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Author Topic: Dynamic Status Quo  (Read 9829 times)
Le Joueur
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« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2001, 08:18:00 AM »

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contracycle wrote:
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By contrast, making the character an insider gives the player a huge opportunity to exploit - they rapidly learn to distinguish between what the player knows and what the character knows, learn how to interact with the GM, implicitly develop some of the player stances, etc.

Can you explain this?  I cannot make any sense of it.  How would none of this happen to the player of an outsider character?

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I would take this further: in line with certain theories of political organization, I would take the least experienced player and put them in a position of power over other PC's; make them the lead, the default focus, the person whose consent must be got (if this kind of structure is plausible in your game, which it often isn't).

The problem I have always had with this technique is that these kinds of insiders are in power because of their efficacy.  As characters, they get things done because<
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This means that they DON'T get ignored by the experienced players and are unable to adopt a "wallflower" stance in relation to the game; they must become engaged because the other players are engaging them directly, and probably In Character.insider with my coworkers in the cube farm and in my company, I am an outsider as far as the management staff is concerned (and this is further complicated by my access and restrictions with the insider<characters
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2001, 08:57:00 AM »

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contracycle wrote:
So, precisely which channels were you exploiting?

Okay.  Specifically:

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All along the concerned parties constantly butted against...the disdain that separates commoners from capitalistic aristocracy,Quote
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contracycle
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« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2001, 01:48:00 AM »

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I am not sure what you mean here.  Are you saying (as it literally does) that a gamemaster is not going to give information to the players even if their characters have access  (It looks like a miswording.)


Probably.  What I meant is that an insider can ask insider questions of the GM, while an outsider PC can only ask outsider questions.  I find this tends to reinforce the "outsiderness" for new players; by bringing them into the insider camp and making that assumed/implied knowledge available to their characters, I think they find out more and are encouraged to find out in this manner.

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Or do you mean that there is a logical reason that a player of an insider can get an answer to questions like, "whose corporation was split up because of monopolizing," when a player of an outsider cannot?  If so, can you explain this?


Yes, the GM may well refuse to answer on the basis that the character, being an outsider, has no access to such information.

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By contrast, making the character an insider gives the player a huge opportunity to exploit - they rapidly learn to distinguish between what the player knows and what the character knows, learn how to interact with the GM, implicitly develop some of the player stances, etc.


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Can you explain this?  I cannot make any sense of it.  How would none of this happen to the player of an outsider character?


All I mean is that the new players experience is a barrage of "your character would'nt know" when they ask questions about the game world.  That helsp no-one and is IMO a restriction on getting into thre habit of seeing the distinction betrween player and character.

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The problem I have always had with this technique is that these kinds of insiders are in power because of their efficacy.  As characters, they get things done because


I think that the ASSUMPTION that they are there for reasons of efficacy is illusionary, and that in fact they gain this halo by virtue of their position of power, and not vice versa.

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be dumping a first year politician into the role of the chairman of the judiciary committee just in time for the impeachment proceedings.  How are they going to handle the proceedings?  How will they know what (overt and covert) congressional alliances to pander to?  How can they consider, as a veteran, what effects it will have on their popularity amongst their constituents?  But these questions are easy for someone well-versed with the setting.


Well, in the case of politics, perhaps it would be BETTER for the chariman NOT to be concerned by such matters :wink: and have to take direction for such answers from the floor.  They call that healthy debate.  What it severel;y limits is the autocracy of power, the chairman who rules according to theri prejudices but on the presumption that their prejudices are their wisdom and experience.

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every point in society.  For example, while I am an insider with my coworkers in the cube farm and in my company, I am an outsider as far as the management staff is concerned (and this is further complicated by my access and restrictions with the insider files that I manage).


Sure, I implicitly assumed that when you said outsider you meant this as a role, part of their relationship to the setting.

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Does that make any sense at all?


Oh it makes sense, I just think the detriments of outsider characters outweigh the benefits, by and large.  Certainly for new players, I do not think its a good technique at all.  Frex in Vampire, I think the game would have eben better written had it not assumed starting players would be 13th Generation.  Players didn't like that, and didn;t play it like that - they wanted to be insiders, to be movers and shakers.  I suppose what I mean in general terms is that I don't think the outsider role supports or assists exposition of plot, setting or method of play, and as such is counterproductive especially for starting players.

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contracycle
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« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2001, 02:04:00 AM »

re Franchises:

I am still not following the precise concept here.  Frex the "paying your dues" seems like a process for turning outsiders into insiders.   The "commoner" franchise kinda makes sense to me, but I'm not sure how you are employing it deliberately... although I have doubts whether in social terms this is a franchise for "dealing with" outsiders so much as creating outsiders.  Do you mean that you use as a tool for looking at settings/societies and saying "OK, the outsider franchises are X, Y, I can engage players through those social constructs".  One of my concerns here is that it sounds a bit like the idea that if you kidnap the characters and make them slaves, this enagages them.  I'm not sure it does.  Could you list franchises by setting or group, for example?
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Valamir
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« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2001, 05:27:00 AM »

If you had trouble following the jargon in the GNS model, this thread ought to be making your head spin about now.

Is it possible to bring this discussion back in the realm of people who don't speak in terms of franchises and Theories of Potential Wallflowers?
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2001, 12:50:00 PM »

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contracycle wrote:
re: Franchises

I am still not following the precise concept here.  For example, the "paying your dues" seems like a process for turning outsiders into insiders.extra<
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The "commoner" franchise kinda makes sense to me, but I'm not sure how you are employing it deliberately...Quote
although I have doubts whether, in social terms, this is a franchise for "dealing with" outsiders so much as creating outsiders.Quote
Do you mean that you use [it] as a tool for looking at settings/societies and saying "OK, the outsider franchises are X, Y, I can engage players through those social constructs".Quote
One of my concerns here is that it sounds a bit like the idea that if you kidnap the characters and make them slaves, this engages them.  I'm not sure it does.can<
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Could you list franchises by setting or group, for example?outlaws, the stole from the rich and gave to the poor.  The sheriff, the local representative of government, was building support among a number of nobles<crown<co-conspirators.  Why?  Because of how their society handles traitors.  Openly they would have had all manner of legal difficulties.

Now, if the player characters observe this kind of thing going on, they do not need to ply the lives of outlaws until Marion is captured and then infiltrate an archery contest (that works better as a novel anyway).  Depending on what the player characters come up with, they could set themselves up in the role of despicable nobility in hopes of garnering favor with the sheriff.  This would bring them into conflict with those in favor with Richard<travelers are held unless they adopt disguises based on favored classes (such as wandering friars<outlaw.  Fearing force of arms, the youth escapes into the woods banding together with many who have been forced into the franchise of outlaw by harsh treatment by the local land-keeper (the sheriff).  Using the only resources at hand in this new franchise, the outlaws of Sherwood<that help?

Fang Langford
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2001, 02:11:00 PM »

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contracycle wrote:
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Fang Langford wrote:
I am not sure what you mean here.  Are you saying (as it literally does) that a gamemaster is not going to give information to the players even if their characters have access  (It looks like a miswording.)

Probably.  What I meant is that an insider can ask insider questions of the GM, while an outsider PC can only ask outsider questions.  I find this tends to reinforce the "outsiderness" for new players; by bringing them into the insider camp and making that assumed/implied knowledge available to their characters, I think they find out more and are encouraged to find out in this manner.Quote
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Or do you mean that there is a logical reason that a player of an insider can get an answer to questions like, "whose corporation was split up because of monopolizing," when a player of an outsider cannot?  If so, can you explain this?

Yes, the GM may well refuse to answer on the basis that the character, being an outsider, has no access to such information.more information available to an insider.  In a balanced gaming situation, this does not even matter; the gamemaster should be spending time interacting with each player regardless of insider status in accords with the need to keep that player engaged, not based on some prejudiced idea of where more information lay.

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By contrast, making the character an insider gives the player a huge opportunity to exploit - they rapidly learn to distinguish between what the player knows and what the character knows, learn how to interact with the GM, implicitly develop some of the player stances, etc.

Can you explain this?  I cannot make any sense of it.  How would none of this happen to the player of an outsider character?
This scheme bespeaks a conflict not between techniques, but of the In-Character/Out-Of-Character knowledge scheme.  The franchised rebellion technique says nothing about what kind of insider information you can share with the player<
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The problem I have always had with this technique is that these kinds of insiders are in power because of their efficacy.  As characters, they get things done because of their position.

I think that the ASSUMPTION that they are there for reasons of efficacy is illusionary, and that in fact they gain this halo by virtue of their position of power, and not vice versa.Quote
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The effect would be dumping a first year politician into the role of the chairman of the judiciary committee just in time for the impeachment proceedings.  How are they going to handle the proceedings?  How will they know what (overt and covert) congressional alliances to pander to?  How can they consider, as a veteran, what effects it will have on their popularity amongst their constituents?  But these questions are easy for someone well-versed with the setting.

Well, in the case of politics, perhaps it would be BETTER for the chairman NOT to be concerned by such matters :wink: and have to take direction for such answers from the floor.  They call that healthy debate.Quote
What it severely limits is the autocracy of power, the chairman who rules according to their prejudices but on the presumption that their prejudices are their wisdom and experience.exactly<players<
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the implicit struggle between conservatism and the maverick is still invisible to the player, but it might also be concealed from the character - as the character is an outsider.  So the player, as I see it,Quote
[the player]
gets the worst of both worlds; the "system" is treating them as a threat but they may not even know why.Quote
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This exists on many levels at every point in society.  For example, while I am an insider with my coworkers in the cube farm and in my company, I am an outsider as far as the management staff is concerned (and this is further complicated by my access and restrictions with the insider files that I manage).
Yours might not have, and I agree it was too restrictive.  But a 13th generation Ventrue was anything but an outsider.

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they wanted to be insiders, to be movers and shakers.  I suppose what I mean, in general terms, is that I don't think the outsider role supports or assists exposition of plot, setting or method of play, and as such is counterproductive especially for starting players.
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2001, 04:17:00 PM »

Hey Fang,

It sounds like we have lost most of the audience anyway.

To the contrary, I think it's an exceptionally interesting idea. What I think though is that it becomes difficult for people to react to in a primarily theoretical context, without seeing its value demonstrated, without presentation of how to prep a scenario based on the method, without guidelines and actual play examples on how a GM would conceptualize and work the insider/outsider relationships to enfranchise outsiders and disenfranchise insiders in ways that engage players in consciously authoring narratives with their characters. In the case of a group of players who've all created outsider characters, it seems that multiple simultaneous actions by forces of enfranchisment is important, so as to allow each player to differentiate their protagonism from the others thematically, rather than stylistically ("Okay, I'll go along with the mission too, but I'm the one who's bitter about it, got that.")

I definitely see how the push/pull of insider/outsider relationships is worth exploring for its potential to hook the player. I just have trouble distilling from the theory the techniques for working with it from the ground up.

Paul
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contracycle
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« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2001, 02:16:00 AM »

/quote]

:sad: Theres no need for that.

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If the gamemaster is not willing to give the new player the additional attention due a rookie, I hardly think instructing them to force an insider role on them will do anything other than complicate matters (in the bad way).  

IF that were what I was talking about, but it isn't.

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dysfunctional social dynamic of the whole group.  Whether the player chooses to be an insider or an outsider (because it should be emphatically the choice of the player not the gamemaster) makes little difference in the face of this dysfunction.


Yes, but I am NOT talking about a disfunction.  I am challenging the idea that outsider stance is BETTER for game starts, and for new players.  Please restrict your criticisms to the point I am actually making.

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Your response suggests that you think there is somehow more information available to an insider.  In a balanced gaming situation, this does not even matter; the gamemaster should be spending time interacting with each player regardless of insider status in accords with the need to keep that player engaged, not based on some prejudiced idea of where more information lay.


Obviously, but it will be OUTSIDER interaction.  And the character will still be outside at the end of it, and still be largely ignorant of your setting.

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Then you are saying that there is inherently more insider information in your games than outsider.  This suggests that your game does not even support the outsider role well, so why bother?


Do you give the same answer about the NYPD to a character who is a cop in the force or to a character who is a petty street pickpocket?  Obviously not.  Thus I suggest that if you mandate that new players start with outsider characters, you hamper rather than encourage player self-education.

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interaction between a character and some group they are not a party to (or are in conflict with); surely you are not suggesting that all new players should have characters who have access to every level of every enclosed group in the entire campaign.


No.  But I am suggesting that going out of your way to make new characters outsiders is counter-productive.  The outsider role benefits from a player who has already been on the inside (possibly from prior, OOC info), and knows what they are missing.  The new player does not know what they are missing, and thus there "outsiderness" has little impact, and hence drama.  There is no contrast to draw.

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What you seem to be saying is that, if the character is on the outside of anything, the player will quit.  If that is the case, there is no technique anywhere that will prevent that.


That is a gross and illogical over-extention of my argument.  I am specifically and exclusively challenging the claim that the outsider position is BETTER for NEW players.

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I think that would be called incompetence.  Politicians who cannot run their own committees usually find themselves in the private sector after the next election.


Some people might think that what you described as "knowing how to run a committee" is not in FACT knowing how to run a committee, and is thus INefficient.  Some people might think that Getting Things Done was the point of politics.

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Prejudice in that direction is exactly what we want.  Objectivity would be a disservice to the constituency.


Really?  I think you missed what I was alluding to, but neverminds it OT.

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Yours might not have, and I agree it was too restrictive.  But a 13th generation Ventrue was anything but an outsider.


Need not have been, but by the tacit set-up of the game, should be.

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(I believe one of the intentional design elements was to make players start out as weak character exactly so they would desire more power, can you think of a better emotional engagement right out of the box?)


I have been: make them INSIDERS from the start.

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And you have every right to your opinion.  I, on the other hand, think that new players should be afforded both roles (insider and outside), as they desire.  I think it would be


I understood you were advocating the outsider status as particularly good for new players; it is this preference I am challenging.

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something I came up with to deal with new players who chose to make characters who did not fit in (unbeknownst to them), because they liked an idea.  Since it is a fair
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OK, I envision a much more involved process between GM and player for new players.

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What say we take this increasingly emotional discussion to private messaging?  It sounds like we have lost most of the audience anyway.


If you like, although I suspect, as if often the case with this medium, that we are arguing at slightly cross purposes.


[ This Message was edited by: contracycle on 2001-08-17 06:25 ]
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2001, 04:51:00 AM »

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Paul Czege wrote:
Fang Langford wrote:
It sounds like we have lost most of the audience anyway.


To the contrary, I think it's an exceptionally interesting idea.
  • without seeing its value demonstrated,
  • without presentation of how to prep a scenario based on the method,
  • without guidelines and actual play examples on how a GM would conceptualize and work the insider/outsider relationships to enfranchise outsiders and disenfranchise insiders in ways that engage players in consciously authoring narratives with their characters.
  • In the case of a group of players who've all created outsider characters, it seems that multiple simultaneous actions by forces of enfranchisment is important, so as to allow each player to differentiate their protagonism from the others thematically, rather than stylistically ("Okay, I'll go along with the mission too, but I'm the one who's bitter about it, got that.")[/list:o]
    Thanks for listening and have a nice weekend, I gotta do some writing....

    Fang Langford

    [ This Message was edited by: Le Joueur on 2001-08-17 08:55 ]
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #25 on: August 17, 2001, 06:44:00 AM »

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contracycle wrote:
I am challenging the idea that outsider stance is BETTER for game starts, and for new players.  Please restrict your criticisms to the point I am actually making.

Then our discussion has nothing in common.  I never once said outsider was better (feel free to go check); at most I said it was easier.  (I do not think these are even related.  Frequently, easier things are worse.  The intention of the franchised rebellion technique was to keep an easier solution from becoming too much worse.)

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Obviously, but it will be OUTSIDER interaction.  And the character will still be outside at the end of it, and still be largely ignorant of your setting.

This is only true if it is an inherently insider setting.

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Do you give the same answer about the NYPD to a character who is a cop in the force or to a character who is a petty street pickpocket?  Obviously not.  Thus I suggest that if you mandate that new players start with outsider characters, you hamper rather than encourage player self-education.Who is the insider?<
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My criticism is that if you apply this to new players, the pressure of channeling is away from the "insider" world which contains knowledge about the game.  I would suggest reversing this so that for new players the tacit pressure is toward the locus of information in your game.getting<and<
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I am specifically and exclusively challenging the claim that the outsider position is BETTER for NEW players.

This is a claim I never made.

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The player, I think, should be afforded some Out-Of-Character knowledge about their role.

I'm suggesting it might be better to make that information available In-Character, in the circumstances where we are trying to introduce someone to "how RPG works".

Except "How a Role-Playing Game Works" is not in the realm of In-Character information.  

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And you have every right to your opinion.  I, on the other hand, think that new players should be afforded both roles (insider and outside), as they desire.

I understood you were advocating the outsider status as particularly good for new players; it is this preference I am challenging.

Then you have completely misunderstood me.  Nowhere have I said it was a good thing.  If it were, I certainly would not have wanted to create a technique for handling the difficulties of doing so.

Fang Langford
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contracycle
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« Reply #26 on: August 17, 2001, 07:26:00 AM »

Fang,

As I understood one of your earlier posts, you opined that you constructed your rules explanation text in such a way as to assume or promt an outsider stance for new players, on the basis that this the drive to know on the part of the player is echoed accurately by the characters euivalent ignorance.

All I am saying is that I find for new players, it is better that they have characters that mismatch their own player knowledge, so that they can (and are encouraged to) use the character as a crutch for learning.  The very fact that the character knows more than the player is the useful bit, IMO.

Thats all.  Fin.
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #27 on: August 17, 2001, 09:17:00 AM »

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contracycle wrote:
As I understood one of your earlier posts, you opined that you constructed your rules explanation text in such a way as to assume or prompt an outsider stance for new players, on the basis that this the drive to know on the part of the player is echoed accurately by the character's equivalent ignorance.

Then I really did not communicate well at all.  When I said my default for new players was as newcomer or outsider, I meant that for my own games.  When I write, I am writing for both this fashion and others.

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All I am saying is that I find for new players, it is better that they have characters that mismatch their own player knowledge, so that they can (and are encouraged to) use the character as a crutch for learning.  The very fact that the character knows more than the player is the useful bit, IMO.better.

And I'm outta here...see all of you in RPG Theory when I finish my example.

Fang Langford
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Don Lag
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« Reply #28 on: November 04, 2001, 12:24:00 PM »

Although rather cryptic, I think Fang's article presents a valuable reflexion on what approaches can be succesfully used to obtain good player/character involvement in the story.

Whenever I've had a succesful experience regarding an involved session, I've found myself to have been applying the ideas presented as "Dynamic Status Quo".

Although I'm still not very comfortable with the terminology, or versed if you will, I do have a few minor observations to add.

First, it seems implied somewhere in the article, but I think it's useful to state out in the clear, that "Scenario Designs" or "Scenario Desinging" used alone would tend to create railroad-ish gaming most of the time. I think the key here is that this happens when using "only" Scenario Design. Whereas Dynamic Status Quo seems to be one of the most popular choices for GM's in creating highly involved stories, Scenario Designing is a key element to efficiently delivering such a story. In this sense, Scenario Designs are a very useful tools for accomplishing a rich story which relies on Dynamic Staus Quo, or some other method, for implementing character involvement. I think that Fang agrees with me, and that this idea is present in his article, however not his main point.

Finally, regarding insider/outsider benefits for starting characters, my best contribution to the discussion would be in the Oscura Playtesting thread.

Also, I'd tend to think that simple variations on these ideas would be applicable to most story premises (I think I'm using "premise" right, let me know if not), not just political intrigue. Perhaps even dungeon crawling?
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #29 on: November 05, 2001, 02:53:00 PM »

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Don Lag wrote:

First, it seems implied somewhere in the article, but I think it's useful to state out in the clear, that "Scenario Designs" or "Scenario Designing" used alone would tend to create railroad-ish gaming most of the time

I think the key here is that this happens when using "only" Scenario Design. Whereas Dynamic Status Quo seems to be one of the most popular choices for GM's in creating highly involved stories, Scenario Designing is a key element to efficiently delivering such a story

In this sense, Scenario Designs are very useful tools for accomplishing a rich story which relies on Dynamic Status Quo, or some other method, for implementing character involvement. I think that Fang agrees with me, and that this idea is present in his article, however not his main point.Quote
Finally, regarding insider/outsider benefits for starting characters, my best contribution to the discussion would be in the Oscura Playtesting thread.

Also, I'd tend to think that simple variations on these ideas would be applicable to most story premises (I think I'm using "premise" right, let me know if not), not just political intrigue. Perhaps even dungeon crawling?
Fang Langford
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