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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 204 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Idealized play experience : another look at Heartbreakers  (Read 6072 times)
M. Burrell
Member

Posts: 50


« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2009, 02:31:53 AM »

Sounds good to me. I respect you for wanting to push in new directions.

I like the idea of each player having knowledge about certain elements, but what if it was just that the players had creative authority over them? The two split the elements of play between them (or take it in turns when they come up) and, at the appropriate time, have the responsibility to describe them in any fashion that is enfitting with the style of the game sofar.
So, it wouldn't be that there's a chart of 'secrets' for this or that object at the end of the book - but that the players have split authorship of everything. I'm currently musing over a pick-up-n-play<
Quote
[The Meeting of Our Heroes]
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V
[The First Fight and An Invitation]
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V
[A Quest is Embarked Upon, A Path Chosen]
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V
[Across the Wilderness]
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V
[Challenged by Beasts or Men]
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V
[The Path is Made Clear after a Great Obstacle]
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V
[Into Dangerous Lands, a Maiden Approaches]
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V
[The Outer Walls, a Puzzle]
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V
[The Inner Rooms, the End in Sight]
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V
The Ante-chamber, a Great Foe Manifests
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V
[The End, We Hold It in Our Hands]

So here we have 10 or so scenes, each with a conflict that, while being non-descript and ambiguous as to interpretation, provide a structure of play and emulate the classic barbarian quest adventure. I'll be willing to explain more if you find this interesting. The above is possibly a 'first tale' structure, but others could be made to fit ongoing campaigns.
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Patrice
Member

Posts: 133


« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2009, 03:39:23 AM »

 1. Yes, I have to make a clear choice here. Will I have it lay upon a massive number of random tables and leave a few bits of content and the cement of it to the players together or will I use a creative system in which the players share the defining of the adventure? As for the GM-less question, I'm currently going for something in-between, maybe using a few web resources in the process. That's where the whole munchkin thing maybe conveys a bit of meaning...

2. Your structure makes me think about Vladimir Propp, it's very interesting (though not being what I'm aiming at for this game). Could you find a way to get this kind of structural analysis into a game, still leaving enough creative freedom to the players? With such a precisely defined structure, where would the player's creativity find space to express itself? It's actually meeting point 1 of this answer as well.
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M. Burrell
Member

Posts: 50


« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2009, 04:18:08 AM »

2. Your structure makes me think about Vladimir Propp, it's very interesting (though not being what I'm aiming at for this game). Could you find a way to get this kind of structural analysis into a game, still leaving enough creative freedom to the players? With such a precisely defined structure, where would the player's creativity find space to express itself? It's actually meeting point 1 of this answer as well.

Ha ha, the document this chart is save in is entitled 'Proppian Play'!

 It just strikes me that, in my idealized game experience, I always want to emmulate the fairy-tale/movie structure - so why leave it up to the players? This thread's helped me greatly in formalising my thoughts towards my own game - you'll be duely credited. Smiley

Reguarding your question: The structure is defined, but the content is not. Creativity is only inhibited with a single minor proviso, with the aim of creating greater entertainment. It's a give-take relationship between the two: I impose a small demand from a scene and the players receive a more structured and compelling story.

For example, '[The Meeting of Our Heroes]' stipulates that the only thing that must happen in this scene is that the player-characters meet one another. Who Our Heroes are, where they meet, why they're together, what motives they have are all at the player's liberty to create. Similarly a greater creative-curtail such as '[Into Dangerous Lands, a Maiden Approaches]' means that the introduction of a dangerous land and a young, female character are the only two requirements. Where the land is, why it's dangerous, how it is enterted and traversed, who the female is, if she's friend or foe, her intentions, her permancy in following scenes - all these questions are answered by the players. The players may go any place and may introduce any elements they like otherwise. So much for constrictions on creativity, huh?

'Murder' has a few negative connotations, how about 'Destructive Heroisim?'

I like to call a spade a spade.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2009, 06:14:49 AM »

Hi Patrice,

I am far less interested in any of the terminological points (munchkin, heartbreaker, murder) than in the idealized play experience. You described it briefly, but a bit bloodlessly. What - actually - makes it attractive to you? Tell me that and it's likely that for me, or if not for me then for someone else, it'll be attractive too.

Best, Ron
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MacLeod
Member

Posts: 216


« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2009, 08:09:38 AM »

Having a subtitle like that makes me giggle for some reason... I think its a fine thing. I'm sure anyone offended by the use of 'murder' probably won't be capable of enjoying a game about killing stuff anyways.
.
..
...
At least it isn't 'Collaborative Genocide', yeah? @_@
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~*/\Matthew Miller/\*~
Patrice
Member

Posts: 133


« Reply #20 on: July 02, 2009, 09:54:30 AM »

Giggling is good, it's what it's meant for Smiley.

Hi Patrice,

I am far less interested in any of the terminological points (munchkin, heartbreaker, murder) than in the idealized play experience. You described it briefly, but a bit bloodlessly. What - actually - makes it attractive to you? Tell me that and it's likely that for me, or if not for me then for someone else, it'll be attractive too.

Best, Ron

I've been almost waiting for this input to get into it, thanks Ron.

In order to describe it (and Is suspect it's maybe part of what your question is aiming at too), I have to describe the process of finding what my idealized play experience is. I just sat somewhere with a Chai Tea
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Patrice
Member

Posts: 133


« Reply #21 on: July 02, 2009, 10:38:53 AM »

No it's not a Zen story, I've just hit the return key by mistake.

So I sat somewhere and asked myself what would my idealized play experience be. Or rather, what it has been. What provided me the most wonderful and enthralling gaming experience. I instantly discarded whatever would my ideals for a RPG be. That issue doesn't interest me at all. So I had to get to the nuts of it. What did I love? And why? Why was it ideal?

I realized that it encompassed many things : creating bits of color, settings, plots, wonders. Spending class hours adrift dreaming of my City of Brass, my City of Thieves, my Crypt of the Lich Queen, Shadow Mufti or whatever. That's the creative part. And I love it. And it takes its root in all a lively published and subcultural background. It almost felt as if we were all designing thingies together, publishers, customers, players. Thingies that had a somewhat similar tinge. I don't want to label it in depth, suffice to say it's what I call sword-and-sorcery. It involves heroes, magic, blood, murder, thievery, lust and power. It has catch sentences, mottos, everything.

I also realized that it seldom happened that in my roleplaying experience, the game would turn like that. There's always had been sort of a repressed feeling in most games I've experienced, including the very first and most famous. Okay, they say you are heroes, above the stock, powerful, waw. But deep down, it's a fake promise. Why? Because they also want you to get balanced by a system that would'nt allow you to kill gods and shake the setting, that would'nt allow you to shape your own story. they prefered to sell their own, and to leave you some secondary and heavily rewarded secondary role to play in. As I was struggling with people around who were looking for cohesive play, similitude or even realism, I was trying to play REAL swords-and-sorcery. I wanted to kill gods. To shake worlds. To matter that big. I wanted to play the hero of the story, not some kind of hero-like-all-the-others around who weren't playing heroes but ordinary people pretending to be heroes.

And hell, I realized that it had happened. And several times. It went like this : I met some player's group, club or whatever and began to play there. Compete a bit with others, show off, triumphed in a few games. And soon, everybody got back to class, work, anything, except me. Me and another loonie that also stood there, still hungry for the sword-and-sorcery he didn't get. We wanted to play real bad, but weren't satisfied by what was happening around. That's usually the point I was saying "okay, let's break the rules".

It began like that, me playing my hero character and him playing his. As I grew up, the him sometimes was her and that was all the better. We didn't use any published setting as such, we just played, one of us taking the GM's role + his character and us two keeping switching DM/player sides. And we played high stakes : gods asunder, half-planes sent boiling into oblivion, drifts in time, armies, everything. Man, that was something. And as we played, mostly using whatever published adventure we found and twisting them up to the absurd, we shaped our world together, involving new NPCs, cities or kingdoms when we felt inclined to.

And soon, we began to shape our own sword-and-sorcery. And of course, people knew it and they murmured about our saga. So we've invited them. All of them. And we shared our creation entirely. Some of them scorned us as utter munchkins (we were killing gods you know, and yes, looting them sometimes), some stood in awe and just joined the story. It eventually went into shaping full 4 or 5 players parties. the legend had begun, getting back full spiraling circle to the starting point.

Now, as I was thinking about it almost 15 years after my last saga of this kind, sipping my Chai Tea Latte, I realize that what I loved was the cooperative sharing of both the creation and the enjoyment of the creation of our own sword-and-sorcery and I wondered about what sort of mechanisms, what sort of game would render that, would turn the roleplaying into that. I've realized that the only option would be a game in which the players would all be the players, the designers and the GM. At the same time. On the fly. And of course (but that's just because I like REAL sword-and-sorcery), a game that would involve power, blood and amoral heroism. A cooperative game. Is the two players a mandatory limit? I don't think so, it's like novels. In some fantasy novels, you get half a dozen or so heroes. In sword-and-sorcery novels, mostly one or two. It's more a matter of genre than a matter of choice in design. But then, 2 might eventually become 12. Still, I consider important to start just with 2.
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whiteknife
Member

Posts: 118


« Reply #22 on: July 02, 2009, 01:08:13 PM »

I really like a lot of these ideas. I think that your ideal play experience is actually pretty close to my own, with the two players and then more and the god killing high adventure and all that other stuff. I'm not sure if it'd be possible to make a game that could replicate that on its own without the benefit of a verys specific player set, but if you could then that would of course be hella awesome to say the least. In any case, know that you're not alone in your idea of a good time!
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Patrice
Member

Posts: 133


« Reply #23 on: July 02, 2009, 04:20:31 PM »

Thanks a lot. I've noticed, of course, the very specific player set issue from the start. And yes, it's a big issue. There's one little pleasure of these times of high adventure I've decided to take away from the game : the meta-gaming that allowed us to twist whatever system we used into our shared design. I've decided to deliver an already twisted player set. On the other hand, the whole idea still suggests a lot of potential materials. Why not give the players power over this? I've got embryos of solutions for most issues (or so it seems, actual writing and playtest will tell) about going GM-less, resolution, character creation and progression in my initial brainstorming but I'm still a bit stuck with the content design part. I've got solutions, but they either are really heavy or too much free-form for what I'm aiming at, I need to find a balance here. Or to make a radical choice.
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Patrice
Member

Posts: 133


« Reply #24 on: July 04, 2009, 12:27:13 AM »

Sorry to self-bump it, but I've got major issues to raise here. I'd like to escalate.

What strikes me is that, in this case, the truth has never been closer to the lie (or the contrary). I can see how high is the risk of designing a heavily dysfunctional game with the direction I choose, things like Oui-ja play, Karaoke and the bitterest role-player in the world immediately come to mind, especially the really crippling Oui-ja example.

1. Oui-ja : there is a high risk of designing a game set that contains no specific way to yield story and yet, aims at it, hoping for the story to emerge more or less spontaneously from a Setting slanted Simulation. At the other extreme, the game could involve monster bashing and facing challenges with no derivated goal as far as Step on Up is concerned. This is also really dysfunctional.

2. Karaoke : the Story Now essay says

Quote
Let's say you have a game that consists of some Premise-heavy characters and a few notes about Situation, and through play, the group generates a hellacious cool Setting as well as theme(s) regarding those characters. Then, publishing your great game, you present that very setting and theme in the text, in detail.

In the Tales of the Dragon Lords case, talking from the very simple ideas I've got here, you eventually have to do it. To publish this Setting and Theme. But you do it for yourself. Except... Except when it comes to multi-player, except when you take your friends in, as they won't participate so directly in its building, they will play Karaoke. This is a bitter issue for me. I have either to accept it and to say "over 2 people, the players in excess are all bound to be secondary" (and who would possibly accept that?), to reject the possibility to play with more than 2 people or to open the game to whatever number of people from the start. I must stress that I consider all three as potential valid choices.

Now, from that point on, it's very difficult to consider a workable game without choosing a clearer Narrativist CA. If you're playing Gamist, you know very well what's a GM-less 2-players game : it's either a wargame or a boardgame. And of course, this is not what I'm trying to design. On the other hand, Simulationism would lead the game to Pastiche : there's no GM and thus no illusionism, no pre-defined story as such and the game is about Situations shaping a story. Great, the result is thus bound to Oui-ja or to follow and mimic the genre standards in a very basic way at best.

Moreover, the detailed description I've given of my "idealized play experience", who quick became the description of my "idealized teen play experience" falls very, very close to Oui-ja play. So this all brought me another issue : I don't have to just embrace that teen, I also have to kill him.in the same move.

Yet, with all the risks at stake and the delusion to clear, the idea contains what I consider as among the most powerful and fascinating I've come about. There's a thin line here with major dysfunctions on either side, but I trust the path just as well as I do identify the dysfunctions.

More about mechanics as your questions/reactions will raise the issues.

What I'd like is people familiar with the GNS, who might have a much clearer grasp of it than me, to comment my hard look at my own game and correct my possible fumbles and mistakes with the GNS. I take that maybe, at this point, I would need mechanisms, playtest and actual play examples but as you've read, this idea is really fresh. I just hope to get a bit of these issues sorted with your help before throwing myself in the design/writing part. If this works out fine, you'll get actual play examples as soon as my schedule allows them.
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M. Burrell
Member

Posts: 50


« Reply #25 on: July 04, 2009, 02:47:57 AM »

All very well for theory, Patrice, but there comes a point where you have to create before you analyse.

I'd gladly take a hard look at any game mechanic, tool or social dynamic you suggest - only, you must first suggest it!

Saying that, I am going to be constructive this morning and suggest that, as far as I can see, you currently fall more to the side of Karaoke than Ouija. You've a list of archetypal, example character pairings (Conan/Sonja, Fafhrd/Mouser etc) and a genre; you stipulate that it must be for two players and there may or may not be deicide before breakfast.

In my mind, to move away from the silent orchestra and onto the righteous path, you must be sure of:
  • How characters are created and what encourages the dynamism between them.
  • Whether each play-group creates the setting/situation afresh to their tastes, or whether there's a setting canon.
  • Who has authorship thereafter and how does that dynamic work.

Sorry to be hard, but it means I'm genuinely interested.
Cheers,
Mike.
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MacLeod
Member

Posts: 216


« Reply #26 on: July 04, 2009, 09:28:09 AM »

All very well for theory, Patrice, but there comes a point where you have to create before you analyze./quote]
I want to second this notion. The only way I have ever moved any closer to my own design goals is to create, analyze, criticize and improve. With a healthy dose of reading in between all of that.
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~*/\Matthew Miller/\*~
Patrice
Member

Posts: 133


« Reply #27 on: July 04, 2009, 10:34:30 AM »

Okay, if you've got not enough to chew upon at this stage for that :

Quote
I take that maybe, at this point, I would need mechanisms, playtest and actual play examples but as you've read, this idea is really fresh. I just hope to get a bit of these issues sorted with your help before throwing myself in the design/writing part. If this works out fine, you'll get actual play examples as soon as my schedule allows them.

I then suggest dropping this until I really come about with a written design, preferably with actual play reports. Given the schedule ahead, that will most probably get into an entirely new post. Thanks anyway all of you for the input so far!
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M. Burrell
Member

Posts: 50


« Reply #28 on: July 04, 2009, 04:25:21 PM »

Don't give up on this thread, just accept that we aren't feeling so high-minded today and throw out some ideas (as vague as ya like) for mechanics or setting and we can riff away on those; then we can suggest if the potential game falls off the path or no.
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Patrice
Member

Posts: 133


« Reply #29 on: July 04, 2009, 04:41:34 PM »

I totally accept your feelings. I'd like to give up the thread (as such) because I've taken your point and set myself to design the mechanics first. I was maybe outing too much an internal creative process, hence a bit difficult to follow without a firm base to be talking about. Don't worry, the topic will be back soon enough (though I suspect under another form) as the system is under fast construction. I actually never built a system that fast, it's almost intuitive, don't know it's a good or bad sign, time will tell but I don't want to be discussing yet ideas I might abandon or make evolve in the process.

Meanwhile, I you or anyone feels like bouncing upon what's already been displayed, I'll be happy to pursue about that here.
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