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Author Topic: Do MOVs need to be Monologues?  (Read 3404 times)
Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« on: January 13, 2003, 12:04:44 PM »

I've been considering how I currently try to engage and encourage player narrative in the game I run, and how MOVs will fit in.

At the moment conflict/task resolution in the games I run goes something like this...

    * A conflict/task occurs in play that requires a resolution or a situation arises where success/failure could provide equally good opportunities for developing the story.

    * Fortune mechanic determines outcome, but usually has various degrees of interpreted success or failure. The eventual outcome of the conflict/task at hand is therefore known before any narrative begins.

    * I kick off the narrative, just a sentence of two to get the ball rolling, and leave an opening for the player to continue.

    * The player picks up the narrative where I left off, adding a sentence or two of their own, and in turn leaving an opening for me to continue.

    * This continues back and forth, with myself and the Player each adding narrative befitting the outcome of the conflict/task at hand.

    * If Fortune had deemed the conflict to be a success for the Player then the player brings narration to a close, consistent with the degree of success.

    * If Fortune had deemed the conflict to be a failure for the Player then I bring the narrative to a conclusion consistent with their degree of failure.

    [/list:u]

    Regardless of success or failure I try to get narrative input from the players although the scope of their narrative input is limited to the event being resolved which is unlike a MOV wherein players to focus on less direct elements of the conflict.

    The effect in play is a flow of narrative between myself and the Player with both of us interjecting elements (if desired) into the narrative relevent to the conflict/task at hand and consistent with the degree of success or failure.

    I won't cite an example because I don't want my initial post to be too long. If requested to though then I'm happy to provide one.

    This style of play with myself and the Player bouncing narrative back and forth is nothing new and I'm sure many groups of players adopt a similar style of play.

    The Pool however uses
Monologues of Victory.

In the Pool a player can choose to make a Monologue of Victory and narrate the outcome of successful a conflict (and much more). If they choose not to make a MOV or the conflict was a failed one, then the GM narrates the outcome.

In the Pool as written it is either the GM or the Player that is narrating the outcome of conflicts, not both. The possibility of back and forth interplay between GM and Players when narrating a conflict isn't suggested and may not even be desired, I don't really know.

Of course on a failed contest in the Pool I can still adopt a co-authorial approach to the narrative involving the player as I would normally do.

When narrating a successful conflict though, and assuming the player elects to take a MOV, then it's a player Monologue - one way narration.

I can see how a MOV adds a whole new dimension to gameplay by momentarily providing players with full directorial control of the story as they narrate their Monologue.

The question I want to ask is...

Does a MOV really have to be a Monologue?
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James V. West
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« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2003, 07:43:47 PM »

Hey

It's always been my practice to let the player run with it, but always be ready to step in and help or answer questions. I think I talked about this somewhere before, but I can't remember when or where.

Let's say you have a player doing an MoV. He really likes what you, the GM is doing with an NPC so he doesn't want to mess with it. But to do his MoV right, he needs to have that character do something and he isn't sure if the NPC would do it or not. I think it's perfectly ok for a player to simply ask the GM for guidance or prompt the GM to narrate that action during an MoV.

So, to answer your question, MoV does not always have to be a total Monologue, although you can play it that way too. But I do suggest that you let the player be the one who makes the decision about wether or not the GM will input narration.

BTW, this is what made me go with the term "Guide" in The Questing Beast.
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Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2003, 08:46:02 AM »

Thanks for the reply James, I really appreciate you taking the time to reply.

Some question regarding MOVs.

The Pool states in broad terms the narrative scope available to players when making a MOV...

Quote from: The Pool
Making a Monologue of Victory (or MOV) is the only way to ensure that the conflict results in what you want. Giving an MOV is like taking control of the game for a few moments. You can describe your character’s actions, the actions of those around him, and the outcome of those actions. You can even focus on less direct elements of the conflict such as what’s happening in the next room or who’s entering the scene.


The Pool goes on to list three limitations that the players are asked to observe when making a MOV as a matter of courtesy to the other players and for the purposes of continuity.

Quote from: The Pool
1) Don't make alterations to the characters of other players (such as killing them). You can add complications for them and affect the things around them, but don't intrude on the creation of a fellow player.

2) Keep your narration in synch with the established facts and tone of the game. If you need to ask the GM questions or prompt the other players or responses during your MOV, do so.

3) Keep your narration reasonably short.


The second and third limitations seems very straightforward and easy enough to implement in play. However I could really do with a little bit more information on the interpretation and use of the first limitation.

I realise that what actually constitutes 'alteration' or 'intrusion' is necessarily vague since the application of the first limitation is largely dependent on the subjective interpretation of the players concerned.

Having said that though you do give an example in the the rules of an alteration that is prohibited by the first limitation (i.e. killing another character).

A few questions I would like to pose...

1. In the context of this first limitation is the GM themselves considered to be one of the "... other players"? (I'm inclined to think that they are).

2. Is a players ability to affect and/or utilize NPCs during their MOVs is governed by the first limitation?

3. When you have GM'd the Pool to what degree have you allowed the players to control the actions of NPCs that you have created?

4. To what degree have you seen players during their MOVs narrating the actions of characters controlled by the other players.

5. Do you have any examples of MOVs that you have observed in play and which you have considered to be inappropriate given the first limitation?

I'm just trying to get a better understanding for the application of MOVs during play and could really use some examples.
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Paganini
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2003, 10:31:06 AM »

Quote from: Cassidy

3. When you have GM'd the Pool to what degree have you allowed the players to control the actions of NPCs that you have created?

4. To what degree have you seen players during their MOVs narrating the actions of characters controlled by the other players.


In The Pool, the line between PC and NPC is quite a bit more blurry than in other games. For the purposes of narrating MoVs, there are really just "characters." For examples of some good MoVs see the two transcripts of the Banana Republic Pool game posted to the Indie Netgaming Yahoo Group. (The threads start at message 79, I think the actuall transcripts are around 85 - 90.)

Quote

5. Do you have any examples of MOVs that you have observed in play and which you have considered to be inappropriate given the first limitation?


I can't recall one. I honestly think you're worrying too much. Like James said in a different thread, there have been no reports of Pool Abuse in recorded history. :) If someone does do a MoV that is inappropriate, I'm pretty sure that it'll be wildly obvious right up front that that player is not grokking the game.
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Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2003, 01:38:01 PM »

Hey Pag,

I did check out the Banana Republic transcripts, I pasted them into a doc for easier reading as it happens.

Within the transcript I can't see where the MOVs are being made so I can only assume that all the die pool stuff and die rolling was being handled out of channel.

As such it's difficult to make out when actual MOV narrative is taking place and when players are merely adding to the narrative of their own accord without the need for a MOV as often happens in open play.

Reading the text though I can see what you are saying about how the lines between NPCs and PCs becomes somewhat blurred.

What I've seen in games I've run myself even before trying the Pool, is that players will on occasion spontaneously (or sometimes with  prompting from myself) introduce NPCs on the fly.

Some players do it more often than others. The only provisos I ask from the players is that the appearance of the NPC has some relevence to the instance of play at hand, is connected to the characters background in some way, and their inclusion adds a story element that can legitimately be used to spur the story along without being inconsistent with previously developed game elements.

Sometimes in round table play I'll pick out players ad-hoc and have them play minor or bit part NPCs if their primary characters aren't actively involved in the scene being played out. I give them some brief notes on the character roughly describing the NPCs motivations, demeanour, background & stats, and then let the players dive in.

The NPCs may be entirely incidental, possibly only popping up in a scene never to reappear. Sometimes the NPC is a little more substantial and unexpectedly becomes a recurring character in the game that the player can roleplay as and when the need arises.

I've had players say, "I really liked playing so and so.", and it's obvious to me that they did get a real kick out of being able to influence events within the game which would have been entirely beyond the remit of their primary character.

So yeah, the lines between PCs and NPCs do become blurred at times maybe even moreso in a game like the Pool where the players aren't necessarily limited to portraying and narrating the actions of one character within the game.

It occurs to me that character creation in the Pool whereby the players create a single character just like a traditional RPG doesn't quite do the Pool justice in terms of realising it's apparent potential as a collaborative storytelling tool.

Imagine mid-game just being able to drop a few die from your Pool to create another protagonizing character for yourself to play. Players then have the ability to directly influence play not just through playing one character but by playing several.

Ideas...

Want to introduce a character who you see as becoming a potential antagonist for the other players? Go ahead. Burn some dice from your pool, brief 50 word writeup, assign traits, and away you go.

Or how about grabbing that Corrupt Lieutenant that the GM has just introduced into the current scene?

Player 1: "How many dice do you want for him?"
GM: "Dunno, make me an offer."
Player 1: "2."
GM: "4."
Player 1: "I'll give you 3."
GM: "4, final offer. Trust me, you REALLY want to see his writeup."
Player 1: "You'd better be right...4 it is."

I'd like be able to do that. I'd like that a lot.
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Paganini
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Posts: 1049


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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2003, 03:02:21 PM »

Quote from: Cassidy

It occurs to me that character creation in the Pool whereby the players create a single character just like a traditional RPG doesn't quite do the Pool justice in terms of realising it's apparent potential as a collaborative storytelling tool.


I remember Mike Holmes complaining once about the 50 word limit The Pool has. His words were something along the lines of "It doesn't let me create all the NPCs my character needs!"

And then he went and made Universalis... :)

Quote

Imagine mid-game just being able to drop a few die from your Pool to create another protagonizing character for yourself to play. Players then have the ability to directly influence play not just through playing one character but by playing several.


In universalis, they're called Coins. And it works exactly like what you're describing. :)
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James V. West
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Posts: 567


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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2003, 07:50:53 PM »

Hey

The thing is, The Pool is a really simple game. Simple idea, simple application. Lots of people have suggested additions to the rules and alternate versions--and I really like most of them quite a bit. But The Pool Hardcore is as simple as it's written (if you'll forgive the imperfect and constantly-changing writing).

So, adding rules for adding NPCs during play is a fine idea if you want to tweak the game, but you're not going to get the purest feel of the game if you don't play it as is, at least once. And then, if you don't like it, tweak your heart out! After all, The Questing Beast is nothing more than me tweaking The Pool to fit the romantic Arthurian subject matter.

I totally understand your method of playing whereby players can narrate and add stuff on-the-fly. I think a lot of us have always played that way (maybe its the Narrativist monsters in us looming up even way back when). The Pool's MoV rules don't inhibit or alter that style of play at all. Think of it like this: if your normal mode of play is to use MoV-style narration (although limited, of course), then when a real MoV kicks in it simply means a kind of turbo-charged mode of normal play. Does that make sense?

There is a lot of room for interpretation in these rules, but I wouldn't have it any other way ;-)
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Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2003, 12:06:38 PM »

Quote from: James V. West
I totally understand your method of playing whereby players can narrate and add stuff on-the-fly. I think a lot of us have always played that way (maybe its the Narrativist monsters in us looming up even way back when). The Pool's MoV rules don't inhibit or alter that style of play at all. Think of it like this: if your normal mode of play is to use MoV-style narration (although limited, of course), then when a real MoV kicks in it simply means a kind of turbo-charged mode of normal play. Does that make sense?


Absolute sense, 100%.

Apologies if I appear to be a little analytical - blame it on my day job :) - damn computers.

My closing thoughts.

Casting dice in the Pool appears to have two immediately obvious effects.

1) It determines before any narrative actually occurs what the outcome of the conflict is likely to be.

2) It determines who gets to decide the potential outcome of a conflict. If the dice yield a success and the player elects to make a MOV then the player decides. In all other cases it is the GM that decides.

The narrative (provided either by the player or the GM) creates the actual outcome of the conflict within the imagined reality of the game being played.

Normally when resolving a conflict I would adopt a proactive narrative role. I try to guide the narrative along providing cues for the players to react to and opportunities for them to introduce their own bits to the narrative. This creates a sense of involvement for the players rather than making them passive dice rolling automatons. That's why I rarely make Monologues myself when I'm GMing - this post and others being rare exceptions :)

Anyway, in the Pool thats the kind of narrative dynamic I want to create when narrating non-MOV conflicts.

With MOVs I see these roles simply being reversed. I envisage taking a back seat whilst the player adopts the proactive role in the narration. The other players (myself included) add their bits to the narrative if necessary as and when the player making the MOV provides cues or opportunities to do so.

It's role reversal really and since I rarely use Monolgues when resolving and narrating the outcome of conflicts I would want players to do the same.
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James V. West
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Posts: 567


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« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2003, 04:26:21 AM »

Yeah!

So let us know what happens when you play. I'd like to hear about your style of gming as first-hand as possible.
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