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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 273 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: timing is everything  (Read 12986 times)
joshua neff
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« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2001, 06:45:00 AM »

Another update--

Last night we played our 4th session, & it went even better than the previous sessions, thanks mostly to advice from Ron & Paul. I let the players know that they were responsible for generating a lot of the plot thrust, to not worry about "ruining my plot" (I told them flat out: "There isn't one to ruin"). & it went really well. They players were injecting themselves into scenes with perfect timing, things were moving quickly, conflicts were being generated & dealth with. I'm very happy with how it went. Thanks again to everyone who contributed advice.
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2001, 07:23:00 AM »

Hey Josh,

Tell us more about the system, the game-situation, and the general interaction between mechanics, announcements, and events.

Best,
Ron
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joshua neff
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« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2001, 07:47:00 AM »

The game is Mage (yeah, Ron, I know, I know), but with slightly altered mechanics (not altered enough for my tastes, I've come to realize). I'm using only the basic "stat+skill vs. difficulty #", dropping lots of modifiers & ignoring "combat rounds" (make a general declaration, roll, & the number of success--vs. the defenders successes--determines exactly what happened), but cut-&-pasting the "add dice for tactics & roleplaying" of Sorcerer. (Also, I've jettisoned most of the official setting, using my own, which is a collage of the usual World o' Darkness, Doom Patrol, The Invisibles, Planetary, Neverwhere, & Doctor Who, with little bits from Ken Hite's Supressed Transmission dropped in.)
The general idea was to make the mechanics run smoother than White Wolf would usually, but since my group tends to be fairly low on fight scenes (I keep giving them the opportunity for them if they want them, but they keep being sensible, negotiating & bargaining rather than fighting) & focuses more on discussion, there hasn't been loads of dicerolling anyway, so I can't say the game is running any differently than it normally would.
The biggest difference has been my attempts at using Narrativist techniques in running the game. I've told the players they have lots of Authorial & Directorial power, which isn't really reflected in the mechanics (which is why I feel I didn't change them enough--or just throw them out & run something else), but I have given them the ability (or relinquished my control) to inject themselves in a scene when they want to, & encouraged them to vocalize where they want their characters to go, in a larger sense than just the typical RPG "one step at a time" (in the latest session, one of the players told me, halfway through a scene, "Okay, this is how I want the scene to go"--we still played it out, but knowing what he was trying to do helped me to run the scene). This has been a great training ground for my own scene framing & pacing. So, while I'm still not happy with the mechanics & am even more sure that the next game I run will be "hardcore Narrativist", I'm happy with the change in play of my group (& my own growth as a GM, as facilitator).



[ This Message was edited by: joshua neff on 2001-07-16 11:49 ]
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2001, 10:42:00 AM »

As a side note, I'm not happy with WoD mechanics either. I run my Mage game with a very "Interactive Toolkit" approach, fast and loose, with die bonuses to players for creative description and tactics. I'm also letting players have directorial input for scene setting and NPC creation. Some very interesting things happen on the fly here.

I'd like to shift to a far more rules-streamlined system, such as the Exalted Quick Start mechanics, which I like much better than the full-on WW system. Unfortunately, my players like the granularity of the current system and don't want to convert midstream.

Best,

Blake

[ This Message was edited by: Blake Hutchins on 2001-07-17 12:42 ]
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joshua neff
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« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2001, 12:36:00 PM »

Blake--

That's exactly how I've been running it. Kubasik's "Interactive Toolkit" essays & the subsequent White Wolf interpretation of them (which I think is in the Mage 2nd ed Storyteller Screen book) was my big inspiration for what I'm doing mechanics-wise. But I think I'd be happier with something "harder"--Hero Wars, Story Engine, Dying Earth, or *gasp* Sorcerer ("The hardcover edition will be available when?" he asked naggingly).
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
kwill
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« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2001, 01:38:00 PM »

vot iz this "Interactiff Toolkit" ov vich you spik?

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d@vid
joshua neff
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« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2001, 03:25:00 PM »

Here's the link:

www.rpg.net:443/oracle/essays/gamesatplay.html

I quite like the essays. Sort of a starting point for Narrativism (but definitely not the final word).
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #22 on: July 17, 2001, 05:52:00 AM »

Brilliant material, but of course you folks knew I'd say that.

I disagree with Kubasik in regard to "rules," although if we amend that to "rules as we commonly see them, or grew up with them," then I'm fine with his points.

I also think that Vampire and White Wolf in general went horribly askew from the priorities as he describes them to the old-style priorities. Their adventure scenarios, for instance, conform perfectly to his "lead by the nose" category, not to the "stories produced through character action" category.

The reason for this lies in system design, in my opinion, so attention to "rules" is important after all. Now we have Hero Wars, Orkworld, and The Dying Earth to point too, not just Everway, Over the Edge, and Castle Falkenstein (which I consider to be heroic pioneers with highly identifiable design flaws for their stated purposes).

But that's the only matter in which I differ with any points he raises. It's a great set of essays. We ought to put a direct link to this stuff onto the Forge.

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
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« Reply #23 on: July 17, 2001, 10:25:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-07-17 09:52, Ron Edwards wrote:

I disagree with Kubasik in regard to "rules," although if we amend that to "rules as we commonly see them, or grew up with them," then I'm fine with his points.



I'm sorry, did you just say Kubasik? -- as in Christopher Kubasik?  A man by that name, who I met through RPG.net, just agreed to join my weekly gaming group.  His less than enthusiastic nature regarding the fact that we're in the middle of a (finite) D&D game would seem consistent with the sentiments expressed in those articles.  If it is indeed the SAME Christopher Kubasik, I suddenly feel like someone who just discovered they've accidentally invited Emmylou Harris out to a Britney Spears Concert!

Jesse
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joshua neff
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« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2001, 01:15:00 PM »

I'm back with yet another pacing question.

My games tend to be pretty information-rich. There's a lot of stuff for the PCs to learn, & since they rarely learn it all at the same time, there's a lot of PC to PC information transmission.
Now, these all tend to be played in scenes--one PC runs into 3 other PCs, & they start exchanging information. The thing is, the players generally know the info (unless someone was in the bathroom during a scene), but their characters don't.
I recently suggested to my players that we tighten up the pacing by eliminating a lot of that. Rather than having lots of repeated information that everybody (as both author & audience) already knows, we simply cut to another scene & assume the characters now know the info.
But some of the guys in my group are worried that 1) not every character shares every bit of information, so assuming that Character A now knows what Character B knows is problematic (I suggested Player A write a note to Player B listing exactly what information is being shared), & 2) the group will lose some great roleplaying scenes.

Ron, Paul, Logan, any other narrativists--any suggestions?


[ This Message was edited by: joshua neff on 2001-07-27 17:17 ]
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Uncle Dark
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« Reply #25 on: July 27, 2001, 09:34:00 PM »

Josh,

I've found that, in play, I tend to say things like, "I core dump (i.e., my PC brings your PC up to speed on stuff I know you oberved me play through), except that I don/t tell anyone about the glowing necklace," or something like that.  Evereyone then proceeds as if the PCs were not told about the excluded item.

In other words, it's not much of a problem unless your players are heavily into immersive play.

Lon
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joshua neff
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« Reply #26 on: July 28, 2001, 04:58:00 AM »

Lon--

That's sort of what I assumed would work (& if I were a player with a narrativist GM, that's what I would do).
I can't tell if my players are really immersive, or if they think they should be immersive. One of my players loves switching into directorial stance--often, when he's in a scene, he'll set the scene instead of me, speaking as if he's describing a movie ("The camera swoops in on a shot of Poe sitting at an outdoor cafe..."), & in a recent session, he voiced how he wanted a scene he was in to play out, & then proceeded to roleplay it--well, it was a cool moment. Another player is the one who seems most "on board" for what I want to do narrativistly. But we're all products of our RPG history, & immersive play, side by side with "ignore the rules in favor of story", became the banner of "serious ROLEplaying" (as opposed to "those awful dungeon crawls"). I think I just need to assure them that they won't lose any roleplaying or character development by losing PC to PC information scenes (which, if it were a movie or TV show, would be those annoyingly insulting scenes of "the audience can't possibly keep up with the plot, so let's have a quick recap").
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #27 on: July 28, 2001, 03:56:00 PM »

Josh,

You wrote,
"I think I just need to assure them that they won't lose any roleplaying or character development by losing PC to PC information scenes (which, if it were a movie or TV show, would be those annoyingly insulting scenes of "the audience can't possibly keep up with the plot, so let's have a quick recap")."

I think you should use those exact words. The idea is to develop story - and if stories are diminished by such scenes, then performing these scenes is self-defeating.

There are exceptions - when the reactions of PCs during the revelation of information are themselves significant. That's probably what your players are fearful of losing. Tell them that you'll bow to their judgment and play out the scene if they really, really think it's important in that regard. Otherwise, you can all say "data dump!" or perhaps "data dump without mentioning Ted's body!" and move on.

I strongly suggest not arguing about which option to take during play itself, but let the players decide. Talk about it later, some time after the session, and see if anyone really grieved about the "lost scenes" when they occurred.

Worst-case scenario would be if they always insist on doing it the old way. If so, after the game, say so - "Listen, I went and let you decide, and I think you didn't use much judgment about it. Let me have, say, two 'Cut' privileges next time." See if they'll hear your point.

Best,
Ron
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james_west
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« Reply #28 on: July 30, 2001, 07:30:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-07-28 19:56, Ron Edwards wrote:
Let me have, say, two 'Cut' privileges next time." See if they'll hear your point.


For interest's sake, I gave each of the players in my last session a coupon that they could use for this (to skip a scene that they thought was pointless). Two of them used them, and in appropriate places.

            - James
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contracycle
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« Reply #29 on: August 01, 2001, 10:37:00 AM »

Hi all,

First, PC-PC conversations.

One of my favourit game experiences occurred when one character (Malkavian, natch) described their experiences in wholly malformed - but nonetheless convincing - terms.  This was not deliberate on their part to the best of my knowledge, and we all knew at a player level that it was rubbish, but we played the characters through on their PC-based information.  It was cool.  But I think it also highlights the fact that we were conscious of doing so "at another level".

In another game, we did the "core dump" stuff but found, in the end, that so much information had been lost - people assumed others knew X - that we had gone completely off course.  We adopted the desperate technique of not describing our historical experineces to newly introduced characters so as not to prejudice their decisions - we were incapable of disentangling the mish-mash of assumed knowledge, and resolved to start from scratch.  This eventually killed the game, which was a great pity.

On the whole, I favour explicit PC-PC conversations partly becuase of the repetition, and partly because of the explicit exposition.  It means the GM gets to keep an eye (well, ear) on what the players know, and what they think they know, and what they should know but have forgotten.

Cinematic devices: love 'em, can't get enough of 'em.  Every session starts with a helicopter shot and a trick I shamelessly stole from my old GM Chris Gilroy.  This is to have each player do an "intro scene" for their character, pretty much anything they like, which reinforces the characters look, identity, background, that sort of stuff.  The idea was taken from the way TV series do a little charater/actor ID clip - so Dynasty, for example, started with a serial collage of the major players, showing (one could argue) the "default identity" of that character.  It's just a few seconds, someone getting out of a car, or openeing a windfows, anything really.  In RPG, we used this especially to illustrate clothing and how characters look, which is often forogtten by other players, leading to a conceptual mismatch.  This also prompts players to change their characters clothes more often :smile:  Players were also free to do character exposition from their own background - especially for the Man With No Name types, this allows them to communicate information player-to-player rather than character-to-character and thus provide some context on their behaviour which might otherwise be missing.  Not everyone can come up with a new scene every time, and we would just move on, but I think its a great technique both for bringing player-originated information into the shared game space, for reinforcing a shared vision, and for "getting into" the game world and bring up the SOD.
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