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Author Topic: Player or Character driven - is there a difference?  (Read 7765 times)
Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2002, 01:24:20 PM »

Quote from: eogan
Now sometimes its just an excuse for poor social contract behavior, but sometimes it really honestly is that it is outside the character's motivation and personality to act in a party-/story-/plot-/group-supportive fashion.  That, to my mind, is a character-driven action, along with any action that specifically benefits the character.  Purposefully acting against the character's narrative drives in the interest of furthering a meta-level concern -- other player's plots, making someone else look good, party cohesion, anything that benefits other players and is possibly detrimental to the character being played -- is a player-driven concern.

Isn't this an example of the classic conflict between a Sim/Character priority and a Narrativist priority?  Narrativist's consider the established parameters of a character's motivation and personality to be important, but they are willing to bend the motivations, and/or invent unexpected new aspects of personality, if it serves their story goals.  A Sim/Character priority considers such things "bad" - bad roleplaying, bad for the game goals, bad in all kinds of ways.

Personal taste will determine how much and what manner of bending and invention works before the integrity of the Nar story is broken, or how "good" the fit with established character has to be for the Sim to maintain its' "we're doing this right" feel.  That's why player's with one priority can sometimes participate in the same game as those with the other.

IMO, this combination is often a good fit, but when it goes bad - ooo boy, it's ugly.  This issue can be one of those "push comes to shove" places where you find out if your priority is really on Nar or Sim.

At, least, that's how it looks to me - if that's what's at the core of the player vs. character question, I think it translates to a Nar vs. Sim issue.  Others have discussed how Stance might also be a factor, but I don't see that as part of the paragraphs that I quoted.

I think the whole player vs. charcater thing can lead to lots of interesting places, but there are lots of 'em, and we'll need to focus on just one to reach any (however tentative) conclusions.  I guess the question for eogan is - have any of the ones here been the one he cares about yet?

Gordon
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2002, 02:15:24 PM »

Alan and Jeff,

We need to play some Trollbabe. It addresses this issue incredibly well.

There's an old thread around here - ah, here it is - where Ron explained how to run a game like this well. The two main points were recurring themes and NPCs. After using this technique a lot, the best analogy I can think of for it is the TV show Seinfeld - seriously.

In most episodes of Seinfeld, the four main characters have completely separate story-lines. As the story progresses, though, the same minor characters tend to interact with each of them. The main characters aren't aware of this, and may thwart each other's plans. They often do. At the end of the episode, though, everyone's plots run into each other in a four-plot pile-up, and it kicks ass.

The thing I see happen with my players is that they quickly become very interested in each other's scenes, as NPCs they know are in them, and they learn something about those NPCs from them that they might use later.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
M. J. Young
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« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2002, 11:34:17 PM »

Quote from: Alan
Quote from: Quoting me, where I
At this point, bringing them together is either going to require finesse of the highest order (to create a situation in which these characters are forced to cooperate) or an abandonment of the character values and prerogatives in favor of the player desires.


Or abandonment of the assumption that bringing them together is necessary....there's no meta-game reason for characters to work together.  The idea is just a hold-over.

Hey, I wrote Multiverser; it is inherent to the system that characters are sent not merely to the four corners of the earth but to entirely different universes, being involved in different stories, entirely different kinds of stories, simultaneously in the same night of play.

Quote from: eogan
Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think that 4-5 unrelated, uninteracting storylines makes for an entertaining evening, but then I freely admit that much of my enjoyment comes from interaction with other PCs.


I won't call you old-fashioned; much of my enjoyment comes from character interaction as well. I suppose that this divided sort of play demands that the referee create and run more interesting and intricate NPC's. PC's have married several of mine, so I must have succeeded. ;) However, what I found as I began to try this crazy multiple staging idea that was completely unavoidable given the system concepts my partner brought was that everyone became fascinated by everyone else's stories. Sure, you wanted to know whether you were going to make it to the portal to get the princesses safely out before the demons caught you; but you also wanted to know whether Bob and his friends were going to be able to drive the space pirates off the ship, whether Mary and Ralph were going to be able to defend the children from the giants, even whether Bill got the job at the drug store so he could rent a place to live while he tried to figure out what was happening in this seemingly ordinary world he had entered. It's a bit like watching a soap opera--ever story moves forward a bit, and almost every story holds your attention, and you keep coming back to see the next episode of every story. Sometimes the player characters interact, and that's good in many ways; but I've had player characters who found they didn't like each other, or had no common interests, or were working toward incompatible goals, and they just played in the same world and ignored each other. There's nothing wrong with that.

I was addressing Eogan's concerns in the context he presented them, that there sometimes seemed a conflict between player priorities to stay together and character priorities to oppose each other, and he didn't know how to handle these. Obviously, if there are no player priorities to stay together the problem evaporates. That would be my preference in most games. But usually when I'm running D&D or one of the older games, it just works better if the player characters stay together. I don't know Dust Devils; if that game isn't about parties working together and this is a player priority in his games, he's playing the wrong game.

--M. J. Young
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Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2002, 09:54:36 AM »

Quote from: M. J. Young


I won't call you old-fashioned; much of my enjoyment comes from character interaction as well. I suppose that this divided sort of play demands that the referee create and run more interesting and intricate NPC's.


Hey M.J.:

In Multiverser, are there any rules about the non-GM players controlling NPCs when they're not in that scene/universe? I tried a little of that in a game I ran recently, and - in my opinion - it worked really well. Jeff (eogan) can tell you whether or not he agrees, but I sensed a positive reaction to it. I think I might make it an "official" rule in what I'm working on.

For Dust Devils, alowing players to control multiple characters might help shape the big web, so to speak. Players now have multiple playing pieces to spread their metagame knowledge.
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2002, 12:20:08 PM »

Quote from: itsmrwilson
Hey M.J.:

In Multiverser, are there any rules about the non-GM players controlling NPCs when they're not in that scene/universe?

It's given as a referee tip (there's an appendix of these), and I do it often. It isn't exactly covered by "rules" per se, but rather suggested that one of the ways to keep players involved is to give them minor parts in each other's stories.

This is only one technique that keeps players involved during other players' stories. Some of the others include
    [*]Any plans, designs, or programs they want to initiate they have to put on paper and present to the referee, rather than explaining in detail for the referee to take notes. It is explained that this ensures the details will be recorded as the player intends, and not become clouded by the way the referee happens to jot them--but it also means the player is occupied with his own story in a way that does not for the moment require the attention of the referee.
    [*]In all stories, move quickly through the dull parts and focus on the exciting parts. One of my PC's went through ten months of seminary in about as many minutes; it probably happened over half an hour of game time, in which the other players all advanced their more interesting moments significantly. His part was more of "It's March, you're in class; do you want to do anything else this month? No? O.K., you continue class." Sometimes he did something else, but swiftly the dull part passed, and meanwhile he enjoyed what everyone else was doing.
    [*]Often break on the edge of decision--when the player absolutely needs that moment to figure out what he's going to do next, give it to him. He won't notice that the enemy torpedo is suspended in space for twenty minutes while the other players are doing their thing, if he's pouring over his papers to find out what sort of countermeasures he can use, what contingencies he's got, and what to do if it all fails.[/list:u]
    There are, I think, others; these come to mind. So yes, we do get players involved as NPC's in each others' stories; but it's not so often necessary as you might expect.

    --M. J. Young
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    Jeffrey Miller
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    « Reply #20 on: December 23, 2002, 08:58:06 AM »

    Quote from: Ron Edwards
    I am very confused ... what is your question?

    I don't really have one - I was answering Alan's comment re there being a difference between player & character driven bits (at least, I thought I was!)
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    Jeffrey Miller
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    « Reply #21 on: December 23, 2002, 09:00:51 AM »

    Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
    Quote from: eogan
    Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think that 4-5 unrelated, uninteracting storylines makes for an entertaining evening, but then I freely admit that much of my enjoyment comes from interaction with other PCs. YMMV


    YMMV, very true. But you have to think of 4-5 unrelated, uninteracting storylines as like watching television, where during primetime, a person canwatch 4-5 shows easily. It can be a lot like that. If that still isn't what you want, then fine, but looking at it this way, you can at least see something of what others might seem in it?

    Actually I can't.  Under your analogy, if I'm playing, say, one of the cops on Law & Order at 7pm, its a long way to sit bored until Star Trek is over at midnight.  

    I frequently play and have played in games with multiple threads, multiple characters per character, and oodles of locales, all in a single evening, but the core thread running through the game is that we're not there to watch each other do 1-on-1 gaming with a GM.
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    Jeffrey Miller
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    « Reply #22 on: December 23, 2002, 09:06:41 AM »

    Quote from: Alan
    Quote from: eogan
    Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think that 4-5 unrelated, uninteracting storylines makes for an entertaining evening, but then I freely admit that much of my enjoyment comes from interaction with other PCs. YMMV


    I'll try to clarify.  I meant to suggest that we might abandon the belief that bringing all the PCs into a single, cohesive group is necessary for successful play.  Even though I discard the necessity of something, doesn't mean I ban it from happening.  

    Ah! For some reason that's how I was reading it (that you wished to limit it).

    I agree that it doesn't _have_ to happen, but if it doesn't, how do you offer interaction between equals to shine, ensemble play, against watching each other solo with the GM?  Jamming and running NPCs is fine, for what its worth, but at some point why not jsut say "Thursday is Alan night, Friday is Mike night, Saturday is Sarah night.."

    [Obviously a little hyperbole here, but hopefully you see the point I'm driving towards]

    Quote
    Also, we can take a more sophisticated approach to PC-PC relationships.  A relationship map can glue all the players together, so the actions they take independantly are all related.  The map itself is a group connected and related by social bonds.  When a PC gets involved with one NPC and another PC gets involved at some other point on the Rmap, they are still addressing a common concern.

    I use r-maps frequently for my more convoluted structures; heck, I use them for the simple ones, too.. how to get characters (and hence, players) to interact and fulfill the social aspect of the game while they're waiting for their plot devices to fall into place?

    Quote
    Finally, we can enjoy watching other players taking their turn in the spotlight. We do this all the time anyway - what difference whether they are techically working together, or just interacting with some part of the same situation or theme?  Granted this last part is important - I think it's one of the key elements of RPG play.  Different GNS styles find different means to create a unity of player interest.

    Hmm.. I guess the difference for me is that I enjoy Ensemble Play, interaction between equally weighty and developed characters, which requires that players be interacting frequently and at some length to allow relationships to develop between them. YMMV
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    Jeffrey Miller
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    « Reply #23 on: December 23, 2002, 09:12:14 AM »

    Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
    Alan and Jeff,

    We need to play some Trollbabe. It addresses this issue incredibly well.

    Well lets go! :)

    Quote
    There's an old thread around here - ah, here it is - where Ron explained how to run a game like this well. The two main points were recurring themes and NPCs. After using this technique a lot, the best analogy I can think of for it is the TV show Seinfeld - seriously.

    I'll read it this morning and return with any wisdom gleaned; thanks for the link.

    Quote
    In most episodes of Seinfeld, the four main characters have completely separate story-lines. As the story progresses, though, the same minor characters tend to interact with each of them. The main characters aren't aware of this, and may thwart each other's plans. They often do. At the end of the episode, though, everyone's plots run into each other in a four-plot pile-up, and it kicks ass.

    Indeed - sounds like another Year At Tribunal for my ArM players ;)  

    This is a perfect example, in my mind, of party cohesion - I wish there was a better term, one that isn't laden with the "can a Paladin be in a party with an Assassin?" debate.  Each character can (as they choose) interact with the other PCs, engages with them as narrative (little n) equals, and respect is given to their themes, drives, demons, plots, and desires.  The point where my understanding diverges is how people seem -- to me -- to be saying that this is not an important part of the social contract or social gaming reward; it must be a YMMV that I don't get, playing characters who have zilch in common or in any way interact.
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    Jeffrey Miller
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    « Reply #24 on: December 23, 2002, 09:17:04 AM »

    Quote from: M. J. Young
    Sometimes the player characters interact, and that's good in many ways; but I've had player characters who found they didn't like each other, or had no common interests, or were working toward incompatible goals, and they just played in the same world and ignored each other. There's nothing wrong with that.

    No, nothing wrong at all, I just don't understand it because its not rewarding to me in any fashion.  If I want to watch other people game, I can do that -- the University's main gaming store/centre is a short walk from my place.  I freely admit, however, that I'm not interested at all in sitting quietly watching someone else play 1-on-1 with the GM in a story line that in no way is part of anyone else's shared story.  Sure, there's always stories that happen in a singular fashion, but week after week, I'm rewarded by my interactions with other players, not by watching other people game.  

    Quote
    I was addressing Eogan's concerns in the context he presented them, that there sometimes seemed a conflict between player priorities to stay together and character priorities to oppose each other, and he didn't know how to handle these.

    Not quite - I know how to handle them.  I was responding to a comment that seemed to not acknowledge a difference between them.
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    Jeffrey Miller
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    « Reply #25 on: December 23, 2002, 09:21:10 AM »

    Quote from: itsmrwilson
    In Multiverser, are there any rules about the non-GM players controlling NPCs when they're not in that scene/universe? I tried a little of that in a game I ran recently, and - in my opinion - it worked really well. Jeff (eogan) can tell you whether or not he agrees, but I sensed a positive reaction to it. I think I might make it an "official" rule in what I'm working on.

    We started doing it years ago, picking it up from other people -- "jamming".  (Its like that goofy thumb-to-your-head-with-pinkie-extended thing that everyone is doing in Seattle these days to indicate OOC blather in IC moments - I remember doing it 15 years ago, but no way do I think that *I* introduced it locally.)
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    Ron Edwards
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    « Reply #26 on: December 23, 2002, 10:19:17 AM »

    Hello,

    I think this thread has served its purpose, and if Eogan agrees, it's time to close it.

    Some "spawn" issues include (1) running multiple protagonists across separated scenes or even whole stories in a way that keeps everyone in play engaged, (2) aspects or features of Multiverser, and (3) issues surrounding the concepts of in-character and out-of-character (which are not the same things as stances).

    I'd appreciate it if people could take these to new threads.

    Best,
    Ron
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