I hate compromises

Started by Filip Luszczyk, March 03, 2010, 04:09:26 PM

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Filip, but do you experience the same problem when you fail a skill roll? On a failed skill roll, complications are also applied. Do you also have a hard time negotiating for them? Do it also feel disconnected? Choosing between a twist or a condition and choosing how the intent succeed or fail can also lead here to compromises or negotiation.

In BW, from what I remember, there is even fewer guideline for failed rolls, a failed roll can be interpreted in a lot of ways. As for DoW, as a group it is often for us a occasion to be creative and we are looking for compromises. When we are negotiating the attitude in my group is to try to help the other side to come out with a interesting solution instead of blocking options. For us the loosing side make suggestions, but the winning side have final say. But I think we dint really made it "official". Sometime also the situation just suggest by itself the compromise. We dont really see a big difference between having to negotiate a failed skill roll and a mini game result. Except that in the mini game, we have a degree of compromise to take account off.

For the mini games, have you played TSOY and used Bringing down the pain? It also serve to zoom in on a conflict. But in Bringing down the pain, the dices give you harm results clearly related to a task or intent. Harm is maybe similar to conditions? Maybe you will prefer this kind of zoom in.    

Filip Luszczyk


No, I don't experience the same problem with failed rolls. I've already posted about that upthread, in my exchange with Luke, I believe? I don't quite see any process of negotiation occurring with failed rolls. The GM has limited options, but those options are his alone. Once the GM picks from the menu, the group can only deal with the outcome as a fact, no buts.

Now, please. No more posts in this thread until I respond to Raven, Judd and Frank. The exchange with Luke was distracting and until I answer those previous questions, this is likely a dead end.

Filip Luszczyk

Oh, and yes, I did play TSoY. While I liked some ideas in TSoY, I didn't like it in play for various reasons, largely due to its general vagueness. The problem I'm describing in this thread, however - I don't think I had this particular problem in TSoY.

Filip Luszczyk


Here's what makes me think there might be a strong cultural factor. Note that I'm not convinced it is an actual factor, I'm only considering the possibility. It's also fairly possible this is a dead end, given that all evidence is anectodal and without an extended academic research, it's all wild guessing.

So, I keep noticing how there's this disconnect between Callan and many people at the Forge, and it seems deeper than the typical degree of disagreement in similar discussions. On the other hand, I think I generally follow Callan's posts relatively well and often just nod.

Callan is Australian, right? Often, in the threads I read here or at rpg.net only about half of the posters appears to be American or British. In this thread alone: I'm Polish, Frank is German, Moreno is Italian, perhaps other nationalities are present as well. I have this impression that Americans in particular tend to be oblivious regarding that. Technically it's "your turf", so you don't have to automatically assume other posters might be based in different countries. I'm thinking of some baffling situations like the one in this thread. For "us" foreigners, it's the norm.

Now, the hobby emerged in America. Other countries derived their gaming and design traditions from American games. However, especially in the pre-internet era, those were relatively closed enclaves. Generally, the movement of ideas was rather one sided. Other countries were continually adopting American ideas, but it seems the reverse was true pretty much only with United Kingdom. There are exceptions, like for instance The Riddle of Steel was influenced by a Polish design, and itself, it influenced Dogs in the Vineyard, which in turn is a significant influence in my current gaming environment. However, historically, those are exceptions, and generally, while ideas circulate, it's mostly ideas on paper, there isn't much direct contact through actual play.

So, I notice that American culture routinely forces consensus in ways Polish culture doesn't. I don't know about Australia, but Callan's posts in this thread suggest to me that it might be a bit closer to Poland in this respect.

While I have some vague understanding of major differences between Polish and American culture, and between Polish and British culture as well, I know next to nothing about Australia. The country rarely appears in the news, even. For me, Australia is this desert island on the other side of the globe, were wild kangaroo packs hunt herds of platypuses. You get the idea. Most of you probably possess about the same amount of knowledge about my country. Even between Europeans, there are likely to be various misconceptions and biases. The point is, I don't know a thing about Callan's cultural environment, not to mention his immediate gaming environment specifically. And yet, it seems that in that gaming enclave on the opposite side of the globe, at least in Callan's specific immediate environment, the general attitude regarding many matters might be surprisingly compatible with that of my immediate environment, in my gaming enclave. However, it doesn't seem compatible with the mindset prevalent in the geographical core of the hobby.

That's why I think culture might be a significant factor here. It might be a matter of national culture, or gaming culture specifically, or a mix of both. Culture is a fairly complex web of relations, obviously.

I'm thinking that perhaps, the procedural makeup of some games reflects and relies on some strictly cultural attitudes. Hence, some people object to the idea it should be formalized, it's so deeply integrated.

For instance, I experienced many more difficulties trying to run a Japanese system. There are some social-level things that strike me as very distinctive in some Japanese games I've seen. Like, the text explicitly insisting that the game should not be used to hurt other players. Or the passage that instructs the group to collectively clean up the host's place afterwards. Trying to apply the system in play effectively was hard - much harder than with many English trad games I've tried, even. It felt as if large chunks of the procedure were absent. Obviously, there are things coded into the Japanese social environment that didn't find its way into the text.

I notice how Polish mainstream design tradition is different from mainstream American tradition it builds upon. Polish gaming traditions started developing relatively late in comparison with other European countries. As far as games are concerned, Poland is generally about 10-15 years behind. Design wise, it's still late 90s here. However, there seems to be even greater emphasis on things like setting fluff, insanely detailed scenarios, or GM's power, the mechanical part of the design typically neglected.

My immediate gaming environment is different in that we largely (and violently, some would say) reject those traditions. The only Polish games we play are those designed among us, and those are strongly influenced by designs developed by Forge-related authors. Other games that are played regularly in our community mostly include relatively new titles, with a very strong presence of indie stuff.

These designs apparently provide fun gameplay to us, in general. So, how come there is often this sense of disconnect when visiting foreign communities?

Like in this case, I keep encountering players who fit the general profile I outlined upthread. It seems many players here and in related communities don't fit that profile, but there doesn't seem to be much compatibility with us either.

So, I think there might be something cultural about the game at the core of this disconnect. Like, the shoe fits pretty well, but we wear it on the wrong leg.

But then, there are people like Callan and Ben, who say their experiences roughly match mine.

Aaand now to your specific questions...


Odd how tense this thread has gotten. Our group has always found compromises after DoW's fun. They excercise our narrative abilities in interesting and surprising ways because both sides are trying to come up with a compromise that fits the mechanical resolution and makes the story better. They often take 10 seconds when the compromise is obvious and organic. If we're not all feeling it, we go back and forth for a couple of minutes until we all like what we hear. Nobody has ever tried to renege on their loss or block the other side. We all start brainstorming an interesting plot twist.

If I was in a group that took 30 minutes of arguing to come to an agreement about a DoW compromise I would no longer be in a group.
James R.

Filip Luszczyk


QuoteIs writing cooperative (or round-robin) fiction a thing restricted by culture?
Does your culture not have troupes of improv actors?

These questions are very interesting. Very interesting.

The answer is: no. There are no such things in my culture!

More specifically: they are not present in Polish culture at large. They might be present as fringe activities. It doesn't seem even close to how popularized they appear to be in American culture.

Cooperative writing? I think I recall reading a few Polish short stories that included more than a single author. For all practical purposes, as far as the reader is concerned, no impact whatsoever. It could have been a work by a single author just as well. Currently, the closest thing that seems to be present in Polish culture is PBF (and less formal role-playing forums), but that's a novelty, and it's a fringe internet activity.

I don't know about any troupes of improv actors. One of the people I regularly game with is a part-time actor, but it's not improv. What he does is a fringe activity. Improv? If there are any improv troupes, that's a fringe of the fringe.

Improv is even more obscure than cooperative writing. Myself, I learned about improv either here at the Forge or reading some related site. Also, some years back a friend linked some youtube episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway to me, going on and on how those actors do improvised scenes according to some rules. Personally, I don't find the show particularly interesting. What I find interesting is that later I've seen links to this show posted on some gaming forums. It's a novelty.

The closest thing to improv that was present in my culture while I was being brought up was educational role-playing. It seems that back when I was in primary school, it was still a relative novelty.

So, no, I don't think these two things are present in my culture. I think they are slowly entering into my country's culture, though.

(Notice this: there doesn't seem to be common awareness of improv, and at the same time, there's a very strong emphasis on insanely detailed scenarios, with the GM, who is always right, as an entertainer. Comparisons to traditional theatre are quite a common way of explaining rpgs to people.)

QuoteSo there is this cooperative/mutualist mindset necessary for easy/successful resolution compromise-based mechanics, and I don't know if as a result of their gaming history or just their place/time in life or what, but it sounds to me like you have a bunch of argumentative players who don't what to behave like in a mutual creative enterprise, or who are afraid of creative mutualism (you mentioned there is a concern they are getting the short end of the stick in compromises) perhaps because they've been burned in the past?

I don't know, I can't think of a single gamer I know who wasn't severly burned by something in their past. Here, for instance, it seems like half of the people in the thread have ashes floating through their veins. Gaming seems to be quite a burning-prone hobby, it would seem.

Note that I've been gaming with some of those people for quite a few years now, more or less regularly, and we play together specifically because when we play together, things tend to work out. Gaming with them proves consistently fun, baring ruleset issues. It doesn't work like that with people rooted in that more mainstream tradition, especially when they fit that general no-no profile. Gaming with those is a certain way to invite frustration to the table, even before we touch any rules.

The short end of the stick? Yes, I have a concern my players get the short end. I've been playing with too many people who, if I pulled the stick strongly enough, were left with nothing in their hands, and that's no game. And yes, there's also the utterly egoistical concern that I might be the one to get the short end or nothing at all, if I the ruleset allows people to pull too strongly.

Only, you know, now I'm not perfectly sure that I want certain sorts of agreement from them, in certain moments of play. I do recall some mood-heavy games where the harmony was essential, and we worked hard to ascertain it (and it was painfully obvious when someone wasn't in harmony with the rest). But in most games we play, it feels to me that perfect agreement on the basic resolution level would strip the gameplay of, I don't know, tension, or perhaps solidity? I feel that gaping holes in the procedure like this one impoverish gameplay in some way. Or the other way around: the more complete the procedure, the more rich the gameplay feels, in comparison to various procedurally loose, impoverished games I played in the past.

QuoteCan you tell us more about these players: are they high-school or college-age kids?

We're in the 24-31 age range, mostly. The majority is 28-31. Note that this is the upper age range for active gamers in this country. It not very common to see people past 30 active in the hobby here. Typically, people drop out after college.

There are some newcomers in the 18-21 range in our community. In BE and MG games discussed here, the 18 years old girl in my current game was the only person in this range. I did play IAWA with quite a few gamers in this range.

I find it interesting how rarely I'm gaming with people exactly my age. Other than the first few years, people I played with were typically 2-5 years older than me, or 2-5 years younger. In recent years, things tend towards the extreme ends of the scale. Newcomers to our community tend to be either close to 30 or 18-21.

Those older either integrate smoothly and stay for years or get turned off immediately. Like, there was this 31 years old guy in my Exalted Hack game last summer who left after the first session, because "it was sort of fun, but it wasn't real role-playing" (he complained that there was too much dice rolling and not enough acting, but at the same time, he complained that combats were being resolved in just a few rolls; I still can't quite wrap my mind around his logic).

Now, with those 18-21 years old newcomers, they come and go, but I have this impression that overall, they more often tend towards "amenable participation". Well, I'm sure the difference in experience is at fault here partially, as it's a bit overwhelming for them; we can talk about games and gaming for hours, they have little of their own to add.

Also, there's this very noticable generation gap between us and people born around or after 1989. Outside gaming, it's hard to find common language, often. For instance, most of us consume a lot of imported media, and very little Polish media. I think we generally agree that there is very little valuable Polish media available. In our childhood, the West was the synonym of quality and prosperity for us; it was this magical land of Coca-Cola, Disney, Bonanza and Miami Vice. Even in mid-nineties, our childhood TV heroes still included MacGyver, The A-Team and David Hasselhoff. Cheap stuff, but it was magical. Now, I consume cheap Western (well, and Japanese) media routinely, but if I reach for something Polish, it must be very good. Those post-89 newcomers? In their childhood, the West was already here. Only, it was even cheaper, our little local imitation of the West. For us, acquiring Western popular culture was always a big deal, and it was connected with a certain sense of attainment. These days, internet is a blessing. For the post-89 generation, there was never any effort involved in acquiring popular culture, there were always some local substitutes available. When they go on the internet, they generally stick to Polish sites, there's no desire of the West that we developed early in our lives. I'd bet most of them wouldn't even recognize David Hasselhoff!

However, while for us things like improv are something relatively fringe, for the post-1989 generation it's a novelty that gradually leaks into the mainstream.

So, I think there's something post-colonial going on with those of us closer to 30. Also, I think that in my immediate gaming environment, with these particular people, this is rather strong in comparison to the gaming mainstream. Outside gaming, it might be the primary social glue, even.

QuoteAre they argumentative outside of gaming (for example, is ordering pizzas a twenty-minute affair) or otherwise have strong individualist tendencies?

Strong individualist tendencies? Yeah, probably, for most.

I wouldn't characterize us as particularly argumentative in our interactions. However, overall, most of us have rather low tolerance for shit.

QuoteWhat other games do they play regularly and have they played?

Most major trad titles, most or many major indie titles. Most of us got burned with major Polish titles particularly bad.

Games that we've been regularly returning to throughout the last few years include Dogs, IAWA, PTA, Bliss Stage, d20 stuff in general, some locally designed stuff. For our BE/MG GM, add BE and MG to the list. For a few, add Savage Worlds. A few dozens of indie titles have been tried out but didn't see much replay afterwards. Some of the players try out new mainstream releases occassionally, but no replay so far. Overall, plenty of variety here, and we have a relatively rapid games turnover rate.

QuoteHave they mentioned or have you seen a lot of dysfunction in their past groups or past games?

It's like that question about being burned. The only gamers I know who don't have their war stories are some newcomers. With other newcomers, they emerge from a sea of teenage dysfunction. Most players in those BE and MG games in question have been gaming for about 10-15 years, it's enough time to squeeze all sorts of dysfunction out of it.

QuoteFilip, any ideas? Can you run us through any specific compromise situations that were un-fun?

Yes! Something concrete from that older MG campaign has finally popped up.

We wanted to re-visit and interrogate a bartender who, previously, sold us to agents from another city. We wanted the bartender to spill everything about those agents, he wanted to prove the Guard is oppressive or something like that, I believe. We played some good cop, bad cop. We lost with a compromise. I suggested a twist: we don't learn anything significant, but only because a dagger thrown from an unknown direction kills the bartender, and we're left with a body on the floor. Seemed adequate to the situation and pretty cinematic. I recall being very enthusiasthic about that outcome. The rest of the group was like, uh, oh, maybe, but no. Then, a few other suggestions were made, before we reached the final outcome, but I had no other ideas. I was at best neutral about those ideas and I felt sort of dissapointed. I don't even recall that final compromise now. However, I'm perfectly sure it didn't affect the campaign at large, that deal with the bartender never came up again, and we didn't engage those agents in later missions.

I gave some fresh examples upthread.

Now, this was draining. Thankfully, I have much less to say to Judd and Frank.

Jeff B


I was really interested to read your discussion of culturalism.  Thank you for opening up on that subject.  My opinion is that, indeed, a lot of internet activity such as this has an American bias ('our turf', as you said).  Furthermore, a huge number of Americans would never even consider that improv acting, or perhaps stand-up comedy, is not practiced everywhere in the world.

Your comments about the Japanese game should be a clear signal to anyone that there are, indeed, serious differences in social norms in different parts of the world.

One thing in particular I want to mention, in case you are not aware of it:  In America, gamers are outsiders.  Tabletop adult gaming of any kind is considered a little bit unusual by a huge number of Americans, and roleplayers specifically have always been the minority.  They are poorly understood by others, and many social conservatives here feel RPG is actually a very bad activity and should be avoided.  So the "average" social dynamic at the gaming table is already skewed -- there is no such thing as six "average Americans" sitting down for an RPG session.  Furthermore, we're talking about *alternative* RPG, as in independent developers.  So now we're even *further* out toward the fringe.  The mainstream D&D players in American might never have heard of Dogs in the Vineyard, or Mouse Guard, or any of the independent designs here.

I think it would be awesome some time to play in a game run by someone from another country/language/culture, or just in a group of such people.   The closest example I can give is that one time in my life I played in the dungeon of a black (African-American) dungeon master.  it was fascinating to me, because his whole sense of magic and atmosphere was very different from anything I'd ever seen.  So I'm sure when a foreign country is involved, there would likewise be more surprises and new perspectives that would prove very interesting for me.


Filip Luszczyk


Ouch. Your response comes across as distinctively American to me, in tone. Like, in that TMW thread I linked. Of course there are serious differences in social norms in different parts of the world! How come this even needs to be "clearly signaled"? It seems to me that in different parts of the world, this is generally taken as a given. Heh, how come so many Americans, with their often stressed diversity, find that obvious fact somehow surprising?

Anyway. Here, I'm specifically wondering how those differences affect procedures in gaming texts. How much of that is coded into the text, how much is left as unstated assumptions and, most importantly, how much of that is the requirement when it comes to applying the procedure as intended.

Can you think of some examples of American games clearly targetted at different social environments in America, for comparison purposes? For instance, a game text intended for members of those outsider communities you describe, and another text written with the mainstream in mind? Does the procedure differ when it comes to social-level assumptions? Does the procedure rely on certain social factors that are specific exclusively to the outsider culture or exclusively to the mainstream culture? Or, I know there are some Christian games out there, can anyone identify such procedural factors in texts intended specifically for members of Christian communities? Does the procedure seem to showcase a culturally dependent mindset?

As for the "awesomeness" of international gaming, I did play some games with foreigners. Guess what? There were no interesting surprises or new perspectives. Aside from some linguistic issues, there was no noticeable difference in those games, at least no difference that I wouldn't encounter before with Polish gamers. However, those games were nearly exclusively one-shot, low payoff games. I can't dismiss the possibility that some interesting observations on the matter would come up over the course of a longer, high investment campaign.

All in all, I guess the thread could use splitting at this point.

Jeff B


My apologies if there was anything "ouch" about my post.  It wasn't intended.  My comments were directed at those who seemed to think such differences were unimportant.  Sorry if it came across wrong.

Regarding your question:  The only audience-targeting I have seen in games is appealing to one or other subset of gamers, usually based on its genre (gothic, fantasy, satire, sci-fi, and so forth).  Not sure I understand your question.  You're asking if a text exists that divides itself between two or more intended audiences, re. the procedures of a single game?  No, I don't think I've ever seen one.  There is simply no such thing as "mainstream" roleplaying in America.  The entire RPG audience, whether traditional or alternative, is outside of mainstream interests.

regarding 'international gaming':  You're speaking in a contradiction, on the one saying Americans lack cultural insight and on the other hand saying the international community has no cultural insight to offer Americans.  If culture makes a difference, then there is necessarily something to be gained in exposure to other cultures through gaming.  If you say that there are no surprises, nothing new to be found, then your theory that culture is somehow affecting gameplay is invalid.  You seem to be arguing against yourself.


Filip Luszczyk


It didn't come across wrong as much as amusing. Never mind that.

Your observation regarding mainstream seems to be inconsistent with multiple threads I've read on this and related forums. I'm not asking for a text that divides itself between anything. I'm asking for the comparison of procedures tied to social level in different texts written with different audiences in mind. Like, for instance, a comparison of those in a fantasy game targeted at obsessive basement-dwelling nerds and a fantasy game targeted at young members of a conservative Christian community.

For instance, I believe Bliss Stage might have been written with American anime fandom in mind. I also believe playing the game with representative members of Polish anime fandom would likely result in an instant crash. No actual play data to back that up, though.

Regarding "international gaming" I'm only saying that my limited experiences so far, under those particular conditions, didn't provide any useful observations on the matter. However, a single session wasn't enough for me to notice the procedural issue with compromises in Mouse Guard. For that, I needed multiple instances of play. I think that if the theory is valid, gathering sufficient data to prove that would require a longer period of gaming with the same people, possibly across multiple groups.

Filip Luszczyk


QuoteProbably I'm not taking the discussion down a constructive lane, so I'll back off for now. If anybody's interested, you might check out my thread [Liquid] Well, I just rolled the dice for show, in which a very similar discussion came up between Callan and me.

I'm not sure about that. I'm not sure whether it's potentially constructive or not.

The way you interpret my account is perplexing. It seems like what you label as "role-playing" might be an entirely different activity that just can't be discussed in the same categories productively. I find it a stumbling block in many discussions. Note: I don't think "we have very, very different concepts of role-playing". The way you say it, it sounds as if we had very, very different concepts of the same thing. I believe this might not be the case. I believe it might not be the same thing in the first place. We can't have even remotely the same concept of it, consequently. If anything, we might have very, very different concepts of "game".

And yet, at the same time, those entirely different activities are clearly rooted in the same product base. How come?

I recognize your AP. I've read your account back when you posted it. I've been in games exactly like that, it's perfectly clear to me. I wouldn't exactly describe the experience as fun. In those games, the experience always felt severly impoverished. So, back when you posted that AP, I've read it and never returned to it again. It's only now that I've read the entire thread.

What strikes me is the PTA problem described there. Every now and then, I see people posting about it. I don't recognize that problem at all! I've been in five games of PTA, and I've never encountered it. Even in games that didn't work, that particular problem was never present!

Or so it seems. That problem appears impossible to me. Here's why.

In PTA games I played, an average session lasted 3-4 hours. Sometimes longer. Four hours is a pretty adequate average session time in PTA, I believe?

If the problem applies, I don't see how an average session could last for longer than 30-40 minutes. Perhaps if people taaalk veeery slooowly? PTA has minimal mechanics. If people don't play with fictional detail, what are they playing with, then? What fills up the rest of that terribly dysfunctional session time?

Or, if the problem applies, and it's my PTA that suffers from the lack of fictional detail, then how long would an average functional session last? Ten hours?

So, I don't know what the problem is all about. I don't know this problem.

Only, whenever you say "fictional detail", I don't really know what you mean. I recognize the words, I know their meaning. But I don't know what's in your head when you say that! Perhaps your "fictional detail" is something entirely different than my "fictional detail"? Consequently, perhaps you'd characterize my actual play discourse as lacking in fictional detail, and vice versa?

Those PTA games I've played. The first one fizzled after the pilot episode. The other player just couldn't wrap his head around the very basics of the system, like scene requests. It was like that in everything we tried to play with the guy, so we didn't play long together. The second time, it fizzled after the pilot episode again. This time, not enough buy-in; we applied the prep procedure, we also applied plenty of advice from the forums, and we came up with a mediocre show regardless. The third time, I've run the game, and we completed the series. It was as fiction rich as our games those days used to get. Fiction-wise, it was awesome! Only, gameplay felt impoverished. There's an actual play report from that game.

Now, the fourth and the fifth time, technically it was no longer PTA. It was our PTA Hack. Only very basic rules remained, like scene structure, Fanmail and resolution mechanics. We got rid of the Producer. We revised and expanded prep procedure greatly. Most importantly, we formalized lots of the procedurally vague stuff, e.g. stakes negotiation. I'm sure our written procedure included plenty of mental shortcuts and deeply integrated assumptions, but for our purposes, that was sufficient. The effect? Our overall investment was much stronger. Story was much stronger. Fiction was much stronger, too. But first and foremost, gameplay was much stronger, and it no longer felt so impoverished.

And you know what? Trying to discuss those changes outside my immediate gaming environment, I've been accused of those things that you complain about. And it made no sense whatsoever. Apparently, our formalization of the stakes setting process should have broken the game and made it un-fun for us (because of something Ron said about stakes once, on some fancy forum). It was supposed to diminish fictional detail, or something like that, while the effect we witnessed in play was exactly the opposite: our focus on detail became much stronger. As I see it, PTA played by the book sucks; we fixed the game.

QuoteI don't really feel I understand what you get out of this sort of play.

Here's what I get out of this sort of play.

Out of Burning Empires, I get frustration. I get nothing at all out of it. That's why I left the game, played some 4e and Capes instead. When I'm not getting anything out of the game, and it doesn't seem I can get anything worth the trouble, I don't play the game. I move on. However, the rest of that group was apparently getting something out of that game, enough to grit their teeth and stay in the campaign for six months despite their frustration with all sorts of stuff. I don't really understand what that was.

Out of Mouse Guard, I consistently get a strong sense of tension and accomplishment. At some point around the fifth or sixth session, I also started getting the sense of powerful dramatic resolutions, somewhat similar to watching a good movie. There was also some sense of the in-game reality solidifying, a bit like what I used to get playing ADOM, but I wouldn't return to the game fot this alone.

Out of those games that were like your Liquid example, I was getting very little, if anything. For instance, I recall this convention game of Crystalicum run by a relatively accomplished rpg scenario writer, perhaps five or six years ago. It was exactly like that session you describe in your AP. The game felt so bland that for me, the only way not to leave the table was to entertain myself with some forced acting and humor. The guy was totally ruining my fun since the very beginning. However, it seems the reverse was not true. After the session I was praised for my excellent role-playing (read: acting). It was baffling. I wouldn't exactly characterize talking in a funny voice and applying the single mannerism I came up with to every encountered situation as fun. More like "funny". Gameplay itself felt severly impoverished, though, or rather non-existent.

Actually, I wouldn't characterize that experience as "game" in the first place. It felt like some sort of storytelling/acting exercise.

By the way, I've run a game for that GM once. Perhaps an hour into the session, it fizzled. The scene screamed "social conflict" to me, so I invoked the resolution procedure. When I asked the guy what he wants to get out of the scene, his answer was: "Uh, I just want to throw some entertaining one-liners". A few minutes later he suddenly found some real-life excuse to politely retreat from the game. We never played together again.

So, see, I feel that I understand what sort of gaming you describe, even though I don't feel I understand what you get out of it. However, I'm not convinced that you understand the sort of gaming that I'm describing, never mind what I get out of it.

Here's my AP from Yuuyake Koyake. It's longish and relatively detailed, as it happens to be with most my reports, so it might be hard to stomach. However, it describes a mood heavy game played with some of those BE/MG players. Probably something relatively close to that Liquid AP of yours. It also describes my frustration with the impoverished gameplay. Too bad the only poster who responded seemed to be focusing on tangentials.

Callan S.

I don't think it's different cultures in different countries, except perhaps in how some are more insulated from others cultural trends. I think it's cultures within the roleplay hobby, what gets passed onto new people when they are introduced.

I think some people find the really oomphy part of play is when they come to a point of compromise and the game stops absolutely until they do. And they love this crunch moment, do or die and that everyone must come together to get it working, or something like that. Having a 'default' would remove what they game for entirely. Them honing their group dynamics to work out a compromise consistently IS play, for them. That's where the game of it is, for them. Them trying to work on group dynamics fixing is like someone else trying to help you with your chess strategies. The strategy of play is all centered in group dynamics management.

Filip Luszczyk


I don't know. I don't quite see how this sort of social crunch aligns with the mechanical crunch for those people. In games like BE or MG specifically, there's quite an excessive amount of the latter. It feels strikingly illusory. It sounds like very basic and sketchy procedures would do. Why have so elaborate procedures for everything else?


QuoteYou talk about the ambiguous outcomes as if they are bad things and to me, they are what makes DoW fun.

It's not about outcomes. Outcomes are fine. Those outcome examples you enumerate later in the thread - we had outcomes like that in various games, with various methods of resolution.

It's about the process of getting there. My problem is all about that moment between knowing the mechanical result of the mini-game and knowing the final outcome. It's like a grain of sand in the cogs of an otherwise well-working machine.

QuoteThat is like a group complaining because they lost hit points in a battle.  If their arguments lost Body of Argument, they have to compromise.

I don't think it's similar.

For instance, this is what happens when you've lost hit points in battle. It's a very concrete, immediate and well defined effect. If you lose hit points in battle, you have to deal with it. No buts.

A few weeks ago, in preparation for that upcoming Jihad campaign, I've tested BW's fight rules with a friend. Before that, I've been afraid those rules might prove needlessly complex, like stuff I've seen in BE. As it turns out, the rules were very fun. I definitely like them more than those abstract conflicts in Mouse Guard. I like it how the scripting and resolution was so very graphical. After one or two volleys, looking at the script alone was enough to know what was going on, and on a pretty detailed level. Combatants move around, trying to position optimally for their weapons, adjust their stances, there's some pushing and disarming and hitting the opponent with the hilt. All sorts of fighty things can happen. There's a pretty slick procedure for figuring out where you hit your opponent. We are instructed how to check whether the blow gets deflected by armor, how badly it harms the combatant and how it affects his morale.

It's all very playable, and it's all in the game. Options and immediate outcomes to deal with. No buts.

This is what happens when you lose hit points in a battle.

With compromises, there's this out of game moment when I have to come up with some numbers and tell you how many hit points you should deduct from your total. Also, the scale is vague and how we fought doesn't translate to hit points loss, it only inspires us in our assessment. For me 5 hit points sounds adequate, but for you, it's way too much. "Now come on, you've been stabbed five times, that should be just about right! Why do you think being stabbed consecutively in the same body part shouldn't count?"

Daniel B

I know I'm not a smart guy, so 85% of this thread has gone WAY over my head. However, I have a tiny suggestion.. maybe you'll find it useful.

Filip, this issue is so much larger than RPGs. Getting a bunch of vastly different people with vastly different opinions to reach an agreement is plain human psychology. I know you posted the thread here because you're interested in solutions as they relate to RPGs, but I find getting to the heart of the issue gives me a much clearer perspective. Doing your own research on the subject online or at a library might spark some inspiration on what you can do with Mouse Guard. I'm planning to do precisely the same thing, incorporating leadership skill-training and team-building structures into the GM's guide for my own game, so that the guy running the show will be subtly nudged towards running a better show, more often.

That said, this is not an attempt to shut the thread down. As much trouble as I'm having following it, it is interesting.
Arthur: "It's times like these that make me wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was little."
Ford: "Why? What did she tell you?"
Arthur: "I don't know. I didn't listen."

Callan S.

Quote from: Filip Luszczyk on March 09, 2010, 05:37:51 AMI don't know. I don't quite see how this sort of social crunch aligns with the mechanical crunch for those people. In games like BE or MG specifically, there's quite an excessive amount of the latter. It feels strikingly illusory. It sounds like very basic and sketchy procedures would do. Why have so elaborate procedures for everything else?
Because those rules, and whether they are followed, and how much, and how the wording is interpreted, and how much we follow what rules Jack wants now cause we followed what rules Jill wanted before...it is the actual chips, points and currency of the social dynamics game. The needlessly baroque rules allow there to be more social dynamics currency.