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Author Topic: A bad session and how to make dice-rolling and 'metagaming' non-evil?  (Read 13985 times)
John Kim
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Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2006, 11:08:21 AM »

I think Steve has hit it on the head - I am kind of 'pushing' Dogs on them, and I was wondering if there is any prep I could do that would mitigate any frustration. Julie is correct in pointing that developing trust is the key; but as I am a newbie to this group I don't think that this is going to be easy to engender.

Hi, Warren.  I played Dogs with my "Harnies" group (whom I've played HarnMaster, Lord of the Rings, and James Bond 007 with), and it went over fine.  We didn't immediately convert to only playing Forge games, but everyone had fun and we still talk about it.  This is the same group whom I've noted as having a problem with trivial stakes (cf. my blog post on Avoiding Trivial Stakes), and have had some other gaming dysfunction in the past.

Here's my advice:  Don't expect them to change what they're fundamentally like.  Don't make the game into a lesson on what you want or like, or a manifesto to tell them what's wrong with them or change them.  Rather, try to make it fun for them.  Put in characters of the sort they might like, background, and so forth.  Sell them on the cool background.  Set up for playing another game in the future.  
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- John
Josh Roby
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Posts: 1055

Category Three Forgite


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« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2006, 11:10:46 AM »

While you should certainly take the advice of Ron, Chris, Daniel, et cetera to heart -- it is possible that these guys are made of anti-Narrativism particles -- there's no reason not to give it a try.  The thing of it is that it's not just you giving it a try, it's also them giving it a try, and they should understand it in those terms.  It sounds like you're enjoying the Vampire game, even with the dissonance involved, so there's no reason why you shouldn't find out if you all will like playing Dogs together.

I'd suggest, Warren, that you explicitly frame the experience as "let's see if this is fun for our group of people."  Tell them, up front, that it is "a different kind of roleplaying game" and maybe say it's Monopoly to Vampire's Scrabble.  Still an RPG, but fundamentally different.    Just do a one-shot Dogs game (initiation and a quick town).  Don't say "and then we can continue next week if we want" because chances are they consider multi-session play to be a fundamental success metric and feel compelled to make a commitment -- you don't want a commitment right now, what you want is an experiment.
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Frank T
Guest
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2006, 11:24:00 AM »

Here’s a little story, I hope it relates. My girlfriend played in an IRC Vampire game which was all about “roleplaying it out” and showing off your deep setting knowledge. It sounded like one of the most awful games I’ve ever heard of, the kind of game we call “Hartwurst” of the worst kind on GroFaFo.

One of the players from that game happened to be a nice guy, otherwise, and my girlfriend regularly chatted with him via ICQ. One day, he came to visit us in Hamburg. I set up a little game of Dogs with them. Didn’t go to lengths explaining. Didn’t discuss why this is so and so. I just said: These are the rules, period. We play.

And guess what? There was no argument. There was no distaste. We played, he liked it. Easy as cake. Next morning when I got up and said good morning, he was half way through the book. Here’s to encouragement.

Something else. I know this whole “they won’t like it, I know, they won’t like this and this, they’ll want to do that instead.” Stop second-guessing them. It’s no use. Don’t get all tense and uneasy. If you go into that session convinced it’ll suck, then it’ll suck. Don’t take all that baggage with you. It won’t be your fault if they don’t like it, and they won’t blame you.

Hope this doesn’t sound too patronizing.

- Frank
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HenryT
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2006, 12:28:23 PM »

I've been playing with a WW heavy group, trying to introduce them to new games.  (Indeed, Dogs is on that list, and my copy should be arriving soon.)

The question to ask yourself, I think, is what they actually want from a game.  My experience has been that many of the people who get attracted to the Storyteller games are interested in something roughly narrativist (after all, that's how WW bills its games), and who see it as a huge step in that direction from D&D.  Having settled on that, people often pick up on eccentric or incidental factors of the system, and conclude that they're essential to the distinction between roleplaying and power-gaming.  One that seems especially common is the idea that "roleplaying out" all sorts of interactions is the secret.  ("We used to play D&D, and we would just walk into town and tell the GM what we bought.  Now we do it right, and we go through and roleplay through all the interactions.")

So, it might be that they really enjoy the fact that they have to roll dice in order to use a photocopier.  But it might be that they realize it's kind of goofy, but think that without it, the game will just devolve into nothing but combat.

The same thing applies to metagaming--the WW games I've been in tend to make a big deal out of how metagaming is a no-no, because they're used to seeing people who metagame to make their character look good, or do better, or be more powerful, etc., etc..  That doesn't mean they're intrinsically and perpetually opposed to games where players take more active roles in directing the story--it means they've never seen a game that was intended to work that way.  (Ron's writing on ouija-board narrativism may apply here.)

Try to find out what they actually want from the game.  They may be quite open to discussing why they do things certain ways as opposed to others.  The people I've been dealing with have been pretty receptive to the idea that there's "good metagaming" and "bad metagaming;" your group may be the same--you just have to spell out the difference.

Meanwhile, I'd recommend emphasizing that the mechanics in Dogs are really different.  Don't talk about the theory behind it, just sell them on the idea that the rules are different, and may take some getting used to.  Assuming your group is moderately openminded, they may be pretty comfortable with the idea of doing something weird and different as long as they're prepared for it.

Drawing off the group I've been dealing with, a big selling point has been the notion that some people are irresponsible, and, for instance, metagame abusively, but with mature roleplayers working together, that's not a problem.  Most of them have been pretty solid on the idea that many things were necessary specifically to deal with particular individuals who act abusively without them, but are perfectly capable of dealing with a game that drops those rules in favor of an explicit social agreement not to do that.  (Including, incidentally, some--alas, not all--of the people who act abusively when those constraints are absent.)

Henry
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Warren
Member

Posts: 167


WWW
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2006, 01:23:55 PM »

Thanks for all the replies. They have certainly given me food for thought.

Ron, I've considered what you have said, and I do believe that some members of the group might think that they had a bad session due to my actions. Plus, as Dave M pointed out, the GM might have changed style somewhat in reaction to my character and how I play her. I will certainly bear all those points in mind when I continue playing in this game, so that I fit into this group's style better for the remainder of this game (another few weeks, by all accounts). I also think that Henry has hit the nail on the head as well with how I think that WW groups distinguish between good & bad roleplaying.

But, with all due respect Ron, I think I will attempt to get a one-shot game of Dogs off the ground after the Vampire game has run it's course. If it fails, then so be it. The point that the group and I have conflicting approaches when it comes to roleplaying is well taken, and if it doesn't work, then that's just how things go sometimes.

So, I think I will set up a tight little one-shot Dogs town, aim to play it through in a session after describing that this will be very different from anything that they have done before. Just to see if we like it or don't, as Joshua describes. I think that, in play, I'll restate that the rules of this game are very different and throw them in at the deep-end, pretty much, as Frank did - and nope, not patronizing - all your advice was great and worth restating.

I'll let you know how it turns out back in Actual Play if and when it happens.

Thank you all for your help!
Warren
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coffeestain
Member

Posts: 165


« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2006, 01:37:34 PM »

Please do post your actual play, Warren, as I'm interested in hearing what happens.

You might also want to consider posting your town writeup on the Lumpley Games forum to see if you can get a couple of ideas from some of the very experienced Dogs GMs that might make it appeal that much more.

Good luck,

Regards,
Daniel
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Maitete
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2006, 03:53:35 PM »

But here is my advice: forget it.

Actually, this whole thread brings up an interesting point.  People are really headed in two different directions here.  I would ask them as individual questions:

  • What tactics, techniques or other methods can you use to successfully introduce people to different GNS playstyles, with the possibility of opening more horizons in your current group
  • Is it possible or even worth it?

Ron's answer above is pretty clear.  I tend to think that anyone can find ways to enjoy gaming in a variety of styles, if it's approached properly and honestly.  Warren, I think your actions in the Vampire game may have shaken the group's confidence in you, which will make it more difficult to work with them for your Dogs game.  That doesn't mean it can't be successful, but I would recommend a night of discussion, with no gaming involved first.  Just gather everyone together, throw out some chips and drinks or whatever, and talk about what you get out of what you're trying for.  No Forge jargon, no accusations surrounding some sort of failure of their style, just simple things that you think would enrich everyone's gaming experience.  If you're genuinely interested in their opinions, they should respond with at least some modicum of respect for yours.  If they don't, that might be the time to decide how hard you're willing to push.

Hope this helps,
Tony
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Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


WWW
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2006, 05:49:14 PM »

Hi Warren,

Is there much benefit from trying dogs with these guys Vs inviting some non roleplayers from your workplace/social scene? I imagine a new player would actually take to dogs better than these guys would.

They might be 'good roleplayers'. But their 'good' is based on years of the illusionist play that you've experienced. In dogs, they'll probably be the same as someone who's never roleplayed before, but it'll take alot more stress on your part to get them there than it would with a newbie.

Anyway, perhaps printing out some actual play accounts and getting them to read them, might help in some way.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Frank T
Guest
« Reply #23 on: January 13, 2006, 12:48:04 AM »

Here we are: Ask three experts and you’ll get five opinions. Well.

I’d like to second the idea of posting your town to the lumpley games forum. Have you ever played Dogs before? If not, I would also recommend to do a “dry” conflict, all by yourself, before you start. You should be secure with the rules and have a strong scenario to back you up, that’ll make it a lot easier.

Also, one problem I ran into was that I mixed up who takes which side in the accomplishment conflict. Since that’s the very first conflict, you’ll want to avoid that mistake and maybe re-read that passage in the book.

- Frank
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Mikael
Member

Posts: 206


« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2006, 03:29:17 AM »

Warren,

regardless of which way you decide to go with this, I hope you have noticed the recent "selling new players" thread in the lumpley forum - might give you some ideas.

Cheers,
+ Mikael
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Warren
Member

Posts: 167


WWW
« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2006, 03:42:43 AM »

Hi all,

I've already described my approach above, and yes, I will post the town to the lumpley games forum soon to see what people think of it.

Callan and Tony, I understand your point, and I agree that new players would grasp Dogs easier than these guys might. But as I hope I made clear above, I'm doing this with no expectation that they will all like it. If it does all fall apart, I can just continue running occasional games of Dogs, etc. at the wargames club. I don't know if I will get an opportunity to have a sit-down talk session before just getting into it, and I've got a feeling that could "scare them off". If I just present "Here's a new game. It's really different; let's see what happens" and talk about any issues that arose afterward - if the group wants to do so.

Frank, yep, I've run three towns of Dogs with the Gamists at the wargames group, the biggest one being Snakeweed Crossing, so I think I'm pretty set with the rules. That's another reason I'm not going to offer PTA to them, as I have never run that before.

Tony, I think it would be a good idea to start a new thread to discuss "What tactics, techniques or other methods can you use to successfully introduce people to different GNS playstyles, with the possibility of opening more horizons in your current group", if that's OK. I believe that this one has served it's purpose for me as I've got a plan in my head on how to proceed now.

Thanks for all your help everybody,
Warren
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Aceris
Guest
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2006, 01:13:38 AM »

It really seems that the group as a whole isn't happy with the system being used, not just you. Based on your description it does sound to me that they are what I would call an "Immersionist" group who are looking for interesting in-character interactions, but keep getting sidetracked by the system they are using.

As Ron has pointed out, it's very possible that these people will have a negative reaction to dogs, which since you are "the new guy" might be awkward.  They may well be happier with a naked GM-fiat system like Amber or Everway, and you might want to try to encourage them away from illusionism/participationism and towards bass-playing.  Of course I have no idea whether you would be interested in this kind of game.

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Caldis
Member

Posts: 359


« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2006, 07:02:48 AM »


It sounds like this thread is pretty much closed but I'd just like to ask for an update once you've actually played.  I'd like to know how well it plays out and to what extent players seem to click.  I fear Ron's right, not just because they wont like what they are doing, but because the socially dominant players will convince the others that they dont like it and that something wrong is going on.  Then again who knows, maybe you'll luck out and they'll see it for a better way to get something they thought they were getting with Vampire.
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