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Author Topic: I hate compromises  (Read 8629 times)
Noclue
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Posts: 304


« Reply #60 on: March 08, 2010, 11:01:00 PM »

Yes! Something concrete from that older MG campaign has finally popped up.

We wanted to re-visit and interrogate a bartender who, previously, sold us to agents from another city. We wanted the bartender to spill everything about those agents, he wanted to prove the Guard is oppressive or something like that, I believe. We played some good cop, bad cop. We lost with a compromise. I suggested a twist: we don't learn anything significant, but only because a dagger thrown from an unknown direction kills the bartender, and we're left with a body on the floor. Seemed adequate to the situation and pretty cinematic. I recall being very enthusiasthic about that outcome. The rest of the group was like, uh, oh, maybe, but no. Then, a few other suggestions were made, before we reached the final outcome, but I had no other ideas. I was at best neutral about those ideas and I felt sort of dissapointed. I don't even recall that final compromise now. However, I'm perfectly sure it didn't affect the campaign at large, that deal with the bartender never came up again, and we didn't engage those agents in later missions.

Hi Filip. I just wanted to focus for a sec on something concrete in the form of your example. Perhaps your group was not up for the twist because it wasn't actually a compromise. They don't get the info. That's cool, but the twist feels like a dead end. The knife thrown wasn't a compromise unless it represents a new avenue for investigation. If you had said something like "You don't get the info because he's killed by knife from somewhere. A very distinctive knife inscribed with the blacksmith's symbol." Perhaps they would have went for it. They didn't get what they were after, but they did get something.

Also, if they lost, then the bartender had to get what he wanted. Did he, in fact, prove that the Guard was oppressive?
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James R.
Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #61 on: March 09, 2010, 05:28:43 AM »

i]someone<for you<youfor you<you
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JoyWriter
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also known as Josh W


« Reply #62 on: March 11, 2010, 06:52:49 AM »

I don't know. I don't quite see how this sort of social crunch aligns with the mechanical crunch for those people. In games like BE or MG specifically, there's quite an excessive amount of the latter. It feels strikingly illusory. It sounds like very basic and sketchy procedures would do. Why have so elaborate procedures for everything else?

I don't quite fit Callan's model, but for me the fact that the system puts you on the spot and says "you have to compromise" is pretty amazing. Why? Because people often just brush over the problem of making a workable compromise; I win/you win/let's forget about it etc.

It's like chess forces you not to merely say "I win", but to engage with the other persons strategy, absorb it, and defeat it.

Now there might be a problem in how the game text actually refers to compromise, because it should say "you have to compromise" to everyone playing, and it could probably do with some kind of strategy guide to stop it being too daunting at first.

"GM offers ideas that you keep vetoing" is not compromise, it's deadlock. What the rules should say is "none of you will get what you want, unless you suddenly find a way to shift it all slightly to make it work together, and then you'll probably get little more than half what you wanted". The rules should set the conditions and expectations at the start of a piece of negotiation so that everyone commits to getting something partial.

In other words, in this case, the rules don't make peace between you, they lock you in a room until you sort it out. (It reminds me of the conclusion of this african conflict, but I can't remember where it was)

Now that's not great if you expect the "resolution mechanic" to resolve your conflicts all by itself, and if you're wedded to the old "cops and robbers" metaphor of rpg rules. That's why the point in the rules that says you have to compromise is so important; during a battle of wits you'll probably be getting more and more hyped, investing more and more in victory for your character, and then suddenly you have to make peace with that person you were competing with. That's quite a tone shift, and it needs to be flagged up as such, it's the equivalent of dropping of a cliff in terms of it's support for un-empathic thinking. Maybe that's intentional, with it acting as an encouragement to shift your tactics, and do the compromise more on your own terms? I don't know the game that well.

It seems to me that you should get everyone used to the idea "you've all lost unless you can pull a way out of it", so instead of preferences expanding when the potential of negotiation is opened, it is clear that that negotiation is occurring within a very limited scope.

Now why would anyone put that into a game? Why would they force you to make that kind of grudging decision? It's often not that cinematic, not that dramatically satisfying, but it is a part of life that doesn't get transmitted very easily through passive media; it's not cinematic because cinema finds it really hard to do! It's a whole region of creative exploration that interactive forms of entertainment/art have a unique power to touch well, because it's all about the feeling of interacting with someone different from you. Why else? Because it's like a death condition in a fighting game, it's another way to loose, and loosing heightens drama (again I'm not sure that this is emphasised or done well in your game). There is a familiar fear among political types of the dead compromise text, which is all waffle and no satisfaction, and many people feel so much energy in things like the copenhagen talks because they want that time to be the time that it doesn't happen. Why (thirdly)? Because sometimes you can do that last minute save, where the compromise is maybe even better than the first two options, or at least as good.

Does that help? Show why someone might want to put compromise into the game as a specific element, rather than just as a hole? In that case the rules should be setting up that next section of the game, and it might just be that they don't do that very well for you; it's not clear how the two game-play modules link up properly.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #63 on: March 11, 2010, 04:13:45 PM »

Josh, to me that's like saying if were all behind a car pushing, cars are about being together and working together and the car is totally working if everyones behind it, together, pushing (and one guy at the steering wheel, I guess).

I'd grant a game author might want to deliberately put in the features you list. But in all the RPG's you've played, did they always deliberately put them in? Really? Or did they just screw up and this is not an intended element of the activity? And the games broken down as much as the stopped car (even if you can all push the game along)?
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Philosopher Gamer
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JoyWriter
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also known as Josh W


« Reply #64 on: March 12, 2010, 04:24:15 AM »

But in all the RPG's you've played, did they always deliberately put them in?

God, no! But they could do. Just like a car breaking down can be made into a fun toboggan-like game, providing you put better handles on the back of the car.

It's not that it must be this way, that it always is this way, but it can be this way. It's a whole set of fun that people can try to support, even though in other contexts it'd be terrible.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #65 on: March 12, 2010, 02:52:14 PM »

Yes, but from my perspective there's an error going on, shown in how it goes from 'it can be made into a fun game' into 'It is a whole set of fun that people can try to support' all too easily. Not to mention how the last sentence to me implies that if there isn't any fun, it's not because the game isn't a set of fun, it's because people aren't supporting it (ie, it gets punted to the group dynamic level rather than accepting it's the mechanics that have failed, not the group) - when actually the game just isn't fun.

The mutation from treating something as 'can be made fun' to 'is fun/has always been fun' is something I've seen repeated through almost all roleplay/gamer culture. I'd support the notion it can be made fun, except it always seems to mutate all too rapidly into 'it IS a set of fun, already' or suchlike. It mutated in your own post in the space of three sentences.

It's terrible in this context too, not just other contexts.

In terms of why I've stuck around despite traditional RPG's, is that I've pretty much treated 99% of trad sessions as playtests, trying to fish out the good components that are there, or that get spontaniously invented at the table. I haven't stuck around because there is a whole set of fun that already exists and that people just need to support it. For whatever worth my own account is.
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Philosopher Gamer
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JoyWriter
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also known as Josh W


« Reply #66 on: March 12, 2010, 04:24:13 PM »

Yes, but from my perspective there's an error going on, shown in how it goes from 'it can be made into a fun game' into 'It is a whole set of fun that people can try to support' all too easily.
I'm using the word "it" to refer to two different things in that last post (the car that becomes a game, and then the potential), the implication you expect is not one I'm pushing!

Just because something crap can be made good, doesn't mean I blame someone for not doing it. It's a skill, and anyway, the "support" I was referring to was from the game designer, setting up the rules structure so it brings out the best of that dynamic, obstructs some of the worst of it, contextualises it appropriately and helps people get on board. Isn't "rules support" part of forge-speak?

Making the best the default and slapping people if they don't hit it first time is not what I do, I try to expect little but encourage much. And I'd rather be good (and learning) at an easier task than floundering with a hard one, so I love it when the game's designer puts help in or breaks a problem up in a good way, so I can get a grip on it and move up in skill while enjoying myself.

In short, I'm with you man, just trying to show something cool.
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #67 on: March 14, 2010, 06:26:25 PM »

Callan,

Quote
Because those rules, and whether they are followed, and how much, and how the wording is interpreted, and how much we follow what rules Jack wants now cause we followed what rules Jill wanted before...it is the actual chips, points and currency of the social dynamics game. The needlessly baroque rules allow there to be more social dynamics currency.

Oh.

It still feels out of game for me, though. That social game, it's something we do with entire games, before we agree to play one in the first place. It's an inconvenient necessity, a prerequisite to get any gaming at all. While I'm aware that a substantial portion of gamers play for primarily social reasons, the game itself providing a mere pretext to gather and engage in their social games, packaging this sort of experience under the guise of a ruleset doesn't seem quite right to me.

Actually, this might be the source of that sense of disconnect I often get, like there were two (or possibly more) entirely different and fundamentally incompatible categories of activities, rather than just modes of play, rooted in the same product base.

I think a lot of my dissatisfaction with games in general stemmed from how upon closer examination it often turned out those products weren't exactly what the cover seemed to promise, even though various bits and pieces were perfectly fine on their own. Like, for instance, if one examines the rules of a traditional game thoroughly enough, only the GM remains. Normally, before commiting to a system, I try to identify rules that effectively grant a single player complete or near complete control over the game. Looks like I should be equally careful about rules that push too much crucial stuff to group consensus.

James,

Quote
Hi Filip. I just wanted to focus for a sec on something concrete in the form of your example. Perhaps your group was not up for the twist because it wasn't actually a compromise. They don't get the info. That's cool, but the twist feels like a dead end. The knife thrown wasn't a compromise unless it represents a new avenue for investigation. If you had said something like "You don't get the info because he's killed by knife from somewhere. A very distinctive knife inscribed with the blacksmith's symbol." Perhaps they would have went for it. They didn't get what they were after, but they did get something.

Also, if they lost, then the bartender had to get what he wanted. Did he, in fact, prove that the Guard was oppressive?

Note that interrogating the bartender was the last thing we did that session. That compromise would have confirmed the agents were still somewhere near, active and dangerous, prompting further investigation in the next mission. None of the other options suggested represented a better avenue for investigation, anyway. As for the bartender's goal, of course he would get what he wanted. We'd be found with his dead body on the floor, all evidence pointing at us.

But that's not the point. Fiction is flexible, it can accomodate all sorts of outcomes, it could progress from that point like from any other. The point is, the rules asked me to come up with a twist, so I came up with something adequate enough that I felt really enthusiastic about. However, the same rules allowed others to dismiss it just like that. I guess I'd rather have it as part of my stakes in that conflict and lose it. At least I'd know what I fight for up front. What happened intrinsically wasn't better than the GM nodding wisely, pretending to look at my roll, and making shit up on the spot in a traditional game. Funny how not so very long ago, I've seen Burning Stuff praised for how those games protect players from various trad GM tricks with open stakes, let it ride, advancement and all.

Frank,

Quote
Callan S.
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« Reply #68 on: March 14, 2010, 08:43:43 PM »

Filip, I'm just nodding with you through your post, is all I can say! That it doesn't feel quite right - I agree! Particularly the 'only the GM remains' - rather poetic way to describe it too! I had a long, long thread on story games once where I tried to explain that rule zero nukes all other rules and makes them effectively moot/non existant. No one seemed to accept it because they'd say only a jerk GM would do that - again, it gets punted to the social dynamic level to handle how mechanically, only the GM remains.

Also what I'm trying to describe with the rules as social currency - that's trying to put it in a constructive, somewhat functional model of play. I could just describe it as utter cluelessness (see Ron's responce to me), because it's close to that and pretty much develops from it, if it develops at all.
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Philosopher Gamer
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Noclue
Member

Posts: 304


« Reply #69 on: March 14, 2010, 09:58:18 PM »

What happened intrinsically wasn't better than the GM nodding wisely, pretending to look at my roll, and making shit up on the spot in a traditional game. Funny how not so very long ago, I've seen Burning Stuff praised for how those games protect players from various trad GM tricks with open stakes, let it ride, advancement and all.

I think if having to come to an agreement with all the other players feels the same to you as a GM making up an arbitrary outcome and applying it to you, than you are correct BW and BE are not going to be satisfying. In another game, you might have had the ability to declare that your twist happened through fiat or through applying a mechanic, but in the game you were playing consensus was required from the people at the table. The mechanics for DoWs get you to "who wins" and "who loses," and "who has to compromise," but then they demand that the players decide how that compromise is translated into the fiction that you're all creating. For my part, I value the room that the rules allow for creative collaboration regarding compromises, even though I know that not every offer I put forward will be accepted. It's the reason that, much as I love the Fight! mechanics in BW, I find a good DoW much more engaging. What you see as a grain of sand, I see as the heart of the game and the reason I enjoy it.
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James R.
Callan S.
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« Reply #70 on: March 14, 2010, 11:57:21 PM »

How do you mean the rules allow room for creative collaboration on compromise, James? You already have that when you don't use written rules at all all, don't you?
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Philosopher Gamer
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Frank Tarcikowski
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Hamburg, Germany


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« Reply #71 on: March 15, 2010, 09:07:23 AM »

However, when it comes to approaching the thread from the angle of dealing with a complaining customer or the like, I can only dismiss those posts as completely unproductive. Now, no benefit of the doubt is needed: if something I say comes across as too pretensious or anything to you, I suggest not engaging in the discussion at all might prove better for both of us.

What the fuck? I warned you, twice. You asked for my fucking opinion. Thanks for wasting my time. You are not my fucking customer, my job is not to make you satisfied. So you hate compromises, you prefer to always have your way, is it that? /thread

/nerdrage
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If you come across a post by a guest called Frank T, that was me. My former Forge account was destroyed in the Spam Wars. Collateral damage.
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #72 on: March 15, 2010, 10:17:03 AM »

Ah, and right when I'd already decided it was time to bring in the moderation.

Where to start. First, Frank - that post was nonsense, and beneath you. The internet is full of people who lose their shit just because they think someone called them names.

Second, Filip, your emotions have been triggered too often in this thread and you let them rule your responses too much. The topic has been strong enough that I've respected the discussion, but I think an emotions-reasons-emotions cycle is started, so I'm stopping it.

The topic is still available for discussion. However, this particular thread is now closed, and if you want to discuss something substantive based on it, then start a new thread with a link back to this one.

Best, Ron




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