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Author Topic: Clueless about Bangs  (Read 11596 times)
Doctor Xero
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Posts: 433


« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2004, 04:20:48 PM »

Quote from: Roy
Quote from: Doctor Xero
There have been a few times during which, in order to keep the spirit of play necessitated by both our Social Contract and campaign genre, we have had to require a specific response.


Can you give us an example of that?  I'd appreciate a little clarification.

Roy

Oh, for an easy example, if the players and game master have decided to play a classic superhero game, then if The Batman finds The Joker hanging from a cliffside and losing his grip, no player can give in to the momentary temptation just to let The Joker fall and thereby end his murder sprees.  From an A-D-&-D perspective it would be more practical to let him die, and The Batman's player might really feel like letting off steam by stomping on The Joker's fingers to encourage him to fall, but it's not something The Batman would do in the classic superhero comic books, and it violates the feel of that particular genre.  If the campaign is a continuity heavy campaign (as most of ours are), once a superhero has spilled blood for pragmatic or coldblooded reasons, it changes the campaign mood and ambience permanently.  So the player playing The Batman is required to respond with trying to save The Joker in such cases.

To put it another way, the gaming group loses the fun of playing out an X-Files campaign if the player playing the Scully type of character quickly believes the Mulder type of characters about the supernatural instead of doubting them repeatedly for numerous seasons.  However, having the Scully type of character remain skeptical restricts player choice to do whatever he or she wants to, so sometimes the player playing the Scully sort of character is required to respond with disbelief even when the player might momentarily feel like doing otherwise.  One way to handle this, of course, is simply to build Scully types of characters with psychological flaws about obsessive skepticism or weird unluck which prevents them from witnessing the supernatural events, but sometimes this doesn't happen.

To be honest, I've played with such excellent roleplayers overall that this is seldom if ever a problem, but occasionally it seems unfair to the player, so we try to reward him/her for accepting a restriction which arises from genre considerations but may violate real world practicality.

Perhaps I ought mention that, in some of my gaming groups, the Social Contract has specified that the game master is responsible for maintaining the campaign mood and ambience and genre feel for the campaign even when players momentarily forget about it (and to recognize when it's a good idea to utterly ignore genre and ambience status quo as well!).

Does that clarify or confuse?

Doctor Xero
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"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
Valamir
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Posts: 5574


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« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2004, 04:25:09 PM »

Quote
Oh, for an easy example, if the players and game master have decided to play a classic superhero game, then if The Batman finds The Joker hanging from a cliffside and losing his grip, no player can give in to the momentary temptation just to let The Joker fall and thereby end his murder sprees. From an A-D-&-D perspective it would be more practical to let him die, and The Batman's player might really feel like letting off steam by stomping on The Joker's fingers to encourage him to fall, but it's not something The Batman would do in the classic superhero comic books, and it violates the feel of that particular genre. If the campaign is a continuity heavy campaign (as most of ours are), once a superhero has spilled blood for pragmatic or coldblooded reasons, it changes the campaign mood and ambience permanently. So the player playing The Batman is required to respond with trying to save The Joker in such cases.


How do you as GM judge whether this is a "genre violation" that must be curtailed vs. potentially one of the most compelling moments of the campaign precisely because its a violation of the sort that will come back to haunt the hero in dramatic fashion in the future.
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Doctor Xero
Member

Posts: 433


« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2004, 05:03:05 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
How do you as GM judge whether this is a "genre violation" that must be curtailed vs. potentially one of the most compelling moments of the campaign precisely because its a violation of the sort that will come back to haunt the hero in dramatic fashion in the future?

Well, in those gaming groups which prefer game-mastered campaigns to game-master-less campaigns, this is one of the talents which separates good game masters from poor game masters.  Do I know the people who are my players?  Can I sense what they want?

Fortunately, having to judge such things really come up very, very seldom.  The player usually knows what he or she needs the player-character to do and has the character do it, even when it momentarily annoys that player.  After all, the player had agreed from the start to be in a campaign in which a certain fidelity to genre is part of the Gaming Social Contract.  So I reward the player for being a good sport.

When I have to assess such things, I take into account such things as what I've heard that player tell me about his or her goals for the player-character, how elastic or inelastic the players want the genre fidelity to be, how radical the repercussions would be for everyone in the campaign, the feel of the group at that moment, whether the player seems to be responding in game or simply having a really bad day that will encourage all the players to beg me to remove the decision from continuity, etc. -- in effect, whether the violation would improve the campaign or utterly ruin it for everyone.

I really dislike curtailing anything, but I really hate to see six players have their campaign utterly ruined for them because one player went wild and the game master failed to curtail him.

I've seen campaigns which were intended to be light-hearted destroyed because one player decided to be bloody and gorey and the other players found that his or her actions ruined any interest they had in that campaign because, that particular time, their interest was in exploring a specific genre or ambience.  (Simulationist, maybe?)

On the other hand, I've seen campaigns with the exact same players in which the campaign's stated direction embraced that sort of violation of continuity as an opportunity for greater roleplaying and drama.  The same players would have found that one player a new challenge rather than a blight on the game because, for this particular campaign, their interests involve exploring the consequences of life in that world.  (Narrativist, maybe?)

I've run both games with inelastic genre strictures and games with extremely elastic genre strictures in which the question of genre violation would be a non sequitur, and I always work to ensure all the players and the game master(s) have agreed about which type a given campaign will be before players decide whether to participate in that particular campaign or not.  Usually, in most of my gaming groups, we've had campaigns of both types running during our gaming seasons.

Doctor Xero
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"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2004, 08:55:16 PM »

Thanks for expanding on that, Doctor Xero.  

That's one of those sticky issues that can be a game-breaker if it hasn't been addressed in the social contract.

Roy
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