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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 66 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [D&D 3.5] Gamist Non-Affirmation  (Read 8964 times)
Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2007, 08:52:41 PM »

But really when someone shifts the mechanics, without any note of a care or concern, it shows they don't give a crap about your step on up. They're screwing with your step on up, but it doesn't register to them that that matters in any way.
Yeah. YEAH. That's exactly what it feels like. I find the GM inscrutable and often seemingly apathetic, and completely out of touch with what I (and I had assumed, many of my fellows) are trying to do. Like having an NPC jump in and save our asses from some dungeon monster when we're barely getting warmed up. Or sending us to places where there's frikkin nothing happening. And then, of course, screwing with us when we do have a cool challenge going on. Oy.

Peace,
-Joel
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2007, 09:47:01 PM »

OK, now I've got time to answer the rest of the recent posts:

Hi, Gareth!
The plethora of special powers and funky tactics acts against real tactical play.  Real tactics are called into being when people do NOT have a special attack that suits the situation, and instead have to manipulate the situation itself to their advantage.
I can see where you're coming from here. I'm not sure where to draw the line, though. toned down fantasy elements? No fantasy elements at all? Or is it more about how the system models actions, with too much focus on specific feat- and spell-based options? I can buy that, except that if it's a fantasy game with combat magic you're going to have to account for that magic in some meaningful way; it really is going to be a "special attack that suits the situation" or else it's going to gyp the magic-using player something fierce.

Peace,
-Joel
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2007, 09:49:58 PM »

Oops,forgot this part of the above post:

Try playing a simpler game, a game in which the playing field is more level, in which the opponents are more comprehensible.  Under those circumstances actual tactical play will be both more important and more rewarding.
Any reccommendations? I've played Beast Hunters and loved it. What other streamlined, gamist-facilitating games are out there?
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2007, 09:51:48 PM »

You know what games do the D&D-esque carefully orchestrated special-power-combo stuff really well?  MMORPGs.
That's pretty much ALL they are.  Makes accessibility pretty low...I can't hang with them at all...but for the devoted those games are all about skillful manipulation of all the resources at hand and exactly how and when to apply DOTs, HOTs, and all manner of other such stuff.  And the rules only "shift" when there's an update and otherwise are quite consistently applied.
That's a good observation, Ralph. I can only say that for me, I've found MMORPG play rather dissatisfying. I think it's the real-time nature of the affair; it tends to be a chaotic mess of graphics and sound that's over in a flash, no time to savor the moment and no chance to transform the application of mechanics into a satisfying and cool action scene. I like turn-based strategy like the various Tactics computer games, but there's not really a multiplayer version of that and I'm not sure how that helps scratch the itch in a face to face setting.

Peace,
-Joel
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2007, 09:52:52 PM »


Hi, Callan,
I think your big problem is expecting gamist play when it looks like the group is after Sim.

[SNIP]

I'd suggest that the GM isnt all that interested or possibly capable of turning it into the real tactical challenge you seem to be looking for.  You also hint that you've been frustrated in your attempts to turn the game towards "story, story, story".   I think you may have to accept that you are the only member of the group in this game that is looking for these things.  You seem to have a stable group that is enjoying the game as it is.  Is this the case or do you see more signs of unhappiness?
First, I'd say you're probably right, inasmuch as the group knows what they want. What individual palyers SAY they want, and what they actually DO, both shift around a bit and it often seems like folk want to have kind of. . .everything, in varying degree.

In this particular campaign (Joe rotates time with myself and another DM in the group), there's some unrest from a minority including me, but most of the group seems to enjoy themselves just fine. In other campaigns, the unrest seems greater.

So how to keep a sim game fun for you?  I find it's all about long term goals.  Developing your character, where they are heading what they hope to obtain.  These are all things that keep sim games going for me with D&D or Gurps or several others.
I'm down with that. Actually, that's a lot of what I look for in a game in general--it keeps Sim interesting, and is a good foundation for Nar play. Problem is, I have tried that in this campaign, and been rebuffed:

Me, after asking for chargen guidance and being told to "make anything": "So I've got a Warmage who was a thrall to the Red Wizards of Thay who razed his village; he's deserted and now wants to gather support to topple the Red Wizards."
Joe: "You're recruited [as are all the PCs] by an organization which tells you you're the chosen ones who must save the Universe from destruction, somehow, someday."
Me: "I tell 'em I'll be happy to help them out if they hellp me topple the Wizards."
Joe, as the organization leader: "We won't be doing that, the universe thing is more important."
Me: "OK, on my downtime I hit the streets to find pockets of support for bringing down the Wizards."
Joe, following a pretty good Gather Information roll: "You find nothing."
Me: "........"

At that early point, I decided, OK, the GM's told me that my personal goals are outsiode the scope of the campaign. So I figured I'd just focus on the combat challenges, only to find that was a bust too. And here I sit.

Thing is, at least one other player is successfully pursuing goals. His Mageslayer PC is a psycho serial killer who stalks and kills spellcasters of all kinds, and would dearly love to off all the casters in the party. He's had something cooking where he goes off on his own and plays with the GM in secret. I've talked to him about it, and whatever it is, he's excited about it and can't wait for it to come to light before the group, but doesn't want it to get out too soon. On a gather info roll, Joe fed me a rumor that I think MIGHT have related to the PC's plan; at least it was the grisly murder in of a spellcaster in town. But when I recruited a couple of PCs to investigate, we spent the whole night making Gather Infor and Search checks (good ones, too!) only tin find that there were no clues to lead back to the perpetrator. I smell a rat.

Nobody else is really pursuing any goals, beyond "hobbies": the Barbarian's an alchemist, and the Ranger is intent on hunting every rare beast he can find. Aside from that,everyone's just goin' along, with one PC hatching plans and being shut down, and one other hatching them and being rewarded.

So yeah, I don't really know where to look for enjoyment in this game.

Peace,
-Joel
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contracycle
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« Reply #20 on: October 31, 2007, 04:04:53 AM »

Any reccommendations? I've played Beast Hunters and loved it. What other streamlined, gamist-facilitating games are out there?

Well, I'm not sure you have to go that far.  Rather, restrict your focus.  IME all the articulation of special powers is kinda paralysing; you think, you tend to think in terms of having X power, or not, and not being able to act effectively if you do not. You don;t necessarily need to switch systems so much as make the use of the system, rather than character definition, important.  A game with your existing rules, but with fewer options may prompt more creative problem solving etc.  Specify a culture or area from which all characters must come; abandon the idea that your game-at-the-table can incorporate any character in the world.  Limit the choices available and I expect you will see more attempts to achieve success by Doing Things, by manipulating the situation, rather than being the solution personified.
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Caldis
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« Reply #21 on: October 31, 2007, 06:22:27 AM »


At that early point, I decided, OK, the GM's told me that my personal goals are outsiode the scope of the campaign. So I figured I'd just focus on the combat challenges, only to find that was a bust too. And here I sit.

Again it looks like CA conflict to me.  You are being stymied when you look for either gamist or narrativist gameplay.  In sim what is important is things that define what the character is or has.  So I'd look for things like gaining spells, building a wizards tower to do research, gaining followers.  Things like that, not goals that define who your characters is but things that define what he has and what he is capable of.  For some people that's rewarding, Valamir mentioned MMO's and I think this is a big reward for most of those games.

Quote
Thing is, at least one other player is successfully pursuing goals. His Mageslayer PC is a psycho serial killer who stalks and kills spellcasters of all kinds, and would dearly love to off all the casters in the party. He's had something cooking where he goes off on his own and plays with the GM in secret. I've talked to him about it, and whatever it is, he's excited about it and can't wait for it to come to light before the group, but doesn't want it to get out too soon. On a gather info roll, Joe fed me a rumor that I think MIGHT have related to the PC's plan; at least it was the grisly murder in of a spellcaster in town. But when I recruited a couple of PCs to investigate, we spent the whole night making Gather Infor and Search checks (good ones, too!) only tin find that there were no clues to lead back to the perpetrator. I smell a rat.

With the limited information you've given here it's hard to say what is going on.  I'd guess it's a little side adventure, much like when your group enters combat it's not a question of how the scenario turns out rather an opportunity to showcase his role as a psycho killer.  Why he allows this side quest and not yours, I cant say for sure, my best guess would be that your idea doesnt fit in with his world view but it could also be a personality thing (favoring a buddy).

I'm sure the gm and the player think this is a really cool idea and are having fun with it.  However meshing it with the rest of the group is going to be a tricky situation.  I've seen several of these things that hint at intraparty conflict not turn out well.  So you could have some problems in the future regardless of your lack of interest in what's being provided.

Quote
So yeah, I don't really know where to look for enjoyment in this game.

That's the tough part and the answer easily could be this game isnt for you.  You might have to move on to something else with a different group or at least with you running the game rather than playing.

If you do want to change the game in a more tactful manner this time I think your first step is finding out if anyone else really wants change.  As you've already noticed what people say and what they actually want can sometimes be different things.  I really doubt you'll be able to interest the gm in more tactical play because it sounds like he's interested in other things.

You might have more luck if you try and get something going like the side bit the mageslayer is doing.  It might not be taking down the Red Wizards like you originally intended but maybe you can discuss some other possibilites with him. 
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James_Nostack
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« Reply #22 on: October 31, 2007, 07:11:59 AM »

Joel, why are you playing in this game?
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xenopulse
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« Reply #23 on: October 31, 2007, 10:01:03 AM »

I don't think there's a CA conflict, because it seems like most players in your group are not playing with a purpose. Instead, I think you're bumping up against two related issues here: your group seems to play a lot more casually, and certainly without reflection of their own play styles.

I don't think casual play is tied to Sim at all, like other comments have indicated. I think that many players in your group put their social agenda first: they're there to hang out with friends and roll some dice, put some creativity in here and a bit of effort in there. But I don't see, from your account, anyone but you actually being focused on a creative or technical agenda. The common symptoms of this casual attitude toward play are lack of real threats to the characters (so you can just keep on going without being worried), fudging to keep the game flowing without a bump, waiving of rules for the same reason, lots of reliance on the GM providing the content of the SIS, and so on. That's why you haven't encountered many combats before, because the group is more into "let's hang out a bit and talk a little" mode, and combat is stressful unless you make it flat and fudge a lot.

I had a casual player in my AD&D 2e group. He usually came to the game not quite remembering where we were. He never learned the rules much. He didn't pay that much attention, either. It's a miracle, with the old-school Gamist GM we had, that his character survived for as long as he did. They're still playing together.

Secondly, it seems as though the GM, who you said is acting without regard to what it's doing to your play style, is not in that mindset of fulfilling player goals. He's in the mindset of playing "properly," in whichever way he's learned to do that. I've bumped up against this so many fucking times, it annoys me to no end. But it's not the fault of the players involved. There's just a plethora of preconceived notions about how RPGs should be played, and they are often contradictory and don't serve especially well to make the game fun for the players.

Now, what to do about all this? The first concern, casual versus focused play, is tough. If people's input to the game is casual whereas you'd really like to get into it, there's going to be friction or else the GM will have to somehow balance these out, and that's a lot of stress for the GM, or else frustrating for the players who are now suddenly expected to put effort into what they see as a relaxed leisure activity.

The second one you might be able to address with your GM by elaborating on what you are looking for in the game. You've already tried this, I know, but it takes a while to get a GM from "this is how RPing is supposed to go" to "this is how I can make this the most fun for my players."

So I wish you good luck, and hopefully all the feedback in this thread will help you in the end to work things out with the group (or find other players Smiley.
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #24 on: October 31, 2007, 05:34:57 PM »

Well, I'm not sure you have to go that far.  Rather, restrict your focus.  IME all the articulation of special powers is kinda paralysing; you think, you tend to think in terms of having X power, or not, and not being able to act effectively if you do not. You don;t necessarily need to switch systems so much as make the use of the system, rather than character definition, important.  A game with your existing rules, but with fewer options may prompt more creative problem solving etc.  Specify a culture or area from which all characters must come; abandon the idea that your game-at-the-table can incorporate any character in the world.  Limit the choices available and I expect you will see more attempts to achieve success by Doing Things, by manipulating the situation, rather than being the solution personified.

OK, I misunderstood you I guess. Honestly, I'm not sure how effective (or even possible) it would be to move D&D away from the "articulation of special powers." It's pretty hard-wired into the system. You wanna trip your opponent? Then Combat Expertise and Improved Trip. You wanna fake out your opponent? Then Improved Feint. And so on and so on.

Doesn't seem to me that restricting region is going to solve much. D&D largely doesn't care where a person comes from, except for the nod to Species background. A Spiked-chain-wielding fighter or Evocation-specializing Wizard are gonna be the same no matter where they grew up.

I like the cut of your jib. But I don't think D&D is really the place to put that jib into practice.

Peace,
-Joel
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Callan S.
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« Reply #25 on: October 31, 2007, 06:50:39 PM »

Basically Joel, you can't make someone challenge you. If they have a challenge in mind for you, asking for it will work. But you can't make them challenge you. You can only ever wait passively for the challenge to come. And it aint gunna come. Or you can run your own games and throw down challenges, daring people to even try, until they decide you deserve to have yourself face a gauntlet or two.

Same goes for 'story', if I'm not way off in thinking its nar. You can't make someone challenge you narrativistically, nar challenge being like 'Hey, would your character do X to avenge the death of his sister!??? Would he go that far?'. You can't force them, you can't do anything, only passively wait. And it aint gunna come. Or again, run your own games full of that nar throw down.

I know the group is a community full of life and that seems like it has the potential to do the above at some point. But does it?
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #26 on: October 31, 2007, 09:09:25 PM »

Again it looks like CA conflict to me.  You are being stymied when you look for either gamist or narrativist gameplay.  In sim what is important is things that define what the character is or has.  So I'd look for things like gaining spells, building a wizards tower to do research, gaining followers.  Things like that, not goals that define who your characters is but things that define what he has and what he is capable of.  For some people that's rewarding, Valamir mentioned MMO's and I think this is a big reward for most of those games.
Hmm. Seems like it's an unwarranted knock against Sim to say it's only good for exploring what you have and not who you are. it may not go to the depths of Nar in really hammering the "what would you do to get what you want?" (the good ol' "even now? even now?") But surely Sim is just fine with characters wanting something, and pursuing it. And that something can be "revenge on those who killed my parents" just as easily as "Get my own stronghold, or better spells, or a +3 Vorpal weapon."

Now whether more grandiose goals are possible in this game, is another matter. I tend to think it depends on the goal, and possibly a bit on how much the GM likes you. The Mageslayer guy is doing just great pursuing pretty ambitious plans (the GM keeps lamenting how he's "screwing everything up" while chuckling appreciatively), while my plans just have no traction. I do have a plan hatching that's more in line with what you're talking about (gaining new spells, etc) which involves my PC having an epiphany regarding the nature of Magic and seeking a different breed of spells via a prestige class. I think Joe might go for that more, and I plan to bring it up with him next time we play his game.

Peace,
-Joel
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #27 on: October 31, 2007, 09:28:30 PM »

Hi, Christian!
I don't think there's a CA conflict, because it seems like most players in your group are not playing with a purpose. Instead, I think you're bumping up against two related issues here: your group seems to play a lot more casually, and certainly without reflection of their own play styles.

[SNIP]

Secondly, it seems as though the GM, who you said is acting without regard to what it's doing to your play style, is not in that mindset of fulfilling player goals. He's in the mindset of playing "properly," in whichever way he's learned to do that. I've bumped up against this so many fucking times, it annoys me to no end. But it's not the fault of the players involved. There's just a plethora of preconceived notions about how RPGs should be played, and they are often contradictory and don't serve especially well to make the game fun for the players.
These are both really insightful observations. When I had a big game-dissatisfaction powwow recently (which went reasonably well), that was one issue that was brought up--that we game to hang out, and the socialization is at least as important as the game. My own feeling is that yes, the socialization is absolutely vitally important to me, but I also want the game to be awesome. Ihaving gamed together several times ourselves, Christian, I believe you'd join me in attesting that this is eminently possible. Smiley

And it's not like nobody ever shows any interest in having an awesome game. It just seems that their stated desire doesn't always match up with the effort to make aweslome happen.

And, leading into your second observation, not everyone has the same standards of awesome. There's a lot of "how you roleplay" assumptions flying around the room largely unstated, and occasionally conflicting. I often get a vibe off this GM of "it's not me, it's the world." Not ever quite stated outright like that, but an underlying implication that that's just "the way things are," divorced from any real-world responsibility of the participants. Like, "No, it was't me who refused to let you have your Red Wizards quest, it's just this NPC, see. . ." or "It's not my fault that the first dungeon on the map that you visited was, like, two rooms and had nothing in it, it's just a fact about the world." Any time I raise an issue like "this wasn't so much fun for me because. . ." the answer is invariably "well, it HAD to be this way because. . ." So ugh.

I do see this session as a baby step toward providing what I'm asking for. SO Things may be looking up, and what I;m seeing is more an excercising of atrophied muscles than a sign that they just can't or won't provide what I want. We'll see. But the more I examine the game the more negative things seem. That's the curse of these kinds of threads sometimes.

Peace,
-Joel
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #28 on: October 31, 2007, 09:43:05 PM »

Joel, why are you playing in this game?

Well, that's the 64 thousand dollar question, isn't it?

A lot of the answer lies in what I just said to Christian: it's social. These are people who by and large I like and want to hang out with, and this is the setting where we all have the time carved out of our schedules to do that. A lot of them are casual acquaintances, but a couple of them are closer than that and for that reason this time means a lot to me.

Another reason: there are a few people in the group that I have enjoyed gaming with and wish to continue to do so. The frequency of that enjoyment varies with the game and from person to person, but there's gaming gold there, and I'd be sad to give it up. And unfortunately the group kind of comes in a package--no one else is willing to quit, and they don't really have time to set up another game for me without the folks I don't enjoy playing with. in particular, this GM I'm so frustrated with is a close, close friend of one of my favorite players and closest friends.

And final reason: this isn't the only campaign. He rotates time with myself and another GM (the "closest friend" I just mentioned). I have dissatisfaction issues with all the campaigns, but I'm working toward inproving that in both playing and GMing techniques, and this campaign is easily my l\east favorite and therefore not a representative sample. As for why I don't just drop out of that one and keep the others, I'm seriously considering it. I'm giving it a bit of time to see if my dissatisfaction can be addressed before closing the book on it.

So it's not an ideal situation by any means, but I'm examining that and trying to improve things in a non-pushy way. I wrote about my frustrations here, in fact, which includes chronicling a mostly positive bull session addressing my frustration. I think my main avenue for change is wrapping up my current campaign and starting something new like TSoY which would show, not tell, what I'm looking for in gaming. And I've actually got several people excited about the prospect of ending a campaign deliberately and satisfyingly--they're like, "wow, we've never seen an RPG campaign do that before!" Smiley

Peace,
-Joel
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Grex
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« Reply #29 on: November 01, 2007, 03:34:54 AM »

Quote
So it's not an ideal situation by any means, but I'm examining that and trying to improve things in a non-pushy way. I wrote about my frustrations here, in fact, which includes chronicling a mostly positive bull session addressing my frustration. I think my main avenue for change is wrapping up my current campaign and starting something new like TSoY which would show, not tell, what I'm looking for in gaming. And I've actually got several people excited about the prospect of ending a campaign deliberately and satisfyingly--they're like, "wow, we've never seen an RPG campaign do that before!" Smiley

I think that you are onto something here -- you're in a diverse group of people who want different things from a roleplaying session. You could be a positive factor for change and/or awareness by running a campaign the 'right way' and explaining why you do some things differently from as usual, and what you hope to accomplish by doing these things differently.

TSoY would be good for this, as would Reign -- it has a very nice combat system, and deliberately breaks some entrenched D&D-isms. If D&D -- or any of its clones -- is the system of choice, I suggest axing the raise dead spells; knowing you can always come back from the dead, cheapens life.
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Best regards,
Chris
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