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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 81 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [Mage] Not even past the starting gates  (Read 8241 times)
Callan S.

Posts: 3588

« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2006, 02:20:13 PM »

Each statement should cut the infinities down by 90% each. "Everybody is from the same village." "The characters are all involved in the Lunar/Heortling conflict at the border." "The central conflict is about which of two paradigms is going to win out over this one little pocket otherworld."
In addition I'd also recommend they aren't just constraints for the sake of going through a set procedure and adding some contraints. Add contraints you are totally pumped about. That, no matter what the player does with them, you'll be excited to see what happens. If you can't find such constraints, then your not ready to play yet.

Philosopher Gamer
David "Czar Fnord" Artman

Posts: 246

« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2006, 08:08:57 AM »

Because I've never heard of anyone managing to discuss their way into a coherent game group. But there are tools for creating coherent play, they're called coherent game systems.
My over-zealousness soured a few friends to the Big Model Theory, and I really regret this.
...I understand Lisa and Chris's reluctance, they saw some idiotic behaviour on my part from me being a Forge and Big Model crazy.

Just to clarify: I am not proposing that The Big Model be the subject of discussion. I am proposing that you, as GM, internally use the Agendas (and the Techniques which serve them) as a mental model to help you to find a good balance of motivations for the players to play and to avoid a future situation in which two of your players are completely at odds over Agenda focus.

Basically, use The Big Model just like one would use other fundamental methodologies like logic or mathematics to have a reasonable discussion. If we were, say, arguing fiscal policy, we would use logic and math though we might only obliquely refer to logic or math as subjects (ex: to object to a fallacy or point out a miscalculation).

As for whether or not one can "discuss [one's] way into a coherent game group," I have done so successfully quite a few times. I would certainly rather discuss it before any prep or play investment, rather than discover it a few sessions into play.

A quick anecdote, if I may: When I was studying abroad in Hull, UK, I got involved with the college's RPG group, which was pretty much exclusively managed via a message board--a cork one in the student union, not a web one (this was in 1990). Nearly every post for a game advertisement stated qualifications (ex: character level, player age), styles of play, and even flavorful narration of initial situations or thematic premises. It was damned near impossible to show up for a game and not know the style of the GM, what sorts of events would occur, how mature the game and players would be, etc.

Now, was that a "discussion" or was that good advertising? Either way, it was communication, and that communication built coherent play groups--and contined communication (after-game bull sessions in one of the three student union's pubs) maintained the fun for folks. Jon is in a situation where the players were selected before the game, so he can't avail himself of advertisement's reactive self-selection. Can one really argue, then, that he would not gain from proactive discussion of the game group's goals and style?

However, I don't agree with removing players in this particular case.

I can understand that. It is very hard to leave someone "out in the cold" when you want to do something that isn't his or her style or preference. I've been there: our gaming group in NC of, oh, say 20 years has gone through a number of changes, but the toughest was the recognition that one of the oldest and most avid players had just never evolved along with the rest of us, in style and play focus. Every new game, his character was the same "gruff, overbearing ass-kicker." The D&D Fighter became a Marine Colonel who became a Captain-America-meets-McCarthy super who became a Boxer against the minions of Cthulhu. For him, every problem just needed the right application of battery or penetrating fire; while the rest of us--inspired by Mage, in particular, along with Vampire--were moving steadily into realms of thematic play and exploration of character evolution and attempts at plausible mental anguish or social imbalance or plausible shadow worlds. He stayed squarely with his violently deranged combat machines.

We finally, after much fretting and sweatting, just didn't invite him to a D&D3 session planned on our game group's web board. He, of course, noticed the omission and commented. We simply said, "PlayerX, we don't need a combat monster in the type of political game we are planning; maybe next Champions game or something," and left it there. He got the message--but he, unfortunately, hasn't attempted to play any of our latest and wonkiest head games. He is missed. His characters are not.

I suspect that you are near the same shores, with Lisa (and, you think maybe, Chris?). You and the other player want to push the boundaries of your art; the other two in your group seem to prefer to continue in the same school. Reading your post...
Lisa rolls her eyes and then begins to tell the rest of the group that I'm using my "weird ideas I got from some site filled with RPG geeks".  I cringe inside.
...lead me to interpret that (a) she is not particularly accommodating or generous in her criticisms and (b) this hurts you.

And I called it like I (and others) saw it: that is not just incoherent, it's dysfunctional. Either the player leaves or the GM... and Mage doesn't run very smoothly GM-less, last time I looked at the rules.

It's hard; it sucks; and it could be inevitable.

Maybe you'd do well to try to discuss this directly and privately with each player, before the next session. Propose (as you say you will) an appealing setting and general connection/situation and talk honestly about how you would like to see it played. Ask your players to do the same. And if you find one or two just can not feel the tug that the rest feel, have the courage to keep them out of the game, rather than cancel the game or let it die in its youth from incoherence.

Good luck, dude; I hope this helps;

If you liked this post, you'll love... GLASS: Generic Live Action Simulation System - System Test Document v1.1(beta)

Posts: 576

« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2006, 08:31:31 PM »

Maybe you need to make sure things are cool with Lisa at the social level, and between you guys as players? She has some major skepticism built up, and everyone could use some re-assurance. (Speaking from my own experience, I had my own incidences of crashing up my own game by mis-applying my early experiences with Forgestuff; I can understand how someone would be wary o fthat.) Reassure the players that they don't have to ready essays or anything like that; it's just advice you're using to help run a better game.

I also feel that some of those questions you're hitting the group with are a bit overbroad - trying to come up with the scope of the campaign and the themes from scratch can be kinda rough, and that's tying into the idea that a well designed game should do this stuff for you, more or less. Maybe the Mage game itself can provide the right starting points for discussion.

Are you guys playing the old or new version of Mage? There's quite severe thematic differences between the two.

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