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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 51 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Not Just an Example of Play  (Read 1379 times)
JamesDJIII
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Posts: 201


« on: October 22, 2004, 06:24:22 PM »

Splitting off from http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=13143.

John Kim said:
Quote
As far as I can tell, the examples of play I've seen are exactly what they purport to be -- examples in order to illustrate how the game works in practice.


The more I look at the Red Box Basic D&D set example, 11th printing or so, the more I don't think this is true.

Read the section and compare with actual play you have done using those rules. There is a part where a PC dies, or appears to die. The treansript is... bizarre. Did any ever play in the same the way these "players" did? Can anyone recall the gaming memes that are present in that example? I started playing D&D when I was young, so I missed out on the game's dawn.

I am leaning towards my hypothesis that this particular example was never actually played. It's a creation of the authors alone. (Bonus points to anyone who can provide a contact point for Tom Modlvay, et al.) The point is: I think the example is just as much, if not more so, an example of the meta-game than the game itself. It's just never spoken about - it's just presented as the way to do it.

I'm not sure this is wrong. But given how much attention many games today pay towards it, do they also openly present examples of play that include that recognition?
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Rob MacDougall
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Posts: 160


« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2004, 07:39:03 AM »

Quote
Read the section and compare with actual play you have done using those rules. There is a part where a PC dies, or appears to die. The treansript is... bizarre.


I too find those kinds of transcripts fascinating, but I surely can't remember the specific example you're talking about. Could you give us a sense of what the transcript says, or how it is bizarre, so that those of us who don't still have our Red Box Sets, or never did, can join in the conversation?
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efindel
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Posts: 145


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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2004, 10:54:21 AM »

Quote from: JamesDJIII
Splitting off from http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=13143.

John Kim said:
Quote
As far as I can tell, the examples of play I've seen are exactly what they purport to be -- examples in order to illustrate how the game works in practice.


The more I look at the Red Box Basic D&D set example, 11th printing or so, the more I don't think this is true.

Read the section and compare with actual play you have done using those rules. There is a part where a PC dies, or appears to die. The treansript is... bizarre. Did any ever play in the same the way these "players" did? Can anyone recall the gaming memes that are present in that example? I started playing D&D when I was young, so I missed out on the game's dawn.


The only thing in it that really seems odd to me is the use of a 'caller' who is essentially party leader and tells the GM what the members of the party are doing -- although Red Box D&D and AD&D1 used the idea in their examples of play, I've never seen a real group do it, or even heard of one really doing it.  Indeed, even as things are presented, the other players sometimes talk directly to the GM, instead of funneling everything through the caller.

Everything else looks pretty standard to me, at least as some groups played.  The PC dying isn't a big deal -- many groups at that time set things up with easy access to resurrection magic "back in town".  Indeed, easy death + highly available but expensive resurrection is one means that groups used to keep the huge amounts of treasure that parties were supposed to gather under control.

What do you see as strange in it, besides the PC death?

(edited to remove a typo -- doubling of a word)
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Sean
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2004, 11:26:32 AM »

Side note: play with a 'caller' has always been pretty rare IME, but I did see it in some of the D&D groups I played in in '77-'78. Basically, it was a pretty functional strategy when you had a group of six or seven 5th-9th grade boys at the same table. One of the older and smarter boys would ride herd on the rest and funnel their communcations to the GM. People would break out for 1-on-1 roleplay all the time, and there was lots of direct interaction, but when things got too crazy to keep track of the GM would call an end to nonsense by 'stopping the buck' for party input with the Caller: "What do you guys do now", with the clear implication that the Caller would answer.
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2004, 07:54:17 PM »

We didn't call it a "caller", but we always had a party leader, even when we were down to a referee and two players all of whom had college degrees. Later, when I refereed for a house full of gamers whose median age was probably fifteen but who ranged from seven to thirty and whose number ranged from half a dozen to one and a half score, it was indispensible as a method.

In short, the referee dealt directly with the party leader, and the party leader stated what the party was going to do. Anyone who disagreed could speak up and say they were doing something different, or they wanted to talk about it, but we didn't wait for full agreement of everyone before proceeding--we assumed that the party leader spoke for the party, unless someone objected.

That's how I played until I got Multiverser going, in most situations. I still run D&D games that way, because it's very functional for party-based play.

But if the point is that this approach to putting the example of play in the book is intended as instruction to get play to follow a particular pattern, I would agree, and don't see that as controversial. That is, the point is to say, "this is how we play this game; copy this, and you're doing it right." I also don't see how that's different from advice that's sometimes followed in games here: show people how the game plays in practice.

Now, maybe people didn't always follow that model, but it was a workable model.

--M. J. Young
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2004, 11:45:08 PM »

I don't recall the Red Box example of play, but I don't recall being struck by its weirdness either.  It was at the time THE ONLY example of play I had to work with so I guess I could not have perceived it to be weird.

I remember the example in the 2nd Ed DMG a bit better; I always liked it actually, has a certain adulthood to it our contemporary games did not.

We tried the caller system and it failed miserably.  That remains the weirdest social convention related to RPG that I am familiar with, and certainly IMO the least conducive to any first person identification with your character.
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efindel
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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2004, 06:06:43 AM »

Something else that struck me after my earlier post...

While it's possible that the Red Box example of play was made-up, rather than being a transcript of part of an actual play session, I don't really see any reason for the author(s) to lie about what play was like.  

D&D was six years old at the time that the Red Box set was published -- the authors had surely played enough to have some idea of what a "typical" session would be like, so if they did make up the example, they were drawing off of their own knowledge of play.  And making something up that wasn't representative of real play wouldn't have gained them anything that I can see.

As a side note, I pulled out my original D&D and "blue book" D&D sets, and checked them for examples of play -- neither had one.  So the 1980 "Red Box" example of play is the first "example of play" to appear in a D&D set.  Out of historical curiousity, does anyone know if there's an earlier "example of play" in another game?
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Jack Aidley
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« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2004, 06:31:32 AM »

Perhaps they were aiming to present what they saw as an "ideal example" of play rather than an actual example of play?
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2004, 04:21:03 PM »

Quote from: efindel
As a side note, I pulled out my original D&D and "blue book" D&D sets, and checked them for examples of play -- neither had one.  So the 1980 "Red Box" example of play is the first "example of play" to appear in a D&D set.  Out of historical curiousity, does anyone know if there's an earlier "example of play" in another game?

My OAD&D DMG no longer has a cover or a title page, but I believe it is 78 or 79, and it has an example of play in it.

My impression is that it was fabricated to show several aspects of the process, but that it was quite natural, at least as compared with how our games tended to run.

--M. J. Young
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