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Author Topic: Flag Framing/Conflict Web Concerns  (Read 5423 times)
memolith
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Posts: 28


« on: June 08, 2006, 06:43:08 AM »

I think the theory of running games based on Flag framing, Bangs, and a Conflict Web or Relationship map, is a solid theory, but I've never personally experienced such a game.

I was curious how you can have a cohesive, connected campaign as opposed to a bunch of disconnected events. I'm guessing it's all just tied into establishing a solid, interesting premise as a group, building characters based on the premise, then building scenes and NPCs based on flags on the character sheets. But how do you string all those scenes and conflicts into an interesting, cohesive whole?

I'm looking for broad examples, stories about your past experiences working within a framework like this.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2006, 09:02:02 AM »

Two things.

First, you'll note that all of these methods do rely on something like a central conflict or relationship map, or several of these things. So if/when X happens, the next event is not unrelated, but has also to do with the central conflict, or with how the relationship map is impacted by the outcome of event X. That's precisely what these elements exist to do, to ensure that everything stays in a coherent whole.

Second, this form of play is about making the story about the characters in question. So it's automatically coherent from that POV. If you're playing Ragnar, the events and their outcomes become "The Story of Ragnar." Yes, that does mean that you'll want to play to the end of Ragnar's story, where his conflicts are resolved. That's a good thing. After you're done with Ragnar's Story, you can do Ragnar's Story II - the sequel.

To give you a practical example, in my IRC HQ game, I started with a NPC map that represented a large number of NPCs around a colony at a lake, which centered on the idea that one of the PCs would be in charge of the colony. Unsurprisingly the entire game has been about the fate of the PCs as the colony struggles to exist. Quite a coherent story as a whole.

Mike
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Bankuei
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2006, 09:40:29 AM »

Hi,

Back in '95 I began running a Feng Shui campaign. 

Initially it began as an Illusionist game, heavy in prep.  Over time, as play drifted, and we established a solid feel for the game and game world, I found that I didn't need to prep much anymore- there was established factions, and NPCs, all with their own motivations.  I no longer had to try to "plot" things out, the NPCs all had their own agendas and it was very easy to simply play the NPCs in the same fashion you would play PCs. 

Later, between Ron's Sorcerer R-maps, and Riddle of Steel SAs, the rest of the ideas saw formalization.  Flag-like mechanics made it a lot easier to "aim" situation towards what the players wanted.  Since then, I've found the fictional events in play to be better connected and make more sense than the inflexible plot or plot tree which generally has to a) shoehorn the player's input into fitting it, and b) shoehorn it's own response back.

For example, from that Feng Shui game, there was several leader types who controlled a section of the Netherworld, which was basically the gateway between time junctures.  All the PCs needed to convince the leaders to cooperate for once and each loan some uber items for a short period of time to save the world.  One player wanted to "distract" one of the leaders while he stole an object (in classic Wuxia fashion), and rolled some god-awful "oops, you're dead" kind of roll.  So he ended up killing her on the spot. 

At this point, I had no plot response to that.

So, I simply figured, "Hmm, how would NPC X respond when he finds this out?  How would NPC Y respond when this becomes clear?" etc.   Suddenly the PCs went from "Band of troublemakers and sometimes useful" to "Major faction making power moves and potential threat to everyone's status quo".   I simply framed scenes and NPC responses based on that.

Since Conflict Webs & R-maps rely on roleplaying NPCs motivations, which is what you do when you play a PC anyway, I can't imagine how you would end up with -unconnected- events in play.

Chris
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Arturo G.
Member

Posts: 333


« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2006, 11:28:52 AM »


In case you are thinking that scenes centered around flags from different characters may be unconnected, don't forget that the GM should somehow link the NPCs desires, motivations and plans to the player characters (the conflict web). The actions and scenes centered around one player character should affect NPCs who are at the same time relevant or also indirectly affect other player characters. The player characters drive the play but the NPCs are the glue that connect everything.

Arturo


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Bankuei
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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2006, 11:35:11 AM »

Hi,

Also don't forget that players can make related Flags.  If you say, "Everyone has to serve in King Zhao's Court" then it's going to be pretty easy to tie the many conflicts together.  This is pretty much standard play for games that utilize flags.

Chris
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Judd
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Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2006, 03:39:24 PM »

Alright, so Burning Wheel Revised came out and I wrote up a few different worlds that we might play in.  The players were most excited about Vault, a city built over hell to plug it up and the problem of the campaign was that the souls of the damned were wandering, unable to enter hell.

The players made characters centered around Vault.  We all made 'em together, discussing Beliefs, realizing where they would conflict and where they would line up and knowing it owuld happen in play.

And for each game, I'd look at their Beliefs and construct a scene that would push thsoe buttons.  Very often I'd only have to do that once (sometimes twice) for each session, as the player's reaction caused ripples and consequences that effected the rest of the group.

There is nothing random about a flag-based bang, nothing random at all.  It is a scene constructed to get a reaction, a creative and fun reaction out of your players.  You probably do it already.

Flags written on the character sheet just make it easier, allow me to chill and not play listen-to-what-excites-the-players-ninja during our post-game winding down.  I still play ninja a bit, but since what excites them is on their character sheets and in their faces as we play, its an easier process.

I talk about it more in this thread here:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=18072.0
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2006, 04:01:40 AM »

Guys! Actual Play is not a polling forum.

Memolith, describe an actual instance of play of your own, please, that illustrates a cohesive, connected game in action. Until we know what you mean by this, there is no way to answer your question without guessing.

Best, Ron
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memolith
Member

Posts: 28


« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2006, 10:42:39 AM »

Guys! Actual Play is not a polling forum.

Memolith, describe an actual instance of play of your own, please, that illustrates a cohesive, connected game in action. Until we know what you mean by this, there is no way to answer your question without guessing.

Best, Ron

I have no instances of a cohesive, connected game. If this thread needs to be moved, be my guest. However, if it helps to give context, here goes:

I'm trying to start a Burning Wheel game. I threw out a few concepts, but the one that stuck was "Frozen North, outrider protectors of the citadel."
At this point, the game is in an ebryonic stage; we're still building characters, and I'm wondering how it goes from a basic premise to interesting, cohesive play.

I am looking for instances of others' games that have been run based on the concept of flag framing/conflict webs, and what advice you all had for holding it all together.

So far, it's been good advice, which seems like it can be summed up like this:
Premise > Characters that fit the premise > NPC's and events driven by the flags on the character sheets

If you do all of the above correctly and re-evaluate the conflict web whenever something important happens, plan more Bangs, create new NPC's, etc. then a plot will emerge on it's own.
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Judd
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Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2006, 12:19:23 PM »

I'm trying to start a Burning Wheel game. I threw out a few concepts, but the one that stuck was "Frozen North, outrider protectors of the citadel."
At this point, the game is in an ebryonic stage; we're still building characters, and I'm wondering how it goes from a basic premise to interesting, cohesive play.

Your next step is going to be checking out those Beliefs.

The Burning Wikki has a great checklist here.

Outrider protectors in the frozen north sounds like an awesome start to me.

What kind of concepts did the players go with?
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