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The Creation and Birth of a Character

Started by Silmenume, May 13, 2005, 06:28:51 AM

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Silmenume

Hey Justin,

You're not butting in at all!

Quote from: jdagna...the important part is not whether you use a horse or a starship, but what happened among the people and why it worked or didn't.

I'll buy that.  However, a large portion of my post was very much about what "happened" between the GM and myself.  This particular thread was not "about" what happened in a game.  The whole process spanned a number of games and included many between game communications as well.  The idea was to demonstrate how Character creation unfolded between the GM and I for this particular instance.  However, the process I related was neither a "standardized procedure" nor unique.  Characters are created in any (or virtually unlimited) number of ways and in fact the procedure/process itself is just as fluid as game play itself.

Quote from: jdagnaFor example, in skimming through your post, the only part that jumps out as being interesting (in an analysis sense) is when you somehow get stuck with a character other than the one you put all the effort into.

I find it fascinating that you would describe what happened to me as being "stuck."  What you saw as stuck I saw as a highly successful conclusion to a negotiation/bricoling process.  We, the GM and I, created something new that was the result of both of our efforts which was not only fun as a process, but created something that I thought was pretty darn cool.  What I am guess I am not effectively communicating is that the manner of negotiation was not really at the "concept" level, but at the "concrete" level – that is I did not just say "I want X", but I "concretely demonstrated" various aspects of some Character ideas (via creating a back story) I was toying with through a play-like process of intention and resolution.  I intend (of IIEE fame) to do X (create this Character), what is the result/resolution of my effort/intention?

I think it is also interesting that your take on the situation was that I got a different Character than what I had presumably wanted because I had put so much effort into it.  At core the Character wasn't all that different from what I had been proposing.  His location and thus the specifics of his current circumstances were different, but his personality, history and skills were pretty much the same.  He was a still a Dwarf of a dead line, he is bitter at his own people for having abandoned his line in their time of need, he is a forger of magic items, my whole back story of his and his people's interaction and love for the Noldor was not only used but actually made richer, my idea of Chanting to control the flames at the forge as reason/source of my ability to make the items magical was taken and greatly expanded upon.

Our game is never "about" getting one's statements into the SIS unaltered.  To do so would almost be a violation of the Sim process.  Let's look at it this way.  In bricolage both the object added and the whole in which the object is being added to are both altered by the act.  Thus it follows that if my statement as the object being added to the whole is not altered in some fashion then we are failing to bricole.  It would be just as much a failing as if a successfully introduced statement had no effect on the SIS.

Just because I spent a large amount of effort on my part does not give me the right to have narration rights during Character creation.  What it does do is give me lots of objects to play with during the creation process, making it a lot more interesting, richer and fun!  See, even non-mechanics based Character creation is a form of Sim Exploration with changes occurring to the Dream.

Quote from: jdagnaHere's where I think Mike is really criticizing. We don't know how that happened... there must have been some discussion among the group and you must have had some opinion about this event.

Actually I did relate what happened; what I didn't relate was the significance of the decisions which is the all important metric in Sim.  Actually there was no discussion among the group regarding this Character prior to the actual playing.  I did mention that a player handed up a pretty cool note to the GM, which he then read aloud during the "scene."  When the GM disclosed the levels of my fire skills Montana, one of the two other players present, basically chuckled, shook his head and said something like, "Wow!"  When the GM took my idea for hammering my "greatest work" with a two handed hammer and changed it to me hammering with two hammers with the fire leaping under the heads as I swung, both of the other players were very impressed both with the description itself and that the Character had such skills.

Regarding my discussions with the GM, it was pretty much as I had indicated them.  He presented the idea to me of an "evil" dwarf.  I thought about it for a while and some time later made a counter proposal that he said was interesting.  What we did not do was negotiate over the Character at the "concept" level thus we did not really talk "about" the Character.  What he and I did was make statements of the concrete which were then either accepted or counter concrete proposals were made.  For example – I made the "concrete proposal" of my Dwarf using a two handed hammer by describing the Character at the forge using it.  He immediately followed by giving another image with the Character using two hammers and introducing the bit with the flames leaping under the hammerheads.  We did not talk "about" the Character we described physical/concrete elements that signified ideas – such as that this Character was exceptionally skilled because he wielded two forge hammers at once.  I did not say, "Cary, my Character is exceptionally skillful and I think it would be cool if he used a two handed hammer during the forging of the Dragon Helm."  What I did say was something like, "No... I swing with a two handed hammer," and he responded with something like, "...the fire leaps all about you a stand in this pit of flame naked to the waist wielding two hammers as the flames leap under the heads before the fall upon the helm."

Now this may seem like trivial detail when one is "looking" for the negotiations between the GM and player – but that was an example of that very negotiation process.  He saw what I was trying to signify and immediately added to it – he did not deny me idea at all.  And that is super kewl!  That he got what I was trying to signify about the Character, and not only agreed to it but improved upon it via the same signification process seriously rocked!  The same could be said for the whole creation process.  What you saw as "unfair" tampering with my ideas I see as the negotiation process in "concrete" form.

Post game, the other players thought what happened was pretty cool and I agree with them whole-heartedly.  I hope that I have provided some information about my take on the whole matter.  Let me know if there is some specific element or event that you have a particular question about that I have left unanswered.

Quote from: jdagnaThe social/GNS/play issues are going to be identical between the two. We just don't need to know anything about the characters or the setting that doesn't directly relate to what happened between the people.

For G and N that is very true.  But Sim is a very different beast.  Whereas in G and N a discussion of what is going on in the SIS actually can and does aid in the expression of those CA's, Sim expression is not aided by these dialogues and is actually hampered by such discussions during play.  What players have their Characters do in game is pretty much "what happened between the people."  The key to understanding all of this is understanding what those actions signified between the players – and that would require a huge amount of context.  The back-story I had offered in the beginning of the original post was intended to provide context to my tale to aid in signifying the events that I then later related.  This does not mean I can't do better in tightening up my posts but it must also be understood that all that "irrelevant" information isn't quite as irrelevant is it first seems.

Now to give an example of much misunderstanding there is let's look at the summation –

Quote from: jdagnaIn fact, here's the whole of your post boiled down into its essentials, as I can see:
- you played a character that didn't really appeal to you once
- later, you came up with an idea for a similar character that did appeal to you
- but you got assigned a different one
- and when you tried to bring in the one you liked, the GM didn't find an appropriate place to do it
- the GM made up for it by giving you a cool cut scene and interesting powers, items and companions
- you enjoyed this a lot (apparently, enough make up for not having actually played the character)

The first summation point is not accurate.  I did enjoy my first Dwarf – Jahal.  I did not imply otherwise.  I was dismayed by the loss of the Character, but that happens.  Actually I quite liked "how and why" he died – taking out about 6 Vikings while trying to save a little piece of perfection.  If they're going to take you out – make 'em pay their pound of flesh!  However the point of including all that text was missed for I attempted show my mindset and why I felt the way I did when the new Dwarf Character was proposed by the GM.  IOW I was attempting to establish the significance of the GM's first offer to me as a player.

The second point again misses in that the GM proffered the idea of a Dwarf and that it be evil as a way to fit me into an unfolding scenario.  This specific incarnation did not appeal to me because of the "evil" aspect.  So what I did do over a number of weeks was to consider how I could design the Character to justify staying with such a group without being "evil" (allied in some way with Sauron or Melkor).  This is where we get to gist of the post – how that process of Character design unfolded between the GM and myself.  What I didn't do was explain why the specific things we did back and forth were significant to the Sim CA expression.  But if you think my original post was long-winded and unfocused explaining even the major significant bricoling events would be sure torment.  Even just one event could fill a paragraph or more.

Quote from: jdagnaIf I had to pick some analysis out of that, I'd say that perhaps you're playing RPGs for entirely the wrong reason. You might be better off simply writing fiction. Your group might be better off too, because there's never any mention of them really contributing to what's going on. In fact, the group appears to be trying to stifle it and you appear unaware of this (and unaware of them in general from the post).

I am actually quite flat-backed that one could come up with such a conclusion.  None of this would be interesting or fun unless there were other players at the table.  I think is a probably a very excellent example of just how poorly Sim is understood.  What you appear to be unaware of is the that everything we say or do at the table has a significance with respect to each other and the Dream as a whole.  Everything that I do does effect and shape everyone else's game and the converse is true.  We are all adding to the common game experience which we all deeply love.  My bricoling efforts are deeply dependent upon the other bricoleurs and the enjoyment of this requires that others be involved.  In order for Sim to function, more so than Gam and even Nar, everyone must be supporting each other through actions at the table or no one can appreciate the bricoling efforts.  Just as the Nar player is appreciated for his choices regarding the Premise (contributions to Theme) and the Gam player is appreciated for his strategy and guts, so the Sim player is appreciated for the deftness of his ability to manipulate and signify symbols effectively – all the above require other players to support this process in their own ways.  In Sim it is by effectively contributing to the pool of symbols and celebrating the ideals of the group.  I have indicated in previous threads just how important the after game debriefs where much deconstruction and "concepts" are discussed and players congratulated or questioned.

Please note that I am not saying this because I am "offended" for Sim, rather the magnitude of miscommunication and understanding of Sim is staggering.  I see that I certainly do have to do my part at explaining myself better!

So that I may understand where you are coming from – why do you say we would be better of not playing?  We have traveled two 4th's of July in a row to spend 6 straight days gaming in some secluded country house.  We have award ceremonies and give trophies for best role-play.  It is a constant source of conversational topic – that is we are constantly bricoling...Players are deeply emotionally affected by nearly every game.

At any rate this has grown too long as well...Let me know!
Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

Jay

jdagna

Jay, thanks for your response... I do understand what was going on a lot better and I'm definitely glad to see that it's a much more functional process than what I'd gotten out of the first post.

Some of my assumptions are just based on what I didn't see in that post.  For example, using the term "stuck" for the new character, where I really had no idea of how you felt about it or really how you'd gotten to that point.  It seems like where we're having the most misunderstandings is probably when you describe the in-game effects of the out of character discussions that you and the other players are having.  In this case, "stuck" was the word I used because the majority of players I know would have been unhappy even with a similar character.  I just come from a background where the biggest dysfunction centers around total player control of PC creation (which I think they learned while playing with GMs who gave them absolutely no control over anything else for the rest of the game).

In any event, I really do think this example shows why the color details are not that important, even for Sim.  I knew a lot about the new and old characters and how they fit into the world.  What I did not know was how you felt about it, how you arrived at that character, and how the rest of the group felt about it.  What kind of negotiation was going on there?

So, in talking specifically about the negotiation process, is it basically a point where everyone has authority to add and change things, and it just goes back and forth until everyone stops adding and changing things?  Does anyone have final authority in this?  Is there a point at which the player says "No, I really wanted a two-handed hammer," or the GM says "Look, that's really not going to work in this campaign"?  Do the games' character creation rules figure into this?  I didn't see any real mention of things like rolling or assigning attributes and picking/buying classes, skills, equipment and the like.  Most systems (as used by most players) have a lot to say about these things.  Are you guys ignoring the system's rules, working with a system that permits this, or coming up with a concept that you later fit into the rules?  

I know that you say there's no one fixed process for handling this, but ultimately it's going to come down to a set of rules, procedures or expectations.  You guys might not notice them, perhaps because everyone adheres to an unspoken code.  But, for example, if someone joined your group for a night, saw you making character and decided to try his hand at it with "My character is, um, God.  He knows everything, so you guys can't keep any secrets, and he's all powerful, so he can do anything he wants to and no one can stop him.  And since he's perfect, it all always turns out OK."  Are you going to let him do that?  If not, what do you say or do?  What part of it would bother you most?  That will probably reveal a lot about the rules for the process.

Oh, and I feel pretty comfortable in my understanding of Sim play.  It's pretty much my preferred play style.  I just feel like I'm looking at the results of the process more than the process itself, if you know what I mean.
Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
http://www.paxdraconis.com

Silmenume

Hey James!

Can you explain to me why this particular mode of Sim sounds or seems unenjoyable to you.  I am hoping that by you providing a foil to my understanding that I might then get a reference point by which to self-examine my game experiences more effectively.  Are you a Sim player or are you, say, a Nar player who has never had much use for or played in a coherent and functional Sim game so as to have never experienced what the brouhaha is all about?

Hey Droog!

You're right; I did wander a bit far and wide.  I do think though it is indicative of the CA as well.  There are no real "concepts" governing play that help provide boundaries, as it were.  But I shall do my best!  However, on the whole, it appears that our game experiences are very similar.

While it is true that I need not repeat the Silmarillion, but if someone asks why this seemingly insignificant detail was included, then I must place it into context – and in this case the Silmarillion provided the context for the significance of the event I was describing.  Nothing in Sim can or does stand on its own – everything only has importance in relationship to everything else.  Thus it becomes extremely difficult to decide what to include and what to exclude when those very cuts do remove the necessary context.  IOW the more one excludes the less meaningful any particular action becomes.  So it is a very tough line to walk.  Anyway...

Quote from: droogI'd like to hear some general points about your techniques. How do you make Sim fun? ... Do you have any conscious techniques?

Its funny you should ask how we make Sim fun!  I came here to these boards about a year and a half ago to plumb that very same question.  I think if I could answer that succinctly I could trim my AP posts way down as well!  I've been talking to my GM about this for about 5 years give or take.  He gives me lots of specific pointers, but as to a generalized theory or process – he just has a natural gift that is very effectively expressed without a deep understanding of why.

I'll give you a sample listing of some of the "techniques" he has offered to me – they all work but there is no easily explained principle as to when or how to use them.

    [*]We use music, mostly motion picture soundtracks because they are designed to illicit emotions and do not have complex melodies or themes to compete for the players attention.[*]If a scene gets slow – "Throw Orcs."  To borrow from Daschel Hammet, if the story is getting slow have guys rush into the room with guns.  (I am not sure if I have attributed this idea correctly or not)[*]Make the players fall in love with their Characters – So I have asked many times how do you do that?  He gives three basic answers – give them a unique item, skill/power/attribute or give them an interesting drive.  But that begs the question what does he mean by unique/interesting and how do you know the player will appreciate it?  He just has an innate understanding of how to "hook" players.[*]The players must invest in the world – good advise, but how do one go about "making" the players invest and what does "invest" mean?  Yet he always seems to pull players in emotionally.[*]Create lots of social bonds between the PC and his surrounding community – and then put it in jeopardy.[*]Have lots of NPC's pulling from different directions at the PC.[*]Have the NPC's act like "real people with real motives" independent of the PC's interests.[*]Keep mechanics to an absolute minimum so as to keep focus on play and decisions.[*]Make death real and permanent.[*]Run the game and especially combats in "real time".  IOW no turns, rounds or segments.[*]Have the players' decision have a real effect on important matters in the world, but not like D&D where 1st level strangers are hired by a king to save his kingdom.  Frex – I was playing a brand new Character who was in the tower guard assigned to a unit that was detailed to protect Finduilas, the future mother of Boromir and Faramir.  Then the GM cut to a group of PC Black Commandos who were detailed to the Dol Amroth to kill the Prince, his son and any other important targets of opportunity.  So these guys sneak in and just cut through the officer on watch and the other guards like a hot knife through butter and suddenly I am the only one around for the time being who can do anything to keep this extremely important and pregnant NPC alive.  My first level Character's decisions are now exceedingly important.[*]Keep the pacing up – which I have unraveled to mean - keep the conflicts coming fast and furious.[*]Make the conflicts important to the Characters and the players.[*]Make other PC's lives depend on the decisions the player makes.[*]Play a game of perceptions and not objective reality.  Make the players figure out what is going on instead of telling them what is going on.  Give them their perceptions and filter them through the Character.[*]Have different players be the "star" on different nights.[*]Give players the freedom to leave the scenario if their Character would do so.[*]Not all Characters are "equal" on a given night.[*]Make a unique skill that a Character has important at some point in the night.  Don't do that every time that that Character is played because it will get old.[*]Try to have a "gap reversal" where the certain assumptions are proven to be false somewhere near the end of the evening.  This is kind of like a plot point where the events suddenly change direction because something is uncovered to be different than what was understood or assumed earlier.  The betrayer is really trustworthy, the honorable is really a betrayer.  The victim is really the perpetrator, the strong is really weak, etc.[*]Reward clever thinking.[*]Reward play that stays in Character especially if it results in losses to the player. (This is a big one!)[*]Reward interesting or clever play.[*]Give role-play rewards at the end of the night.  That too begs the question of, "what is good role-play?"[*]Use an immediate reward system – that is if a player does something particularly "interesting/clever" either give a check in the pertinent skill or in the experience point column to reward and encourage such behavior.  Again this a subjective call.[/list:u]I know this wasn't exactly what you were looking for, but if you can find some common line in all of this let me know!

    Quote from: droogObviously the game has a great hold on you: is it as simple as your all being Tolkien fans or is it the game itself?

    I think it is a matter of both.  However, the GM has run some one shots of cyberpunk, "space" and a green berets scenario that were immensely popular.

    Quote from: droogI did a lot of maps when doing RQ, Lovingly hand-drawn maps, multiple maps to a region, economic maps, political maps, linguistic maps, tactical maps, social maps. I also drew many of the characters, multiple times and in various situations. It was all part of making that solid in our minds; understanding what the characters were going through.

    What sort of things do you use? Is this always part of Sim? Are the bull sessions, too?

    We use anything that inspires us, yet we don't use just anything because it says "LOTR" on it.  For example we do not use ICE or Iron Crown ME RPG's.  However, anything that is inspirational and does fit the general ideas/themes/structures that we consider to be representative of ME is open to employment.  Having said that I have redrawn and expanded upon some of the maps contained in Karen Wynn Fostad's The Atlas of Middle Earth.  The GM uses some of the cards of the ME CCG as visuals.  The movies we consider out and out crap on a stick.  Almost always we find existing game systems, modules, source books and anything not written by Tolkien to be utter crap that totally contradicts the themes that Tolkien labored so hard for in his works.  Usually what we do find interesting is an image or two that can be interpreted in a way that is consistent with our interpretations.  Music is a huge part of our game – so much so that we would sooner play without dice or our character sheets than without music.

    The GM has mentioned that if he could afford it that he would hire artists to create renditions of all our Characters.  I have created a "treasure map" or two.  I have also researched and then hand written in calligraphy and hand drawn diagrams of middle ages bloom hearths and chaferys as well as blast furnaces as part of a Character concept.  One of the players who is decent cartoonist has drawn images of some of his Characters.  I have searched the net and compiled a fairly extensive elvish/quenya dictionary.  There are several foldout pre-printed maps of ME that we do use.  We use grey dice for our Dunedain Characters.  We use the Ruth S. Noel's Languages of Middle-Earth fairly extensively.  Actually every player who has received 10 best of the night role-play awards receives that dictionary as an award.  The GM has requested that we research a cost list of common items, though we have argued that ME, like Middle Ages Europe would have functioned more on a barter based economy than a currency based economy.  We have designed wax seals for certain Characters – we found a site online that will use lasers to cut any .bmp from granite blanks which then can be used to inlay wax seals.  We have done preliminary designs for a Ranger "badge" which would be embroidered on leather strips and given to players who had Rangers of Ithilien.

    Do I think this is common to Sim?  Yes.  I also think the "bull sessions" are also common to Sim.  Chris Lehrich's essays on myth and role-play actually provide reasons why this is so.

    Quote from: droogIs this a useful technique for Sim? More characters=broader view thus deeper Dreaming?

    Absolutely!  I believe so for the very reason you provided.  However, this is subject to the interests and tastes of the individual groups.

    Quote from: droogOur group also gave overwhelming support to the GM in questions concerning Setting. Is this something that must occur in Sim?

    I'm not sure.  My group is very similar in this aspect to your group, but I don't know if it is a "must" thing or not.  I'd have to think on that for a while.  However, I do believe that Setting is not just the background or milieu in Sim in which play transpire, but is the vital and necessary other half of the dialectic which the players and the GM are engaged in.  Where as in Nar players address Premise and in Gam players address Challenge, in Sim the players are engaged in a dialectic process between Character/culture and Setting/nature.

    I hope that I have addressed some of you questions in a satisfactory manner.  Let me know if you have any additional questions of I have failed to answer you questions to your satisfaction.  

    Mike I will address your post as soon as I am able.
    Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

    Jay

    James Holloway

    Quote from: SilmenumeHey James!

    Can you explain to me why this particular mode of Sim sounds or seems unenjoyable to you.  I am hoping that by you providing a foil to my understanding that I might then get a reference point by which to self-examine my game experiences more effectively.  Are you a Sim player or are you, say, a Nar player who has never had much use for or played in a coherent and functional Sim game so as to have never experienced what the brouhaha is all about?
    No, I'm a traditional Sim-player with maybe a bit of Vanilla Nar here and there. I play and love games like Unknown Armies and so on. It's technique-specific and vision-specific stuff that sounds weird to me, which is probably not worth getting into since it really just amounts to "the vision the GM and players have of the setting and characters does not particularly butter my bread." But I'm very fascinated to understand your style of gaming.

    Now, you talk about the ancillary processes of engaging in the dream -- designing seals, character portraits, music, and so on. I do get into this to some extent, although given my druthers I usually run historical games rather than out-and-out fantasy, which makes this kind of process a lot easier. One of the big things these little props and activities do is contribute to what I think is called Color -- the, er, "look and feel" of the game, the "vibe" if you like. This is hugely important to me in LARPs.

    I really liked your previous post about negotiation between player and GM happening as a serious of game-play statements. It clarified a lot for me.

    droog

    Quote from: Silmenume

    I'll give you a sample listing of some of the "techniques" he has offered to me – they all work but there is no easily explained principle as to when or how to use them.

      [*]The players must invest in the world – good advise, but how do one go about "making" the players invest and what does "invest" mean?  Yet he always seems to pull players in emotionally.[*]Create lots of social bonds between the PC and his surrounding community – and then put it in jeopardy.[*]Have lots of NPC's pulling from different directions at the PC.[*]Have the NPC's act like "real people with real motives" independent of the PC's interests.[*]Make death real and permanent.[*]Have the players' decision have a real effect on important matters in the world, but not like D&D where 1st level strangers are hired by a king to save his kingdom.  Frex – [*]Make other PC's lives depend on the decisions the player makes.[*]Play a game of perceptions and not objective reality.  Make the players figure out what is going on instead of telling them what is going on.  Give them their perceptions and filter them through the Character.[*]Give players the freedom to leave the scenario if their Character would do so.[*]Reward play that stays in Character especially if it results in losses to the player. (This is a big one!).[*][/list:u]
      Okay, these are the ones I would identify as primarily Sim. I'm pretty sure we've done analogous things. Just  some thoughts:

      1. Players have to invest in the world. Can you make someone do that? In your experience, do unbelievers just leave the group?
      2. Social bonds could just as well be for narrative purposes, but in any serious Sim play of eg pre-industrial times it should be important, therefore it is. You might even say it's Nar causality reversed.
      3. That logic leads to playing NPCs as far as possible with your Hood of Justice on, and striving for the impression of a fully-populated, really-functioning world. Because the world is populated with real people.
      4. Therefore, all actions by players must have plausible consequences, be it danger or death. The world must function consistently.
      5. Insistence on in-character knowledge, I think, is not absolutely necessary, but we did it. I often took players aside for private talks, presented the situation as they saw it etc. Blurring that distinction between player and character; often rewarded somehow as well.
      6. I think that committed Sim players are just as likely to split the party as Nar players, if the game gives incentive for the behaviour. Pendragon was the game that really got me thinking about what a game could do to heighten the Dream: in that players went wandering everywhere without any regard to party. In-genre play, effortlessly achieved.
      7. Choice has a different value in Sim play. You are free to make the choice, but your actions must make sense. You are free to play the character but the character must confirm the Dream (in the group's own style). Somehow this has got to be fun. In my experience that was always more fun in Pendragon, which supported that agenda, than in RQ, where it was left to social contract.


      (Man, you guys are full on with your props. We just had pictures and endless discussions.)





      Quote
      I do believe that Setting is not just the background or milieu in Sim in which play transpire, but is the vital and necessary other half of the dialectic which the players and the GM are engaged in.  Where as in Nar players address Premise and in Gam players address Challenge, in Sim the players are engaged in a dialectic process between Character/culture and Setting/nature.
      It's you and me against the world, babe. Are we gonna make it?
      AKA Jeff Zahari

      Silmenume

      Hey Mike,

      Thanks for your questions.  They will help me explain to you what is important or not understood by or you or fill in what I neglected to include.

      Quote from: Mike HolmesAt one point you make this sound like a two step process, and at others you make it sound like you can forgo one for another. Are there two chargen methods going on here? That is, do you sometimes get a concept and then "roll it up," and at other times, just make up the stats? Or is there always a point at which you have to roll for stats (or otherwise use mechanics to build them)? Does it vary, or is the same method used each time?

      Actually there is no hard or fixed time that one "must" roll for stats.  I have seen several Characters that are years old and have been played numerous times that have never been "rolled up."  The "direction" of creation is always concept first then roll up second.  

      However I should clarify the mechanical portion of Character creation.  The GM always initiates the mechanical process of Character creation.  This a player just does not start rolling dice and then shove the numbers under the DM's nose.  If the GM has a Character concept that he thinks the player will enjoy then he will initiate the process by having the player roll up stats.  Usually we roll about 2-3 full sets of "raw" attribute numbers which are then handed "over the screen."  Depending on the "race" that the GM has in mind the players are told roll so many d20's in an effort to raise certain attributes or in the case of non-human races straight pluses are added by the GM.  If the Character is human and one of the attributes exceeds human maximum via this rolling process then the "negotiations" begin!  When this starts we know the GM cannot allow the excessive attribute be, so we usually has something of an advantage so we usually push fairly hard on our end for more than fair compensation for the necessary attribute drop!  This can be in the form or raising other attributes, raising or negotiating for unusual secondary skills, increased weapon skills, increased social class or background or items; though this last option is not typically pursued at items can be lost.  Pushing for too much though can lose the player credibility so one must be careful – this makes this particular event very interesting!  As the player in this particular arrangement does not know what kind of Character he is getting usually he does not have much input into such items as weapons, armor or secondary skills.  During this process weapons skills, defense percentage, stamina and personal body points are calculated and secondary skills are assigned.  When the sheet is returned to the player he is then usually given between 2-4 times his intelligence in "checks" to distribute among his secondary skills, no more than wisdom in any particular skill.  Once play actually begins the GM will then lay out some of the background of the Character (but by no means all), his social connections and the current Situation.  (This last part is part of the Scene Framing process).

      When a player has a concept that they would like to play then the process starts off in a somewhat similar process that I had indicated at the beginning of this thread.  When the mechanical portion of Character creation begins again the player is directed to roll several sets of "raw" attribute scores.  Again the sheet goes over "over the screen."  However, depending on the nature of the conversations regarding the Character concept prior those ideas are worked in at this time.  While the players don't just dictate/choose/narrate outright what the skill levels they wish; the more convincing, interesting or effective the reasoning or story, the higher the assigned skill level will be or the greater the chance that the unusual or powerful skill (secondary or weapon) will be given.  Finally when the sheet comes back over the screen the player is usually given even more "checks" to add to his secondaries than is typical.

      It also not unheard of for a player to trade down a high attribute for consideration regarding secondary or weapons skills.  Not too long ago I was rolling up a Character that I had discussed with GM prior that ended up with an unmodified 18 in Look.  The problem with that was, as I had discussed earlier with the GM, I had envisioned the Character to be in his mid-thirties and extremely weather beaten as had spent his whole life "in the field."  So he dropped the score and raised a number of outdoor secondary skills which supported the Character concept nicely.  Actually I got some pretty rockin' numbers!

      Player's have also "picked up" NPC's.  Sometimes were given generic "walkons" so we'll have something to do but because the player manages to make the Character really come alive, we end up keeping the Character thus we'll "pick up" or "design" Character's that way  (This "play to design" was the process that I occurred when I "played" the Dwarf that was being introduced into play – in conjunction with conversations regarding "backstory").  I had also mentioned in an earlier post about "dungeon drops" whereby we are given a blank sheet and what we do during the game itself determines the nature of the Character so if we survive the night those elements of the Character which were made manifest during player are worked into the mechanical creation process.

      However, in all of this, we never start rolling numbers and then come up with a concept.

      I should also note that in all this there is no "Player's Handbook" or anything that is pre-printed for the players.  There are no classes or kits per say and there is no mechanical alignment system.  There are no skill trees or point buys or anything along those lines.  Yes, we do have mages and clerics, but they aren't considered classes (mages are "awoken" and clerics are "called" and there is no inherent reason why it cannot happen to any human.) and there are no restrictions regarding armor for the mages and weapons for clerics.

      Now for all the information that is on the Character sheet, one can actually play quite effectively without it being on the table (or even having one!).  I had indicated something like this earlier when I said that some people have Characters that they have had for years that have yet to be "rolled up."  In such cases it actually works in the players' favor as the GM, so desirous to be fair, will err on the side of said player and give fairly generous "benefits of the doubt" where important adjudications do have to be made.  Actually, for all this new players are told not to worry about their Character sheets and to "just play the Character."

      The GM, on the other hand, does have a number of tables to facilitate this process.  Race sheets that indicate bonus dice (or straight plusses, depending) for attributes and the type of dice used for stamina and per rates (which I won't explain now unless you really wish to read more of my writing!).  There are tables for calculating weapon skills (to hit and damage bonuses), defense percentages and personal body points.  For mages there is a formula for determining basic spell points and level multipliers.  All these values are strongly determined by the attributes of the Character in question.  What isn't listed in tables are the secondary skills sets for the different cultures and races.  20 some years ago there was an effort to codify this information, but it was never really put into use and now its all done based on judgment calls and interpretation as exactness is not an issue – norms are what is important.  What's important is when something is outside of the norm – then that skill and by extension the owning Character will stand out.  Yet, for all the math and the tables, in the end it pretty much all boils down to subjective judgments as the numbers usually end up being "massaged" to one extent or another by the GM...

      ...then we don't spend too much using them as they don't really figure into system outside of combat.  One player coined a phrase that I thought accurately summed up the place of the Character sheets in our game – "They provide the means by which we purchase our fantasies."  What's on the sheets may lend authority, remind or inspire us, but they really don't have that important of a place in the functioning of the game.

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      Quote from: SilmenumeIf I recall correctly the number of Characters that each player has varies from about 15 to 40+.
      This is the total that a player will have developed over time, correct? As opposed to the number that they'll play in one session? Or is it the latter? If the former, how often are older characters revisited? Or are they basically retired (with the understanding that they still exist, and could be brought back into play should events make it sensible)?

      Yes.  The numbers I had indicated represent the amount the players have developed over time.  Just because a Character is older does not imply that it is "retired."  If the Character is in your folder it is considered "active."  "Retirement" is an overt act which entails handing the Character sheet in and an understanding that that Character is forever removed from the Player's control (that is he is NPC'd unless the player says that said Character is retiring within the game world).  There is no fixed rotation for which Characters are played, so how often "older" Character is played pretty much boils down to how "accessible" the Character is to bringing into events.  Typically our higher level Characters are also the older ones and we do like playing with established Characters.  The more "history" a Character has to more interesting he becomes to play; plus higher level Characters not only are more "effective" they tend to have a broader understanding of the issues facing the world.  I have a Character in my folder that I haven't played in 6 years that I would like to get back to some time.  However, last year some time, there were a couple of Characters that I did officially retire as their stories and lives had become so cold and dim that there was nothing left of them in me.  Another player at the table absolutely refuses to hand in any Character until said Character is declared dead, even if he hasn't played the Character in 15 years.  Go figure...

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      QuoteWe spend a lot of time out of game session just "talking [about] D&D."
      You refer to the game as D&D? Is it close to D&D then? Or is that just traditional?

      Its mostly tradition.  In many, many ways our system is almost the exact opposite of the D&D mechanics, though there are a number of superficial similarities.  The GM and one of the players (Chuck) designed their system because they had found the D&D system to be sorely lacking.  In forge terms TSR's D&D system did not facilitate the style of play they were seeking at the time.  The referring to role-play as D&D is just an old habit.

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      QuoteSometimes we'll sit down to play and the GM will tell a number of players to roll some numbers as we are getting some new Characters.  Once done the GM goes into the back-stories and interrelationships of the various PC's as the lead-in to the situation/scenario.
      I'm not parsing this. What do you mean by "roll some numbers?" Generating stats for characters? Pools of stats like some chargen systems use? What's being done here? Why is it done?

      By "roll some numbers" I did mean "Generating stats for Characters."  I think I answered this above and in the somewhat specious name of brevity I won't go over this again unless you feel that I have not answered you question to your satisfaction.  In that case, upon your request, I would be more than happy do so!

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      QuoteAs we play we "build" our Characters through actions, not petitions, ...
      Petitions? You mean instead of asking for a certain kind of character from the GM?

      Just to make sure were in the context, the above made reference to a style of game whereby we would "generate" a Character through concrete actions within the SIS as opposed to discussing the Character using "concepts."  For example if I wanted the (unformed) Character to be strong then I would look to find an opportunity whereby I could demonstrate a great feat of strength – however, this occasion must arise logically out of the events that are unfolding.  Even then a good roll of a die is typically necessary to demonstrate the successful completion of said act.  IOW just because I say that I bend the bars of the jail to save my life does not mean I will automatically succeed.  This I contrast with just saying, "I want my Character to be strong – say, a 17 strength."  This style of Character creation is very rare and I included to demonstrate the variety of ways in which we do create Characters.

      I hope that I have answered at least some of your very useful (to me!) questions.  Please ask more if needed!
      Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

      Jay

      Mike Holmes

      Quote from: SilmenumeIf the Character is human and one of the attributes exceeds human maximum via this rolling process then the "negotiations" begin!

      ...

      Pushing for too much though can lose the player credibility so one must be careful – this makes this particular event very interesting!
      This is fascinating. It speaks to a strong dose of gamism. I mean, if the player doesn't have a need for a more effective character (and I'm betting that the comparison here is with other PCs), then why negotiate at all? Why not accept the dice rolling as a simulation of the effect of the character being born and having developed as they have?

      Further, it seems that there's then a proscription against said gamism. Very standard anti-incoherence measure that says that if a player is discovered to be prioritizing gamism over sim that they're no longer, as you put it, credible. I sense a strong hybridizing going on here, with the typical resultant layer of contract that has to exist to keep play functional.


      QuoteAs the player in this particular arrangement does not know what kind of Character he is getting usually he does not have much input into such items as weapons, armor or secondary skills.
      You say something like this more than once, and it's very confusing. You talk about how the concepts are negotiated between player and character, but then on a couple of occasions, you make it sound like the player doesn't know what their character will be like. What's going on here? What's the "particular arrangement" that you refer to that makes this true? How is the normal situation different? Are you talking about when the GM throws a concept the player's way? How often does this happen percentage-wise? Why is this done sometimes, and other times the player comes up with a concept? Can the player refuse to play a GM concept?

      QuoteFinally when the sheet comes back over the screen the player is usually given even more "checks" to add to his secondaries than is typical.
      Why is this? A reward for the player taking the initiative to come up with concepts on their own?

      QuoteIt also not unheard of for a player to trade down a high attribute for consideration regarding secondary or weapons skills.  
      Seems pretty unremarkable, simply the trading of abilities using the barter system instead of, say, points or something.

      QuoteHowever, in all of this, we never start rolling numbers and then come up with a concept.
      I may be reading in, but from the emphasis, I'm guessing that there is some stigma attached to something about playing this way. What's being avoided by not rolling up stats first? Rather, what's accomplished by putting the concept out first? How is this more satisfactory for this sort of play?

      QuoteYes, we do have mages and clerics, but they aren't considered classes (mages are "awoken" and clerics are "called" and there is no inherent reason why it cannot happen to any human.) and there are no restrictions regarding armor for the mages and weapons for clerics.
      I find this interesting. It's certainly vestigal from the D&D origin. I mean, you guys balk at the LOTR movies (which I think are great), yet you allow the system to have clerics in it? What from the canon would support this? Even mages seem mostly unsupported - from my reading basically you have to be touched in some way by the West to have any magic (Elves, Maiar, or humans using their artifacts). Even the idea of spells and spell points and such seem to me to be pretty alien to Tolkien's work. Given that the mechanics tend to get ignored, are these abilities handled without much regard for the system? Just what can a cleric do?

      QuoteActually, for all this new players are told not to worry about their Character sheets and to "just play the Character."
      You realize that this speaks strongly of the "System Doesn't Matter" attitude. I mean it very much sounds like your GMs played D&D, found it lacking, made modifications that were like D&D, found that lacking, and basically decided to pitch it all for freeform. Keeping the rules in case they need justification for certain things, and to make players understand that they can't "get away" with just anything. Like they're afraid that if they just go completely freeform that the players will run amok.

      That probably sounds judgemental, but it's meant to be analytical, and to provoke corrections. Do correct it where it's not accurate.

      QuoteWhat's important is when something is outside of the norm – then that skill and by extension the owning Character will stand out.  
      It seems like this is allowed for players who show that they can be trusted not to be "abusive" meaning to play gamism.

      Quote"Retirement" is an overt act which entails handing the Character sheet in and an understanding that that Character is forever removed from the Player's control (that is he is NPC'd unless the player says that said Character is retiring within the game world).
      Do characters ever become "unretired"? I mean, if a player can start playing another NPC, what's the problem with going back and playing a character that had been, as you put it, "NPC'd"? Especially if events seem to bring the character back into prominence? Does it relate to closure?

      QuoteAnother player at the table absolutely refuses to hand in any Character until said Character is declared dead, even if he hasn't played the Character in 15 years.  Go figure...
      Well, if he sees the possibility that the character might come back into play...well why retire the character indeed? Same question as above, basically: what's the purpose of retirement as it exists?

      Quote
      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      QuoteAs we play we "build" our Characters through actions, not petitions, ...
      Petitions? You mean instead of asking for a certain kind of character from the GM?

      Just to make sure were in the context, the above made reference to a style of game whereby we would "generate" a Character through concrete actions within the SIS as opposed to discussing the Character using "concepts."  For example if I wanted the (unformed) Character to be strong then I would look to find an opportunity whereby I could demonstrate a great feat of strength – however, this occasion must arise logically out of the events that are unfolding.  Even then a good roll of a die is typically necessary to demonstrate the successful completion of said act.  IOW just because I say that I bend the bars of the jail to save my life does not mean I will automatically succeed.  This I contrast with just saying, "I want my Character to be strong – say, a 17 strength."  This style of Character creation is very rare and I included to demonstrate the variety of ways in which we do create Characters.
      So by "petition" you mean by anything that's not creating the ability using the in-game method? Do these methods tend to be mutually exclusive? Or do they get mixed? That is, let's say you start a character by using the in-game method. Do you ever then later switch to the other method to flesh the character out?

      Mike
      Member of Indie Netgaming
      -Get your indie game fix online.

      Silmenume

      Hey Justin,

      Regarding the whole issue of "stuck," I'm totally cool and in turn cry, "Mea culpa," for not being more explicit!  I am interested by this statement here –

      Quote from: jdagnaIt seems like where we're having the most misunderstandings is probably when you describe the in-game effects of the out of character discussions that you and the other players are having.

      Can you quote me an example of this so I can see where I am creating this problem as well as to try and clear up the misunderstandings?  Thanks!

      Quote from: jdagnaIn any event, I really do think this example shows why the color details are not that important, even for Sim.  I knew a lot about the new and old characters and how they fit into the world.  What I did not know was how you felt about it, how you arrived at that character, and how the rest of the group felt about it.  What kind of negotiation was going on there?

      Emphasis added

      Whereas I can understand not knowing how I felt about the process, but I am a bit baffled by the underlined question.  To me, and maybe I failed to communicate it effectively, the point of the post was intended to address that very question.  Yes, I did include a lot for side information, but the bulk of the post was the context, the internal thought processes and the external discussions (which can mean negotiations) I had with the GM regarding the creation of a Character.  At any rate have a addressed any of this issues to your satisfaction in any of my subsequent posts or would you like more information.  Let me know!

      As a quick aside, I am not certain that Sim actually has color – at least as far as what is within the SIS.  Even the music we use can and frequently does convey relevant information if the players are astute enough to pick up on it.  Everything, including which is commonly referred to as color, is subject to being pressed into service as an object for bricolage.  But I digress...

      Quote from: jdagnaSo, in talking specifically about the negotiation process, is it basically a point where everyone has authority to add and change things, and it just goes back and forth until everyone stops adding and changing things?  Does anyone have final authority in this?

      These questions here are some of the most difficult posted.  I'll start with the simple question.  The GM does have final authority, however... During play that is essentially a Character creation process, like the one described in my opening post, there is more latitude given the players to change "things" (by which I am going to refer to as "objects" as distinguished from "events").  Typically things/objects are the purview of the GM as this is Setting/world stuff.  However, in this case, we have the circumstance being that of a player's Character creation so said player is given more freedom to add/change physical things/objects than in normal.  Now, the important thing here, which was what I was really trying to get at as a player, was what a two handed hammer signified.  By altering the GM's original statement I am first of all communicating to him that this moment, what is going on right here and now, is important (I am signifying some idea at this moment – I can only hope that he picks up on it – he did!  Which was really cool!) to me as a player.  In this case I wanted to flag as important what I was forging and my forging skills.  Second, my choice of object, a two handed hammer was intended to signify a myriad number of qualities (concepts/ideas) about my Character.  The counter offer of forging with two hammers was an acceptance of the core idea being advanced about my forging skills, yet modified in such a way that was more elegant and sat better with the existing themes and ideas of the created world and source material.  The helm that was being created was then establish as being mighty, for what other reason would a forger wield two hammers?  And if a forger can wield two hammers then his skills as a forger ought to be mighty as well.  Etc.

      A little bit more and I will get back to you questions directly.  I said that objects/things tend to be the purview of the GM and contrast those forms of statements from those that I categorized as "events."  Events are much more negotiable, but almost always only in the effects stage.  The heart of bricoling is dealing with problems that arise from actions.  Thus we do not try to negate the statements of action of another player, but instead we negotiate about the effect(s) of the other person's action.  FREX –
        GM – The Orc swings his scimitar at your head.
        Player – I duck out of the way.

        The player is not "changing" the "fact" that the Orc is swinging a scimitar at his Character's head, but actually extends forward from that established "fact" and further gives it credibility because he did not challenge it but worked forward from it.   What the player does do is try to influence what the plausible/logical outcome of such an act might be.

        In this case if the player successfully negotiates his "duck out of the way" in then what most logically/plausibly follows is that the result of the Orc's swing (the GM's established action) results or has the outcome of "missing the Character's head."  All this <bi>is a negotiation process, but instead of overtly employing/discussing concepts, the negotiation took the form of proposed concrete actions intended to mediate/alter the result/effect of the aforementioned statement of action.[/list:u]I hope that I have not digressed to far.  I am trying to demonstrate the manner and the "nature" of the constraints of our negotiation process.

        In general I would say that the GM nearly always has final authority on matters of Setting/physical things.  However, even he is constrained by the inherent limits of bricolage.  The focus of our negotiations thus center on either mediating effects to our Character or trying to create our own effects via our Character.  During a time that is more or less identified as Character creation during Exploration players have more latitude over Setting "things" and the GM has more latitude to have input on the Character.

        To get back to your question "...in talking specifically about the negotiation process, is it basically a point where everyone has authority to add and change things, and it just goes back and forth until everyone stops adding and changing things?"  During play or Character creation only the GM and the player are involved.  Occasionally someone might chime with something cool but that is the rare exception.  Consider this, even Character creation never truly ends as the Character is always growing and evolving both in the present during Exploration and what is revealed in back story during Exploration.  

      Quote from: jdagnaIs there a point at which the player says "No, I really wanted a two-handed hammer," or the GM says "Look, that's really not going to work in this campaign"?

      Again, these are very difficult questions.  On the player side the answer is usually no.  If a Character is not given a "thing" then he is totally open to then go pursue gaining a "thing" through play – in this case a "two-handed hammer."  In my case I was less interested in having the "thing" than expressing and putting into play the idea/concept that came from employing a "two-handed hammer."  Supposing that the "thing" that the player is seeking is not contrary to the logic of the world (like a light saber in Middle Earth) the GM typically does not say, "this is not going to work in this campaign," but rather answers by introducing or not introducing a statement into the SIS or modifying something before it is accepted into the Fact Space.  To be more explicit, if a player does insist on something that obviously does not logically/plausibly belong in the fictional world then that is a major violation of the Social Contract.

      Given all that I written so far, let me know if I have addressed this question to your satisfaction.  I know there is more to say, but I will let you guide the process for your understanding.

      Quote from: jdagnaDo the games' character creation rules figure into this? I didn't see any real mention of things like rolling or assigning attributes and picking/buying classes, skills, equipment and the like. Most systems (as used by most players) have a lot to say about these things. Are you guys ignoring the system's rules, working with a system that permits this, or coming up with a concept that you later fit into the rules?

      From a player's perspective there are no printed Character creation rules, there are no classes so there is no picking or buying classes.  There is no buying at all.  Simply put there is no mechanical process for Character from the player side – its all concept stuff.  The more compelling, the more interesting, the greater the impact the player has on the Creation process.  I should indicate that primarily we have a skills based system.  There are some 60 or so stock secondary skills listed on the Character sheet.  Going back to what I meant by "impact" during the creation of one's own Character, the more concepts, the more interesting the ideas the player brings to the process the more they will be reflected on the sheet.  If a player is vague or non descript about his Character concept then that will be reflected on the sheet.  Conversely if a player brings a lot to the table then the Character sheet will reflect that input.  However this process is a partnership between player and GM where the GM has final authority.  Many times he will give many, but not all that the player wants simply because want breeds need and need is motivation.  By not giving everything then the Character (the player actually!) has some built in motivations right off the bat.

      During the mechanical process of generating numbers we roll 9 sets of 5d6 pick the best three and start recording the numbers either from top or bottom.  Included in these 9 sets is one re-roll which can be assigned anywhere the player wishes.  Another process available is to roll 4d6 and the player assigns the numbers where he sees fit.  On extremely rare occasions where a Character has been played for years without numbers a player will negotiate the attribute numbers with the GM so that they reflect what the Character has exhibited over the course of play.

      I guess you could say that are working within a system that permits "this."

      Quote from: jdagnaI know that you say there's no one fixed process for handling this, but ultimately it's going to come down to a set of rules, procedures or expectations.

      The process is mostly governed by expectations and conventions.  There are mechanics for determining combat related skills that are based upon the attributes of the Character (this includes the race of the Character) yet even these numbers, specifically the weapons skills, are "massaged" by the GM.  In all of this there are expectations that we are to adhere, and this includes the GM, to the basic structures/tenets of the fictional world.  This does not mean there cannot be change or growth, but it should be evolutionary and not a sharp break.

      Quote from: jdagna... if someone joined your group for a night, saw you making character and decided to try his hand at it with "My character is, um, God. He knows everything, so you guys can't keep any secrets, and he's all powerful, so he can do anything he wants to and no one can stop him. And since he's perfect, it all always turns out OK."Are you going to let him do that? If not, what do you say or do? What part of it would bother you most?

      The answer is no.  First of all such a player, if it was known they preferred that sort of play, would not be invited to the table.  Typically before a new player actually sits at the table the player who has invited the new player explains to him our style of play.  If it someone who has answered an ad, then I usually talk with the player telling him how we play and find out if he/she is still interested in joining.  When a player sits at the table for the first time the GM gives a speech as to our style of play.  So, after all that, if a player were to seriously make such a statement not in jest there would be some serious issues.  If a player just ambled up to the table at a public gaming place and made such a request/statement we would explain to him how we play so that he could then choose whether to join us or not.  If a player were adamant about his demands then we would just politely but firmly ask him to leave as it was obvious he would not enjoy our style of play.

      Assuming we get a new player to the table who does not present such a statement, typically before the game day the inviting player will ask the new player what types of characters he normally likes to play or would like to play.  If they start off talking classes and such we say that we don't have classes so don't think in game terms.  Instead we suggest tying to think in terms of Characters in movies of books.

      If the new player in question had just walked up to the table asked to join and did not know anything about the game I wouldn't be too worried because we would explain our style to him.  Either he would understand and there wouldn't be a problem or he would reject what we were doing and we would ask him to leave.  Under either circumstance I would not be overly troubled.  If however the new player was insistent then the part that would bother me most would be the blatant disregard of the social contract.  If we explained how we played and then gave the player the freedom to choose to play according to our social contract or go and he opted to stay in defiance of what we had spelled out that would really bother me most.

      Regarding your understanding of Sim, I apologize if I suggested otherwise.

      By the way – All of you; these are really cool questions!  I am having a blast answering them.  I hope my answers are useful or otherwise successfully address whatever it is that you're wondering about!
      Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

      Jay

      Silmenume

      Hey there Mike,

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      Quote from: SilmenumeIf the Character is human and one of the attributes exceeds human maximum via this rolling process then the "negotiations" begin!

      ...

      Pushing for too much though can lose the player credibility so one must be careful – this makes this particular event very interesting!
      This is fascinating. It speaks to a strong dose of gamism. I mean, if the player doesn't have a need for a more effective character (and I'm betting that the comparison here is with other PCs), then why negotiate at all?

      As the world is very deadly, Character survivability (effectiveness) is exceedingly important!  This is not a matter of besting or defeating Challenge, it's a matter of retaining the ability to remain in the game and accomplish whatever one has set out to do.  In concrete ways our game literally tries to recreate what Tolkien referred to as the "Northern Heroic ethos" that suffused his works.  A player must have a strong will and courage to survive, or they simply will not.  However because of that there is always a hunger to be better prepared to face the constant and real threat – that of being over matched.  It is a game of privation where the "good guys" never have enough material, time or manpower to be reasonably assured of survival much less success.  We are always short on arrows, armor is almost impossible to come by, we don't have enough horses and time is of the essence, "if you drop your sword/friend/etc., you will probably make it, "if you wait much longer for more help to arrive they will have already killed her," etc.  So when we are in a situation where we get to pry something from the evil grasping hands of the GM – of course we get to revel in it!  We get to stick it to him for a change!  Of course this is all light hearted but he does like this negotiation process, as he is curious to see where it will lead.

      In reading your question again I want to make sure that you understood that the negotiation I am talking about only happens when an attribute exceeds human maximum.  That is why the negotiation begins.  That attribute must be dropped back to within the human maximums but rather than doing it unilaterally he involves the player in the process.  Thus how much the attribute is dropped (the minimum being to the human maximum value) and what kinds of considerations are to be made are open to negotiation.  Go too far and it starts to become obvious that one is mongering for naked power and that is a definite no-no.

      Quote from: Mike HolmesWhy not accept the dice rolling as a simulation of the effect of the character being born and having developed as they have?

      Normally we do.  But when the system leads to illogical or impossible conclusions instead of just "erasing" the error we get to do a little bricoling.  Finally it is a nod to fate that is an important element of the game.  Rather than discard the impossible outcome the player is allowed to "redirect" that "gift," as it were, so that it can find another outlet of fulfillment.

      Quote from: Mike HolmesYou say something like this more than once, and it's very confusing. You talk about how the concepts are negotiated between player and character, but then on a couple of occasions, you make it sound like the player doesn't know what their character will be like. What's going on here? What's the "particular arrangement" that you refer to that makes this true? How is the normal situation different? Are you talking about when the GM throws a concept the player's way? How often does this happen percentage-wise?

      The "particular arrangement" was indicated at the beginning of the paragraph –
        If the GM has a Character concept that he thinks the player will enjoy then he will initiate the process by having the player roll up stats.[/list:u]In this "particular arrangement" the player does not know anything about the Character he is rolling dice for.  Another "arrangement" is where the player does have plenty of ideas about the Character he is rolling up.  This could have happened either through out of game discussions (a type of arrangement – Character creation based on discussed concepts) or the playing/creating the player from nothing via demonstrative actions (another type of arrangement – Character creation based on history of play).

        The norm for regular players is to come up with a Character concept 1st and talk about it with the GM before mechanical creation.  A close second is one where the GM has an idea that he'd like the player to play so the player does not know much or anything about the Characters during mechanical creation.  (this is always exciting because of the idea of  new beginnings means so many new possibilities!) Character creation based upon "history of play" with said Character is much less frequent.  New players, once their interests are determined and their play ability sussed out are much more likely to GM concepts.  I know you asked for percentages, but I'd have to go through my folder to jog my memory, but if I would hazard a guess that GM concept is somewhere around 30%-50% of new Characters.

      Quote from: Mike HolmesWhy is this done sometimes, and other times the player comes up with a concept? Can the player refuse to play a GM concept?

      That's like asking why a player chose a particular moment to spend a coin in Universalis.  We spend lots of time talking "D&D" outside game sessions.  We talk about old scenarios, scenarios that we'd like to play, new Character concepts, a Character we saw/read in a movie, TV show, book, picture, etc. that was cool or inspiring, what we would have done in a certain situation if we a character under similar circumstance.  More or less we are "always" talking about Characters or social institutions that would then spawn ideas for Characters.  These social institutions could be tribes, to nations, to military units, to special/unusual organizations, etc.  FREX – many players at the table bag on Boromir because he was ensnared by the one ring.  So I started talking with the GM about how cool it would be to serve in his unit when he came of age.  The books indicated that he was a mighty captain who was aggressive and always in the thick taking huge risks and was beloved by his people – and I thought it would be really cool to be right there.  So the GM, in time, took the idea and spun it and had me roll up a Character that he described as a Tower Guard assigned to Finduilas, Boromir's mother when she was heavy with child.  As was indicated in a previous thread I ended up saving her life and am now permanently assigned to her – and her son.  Other times I'll come to a game and the GM will just point to a couple of players (but rarely all) and say, "Roll some numbers..." and off we go.  Basically it boils down to the scenario that is being planned, if someone has a really cool concept or the GM has a really cool concept for a Player.  Sometimes he'll rattle off some options as to which Characters would likely fit the scenario or the opportunity to get a new one.  If you're looking for some sort of mechanical rhyme or reason, or some regular overt methodology that determines when and who has input on new Characters I don't know what to say.  So much of it is based on the ephemeral dynamics of mood, player desires, GM needs as far as the scenario goes, etc. that it is difficult at least for me because I am so deeply involved to be more objective.

      Can a player refuse a GM concept?  Yes, but that too depends on the prevailing circumstances.  Outright refusal is very rare and is skirting precariously close to missing the core of Sim.  In a way it's like a player saying, "I don't want to bind a demon in Sorcerer.  That's stooopid."  Characters are not static, they grow and change and there may be a great arc in store for the Character.  Also, by having a folio of Characters you get some kick ass Characters and some fairly down home Characters.  That there are contrasts is vital because if everyone is strong, no one is strong.  If everyone is fast, no one is fast.  If everyone is powerful, no one is powerful.  In fact the Characters in a given night tend to be very heterogeneous as well as within a given player's folder.

      The better way to deal with a Character concept that you don't like is to try and talk it out and find a way to make it more interesting/palatable.  This thread contains an example of that very process.  The GM told me that long ago he gave a Character to a player that was very foul and dark who was a pretty bad guy.  The player did not care for the Character that much and faced situations where he had to do some pretty wretched things.  After a couple of years the GM played out the Character walking around a small hill where he came across a burning bush.  The long and the short of it was that the Character became a paladin and become that Player's favorite Character.  He loooooooved that Character and much of that was due to him playing a Character he was not particularly happy with in the beginning.  It is nearly always better to work though than outright refuse.

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      QuoteFinally when the sheet comes back over the screen the player is usually given even more "checks" to add to his secondaries than is typical.
      Why is this? A reward for the player taking the initiative to come up with concepts on their own?

      In the main, yes.  But also to allow the player addition room to customize the Character.  Ultimately though, it is not just because the player took the initiative, but that he expanded the game and thus the Dream in general by creating something new.  I think I should clarify here that just creating a new Fighter that uses two fighting knives instead of a sword does not really qualify as something "new" to the world as it does not really expand the Dream by opening up new possibilities.  Such a "Character" would be more of a caricature than an effort to add to the Dream or cover new territory.

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      QuoteHowever, in all of this, we never start rolling numbers and then come up with a concept.
      I may be reading in, but from the emphasis, I'm guessing that there is some stigma attached to something about playing this way. What's being avoided by not rolling up stats first? Rather, what's accomplished by putting the concept out first? How is this more satisfactory for this sort of play?

      Procedurally it is impossible to handle the attributes unless we know what race the Character is.  Non-human PC's get straight pluses to their raw attribute numbers and frequently do go beyond human maximums.  Human PC's get to rolls dice against their raw stats depending on their race/culture.  The attributes are the foundation of all the mechanical portions of the Character sheet.  What and how many dice that are rolled for Stamina are based on race/culture and damage bonuses to weapons are influenced by race/culture as well.  Defense percentage, weapons skills, body points are all calculated based upon attributes values.  What weapons are available to the Character are tied into what cultures they are from.  The secondary skills also reflect the various cultures.

      But most important of all we are prioritizing Characters as individual and persons and not some set of numbers or kits or any other abstraction or mechanical construct..  By taking the concrete step of placing mechanical Character creation after some concept of the Character is discussed/established as an individual rather than before we are establishing and reinforcing the Sim CA priorities via practice.  It is how the Character interacts with the world that is important and his relationship to the world is vastly more central to play and CA expression than numbers.  The numbers support the Character (not the other way around) and the Character is defined by his personality and his bonds to the world around him.  What a Character (player) does is far more important that anything on the sheet.  To roll up first would belie that emphasis and priority.  Rolling numbers first changes the frame of mind.  This is so ingrained into our game that numbers frequently are massaged or altered to fit the Character concept.  We set out to establish and reinforce the idea it is the interaction between the players at the table – bricoling is not directly aided by mechanics because there are no "concepts" being discussed.  It is the signification process that is important.  Sim is players dealing with X circumstances utterly from within the SIS.  Mechanics are necessarily outside the SIS, and thus direct player employment of them empowers (by facilitation) the players to alter the SIS ad extra; which is contrary to the Sim process.  In Nar the mechanics formalize the means by which players can directly effect the elements of the SIS organized under such concepts of scene framing, conflict, stakes, etc.  In Gam the players are empowered to effect outcomes of events in the SIS through the judicious exploitation (in the good meaning) of the model of the physics of the world (as it were).  Again by employing the mechanics shaped/guided by concepts such as tactics, resources, strategic goals, etc. one can attempt to influence the results of the unfolding of events favorably ad extra.  This is the meta empowerment of the players.  Sim on the other hand is the dealing with the SIS ad intra.  So by not having mechanics/rules lead off Character creation available two things are accomplished.  First it establishes the precedent of immediately prioritizing the practice of Sim CA process.  Second it removes the tools and discourages the practice of ad extra techniques.

      In Sim the role of mechanics is to make sure the norms of the physical world are consistent – that is the likely will frequently come to pass and the unlikely will infrequently come to pass.  I am coming to the conclusion that Sim is the creation of social "rules" (culture, personality, mores, etc.) in response to unfolding events as constrained by the physical "laws" of the world.  Thus the Character sheet in Sim is more of a representational construct than a functioning tool.  To mechanically create Character before considering any concepts concerning said Character is akin to using fortune tools to design Kickers.

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      QuoteYes, we do have mages and clerics, but they aren't considered classes (mages are "awoken" and clerics are "called" and there is no inherent reason why it cannot happen to any human.) and there are no restrictions regarding armor for the mages and weapons for clerics.
      I find this interesting. It's certainly vestigal from the D&D origin. I mean, you guys balk at the LOTR movies (which I think are great), yet you allow the system to have clerics in it? What from the canon would support this? Even mages seem mostly unsupported - from my reading basically you have to be touched in some way by the West to have any magic (Elves, Maiar, or humans using their artifacts).

      Well, actually 2 of the "mages" are PC Istari.  But I do have a "mage" who is not Istari, Elf, or otherwise uses artifacts.  As for support of the possibility of mannish dwimmer crafters I offer that the Lord of the Nazgul was a "witch" before he was turned.  It is also said that the evil men who occupied the Rhudaur after its fall practiced sorcery.  Finally from the LOTR book regarding the walking sticks given to Frodo and Sam by Faramir – "...The men of the White Mountains use them...They are made of the fair tree lebethron, beloved of the woodwrights of Gondor, and a virtue has been laid upon them of finding and returning."  So, all the above laid the groundwork for the plausible/justifiable workings of magic by men.  What is even more important is the false notion that Setting is or must be static in Sim.  Sim is not the mindless regurgitation or mimicry of a fixed canon.  It cannot be because if the players are to have impact then Setting is subject to evolution and change.  Bricolage clearly stipulates that both the object added and that which is being added to change each other in this process.  The Themes are more or less what is fixed and celebrated in Sim, not the objects in the fictional world.  This is exactly why bricolage cannot be limit to what is covered by mechanics as bricolage necessarily effects, changes and adds to both Setting and Character.  I think this is an incredibly important and central idea of Sim that is either frequently glossed over or more often completely misunderstood.

      Concerning clerics many of the Númenórean's who fell with the destruction of the island were in effect engaging in clerical type sacrifices.

      Quote from: Mike HolmesEven the idea of spells and spell points and such seem to me to be pretty alien to Tolkien's work. Given that the mechanics tend to get ignored, are these abilities handled without much regard for the system? Just what can a cleric do?

      In a sense, yes, the mechanics do tend to get ignored in the thick of play.  The idea of "spell points" was derived from Gandalf being "nearly spent" when he had to face the Balrog in Moria.  What the mages don't have are "spell books" or the need to "memorize spells."  Even still the process is clunky and thus the mechanics do get brushed aside for speed and to minimize their intrusiveness.

      I am uncertain as to what a cleric can do.  There is only three in the whole game.  One is about 20 years in real years old and is run as an NPC because the owning player is back in New Jersey.  Of the other two, I have one and Chuck of the Dwarf fame has the other.  Chuck's cleric was not manifest until the end of the first and only night he has been played.  In back-story and in game he was just a "holy man."  My cleric is a full-blown cleric and I have only played him 3 minutes!  So what they can do is yet to be determined and that is exactly the kind of stuff Sim is amenable to doing.  Yet in discussions about clerics and mages, mages cannot cast anything that heals.  Only the servants of Eru (clerics) and the true Kings (the heirs of Elendil) can do that.  Clerics have "true sight" whereby they can "see" the condition of the soul of any individual.  Whereas powerful creatures such as a vampire or wraiths or wights are extremely resistant to magic, they are exceedingly susceptible to clerical "magics."  Also, as "magical spells" are manipulations of reality their effects can be mediated, i.e., saving throws can be made.  Clerical spells are "real" – real fire, real lightning, etc. so magical resistance does absolutely nothing.  Other than that who knows.  I have seen "miraculous" things worked by clerics that would seem to be "beyond" the Character's "capability."  IOW – its not the (mechanically delimited) "power" of the cleric, but the "holiness" or the circumstances or the nature of miracle being proposed.  (How effectively the player plays this out is also a strong determining factor.)

      As this response is growing wildly out of control and I know you have little patience for long posts, I will post here and finish answering your questions in a follow up post.
      Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

      Jay

      Ron Edwards

      Hi Jay,

      Are you familiar with The Window?

      I think you guys' system, in play (and including PC creation) is effectively the same thing as The Window.

      Best,
      Ron

      Mike Holmes

      Quote from: SilmenumeThis is not a matter of besting or defeating Challenge, it's a matter of retaining the ability to remain in the game and accomplish whatever one has set out to do.
      Sounds like gamism to me.

      QuoteA player must have a strong will and courage to survive, or they simply will not.
      Not to be pedantic, you mean, "A player must have a strong will and courage for his character to survive, or the character simply will not. No players actually are killed in play, right? (I have to ask, there's a recent story of a LARP in Brazil that ended with the death of some of the players - and not accidentally, either). ;-)

      My point is that this sort of struggle by the player, keeping your character alive against the odds, is precisely gamism. If you were simulating heroism, then character death would not be seen as a negative outcome. Character death is being used as the ultimate guage of player competence (or, rather, lack of it). This is very D&D.

      QuoteSo when we are in a situation where we get to pry something from the evil grasping hands of the GM – of course we get to revel in it!  We get to stick it to him for a change!  Of course this is all light hearted but he does like this negotiation process, as he is curious to see where it will lead.
      Light-hearted or not, it's gamism. You simply do not compete with a sim or nar GM. Because competition is gamism (not the sum total, but a subset).

      QuoteIn reading your question again I want to make sure that you understood that the negotiation I am talking about only happens when an attribute exceeds human maximum.  That is why the negotiation begins.  That attribute must be dropped back to within the human maximums but rather than doing it unilaterally he involves the player in the process.  Thus how much the attribute is dropped (the minimum being to the human maximum value) and what kinds of considerations are to be made are open to negotiation.
      Again, a purely sim player would simply drop the stat down to it's max, and ask for nothing in return. And then play the character that the simulation had provided (and no, simulationism and simulation are not equivalent - it's just pertinent in this case).

      QuoteGo too far and it starts to become obvious that one is mongering for naked power and that is a definite no-no.
      Right. Classic sim/gam mix.

      QuoteBut when the system leads to illogical or impossible conclusions instead of just "erasing" the error we get to do a little bricoling.  Finally it is a nod to fate that is an important element of the game.  Rather than discard the impossible outcome the player is allowed to "redirect" that "gift," as it were, so that it can find another outlet of fulfillment.
      I think that it's odd that the system can produce impossible characters that lead to this situation in the first place. But you didn't say above that the negotiation was to gain something for the character. You point out the player interest in it, survival of the character. The character can't care, he's not even extant yet, and doesn't know about the chargen system. It's not his concern. It's a player concern. No matter how much you couch it in "pseudo-in-game" karmic terms. That's just more typical sim/gam stuff.

      QuoteIn this "particular arrangement" the player does not know anything about the Character he is rolling dice for.  
      Ah, I see. I read you as meaning that the GM states the character concept, and then has the player roll it up.

      When does the player learn what the concept is? Does he hand the stats back over the screen, and then the GM arranges them, and then he hands it back complete? Or does the player learn at some point what the concept is, and then do the arranging himself?

      I assume that the die rolling conventions you use prevent "unfit" characters somehow? Weakling warriors, for instance?

      QuoteThat's like asking why a player chose a particular moment to spend a coin in Universalis.
      No, you miss my point. I can't tell you why it is that a player spends a particular coin to create a fact. But I can tell you the different functions of the different uses for Coins. You have two chargen methods (more, actually). What's the purpose of both of these? For example, you mention that you get excited about playing a GM concept - is that method included for the surprise factor? Is that why it exists? Why not just use the other method all the time?

      You give a partial answer here...
      QuoteSo much of it is based on the ephemeral dynamics of mood, player desires, GM needs as far as the scenario goes, etc. that it is difficult at least for me because I am so deeply involved to be more objective.
      Sounds to me simply that it's a case of needing new characters and whether or not the players have an idea? Put it another way, does the GM ever make you take on a concept when you have one already? Is that because of scenario needs, again?

      QuoteCan a player refuse a GM concept?  Yes, but that too depends on the prevailing circumstances.  Outright refusal is very rare and is skirting precariously close to missing the core of Sim.
      I don't see how. If you give me the option of exploring a slime-mold, or a hero, I can tell you which I'm more interested in playing.

      It sounds like your CA is simply that the player is an agent of fate in directing certain personalities, and, as such, there's no choice in that? If so, this is a very specific subset of sim, and not at all endemic to all sim play.

      QuoteIn a way it's like a player saying, "I don't want to bind a demon in Sorcerer.  That's stooopid."  
      No, the parallel in that case would be to say, "I don't want to roll up a character with Strength, that's stooopid." I can name dozens of sim games in which the player gets to make up his character based on points - in fact it's the standard for sim play. So it might not be your game, but it's not non-sim.  

      QuoteCharacters are not static, they grow and change and there may be a great arc in store for the Character.
      Sure, but there might not be. Or it may simply be that I'm simply disinterested in that particular arc. I mean, let's say your GM is perfect, and never makes a clinker character. Well, that's not system, that's your perfect GM. If your system is to say, "All characters are perfect for play" well, that's pretty darn local.

      QuoteAlso, by having a folio of Characters you get some kick ass Characters and some fairly down home Characters.  That there are contrasts is vital because if everyone is strong, no one is strong.  If everyone is fast, no one is fast.  If everyone is powerful, no one is powerful.  In fact the Characters in a given night tend to be very heterogeneous as well as within a given player's folder.
      You don't mean to imply that allowing players to select characters will always end up with the same characters, do you? Because I've seen amazing variation in characters based solely on player input.

      QuoteThe better way to deal with a Character concept that you don't like is to try and talk it out and find a way to make it more interesting/palatable.
      OK, so it's a negotiation process. That's all I was looking for.

      QuoteThis thread contains an example of that very process.
      The example seemed very much to be a hybrid of methods. I mean, above you say that the player doesn't know anything about the concept. Here you're saying that it's a negotiation. Sounds like something in between. Or, rather, that the actual process of chargen varies with each iteration depending on a wide array of variables, and across several spectra. Would that be accurate? Not just three methods, but more like several axes of controls?

      Quote
      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      QuoteFinally when the sheet comes back over the screen the player is usually given even more "checks" to add to his secondaries than is typical.
      Why is this? A reward for the player taking the initiative to come up with concepts on their own?

      In the main, yes.  But also to allow the player addition room to customize the Character.  Ultimately though, it is not just because the player took the initiative, but that he expanded the game and thus the Dream in general by creating something new.  
      That's what I was getting at.

      QuoteI think I should clarify here that just creating a new Fighter that uses two fighting knives instead of a sword does not really qualify as something "new" to the world as it does not really expand the Dream by opening up new possibilities.  Such a "Character" would be more of a caricature than an effort to add to the Dream or cover new territory.
      I'm getting this very weird vibe here. Like you're feeling a need to distance yourself from D&D dungeon-crawling play. I can only read this one of two ways, both odd:
      1. You think that I think that your game is like that. I don't.
      2. You think that all play outside your game is like that. It's not.

      The above basically sounds to me like you've said, "Let me be clear, I'm talking about adding fuel injection, not just seatbelts, to the car." To which I can only respond, "Most cars have fuel injection these days, I would think it odd if your game did not."

      QuoteProcedurally it is impossible to handle the attributes unless we know what race the Character is.  
      OK, so you need to know these things mechanically before you start to roll. But this isn't what you mean by "concept." It's more than just that, as you say...
      QuoteBut most important of all we are prioritizing Characters as individual and persons and not some set of numbers or kits or any other abstraction or mechanical construct..  By taking the concrete step of placing mechanical Character creation after some concept of the Character is discussed/established as an individual rather than before we are establishing and reinforcing the Sim CA priorities via practice.  It is how the Character interacts with the world that is important and his relationship to the world is vastly more central to play and CA expression than numbers.
      So it's the "who they are" that's important. Makes sense.

      But that's not at all linked to sim. I mean, having a concept of how your character is going to be effective can be critical to gamism. And having an idea of what sort of premises your character can address means that making a character without a concept is antithetical to narrativism. In fact, all of what you state sounds more like narrativism to me than sim.

      I'm not saying it's not sim, I'm saying that it's no more automatically sim than anything else. Moreover, there are plenty of people who would say that rolling first, and accepting the fate in question is "more" sim. I mean, if you get to select the concepts, then you're less of that karmic force leading a being that is the product of the setting and forces like childrearing etc, as defined by the dice. There are some games that make you roll up things like your characters's name, because the player as controller only of the character, has no control over that. We don't choose our own names.

      But, more importantly, it's interesting that concept is placed so highly here in esteem, and yet the player is expected to accept the GM's concepts largely as offered. These things seem to be at cross purposes. Again, it very much seems to me that there are sliders here that are being adjusted on the fly for different situations.

      QuoteRolling numbers first changes the frame of mind.  This is so ingrained into our game that numbers frequently are massaged or altered to fit the Character concept.  
      Which, again, begs the question, why have random rolling at all? Why not simply allow the player and GM to come up with precisely the character that should exist mechanically? Why the extra work of massaging the numbers? Especially if they don't really matter?

      QuoteMechanics are necessarily outside the SIS, and thus direct player employment of them empowers (by facilitation) the players to alter the SIS ad extra; which is contrary to the Sim process.
      So why have the mechanics at all? The Finnish LARPers would tell you to abandon them if this is what you want.

      I mean, some would say that the mechanics for sim players are simply a shorthand for the physics of the universe that allow it to be more understandable to players who are not actually there. From this perspective, adherence to mechanics is key, because without it, it means that there is no objective universe model that everyone is adhering to. To not use the model would, in this case, be akin to ignoring gravity. Which would be a very metagame thing to do, very not sim. You admit that such is a use:
      QuoteIn Sim the role of mechanics is to make sure the norms of the physical world are consistent – that is the likely will frequently come to pass and the unlikely will infrequently come to pass.  I am coming to the conclusion that Sim is the creation of social "rules" (culture, personality, mores, etc.) in response to unfolding events as constrained by the physical "laws" of the world.  
      But then you subsequently ignore the products of this system for fear of that it will appear metagamey.

      Exploration, as part of Sim, includes the exploration of system as an in-game construct. Yes, imperfect, but then so are players. The choice of whether or not to use mechanics has nothing to do with whether or not the game is sim.

      QuoteThus the Character sheet in Sim is more of a representational construct than a functioning tool.  To mechanically create Character before considering any concepts concerning said Character is akin to using fortune tools to design Kickers.
      No, it would be like having mechanisms that enabled you to come up with a good kicker - things like humanity ratings.

      QuoteWell, actually 2 of the "mages" are PC Istari.  
      Two of the five (which)? Or do you non-canonically include more?

      QuoteBut I do have a "mage" who is not Istari, Elf, or otherwise uses artifacts.  As for support of the possibility of mannish dwimmer crafters I offer that the Lord of the Nazgul was a "witch" before he was turned.  It is also said that the evil men who occupied the Rhudaur after its fall practiced sorcery.
      Both seem like cases of getting magic by "worshipping" (for lack of a better word) Morgoth.

      QuoteFinally from the LOTR book regarding the walking sticks given to Frodo and Sam by Faramir – "...The men of the White Mountains use them...They are made of the fair tree lebethron, beloved of the woodwrights of Gondor, and a virtue has been laid upon them of finding and returning."  
      Sounds, again, like the wood is where the magic comes from.

      QuoteSo, all the above laid the groundwork for the plausible/justifiable workings of magic by men.  
      I'm not saying that it's not plausible. I'm saying that it's interesting that you choose to deem certain things plausible because they fit the system that your game comes from, and condemn other things that are not based on the system. When, in fact, you also tend to otherwise ignore the system when it's problematic.

      QuoteWhat is even more important is the false notion that Setting is or must be static in Sim.  Sim is not the mindless regurgitation or mimicry of a fixed canon.
      Who said that? Are you telling me that in your version of Middle Earth play has produced clerics? That's why they exist, because of some in-game events? No, it's because you feel that the Numenoreans let this in, acccording to what you wrote. So how is this point pertinent?

      QuoteThis is exactly why bricolage cannot be limit to what is covered by mechanics as bricolage necessarily effects, changes and adds to both Setting and Character.  I think this is an incredibly important and central idea of Sim that is either frequently glossed over or more often completely misunderstood.
      I'm not sure what you're saying about bricolage, but I know that many mechanical systems can adapt to any in-game changes that can occur. Take Hero Quest, in which the players make up the names of the abilities. So there's no way to make a character that is out of range of the system.

      QuoteMy cleric is a full-blown cleric and I have only played him 3 minutes!  So what they can do is yet to be determined and that is exactly the kind of stuff Sim is amenable to doing.
      So why not call them "holy men" or something? Cleric has a very specific real world meaning. It seems that it's being used here strictly because of the D&D heritage. What else do you call a holy guy?

      QuoteClerics have "true sight" whereby they can "see" the condition of the soul of any individual.  Whereas powerful creatures such as a vampire or wraiths or wights are extremely resistant to magic, they are exceedingly susceptible to clerical "magics."
      Classic D&D cleric ability. Where are the passages in the canon about the vampires being more susceptible to "clerics?" Been a long time since I read the Silmarillion, but I'm not remembering that at all.

      I'm becoming very "line-by-line" here, so I'll try to address that in the next response.

      Mike
      Member of Indie Netgaming
      -Get your indie game fix online.

      James Holloway

      So the system is kind of a highly-drifted, frequently-ignored post-D&D legacy, kept going because the GM and the players who have been in the game forever all have a very similar understanding of how they want things to proceed? That sounds about par for the course in these very long-running fantasy games. It's how sim-inclined groups played and continue to play AD&D and its inheritors, surely.

      As for Middle-Earth canon, surely whether things are strictly canonical is (as Mike has pointed out) neither here nor there. But it's certainly true that elements of the setting that indicate a certain play style are being emphasized, specifically one of very tense, uncertain "tactical" conflict, expected to develop naturally from the Situation. It reminds me a wee bit of.

      Quote from: Gamism: Step On Up
      This person prefers a role-playing game that combines Gamist potential with Simulationist hybrid support, such that a highly Explorative Situation can evolve, in-game and without effort, into a Challenge Situation.

      It's not a perfect map, but I think it's an interesting comparison.

      Silmenume

      Hey Mike,

      Quote from: Mike HolmesYou realize that this speaks strongly of the "System Doesn't Matter" attitude. I mean it very much sounds like your GMs played D&D, found it lacking, made modifications that were like D&D, found that lacking, and basically decided to pitch it all for freeform. Keeping the rules in case they need justification for certain things, and to make players understand that they can't "get away" with just anything. Like they're afraid that if they just go completely freeform that the players will run amok.

      That probably sounds judgemental, but it's meant to be analytical, and to provoke corrections. Do correct it where it's not accurate.

      I appreciate you including the qualifier!

      First of all let me address something that I am unclear about.  By "System Doesn't Matter" should I interpret that are picking up the feeling from my postings you that I am presenting a POV that implies "Mechanics Doesn't Matter"?  Of the latter, and given the nature this medium, I can understand how someone might draw that conclusion (one I disagree with!), but the former doesn't make sense to me as the Lumpley Principle falls under System.  Most of the following post will be based on the Mechanics interpretation, but please do let me know if I am incorrect.  I most certainly am not trying to put words in your mouth!

      As a matter of historical interest, you are correct in that my GM did start with the D&D game and in time did find it lacking.  From there the analysis starts to fall apart.  Whereas I've never asked him if he set about to just drift D&D or design a new system whole cloth, I can tell you this much – he and Chuck spent about 4 years "designing" the mechanics without any play testing.  IOW the system was not drifted and patched a little at a time until they were happy, rather they waited until they felt it was more or less "done" and introduced the new system whole cloth.  In philosophy and function, the new game system was and is about 180 degrees apart from D&D, though there are a number of superficial similarities in form.

      The single greatest philosophical change, and this did evolve over time, was the realization that the players did not need to know the mechanics outside the combat system.  What mattered was that the world worked consistently enough that the players could induce the rules by which it worked.  The mechanics of the combat system were retained for what turns out to be for the reason of speed of communication.  Even here many times mechanics are not fully employed – again what matters is that causality be preserved, not how that happens.

      The guiding thread of thought through this whole design process was simply – "For every action there is a reaction."  The importance of this cannot be overstated as this stands in direct opposition to the modalities of Nar and Gam play.  Both Nar and Gam facilitating systems seek to empower the players via mechanics to have input on the SIS from the meta-game level.  The manner of play is constrained by the mechanics.  In Sim, just the opposite is in effect.  As we are looking for the reactions in the SIS of our Character's actions it implies that we don't know a priori what is going to happen in the SIS as a result the player's intentions.  It is the reaction of the world that we are seeking.  We don't need to how that reaction is created all we need to know is what happens.  The Nar mode of mechanics employment gives players control over causality and thus negating the "reaction of the world" process.  Just as task resolution does not aid the players to address Premise and can actually hinder that process so the reverse is true in Simulationism.  Conflict resolution does not aid in the maintaining of the "norms" of the fictional world and they can actually hinder that process.

      The abstractions of Gamism obviate the role of the inductive process – the heart and sole of the Sim process.  We need not inquire or be observant of the rules of how the fictional world will respond; those "rules" are already made bare.  Why is this important?  Because the "rules of how the world works" are how we construct our own real life mental maps of reality.  Thus the necessary abstraction of the "rules of the world" and the process of employing the pre-created abstractions by the players in gamism stands in opposition to the process of the internal, personal creation of an alternate reality - the vivid Dream.

      Another paradigm employed during the (re)design process was the notion of removing everything that added a layer of abstraction between the players and the fictional world (SIS) so that they could more "directly experience" the results of their actions and start building their own systems of meanings and significations – that is, their own alternate realities: the Dream.  Finally anything that externally constrained personality was dumped – no deprotagonizing alignments, no mechanically deprotagonizing personality behaviors, etc.  If a player acted to erratically then they would be damaging the Dream for all the other players because everyone needs to be on the same page regarding how the world works.  If someone is acting without rhyme or reason and there is no explainable cause then that player is damaging the induction and signification process for all the rest of the players.  Thus while it may seem that no one cares what the other players are doing, we are actually deeply invested in how everyone else at the table operates because everyone's actions have the potential to tweak or alter everyone else's inductive process.  Break the rules too much and the whole internal model (which is the foundation for the system of signification) collapses and the Dream comes to an abrupt end.

      Thus, its not that they found their own system of mechanics lacking, but that it was discovered that the role of mechanics was decidedly different than the conventional wisdom had up till that point held.  We make frequent use of Fortune mechanics but we don't need to know the mechanical process by which the content of the narration is decided upon.  All that matters is that the world responds consistently within recognizable norms.  In Sim, the purpose the role of mechanics in the process task resolution is to model the physics of the world in a plausible/reasonable manner.  Once the GM gets the "feel" of them, that is get a feel for the norms of the world, then the "calling" or the overt labeling of the employed task resolution mechanics are no longer strictly "necessary."  Thus it is not always necessary and it actually works better for the inductive process if the player does not always know what he is rolling for.  The mere act of calling for a roll then becomes significant in and of itself.  "What is going on that is significant enough that the GM needs to show impartiality?"

      I have pondered this specific question of yours for a while, and I don't know if it shows.  But it has forced to dig deep and give form to ideas that have been floating around in the back of mind for a while.  For that I thank you.  I hope, in return, that I have shed some light on you question.

      I will answer the rest of your questions in your posts as soon as I can!

      Ron,

      Thanks for the link!  As soon as I finish giving my seminar at the upcoming Strategicon I plan on reading that system.  I ask for a little patience on this thread yet, as I do have further questions to answer that I think are relevant to my initial post.
      Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

      Jay

      Mike Holmes

      Quote from: SilmenumeFirst of all let me address something that I am unclear about.  By "System Doesn't Matter" should I interpret that are picking up the feeling from my postings you that I am presenting a POV that implies "Mechanics Doesn't Matter"?  Of the latter, and given the nature this medium, I can understand how someone might draw that conclusion (one I disagree with!), but the former doesn't make sense to me as the Lumpley Principle falls under System.  Most of the following post will be based on the Mechanics interpretation, but please do let me know if I am incorrect.  I most certainly am not trying to put words in your mouth!
      No, I'm guessing that the people who designed this system haven't heard of Lumpley.

      The "System Doesn't Matter" POV is that mechanics are system, and that no mechanics can ever work well across all of play to deliver what's needed. So we should just chuck the pretense that one system is better than another, and just use whatever is at hand, altering it as/when needed to make it produce what we want. This is the very common attitude that Ron's essay is against.

      It is, in fact, a failure to understand Lumpley that leads to this idea. That we can be making stuff up and not have a system. Lumply points out that everyone has a system, and hence why it must automatically matter.

      Your designers, not seeing Lumpley have created a system where the mechanics are to some extent ignored for an actual system that's largely freeform. Again, they get there by, instead of finding a system with mechanics that work for them, by deciding that no mechanics ever will.

      What seems to have emerged I call freeform in one of it's standard meanings, that being that the method for creating the SIS, is constantly negotiated. Mostly it's whatever the GM wants at the time. This is a system. But it's one that seems to have been arrived at by assuming that System Doesn't Matter - only the GM's judgment can make things right. Basically we'll sorta have rules, but they'll only pertain when the GM rules that they should.

      Quote...I can tell you this much – he and Chuck spent about 4 years "designing" the mechanics without any play testing.  IOW the system was not drifted and patched a little at a time until they were happy, rather they waited until they felt it was more or less "done" and introduced the new system whole cloth.  In philosophy and function, the new game system was and is about 180 degrees apart from D&D, though there are a number of superficial similarities in form.

      Well, this is all just a matter of your POV. I don't dispute the timeframes or how it was presented, but none of that is counter to what I indicated. In fact a mechanical system in which it's a rule that the GM can choose to ignore the system at any time simply has drift encoded into the system.

      Put another way, when we give examples of drift and System Doesn't Matter, we're thinking precisely of people like Chuck. We've all known, or even have been Chuck. I've been Chuck.

      QuoteThe single greatest philosophical change, and this did evolve over time, was the realization that the players did not need to know the mechanics outside the combat system.  
      This happened after the presentation of the otherwise "complete" system? Well, that's drift, too. Whether or not the players know the mechanics is an important part of the system. In any case, again, it's a statement that the players should be only subject to the GM's interpretations, and not to what's generally thought of as system.

      QuoteThe mechanics of the combat system were retained for what turns out to be for the reason of speed of communication.  Even here many times mechanics are not fully employed – again what matters is that causality be preserved, not how that happens.
      I'm going to sound judgemental again, and say that the mechanics of combat were retained for gamism, to give a level playing field. And drifting to the players not knowing the mechanisms (not using them) doesn't change this, as long as the players feel that the GM is as fair as the mechanics were; or "Fairer" given that if the assumption is that if you do something in X way that a "realistic" or "internally plausible" result will occur. Basically system can screw you if you expect the level playing field to be that which emulates reality. So given a directive to move to this more "realistic" mode, it makes sense to do what he did.

      All of which ignores that there could be mechanics which could cover everything realistically anyhow, but that's another discussion.

      >The abstractions of Gamism obviate the role of the inductive process – the heart and sole of the Sim process.  We need not inquire or be observant of the rules of how the fictional world will respond; those "rules" are already made bare.  

      I disagree. Saying this is like saying that Gamism implies no exploration. That we can't have gamism about things like who gets the girl. That it has to be about the mechanics. That's simply not true, and relegates gamism to being non-RPG play.

      Again, by your observations, games like GURPS, Hero, FUDGE, etc, etc, are all gamism games. In fact, the only sim supportive games by your analysis are freeform games, and your game. That's not how GNS is constructed.

      QuoteAnother paradigm employed during the (re)design process was the notion of removing everything that added a layer of abstraction between the players and the fictional world (SIS) so that they could more "directly experience" the results of their actions and start building their own systems of meanings and significations – that is, their own alternate realities: the Dream.
      Again, why not play completely freeform then? Why even know that there are mechanics underlying what's going on? If they can be ignored and replaced by GM judgment, then why not just always do that? Either it's the sumum bonum of this sort of play to not percieve mechanisms, and therefor they should not be used, or mechanisms are OK on any level, and it's just a personal preference.

      QuoteFinally anything that externally constrained personality was dumped – no deprotagonizing alignments, no mechanically deprotagonizing personality behaviors, etc.  
      That seems like an odd statement. I mean, is it "deprotagonizing" in a sim game to have your strenght constrain you to only be able to lift X pounds? If not, then why would it be "deprotagonizing" to have the character affected by a predetermined personality. In fact, this seems to be a feature of many sim games, and is often pointed to as the dividing line between sim and nar - the abilty to make statements based on the character's personality. So it very much sounds like you're arguing that the game is nar supportive here.

      QuoteIf a player acted to erratically then they would be damaging the Dream for all the other players because everyone needs to be on the same page regarding how the world works.  If someone is acting without rhyme or reason and there is no explainable cause then that player is damaging the induction and signification process for all the rest of the players.  Thus while it may seem that no one cares what the other players are doing, we are actually deeply invested in how everyone else at the table operates because everyone's actions have the potential to tweak or alter everyone else's inductive process.  Break the rules too much and the whole internal model (which is the foundation for the system of signification) collapses and the Dream comes to an abrupt end.
      Right, System Doesn't Matter. We'll leave it to the players to make right by social contract. System would only mess this stuff up, so we'll ignore the mechanics related to it.

      This is very much the "get out of the way" attitude. Where system interfers, instead of using mechanics that support what we want, we'll assume that no system can do so, drop all mechanics, and leave it on the participants to arrange. Shifting the system to freeform here again. What makes sense is constantly negotiated instead of having algorithms to figure it out.

      QuoteThus, its not that they found their own system of mechanics lacking, but that it was discovered that the role of mechanics was decidedly different than the conventional wisdom had up till that point held.
      Well, held by the non-freeformers. You realize that people got this idea after the first few sessions of D&D in 1974. And have been playing this way ever since.

      QuoteWe make frequent use of Fortune mechanics but we don't need to know the mechanical process by which the content of the narration is decided upon.
      Or, whether or not it's being used at all, right? I mean, even if the GM rolls a die, you don't actually know that he's using the mechanics, do you?

      I played this way for about a year. What I found was that the more and more that I hid the mechanics, the more and more I was "faking" it. Basically, if the mechanical results are unimportant, and I can make up results that everyone believes might be a result of a good system, then why not just make the results up? In the end I was faking everything.

      As you say:
      QuoteOnce the GM gets the "feel" of them, that is get a feel for the norms of the world, then the "calling" or the overt labeling of the employed task resolution mechanics are no longer strictly "necessary."

      I'm not saying that your GM's are faking. But I would suggest that it's likely. This is just a long-running sort of illusionism.

      But what's interesting is that the modeling still resembles D&D reality. I mean, I think I remember you saying that combat was still in "rounds"?

      QuoteThe mere act of calling for a roll then becomes significant in and of itself.  "What is going on that is significant enough that the GM needs to show impartiality?"
      Or the appearance of impartiality - they might still be faking. In any case, if it's obvious that GM fiat is being used at times, then why is impartiality ever neccessary? Gotta be level playing field. The GM saying that he's not hosing the players, but letting the system show "what really would have happened" arbitrarily.

      Reading your first actual play posts (not just this one, but previous ones to it as well), I found your play to be very hard to understand, because of the lack of discussion of the underlying principles. But now that we're talking about it, it's actually very, very familiar, and corresponds pretty precisely to how I ran my games, circa 1986-1989.

      I played D&D until about 81, found it lacking, then developed my own system until I started playing it in 85 or so (playing other games like V&V, Top Secret, and Traveller, etc) in the interim. I introduced my game, played it, discovered that it was also imperfect in creating a simulation of events, and then started to hide the flawed mechanics so that I could simply use my developing GM skills to fill in the gaps. Pointing to how it coincidentally should be more of an immersive experience since there was no visible system being used.

      Heck, for a while I made all of the player's rolls too. I mean, if they trusted that I was using a mechanical system for my rolls and interpreting theirs, well, then why would they need to see their own? I mean, look at the situation where you have a player who is rolling to detect a secret door. He doesn't know that, but he rolls pretty high, but not high enough, so I don't tell him anything? Well, isn't there a disjunct now between player and character knowledge? Can't that be ameliorated by me rolling and the players not knowing if I'm rolling for their character, or for something else, or rolling just at random to keep them from guessing when it was important?

      Yeah, I was rolling dice just so that people wouldn't search for a secret door just because they heard me roll.

      Wait - did I just admit that I was playing protection against pawn stance gamism? Yep.

      In fact, I was just making everything up at that point, as I've mentioned, and the die rolls were just to give the illusion that there was some set of physics to which I was refering. Because my players, unlike yours, would have felt that if there were no rules being used, that there was no "objectivity" to the universe at hand. So I had to always maintain the illusion that there was an objectivity.

      Ah, but wait, was it really an objective universe that they were after? Or a level playing field? The world may never know. But I'll admit to the fact that the whole thing was likely incoherent in more than one way. Not particularly dysfunctional, but mixed up, certainly.

      Anyhow, pretending to use a system, like I was doing, is very much a System Doesn't Matter attitude. It was, we want to be playing a "game" (it's Role Playing Game, after all!), but no rules work to produce an interesting story, so I'm just going to make it up anyway.

      Your experiences are sounding very similar to this, now, just taken to the next step. You make the sessions very long, play lound music, LARP quite a bit - I never did much of this stuff. But systemwise, I've very much been there, and I think that the experience is actually pretty common. Given freeform's similarities, very common.

      Mike
      Member of Indie Netgaming
      -Get your indie game fix online.

      Silmenume

      Hey Mike,

      I apologize for the tardiness of my reply, but I was really tied up prepping and then giving a seminar on role-play theory at a local con – my first.  Any way ---

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      QuoteWhat's important is when something is outside of the norm – then that skill and by extension the owning Character will stand out.  
      It seems like this is allowed for players who show that they can be trusted not to be "abusive" meaning to play gamism.

      Actually swing and a miss on two levels!  (I meant that lightly so if I offended you, it was not intentional and please accept my apologies. =o) )  For my sake, I'll start with the easiest answer.  Without actually sitting at the table there would be no way for you to know this (unless I mentioned this prior) but the GM virtually always gives more to new players during Character creation than established players in what the GM calls the "honeymoon period."  Why?  To make them feel special (usually because we players are ooohing and aaahing at what is given out!), welcome and to make the Character a bit more survivable.  For the more difficult answer I am asserting that Sim functions around the establishment of norms so that aberrations from that norm can be abduced as being meaningful, important or perhaps to beat the drum – significant.  Thus, during Character creation, when a player gets a Character with some starting skills that are out of the norm either high or low then that is significant and helps create some building blocks for further bricoling creation.  It helps in the beginning to define the Character when he/she really doesn't have much of a background within the SIS to build from and upon.  It's not a gamist suppressing effort; that effect is made manifest in the lack of reward for such behavior, Character death if combat is the chosen means of Step On Up (the world is very lethal), and the near total absence of overt mechanics (we have no printed rules book) and currency (if I understand the term properly).

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      Quote"Retirement" is an overt act which entails handing the Character sheet in and an understanding that that Character is forever removed from the Player's control (that is he is NPC'd unless the player says that said Character is retiring within the game world).
      Do characters ever become "unretired"? I mean, if a player can start playing another NPC, what's the problem with going back and playing a character that had been, as you put it, "NPC'd"? Especially if events seem to bring the character back into prominence? Does it relate to closure?

      I am not aware of any Character ever being brought back out of "retirement."  That a NPC'd Character comes back into prominence would doubly reinforce the permanence of the retirement simply because it prevents the players from sloughing Characters that are in what appears to be hopeless Situations only to pick them back up when things ease up.  There are no "take backs" in the principle of bricolage.  One must simply deal with the consequences of their actions – that is part of the critical foundations of Sim bricolage.  One must consider all or as many relevant (read significant) events in the game as possible in order to try and predict (induce – try and formulate a rule then deduce – predict likely results) the most likely potential outcome of the considered course of action.  Thus the non-unretirement clause is merely in keeping with the strictures of the bricoling process.  All players are forewarned that everything has consequences and what is said at the table is said in the game so one had best choose very wisely as there is no going back.

      As far as why players retire Characters or why there is retirement in general I can only speak for myself.  Usually it boils down to Character that has not been played in a very long time and never really become "solid" as a Character in the first place.  Essentially the Character's essence is already dead.  So, to me, it is a matter of closure.  There is a huge amount of information that must be maintained and I have only so many mental resources, so if I don't have to worry about a Character that I've already mostly forgotten about then that relieves me of a certain responsibility.

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      QuoteAnother player at the table absolutely refuses to hand in any Character until said Character is declared dead, even if he hasn't played the Character in 15 years.  Go figure...
      Well, if he sees the possibility that the character might come back into play...well why retire the character indeed? Same question as above, basically: what's the purpose of retirement as it exists?

      No one has to retire any Character.  Its just an option if one is looking to be relieved of a Character a Player is no longer vested in.  It's not just the possibility of bringing a Character back into play, but rather why hold onto a Character when most or almost all of said Character has been forgotten or no longer means anything to the player.  The player mentioned in the quote above has a memory that is nearing photographic so he remembers much of Characters that he has not played in 10 or more years.  He is also tenacious.  I have retired several Characters that were pretty much very little more than numbers on a sheet.  The point being is that it is a one way trip in keeping with the process of bricolage – no "take backs."  Considering real or potential consequences is central to the process of our play and this is, as I have said above, a continuation of that basic tenet.

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      Quote
      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      QuoteAs we play we "build" our Characters through actions, not petitions, ...
      Petitions? You mean instead of asking for a certain kind of character from the GM?
      Just to make sure were in the context, the above made reference to a style of game whereby we would "generate" a Character through concrete actions within the SIS as opposed to discussing the Character using "concepts."  For example if I wanted the (unformed) Character to be strong then I would look to find an opportunity whereby I could demonstrate a great feat of strength – however, this occasion must arise logically out of the events that are unfolding.  Even then a good roll of a die is typically necessary to demonstrate the successful completion of said act.  IOW just because I say that I bend the bars of the jail to save my life does not mean I will automatically succeed.  This I contrast with just saying, "I want my Character to be strong – say, a 17 strength."  This style of Character creation is very rare and I included to demonstrate the variety of ways in which we do create Characters.
      So by "petition" you mean by anything that's not creating the ability using the in-game method? Do these methods tend to be mutually exclusive? Or do they get mixed? That is, let's say you start a character by using the in-game method. Do you ever then later switch to the other method to flesh the character out?

      In that particular and very rare mode of game play, yes, I mean we don't petition as in anything that's not creating the ability the using in-game method.

      The answer to you second question is a qualified yes.  Yes in that if we do create a Character using the in-game method we do at some later time switch to the "regular" method to fill out the rest of the Character sheet.  The few times I have played an in-game Character creation scenario that process has never "overtly" extended past that night's game.  IOW we don't continue past that particular night's game process to purposefully lay the foundations of the Character via this particular method.  Typically you have a few scattered numbers and lots of checks scattered about the secondary skills and if you are clever you've gotten to create one or more secondary skills that are non-standard – and that is always a prized event.  So this style of Character creation tends to be in broad strokes, but it is lots of fun.  Since it is only broad strokes at one point or another the Character creation process is completed in the usual manner.  I should note that Characters are not static during play and they do pick up addition skills as play unfolds and player actions warrant.  Our game is very much about the continual growth and expansion of the Character and not the creating and then playing a fixed or mechanically orchestrated Character.  That growth is merely reflected on the Character sheet as opposed to play that is dictated or highly structured around only that which is delineated on the Character sheet – alignments, fixed skills slots, fixed or structured or exclusionary skill sets, class or most especially class as vocation, etc.

      This concludes my response to your May 19th post.  I will now tackle your May 26th post right away.  Thank you for your patience.
      Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

      Jay