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Author Topic: GM'ing Tips and Definitions  (Read 4038 times)
clayton_mcfarland
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« on: March 20, 2006, 02:03:40 PM »

Hey guys. 

I've been reading alot of the posts here about GM'ing, and keep hearing alot about Gm's generating 'bangs' for their players characters.  I've not encuontered this term before and was hoping there was an article of source you could point me to in order to learn more.  Are they individual character plots hooks the GM can use to cause conflicts?

Thank you in Advance.
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-Clayton (the_purulent) McFarland
Glendower
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Posts: 182

My name is Jon.


« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2006, 02:10:58 PM »

I read this term in the book Sorcerer by Ron Edwards (Adept Press).

A bang is when you toss something at the characters that they have to deal with right away.  Like assassins through a skylight, guns blazing.  It draws them in the game.
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Hi, my name is Jon.
Danny_K
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Posts: 198


« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2006, 02:54:22 PM »

Read this article.  You'll probably need to read it a couple times, it's dense.  This should help immeasurably with your understanding of the posts on this site.
Ron Edward's Provisional Glossary: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/glossary.html
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I believe in peace and science.
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2006, 03:02:47 PM »

Hi Clayton,

I'm the guy who invented the term "Bang" for role-playing, for a technique that I'd employed and seen used by others, but never found described or recommended in a game text.

The short answer is no, a Bang is actually the exact opposite of a character hook or plot hook as usually described in role-playing texts.

However, in order to be more clear, I need something from you. You know what would really help me answer your question? A description of the last session you were in, either as GM or player. Pick a moment in which a player-character did something that you see as a really fun or involving moment for you, the real person at the table. Tell us about it. Describe how it came about.

I can use that as a basis for comparison and explanation, so that I can be sure that my post really explains what a Bang is, for you.

Best,
Ron
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clayton_mcfarland
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2006, 07:13:50 AM »

Ok Here it goes:

Game: The Blood of Coritanis, a D&D 2nd Edition Game.
My Character: Druggum Goldhelm, Dwarf Barbarian
(Image Here: http://www.shipsinker.com/D&D/DruggumSMASH.jpg)

I can actually do one better then describing the session, we have a game log & character gallery online.  We have a great GM who is very creative, but I find some of the “purely character development sessions” a tad tedious.  I’m an action / adventure gamer at heart, and crave a bit more excitement in my game then sitting around the tavern talking.

Here is a description of the most recent leg of our adventure that really caught my attention.
http://www.shipsinker.com/D&D/episode014.htm

The part that I really enjoyed was when we were suddenly attacked by a crystalline doppelganger of our party’s paladin.  He and Druggum went toe to toe and finally a vicious blow from Druggum’s magical axe destroyed the fiend. The battle was narrated really well, and my character really got a chance to shine.
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-Clayton (the_purulent) McFarland
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2006, 08:29:26 AM »

All right, that's a good start. A little heavy on the fictional side of things (what the characters did, what they said, where they went, etc), and a little light on the real-people side of things (what you said and did, how other people interacted with you, what play "felt" like, etc), but that's all right for now.

I'll tell you what I see - no Bangs and frankly, no need for any. You want to have your character shine, and in this case at this time, combat is a great way to do it, so all the GM needs to do is provide cool fights. It could have been any old smelly hobgoblin, but no - it was a crystalline doppelganger of a party member! Which is cooler. And you killed it, so that was good.

See what I mean? No Bang. A Bang means that the GM would have no idea and no expectation for how your character (i.e. you) would decide to handle the situation: kill the doppelganger, ally with the doppelganger to betray the paladin, permit your character to be killed by the doppelganger for some reason, etc. If it's a Bang, it means the GM really leaves it up to you to deal with it in whatever way you want, and is OK with that ... and so are you, knowing that you have that kind of freedom to choose whatever you want to do, and there's no pre-expected best way to do it.

But I'm not identifying that as a problem. Bang-driven play is a specific technique and it's not supposed to be used just because it's vaguely "good." It works when it makes sense with other things in play, like other techniques (e.g. how experience points would work, in your game's case) and the general sense of "goal" among the group, what I call Creative Agenda. It especially destroys any notion of the GM having a mapped-out adventure to run, with chapters and a final fight planned, and that sort of thing.

Frankly, Bang-driven play doesn't work well with fight-oriented, defeat-foe oriented advancement, either. It'd be kind of distracting and irrelevant to the tactical necessities of success in that kind of play.

Now, admittedly, I'm basing my recommendation on very little information about your play-experience and your group, so let me know if it's tracking at all, at this point.

Best,
Ron
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clayton_mcfarland
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« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2006, 08:58:30 AM »

Oh, Ok.  I understand now, the "no idea and no expectation for how your character (i.e. you) would decide to handle the situation" definition really helped me out.  The glossary definition was a tad obscure.  I feel I understand now.  I wanted to get a good understanding of exaclty what they were and how they worked so that while I am finishing up my system guide document for my game, I could keep them in mind as an option.  However I don't think I will mention them as they don't really seem like the sort of thing you want in a gamist / simulationist system (if I am way off here, or you can think of any good examples of why you would, then please correct me)?
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-Clayton (the_purulent) McFarland
MPOSullivan
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« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2006, 07:00:38 AM »

However I don't think I will mention them as they don't really seem like the sort of thing you want in a gamist / simulationist system (if I am way off here, or you can think of any good examples of why you would, then please correct me)?

actually, i'm working on a game right now called Criminal Element.  It's a heist movie RPG and is pretty much strictly SIM in nature.  While the game leans toward a little bit of pre-gaming for the GM to set up what the heist might be, it also heavily leans toward Bang use to spice up gameplay.  The game even employs what i think of as a Bang-generating mechanic called Meltdown.  When the GM activates a PCs meltdown, it's a signal from the GM to freak out, but the player gets to control how he freaks out, why, and what direction it leads in. 

Bangs can work very well in SIM play, as long as it fits in well with what the play group is trying to evoke.  Bangs are best used in games about choice and consequence.  Vampire (tM/tR) comes to mind immediately, as does Werewolf, though I'm sure that there are more out there than that. 
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Michael P. O'Sullivan
--------------------------------------------
Criminal Element
Desperate People, Desperate Deeds
available at Fullmotor Productions
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