What are my reasonable options?

Started by czipeter, January 29, 2012, 03:25:53 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


My experience is as bad as it is vivid. I hope I can recall much of the table ephemera without too much judgment.

Social setup:

The game itself was preceded by a rather longish (2 and a half hours table talk which is rather joking, kidding, teasing each other. True that I don't really like this. (It's one of the main reasons of leaving them in the first place.) During this we had to decide what to play, and how to form the two groups (some can't imagine a game that can get the attention of 9 people, I think).
There were 4 players and a GM. Me and the GM haven't gamed together and haven't met each other more than once. Me and one of the other players were new to this campaign but the others had only one session before. All the other contacts are more alive. The GM guy was a bit morose, he complained about other things from his daily life.
The game lasted for about 5 hours with one pizza break.
The book(s) were Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition. I don't think that game has a clearish or logical text (like some standard options making sense only if some optional rules are used, and so on), but I was sure, we would use only half of it and that I would get some savage glances if I corrected someone referencing the aforementioned book. Ok, sometimes I did state my view of a rule--I can't live with not being understood the least. Another mistake was probably that I was expecting the so much feared trad game, so I got it. I didn't know what to do and I did fear the social consequences of asking. (Well, this last sentence looks like this is my current definition of a bad / trad session.) You know, "real roleplayers" don't ask such silly questions. This phenomenon and the inability of expressing ourselves about playing an RPG dominates the group.

Transcript or the like:

This will be my first attempt at describing an actual play experience in English (not being a native speaker), so please don't judge too harshly. I hope, this will be at least decipherable for most of you. And if not, please ask!
The group formed and everybody had characters as this outcome was fairly expected. The game started, as I asked the GM if I can tell him about my character. "OK," he said but at the same time, he asked for my char sheet. I said my PC, an elf Seaman (seawoman, rather) is about to prove herself to her family in this land far from the sea which is otherwise her workplace. I thought about her mission as searching for some ancient secret of this city of the GMs creation. I thought of this as something catchy for the GM (a character hook) as I remembered some mysterious rising of the city's economy from some previous description of the GM.
The same happened to the other new player--he introduced his Marine. (A not too vicious ne'er-do-well largely, dealing mostly in gambling and gossip and evading work.)
I have thought of it before and here I offered the other new player and the GM that our PCs could be acquaintances, traveling partners as they could came from the same city. The GM and the fellow player came to the decision of "they were serving on the same ship as well." I didn't want to waste more words on why it is or why it isn't appropriate if we know each other, but at the same time, I felt not too much convinced about how the human never-do-well could get on a strict and delicate elf trading ship.
I wanted to give a reason why my character is with the other boat folk: she wanted a talker for herself among humans, as she left the elf district of her hometown and thus the protection of its laws.
In realty I wanted to place them together to help playing with each other and to give more sense to further scenes featuring both of us.
The PCs then arrived in town and heard about a tavern from criers, and we followed the line there like good participationists, just to see one other pc there.  I decided to take him as a guide to my pc as well. Before we went further to follow my characters mission, the new guy -- let's call him the shepherd, as he was one-- told malicious lies and half-truths about halflings of the city, then threw a mug at one of them dancing merrily on a table. I am not sure whether he wanted to merely show his character to us or wanted us and the environment (the GM) to really respond to him. Not much happened. (I thanked God for the GM not grabbing the oh-so-obligatory bar brawl scene, but now I think it could've been a relief if done well (meaning not knowing the ending before the start--asking rather then merely stating).)
The shepherd PC told us about some men-with-horns as well. For me it wasn't clear that the player is inventing this as well as the former cannibal halfling conspiracy or this is true. If I did know that interesting story (PC shepherd and his family and the city outskirts are threatened by beastmen) awaits there, I would've reasoned that the two foreigner PCs pay for their city guide by scaring off some deers or bandits with horned helmets.
Then despite the evening we went to the old district outside the current plank wall, and my PC could see the ruins of some old houses. I wasn't without prejudice but I am pretty sure the GM responded to my elf being on a mission, searching for an age old secret pretty uninterested. Like I was asking questions which were already answered. Like I was interested in the static picture what he has drawn while I felt like "Nice. What else?" or in other words "Nice. What could this become?" These questions were unconscious and buried deep, but looking back now, I am pretty sure they were there.
Then the GM switched nicely to the PC who wasn't with the others, and they played through some situations. Sad, that I wasn't feeling empowered to ask about the meaning of those doings, but even retrospectively, I can't see too much of an advancement in the story of that PC either. Anyways, he bought rope and have spoken to a man about a crystal piece with an interesting story (for some people, not really that PC, perhaps to the player, yes) and these scenes were really vivid as were the others (cool funny voices, atmospheric scenery).
The next day my seawoman and her marine travel companion were led to the mine of the city by the shepherd. The area of the mine was closed from the masses but the guard told us names of people who can grant us access to the place.
Back in the city we met the other (elven) PC. I decided to react positively with my character to the elf in the all-but-elves bustling city. The shepherd went back shepherding and the other three in the same tavern as the day before. I tried further to show my character being elfy by conversing with the other in their own language and I wanted to get chances for advancing my story by asking him about old places in the city.
In the same time the shepherd found his child missing. His dog quickly led the shepherd in the forest. The scene's foundation was nice: the dog lying motionless, the boy hiding deep in a small hole between rocks, two beastmen attacking him while he was defending himself with a shephard's staff. The PC came to the scene and found this. One beastman turned to him and they fought. I feel the fight was rigged, but facts are facts: the sheperd and his dog from the edge of its grave defeated the first beastman. The second had a similar fate. Dog and boy were sent to the veterinary and the sheperd himself cut one beast head and took it to the city where everyone could see (even the other PCs), that he was true. And an effin hero, by the way.
One group of the militia and city watch went out with him to see the beasts with their own eyes. The PCs joined to help. (I haven't really thought about it before, that monster watching was their thing.)
In the forest, we only found their cave but only one little shape (let's call it ratman, but we called it "halfling-sized" at the table) entered that then some ritual from the inside closed the entrance. Also, there was a uniquely ugly smell from the cavern.
(Side note: Perception checks were permeating everything during the session--I felt they kinda said that the GM wants to tell you something, or that something is effin' hidden from you, and I don't think the roll (I mean the numbers) really mattered and I was frustrated because in my opinion I with my character experienced only the latter ("un-opportunity", which my mind sadly translates to "You see a big bad you can't really do anything about this. What do you do about it?" (Now I see, I could've asked: "Hmm, well, what can I do about it? Please offer me some example ways, at least for inspiration." Next time, I will do this more. If I go again at all.)))
The little expedition returned to the city and everybody went home. The shepherd to his cottage, the elves to the males hosts (my PC wanted to meet them and ask them as well about the past of this city) and the marine to a tavern where he could gamble.
The marine diced, 5 Gamble checks ensued. Rather bad rolls on both sides, and as the rules of the resolution were not voiced (or written anywhere), I don't know if the GM cheated or not when that player won a medium amount of money. He became the star of the night and became drunk freely because spotting a cheater. He got a cheap room here for the night.
The elves have given rather the same advice to my PC as the former folks regarding finding the oldest things in the city.
At night, the GM moved rather harshly. The shepherd had a spooky scene, when his dog was growling at the door, where as they found out nobody stood. Instead he found the gate of his barn open. There he finally found a pair of eyes glittering. The ratman cut him somehow -- not a nasty wound but the blade was poisoned. Failed check and he become unconscious. (Later patched up by a doctor.)
The elven PCs woke up at night because of some thud from the level above them. They run up the stairs while shouting the others names but nobody answered. When entered a room with a slightly open door, they found the bedroom with an open window through which a cloaked ratman was climbing out. The PCs tried to shoot it with no success as it disappeared in the night streets only leaving two dead bodies with cut throats (in the follow-up the doctor found that the wounds were poisoned as well) and its unique stench.
Finally both the Marine with the hangover and the shepherd found a straight, horizontal cut over their brows on their foreheads.
Game ended. I caught a small talk after it: the shepherd's player asked the GM if this is the main storyline--the GM answered something along the line of "Well, It's mostly about you (meaning the PCs), and where your characters are going." To be honest, I am a bit proud of that young guy who asked is playing in some of my games as well.

Any hipotheses, ideas, suggestions, questions are welcome. I am glad I finally took these things to the Forge, as I think my feelings about this session are relevant to my gaming in general.
My real name is Peter.



I'm guessing by "reasonable options" you're asking what would make this game more fun?   

It sounds like the GM is running what I'm starting to call "Meandering Illusionism" - where people imagine that if they reduce the rate at which the GM pushes come, that it's no longer railroad-y behavior.  Unfortunately, because nothing else interesting is happening in play, what happens is that no one knows what play is supposed to be about.  ("Look, there's a bar fight, which produces a goal to strive towards! YAY!")

This kind of play often devolves into Zilchplay because without clear goals of what play is about, and no indication by play itself, people just are kinda... there.

The reasonable option is to bow out or suggest playing a different game.  Given that it sounds like the social situation is not great for open discussion, bowing out is probably the better choice.

(on a side note, the Shepard character's antics might be best explained by Ron's post here, listed under A and D: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=29073.msg271730#msg271730 - which goes hand in hand with this kind of play).



Hi Chris,

Thank you very much for the reading and the analysis. I think your suggested option is really one of the best and I am good at using it, too. Even so, I am really interested if I can get my fun out of this. What could be the other peoples payoff for such a game? Are they more generally accepting or they like something in this one?

My real name is Peter.