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Capes Demo at DexCon 8

Started by Robert Bohl, July 20, 2005, 04:39:06 PM

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Stickman

From my own play experieces with Capes, 'daisy picking' seems a little tougher to get into the flow of the game, but I'm sure a lot of that is a lack of experience amongst my group as players.

We were handling the classic 'power struggle' within the team for leadership, and two characters were pretty much just having a heated argument about it. Somehow, I think we got suckered into an extremely gamist mindset, becuase we ended up with almost every line of dialogue being a roll up.

Torch: "I have years of experience, I should lead the team" - Experienced 3, roll
Mesmero: "I however have the cunning and wit to pull the job off with style" - Cunning 4, roll
Torch: "Damn you Mesmero, you're pushing my buttons!" - Close to Breaking 5, roll

And while I do like the fact that the system can support this, it felt rushed compared to how we'd play this out in another system (ie most likely one with no social mechanic). Again, I'm not pegging this as a fault of Capes, but rather a pattern of play we found ourselves in. I think the problem was recognising when enough dialogue had been spoken to 'justify' a roll on the conflict. A line from a player? A brief exchange? 10 minutes rambling diatribe from the burned out ex-super on why he was the best? The other players were happy to sit and listen, interjecting comments as and when, but again with people rolling up conflicts, we sort of slipped back into a turn structure, which *then* lead to players not in the discussion feeling they had to make a conflict they were interested in.
Dave

elgorade

Quote from: dyjoots on July 21, 2005, 12:28:10 AM
Quote from: RobNJ on July 20, 2005, 05:55:14 PM

...  it can also feel like an imposition if it's overused.

...  specifically speaking about Capes, ANY conflict, no matter how large or how small, can be made into a Conflict, and have a significant impact on the currencies floating around the table.  To me, that's really cool, and I think it is a keen way of dealing with the daisy-picking you are talking about.

If I understand Rob correctly, part of what he's wondering/worried about is that in Capes, the only thing you have is the conflicts.  It isn't that any conflict _can_ be made into a Conflict, but that any actions at the table _have_ to be part of a Conflict.   

Robert Bohl

elgorade, that's certainly a worst-case-scenario concern for both Capes and some of the other indie games.
Game:
Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
Shows:
Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG

Sydney Freedberg

Quote from: elgorade on July 21, 2005, 06:20:38 AMIt isn't that any conflict _can_ be made into a Conflict, but that any actions at the table _have_ to be part of a Conflict. 

The mechanics and the resource system in particular do pull you towards making everything a conflict, true -- but, actually, the rules do allow for freeform narration and "just roleplaying it," especially at the start of a scene before anyone starts taking turns.

TonyLB

That's actually why I asked for some examples from RPG play of the non-conflict sub-scene.  Because Capes really doesn't support them, by design.

Part of why it doesn't support them is that I think interesting conflict-free sub-scenes are a lot rarer than people think, whereas potentially interesting scenes that get ruined because people can't get on the same page about what the conflict is are very common.  So I like to force people to dig a little bit into their brains, try to figure out what they're really after, and make that explicit.

If that's not for you, no hard feelings.  You were certainly very receptive at the demo, and who can ask more than that?
Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum

Valamir

I often wonder when I hear comments about preferences like this whether its really an honest to god preference that one is enjoying.  Or whether its the comfort of being in familiar territory that one is enjoying.

Is it actually the act of "picking daisys" that you find to be really really fun in and of themselves because you really just enjoy that stuff?  Or is it that you have a history of play that involves a lot of daisy picking and so its an activity you're good at, you know how to do, and you're comfortable with.

Might the real issue not be that Capes doesn't encourage the sort of daisy picking you enjoy...but rather that what Capes does encourage is enough outside of your normal experience that the unfamiliarity of it (the "fish out of water" effect, if you will) is the true source of your nervousness.  Perhaps its not the daisy picking you're missing but the "security blanket" (if you'll forgive the term) that the daisy picking represents that you're missing.

Just speculating here to gather some data points because this is an angle of evaluating player preferences that I'm particularly interested in.

Robert Bohl

Well, Ralph, it's an interesting question but since my perspective is so core to it, I don't know how I'm to answer it.  I believe that it is a genuinely fun activity that I'm missing.  I know for example that in the Capes demo, I missed the opportunity to have framing scenes and character moments that underlined what my character was like, rather than what he could do.

But the way you structured the question, it could just be me misperceiving what about an experience is fun for me.
Game:
Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
Shows:
Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG

Luke

I dunno, Ralph. I think Rob is raising some very good points about game design and roleplay. We've focused so much on Player to Player conflict resolution, we've side-stepped IC color-based RP. What function does color roleplay serve in a game? Is it necessary? Is it wanted? How can it be integrated into conflict resolution?

This is what I'm reading from Rob's posts, and I think they are good issues to raise. (Rob, shoot me down if I'm off-base.)

Personally, I'm more on his side of the fence, than not. The comfort issue that you raise is definitely a part of it. But as a roleplayer, I need some leader in order to be able to find my feet in a scene and to find out what my character is about. I'm just not that keen of a player to able to jump into a character and go go go.

For me, those color scenes help me build a perspective. They prepare me to navigate future conflicts, even when nothing is immediately at stake.

two whole cents,
-Luke

Doug Ruff

Quote from: TonyLB on July 21, 2005, 01:06:16 PM
That's actually why I asked for some examples from RPG play of the non-conflict sub-scene.  Because Capes really doesn't support them, by design.

Actually, I wouldn't be so sure about this, Tony.

I think that non-conflict roleplay is explicitly supported at the beginning of each scene, but only up until the first conflict is framed and rolled for.

Also, a question for you. Look at one of your earlier Capes sessions involving Vanessa Faust. How did you convey to the other players what Vanessa was all about? How did you explain to them why she did what she did? I'm guessing that there was at least some OOC "commentary" going on, but I want your perspective on this. If there was "commentary", was it going on during the conflicts, or before and after conflicts?
'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'

matthijs

There's no doubt that people enjoy non-conflict scenes (IC color RP is a good term) a lot, and use them extensively. I know I do, and from hearing others talk about their games, I know I'm not the only one. And we've been doing it for years, in a variety of games. So I don't think there's any point in saying it's a marginal way of playing, or ignoring it as a mode.

Often, at the start of such a scene, nobody knows whether it's headed for a conflict or not. That's where a system with a strong focus on establishing stakes early on can hurt the game; first of all, by establishing a conflict that doesn't have to occur, and secondly, by forcing players to define stakes when they're not ready to do so.

It's very much a matter of timing - of knowing when and if to switch to conflict mode. If scenes are defined as something ending in conflict resolution, you're pushing some players into something they don't need. If your system makes it possible to go with the flow, and allow for entire scenes consisting of color/character building/whatever you want to call it, it'll take the pressure off and allow for more relaxed and intuitive play.

Robert Bohl

Luke, you are correct in restating my feelings, so there's nothing to shoot down.  And Matt, your final paragraph was one of those "aha!" moments for me; you put it exactly as I would've liked to.  I do not reject the utility of, "Okay, this is a conflict, what are the stakes? Now let's resolve it!"  It's invaluable, but it's an ingredient of a game, and shouldn't necessarily overwhelm the "dish".

PS: This week I'll try and get to the other games I played at DexCon.
Game:
Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
Shows:
Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG