*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
April 23, 2014, 03:56:54 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 51 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: 1 2 3 [4]
Print
Author Topic: About time for another Woe...  (Read 12613 times)
Le Joueur
Member

Posts: 1367


WWW
« Reply #45 on: January 30, 2003, 03:31:41 PM »

Quote from: Eric J.
There seems to be a great conflict.

One side is screaming: Let the damned player do what he damn well feels like!  This is Star Wars, not Star trek!  What kind of GM tries to control their players anyway?

The other side is screaming: Eric!  You need to set priorities and stick to them! STICK TO THEM!

It really is interesting.  I think that I wanted the latter.  I think I'll try a bit of the former next session.

I see no conflict at all.  Put letting the player do what suits them and Star Wars at the top of your priorities.  After that comes things like 'spread the spotlight' and 'pacing, pacing, pacing.'

At least I saw no conflict until...

Quote from: Eric J.
Quote
Absolutely, the fact you would even consider forcing a player to do anything is a serious problem with the way you're approaching GMing.

This confuses me.  A GM who has no control over the player's actions has no control over the game.  Even if you don't believe in illusionism, it is hard for me to understand the concept of "zero GM control".

The mistake you are making is onto everything we've said here, you've projected your obsession with the gamemaster who controls the game.  Forget it.  Leave it behind.  A gamemaster who controls the game is an attention-starved author who should be writing, not gaming.

The very first thing you need to do to improve as a gamemaster is strike from you mind the idea that the gamemaster should control the game.  That alone is probably responsible for every one of your conflicts with the players and the source of your own lack of pleasure in gamemastering.

You know what happens when you don't control the game?  Back in Scattershot, we call that sharing.  That's right, a bunch a guys get together with some rules and share creating a cool game.  The two best pieces of advice I can offer is don't plan and don't plan.

Don't plan out what game will do (they go here, they go there, they do this, the end).  Any time you do that you are assuming two things; your ideas are inherently better and that the players 'not knowing' will keep them from screwing up a wonderful plan.  Sooner or later we call that 'railroading' because the players eventually catch on that they're only being taken for a ride.
    You want to gamemaster something that comes out like
A New Hope?  All you need is the character write-ups (one lives on a farm, another is a hermit, the third lives by his wits from payload to payload, and the last - a non-player character - has the plans), some vague idea where things will climax (the death star), and that's it.

You set the stage by giving the plans to the robots and the robots to PC#1 to give to PC#2.  What do the players do?  PC#1 wants to go 'back to the farm,' not cool - think of something on the fly - blow up the farm!  Okay now they're off on the quest.  Cut to the chase, don't bother actually giving them a choice who to hire simply run the scene until their sitting at the table with PC#3 (maybe a little cool lightsabre action for just color).  Scene starts getting to slow with 'negotiations;' time for stormtroopers to show up.  Why?  Um, um; oh yeah, the lightsabre antics.  Toss in a scene with a bounty hunter to make PC#3 feel cool (for no more reasons than pacing, remembering the character write-up, and to 'push things' not just forward, but in any direction).  Off they go....

Next you need to put some punch into the 'what are the plans for;' Alderaan is gone when they get there.  Was this a part of some plan?  Is the gamemaster controlling the game.  Heck no, it was late and you realized that a bunch of sneaky stuff planetside would be boring.  You can blow up planets on the fly, you're the gamemaster.  Next, capture them by the 'big bad evil thingie.'  Don't even run it, just tell the 'now your captured and in the hold, think of something cool to keep yourselves out of the brig.'

And they do, soon their hacking the deathstar and sneaking around in stolen stormtrooper costumes.  The plan?  That they'd come up with something cool and they did.  ('Where did you get those hidey holes?'  Um, um; I'm a smuggler right?)  They'll need to do something while they're there; and things are picking up a lot of pace; what's left?  Save the princess and destroy the fortress.  Okay, that puts the princess on the deathstar; did you plan her there?  No, you thought she'd be somewhere planet side or something, it hardly matters now.  So off hoots R2D2, "she's here, she's here; I found her" and away they go.

Confronting the guards in the brig is stupid with a capital 'S.'  But damn cool, go for it.  Just let 'em get her, why not?  You can always have the reinforcement beating down the doors as they leave if you need the tension.  And that garbage disposal thing?  Who saw that coming?  The players make up something on the spot, you didn't even consider space station sewage, but having them in the trash compactor is a great place to let them squirm and then just let them go.  A few more chase scenes and since they haven't invented a destruction for the fortress, you just let them escape.  (But hey, Bob isn't gonna be there next week, let's kill off PC#2 just to 'up the ante.')

And so on.  None of it is a matter of planning but simply responding to player choices (which are actually inventions with things like the compactor) and continually turning up the tension level and the pacing.

That's really all there is to it.[/list:u]Don't plan; don't get hung up on cool places or cool villains so much that only a railroad will take the player to them.  Remember let the players decide where to go and just put the maguffin in their way along the way.  (In the above, you had some nasty fortress; you didn't 'control' them to there, you kept moving it 'on the board' so it was in front of them.  Think about it; at any time, did the movie goers know where the deathstar was relative to the motion of the characters?  Only when they used the word Alderaan, you could just as easily establish that after the fact when play is done.)

So what I am saying is that you make your own conflict by deciding that 'you know better' and should be 'in control' of the game.  I'm not surprised you didn't have fun, they weren't being obedient little characters like when you write a story.

So pick one: gamemaster or sole-author, ya can't have both.

Fang Langford

p. s.  In case you think I meant all that, watch as I take my tongue out of my mouth and go reread it.
Logged

Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
Balbinus
Member

Posts: 290


« Reply #46 on: January 30, 2003, 03:37:37 PM »

Shreyas is spot on, we're not contradicting each other we're focussing on different sides of the same issues.

Nicely analysed Shreyas.
Logged

AKA max
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #47 on: January 30, 2003, 04:05:03 PM »

Quote from: Eric J.
Quote
If the player picks an action that you know will backfire on him, pause, and suggest a modification to the action or let him know what the consequences are likely to be.


This is one of the things that I've been saying.  However, there seems to be a great conflict.  One side is screaming: Let the damned player do what he damn well feels like!  This is Star Wars, not Star trek!  What kind of GM tries to control their players anyway?

The other side is screaming: Eric!  You need to set priorities and stick to them! STICK TO THEM!

It really is interesting.  I think that I wanted the latter.  I think I'll try a bit of the former next session.


You may have gotten it, but...   My point here was that preserving the intent of the player's action is more important than preserving the player's actual action.  The player wants something out of his character's action, chances are you can give it to him.  You can work with the player to give him what he wants without violating your setting/feel/head-film.

In line with the "film in head" context (assuming a traditional GM-player relationship)...miscommunications in setting will arise no matter how hard you try.  You will miss details, the players may bring different expectations of the genre to the table than you, and sometimes a player will simply not be paying attention.

A little meta-game communication when it's needed is all it takes to keep a consistent setting and preserve player freedom.

Real Life Anecdote:
I've got a player who tends to decide what a setting is like without actually listening to what you are saying.  He'll turn it into something he saw on TV...radiation poisoning I guess.  This doesn't make him a bad player, he's just one of those people who is only listening when he is talking.  It means sometimes you need to do some repeat explaining.  When you do the repeat explaining, he'll get it - he never actually meant to miss it in the first place.  The problem is you can't slow down game to argue about how something isn't supposed to be like Cowboy Bebop, no matter how cool it is.  The solution is simple, when he picks an action that drastically contradicts the setting work with him to fix it and let him know why it contradicts.

For example, the player says he want to take so-and-so to the beach for a pick-me-up picnik.  Well, we happened to be on a cyberpunk world at the time.  Rather than send him to the beach; then explain that the beach is overcast with smog like everywhere else and there is a dead hooker floating in the bay amoungst the slime and trash; I suggest the park inside Megacorp-A's archology would be more appropriate because this world is heavily polluted.

Player intent and setting consistency preserved, but action slightly different.


EDIT: In other words:  What Shreyas/GreatWolf/Fang/Balbinus said.
Logged

- Cruciel
Eric J.
Member

Posts: 396


WWW
« Reply #48 on: January 30, 2003, 05:03:02 PM »

This has all been very useful.  If the centeral issue is indeed control, I think that we should discuss it more.  One thing that I found funny is Fang's refference to writing.  Well you see...

I write things... a lot (well considering my free time).  Heck.  I wrote a 50 page story conversion for a video game that I like (Chrono Trigger of course).

So, you can imagine.
Logged
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #49 on: January 30, 2003, 05:47:18 PM »

First of, Eric, this thread has been four pages of criticism (though highly constructive).  It was pointed out once, put I'll mention it too - the fact that you are trying to improve says a lot of good things about the quality of your GMing.  The worst GM's I've playing with are the one who refuse to improve (more on that later).

The way I see it, successful GMing is really quite simple (intellectually anyway).  Just keep the following in mind:

Conflict:  Conflict needs to be present and balanced.  Challenging, yet attainable.  Too is easy is boring (unrewarding, but maybe a little cathartic), but impossible is even more boring (why even bother to play?).
Player Participation:  Paying equal attention to each person.  Preserving the player's ability to make decisions.  This include character protagonization as an expression of the player's participation in the story.  Game balance, to faciliate equal character protagonization.
Immersion:  Whatever this means to you.  Allowing each player the chance to get into character.  Consistency of setting, and all other matters that could be classified as 'suspension of disbelief'.
Color:  All that coolness factor stuff.  I honesty don't think this one is that important, because you are really limitted by your creative ability in this department.

You seem to be having your troubles in pieces of the Player Participation department.  This seems to be the most common area to slip up in.  I've got a pet theory why most people have trouble with this.

The traditional definition of the GM in game texts is that he is God.  What he says goes, and poo on you for disagreeing.  Fine, ok, the GM is above the system, the setting, and even the characters.  This does not mean he is above the players, and I think people can forget this distinction.  GMing is a responsibility to the players, not the right to stuff the players into a story you think is cool.  There is a social contract here that the GM is going to provide the players with entertainment.  If Joe Butt says he'll drive you to the airport, then it is expected he'll show up at your house on time and drive you to the airport.

We rotate GM's with settings in our game, and I see the same people make the same mistakes with Player Participation over and over again.  You give them contructive criticism, and they say "Hmmm, yeah, maybe you're right, I'll think about it" but it never sinks in.  I personally think it never sinks in because they just don't get the fact that the GM isn't God.  Or worse yet, they wave it away as simply untrue (I hate this, it shows a complete lack of desire to improve).  You can tell them it isn't any fun, but for some reason they still think it's their right to make it no fun if they want to.  To be fair, you can say the words and say you agree, but I think it is actually very hard to actually understand this idea.  

You may very well not have this problem at all, that is for you to decide.
Logged

- Cruciel
Eric J.
Member

Posts: 396


WWW
« Reply #50 on: January 30, 2003, 06:02:05 PM »

I think I do.  The biggest problem is that we are all fairly inexperienced.  Players have a hard time being independent for several reasons, that I've been trying to analize.  I think that many people are saying that I'm too controling.  This is primarily because I am.  

For example:  Charly used to be (hard to say this) really really bad at RPing, particurally at backgrounds.  However, about 2 games ago, I was simply amazed at what he made.  The problem there is that he game didn't go far.  However, he has continually made good backgrounds, and I have no doubt that he will do so further.

The problem with player progression is that it's slow, especially without an experienced gamemaster.
Logged
Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #51 on: January 30, 2003, 06:34:30 PM »

Quote from: Eric J.
This confuses me. A GM who has no control over the player's actions has no control over the game. Even if you don't believe in illusionism, it is hard for me to understand the concept of "zero GM control".


I believe a GM's job is to present an interesting situation then let the players roleplay through that situation.  After they've roleplayed through that situation, you present another interesting situation for them to roleplay through.  Repeat as necessary.  

You have a ton of power as a GM.  You frame the scenes, you create NPCs on the fly, you play every character that isn't a player character, you present events for your player characters to respond to, you are in control of everything ... except for the player characters.  That's the sacred domain of the player and you have to learn to respect it.

Roy
Logged
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #52 on: January 30, 2003, 08:17:29 PM »

I think the best advice left here Eric is this.  Go back up a few posts and read Fang's depiction of A New Hope as an RPing session.  Print it out.  Tack it up on the wall of your bedroom.  Read it three times every time you sit down to prepare the next session.  Read it three times before going to GM your next session.  Write a little "What Would Fang Do" abbreviation on your hand to help when you get stuck.

That said, I STRONGLY recommend ending this thread here and taking the next level of conversation to a new one.

PS:  Fang...brilliant.  Gol Darn Brilliant.
Logged

Jesse
Registree

Posts: 3


« Reply #53 on: February 01, 2003, 01:16:20 PM »

I bet this has all been said a time or two... or a bunch, before, but I'm putting my spin on it.

I think that Eric really tries, especially with a confused (best word I could find for us) group like ourselves. I think that you just miss some things. Like when you thought that avery (aragorn) just sat and did nothing, he as a player didn't know what to do. He had very very rarely played D6 SW before if ever. So he had no clue what specifically to tell you, heck, I doubt that anyone on this planet has that much into computers (+12 is really dang big, ya' know). He just didn't know what comms system thingee to use and how, so he just said he would do it. You were against letting us have dice to roll except for when you gave them to us in that session, so he obviously couldn't take much initiative there. He really had no options.
But that's just an example.

With as, ummm.... 'diversely operation' a group as we have put together, it takes a lot of GM skill, it has to be railroaded enough so we know what the heck we're doing, but free enough that we feel we have options. I will bring up another case-in-point, a good one this time (has anyone on the Forge ever seen us with one of those before?). Your mercenaries campaign, as I have said many times before, was in my opinion the most successful campaign I've ever been a part of. It felt free... heck, I tried a persuade check on Flashy...boy oh boy. And yet, as you mentioned to me, you had complete control. I bet it's rare when people try to kill a giant preying mantis thingee by chucking a blaster power pack at it and shooting it.
It was free, but we were still going somewhere.

I hope my examples have helped
Logged
clehrich
Member

Posts: 1557


WWW
« Reply #54 on: February 01, 2003, 02:00:07 PM »

Jesse wrote:
Quote
I think that Eric really tries, especially with a confused (best word I could find for us) group like ourselves. I think that you just miss some things. Like when you thought that avery (aragorn) just sat and did nothing, he as a player didn't know what to do. He had very very rarely played D6 SW before if ever. So he had no clue what specifically to tell you, heck, I doubt that anyone on this planet has that much into computers (+12 is really dang big, ya' know). He just didn't know what comms system thingee to use and how, so he just said he would do it. You were against letting us have dice to roll except for when you gave them to us in that session, so he obviously couldn't take much initiative there. He really had no options.

This is fascinating.  I think we've focused so heavily on Eric that we've forgotten about the players.  Let's take everything that's been said about GMing for granted for a moment.  Okay, so this infamous hacking situation comes up.

Now regardless of what Eric does or does not do, the player in question also has a job to do.  In order to make the scene visual and SW-like, the player cannot say, "I'm going to hack into the computers.  Can I roll for it?"  To do so essentially says to Eric, "I'm doing this thing; please film it for me."  To the extent that the players hand over control to Eric, he is required to fill in the relevant detail.  Of course it's going to seem as though he's forcing them one way or another: they just told him to.  And if the players surrender essentially everything except which skills they use to the GM, they can hardly complain that they feel controlled.

Clearly Eric needs to encourage the players to describe their actions, to set the scene around themselves, and generally do visual things.  We've talked about that.

Meanwhile, the players need to go ahead and do it.  If your character is a Slicer with a +12, and you say, "I hack the computer," IMO in an ideal gaming group you ought to fail horribly.  If on the other hand you start wambling on about inverse com-link flux transponders and rerouting negative feedback through the mainframe-droid syntactic transducer, you should succeed.  In SW, you should also make this technobabble relatively visual; in a different game that may or may not be a priority.  But you've got to describe what you're doing in setting terms; you have to tell a story.

If it's entirely Eric's problem to make a story and a good, visual film out of mechanical action descriptions, you're going to end up with the Eric Show.
Logged

Chris Lehrich
Eric J.
Member

Posts: 396


WWW
« Reply #55 on: February 01, 2003, 06:17:17 PM »

Really intersting stuff.

I especially agree with:

Quote
Clearly Eric needs to encourage the players to describe their actions, to set the scene around themselves, and generally do visual things. We've talked about that.


Anyway- Jesse.  Thanks for taking the time to get on and respond.

Quote
With as, ummm.... 'diversely operation' a group as we have put together, it takes a lot of GM skill, it has to be railroaded enough so we know what the heck we're doing, but free enough that we feel we have options.


I think that this is correct, but I think that better techniqes can be used than railroading. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't railroading when the GM limits player options so that they get to a certain situation?  I believe in illusionism, myself.

I don't know why I made this post, but I've said what I needed to say, I think.
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #56 on: February 01, 2003, 10:21:49 PM »

Hi Eric,

I'm pretty sure that by "railroading," he really meant "GM input" and especially "social confirmation" (just knowing that you, the GM, are happy with their choices and know what to do next). Illusionism seems to be the shared goal, which is a great start.

Unless you object (Eric, specifically), I agree with Ralph that this thread has done its duty.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Eric J.
Member

Posts: 396


WWW
« Reply #57 on: February 02, 2003, 04:20:49 PM »

I've learned a lot.  This thread has even sprung another.  I declare that Ron has my concent to close this thead!
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #58 on: February 02, 2003, 07:38:40 PM »

So closed.

Thanks to everyone; this was a great set of interactions to see and to participate in.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Pages: 1 2 3 [4]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!