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Author Topic: Re: The Conflict is Yours  (Read 22396 times)
Ian Charvill
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Posts: 377


« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2003, 10:37:29 AM »

Quote from: hyphz
Quote from: Ian Charvill

To hit on the UA blockage, if you don't mind getting into specifics, a quick question or two: what kind of characters have the players created?


I'll be blunt about it because they were:  the Punisher, Mr. T, the Equalizer, and "a hacker".


Not sure who The Punisher is (Marvel comic character? sure I heard something about an adaptation recently); not sure how deep they are into the Underground; not sure whether they know each other but...

They have given you fairly clear types as far as typical role playing activities: the Punisher and Mr T will be looking for fight-type solutions to situations; the Equalizer can handle himself but IIRC the character was more about savvy, cool and a wide range of contacts; the hacker can, I guess, hack systems.

Quote from: hyphz
I actually had a think about it today and had quite a few ideas about where it might go (beyond the obvious).  But it took time and I don't think I'd have been able to do it on the fly, which is my ongoing worry.


If you think it'd help you I could write up how I'd prep a first session of play for those characters in UA, how much I'd leave open, how much closed and how I'd prep for the players doing unexpected things.

Just let me know: how long the session would be; if the characters know one another and if they know already about the Underground.

If the only problem you have at this point is just nervousness - as in 'I see what I need to do, but I'm afraid it'll all go wrong' - that's just normal.  I get nervous before every session I run - nervous so bad I don't want to turn up some times.  But do I turn up and it goes fine.  It may be in that case you just need to do it - trust yourself and see it in action.
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Ian Charvill
Le Joueur
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« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2003, 03:44:58 PM »

Quote from: hyphz
Quote from: Le Joueur
That simply looks like you waited too long.  Waiting until the end of the scene to solicit the result does look like 'chickening out.'  Giving them the option to call a single scene is deferring what they expect out of you as the gamemaster, operating the opposition.  The point when to invite their input is just before you're going to do something 'they won't like,' like capturing them.  

I don't see the distinction here. I asked the question before the scene started, while their PCs were headed to the place where they were going to meet the guys.  The scene could not be skipped because they needed to play out interrogating the guys - the question was if they would actually have to smack them down before they'd talk or whether they'd just be intimidated without the PCs needing to fight.

How is asking "do you want to fight them for the info or not?" any different from saying "do you want to play a daring escape?"

Yeah, it's a hard one to parse out.  Lessee, "Do you want to play a daring escape?" gets asked long before they're even captured.  Kinda like, "What do you want this chapter to be about?"  Whereas "Do ya wanna fight for the info or not?" is asked at the beginning of the scene that would have the fight.  See, I try to 'feel out' what my players are 'up for' before I launch into a major section.  I would have asked them if they were 'up for' a 'daring escape' about the time PC#2 said, "That's no moon."  (Heck, if I were runnin' it, I wouldn't have thought that the 'evil fortress' was moon-sized until he made that crack, but I love to improvise.)  Matching the 'daring escape' question to a situation similar to what you described with the 'fight or not' request would be me asking if they wanted to play a 'daring escape' after dumping them in the trash compactor.  In effect the question becomes more 'do you wanna play it out' rather than the 'what kind of chapter would you like.'

Now if Kenobi had gone, "That's no moon" and I asked if they wanted a 'daring escape' and they said "no," I would've totally let them go - no tractor beam or anything - and mostly skipped ahead to the encountering 'a lead' on the princess.  It would've been almost the same as the cloud city sequence I suppose, with no deathstar fight at all!  The princess would've been in a prison somewhere else exotic, et cetera, et cetera.  'Couldn't really do that from the bottom of the trash compactor, could I?

Quote from: hyphz
Quote from: Le Joueur
Then sharing must be the answer; how could the players object to stuff they came up with?

Because they can and do object to being asked to come up with stuff in the first place.

I thought the 'daring escape' question illustrated the difference.  Saying 'what do ya wanna play today?' is a little too open-ended, even for my players most times.  That's why I usually prompt them when I get an idea for a 'direction' for the game.  "How about a 'daring escape?'" is a question about the next chapter not the next scene.  Furthermore, you're asking a question vague enough not to spoil it, yet it calls for them to 'buy in' on an idea that normal 'bunker-livers' would fight tooth and nail - getting captured; the players will expect you to 'have a plan' to get them out (or at least the intention of them escaping).

It's hard to explain, but even though they know they'll escape, they don't know how, why, or from who; that's why it'll still be interesting.  (Nobody at the table expected the trash compactor, yet that scene is classic.)  I assume this is the dynamic behind players objecting to 'coming up with stuff;' when they, do where is the surprise, the interest, or the engagement?  In the Mystiques....  This is why 'shared play highlights them so highly.  You can share impromptu detail creation (you don't have to), you can coordinate the game's direction with them (like 'renegades on the run,' 'daring escape,' and so on), without making the game seem predestined or predictable.  You get better 'buy in' from the players (which means less 'bunkering down' because they trust where the game will 'go' without knowing 'how it will turn out').  That's how the 'shared game' thing works.  Nobody knows 'how it will turn out' because they share in putting the ingredients in; who knows what you'll concoct?

Is the 'direction of the game' question making more sense now?

Fang Langford
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clehrich
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« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2003, 05:58:36 PM »

As long as you're willing to explain all this, Fang, can I ask a question?  I think I've had one of the same problems hyphz has, and I also have no idea what to do about it.

Okay, so I'm going to run our SW game.  I want to do things the way you describe; sounds awesome.

I open it up, make clear before we start, at the start of the session, and periodically throughout the session, that the players basically need to write the world and the plot around them, and sometimes make meta-decisions (would we rather do a cool escape thing, or a chase scene, or go play alien-hunting?).  They say, "Oh yes, totally cool, no problem."

Then you start noticing that (1) they never do it without prompting --- a lot of prompting, and (2) they won't won't won't do it when it concerns a Plot Element (see below).  They do not believe you when you say you have no fixed plan or goal.  They are clearly very frustrated by having certain things handed to them openly, and while they like this kind of gaming as a general concept, they just are not comfortable doing it.

By Plot Element, I mean something for which they "just know" I "must" have a plan.  For example, when the gang gets to the station to do the Daring Rescue we've agreed will be fun, they "just know" I "must" know where she is.  But I don't --- I want them to decide where's a good place.  If they don't suggest anything clever, maybe I'll say, "Boodly wheep bleep bleep [R2 speaking] R2 says the Princess is in Detention Block A [C3P0]."  "So where is that?" they ask.  "I dunno, where would you like it to be?"  "No come on, that's stupid, where is it?"  And so on.  They just can't accept that an important Plot Element is going to be made up on the fly more or less according to what they do or say.

I think hyphz was describing this situation; god knows I've run into it.  The players go passive; not exactly into the defensive bunker, perhaps, but they just start trying to "wait you out."  They seem to think, "Well, he's not providing stuff, and he keeps asking us to do stuff, but we don't know which way the plot is supposed to go; if we wait him out, he's GOT to produce stuff because otherwise we'll all just stare at each other."

What do I do?
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Chris Lehrich
Jason Lee
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Posts: 729


« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2003, 07:07:41 PM »

Quote from: clehrich
I think hyphz was describing this situation; god knows I've run into it.  The players go passive; not exactly into the defensive bunker, perhaps, but they just start trying to "wait you out."  They seem to think, "Well, he's not providing stuff, and he keeps asking us to do stuff, but we don't know which way the plot is supposed to go; if we wait him out, he's GOT to produce stuff because otherwise we'll all just stare at each other."

What do I do?


Make a flow chart.

1)  Start with one or more 'opening plot hooks'.
2)  Decide on one or more preferred or most likely 'outcomes' to the hooks.
3)  Begin organically placing most-likely-to-occure 'key events', or steps, in chains.  Optional outcomes of 'key events' may begin new chains.  Make sure your chains end at one or more of the 'outcomes' you set out with.

The 'key events' should be like signposts or landmarks for the GM, points for him to align himself with.  The players should not even notice the existence of these "sections".  The 'key events' are rough scene outlines, not details.  Though, if you are dead certain that a 'key event' will occur it is a good place to attach detail and/or props to.

As for the 'outcomes', unless you've gotten really good at predicting the actions of your players none of the 'outcomes' you put down will actually occur.  This is OK.

If you have a good feel of pacing versus session length you should be able to pick your number of sessions and start compressing the chains toward the 'outcomes' at the late-middle session.

You should end up with an root-like structure.  As you built the chart in little stages, asking yourself 'what if?' at every step, you should have a lot of the decisions the players might make accounted for.


On the surface this seems completely contrary to Fang's suggestion.  But I don't think it is (or, rather, has to be...it could be very illusionist also).  The key is not to lock yourself into the chart.  The chart is a framework to get past the bumps when neither GM nor player knows what to do.  It is not there to railroad the players with, even if it looks like a nice set of tracks.  The players may put new connecting lines on the chart you didn't think of, skip giant sections somehow, or create entirely new 'key events'.  If events don't occur as you predicted (and they most likely won't if the players actually participate in the development of the plot) you can still jump around the chart for ideas or a frame of reference for what happens next.

So, to put this in context:  Your players are helping creating plot, and then they suddenly stop and try to wait you out.  Maybe because they are afraid it is too important a decision for the lowly worms that they are, maybe they want a suprise, or maybe they just don't have any ideas.  Pick the closest point to where they currently are on the chart, draw a line to the nearest event, and feed it to them.  Resume play as normal once past the bump.

- Jason
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- Cruciel
clehrich
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« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2003, 07:43:06 PM »

Jason,

As a matter of clarification here, how come this flowchart system doesn't encourage the players to think traditionally?  I mean, doesn't this tell them, "Yup, we can wait him out, and then he'll go back to what we're used to, and we can be passive again."  I believe that it works, but I don't understand why.
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Chris Lehrich
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2003, 08:19:04 PM »

Quote from: clehrich
As a matter of clarification here, how come this flowchart system doesn't encourage the players to think traditionally?  I mean, doesn't this tell them, "Yup, we can wait him out, and then he'll go back to what we're used to, and we can be passive again."  I believe that it works, but I don't understand why.


You're absolutely right, it won't help them change the way they play.  But, it should help you get past everyone sitting around staring at each other and back to playing.

The way I see it, if play is interrupted with frustration (from boredom or confusion in this case) you've created an 'un-entertaining mood'.  If you surgically remove the bumby spots before they get too frustrating you can concentrate on the fun part.  In this case the fun part being shared authorship of the plot.  The players can focus on authoring the things they feel comfortable with; think of it like training wheels.  As they play they may decide they like it, and want more control; they may also decide they don't like it, and want the rollercoaster back.  But, if you can atleast trim out the frustating parts you know the players will be making an actual preference decision as opposed to a knee-jerk decision based on the fact that it was frustrating.

A note:  The GM is one of the players creating the plot - he gets to contribute to.  Also, IMO the common definition of GM includes the responsibility to be creative when noone else wants to.

Another note: I personally don't think there is anything wrong with the rollercoaster.  It doesn't have to be bunker playing, it can be suspenseful and challenging.

- Jason
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- Cruciel
Le Joueur
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« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2003, 08:47:29 PM »

Quote from: clehrich
As long as you're willing to explain all this, Fang, can I ask a question?  I think I've had one of the same problems hyphz has, and I also have no idea what to do about it.

Always glad to help!  Fire away.

Quote from: clehrich
Okay, so I'm going to run our SW game.  I want to do things the way you describe; sounds awesome.

I open it up, make clear before we start, at the start of the session, and periodically throughout the session, that the players basically need to write the world and the plot around them, and sometimes make meta-decisions (would we rather do a cool escape thing, or a chase scene, or go play alien-hunting?).  They say, "Oh yes, totally cool, no problem."

Wrong approach.  A lot of people are really turned off by telling them that they're going to be having this much narrative control.  Aside from the fact that this isn't really what I'm advocating, the way you put it is really intimidating to 'player-only' players.  (These are people who love to play, but won't ever want to gamemaster.)

Yes, it's true they'll be 'writing the world,' but it won't look like that at the time.  Like I said, on the one hand you might lean on them to give you setting details, but most of the work they do 'writing the world' is unconscious; they don't know they're doing it.  Don't scare them telling them 'the have to.'

They definitely won't be 'writing the plot around them' at all; I know, that's kind of confusing isn't it?  Here the game goes along, running strictly by what the players do and yet I say they won't be 'writing the plot.'  That's because were not talking about Director Stance, what is happening is the natural 'protagonist effect.'  A protagonist, most simply, is the character the story 'follows' around; where they go, the story goes.  That means that the actions of the protagonist direct where the story goes, but that doesn't mean that the character 'steps behind the camera' and becomes either the director or the writer, far from it.  Neither does the player, don't force them to think they do.

The gamemaster, as I've laid out here, keeps the 'tension meter,' not the plot.  Like I was saying earlier, he puts his McGuffins in front of the characters, wherever they go; the same thing happens with the 'tension points.'  That means weird things like, say the player decides his player wants to take a break and get a drink; guess what, the tension level is so high a 'quiet drink' would be anticlimactic.  This is a page I take from Lajos Egri's The Art of Creative Writing, where he basically says, 'the tension level must never go down, ever.'  (Note: The Art of Creative Writing is not The Art of Dramatic Writing Ron frequently refers to.)

So, much to the player's surprise, you've simply got to attack the bar and you've got to do it with elements already 'in play.'  So follow: the character goes to the bar, the player feels justified (for whatever reason, it doesn't matter) that the character will do this, and you're the gamemaster, it's late in the story, so the bar gets attacked (by what or how is a matter of making it fit the point in the story - you could even have them 'attacked' by someone who discretely criticizes their moral code, slacking off so close to the ultimate confrontation - all that matters is it is a 'heavy' scene).  Who created the bar?  Technically, it springs from the player, even if the gamemaster details it.  Who attacked it?  Technically, the climax of the story required it; it was only the actions of the player that set the stage and the gamemaster who 'does the work.'

And I simply don't advocate telling them that they'll be 'making meta-decisions.'  How intimidating.  All I tell my players, all of it, is 'you guys are the show, it's all about you' and 'by the way, I might need to check in on where the story is going from time to time, because I'm not using a plot.'  Almost everything you get from them, they won't realize they're doing all the stuff you list.  I resort to 'anyone up for a daring escape' because I know they don't like 'bad stuff' happening to their characters; me asking both legitimizes it and prevents unpleasant shocks during the game.

Quote from: clehrich
Then you start noticing that (1) they never do it without prompting --- a lot of prompting, and (2) they won't won't won't do it when it concerns a Plot Element (see below).  They do not believe you when you say you have no fixed plan or goal.  They are clearly very frustrated by having certain things handed to them openly, and while they like this kind of gaming as a general concept, they just are not comfortable doing it.

1) Yeah, I know, until you get them past their 'old habits' it does take a lot of prompting.  Sorry, sometimes the 'good stuff' is a lot of work.

2) That's why you don't put it that way.  The 'daring escape' isn't portrayed as a plot element, it is given as 'what is gonna happen to you.'  You aren't asking them permission to put the deathstar 'in front of them,' they don't even know what's there (except that Alderaan isn't).  All you are asking is permission to put them in jeopardy for the sake of the game (and not even putting it like that).

Who cares if they believe you at first?  Run a few 'movies worth' of it and then reminisce about the curves they threw you.  Those are the important parts; if you don't find yourself scrambling to 'stay ahead of them' every once in awhile, I don't think you're doing it right.  After it's over, talk that up, compliment them for good playing and how much fun it was dealing with those curves.  Three or four 'movies worth' and they'll really get the message: they're in charge.

The "handed to them openly" thing is one of the trickier parts.  Technically, you are just handing it to them, on the other hand, 'it' is completely disguised.  You don't offer them the deathstar, you offer them something much more abstract and character focused, a 'daring escape.'

At first, sharing will be a lot of work for the gamemaster; 1) you have to teach yourself how to share and disguise the Mystiques, 2) you need to 'kid glove' the players out of their 'old habits,' 3) they need to learn to 'pick up the cues' from the game and not you anymore (a lot of feigned ignorance here).  As soon as the group gets into the swing of it, it becomes much less work than ever before (providing you're one of those 'gamemaster must control' gamemasters).

Quote from: clehrich
By Plot Element, I mean something for which they "just know" I "must" have a plan.  For example, when the gang gets to the station to do the Daring Rescue we've agreed will be fun, they "just know" I "must" know where she is.  But I don't --- I want them to decide where's a good place.  If they don't suggest anything clever, maybe I'll say, "Boodly wheep bleep bleep [R2 speaking] R2 says the Princess is in Detention Block A [C3P0]."  "So where is that?" they ask.  "I dunno, where would you like it to be?"  "No come on, that's stupid, where is it?"  And so on.  They just can't accept that an important Plot Element is going to be made up on the fly more or less according to what they do or say.

Whoops, you're falling for the 'the game is a real place' ideal.  It isn't.  It doesn't really exist, never has.  So when they ask, "So where is that?" you say, "Over there."  They say "Where?"  You say, "What makes sense for a battle station that's low on the 'human rights' thing?"  "By the atomic pile!" chimes one, "Near the sewer," comes another; "Sounds great," you say.

These kinds of questions are a matter of 'flirting,' of 'seduction;' you need to flatter them with your appreciation of their knowledge without letting them know you're actually pumping them for information.  Like I said, don't tell them the are 'writing the world,' look for what they imply that they expect.  Honestly in a place as large as a small moon, you'd think they'd have the galaxy's fastest elevators (would you want an elevator ride to take a week to get to the other side?).  That kind of rapid transit renders the whole concept of 'position' meaningless (as if the game world was any more 'real').  R2D2 knows where they are; have him print out a map.

To me, arriving at the "Detention block AA23" is the whole battle.  Heck, figuring out she's in detention might have been the sticking point for a gamemaster short on creativity.  If you're that far and they ask for more information (by that point) it's time to up the pace (knock on the door, whatever, just remind them to keep it moving and not get bogged down in tiny details).

If they can't accept that, don't tell them (it's just a manifestation of their 'old habits' again, anyway).  Only dwell on the 'flirting' when you're stuck, otherwise keep it moving.  Like I always say, "When all else fails, run an action scene."

Quote from: clehrich
I think hyphz was describing this situation; god knows I've run into it.  The players go passive; not exactly into the defensive bunker, perhaps, but they just start trying to "wait you out."  They seem to think, "Well, he's not providing stuff, and he keeps asking us to do stuff, but we don't know which way the plot is supposed to go; if we wait him out, he's GOT to produce stuff because otherwise we'll all just stare at each other."

Okay, let me make this clear; that's right out.  You never 'ask them to do stuff.'  At the most, you're going to be asking if you can do stuff to them.  One of the best parts of every game world I've ever even heard of is that they have 'dynamic settings.'  Something is 'in flux,' you just aren't surprised when Orcs attack a village out of the blue, when there's a streetlevel firefight to kill a decker, and et cetera.

Remember the 'Greedo example?'  "To 'push things' not just forward, but in any direction."  That's what you do when they "go passive."  I look at A New Hope and see the players going passive as soon as they take command of the hangar control office, not later; to me the action of the gamemaster is to swing in with some bait.  They already prompted you by having R2D2 jack in and check if they've been noticed; you take that as a route to offer the bait and suddenly the 'Princess McGuffin' manifests in the deathstar, no questions asked.  Heck, PC#1 practically hands you the bait for PC#3 ("More money than you can imagine..."); character hooks (look they're right there on the character sheets) are great aren't they?  If they're still passive, remind them that they can't make a 'daring escape' without being captured, where better than Detention Block AA23?  (You're flirting again here, playing upon their trust that you'll save their bacon if necessary, to get them moving.)

Quote from: clehrich
What do I do?

Can't hurt to try.  If you want to come back in Actual Play, I'll be more than happy to give you some real-play coaching between sessions.  (And if a long "and then they..." post isn't welcome there, it's more than welcome down in the Scattershot Forum; technically you'll be using Scattershot Techniques regardless of what rules you employ.)

I'm not entirely sure I've gotten my point across here; how about you tell me what I just said and we'll see if I got out what I am trying to say.  (That's a marriage counselor trick; tell them what they said and you finally communicate.)

Fang Langford
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2003, 09:38:41 PM »

Quote from: cruciel
On the surface this seems completely contrary to Fang's suggestion.  But I don't think it is (or, rather, has to be...it could be very illusionist also).  The key is not to lock yourself into the chart.  The chart is a framework to get past the bumps when neither GM nor player knows what to do.  It is not there to railroad the players with, even if it looks like a nice set of tracks.  The players may put new connecting lines on the chart you didn't think of, skip giant sections somehow, or create entirely new 'key events'.  If events don't occur as you predicted (and they most likely won't if the players actually participate in the development of the plot) you can still jump around the chart for ideas or a frame of reference for what happens next.

No, this is definitely not what I'm saying.  Using a flow chart is contrary to sharing unless you share it.  Resorting to this kind of crutch pretty much invalidates the most basic principles of 'sharing the game' or being a 'non-controlling gamemaster.'  I'd even argue that the presence of such will be very enticing towards back-sliding.  And if you're willing to forego complete sections, it seems like a lot of work just so you can throw it away.  Why not skip the 'control aid' and wing it?

Quote from: cruciel
So, to put this in context:  Your players are helping creating plot, and then they suddenly stop and try to wait you out.  Maybe because they are afraid it is too important a decision for the lowly worms that they are, maybe they want a surprise, or maybe they just don't have any ideas.  Pick the closest point to where they currently are on the chart, draw a line to the nearest event, and feed it to them.  Resume play as normal once past the bump.

Trust me, if they've been helping 'create the plot' as I've described, they've 'taken a left' and gone right off the chart, dragging them back will be the height of 'control.'

(I hate to do this:)  "You must learn to let go...."

Quote from: cruciel
Make a flow chart.

1)  Start with one or more 'opening plot hooks'.
2)  Decide on one or more preferred or most likely 'outcomes' to the hooks.
3)  Begin organically placing most-likely-to-occur 'key events', or steps, in chains.  Optional outcomes of 'key events' may begin new chains.  Make sure your chains end at one or more of the 'outcomes' you set out with.

The 'key events' should be like signposts or landmarks for the GM,

You should end up with a root-like structure.

Sorry, this is a recipe for control.  Think, predict, arrange = control, control, control.  I advocate a list of 'character hooks,' Hans' greed, Luke's lust, Kenobi's honor, not plot hooks.  You can happily add to this some 'neat turns' ("key events" to some) like 'rescue the princess' and 'destroy the evil fortress.'  It's when you start to look for 'preferred outcomes' or anything "most-likely-to-occur" that you start gearing up to 'take control.'  Things like 'blow up the farm' or 'Greedo drops by' have to be spontaneous or in response to player created stimuli otherwise attempting to 'not control' is pointless.  The root like structure ought to look a lot like a subway map because it's little different than railroading; it requires that you think in 'bound' terms like 'where am I on the map' and 'where does it need to go.'  That 'need' is the ultimate vanity, that you know better than they do, where the game 'ought to go.'

 
Quote from: cruciel
...It won't help them change the way they play.  But, it should help you get past everyone sitting around staring at each other and back to playing.

Maybe, but at the expense of having them take part.  Better to do the 'anything to get them moving trick,' no matter what direction they go.

Quote from: cruciel
A note: the GM is one of the players creating the plot - he gets to contribute to.  Also, IMO the common definition of GM includes the responsibility to be creative when no one else wants to.

This I agree with, across the board.  That's why the gamemaster puts in things like 'evil fortress' and 'rescue the princess,' these are their contribution.  I also agree with the creativity comment, but if you use the 'anything to get them moving' trick, you won't be forced to when you don't want to be.

See, a lot of the 'responsibility to be creative' isn't as Director Stance as everyone makes it sound.  Shooting Greedo was as creative as it would be stupid if there were any kind of reasonable legal authorities; it shows a lack of regard for rationalism.  Rationalism isn't the point in Star Wars, otherwise a lot of the 'players' would be much more careful about the consequences of their actions.

Quote from: cruciel
Another note: I personally don't think there is anything wrong with the rollercoaster.  It doesn't have to be bunker playing, it can be suspenseful and challenging.

Heck, I can't think of anything wrong with the rollercoaster either; that's how I run at every convention.  However, if either the gamemaster or the players aren't really thrilled by it; if there is a discontinuity in desire to play that way, there is a problem.  It isn't with rollercoasterism, but with somebody not wanting to play that way.

This is a thread exploring how to play a 'shared game' style of gamemastering.  I'd really like to see someone do a thread on rollercoaster gamemastering, I know I need to brush up on it.  Heck, there's absolutely nothing wrong with 'flow charting' either, that's a valid and valuable style of gamemastering; it isn't sharing though.  That's what I'm describing; I don't mean to imply any negativity about these other forms, merely that they are incompatible with 'shared gaming.'

Fang Langford
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Jason Lee
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« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2003, 11:58:18 PM »

Quote from: Le Joueur
No, this is definitely not what I'm saying.  Using a flow chart is contrary to sharing unless you share it.  Resorting to this kind of crutch pretty much invalidates the most basic principles of 'sharing the game' or being a 'non-controlling gamemaster.'  I'd even argue that the presence of such will be very enticing towards back-sliding.  And if you're willing to forego complete sections, it seems like a lot of work just so you can throw it away.  Why not skip the 'control aid' and wing it?

[snip]

This is a thread exploring how to play a 'shared game' style of gamemastering.  I'd really like to see someone do a thread on rollercoaster gamemastering, I know I need to brush up on it.  Heck, there's absolutely nothing wrong with 'flow charting' either, that's a valid and valuable style of gamemastering; it isn't sharing though.  That's what I'm describing; I don't mean to imply any negativity about these other forms, merely that they are incompatible with 'shared gaming.'


First last:  

I do think control/prep tools like a flowchart (it just happens to be my personal fav) are optimal for rollercoasterism (or other pre-plan play styles).  I would also concede that I may even be confusing the topic a little by suggesting it; it is off-center from what you've been saying.

However, I do not agree that it is in opposition to shared control (plot building) of a game.

You called is a crutch, and that is exactly what it is.  You are putting a lot of burden in a 'shared game' on improvisation.  Most gamers I know freeze under request for improvisational GMing.  Improvisation is a difficult skill, I think less gifted people will need a crutch to help them improvise.  For this kind of game you would not be dragging the players back onto the chart when they dare defy your carefully laid plans.  You would use the chart as inspiration, creativity you put in a bottle for when everyone else is fresh out.  A little control can be safety net, if you haven't gotten around to letting go as you put it...

It could very well be a list of cool Star Wars-like things that could happen, or 'neat turns'.  I just prefer a flowchart because the organic nature of its construction makes it more likely to be of use to you, without force.  It is also handy because it is multi-purpose; in case the whole 'shared control' thing derails on you mid-game and you need to switch to rollercoasterism.

As far as the 'anything to get them moving trick', I agree.  I may be beating a dead horse now, but I was just saying use the chart to figure out what to use for your 'anything to get them moving trick' if you can't think of anything.

On the issue of 'control aids' enticing back-sliding, you may very well be correct.

Your last couple post did an excellent job of making your position clear.  The seperation from all Director/Author stance issues in particular is a clarifier that really needed to be stated outright.  It is also has some good methods for helping yourself improvise, like the 'flirting' comments.

- Jason
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- Cruciel
hyphz
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Posts: 157


« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2003, 06:35:08 AM »

Quote from: Ian Charvill

Not sure who The Punisher is (Marvel comic character? sure I heard something about an adaptation recently); not sure how deep they are into the Underground; not sure whether they know each other but...


The Punisher is indeed a Marvel character - basically a vigilante who's "schtick" is being harsh and violent - but direct and effective as a result.  


Quote

If you think it'd help you I could write up how I'd prep a first session of play for those characters in UA, how much I'd leave open, how much closed and how I'd prep for the players doing unexpected things.


That would be cool.  I don't know if the characters know each other or not, they haven't decided yet.  They will not know about the Underground at the start.

(I couldn't get Trigger Events out of them for love nor money.. well, one of them, the Punisher player, said that 'His wife and children had been killed by criminals' which is at least a motivation to act, if nothing to do with the occult.  Nobody else could think of one that was sensible.  ("Once I was kicking a guy's teeth in and after about five minutes I realized that he was really hard and there was an unknown army around.")

(One beef I have here with the gamebook, is that I showed them the examples.  Problem is, they are written by professional writers who know the setting.  All they did was intimidate the players.)
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2003, 06:38:06 AM »

Hello,

Chimin' in ...

Jason, it sounds to me as if you have some assumptions about GMing and the GM's notes. Your posts say, to my reading anyway, that the process is either referencing a flow chart, which to me includes arrows and "go here, then there, or here" kind of planned directions, or it's improvisation. You also suggest that the chart is very useful while GMing in the way that Fang is talking about.

All of the above is my reading of what you've presented. If I'm wrong, let me know.

I suggest that you consider a list of stuff, some of which is rock-solid for the setting and back-story, without the little "go here next" arrows at all. Sorcerer's texts include almost nothing but this sort of thing.

- The main book introduces Bangs (which in the GM notes are possible things that could be tossed to the players; we've taken to calling his notes the "bandolier").

- The scene transition and story-structure information in Sorcerer & Sword is about utilizing Bangs without forcing outcomes upon the players, and also about setting up play such that the protagonists are really the center of attention.

- The relationship-map method in The Sorcerer's Soul is about setting up complex emotional back-story without turning the session into a hunt for clues. Clue-hunts are essentially dungeons with doors and traps and stuff; a good back-story, by contrast, is a social matrix with infinite outcomes and possible relationships to form and be acted upon.

What I'm getting at is that none of these methods are either flow-chart or improvisation. They are "stuff" which may include extreme fixed-setting material or even planned events, but not a planned or even potential flow of this-to-that.

You are kind of hinting at this approach when you say, use the flow-chart for "stuff" when you need it, but I suggest removing the little arrows that make it a flow-chart in the first place. You don't lose the neat stuff (back-story, NPCs, etc), but you don't need all the "go here or go there" either.

Best,
Ron
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2003, 08:04:03 AM »

Quote from: cruciel
[About Flow-charting...] You called is a crutch, and that is exactly what it is.  You are putting a lot of burden in a 'shared game' on improvisation.  Most gamers I know freeze under request for improvisational GMing.

That's exactly why I suggest sharing!  If you 'get stuck' at a time to improvise, 'get help.'  Really, it's not so hard as it sounds.

Quote from: cruciel
Improvisation is a difficult skill; I think less gifted people will need a crutch to help them improvise.

Who said anything about 'going without crutches?'  I'm not communicating here; I already suggested character hooks and 'neat turns' (or twists) in a list.  How is that not a valuable tool, a crutch if you will, for improvisation?

Quote from: cruciel
For this kind of game you would not be dragging the players back onto the chart when they dare defy your carefully laid plans.  You would use the chart as inspiration, creativity you put in a bottle for when everyone else is fresh out.  A little control can be safety net, if you haven't gotten around to letting go as you put it...

It could very well be a list of cool Star Wars-like things that could happen, or 'neat turns'.  I just prefer a flowchart because the organic nature of its construction makes it more likely to be of use to you, without force.

Then get rid of the "flow" in your chart, the "and then this" part, because that's where it stops being improvisation and starts being control.  (For that matter, throw out the "chart" part too, because a chart implies positional relationships, almost as much 'flow' as before; the only chart that might be handy is one that implies relationships rather than order.)  There is nothing 'organic' about putting events in a predetermined order.  An 'organic' list of hooks and turns would be almost deliberately out-of-order; this I suggested.

Quote from: cruciel
It is also handy because it is multi-purpose; in case the whole 'shared control' thing derails on you mid-game and you need to switch to rollercoasterism.

That's fine; you can run a game any way you want.  Until I've completed the description of 'shared control' gaming, tossing in 'use this to Transition to rollercoasterism' won't do anything but obscure the understanding of 'shared control' gaming.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with Transition, I invented the term after all.  You can't Transition from a form until you can do it; I think a thread about Transition would be excellent, just not here.  I'm trying to keep this thread on track to explain what is apparently a really tricky gaming technique.

Quote from: cruciel
As far as the 'anything to get them moving trick', I agree.  I may be beating a dead horse now, but I was just saying use the chart to figure out what to use for your 'anything to get them moving trick' if you can't think of anything.

On the issue of 'control aids' enticing back-sliding, you may very well be correct.

That's why I'm saying a flow chart as opposed to an 'unordered list' isn't appropriate here.  These will contain most of the same information (and therefore the same value for improvisation), but absent the 'flow' it loses the 'enticement.'

Quote from: cruciel
Your last couple posts did an excellent job of making your position clear.  The separation from all Director/Author stance issues in particular is a clarifier that really needed to be stated outright.  [They are] also has some good methods for helping yourself improvise, like the 'flirting' comments.

Thanks.  I've been polishing this description for some time now, and the "'flirting' comments" only occurred to me back when I framed the Mystiques stuff.  I know I've covered a lot so far, but I think we're just over halfway (mostly a gut feeling), so I think it's really important to keep the thread tightly focused.  (An important note, there's no 'social contract' implied that suggests that only 'experienced posters' ought to start a new thread; you only learn by doing.  Feel free to do so.)

Fang Langford

p. s. What Ron said.  (Exactly, my man, exactly.)
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clehrich
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« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2003, 09:53:51 AM »

Fang,

I'm not going to say that I hope you're someday soon going to cobble all this together into an article.  I'm going to say that you will do so.  Yah yah, job wife kids, blah blah, excuses excuses.  :)  Seriously, I've never heard anything so coherent and helpful about GMing in my life.  Thank you!

Alright, now before you go getting a swollen head, I want to ask more questions.  <squats in lotus position before the feet of the master>

1. Every now and then, in anything but a freeform one-shot, you're going to want something predetermined.  I realize that the basic point of shared GMing is, if I understand you right, precisely that you don't do this, but every now and then there's a reason to.  One example would be when the story in an extended campaign has just turned temporarily into a mystery: who whacked this dude?  You don't have a precise answer to that, you don't have a complete story of how it happened for them to go dungeon-crawl-hunt-for-clues on, but there is something you have decided on about this.

Alternatively to continue the SW example, suppose I thought of the Death Star as a way-cool idea, and had an NPC mention it pretty early on so everyone would know about it.  Now I really don't want to railroad more than I absolutely have to; the one thing I need (for whatever reason) is for them to go to the Death Star.  I don't care why, I don't care whether they blow it up, I don't have a map of it, nothing.  I just need them to go there.

Again, if I hear you right, you would say that such railroading is very very dangerous, because it encourages GM-control backsliding, and encourages player passivity.  What you have here is a major point that is invented by the GM and not the players, which is in itself problematic.  So do you have any advice for sharing the game with them when there is one thing you just have to get to?

2. I think I get your point about sharing vs. Director Stance.  You don't need to be open with the players about what you're doing as such, you just need to share with them and flirt when they won't share back.  Is that more or less right?  And can you explain flirting a bit more?

3. Can shared gaming go well with Director Stance?  I think your point is that it's not about stance, and that telling the players, "You will write the plot now" is intimidating and counter-productive.  But does this approach work well when the players do jump out and direct?  Is it best if it's done like the Confessional in InSpectres, where Director Stance is done in-character, or does that matter?

4. Does shared gaming help with immersion?  Not that immersion (I mean players being "in character all the time") is necessarily the goal, but does this promote that style of play?
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Chris Lehrich
clehrich
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« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2003, 10:32:06 AM »

Fang,

While I hope you'll remark on those questions above, it looks to me like I should read more or less everything on the Scattershot forum, then ask questions.  So I have a question: where do I start?  It looks to me like the Gaming Model thing should perhaps be first, but what then?  Since Scattershot is an emerging game, not a done deal that can be referred back to, a road-map would really help me a lot.

Thanks!
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Chris Lehrich
Bob McNamee
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Posts: 685


« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2003, 11:17:36 AM »

Regarding the Death Star...
If it were me and I really wanted to have a Death Star (while not being sure exactly what it was)

I'd do a Cut Scene very early on...
something like...
Leia in Vader's custody arrives to be questioned by Tarkin the commander of the DeathStar...

or , even better

the Vader choking scene in the meeting room concerning the missing plans, Technology and the Force...

Do these very early... like perhaps before Luke even loses R2...

As GM I still don't know what a Deathstar is...or where it is... just that its a terrible weapon
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Bob McNamee
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