The Forge Archives

General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Moreno R. on May 21, 2007, 08:28:05 AM



Title: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Moreno R. on May 21, 2007, 08:28:05 AM
Hello!

At the last Italian Ambercon (http://valis.it/ambercon/index.php) (April 21-22 2007, in Modena, Italy), the Italian "roleplaying movement" Flying Circus (http://Flying Circus) hosted a presentation of "Jeepforms" given by two international guests, the game designers Tobias Wrigstad  (http://blog.wrigstad.com/) (from Sweden) and Frederik Berg Olsen (http://www.telegram.olsing.com/) (from Danimark).

What's "jeepforms"? They are the kind of "freeforms" created by the scandinavian group "Vi ĺker jeep" (http://jeepen.org/) ("we go by jeep"). In their own words (from that website):  "Vi ĺker jeep [Eng.: We go by jeep] is a group of scandinavian role-players and game wrights pushing their style of play, known as Jeepform to the rest of the civilised role-playing world."

That "style of play" is defined by a number of "truths" (to avoid calling them a "manifesto". And to avoid telling that everybody who do freeform should follow these truths, they say that these are "Jeepform" truth. If you want to do a jeepform, you should follow the jeep truths. You can't really argue with that). You can read these "Jeep truths" here: http://jeepen.org/dict/ (http://jeepen.org/dict/)

After the presentation (that sparked a lot of discussions) they demonstrated these techniques using "The Upgrade" (http://jeepen.org/games/upgrade), a jeepform "that works much like a showcase for Jeepform techniques. It uses telegraphing, contextualisation, monologues, insides and outsides, supporting characters, dissolves character ownership, repetition, etc." , and after this an Italian GM from the Flying Circus, Lorenzo Trenti (http://www.flyingcircus.it/blog/lollo), GMed an italian version of the recent award-winning (best story and the jury’s special price at this year's Fastaval) jeepform "Doubt" (http://jeepen.org/games/doubt/). As far as I know, there were the very first jeepforms ever played in Italy.

I listened to the presentation (asking questions about what they meant by "premise"), and played both these games. And I was convinced that Jeepforms are something that I didn't believe was possible in LARPS: With the jeepform techniques, it's possible to create narrativistic (in the Big Model sense) LARPS, that provoke the adressing of a premise from players, with agressive framing, shared character ownership, and a lot of other techniques that I believed exclusive to tabletop role-playing.

[By the way, in the nordic scene, the Jeepforms are accused to be "too much like tabletop rpgs". Even their authors don't consider them LARPS, so take that "narrativistic LARPS" I wrote above as something from my point of view. In the Italian - and, I think, English - scene, these are full-fledged LARPS, but not in Sweden or Danimark]

To demonstrate this thesis, I will describe here my playing of "Doubt". But I invite everybody interested to play this game themselves. It's available in an english translation in pdf files (with other Jeepform games) at the game download page (http://jeepen.org/games) in the jeepen site, here (http://jeepen.org/games/doubt/). This is the COMPLETE game, playable even in your own home without any prop (jeepforms use only "simbolic" props) or preparation. To play "Doubt" (http://jeepen.org/games/doubt/) all you need are 4 players (2 men, 2 women) and a GM, 2-3 hours of time, and a single room.

I know that many people here already know about Vi ĺker jeep and Jeepforms (apart from people who live in scandinavian countries, I noticed the link to their site in some blogs I follow), but for the people that don't know about it (and until a month ago I was one of them) I will describe the game as if you don't know anything about it. Sorry if I will say things that you already know.

I you are curious about the Ambercon from the intenational guests point of view, Tobias Wrigstad wrote about it in his blog (http://blog.wrigstad.com/?p=85). In the comments there is an actual play report, but written for people who already know well the game. I will try to be more clear here.

I will write the actual play in my next post, to lessen the risk of losing the entire posting after writing it.


Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Moreno R. on May 21, 2007, 09:04:04 AM
Hi!

Before delving into the playing of "Doubt", it would be better if you read the "Jeep Truths for Gamewrights and Game Masters" (http://jeepen.org/dict/).

(if you are offended by the use of the word "truth", read this explanation from the same page:
Jeepform as we see it is a subset of freeform, used by The Jeep for "their" kind of freeform games. It is mostly distinguished from freeform in order for Jeepers to be able to say, "why, that is not Jeepform" about a freeform game without having to claim that whatever it was wasn't really freeform.

I advice reading all the "truths" and the following glossary to get a better grasp of the objectives of jeepform games, but the one I think were best demonstrated in "Doubt" were:

- Restrictions foster creativity.
- You should always have a message or premise. If you ask yourself "What is this game about?" and find yourself answering with long description of how you think it will be played — think again.
(I don't consider "message" and "premise" as equivalents, and so asked about this at the jeepform presentation. From their answer, I got that some jeepforms have a message, others have a premise, and only these last ones can really be called "narrativistic" in the Big Model sense. Both "Doubt" and "The Upgrade" had a premise)
- Assume your players can handle difficult form.
- Assume your players can understand complex stories.
- Assume your players are interested and motivated to do the best possible thing with your game.
- A story can often benefit from having less lead characters than actual characters. There is no rule that says everyone should have equal direct impact on the story or equal screen-time.
- Keeping player number low and keeping players close together, such as in the same room, enables you to do cooler things with the form, helps keeping a unified vision and facilitates telegraphing.
- Form should be tailored to the telling of the story at hand.
- Focus is on the story, which takes precedence over both total immersion and play-for-show.
- Transparency is important to facilitate collaborative play -- there should basically not be any secrets. For this reason, and others, split party is banned.
- The meta play is as important to the game as the actual play.
- The existance of characters is almost mandatory; characters and story should be made to support each other.
- Character ownership is optional; a character can be played by more than one player.
- Role monogamy is optional; a player can have more than one character.
- The inner thoughts and feelings of the characters should preferably be expressed in the play using appropriate techniques.
- A high degree of player freedom is desirable.
- Actual props and well-prepped gaming locations are generally bad things as they become obstacles to the immersion (what am I allowed to do with this prop?) and constrain the game to move outside of the prepped location (which is sometimes desirable).
- That a game is not a rail-road is not an excuse for a lousy story.
- The most important aspect of a story is how it affects the characters in it, not whether the characters manage to save the world in the end.
- Everyday drama is more interesting than epic drama.
- There are very few situations where the Game master should be playing the extras. Extras are good. Non-player characters are not.

After reading this, there shouldn't be any surprise reading that in "doubt" we:
- played all the characters (there was no GM characters, but every player played multiple characters)
- there were two "protagonist" and the other characters were supporting cast (but with a twist - read the next post about the actual rules)
- Players could (using a specific jeepform technique) express what their characters were secretly thinking without going out-of-character.
- The players could decide the way the story goes, and what happened before.
- "Doubt" is a love story. About cheating on your partner.

["Doubt: a love story" would be a better title for this thread. I am sorry I didn't think about it before...]

Next: the rules


Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Moreno R. on May 21, 2007, 11:41:51 AM
I don't know if I will be able to post the entire acrual play today (I type really slowly in English) so I will continue to post short messages about single parts. Please refrain from asking question until I will post the final part (I really would enjoy answering questions about the game, after that final part)

From the description of the game in the site:

"Doubt (http://jeepen.org/games/doubt/)" ("Tvivl"):

A serious story of love. About how one glance can stop time. About daring to love and daring to move on.

Doubt is two stories about each other. A life and a play. Tom and Julia love each other. Both on stage and off stage.

Doubt is about temptation, the importance to love and be loved. About constant choosing. About living with one person, and at the same time dreaming about others.

In Doubt, the players are responsible for the story. Decide the fate of Tom and Julia. Play the play to its final act. Two players play Tom and two play Julia. And extras. And lovers.

A beautiful scenario about love.


So...  how's about the Premise?

The premise of "Doubt" is really simple: the protagonists are Tom and Julia, and the question is "will one of them cheat on the other?" [in the couse of play often the question becomes "will they stay together?", but this question is a consequence of the other)

One (male) player play Tom. One (female) player play Julia. The other two players (one male, one female) play all the rest of the characters that meet Tom and/or Julia.during the game

But there is a twist: Tom and Julia are both theatre actors. During this phase of their life, they are playing "ON THE OTHER SIDE OF YOU - scenes from a relationship", a drama about a couple that break up, dreaming about other partners.   Their characters, in the theatrical play, are Peter (30 years old, a stock broker) and Nicole (29, a Fashion designer). There are only two other characters in the theatrical play, and both are dreams that Peter and Nicole dreams about the people they would rather be together.  Nicole dreams about Lewis (40), Nicole’s former teacher at the design academy that had an affair with her but preferred to stay with his wife, and Peter dreams about Maude (23), Nicole’s assistant

In the play, only Peter can see (and hear) Dream-Maude, and only Nicole can see (and hear) Dream-Lewis, but both "dreams" can see and talk to each other.  The dreams plot together to break-up the couple, for the couple's own good. They are the only four characters that appears in the theatrical play.

The twist is that Tom's player in the theatrical play play Dream-Lewis, NOT Tom's character, Peter. And Julia's player in the theatrical play play Dream-Maude, not Nicole. The two protagonists in the theatrical play are played by the players that in the "real-life" scenes play all the supporting characters.

(so, for example, I played Tom and Dream-Lewis.  And yes, playing Dream-Lewis, I played a dream in theatre play played by an actor that I played in a role-playing game. )

In the couse of the game, play alternates between "real-life scenes" (with Tom and/or Julia and and/or supporting cast) and "theatre scenes" (with Peter, Nicole, Dream-Maude and Dream-Lewis). What happen in the "play scenes" is predetermined by a "play script" given to the players that tell, in very broad detail, what happen in every scene (so the players can add details or decide how to get a result, but not the result. For example, in a play scene, Dream-Lewis has to convince Nicole to leave Peter. The player can decide what arguments Dream-Lewis use and how he use them, and Nicole's player can decide how she reach that decision, but the plot is pre-written). In the "real-life scenes" instead the players can improvise what they do, without any pre-written script.

Citing the game manual (I will do this often, to avoid getting across a wrong impression of the game with my broken english):
Doubt has two parallel story arcs: everyday and the play. Tom and Julia are the main characters of the first, and Peter and Nicole the main characters of the second. The purpose of the everyday scenes are to explore a relationship with problems. The purpose of the play is to contrast the everyday and make possible inter-textual references and meta-commenting in an environment where monologues, dramatic acting, and addressing the audience is expected. The players will construct their own everyday, and the play is set by the game.
The everyday part illustrates Tom and Julia’s life. In this part of the game, they will both be “tempted” by people they meet. At most one of Tom and Julia, may, but need not, fall for a temptation. We visit places and people from everyday life and let the players pretty much decide everything that happens.
The play is about Peter’s and Nicole’s broken relationship—they live in the same physical world, but spend their time dreaming about their “imaginary lovers.” In difference with the everyday, the scenes and their content are controlled and Peter and Nicole grow apart more and more.
How the everyday ends is decided upon by the players, whereas the outcome of the play is decided by you (The GM). The game starts and ends with a scene from the play.


In the game, there are 11 pre-plotted "play scenes" and 11 "everyday scenes". Of these, the first 3 are already defined in the game rules. The other 8 are to be defined by all the players, all together, in a sort of "pitch session" like the one in PTA  before the start of the game, before even assigning the characters to the players. ("defining a scene" means deciding where is set and who is present in that scene, WITHOUT deciding beforehand what will happen)

During the game, every player (GM included) has two additional "fast scenes" that he can ask for during the game, deciding locations and the characters who are present, without having to declare them in this phase.

There is a list of locations allowed, and characters usable. There is no need to use all of these. So every game of "Doubt" can be in different location with different character played in a completely different way (the descriprion of each are really short, a couple of paragraphs each, and don't tell much. All the rest has to be improvised by the player who play them)

The Locations can be chosen from this list::
At Tom’s parents’ home in Paris
At the double-date couple’s home
At the theatre
At the jogging track, or the café
The wonderful apartment
The restaurant
Tom and Julia’s apartment
At the song coach’s


The supporting characters can be chosen from this list:

Women:
Alice, 59—Tom’s mother - House wife. Initiated the move to Paris. Love her life. Always fiddling with her jewels and rings.
Claire, 35—The director - Recently back from maternal leave. “On the other side of you” is her third big production. Knows what she wants. Quite manly body language.
Cecilia, 30—Double-date couple, her - Works with interior decoration. Hopes to be a mother in a not too distant future. Likes to potter about with things.
Cora, 38—The talent scout - Gave Tom his first main character. Likes Tom a lot. Very physical and touches the people she talks to.
Miriam, 26—The bartender - Pours beer and mixes drinks at Tom’s favourite joint since a couple of years. Is always busy at the bar.
Jennie, 30—The Ex - Tabloid journalist. Tom’s first love in upper-secondary school. Dresses well, likes to party and laugh.
Mary-Anne, 43—Julia’s new mother - Urbane, fun woman with happy, continental behaviour. Likes to fiddle with her hair.


Men:
Robert, 59—Tom’s dad - Retired, rotund restaurant owner. Has finally settled down in Paris. Touches his big stomach all the time.
Link, 24—Handyman - Studies at the university and works extra at the theatre. Helpful but very dependent. Seeks praise and recognition from everyone.
Garrison, 33—Double-date couple, him - Scrap sculpter with a fad for sailing. Old study buddy with Tom. A manly man.
Kenneth, 45—Singing coach - Secure and patient middle-aged man. Likes to underline what he says with overly clear body-language.
Max, 42—The man Julia meets at the jogging track - Teacher for kind aged 10-12. Lives alone in a nice, inherited villa. Very relaxed and needs to prove nothing to nobody. Max and Julia have a habit of meeting at the jogging track and have started saying hi to each other.
John, 31 – Real estate agent - Owns his own firm. Searches relentlessly for Julia’s dream apartment. Open and secure, but perhaps a tad stressed.
Samson, 58—Julia’s dad - Popular actor. Asthmatic. Likes to show off in front of the camera.


It'd important to undestand that these characters can even not exist, if they are not refenced during the playing the game. They are a list of choices. If nobody ever use Max, for example, it's possible even to play the game with Julia that don't do jogging. If the players decide so, she can ever be paralized on a wheelchair, just to use an extreme example. They are really "pieces" that the players can use to build their own story, different from a game of "doubt" to another.

The players, in deciding what happen in the "everyday scenes", have to follow seven rules:

The seven rules of the game

§1 At most one of Tom and Julia may succumb to a temptation
This means that neither Tom nor Julia may fall for a temptation, and that the game cannot be reduced into a “swinger scenario.” Observe that just because Tom falls for with his ex-lover again, the feelings don’t have to be mutual. Who falls, etc. may not be decided in the prepatory phase or outside of character.
§2 Doubt is a heterosexual game
This means that all temptations are of heterosexual nature.
The reason for this is to lower the number of possible relations to keep them manageable. Doubt is not a game about coming out or fighting hetero-normativity but about partner-relationsships.
§3 What happens in Paris, stays in Paris
Interpret that however you want. Our interpretation is that possible flirts in Paris will be secret, that any mending effects on a relationship a trip to Paris may have will cease when back home again and that the love the bartender girl felt for Tom in Paris cools off once she is back behind the bar disk, serving beers again.
§4 At least a two-scene build-up
This means that there must be at least two scenes with a temptation before Tom or Julia may fall. As the game is also about what it means to fall for a temptation, we leave it to you to define what that means. It is your game.
§5 At most one trip to Paris
Of the scenes created by the players in the prepatory phase, at most one may take place in Paris.
§6 Only characters and places from the lists
This means that no characters and places other than those on the lists may be used in the scenes created in the prepatory phase. If it turns out that the bartender girl needs a boyfriend, or that Tom must be bullied by a paparazzi, that might be okay, but try to avoid it and rely on the given characters. Note that fast scenes don’t suffer by these rules.
§7 Linear time
Only the game master may introduce flash backs and dream sequences.


This is the script of the theatre play:

******************
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF YOU
- scenes from a relationship -

Roles:
Peter 30, successful stock broker
Nicole 29, successful fashion designer
Maude 23, Nicole’s assistant
Lewis 40, Nicole’s former teacher at the design academy
Maude and Lewis also appear as dream-roles in Peter’s and Nicole’s imaginations. Dream-Maude and Dream-Lewis can see and talk to each other. Nicole can only see Dream-Lewis, and Peter can only see Dream-Maude.
If applicable, every scene starts like in AT THE DOOR, with Peter and Nicole speaking to the audience, before the lights go up at the other side, and the scene starts proper. (Scene 2-10 are really flashbacks before the action in scene 1 ends with scene 11.)

1. AT THE DOOR
Nicole stands in the doorway, on her side of the wall. In there is Peter with his face turned away. She talks to the audience: where are we, and how did it get this way?
2. NICOLE’S SHOW
Peter goes to Nicole’s fashion show, and happens on Maude, next to the stage. No Nicole.
3. RETURN TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
Dream-Lewis has asked Nicole to lecture at the design academy. Afterwards they sit in his study. The same room where they first kissed. He is crawling
in the dust, and she is magnanimous.
4. MARTYR
Peter surprises Nicole on the job, really to see Maude. Nicole becomes glad, but soon has to leave. Peter acts like a martyr, and gets away with it.
5. A GOOD DAY
Peter and Nicole return home in a taxi, still high after a party at an in-crowd place. They will remember nothing of what happens during this scene in later scenes.
6. THE DREAM OF THE IDEAL
Nicole fantasises that she is Dream-Lewis’ wife, in the house she never got to see.
7. DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES
At home with Peter and Nicole. Something leads to a discussion about gender roles in their relationship. Dream-Maude and Dream-Lewis are present, and
sometimes interfere.
8. SURRENDER
Peter and Nicole have fell asleep in different parts of the apartment after partying hard. One of them awakens and goes to sleep next to the other. No lines.
9. LIT CANDLES
Peter and Nicole have dinner together for the first time this week. Dream-Maude and Dream-Lewis also sit at the table. Peter and Dream-Maude start
making out and finally have sex on the table. Nicole and Dream-Lewis keep talking. “You cooked this well.”
10. ALL-OUT WAR
On their side of the wall, Dream-Lewis and Dream-Maude talk about how bad Peter and Nicole are for each other. They lay up a strategy to convince the
couple to leave each other. They go in to Peter and Nicole (who have just had sex), and begin.
11. AT THE DOOR.
Nicole opens the door, and enters.
***********************************************

The first three "everyday scenes", pre-defined in the game, "Coming home after a great show", "The video camera" and "The party" are to be played between act 1 ("at the door") and act 2 (Nicole's show): the other 8 can be put where the players want (even in the middle of the first 3)
:
Citing again the game manual:
The first act have three fixed scenes: AT THE DOOR, Coming home after a great show and The Video Camera. The first two are played back-to-back as the first two scenes of the game. The last is preceded and succeeded by gaps where other scenes can be placed.
The monologue in AT THE DOOR should be good as it is the first, and is a trend setter, just like yours in the casting scene. If it sucks, try and help the player, for example by asking questions about the subject, or restart the monologue if that can be done without the player losing face. One way to do that is to say “next show,” and keep doing so until the player nails the monologue. Be sure to revisit that technique later not to single out the player.
The first act is, as you know, about establishing—giving the players a feeling for Tom and Julia, their relations relation in the everyday and Peter and Nicole’s relation in the play. Depending on what scenes the players have planned it could also be about introducing the tempters and temptresses.


The purpose of the scene "Coming home after a great show" is to introduce Tom and Julia’s relationship. The idea is for Tom and Julia to be happy, filled with satisfaction from having acted well on a premiere evening. Of course, some players may want to play a relationship in turmoil this early—let happiness turn to quarrel, etc.
If the scene stagnates or the players have a hard time getting started, try and help them with some simple input. Here are five examples of event that could spice things up ever so slightly (in decreasing level of subtleness):
[cut list of events in the rules]
Throwing some event in there is a good trick to provoke Tom and Julia to act and thus force them to make decisions about their relationship.


In The Video Camera, Tom and Julia have promised to appear in an up-coming TV program in the culture section. For this, they have been given a video camera to capture some of their private life. Tonight, Julia’s parents are visiting. The scene is thus about public and private personalities (when the camera is on and off) but also about difference in behaviour when Tom and Julia are alone and when Julia’s parents are there. The scene has three parts: preparing for the visit, the dinner, and when Julia’s parents have finally left.
During the scene, Tom and Julia may turn on and off the camera as they please. The camera may be mounted on a tripod so that no-one will have to pretend to hold it. We hope that the players will take over the scene. If the scene lacks spark, you may want to use some of these events:
[cut list of events in the rules]
The events above are hardly ground shaking, and purposefully so. An good idea might be to give Tom and Julia a note with questions to interview each other in front of the camera. It could be questions like, “What did you first notice with Tom/Julia?”, “What is the best with Tom/Julia?”, “What would you like to change in Tom/Julia, and how?”, etc. Other interesting questions include “How is it to play against each other on the stage?”, “Have you used experiences from your relationship in your rendition of Peter and Nicole?” and “Does it help to be lovers off the stage when portraying lovers on the stage?”


This is the game structure, from the game manual:

Preparation
The preparatory phase of Doubt is a tad unorthodox even for freeform. Apart from choosing characters, some of the scenes must be discussed and the players must get an overview of premises, places, persons and the rules of the game. After having greeted the players, you should:
Introduce the game’s premise
Explain the everyday and play dichotomy
Introduce the monologue concept
Explain freedom and responsibility
Show and explain the “game board”

The game board contains a list of the scenes, the rules, characters and places gathered in one place to facilitate preparation and play. The scene list has gaps where the player’s scenes can be entered.
When this is done, you should do the following:
Look at all characters
You walk the players through the play (your interpretation)
Look at all places
Look at all rules
Create eight scenes and add them to the scene list
Casting

After this, the game starts.

OK, I think I explained enough how the game works. I cited a lot of game text to help even people who didn't read the game manual  understand the actual play.

In the next post (later) I will describe what we made of this premise in our game, last month.


Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Moreno R. on May 21, 2007, 08:51:20 PM
Hi!

Some things that I forgot to write in the last posts:

- The room where you play should have a "out of stage" area for the GM (in the role of the audience) and for the players that aren't "on stage" in that moment.  You stay in character only "on stage" and when you are out-of-stage you can discuss your next scene with the other out-of-stage players

- Any player (GM included) can ask to repeat a scene if he isn't satisfied (no scene was repeated in our game, but this "safe net" help to lessen the "stage fright". People play better if they aren't worried to "ruin" the game trying something.)

- Every "theatre scene" begin with a monologue given by one of the protagonist of the play. What is in this monologue isn't pre-plotted. These monologues can be used to comment (indirectly, because they are part of the theatre play) on the actions of the Protagonists of the story. The GM should prepare some monologues himself, and use them to start the scenes of his choice. (remember that the GM and the players that play the protagonist of the theatre play can't decide the ending of the game. Only the two Protagonists, the players that play Tom and Julia, can decide that. But this let the GM and the other two players a manner to comment "in stage" about what the two protagonist are doing)

- The GM often ask question to the characters, that the players answer in-character. Some were questions about what the character is thinking in that moment, some were question about other things. In a dinner scene, the GM  asked what we were eating, for example.

- The GM can go "on stage" when he wants to tell something to any character, like "you notice this" or "you hear this". For example, in the scene with the camcorder, he can say to a character "you notice that he forgot to start the camcorder".

Some jeepform techniques used in the game:
- Jeepforms use "Symbolic props" (http://jeepen.org/dict/#symbolic_props), to let players have the freedom to decide themselves what objects they want to use in the game. From the link: "In most situations, the players should have complete freedom to add symbolic props as long as they respect where the story is heading, i.e., it should be allowed to introduce the pen-as-knife at any time, as long as the current situation or story clearly does not dictate the opposite. Table-top role players should throw away their equipment lists and larpers should not hesitate to try this, even though it might seem ridiculous at first. It isn't. It is not any more rediculous than the fact that you are a symbol for the character that you are playing. ". In the game we played, for example, an empty coca-cola paper cup lying around the stage became in different scenes a camcorder, a barist's shaker, a bouquet of flowers, a vine glass and a bottle.
- To use Symbolic props, jeepform use the tecnique called "Telegraphing" (http://jeepen.org/dict/#telegraphing). Citing again: "[...] when you want to give flowers to your date, and the only available physical prop is a pen; hand the pen over while saying "I wanted to give you red roses, but they only had white". Interestingly, the pen can be handed over, smelled, be put in a cup and broken, just like a real rose. To make telegraphing work, learn to accept facts brought into the game by other players"
- To let everybody know the "inner world" of a character (what he is thinking, feeling, what he want, what he fear, etc.) without going-out-of character, there are many different techniques in jeeform. One is "the GM ask questions" seen above. Others are "Insides and outsides" (http://jeepen.org/dict/#insides_and_outsides), Sitting and standing play (http://jeepen.org/dict/#sitting_and_standing_play) and "Monologue" (http://jeepen.org/dict/#monologue). These can all be described as a way to let the player express the thoughts of the characters talking in character, as if he talked to a theatre audience ("Monologue"), as a short comment ("insides and outsides") or using a formal signal to indicate thoughts ("Sitting and standing play").. The last one require a formal way of signaling thoughts, so isn't used in "doubt". Of the others, we used Monologues in the theatre scenes, but in the "everyday scenes" we weren't used to these techniques so we didn't use them very much. The GM questions were used much more often.

I hope I didn't forget anything this time. Lets' talk about our game.

The GM was, as I said in the first post, Lorenzo Trenti, a founding member of the Italian "role-playing movement" Flying Circus (http://flyingcircus.it/), that organized the demonstration and translated the game in Italian.

The other players were: Claudia (we play together in the same group, and she read and write on the Forge), her husband Michele, and Benedetta.

This is the description of the group that Claudia wrote in her actual play comment in Tobias Wingstad's blog (I will cite her often in this post, both to include her comments and to avoid re-typing what she already wrote). She wrote it to Tobias, and when she say "you" she referred to him.

Quote from: Claudia
The players were:
Benedetta – we met her here for the first time. Talking I learned she started playing live games since about a year ago and likes it very much.

Moreno – he’s friend with me and my husband Michele and we play in a weekly tabletop rpg group with other people. He’s very interested in game theory and a Forge enthusiast.

Michele – Like me and Moreno he plays tabletop since many years. Very interested in game theory.

Claudia – that’s me. Game theory fascinates me but I admit I don’t have much time or patience for it. It interests me only for the help it can give to get games I like.

Michele, Moreno and me listened to the Jeep panel in the morning and agreed almost to everything that was said. All of us were intrigued by the techniques you showed us and experimented in the previous game The Upgrade (inside-outside, shared character ownership, playing in different times, etc.)

Lorenzo explained the game to us and then we started writing down the Real Life scenes.
I enjoyed this part and think the others did too. We players started talking about which of the supporting cast were more interesting to insert and which places and circumstances seemed more promising. Some ideas for interesting scenes started to form, but nothing too defined.
We choose to limit the supporting cast to Alice, Cecilia, Miriam, Jennie, Mary-Anne, Robert, Garrison, John & Samson, and of those only Jennie, Mary-Anne and John were used more than once (we first identified in John and Jennie the Temptations, and used the others when a situation we liked called for their presence)

We then proceeded to the casting and were randomly coupled. Moreno and Benedetta got to play the bed scene (which ended with her angrily leaving) and me and Michele played the living room.

Here we noticed it felt quite awkward to us to play a struggling couple and it was difficult to play a couple forgetting we were one, so we agreed I would play Julia and Maude, Moreno would be Tom and Lewis, Michele would be Peter and real life male extras and Benedetta would be Nicole and real life femal extras. (this suited me well ‘cause I was intrigued by the idea of playing “dream Maude”. It also proved useful later in the play).

[...]

As for tecnique, we didn’t do any inside-outside. Maybe that would have been appropriate but perhaps we have to get a bit used to it. Or maybe the theatre atmosphere affected a bit our frame of mind and we just relied on gestures and dialogue to deliver our story.
From time to time Lorenzo would ask some detail like “how’ Jenny’s dress?”, “who cooked?” that casted further light to some aspects of the story
.

So, at the end, we played:
MorenoTom and Dream-Lewis in the play
Claudia: Julia, and Dream-Maude in the play
Michele: Peter in the play, and all the "real-life" male supporting characters
Benedetta: Nicole in the play, and all the "real-life" female supporting characters

Before that, as Claudia said, we had already decided the 8 additional "real-life" scenes. At the beginning everybody simply suggested a couple of scenes, then at the end we looked at the list and made some corrections until we all agreed to the list of scenes and their position. I suggested Jenny as a temptation for Tom so we put her in various scenes, and the same thing happened with John. All the other supporting  characters appears in a scene only because they were useful in that specific scene, but there was no motivation to put them in a lot of scenes. (we usually had to limit the number of characters in any scene, to be able to play them all with 4 players, and at the same time we tried to avoid having scenes with only two players, to let everybody play more)

This is the list of scenes, with the "theatre scenes" in UPPERCASE, the 3 pre-set "real life scenes" in italics, and the 8 "real-life" scenes decided by us in bold.

AT THE DOOR
Coming home after a great show (Tom & Julia)
At the restaurant with Garrison an Cecilia.
The video camera
The Party (Tom & Jenny, Julia & John)
At the theatre in Tom’s dressing room with Jenny. Then Julia arrives.
NICOLE’S SHOW
RETURN TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
John shows Julia the dream apartment.
MARTYR
THE DREAM OF THE IDEAL
Tom and Julia in their current apartment
Julia in her dressing room with her stepmother Mary Anne, then Tom arrives.
Tom at Miriam’s, then John arrives.
A GOOD DAY
SURRENDER
Julia brings Tom at the dream apartment, then John arrives.
DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
LIT CANDLES
ALL OUT WAR
Tom and Julia in Paris with Tom’s parents in their apartment
AT THE DOOR

I am not really sure about the succession of real-life and theatre scene with each other. I mean, I am sure about the succession of real-life scenes and the succession of theatre scenes is already written (The GM can change it but Lorenzo didn't), but I don't remember well how the two succession intersected each other. We talked about this before posting the Actual Play to Tobias' Blog but we remember different things. Anyway, it's not really important.

We misunderstood the rules and we didn't notice that the 2 of the predetermined "real-life scenes" were already set even in location and characters in the book, so we decided location and characters even for them. It's interesting that we decided the exact same characters given in the book, anyway.

This is what we decided beforehand about the real-life scenes (all 11 of them):
- Coming Home after a great show (Tom & Julia) - here we made an error,  we decided to set this scene in the taxi taking them home after the show, not thinking that we should have used one of the listed locations.
- At the restaurant with Garrison an Cecilia (we didn't decide anything beforehand for this scene apart for the characters and location. We inserted this scene here to avoid having two consecutive scenes with only Tom & Julia, and keep it here even after we modified the following scene)
- The video camera (Tom and Julia, next arrive Mary-Ann and Samson).  We discussed this scene quite a lot, because it didn't feel right using two consecutive scenes with only Tom & Julia, and even after inserting the restaurant scene we were unsatisfied, but we had some difficulties finding the right way to insert another character, until someone suggested a surprise visit by Julia's parents with the father showing off to the camera. At this we laughed and agreed). After the game, reading the game manual, I discovered that they were already supposed to be in that scene. We choose the right characters even without reading that part of the book!
- The Party (Tom & Jenny, Julia & John) we decided to use this scene to presents Jenny and John to the "audience", keeping the meetings separated from each other
- At the theatre in Tom’s dressing room with Jenny. Then Julia arrives.(we decided beforehand that in this scene Jenny would go to the show - having been given free tickets by Tom - and would go to the dressing room afterward to talk to Tom. And in this scene there would be some beginning of a "spark" between them, and Julia would arrive. We always left the specific of every scene to improvisation)
- John shows Julia the dream apartment. (nothing was decided beforehand for this scene, apart from characters and location)
- Tom and Julia in their current apartment (nothing was decided beforehand for this scene, apart from characters and location. But we asked the GM to put "the dream of the ideal" between the previous real-life scene and this, to have a sequence of "real-life apartment of her dreams- dream apartment in the play - rented apartment where they live now". We didn't choose at any time between us to make the apartment a big deal and the principal straining in the relationship, but thinking about it afterwards when we choose this sequence "because it would be fun" we set his importance)
- Julia in her dressing room with her stepmother Mary Anne, then Tom arrives. (this scene was to let Julia talk to someone about her feelings)
- Tom at Miriam’s, then John arrives. (this scene was at first to let Tom talk with someone about his feelings, but was fast turned in a comic relief scene. This was the most pre-built scene. We couldn't stop adding fun bits at the planning stage, so it was the most fun moment before playing. (but playing it was a little too constrictive, like redoing another time an already-played scene. Thinking about it now I am happy we choose to leave all the other scenes much more open to improvisation)
- Julia brings Tom at the dream apartment, then John arrives. (all we decided was that here Tom would learn about John. We didn't decide beforehand what he would learn, because we didn't know what John and Julia would do together)
- Tom and Julia in Paris with Tom’s parents in their apartment (nothing was decided about this scene, but we felt that it would be the right setting for a final tantrum or love scene between Tom and Julia. When played it had instead a very different meaning than the one we imagined)

After this, I have to quote a really long description of the actual play by Claudia, with some bits added by me, so it's better if I use another post instead of a big quote block...





Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Moreno R. on May 21, 2007, 09:11:08 PM
Much of this was written by Claudia, with correction and some bits added by Lorenzo, Michele and me, and taken from this Actual play report (http://blog.wrigstad.com/?p=85#comment-4671).  Some of the informations from the previous post are repeated to facilitate the reading without having to reference the previous post.  Having the "game board" with all the places and characters description and the "theatre play script" would help. (both are included in the game that you should have dowloaded from the links in the first post)

-------------------------------------------

AT THE DOOR
The play started with Nicole’s monologue casting some uncertainity on Peter’s and Nicole’s relationship.

Coming home after a great show (Tom & Julia)
(here we made an error, we decided to set this scene in the taxi taking them home after the show, but not thinking about it we should have used one of the listed locations).
Information added by this scene: the couple is having a nice success with this stage play, after years of struggle, and they are talking with a producer about a high-budget movie. It could be their big break into stardom.
She enjoys her current popularity and is optimistic. He is unsure, always read the reviews fearing the worst, and even if he jokes about it the fact that Julia is the one most popular, he doesn’t like it. Seeing Jenny (or someone who resemble her) outside the taxi window for an instant make them talk about her, showing that Julia - who went to the same school, when Tom and Jenny were an item - is still jealous of her)
Later the doubts and worries of Tom would come again to contrast Julia’s optimism.

At the restaurant with Garrison an Cecilia.
(we didn’t decide anything beforehand for this scene apart for the characters and location. We inserted this scene here to avoid having two consecutive scenes with only Tom & Julia, and keep it here even after we modified the following scene)
The friends were played as a happy, succesful couple trying to have a baby. Here "the wonderful apartment" was first mentioned as Julia told Cecilia she might soon be needing her services as they were about to buy an apartment. Tom didn’t say much while Julia showed enthusiasm for the apartment thing.
They talk about babies, too, another issue that make Tom uncomfortable and morose..

The video camera
(We discussed this scene quite a lot, because it didn’t feel right using two consecutive scenes with only Tom & Julia, and even after inserting the restaurant scene we were unsatisfied, but we had some difficulties finding the right way to insert another character, until someone suggested a surprise visit by Julia’s parents with the father showing off to the camera. At this we laughed and agreed)
Again a serene scene of Tom and Julia. (Lorenzo gave us some very good questions) They praised each other work and seemed a great team.
They were interrupted by the early arrive of Julia’s parents. Julia’s father was quite unpleasant with Tom, betraying professional jealousy. Julia and her stepmother did their best to smooth things out but without great success. As the bickering continues Julia got a bit angry, she turned off the video camera and scolded Tom and her father.
[Moreno here: This was one of the “comedy relief” scenes, based on the petty bickering between Tom and Samson. At this stage we were still unsure about the general tone of the story we wanted, but seeing how it turned “dark” at the end these scenes make for a nice contrast]

In Lorenzo’s opinion here is where the serious tone for the whole live was set.
The situation was quite comedic, but Julia didn’t react like a comedy character, she acted like a real person getting angry cause her family are making fool of themselves in front of a camera.
After her outburst the situation wasn’t funny anymore.
Maybe Lorenzo is right, anyway I’m happy we didn’t do a comedy event, cause comedy detach you from situations and this event in my opinion gained much from us feeling so involved.

The Party (Tom & Jenny, Julia & John)
We decided to use this scene to present Jenny and John to the “audience”, keeping the meetings separated from each other: here Julia met John and Tom met Jenny without crossing each other.
John was quite flattering and maybe hitting a bit on Julia, but she didn’t show to notice it. She talked again with great expectations about the apartment he was about to show her.
Tom and Jenny meeting was very warm. She was quite seductive and he showed to be fascinated by her. He admitted his relationship with Julia felt a bit constrictive and she showed her despise for clingy women (implying she was the opposite). Tom seemed quite struck from her and invited her at the next show.

At the theatre in Tom’s dressing room with Jenny. Then Julia arrives.(we decided beforehand that in this scene Jenny would go to the show - having been given free tickets by Tom - and would go to the dressing room afterward to talk to Tom. And in this scene there would be some beginning of a “spark” between them, and Julia would arrive. We always left the specific of every scene to improvisation)
Tom and Jenny are chatting pleasantly and flirting a bit after the show when Julia arrives. It feels awkward. Tom introduces Julia to Jenny and states he’s coming in a minute, implying Julia should leave. She appears hurt and hesitates before leaving. He doesn’t seem to notice.

NICOLE’S SHOW
Maude greets Peter warmly. She’s flattering and bit flirty. He seems to like it.

RETURN TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
Nicole is sitting, Dream-Lewis arrive. Dream Lewis asks for forgiveness very sweetly and humbly. Nicole seems touched and readily forgives him. She is nostalgic and sweet with him. He ask her to return to him, closing the scene knelling with his head on her lap.

John shows Julia the dream apartment.
(nothing was decided beforehand for this scene, apart from characters and location)
Julia is clearly in love with the apartment. John is flattering and hitting on her. She treats it as a joke and dismisses it. It becomes clear the apartment is very expensive.

MARTYR
Peter arrives with flowers and a dinner reservation for Nicole hoping really to see Maude, not Nicole. While Nicole excuses herself we learn this is not the first time. Peter laments it is so hard to see her as she’s constantly working. She admits it and promise she’ll try to do better. He doesn’t seem very trustful of her promise.

THE DREAM OF THE IDEAL
Nicole starts with a monologue about Peter’s faults, then Dream-Lewis and Nicole act disgustingly sweet to each other. They go on about the wonders of their house.

Tom and Julia in their current apartment
(nothing was decided beforehand for this scene, apart from characters and location. But we asked the GM to put “the dream of the ideal” between the previous real-life scene and this, to have a sequence of “real-life apartment of her dreams- dream apartment in the play - rented apartment where they live now”. We didn’t choose at any time between us to make the apartment a big deal and the principal straining in the relationship, but thinking about it afterwards when we choose this sequence “because it would be fun” we set his importance)
Julia enthusiastically tells Tom of the apartment. He seems mildly interested but freezes when she shows him the price. Tom thinks it is too much, maybe they’ll be able to afford it in 2 or 3 years.
Julia cannot believe his reaction and replies they have to take some risk and commit if they wish to build something for their future.
The discussion is very tense even if they’re not actually arguing or screaming. It ends with Tom agreeing to see at least once the apartment and try to talk to John to bring down the price.

Julia in her dressing room with her stepmother Mary Anne, then Tom arrives.
(this scene was to let Julia talk to someone about her feelings)
Julia is not her usual self, she seems nervous and uncertain. Mary Anne express her worries and suggest she should leave Tom. Julia is appalled at the suggestion and seems desperate at the idea.
Tom enters to say something to Julia and the conversation stops. She is different with him now, more reserved.

Tom at Miriam’s, then John arrives.
(this scene was at first to let Tom talk with someone about his feelings, but was fast turned in a comic relief scene. This was the most pre-built scene. We couldn’t stop adding fun bits at the planning stage, so it was the most fun moment before playing. (But - it’s Tom’s player talking here - playing it was a little too constrictive, like redoing another time an already-played scene. Thinking about it now I am happy we choose to leave all the other scenes much more open to improvisation)
Tom laments the clinginess of his partner to a not very interested Miriam. Then John arrives and starts drinking and talking about this great woman coupled to a jerk.
Tom suggests John should’nt miss his chance (he’s evidently thinking of his past with Jenny), John gladly accepts the suggestion and they get friendly drunk together.
They wonder why women always end up with jerks and ask Miriam about it.
“I wouldn’t know, I’m not with a jerk”, she replies.

A GOOD DAY
we skipped this by mistake.

SURRENDER
Peter wakes and monologues about the difficulty of their relationship, the little time she has for him. He hesitates, than goes to sleep next to Nicole.

Julia brings Tom at the dream apartment, then John arrives. (all we decided was that here Tom would learn about John)
Julia hopefully and nervously shows Tom the beauty of the apartment but he replies talking about money. She gets cold and silent. John arrives and Julia leaves the 2 men talking about money.
John and Tom recognize each other and Tom realize John was talking about Julia.
Tom says to Julia that they will, in fact, buy an apartment. He changed his mind. But not this one. Some tense, whispered exchange follows [Tom actually menace John, warning him to stay away from Julia] until Julia nervously interrupts them stating she changed her mind: Tom is right, they shouldn’t buy the apartment.
John leaves greeting her warmly despite the angryly ogling Tom.
Tom makes a scene to Julia for John hitting on her. She angrily replies throwing in his face the dressing room scene with Jenny. This is the first time they actually scream at each other.

DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
Peter and Nicole conversation in their apartment quickly turns to an unpleasant discussion. Peter says Nicole is neglecting him for her work and Nicole stresses all of Peter faults. Dream Lewis and Dream Maude suggests the other partner faults and how better it would be with them.
Nicole and Peter end up angry and resented towards each other. Lewis and Maude leave commenting “they don’t stand a chance”.

LIT CANDLES
The dinner proves cold and unpleasant from the start. Peter and Nicole quickly starts arguing and Lewis and Maude suggests evil things to say.
(Here it helped a lot that Michele playing Peter was my husband, while I was playing Maude. It allowed us to get a bit phisical. It was just a hug and a kiss but it seemed right for the scene.)

ALL OUT WAR
Peter and Nicole have just had sex, and they are laying in bed, when Dream-Lewis and Dream-Maude arrive, together, having decided to make another try to make the couple break-up. Dream-Lewis kneel near the bed on Nicole’s side, and begin to angrily talk to her in a low voice, really laying into Peter, beginning with “he couldn’t even satisfy you. As always. You could do better by yourself. He treat you as his house servant, and can’t even pay his part in this contract” and ending after a lot of more verbal abuse with “leave him. Drop him and live again! Search for me. I am still waiting for you. I still love you, after all this time. I will take you and treat you like the princess you are” . Dream-Maude insinuates her part of evil things while embracing and caressing Peter from behind. He agrees with her observations.
After this the two dreams get up, join behind the bed, and leave after exchanging an exasperated look and saying “if they don’t break-up after this…”

Tom and Julia in Paris with Tom’s parents in their apartment
(nothing was decided about this scene, but we felt that it would be the right setting for a final tantrum or love scene between Tom and Julia. When played it had instead a very different meaning than the one we imagined)
The four chat a bit. Julia and Tom seem more distant then usual. Alice asks about the apartment and Julia quickly dismisses it “we didn’t buy it”. Alice has an announcement to make: her and Robert are divorcing (this was a great idea from Benedetta). They are still very civil and courteous to each other but unmovable in their decision. Tom is appalled and angry at the news. Julia doesn’t say a thing while Tom discusses with his parents. Then she states she admires Alice and Robert for their courageous decision.

AT THE DOOR
Nicole comes home finding Peter sitting at the table. Suitcases are near the door and he is leaving. They agree this would be the right thing to do. Everything is cold and sad.

Here we finished our planned scenes and decided to use a fast scene to play the real life finale.
Moreno and I discussed briefly. Breaking up would seem the natural outcome but it felt a bit obvious. He proposed an unheard monologue of Tom to Julia recognizing his faults and begging her not to leave him.
I liked it and we entered the scene with Julia assuming the same sitting position of Peter while Tom walked around like Nicole, in the theatre after the curtain falls, people leave and all is silent. . He gave his monologue to Julia while she stares at the floor. When it ended she met his eyes. We felt this open ending was poetic and very satisfying.





Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Moreno R. on May 21, 2007, 09:37:43 PM
This is the comment I posted after Claudia's actual play report on Tobias' blog:

--------------------------
I must say that the ending surprised even me. I can’t say that “the characters decided differently” - I am not a very immersive player, I always think about the story first, sometimes setting my character up to a fall and failure (when I play narrative games, I mean), to get a more interesting story - but the act of playing the scenes gave every time a new perspective about the way we could go from then.

It was really a interactive and fun process. I began playing with every intention to be the one who would betray his partner, and played the first two scenes with Jenny with that intention in mind. But the way the story moved from that, with the fleshing out of the characters, made me see Tom gradually in a different way, like someone who simply searched for an out to avoid responsibility, and for this reason flirted briefly with the idea of returning to Jennie. But at the time of the Bar conversation with Miriam he was already deciding to stay with Julia [and he was drinking to find the courage to make this difficult decision].

It felt just “right” for him to take this decision at that time, just before the tense meeting with Julia and John at the apartment, where he panic. He has finally decided to make the commitment to stay with Julia, and now he find out that maybe it’s too late. In this and the next scene his world is crumbling down and he is unable to do anything to stop it.

Making Julia leave him seemed overkill and too obvious. But we couldn’t find any good reason for making her stay with him at this time. The end I proposed is very ambiguous. I asked to lower the lights as we always did every time a dream-character was in the scene. Apart from the meeting of the eyes at the very end (unplanned, but just right at this time), Julia’s character didn’t acknowledge Tom’s presence in any way, and he walked around her, whispering behind her, exactly like Dream-Lewis. Was really Tom talking to Julia in that scene? Was Tom Julia’s dream? Was Julia Tom’s dream? For myself, the ending I prefer is that Tom is really calling for Julia forgiveness at the end, but he isn’t really in that scene. I was his feelings talking from afar to a woman sitting alone, who has to make a decision. But I didn’t want my interpretation of the ending to be “the right one”, both for the other player’s and “the audience” (Lorenzo)

I must add that I enjoyed very much playing Dream-Lewis, both in his saccharine moment with Nicole, and when he really lay into Peter. I could play both over-the-top sweetness and very vicious verbal attacks to other characters. Great fun!
---------------------------------------------

Thinking about the game now, after writing this actual play for the Forge, I think about other things that satisfied me in this game. The way the "story" was really what we wanted it to be, for example (even by choosing Jenny as the temptation, we choose to play a game about memories and regrets. If we had chosen Tom's mother-in-law it would have been a very different story), and how it leave this liberty to the players with so limited a choice of locations and characters. But the fact that this choice is limited make choosing really fast, and permit the creation of the players-defined "real-life scenes" in a very fast manner.

The rule that say that only one of the protagonists could cheat on the other create tension and a sort of "adversity" during the game. You really don't want your "partner" cheating on you, both because you are emotionally linked to him, and because this would limit your play options. And at the same time this is an incentive to cheat, before your partner do it.

All in all, a really good gaming experience, one of the best ones I had at a convention, and a very satisfying story. I recomment playing it yourself (as I said in the first post, you can download the entire game, in English and other 2-3 languages, and all you need to play it is 4 players, some hours of your time and a room).

I would like to use this thread to answer questions about the game (you can start asking them now), and to host the comments of other people who will decide to play it, but any feedback would do.



Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Claudia Cangini on May 23, 2007, 06:16:22 AM
[...]
The rule that say that only one of the protagonists could cheat on the other create tension and a sort of "adversity" during the game. You really don't want your "partner" cheating on you, both because you are emotionally linked to him, and because this would limit your play options. And at the same time this is an incentive to cheat, before your partner do it.
[...]

Reading this I realize we began the game with totally different expectations even if we enjoyed it the same.

I, for instance, didn't stop to ponder about the consequences of who would cheat first.
I'd say I didn't even felt like I knew much about Julia before playing her, I entered the game without much reflection and feeling totally open to any possible development.
And Doubt delivered big time.

I totally recommend this game, it's very easy and extremely fulfilling if you love collaborative storytelling and dig the romance theme.
I found it has much in common with a PtA, the structure is elegant and functional and it's been one of my best gaming experiences so far.


Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Jason Morningstar on May 23, 2007, 06:42:28 AM
I think people are ignoring this thread because it has the word LARP in the title.  Which is funny.


Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Moreno R. on May 23, 2007, 07:43:50 PM
[...]
The rule that say that only one of the protagonists could cheat on the other create tension and a sort of "adversity" during the game. You really don't want your "partner" cheating on you, both because you are emotionally linked to him, and because this would limit your play options. And at the same time this is an incentive to cheat, before your partner do it.
[...]

Reading this I realize we began the game with totally different expectations even if we enjoyed it the same.

No, I don't think so. The expectations were very similar, as demonstrated by the way our imput blended in the game. The bit above is my reflection after playing the game, and it's more an indication of the way my brain works, replaying again and again the "movie" of the game and analysing (or over-analysing) the effect of the various rules and limitations on our playing.

Quote
I, for instance, didn't stop to ponder about the consequences of who would cheat first.

Me, neither. It's not like you have to ponder the effect of a rule for it to take effect. The pondering arrive after the game, when you think how the game would have changed if we had made some different choice.

Talking about the way we played the game, the most noticeable difference I saw is about this:

Quote
I'd say I didn't even felt like I knew much about Julia before playing her, I entered the game without much reflection and feeling totally open to any possible development.

As I said in my comment, I started playing having already decided to be the one who would cheat. Not to be "the one who win", but because I needed a sort of "guide" to how to play the first acts. I had a scene with Jenny very early, and I had to choose how to play it. I could have started having decided to NOT cheat, it would be the same (the scene wouldn't be the same, but I would have know how to play it anyway). I couldn't play it without knowing what to do.  So when I played the first scenes, I did sown little bit of attrition with Julia, and responded very eagerly to the chance to see Jenny again, and even flirted just a little with her.

This is tied with my need to DO something when I play.  In any scene I have to find some sort of "objective" to follow. (this is probably the reason because I enjoy this kind of narrativist games, or even gamist ones,  much more than the ones based on "feeling your character" or "experience a situation")

I don't have any attachments to these initial objectives. I usually change them a lot of times during the game (you are seeing this in our present tSoY game, too). After a couple of scenes playing Tom I saw a more satisfying way to play him and I took it, dropping the initial objective without any problem.

From your comments, and the way I see you play, I get instead that you don't have to "formalize" these objectives in your head.  I got into every scene with some idea of what I wanted, "pushing" the scene that way, while you "rolled with the events" reacting "in real time" to what happened.

Quote
And Doubt delivered big time.

Well, we can tell it without... doubt!

Quote
I totally recommend this game, it's very easy and extremely fulfilling if you love collaborative storytelling and dig the romance theme.
I found it has much in common with a PtA, the structure is elegant and functional and it's been one of my best gaming experiences so far.

Seconded.  And I would like very much to see the comments or impressions of other people who played it, to compare.


Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Moreno R. on May 23, 2007, 07:45:34 PM
I think people are ignoring this thread because it has the word LARP in the title.  Which is funny.

Yes. Maybe I should have titled it simply "DOUBT: a Love story"...

Or I should have added that DOUBT can be played as a table-top rpg without changing anything on the game system or the rules.



Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: fjj on May 24, 2007, 01:57:15 PM
Thanks for posting this, Moreno. I enjoyed reading it. I've discussed the game with Frederik Berg Olsen and a few others but haven't played it myself. I like the idea of the very tight setup - and of course the number of layers in the story.

I usually prefer tabletop games, but once in a while I come across a game (scenario) that will definately play better as LARP (or with semi-live elements, as we call it in DK, i.e. with symbolic props and with clear scene framing). The written material may not explicitly state that the game is best played with acted out scenes or pure verbal at the table. But when I run such a game, I really don't think the choice is open.

So let me ask you for Tvivl/Doubt: How would it have affected your experience of play, if it was played pure tabletop?

Best regards,
Frederik J. Jensen


Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Moreno R. on May 25, 2007, 10:29:17 AM
I asked Tobias Wrigstad if I could post here his comments about Claudia's Actual Play report, from the Jeepform forum: there they are

Tobias talk about "Dubbio". It's the italian word for "Doubt", and the title of the italian translation of the game.

Quote from: Tobias Wrigstad

Thanks to both of you! I’m always very interested in actual play reports (no matter how long), and general comments and this material is great for me.

I too am happy that you did not play the game as a comedy, and agree with Tom’s player that it is essential to have comedic or fun parts to show the contrast with the serious ones.

I like the fact that Julia, Tom and Jennie went to the same school. I wouldn’t have come up with that (and if I had, not all players would have liked it), which really is a point in favour of this pre-game collaborative creation part. Dubbio is the first game in which I have tried this out so fully, and I’m very happy with the results. I’ve always believed that talking things through before is a good thing (as we said on the [AmberCon] panel), but this is the first time I’ve "formalised"  it.

I’m also very happy when you say that you were still surprised and that the more open-ended scenes were more interesting to play than the heavily planned — this is my belief too, and I’m happy that someone else is saying it. (Some Danish players at Fastaval made similar remarks.)

About the video camera scene, the idea is that Julia’s parents are coming to visit, and I’m glad that you arrived at the same conclusion as I. I want the scene to be about how you behave when the camera is off and on, and how you behave when your parents (in-law) are there and not.

"… she states she admires Alice and Robert for their courageous decision."  Brilliant! Lorenzo said "I had excellent players,"  and it certainly seems so.

Great AT THE DOOR scene. Great.

"When it ended she met his eyes. We felt this open ending was poetic and very satisfying."  — You are making me one happy game wright here.

Lorenzo said that this game is hard to play. I both agree and disagree. I think the game is always playable (provided you can relate to the emotions and are interested in doing so), but to really make it shine the players have to do some hard work in planning, making dramatic decisions on the fly, finding contrasts between the play and the everyday life, etc.

I’m happy that you enjoyed the game and am very grateful for the feedback. [...]

--Tobias 


Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Moreno R. on May 25, 2007, 10:35:54 AM
I usually prefer tabletop games, but once in a while I come across a game (scenario) that will definately play better as LARP (or with semi-live elements, as we call it in DK, i.e. with symbolic props and with clear scene framing). The written material may not explicitly state that the game is best played with acted out scenes or pure verbal at the table. But when I run such a game, I really don't think the choice is open.

So let me ask you for Tvivl/Doubt: How would it have affected your experience of play, if it was played pure tabletop?

Well, this is a question that is at the same time very easy and very difficult to answer. I mean, it's easy to talk about the general differences between the experiences of "live playing" and "tabletop playing", but it's more difficult to talk about the specific differences on the "story" created in this specific game.

In general, "live gaming" is a much more "complete" experience, is more... "real", more colorful, more active, more intense, more engaging. IF a scenario can be successfully played as a "live game", I can't see any reason to avoid doing so.  I met people that told me that they don't play live games because they don't know how to act. For me it's nonsense. Do they don't play tabletop because thay don't know how to vocally simulate the voice of an orc, or an elf, or don't know how to talk like a radio actor? I don't know how to act, I am no actor, I don't even know Impro, I am really sure I suck as an actor, but who cares? Nobody is paying tickets to see me, I am playing a game with my friends, there's no critic around to give rewiews.

It's the same as when I GM a tabletop game. I play Gods, monsters, not-humans, women, children, ghosts, etc.  And I NEVER use particular "voices". I don't try to talk with an accent, or with a stuttering, or something like that. Even if I was good at it, I find these thing distracting. We are all trying to imagine a different place, a different world, with different people, and the GM that make funny voices isn't really helping the player to do so. The player don't think "wow, that is really an orc!", he say "wow, the GM sure is funny!".

I think we should trust the imagination of the other players. It's the reason they are playing in the first place. I don't have to talk like an orc. I talk normally. But they hear, in their imagination, the voice of an orc.  And I see "live playing" in the same way. If we are playing together, we are imagining another place, and I don't have to be a good actor to make you imagine what I am saying as if was said by my character.

The only reason I see for playing tabletop games instead of "live" ones is that "if" above. In "if a scenario can be successfully played as a live game".  You are really limited in the kind of story you can do in a live game. Much more so if you don't have the resources to build complicated sets (and in any case, it's difficult to justify the expenses to build something that you could imagine in a tabletop). Every "non real" element that you add feels "wrong" (I am really not interested in playing some fantasy LARP I saw in other conventions with people disguised as elves of orcs. Even my suspension of disbelief has limits!). In a tabletop you can add a lot more elements to the shared imagined space without breaking the suspension of disbelief. "live games" are much more delicate, and break easily.

So, I rather agree with the Jeep "truths" 17 and 18:
17) The most important aspect of a story is how it affects the characters in it, not whether the characters manage to save the world in the end.
18) Everyday drama is more interesting than epic drama.

At least in the context of a "live" game.

So, at the end, for a "real life" drama as the one in "Doubt", I see no reason at all to avoid playing it "live" with more intensity, more color, more engagement, more immersion. And losing nothing that you could have at the tabletop.

If the story has instead some element difficult to play in a live game (even a sword fight. I really prefere imagining it than having a embarassing fake "battle" with boffer swords), I would prefere to play it as a tabletop.

I added the fact that "doubt" can be played as a tabletop (and it can, sure) in a "tongue in cheek" way, for the people who is "afraid" of playing live, but I don't really any reason to play it in that way (I mean, other that having only male players. In that case I can see as imagining a woman instead of having to physically court a man could be useful...)

About the specific way that playing "Doubt" tabletop could affect the playing, discounting the intensity I talked above...  I don't really know. I imagine there would be less tension between the characters, and the game would be much more about large scale intents that about small-scale scenes, but I really don't know, without seeing someome playing it like this.


Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Frank Tarcikowski on June 04, 2007, 10:14:04 AM
This is one of the most fascinating things in this hobby I've come accross yet. That Jeepers site is fantastic, especially the glossary. Look at their understanding of "Play for Show" and "Immersion"! And note that the whole concept of Reward Cycle and possibly Creative Agenda itself is located in the Play for Show part, while Immersion seems to be a totally distinct phenomenon in which the other players really don't participate at all. That actually goes along the same lines as some stuff I have been thinking about myself for some time, but think that the Play for Show thing is what game design must focus on. Anyhow, I am passing way beyond the scope of this actual play.

Thank you so much for posting this, Moreno. I think you did a really great job writing all this up, it must have taken you many hours. Also, the game itself sounds very intriguing, to a point where I feel a little intimidated by it and wonder whether I could even pull something like that off. It seems pretty demanding, with all the constraints and different characters, symbols, "play inside the play" and so forth. Are there any more beginner-friendly scenarios, do you know?

Also, I find the GM job very interesting. So the GM does not assume the role of a single fictional person. She is only running the game, seeing to it that everything runs smoothly, at some points giving some directions or posing some questions or doing other things as determined by the specific rules of a given scenario. She is, it seems to me, not a bass player here but rather a conductor. Oh, screw these musical metaphors. Anyhow, I wonder how much fulfillment one might get out of this job, and where exactly it would come from. I must read some of these scenarios to get a better impression.

Frank


Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Claudia Cangini on June 05, 2007, 03:42:27 AM
[…] Also, the game itself sounds very intriguing, to a point where I feel a little intimidated by it and wonder whether I could even pull something like that off. It seems pretty demanding, with all the constraints and different characters, symbols, "play inside the play" and so forth. Are there any more beginner-friendly scenarios, do you know?

Also, I find the GM job very interesting. So the GM does not assume the role of a single fictional person. She is only running the game, seeing to it that everything runs smoothly, at some points giving some directions or posing some questions or doing other things as determined by the specific rules of a given scenario. She is, it seems to me, not a bass player here but rather a conductor. Oh, screw these musical metaphors. Anyhow, I wonder how much fulfillment one might get out of this job, and where exactly it would come from. I must read some of these scenarios to get a better impression.

Frank

Frank, I’d like to give you my reply since I played this scenario with Moreno and I’m about to GM it in a little while.

I think you really shouldn’t feel intimidated by it neither as a player nor as a GM.
I swear it’s more complicated to explaint the whole thing than actually doing it!
In playing I feel the whole preparation and casting phase can really put everyone at ease cause the players begin practicing interaction in a very relaxed situation and don’t feel the pressure of having to react brilliantly to totally unforeseen events (for me this makes it easier than, for instance, “The Upgrade” which I tried earlier)

As for the GM role I feel it is quite near to that of a director/writer.
He can call scene cuts, ask questions during scenes to the players to cast further light on some aspects (“what’s Jennie wearing for this date?”), add some little details to spice things up (“then you realize the videocamera was off the whole time”), he has to write and read some monologues thus contributing to the general feel and hopefully contributing input to the players and can act like the real director interacting with the “actors” during the play scene.

I’m very ignorant about music so I wouldn’t know which kind of metaphor suits this functions, for sure it suits my gamemastering tastes :)

Anyway, if the theme of the scenario interests you, I really encourage you giving it a try cause actually it’s very “user friendly” and well written.


Title: Re: [Jeepform] DOUBT, a Jeepform Narrative LARP
Post by: Moreno R. on June 05, 2007, 06:29:19 PM
Hi, Frank!

I second what Claudia said about playing "Doubt": it's really much more difficult to explain than playing it.  We began to play after a short rules debriefing no more than 30 minurtes long, I think, and without having the time to read the manual (Lorenzo, the GM, was the only one who had read it). We made some errors, we forgot a stage play scene, and we didn't remember some of the techniques we could use, but the scenario is very robust and didn't suffer from this. Don't worry about playing it "perfectly".

The only two possible problems that I can foresee are about privacy and player's proactivity.  In order:

1) Privacy: the players should be free to play a love story without any embarassment. I think that to be able to play it without embarassment or "stage fright", it needs to be played in a friendly and relaxed athmosfere. If at a con or in a club, in a room without passer-by or too much noise (but this really depends on the players. I know people who could play it on a stage in front of an audience of hundreds, and other people who wouldn't be able to play it if watched by anyone other than the other players). Remember the players that they can "veil" the parts they don't want to act, and should do only the things they want to do without having to prove anything.

2) player's proactivity: This shouldn't be a problem if you play it with people already used to narrativistic games, or people used to create background on the fly for ther characters. Really, I think that the play procedure make improvisation really simple. But in other, different freeform games, I have seen some problem with people too used to "ask the gm" for everything they can do. I think players like these will avoid this game anyway so it shouldn't be a real problem.

About the GM's job, in "Doubt" he was both the director and the audience, and yes, he doesn't play characters, but it isn't so in every Jeepform: in "The Upgrade" Tobias and Frederick played the two co-host of the reality show, and they were very active in the game. And this, I think, made "The Upgrade" a much more difficult game for the GMs..

So, don't be intimidated. I hope to read your "Doubt" actual play really soon!