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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 147 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: First Question -- Resolution Without People  (Read 14748 times)
TonyLB
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« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2005, 11:28:35 AM »

If they say things like, "Damn, that storm's movin' in fast, boys.  Best haul ass, or it's gonna piss on us all night long," then I should feel justified in developing the storm into a full-fledged conflict, whatever mechanics I use.  But if I mention the storm in all its ominous glory, and the players say, "Yeah, okay, well, we're going to go see what's going on in Milledgeville," then I should let the storm remain a bit of colorful furniture and be done with it.
Oh wow your phrasing on that is perfect.  Did you do that intentionally?  In your example of players who are engaged with the storm as an opponent in conflict, they anthropomorphize the storm.  "It's movin' in fast," "It's gonna piss on us."

I wonder if that's actually a reliable indicator of when something deserves seperate representation?  It's the subtle difference between "God, guys, if we keep doing stupid things we're going to get ourselves killed" and "Man, our own stupidity is going to kill us if we let it."
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Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2005, 11:36:51 AM »


But you cannot assign game-mechanics to a storm, hit your players with it, and just say, "See, see, it's a character, mechanically! This is therefore an engaging conflict!" Nope. This is a group activity. You find out whether the storm is a character by first presenting it as such, and then seeing whether they agree.


I think this step needs to be explicit in the stakes-setting stage.  The players need to be empowered to say, basically, "Er, this conflict is pretty boring and meaningless, at least to me (us).  How about we skip it and go on?"

Perhaps the "Say yes or roll dice" instruction should be made clear to both GM and players?  Players should be able to say, "Yeah, fine, okay, we ride through an electrical storm.  We get wet, take shelter under a rock, see stuff get blasted by the lightning."

This nearly happened with a conflict I posed in the game with Silmenume and Ashera.  They came up to a bridge that was about to get washed out, and the observation came that if the bridge DID get washed out before the Dogs crossed it, what then?  They find another way around, big  deal.

We eventually resolved that bit by putting a man on the bridge who needed saving (or at least they thought so at the time) to engage the Dogs, but I could easily have said, "No, you're right, let's just say that you witness the bridge being washed out, and you have to hike two miles out of your way on old hunting trails to get to the town."
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Neal
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Posts: 143


« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2005, 11:49:10 AM »

Oh wow your phrasing on that is perfect.  Did you do that intentionally?  In your example of players who are engaged with the storm as an opponent in conflict, they anthropomorphize the storm.  "It's movin' in fast," "It's gonna piss on us."

Thanks, Tony.  No, actually, it wasn't premeditated.  I guess that corroborates your own theory, huh?  I think it also points out the need for GMs to listen acutely not only to what their players are saying, but also how they're saying it.

I wonder if that's actually a reliable indicator of when something deserves seperate representation?  It's the subtle difference between "God, guys, if we keep doing stupid things we're going to get ourselves killed" and "Man, our own stupidity is going to kill us if we let it."

I laughed when I read this because it made me imagine a group of players, having encountered their own Stupidity in a few past towns, running across "him" again.  What a cool recurring character!  "Damn your eyes, Our Own Stupidity!  Will we never be free of you?"  To which, of course, Our Own Stupidity replies, "Huh?  Um, nope."
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IMAGinES
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« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2005, 08:45:06 PM »

Of course, not everything deserves that level of treatment, as you point out. .... That's where "say yes or roll the dice" comes in.  Choose your battles and fire for effect, rather than forcing your players to fight the furniture just because it's there.  "Must... open... this... pickle jar!"

Firstly, I just want to say that I've read this post, and everything befor eit and since, and I'm in full agreement with it.

But Neal, I just have to say that I think you're throwing out the baby with the bathwater with that last comment. The Man Set Against The Pickle Jar is one of the great Conflicts of the Industrial Age. It engages Pride like nobody else. The implicit stakes of any conflict are very powerful: "Can I open this damn jar without looking like an utter wuss?" or, "Can I not hand the pickle jar over to the next person who'll just pop it open without straining?"

Plus, you have some very effective, emotive  and accessible Sees and Raises: "You feel your skin burn as you try to find purchase on the frustratingly smooth lid of the jar." "Right! I'm bringing in my Towel (2D6) and Raising seven! I've got the damned jar between my legs and both hands twisting the lid!" "I'll See your Seven and reverse the blow, plus three for ten: The dry towel not only removes what traction you had, but the jar slides out from between your legs and hits the floor." "DAMN IT! I'm escalating to Fighting: I pick the jar up, turn it over and slam the lid against the tabletop! T"

Yes. Er.

I apologise for this break in topic and will now return you to your scheduled thread.
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Neal
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Posts: 143


« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2005, 05:07:59 AM »

But Neal, I just have to say that I think you're throwing out the baby with the bathwater with that last comment. The Man Set Against The Pickle Jar is one of the great Conflicts of the Industrial Age. It engages Pride like nobody else. The implicit stakes of any conflict are very powerful: "Can I open this damn jar without looking like an utter wuss?" or, "Can I not hand the pickle jar over to the next person who'll just pop it open without straining?"

You know, I thought about something along those lines after I posted.  In every game I run, I like to toss in a bit of humor, especially in a horror game or a game with a high gross-out factor.  I guess that's why I'm a huge Joss Whedon fan, huh?  Anyway, I think it not only adds new colors to the palette, but it actually makes the horror more horrifying when it comes up between moments of easy-breathing laughter.  Horror games without a trace of humor just seem like they're reaching too far or straining too hard sometimes.  They seem myopic and half-finished, if not somehow juvenile, as though they'd misplaced some important piece of what it means to be human.

So yeah, I'll probably toss some stubborn furniture around for laughs once in a while.  But not just for laughs.  I can see, for example, a scene where Brother If-God-Hadst-Not-Loved-Thee-Thou-Wouldst-Not-Have-Been-Born ("Iggy" to his friends) comes home, hailed as a hero, and decides to pitch in around the old homestead, only to find the very farm itself resisting his simple efforts.  Pump handles, manure piles, runaway chickens, the cantankerous old buckboard -- they all conspire against him as though directed by the hand of the Adversary.  He's done all these mighty things, straightening out sinners, exorcising demons, gunning down road agents... and now he can't get the old well pump to cough up a bucketful of water?  He chooses to see it as a test of his Pride, a trial sent by the King of Life to make him a better person, so he perseveres.  In that sense, it's a real conflict, with the PC pitted against character-level opposition.  The conflict matters to the player, either as a test of Brother Iggy's humility, or as God's reminder that Iggy was not called to pump well-water and chase chickens, but to get out there and fix what's going wrong in the Vineyard.  The stubborn pump-handle really does take on the importance of a hated enemy or a recalcitrant sinner. 

But here we're back to Ron's insistence that the "furniture" must have some importance and meaning to the players prior to its employment as a "character."  The laughs to be had from a scene like this are (I think) pretty obvious, but it doesn't change the basic notion that the important things in a game are the things the players find important.
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Neal
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Posts: 143


« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2005, 05:23:55 AM »

And yes, I know you were joking. :)
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IMAGinES
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AKA Rob Farquhar


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« Reply #21 on: October 22, 2005, 03:38:07 PM »

No worries, Neal! :-D I do appreciate you taking the joke and considering the merit of its matter. I was a little worried that other Forgites wouldn't be receptive to my brand of humour (i.e. probably too silly for my own good).
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Always Plenty of Time!
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