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Author Topic: No Myth and the Lost  (Read 2901 times)
taalyn
Member

Posts: 370

Aidan Grey


« on: June 12, 2003, 05:36:10 AM »

So, I finally found my way to investigate No Myth. This is how I always GM (my players even have a habit of saying "Quit giving the GM ideas!"). I'm glad I looked it up - I now have a host of new tools to use, and ways to approach the game.

The question: Clehrich asked on the Scattershot forum how to prevent lost players. My group calls this "flat-forehead syndrome" (from pounding heads against walls) - when the players and the GM run out of steam, clues, what have you and it takes major railroading to get something to happen. How do I prevent this, or failing that, get something happening again?

Would an example help? The only one I can think of takes a bit of setup, so I'll wait and see if we can do without.

Aidan
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Aidan Grey

Crux Live the Abnatural
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2003, 07:35:02 AM »

Hi Aidan,

I'm going to get real theory, and real practical here, let me know if I'm being clear...

"Flat head" syndrome, as you call it, is what I call "Dropping the Ball".  The GM wants to players to do something and be proactive("Pick up the ball, dude!") and the players are looking at the GM to do something with the ball and give them a cue or a lead("Um, what are we supposed to do?").

Raw railroading is when the GM is constantly in charge of the Ball, and only passes it to the players, so that they can pass it back to him/her to do something with it.  Think of the star player, who's also a ball hog, and demands that everyone passes to them to score.  

On the other hand, you have folks who develop a setting, but don't enmesh the PC's in a conflict, and they're supposed to wander around and "get into" the action on their own.  In that case, the GM is always leaving the Ball in their hands....

So, for most people, functional play lies somewhere in between the two, with good passing between players and the GM.  But how to get that?  Well, one thing is to make sure that players know what they're "supposed to do" in the most general sense when they get the Ball.

This is where Social Contract becomes the focal point, and we start talking about GNS goals and "in game character goals".   In Gamism, the player needs to overcome the challenges presented(in which case, it becomes the GM's responsibility to clearly present the challenge and the options to overcoming it...).   In Narrativism, the player needs to push the Theme forward, and the GM needs to either set up the Ball by scene framing or staying hands off and letting the player do so.   In Sim, well, we're talking about just the "in game goals", which brings us to the next point...

Conflict-  In game goals are a direct part of conflict, and requires some good communication on the parts of the players and the GM.  Games that I've found work exceptionally well have explicit rules about establishing those in game goals through "communication mechanics".  Stuff like SA's and Kickers give the players direct communication to the GM about what their character's in game goals are, and Scene Framing and Bangs are about the GM presenting situations for the players to react to in a clear, set up the ball, you spike it manner.

Whoa, what does all this theory stuff add up to?

Scene framing is key.  If the players are lost, you either cut them to where something interesting is happening, or you ask them generally what they want to do and cut a scene for them.  If you're using Scene Framing, there should be no stalling.  Easiest example I think of is the Scooby-Doo Clue:  The gang may wander and search,  but never for long, because either Scooby or Shaggy WILL "accidentally" find the secret door.  All you have to do is cut to the part where the gang gets to the next Bang, or plot twist if you're running a prescripted game.

Second, you might want to simply say, "Ok, what kind of scene do you want next?" as a means of throwing the Ball up in the air.  If that's too radical, you might want to look at some form of Kickers.  But all this is extra if you handle the Scene Framing issue.

Chris
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taalyn
Member

Posts: 370

Aidan Grey


« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2003, 08:40:12 PM »

Thanks Chris, that does help. But there's still a bit that I've been stuck with. Here's the example, because I think it will demonstrate where I as GM really have problems.

The story: Anna was raped. The magic in her leaked out and created a big monster to get revenge on the rapist. The players eventually figured out what was going on, and determined that the monster needed some slayage. I knew that the would kill it - but not how, or when, and such like.

I know I dropped the ball (luckily I had forgiving players) and eventually it all came out okay. The question then is what to do when the players' foreheads are gtting flat, and though I _usually_ know what should happen next, I often don't know how to get it into the game. Any "tricks of the trade" or other recommendations for what to do when I lose the pacing?

Oh, and theory helps as much as practical stuff. What you've already said will help a lot, but I need some thought-processes for what to do when everyone's lost (including me!).

Thanks,
Aidan
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Aidan Grey

Crux Live the Abnatural
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2003, 09:25:24 PM »

Hi taalyn,

Quote
The story: Anna was raped. The magic in her leaked out and created a big monster to get revenge on the rapist. The players eventually figured out what was going on, and determined that the monster needed some slayage. I knew that the would kill it - but not how, or when, and such like.


So, let me understand, play stalled because you were at a loss for "how will they find this demon?"  Well, there's about 3 ways to make this happen.  

In the first, you literally just cut to a location, where the PC's have tracked down the demon, "Two weeks later, you've got it cornered on top of a church in the midst of the midnight rain..."

The second method, is the Trollbabe way; you ask the players out and out what kind of scene they want next.  Notice that this isn't the same thing as "What do you want to do next?" since that question is predicated on where the characters were last scene, whereas "What scene do you want next" is a different matter.

Finally, you can also do what I call a "tension scene".  Tension scenes are great because they give you a minute to think up a Bang or a twist to go with.  What's a tension scene?  Remember when the A-team would build their new toy?  When Chow Yun Fat grabs a bunch of guns, starts strapping on grenades, and loads his shot gun?  When the combined armies of man and elf prepare for the climatic scene at the end of the Two Towers?  All of these scenes are tension scenes.  

Tell the players that they've tracked the demon down to some location(an inn, a church, whatever) and tell them to describe their preparations and take a few minutes to work out some plans.  In the meantime, you get a chance to come up with something cool to frame up the scene.

Chris
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taalyn
Member

Posts: 370

Aidan Grey


« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2003, 09:59:08 PM »

Right - thanks! I'll be sure to put those into play next time. You've been a fount of wisdom.

Aidan
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Aidan Grey

Crux Live the Abnatural
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