*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
April 17, 2021, 02:43:48 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 215 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Director Stance  (Read 6080 times)
Ben Morgan
Member

Posts: 307


WWW
« on: April 15, 2004, 11:13:24 AM »

Reposted from my Livejournal upon Xiombarg's advice:

Just taking a moment to read posts on The Forge, and a memory popped in my head.

This was about a year and a half ago or so, and I was fiending for a game (much like I am now). One group I hooked up with for a short bit played D&D pretty much exclusively.

So I created Kerrick, the Half-Elf Rogue. Kerrick was not a thief, and would take great offense on the occasions he was dismissed as such. No, Kerrick was an entrepreneur, a businessman, and snakeoil salesman. Sure, sometimes his suppliers were less than on-the-level about where they got their goods, but it was none of his business if it fell off the back of a cart. Hey, it's not like he stole it, so he couldn't reasonably be held responsible, right? Kerrick always said he was best at keeping an eye out for the two kinds of people in this world - those who have something, and those who want something - and bringing them together, in a very real and legally binding sense.

Gamewise, Kerrick really kinda needed to start at 4th or 5th level to allow me to properly play the character I had envisioned. For one thing, my vision of the character had included a pre-existing impressive network of contacts. For another, he was supposed to be a crack shot with a hand crossbow. But he started, like EVERY other D&D character ever seems to, at level 1 (which is really more appropiate for Kerrick back when he was in his early teens, living on the streets, and pickpocketing local merchants).

Also, my thematic intentions for this character were that he was going to be a Han Solo kind of guy. He had a checkered past, and wasn't above bending the law to get done what he needed to do. But something (read: game plot) was going to happen, that would cause him to stand up and take notice, and in a pivotal moment, he was going to be faced with a serious moral decision, and for the first time in his life, he was going to do the right thing. Cliche, sure, but cliches are cliches for a reason. They work.

But I digress.

Kerrick hooked up with a couple of reprobates (read: PCs) in the local tavern (as is wont to happen in a D&D game), and found himself escorting a caravan to a town up north of the larger city in which he resided. Once we got under way, the DM made several attempts to inject some action into the scenario, which were roundly ignored by all - the others because of their Abused Player Syndrome survival instincts, and me simply because it didn't make sense to investigate a mysterious hole in the ground when I had pressing business in the next town. I felt bad about that, so I decided to help.

At some point, the suggestion was made that someone should scout on ahead. I volunteered, and disappeared over the next hill for a bit, while the other characters bickered over something or other; Kerrick made a mental note to not get roped into any other nonsense by these clowns. The only reason he was going with the caravan was because it was safer than going to the next town alone.

I come back not too long after, and they ask for my report. I looked at the DM and asked, "Is it okay if I have something in mind?" He didn't think to ask what that might be, instead he just said yes. I smiled a big huge toothy grin.

"We might want to get off the road, there's 40 kobolds marching this way. We've got about ten minutes."

Jaws dropped all around the table.

I give the DM credit: he was in no way shape or form accustomed to this sort of player power, but he took it and ran with it, all the way to the endzone. He tossed his notes away for the rest of the session, and winged a whole three-hour subplot involving a gathering kobold army that had been conducting raids on local villages for supplies.

Now, when I tell my players that it's okay for them to throw things in every once in a while, that's a concrete example of exactly what I'm looking for.

-- Ben
Logged

-----[Ben Morgan]-----[ad1066@gmail.com]-----
"I cast a spell! I wanna cast... Magic... Missile!"  -- Galstaff, Sorcerer of Light
C. Edwards
Member

Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2004, 12:01:30 PM »

I love that kind of proactive attitude from players. The game world just seems so much more alive to me when all the players are utilizing their creativity in order to add details and events that I as the GM might not have thought of or don't have an opportunity to interject.

Even seemingly insignificant uses of Director Stance help me feed off the creativity of the other participants. A recent example took place during the False Prophets game. Pomponius (Josh) and Kaeso (Alexander) are sitting in an inn discussing their plans. Josh has Pomponius trying to convince Kaeso to join him in trying to gain control of Jericho. While doing so he mentions that the emperor has been killed. That little bit of Director Stance, which really hasn't had much effect on the in-game events so far, may very well prove to have been a pivotal contribution. It set my own creative wheels spinning quite rapidly.

I have one question for you, Ben. Did the other two players object in any way to not only your use of Director Stance but the GMs acceptance of it?

-Chris
Logged
Emily Care
Member

Posts: 1126


WWW
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2004, 12:19:57 PM »

Quote from: Ben Morgan
I give the DM credit: he was in no way shape or form accustomed to this sort of player power, but he took it and ran with it, all the way to the endzone.


Great story, Ben. Points to the DM for rolling with it.
How did the other players feel about your momentary putsch?

In other words, ditto to Chris. :)

--EC
Logged

Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games
orbsmatt
Member

Posts: 86


WWW
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2004, 01:07:42 PM »

That would add a lot to the game.  As a GM, I could see how one could appreciate it, especially if the session wasn't going all that well.

I too am curious as how the other players reacted.  Did they realize that you had added something?  Or did they think that the GM had planned this all along?
Logged

Matthew Glanfield
http://www.randomrpg.com" target="_blank">Random RPG Idea Generator - The GMs source for random campaign ideas
Emiricol
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2004, 01:11:59 PM »

As a regular D&D DM, I have such mixed feelings about this sort of thing.  I'm fascinated by the possibilities, on one hand, and irrationally terrified of the very idea on the other :)

I won't hijack the conversation, but I too am interested in seeing how the other players reacted.  Also, do you think they would have reacted differently if they'd been on an adventure they were emotionally connected to?

EDIT: Also, how do you keep the players from devolving into the RPG version of "I shot you!" "No you didn'!"  "Yes I did!" ?
Logged
Ben Morgan
Member

Posts: 307


WWW
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2004, 01:47:14 PM »

Dave Chappell has a bit in his standup act where he talks about the fact that there are times when someone will say something so outrageously racist that he's so astonished by the sheer audacity of it, and as a result, he pretty much forgets to be offended. Instead of "Hey, that was wrong!", you just go, "Damn, that was some really racist shit."

That's kinda like what happened here. The rest of the group were so AMAZINGLY unused to this kind of thing at all, I think they were so blindsided by it that they completely forgot to have an issue with it. Instead they saw that the DM was running with it, and got on the ball about dealing with the situation. More than anything, it got the story rolling bigtime.

In other words, it had exactly the effect I was looking for.

In the cyberpunk-sque system I'm working on now (actually, it's little more than some notions about a mechanic, some nifty character creation rules, and a really neat character sheet), I solidify Sorcerer's primary reward mechanic into something conceptually tangible (as in, something that can be noted on the sheet). For the moment, I call them Cool Points, and they work pretty much how bonus dice work in Sorcerer. I decided to divorce the bonus dice from specific rolls for two reasons: 1. So I can allow for more FiTM type stuff, and 2. so I can reward creativity without needing to roll for it.

Bascially, any time anyone does something cool, they get points for it. The criteria for that is up to the individual group. My general guideline is movies: any time I see something in a movie that makes me go "Oh that's so cool!", that's what I reward in my games. So a nifty line at the right moment will get you 1 point. A particulary nifty action description will get you 2 points.

I consider what I pulled in that D&D game to easily be a 4 or 5 Cool Point award.

-- Ben
Logged

-----[Ben Morgan]-----[ad1066@gmail.com]-----
"I cast a spell! I wanna cast... Magic... Missile!"  -- Galstaff, Sorcerer of Light
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2004, 01:53:04 PM »

Quote from: Emiricol
As a regular D&D DM, I have such mixed feelings about this sort of thing.  I'm fascinated by the possibilities, on one hand, and irrationally terrified of the very idea on the other :)
No, no, this has been the most interesting response so far. I know that this is unusual for most GMs, but...

Let's say you have a scenario set up where the idea is that the PCs are supposed to travel from one town to the next, encountering certain things on the way, and what happens is that they decide not to go with the caravan? What do you do then?

What difference does it make what the PCs use to "screw up" your adventure? Does it matter that they use their character in one case, and 40 kobolds in another? In either case, you have two options. You can either say no, you have to go on the caravan. Or you improvise.

Seeing as the players are there to have fun, why not allow them to do what they want and just improvise alongside them? And what does it matter who controls what? As long as control is controlled. See, the "normal" RPG power split is for the player to play only the character, and the GM to control everything else. But, as it happens, that's just one good way to do it.

Quote
EDIT: Also, how do you keep the players from devolving into the RPG version of "I shot you!" "No you didn'!"  "Yes I did!" ?
You have to have some sort of consistent control. But in most games this isn't a problem. Take the example, the player asked to introduce something. And the GM had to say that he could first. And I'll bet he would have been within his (unspoken) rights to cancel the action, too. So where's the risk? If the player says something stupid, in a case like this, you can just say no.

The thing is that they never say something stupid. Why should they? So giving out power like this is really easy. Other games do this to a much greater extent, but in all cases there are always rules for deciding who gets to decide what, when. Even in "freeform" games there are rules like "don't mess with another player's character." And it all works just fine. The only requirement is the same in all cases - that players understand the division of power, and agree to play by those rules.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Emiricol
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2004, 04:15:32 PM »

Mike, thanks for that perspective.  I hadn't considered it from that point of view.  As a fluid DM (i.e., fly by the seat of my pants), this would't be hard to implement.  I'll dip my toe in the water before jumping in, but  my brief stint at The Forge is giving me all sorts of 'crazy' ideas I never would have considered before.  Exciting stuff :)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread topic.
Logged
Ben Morgan
Member

Posts: 307


WWW
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2004, 05:04:13 PM »

One of the things that I've noticed about this kind of sharing of power is that GMing in this style is actually a lot easier than micromanaging everything.

I came from a group where the resident GM was a control freak (in-game and out). Consequently, he kept a tight hold on the reins of the story. At the time, it was the common belief among the group that this was the only way to run a game. Of course, this was more than a little intimidating, and needless to say it didn't foster an atmosphere conducive for other people to run games. When I did finally try it, I found it physically draining to keep track of EVERYTHING all the time. I found myself wondering if I was actually having fun.

When I started letting go of some of that responsibility, the weight was lifted. Now all I had to do was make sure the players made dynamic characters from the get-go (a little extra work up front pays off bigtime later on), and then once they get going, all I have to do is keep up. And if I can make it look like I'm actually a couple of steps ahead, so much the better.

-- Ben
Logged

-----[Ben Morgan]-----[ad1066@gmail.com]-----
"I cast a spell! I wanna cast... Magic... Missile!"  -- Galstaff, Sorcerer of Light
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2004, 08:28:10 PM »

Hello,

The way I look at the issue of "Oh my God! Give them power? They'll abuuuuse it!" is as follows.

Why should anyone trust the GM with authority over such input? What makes him special? The answer is, nothing makes him special. No one should grant him this authority unless they trust him, as a person, to respect their presence as people at the table. Somehow, in many cases, this respect is assumed to be automatically present for GMs and assumed to be automatically absent for other participants.

Those assumptions are, in my view, false. You can trust Bob to respect others' appreciation and interest in his Director Stance contributions, or you can't. It doesn't matter whether Bob is GM or not.

Now, unconstructed System is a Bad Thing, in my view. All input into the Shared Imagined Space ("events of the game") relies on what I like to call the Buck concept, as in, the buck stops here. Someone has to be the Buck-stopper, and it shouldn't be left up to "oh well, we can work it out, I'm sure we'll all agree."

Functionally, although many people don't realize it, the GM in many cases is not the Buck-stopper, but rather the chief contributor of Director Stance stuff, and the others at the table are collectively the Buck-stopper in a kind of confused, not-very-sure way.

In other cases, anyone may contribute Director Stance stuff, but the GM (among his other tasks) stops the Buck.

Many other possible combinations exist - e.g. in Dust Devils and Trollbabe, anyone can contribute to narration (which to a degree includes Director Stance input), but different designated individuals are officially the Buck-stopper depending on what the cards or dice say.

What's stopped? (a) Whether that particular piece of the imagined landscape "can" be utilized in this fashion at all.  

(b) How much or how far such a piece can be "positioned" through Director Stance. For instance, a player might suggest that a lackey, upon being knocked unconscious last turn, has fallen in an opportune way, but the GM says "No he didn't" or "Sure, he did."

(c) How often such suggestions must be made.

(d) How relevant they must be to one's player-character, if one has one. In some groups, they must concern the player-character's own person ("I have a boot knife, of course"), and in other cases, they must not ("Your sheet says what you have, but it's OK to suggest what the goblins do, especially if I look a little stuck").

So the Buck is a very complex thing. It represents a very strong connection all the way down from Social Contract (Balance of Power, Credibility), through Exploration (Character and Situation, mainly; sometimes System and other components), via Creative Agenda into Techniques (Effect of resolutions, usually; often scene framing too), and into the Ephemera of narration and Stance.

If the group has their act together about the Buck-stoppage, they have nailed down one of the most fundamental properties of functional play.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Emily Care
Member

Posts: 1126


WWW
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2004, 11:08:44 AM »

Quote from: Ben Morgan
When I started letting go of some of that responsibility, the weight was lifted. Now all I had to do was make sure the players made dynamic characters from the get-go (a little extra work up front pays off bigtime later on), and then once they get going, all I have to do is keep up. And if I can make it look like I'm actually a couple of steps ahead, so much the better.


This may not sound like a big thing, but sharing the responsibility not only:
    [*]Reduces likelihood of gm burnout.[/list:u]but also:
      [*]Gives the play group access to a wider range of possibilities and creative elements.  
      [/list:u]
      2 bangs for 1 buck (so to speak):  easier and more fun. If managed well.

      --EC
      Logged

      Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

      Black & Green Games
      Ron Edwards
      Global Moderator
      Member
      *
      Posts: 16490


      WWW
      « Reply #11 on: April 16, 2004, 01:57:58 PM »

      Hello,

      Forgot to P.S. this in my last post: I spotted your web-handle right off, Emiricol ... no surprise to me that you were playing D&D back in the day. Many's the time I thumbed over that page, wondering who that guy was, and how he'd bound the horse-thing to his service ...

      Anyway, back to the regularly scheduled discussion.

      Best,
      Ron
      Logged
      John Kim
      Member

      Posts: 1805


      WWW
      « Reply #12 on: April 16, 2004, 03:02:27 PM »

      Quote from: Emily Care
      This may not sound like a big thing, but sharing the responsibility not only:
        [*]Reduces likelihood of gm burnout.[/list:u]but also:
          [*]Gives the play group access to a wider range of possibilities and creative elements.  
          [/list:u]
          2 bangs for 1 buck (so to speak):  easier and more fun. If managed well.

          Well, as with most things, it depends on the group and the circumstances -- i.e. even if managed skillfully, I don't think that director stance for players is always the right choice.  I do think that it can often be good, but I don't think it's universal.  For one, your statement here implies that "more possibilities" equals "more fun" -- which I don't think is true.  While some players may chafe at restrictions, for others limitations are a boon to creativity and fun.  

          I don't have a very good answer for when it is a good choice other than "when the group wants it".  It might be interesting to talk about.
          Logged

          - John
          Andrew Norris
          Member

          Posts: 253


          « Reply #13 on: April 18, 2004, 01:36:13 AM »

          My response was getting long, so I'll move my play anecdote to its own thread. But I did want to say that I just ran a five-hour session for which only about half an hour applied to the party if one PC was missing, and I found out he couldn't make it just before the game.  Player authorship saved the day.

          I had one Bang per player, I threw them out gradually, and watched as the character's plots to deal with their Bang threw them into a huge, messy tangle.

          What was great was that not only did players start authorizing stuff to weasel out of the messes they were in (so we had plenty of things like a player saying "I phone my Aunt Pat up the road, she's out of town for a month" and bam, Aunt Pat exists), but they started creating complications for the other characters, too. They wrote the session themselves.

          I'm just posting this as another voice saying, yes, player authoriship is an exhilirating thing to witness.
          Logged
          Pages: [1]
          Print
          Jump to:  

          Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
          Oxygen design by Bloc
          Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!