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Author Topic: [Capes and impro] Not getting it / making it work  (Read 4900 times)
John Kim
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« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2005, 12:50:28 AM »

OK, I thought I should throw in a few comments, in no particular order:
    [*] Regarding the cultural divide -- I've recently gotten back from having gone to Knutepunkt 2005, where I role-played with a bunch of Scandanavians.  I had a blast and had no shock or difficulty fitting into the brief games played there.  They were different than what is typical of role-playing here in the U.S. (less rules, more subjective techniques), but not IMO a completely different type of activity.  
    [*] I sympathize with Matthijs when he talks about interruptions in film.  I am struck that this is very similar to my early comments in http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8022">Immersion and Story (Sep 2003).  The distance of atmosphere from the fictional narrative was something that struck me when I read LordSmerf/Thomas' sample of Capes play from IRC.  I put together http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/theory/theforge/capes_sample.html">combined log of IC and OOC of that.  
    [*] The point about competition is also something that resonates with me.  I had similar observations from Soap play, which I reported in the thread http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=13030">Medicinal Soap.  There were several rounds where the mechanics didn't enter in at all because no one made challenges.  I felt that our group tended to be more cooperative which interfered with the point of the rules.  I consciously pushed to get more challenges so we could try out the rules more, but it was forced.[/list:u]My conclusion is that I suspect this is more a divide by role-playing style preference than by national culture.  There are plenty of more immersive players here in the states.  And that's where I see the divide here as being.
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    - John
    matthijs
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    « Reply #16 on: March 20, 2005, 01:47:01 AM »

    Thanks, John, I think you're right - it's a style difference, mostly. (I do think it's connected in part with cultural differences, though, which is an interesting subject in itself).
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    TonyLB
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    « Reply #17 on: March 20, 2005, 07:21:56 AM »

    Quote from: matthijs
    Well, yeah. But we're not talking about a form of government here, nor about a training exercise... it's a cross between a game and a form of art

    I hesitate to offer yet another analogy, but "training exercise" is in fact very close to how I think about the game.  You're playing a game and you're making art.  You can improve your technique in either.  But in order to improve you need feedback about what you're doing well or poorly.  Capes gives very specific and objective feedback on the question of "Are you producing adversity that engages the other players?"  To the extent that you want to improve in that arena, that's helpful.

    It's like you're rehearsing a play (except without a script, of course).  You're writer/actors, and the Capes ruleset is the director.  He's opinionated, as directors are.  He's obsessed with the idea of one player providing adversity for another.  He's a complete phillistine in other areas.

    So you can be up there delivering a great monologue, perfectly portraying a danish prince on the verge of suicide and murder, and giving the audience absolute shivers... and the director can and will jump up and yell "No!  No!  How is this providing adversity for anyone?  Go say these things to somebody, not alone in a crypt!  How about Ophelia?  She'd take issue with all of this!"  You can keep doing what you want instead of what he wants, but he's going to keep complaining if you do.
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    matthijs
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    « Reply #18 on: March 20, 2005, 07:47:07 AM »

    Well... the problem I have with the training exercise viewpoint is: What exactly are you training for? If Capes is training you for a later event - what kind of event? Diceless gaming?
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    TonyLB
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    « Reply #19 on: March 20, 2005, 08:35:03 AM »

    Hrm... I don't know.  Never really thought about the question.  It's sort of like asking "So how do you win?" of most roleplaying games.  You don't win.  You play in order to keep playing.

    What you're training for is to continue providing challenges and adversity to the other players, better and better as time goes on.
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    LordSmerf
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    « Reply #20 on: March 20, 2005, 09:09:12 AM »

    With some sleep and some thought I've got some more questions here...

    First, I've never been a serious immersive roleplayer, so you're going to have to bear with me when I'm asking questions and making ridiculously silly statements.

    What happens in immersive roleplaying when someone consistently presents uninteresting input?  It's clearly interesting to them or they wouldn't be presenting it, but no one else at the table cares.  You say "yes" and move on.  Okay, but what impact does that have on play?  How does that compare to a game where everyone is tossing in input that engages all the players?

    After thinking about it for a bit, I believe that it's a preference in teaching styles.  In any RPG you want to teach the other participants what you find interesting.  In Capes, and in Universalis, and in Dogs in the Vineyard this feedback is fast and furious.

    It sounds like the more immersive style is a much slower and more subtle process: over a large number of sessions you carefully observe the types of inputs that each player provides so that you better understand what they enjoy.

    Does that sound accurate/plausible?

    Thomas
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    Doug Ruff
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    « Reply #21 on: March 20, 2005, 09:26:28 AM »

    Quote from: matthijs
    It's as if the systems are training wheels that I want to ditch, not just because I'm pretty well trained at what I do, but mostly because they're leading me in the wrong direction. I don't see conflict as the end-all and be-all of a story.


    I'm highlighting this as I think it identifies an area where some rules clarification would help. Because I don't think that Capes is necessarily all about conflicts.

    If you check out the Chapter 2 example of play, at the start of the scene (p. 46) there are a few sentences of narration by each player about what they are doing in the Gymnasium. This involves no conflicts, it's just "setting the scene".

    Now, I don't see why there has to be a limit to the amount of collaborative narration that goes on, before the first conflict (Goal or Event) is defined. It's quite clear that all of the scenes are going to end in a conflict (which is good), but how much narration can go on before this happens?

    My own thought on this is that there doesn't have to be a limit - if everyone is happy with telling the story, then that's fine.

    But... the Starter for the Scene gets to choose the first conflict, which means that they, and they alone, get to decide how long the "collaborative narration" phase lasts. and I'm not convinced that the system guides them in deciding when this should happen.

    So, some questions:

    (1) Is there anything to prevent extended narration periods at the start of (or in-between) Scenes?

    (2) What rules (if any) cover the transition from narration to conflict? At the moment, this appears to be "when the Starter names the first conflict", but I may have missed something.

    (3) Specific issue: what happens if the Starter wants to keep narrating, and the other players want a conflict?
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    matthijs
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    « Reply #22 on: March 20, 2005, 09:34:35 AM »

    Thomas,

    just to be clear: The "say yes" philosophy I mostly apply to improvised GM-less role-playing. It's not necessarily tied to immersive play, though it can be.

    Uninteresting input is a problem. The biggest problem is lack of input - players who are into their character, but don't show it. Just like hanging out with very quiet people, it's a matter of taste whether you want them in your group or not. Personally, I prefer players who "are" active characters. (Predictably, when there are no rules to force everyone to contribute, you're left with the ugly truth that some people are just better at role-playing than others, more entertaining to listen to, have easier access to ideas and character mannerisms etc).

    Yes, it's a fairly slow process to find out what people want - unless they tell you. In most campaigns I've run or played, there's a lot of talking between players, and between players and GM, about what works and what doesn't.

    (What you describe - "over a large number of sessions you carefully observe the types of inputs that each player provides so that you better understand what they enjoy" - sounds very much like one of the strategy tips given in Capes: Find out what they want, so you can feed them conflicts that engage them, giving you story points).
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    matthijs
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    « Reply #23 on: March 20, 2005, 09:43:15 AM »

    Doug! Good one! This was one of many things we had trouble with, and a fairly central issue, I believe. I pushed for short narration periods, using the examples in the book as a guide. However, when we started our impro session, we decided not to have a time limit. And, in the end, that's what caused the no-conflict playing style: Nobody wanted conflict enough to start using the conflict rules.

    Quote from: Doug Ruff
    But... the Starter for the Scene gets to choose the first conflict, which means that they, and they alone, get to decide how long the "collaborative narration" phase lasts. and I'm not convinced that the system guides them in deciding when this should happen.

    As far as I can tell, and the way we played it, the answers are:

    1. No. However, the examples seem to say narration should be short, and the lack of rules governing it makes for uneasy play in an otherwise rules-governed game.

    2. I believe you're right - the starter has to start Actions (creating a conflict or using an abillity).

    3. We had some pages where other players than the starter wanted to start Actions, forgetting they couldn't; I told them they had to wait. There were also points where I had to tell the starter to get on with it, as we were clearly entering conflicts (and use of abilities, but I later understood that it's OK to narrate ability use without having to start Actions). So I think you just have to use social pressure if they don't want to start Actions but you do.
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    LordSmerf
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    « Reply #24 on: March 20, 2005, 09:58:17 AM »

    Quote from: matthijs
    Just to be clear: The "say yes" philosophy I mostly apply to improvised GM-less role-playing. It's not necessarily tied to immersive play, though it can be.


    Okay... this raises an interesting question that may belong in another thread.  Is "GM-less" roleplaying different from "Gm-ful" roleplaying?  It seems that you're saying that in GM-less play no one has the authority to say "no", would it be fair to say that GM-ful play gives everyone the authority to say "no"?  Have you ever played that way?  How would that be different from the way you normally play?

    Quote
    Uninteresting input is a problem. The biggest problem is lack of input - players who are into their character, but don't show it. Just like hanging out with very quiet people, it's a matter of taste whether you want them in your group or not. Personally, I prefer players who "are" active characters. (Predictably, when there are no rules to force everyone to contribute, you're left with the ugly truth that some people are just better at role-playing than others, more entertaining to listen to, have easier access to ideas and character mannerisms etc). [-emphasis added]


    This really struck me, but I'm not sure what I want to say about it.  Something about rules putting everyone on a level playing field, or maybe about rules helping to teach you to be a better roleplayer.  I'll try to figure out what I want to say and come back later.

    Quote
    Yes, it's a fairly slow process to find out what people want - unless they tell you. In most campaigns I've run or played, there's a lot of talking between players, and between players and GM, about what works and what doesn't.


    Interestingly I've found that whatever people tell me they want, experience shows that they want something different (maybe only a little different, maybe way different).  So while talking may be helpful, I've found it rarely actually tells me what they really want.  Sometimes they don't know themselves.

    Quote
    (What you describe - "over a large number of sessions you carefully observe the types of inputs that each player provides so that you better understand what they enjoy" - sounds very much like one of the strategy tips given in Capes: Find out what they want, so you can feed them conflicts that engage them, giving you story points).


    Yes!  And what I'm saying is that they're very similar things.  In Capes you have these strong rules designed to reveal what other people want right now.  In freeform play you can still learn these things, but you don't have rules support so it takes more time and effort.  You don't get the instant feedback that Capes provides.

    Thomas
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    matthijs
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    « Reply #25 on: March 20, 2005, 10:14:34 AM »

    Thomas, I certainly agree with many of your points - especially that it's sometimes easier to get players to understand and show what they want by way of actual play with the right set of rules.

    (Wrt "GM-less" - just using regular jargon instead of Forge jargon there, not a strictly defined term).
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    Callan S.
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    « Reply #26 on: March 20, 2005, 05:00:09 PM »

    Quote from: matthijs
    The sports we excel in are mainly sports where you don't win using tactics, only through personal training and excellence

    So what drives them to excel? Certainly something does. And it isn't the reward of challenging someone else and winning. They don't improve themselves for that. What reward do they get for excelling, in terms of the culture they are in? I think the answer might help this discussion about roleplay.
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    Callan S.
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    « Reply #27 on: March 20, 2005, 05:42:14 PM »

    Quote from: matthijs
    So I think you just have to use social pressure if they don't want to start Actions but you do.

    This reminds me of the conch shell idea. When you pass the imaginary shell, the action implies the following social pressure "Dude, you have the shell! Say something!"

    Perhaps you've always been applying social pressure...just not aware of doing it until capes asked you to apply it in a different way?
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    matthijs
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    « Reply #28 on: March 21, 2005, 12:41:18 AM »

    The drive to excel:

    In winter sports like ski jumping, cross-country skiing etc, I believe the people who end up being world champions are mainly competing against themselves - just trying to get better and better at what they do. This is certainly one of the things that makes me improve my role-playing: When I think "shit, that session should have been better. I can do much better than that!"

    What is needed for this to happen is some yardstick, something you can measure yourself by; and idols, people who are better than you at what you do, so you know you're not yet getting the best results you should be able to.

    Social pressure:

    Social pressure is very obvious in impro role-play. When you have no rules to hide behind, there's no illusion that what you're doing is fair, or has any authority outside that you're given by the group. However, social pressure is also something we're trained to ignore - so even though some techniques could be blatantly obvious to an observer, that doesn't mean the participants are even aware they're using them.
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    TonyLB
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    « Reply #29 on: March 21, 2005, 05:21:30 AM »

    Quote from: matthijs
    This is certainly one of the things that makes me improve my role-playing: When I think "shit, that session should have been better. I can do much better than that!"

    What is needed for this to happen is some yardstick, something you can measure yourself by

    Cool.  So if creating adversity for other players were something you wanted to get better at, I think you'd be all set.  Unfortunate that it's not, since you seem to be in just the right mindset to use Capes, otherwise.
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