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Author Topic: Complete games with unguided resource assignment  (Read 5289 times)
Callan S.
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« Reply #30 on: September 16, 2005, 05:21:34 PM »

I was having a very deep think about what I, myself, wanted when I wrote that. Ironically what I didn't add is "What is needed for me is". When your chasing what you want dearly for yourself, you forget to leave signposts for others to show your doing that.

Quote
This sort of play is exploratory, and I think it very well has the potential of pushing players outside of their comfort zone depending on the social dynamic.  I certainly have experienced many times that play with others will push boundaries given players who enjoy that.  As I said, it's certainly true that toy-like design is less specific and depends more on the group.  So if you want dependability and regularity of experience, then more game-like specificity is warranted.  But you should be aware that many people enjoy toys which don't tell them how to play with them, which they can try out different goals with. 

Emphasis mine.

Again, in context with my own needs, the bolded text does not work out that way. Without agreement prior to play, you can't push someone outside their comfort zone. It's like a social contract rule that says no mobile phones at the table...but then you take a call. That isn't zone pushing, it's just breaking a rule. Unless you agree prior to play that it's okay to take important calls, the rule can not be flexed. An agreed rule has to be also agreed to be flexible, if someone is to be legitimately taken out of their comfort zone by it's flexing.

Toy play just can NOT anticipate what SC game rules will need to be flexible, in order to zone push. You just don't know what sort of game goals your going to come up with. Players might decide mid toy play, that their PC's prospering gold wise is a great game goal. What happens if the GM has theives steal from them?

The players might agree a certain amount is okay to steal and an SC rule is made. But the GM can't push them beyond that, to see how they cope with just a bit more taken. That'd just break SC rules. But the players aren't happy, because they just got exactly what they want (kind of a let down to just get it) and the GM isn't happy because he didn't get to push their limits. There was no flexiblity in the SC rule, thus no one could get what they really wanted; to push or be pushed slightly out of their comfort zone.

I'm also skeptical about negotiating flexibility when a game goal and it's SC rules get invented. It's the same problem, players  become 'shy' of inventing game goals because they realise these will get tested. The old example is of players who used to invent loved ones for their PC but stopped once the GM used that to push them out of their zone. Even players who know the GM wont abuse it, still shy away from a GM who they can trust. Genuinely being pushed out of your zone feels like a penalty to avoid, even though it's almost always pleasurable once you've been pushed. These types of freeform negotiations will reflect that, in that the players will run from such a thing even though it will almost always turn out to be the heart of a great game (Well, it can also turn out to be the heart of a really appalling, abusive game as well).



Side note: On D&D Challenge Ratings, your right, it does give a fixed distribution. It was a bit of a poor example from me, because what I was getting at is that those players would want different CR because of different intervening conditions. For example, you can do PL +3 repeatedly if your party can rest for any number of days after each encounter. Who's in charge of whether they can rest? The GM. What does this do to the CR distribution chart? Renders it pretty meaningless in comparison to the GM's input. Who's the most effected by not having rest? That'll be effected by the GM's choice too.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #31 on: September 17, 2005, 01:21:42 PM »

I'll put myself on the line a bit more by outlining a quick and dirty design (with gamism in mind).


1. The GM attaches a challenge point (CP) to various introduced resources. If the players take or use that resource, the GM gets the CP. For example, he might say "In the newly opened locker you find an ammo clip. But it's got a CP attached! Do you take it?"

If the players choose not to take it, they are to invent the game world reasons why "Oh, the clip was old and rusted and would have done more damage to our weapons than to the enemy!"

Each CP is worth a D6 to the GM. You'll see how the dice work in step 2.

Psychology note: This relies on the GM not attaching CP to every single resource introduced. That'd be pretty lame. The motivator I imagine to stop this is no one would admire his skill at luring the players into giving him a point. Attaching a CP to everything would ensure he get's CP, but I'm banking on the human feedback/appreciation is worth more than that. However, if at some point the CP he can get will produce some even stronger human feedback, this psychological limiter will go down the crapper. Though possibly players could simply turtle until they bore the GM into changing. Or at certain points of play, the players might even like the danger of everything having an attached CP cost.


2. Play continues as normal. If a player feels a challenge placed on him is too much, he calls a challenge number (CN). This number can be as high as the player likes.

Each CP the game master has is worth 1D6. The GM now chooses how many dice to apply to the challenge number, or may choose to apply none. Sixes are exploding (roll a six = add on six, roll again and add that on. Repeat for every six rolled). Each die that rolls a 1, removes one CP from the GM's score. These dice are rolled in front of everybody of course. May as well skip these rules if you don't.

If the roll beats the players CN, then the challenge stays. If the roll fails, the challenge is removed. The player can call another CN if he feels the challenge wasn't removed adequately.

For example, he called a CN on falling down a rather deep pit because of the damage of the fall. The damage is removed (a previous, dead victim broke his fall), but the GM gleefully reminds him it's a snake pit full of the most venomous vipers. The player calls another CN on falling at all, because he feels this challenge is too much, he shouldn't have to check for traps when walking in the front door of the local bar! Side note: However, the player hopes the trap isn't narrated away…he'd like to catch some of those vipers…great poison! Extra side note: The GM will probably get blindsided by that, but if he's sharp he'll attach a CP cost to an obtained viper!

Psychology note: This relies on the player not calling a CN to every vaguely interesting challenge introduced. That would be pretty lame though and again, peer feedback would be more valuable. Also, it's a trust building exercise. No doubt after awhile, they would let the GM get one CP. They'd then notice nothing that bad happens. They might let him get two, and start to see how many CP they can let him have, while still toughing it out "I had a GM with 10 CP and my PC survived!" "Mine had 12 and I survived! Beat that!".


Overall notes: I'm not sure how far this would get you toward pushing players out of their comfort zones (or even GM's out of their comfort zones). As a player it would still be possible to monitor your comfort zone and juggle the numbers to keep you there. However, there are more opportunities to make mistakes tracking just what your comfort zone is and also in juggling the numbers to keep you there. Mistakes which will get you into delightfully horrible situations! It's the sort of thing I do in the PS2 game, Mercenaries ( http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=14575 ). Sort of just drive/fly around the landscape, shooting at stuff, making more and more little mistakes until the odds caught up with me and thunk! I got thrown into quite the fun little pickle.
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LordSmerf
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« Reply #32 on: September 18, 2005, 03:17:59 AM »

Callan,

I'm a bit confused.  Are you saying that your little design sketch is (basically) a complete game?  Sure it would have to be fleshed out, but would you say that what you have here is a game that (basically) completely guides resource allocation?

Thomas
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Callan S.
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« Reply #33 on: September 18, 2005, 08:17:13 PM »

No, it's not complete.

I started to shift ground on the first page:
Quote
Hmm, perhaps I'll explicitly shift ground here as my thoughts do: Perhaps the illusion isn't so much that system moves the planchette. But with all the advice and challenge ratings and points and guidelines, the illusion is that other people will invent goals that match yours. Particularly as GM, that after you've done your prep/invented your goals outside of play, in play players will invent their own goals that match yours.

After that point I started to realise the reason I wanted a complete game was to have a solid social contract agreement. The completeness of the game would ensure that the player would know what it involved and by playing, was agreeing to it. Thus, I could push someone out of their comfort zone, but be certain I was not breaking social contract while doing it.

But I didn't really know I wanted that zone pushing agreement until now. Then I realised I didn't need a complete game (though this too would forfil my needs...it just takes alot more work). What I needed was some preagreed rules that delt explictely and directly with comfort zones and the pushing of them. Once that's settled, the GM assigning resources willy nilly is fine, as their is a solid agreement behind it all.

However, I will say this: I think my observation of 'system moves the planchette' is still basically true. Many people think the rules control aspects of the game which in fact they themselves control. This often leads to very unpleasant altications in much the same way as "My guy" arguements do, except here it's "My rules say...". It all revolves around having control, but shirking responsiblity for that control.

Having all the responsiblity does suck though...that's why my rule outline spreads its around (as do many other new RPG's)
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Josh Roby
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« Reply #34 on: September 19, 2005, 08:46:45 AM »

Callan, as I read this, you want a solid social contract dictated by the game book, or at least strongly suggested.  Is this what you are calling for?
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John Kim
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« Reply #35 on: September 19, 2005, 03:09:29 PM »

So a lot of this comes down to differing experiences, I think.  In my experience, the games which most pushed the comfort zones of the players have often been largely freeform -- notably several of the experimental Swedish larps which I played in.  I found that the expectation to drop out of character and discuss issues (which is often the case in tabletop games) means that people can and will do so if their comfort zone is approached.  This isn't a bad thing, I think.  There are most certainly dangers in allowing comfort zones to be pushed without immediate feedback. 

Again, in context with my own needs, the bolded text does not work out that way. Without agreement prior to play, you can't push someone outside their comfort zone. It's like a social contract rule that says no mobile phones at the table...but then you take a call. That isn't zone pushing, it's just breaking a rule. Unless you agree prior to play that it's okay to take important calls, the rule can not be flexed. An agreed rule has to be also agreed to be flexible, if someone is to be legitimately taken out of their comfort zone by it's flexing.

Toy play just can NOT anticipate what SC game rules will need to be flexible, in order to zone push. You just don't know what sort of game goals your going to come up with.

Well, I sort of agree with that.  However, my experience is that nothing can anticipate what the social contract will need.  i.e. You can talk forever prior to the game about where your lines are, but in actual practice they can and will be very different from how the group agreed.  Some parts of play thought to be boundary-pushing might be nowhere near the line, while others are way over the line.  Thus, for me, having a well-understood contract at the beginning doesn't remove my fear that I will push another player too far.  I always play it by ear. 

Side note: On D&D Challenge Ratings, your right, it does give a fixed distribution. It was a bit of a poor example from me, because what I was getting at is that those players would want different CR because of different intervening conditions. For example, you can do PL +3 repeatedly if your party can rest for any number of days after each encounter. Who's in charge of whether they can rest? The GM. What does this do to the CR distribution chart? Renders it pretty meaningless in comparison to the GM's input. Who's the most effected by not having rest? That'll be effected by the GM's choice too.

This also is an interesting difference of experience.  How do your D&D games go?  In my experience, most encounters are initiated by the players -- i.e. they go to a particular location and hit what is there.  So the pacing is generally controlled by the players, not the GM.  The players will set how much they think they can do, and then retreat, set guards, and rest for the night. 

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- John
Callan S.
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« Reply #36 on: September 19, 2005, 07:39:24 PM »

Joshua,

Not sure of your wording. I don't want, or even think the book can dictate any agreement. But it can provide some rules people can choose to agree to.

Mechanically the important thing is to have an agreement which is higher in rank than any resources introduced by the GM. By higher rank I mean it controls those resources.


Hi Kim,

Well, I even play chess by ear. But if I detect the other person is in discomfort, I know it's not because I made up some rules and then described them as if they were something the player agreed to when he said he'd like to play chess. If I choose to hold back, it'll be because I think I'm pushing them too far rather than because I think I may have broken the agreed rules. I'm really pretty sick of trying to push gamism, but hold back for fear of breaking a rule...it leads toward bitterest roleplayer in the world status, since your afraid to push for any challenge as it might break a rule. When I've GM'ed, sure I've had monsters that have slapped PC's down into the negs. But it's been after literally hours of "There's a monster...now your actions take you closer...your even closer now...if you keep going, you'd be agreeing to a fight". It's just story that's scrabbling for permission. I'd really like to just scene frame into the middle of a fight, but no agreement means no go.

With D&D, it's left to the GM to decide if they can retreat and whether they can rest for the night. But it's a fairly moot point now since as I said, making a complete game is just one way of getting what I wanted (the hard way).
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