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Author Topic: [Rifts] GNS my session  (Read 7651 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2006, 01:57:16 PM »

CREATIVE AGENDA, SLICING ALL THE WAY DOWN

Social contract: let's compete with these two teams

Exploration: a wild, violent, three-stage situation, already in motion, in which the teams must almost certainly collide

Techniques: strategize the circumstances of encountering one another, both in terms of time and in terms of weapons-preparation and deployment. Use tactics within the confrontations (both leading up to and including the final one) to get maximum effect out of every action.

Ephemera: make sure people who can't handle it know that no one else will change to suit them, utilize in-game time choices and conditions as a highly consequential factor, demonstrate fair "return" for investment in strategy and tactics, demonstrate ruthless consequences, take care and effort to utilize the system speedily and accurately, use one form of loss (losing a character) as a chance to turn up the adversity,  ... and others along these lines

Here's a key point I can see that "cuts" straight down or in through the model, from outermost elements of the Social Contract all the way into individual Ephemera within Techniqes. It is: "loss" conditions apply which matter greatly. It's not just about which team beats the other, or what happens to Mr. Bingles. Those are fun imaginative circumstances within which the real-world loss ("I lost!") occurs. The real-world loss condition comes about when someone fails to spot an advantage and capitalize upon it - basically, screwing up strategy in terms of planning or deploying, or screwing up tactics in terms of moment-to-moment reactions. You as GM provide multiple opportunities for such loss to occur, and when someone screws up in this way, the in-game consequences are both fair and dire.

It's exactly the same as when a soccer term deploys across a field, at a particular time in the game and in the context of the current score. One can talk about a personal "loss" in the sense of missing a crucial opportunity to pass, or mistakenly jumping right instead of left to block the ball because the guy faked you out. One can also talk about loss in terms of the other term scoring a point. And at the largest scale, one can talk about loss in terms of the game, overall. My point? These phenomena are real, and they are fun.

When they're present in role-playing, it's uniquely fun in many ways because of the imaginative, shared platform (arena) in which it's happening. This is Gamist role-playing. You have to put your committed effort into gaining and capitalizing on advantages, which demonstrates your intellectual and social abilities, in conditions in which you might explicitly lose. By succeeding, you gain social status, the appreciation of others, about your skill regarding strategy and tactics. You can't fake it. No one will take care of you. You must, in English, "step on up."

When you say "adventure gaming," it translates swiftly and painlessly into my jargon as strong Gamist play, underpinned by strong Exploration (all five components but especially the way characters are socked into situation, and the way system is adjusted for equality and opportunity), with a good strong dose of team-oriented competition. Easy. Fun. The GM's role is twofold: to keep that Exploration-platform as bright and strong as possible (especially System), and to get the action of the competition (with all kinds of minor tactical pressures) under way. The player's role is to deal with that adversity whole-heartedly from the smallest tactics to the largest strategy, knowing that the more he succeeds, the more adversity is established against the other side. The reward system is entirely focused on putting fast, powerful, aggressive effort into both strategy and tactics. Whoever "loses" (at all those levels I mentioned) is expected to be a good sport and to revel in the conflict as much as the current winner.

You apparently have a bug up your ass based on some perception that this form of play is considered bad or wrong or dumb, by me specifically. I've never said any such thing, quite the opposite, in fact. I recommend you remove that bug, because you're the one who stuffed it there.

"Hi, I'm Andreas. I enjoy a particular sort of role-playing. It's accounted for and described very well by Ron Edwards' Big Model, starting with the Gamist Creative Agenda. I like to call it 'adventure gaming' because I'm talking about more than just Agenda - I'm also identifying some specific applications of Techniques to serve the specific sort of Gamist agenda I like. That set of Techniques is not only historically important but also fun in the here and now. I think it doesn't get enough respect or attention in the discussions at the Forge."

How hard was that?

Best, Ron
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Settembrini
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Posts: 31


« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2006, 11:55:06 PM »

Thank you for your time in explaining it to me in terms I understand. In fact, you convinced me, that adventure gaming indeed is "high exploration gamism" according to the terms of the Big Model.

comments:

I like the platform analogy, as it easily points out my biggest problem with many thematic games: Exploration is reduced to the barest minimum, the platform is a very shaky and breakable one, oftentimes built from the haphazard collection of items people happen to bring in their bags when arriving at play, so to say.

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Andreas, I have one question: was anything I said here unfamiliar to you? Or is this all review?

I was unfamiliar with the role of exploration as foundation for play in the model, apart from that I like to think I knew this.

SOCIAL CONTRACT: All spot on, surprisingly I really thought about it during prep-time just along those lines. Only gripe: there is next to no negotiation involved, and not every player might know what he is "subscribing" to, either because of lack of communication, the nature of a con or their intellectual capacity.

EXPLORATION: Okay, I understand your terms, but I do not feel like they really capture what I get out of Exploration. And the language use is counter-intuitive for me.
[Situation = (Ressources + Rest of the World) * Acting Parties ]  would be my use of the word.

SYSTEM: Again, I now understand what it means in BGM context. But what about all the thing sthat only happen in the GMs head, like NPC-Groups acting on their own timetables, wars in neighboring countries etc? Are they included?

First Groups session:

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One strong and obvious technique was handing control of the adversarial NPC over to the player whose juicer PC was killed. I see this as a bit of the reward system in action, potentially, and was sort of disappointed not to see the same thing occur in later play.

No possibility. There was no one around. Still, every player had two characters in the endfight, thereby hanging on a bit longer.

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For example, how can a non-consent from the player be an example of player decision-making?

The rest of the group had the "important decision" moment: They chose to abandon the `Borg, not knowing of the reinforcements. They chose to let him die.

Showdown:

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By the way, who played the Lt character in the final session? I gathered that the character did "return from leave" to participate in the third session. Did anyone comment on the different (i.e. functional) approach that I assume the new-to-Lt player took, either overtly on in the in-game sense of "gee, the Lt. must be back on his meds" or whatever?

Don't remember who played him as second character. But in fact, jokes like these were made.

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The statement that he couldn't play because his PC was dead is totally inconsistent with any of that; it makes no sense. I'm interested because the team-competition context for play, which to my thinking means he could have kept playing, apparently did not override the single-player-single-character model in this guy's head.

He came with a lot of Rifts books himself to the table, and if I recall correctly, he played a different game at the night slot. When he was fetching some food, he came along the table and wanted to be informed about the goings. There was a little regret in his face, for not participating, and that`s when he again said: "Anyway my character's dead, I'm out.". Don't know, maybe he didn`t like it enough to forego the chance to play something else, or what other motivations he had. What I can say is that he totally revelled in paging through is own Rifts books while playing the Slaver Barge.

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so which characters actually went into the third session, played by players? Did any of them become NPCs? Did any player take over more than one character?

Lazlo:
City Rat, 'Borg and Line Walker players present, each playing one other character in addition to their own.

Chi-Town:
SAMAS, PSI-Stalker, Tech Sgt. players present, each playing one other character in addition to their own.

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Do I understand correctly that you, when preparing for play, did not anticipate what a fight-stopper it was?

No, I totally knew about the "glue" spell (Carpet of Adhesion). I just didn't think of combining it with the Burster`s flamewall ability. CoA is powerful, that`s why I put it on the spell list. But you have to use your smarts, it's not a fire and forget weopon like fireball.

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well, at this point, PCs are totally expendable and winning is winning
I don't had the impression everyone was following that logic. The city rat player surely thought the way you mentioned. The flight Officer didn't, he could have tried to kill the 'Borg, but decided to save his butt, by swimming away, to fight another day. HE was really into the character by that time. He was one of the player asking me if I could GM Rifts at private sessions with him and his friends afterwards, so he was totally in the campaign play mode by this time I assume.

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did the soldier, dog-boy, TS, and psi-stalker all die from glue + flame?).
Yes. Painfully and slowly.

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I'm interested to know how the players at that time (six of them) reacted to that specific decision, right there in the heat of the moment.

If I recall correctly, only one player from Lazlo objected this move, was a bit shocked. The Chi-Town group was mumbling and grumbling, as they had hoped for a mission win till this moment.

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1. Whether you reminded them of both in-game time limits and out-of-game (real world) time limits

Constantly. I have a habit of being very time-conscious at convention GMing. It's a matter of professionalism and courtesy for everyone involved. Elsewise the slot system and scheduled events during breaks are for naught.

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2. How people showed their appreciation of one another's good decisions and tactics, and conversely, how they used body language or comments to signal to one another that certain approaches to play were not going to be appreciated (especially early, especially in the Chi-Town group)

good: The usual. Shouts of  "Yess!" here or a "woot!" there, a nod, stuff like this. Also meta-talk, as several old-time rifters were present, they could put the dangers in perspective.

bad [Chi-Town]: back talk. conspiring to overthrow the Lt., head shaking. whispering.
bad [Lazlo]: open criticism "Why do you wanna do this?" "Oh no, you are getting us into trouble!"

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3. Something you mentioned - when and how people chose to forego an action; I agree that's incredibly important in a tactical game like this one

When you are shot at, you can use one of your future actions to dodge. You can even borrow actions from future rounds, thusly supression fire is simulated. Example: The coalition soldiers kept firing at the Ley Line Wizard for some time, he had to dodge every shot, and couldnŽt act for two rounds.

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4. And just as a minor but at least illustrative example, your use of bookmarks in the rules - it's minor, yes, but it's not trivial

I have my GMs Companion bookmarked thoruoghly and it`s value increases dramatically. During play, I impromptu bookmarked important pages, like the burster flame rules. Play generally was very smooth. The Ley Line Walker instantly bookmarked his spell descriptions at game start in his Book he brought along.

Creative Agenda:

All well, all understood.

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You apparently have a bug up your ass based on some perception that this form of play is considered bad or wrong or dumb, by me specifically.

That`s fortunately incorrect. I don't think or say you ever said something bad about Gamism. But: Gamism is often portrayed as Player vs. Player competition, which is, as everyone can read here, not true.

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"Hi, I'm Andreas. I enjoy a particular sort of role-playing. It's accounted for and described very well by Ron Edwards' Big Model, starting with the Gamist Creative Agenda. I like to call it 'adventure gaming' because I'm talking about more than just Agenda - I'm also identifying some specific applications of Techniques to serve the specific sort of Gamist agenda I like. That set of Techniques is not only historically important but also fun in the here and now. I think it doesn't get enough respect or attention in the discussions at the Forge."

Very good. That`s a statement I can relate to.

Now we are into Andreas R. Bumquist take on the gaming hobby. Ignore or discuss at your own discretion

Now, that I understand a bit more about the Big Model, let me tell you why I think GNS and the Big model are right now damaging the internet discourse in some ways.

Because Creative Agendas are mistaken for being preferences. For example, I might qualify as a Gamist GM most of the time, but my preferences are a specific mixture of Exploration, System, Techniques and Competition with a very strong history and specific modes of presentation.

Thusly, whereas in an abstracted way, preferences can be talked about, reality is very complex. As is Adventure Gaming, which is a organic grown bundle of Exploration, System, Techniques etc.

But people are running around the internet, talking about GNS, as if there would only be three flavours of ice cream, whereas really there is soft ice, yoghurt and slurpees etc. all with their own range af flavours. Breaking that metaphor, the role of Exploration also seems to be not communicated very well.

So, as a gaming hobby scholar, and a scholar of the practical and actual existing lines of tradition, I am convinced that "Adventure Gaming" lumps together, what is organically, by virtue of play organization, by mode of presentation, array of techniques etc. alike.

So, in my opinion GNS, BGM are abstracted game desing concepts, that help abstracted debates in order to design RPGs.
They are not categories for explaining lines of tradition in the hobby, nor are they a good way to act as a placeholder for personal preferences.
At the moment, they mainly happen to help to design Thematic Games [low exploration character motivation centered games with a bundle of techniques created and disseminated by the Forge]







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alexandro
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Posts: 6


« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2006, 03:24:12 PM »

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I like the platform analogy, as it easily points out my biggest problem with many thematic games: Exploration is reduced to the barest minimum, the platform is a very shaky and breakable one, oftentimes built from the haphazard collection of items people happen to bring in their bags when arriving at play, so to say.

Well, I could stoop to the same level and say in the playing style described by you the platform is constructed needlessly complicated, full of beams, and posts that serve no obvious purpose.

But ultimately both viewpoints are false.

It is a matter of perspective

In reality in games using exploration techniques (not strictly 'adventure gaming' , but any game where the GM desigs a complex world with reasonable, understandable rules, which the players have to learn to make sound tactical decisions) the players see only a very small portion of the construct the GM created. With a good and flexible GM it is sometimes (from a players perspective) not possible to deduce, whether the GM prepared a certain encounter or if he improvised it. But it often makes no difference. A prepared event might seem just as forced and illogical, as a improvised event might seem well thought out, to the players.
If the GM improvised he was certainly "unfair", because he has no checks to limit this freewheeling, but what matters is that he provided a interesting challenge that (ideally) didn't violate the plausibility of the game world.
It is important what the players see of the game world, through the description of the GM.

In games using metagame techniques (in which the players describe part of the gameworld- which isn't the case in all thematic games BTW) the rules of the gameworld are decided by the players, but they must still be plausible by group consensus. The narrative cannot contradict facts previsously established about the setting.
There is also some room for tactical decisions: in one Inspectres session I noticed the group was very combat oriented, but the GM kept throwing stuff like puzzles and social challenges at us, which we sucked at. When I  next one narration I used it to create a enemy base on the horizon, then used a spotlight describe a future event, where we would get into a big fight with our enemies. Why was I doing so, giving us a disadvantage? Simple. Because it allowed the characters to roll their good skill (I think its called Athletics) and score phenomenal results, taking away franchise dice from the GM and getting us closer to a good end of the adventure.
The difference to the other technique might seem, that everything about the game world may be used as a tool for the players to further the story and help their characters, where in the exploration one the GM might insert things into his description that have no purpose (red herrings) and aren't usefull to "solve" the story. But in the metagame technique the players are just required not to violate the description of the others, but they aren't required to use them. So there can be as many red herrings.
It is important, what the players see of the game world, through the descriptions of the group.


So what matters is the perception: the platform is the same- only in one case one person (the GM) is describing it and in the other more than one person (the group) is describing it. In either case there is only a small part, a cut-out, to be seen.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2006, 06:22:38 PM »

Hello,

Andreas, thanks for an excellent play-account and a great interaction. This was fun. Thanks for your answers to my questions, and I was sort of bummed that the Dog Boy player didn't continue ... he was my favorite character from the first two sessions.

I'd like to emphasize again that the "platform" concept was introduced by me in 2001, in the essay "GNS and other matters of role-playing theory," as a result of two years of intense debate with some very thoughtful people. When discussing any of my ideas with others, especially those who have not committed their time to the efforts here at the Forge, it's one of the first concepts I check, in their understanding.

The three following essays, "Simulationism: The Right to Dream," "Gamism: Step On Up," and "Narrativism: Story Now," are all written as modifications of that basic concept. As with the first essay, the audience is defined as the people who've engaged in the debates and community here, not anyone else. None of my essays were written as general publications for anyone who happens by or who happens to follow a link.

With that said, I invite you, very enthusiastically, to check out the essay "Gamism: Step On Up." I think you'll find a lot more appreciation there for all kinds of Gamist applications for role-playing. In general, you will find that Gamist play and design are valued at the Forge, and not as a nasty little stepchild, either - as a form of role-playing that deserves further attention, development, and respect. The institutionalized contempt at this site for some forms of play is directed entirely elsewhere.

I'll be interested to see what you make of my notion in that essay that Narrativist and Gamist play (and design) are extremely similar in terms of how actual play functions and operates.

There is an interesting bit in that essay as well, concerning "the bitterest gamer in the world." I suggest that what you've described does not fit that description ... because you do not practice the denial that characterizes it.

I apologize for not following up immediately on your question concerning GMing. That's a pretty big question, and is actually central to another, rather demanding thread that I'm involved in at the moment. I ask that we return to it another time.

Best, Ron
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Settembrini
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Posts: 31


« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2006, 12:10:23 AM »

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So what matters is the perception: the platform is the same- only in one case one person (the GM) is describing it and in the other more than one person (the group) is describing it. In either case there is only a small part, a cut-out, to be seen.

That`s a nice differentiation. But has nothing to do why I personally don`t care for most thematic games, i.g. where I think they are very shallow on the Exploration side for my tastes. If you wanna know more about that, I suppose we move to another venue, either my Forum, if you are the same alexandro as over there, or to theRPGsite.

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I'll be interested to see what you make of my notion in that essay that Narrativist and Gamist play (and design) are extremely similar in terms of how actual play functions and operates.

At least both seem to seek out conflict and resolve it, in some thought out manner. Whereas many games...well avoid conflict and put a nice comforting bubble around everyone at the table.

For the rest: Thanks for clearing up a lot of stuff!

WeŽll meet again, I`m sure.

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