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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 159 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Balancing story continuity against player participation  (Read 4355 times)

Posts: 468

« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2004, 09:15:08 PM »


See, your example makes so many assumptions that it's difficult to answer. Why should the referee even have a storyline that he "expects"?

I agree that there is a big assumption here, or maybe I'm not communicating well. I think in part I'm getting these good answers to the wrong question because folks here don't expect the GM's story needs to outweigh the players, and what I'm looking at is really an example of disfunctional play. What I'm curious is what would make a story so compelling that people would feel it's ok to exclude one player from the fun?

It's also certainly a difficulty that I really haven't had the opportunity to try any of the Forge games, the closest I've come is a bit of Fudge, plus I own and have read TROS, Sorceror, and Universalis (I also have Dust Devils but I haven't really read it). One thing that would help with all of these systems is to have some good overviews easily available (and probably they are and I just haven't really gone looking). I've gotten a lot more conservative with my RPG spending since I rarely ever get to use all the systems I have bought over the years, and when I do, I rarely find them more suitable for my interests than the couple systems I've settled on (which means I might well be missing the "perfect" system of course...).

I like a lot of the ideas proposed here, but they mostly all revolve around making the story flexible, which is what I think is the important key. The flexibility can take many shapes.

The graveyard queue idea is an interesting one. Since part of what I like is long term character development, it's not what I'd look at as a primary system, but a cool idea. It's actually similar in some ways to one of the things I liked about ICE's Riddle of the Ring board game (where if your character was taken out, you went to the Grey Havens for several turns where you replenished your hand, you might even have been booted out if another character was taken out).


I think it was .. two or three sessions. No, no replacements were allowed; the whole point was to kill them. But I had to use the dragon to do it. That was the other point. So they went through some doings, following its trail from one ruined town to the next. Then, at the end of the last session, they confronted it in its lair.

Ok, no replacements needed in that.


People want parties to stay together because they want equal spotlight time, and they think they're not getting it if they're separated. The fact is, often they're not getting it if they're together. Two or three players are going to dominate the group, at the most, and in most situations they're the ones shining. The others either go along for the ride or emerge for their brief moments when their protected sphere comes into play (e.g., the thief who always gets to open the doors and otherwise stays in the back).

Ok, I'll buy that. Of course splitting the party is also not fun if you can't watch the other players, so of course one solution is let them watch (and as I think I understand Multiverser, that's a feature of the system), and even participate in some fashion (though perhaps that could backfire and counter the balancing of spotlight time).

I think this discussion has been interesting, but I'm not sure this thread really is going anywhere. I'm not sure if the question I'm trying to ask is really worth asking, or if I'm really communicating it, so I'm inclined to drop this thread, and if there is anything that bears more discussion start a new thread for it.

I think what I am getting out of this is confirmation for my feeling that there are other ways to handle character death than make a player sit out for a session, and that's useful, but not really what I wanted. Thanks for bearing with me as I stumble around the wide world of Forge games...


Frank Filz
M. J. Young

Posts: 2198

« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2004, 02:55:00 PM »

Quote from: bcook1971

Multiverser sounds like Quantum Leap or Sliders. If a PC dies, do you then thread the next world for him--concurrent with play for the remaining group--until they trigger passage?

Neil Gaman's Sandman graphic novels also come to mind. (I guess I'm getting OT.)

Um--yes, on all counts, I  think. Except for the part about threading the next world for him--I'm not entirely certain what it means. However, in response both to this and to Frank's comment, sometimes playing Multiverser is a bit like channel surfing: you're watching this story, and then that story, and then the other. The difference is that you don't miss anything while that's happening.

You'll see something of that if you pick up Verse Three, Chapter One, because the stories of the characters are very independent for quite a stretch before they come together. (The next novel, Old Verses New, has more of this, and will be even more representative of the flavor of the game, I think.) Play jumps from one character to another. It's a bit taxing on the referee, but it's pretty exciting--particularly, as Frank observes, because players get wrapped up in watching each other's games. This weekend in one game at Ubercon we had a player fighting terrorists in a modern office building Die Hard style, while another was part of a rebel space ship crew doing raids against an oppressive government. The players aren't only excited about their own games, they're excited about each other's.

We call it multiple staging, and give a lot of advice on how to keep it afloat. It usually works well, and if the referee can keep his wits about him you get a lot of good stories going at once.

--M. J. Young

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