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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 50 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: "Sand Box" Adventures  (Read 4765 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #30 on: November 06, 2008, 11:10:14 AM »

Hey Louis,

We need to clarify something. My goal in this thread is not to entice you into either playing or publishing in (what's called here) a Narrativist way.* My concern was to clarify your questions about how story (in the overall, any-which-way sense) can arise using a sandbox scenario design. You wrestled with the issue of whether it has to be imposed; I explained why and how it does not have to be. None of it was aimed at telling you what you should do, or want to do.

Your post contains a number of attacks that I'm not going to deal with. The only thing I can try to do is demonstrate that Narrativism Nazism is a boogeyman and not the reality. I urge you to lower the defensive shields about it. Perhaps this next bit will demonstrate that you're not under attack or a conversion-campaign.

I referred to a stuckedness that I perceived. One way out of it is what I was talking about. The other way, which is 100% functional and may be more along the lines of what you're aiming for, is called Participationism. That's not a Creative Agenda, but rather a family of Techniques. More-or-less equivalent to the Map + Bang Techniques, among others, that I was talking about, but facilitating a different CA, not Narrativism at all.

Why am I going on with this and continually introducing new weird terms? Because you're talking about how to publish a sandbox scenario well, and I'm saying that if you know what sort of play you want to facilitate, then you can publish something that can be read, understood, and enjoyed for what it is. 

I wrote most recently and with any luck most positively about Participationist play in [NWOD][VtR] New Game - New Possibilities - New Questions!. For this thread, I'd like to extend my point that for it to work, such play still needs particular GM and player Techniques which everyone knows about and buys into. Specific "now the story moves along" processes are involved, and without people buying into them, all sorts of pifalls appear. (Just as pitfalls always appear when people role-play together without buying into "how we do it here.")

Let me know if you find that more helpful.

Best, Ron

* You might be surprised at how many of your shorter statements I agree with, and how many of them do not actually work as criticisms or observations of Narrativist notions. For instance, my use of "theme" is exactly the same as you describe. You're striking very fiercely against some stuff which isn't there to be hit. I dunno whether you care to go into that, and even if so, I'd guess not so much in this thread.
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The Dragon Master
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« Reply #31 on: November 06, 2008, 11:34:37 AM »

Louis: In the scenario you ran, how interconnected were the different plots? Were they all just things happening in the environment, were the NPCs involved in more than one plot, was there an underlying plot going on?
First a visual example to maybe tie it in with the hyper-reactive description, then I'll provide an example from actual play. Think of the scenario you're writing as a game of pickupsticks.
Each plot line running through the prepared scenario is one of the sticks, if the plots are all separate, diffetent NPCs in each and so forth, then it's like starting play with the sticks separate. Picking up one doesn't necesarily have any effect on any other stick/plot that is available.
If you have each NPC tied into a couple of plots (perhaps the one of the savages saw Dr. Gull disfigure the harem woman but will only tell in exchange for... improved social standing) then moving one of the sticks/plots will cause a change in others. This provides a reactive environment, where you can't change one thing without changing several others.
For a hyper-reactive environment, you simply have more plots tied to each NPC, or one plot to which all NPCs are tied, though this can devolve into less of a "screwdown" style of resolution. I'm sure though others here would be better equiped to provide direction on limiting this effect

The best example of this I've experienced was in a shadowrun game I ran recently. Now, this campaign was designed after the characters were writen, and with those characters in mind, but I believe the general principle will be the same. I started with a set piece I wanted to work with specifically establishing a "ghoul-town" on the outskirts of Seattle. Then considered who would be involved with this, whose plans would the formation of this effect, and who would make plans based on it. Well, in the setting there is a bounty out for anyone who can create a cure for the disease that creates ghouls, so naturally there had to be a megacorp working on that who would be trying to test this cure on the inhabitants. Also there was a bounty out for the creation of a reliable substitute for the flesh ghouls have to consume, so someone is working on that. In the end I had a handful of groups whose plans would intersect on this one location (more than any other) and the players each had ties to one or more of the organizations. The campaign didn't last long enough to more than establish the players unfortunately due to changing schedules, but I believe the premise is sound.

Now all of that said, it still leaves the problem that some players just don't want to get out of the sand box. It's possible they simply didn't want to leave the environment, and figured that any plot resolved would have led to them being "thrust from paradise", so to speak.
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"You get what everone gets. You get a lifetime." -Death of the Endless
The names Tony

Sorcerer Workshop, Phoenix Comicon, May 27th - 30th 2010
hoefer
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Posts: 68


« Reply #32 on: November 06, 2008, 01:13:34 PM »

Hey Louis,

We need to clarify something. My goal in this thread is not to entice you into either playing or publishing in (what's called here) a Narrativist way.* My concern was to clarify your questions about how story (in the overall, any-which-way sense) can arise using a sandbox scenario design. You wrestled with the issue of whether it has to be imposed; I explained why and how it does not have to be. None of it was aimed at telling you what you should do, or want to do.

Your post contains a number of attacks that I'm not going to deal with. The only thing I can try to do is demonstrate that Narrativism Nazism is a boogeyman and not the reality. I urge you to lower the defensive shields about it. Perhaps this next bit will demonstrate that you're not under attack or a conversion-campaign.

Sorry if my post seemed to be hostile -it was not meant in that spirit (the narrativism natzi thing was meant as a joke).  I do feel people are way into this whole "labeling of play" and throwing out terms too the point that it works against having clairity sometimes.  (Admittedly I think I was the first one to throw a term out, but back then I thought I understood it and apparently didn't).  And while I do see that haivng a term for a type of play is important to then address how you arrive at that type of play, there is an air of convulution about it all, atleast for someone who just does better dealing with real-to-life examples and situational descriptions.  I feel a lot of the problem with this thread so far is that I am failing to communicate what I'm looking for from the community or failing to understand the way their responses can be used to my ends.  I would much appreciate if we all gave simple examples of the things we are talking about in this thread (when it comes to terms or "step ups" for playing a given game)...I would probably "get" stuff a lot easier then, and gain a better understanding of your suggestions.

thanks all,
Louis Hoefer
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hoefer
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Posts: 68


« Reply #33 on: November 06, 2008, 01:53:31 PM »

Louis: In the scenario you ran, how interconnected were the different plots? Were they all just things happening in the environment, were the NPCs involved in more than one plot, was there an underlying plot going on?
Dragon Master,
The main subplots were fairly well connected.  There were a few that were just "background noise" -like the hurculerium (sp?) formula that made things grow (its from the book Food of the Gods).  That subplot sort of colored the others -for example, when one of the harem ladies was being chased by Quisquis guards, she fell through the roof of bulding landing in a giant chicken coop (yeah it was sort of a comical situation) the MCs that had been trailing her (to figure out who she was and why the guards were persuing her)  went in to save her from these "savage monsters."  So investigating this formula, designing an antidote for the eventual "rabidness" it caused (yes they were giant RABID chickens -oh my!), gaining control of it, discerning what Quisquis's plans were for it (beyond increasing food supply on the floating island/palace) -these were all activities one of the players took on, and they aided in dealing with certain situations in the game, but they did not move other plots or push toward a climax.  Other plots did however.  As you described, the Gull plot intersected both the natives and the harem plots, further Gull's favor with the sultan was being deminished by the presence of the PCs, one of which was a great man of science whom Quisquis tried to entice to his side.  Thus Gull began to seek out ways of screwing with the players and pointing out their flaws to the sultan.  The natives were accidental refugees whom the sultan had little concern for and the other inhabitants of the palace used/abused wihtout his intervention.  They were a source of "unbiased" information for the PCs but were constantly looking for things in trade for this information (to move up the social ladder as you've allready determined).  The harem girls largely were seeking to escape.  Many thought Gull was there to help them, not realizing that those he helped were winding up dismembered corpses stuffed in various areas of the island (some of which the natives were aware of).  Some of the Harem ladies were not seeking to escape (they either traded themselves to the Sultan to help/free their loved ones back on the ground or they themselves were taken from worse situations before being "rescued" by the sultan).  The differences here led to conflicts.  There were other things going on, but over all the plots that affected one another all fed the larger plots: "escape from Quisquis's island" and "remove Quisquis from power before so-and-so is hurt"  As I look at this, I do see that one thing that hurt this sandbox is that Quisquis is made way too simpathetic for an antagonist.  I did not go with a "Stop Quisquis from taking over the world" metaplot because I thought it was over done.  Though this may have helped push the PCs.  Yet, part of what makes 10,000 Leagues an interesting read is the fact that Nemo (while arrogant, domineering, and obsessive) is not necessarily a "badguy."  I wanted to pay homage to that in this take-off of the story.  Humorously, now that I rethink it, 10,000 Leagues had a hasty and ineffectual ending as well (the sudden imposition of the maelstrom in which the ship sinks). Also, my "escape from Quisquis's island" climax might have fallen flat because the consequence of not doing this wasn't pressing thoughout the play (Quisquis's rule, while strick and imposing, was still corigal to the PCs and allowed some of them enough freedom they didn't may be feel a need to escape -ala what you suggested at the bottom).

Now all of that said, it still leaves the problem that some players just don't want to get out of the sand box. It's possible they simply didn't want to leave the environment, and figured that any plot resolved would have led to them being "thrust from paradise", so to speak.

This was probably a major factor and now I am seeing Ron's screwdown meathod a little more precisely ("you have to make them act, by upping the anti of what will happen if they do or don't act).  -But let's shift gears.  What would you (the community) say is the best way to present all these subplots (the sticks as Dragon Master suggests) and how they might intersect and influence one another so that a GM reading the adventure may be able to make quick reference of them and good use of them?  How do you commincate how to bring them into a climax?   Lots of notation in the individual write ups and a simplified flow chart is my current solution.  Is there anythign better?  How can I write it so as to encourage the GM to be more dynamic -i.e. letting the players have more control on the story and how it comes to a climax?

Louis Hoefer
www.wholesumentertainment.com
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Caldis
Member

Posts: 359


« Reply #34 on: November 07, 2008, 06:51:54 AM »



The best idea I can think of for you Louis is if you want the players to try and escape then state it up front.  During character creation have them make up reasons why they need to get back to Kansas otherwise Oz is a pretty damn interesting place they may want to stay.   Have many of your plots act as barriers to the characters escaping but still allow them to play around in the setting as much as possilble.
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