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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 82 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Making the transition from mission based play?  (Read 7043 times)
Jasper Flick
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« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2010, 01:27:25 AM »

Quote
For mission structures, one effect I have encountered is that if the general structure of play is to travel to some far away place to do some thing, this effectively always makes the characters strangers in their local surroundings.

Dogs in the Vineyard is basically mission-based (town-based). But you're not anonymous stangers! You are divine agents, and recognized as such. And third house on the left? There lives your cousin Jack. As a Dog, you're a stranger to none.

Dogs towns are very different from stuff like Shadowrun missions, but the structure is similar enough that mission-based gamers aren't completely bewildered. At least, that's my experience.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2010, 02:57:00 AM »

i]not be a typical adventurer party, and they should not be travelling around looking for adventure. Instead, they should be staying in one place (e.g. a city) where they are doing whatever they are doing. You might work together to link them in some way, give them personal relationships. You should encourage the players to put in conflicts with NPCs or even PCs, and maybe some issues for their characters. Maybe you as GM will want to add some external conflict as catalyst (the city is under siege, there is a gang war going on, the ruler just died and a new one has not been appointed yet, etc.)

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So we need a way for players to say, "I so put this on the character sheet BECAUSE I'm ok with it coming into play.  In fact, I want it to come into play!" everything on the character sheet will come into play, so they better consider this. The Keys are great because they reward players for this stuff coming into play.

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In our group it's considered bad form to put the other players in the position of sitting around watching while one person plays.  not be travelling around looking for adventure. Instead, they should be staying in one place (e.g. a city) where they are doing whatever they are doing. You might work together to link them in some way, give them personal relationships. You should encourage the players to put in conflicts with NPCs or even PCs, and maybe some issues for their characters. Maybe you as GM will want to add some external conflict as catalyst (the city is under siege, there is a gang war going on, the ruler just died and a new one has not been appointed yet, etc.)

Quote
So we need a way for players to say, "I so put this on the character sheet BECAUSE I'm ok with it coming into play.  In fact, I want it to come into play!" everything on the character sheet will come into play, so they better consider this. The Keys are great because they reward players for this stuff coming into play.

Quote
In our group it's considered bad form to put the other players in the position of sitting around watching while one person plays. 
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Aelwyn
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« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2010, 05:46:53 AM »

One of the things I like about Spirit of the Century is that character creation explicitly ties the characters together and is used for developing NPCs, especially antagonists. So instead of the players being dragged into a complete world created by the GM, the GM has to create the world based on the types of adventures and enemies the players pick.

Here's how it works: Characters are the stars of pulp novels. During character creation, the player whose character is Sally Strife decides her one of her background novels is Sally Strife and the Cult of the Withered Hand, co-starring the Man from Outside Time (another PC). Boom. That's how Sally and the Man from Outside Time know each other, and the GM now has a group of NPCs to throw at the characters--the high priest of the Cult of the Withered Hand and his minions. The player gets to create the nemesis--the GM fleshes out the nemesis and plays it in the game.

The GM can still run the characters through a preplanned mission, but at some point, the Cult should show up as a red herring or an ally of the bad guys--or maybe a group that surprisingly rescues the heroes for even more nefarious purposes!

This system requires a lot more flexibility from the GM, and I don't think it would work with a complex, traditional RPG where you need to have NPC sheets ready before a campaign.

Now if we could figure out a way to base adventures on character abilities...
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Paul T
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« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2010, 07:53:42 AM »

Along the lines of the last couple of posts, one really effective technique for the GM to get away from "mission-based play", as you're describing, is to consciously limit his or her concept of preparation. You or another GM in your group can try this very easily without having to change anything else in the game. Here's how:

Once you have a concept/premise for the game (e.g. pirates fighting a fanatic religious cult off the coast of Sri Lanka), have everyone create characters. Ideally, do so in a way that tells you a lot about the actual characters and what/who they care about--those are much more important than things like equipment and ability scores. The usual "character history" can be a good source of this stuff. (It can be great for the GM and the other players to ask each other leading questions to deepen this information, e.g. "Your father abandoned your character as a child? How does she feel about that now?")

Once that is done, the GM collects all the character information and prepares for the actual game. This is where the "conscious limit" comes in: the GM makes it a rule for herself NOT to put anything into the adventure or scenario that she did not take directly off one of the character sheets. The raw dough the players have given you in terms of character concepts is all you have to work with. The harder you make this rule for yourself, the more effective it will be.

That's just a simple experiment you can start with, but I think you'll find it revealing.



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contracycle
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« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2010, 10:29:57 AM »

Dogs in the Vineyard is basically mission-based (town-based). But you're not anonymous stangers! You are divine agents, and recognized as such. And third house on the left? There lives your cousin Jack. As a Dog, you're a stranger to none.[/uote]

I don't buy it.  Neither authority the PC carries in the game, nor any made-up-for-the-moment personal connections to the place, qualify at all for providing a sense of ownership and involvement.  Dogs are still there to Dog things, not settle-down things.  Play is not going to recur in the same place, and I don't see that the players will consider it any differentl; no matter how allegedly familiar it is supposed to be to the characters, it's still new to the players.  I don't really see that this is particularly different to a Shadowrun mission, nor is there any reason in general that it should be.
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JB
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Posts: 29


« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2010, 10:04:19 PM »

Just a short note to say I haven't dropped this thread entirely, but I've had too much other stuff going on to make any kind of considered replies.  Some good advice here, some of which I plan to implement in our games if possible, and some of which we're already doing, which makes me feel like we're on the right track.

Thanks to everyone who's contributed so far,

JB
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JB
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« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2010, 09:59:03 AM »

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JB
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« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2010, 10:15:29 AM »

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Judd
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« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2010, 12:23:26 PM »

  • The descriptors and back of the sheet for Sorcerer
    Beliefs, Instincts, Traits, Relationships, Affiliations and Reputations for Burning Wheel
    Aspects for Spirit of the Century

  • Using these items to drive the campaign does not mean the GM can stop bringing-the-mission to the player but it does mean that if there is a mission, it should be crafted in such a way to intersect and weave in the above player-authored elements, to challenge them and address them.

    I think Dogs is a really interesting example because it is entirely mission-based but how the mission is resolved is up to the players through their judgment.  The mission becomes personal, certainly and after a half a dozen to a dozen towns, the characters will be changed through engaging the system and gaining fall-out.
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    JB
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    « Reply #24 on: April 18, 2010, 10:57:02 PM »

    Judd, no offense, but I think you've missed what I was getting at. 

    All that stuff you mention - the back of the Sorcerer character sheet, BW's BITs, SotCs Aspects?  That's what we're depending on the players to bring to the table for the game.  When I say the players have to bring enough of it, what's 'enough' is sufficient quality and/or quantity of the indicators of what's important to the player that the GM can "[use] these items to drive the campaign."

    If you don't have sufficient quality and/or quantity of the indicators, it's damned hard to use those items to drive the campaign. 

    In that scenario, you can either:
    A) Opt for a play style that's not so dependent on player indicators.
    B) Figure out ways to improve the quality and/or quantity of player indicators.

    What I've been calling 'mission based play' is one way of doing A).  We're trying to accomplish B). 
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    Judd
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    « Reply #25 on: April 19, 2010, 12:35:00 AM »

    Hey JB,

    I would imagine that character-driven play can happen in a group as large as you are talking about.  I've GMed games like that back in college, games with really good friends playing for long sessions back in the day when gaming for 12 hours on a Saturday was no big thang.  Nowadays, I just couldn't game like that and honestly, wouldn't want to.  We were drifting the shit out of Ars Magica and the character indicators came from one-on-one interviews between me and the players, talking about their character histories, etc.  It was pretty tedious.

    Regarding the quality of the indicators, if the game demands some kind of indicator, you spend a session sitting around and making shit up.  Mind you, it is a difficult process and requires us to tell our friends that something isn't quite right and help them re-write it until it is right.  It means critiquing one another and supporting one another get those indicators set up for solid play.

    Quantity of player indicators,  I would imagine that has to do with the system one is using.  As mentioned above, I've done it, bent Ars Magica to our will, made it do all kinds of stuff it just wasn't made to do because we were enamored with the Verb/Noun magic system and were hopped up on Robert Jordan and youth.  But it took a severe amount of energy.  It was swimming upstream rather than, with games made for this kind of character-driven play, swimming with the current.

    Judd

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    JB
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    « Reply #26 on: April 20, 2010, 12:40:33 PM »

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    Judd
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    « Reply #27 on: April 20, 2010, 02:16:43 PM »

    Good luck, JB.

    Two things:

    JB
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    « Reply #28 on: April 21, 2010, 03:17:15 PM »

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    Judd
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    « Reply #29 on: April 23, 2010, 03:20:53 PM »

    JB, I am going to quote the portions of your description that I think could very well be getting in the way of character-driven stories.

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