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Author Topic: [GenCon/L5R] 5 minutes of fun packed tightly into 4 hours of dysfunction.  (Read 18441 times)
Andrew Cooper
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Posts: 724


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« Reply #30 on: August 25, 2005, 09:58:04 AM »

HAHAHAhaha... carpet bombing...  heheheheheheheeeeee...















Sorry.

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Gamskee
Member

Posts: 41


« Reply #31 on: August 25, 2005, 11:32:54 AM »

Didn't mean to rip on John Wick, per se, but I have found that the few people I have played L5R with had a habit of railroading and a "Because I'm the GM!" kind of attitude.

I do not remember word per word all of the advice given for how to run a good L5R game in its earliest incarnation, but parts of it basically amounted to "Make the character's lives hell", which many took to mean, "deprotagonize at every turn and show them their place". Of course, being a setting filled with NPCs of unattainable legendary status and generally playing redshirts for them in early L5R modules, this could be done almost by accident.

I think perhaps the GM advice might have been solid if it had been more focused on "What fun does this particular game provide, how does the system support this fun, and what as a GM can you do to ensure fun for yourself and others."

It could just be that dysfunctional narrativist GM's are either attracted to this game or that it enhances this dysfunction enough to make it really stand out.

I'm curious what others experiences have been. I think Wick probably runs a good game and designs them as well. I'm just not sure if his stint on AEG had the best ability to communicate how to do the former.
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Lisa Provost
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Posts: 52

aka urbanpagan


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« Reply #32 on: August 26, 2005, 09:30:40 AM »

Lisa here...

I know there were some questions about who the GM was.  I'm not sure who he was but it was apparent that his grooming was the most important thing to him.  (I did appreciate that by the way.)  He kept brushing his hair about every five minutes and like Eric, at one point I did want to choke him with his hairbrush.

Like Eric though, I should have realized that something was wrong when I was "helped" making my character.  I went with a Matsu Bushi.  I picked a bushi really because I've played a Lion Bushi before and well... I thought it would be an easy add in for such a long occuring campaign.  According to the guys that helped us make our characters, we were entering in the last two sessions of a five year (real time) campaign.  No shit.  So I was a bit confused when we were handed pre-gen PC's that were Rank 1 and given 10 points to modify the PC with.  *shrug*  That was where my first flag went up.

Quote
Except that we weren't allowed to add color to the story either.
Ever? Zoinks!
How did the other players react to all of this?

Well... as I recall... no one besides Lisa and I even tried.  I had this little quip in the beginning about how I was on a Quest to Fix a Broken Shoe.  And I narrated hobbling about.  When I was summarily ignored by the GM I kinda gave up.  Lisa's issue with her combat narration I've already mentioned.

Oh I tried, trust me I tried to add narration btu was shut down at every single turn.  Essentially what happened was were attacked by 'six guys in black pajamas' (direct quote).  As the flambouyant and arrogant Matsu that I was, I...:

Me:  "I jump up, and with a roar, draw my katana and in one smooth motion, slash him across the stomach."  (No not my best narration but it was kinda quick.)
GM:  "Okay so you hit him.  Roll for damage."
Me:  *blink*  K. 

Within a few more rolls, the rest of the party had dispatched of two of the six 'black pajama wearing guys' and so the GM decided to just end the combat there saying "it's pointless, you guys will win so we'll just say you did."  One gal in the group commented about how happy she was when a GM "made such a cool decision."

My second flag went up there.

Everyone else?  They just did what they were expected to do.  They sat there and nodded, occationally discussing some aspect of the setting that had no bearing on the story at hand.  So, I can only assume that they were used to, or otherwise prepared for the lack of color.

Oh yeah.  I think a few times they just nodded and then waited patiently for the GM to give them more railroad like puppies waiting for a treat... focused on the hand with the treat in it and nothing else.  I'll be honest... I was one of those puppies once. 

I didn't mention yet that the GM didn't even add any color to the game.  Remember my confusion over the attack occurring on a cliff-face vs. a rice paddy?  I wasn't kidding or exagerating.  I had no idea where our characters were half the time.

Yeah, Eric missed the fact that we were walking two by two along a road in the middle of a rice paddy.  A 'big, muddy rice paddy' to be exact.  My bushi and his bushi were side by side when he was attacked by yon huge guy with tree limb.  It knocked me 50 feet into a hole that for the rest of the combat scene, I was never able to climb out of.  I had to roll each time to attempt to climb out of the rice paddy and since I was sufferening from a penalty from having taken damage from said tree limb, I could never roll high enough on two dice to get out.  Once again, we ended up defeating the bad guy and his cronies because the GM decided, "You guys are gonna win this no matter what so let's just end it here."

Me:  "K."

And there was where I threw my third flag in like I was throwing in the towel. 

Now I know some of you wanted to see our notes so here they are!

Eric's first page of notes.

Eric's second page of notes.

My notes.  (Yeah, I was that riveted by the story).

Our notes to each other.  Eric's is on top.  Mine is underneath. 
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Kerstin Schmidt
Member

Posts: 289


« Reply #33 on: August 26, 2005, 09:41:02 AM »

Oh fabulous. Thanks for posting those notes, Lisa!

I find this absolutely fascinating. What I'm failing to work out is what kept you two there for the entire morning. I mean, four hours out of your lives? Seems like a lot to me.  Not that I'm complaining, this summary of your torments is highly entertaining.

But seriously, my question is genuine. I've staid in some horrible games for far too long and I can never stop marvelling at this particular dynamic. What kept you, can you say? You can't have hoped for things to improve after the first, well, 30 minutes or so?




Kerstin
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Bankuei
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« Reply #34 on: August 26, 2005, 09:58:37 AM »

Oh my god,

This thread has totally shed light on my own L5R experience- at first I thought that the players were just engaging in geeky side chatter about metaplot & NPCs- now I realize that it was probably habitual stuff because they're used to not actually doing anything in play!  I literally had one player panic and run for the restroom when presented with a Bang...

Chris
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Lisa Provost
Member

Posts: 52

aka urbanpagan


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« Reply #35 on: August 26, 2005, 10:12:12 AM »

Oh fabulous. Thanks for posting those notes, Lisa!

Not a problem and thankies.

I find this absolutely fascinating. What I'm failing to work out is what kept you two there for the entire morning. I mean, four hours out of your lives? Seems like a lot to me.  Not that I'm complaining, this summary of your torments is highly entertaining.

But seriously, my question is genuine. I've staid in some horrible games for far too long and I can never stop marvelling at this particular dynamic. What kept you, can you say? You can't have hoped for things to improve after the first, well, 30 minutes or so?

It was sheer politeness that kept me.  And the sincere hope (dare I say, dream) that things would get better.  I was intrigued because they told me that this game had gone on for -five years- and I was thinking, "Wow.  These people have come from literally all over the world and been meeting up at conventions all over the world, -just- to play in this particular scenario?  It must rawk!"  Apparently I was wrong.  The only reason that we ditched is because we found out that this listed four hour game was actually going to take up nine hours of our time and neither of us was in the mood for that.  I only gave them a polite reason why we needed to leave because I didn't just want to scream "Oh my god, I've had better and more entertaining dental work than this game!  Hell I've had more fascinating pelvic exams than this game!" and walk out. It would have been rude and I really didn't want to ruin my GenCon experience with rudeness.
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Larry L.
Member

Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #36 on: August 26, 2005, 10:28:14 AM »

Ohmigodthefunnybellyhurts!

Thanks for sharing Lisa. I especially liked "...NPC [click here]"

GM:  "Right!  So you run outside and bash him on the head!  Before your weapon strikes him he shrinks down to this big and then disappears into the sand."

Okay. This shit is really bugging me. A lot. I'm going to try to guess what possible motivation anyone would have for running a game this way. Just a rationalization so the hurting will stop.

So, um, later on in the card game or splatbooks, this guy will show up as a major player in the metaplot, like Lord Koshimoto of the Underworld. It was in fact a privelege for you to have interacted with this NPC, because you will be able to tell all your L5R-loving friends how this one time at GenCon 2005 you tried to kill Lord Koshimoto and shit. Why, this GM did you a big favor, man!

Therefore, the "fun" supplied in such a game is bragging rights to involvement in the metaplot. The, uh, enjoyment is derived from discovering all the geeky references to the source material the GM has meticulously installed. It's some kind of trial by geekiness, because if you can't understand all the references, you don't deserve to understand what's going on. Who's the loser now, Mr 'I can talk to girls?' Eh?

God that's depressing. I'll stop now and kick a deaf puppy or something.

You, uh, said the other players seemed to think that this style of play was a-okay, right?
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Eric Provost
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Posts: 581


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« Reply #37 on: August 27, 2005, 12:17:32 PM »

Ok.  I go to work for a mere 30 hours.  I get back and there's FIVE PAGES of new posts!  Holy crap.

Ok.  Serious kudos to my baby for photoing and posting those notes.  I really had no idea that they'd be so entertaining to so many.

I wanna put out my opinion on the "fun levels" of the other three players.  Zombies.  We were gaming with zombies.  Their brains were pickled, their eyes were glued, and their imaginations had suffered the chemical burns of years of bad gaming.  The GM gave them information.  They nodded.  The GM asked questions like "Do you attack?" and they nodded.  Probably because an affirmitave response was the only correct response.  Were they having fun?  I dunno.  Do bears trained to juggle bowling pins and dance on large red balls have fun?  I dunno.  If I were to guess, and I can only guess, I'd say that they were having just as much fun as they thought they were allowed to have.

And...

Quote
I literally had one player panic and run for the restroom when presented with a Bang...

That had me laughing so hard I nearly choked.  The image of a player who, when confronted with a request for input after years of passiveness, suddenly develops the need to urinate... well that makes me giggle in a guilty way that I just can't stop.

-Eric
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Jason Morningstar
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Posts: 1428


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« Reply #38 on: August 27, 2005, 01:20:14 PM »

You know, this entertaining and sad thread got me thinking about a group I know that plays in the most dysfunctional way possible.  Everything - and I do mean everything - they do is broken from my perspective.  One player is well known for being deliberately, destructively contrary, regardless of the circumstance.  Two are proud of their ability to grind sessions to a halt over rules minutia.  Another semi-openly cheats, and this is just sort of overlooked as a mild personal flaw.  In play, apparently (God knows I have never gamed with these people - this is all second hand, from some of the participants and their pals) they'll spend several hours arguing for every fifteen minutes of actual play, and their sessions run to 10-12 hours in length.

And they are all fine with this.  They've been gaming together for ten years.  They are friends. 

The bottom line is that they have found a safe, familiar groove that they can all enjoy.  It isn't our cup of tea, but ten solid years says it is definitely theirs.  Who are we to evangelize?  This is a serious question, because my instinct is to reach out and say "there's another way, dudes."  But since they know what they are doing and are OK with it, is that just arrogance on my part?  I really don't know. 

Since this thread has included some mockery of people in a similar situation (including the L5R GM, I suspect), I think it is worth discussing.  What's your take?
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Eric Provost
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Posts: 581


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« Reply #39 on: August 27, 2005, 06:14:05 PM »

My take is that the first step on the road to recovery is the desire to be helped.  If dysfunctional gamers are happy then there's nothing we really can do to help.  Every word of reason from our well-intentioned mouths will fall on ears blocked with years or even decades of denial.

But that's just my experience so far. 

Well, that's not entirely true.  My just try this once approach has worked on one or two gamers, but they already trusted me enough to open their minds to the game once we sat down to it.

-Eric
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Larry L.
Member

Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #40 on: August 27, 2005, 06:44:05 PM »

Eric,

What are the hash marks on page two tracking?
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droog
Member

Posts: 263


« Reply #41 on: August 27, 2005, 09:13:17 PM »

While this thread is a lot more good-humoured and good-natured than mine http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=15997.0), I can't help noticing that the game sounds quite similar, and that the people I played with--no more--are also big fans of L5R.

Love the notes. My SW chr sheet is covered in drawings.
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AKA Jeff Zahari
C. Edwards
Member

Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #42 on: August 27, 2005, 11:53:51 PM »

Hey,

So I've been following this thread, and at first I was laughing in horror, but something started to nag at me. Not to pick on Eric, but this bit highlighted what was poking at me.

Quote from: Eric Provost
If dysfunctional gamers are happy then there's nothing we really can do to help.

I know this is probably just loose wording on Eric's part, but it's representative of an issue I deal with in other areas besides gaming so it jumped out when I read it. Happy people aren't dysfunctional. They don't need or likely want our help, especially in the ways that we might perceive that they need it.

I normally confront my own desire to "help" people in regards to ecology, conservation, re-use, recycling, simple living, and other fun stuff. That guy in the Hummer eating the Big Mac in the Wal-Mart parking lot while talking on his cell phone and smoking a Kool? Yeah, he could use some help. At least that's my initial reaction. But you know what, that guy is probably feeling just fine. He's likely feeling at least decently content. He definitely doesn't want or, arguably, need any help.

Sorry for the slight tangent, but that's what talk of helping dysfunctional gamers sounds like to me. Some gamers have a truly painful relationship with their gaming. Yes, if they can somehow be helped I'm all for it. But what is being described in this thread doesn't sound dysfunctional, just... boring. From what I gather the other participants were entertained and enjoying the experience. What's the expression, "Your kink is not my kink"? Could they have been having MORE BETTER FUN? Maybe, but that hardly makes their current setup dysfunctional.

The games that are designed to lead to MORE BETTER FUN are being made, sold, and put out there for these gamers to find should they ever feel the need to look and give them a try. And until they do we'll make fun of them and laugh because it hurts so much. C'est la vie.

I just think that we need to be more discerning with what gets labeled dysfunctional as opposed to what is just not to our liking.

-Chris
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Eric Provost
Member

Posts: 581


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« Reply #43 on: August 28, 2005, 03:23:11 AM »

Larry,

The hasmarks weren't created during the session itself, but rather as a refrence to something the gm did.  He kept notes as to how many days had passed using hashmarks.  And the number of days that passed had zero to do with the story at all.  There was no time limit, no phases of the moon to worry about, nothing.  Lisa tells that version of the story better than me, but it's the bit that comes down to "Ok, you won't gain your void points back for 18 days... and now the 18 days are over." *paraphrase*


Chris,
You're right, it is a tangent.  Please take it to another thread if you'd like to discuss if gamers who are having less fun than they can are dysfunctional or not.  I'll be happy to post my opinion there if you start it.

-Eric
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