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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 25 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Lamentations of the Flame Princess: my job as GM  (Read 5453 times)
Anders Gabrielsson
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« Reply #30 on: November 23, 2011, 08:04:35 AM »

Quote
In short, when you agree to play D&D, you've agreed to play a game about treasure hunting monster killers.
I think the problem of growing cabbages can show up because you sometimes do things that get close to it. Maybe the hunt for food results in a few skins that you can sell for enough money that you can stay in town and heal up a couple of days longer. Maybe you regularly hire out your services as guards along the main road through the area, to the point that it becomes less like adventuring and more like holding down a job. Maybe one of the characters have to spend a month in town to learn new spells or train for the next level, leaving the others with enough downtime that not doing something "productive" (as in "money-generating") seems like a waste.

On a related note, the discussion on how to make ordinary work seem less attractive than adventuring reminded me very strongly of Jabberwocky. Sure, going out to fight a terrifying monster with barely any chance of survival seems like a dumb choice, but when the alternative is to cut off your foot so you can make a living as a beggar... Well, it seems a lot less dumb. (I know Michael Palin's character more stumbles into the situations than goes there by choice, but I think the parallell is still there.)
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Teataine
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« Reply #31 on: November 23, 2011, 09:06:12 AM »

Maybe you regularly hire out your services as guards along the main road through the area, to the point that it becomes less like adventuring and more like holding down a job.
This can become a "problem". Vincent's solution works and in this sense I understand why the "inspirational texts" appendix in old D&D was very much a necessary part of the system. The literary inspirations were the unspoken principles of running the game. Vance does this "a honest job is always terrible" thing all the time.

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Maybe one of the characters have to spend a month in town to learn new spells or train for the next level, leaving the others with enough downtime that not doing something "productive" (as in "money-generating") seems like a waste
In such cases it should be the training characters that get "downtime". Their players should take over hirelings or roll up other characters and go on an adventure with the otherwise unoccupied PCs. I believe this was fairly standard "back in the day".
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Gregor Vuga
Callan S.
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« Reply #32 on: November 23, 2011, 02:11:50 PM »

Callan S. wrote:
Essentially to get over a procedural leak in the system, eg "What if the players just decide to grow cabbages forever?" or suchlike.

It might appear as a leak, but I think it comes pretty naturally that "we're not here to grow cabbages" is part of the social contract. In short, when you agree to play D&D, you've agreed to play a game about treasure hunting monster killers. I mean, if I decide to play in Apocalypse World a guy who drives off into the sunset in the ten seconds of of play and refuse to make a new character, is that a procedural leak? Or if I decide I want to play a weasel-employed traitor in Mouse Guard, and attack Gwendolyn during the briefing? I'm not "playing along", I'm not playing the game we agreed to play, so we better revise our agreement.

It would be trivial to add a rule to most editions of D&D that says: "If your character decides to retire from the life of adventuring, that character leaves play as a PC. Make a new character." But do we really need it?

Yes. Because otherwise you start bringing your social contract of 'what you don't do' to games where it's entirely inappropriate. What if someone writes a game where your guy can drive off into the sunset after ten seconds of play (for whatever quirky reason the author has - RPG authors are quirky), but you assuming your social contract forbids this because although the rules clearly leave this option open, you put social contract ahead of rules? Ie, there is nothing that can inform you, short of an essay, to cease stopping yourself from taking the sunset option. So people try and write a different game, but because of social contract dogmatism, you keep playing some other game, always forbiding yourself options which are plainly available in the rules. It reminds me of the untraining Ron seems to regularly engage in in regards to sorcerer, where people keep bringing play approaches which have nothing to do with the game.

So yes, unless you want your creativity stiffled because, while you could have done move X, because you've always adopted a SC where it's not allowed and because you always put SC ahead of rules, you never make that surprising creative move that employing X would have resulted in. Instead you find yourself traveling down a narrowing tunnel, that ever fills up with more SC entreties, ever more stiffling and repeating the same material as always. As repeating the same thing is the only definately safe SC option that doesn't risk betraying friends trust and what other options are SC safe are unknown because the SC is never written down and made visible/made into actual rules.

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"If your character decides to retire from the life of adventuring, that character leaves play as a PC. Make a new character."
Even this isn't an example of solving the problem. The term 'life of adventuring' is semantically ambiguous, as Anders notes as well. The social contract gets bloated further with literary inspiration (next it'll be 'the spirit of the game'), further narrowing the tunnel of potential options and reinforcing genre emulation rather than actual authorship. "Everybody knows that you don't do X" is an incredibly poisonous phrase.
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Teataine
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« Reply #33 on: November 24, 2011, 06:25:11 AM »

Hey Callan, I've re-read your post a couple of times, but I'm seriously not getting you. I'm reading all sorts of stuff into your post, like advocacy of games that "let you do anything" and condemnation of genre emulation, and man I do not want to go down that road.

Because I don't want to get off track, I'll jump back to the original point and try to rearticulate. You said how this is "traditional application of force to get over a procedural leak in the rules". I find this about the same as saying that the GM challenging a character's Beliefs in Burning Wheel or the GM having the NPCs run up to the Dogs with their troubles is application of force. It's simply how the game works, that's where the reward cycle is.

I'm not sure about the prices in Basic/LotFP but beet farming will in most D&D editions, by the rules, I dunno, maybe net me a few coppers a month in D&D or whatever. That's not even one experience point!
It's the same as not pushing my character's Beliefs in Burning Wheel and then complaining I don't get any artha. Is that a procedural leak in the rules?

I think there's a surprisingly huge push towards that in the old D&D system (and I do mean system, not just the rules). I think it would be wrong to underestimate it.

For context, consider what game we're talking about and when it was written. LotFP is just a rewrite of that game, with a few rationalizations of the mechanics and some horror colour.
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Gregor Vuga
Callan S.
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« Reply #34 on: November 24, 2011, 03:02:55 PM »

Gregor,
Quote
like advocacy of games that "let you do anything"
I gave an example where a game author specifically intends players to have the capacity, by written rules, to drive off into the sunset after 10 seconds of play. This is no more 'you can do anything' than a game author intending a certain piece can move up to two squares forward on it's first move (a pawn in chess). I think though you tried a couple of times, your looking for someone elses argument and only seeing that.

Quote
You said how this is "traditional application of force to get over a procedural leak in the rules". I find this about the same as saying that the GM challenging a character's Beliefs in Burning Wheel or the GM having the NPCs run up to the Dogs with their troubles is application of force. It's simply how the game works, that's where the reward cycle is.
The idea is the dogs deal with the NPC's problems. If, when the GM makes the working standards horrible, the idea is that the PC's work to raise the working conditions of all people (or even just the PC's mundane jobs) at that town into forfilling and aptly playing jobs, then I would grant you your point. But it isn't the idea. And the reward cycle isn't even remotely here. What we have is an option which is ostensibly granted by the rule system. Whether the author didn't want you farming beets but wrote rules that grant this capacity (only removing XP from it - which doesn't remove the option, just the XP) who knows? Let's say he did. In such a case, how about we just say that's bad design, instead of deciding to apply force and saying this is how the game works?

Speaking of social contracts, forum wise I estimate I've had my (what will appear as blue sky theory) one shot. I'll note that while fixating on one single cable seems off topic when there's a whole car to talk about, if it's the brake cable and it's been cut, that's why I might focus on just one component alot. Pitch all done now! PM's welcomed.
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stefoid
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« Reply #35 on: November 24, 2011, 07:45:52 PM »

The character might have aspirations to go off into the sunset and plant cabages, but we all know that plan isnt going to last 10 seconds before something goes horribly wrong.
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #36 on: November 25, 2011, 12:32:27 PM »

I've personally found the issue of character freedom rather easy to work with, given what I've learned at the Forge over the years. Like, say that a character doesn't want to go into the dungeon - no problem, just make a character who does want that, or we'll deal with whatever it is the character needs to do to respect his nature first, quickly, and then go into the dungeon. This is no force nor unfair limitation on characters, it's just us as a gaming group setting an agenda and keeping to it; we're playing to see if the characters can amass treasure and xp and whatever else we'll find worthy of amassing, so planting gabbage will only get as much attention from us as we find entertaining.
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Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
lumpley
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« Reply #37 on: November 26, 2011, 07:24:58 AM »

Eero's right. There's no force in action here.

It's not my job to get them to go adventuring. No skin off my nose if they don't! They're free to do whatever interests them, moment by moment, and I'm perfectly well entertained either way. In fact I'm delighted either way.

-Vincent
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Callan S.
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« Reply #38 on: November 27, 2011, 11:51:22 PM »

Eero, if the instructions for play said to, before play, think of a character who lothes a conventional life (for whatever reason) or otherwise your not equiped to play (as much as if you don't have dice your not equiped to play), I'd pay your point. But in that case (or even if it's being done sans instructions) there'd be no need for the GM to make a conventional life appalling and horrible.
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lumpley
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« Reply #39 on: November 28, 2011, 07:13:56 AM »

Callan, it's fine with me if they go adventuring; it's fine if they don't. That's their call. There's no force.

I'm not GMing a world where becoming a serf and growing cabbages is the hearty, fulfilling, honest life. That's just romantic bullshit. Being a serf sucks. If the PCs want to settle down and grow cabbages, their choices are: be a serf like the other cabbage-growers, which sucks, or make a way for themselves to somehow grow cabbages without being a serf. They can do it, but they'll have to make it happen for themselves.

It's not my job to give them a happy, easy life, even if they want one.

-Vincent
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lumpley
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« Reply #40 on: November 28, 2011, 07:27:46 AM »

Given your comments how the dice control the pacing in your game, does that make things refreshingly unpredictable or frustratingly uneven? I've played and run fantasy-style games which were vaguely comparable to what you're describing here, and I've had both experiences. Our Warhammer games were unpredictable in the most entertaining and exciting sense of the word, but our few stabs at D&D just made the whole experience very draining.

What do you think makes the dice-based pacing work for you?
Georgios, I've been thinking and thinking about this. So far it's fun for me, but I can see that some of my players find it frustrating, or will soon. Fights are over quickly, so if you miss two attack rolls in a row - which is very possible! - you can feel like the dice are keeping you from playing. Whether the dice will prove exciting or grinding in the long run, I don't know yet.

I've been a little bit indulgent of the whiffs. I bet it would improve the game for me to make even missed attack rolls (for instance) consequential. Maybe I'll try to do that in our next session.

-Vincent
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Callan S.
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« Reply #41 on: November 28, 2011, 02:49:47 PM »

Vincent, one mans suck is another mans treasure. Or atleast another mans tolerable. If a character is fine with whatevers first presented and the GM does not dial up the appaling and horrible with the intent to make the character hate it/think it sucks and stop doing it (which is obviously paired directly with it sucking), I'd pay there is no force.

I think a world where growing cabbages IS sucky, no matter what, no matter who, is as much RBS (Romantic BullShit) as the one where it IS, no matter what, no matter who, hearty and forfilling. If the text prompt you to pitch for a particular RBS and everyones on board that the psychology of a character is to match the psychology of the setting (because this is setting with its own psycology, not just 'a setting'), I'd pay there is no force there as well.
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lumpley
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« Reply #42 on: November 28, 2011, 05:10:46 PM »

If Eppy had had Brom say "wolverine baiting is the best! I've found my life's vocation!" then that would have been fine with me too, yes. So we're agreed that there is no force.

-Vincent
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Teataine
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« Reply #43 on: November 29, 2011, 06:50:45 AM »

Vincent, I don't remember how much of this is present in LotFP, but I believe it to be very present in (classic) D&D. Do you agree with this evaluation, based on your experience so far:

Between the seed content like the positioning of the characters (frex: you're a fighter, you're a magic user), implied setting (frex: implied economy via price lists and pay for hirelings, henchmen and other services), the artwork (which in classic D&D almost always depicts adventurers stealing treasure from monsters) and the reward mechanics (xp for treasure and sometimes monster killing) and reward cycles (leveling until you get a castle or wizard tower) and the mechanical focus (combat resolution mechanics and a very specific skill list (if any)) I find there is a pretty strong systemic funnel for focusing play.

So, Eppy (or any one of your players) could say "wolverine baiting is the best", yeah totally. There is no force at work. But will he? I think there's an overwhelming chance he won't, ever, baked right into how the game is designed.

I personally find D&D's "you're an adventurer" just as definitive as Dogs' "you're a dog", even if perhaps not as explicit or in rare occasions contradicted in the text (it is a pre-theory piece after all).

(I think that if the game ever floundered on this premise it was in the late AD&D and early 3rd edition period which is a subject for a different thread.)
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Gregor Vuga
lumpley
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« Reply #44 on: November 29, 2011, 08:17:53 AM »

Gregor, yeah.

I can see circumstances where Eppy and Rob might decide to have Brom and Leike bait wolverines for a living for a little while. Round about level 3, let's say, where it's still fun but relatively safe, if for some reason they decide they need a quantity of colony scrip. (Brom and Leike would make an excellent team for wolverine baiting.)

But that'd be in service to their larger, longer-term ambitions, whatever those turn out to be. I don't predict that their long-term ambitions will include becoming expert, veteran wolverine baiters. I might be wrong, but I don't predict so!

-Vincent
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