*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
September 22, 2014, 04:21:09 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 64 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Ribbon Drive: Fuckknows, VA  (Read 1430 times)
Graham W
Member

Posts: 437


WWW
« on: August 30, 2009, 03:02:05 PM »

We played Ribbon Drive in my garden yesterday. There were Steve, Paula and I, who were fairly experienced gamers, and Sebastian and Lucy, whom I think had played things like Vampire.

Steve's mix CD, "Look at your Land", came out of the pile first. The first song, to inspire the roadtrip, was Blur's Look Inside America. From that, we decided to be a band, travelling from New York to Nashville. The second song was The Beastie Boys' Open Letter to NYC. So, I became Charlie Ling, the record company executive accompanying the band, and my Futures were "I will make a huge amount of money" and "I will learn to have fun". Lucy was Jenni, the bassist, with "I'm going to avoid failure at all costs" and "I'm going to make a name for myself. And then Steve played Rashid, the Lebanese lead singer; Paula played Amy, the drummer; and Sebastian was Isaac, the guitarist and songwriter. I haven't got their character sheets.

The early scenes were pretty difficult. In the first, we were stuck in traffic coming out of New York. Then there was a service station on the New Jersey turnpike and another traffic jam near Washington. We didn't quite know how the scenes were meant to go. Obstacles were difficult, too: the last person to enter a scene can introduce an Obstacle, but we couldn't always remember who that was. Not bad, but kind of awkward.

Jenni got her hair cut, but badly, and ended up having an awful purple haircut. This inspired Isaac to write a song, Purple Monster. Rashid stole Charlie's credit card. When Charlie phoned to report it, he gave his location as "Fuckknows, Virginia", as Rashid had told him.

So the band got to Nashville and were sent on a tour, covering Memphis and New Orleans. It got better once our Futures came into the game more. So my character, Charlie, was going to discos and trying drugs in an attempt to have fun.

The CDs sort of worked and sort of didn't. We had trouble keeping the CD at a level where we could hear each other but also hear the song so it could inspire scenes. My CD was abandoned after two songs, because of a Detour, which I found rather sad, because I'd spent a while making it. We also ran out of CDs. I can't remember if there were specific rules about that. We went back to my CD.

Eventually, the band split, and I became the Protagonist, abandoning my two Futures.

So, for us, the Futures seemed to work well. The CDs were interesting. Framing, directing and ending scenes was less clear, as were Obstacles. It was quite fun, but I'd want more direction before playing again.

Graham
Logged
joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2009, 06:16:52 PM »

So, for us, the Futures seemed to work well. The CDs were interesting. Framing, directing and ending scenes was less clear, as were Obstacles. It was quite fun, but I'd want more direction before playing again.

Graham

Thanks for the report, Graham!

To get at the issues you had...

1.) There have been a bunch of games of Ribbon Drive where, about 50 minutes in, I've started to panic. "Jesus! This isn't going anywhere. We're just idly chatting and not building to any certain point!" It always seems like a really valid concern. The first piece of advice for actual play: embrace the meandering. Because those scenes have acted as springboard to some really poignant resolutions, for me. I'm convinced that the best games of Ribbon Drive often start with the least focused situations.

Meander. Allow idle chat. Only cut when you are no longer interested.

2.) Obstacles. Here's the thing: a game of Ribbon Drive should have between 1 and 8 Obstacles. A game with only two obstacles is utilizing the obstacle rules perfectly and to their intended impact. Don't worry if you don't see them arising (especially if there are "obstacles" arising between the passengers instead). As a follow on to this sentiment: If no one remembers who has Obstacle rights, simply don't frame an Obstacle. Or, if you have a REALLY good idea for an Obstacle and no one knows who has the rights, go ahead and introduce it.

That rule ("if you are the last to join the scene, you have obstacle rights") is more elegant in concept than practice, perhaps. I'm hoping it communicates some important play priorities: that silence is okay, that playing soft and slow is valuable...

3.) Cut scenes when no one cares to linger any longer. Doesn't that mean that you'll have scenes that grind to a halt? Yeah, sure. I'm comfortable with that. I'd like you to be comfortable with that. (In general, Ribbon Drive is a game about becoming comfortable, both at a player level and at a character level). If there's a brilliant moment in a scene, and everything coalesces, you can definitely call "cut". Or, if things kind of wander (even shifting location and tone) in a scene, that's also totally cool.

4.)Play to the obvious.
Create space for one another to explore the questions and concerns that have been flagged (especially futures and traits!).
Don't worry about dead air - cut if it's boring, stay with it if there's a reason to.
Idle chat is cool.
Introduce Obstacles only to the extent that it makes sense (this is not a conflict-focused game!).
If there's a dead moment, realize that you can just talk about your Futures as makes sense to (internal monologue is a good technique for this).

5.) Mix up the force with which you frame scenes. For example, if you frame softly with "alright, we're in the car and it's sunny. Beck is on the radio..." then perhaps next time you can frame into the middle of a heated conversation, like: "...No! Jack, that's bullshit. If Campton gets into power, we'll see cuts to the services our lives revolve around - post-secondary funding cuts, hospital closures, the works!"

It's also perfectly legit to say: "Okay, so next scene starts with us at a gas station, and there's this rough-and-tumble group of bikers gathered around Pete. One of them says, 'Oh, so now you're insinuatin' we're gay, on top of being scum!"

You know... just as an option.

6.) I'm going to do a post on Buried Without Ceremony on Friday, about fostering comfort with slow scene framing. Check back there, then. I'll also participate here further, but that'll be a big exploration kind of thing.
Logged

GB Steve
Member

Posts: 429


WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2009, 05:28:37 AM »

I played Rashid. My character's futures were "I hope I find someone" and "I'm never going back". Rashid was on the run from the gang from whom he'd stolen drugs. Basically he was an asshole, causing Jenni to clip a jackknifed lorry, accidentally killing a cop who investigated and then letting Jenni carry the can. He picked up a random woman in a bar and then they took drugs until she O.D.'d, then got lost on the way back from hospital and missed a crucial meeting. Jenni became more and more isolated until she left the band with Charlie in an unexpected twist at the end.

In the scene with the crash, Rashid pinned Jenni's on the gas pedal. It was a good moment of tension but it didn't have any clear method of resolution. The obstacle, eventually, was the cop who chased us and came up to the window of the van. Rashid brained him from behind with a guitar using a trait.

I think part of the problem might have been that there wasn't any clear way of resolving issues between the travellers. They didn't seem like obstacles. I mean, could I have made Jenni not leave the band by using my drugs trait to keep her happy? That didn't seem right either.

That said, I enjoyed this game and would be more than happy to play it again but there seemed to be a kind of "what the fuck do we do now?" undercurrent. Part of this may have been because the longest road trip most English people have done is about six hours.
Logged
xenopulse
Member

Posts: 527

Heretic Forgite


WWW
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2009, 09:21:30 AM »

Quote
I think part of the problem might have been that there wasn't any clear way of resolving issues between the travellers.


Ribbon Drive is different from most games in this regard.  It's not a resolution-based game in the sense that you roll dice or draw cards to resolve things.  I'm really comfortable with that, because of my background in playing interaction-based games online for many years that similarly had no such mechanisms, but it can be startling without that background.  You basically need to get used to the fact that you don't get the help of randomizers to work out your conflicts for you.  An inter-PC conflict is resolved by both players playign their characters truly and honestly, back and forth, until you figure out how things work out.

Could you have used drugs to keep Jenni?  That's up to how that plays out between your player and Jenni's player.  The traits are only guidelines there; more for how you play your own character and have him/her react than for how you affect others.

My freeform experiences also have made me comfortable with "meandering" play.  Because the whole point of these kinds of games is different.  You're not playing mainly for working through a story by means of resolving conflict after conflict.  You play because you're curious how these characters, in this situation, interact with each other.  The road trip works as a crucible here, a mechanism that ensures that the characters are forced to interact.  The obstacles give them context for further PC-to-PC interaction.

At least that's how it works for me Smiley
Logged

Graham W
Member

Posts: 437


WWW
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2009, 04:29:22 PM »

Put that guidance in the rules, Joe, there's a good chap. We really needed it.

The problem was that our meandering wasn't interesting. If it had been, we'd have stuck with it. But here's how it went. We were stuck in a traffic jam, then that scene petered out. Then we were slightly further down the road, then that scene petered out.

We need some advice about framing interesting scenes. Your comment about force is good. I have a theory you should describe interesting places: we tended to describe traffic jams, where we could have described more beautiful stuff. One question in particular: are most scenes framed while driving or while not driving?

We had a problem with authority, too. Steve's example is a good one: Rashid puts his foot on the accelerator, while Jenni's driving, making her speed past the cops. How do we know whether that succeeds? We understand it's not a die roll, but how do we decide?

Another example: Jenni goes to get her hair cut. Steve and I decide the haircut goes wrong, leaving Jenni's hair patchy and purple. But are we allowed to narrate that? What I think happened was that Jenni's player, who hadn't roleplayed for a while, capitulated. In retrospect, I'm not sure she was that happy about it.

Oh, and we had problems when the group went off in different directions. We had a particular problem when a player decided to introduce an Obstacle that seemed to prevent the group getting back together. My feeling is that the characters should generally stay together.

It's a fun game, but I do want more guidance on running it.

Graham
Logged
joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2009, 12:57:47 PM »

The incident with Rashid forcing Jenni to jackknife the other vehicle... that's super interesting, and I'm working on a detailed, how-to post on Buried Without Ceremony right now to address it. The short answer right now: I don't see this as an authority issue, but rather an issue of traction. Obstacles/Traits aren't the elements you should be looking to in that situation. The things you should note are Futures and the song playing at the time. But, long answer, with techniques to support, coming soon.

Another example: Jenni goes to get her hair cut. Steve and I decide the haircut goes wrong, leaving Jenni's hair patchy and purple. But are we allowed to narrate that? What I think happened was that Jenni's player, who hadn't roleplayed for a while, capitulated. In retrospect, I'm not sure she was that happy about it.

This, however, is totally an authority issue.

My first suggestion is to ground the subjective statements in a non-authorial perspective (ie, your character's). So, you could either describe the haircut she got without subjective judgment (not super interesting, really), or describe your character's subjective judgment (totally interesting). So, as an example, it would be really good to say, "Charlie sneers when he sees the new haircut, and asks if you really think that's a good image for the band." This gives Paula the super-vital freedom to narrate something like "Well, I like it. The band can deal with it."

My next suggestion is that if you're introducing something that fucks with character autonomy (like deciding how someone's haircut looks), then word it as suggestion instead of hard fact. For example, "What if the hairdresser totally fucks up and leaves it all patchy and purple?" Then, Paula could have said either "oh, sure!" or "actually, I want Jenni to stay classy and sexy, so no."

Perhaps unimportantly, when I go to the hairdresser, sometimes they fuck up my haircut and I am annoyed at this. I don't have control over something like that in the real world, perhaps I don't need to have control over it in the game world either? On the flip side, if it damages how I visualize the character, that might really put me off. Keeping the subjective rooted in perspective, and offering suggestions rather than imposing facts... these can go a long way towards keeping that player happy and engaged.

Quote
Oh, and we had problems when the group went off in different directions. We had a particular problem when a player decided to introduce an Obstacle that seemed to prevent the group getting back together. My feeling is that the characters should generally stay together.

Yeah, that is tricky. In general, I think splitting the group doesn't work well for anything longer than 1-2 scenes. I often have groups split into two when they're at a diner, or a pub, or whatever. This allows for lots of juicy stuff: gossip, bitching about one another, hook-ups, miscommunication and favouritism. Hook-ups clearly being the best option.

Quote
We need some advice about framing interesting scenes. Your comment about force is good. I have a theory you should describe interesting places: we tended to describe traffic jams, where we could have described more beautiful stuff. One question in particular: are most scenes framed while driving or while not driving?

This is going to sound like a dick rhetorical question, because it sort of is: Why were you framing scenes in locations that you found uninteresting?

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I'd like to point out something really important: there is beauty to a traffic jam. The same applies to a truck stop, and the same applies to a lonely stretch of highway. One of the most important things that's going on in Ribbon Drive is finding the beauty of a given moment in a given place. So, make your traffic jam beautiful.

How do you do that? Good question. I have no idea what that word ("beautiful") means to you. Depending on my Futures and the scene and the song and my own play preferences, it might be:
*observing a small child playing with dinosaur toys in the car next to us, oblivious to what's going on around him.
*witnessing what might be a breakup fight, in mute, because the windows to the car are rolled up.
*intense, thunderous rain with winds that whip newspapers off the street and onto our windshields.
*an old man, tapping an old tune on the steering wheel of an old car.

So, here's how to frame good scenes in Ribbon Drive:
1.) Work in a Trait, in order to activate it.
2.) Find something beautiful in the scene, and introduce it into the narrative in a way that allows others to find their own beauty.
3.) Play close to home.
4.) Don't be afraid of the boring, the mundane or the meandering. Embrace the idea that some of the game will go slowly, without focus.
5.) Take time to describe the things that you find interesting - the way the rain sounds, etc.
6.) Narrate in things that will jostle your Futures (and others' Futures). Think about using internal monologues, open-ended questions and idle reflections to address those Futures.
7.) If the above isn't working, consider a confessionalist emo breakdown montage.

More replies soon!
Logged

joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2009, 05:13:34 PM »

As promised, except one week late, I've posted at Buried Without Ceremony on the topic of resolving conflicts in Ribbon Drive.
Logged

Graham W
Member

Posts: 437


WWW
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2009, 03:35:34 AM »

Thanks for the replies, Joe. They make things clearer.

Quote
This is going to sound like a dick rhetorical question, because it sort of is: Why were you framing scenes in locations that you found uninteresting?

Because we were framing scenes in locations that seemed natural. It's an obvious way to frame a scene: you think, where would we go next on this road trip? Well, we'd probably stop at a truck stop / be stuck in a traffic jam.

So, although it seems obvious, I think you need to say "Frame scenes in locations you find interesting". I like your advice about finding the beauty in scenes. That's neat.

Graham
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2009, 07:32:01 AM »

Look what I just found when hunting through archived threads for something else: Theme music! Although most of the replies seem miss what Tim proposed, Ribbon Drive seems to fill the bill perfectly. (Tim, the link is long dead ... do you still have the file?)

Best, Ron
Logged
Tim C Koppang
Member

Posts: 356


WWW
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2009, 09:54:52 AM »

Look what I just found when hunting through archived threads for something else: Theme music! Although most of the replies seem miss what Tim proposed, Ribbon Drive seems to fill the bill perfectly. (Tim, the link is long dead ... do you still have the file?)

Holy crap.  Blast from the past!  The file is still on my website actually (link).  The formatting is a bit wonky, but still legible.

- Tim
Logged

Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!