do, to contribute things to the game that I personally find entertaining, without worrying whether the other players will find them as entertaining as I do. Timid, malicious, talkative spider-monsters? Wading through giant leeches to bait wolverines with poisoned offal? I'm having lots of fun. I hope the other players are having fun too, but whatever, if they aren't they'll drop out.

2nd, to provide, occasionally, opportunities for the PCs to recover lost treasure (which is how you get XP in Lamentations), without worrying whether they'll decide to take them or decline them. If they want to follow the spider-monster to its hidden spoils, and presumably fight it to retrieve them, they can! If they don't, they won't. It's not my job to decide for them, only to offer.

3rd, to make the safe, conventional life - settling in a place to work a job - under no circumstances a source of XP (this is by the rules), but more, to make it appalling and horrible, unthinkable to a person of imagination and spirit.

I've taken it as NOT my job to concern myself with dramatic satisfaction. I don't try to contribute pacing, dramatic escalation, climax or resolution at all. Brom named her sword "Sad Anticlimax," to celebrate killing the spider-monster, and I foresee plenty of anticlimaxes and non-climaxes in this game. It feels a little odd, like I'm not quite holding up my end of the deal, but I'm resolved.

I almost killed Brom! For the wolverine I rolled a damage die with more sides than she had hit points. It happened without my really realizing it, but then afterward, we were a bit whoa. Life on the edge of the dice.

-Vincent
Logged
stefoid
Member

Posts: 657


WWW
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2011, 02:25:24 PM »

I like the point about the GM having fun!

But why is it not "NOT my job to concern myself with dramatic satisfaction. I don't try to contribute pacing, dramatic escalation, climax or resolution at all."  ?

Particularly the pacing.  Doesnt a poorly-paced game lead to people dropping off and calling an early night?
Logged

James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 726


« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2011, 02:57:56 PM »

Vincent wrote:
Quote
I've taken it as NOT my job to concern myself with dramatic satisfaction. I don't try to contribute pacing, dramatic escalation, climax or resolution at all. Brom named her sword "Sad Anticlimax," to celebrate killing the spider-monster, and I foresee plenty of anticlimaxes and non-climaxes in this game. It feels a little odd, like I'm not quite holding up my end of the deal, but I'm resolved.

This is well observed, and better phrased than one of my complaints about sandbox play in the other thread.  This family of games is very odd about anti-climax.  In my experience as a player and as a DM, I've found that play will demonstrate what the players aren't yet ready to handle (usually via the "red shirt ensign on Star Trek" method of surprisingly horrible death), but once the players are ready to handle something it's very anti-climactic. 

There's this range where the DM considers an enemy likely very devastating, yet the players end up surprising themselves and killing it after a hard-won battle.  That's a good range to work with, but it's hard to get it right.  If you wanna talk about how do that, I have some thoughts about that, but don't wanna de-rail the thread.

Another variation of anti-climax is when the players plan the hell out of something, and then either
* it all goes perfectly according to plan (gee that was dull), or
* something random happens and the plan gets totally blown to hell and is useless (god why did we waste so much time planning)

So one way to address that is to have the plan backfire in exactly the worst way, at the worst time.  To my eye, that seems like a philosophical betrayal, but on the other hand, the players are telegraphing that they really want to play a heist movie with all that meticulous planning.  They're asking you to screw them.  But of course if they know for certain that you're screwing them, you lose all their trust and it sucks.  So I would suggest maybe making a list of several spectacularly bad ways for the plan to go wrong (and a chance it goes right!) and let the dice decide.  Apparently in this style of play, making a completely loaded, unfair, b.s. random table is totally fine, so long as you're not actually taking away luck and playing the world "fairly."  (I think this is a serious intellectual weakness in the OSR broadly, but whatever.)

Also!  Get ready for Entire Session of Preparation or Aftermath Play.  Ugh, I hate that session.  But, it too is part of this style.  I've come to regard it as a palate cleanser and plot-thread gathering type of thing, listening to what players are interested in doing next.

stefoid wrote:
Quote
  Doesnt a poorly-paced game lead to people dropping off and calling an early night?
I can't speak for Vincent, but in our own games it's more like, "The players set the pace."  If the players want to spend 4-5 hours exploring a cave, they'll do that.  If they get badly hurt and want to retreat after Hour 2 and go back to town to handle business there, they will.  Some folks might leave the game early, but that doesn't mean the others can't keep playing.  (These style of games typically don't require the entire group to be there every night.)

Logged

--Stack
lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3656


WWW
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2011, 04:02:33 PM »

Yeah, no, here in the probability-space of first level, ain't nobody controlling pacing. The dice are, and they've got no dramatic sense whatsoever.

I can accept this or cheat. I accept it. This is the game we signed up to play.

James, this isn't really a planning kind of outfit, at least not yet, so I haven't had to worry about any of that.

-Vincent
Logged
Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 547


« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2011, 04:04:26 PM »

Hi Vincent!

What you describe is very, very similar to the way I GMed AD&D in the '80, before turning little by little to illusionism, except for a specific point:

1st, wherever the PCs decide to go and whatever they decide to do, to contribute things to the game that I personally find entertaining, without worrying whether the other players will find them as entertaining as I do. Timid, malicious, talkative spider-monsters? Wading through giant leeches to bait wolverines with poisoned offal? I'm having lots of fun. I hope the other players are having fun too, but whatever, if they aren't they'll drop out.

I didn't worry at the time about drama and pacing (I despised the railroading ways used by dome GMs to get them), but my principal preoccupation at the time was to contribute things to the table than the players would find entertaining. Because... well, their appreciation was the bigger reward I did get, and by the other hand it was the "duty" of the GM as written in the manuals.

Thinking about it, this preoccupation caused me a lot of stress and burnout, so jettisoning it is probably a very good idea: but I still find difficult to understand how the GM can find entertainment in what he add if he doesn't get appreciation for the same things from the player. For example, the talkative spider-monsters I suppose worked only because the other players found them equally entertaining and talked with them (or interacted in some way).  What if they had simply said "well, whatever" and proceeded to kill them with swords and spells, without talking?
Probably the second time you would gave chosen a different kind of monster, and again and again, until you had found what your players find entertaining (or frightful, or in any case worth interacting in some way in the fiction), and stick with that.

Can you talk more about this point?
Logged

Ciao,
Moreno.

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

Posts: 657


WWW
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2011, 04:55:58 PM »

Yeah, no, here in the probability-space of first level, ain't nobody controlling pacing. The dice are, and they've got no dramatic sense whatsoever.

I can accept this or cheat. I accept it. This is the game we signed up to play.

James, this isn't really a planning kind of outfit, at least not yet, so I haven't had to worry about any of that.

-Vincent

Whats dice got to do with pacing?  whats pacing got to do with cheating?
Logged

lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3656


WWW
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2011, 05:06:37 PM »

Moreno: It's a skill I've been cultivating since starting Apocalypse World. I figure that if what I'm saying entertains me, my enthusiasm will rub off on everyone else, and I won't have to make myself nuts trying to guess what they want. And if it doesn't, well, at least I've had fun! Their having fun is their lookout.

Stefoid: You must be thinking about something other than I am.

I don't control how long a fight lasts, who wins, or whether anyone gets what they deserve. I don't control how long they wait for Phillip before they set out after him, or whether they track him down or get lost trying. I keep up a verbal pace by saying fun things, but I can't control the narrative pacing at all. The only way I could would be to (a) call for die rolls when they aren't appropriate; (b) neglect to call for die rolls when they are; or (c) ignore or fudge the results when we do roll. Cheating!
Logged
stefoid
Member

Posts: 657


WWW
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2011, 06:50:14 PM »

Moreno: It's a skill I've been cultivating since starting Apocalypse World. I figure that if what I'm saying entertains me, my enthusiasm will rub off on everyone else, and I won't have to make myself nuts trying to guess what they want. And if it doesn't, well, at least I've had fun! Their having fun is their lookout.

Stefoid: You must be thinking about something other than I am.

I don't control how long a fight lasts, who wins, or whether anyone gets what they deserve. I don't control how long they wait for Phillip before they set out after him, or whether they track him down or get lost trying. I keep up a verbal pace by saying fun things, but I can't control the narrative pacing at all. The only way I could would be to (a) call for die rolls when they aren't appropriate; (b) neglect to call for die rolls when they are; or (c) ignore or fudge the results when we do roll. Cheating!

I think we are more or less in agreeitude about pacing - I do mean narrative pacing, and OK, knowing when to roll is one important element of pacing.  But by deciding when you think dice rolls are/are not appropriate is pacing.   Two different people are going to have two different ideas about that, unless the game rules are very specific about it (like they are in AW, which is an exception in that regard to most of the games I am familliar with).

Another important aspect of pacing is when you decide to ask players what they are doing, or other similar ways the GM determines the moment to moment focus of the game.  Scene selection I guess you might call it.
GM1: OK, so youre heading to Blurkenstopf to see the King?  What are you doing?
GM2: OK, so youre heading to Blurkenstopf to see the King?  After three days on the road, you arrive in the town.  What are you doing?

Two ends of a spectrum - the first GM thinks its appropraite to focus on how the characters get there.  The second GM doesnt.
Logged

Caldis
Member

Posts: 392


« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2011, 07:22:54 PM »


My thoughts on pacing would be on a different angle rather than via the dice.  When you are providing opportunties for the players but it's up to them whether they jump or not it seems to me like they have control of the narrative and the pacing.

I'd echo James' thoughts about anti-climax.  I always found it tough to find a balance between challenging threats that could really kill the characters and making it so easy that they were never in danger.  If they can easily die, play can grind to a halt while they check every nook and crany for traps and monsters etc. and lead to boredom at the other extreme a zillion billion goblins charge forward straight in a line and hack and slash and people get bored of rolling the dice.

*of course i'm not all that familiar with Lamentations so maybe it solves some of these problems that D&D seemed to face.
Logged
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2775


WWW
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2011, 09:03:36 PM »

This is interesting to read, do continue reporting on your game. I've been meaning to write about our campaign for ages as well, but seem to never get around to it. Probably something to do with being insanely busy with big conventions and publications.

And indeed, my experience is that one of the key ways my own, pretty hardcore sandbox OSR D&D differs from your bog-standard narrativist game with dramatic coordination is that pacing responsibilities are on the players, not on the GM: as the GM your job is merely to entertain yourself, provide organic setting/situation (barf forth dungeonstuff as someone might say) and referee whatever it is that the players get up to. Whether what they get up to is three hours of bickering over supplies followed by one random encounter, or an efficient delve that accomplishes many encounters, several fights and plentiful treasure, that's definitely up to the players and how they run their party interactions, planning and execution. Last Wednesday we saw the players flub their pacing, and consequently we only ever had time to taste their actual goal before having to stop for the night; last Sunday the players were motivated and aware of the dangers of failed pacing, and thus they were effective in not only executing (and failing in) their Wednesday plan, but they also deviced and executed an unrelated plan, ending up with 11,000 fantasy-Roman sestertius and 4000 talents - a veritable fortune. Players succeeding in pacing is what makes all the difference.

Thinking about it, perhaps one reason I don't have time for session reportage is that we actually played three sessions last week. Heh.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
David Berg
Member

Posts: 997


« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2011, 09:08:06 PM »

Give the players the power and responsibility to skip over stuff that won't be fun to play through.  Remind them of this.  Boom!  Pacing that doesn't require GM management.

Dunno if LotFP's rules preclude that, though.  If it's like most of the D&D I played, I imagine there's a large and undefined gap between "what you roll dice for" and "what's worth playing through".
Logged

here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development
stefoid
Member

Posts: 657


WWW
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2011, 09:21:46 PM »

This is interesting to read, do continue reporting on your game. I've been meaning to write about our campaign for ages as well, but seem to never get around to it. Probably something to do with being insanely busy with big conventions and publications.

And indeed, my experience is that one of the key ways my own, pretty hardcore sandbox OSR D&D differs from your bog-standard narrativist game with dramatic coordination is that pacing responsibilities are on the players, not on the GM: as the GM your job is merely to entertain yourself, provide organic setting/situation (barf forth dungeonstuff as someone might say) and referee whatever it is that the players get up to. Whether what they get up to is three hours of bickering over supplies followed by one random encounter, or an efficient delve that accomplishes many encounters, several fights and plentiful treasure, that's definitely up to the players and how they run their party interactions, planning and execution. Last Wednesday we saw the players flub their pacing, and consequently we only ever had time to taste their actual goal before having to stop for the night; last Sunday the players were motivated and aware of the dangers of failed pacing, and thus they were effective in not only executing (and failing in) their Wednesday plan, but they also deviced and executed an unrelated plan, ending up with 11,000 fantasy-Roman sestertius and 4000 talents - a veritable fortune. Players succeeding in pacing is what makes all the difference.

Thinking about it, perhaps one reason I don't have time for session reportage is that we actually played three sessions last week. Heh.

Nobody bickers over supplies for three hours unless they have GM1.
Logged

JasperN.
Member

Posts: 43


« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2011, 01:48:35 AM »

While I agree that its a good idea to place pacing in the hands of the players and actively free oneself from a burn-out-producing GM mindset, Id argue that I as a GM would find it boring to watch the other players divy up their treasure for an hour. I mean, I wouldnt have treasure to divy up, so, effectively, Id be pushed out of the game. The only time I can add ideas to the game is when the characters are actually doing something, and thus Id rather nudge my players into situations where Id get a chance to play, too. Vincent, in your opening posting you make it sound like stepping back from being responsible for pacing is some kind of liberation, and I guess in a way it is, simply because its an outcome of the realization that you, as a GM, are not, in fact, the sole provider of fun/action at the table. The rules should contribute. The other players should contribute. Okay, but getting to the interesting situations in play is something Id press (regardless of whether Im a player of GM), simply because its more rewarding for me - not becauseI feel I have to entertain everyone, but because I feel everyone should entertain me. Its one of the major reasons why I, as a GM, skip shopping, uneventful travelling etc. and rather be like: "Yeah, yeah, you kinda have the usual stuff you need for the task at hand, it cost you reasonable amounts of money, and you got to X more or less in one piece." I find these parts of play boring, because I can add very little as a GM and theyre boring to watch as a GM-spectator ("5 gold ...mumble, mumble ...oh, and lets have a shovel, dont forget the shovel ... is it gonna rain?...") I wanna get players to a point where I can do stuff, too, and see what they come up with as a reaction. If I have to sit back and just watch others do stuff, itd better be something good. Funny, Ive never seen this about my GMing til now. Do I rob players of something by fast-forwarding to what to me are the interesting parts? I always thought it was in their best interest and now I see that, honestly, its in my best interest, first and foremost. Still not wrong, necessarily.
Logged
Frank Tarcikowski
Member

Posts: 387

a.k.a. Frank T


WWW
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2011, 02:42:16 AM »

Hey Jasper, I guess this is something people like you and me just have to take at face value.

OSR guy: And the great thing about it, if something interesting happens well know its not because the GM wanted it to happen, it just happened, you know?

Jasper + me: Dude, wtf?

But hey. In a slightly different context, someone once said, [this kind of role-playing] writes stories like football does, and I guess thats right. Still not my cup of tea, but I guess I kinda sorta get what they like about it. Maybe.

I loved the spider, though. Did you come up with that on the spot, Vincent?

- Frank
Logged

BARBAREN! - The Ultimate Macho Role Playing Game - finally available in English
lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3656


WWW
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2011, 08:39:58 AM »

Uh. No seriously guys, I disclaim responsibility for the game's pacing. Advice for how I can better pace the game, or worries about how the game's pacing might go poorly, are plain misplaced. It's not my job!

My job does include setting and holding standards for when we roll dice and use other rules, and those standards do affect the game's pacing, but I'm not taking pacing into account as I set and hold them. Frank's right: the game's narrative comes out of play, a result or even a byproduct. It's not a concern of play. Same as for football or Chess or any other normal game. It feels weird, but I'm pretty sure that'll go away with familiarity. No fixing required.

Frank, yeah, I came up with the spider on the spot. I've primed myself really well - it's just me doing my Vance impersonation. Thanks!

-Vincent
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3
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!