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Author Topic: Mother-May-I and 20 questions: Games GMs play  (Read 5822 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2008, 07:51:03 AM »

quote]"How can I say to my friends, 'I'd really like to play the piano together without biting our fingers off' in language they'll understand?"any<do<
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Myself, I wish I knew how to exploit it. It seems to me (in my biased memory at least) that I tend to be on the losing end of the "who's what and where and how" game-unable to take a desired action, at the mercy of someone else's action, etc. I do notice that I tend to play pretty cagey with my own intent, stating discrete actions without "tipping my hand" as to their overall purpose: "I go to this end of the room," "I talk to so and so," "I sneak down this hallway," "I search this room," etc, without ever communicating "The purpose to all this is to commit a daring theft of a priceless artifact out from the noses of the assembled aristocracy!" It's kind of a catch-22. In hiding my intentions, I rarely accomplish them, but if I do reveal my goal, it'll be considered crass (I feel) and be denied. So I muddle along being frustrated that nothing ever turns out as cool as I think it will be in my head.are exploiting it for purposes of being socially and creatively accepted, i.e., not belittled or stifled directly, which come to think of it is a pretty spotty version of acceptance. Clearly you are blocked from doing things during play, and the key is that you are now blocking yourself from addressing the blocking. So yeah, you<
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And this is a pretty group-centric thing, too. A lot of that behavior disappears when I play with other folks.friend<any<
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OK, let's assume that my group does want to work on that SC-SIS interface. I still don't know how to communicate what that means in a concrete manner: "Hey guys, instead of A, ho about we do B, which will cause less X and more Y?"
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I have to confess, when I read the stuff on Authority, it all made sense to me academically--I could tell (I think) what is meant by each kind of authority and how they differ. But I was (and still am) at a loss regarding how to aply it to play: so there's this Situation Authority, yah? Groovy, but how do I work out the particular social contract model of Situation Authority for my group?

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To engage in a social, creative activity, three things are absolutely required. Think of music, theater, quilting, whatever you'd like. These principles also apply to competitive games and sports, but that is not to the present point.

1. You have to trust that the procedures work - look, these instruments make different noises, so we can make music; look, this ball is bouncey, so we can toss and dribble it

2. You have to want to do it, now, here, with these people - important! (a) as opposed to other activities, (b) as opposed to "with anybody who'll let me"

3. You have to try it out, to reflect meaningfully on the results, and to try again - if it's worth doing, it's worth learning to do better; failure is not disaster, improvement is a virtue


My claim is that the hobby of "story-oriented" role-playing as expressed by its most aggressive marketer of the term, and as represented and imitated by countless others, fails on all three counts. [OTE] A paper trail to nowhere, [OTE] Rewards, and [OTE] Cats successfully herdedany<do<
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Myself, I wish I knew how to exploit it. It seems to me (in my biased memory at least) that I tend to be on the losing end of the "who's what and where and how" game-unable to take a desired action, at the mercy of someone else's action, etc. I do notice that I tend to play pretty cagey with my own intent, stating discrete actions without "tipping my hand" as to their overall purpose: "I go to this end of the room," "I talk to so and so," "I sneak down this hallway," "I search this room," etc, without ever communicating "The purpose to all this is to commit a daring theft of a priceless artifact out from the noses of the assembled aristocracy!" It's kind of a catch-22. In hiding my intentions, I rarely accomplish them, but if I do reveal my goal, it'll be considered crass (I feel) and be denied. So I muddle along being frustrated that nothing ever turns out as cool as I think it will be in my head.are exploiting it for purposes of being socially and creatively accepted, i.e., not belittled or stifled directly, which come to think of it is a pretty spotty version of acceptance. Clearly you are blocked from doing things during play, and the key is that you are now blocking yourself from addressing the blocking. So yeah, you<
Quote
And this is a pretty group-centric thing, too. A lot of that behavior disappears when I play with other folks.friend<any<
Quote
OK, let's assume that my group does want to work on that SC-SIS interface. I still don't know how to communicate what that means in a concrete manner: "Hey guys, instead of A, ho about we do B, which will cause less X and more Y?"
Quote
I have to confess, when I read the stuff on Authority, it all made sense to me academically--I could tell (I think) what is meant by each kind of authority and how they differ. But I was (and still am) at a loss regarding how to aply it to play: so there's this Situation Authority, yah? Groovy, but how do I work out the particular social contract model of Situation Authority for my group?

Quote
Quote
To engage in a social, creative activity, three things are absolutely required. Think of music, theater, quilting, whatever you'd like. These principles also apply to competitive games and sports, but that is not to the present point.

1. You have to trust that the procedures work - look, these instruments make different noises, so we can make music; look, this ball is bouncey, so we can toss and dribble it

2. You have to want to do it, now, here, with these people - important! (a) as opposed to other activities, (b) as opposed to "with anybody who'll let me"

3. You have to try it out, to reflect meaningfully on the results, and to try again - if it's worth doing, it's worth learning to do better; failure is not disaster, improvement is a virtue


My claim is that the hobby of "story-oriented" role-playing as expressed by its most aggressive marketer of the term, and as represented and imitated by countless others, fails on all three counts. [OTE] A paper trail to nowhere
, [OTE] Rewards, and [OTE] Cats successfully herded
« Last Edit: January 22, 2008, 07:54:37 AM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2008, 06:29:48 PM »

Ron,
This is getting pretty personal, obviously. That's not a complaint or plea for mercy; I want to proceed. I'm not comfortable, but I'm willing, if you will. This is too important to slough off or re-bury, ad if an internet forum is my source of personal revelation and clarity, so be it. I hve been feeling like things are coming to a crisis point with me and this group, so I (wincingly) welcome the opportunity to sort myself out and cut through the social tangle.

(Also: I welcome insight from anyone else as well! Unless Ron thinks it should wait, anyway. We've definitely shifted from "explain X feature of roleplaying" to "brutally examine your group dynamic" as a topic, but if anyone has anything to contribute, by all means. Just bear in mind that my posting time and speed is limited right now.)

I hope it makes sense that this is all provisional - I don't know you and the group, and I can only really compare what you write to my own experiences and observations. None of what follows is meant to be a diagnosis, but more like a portrait which you can say is or isn't on-target in one way or another.

I do understand that, and it's actually got me feeling somewhat. . .apologetic, since you're having to fire a lot of shots into the dark and expend considerable energy to analyze the situation. There's noting for it but to forge on, I guess, and try to be as clear as possible. it's impossible over this medium to present a complete picture, but I'll do my best.

So:

Exploiting socially. . .that's honestly a dimension that had escaped my notice, but you're right. It's not what I'd consider an ideal situation, but that doesn't change the fact that it IS the situation that's emerged over time, and I'm interacting with it in a certain way. So, hmm, plugging that back in to "the situation persists because someone's exploiting it," what happens if I stop exploiting it? What does that look like? (this is me thinking out loud here) I guess it'd mean speaking up and being absolutely clear about intent in the game, regardless of reaction to that. Which would have one of two effects i can think of: a) my manner of contributing to the game is denied, blocked or ridiculed, or b) my manner of contributing is acknowledged and accepted. In the case of a) this could cause considerable friction and make the game untenable to one or more members (including me), or it might not. in the case of b) this could cause the direct contribution method to be adopted by the group, or it might not. Every possible outcome looks better than continuing in the murk.



Following on the heels of your utterly chilling example, maybe I should describe the social dynamic a bit. Matt is my brother and his wife Colleen GMs several games. J is another GM in the group, and the three of us rotate campaigns every few weeks. Colleen invited me, Matt, J and C, a friend from work, into the group at various times. S and B were friends of a former group member and came in through him. And J's friend M came in through him--he found out J was playing with us after a long absence and asked to be let back in too.

M has a history of passive-aggressive social manipulation within the group, mainly aimed at Colleen, and somewhat at Matt, nasty poisoning-friends-against-each other stuff. Colleen said she'd have to have a serious talk with him about that stuff before she agreed to have him back, but she never actually had the talk and M just sorta ended up back in anyway. M got to know the new guys (B, S and C), and they (plus J) started playing another D&D game with M GMing, first on another night, but now due to schedule constraints they play early on Friday night, butting up against our main late-Friday game.

S recently confided to Matt and Colleen that M is up to the same old stuff, talking behind people's backs and being divisive, particularly sowing dissent toward Colleen as a GM. S hates it and wants everyone to be friends.Meanwhile, M's game tends to infringe on or at least crimp our regular game time, and it's starting to feel like a competition.

Some interesting stuff about the relationships: Colleen used to be kind of the social hub of the group--she invited me, Matt, J and C plus many others who don't currently play, into the group over the years, and runs several campaigns and has a lot of affection for the group except maybe M. Now it seems like social dominance is shifting over to J, with M in kind of a lieutenant role; all the guys save me, Matt and Colleen kind of do everything together, travel to game together, go to Shari's afterwards together, have other campaigns together, etc. and J is endowed with a kind casual authority within the group, especially on D&D stuff. Also, there's some resentments within the group in a variety of directions and degrees: M seems to have it out for Colleen, Coleen, Matt and I and now S are unhappy with M's manipulations, I've got some issues with J, Colleen's got some issues with B and a bit with C. . .I was talking about this with my wife, and her comment was: "You've got a social situation where everyone involved wishes someone else wasn't part of it-that's sick!"

And I can't really disagree with her.



Now, about the communication issue, You seem to have understandably but erroneously assumed that I haven't communicated with the group about these issues. Here's where I get all apologetic for being unclear or leaving out key info. But anyway, I have, in fact had discussions with the group about play goals, group engagement, who-says-what-when-how authority, clarity on what the dice decide, etc. It hasn't gone all that smoothly; I've gotten a lot of confused stares, "I get that you're dissatisfied but I don't know how to help you," "that wouldn't work because," and the like. The talks have borne some fruit, but it's spotty and hard to maintain the progress; group procedure and sensibilities tend to slide slowly back into that swirling mass of Murk. And I feel like I'm becoming the un-fun, "Serious Discussion Guy," with his impenetrable desires and crazymoontalk theories on what makes fun.

I think that's the place that "Plan A" is coming from: I'm feeling like: "just talking about what I want isn't working; if I could just show them it'll sink in, and give them a chance to see (ihopeihopeihope) if they like it themselves!" Which, I can definitely see is fraught with peril, especially the more I've blathered on about this super-plus-fun thing I want desperately to try.

I totally cop that I could be a poor communicator on this. partially for emotional reasons, I get clenched up in confrontational situations, don't know what to say, feel a huge sense of dread and can't look people in the eye. I lost my temper bad on one occasion over an in-game issue, and that's contributed heavily to the web of resentments I mentioned, and I think it puts me on thin ice for even constructive and appropriate addressing of my desires and frustrations. I did have a talk more recently about growing frustration in the game which went much better and may have put me back on some footing of respect, and has resulted in some slight improvement. But it's hard going. I''m not keeping mum because I don't dare show my dissent; I'm keeping mum because I've tried and failed.

Which brings me to another issue with your post. You wrote:
[OTE] A paper trail to nowhere, [OTE] Rewards, and [OTE] Cats successfully herded<

And I can only answer, sheepishly, um. . .er. . .yes, they are. Same group, same social situation. I'm sorry if my descriptions are confusing or contradictory to you. I'm pondering what could have made you think they were different, and I can only guess based on the context of this discussion, that it's because I indeed describe discussing these issues with the group in those post, and it had a positive impact on play. And indeed i did, and it did. This is the "the talks have borne some fruit" I just mentioned. Discussion did have a local positive effect, but not necessarily across the group over time. Like I said, changes on my part tend to "take" for a while, then "backslide: the sessons in those posts represent a time period like a shining island floating above the sea of Murk. Also, it varies by campaign; in my own game I seem to have much more sway (though still spotty and a bit brittle) over how we approach play, in Colleen's campaigns, much less, and in J's game, least of all. My OtE is still benefiting from those discussions and reforms, though not as much as when the clarity was "fresh." Does any of that make sense? And what impact does it have on your comments so far? If the play accounts still seem incongruous with my posting in this thread, please note that a lot of the problems I'm describing here do show up in the old discussions: M's passive-aggressive behavior "yeah, I understand that even if I come over you'll be playing the campaign I've chosen to opt out on" followed by "what? I'm here, aren't I? Might as well play."), my issues with others' play that spills over into real-people relationships (J just wanting his character to do paperwork, and me feeling offended that my effort to interact with him is being shat on), and confusion over Authority and the range of "how you do things in roleplaying" (Colleen's "I can't choose the next scene to play, I'm not the GM!").

Finally, regarding your Social-creative activity requirements:
Quote
To engage in a social, creative activity, three things are absolutely required. Think of music, theater, quilting, whatever you'd like. These principles also apply to competitive games and sports, but that is not to the present point.

1. You have to trust that the procedures work - look, these instruments make different noises, so we can make music; look, this ball is bouncey, so we can toss and dribble it

2. You have to want to do it, now, here, with these people - important! (a) as opposed to other activities, (b) as opposed to "with anybody who'll let me"

3. You have to try it out, to reflect meaningfully on the results, and to try again - if it's worth doing, it's worth learning to do better; failure is not disaster, improvement is a virtue


My claim is that the hobby of "story-oriented" role-playing as expressed by its most aggressive marketer of the term, and as represented and imitated by countless others, fails on all three counts.
Well, let's check off on the three items within the group:

1) There is little agreement on what procedures we even use, and still less on what given procedures mean or how they work, so a resounding "no" on tis one.

2) I'd say it's a spectrum. There's 2-3 people about whom I definitely feel "yes, with these people!" which is mainly what keeps me coming back. A couple of people I really, realy wish I wasn't playing with, and the rest fall into a middle ground where I sometimes enjoy playing with them but could probably take or leave them. As for the others, M seems planted squarely in "anybody who'll let me" territory, aside from his friendship with J. C is more focused on "with my friends, and oh, it's roleplaying? Sure." S is also "Hang out with my friends" focused, but still very psyched about folks' game contributions and how they mesh together.  J seems to vary somewhat on "do this, here, now, but tends toward the complacent end of things, hence my issue with him in "Paper trail to Nowhere." Colleen has issues with M but is very attached to J, and she's confessed that she loves to hang out with C but wishes she hadn't invited him to roleplay (which is pretty much how I feel, too. And like I said earlier a bunch of the guys have formed this sort of posse around J, which seems pretty tight socially and somewhat gaming-wise as well.

3) I feel like we fall down pretty hard on "reflect meaningfully." An underlying assumption of "the stuff in the game comes about by 'just playing our characters'" impedes reflection, as does various folks' personal, social investment in various versions of "How Things Are Done in Roleplaying" (yes, including me).

So I'll kick it back over to you; hopefully this post is coherent enough for you to work with and doesn't derail too much of your conjectures so far. This is really hard to talk about, not just on the emotional level but also issues like what's pertinent and what can be left out, what kinds of description will be received what ways by you, of those, what requires clarifying and correcting, and so on. Thank you for all the time and effort you're expending on what is really just a personal problem on my part; no matter how much I may squirm, I truly appreciate it.

Peace,
-Joel
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2008, 06:58:47 PM »

Yoicks!

Um, I sort of didn't require all of that to be aired publicly. But I am also honored that this forum could be a healthy enough place, as you see it, for you to post this. I will do my best to live up to that perception and I strongly hope that anyone else who posts here will do the same. (burning look toward all and sundry)

I'm not sure what to add. I think your wife nailed it. You also clarified the relationship between this thread and the OTE threads, and what you say about that makes perfect sense to me.

I also want to point out something about my #2 in my little list. When I say "these people," it has to mean "all these people" to be functional. Even if there are people whom I like better than others in a given social group (say, a martial arts studio), I have to want to be there with them as a total dynamic, period. To put up with someone you really, really do not like to interact with in such a group, and to have essentially to pretend that you do like the total dynamic when you actually don't, only leads to suffering.

So, uh, not to be too mean about it, the group apparently fails on that point as well.

Finally, about that communication issue. I am partly guessing and partly relying on your description, but it does not appear to me as if you communicated to them what you wanted them to do, as a baseline requirement for your participation. I'm not talking about blackmail ("do this or I quit!") so much as saying (approximately), "This is what I want from my role-playing, socially and creatively, with all of you," speaking as a peer whose voice counts among them.

It's sort of rough to say this next part ... um, and clearly this is a function of my personality and choices in life, which have been known to carry their own prices; since we're not the same person, this cannot be taken as actual advice. It's offered as a thought or, perhaps, some reciprocal sharing. Here it is: if your voice does not count as a relevant social member in the activity, for whatever reason, then why do this at all? Even in a hierarchical, structured environment like a martial arts class, one's voice still matters in the context of one's rank, or it should. If one's voice does not matter ... then, um, it seems as if the person is accepting a second-class, subordinated, essentially not-quite-human role in that situation.

I guess in some cases, it might have something to do with the issues Chris Chinn has written about so well - the idea that everyone can bring individual expectations to role-playing, and if we all "just do it," and if we "do it right," then magically everyone should get the kind of enjoyment they want. I have noted that in many internet discussions, people will defend this phenomenally in-denial concept to the point of hysteria. Or rather, beginning with hysteria, because there is no way to present it rationally or experientially. I don't know if that applies here or not; it's merely what comes to mind when I think about previous discussions.

Well, anyway, that's what I have. I'm not a counselor or a spiritual guide or anything. The only advice I can give as an equal (role-player, Forge participant) is to consider the words of someone you trust and who wishes you well ... and you have already done that, so there you go.

Best, Ron

Lookit all those 'uh ums.' I typed this post straight through, just thinking as I went.
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2008, 09:28:06 PM »

Ron,

Um, I sort of didn't require all of that to be aired publicly.

Don't worry, I know you didn't. It was entirely my choice, and yes, I made it because I feel it's a healthy enough place for it, as healthy as it can BE as an internet venue, anyway. Hell, (not to get all kissy-huggy on you, but. . .) I'm honored to be a member of this community to the point where I can post this. Anyway, rest assured that I am taking your role to be exactly as you stated. I don't want to cast you as some sort of counselor or confessor.

I also went on like I did because as I said I'm having trouble sorting out how to describe this and what's relevant so I went ahead and let it all pour out. I think I know now how Callan felt over in this other thread. (And for the folks playing at home, what Callan describes runs rather parallel to my tangle over here, especially his self-castigating internal monologue: "Idiot, say something! No, that won't work, say something else! Hah, too late now, bucko, you lost your opportunity and implicitly agreed to it!. . .")

About communication, I have done the "what I want you to do" talk, but I think I've done it fairly ineptly, being both too vague about the "what" as I flounder for words, and too evasive about the "you" in my attempts to be diplomatic and nonconfrontational, avoiding any version of "you, specifically, are playing bad/wrong."

I guess in some cases, it might have something to do with the issues Chris Chinn has written about so well - the idea that everyone can bring individual expectations to role-playing, and if we all "just do it," and if we "do it right," then magically everyone should get the kind of enjoyment they want.

Yes, totally. I've found Chris' writings on this stuff right on the money, painfully so. And they're an eye-opener fr msyelf as much as for my friends' behaviors, 'cause I was able to see that I too was bringing a load of assumptions about "what roleplaying is, which everyone should automatically know" to the table. The current discussion is a potent reminder of that for me.

And finally, regarding your further comments on "with these people," I totally get it, and agree. This struggle (or current phase of the struggle) comes as I reevaluate a lot of areas of my life for "what's really important to me, what am I getting out of it, what am I willing to do for it?" type criteria, and roleplaying's been a big, almost assumed, part of my life for so long that it's a particularly thorny hedge to prune. And particularly painful, since there are some members that I personally count fiercely among "with these people," and don't want to lose roleplaying with them, and so am scared to leave the group and risk them not following. When I went through a similar process this past year with my volunteer choir, my decision was eased and emboldened by a contingent of likewise dissatisfied people, enough for us to form our own group with an established social-creative relationship we were satisfied with. That I'll leave this group and not be able to replace it with a functional one is my big fear. . .but y'know, I'm in my thirties and it's time to stop living in fear.

Peace,
-Joel

edited to fix link - RE
« Last Edit: January 24, 2008, 11:18:48 AM by Ron Edwards » Logged

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Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2008, 10:39:52 AM »

Joel,

Thanks for posting this.  I've been in group like you describe before and it's painful.  If nothing else this thread has underscored for me why the social dynamic between the players is so important and foundational to functional play.   I hope you sort things out.

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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2008, 06:18:46 PM »

If nothing else this thread has underscored for me why the social dynamic between the players is so important and foundational to functional play.

True that. The difficulty now is figuring out how to achieve a functional dynamic. I'm kinda sitting here going, "Functional. Yeah, that sounds good. Hmm, functional. . .so, uh, yeah, how do I do that?"

I can think of two approaches, broadly speaking: One is to form a new group. Possibly with some overlapping membership with the current one, possibly not. The other is to work toward healing within the group. To that end. . .

I had a talk with my brother Matt yesterday. I told him I'd been talking to Ron, and related to him the 3 components of a Social-Creative Endeavor. In the abstract: He was pretty on board with the first one, Trusting the Procedures, except that I threw something in about agreeingto the rules, to which he went eh, I dunno if loyalty to a written ruleset is realy the point. I backpedaled and talked about system as a whole being the whole agreement between participants, not just written rules, but I think perhaps I made a mistake (, not tactically) in bringing rules in at all. for 2 (it now, with these people), he was in perfect agreement, especially about the contrast between "with anyone who'll let me." but for 3 (Reflect Meaningfully), he balked--"I don't think that's necessary." I think he was stating conceptual belief, not necessarily preference--that is, not "I don't want to reflect meaningfully," but rather, "regardless of whether I want it, I don't think it's necessary for Social-Creative activity." I replied that I know it's something that I, for one, want, and that I'm not getting.

And with that, we got down to cases. I said the deepest our game reflection generally went was , "Wow, it was cool when [fictional character] did the thing!" Matt suggested that perhaps that was sufficient reflection. I said that what's missing is the feedback of "Hmm, that cool thing, how did we achieve that? What did people like, and what could be done better? What worked and what didn't?" Matt did then understand and agree that that was valuable.

We didn't really talk much about #2 and its failings across the group. But I know from previous conversations that Matt understands and largely agrees about the social muddle that our group is. What he thinks about Ron's claim of needing that "these people" buy-in is anybody's guess.

We talked a lot about #1 in relation to our group. The conversation kind of cafreened all over the map and became a bit more about "why Player X was/wasn't justified in doing whatever." Matt was understanding of my frustration at micromanaging time and space, even if he's less bugged by it. He seemed to get me when I talked about everyone bringing their own disparate understanding to the table and each thinking that's "what roleplaying IS--Matt's especially in agreement in the case of D&D. I think I started to lose him a bit when I talked about the Murk giving me no clear expectations of what my input will mean. I talked about both J and Colleen as GMs (and me at one time--check out I was an Illusionist Wanker!) constantly calling for rolls out of the blue with no explanation--just "roll a D[whatever]." I said I'd much rather know what I'm rolling for and what effect it'll have. Hekind of got it, but advocated in favor keeping some rolls mysterious, so that he as a player can be in suspense about some things. I'm not entirely sure if this is a fundamental misunderstanding of roleplaying or just differing play preferences on both our parts.

When I talked about my issues specifically with Colleen, I brought up the whole "I'm gonna be a daring thief of priceless artifacts!" thing not seeming to pay off. I talked about my part in the failure, and the need to be more direct about intention. Matt said that he definitely saw no problem in being upfront about intent, so I'm thinking I may have the social support to try that. Yay! Also, having played a couple more sessions since I wrote about it here, I think the issue is partially pacing--Colleen's not necessarily blocking me from my goals, just allowing their pursuit to follow a slower path of development. I think my problem was not that I wanted to commit the most outlandish theft the city has ever seen in the first session, but rather that I didn't have any opportunity for a more minor heist to establish my cool piratey-ness. It was all, "you come to the city." "OK, I gather Information on cool thieving leads." "Well, there's this priceless artifact being unveiled." "Cool! Ima totally going to nab it!" ". . .uh, you can try, but there's no way you'll pull that off."

I talked about being more intentional in all working toward cool stuff for our characters, instead of just kinda "winding up" everything and letting them "play out," and the cool stuff will just sorta happen, right? Matt said that Colleen was just trying to slot my character into what was already going on, which I said was all fine and cool, but it felt like I was slotted into a situation that I wasn't allowed to really affect, and it was the only situation I'd been provided with, so I was kinda impotent. Matt didn't quite share my perspective but suggested that I talk to Colleen about  my frustrations and work more closely with her to come up with cool stuff for my guy to do. Which was my intention anyway; I just haven't hat the opportunity yet to sit down with her. But it was nice to test the waters with Matt before having a discussion that's more directly confrontational, even if Collen is one of the people in the group where I feel there's mutual respect and some degree of understanding.

So that's how that went, more or less. Interesting, a little rocky, but a step toward real honest communication. However, that's the easy part; Matt's one who I talk about serious stuff with all the time. Working that base of communication and understanding outward through the group, that's the challenging part. I think I'll talk to S next, as I know secondhand that he's dissatisfied with the social context of our game as well, but I haven't been able to discuss it directly with him.

Peace,
-Joel
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