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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: khelek on May 18, 2007, 12:39:31 PM



Title: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: khelek on May 18, 2007, 12:39:31 PM
I love running Dogs, it brings out the worse in characters.

We have a group that is running a number of games, mostly small press, at a local Game Shop who have been kind enough to host us. This week I ran Dogs. I ran a town that was a variation of King's Ward Branch which I found on the Lumpley forum (of course I can not find it now!).

first I explain th setting, there was another player there that had played Dogs with me before and he helped out. I must say that my setting description was a bit haphazard. Thats okay, we got to making Dogs. One player wanted to meta-game a little bit, talk about who would do what, the talking guy, the shooty guy, etc. I tried to explain to him that Niche Protection was not that important in Dogs, and it was more the Personality of the Dog that balanced the party.

Either I explained it poorly or he did not understand, or maybe he thought I did not know what I was talking about. Never-the-less, he persisted, and I asked him what sort of character he wanted, he wanted a Gunslinger. Thats cool, of course you will all have guns. Mel, the player who had played Dogs before offered up the "Seven Samuri" as an example when all the characters are the same, and that you can not depend on being the guy who is The Best at one thing. I also made some allusions to the Fact that Traits could be useful at all stages of the conflict, and to wait your character toward only one aspect of the conflict spectrum is inviting trouble; also that sometimes other Dogs were your own worst enemy.

anyways, we eventually got four dogs, from all walks of life. three of the players passed their Initiation Test, the fourth gave as soon as we described the scene. Instead of heading back to the Temple he went to the dance and chased girls. The player did not even roll the Dice. Thats cool. (Of course, this decision would later tear the party apart, setting Dog on Dog, and requiring multiple exorcisms, awesome).

Play starts, conflicts are had, as so often occurs in Dogs things are solved with a gun. sometimes against more or less unarmed opponents. Looking back, this may have been the very classic and typical example of RPG conflict resolution. Where force is the Key, and you can choose to limit the amount of force you are using since damage is basically a countdown, and you can see your target getting closer to death with each hit. Since in dogs we all roll Fallout at the End, and the GM can twist your intentions by purposefully taking allot of fallout, it leads to unintended, and often harsh consequences.

In my (limited) experience dog groups seem to fall into two general camps, the Investigators and the Judges. The investigators like to hunt out the "Truth" before making a decision, and the Judges just start Judging. As a group the players fell into the second camp, though among the individual players some wanted to investigate. but once the guns come out, and people start dropping Judgment has to be made quick, and you have to decide if your are going to risk your life for an NPC who may or may not be innocent.

When faced with one man being held at the mercy of another. They shot the man in power, the Branch's Steward, and they saved the man who he had in custody, an Unfaithful man whom they were told was a sorcerer. When faced with a man about to kill a woman, who was said to be a witch, they attempted to stop him (by shooting him) to save her. I was talking to Mel earlier in the evening regarding setting of scenes. How ,in my experience, most of the time (but not always) players choose to support the underdog. And that Dogs offers one of the best ways to play with that tendency.

As the judgments and revelations progress the party begins to turn upon itself. Mel's character find that he may be the father of a child (does he claim the child or disown it, he could not seem to decide!) Eventually the climatic scene is the party turning on itself. Disagreements about judgment and punishment for actions taken earlier in the Game was the cause. here I forgot myself and did not focus on what the Stakes were as well as I should. without defining stakes no one would back down. That was my fault. Never the less the conflict came ot a close with two characters down after giving so as to avoid the fallout, and the last person giving to the force of a Exorcism.

Through the game we were laughing so hard we cried. cheering each other on. and being shocked at what happened. It was a great game, everyone had allot of fun, and the Town came to a dramatic close. Likely these dogs would have ot head back to the temple to recover their moral equilibrium. but who knows?


So as we packed up one player came ot me and told me it was a terrible game! (This is the same player who wanted to choose Niches for each character) He said: " I had lots of fun, but the system is terrible! who ever has the most traits will win." I told him that seemed true in most games, but that the question is not how are you going to win, but how far are you willing to go to win. We talked for a while, but he remained unconvinced that the game was suppose to work this way. That choosing when to give and when to escalate was a main element of Dog's game play.

did I explain it badly? was it a clash of expectations? any thoughts?


Thanks,

Jason

PS: The player had a great time during the play session itself, he was laughing and crying with the rest of us. it seemed more of a dissatisfaction with the underlying theory of Dogs.



Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Mel White on May 20, 2007, 08:03:25 AM
I love running Dogs, it brings out the worse in characters...
 So as we packed up one player came ot me and told me it was a terrible game! (This is the same player who wanted to choose Niches for each character) He said: " I had lots of fun, but the system is terrible! who ever has the most traits will win." I told him that seemed true in most games, but that the question is not how are you going to win, but how far are you willing to go to win. We talked for a while, but he remained unconvinced that the game was suppose to work this way. That choosing when to give and when to escalate was a main element of Dog's game play.

did I explain it badly? was it a clash of expectations? any thoughts?
Jason

Hi Jason,
I think it was a great game, thanks for running it!  I think Billy's dissatisfaction was due to a 'clash of expectations' rather than any flaws in the explanation or setup.  As background for other readers, Billy, Jason, another player, and I have been playing Burning Empires weekly for about three months, so we've gotten to know each other's likes and dislikes a little bit. Billy doesn't like ambiguity.  He likes his characters to be given a mission, to be 'hired in a bar' to do something.  He plays RPGs the 'old-school' way (despite being about 19 years old)--NPCs are meant to be killed.  When the GM presents a situation, clearly the players' reaction should be to choose sides and act.  And this is all cool!  Billy went into the game designing a gunslinger character who just wanted something to shoot at, and who wanted to be the baddest-ass shooter around.  You'll recall the silver-embroidered crossed-pistols his character had emblazoned on the back of his Dogs coat; and choosing the trait 'ambidextrous' so that he could shoot a gun from each hand--even though that's not strictly necessary to do that.  But then it turns out in actual play, that he couldn't hit anything!  You were able to match his dice through three or four rounds before being overcome.  I don't remember his character's exact traits, but I recall that most had to do with gunfighting.  That has two effects--his character was going to be looking for a gunfight, and his character would be minimally effective in anything but a gunfight.  Although, that being said, I just love (another player) Andy's application of his character's trait 'my ass is numb' in a gunfight to explain that the shotgun blast may have hit him, but it didn't hurt!  So it's not necessarily the number of traits, but creativity in applying traits to the situation at hand. 
Mel


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Adam Dray on May 21, 2007, 01:01:19 PM
Yeah, I don't know to get that point across to the Billys of the world.

"Man, this game is too easy. I shot down the entire town with my rifle and they never even scratched me. I win!"

"Win what?"

"The game! I killed them all!"

"Do you realize that your character is a sociopath? You could have done anything in that game, and you chose to have your character murder an entire town."

"Woo! I win!"

"..."


I generally start a Dogs game with a reminder that there are no wrong or right choices in the game, that the GM has no power to judge you as a player during the game, but that you'd like to talk about the choices everyone made after the game. Players often have their characters do things that they wouldn't do themselves, and I like to remind players of that, too. I can show how terrible absolute power is by playing a sociopath with absolute power, or I can show the faults of blind faith by playing a Dog-priest who doesn't think critically. Those people aren't me at all, yet my choice of characters makes a statement.

It sounds like Billy didn't consider that playing a sociopath was making any kind of statement at all. Basically, as you said, it was a sort of a clash of expectations. Everyone else was playing one game; Billy was playing another.


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Mel White on May 21, 2007, 03:29:52 PM
It sounds like Billy didn't consider that playing a sociopath was making any kind of statement at all. Basically, as you said, it was a sort of a clash of expectations. Everyone else was playing one game; Billy was playing another.
I may have given the wrong impression.  Billy wasn't playing a sociopath--he didn't want his character to shoot everybody--he wanted to shoot the bad guys.  He just didn't want to spend a lot of time figuring out who was the bad guy.  As Jason said, in the comparison of some players who do investigating and some who start judging, Billy's character just started judging.  No ambiguity:  if a man is abusing another man, shoot the first man because the underdog is the good guy.  Man abusing a woman--shoot the man, because good guys don't abuse women.  So that's fine.  But then when he did try to shoot the bad guy, rather than either hit him or miss him, he wound up shooting the woman by mistake.  So not only is the situation now ambiguous--who should he help; the game mechanics are ambiguous in that there are more than just two results (success or failure).
Mel


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Adam Dray on May 21, 2007, 05:02:21 PM
Even if he wasn't playing a sociopath, most of what I said still applies. Billy was probably playing an entirely different game than you. =)


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Mel White on May 22, 2007, 12:09:53 AM
Even if he wasn't playing a sociopath, most of what I said still applies. Billy was probably playing an entirely different game than you. =)
Definitely!


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Frank Tarcikowski on May 22, 2007, 04:57:07 AM
Well, in a conflict that started at the “shooting” level, and with a Dog optimized as a gunslinger, he must have either picked bad traits and attributes, used his traits poorly, used his dice poorly, or rolled crap if he didn’t hit anything for four exchanges. Probably all of the above. That may be a tribute to learning the system. Cause when I play Dogs and want my Dog to rock in a gunfight, then my Dog rocks in a gunfight.

There is something that strikes me about this discussion, though. You know, if Billy was really playing a totally different game than the rest, how did it come together that everyone around the table had fun together? Mel, Jason, did you feel that Billy’s contributions to the game were worthwhile to you? If so, why? And do you think Billy appreciated your contributions? If so, why?

Frank


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Mel White on May 22, 2007, 06:07:56 AM
There is something that strikes me about this discussion, though. You know, if Billy was really playing a totally different game than the rest, how did it come together that everyone around the table had fun together? Mel, Jason, did you feel that Billy’s contributions to the game were worthwhile to you? If so, why? And do you think Billy appreciated your contributions? If so, why?
It was definitely a lot of fun.  Billy contributed by turning the action dial to '11'--as you mentioned, by doing things like starting conflicts out shooting.  So, although we may have started a scene with different expectations, once the shooting started, we were 'all in'.  And, to be sure, by the end of the game it was my character that was shooting the other Dogs. 
Mel 


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Frank Tarcikowski on May 22, 2007, 08:03:28 AM
Hey, here’s something else about the system. If I’ve only got one 9 on the table and the rest 4 or lower, and want to keep the 9 for tactical reasons (reversing the blow), and my Dog is a gunslinger deluxe, why, I don’t raise with a 3 and a 4 and say “I shoot him”. Cause I can see that the GM will block me with 5 and 2 and I’ll miss the shot, and if I don’t see my Dog as someone who misses a shot, then I don’t make him. So, instead, my raise is just drawing my gun in slow motion and pointing it, harvesting some dice for traits and belongings in the process. And if I still don’t see me hitting with the second raise, I’ll describe my eyes focusing on the target or something.

In “traditional” RPGs, which Billy is probably more used to, the dice in resolution say pretty straightforward what happens in the Shared Imagined Space (SIS). In Dogs, the interaction of dice and SIS is a lot more complicated. In many situations, the system requires the players to come up with something that fits the dice. As in, “Look, these dice are on the table, now how do we make what happens in the SIS fit with the back and forth of the conflict, without disrupting plausibility?” As I see it, this is both strength and weakness of the Dogs resolution system. Maybe Billy fully understood this and just didn’t like it. I think it’s a bit unfair to discard it as, “Nah, he didn’t get it.”

As for the shared fun, I have also played in games where some players played the town like a mission (“find the right way (tm) to save this town”) and others were more interested in the actual moral impact of their judgement. It seemed possible for both sides to get what they wanted out of the game, and still profit from the others’ contributions. On the other hand, I have also talked to a hardcore Narrativist player (Nicolas Crost, who used to post here around 2003-2004) who complained about these “mission” players because they spoiled his enjoyment of the game. He found that many players embrace the Dogs conflicts for the neat “dice game” they are, and really try to win every conflict no matter the consequences.

Frank


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Adam Dray on May 22, 2007, 09:42:13 AM
Frank, I don't think everyone being on the same page regarding Creative Agenda is necessary to have a good time. It sounds like Billy found his own fun via the social interaction, shooting things, and enjoying the action. Mel talked about Jason's "dissatisfaction," though, so I'm assuming it wasn't the best game it could be. And Jason talks of a "clash of expectations," so I'm assume he's here to improve things, too. If they had fun and don't think anything needs to change for the next time, though, then I have nothing to add other than "awesome!"

Jason, you still around? I'm curious what you think now that we've all opined.


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: khelek on May 22, 2007, 12:43:54 PM
Still here and Reading!

Also still digesting the various view points and comments. Certainly I was not dissatisfied with the Game. If I could have run it better, it was primarily some of the typical problems i have: Setting Stakes. However I think that is not necessarily what we are discussing.

Billy brought his play style to the game, which as mel stated is about good guys and bad guys. He likes Missions, but also like to "do his own thing." He also likes to identify with the Underdog. However it played out, the game itself was great fun. Every one excepted what happened, and rolled with it. No one got angry over being betrayed (it helps when it is a short term game).

What got me was Billy's dissatisfaction with Dogs as a game system. While he liked Burning Empires he defintly approached play differently than I did, but we both took what we wanted from BE, and he has expressed interest in a BW game. However! while he (and the rest of us) had a great time playing Dogs billy would seem to not want to play again.


How about this approach to the situation:

Some times you run across a game that has bad mechanics or conflict resolution but a great setting. Often times I hear Shadowrun 2nd Ed or Rifts as an example o such a game. When confronted with one of these games some players and posters will tell you "it is how the game is played, not the rules that matter." I feel like Billy left my Dogs game with that opinion. That he played a game that was fun and interesting, but his fun was Despite the Rules. Where I feel that it is exactly the opposite that allot of my fun in Dogs comes from how the Rules effect play choices. <for example when "My ass is Numb 2d4" can save your characters life> when I play I know that the system is open to munchkin-ism. but since the game is not about Power it does not matter to me as much as when I play a game that is more focused on character competence.

So what shocked me is that he disregarded the rules and intent behind the game as inherently flawed, and thought it was only how it was played that was fun. Where I would state that allot of the fun we had was because the rules not only allowed these kinds of conflicts but demanded that we focus on them! (exclamation points brought to you by Rifts!! jk)

Mel et al., thanks for your feedback keep it coming.

Jason


Title: DitV - Clash of Expectations - Sociopath behaviour and DITV
Post by: baron samedi on May 23, 2007, 09:06:01 AM
Hi guys,

This conversation reminds me of John Tyne's essay in the "Powerkill" RPG, the meta-rpg about talking to your psychiatrist about the people you killed and robbed. When stating "Billy wasn't playing a sociopath", a question arises: what is a sociopath?

According to Oxford's: "a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behaviour. "

It is my humble opinion that someone shooting people around is, indeed, a manifestation of extreme antisocial attitudes and behaviour. Thence a sociopath his character is. At least that's what they call them in the media when a school shoot-out happens.

Not that Billy's a sociopath or anything, but irresponsibility from consequences is everywhere in RPGs. I think that RPGs drive out the most sociopathic trends in anyone; few would challenge the notion that a shooter killing people without proper trial procedure, outside a context of crisis (e.g. war), is sociopathic behaviour at its best.

Which was the point of Tynes' game, and which your friend Billy illustrated. When fundamentalists critizice RPGs for immorality, that's probably the kind of behaviour they have in mind... and it's a good point about "takign a stand on values" (e.g. killing people for XP and gold).  DITV brings that behaviour up to your nose, I think, which is a great part of its appeal. Thence, the assumption clash I think... The paradigm wasn't winning (gamist), it was about meaning (narrativist).

:)


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Web_Weaver on May 25, 2007, 01:21:25 AM
Hey all,

I think that we need to be careful when we talk about how certain types of players interact with the Dogs rules because the reward cycle of Dogs is on a longer scale than a single conflict, and can take 3 or 4 towns to really kick in.

To illustrate lets put ourselves in the shoes of the stereotypical "traditional roleplayer". We'll define him as a guy who is used to task resolution and quick reward cycles like experience points or the like.

We start playing dogs with the expectation "this is an rpg, I have played loads of these" and concentrate on understanding the mechanics and trying to do stuff effectively. But, during the first few conflicts our intended tasks get subverted by the conflict system, the only reward appears to be winning or loosing and the fallout system seems to be analogous to damage. Worse still, it becomes apparent that winning and loosing isn't always about the dice which flies in the face of most dice heavy games. We begin to be disorientated and look for a new tactic.

We are slowly encouraged to adopt a tactic of managing fallout dice and push harder on raises in the conflict to get the other guy to back down. (This is echoed in the talk of turning the action up to 11). Next, we realise that any trait can be used to push harder or provide fallout options and that we can make the fallout both interesting and potentially positive by using it to add more traits and or dice.

At this stage the reward cycle STARTS to kick in, the behaviour encouraged by the rules is "play hard and flexible" & "make Fallout work for my character".

Then after a few plays we begin to realise that the conflict is mechanically about clashing over stakes and narration of the dice, and that fallout is about reflecting meaningful character consequences. So what type of player are we now?

So after all that my main point is let the game do the talking and stop worrying who "gets it", because if a game is designed well the agenda is emergent not the other way round. The agenda issues here are related to the rewards emerging from the conflict and the encouraged behaviour.

So to turn it back to actual play, at this early stage did you notice Billy beginning to manage fallout, either mechanically (pushing forward small dice and taking blows) or character driven (rationalising interesting consequences when applying fallout). Because this would be a better indication of how far along the path he is of grasping the rules. The dissatisfaction may be temporary while the reward system kicks in fully, or it may linger and resolve into a dislike of Dogs for more considered reasons, but try not to prejudge the early reactions its just a symptom of the disorientation phase.


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Frank Tarcikowski on May 25, 2007, 06:08:57 AM
Hey Jamie,

I don't think it's that easy. Many people here around tend to believe that a well designed Forge style coherent game system will just make a player display a certain Creative Agenda. But reward mechanics are not that powerful. They are a good tool for communicating and focusing goals and preferences, but these goals and preferences need to be there in the first place.

I think if someone plays Dogs, by the rules as written, for one full session and states afterwards that he doesn't like the mechanics, then probably he just doesn't like the mechanics. And the idea that the mechanics will somehow convert (cure?) him if he continues playing is somthing of an urban myth around this website. I don't even know where it came from.

You know what? I would really like to hear what Billy himself has to say. Jason, Mel, do you think there is a way to point him to this thread?

Frank


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Web_Weaver on May 25, 2007, 10:28:48 AM

Hi Frank

To keep it brief and not take the thread into theory your restatement of my position is not representative of my views, and I mainly agree with you apart from the single session aspect, and then specifically for the game in hand which in my experience takes a while to sink in. My hypothetical was just that, there is no such person as the "traditional roleplayer", that is why I defined him narrowly.

To use a Monopoly analogy, you can only fully appreciate the economy of the game if you play it to the end. Sure some people are going to decide its boring half way through, but usually when they have some idea of how property works and how the money flows as opposed to twice round the board.

Nearly every game I have ever played or witnessed played has an "ah I see" moment, and I am only suggesting that reaching that point is the best place to judge whether you like it or not. I don't think that is controversial.


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Frank Tarcikowski on May 25, 2007, 02:24:56 PM
Hi Jamie,

I agree! Sorry for reading you a little maliciously in order to make my point.

Frank


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: khelek on May 28, 2007, 05:34:54 PM
Frank,

From my experience playing with Billy it is not the content or mechanics of Dogs that is at the root of the issue, but the nature of play that I was aiming for (whether or not I succeded). Billy ran us a game of Starwars D20 this last week, and of course like we all do he brtought his own styles and expectations to the table. As per most rpgs the GMs style and expectations color the game more than a PC-player. In this case he brought us a Mission Type game where were are over matched, but have a chance as long as we follow the plot. We were encouraged to think of ways around problems, but of course with the D20 tool-kit the interactions and variations are extremely limited. We were not encouraged to circumvent the plot, and were expected to follow along even though we thought we could see ways around the set plot.

This style (much like my style 3 or 4 or so years ago) is what Billy wanted from Dogs, I think. And of course I think I responded the same way that Billy did to my game. After all even though my expectations of a D20 system were inline with the game that we played the game that we had clashed with my own expectations of how a game should be played. I certainly expect more narrative power, less linearity, and less Investigation. I have moved away from long narration of what I see or experience from the GM's view point and more into each player sharing their views on what is happening.

I hesitate to point Billy here as I feel that it would not be particularly productive. He does not think this is how games should run, and he is not wrong! Neither am I of course! I do not think that I want to try and coach him through it. I think me and Mel (mel is trying to run a number of small press games as short story arcs or one shots) would rather present players with a number of options, play styles, systems, and games so that players can see for themselves that there are other options rather than D20, White Wolf, or Rifts. It is not my intention to try and convert players except with my enthusiam for these games and how they play. I may of course be wrong, but I think that billy's reaction to these kind of discussions would be the same as mine reaction to discussions on therpgsite.com

We are now planing to alternate D20 Starwars with Burning Wheel. I am hoping that the contrasting play experiences will highlight all the things that I love about games like Dogs and BW (lots of love for you other writers out there!) and maybe start changing Billy's play style though experience. Maybe we will try and post some compare/contrasts to highlight how the games encourage different play for our mixed group of D20/Indie gamers. should be lots of laughs.



In regards to getting it, I think the players picked up the Stake rules and the fall out mechcanics quickly, though of course fully grasped it at the end. However the fallout mechcanics were part of what some of the players thought were broken, which of course they are if you play your character as you would play to get bigger numbers on your character sheet. rather than focusing on the real elements of play, decision making. If we get to play again, I would certainyl bring in a confict involving two equal but innocent characters. To contrast against the very start conflicts that we had in our last game. ah well.. next time.

----

Jason


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Frank Tarcikowski on May 29, 2007, 05:15:41 AM
Hi Jason,

Good to hear you are not on a mission to convert the Billies of this world. You were in the game and I weren’t, so you are in a much better position to judge what went how and why. This whole “clash of expectations” thing is something that happens a lot, especially in Dogs where you actually get assigned with a “mission” (the town).

You did say that Billy found the classic “Bang” situation (where there is no “right choice (tm)”) annoying. That’s a typical example of how this clash of expectations manifests in actual play. You did also say that Billy didn’t like the rules because of several reasons. I have tried to illustrate that you might not have been using the rules to their full capacity, but nevertheless, from Billy’s point of view, his criticism of the rules was probably valid. And, as you have correctly stated, this dissatisfaction may well be rooted in his different expectations with regard to what the game should deliver.

All this is pretty straightforward. We are seeing a game where players fail to connect on goals and preferences, which leads to some bumps and moments of frustration on both ends. However, we are still seeing some mostly solid Exploration (the process of imagining fictional events together). We are seeing dialogue, we are seeing description, we are seeing a fun dice game. We are seeing a bunch of people who are having a good time overall. Much of that may be owed to the fact that you are all nice guys and fun to hang out with, but the game did hold enjoyment of its own for all of you.

So, could you have had a better time without Billy? Probably. But: assuming that you were decided on spending time with Billy, was it a bad choice to play Dogs? Would you have been better off playing Munchkin or Twilight Imperium or Baseball? “No role-playing at all is better than role-playing that is not fun”, is a common saying here at the Forge. How about “Role-playing that is mostly fun”? I gather that you don’t regret playing in this game, despite the little clash with Billy. That seems to me the important point of this thread.

Frank


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: khelek on May 29, 2007, 12:22:20 PM

Frank Said:
Quote
So, could you have had a better time without Billy? Probably. But: assuming that you were decided on spending time with Billy, was it a bad choice to play Dogs? Would you have been better off playing Munchkin or Twilight Imperium or Baseball? “No role-playing at all is better than role-playing that is not fun”, is a common saying here at the Forge. How about “Role-playing that is mostly fun”? I gather that you don’t regret playing in this game, despite the little clash with Billy. That seems to me the important point of this thread.

Yes! We had lots of fun, it was only in the discussion afterward that this was discussed. not once during th game did some one look like they were not "there" or wishing they were somewhere else. I was glad to have run the game, my shock was only because after such a great game was i made aware that one of the players did not buy it. The shock was powerful enough that I wanted to share.

as to me not using the rules to the fullest, I am sure I am guilty as charge. trying though. trying.

Thanks.


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Frank Tarcikowski on May 30, 2007, 05:28:59 AM
Ah, curse the simplicity of the English language! "You", in this case, was plural, refering to the group as a whole and Billy in particular. Anyway, it's pretty usual that rules mastery takes its time. Don't worry about it!

Frank


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Web_Weaver on May 31, 2007, 10:55:04 AM

On a more general level I was glad to see this thread developed as it highlights a problem that I have experienced with new games, sometimes you get the feeling in these forums that certain games are "the solution" to this clash of expectations. Dogs is indeed one of those suggested.

I have seen very similar things happen with Dogs in my group. The sequence of games were a resounding success and some of the players gasped a lungful of fresh-air, (one even running it for a while which gave me a great chance to play it myself) but others, while eventually grasping the central premise and settling into the game, still occasionally struggled with what we were doing, falling back on "tactical control" and "discover the secrets" type behaviours in a game that has no real need for them. Not a game breaker, or even that much of a problem, but suggestive of a persistent perspective clash on a "what are we doing" agenda level.

Interestingly you are considering Burning Wheel which we have moved onto, with less success so far. Still struggling with this one myself but I suspect that BW is just not a game I should be running and I may try and twist the arm of one of my more rules minded players to take it up instead.


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 03, 2007, 07:13:31 AM
Hi there,

I may be unnecessarily rubber-stamping what's been said already, but the first concept of the Big Model is that the individual, personal goals of play cannot be dictated. System matters in meeting goals, but not in instilling them.

It's often the case that someone might discover a long-suppressed or kept-private goal of play through encountering a rules-set which facilitates it, but it's wise not to mistake that phenomenon for the rules-set making or producing that goal for that person.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: khelek on June 03, 2007, 12:07:55 PM
Ron, after three reads of your two lines I understand. Have limited myself on how much of the Big Model I read. (and also limit myself on commenting on it!) But yeah, that is what our group is trying to do:

"Hey guys! here are some games you may have never heard of, but they rock! try them out." some people have really jived on it, others seem to be confused or frustrated but don't know why they are frustrated (as discussed above). Mel was focusing on exposure, ater all it is hard to like a game if you have never heard of it.



Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Noclue on June 08, 2007, 11:37:23 PM
They shot the man in power, the Branch's Steward, and they saved the man who he had in custody, an Unfaithful man whom they were told was a sorcerer.

You see, right here I'm thinking "OK, Brother Robert the Steward is lying in a puddle of mud and gore, his legs twitching as the life runs out of him" and I raise "you hear a woman's scream as, on the porch of the general store, the Steward's wife falls to her knees weeping and repeating one word over and over "Why? why? why?" as the rest of the townspeople stare at you in shock. Out of the corner of your eye you see a small child dart across the street toward the fallen man. A young girl, maybe three or four, in dusty petticoats and a light blue bonnet..."Papa?" And then the sorcerer starts laughing.

Yeah, the one with the most attributes wins. Sure.


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: baron samedi on August 16, 2007, 05:27:13 AM
About the clash of expectations mentionned above, one sentence drew my attention: "(We) still occasionally struggled with what we were doing, falling back on "tactical control" and "discover the secrets" type behaviours in a game that has no real need for them. (...)

The issue of "the impossible task of trying to control the unexpectable" has long been a core subject of management litterature since the last 10 years. In fact, trying to have groups of people follow a set of forethought behaviours in an unpredictable environement is what defines the notion "strategic planning" if not management itself. In this light I can't help but notice, from watching all those discussions on that matter arise on the Forge, that much as the gaming expectations that lead to dysfunctions, as viewed from the GNS and/or Big model, have parallels with scientific models in Public Choice theory in economics and strategic planning litterature. Management since has much to do with game mastering, at least on the "do/don't" element.

In this regard, I think many players/GMs faced with the "how to make a railroading scenario work" or "how to rid oneself of that knee-jerk reflex" conundrum to plot design may find an interesting analysis about this  in the 1994 best-seller by Pr. Henry Mintzberg from McGill University (Montreal), "The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning".  A review: http://www.hepg.org/her/abstract/310

I've adjusted the following quote to situate in in the RPG medium, to show how this reference could serve to upgrade the debate on the notion of "clash of expectations" between planner (GM) and staff (players), the book's very premise, Please bear with me:

Quote
Mintzberg critiques linear plots  strategic planning as a doomed attempt to apply Frederick Winslow Taylor's principles of scientific management to the tasks of gaming  the administrative ranks by prescribing a strict, regimented procedure for GMs planners to follow. While a routine for loading pig iron onto a railroad car may be efficiently standardized, Mintzberg argues, the act of creating plots  strategy is an extremely complex process demanding sophisticated cognitive and social skills that researchers have only begun to understand;  plots  strategy-making certainly cannot be formally programmed by GMs  organizational theorists.

Mintzberg painstakingly dissects what he calls the "fundamental fallacies of linear plots  strategic planning." For example, while linear plots  strategic planning attempts to predict or control the future, present forecasting techniques are extremely limited and notoriously inaccurate; while strategic planning requires quantitative data, such data are commonly too limited in scope, too aggregated, too unreliable, and too late to be useful in effective Actual Play  strategy formulation; while strategic planning frequently focuses exclusively on plot fore-writing  strategy formulation, the success for implementation rests upon people who had nothing to do with creating those plots  plans.

This, I think, explains why GMs like Bobby (and most mangers by far) share strong expectations about controlling behaviour predictability as the basis for the proper way of running things. Moreso, Mintzberg provides strong arguments to show why this approach will often fail when confronted to reality and suggests solutions (though not very strong ones) to enhance real-time adaptativity. You may be surprise to see the parallels with many design models discussed about on the Forge.

Agree with Mintzberg or not, the book's an interesting demonstration in 500 pp. or so about why problems arise when trying to predict how people should behave instead of adjusting on the moment with general guidelines. This is definitely relevant from my perspective in RPG scenario design IMHO. I thought it might be useful and, of course, I'm not implying anything about anyone in peculiar. Just my 2 cents.

Regards,

Erick


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: Web_Weaver on August 16, 2007, 07:08:31 AM

I hear you very clearly Erick, my mantra is stop trying to prejudge or pre-narrate the game/plot/conflict and just play it. This tendency is present in so many of the patterns of play that they are often not noticed until a problem arises.

How I have found Dogs useful, is a way of demonstrating what my play aims are and a way of discussing these aims. Before DitV I had no real way of doing this apart from pulling apart game sessions in a negative or frustrated manner.

The fallout mechanism in Dogs has helped me demonstrate why I value character development over skill increases, and Town Creation has allowed me to explain to another GM in our group why some traditional preconceptions of the GM role are not necessarily required in games with less clear design, like HeroQuest or Spirit of the Century. I also plan to use it to help explain what premise means when we return to these games.


Title: Re: DitV - Clash of Expectations
Post by: baron samedi on August 16, 2007, 10:30:09 AM
I hear you loud and clear, Jamie, and I agree. I think we all have the "fantasy author" reflex to write stories and force players to fit in them.

One thing I somewhat dislike in the "new trend rpgs" is the minimalist settings - I like intensive fluff. In fact, until discovering the Forge, I never actually read the game mechanics part. From a designer perspective, my main concern is "Is it possible to write professional RPG adventures or campaigns that rest on player choice?"  I didn't see much of this in the Forge-designed games.

Perhaps that very idea is a clash of assumptions by itself, trying to write what shouldn't be written, or perhaps campaigns could be built by basing one's ideas on the DITV fallout system or with a campaign-specific point-based structure like Polaris or MLWM. To me, pre-made campaigns are good stuff for tired GM and good starting points.

Personally, I'm experimenting with "consequence gauges" designs (e.g. too much violence rises the Criminality scale with game-based consequences). I'm a bit uncertain if a full campaign really can be built with that. I feel like your friend Billy at these times, falling back to my "familiar zone". Conversely, I always did find of little use the profuse location and NPC descriptions in the World of Darkness books, for example, for being too static. I liked Savage World's "plot point" concept, but it's still not quite "Narrativist (pre-written) campaigns". Maybe there is no solution. I don't know.