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Managing Time Scale Between Players

Started by jburneko, January 16, 2003, 12:18:59 PM

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jburneko

Hello,

Here's another one of my How To, threads.  So, last time I asked how do you handle games where the players are in completely disconnected locales/situations.  Now, I'm asking how do you handle games where the players share a situation and a locale but are on different time scales?

What inspired this question was Charnel Gods when I got to the rules for summoning.  Summoning in that supplement is like resolving a whole QUEST with a single die roll.  A character could concievely be gone for MONTHS or YEARS of "game time" when "summoning" a Fell Weapon.

So now consider this situation:

The game has two Players, A and B.  A and B are both involved in the goings on of City X and their conflicts share several NPCs.  Player A decides he needs to go do something (like quest for a Fell Weapon) that moves him up to the months or years level of time scale.  However, Player B is doing something (like a carefully laid out and executed political drama) that still needs to be managed on an hour or day time scale.

I see two options:

1) Simply tell Player A to relax while Player B catches up.  Problem: If Player B is anything like one of my actual players, he enjoys "slow boil" political conflicts that could not catch up to Player A in time scale for several sessions of play.

2) Guestimate. That is, simply continue to run both Player A and Player B simultaneously probably giving more attention to Player B but still allowing Player A to progress his story.  Problem: Depending on the situation resolutions to Player B's conflicts could have MASSIVE reprocussions on the state of affairs for Player A.

During actual play I've had this problem on the Days vs. Hours scale and I've used both solutions with mixed results.  So any ideas on how to do this smoothly?

Jesse

Ron Edwards

Hi Jesse,

I tend to run 'Sword a little more episodically than other types of Sorcerer. The cheap and easy solution for me would be to have the Questing Character simply cool his jets until the political intrigue storyline is done. When that happens, "time" becomes utterly labile, and the Quest gets played (which is what, only a few rolls plus some cool narration probably by everyone). Then whatever lower-scale time story comes next gets done, with the Did-My-Quest character now toting a new weapon, perhaps.

But I freely admit that this is a dodge rather than a direct answer for how to do this simultaneously. I tend simply not to try.

Best,
Ron

Michael S. Miller

Okay, Ron dodged, I guess I'll take the hit. Oooph! How many lasting penalties? 8-)

caveat: I've never done this in Sorcerer, but I have done this successfully in a number of other games (Mage, Aberrant, Theatrix, 7th Sea). It depends more on your players' willingness to enhance the story as a whole rather than drive on the authorship of their own character's story.

3) Hand Player A the NPC that Player B is trying to get the best of. Since the issue is keeping the flesh-and-blood person at the table involved, give him something to do. Remind him (if he doesn't already know) that he still needs to be the bass guitarist for Player B's story, along with you. This kind of thing also makes cut scenes easier to stage, as you don't have to talk to yourself.

Has there been discussion elsewhere of role-swapping like this? I think I picked up the idea from John Wick's Play Dirty column in Pyramid (a masterful work), but I don't recall seeing it much of anywhere else.
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Ron Edwards

Hi Michael,

That technique, and its application to any circumstances in which player B's character isn't present (not just time-scale issues), has been presented in dozens of RPG texts. I'll have to do some library-searching for a list, but it's pretty common.

The major exceptions are any form of D&D and the bevy of 1987-1994 games which almost all emphasize "one player and his guy" to an extreme degree.

Best,
Ron

P.S. (editing the next day) I forgot to mention that it's a totally useful and functional play-technique and that Michael was right to bring it up.