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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 74 - most online ever: 843 (October 22, 2020, 11:18:00 PM)
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Author Topic: [SS / TWoN] Refreshment and direct antagonism  (Read 7773 times)
Paolo D.
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Posts: 78


« on: August 28, 2010, 05:02:05 AM »

In this other thread we was talking about refreshment.

Eero, defining a refresh, said:
Quote
Clear signs of the refreshing nature of a scene are if it's an empty beat in the plot, it's sympathetic, if the SG gets to introduce new fictional elements without immediate antagonism, and if the character lets his hair down and does things he might later regret.

So, Ezio wrote this example...
Quote
Robert is playing his character, Conan, end he's in a refresh scene... say he's refreshing Instinct
We all know how Conan refresh his Instinct: he's in a stinky tavern, drunk like a baboon, gloating about stealing the Eye of Gungrun from his temple, with a wench under each arm, one blonde, one brunette.
I, as the story guide, know what to do: the door slams open, the temple guards storm into the room, accusing Conan to be the sacrilegious thief.

...and Eero:
Quote
Your example is a bit incomplete in that we don't know why the SG is introducing the temple guards. There are essentially two legit reasons: either the SG wants to start a new scene with a bang right after the Refresh (either a "you fight guards" scene or "you wake up in jail" scene, doesn't matter), or he wants to bring in a chance at a Vigor refresh via a harmless tavern brawl. So if the guards are boisterous comic drunks Conan bests with ease (perhaps a simple unresisted Ability check, failure signifying that Conan is bested himself, but to no ill effect), then that's just a typical Vigor refreshing scene.

Bold is mine.

My question is: if in a refreshment the Story Guide can't do immediate antagonism (he would ruin the refreshing nature of the scene), how can he call in the guards to defeat Conan, take him and throw him in jail? I think that this is immediate antagonism (and maybe a bit deprotagonizing too).

Maybe it's just my personal taste about this sort of things, but I've got the feeling that this is not a correct refreshment scene...

...however, the "you fight guard" option would be good for me: Conan let his guard down in the tavern, allowing the guards to reach him, then, CUT: the refreshment scene is over, and in the next one we'll play the conflict "Conan VS Guards" as always (because a fight with serious consequences is immediate antagonism). But "you wake up in jail" is very different, as I wrote up here.

So I thought: "Why don't ask Eero?" ;-)
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2010, 09:25:13 AM »

Conan getting thrown in jail is a valid refreshment scene. It goes like this:

GM: What are you doing for your refresh, Conan?
Player: Why, I'm going to drink up and make merry, for tomorrow we may all die.
GM: Sounds good to me. You meet an interesting outlander named Ezio, who first tries to cheat you in dice but then teams up with you in a valiant effort to map out the town's tavern selection for a tourist guide you think up somewhere in between the fifth wine bottle and the first keg of northern ale, but definitely before the dancing girls join your tavern-crawl.
Player: That's Vigour and Instinct refresh, I take it? Conan leaves the scribing to his new best friend, but he's very studious about scouting the taverns.
GM: Quite. Next scene, you both wake up in jail after your drunken binge.

One of the things you can do with a refresh scene is to frame the character into a difficulty that is both credible and sympathetic regarding the character's human nature. As I phrase it in the SS text, the character is letting his hair down, the player is giving the SG a tacit permission to introduce a sequence of events where the character simply acts foolishly in a human way; this is implied by the request for a refresh scene, for the nature of refresh is such that the character cannot really control himself: if his superego stays firmly in control, as represented by the player's better judgment, then it's not really a refreshment scene.

(The above is not to say that a player cannot make "bad choices" for his character, nor does it mean that a bad choice must imply a refreshment scene. It's just one feature of refresh, to be used or not as a tool of dramatic coordination. If putting Conan into jail is a necessity for him to encounter the dramatic substance you have in mind, a refresh scene is where you can do it without fuzz.)

What I wrote earlier about the soldiers meant to point towards the above sort of situation: if the soldiers are simply intended as a segue between the tavern scene and the jail scene, then there's no need for a conflict in between: the SG can say that sorry Conan, you're too drunk to resist effectively, off you go to the stocks to hear what the fat merchant wants for springing you out of slave caleer duty. The soldiers are just scenery that can be skipped entirely, just like I did above in the dialogue. On the part of the player this may be considered a strong suggestion: he does have some leeway for negotiation, but I'd suggest that if he finds the situation credible he should honor the spirit of the refresh and play along until Conan sobers up and regains his head.

As I mentioned earlier, it's also possible that the SG intended a real conflict to happen here: he does not know whether Conan gets captured or not, but it's crucial to find out because many NPC activities and the fate of the Eye of Gungrun depends on it; perhaps even Conan himself is threatened with death or other important setback. In this case the SG doesn't really have a choice, he needs to run a conflict after the refresh or before it. Personally, I would go with before: Conan tries to refresh, but the temple guards are hot on his heels, and he's interrupted. I'd only allow Conan to get a refresh here if we'd established that he's slipped away from his enemies and thus safe for the moment.

Although both types of fights with guards might end up with Conan in jail, the difference between the meanings of these variant scenes is crucial: if Conan goes into jail after a refresh, the move was only legitimate if the SG intended this as an opening into a new, interesting situation. This can be an angle on an existing story or something entirely new, but it can't be active, hostile NPC activity. If Conan goes to jail because of a lost conflict all bets are off: the SG might have some exciting new story in mind, but it might as well be that Conan will face some real tragedy due to this loss.

It is entirely possible that we're perceiving the example situation differently because we have different expectations of what happens when Conan goes to jail. I have this idea that a typical Conan story may quite easily begin with him in jail or go into a lengthy jail episode before Conan busts out or earns his way to freedom. Perhaps he's put into some exciting adventure as part of a slave caravan and earns his freedom by saving the life of his new owner, or he gets the chance to get out of jail by agreeing to do something dangerous and politically charged for some scheming mysterious stranger, whatever. It's like, Sherlock Holmes gets a new case by having some poor wretch appear on his doorstep, but Conan gets his by drinking all his money and waking up in chains.

A better example I use regarding refreshes and how they can lead to aggressive scene framing is the "you wake up in bed next to a strange woman" scene. That's the same exact principle, but perhaps more clearly a sympathetic and credible development: our hero likes to party hard and isn't averse to the company of the ladies, so it's no surprise if we find him in a strange bed the morning after. Most importantly, the character's superego did not make the choice to end up there: he might later regret the things he did when he let his hair down. This regret angle is important because it signals player buy-in, which is why I'd suggest that a Story Guide should only use an aggressive frame like this when it's both credible and sympathetic: the player needs to agree with you that this is something his character might well do when he gets a little too relaxed.

Of course using this technique depends on the campaign and the players. I personally don't have much sympathy for weak-kneed players who come into the game with the intent to never have their character be affected by the world they live in: SS is not a good game for puppetry, you need to allow your character to have his weak human moments as well as the strong ones. Still, there's no need to provoke for the sake of provocation, and you can be wrong as SG: if the player denies the scene because his character never would go with a strange woman or never would drink so much his memory fails, then you've misjudged the character and need to think up something else. Normal scene framing in that regard.
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Paolo D.
Member

Posts: 78


« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2010, 04:33:43 AM »

Hi! Sorry for taking so long to reply :-)

Actually, I totally agree that my misunderstanding of the example was here:

It is entirely possible that we're perceiving the example situation differently because we have different expectations of what happens when Conan goes to jail. I have this idea that a typical Conan story may quite easily begin with him in jail or go into a lengthy jail episode before Conan busts out or earns his way to freedom. Perhaps he's put into some exciting adventure as part of a slave caravan and earns his freedom by saving the life of his new owner, or he gets the chance to get out of jail by agreeing to do something dangerous and politically charged for some scheming mysterious stranger, whatever. It's like, Sherlock Holmes gets a new case by having some poor wretch appear on his doorstep, but Conan gets his by drinking all his money and waking up in chains.

(bold is mine)

Simply enough, my "Conan-related culture" was different (and very poor too).

It's all very much clear to me now that I'm reading the other example, the one about the women. I agree with your post in every single word.

Thank you for your patience ;-D
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