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[PTA] a very good episode, a very hard session

Started by lumpley, March 30, 2005, 02:48:26 PM

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Joshua A.C. Newman

Quote from: Sydney FreedbergNow, Devil's Advocate/Skunk here: to what extent is excessive pre-play brainstorming something that happens in spite of the rules, and to what extent is it something that happens because the rules leave you a whole scene (or conflict) to narrate based on one die roll and no/few other mechanical cues -- a "big blank page" that can send people into (possibly anxious) story-brainstorming mode instead of play mode?

Here's the ridiculous thing: this isn't a problem in the rules. In the rules, players take turns saying what they want out of a scene, and they tell the Producer, and the Producer frames it. The trouble we're running into here is that we're trying to hack the rule for our own group's tastes and it's non-trivial to do so.
the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.

Emily Care

Hi Sydney,

The overall framework of the show & the issues of the characters work admirably well to give you lots of hooks to hang your narrative on.  Launching the show with a strong direction helps, and then the players take the lead in giving suggestions about how their characters or others connect to it. As gm, just focus on finding for some potential for conflict in each scene and when it shows up roll the dice. You'll recognize it as a fork in the narrative road. So, the scenes are focused rather than amorphous.  You don't need more than one roll. Each scene is a quantum of conflict.

Also, having a clear agenda for the episode makes all the difference. This time around, we felt like we were floundering even though we were on track because the nature of this particular episode was so different than our past ones had been. From chasing the big bad demon, we switched to in depth character study.  Once we saw what our goal was, we were fine.

Other threads to look at to help you avoid some pitfalls are these two by J.Mendes. You may have seen them already, but compare how scenes & conflicts were handled & set up in this post when he & his crew were figuring the system out, with this post after they worked the kinks out.  

The critical mechanics aren't just the die rolls. The scene framing is central. Also, good adversity application by the gm is crucial but following the lead of the players means that what you throw at them will matter to them.

Hope that helps!

Emily Care
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games

Frank T

Regarding the "destructive preplaying" issue: I think that's what happens when a player thinks he can do better than the others. In any colaborative creative effort, this kind of thing happens if one participant thinks he can do better than the others. I'd go as far as to guess that the reason your play worked out better in the second half was not as much that you remembered to play by the rules, but that you remembered to accept and go with the other players' input.

I have fought over this with Nicolas in our chat games several times. We wouldn't fight in advance, normally, but rather stop in the middle of a scene when someone narrated something and someone else went: "Oh please, this sucks!" The problem with this ain't that you give your opinion. It's that you do so in a demanding, disrespecting way. That is not so much a question of rules of the game, as of rules of social interaction.

Of course, having a "dime stops here" rule helps a great deal in said social interaction, because it takes out a lot of tension.

P.S.: There is unbelievably cool stuff in this show, and Vincent, your way of telling it just awes me.

- Frank