*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 19, 2022, 05:54:37 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 83 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: "Issue" framing and tone randomness  (Read 3337 times)
Hans
Member

Posts: 576


« on: January 09, 2006, 01:32:52 PM »

Hello all:

Fresh off my 2nd game of Capes.  Tony, the universal feeling here in Hamilton, Ontario is that if there were a Pulitzer for game design, you would get our vote.

Anyway.  Now people (not just me, which is awesome) are talking about building a campaign out of Capes.  As we were waiting around last night for some other people to be ready to leave, we were talking about it.  Several ideas came up.  I think some of these ideas, at their core, may be based on all of our knee-jerk mistrust of other people; a lot of us are GM's of long experience and we don't give up control of the story easily.  On the other hand, they seem to have merit even assuming they come from the wrong point of view.  I wanted to throw them out here on the board and see if a) anyone has any thoughts on them, b) anyone has tried them before, and/or c) anyone thinks these are stupid or bad to try.

* "Issue" framing - I don't mean issue as in "should Superman marry Lois Lane", but more "Superman, Issue 177".  The idea someone had was that for any one nights play, the person whose turn it was to start the first scene would also frame the issue topic for the night.  It might be a plot element, such as "Alien Invasion", or a philosophical mood, such as "Loss", or a comic book trope such as "crossover team up".  It would just be an overall theme for the evening, that the players would jointly agree, as they are framing the scenes, to move towards.  Other expansions on this idea were such things as Issue conflicts (goals or events that are on the table, but cannot resolve until the last scene of the issue, such as, for Alien Invasion, "Event: Aliens are a moment away from destroying the Earth"), the idea that the person who frames the issue and first scene will also frame the last scene as well, and a few others.

* Tone randomness - One thing that stood out to all who played last night was that there was a real sense of wacky, campy, idiocy to the game as we were playing it (we still used my '60's theme, so it involved a lot of drug use and bad hair).  This was great, puerile fun, but all of us agreed that a steady diet of it would stale rapidly.  Someone suggested that there could be some random element to scene generation that established the tone of the scene; humourous, serious, action-packed, sad, etc.  The person framing the scene can still frame anything they want, but all the players take into account the tone that all are striving for.  I suspect that this is not a necessary part of the game, that over time people would naturally shift into long-term sustainable modes of play as they got used to the game and its elements, but the idea still interested me as a source of inspiration for a person who is stuck, not really knowing what to do next.

One thing that continues to fascinate me about this game is how people whose first love is "old-school" D&D (and whose gaming experience is fairly limited to it) LOVE Capes.  I'm not exactly certain why that is, but it nevertheless seems to be true.  It would seem to me that "old-school" D&D (as typified by First or early 2nd edition D&D, having never played much D&D I don't have a very good definition for exactly what it is) is miles away in terms of philosophy and actual play from Capes, and yet these people really get into the groove.  They ask the most interesting questions too, as you see them beginning to get their mind around the fact that they are not "playing" their character, really, as an actor plays a character in a movie, but they are more "using" their character to tell a story like a writer does.

It also floors me how cool it is to play in a game with no GM.  I have mostly GM'ed in my life, and have really gotten used to the idea of knowing what is going on.  I hold most of the story cards, because I am the GM.  But in Capes, you are constantly surprised by the other players and the things they come up with to throw into the story, that you would never have thought of.

One other question, for those that play a lot.  One of our players last night hit upon what, to my mind, was a fascinating way to use his characters powers.  His character was down the street in a pub when some other stuff was going on.  So instead of narrating his own charcter doing stuff, he narrated another character doing stuff using the personality traits of his own character.  For example, his character has "Doubtful" as a one shot trait.  He narrates another character being "Doubtful".  Mechanically, this seems perfectly reasonable, and we all enjoyed it, but is this a common narration technique in other's experience?  Is it allowed or frowned upon in your own games?
Logged

* Want to know what your fair share of paying to feed the hungry is? http://www3.sympatico.ca/hans_messersmith/World_Hunger_Fair_Share_Number.htm
* Want to know what games I like? http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/skalchemist
Kai_lord
Member

Posts: 43

Looking for a gaming group - Capes or WGP


« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2006, 07:56:26 PM »

Well, according to the rules, the trait must be central to the narration. There's nothing that says the character has to be central. So, as long as everyone is having fun - go for it! On the other hand, if someone stops having fun to the extent that the game is disrupted, sounds like a topic for the comics code to handle.
Logged

Current Verson of Capes IRC Bot, CapesVTT:
Get it
here
.
TonyLB
Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 3702


WWW
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2006, 07:42:40 AM »

Issue Framing:  I think a general "This is what we'd like to talk about this evening" consensus would help people a lot.  It's a lovely, soft structure ... because, really, it's a bunch of people saying "We'll pay more attention to X, so if you make conflicts center around X you're more likely to earn story tokens."  That's useful information, linked to a reward, and so it's likely to provoke behavior.  But if you really think that Y is more likely to net you resources than X in a given instance, I can't imagine that people are going to complain if you go "off the reservation," trying to attract their interest to Y.

Hopefully that sort of thing can get the players on the same page without imposing on free will.  And that's a heck of a plus!

Tone Randomness:  You're trying to make the tone of a Capes game more random?  I'm not sure I get that.  We tend to bop from comedy to tragedy to melodrama all the time already.  You guys got stuck in zany hijinks?  Interesting.

Infectious Attitudes:  Now this is what really excites me.  It's obvious and natural for a player who has (say) "Stupid" on a character sheet to use that ability to narrate other people doing something stupid.  The rules totally support it.  In fact, I have a character named "Monumentally Bad Decisions" that has a bunch of dysfunctional behaviors, and I just roll when other people narrate one of those behaviors.  It's great fun.  Sydney says "My character says 'I'm doing this because it's the right thing to do!' " and I say "Reacting with 'Deceive yourself' " and we all chuckle ruefully and Sydney nods and says "Yes, yes he is."  'course sometimes I also narrate them doing something, forcing emotions and choices onto the characters.  Either way, that is the way abstract characters are explicitly made to work, and it is (as I said) perfectly obvious that personified characters can and should work the same way.

So if it's all so obvious, why am I so excited?  Because until you mentioned it, I had never thought of doing this with a personified character.  What the heck is happening in my mind, that I have a blind-spot that big?  Isn't that cool?

There's something about giving a batch of emotions and attitudes a name, and pretending that it has a body and a mind, that makes me want to turn "Depression" into "Malcolm's Depression, and nobody else's."  I look at all those attitudes and I subconsciously limit them ... I say to myself "These aren't things that I can use in the story any which way.  I can only use them within the limits of my character's skin."  There's no real reason for it (except long-standing habit), but I do it so easily that I never even realize I'm making a choice.

So thanks for pointing that out!  It really gave me a good insight into the some of the wrong-headed ways that I think, without even realizing I'm doing it.
Logged

Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum
Eric Sedlacek
Member

Posts: 135

TheCzech


« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2006, 08:10:47 AM »

One other question, for those that play a lot.  One of our players last night hit upon what, to my mind, was a fascinating way to use his characters powers.  His character was down the street in a pub when some other stuff was going on.  So instead of narrating his own charcter doing stuff, he narrated another character doing stuff using the personality traits of his own character.  For example, his character has "Doubtful" as a one shot trait.  He narrates another character being "Doubtful".  Mechanically, this seems perfectly reasonable, and we all enjoyed it, but is this a common narration technique in other's experience?  Is it allowed or frowned upon in your own games?

This is a player you want to have in a Capes game.  Having a character in a scene mechanically but not physically is a wonderful tool.  He's thinking outside the box.  Thinking outside the box is good.  I would tend to take it one step further and tie it into the character in some way or another.  For example, acting character could think to himself "Captain X always maintains a healthy skepticism.  I should handle this the way he would..."

It gets even more fun when you start doing this with powers.  Then Captain X gets debt for something somebody else does.  He feels responsible for serving as an example, you see.

In the larger sense, every trait, powered or otherwise, is a narrative hook.  Anything that ties into that hook narratively works.  Anytime one has a trait one can't figure out how to use in a certain situation, it is a limit imposed by player imagination not a limit of rules.

The other players (you included) also deserve kudos.  You could have been rigid and said "Oh no, you can't do that," but instead you trusted your fellow player and you got something cool in return.  When you play with good players, that's what trusting them gets you, cool stuff.
Logged
Hans
Member

Posts: 576


« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2006, 09:51:41 AM »

Issue Framing:  I think a general "This is what we'd like to talk about this evening" consensus would help people a lot.  It's a lovely, soft structure ... because, really, it's a bunch of people saying "We'll pay more attention to X, so if you make conflicts center around X you're more likely to earn story tokens." 

That was the general idea.  It was funny when we were talking about it, because you could tell something about the players themselves by the ideas that came to their mind as issue frames.  I'm not sure if we meant a true consensus about what would be the issue frame, it was more a matter of "writing" into the social contract of the game that each player would have a turn deciding the overall theme of the nights gaming, with the other players all agreeing to stick with that general theme.  Also, the person whose turn it is to frame the issue would need to recognize that when they give a theme (say, "Alien Invasion"), the interpretation of that theme by the players through the game may be completely different from what they originally had in mind (the aliens may turn out to be the heroes, attacking another planet).

Tone Randomness:  You're trying to make the tone of a Capes game more random?  I'm not sure I get that.  We tend to bop from comedy to tragedy to melodrama all the time already.  You guys got stuck in zany hijinks?  Interesting.

Personally, I don't think this is necessary, that in a longer continuous game there would be a natural shift in moods.  But it was a concern of some of the other players.

Infectious Attitudes:  Now this is what really excites me.  It's obvious and natural for a player who has (say) "Stupid" on a character sheet to use that ability to narrate other people doing something stupid.  The rules totally support it.  ...Either way, that is the way abstract characters are explicitly made to work, and it is (as I said) perfectly obvious that personified characters can and should work the same way.

So if it's all so obvious, why am I so excited?  Because until you mentioned it, I had never thought of doing this with a personified character.  What the heck is happening in my mind, that I have a blind-spot that big?  Isn't that cool?

I will tell my friend Justin that his actions have personally excited the author of the game. *grin* 
Logged

* Want to know what your fair share of paying to feed the hungry is? http://www3.sympatico.ca/hans_messersmith/World_Hunger_Fair_Share_Number.htm
* Want to know what games I like? http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/skalchemist
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!