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Author Topic: Motivate role-playing in a cooperative roleplaying game  (Read 3416 times)
Bleu Ash
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Sensible senselessness


« on: September 26, 2009, 09:54:36 AM »

What are some mechanical ways to motivate and facilitate role-playing in a GM-less cooperative role playing game?

The only one that I can come up with is having each player playing against every other player at the table and having them vote on the other players "performance" somehow. Each player would need to take on different roles during a scene and the whole thing would have to be highly structured. This steps on the fun of the game though and it does not develop a free form experience of joined accomplishment. Perhaps having two teams. At a certain point it begins to feel like a board game without a GM.

Concepts that would have to be included would be each player represents one main character and possibly play other NPCs while concurrently playing their character at the same time.

So, any thoughts on how to share the responsibility of role-playing within the game.

First post too btw.
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Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?"
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jefgodesky
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« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2009, 10:04:11 AM »

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this. I don't think you can really have a game where players compete against each other, and allow players to cooperate at the same time. One or the other becomes shallow. That said, I think you can set up the game to offer the resistance, so the players can cooperate to overcome it.

I wrote this post about building a game economy around the old improv technique of "I'm gonna make you look awesome" back in February that might interest you.
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hix
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Steve Hickey


« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2009, 02:45:36 PM »

Welcome to the Forge, Bleu.

Could you give me a little bit more detail about what you mean by 'cooperative'? It'd be great if you could describe how you see a GM-less cooperative RPG experience being played out, or give some examples of other games that do similar things to what you're thinking of for your design.
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Bleu Ash
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Posts: 8

Sensible senselessness


« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2009, 04:22:14 PM »

Welcome to the Forge, Bleu.
Thanks
Could you give me a little bit more detail about what you mean by 'cooperative'? It'd be great if you could describe how you see a GM-less cooperative RPG experience being played out, or give some examples of other games that do similar things to what you're thinking of for your design.
Well, I envision it being highly structured and task oriented similar to a board game. Draw a card and defeat the challenge or successfully roleplay the situation. Other players take on certain roles spelled out by the encounter.

Without a GM it simply becomes one of two things: collective imagination with a highly detailed structure on how you can alter the story or a succession of random tasks with a goal in mind. So it goes from ephemeral nonsense without the right group or to dice rolling tedium in another. It would be nice to be able to strike some medium between the two. When you take away the GM it falls into the rut of a complete-task-to-win style game. This could be nice to add to a board game to add some flare, because it often is already a complete-task-to-win style game.

I know of no other RPGs that are GM-less, if nothing else it could be a neat novelty.
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Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?"
- Bernard Shaw
jefgodesky
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« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2009, 10:00:33 PM »

You should play some of the GM-less games out there then, to see how they tackle it. If nothing else, you should definitely play a few sessions of Polaris.
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jefgodesky
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« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2009, 10:08:07 PM »

Also well worth trying: Penny for My Thoughts and Archipelago (available free online, actually). I haven't gotten to play them, but I've also heard good things about Geiger Counter, Capes, The Shab-al-Hiri Roach, The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen and The Committee for the Exploration of Mysteries.
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Bleu Ash
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Sensible senselessness


« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2009, 08:31:10 AM »

Interesting, I am looking through Archipelago now. The two styles of GM-less games are ephemeral and rolling tedium, this one fits into the ephemeral area and relies on the players to create a story for themselves. It works in turns, there is a structure to veto what someone is saying, there are cards that allow for a resolution mechanic, and different players specialize in a certain "element" such as magic and everyone defers to their specialty in that area when a question comes up to how it should be resolved. It could be fun, I will have to try it.

I had no idea there where so many GM-less games out there. :p
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Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?"
- Bernard Shaw
Callan S.
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« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2009, 08:56:45 PM »

I'm not sure about motivating - much like members of a musical band like playing music without being motivated to do so, you aught to be working with people who like thinking of what a character would do/what it'd be like to be in their shoes without being motivated to do so. It's more about saying when they can cut lose with their characters portrayal, and when they sit back and its someone elses turn or something else is happening.

I mean, unless you take it roleplaying is talking with a funny voice and pretty much saying all the lines you'd be expected to end up saying. In such a case I'd be serious in suggesting cue cards.
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Philosopher Gamer
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2009, 06:54:01 AM »

One approach is to apply tension to the cooperative element.  If I'm forced into situations where I need to use another player's character's resources, by hooking narrative cues into that exchange you've got built-in interaction and drama, maybe on both player and character level.  You are letting them generate an interesting and meaningful situation out of mechanical constraint.  Whether they take that and run with it as a roleplaying opportunity isn't something you can control, but the system offers up the gift if they want to take it.
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Bleu Ash
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Posts: 8

Sensible senselessness


« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2009, 08:26:58 AM »

I'm not sure about motivating - much like members of a musical band like playing music without being motivated to do so, you aught to be working with people who like thinking of what a character would do/what it'd be like to be in their shoes without being motivated to do so. It's more about saying when they can cut lose with their characters portrayal, and when they sit back and its someone elses turn or something else is happening.

I mean, unless you take it roleplaying is talking with a funny voice and pretty much saying all the lines you'd be expected to end up saying. In such a case I'd be serious in suggesting cue cards.
I see your point, it is the dilemma, I suppose I am looking for a way to structure the game more. So you can facilitate the task oriented story arc (complete 5 chapters of this story arc) with having some mode of group control or restraint over the arc without it simply devolving into something else entirely.

It is a difficult thing because the only way I see to do this is to either to have a pre-written story arc that the group reveals as they get to the next part or they roll on charts/draw card for random encounters. Some encounters could be combat encounters and some role playing encounters. What I am looking for is a way to capture that suspension of disbelief while still engaged in a "railroaded" plot.
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Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?"
- Bernard Shaw
Bleu Ash
Member

Posts: 8

Sensible senselessness


« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2009, 08:46:25 AM »

One approach is to apply tension to the cooperative element.  If I'm forced into situations where I need to use another player's character's resources, by hooking narrative cues into that exchange you've got built-in interaction and drama, maybe on both player and character level.  You are letting them generate an interesting and meaningful situation out of mechanical constraint.  Whether they take that and run with it as a roleplaying opportunity isn't something you can control, but the system offers up the gift if they want to take it.

This is good. Provide the mechanical hooks and it is up to the individual player to activate these through their own volition.

Something like:

The King is the only one in the world with a certainthingamadodee
The players need this certainthingamadodee to get to the next thing within the story arc

These are facts that the game's story would provide. The players would collectively determine how they want to obtain the item from them. They may collectively decide to steal it, speak to king and argue their necessity for it, try to buy or even ignore their need. The permutations are too numerous to count but they could probably be boiled down to select few types of "missions" which would generate diplomacy scenes, combat scenes, or many other types too. These different scene types could either have charts or a deck of cards to identify what the difficulties and wrinkles are. Then the players would have to offer up the details of the scene collaboratively based on what the difficulties and wrinkles are. NPC are played by other players (of course) and difficulties and wrinkles continue until the player(s) is successful or fails the scene.
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Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?"
- Bernard Shaw
Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2009, 10:17:32 AM »

Cool, glad to help.  What you arrived at is not what I had in mind, but that's certainly a good thing! 

In games without a GM, I've found that it is best to point the participants at one another pretty strongly and let them generate their own adversity.  Polaris does this by defining roles - When it is your scene, my job is to challenge you and, if I can, break your character on the wheel of my cruel imagination.  In The Shab Al-Hiri Roach, your success is my failure, generally speaking, so competition and faction-building are explicit in the situation.  In both cases, everything outside our cozy circle of player-authored characters is just color.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2009, 04:07:04 PM »

What I am looking for is a way to capture that suspension of disbelief while still engaged in a "railroaded" plot.
What I understand suspension of disbelief to be is generally plausible causality - ie, one thing sets off something else and it seems totally natural for that to happen - and this keeps happening, in a constant flow during RL play, so current fictional events are based off a series of plausible causal events.

As a side note: What one group thinks is plausible another group thinks is silly. For this reason in this thread I will not discuss 'what would really happen'. I'll only ever talk about what one group might think would really happen.

I think I'm able to work up some suggestions for that, but I'll wait to see if it sounds of any use to you, first.
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Philosopher Gamer
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Bleu Ash
Member

Posts: 8

Sensible senselessness


« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2009, 04:41:36 PM »

Callan, absolutely I would be interested in seeing some of your ideas on this.
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Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?"
- Bernard Shaw
Bleu Ash
Member

Posts: 8

Sensible senselessness


« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2009, 09:00:42 AM »

Cool, glad to help.  What you arrived at is not what I had in mind, but that's certainly a good thing! 

My example was not actually tied to the comments above but more to just how it might work in general.

As to getting players to activate other players abilities it could work like:

Characters have complications and boons a player can activate one of their boons by activating another players complication.
A player has the Hunted complication (Police) and another player has the Ally boon (Summoned magical monster), the player can bring his summoned magical monster) into a combat by making the Police show up there too. Pretty simple in concept.Other players would have there own Complications and boons too and there would have to be a way to limit them somehow. Perhaps minor boons can be used every scene and major boons once per session, same with complications. There could also be boons and complications randomly drawn/rolled for during a scene that players could then activate if they wanted.
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Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?"
- Bernard Shaw
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