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Title: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 04, 2006, 06:25:56 PM
Warning: I've included a lot of preamble to provide proper context.  If you want, skip it and scroll down to "the point" (in bold and caps below).  Then if you're interested, you can come back here for context.

PREAMBLE

A few friends and I are playing a drifted game based on White Wolf's Werewolf: the Apocalypse. 

Matt is the GM; Meg, John, Paul and I are the players. 

We've all played White Wolf games before, and I think my friends have all retained similar system impressions to mine: GM arbitration determines when you need to roll, what your difficulty number is, and how many successful rolls will get you what level of in-game success; the Effectiveness numbers you've paid for determine how many dice you roll.  Target and success #s are somewhat intuitive for us (usually diff. 6, 3 success rolls = complete success), and the issue of when we roll for something vs. when we rely on our speaking/acting/thinking ability is totally random, depending on the GM's plan and mood.

I don't know if I've ever looked at the rulebook beyond character creation; Meg hasn't, and John and Paul haven't in years.

So, the Premise of the game was communicated clearly by the GM.  "I want to run a game where you guys play 4 different kinds of shapeshifters, and come together to try to serve the good of all shapeshifters.  You'll go on missions to fight local threats, which will be threats to specific shapeshifters, to all shapeshifters, or just plain Evil Stuff.  Oh, and you all have very negative associations with Vampires."  All us players said, "Sure, sounds fun."  As we came up with our character concepts, we occasionally adjusted things to fit with our GM's plan.  The power worshipped by my character was kind of similar to a power Matt wanted to use as an enemy, so I had to tweak my concept a bit, but I didn't mind.

Mission 1 was to rescue a site that's holy to shapeshifters from some unknown bad thing.  We went in, found Set-worshipping vampires, killed them, were thanked by a spirit, and got a few Character Points (I got one extra for figuring out how to open a magic door).

Since then, Matt's offered us this name and that news item, etc., etc. as either potential missions, or sources of info that led to potential missions.  The player characters would argue about what to do next and then pick something.  It was hard to tell whether the decisions were based on what the players thought sounded most fun or what the player characters would logically find to be most relevant.  Personally, I wanted to uncover more of the metaplot we'd already embarked on, and I decided my character wanted to pursue an already-established source of danger to shapeshifters.

LAST SESSION

Our most recent session was a mission to destroy a cult who wanted to summon a demon that would destroy the world (or at least part of Brooklyn).  Matt decided that a few Werewolves would help us attack the cultists, and they'd meet with us at dusk.  I had a quick solo session in which my character figured out how to get into the cultists' lair.  At this point, my character's motives and mine were identical: Find the best way to defeat the badguys.  I decided that using Meg's character's resources, we should get some explosives, go early (before it got too close to the time for their ritual, or late enough for Vampires to rise), and collapse the badguys' underground lair on them.  Paul's character picked up some remote cameras to place in the lair, hopefully verifying that the explosion had successfully triggered a collapse.  John's character convinced the werewolves to meet earlier with us, so we could recruit them for this new plan.

We followed through on our plan.  Once the bombs were set, we entered the enemy lair.  Finding an altar and some sleeping vampires, we decided that decapitating them was a safer way to ruin their plan than hoping the bombs would bury them under rubble.  Once we set to it, a bunch of nightmare monsters materialized and nearly killed us all.  We barely achieved victory.

The nightmares afflicted us with growing levels of fear.  Matt handed out penalties to our die-rolls, and told us things like, "you're barely holding it together."  Paul nicely embellished this by describing his character's posture and expression ("like a desperate cornered animal protecting her cubs, but wounded and crazed"), and resorted to using his familiar claws rather than the much-more-combat-effective magic dagger he'd been given.  I realized that given my character's nightmare (being plugged into a life support machine for eternity) and views (death = good), the appropriate action once I was down to my final points of Willpower (the stat the monsters were damaging) was to commit suicide.  Fortunately for the sake of our continued play experience (I like my character, the others do too, and we might have lost the battle without him), I never got below 2 Willpower points.

After the session, Matt told me that he'd spent a lot of time creating the vampires.  His plan had been to have us fight them, not nightmare creatures.  He explained to me that when I offered the plan of going over early and bombing the place, "I realized, well, gee, there's no reason that WOULDN'T work..."  Of course, he'd still had plenty of "outs" -- Meg's character might have taken several hours to get in touch with a demolitions guy, the werewolves might have been busy doing something until dusk.  It's been established that we players don't mind when Matt "rigs" the game a little bit, and even a transparent and flimsy reason for, "no, you have to wait until night" would have been accepted.  Perhaps Matt wanted to reward me for coming up with a good strategy by letting me follow through on it -- I haven't asked.  The first words out of his mouth, though ("no reason that wouldn't work"), are telling, I think.

JOHN'S CHARACTER PORTRAYAL

Our cycle tends to run:
Everyone shows up, GM reminds us where we left off, our characters share info and discuss what to do next, we pick a mission, we complete the mission, play ends.

The "share and discuss" portion is sometimes a tedious process of arguing about what to do, although once that un-fun dynamic develops, the first person to assert a strong preference is generally acceded to so things keep moving.  Other times, though, the "share and discuss" is an enjoyable opportunity to communicate in-character and play our weird beliefs.  All four players have had their fun moments, discussing topics from technology to flight to cleanliness to entropy.

John's character is extreme.  He was born and raised as a lizard.  He's spent most of his life in the Amazon.  Most of his kin hate technology.  He thinks all shapeshifters are capable of getting along together to serve the Earth Mother's benevolent purpose.  He thinks forces of death and order are not without their positive sides, they're just out of balance.  He's played these views with great passion during discussions with my "death is good" nut and Meg's atheist tech geek.

When success is on the line, though, John's decisions are quite predictable -- whatever's most effective.  The results follow a pattern illustrated by this example:

During a time crunch, he once tried to convey a concept, in-character, by starting with, "You've seen the Matrix, right?"  Paul and I instantly gave him odd looks, and Matt yelled, "John!"
"What, Matt?"
"Has your character seen the Matrix?"
"Uh, well, he could have..."
"When?"
"Recently.  He's been trying to understand his new environment."
(Skeptical looks all around.)
"Would he understand it even if he did see it?"
"Oh... probably not.  Good point."

Sometimes this is followed by a second, more character-appropriate attempt.  When it's done well, everyone at the table smiles in approval, and John sometimes throws in something like, "Sorry about the Matrix, I hadn't though ti through."

On days where someone's mean about calling him on such a discrepancy, or John's not in a good mood, this can go less well.  "Matt, you know what I want to explain to the guy, can't we just say my character explains it?!"

THE POINT

I'm an aspiring RPG designer, and I've been trying to better my understanding of the Big Model, in hopes of helping me make the most fun game I can make, for an audience whose tastes mirror (or at least heavily overlap with) my own.

My understanding with respect to the Werewolf game is that we are engaged in play that is largely Gamist.  The system in place to support this is largely one of informal, verbal agreements about what game time will be spent doing.  Plus we all have a variety of neat powers and resources to strategize with, and a combat system that sometimes provides interesting choices in battle.

Our desires, however (at least mine, Matt's and Paul's), require more than challenges and performance.  Part of what we require from roleplaying is a certain quality of the Shared Imaginary Space, such that it remains plausible and somewhat vivid.  I've proposed to my fellow players that the reason we like RPGs better than video games is that our achievements in RPGs acquire a certain resonance by virtue of existing in an intensely imagined space.  The experience is much closer to "I was there, I did this thing" than one gets from succeeding at a board game.  My fellow players all responded, "Yeah, definitely."

Now, as a designer, I have plenty of ideas on purely Gamist system -- resources, combat options, action order, modeling of physics -- but very few on system to provide the attributes of the SIS that I like to conduct my Gaming in.

So, my point is that there should be such a system.  I would like to help make it, and I think most of the people I've played with would like to play it.  A game where you can both outwit the labyrinth of death-traps and feel like this imaginary experience mattered in a way that winning Monopoly doesn't.

AM I JUST TALKING ABOUT A GAM-SIM HYBRID DESIGN?

I dunno.  Maybe.  I can find Sim if I look for it:

Paul's decision to drop the dagger was Simulationist -- enhancing his enjoyment as an exploration of Character (this is what my character does when in the grip of terror!), and my and Matt's enjoyment as an exploration of Situation (this is what fighting monsters with terror powers does to someone!) or perhaps Setting (the servants of the Evil of this world are terrible indeed!).

My suicide thought was Simulationist in the same way.

John's apology for using character-inappropriate knowledge was a nod (sincere or not) to a Simulationist value, preserving others' right to dream uninterfered. 

Matt's comment about, "there's no reason that wouldn't work", is tantamount to a priority for exploration of Setting -- this world is a world that's consistent enough and models reality well enough to feel real.

Or, perhaps the important thing is not the fact that setting, character, and/or situation are being explored -- perhaps the important thing is not a separate Creative Agenda at all, but rather certain techniques to color the Gamist agenda. 

Personally, I'm a fan of a pretty extreme version of immersion, where no one talks out of character or departs Actor stance and the world is perfectly thought-out and sensible down through any level of investigation into how things work.  I'm not necessarily talking about taking it that far -- for now.  For now, I'm just interested in hearing what games, rules systems, informal systems, etc., have worked for others looking for the same resonance to their dungeon-crawling.


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Callan S. on November 04, 2006, 09:28:27 PM
Hi David,

How much time do you spend each session either cheering someone for a victory or tensely waiting to see whether victory will be grasped (ie, it is the main thing on your mind)? It doesn't show in this account.


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 04, 2006, 11:20:24 PM
Callan,

Let me see...  Usually, individual feats of creative ingenuity are praised with:
1) out-of-character "Nice!" or "Good call!" comments
2) in-character "Yeah, that's an excellent idea!" comments
3) general spike in enthusiasm when following up on or responding to the feat of ingenuity
Sometimes all of the above, sometimes only very, very subtle versions of the above (looks, mostly) -- occasionally, none of the above, if other players are too preoccupied, but that's very rare.  Not a lot of time is spent congratulating individuals while the game is being played.  After the game's over, discussion tends to revolve around what to do next, speculations on metaplot, and non-gaming topics.  Every once in a while, though, extra kudos will be offered for something someone did (usually an inspiration or creative tactical solution).  Also, enjoyment of others' play will be expressed: "Man, that thing almost killed you!  Good thing you rolled awesome on your last swing!"

Group success in the mission tends to "end the game on a good note", with many, "Yay, we did it!" comments and the occasional, usually subtle "nice job, you!"  Again, this doesn't generally comprise a large amount of time -- maybe ten minutes after 4 hours of play.

As for tensely waiting to see whether victory will be grasped?  Well, "tensely" is most visible in combats with uncertain odds.  It's also often visible when creeping into new scary places. 

There's a more pervasive and general sense of, once we decide Enemy X must be stopped, waiting to see if we'll eventually wind up pulling it off.  "If we don't stop him, he'll do this thing, and it'll be horrible!"  But this usually isn't tense until combat is near or threatening, or until some specific deadline is about to be reached.

I feel like I've answered your literal question, but I hope I haven't missed your point.  Please let me know if I can clarify further.


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 05, 2006, 01:44:52 AM
I should also mention that the game is generally fun for everyone.  Not amazingly, inspiringly, can't-wait-til-next-session fun, but everyone leaves happy.  The occasional indecision on mission selection or tiff with John's acting are about as bad as it gets.  (Note: We're all friends who enjoy hanging out and communicate fairly well -- it's at least possible that the positivity is more a result of that than of the way we're playing.)


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Frank T on November 05, 2006, 06:47:27 AM
Hi David,

In this thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=21684.0), Ron Edwards did a GNS analysis of a RIFTS game. You will find a lot of points clarified there, especially concerning the relationship between Gamist and Simulationist play. For more on Simulationist play, I also humbly recommend my own thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=21258.0) about a Vampire/Sabbat game, with some very insightful comments by Adam Dray.

- Frank


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 05, 2006, 06:46:56 PM
Hi there David,

I'm posting to let you know that I'm working up an extensive reply, which might include a couple of questions.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 06, 2006, 08:42:26 AM
Hi David,

Opening points - I'm presenting these in a non-debate, non-negotiable fashion. They're stated mainly to let you know where I'm coming from, to clarify a couple of things that might otherwise be confusing later in the discussion, and to forestall confused/defiant posting from third parties.

#1. You're playing a system which is effectively of your own evolution and devising over the past years, and I'll be speaking of that system itself, only. Nothing I say will pertain to Werewolf as a text or as played by anyone else. (I think this is merely reinforcing your opening points in your post.)

#2. All of your mentions of Gamism or other Creative Agenda material are stated incorrectly, about stuff that isn't CA, and otherwise off-base. For example, a decision to drop a dagger cannot be classified by CA at all. We are going to have to start from the beginning and work our dialogue up to a certain point before even mentioning CA.

#3. None of your considerations of what characters want vs. what players want are relevant to any aspect of the Big Model except perhaps Ephemera, pertaining to character portrayal, and I suspect not even that much.

#4. I chose to support the term "shared imagined space" in a very specific phrasing. It is not important that it is imaginary (as opposed to being real), but rather imagined (an action on one's part). Since it's shared as well, that means everyone must be performing a specific, communicative set of imagining-actions. I'm clarifying this because you used the word "imaginary" and because it may become important later in our discussion.

For my own clarity of understanding

Matt is the GM; the rest of group is you, Meg, John, and Paul.

Overall, what's the age range? Is anyone in the group related to anyone else? And, uh, pardon the intrusion, but what is the romantic composition within the group? It is sorta important, actually.

Who's playing which character? About 10-15 words will suffice to describe a given character; I don't want complicated back-story but rather a few key words and abilities so I can keep them straight. So far, all I know is that John is playing a lizard who shape-shifts, you have some kind of death-nut, and Meg's character is atheistic and technological. If you could give me a short powers/visual grip on each character, as well as a name, that would help a lot.

Main questions - these are all intended to give me a better view of your play-experience (with this group & game) at a larger scale than you've been describing. Without this bird's-eye-view, we can't learn anything about CA in your game. Please remember that none of these questions constitute an attack on your group or the GM; none of them conceal an "ah-ha! so you're dysfunctional!" response to a given answer.

How many missions have been played? You described the first one and the most recent one ... any others in between, and how many? How many sessions per mission - one, varies from one up (to what), or always multiple (how many)?

Does the group ever fail a mission? If so, why, and what happened?

Has a mission ever not included a fairly extensive set-piece fight?

Has a given character been straight-up beaten in a fight? Has the group as a whole been flattened/defeated in a fight? In either case, did this occur in the climactic, make-or-break fight in a given mission?

Has a player-character died through direct misapplication of strategy or other "sports type" misplays? Has any player-character ever died unexpectedly? In either case, when and how?

What personal, real-person strategy and guts are involved during conflicts during play? When someone "gets in a good one," or when a session is deemed particularly good due to character actions, what did they do? Is it possible that personal strategy and guts are not as important as providing the color and verbal/symbolic responses during a fight?

You mentioned that John is highly focused on being "most effective," but the example you gave has nothing to do with effectiveness, just with a minor choice of phrasing. Can you give an example of John being maximally effective during play, such that I get a more general idea of what you mean?

How is character improvement handled, if any? You mentioned character points as reward for the first mission. Has this persisted, and am I correct in assuming every character gets 4-5 points per mission? How much have skills and attributes and powers increased since the start of play? When, how, and why? And if so, what attention is paid to it by the real people?

Provisional thoughts so far - I'd like you to apply these to other missions that you haven't yet described to see whether they fit.

My impression is that the strongest character-decisions in your group concern tactics - choosing when to utilize a particular power, choosing how to time a particular action or to deliver some key dialogue. In other words, operating at a fairly small scale (i.e. options during a fight, perhaps some deployment right before one). Is this impression correct?

Your discussion of the pre-confrontation dialogue leads me to think that the GM is strongly-committed to a given set-piece location for a given session, and that the players are generally OK with that. In this case, your alternative plan was adopted. I noticed, however, that technically, your plan was not treated as a full alternative. You still went in to stake them. You still had a set-piece fight scene in the same locale with the nightmares. There seemed to be no option at all that simply blowing them up without any round-by-round, classic combat with indvidual foes would be sufficient. There seems to be a general understanding that a given session or mission must involve a multiple-round fight with other individuals. Do you think this impression is correct?

You guys listen to one another a lot and apparently put some effort into encouraging and validating the crucial shared part of the SIS. The GM didn't scruff you guys into the fight he'd planned, when you offered a good approach he hadn't anticipated, even though as you say, it wouldn't have been a big deal if he had. John isn't marginalized for being off-beat or weird with his character, and in fact, the rest of you appreciate the benefits of his playing in this way; when you give him feedback, everyone treats this (I think accurately) as healthy human communication rather than pushiness or intrusion.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 06, 2006, 03:03:27 PM
Frank-
Thanks for the links.  I'll give them a thorough read after I've responded to Ron's questions.


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 06, 2006, 07:39:36 PM
Ron,

Re: your opening points: I have plenty of questions on these, but I'm sure we'll get to them.  Just wanted to let you know that I've read several of your CA-concerned articles multiple times, so your efforts here to help me "get it" are both necessary and appreciated.

The group:

Matt (the GM) - age 29.  He and Paul were close friends in high school, played V:tM together. The two are still fairly close.

Meg - age 28?  She and Matt recently moved to NYC and are living together for the first time.  They've been dating about 2 years.  Meg seems to be happy to have the game occurring in her apartment one weeknight a week, but her attention to the game itself wanes from time to time (much email checking occurs).  Character: Elantrine (were-raven).  Whiny, attractive geek with extensive useful connections, a near-omniscient sentient computer, and a scientific skepticism of magic.  Fights with razor feathers in awkward bird-human form.

Paul - age 28.  He has been an on-and-off friend (and martial arts instructor) of mine and John's for 5 years.  Character: Read (were-panther).  Has various panther-ish forms which can maul with teeth and claws.  In human form, good with guns.  Suave.  Aloof but friendly.  A few magical powers he doesn't explain.

John - age 29.  One of my best friends from college, though I see him rarely these days.  Character: Shimmer (were-dragon).  Flying slashing crushing lashing dragon combat form.  Tiny lizard animal form.  Has abilities to read and impart memories, thoughts, and feelings.  Naive optimist from the jungle.

David - age 28.  That's me.  Character: Robert (were-vulture).  Flesh rotting off exposed skull in man-vulture form.  Can detect the weaknesses in things and people, cause festering wounds with beak attacks, and draw the Black Spiral to bring chaos to small areas.  Practical, cynical, dour, kills people on life support. 


Main questions
Part One: those I think I can answer right now


Sessions & goals therein (w/ results):
1) Meet up and save the cairn (success - cairn saved)
2) Investigate the evil organization (Setites) we found in the cairn (inconclusive - "something creepy is going on")
3) Interrogate an imprisoned former Setite (mixed bag - succeeded in getting scraps of info, failed to prevent assassination, mostly lost a fight, incidentally became aware of scientific study of were-creatures)
4) Followed some colorful dead-ends.  (The foaming guy doesn't know anything, but man is he foaming!)  Then, investigated scientists who capture were-creatures (success - won a fight, found they're holding a werewolf in New Jersey)
5) Make friends with werewolves by rescuing a werewolf captured by scientists (mixed - succeeded in rescuing werewolf, failed to make the rescued werewolf befriend us)
6) Investigate meeting of Setites, interfere with them (success - killed some Setites, took another one prisoner)
7) Escape dangerous area, interrogate prisoner, convince werewolves to help us stop Setites (success - got away, got some small info, a few werewolves agreed to help)
8) Attack Setite lair (success - killed vampires, rescued prisoner, demolished lair)

Qualifiers on "success" notes:
Some of our successes have come with unfortunate consequences.  In #3, Robert (me) caused a riot and jailbreak at Ryker's Island.  In #8, we collapsed the Brooklyn museum.  Also, we've often achieved a smaller degree of success than we'd hoped -- small scraps of info tentatively pointing somewhere, rather than conclusive evidence of what's going on.

Climactic combats:
Session #2 included no combat.  Session #5 included a dramatic confrontation, but we mostly succeeded via clever negotiation on the part of Read (Paul).  Shimmer (John) accomplished still more via a dramatic fight.  Session #7 began with Shimmer fighting something, but included no other combat.  Sessions 1, 4, 6 and 8 all included set-piece combats.

Losing:
Mainly, our losses in combat have come at the expense of individuals during group battles.  (E.g., Robert getting his butt kicked by a Nightmare but then being saved by Shimmer.) 

The purest failure was probably when a wereboar killed our Setite informant in Session #3.  We fought to stop it, failed, got fairly beat up, and then it teleported away.  This occurred during the middle of the session.

The one player-character death occurred in Session #1.  Shimmer got hurt badly in the climactic fight.  He was then healed a little bit, and leaped back in.  He unwittingly wound up next to a particularly powerful opponent, who killed him.  So, it was a combination of high-risk strategy and bad luck.  Immediately after the fight, an NPC took Shimmer away to be resurrected.  Shimmer came back quite shaken, having been pulled away from some version of heaven.

Character improvement:
3-8 points per session is the norm.  John's had a lot of risky solo ventures (mostly fights) and has generally been rewarded with extra points.  Matt also stated an intent to have a "bonus point" each session go to someone who solves a certain puzzle, but I don't know if this has actually been happening. 

No one has spent these points in a way that's memorable to me personally.  I think Meg made her character a bit more durable, Paul might have bumped his firearm skill, John's acquired a cheap knowledge or two.

John and I are saving up points to spend on cool magical powers.  (I am slightly annoyed at the system Matt's preserved from Werewolf, in which cool magical powers must be bargained for from spirits, and spirits must be contacted in a certain way by a person of a certain Level, which is defined by some combo of three stats on the sheet that never get referenced.  Matt doesn't seem to love it either, but it's familiar and comfortable for him and he has no inclinations to design his own system.)  The powers I want are:
- some potent form of intimidation (because it violates my aesthetic for the character when NPCs try to blow him off or push him around)
- hiding the taint of the Wyrm (so werewolves don't think I'm evil as soon as they smell me)
- greater ability to hit with my beak attack (cuz being the least effective guy in combat gets old after a while)

When someone "gets in a good one," or when a session is deemed particularly good due to character actions, what did they do?

Usually, they had a great idea or good luck on a roll or both.

Great idea: "We're under one of the few main roads in town, right?  So there's likely a water main under here, right?  I'm going to use X power to find it, Y power to open it, and Z power to use it to blast the fire monster we're fighting."  That kind of contribution gets a GREAT reaction in my games.  (Of course, the impact is reduced if it doesn't work.  If the powers require rolls to succeed, and these are failed, then the celebration of the great idea is short-lived, cuz there's still a combat situation to worry about.)  If the great idea ends the combat in victory, that's the ultimate.  Likewise for a great idea that passes the party through security into the Forbidden Zone, gets us Cool Toys, makes the mafia think they owe us a favor, etc.

The best recent example is when Read convinced a scientist to swap us a werewolf prisoner (who we came to rescue) for 4 vampire corpses (and we hate vampires).

Great luck: "I'm down to my last point of life, its next attack will very likely kill me, I need a 9 on this d10 to hit.  9!  Hooray!"  The celebration afterwards is of the vicarious thrill and dramatic success -- "that was fun to be a part of" rather than "you did something well".  (As a GM, I often take pride in those moments -- it implies that I set the challenge level well.)

Your discussion of the pre-confrontation dialogue leads me to think that the GM is strongly-committed to a given set-piece location for a given session, and that the players are generally OK with that.

Once we've chosen our direction, yes, that direction will inevitably lead us to a pre-planned set-piece location.  And indeed, we're okay with that.

In this case, your alternative plan was adopted. I noticed, however, that technically, your plan was not treated as a full alternative.

It was pretty interesting the way that played out.  It was a little hard to be clear on whether the players wanted a fight per se, but we definitely wanted some close contact with whatever was down there.  If we'd approached and seen a fight we couldn't win, I bet we'd have happily run and set off the bombs.  If the odds looked about even?  I don't know.  The NPC werewolves with the party definitely had a "let's kill vampires!" urge, so I have a feeling a fight was inevitable.  But left solely to the players?  I kind of think we would have done whatever best served our goal of "stop Setites from summoning demons", and if that was to opt out of a fight then so be it.

There seems to be a general understanding that a given session or mission must involve a multiple-round fight with other individuals. Do you think this impression is correct?

"Must" might be a little strong, but it's at least pretty close.


Main questions
Part Two: those I probably need clarification on


My impression is that the strongest character-decisions in your group concern tactics - choosing when to utilize a particular power, choosing how to time a particular action or to deliver some key dialogue. In other words, operating at a fairly small scale (i.e. options during a fight, perhaps some deployment right before one). Is this impression correct?

Please define "strongest".  I suspect the answer is "yes", but I don't 100% understand the question.

What personal, real-person strategy and guts are involved during conflicts during play?

Please define "real-person strategy and guts".

I am guessing that "real-person strategy" means making decisions to best achieve in-game goals.  "We/Our characters want to get around this rock without being seen -- should we go at noon when the guard shift changes, at dusk when the light's low, or at night when it's dark except for certain light sources?"

"Guts" I generally think of as the willingness to employ a high-risk, high-reward strategy.  "We'll go at noon.  We should have a clear dash all the way to the reactor.  Of course, if not, we'll be sitting ducks for their shooters.  Let's do it!"

If our definitions match, are these examples sufficient to answer your question?

Is it possible that personal strategy and guts are not as important as providing the color and verbal/symbolic responses during a fight?

For me, someone like John contributes to the experience of the fight simply by caring -- shaking his dice too long, staring intently at his rolls, cursing when he rolls badly.  Sometimes this is accompanied by dramatic descriptions of his character's actions, sometimes it's just "I attack him" -- and although I prefer the former, the latter is not a problem.

Does that work?  You may need to define the intended scope of "provide color & verbal/symbolic responses" for me.

As for what's most important:
The element of personal strategy (especially having great ideas with water mains) is most directly applauded and well-remembered.  I am open to the possibility, though, that some color elements are just as vital to our enjoyment.

You mentioned that John is highly focused on being "most effective," but the example you gave has nothing to do with effectiveness, just with a minor choice of phrasing. Can you give an example of John being maximally effective during play, such that I get a more general idea of what you mean?

I am not sure how much this discussion will benefit from me describing John's roleplaying style.  If you'd like, I certainly can at length.

First, though, let me say that my purpose in providing the example I did was to discuss those specific circumstances, as I thought they would be revealing of a relevant interaction amongst player priorities.  Said circumstances being:

Goal #1: communicate vital info in-game under time pressure.  John came up with a tool to facilitate successful completion of that task: reference to a movie his character hadn't seen.

Gaol #2: play your character "accurately", i.e., have them perform actions that are consistent with their mental makeup (knowledge, history, disposition, beliefs).  Exactly why this is desirable (for me and my friends, anyway) is a major topic I wish to discuss, either in this thread or some other, future one.

Quandary: So, do you go ahead and use the tool you think will work, or do you pause and weigh, "Would my character know that?" 

To do the former is, in my eyes, to play with "effectiveness" as a priority over and above "realistic character portrayal" (and whatever purposes such portrayal serves).

We can withdraw this dynamic from the current discussion if you don't think my inferred interaction of priorities is present and/or relevant.  (My misunderstanding of CA is likely to blame.)

Ps,
-David


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Callan S. on November 07, 2006, 07:18:03 PM
Hi David,

I once ran a play by post game (which are notorious for their lack of social feedback, really). The party was going to head through a quite ominous looking forest and one of the players started posting about her elf heritage and being on good terms with tree's and such like. As they went in, more ominous postings from me got more friend of the forrest postings from her.

Basically as GM I took that, but matched it against what I had in mind (elementals possessing tree bodies and being tied to nearby evil) and concluded that the trees would attack the friendly elf, despite how certain the player was of her character and the effect she'd have.

It kind of came out flat. I mean, when a sports team loses a game, it doesn't come out flat. Everyone goes 'Awww nooo!' or some expression of exasperation. In my game there was really no acknowledgement of the event.

With the setite informant or Shimmer death, what sort of responce was there then?


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 07, 2006, 11:43:23 PM
Callan-

The death of the Setite informant occurred in fairly complicated physical and dramatic circumstances that would take forever for me to recount.  If I recall correctly, the reaction was:

John - mostly frustration.  Shimmer tried hard to protect the informant from the enemy's attacks, and then throw the informant to Robert and Elantrin, who would then escort him to safety.  The informant got gored by the assassin in midair, following a disagreement with the GM about who had what sort of reach in what direction.  The assassin then teleported away, and John was doubly frustrated that Robert and Elantrin didn't help try to kill it.

Me - mostly detachment.  Based on the drama with which Matt made the assassin's rolls (look at my BIG handful of dice!) and announced his successes -- and based as well on the default GM logic of "Well, you didn't specify enough so I'm gonna assume you're not exactly where you need to be; meanwhile, the assassin is exactly where he needs to be," for the duration of the fight -- I assumed Matt was killing this informant off for plot reasons.  I have no problem with my GMs taking away my characters' resources because it fits their metaplot, but I would have prefered it to be handled "impartially" by the system -- I don't like GM intent being QUITE that obvious, and I don't like biased arbitration of physical logistics.

Meg - mild disappointment.

As for the death of John's character, Shimmer, that was kind of a big deal.  His foolish bravery of re-entering the fight while wounded seemed "very him", and as soon as the fight was over, was recounted with a mix of mockery and admiration.  We consoled John with, "that made sense, he would have done that," while also adding a quick, "maybe it wasn't the brightest move, but..."

John sputtered a bit, complained briefly about his ill fortune of landing right next to an unseen powerful enemy, might have half-heartedly called Matt a dick. 

From the instant Shimmer died, Paul and I had a sense that our high-level, healing-themed NPC ally would resurrect him.  As soon as we implied this possibility to John, he relaxed.  After some post-battle, posthumous praise, Shimmer was indeed toted away by the NPC.

When Shimmer returned, alive, Robert (whose whole shtick is letting people die when it's thier time) looked at him as an abomination, and the NPC as some sick fuck -- that was loads of fun to roleplay.


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 07, 2006, 11:50:05 PM
Addendum to my previous response to Ron:

Character improvement:
3-8 points per session is the norm.  John's had a lot of risky solo ventures (mostly fights) and has generally been rewarded with extra points.  Matt also stated an intent to have a "bonus point" each session go to someone who solves a certain puzzle, but I don't know if this has actually been happening. 

- After the sessions where we did not have a climactic battle or clearly accomplish a major mission, no character points were handed out.  I think this applies to sessions #2 and #7 but I'm not positive.

- I asked Matt if he wanted to reward John for doing more combat.  Matt said no, he wanted to reward him for "accomplishing things" and (I think he said this, not 100% sure) "moving the story forward".


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 08, 2006, 03:35:02 PM
Hi David,

Many thanks for the character and personal summaries. It's going to make a big difference, although some of my thought-processes about it will probably stay untyped. Sometimes I don't even know which aspects of the ages and social interactions are informing my thoughts about the agendas and techniques, only that I have to know those things for the latter to make sense.

I think all discussion of John's play is a side issue and we shouldn't get into it at this point. What matters to me is actually the positive side of the interactions you've described, as I hope to make clear.

CLARIFICATIONS

By "strongest" character decisions, I mean the ones which have both significant in-game consequences, especially on later prep and scenarios, and generate lots of inter-personal attention and contribution around the table.

Your summary of strategy and guts matches mine pretty well, and what you've said about it will play a big role in a point I'll make later in this post.

SOCIAL CONTRACT

I know for a fact I despise it when people 10-15 years older than me make any comments about my socializing and standards for it. So I think I'll keep this to a very basic set of points and you let me know whether I'm at least 65% on track.

You guys have a pretty strong Social Contract which combines two, perhaps not-always-compatible things: a certain amount of former friendship as well as genuine friendship. Really committed opening-up to one another through any medium (direct conversation, creative stuff, whatever) isn't common, and a certain hierarchy of present and former roles (martial arts instructor, host in the apartment, who was whose friend) is present but not well-defined. The game serves as a way for at least some of you to remain connected, but for others it is merely another way in which existing, constant connections are expressed.

What matters for our purposes is that the crucial "let's play this game together" part is in fact present. That's key; it means we can actually discuss CA with a strong chance of getting somewhere. By contrast, see my dialogue with Mark (Buzz) in Hero System, M&M, and assessing incoherence (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19543.0) (first part of the thread, not the Champs/character discussion later). The group he plays in doesn't consistently have that, so the shared play-experience is both desultory and CA-incoherent.

EXPLORATION

All right, [Setting + Characters = Situation], and in this case, we begin with the setting of a ton of shapeshifters, a ton of vampires, a whole lot of centuries-old scheming, and so on - perhaps it's distilled through use, but essentially, a World of Darkness kind of backdrop. Which, as I see it, has a lot more Marvel Comics in it than it has Anne Rice, let alone older authors. That's not a slam; in fact, it's important.

Why? Because such a setting means characters can be superheroes - powerz, extreme psychology, a strong need for teamwork, yet diverse world-views which lead to multiple possible approaches to a situation. With your characters defined in a powerz-oriented way (which is also a faction-y way), that means that the situation is basically that of a specialist team, in this case, a 'tac squad.

System concerns resolution with relatively low consequences per unit, unless it's really making use of a ton of other in-game features (presence of water mains, who belongs to which faction, what some guy told you and which may or may not be trusted, et cetera). Color is huge. Everything is colored; I might even go so far as to say in some circumstances, setting and character features exist in order to be colored.

This is all classic superhero role-playing, by the way. The author of Werewolf is often quoted (apocryphally or not, I dunno) as saying, "Furry supers" when describing the game, and I think your Drifted form of the game retains the feature. I am very strongly reminded of the Champions game I played a character in, 1988-89; I might chat about that one later, and talk about Werewolf's basic design relationship to 3rd-edition Champions and early Shadowrun, but not now.

TECHNIQUES

I'm mostly interested in the high-level Techniques at work, specifically the assignment and completion of missions, and how that generally relates to a bigger picture of what's going on. Clearly there are many factions, actions, charactes, and various influences all firing; that's part of the setting. And clearly there's a whole lotta tactical powerz-use during fights and monitoring of damage and stunning and so on, and that's cool too.

But in-between ... h'mm. That's interesting. What system-process was involved in whether the information gained is a "scrap" or a "true find," for instance ... well, all of that is actually GM-talk and can't be addressed very easily here. I'd like to, one day, though.

I'm keeping a sharp eye on the reward system in particular - it's certainly not character improvement, but instead oriented toward the larger place and effect of the player-characters on the setting, and the sense of "we're getting somewhere" - shall I say a fully shared appreciation of what the background/setting has to offer. That's kind of the Marvel-Universe thing right there, the idea that the immediate fighty stuff and the immediate high-character-concept stuff actually does tap into, as well as help create/realize, this larger tapestry of stuff.

I submit that the enjoyment of tactics during combat has more to do with how it contributes (a) to the coolness/nature of the characters and (b) to the overall Color and aesthetics of the immediate situation, than to (c) actual accomplishment of the "win." I mean, if it does work, then bonus, but the pageantry or spectacle of the action, particularly if it suits a given character's psychology, is really the payoff.

EPHEMERA

Character portrayal, lots of listening, lots of constructive helping. I've seen this feature a lot in one of my current groups, in which no one "just plays his character," in practice. An announced action or statement is treated mainly as provisional, subject to editing or commentary before it gets rubber-stamped. In fact, I've seen this in groups about which a member claims everyone plays their character separately, but that's not to the present point. My present point is that it's a very powerful, momentary feature of your group's play, and I think it's a strong partner of the round-the-table appreciation that shows up as the primary reward mechanism.

I'm also going to speculate that a certain illusion of risk is present (this has nothing to do with "illusionism") which operates at the Ephemeral level as a certain kind of emphasis. You mentioned, for instance, the enjoyment of needing a 9 or a 10 because "the next attack will likely kill me," and yay, getting a 9. As I see it, in a game with this many missions and fights so far, if that sort of thing happens at all frequently and if the "likely kill me" part is real, then we'd be seeing more dead characters by now. Combining that with your account of the were-boar who kicked your asses, killed an NPC, and then teleported away, I am going to suggest that full-on character death (what we used to call "dead-dead") is simply not in the cards for this game, or if it were, it'd be a much bigger deal and due to far more than just another combat outcome. The resurrection event bears me out on this one too, I think.

(I realize I wasn't there and may be inferring too much from the were-boar; if so, there's no need to outline the situation in gruesome detail to tell me so. If I'm wrong, OK; if you're committed to the appearance of risk and want to defend it, OK - we can both let it ride.)

CONCLUSION

All the way from top to bottom, I'm seeing a common goal: portrayal, appreciation of one another's portrayal, and interest in what each scenario reveals about a larger backdrop. So there's kind of a large-scale "stuff going on" interest, and within that, a sense of strengthening the big picture by paying attention to the

Notice that I'm calling it a goal, which I'm choosing carefully. All role-playing needs the chassis or foundation of plausibility, vividness, and interaction. But those aren't goals, they're the foundation, in many cases. When you make some aspect of the foundation a goal - the thing to do it for - then you have Simulationist play.

I'll lift this point of mine from a recent thread:

Quote
Imagine a little platform made of green-painted wood, standing a few inches high off the ground on its little legs. That's Exploration, the necessary imaginative communication for role-playing to occur at all. Perhaps it's a very pretty shade of green or particularly well-crafted in terms of pegs and glue. Doesn't matter. It's not the Creative Agenda.

Now imagine a secondary wooden structure built on top of it, reaching a whole foot off the ground at its tip. That's your game in action. Whatever shared goal or priority puts it there, or (in the analogy) whatever shape or material it is, that's your Creative Agenda. It's what you and the group do with the platform.

A Simulationist CA happens to be made of wood and happens to be painted green. That's why people are always mistaking Exploration for Simulationism, when it's not. It's still a secondary structure on top of the platform. It also so happens that Gamist and Narrativist CAs are always brutally, recognizably distinct from the platform that supports them - made of plastic or aluminum, and always painted a different color or not painted at all. That's why people are always forgetting that no matter what, those agendas need the platform too.

Andreas, I'm going through this kindergarten imagery because, in your post, I see a lot of rhapsodizing about "wonder moments" and all that. I anticipate that you are going to claim that's some kind of Simulationist presence in your group. Well, if you think that's Simulationist, lose that mistaken idea right now. That's foundational Exploration, the platform. Maybe your group's CA on top of it is "the same stuff," and hence Simulationist, and maybe it's not. We have to look at it to see.

That's the point from 2001, the essay "GNS and other matters of role-playing theory."

Now it's 2006 and I have the Big Model. CA exists as the goal or priority that ties together the features of the Big Model, during play. So the question about your game is (a) whether you guys had any goal or priority tying the Model of your play-experience together, and if so, (b) what was it? And no, you can't point at the platform. We're talking about the thing you all built on top of the platform, what you do with it.

So in your case, what I'm seeing is exactly the opposite of what I identified in Andreas' game description - his experience was a balls-to-the-wall form of Gamist play, and hence all the Exploration/SIS was a means to that end. Your group's appears to me to be the opposite - action-packed, yes, and very fighty, but the structure being built on your platform is basically more/higher/cooler stuff of the same material as the platform. (So is it "just more Exploration?" No. It's still a secondary structure, because it's dynamic and it's repeatedly rewarding in a way a mere platform, which just sits there, cannot be.)

As a side-note, I am not seeing a lick of Gamist priority in anything in the posts so far. Not one bit. A strong mission-emphasis, a strong combat-emphasis - neither of those are intrinsically Gamist. What makes something intrinsically Gamist is the strong possibility that an actual person playing can flatly lose, and when the only way to make that less likely is to exhibit personal strategy and guts. Not to portray them in one's character, but to demonstrate them yourelf, just as if you built that Magic deck beautifully, but got smacked by a bad draw and good play by the opponent, and then played defensively and well, pulling out a good game with a renewed chance to win.

I'm not seeing any of that in what you're talking about. Your examples of strategy-and-guts were quite minor in terms of high-priority reward and consequence. As far as I can tell, in your game, losing a fight, not getting some information, failing to hold onto a captive, are all means of getting deeper into the SIS, not judgment-heavy consequences of pressured decisions. I especially do not see any sort of social consequence and reinforcement of any Gamist priorities (values, goals, whatever) around the table.

Whew! Thoughts, questions, considerations, ideas?

Please bear in mind that I always enter into these threads with a close enough for government work mentality. I'm not claiming actually to be there or to read anyone's mind, or to know their minds better than they do. If I'm hitting in the 65%-70% zone, then that's a flat-out success, as I see it.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 08, 2006, 09:08:04 PM
Ron,

Your first paragraph under "CONCLUSION" got cut off.  Can you fill in the gap?

I must say that at first reading, your impression of what the players' priorities are sounds off to me.  But that may just be a function of the way I view this game, within the context on my own personal play tastes (I am often much more excited about exploring the setting in other games than I am in this one). 

It seems to me that a key question is, "Why do the players care about succeeding in missions?"  Am I correct in guessing that groups with different Creative Agendas would likely answer this question differently?  (If they were being completely honest and self-aware, that is.)

I will mull further and hopefully generate a useful response (most likely a long slew of questions).  For the moment, let me just say that some of your points are 100% on the money (in my opinion), such as the one about Marvel Superhero tac squads.  That is exactly what's going on in my game.

Ps,
-David


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 09, 2006, 05:11:54 AM
Hi David,

One thing really looks like it needs clarifying. We aren't talking about player motives. We are talking about whatever goal/priority/agenda is shared among all of you at the table, and mutually reinforced throughout the rises and falls of play.

That means that I am not trying to state (for instance) Meg's state of mind or her plans or motives about her character, or yours, or John's, or whoever's. I am looking for those things about play, of which character portrayal is only a small part, which are recognized by all of you as "why we're here." Not as a motive that brought you here, but rather as an activity that you do here. When I say "recognized," I do not mean articulated or even internally thought - I mean recognized as evidenced by responses, communication, and reinforcement among you.

Some of your phrasings throughout the thread were itching at me regarding this issue, the exchange with Callan sort-of went off in the wrong direction in just this way, and your reply just now turned the itch into a maybe-alarm.

Therefore, before we go on, can I get some confirmation on that exact point? If you have any questions about that, or want to see how it relates to the stuff I've written, or want to know how I've applied it in this case, now is the time.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 09, 2006, 06:56:29 AM
Ron,

Good catch.  I have absolutely been thinking about agendas, goals, tastes, preferences and rewards on the scale of the individual.  My design ideas have largely been based around the idea, "Okay, if we want to incentivize Player A to play in a certain way...," as opposed to, "Okay, if we want to incentivize Group A to play in a certain way..."

As a GM, I've gotten into the habit of chatting with players individually about what they do and don't like and do and don't want to do in my games.  In every game I've run, the answers have varied.  One guy wants to learn more about what's going on in the setting, another guy wants problems to solve, another guy wants to kill shit and turn his character into a badass.  The ways in which I've tailored my games in an attempt to enhance player fun has been by combining these elements so there's "something for everyone."  Subjectively, it seems to me that my tailoring often does result in the game being more fun overall.

Now, one difference between this process (A) and my design process (B), is that in (A) I've been thinking about how to "make the game work" for the collection of individuals who are "my friends who like some form of roleplaying", whereas in (B) I've been thinking about how to "make the game work" for the collection of individuals who are "people I've never met who like the form of roleplaying I'm pitching".  (Said pitch includes issues of consistent and realistic setting detail and resolution mechanics, plus a certain aesthetic to the historical and supernatural aspects of the setting.)

I guess my first question is, "What is your take on this process?"  Feel free to be highly critical and to tell me that your design strategy is totally different and way better -- that's mostly what I'm here at the Forge for, design advice.

I hope that doesn't sound like a change in topic -- at the moment I'm guessing this is highly related to optimal usage of CA theory.

Thanks,
-David

P.S.  Can I get OCD on you and ask you to finish this sentence?

So there's kind of a large-scale "stuff going on" interest, and within that, a sense of strengthening the big picture by paying attention to the

I'm finding it hard to move on not knowing what was written there.


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 09, 2006, 01:44:05 PM
Ron,

It occurred to me that there might be some value in asking "what's the proper use and place of CA?" (previous post) in parallel with "how close am I to getting CA?" (this post).  So:

I am looking for those things about play . . . which are recognized by all of you as "why we're here." Not as a motive that brought you here, but rather as an activity that you do here. When I say "recognized," I do not mean articulated or even internally thought - I mean recognized as evidenced by responses, communication, and reinforcement among you.

Let me use an example from my own gaming and see if I get this point. 

Three years ago, I ran a Pitfighter game (terrible name for a game I created in middle school) for John, Vic, and Aaron.  I went into the game wanting them to play in certain ways that accorded with Techniques I liked, addressing issues of plausibility and vividness ("Don't use out-of-game knowledge!"  "Roleplay interactions, don't summarize the way you assumed they happened!").  Beyond that, I had some dramatic events in mind, but no particular plan for how the players should interface with that plot beyond a vague "save the world".

As we played through the first few sessions, it became clear to me that John was looking to "follow the plot" whereas Vic was looking for more authorial control, having his character do exactly what he "would" do, as first conceived.  Aaron didn't seem to care which direction we went, so long as his religious nut character was given opportunities work with that identity and apply it to interesting moral quandaries.

As it played out, Vic's choices for what to do with his character derived solely from his backstory, and left no obvious place for John and Aaron to contribute.  Aaron was very passive, never complaining, but looking bored a lot.  John wanted to find the badguy and begin the quest to defeat it.

Eventually, I asked Vic to try to alter his character's choices to do something group-friendly, and he said okay.  I had Aaron's religious order make some radical changes to their doctrine and plans based on the developing evil threat.  I basically steered everyone into tackling the evil threat head-on, and as people mostly seemed to enjoy it, I didn't revisit that decision.  I think that part of the reason they enjoyed it was that they didn't cling to their original motives, but adapted to "what playing this game with these people now consists of, by GM decree" and found it acceptable.  (The fact that I was genuinely trying to provide a good time for all probably helped make the transition palatable.)  Much mutual digging of each other's contributions to understanding the nature of the evil threat and forging plans to stop it occurred.

In this process, our course of either Sim, Gam, Nar, or Incoherence was forged. 

In this case, my first analysis would be that I railroaded (the general term, not the Forge term) an Incoherent game into a Sim game, or at least a more Sim-heavy version of Incoherence.

Does that application of CA theory sound correct?  Or at least on the right track?

Ps,
-Dave


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 13, 2006, 08:45:50 AM
Hi David,

I've been caught up in non-Forge obligaions this week, so I appreciate your patience with me. Some computer problems are also hampering me, so my ability to link to older threads is a bit limited.

Here's the fixed sentence:

Quote
So there's kind of a large-scale "stuff going on" interest, and within that, a sense of strengthening the big picture by paying attention to the sub-units of the events. And it goes the other way too, in that the more you get a better idea of "what's going on," the more commitment you can bring to smaller-scale units like fights.

The trouble is, that was kind of half-composed, even the part you saw; I'd forgotten to go back and really clarify anything in it. So here's what I mean - if you're in a scenario, then the investigations, conversations, and fights are part of making that basic scenario into the SIS, and resolving it as a feature of an ongoing, developing plot (for lack of a better word).  Think of this as "starting large," from the GM's prep, and then you guys all "fill in small" with the characters' actions and their outcome. But then, conversely, those actions and outcomes end up strengthening and making more internal sense out of the big picture, most typically when the GM returns to the prep stage for the next session.

In this case, what I'm saying is at first not relevant to GNS, because it's merely the useful interaction which generates an SIS, with a bit of a defined division-of-labor between GM and the rest of the group. No big deal. However, when this is made into the primary, driving aesthetic goal of play, so that the syncretic, responsive attention to the whole SIS' integrity not just a key feature, but actually a goal in action - there you go, that's some Sim for you, baby.

Also, if you haven't, please see my discussion of constructive denial and Simulationist play in one of the GNS threads near the end of that forum's tenure (someone, help with link please?). It's strongly related to this same point.

Any thoughts on that? This is probably the main topic of interest for me right now in this thread, that we work through this exact point.

For example, and to reinforce its importance, I'd like to put the period on the end of the sentence about the individual-motive vs. group-agenda issue, so we can leave it behind. My take is that, in discussion of our own actual play, we always tend to focus on the distinctions and differences among us, which is why people are always asking me if Bob scratches his ass during play and Jane doesn't, isn't that some kind of CA clash? The answers you get to direct questioning about goals will vary, because people are always focusing on style and technique, not on expressed/active goals and shared priorities.

I recommend looking over my discussion with Levi and the bicycle racing analogy that seemed to work so well for him. If you ask bicycle racers why they do it or what they want, they can potentially go on about all manner of wild extrapolaions or focusing on some technical or organizational detail - completely missing the fact that they are all, actually, engaged in racing against one another. It's so obvious to them that it presents no target for reflection. In Levi's case, he was all fired-up about how this one guy in the group was so concerned with tactics and effectiveness, and yet it produced no clashes among the group, so wasn't that Gamism folded into whatever else? And the answer was no.

That's why, over time, I've decided that simple polling or interviewing isn't the best way to address any kind of Creative Agenda question or development. It's fine for the details; if Joe wants more fightiness per unit play-time, there's no reason why not to get some more fights in there, or if Sue wants the "lost father" on her sheet to freakin' show up already, then sure, again, why not. Communicating and talking are just right for that stuff.

However, you won't get to CA that way, I think. Not without a greater command of the issue based on a self-directed reflection over your own play-experiences. And that leads me to my next point, and request for you. I've been a little interested throughout this thread in that you have kept your own interactions, character choices, or other impressions of play pretty much out of it. I'd like to see more of that. What do you do, during play? How do you reward/reinforce stuff that other people do, GM included? What do they do for you? Actual examples will matter greatly.

Quote
As a GM, I've gotten into the habit of chatting with players individually about what they do and don't like and do and don't want to do in my games. In every game I've run, the answers have varied. One guy wants to learn more about what's going on in the setting, another guy wants problems to solve, another guy wants to kill shit and turn his character into a badass. The ways in which I've tailored my games in an attempt to enhance player fun has been by combining these elements so there's "something for everyone." Subjectively, it seems to me that my tailoring often does result in the game being more fun overall.

That matches my experience as a Champions GM for many years. It does work in the sense that no one person is, on the average, bored, frustrated, mad, isolated, or any number of other negative things. It also works quite well, fortuitously, if the group is firing on a coherent Creative Agenda already (and hence discussion of it may not even be cognitively available). For less CA-coherent groups, it also works in the sense that every so often, "things come together" in a wholly satisfying fashion, for at least a few members at the same time.

What you describe is certainly more fun than acrimonious, fucked-up play. No problem with that, then. The question is whether you're achieving coherent play (which I claim carries some benefits) or are persisting with a survivable form of incoherent play. Here, I think my conversation with Mark (Buzz) is relevant, especially my links to Chris Chinn's diagrams and our discussion about them. That's why I'm pleased to see your attention to that thread in this one.

Quote
Now, one difference between this process (A) and my design process (B), is that in (A) I've been thinking about how to "make the game work" for the collection of individuals who are "my friends who like some form of roleplaying", whereas in (B) I've been thinking about how to "make the game work" for the collection of individuals who are "people I've never met who like the form of roleplaying I'm pitching". (Said pitch includes issues of consistent and realistic setting detail and resolution mechanics, plus a certain aesthetic to the historical and supernatural aspects of the setting.)

I guess my first question is, "What is your take on this process?" Feel free to be highly critical and to tell me that your design strategy is totally different and way better -- that's mostly what I'm here at the Forge for, design advice.

That is a fair question and my take is that (B) may generate great games and that (A) generates adequate games, with scattered content and a lot of familiarity-comfort based on specific other games. It's been interesting this past year to see a sea-change in the Forge-ish games produced out there, including those by folks who purport to hate the place. A lot of them have been (A) based on Sorcerer, for instance, as well as Universalis and Primetime Adventures ... and not surprisingly, they are adequate and reasonably engaging (especially in reading), but they aren't actually doing the (B) thing in practice.

This is, indeed, a change in topic, and in this thread I'd prefer to focus on this Werewolf game, with an emphasis on your own play and how it relates to others'. I think that CA-type thinking is going to help you out a lot if you can see just what to apply it to, and that's a case study that will serve nicely before we hare off toward a game in design.

I wrote,
Quote
I am looking for those things about play . . . which are recognized by all of you as "why we're here." Not as a motive that brought you here, but rather as an activity that you do here. When I say "recognized," I do not mean articulated or even internally thought - I mean recognized as evidenced by responses, communication, and reinforcement among you.

You replied by applying this to a game of Pitfighter that sounds (this is a very brief, perhaps incorrect impression) a great deal like Mark's Champions experience. However, I'd like to discuss the Pitfighter example later, again, after we take this point and apply it absolutely directly to you in this current, here-and-now Werewolf game.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Caldis on November 13, 2006, 12:15:52 PM

I think this is the link you were looking for Ron.  http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17334.msg188019#msg188019


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 14, 2006, 01:23:29 AM
Ron,

A lot of my recent discussions with John and Matt in the Werewolf game have focused on "what activities do we want our characters to be engaged in"?  Throughout most games I've played, most of my friends have referred to this as the determiner of "whether or not I will have fun".  This is quite possibly an example of your point:

The answers you get to direct questioning about goals will vary, because people are always focusing on style and technique, not on expressed/active goals and shared priorities.
 . . .
I've decided that simple polling or interviewing isn't the best way to address any kind of Creative Agenda question or development. It's fine for the details; if Joe wants more fightiness per unit play-time, there's no reason why not to get some more fights in there, or if Sue wants the "lost father" on her sheet to freakin' show up already, then sure, again, why not. Communicating and talking are just right for that stuff.

Not-particularly-critical observation has led me to believe that, while causal attribution may be misplaced, there is indeed a very strong correlation between "nature of in-game activities" and "fun/no fun for player A or B or C".  More fights and lost fathers do actually tend to go with Joe and Sue enjoying themselves!

Your characterization of the "go on missions" m.o. in the Werewolf game as a Technique makes some sense to me, and I am wondering if matters of Techniques and Ephemera may be more crucial in my attempts to design what I want than Creative Agenda is.  For now, however, I'm interested in exploring your suggestion:

I think that CA-type thinking is going to help you out a lot if you can see just what to apply it to

I only worry that, having failed to directly relate it to my goals thus far, I will start wandering off into abstract philosophizing (as I often do) and lose track of a point.  So, for the time being, I have an idea on how to proceed.  As long as you have some idea where you want this to go, just ask me quetions, and I will try to answer no more nor less than what is asked for.  Sound good?

Some answers to questions already asked:

if you're in a scenario, then the investigations, conversations, and fights are part of making that basic scenario into the SIS, and resolving it as a feature of an ongoing, developing plot (for lack of a better word)
 . . .
However, when this is made into the primary, driving aesthetic goal of play, so that the syncretic, responsive attention to the whole SIS' integrity [is] not just a key feature, but actually a goal in action - there you go, that's some Sim for you, baby.
 . . .
Any thoughts on that?

Abstractly, this makes perfect sense to me.  So does your message about constructive denial:

A great deal of the aesthetic power of Simulationist play, as I see it (and I mean that literally), lies in (a) adding to or developing that package, and (b) enjoying its resiliency against potential violation.
 . . .
This "package" rests ultimately on a shared understanding and agreement about the inspirational material. The group often enters into a shared denial that the "package" is constructed by them, identifying their particular excitement about the material with the source itself.
 . . .
To stick with the example, let's say your group is enjoying this Star Trek role-playing experience. Then someone in the group announces an action for a character which demonstrates that he or she, the player, doesn't understand the group's shared agreement about what Star Trek "is" in the first place
 . . .
I anticipate that the other members of the group will strongly, and in some cases semi-hysterically, insist that their shared interpretation is "objective fact," or any number of other similar terms. These are not useful conceptual terms, but they are very effective social code for sanctioning the input of the person who has broken the constructive denial.

with the exception of one thing:

in Simulationist play, there must be an ongoing, reinforced agreement about a set of information that cannot be threatened. This is our shared understanding of what we bring into the imagined events of play, and it must be seen as a complete package - not only the five components of Exploration, but also any thematic or other emergent content.

If you are contending that, in Sim play, the shared understanding and sacrosanct set of information always includes all five components of Exploration plus emergent content, then I'm not sure I get that.  If you are simply saying that the understanding and info cover what they cover, and they may cover all five components of Exploration plus emergent content, then I do get that.

I've been a little interested throughout this thread in that you have kept your own interactions, character choices, or other impressions of play pretty much out of it. I'd like to see more of that.

Heh.  Well, unfortunately, this Werewolf game differs in some important ways from the game I currently want to design.  I feel like the way I enjoy this game is different from the way I enjoy more "realistic" games.  So, I've been hesitant to present "here's what I've been doing" as an indicator of "here's what I like in roleplaying".  Oh well... I'm sure there's some continuity in my preferences, perhaps even including a preferred CA...

What do you do, during play?

When faced with the need for decision on either "what do we want to do?" or "how should we go about it?", I actively brainstorm in my head, and speak IC when I have any sort of contribution.  I tend to limit my brainstorms to the scope of "what helps our (somewhat-nebulous) overall mission to bring all shapeshifters together", confident that if we do that, Matt will provide fun play scenarios.

I generate ideas quickly and am pretty convincing when I decide on one I like, so the group follows my plans a lot.  If someone else comes up with a plan that I suspect leads to a dead end, I'll argue IC, and occasionally look to see if the GM is making a yes/no expression.  My preferences are for "the best option to better our characters'/my character's goals", regardless of who comes up with it.  Everyone in the group has had the "winning" idea at least once.

When dealing with NPCs of obvious use, my approach is similarly utilitarian.  My character sheet has a "subterfuge" score, but I think I only rolled it once, when someone was trying to detect my aura or something.  Usually, I get information by diplomatic speech and impromptu lying.

When specific opportunities come up to make a comment on life-support, chaos, The Wyrm, decay, and corpses, I take them.  The more weird Robert's viewpoint sounds in context, the more I enjoy it.  Matt's good at providing the bugged-out expressions of NPCs I offend.

If an opportunity presents itself to bring others around to Robert's POV, I intend to take it.  I'm pondering trying to con tech-nerd Elantrin into walking a magical pattern that may drive her insane, just to "show her the truth".

Style-wise, I like to "get in a groove" and think IC for substantial periods, so any time everyone's consistently engaged with that kind of focus really gets me pumped.  An example of the way I feel:
GOOD: We must kill them.  (changes voice, speaks very quickly)  Matt, quick question, do I know that staking actually works on Vampires? (GM nods.  player changes voice back)  Or stake them.
BAD: We must kill them... or stake them... unless my character doesn't know that staking works... would I have learned that where I come from?

The "groove" (something I've called "immersion" in the past) is almost always enjoyable, although sitting around IC failing to brainstorm a plan tends to go with (cause?) me "losing the groove".

How do you reward/reinforce stuff that other people do, GM included?

In any IC-talk-oriented moment (e.g. "we need a plan") where Robert's present, I stay IC as much as possible.  During those times, my appreciation of others' play is reflected only in my general excitement level.  Also, if anyone makes a particularly unique presentation of some facet of their character, I'll interact with that.  Robert will never just say, "Okay, you're afraid of bulldozers, whatever, let's move on" -- I'll generally play confusion ("bulldozers?  really?") to encourage elaboration. 

(John absolutely returns the favor, as do some NPCs, depending on urgency.  Paul generally shows some brief interest.  Meg's character tells us we're crazy and she's the only normal one, which works for me most of the time, although every once in a while it curtails a fun exchange I was looking forward to.)

When Robert's not present, I just pay attention, and try not to influence anyone.  Today John made a horrific mistake (Shimmer told someone where we lived), and I knew I could have stopped him mid sentence just by bugging my eyes out or mouthing "No!"  However, Robert wasn't there, and the mistake was one John's character could plausibly have made, so I kept a neutral expression until John had finished blurting.  When Shimmer told Robert in-game, I had fun playing disbelief followed by demands for Shimmer to redress this, at the cost of his own life if necessary.

There have been other times, however, when a player was about to do something disadvantageous in a pressure situation, and I did speak OOC: "you sure you want to put all your weight on that?"

After the game's over, I often tell Matt that I had fun, and rehash exciting moments with John.  If someone had a particularly brilliant idea (pretend to be vampires!  blast fireboy with the water main!), I may congratulate them.  This latter I somtimes do OOC after a tense period (like combat) has ended even if the game's still going.  It doesn't happen all that often, though.

What do they do for you?

I seem to remember Paul reciprocating pretty much everything I said above in subtle fashion.  Meg and John just get excited when we have a cool plan.  John's stoked when we win fights.  So, sharing that is fun for me.

Matt occasionally congratulates me on following one of his leads (which honestly doesn't do much for me) or for roleplaying my character "well", which means (to Matt, and to me too in this game) distinctively and true to his established concept.

CLOSING SPECULATION REGARDING CREATIVE AGENDA:

For me, the hardest part has not been identifying what Sim/Gam/Nar play means in written form (though I'm constantly refining that, and this discussion is helping), it's been "calling it" correctly in practice (i.e., "what does Sim/Gam/Nar play look like?) and relating it to design.  In the current pattern of:
1) find a friend who's willing to GM
2) find other friends with compatible schedules who want to roleplay
3) figure out everything else from there,
I find it doubly hard to figure out if everyone's there for the same reason.

Ps,
-David


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 16, 2006, 08:08:46 AM
Hi David,

That was a wonderful and tremendously helpful description of play, for yourself and (as you see) for everyone else in the group via the corollary bits. Although I'm not going through it point by point, as there's no reason to, I want you to know I've worked hard to process all of it. I'll also give you the feedback that what you describe is far, far more central to the success of the group of a whole than "I'm just a player" can cover. You are playing a key role in cementing and helping to shape the functional properties of your role-playing group, and apparently without the poisonous effect, which sometimes occurs, of supplanting the GM's specific creative role.

I think I'm seeing the major issues that we have to resolve explicitly if this thread will be useful to you. I've tried to state some relevant points for them in every post so far, but it seems to me that the "knot" is deeper and more knotty than a few isolated comments can deal with.

WHAT WE'RE DISCUSSING

I'm not discussing your game in design, nor your Pitfighter game. I'm talking about the game you brought up as a topic, with your GNS-based questions concerning it. You apparently have a kind of secondary goal, regarding your game in design, which frankly impedes our discussion here.

For example, you may have thought that if I "diagnose" you in this thread, regarding the Werewolf game, that somehow I will have locked and trapped you into a GNS-label that you (a) cannot escape and (b) must then apply to your game in design. "Ha!" I will say, "You're a Simulationist!" and wham, your game in design for any other goal is hosed. You'll be branded, your preferences revealed, and no one will ever listen to you or help you in any other context.

I don't know if that's the case, in your mind, but if it is to any extent, then you must put it aside. I'm discussing the Werewolf game (a) at your request and (b) because I think that illustrating the logic of discussing CA will be helpful to you in your game in design. You can apply the same logic without fear of being forced toward the same results simply because of this current game.

Is that clear? Reasonable? This is a non-negotiable question that overrides any particular paragraph-to-paragraph exchange between us so far in this thread.

ABOUT CREATIVE AGENDA

1. Creative Agendas can be observed if you look at the right variables at the right scale for a given group of people playing a given game. This must be done by examining the Big Model (for that group and game) as a whole, and by identifying any consistent reward system in action. You will find that a CA, if present, operates more like a "value system," or a context for standards that apply in some way to all parts of the Big Model in action. You'll also find that if it's not present, or variably present, then the group is either utilizing some interesting compensating mechanisms or in the slow or quick process of coming apart.

Another way to look at this is to say, "What is so functional (consistently fun) about this activity that this group continues to play this game together?" This question should concern the components of play in the Big Model, not stuff like "it's fun to hang out together." That's starting with the reward system and it's often tough, for anyone, for a variety of psychological and social reasons.

I think I've done this to whatever extent I can with your Werewolf game. It looks like a very strong Simulationist play example, not in the sense of "I guess it's not Gamist or Narrativist," but rather because the group as a whole is extremely committed to the cycle of missions, consequences, further missions, with the result that the details and perhaps intrinsic insights of the setting (and its symbols) become more and more apparent and colorful through play. The platform of Exploration supports an agenda of what I'd like to call dynamic portraiture, with the SIS as a whole best understood as a representative work in progress. All of your described actions as a player, both toward and from your fellow participants, support this notion.

2. Creative Agendas cannot be observed in the same sense that "I prefer dice pools," or "I like lots of fights," can be observed. Those are, respectively, techniques and situations. Techniques and situations are, as you know, categorized and placed in the Big Model in such a way that they are not, and cannot be, Creative Agenda.

I'm getting irked because you keep talking about techniques and situations. Here's how this thread is going. I tell you, "That is all very well and good, and yes, people do have preferences (for the moment, or long-term, whichever) about techniques and situations. It is not surprising that they want to see these preferences realized. But that is not Creative Agenda, which operates as a larger-scale aesthetic context, and which you have specifically asked about. Here is what I see with your CA."
Then you say, "Yes, yes, but those techniques and situations are what people talk about. And they're happier when they get them."

And I repeat myself. And then you dodge it again. This is getting tiring and I'm stopping it now. The only way to do this is to say, with my above two points in mind, "David, do you understand why I have suggested a Simulationist interpretation of your group's Werewolf game?" I'd prefer the answer, if it's yes, to be accompanied by a paraphrase of some kind, to say-it-yourself.

As a related point which I'm mentioning only to dismiss, you raised an issue of whether the Simulationist aesthetic must or may cover the five components of Exploration. I could answer this clearly and simply, but I think it will only descend into a further debate at an ever-dwindling scale of topic and relevance. With respect, I think you're twisting pieces of your mind into a knot with questions like that. I don't know why you're doing it, or what for, but I suggest that you stop, and straightforwardly answer my question in the previous paragraph. Maybe we can get back to it later.

You closed with some speculation including this key point:

Quote
(... "what does Sim/Gam/Nar play look like?) and relating it to design.

My first point is to say, fuck design in the ear, for the moment. We are talking about the Werewolf game, and more generally, about actual play, period.

My second point is to say, when you look at play, you will see situations and techniques because that is the immediate scale of attention we focus on, as people, and what our habits of gamer culture tend to focus on exclusively (perhaps even with a degree of deliberate denial of anything else). So if I point at an example of, say, Narrativist play like Levi's Frostfolk group, and if you look at it and say "Oh! Those situations and techniques," you will have descended into a hell of incomprehension that is very, very hard to emerge from.

I'm hoping that this hasn't happened and that my two questions for you in this thread can be seen as our mutual path to communication and understanding for this thread.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 16, 2006, 02:36:03 PM
Is that clear? Reasonable? This is a non-negotiable question that overrides any particular paragraph-to-paragraph exchange between us so far in this thread.

It's clear that right now you wish to talk about GNS and my Werewolf game, and not techniques or game design.  I'll try to focus acordingly.

Mind if I try an analogy to test my understanding of GNS?  It seems to work for a lot of folks.

Player B shows up at a field with a leather glove and small, white ball.  Player F shows up at the same field with a an oblong, brown ball.  Player S also shows up with a big black and white ball made of hexagons. 

They stare at each other, come closer.  Then Player B begins tossing the ball to himself, Player F begins tossing his ball to himself, and Player S begins kicking his ball to himself.  At this point, player B is not playing Baseball, F is not playing Football, S is not playing Soccer.  They've enjoyed playing those games before, but now they're not playing any games, they're just, y'know, wanking.

At some point, they say, "Hey, we all like Team Sports, let's do something together."  So they decide, "The pitcher pitches the ball, the goalie kicks the ball, the defensive lineman tackles whoever's closest."  Play doesn't turn out to be much fun, as no one appreciates what the other guys are doing, and it's a sequence of "just waiting and then taking my turn".  After a while, they go their separate ways.

Baseball/Football/Soccer are G/N/S, "Team Sports" is Roleplaying, and that was an Incoherent game that failed and dissolved due to CA clash.

(One difference, of course, being that there are standards modeled on well-known, professional, "official" versions to describe what does and does not qualify as "playing soccer"/"playing football"/"playing baseball".)

COHERENCE

David, do you understand why I have suggested a Simulationist interpretation of your group's Werewolf game?

I understand how that's a possible assessment, but I don't understand how it's clearly the right one.  Gamism, Hybrid, and Incoherence still strike me as plausible at this point.

Sometimes John complains about not having a clear direction to follow or mission to be on, responds to all new in-game info with, "So Matt, what are we supposed to do?", tries to pump up his character's combat abilities in any way possible, begs for Character Points, gets really intense during combats, and wants to bask in victory after combats instead of moving on immediately.  At other times, he enjoys playing his character's unique mindset, sharing his knowledge of the setting, etc.  Perhaps some nights he's in a mood to play in a Sim game, and then we have a Sim game, and other nights he'd rather play a Gamist game -- what do we have then?  Incoherence?  Hybrid?  Sim that's just less fully satisfying?

It seems to me that CA as an emergent Group property of a bunch of Individuals sharing something can have any degree of coherence, from "pure" Incoherence to "pure" Nar or Gam or Sim.  Is that correct?

What is so functional (consistently fun) about this activity that this group continues to play this game together?

Maybe exploration of setting, character, situation and color... or maybe it's that we like applying our wits to missions.  People tend to get bored when we're not on a mission... but people also tend to get irritated when the established SIS-creation m.o. is violated...  Picking half of this equation as more "large-scale important" than the other half seems somewhat arbitrary to me at my current level of understanding. 

GAMISM

So in your case, what I'm seeing is exactly the opposite of what I identified in Andreas' game description - his experience was a balls-to-the-wall form of Gamist play, and hence all the Exploration/SIS was a means to that end. Your group's appears to me to be the opposite - action-packed, yes, and very fighty, but the structure being built on your platform is basically more/higher/cooler stuff of the same material as the platform.

The features of Andreas' game that stood out to me as different from my own were:
1) the game being over after a certain win/lose scenario
2) player vs player competition where one side would win and one side would lose

But I am guessing that Gamist play can happen with Challenge after Challenge using the same characters, and I'm just not 100% sure that that's not what's happening in my game.

What makes something intrinsically Gamist is the strong possibility that an actual person playing can flatly lose, and when the only way to make that less likely is to exhibit personal strategy and guts. Not to portray them in one's character, but to demonstrate them yourelf

That is a very useful definition.  So, let's see.  If we're fighting to stop a vampire from poisoning the water, and the rest of the PCs are fighting his henchmen, and
1) Shimmer fights the vampire, and the vampire kills him, poisons the water, and runs away, and
2) the game continues, and we suspect we'll face the vampire again, and
3) Matt decides Shimmer can't be resurrected but encourages John to play a new character --
did John just flatly lose or not?

Suppose the vampire killed Shimmer because John made some hideous tactical error.  Now did he flatly lose?

This hasn't happened, but I for one like to believe that it could happen, and occasionally Matt says things to imply that we should be worried about this happening.  How important is it that we may tacitly understand, deep down, that this is extremely unlikely?

Your examples of strategy-and-guts were quite minor in terms of high-priority reward and consequence. As far as I can tell, in your game, losing a fight, not getting some information, failing to hold onto a captive, are all means of getting deeper into the SIS, not judgment-heavy consequences of pressured decisions.

That sounds like a group of baseball players saying, "Yeah, Fred should have thrown home rather than to second base, but it's minor, we're all just here to enjoy playing."  You can bet Fred feels bad about his mistake, and that his polite teammates are shaking their heads and quitely fuming.  That's exactly what happened in our game.  When John gave away the location of our base, I was tempted to throttle him; and he sure as hell felt bad about it a few minutes later when the Werewolves announced their intention to take over; but I was polite on the grounds of "we're all here to have fun".

Are polite baseball players, who don't care enough about winning to insult someone, not really playing baseball?

I especially do not see any sort of social consequence and reinforcement of any Gamist priorities (values, goals, whatever) around the table.

Can you explain to me how this is the case when our most frequently- and obviously-praised decisions are strategic ones?

Here's my best guess at a non-Gamist "tell":

When we win a fight, we don't do a quick, "Nice!  Alright, we get some badass loot and head home.  Let's do it again next week!"  Instead, it's more like, "Now that we've thwarted the Ancient Evil, it's promised retribution!  What's gonna happen next?  And who was that strange guy we rescued from the altar and how does he fit into what's going on?"  The fact that the players care about these factors, rather than just yawning and saying, "Okay, whatever, the GM's got some ideas on next session's Challenge," indicates we're not just there to play Gamist.

Is that analysis on-track?

SIMULATIONISM

All the way from top to bottom, I'm seeing a common goal: portrayal, appreciation of one another's portrayal, and interest in what each scenario reveals about a larger backdrop. So there's kind of a large-scale "stuff going on" interest, and within that, a sense of strengthening the big picture by paying attention to the sub-units of the events. And it goes the other way too, in that the more you get a better idea of "what's going on," the more commitment you can bring to smaller-scale units like fights.
 . . .
when this is made into the primary, driving aesthetic goal of play, so that the syncretic, responsive attention to the whole SIS' integrity not just a key feature, but actually a goal in action - there you go, that's some Sim for you, baby.

"Portrayal, appreciation of one another's portrayal, and interest in what each scenario reveals about a larger backdrop."  Common goal?  Check.  Primary, driving aesthetic of play?  I just don't know.

Ps,
-David


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 16, 2006, 04:21:52 PM
More on CA and its role in play being fun/not fun:

So if I point at an example of, say, Narrativist play like Levi's Frostfolk group, and if you look at it and say "Oh! Those situations and techniques," you will have descended into a hell of incomprehension that is very, very hard to emerge from.

Looking at the Frostfolk thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=20679.0), I did not think "those situations and techniques make the game Narrativist", I thought "those situations and techniques make the game fun for players who are playing Narrativist." 

What I was not able to determine was what was more vital to them having fun -- the fact that they shared a CA, or the fact that they shared a taste for techniques and situations.  The causal relationship between the two was also not apparent to me:
1) Does their shared CA lead to these techniques being fun?
2) Does their shared taste in techniques (indirectly) lead to them forming a coherent CA?
3) Is it just a coincidence that they have both a shared CA and a shared taste in techniques?

It seems possible to me that some groups I've played in have achieved enjoyable play because they agree on what techniques they like, despite differing on larger-scale priorities.


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 16, 2006, 04:44:46 PM
Hi David,

I think we're getting there! The same page, I mean.


I'm aiming at illustrating the logic of CA, as best I can. It has to be a back-and-forth thing; I can't just lay it out and say "there." My first step was summarizing what I see as the Sim-focus/context of the Werewolf game, and seeing what you make of it and how it works. I think we're in the middle of that step.

For example,

Quote
What I was not able to determine was what was more vital to them having fun -- the fact that they shared a CA, or the fact that they shared a taste for techniques and situations. The causal relationship between the two was also not apparent to me:
1) Does their shared CA lead to these techniques being fun?
2) Does their shared taste in techniques (indirectly) lead to them forming a coherent CA?
3) Is it just a coincidence that they have both a shared CA and a shared taste in techniques?

It seems possible to me that some groups I've played in have achieved enjoyable play because they agree on what techniques they like, despite differing on larger-scale priorities.

This I can discuss! OK, here we go ...

My take is that if CA is left to fend for itself, or more accurately, if differences in desired CA are left without resolution, then a group can function via what I call incoherent play. They can enjoy how they play together, the techniques and color and whatnot.

But only in comparison with play that does not utilize those techniques. Which is like someone saying "I like bucket seats, so whatever we do, as long as it has bucket seats, that's better than not." And everyone else either likes bucket seats, or can take them or leave them, so that's what happens.

The problem, or potential problem, is that bucket seats are not, themselves, the car, nor its destination. So people basically say, "you know, originally or if it were possible or serendipitous, I'd sure like this car to go somewhere. But every time I ever did this, those fucking other seats kept hurting my back. So now, hey - all I want is the bucket seats. Someone else make it go somewhere, as long as I'm in the bucket seats, I'm good."

Translate this into a ten-to-fifteen year history of role-playing. Now, the person is going to be flat-out certain that all they need to have fun, is that the game must have (e.g.) no one-hit kills, and lots of cool effective powers. Because when their character gets killed with some one-hit NPC action, and when they have magic but can't do anything except "read magic" once a day, it sucks. They'll tell you so. First priority, man - first priority.

Did they ever want to Step On Up, Dream, or Address Premise? Maybe they did. One, two, or all of them, maybe. But that is long, long gone in their creative history, They didn't know about it at the time and they know damn well, now, that any effort or thought in that direction is off the radar screen. So it's now off of theirs.

When those preferences take such priority that they override all else, then people stay together with a group only because it's the only group which doesn't inflict massive irritation upon them via non-desired techniques. This is Mark's Champions game, big-time. Plus nearly any other late-thirties, former college buddies, bored-wife-included, still-playing-Champs (or Ars Magica or D&D or whatever) group.

Now, let's take a contrast - a group which functions primarily off a shared CA. Let's take Narrativism because I can use one of my groups as a good example. Once we established that such an aesthetic was shared among us, practically an automatic drive in all our cases, the world of techniques opened up like a smorgasbord. Let's try Hero Wars. OK! We play for months and months. Let's try this game. OK! Let's try that game. OK! In each case, we may play for a short time or a long time, but we enjoy its unique techniques-combinations and other features fully.

In other words, an incoherent group united in part by techniques is forced to stay with those techniques and will not experience much, if any satisfaction at the level of shared, aesthetic drive. They will tend to suffer through a lot of hitchy-play, or waiting person-by-person, and other hassles.

Now I think your Werewolf game is coherent, in terms of CA, in no small part due to your presence. So I think that the techniques and situations that people like, and say they like, and say they prioritize so much, do illustrate their gaming history (as I described for incoherent play above) ... but the game works to the extent it does (i.e. a lot) because of the coherence. In my current view, I think that the techniques being employed work because they reinforce the CA, and that even if someone didn't like the non-bucket-seats before, they might grudgingly admit that in this case, this once, the seats are OK after all.

The real test, although that's probably not the right word or concept, will come when the setting is affected enough by your characters' actions to change - specifically in a way which totally alters or shifts the focus of your characters' missions. Maybe they'll become authorities and have to decide about identifying and assigning missions. Or maybe the missions will be replaced by some other activity, who knows. But something. That will be when we see whether the driving aesthetic of play so far is able to sustain alterations, and will be interesting.

But compared to what I expected when you started the thread, it's dramatically coherent - I expected you guys to have run maybe one or two missions, and for at least one character to be mere filler, and for a lot more CA-based contrasts.

Best, Ron

edited to remove stuff from original PM version


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 18, 2006, 03:18:23 PM
My take is that if CA is left to fend for itself, or more accurately, if differences in desired CA are left without resolution, then a group can function via what I call incoherent play. They can enjoy how they play together, the techniques and color and whatnot.
 . . .
When those preferences take such priority that they override all else, then people stay together with a group only because it's the only group which doesn't inflict massive irritation upon them via non-desired techniques. This is Mark's Champions game, big-time. Plus nearly any other late-thirties, former college buddies, bored-wife-included, still-playing-Champs (or Ars Magica or D&D or whatever) group.
 . . .
In other words, an incoherent group united in part by techniques is forced to stay with those techniques and will not experience much, if any satisfaction at the level of shared, aesthetic drive. They will tend to suffer through a lot of hitchy-play, or waiting person-by-person, and other hassles.

This analysis makes perfect sense to me.  I've played in some games where there was vehement agreement regarding technique preferences, but play wasn't consistently fun for everyone.  Some waiting person-by-person, some zoning out, some disconnect on who got excited at what moments.  I think that throughout sizable chunks of my gaming experience, this was assumed to be How Roleplaying Works.  You show up, bitch about work, listen to the GM, get psyched about the game at some points, read game supplements at other points, argue over dinner, and generally enjoy the company of your friends.  If I'd had nothing but such experiences, it wouldn't occur to me to set the bar any higher.

However, I have had play experiences which I really really really enjoyed, and I think I can correlate those (in some part) with the dynamic you describe of "shared aesthetic drive" -- sometimes just between me and the GM, but sometimes with everyone at the table.  So, yeah, I can understand how a functioning CA is valuable.

Now I think your Werewolf game is coherent, in terms of CA, in no small part due to your presence. So I think that the techniques and situations that people like, and say they like, and say they prioritize so much, do illustrate their gaming history (as I described for incoherent play above) ... but the game works to the extent it does (i.e. a lot) because of the coherence.

"A lot?"  I suppose so.  It all seems very relative.  This is far from the least fun game I've played in (there's fairly little bored disinterest), but also far from the most fun (my awareness at most times that "I am Dave playing a game" keeps me a bit more detached than I prefer; following mission hooks gives me less large-scale creative input than I prefer).

In my current view, I think that the techniques being employed work because they reinforce the CA, and that even if someone didn't like the non-bucket-seats before, they might grudgingly admit that in this case, this once, the seats are OK after all.

This is a perfect opportunity for me to add to (or maybe just re-word part of) the slew of questions I asked in my last long post:
1) which techniques do you see reinforcing the CA and how?
2) which of these useful techniques seem hard for some players to accept?  (actually, my previous note about detachment and creative input might have answered this w.r.t. me)

Ron, if there's anything I need to clarify or elaborate on before you respond to my questions, please let me know.

Ps,
-David


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 18, 2006, 03:26:43 PM
. . . when the setting is affected enough by your characters' actions to change . . . That will be when we see whether the driving aesthetic of play so far is able to sustain alterations, and will be interesting.

Due to the busy schedules of the players involved, I don't see this game lasting long enough to outlive Matt's series of mission opportunities.  If it did, I know that I would regard any greater ability to influence the setting (e.g. my character gives orders to packs of werewolves) as a pretty awesome payoff (at least when said power was initially awarded), and I bet all the other players would feel likewise. 

What would happen when we actually played an "organizational lords of the setting" game, well, who knows... 

(For anyone who wants to see some of my thoughts on playing leaders vs grunts, see this thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=20074.msg210343#msg210343).)


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 21, 2006, 05:43:23 AM
Hi David,

As far as I can tell, this is the only outstanding question:

Quote
1) which techniques do you see reinforcing the CA and how?

You answered the #2 part by yourself, as you said.

To answer #1: The main ones concern how suggestions of yours like the daylight bombing of the vampire HQ, which may seem like tactical responses, are really better understood as collaborative prep for a necessary fight, with the correlated point that fight-outcomes do not include losing at the personal level. Secondary ones concern the way that character-advancement points are being spent primarily on rounding-out the existing or desired image of the character rather than on immediately-significant, game-changing strategic elements (hard to describe by contrast until you've really played this way, as in my Tunnels & Trolls game).

At the ephemeral level, there's a lot of editing and filtering among players, particularly with you acting as an ongoing intermediary between John and the rest of the group, that really nails down what decisions and mis-decisions are "permitted" to enter into things. Some of your frustration arises, I think, out of moments when this breaks down a little, but what matters to me is how often and how consistently it seems to work. I'd rather not discuss John, you, and the rest of group in this thread, which I think is probably a whole thread-topic of its own, and which I think is creating a complex "Gamist/not-Gamist/urh?" knot for you. Um, and my comments about that might be better handled through email; they're kind of personal.

I'd probably like to call this discussion finished, on my part at least, for a while. I don't claim I've "won" it or (as I said earlier) hit it with a magic stick that diagnoses the game or you in some absolutely-undeniable way. All I'm saying is that this is what it looks like to me based on your account, and my only goal is that it be considered, as food for thought at least. If you are reasonably sure you get what I'm saying, then we can be done.

The exception, or problem, I dunno, is your post on November 16, 8:36 AM. For those who might be confused, this post falls into the little gap of the time that David and I went to private messages. Most of it is, I think, obsolete, as I think that the questions were themselves pretty off-the-beam and preceded David realizing that I was actually making sense about a bunch of stuff that he already knew was right.

But! David, I don't want to leave those questions hanging, textually, if you want to work them out a little further. If so, I ask that you pick one at a time, perhaps revising it given our subsequent dialogue, and let me know which, and we can keep going one by one.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 21, 2006, 01:57:00 PM
Ron,

All I'm saying is that this is what it looks like to me based on your account, and my only goal is that it be considered, as food for thought at least. If you are reasonably sure you get what I'm saying, then we can be done.

I'm reasonably sure I get all of the specific points that you have made, but I am still unclear on what earns this game the designation of Sim as opposed to Incoherent or Hybrid.  I mean, I can certainly see possible reasons why this is the case, but I am fuzzy on which of them actual apply and matter.  I am pondering two mental models:

MODEL ONE

There is some spectrum between:
1) incoherence where some players would probably like to be playing Sim but it just isn't happening
and
2) Sim play where everyone is totally on the same page about what desirable/appropriate and undesirable/inappropriate

As well, there is a spectrum between:
1) play with some Gam and Sim values that is a true hybrid
and
2) play which is Sim only

MODEL TWO

CA's use is as a yes/no switch, and a game can only be either Gam or Sim or Nar or Incoherent or a specific form of Hybrid which upholds two CAs in a certain way.

WHICH ONE?

If you can tell me that one of these models is a useful part of the Big Model while the other is not, then I can proceed to the following attempts at understanding:

MODEL ONE:  My Werewolf game exists somewhere in the middle of those spectrums.  Based on your experience, you think it's sufficiently closer to ends #2 than to ends #1, such that the Sim label can be applied with reasonable confidence.

MODEL TWO:  Incoherence almost always breeds a lower level of group aesthetic/priority compatibility than my game is showing.  A Gam-Sim hybrid requires more possibilities of player losing.  So Sim is a much more likely call than the other two.

If one of these is on-track, then I get why this game is Sim. 

I'm still fuzzy on how to implement your diagnostic process myself.  But, in the context of the Werewolf game, I have an idea:

People care if they win or lose fights.  Why?
People praise each other's strategic contributions.  Why?

The two above facts do not make a game Gamist.  The answers to the "why"s are far more telling about whether a game is Gamist or not.  In my game, as the "why"s point to components of exploration (Setting, Situation, Color) rather than direct player victory/success -- well, there you have is one possible indication that my game is Sim rather than Gam.

If this is on-track, then I get part of how you deduced that this game is Sim.

If these two earlier stabs are also on-track, then I am indeed comfortable ending this thread, secure that discussion this game has contributed all it's going to in my understanding of G/N/S:

Baseball/Football/Soccer are G/N/S, "Team Sports" is Roleplaying, and that was an Incoherent game that failed and dissolved due to CA clash.
Here's my best guess at a non-Gamist "tell":

If I'm still lost on some part of the theory, though, I'd appreciate you letting me know and working through it with me just a little further.

Thanks,
-David


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 22, 2006, 09:50:17 AM
Note to everyone: David's away from the computer through the Thanksgiving weekend. There will be an intermission, therefore, after this post.

Hi David!

I am going to break one of my rules and take a line-by-line approach to answering. However, I will try to summarize at the end, and I’d prefer not to break up the dialogue into a bunch of tiny homunculous-points with little buzzy debates of their own, even though it might look like it at the moment.
With respect, your modeling-approach is way too much work. It’s much easier than you’re making it, I think.

Quote
I am pondering two mental models:

MODEL ONE

There is some spectrum between:

1) incoherence where some players would probably like to be playing Sim but it just isn't happening
and
2) Sim play where everyone is totally on the same page about what desirable/appropriate and undesirable/inappropriate

Sure. No issue there; that’s incoherent-to-coherent in my book. If you include the dotted-line concept that I posted about earlier, then this is a non-problematic statement.

Quote
As well, there is a spectrum between:

1) play with some Gam and Sim values that is a true hybrid
and
2) play which is Sim only

At this point, I am underwhelmed with talk about hybrids. All the example designs that I’ve thought might engender such play turned out to require Drift or suffer gross incoherence (e.g. The Riddle of Steel).

My current thinking is that you have the Exploration platform, and if you have a coherent CA on top of it, then it’s one CA. To take your example, if it’s Gamist, then there may be a lot of attention to the underlying SIS involved (e.g. in Andreas’ game, good example of that) toward the Gamist ends. Or if it’s Simulationist, then there may be a lot of attention to the tactics and tension among the characters, which may or may not be “felt” by the players, but which all serves toward the Simulationist end.

Basically, I have decided that just about all hybrid-talk to date has actually been a cover for incoherence or for intellectually dodging the painful admission that “there can be only one” for a given instance (= reward cycle) of play. Fuck hybrids in the ear.

My conclusion about your Model One is that it’s fine to think of coherence/incoherence as a spectrum-based concept. But Creative Agenda's identity is not a spectrum-phenomenon (compared among the three).

Quote
MODEL TWO

CA's use is as a yes/no switch, and a game can only be either Gam or Sim or Nar or Incoherent or a specific form of Hybrid which upholds two CAs in a certain way.

The problem with this one is that the coherence/incoherence spectrum means that CA’s existence cannot be treated as a yes/no switch. However, as I stated above, I think CA’s identity (pending its presence) is a unitary thing: one of the three, period.

So there you have my response to your models: basically, to toss’em both out.

I can only hope that my clarifications and points have now come together to illustrate the model I’m attempting to present: (1) Incoherence/coherence is indeed a spectrum, which means Creative Agenda may be variable as a presence; (2) if and when present, Creative Agenda is a discrete and identifiable thing in regard to the three types.

I also hope it’s clear how general a term like Simulationism is as a construct, but how specific its identity comes when utilized as a component of the Big Model. What I'm seeing as your Simulationist play, in this group, is expressed and reinforced through its own unique combination of procedures and what you might call “styles” during the moments and decision-points of play.

Using this putative “I get it now” model as the base, which I hope you are now holding in your mind, here are my conclusions about the Werewolf game based on your description.

1. Pulling from what is correct in your Model One: It is more coherent than incoherent. Seven completed missions, requiring multiple sessions apiece. No sign of arguments, no sign of during-play breakdowns, no sign of hitchiness that is necessary to accommodate shifts in agenda or nods toward different agendas. That’s what I see, and it seems likely to continue.

2. Pulling from what is correct in Model Two: Never mind the hybrids; the question is why ain’t I seeing Gamism. Here is why, going back to your “orphan post” for the necessary background (warning: rude/direct tone coming up).

----
Regarding actual people actually losing, as a baseline feature of Gamist play,

Quote
That is a very useful definition. So, let's see. If we're fighting to stop a vampire from poisoning the water, and the rest of the PCs are fighting his henchmen, and

1) Shimmer fights the vampire, and the vampire kills him, poisons the water, and runs away, and
2) the game continues, and we suspect we'll face the vampire again, and
3) Matt decides Shimmer can't be resurrected but encourages John to play a new character --
did John just flatly lose or not?

Suppose the vampire killed Shimmer because John made some hideous tactical error. Now did he flatly lose?

This hasn't happened, but I for one like to believe that it could happen, and occasionally Matt says things to imply that we should be worried about this happening. How important is it that we may tacitly understand, deep down, that this is extremely unlikely?

"Suppose, if, what if, would ...." What I see is that nothing like this does happen, with four player-characters, over seven multi-session missions. That's a whole lotta "not" that I consider more important to talk about than any if-suppose-would proposition.

This has everything to do with the constructive denial I wrote about earlier this year. You rightly see "we might lose!" as a necessary character-experience concept in play, and so you reinforce it a lot, or as you put it, like to believe it could happen. But that's what it is ... a "liking." The record of play speaks for itself. Seven missions,  man. No losses of any consequence in the sense of you personally failed/lost. And when the system did kill a character, he gets to "see Heaven" and come back. You want to "like to believe" you could lose, then go right ahead as a necessary piece of enjoying this game; I won't stop you and I certainly won't recommend breaking the denial for that purpose. But here, in this forum, we're not playing the game, and I can say quite confidently - seven missions, no losses; there ain't no losing in this situation, and hence no Gamism.

I have no idea how "important" you may find this issue regarding play itself. My own take is that its existence is important as a deep-down knowledge; whether it's ever verbalized or acknowledged is a matter of personal taste. (Although I have found that the denial is constructive toward the Simulationist agenda, so maybe staying deep-down is better, I dunno.) For this discussion it's an important point, and very bluntly, in your presentation of the question, you've already conceded it.
----

So! on to the rest of the post.

Quote
I'm still fuzzy on how to implement your diagnostic process myself.  But, in the context of the Werewolf game, I have an idea:

People care if they win or lose fights.  Why?
People praise each other's strategic contributions.  Why?

The two above facts do not make a game Gamist.  The answers to the "why"s are far more telling about whether a game is Gamist or not.  In my game, as the "why"s point to components of exploration (Setting, Situation, Color) rather than direct player victory/success -- well, there you have is one possible indication that my game is Sim rather than Gam.

If this is on-track, then I get part of how you deduced that this game is Sim.

Full-on high-five. You got it. That is it.

Quote
If these two earlier stabs are also on-track, then I am indeed comfortable ending this thread, secure that discussion this game has contributed all it's going to in my understanding of G/N/S:

If I'm still lost on some part of the theory, though, I'd appreciate you letting me know and working through it with me just a little further.

Heh. OK, this is going to be more brutal stuff, partly because I am prone to crude humor and partly because I’m trying to loosen up this whole interaction a lot anyway. I’ll go back to the original quote about the sports guys, which you took a bit from in the recent post I just quoted.

Quote
Mind if I try an analogy to test my understanding of GNS? It seems to work for a lot of folks.

Player B shows up at a field with a leather glove and small, white ball. Player F shows up at the same field with a an oblong, brown ball. Player S also shows up with a big black and white ball made of hexagons.

They stare at each other, come closer. Then Player B begins tossing the ball to himself, Player F begins tossing his ball to himself, and Player S begins kicking his ball to himself. At this point, player B is not playing Baseball, F is not playing Football, S is not playing Soccer. They've enjoyed playing those games before, but now they're not playing any games, they're just, y'know, wanking.

At some point, they say, "Hey, we all like Team Sports, let's do something together." So they decide, "The pitcher pitches the ball, the goalie kicks the ball, the defensive lineman tackles whoever's closest." Play doesn't turn out to be much fun, as no one appreciates what the other guys are doing, and it's a sequence of "just waiting and then taking my turn". After a while, they go their separate ways.

Baseball/Football/Soccer are G/N/S, "Team Sports" is Roleplaying, and that was an Incoherent game that failed and dissolved due to CA clash.

This is all a clean miss, man. Totally. I almost included a very rude South Park reference involving a megaphone but restrained myself.

G, N, and S are not different ways to do the same thing. The differences among your ball-players are like the differences among (much play of) Rolemaster, Ars Magica, and Pendragon - all Simulationist-consistent, all with distinctly different ways to set up play-groups, to deal with setting, and to reward participation.
Whereas G, N, and S are flatly different things to do. Here's the analogy I used most recently and will stand by as the definitive one:
(when someone called them "styles")

Quote
No. "Stop right there," like in the Meat Loaf song.

"Style" is a terrible word and I've never used it for CA-stuff, not even back when I first started writing about it. This is not merely a semantic preference. As long as you keep using "style," you'll be focusing on things which, relative to CA, are trivial.

Style differences are like choosing which motorcycle you like to ride, and maybe whether you prefer to do your repairs yourself or take it to the mechanic. I'm talking about the differences between riding a motorcycle and placing it upside down among bronzed cabbages as a sculpture. The differences among distinct CAs, socially speaking, are so vast that you can barely even say the different groups are even carrying out the same activity.

Minor re-phrase of the last sentence: The differences among distinct CAs, socially and creatively speaking, are so vast that any phrase like “they use motorcycles” is void of content.

and (in regard to the "triangle," which is related to the point at hand)

Quote
... it's like the difference between one guy who rides his motorcycle to work and back, and another guy who suspends a motorcycle upside down, surrounds it with bronzed cabbages, and gives it a name like "Cosmos." You could say they both like motorcycles, and you could even say they both conceivably could sell their motorcycles. But to say they exist on two ends of any sort of spectrum with common aesthetic grounds of "what to do with a motorcycle" is pretty dumb - or a person would have to be so PoMo to justify it, that I'm not interested in talking to that person.

You could make a triangle out of three guys who ride their motorcycles differently - a racer, a guy who commutes to work, and a guy who pretties up the bike most of the time and tools it around a little at shows. But to me, taking that to aesthetic and creative stuff like role-playing, that's just one CA with a variety of techniques/approaches.

So, I boosted the rude/zippy tone in this post, mainly because it’s my preferred voice both in person and on-line, and because I think my points will be made more honestly, with the emphasis in the right spots. Hope you’re OK with it; there’s no need to try to match or whatever.

What do you think of the points? Have I addressed the concerns in your post?

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: David Berg on November 22, 2006, 10:33:11 AM
Ron,

Score!  With the exception of your reference to a "dotted-line concept" (which I can't find in this thread), I get everything in your last post. 

Even the sports analogy isn't a problem, because I personally view playing baseball and playing football as about as different as riding a motorcycle and using one to make a solar system mock-up (though I now realize that saying "they're all team sports" obscured this fact -- I only meant it to mirror the extent to which Nar/Gam/Sim "are all roleplaying", a statement which was not intended to carry any significant weight).

Fucking hybrids in the ear is a theoretical position I'm comfortable with (honestly, Riddle of Steel as described in your review makes more sense to me just viewed as Nar, as the presence of that Meta-Story-Dicepool Pumper (can't remember name, haven't played RoS) would kinda hose my Sim desires in combats).

I already pretty much understood what your conclusions were w.r.t. my Werewolf game, but your last post has finally satisfied my desire to understand how and why you arrived at them.

So, thanks for taking the time to clue me in!  Hopefully, the next time I set out to discuss system and design (and the importance of bucket seats), I will be using CA concepts appropriately.

Ps,
-David


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Ricky Donato on November 22, 2006, 12:18:49 PM
Ron, could you post a link to Andreas' Gamism thread that you referred to? That would help me a lot in understanding this issue.


Title: Re: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 22, 2006, 01:01:37 PM
Hi there.

Fan-tastic ...

Here's the bit about the dotted line, which I'd drafted in response to one of the points in the orphan-post, complete with quote:

----
Quote
It seems to me that CA as an emergent Group property of a bunch of Individuals sharing something can have any degree of coherence, from "pure" Incoherence to "pure" Nar or Gam or Sim. Is that correct?

To some degree, sure, with one important proviso: I think there's a dotted line in the middle of the "Coherence spectrum," which on one side means that shared fun isn't happening (and so play must rely on other kinds of glue like habits and jokes and whatever) and on the other means that it happens at least frequently enough to make play enjoyable for its own sake (i.e. better than an alternative activity at the moment).
----

Ricky, Frank linked to the thread about Andreas' Rifts game in his post on the first page of this thread.

Best, Ron