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Author Topic: Narrativist GMs: How do you have fun?  (Read 10455 times)
Fabrice G.
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Posts: 206


« Reply #45 on: June 10, 2002, 11:53:43 PM »

Hi Jeff,

most of your posts seem based on the assertion that:

1) - "if I (as a GM) don't have (complete ?) control over what I'm creating, then it's not fun for me"

2) - "if the players create things and then leave the control over it to me, then all I'm doing is manage things (menial work ?). It's a lot of work and it's not fun"

Am I reading you right ?
If I'm not reding you right could you clarify what I read wrong.

If I am, then I guess the situation is close to an "agree to disagree". Because I understand your points, but I'm not sharing them at all. My fun is very close to what Jesse reported.

1)- if I as a GM have complete control, I'm bored (it's not fun). I have to give players control to have fun. Does it imply that I have to change some ways of presenting plot elements, resolving conflicts,...Yes, and that's part of what make it fun for me. I don't want to know what will happen. I come witha situation (that the platers helped created) and enjoy seeing how the players get through.

2)-it's not more work as I don't created as many things up beforehand and without the players imput as before. So there's still work, but at a different time and under different conditions. And that change in time and conditions is what make it fun for me.

I think that's two very different way to play (and to prepare things), and that no way is better or more valid than the other. My initial problem with your fists posts was your lack of refusal of the possibility that other way to be fun.

Now that this refusal is gone, all I can say is different way to play (to have fun) for different people.


Bwt,

Greyorn wrote :
Quote
detail a situation -- written as though during play -- where such is occuring, so I might see it in action.


I think you should do that, it will make thing that much clear.


Fabrice.
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Jaif
Member

Posts: 327


« Reply #46 on: June 11, 2002, 04:32:26 AM »

Gentlemen,

At the risk of being rude I feel that many of the last posts are rehashing items that have already been beaten up and/or explained thoroughly earlier in this thread.  I have accepted some new definitions, recognized one or two areas where my initial statement was flawed, and I think we've reached a "I get it, but it's not my style" position.

Christopher,

Work is work, whether it's in the middle of play or not.  Furthermore, there's only so much play time available, only so many story events that can be processed effectively in that time, and only so many story elements that can easily be added.  If the players are continually outlining story events and adding elements, then at a certain point I cease to have the practical ability to introduce my own events and elements, or at least major ones.  If my goal as a GM is to toss events & elements at characters and see how they respond, then I'm not meeting my goals.  Can there be a middle ground where both player and GM-made major events & elements can exist? I recognize the logical existance of one, but am dubious about it in practice.  I think the scale would slide very quickly to one end or another.

As to my ultimate question, I do see how a GM can have fun in such a situation; it's not a focus on elements & events, it's a focus on a thematic question.

Btw, I do want to state my dissapointment at one item; Ron & Jesse were the only 2 GMs to stand up and answer my specific question directly.  I'm not saying that the other posts are insignificant, not by a long shot, but it would have meant a lot to me (and I suspect the casual reader of this thread, if there is such a beast) to see GM after GM stand up and assert "I hand over significant amounts of directoral power in a long-term, ongoing campaign, and I have fun."

It does leave me dubious that such a practice is really a practical one.  It seems exceptional, to me.

-Jeff

P.S. If I missed a GM who posted, I do apologize.  It's tough responding to a few pages of items.
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joshua neff
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« Reply #47 on: June 11, 2002, 05:37:04 AM »

Quote
it would have meant a lot to me (and I suspect the casual reader of this thread, if there is such a beast) to see GM after GM stand up and assert "I hand over significant amounts of directoral power in a long-term, ongoing campaign, and I have fun."


Sorry, I was on vacation & away from computers. Just got back. So...

*raises hand* I hand over significant amounts of directorial power in both long-term & short-term games, & I have fun. In fact, as L'il Nicky said, if I don't do that, I don't have fun. As GM, I get bored & frustrated being "the guy who provides the world & the story". I'm getting better & better at scene-framing, & as I have gotten better, so have my Players.

I have, I think, an anecdote in a thread around here somewhere (the thread about my Sorcerer game, "Hellfire"?), but I can't remember where it is & don't feel like digging around, so I'll repeat it here. We were playing a session of Sorcerer. It was getting towards the end of that session, time to wrap things up. I asked, "Who wants the last scene?" Gregg said he did, & Colin said, "Oh, but I want the next to last!". He jumped up, ran out of the room, & came back with a CD, which he wouldn't show anyone. He put it in the CD player (the game was sort of meant to be like a TV show, so music was very important). Colin said, "We cut to a shot of the hall outside of Lupe's [his character] dorm room. The music begins." He pushed play & James Brown's "Sex Machine" began playing. "Lupe comes strutting down the hall in a towel, doing a booty dance. She goes into her room & we see her walk into the closet. Her clothes come flying out. Finally, she emerges, dressed in a nice, black dress." Chris suddenly interjected, "There's a knock at the door." Colin: "Lupe opens the door." Chris: "Ernie [his character] is standing there, in his usual Polo & slacks, but dressed nicer. The shirt's tucked in. His hair is combed. He asks Lupe, 'Are you ready?" Colin: "'The question is, are YOU ready?' Lupe grabs his collar & drags him out."

That scene was significant in a lot of in-game ways, mostly because of the characters & their personalities & issues. But it was significant to me because my Players were really starting to get comfortable taking the reigns. And what isn't shown by that scene was all the scene-framing & leading I was doing throughout most of the session, presenting the PCs with conflicts & complications to deal with. As Ron noted, while it may sound as if we're being the Players' bitch, we're really guiding everything, keeping the game running smoothly, & giving the Players lots of juicy conflicts to deal with. What I don't give them is solutions--they deal with the conflicts as they see fit, I don't have any pre-thought-out answers. It can all go any way it does, & I'm ready for the story to go in directions I hadn't planned out.

Now, maybe we've reached a point were this is a case of "fun for you, not fun for me". Which is fine. But this is what does it for me. I don't GM to be "the storyteller" or "the person in charge of the world". I do it to facilitate everyone, me & the other Players, creating a good story & having a good time. But one of the most satisfying parts of that is sitting back & letting the Players take the rudder. It puts a big ol' grin on my face. (And on the not-so-flip-side of that, as a Player, if I don't feel I can take the rudder from time to time I get incredibly frustrated & bored.)

I hope that answers your question.
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #48 on: June 11, 2002, 06:02:54 AM »

Quote from: Jaif
It does leave me dubious that such a practice is really a practical one.  It seems exceptional, to me.


It is exceptional. As such sharing of power is very new, few people have had time to play a lot with it. I for instance, not wanting to be disingenouos, cannot say that I've played a long-term game using such power (I am actually just starting one, but it's still in its infancy, yet). I have, however, used such sharing so much in the short term, that I feel that I can say with certaintly that I could keep it up indefinitely if I liked. That being based on the fact that I do less preparation in my sharing games than in my non-sharing games. I know you find this hard to visulaize, but it's true. Ron has stated that prep work is actually about equal for both modes, just different. This will vary by individual, but I can attest that sharing games can be run with very little prep if one wants to.

A larger amount of evidence can be found amongst the Freeformers, however, who share power like mad. Often there is no GM at all. But when there is, often his "duties" are light, like acting as a mediator in the case of player conflict. Some of those games have been going on for more than ten years, so they certainly qualify as long-term, I'd suggest.

Another misconception that you seem to have with such games is that the players will just run amok creating things willy-nilly which will keep the GM on his heels trying to keep up. Well, if you had a player that did that, then, yes, this would be a problem. But I've never seen it happen. Players with such abilities create only as much as is neccessary to move the story forward, and no more. Why would they want to litter their own stories with garbage? In practice, such powers are limited in some way by the game, just as a GMs powers are limited.

The propensity for players to behave irresponsibly is no more than the propensity of a GM to do the same in any other game. So, the question of bad players is irrelevant to power sharing games, a bad player can ruin any game. Players with such power have a responsibility to the game (just as they do when they are a player in a game which only allows them control of one character), and in general, they play responsibly. And when they do this reduces the workload for the GM, as opposed to increasing it. The GM can rely on the players to get him out of jams when he is stuck, for example. This point about increased player responsibility may have been overlooked previously in this discussion.

BTW, another problem in understanding the fun in question is in your definition of work. You say that "Work is work" but that's not much of a definition. I'd say that work is something that isn't desirable to do. Otherwise play would be work as well, and then we'd wonder why bother playing at all. Thing is, that I, and others like me do not find the effort that one has to put into such preparations as undesirable activity (I think Gordon made that point?).

Put it another way, I do such activities whether I'm playing or not. I have several complete fantasy worlds prepared just waiting for players, simply because I like to make them in my spare time. It's not work for me, it's more like art or something. I'm talking about both the map making and other simmy stuff, as well as the character preparation and bang stuff for more power sharing games. It's all fun for me. This includes the challenges of adapting to other players input in play. It seems odd to me that you'd want to be a GM if you find the prep work tedious. This difference in opinion may explain some of the differences in what we like as far as RPGs.

Mike
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #49 on: June 11, 2002, 06:21:27 AM »

Hey Jeff,

Responses to two of your points, in reverse order:

Btw, I do want to state my dissapointment at one item; Ron & Jesse were the only 2 GMs to stand up and answer my specific question directly....it would have meant a lot to me (and I suspect the casual reader of this thread, if there is such a beast) to see GM after GM stand up and assert "I hand over significant amounts of directoral power in a long-term, ongoing campaign, and I have fun."

I'm not sure you can reach the conclusion that GM's who hand over directorial power to their players in long-term play don't have fun from the data you've collected. Ron and Jesse are the only Forge regulars who've done it. From what you know, why not draw the conclusion that every GM who's done it has been more than satisfied with the results? My current group doesn't do campaigns. We rotate GMing of closed-ended scenarios that last four or five sessions. The longest was a http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=69">Theatrix game that resolved its plot in eight sessions. But if we were to do something longer, I wouldn't have any hesitation about the players having directorial power. And in fact, now that we've gotten used to it, I think there's a good chance a game would be very unsatisfying for both players and GM without it.

If the players are continually outlining story events and adding elements, then at a certain point I cease to have the practical ability to introduce my own events and elements, or at least major ones. If my goal as a GM is to toss events & elements at characters and see how they respond, then I'm not meeting my goals. Can there be a middle ground where both player and GM-made major events & elements can exist? I recognize the logical existance of one, but am dubious about it in practice.

It doesn't really play out like that. Substantive directorial power, whether wielded by the player or the GM, is about the protagonism of the player characters. And players quickly recognize the limits of their ability to use directorial power on behalf of their own character's protagonism. My thread, http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=10940#10940">how we played Chalk Outlines, goes into detail about the play experience where our group had this realization, but in short, a character needs adversity in order to capture the interest of the audience and emerge as a protagonist, and needs to rely heavily on the GM for it. Adversity generated by a player toward their own character just doesn't have the same effect, in practice. As the GM, with a group of players wielding directorial power, expect the players to pay just as much attention to the events and elements you introduce as they always have. If the elements and events you introduce deliver meaningful adversity to the player characters, their story instincts on behalf of the protagonism of their characters will not allow them to ignore your stuff.

Paul
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #50 on: June 11, 2002, 06:38:20 AM »

Hey everyone,

My Moderator antennae are twitching.

Please note: we have hit the fifth page. Also note: Jeff has raised a good issue and received many replies, some of which have spun into separate issues. Also note: we are discussing some things (GMing ability and preferences) that are very hard to separate from our own feelings of self-worth and accomplishment.

I now ask, Jeff, are you reasonably satisfied with this thread, such that you would be happy to close it, mull things over, and raise related issues later? Or would you like it to continue? I ask because it's possible that you may be feeling ganged-up on, which is practically unavoidable considering how many folks have worked hard, some for over a decade, at developing this mode of GMing you're asking about.

Everyone else, please shut up until Jeff answers this question. I think the thread has accomplished its purpose (for which I give Jeff credit, especially for dealing with some arguably confrontational posts), and I'd like to stave off unnecessary hassles about side issues.

Best,
Ron
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Jaif
Member

Posts: 327


« Reply #51 on: June 11, 2002, 12:58:22 PM »

I'm not feeling ganged-up on, and even if I did god knows I asked for it.  I took a polar position at the start of this as a tactic to get commentary, and I think it worked.

I do agree, Ron, that this thread has run it's course.  I am going to take the opportunity to include a few things:

1) Thanks to all for the replies.  I was doing this to learn (what's on the other side of this fence?) and I did.

2) My last comment about "dissapointment" was merely my sly, oh-so-subtle way of encouraging any hesitant people to come out of the woodwork.  I have a suspiscion that there are viewers out there who rarely post, and would be quite happy to hear someone stand up and say "I run things this way, it's fun and here's why."

3) Last, and it's a bit of tangent, I think it's worth it for players out there to try to consider things from the GM's perspective.  I've GMed for a long time, so when I play in a game I'm very respectful of the GM.  As a rule, I believe it's easy for a player to get something out of the game, but harder for the GM, so I look for ways that I can assist.  "Assist" is vague, I know, but it's really situation dependant; you may be talking about an out of game assistance, or an in-game suggestion, or backup dealing with a player, or whatever.

Be kind to the GM, and thanks again for the posts,

-Jeff
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #52 on: June 11, 2002, 01:48:36 PM »

Hi there,

Just in case someone was eyeing someone cute instead of listening, that's it for this thread, folks. G'bye.

Best,
Ron
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