*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
June 15, 2021, 08:13:26 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 141 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [TSoY] Newbie here  (Read 7582 times)
Ricky Donato
Member

Posts: 156

Just chillin'


« on: April 22, 2006, 12:56:53 PM »

Hi, all,

Long-time lurker at the Forge, first post.

I recently discovered The Shadow of Yesterday. It looks really exciting, because it seems to provide a lot of what I've been looking for in a game system. I'd like to introduce it to my play group and see how it flies. However, I have several questions. I suspect that these questions have already been answered elsewhere, so if you can just provide me the necessary links, I'll be glad to read up.

  • My play group plays D&D 3e. The only RPG I've ever played is D&D in its various editions, as a player and DM. A couple of my play group has played ShadowRun and Pendragon, and they've all played and DMed D&D. What expectations should we have when it comes to TSoY? How should it play in comparison to what we're familiar with?
  • During actual gameplay, what tips would you recommend to make our play easier?
  • After playing a couple of TSoY sessions to get a feel for it, suppose we decide that the game is interesting. Is it easy to convert our existing D&D 3e characters to TSoY? Or would you recommend that we create an entirely new set of characters for it? On the same line, would it be a bad thing to use our existing campaign world (a homemade setting that uses the core D&D 3e ruleset with no house rules or supplements) instead of Near?
  • Please take this next section with a grain of salt, because I'm not very familiar with Forge terminology. I've read Forge articles describing "Narrativism". The description intrigued one of my players, Grace, who is interested in the principle of exploring moral dilemmas. Some of my other players are Gamist, I think; they are interested in going up levels, figuring out good tactics to beat bad guys, and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of prestige classes and feats. Will TSoY play well for a Narrativist? Will it play well for a Gamist? Can it play well for both at the same time?

Thanks to everyone in advance for your help.
Ricky
Logged

Ricky Donato

My first game in development, now writing first draft: Machiavelli
Clinton R. Nixon
Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 2624


WWW
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2006, 07:47:05 PM »


Wow, Ricky - there's a lot to talk about here. First off, I'm glad you're at the Forge, and glad you're checking out my game.

Ok, so from what it sounds like your group plays and enjoys, I'm not promising TSOY'll work for you. Its track record in "converting" people is pretty half-and-half.

I have noticed one common factor in people who like it, though: they were already looking for/doing the behaviors it rewards. That is, they were throwing their characters into romantic relationships, or had their characters driven by some need, or whatever. Most importantly, they enjoyed watching their characters really suffer for these needs or causes. You know how we like watching movies where someone has a real purpose, and, man, they hurt for it before they succeed? That's how TSOY will work out under the best circumstances, and it doesn't seem to work as well if you shy away from characters in pain.

That's why I have one concern. Just from your descriptions, it sounds like your players are used to optimizing character success - which is awesome! - but it's not really conducive to TSOY play, in which the optimum strategy is hard challenges, probably with failure, now in order for success later.

But in the end, who knows? Maybe you'll have a great time! Give it a spin, and let me know for sure.
Logged

Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Ricky Donato
Member

Posts: 156

Just chillin'


« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2006, 11:20:54 AM »

Wow, Ricky - there's a lot to talk about here. First off, I'm glad you're at the Forge, and glad you're checking out my game.

Thanks for the welcome! You know, while I was writing that post, I didn't think it was that big, but now I realize it would take a lot of text to answer it all. Sorry about that...

Let's tackle my 4th bullet first, and figure out whether TSoY is appropriate for my group. If it is not, then that makes my other 3 bullets irrelevant.

(Let me put on my Forge Studies hat and try to understand all this.)

I have noticed one common factor in people who like it, though: they were already looking for/doing the behaviors it rewards. That is, they were throwing their characters into romantic relationships, or had their characters driven by some need, or whatever. Most importantly, they enjoyed watching their characters really suffer for these needs or causes. You know how we like watching movies where someone has a real purpose, and, man, they hurt for it before they succeed? That's how TSOY will work out under the best circumstances, and it doesn't seem to work as well if you shy away from characters in pain.

What you're describing is Narrativist play, right? And some of my players are Gamist, so they won't want to do any of that if it means sacrificing the character's ability to meet challenges. I remember playing a D&D 3e paladin and thinking how interesting it would be if he were a half-orc, because he would be a man of righteousness, but people would see him and assume he was a brute or a thug. However, the rules made it difficult to explore that option, because half-orcs get a penalty to Charisma, which is a crucial stat for paladins. I got around the problem by talking to the DM and making the character a quarter-orc, so he got the stats of a human but looked like a half-orc. Is that the sort of problem you're talking about?

That makes me ask: can Gamists and Narrativists successfully play together? Or will one frustrate the other somehow? I'm talking in general, not just for TSoY.

That's why I have one concern. Just from your descriptions, it sounds like your players are used to optimizing character success - which is awesome! - but it's not really conducive to TSOY play, in which the optimum strategy is hard challenges, probably with failure, now in order for success later.

So if TSoY is made for Narrativists, I'm guessing it's the Keys that do it. They reward the player for picking a side in a difficult dilemma, and that's the Theme, right? The rest of the game (Pools, Abilities, Secrets) makes your character more skilled, which can be Gamist if you want your character's improved skills to make him more successful, or Narrativist if you want your character's improved skills to address Keys more effectively. If so, then I have two questions:

1) I wouldn't mind trying to play in a Narrativist way. But I've never tried it and neither has anyone in my group. So I think I need to tell the group at the outset that their expectations should be different. Maybe something like, "Your goal is not to be the most powerful character, but to be the most interesting character"?
2) If my group really isn't interested in playing with Narrativism, how easy is it to drift TSoY to Gamism?

But in the end, who knows? Maybe you'll have a great time! Give it a spin, and let me know for sure.

I will! Once I get this done (which will probably take a few weeks -- stupid finals), I'll post the results in Actual Play (I think that's the protocol, right?)

I hope all this isn't too much to answer. Thanks so much for your help!
Logged

Ricky Donato

My first game in development, now writing first draft: Machiavelli
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2006, 02:55:00 AM »

This is just my guess, but I think that Clinton doesn't necessarily want to couch the difference in GNS terms. Avoiding the terminology can be useful sometimes, because by dragging that stuff up you necessarily assume that the other party is invested in using it as well. If they're not, well, you come off as an asshole trying to intimidate the others with your fancy theory talk.

Which is, by the way, why I suggest that you keep vewy vewy quitet about GNS when discussing this new game with your group. YOU know it's a shift from gam to nar, WE know it, but there's no reason to confuse the issue of changing playstyle further by starting to throw around terminology. Might be that you already realized this, I'm just saying.

As for your questions:

TSOY can IMO be played as a gamist game, but you have to realize some things: nobody has done it as far as I know, and it will require drastic changes in GMing technique. It's effectively a different game. I have some notions about how I'd do it, but writing it all up would make for a long, long post, and it'd be mostly speculative, because I've not tried it. Furthermore, what's the point? You'd just be shifting from one gamist game to another, and a non-playtested one at that.

But, assuming that you figure how to get Step on Up happening, even then you have the problem that you're working to cross-purposes with yourself - you wanted to change games because you want to try a narrativist game, and you go about it by grabbing a couple of committed gamists and start planning how to make the game gamism-friendly? Not likely, friend. Not everybody agrees about what I'm going to say, but all the people I consider authorities do: while it's possible to play several creative agendas in a group, that's the definition of an incoherent play experience; nobody will be satisfied, the quality of the game will undergo drastic shifts from the player perspective, and in the end you still don't have players pulling in the same direction. This is why, although incoherent play is possible and can be enjoyable, I recommend that people focus on getting coherent in GNS terms first, to exclusion of everything else. I estimate that playing incoherent TSOY is roughly as fun as playing incoherent D&D, all things being equal.

That being said, my suggestion is that you go to the gaming table with the following agenda: introduce a fun new game to your friends, make sure they dig that it's supposed to be a dramatic storytelling game (versus a game of challenge like D&D, specifically), and play a couple of sessions. Make note of how your friends react, and make your decision: if you have fun with the game, then all is well and good, and apparently all your friends can have fun with a narrativistic game. If the game bombs, and especially if it bombs because somebody doesn't get the game or want to cooperate with it, then that's an indication that the guy in question is wedded to his D&D or his gamistic play preference. There are both kinds of people, those who are in a rut, and those who play any creative agenda when in the mood and the game's good. If that's the situation, and if you yourself and some other players had fun, then I recommend simply splitting the group so everybody gets to play the games they want. But that's something we can discuss after you play.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Clinton R. Nixon
Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 2624


WWW
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2006, 04:24:36 AM »

Eero nailed it. I'd been taking my time before replying because I didn't know how to say, "stop saying Narrativist and Gamist."

Anyway, I don't have the same faith that he does in it working for a highly gamey atmosphere.

I'll give you my biggest tip here. If you play this, look at all the characters' Keys. Look especially at the buyoffs. Ok. Then push those characters and hit them with challenges, and when they come to a part where they can't beat a challenge that the player really wants to beat, say, "You know you can buyoff that Key by doing X, and then you'll get enough experience points to up your ability and win this challenge." Like if it's the Key of Love - the classic example - they can spurn their love in order to win the challenge. If they light up and think that's totally boss, then they'll want to keep playing, and if they don't, that's ok, too. Different people like different stuff.
Logged

Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2006, 05:13:44 AM »

I think the best way to determine if the game would be something your players would enjoy is to study the Keys and advancement rules very carefully before even suggesting it to them.

If when you read those you can think the following thoughts, then its probably worth exploring:
"Dave's Paladin would so have that key"
"I could totally see where Rick's Cleric started with that Key but during the Lizardman scenario he would have bought it off when he did X"
"Steve's Thief should take this key because he's totally doing those actions all the time"

If you can come up with thoughts like that, than probably your group is already thinking in terms that can be translated to TSOY.

If you can't...if reading that section gives you that sinking feeling in your gullet that you'd need to convince your group to try it...then probably not IMO.
Logged

Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2006, 05:44:18 AM »

Ralph's got a good analysis going there. Also, look at the rules on pool refreshment carefully, because that's another, in my opinion just as important reward cycle for the game. Think on your players: how would they react to the pool system? Assume that the given player would have a character that has lots of uses for all those pools. They're always hungering for points, and running on empty half the time. How will that player react? Will he say:
- "Hey, GM, I want to refresh my Vigor!" When you give him the opportunity and introduce a rapid juggler, say, as a NPC at the same time, will the player be excited?
- "Hey GM, what say you if I meet rapid juggler Teddy, who was mentioned earlier, here in the city, and we go have a drink or two?" Will the player really introduce Teddy by his own volition?
- "Hey, GM, you can't put up any more challenge, my character's running on empty!" Will the player prefer to avoid confrontations and try to preserve what pools he has, rather than let the GM "screw him" with the refreshment rules?
If you find that your players would be stumped or bored by the necessity of trusting in other characters and playing relationships with them, the chances are that they won't enjoy the game.

And, just to make it clear: I'm of the same mind with Clinton about the gamism thing. I do actually have some ideas about how to make it work, but it would, indeed, be a fully different game at that point, requiring drastic method shifts for the GM and perhaps some not-at-all-trivial changes in the reward system. So put that right out of your mind at this point.

Tip-wise, I'll give one, too: when considering play on a whole-session level, try to make it so that at the end of the first session at the latest all players have some ideas about character improvement for their character. (Suggest things like "hey, how cool it'd be if your character had this and this secret?" and generally let the players know that they should be thinking in terms of improvement.) TSOY is supposed to work through making xp addictive, and that works best if the players keep their character concepts "open", visioning great things for their characters. A player who wants two or three different secrets, higher ability scores and munchier pools all the time is a happy player, and one invested in the key system. A player with a "closed" character concept who has only narrow, strictly defined goals will likely be unwilling to compromise in the conflict system ("my character wouldn't give up now, so I'll just let him die here"), and will thus burn his character up fast.
Logged

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

Posts: 642


« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2006, 09:27:47 AM »

Hi Ricky, everyone else is making big, global, thinky-guy talk, which I don't do very well.  Here's my specific advice:

* Totally try SOY sometime, maybe even with these folks; worst that happens, it's 3-4 hours lost.  No biggie.

* Don't -- don't -- say, "Hi guys, let's give up on this system you've been having fun with (I hope) and replace it with this new thing."  It'll make people feel threatened and more argumentative than necessary, which will mean you personally will have a frustrating time.

* The only reason I'd make a permanent switch is because everyone else is on board.  Which means, (a) they like SOY, and (b) they consciously would prefer SOY for this particular game.

* Here are a few differences with D&D:
1.  Even first level characters do pretty well in their field of competency

2.  As a result of #1, action moves pretty fast.

3.  The D&D mindset of, "Cannot retreat!  Must fight to the end, and win!" doesn't work in SOY.  You end up Bringing Down the Pain unnecessarily, burning through all your resources, and then you're fried.  D&D encourages a demolition derby mentality that doesn't carry over. 

4.  The biggest skill in playing SOY is probably figuring out what's really at stake in a conflict, and how much it's worth to you.  Sometimes it makes sense to walk away, or give up.  It turns out that these set-backs actually make for a much more gripping story, but it's hard to appreciate that when it's all new.

5.  Likewise: a kobold who intends to kill you is far more threatening than a dragon who wants to tell jokes.  This is one of those things that is totally obvious to non-gamers, but longtime gamers might be like, "Kobold assassin?  HAH!  Ooops, oh wait, uh oh, if I lose this I'm really dead!"  This changes now GM's and players look at conflicts.

6.  The Pool Refreshment mechanic is a way for players to inject strange new characters into the story, or deepen existing connections.  Players who aren't used to thinking soap-operatically might not appreciate the ramifications of this.

7.  In terms of character design, it is really, really awesome when you have three Keys that reinforce or otherwise play off each other.  The one time I played SOY, this other player had figured out a way he could get 3-5 XP in practically every scene.  I was super jealous.

======
I actually think that a Gamist (to use forbidden terminology) could enjoy SOY so long as they know what the game's about.  You want to get rewarded--i.e., gain character effectiveness--by doing really cool, dramatic stuff.  Drama is the way to turn your Keys, refresh your pools, and it's the chief trick to evaluate the importance of conflicts.  If you can do that, you can lord it over the GM and the other players pretty well.  I know that when I played, I felt extraordinarily competitive.

With that said, if the goal of your players isn't competitive  mastery of games in general, but the D&D game in particular with its spells, 5 foot steps, and other cool little tactical things, it doesn't work.  SOY can reward strategic play, but doesn't do tactics very well, at least not from what I've seen.
Logged

--Stack
rafial
Member

Posts: 594


WWW
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2006, 10:58:36 AM »

3.  The D&D mindset of, "Cannot retreat!  Must fight to the end, and win!" doesn't work in SOY.  You end up Bringing Down the Pain unnecessarily, burning through all your resources, and then you're fried.  D&D encourages a demolition derby mentality that doesn't carry over. 

4.  The biggest skill in playing SOY is probably figuring out what's really at stake in a conflict, and how much it's worth to you.  Sometimes it makes sense to walk away, or give up.  It turns out that these set-backs actually make for a much more gripping story, but it's hard to appreciate that when it's all new.

And therefore, let me suggest that you allow stakes and intentions to be "negotiated down" on the fly even after starting a BDTP.  Because you are *inevitably* going to come up with stakes that are too harsh and leave yourself in the position of "I can't give -- ever".  So be willing to say "well if you give, they don't kill you, they just knock you out" (or some such).

Even for those of us who have been playing TSOY and other games like it for a while, such an escape valve can be very helpful.
Logged
Ricky Donato
Member

Posts: 156

Just chillin'


« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2006, 07:07:19 PM »

Let me start by thanking everyone for their thoughts. I really appreciate it.

This is just my guess, but I think that Clinton doesn't necessarily want to couch the difference in GNS terms. Avoiding the terminology can be useful sometimes, because by dragging that stuff up you necessarily assume that the other party is invested in using it as well. If they're not, well, you come off as an asshole trying to intimidate the others with your fancy theory talk.

I understand. I was asking about GNS terms for my own education, actually. I've spent a lot of time reading Forge theory, and some of it is really tough to wrap my head around, especially because I've only ever played D&D in its various incarnations. The reason I was asking about Gam vs. Nar was just to make sure I understood the theory. From the sounds of it, I have, which is reassuring.

Which is, by the way, why I suggest that you keep vewy vewy quitet about GNS when discussing this new game with your group. YOU know it's a shift from gam to nar, WE know it, but there's no reason to confuse the issue of changing playstyle further by starting to throw around terminology. Might be that you already realized this, I'm just saying.

I completely agree, and I had already realized this. I can totally see my friends' eyes glazing over if I start spouting about GNS. :-)

But, assuming that you figure how to get Step on Up happening, even then you have the problem that you're working to cross-purposes with yourself - you wanted to change games because you want to try a narrativist game, and you go about it by grabbing a couple of committed gamists and start planning how to make the game gamism-friendly?

I wasn't clear about my goals, so I can understand your confusion. I actually have two goals, and they conflict, so I will have to settle on one of them eventually.

  • 1) When it comes to supporting competition, D&D is fine. The issue I (and some other players) have with it is that it is very complex and confusing, with a lot of special rules or exceptional circumstances. We used to play with the supplements, but the sheer amount of rules is unbelievable. Now we're sticking just with the core rules, but it's still pretty bad.

    When I read TSoY, I was blown away by the easy mechanics. You only use one resolution system, regardless of whether the conflict is physical, social, or something else? That's genius! You only use one kind of "hit points" (harm) regardless of whether you are in combat, a business negotiation or a card game? Brilliant! In fact, the concept of harm as an abstract measurement of any type of failure impressed me so much that I started applauding at the computer when I read it. The other folks in the Internet cafe looked at me funny. ;-)

    So one goal I have is to use TSoY with its easy mechanics to support competition, instead of D&D.
  • 2) The idea of Narrativism sounds cool. It's something I dabbled in; see my earlier post about the half-orc paladin, where I was frustrated by the D&D system because I wanted to have a character with interesting conflicts, but who wouldn't be penalized for this.

    I would like to try this sort of play just to see what it's like. Another player, Grace, is convinced that she would love this kind of play. I don't know about the rest of the group, though.

Not everybody agrees about what I'm going to say, but all the people I consider authorities do: while it's possible to play several creative agendas in a group, that's the definition of an incoherent play experience; nobody will be satisfied, the quality of the game will undergo drastic shifts from the player perspective, and in the end you still don't have players pulling in the same direction. This is why, although incoherent play is possible and can be enjoyable, I recommend that people focus on getting coherent in GNS terms first, to exclusion of everything else.

Ah! That's very good to know. I wasn't sure about whether you could satisfy multiple agendas at once. It's good to get that clarification (including the caveat that not everyone agrees with you).

This clears things with regards to my previous two goals. It sounds like I can't have both in the same group, so I need to pick one (or maybe get a second group!).

* Don't -- don't -- say, "Hi guys, let's give up on this system you've been having fun with (I hope) and replace it with this new thing." It'll make people feel threatened and more argumentative than necessary, which will mean you personally will have a frustrating time.

* The only reason I'd make a permanent switch is because everyone else is on board. Which means, (a) they like SOY, and (b) they consciously would prefer SOY for this particular game.

Absolutely. I want to try out TSoY to see if it works better for us than D&D. I don't want to impose it on the group. And thank you for your list of tips. That's exactly what I need.

Thanks to everyone for all your help.
Logged

Ricky Donato

My first game in development, now writing first draft: Machiavelli
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2006, 01:05:28 AM »

A quick addendum based on your clarified goals: there are many fine gamist games with simple systems on the market as well. If you end up deciding that this narrativism stuff isn't suitable for this group, perhaps you should check out games like Tunnels & Trolls, Great Orc Gods or Orx, for instance. They're all examples of various degrees of simplicity compared to D&D, while being very seriously gamist games all the while. While gamist design has been neglected during the last couple of decades compared to some other priorities, there's still no need to stick with D&D just because you want to get your competitive fix. There are options.

But of course you should try TSOY as well. You don't know what you like without trying it, eh? I always end up in situations where people I could have sworn would only fixate on one creative agenda actually get all excited when given the opportunity to broaden their horizons.
Logged

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

Posts: 55


« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2006, 09:36:35 AM »

I think it's worth noting that players can do a lot of neat stuff with the mechanics.  One of my players is planning to put Secret of the Invisible Hand on his magician's staff.  I thought that was really cool, there's a lot of places you can go with it.  SoY is definitely that kind of game.

- George
Logged
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!