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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 61 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: The gap between CRPG's and Pen and Paper breached!  (Read 1082 times)
Marco
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Posts: 1741


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« on: August 15, 2003, 06:14:06 AM »

Check this out:
http://www.gamespy.com/fargo/august03/realrpg/

It's a joke (a pretty good one, IMO)--but it does raise issues with the pervasiveness of trends of dysfunction in the RPG experience.

My own experience has been substantially different than many people's here (it seems) although I count 'munchkins,' 'rules lawyers,' and combat-only-the-rest-of-the-game-is-too-wordy players in past and present groups (and, of course, those terms are being used as lables that would describe patterns of behavior in common gamer parlance).

There's a thread on RPGnet that discusses RPG's as a 'Trust' exercise (like when you close your eyes and fall backwards and trust another guy to catch you). In that case the analogy was drawn between the GM and the players (the players are trusting the GM with the massive bulk of the directoral power).

That thread struck a chord with me: one of the things that really changed for me in my gaming experience was looking at being GM as being an "elected leader for the night"--someone who was tasked to do a (perhaps) difficult job of mediating, providing story material (be it 'meat' or 'a plot line' or just a string of 'interesting combats'--depending on the player in question).

While it was a combination of the RPGnet thread (which is excellent--some people say "yes, gaming is a trust exercise--and that's a merrit!"--an interesting perspective) and the above article that got me thinking about what changed for me, it wasn't a "realization that there were other 'correct' ways to play."

I had a player argue after an Area of Effect blast (HEro) did some unintended (minor) damage above the target area that it shouldn't have happened: the rules didn't specify 'Volume' in the name of the effect so it should be 2-dimentional (it was an energy grenade).

I've had someone tell me that was simply standard--if heavy handed-- (which in context of the discussion I think meant 'acceptable') Gamist behavior. I don't think it was. I didn't rule his way back in highschool and I wouldn't today--but today I might've dropped the unintended side-effect if it was causing problems--or told him that I wasn't going to argue it either way, but that we could come up with a substantial ruling for future games (AOE's are 3D in my Hero games).

I guess the point of this thread (other than sharing the link) was to invite discussion about how you've dealt with (or are dealing with) dysfunctional gaming. Has GNS cleared it all up for you? Are you still having problems? What worked? What didn't?

Obviously some people have found changing games works wonders (Inspecters, for example). Anything else? And what about the trust issue: how much/how far do you trust your GM -- or how far do you think your players trust you as GM?

-Marco
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Windthin
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Posts: 51


« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2003, 10:06:10 PM »

Frankly, I feel it is the duty of the GM to earn their players' trust.  Now, what I mean by this is to earn their players trust as a fair and reasonable moderator; I ran a game before with hundreds of players, and at times was insane enough to run single events with over twenty participating at once.  I yet have over a thousand sheets from that game on my comp.  I enjoyed it... and I'd argue as thoroughly for somebody I entirely disliked if something wrong was done to them as I would for my friends.  I was respected because you didn't have to like me, or even my style, to get a fair shake.  At the same time, of course, I was widely known as devious and tricky when it came to my plots and scenarios... that is not a breach of trust, naturally, but a separate issue, and I was proud that my players trusted me and were ever paranoid and wary playing under me.  I did not abuse them... but I certainly kept them on their toes.

It is difficult to trust GMs who engage in favoritism or who take unusual delight in massacring and mangling the PCs, and I mean beyond the usual deviance needed to be a good GM.  ::chuckles::  Sometimes snap decisions in game can be good, to make things more realistic when something wasn't thought of... and then again, I knew a fellow staffer in my old game I would ny play under, because if he did not like an item or felt his characters should simply be able to shrug off a spell, or so on, they did, and his chaotic rulings on events and actions was a major turn off.  I agree with your jugdgement call about this energy grenade, however, and believe you would call it a precedent for future AoE effects, and leave it at that.  It is best to try to warn players when you are going to do things not found in the system, or tweak the way it works, but we can't foresee all situations, and it helps when the players can trust in you to make the right call.

And naturally some will whine, and grouse, and feel otherwise.  This is epsecially true when you are running in a public game, or have a limited player pool to choose from, or just wind up with a player who is usually tolerable but occassionally.... well.  Part of being a good GM, I feel, is to be able to bend and go with the flow.
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"Write what you know" takes on interesting connotations when one sets out to create worlds...
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