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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 160 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Bobby G  (Read 8540 times)
Jack Spencer Jr
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« on: October 30, 2001, 09:12:00 AM »

The Bobby G thread in Actual Play has gotten away from the actual play aspect and moved to theory.  Hence this thread.  I had to fight the urge to paraphase Janis Joplin for the subject line.

But the point of the Bobby G discussion is muddied somewhere.

To recap, Marco's last post in its entirety:

Quote

Quote


On 2001-10-30 09:28, Ron Edwards wrote:

My most serious objection to a Bobby G scenario is that no story of ANY kind is permitted to be created. There is no "emotional journey," as one may insert any PCs into the situation and nothing changes except for coloring-in. Their decisions aside from those that conform to the Bobby G expectations are literally irrelevant; anything they care about besides the villain's Big Plan is so much piffle. The only content of interest becomes the MacGuffins and the details of the villain's Big Plan - although the impacts or relevance of these things to the main characters is always the same, dissipating that interest.

I stand by my original claim. Bobby G scenario construction is antithetical to creating stories through role-playing.
 

I get this: you're saying the story was created by the GM *before* the session. So it's the 'through role-playing' that you're on about--not that 'a story isn't created' (it is created, just not 'through roleplaying') yes?

Ok, with that clarifier, I can agree--but I have some comments:
1. You *defined* a Bobby G. Scenario as one where nothing *at all* (or at very best nothing remotely significant) works beyond the GM's tightly plotted scenario. So yes, that stands to reason.

I the wild, though, if you have a good GM given Bobby G. source material, it doesn't have to work out that way. I submit that you could run a Bobby G. plot that players would find immensely interesting. All it would take is a different set of assumptions.

2. Your stance that player dialog and in-character actions don't "create story" seems a bit like saying dialog doesn't matter in a story like, say, Pulp Fiction. What the character's say doesn't change the plot--but it makes the movie.

3. Ebert says of movies that it isn't what the movie is about, but how it's about it. I think that's brilliant. Bobby G. as source material is netutral. You're down on frustrating gamemastering.

-Marco


Part of the problem is Ron's definition of plot vs. what has become common usage in some circles.  Well, that can only get ugly, so let's drop it.  

Just keep in mind there is the noun plot and then there is the verb to plot or plotting.

Bobby G is an example of plotting as applies to the RPG medium.  To contrive the events into a story in some fashion.

Somewhere in the discussion Ron's original point got lost, Bobby G is not narrativism.  Agreed.  Probably why it got lost.  Narrativist gameplay it to create the story as you go.  Bobby G has the story (as it were) already set up in advance.  All that's left are the little details.

Using Bobby G in a true narrativist way would probably work like this:

GM: Bobby G is the guy you should talk to.  He has information.

Players: Screw Bobby G and screw the main villian.  We're going to Nova Scotia!


We are talking about two types of gaming here in the same sentence without taking a breath first.

On the one hand there's narrativism, which focuses on the story creation and as such a device like RPG Plot #42:"Bobby G" should or would never get used.  The players have a bit too many finger in the pie to make a standard, overused adventure like this to be necessary and it probably would only get used in a "new" spin could somehow be put on it in a narrative context.  (exactly what, I don't know.  I'm just aknowledging the possibility while ignoring the improbability.  This is not an impossibility)

Then there are the other two branches, which for our purposes here may be treated similarly since the issue at stake is not the particulars of simulationism and gamism, but how narrativism focuses on story creation and the other two do not.

Actually, it's a fairly specific style of playing that makes use of the Bobby G and similar scenerioes.  The exact GNS focus is probably irrelavant.

The style we're talking about here is the GM works out the plot, story, whatever while the players have little responsibility save to show up, roll dice when told, and keep track of stuff on their character sheets.

I've seen this happen all the time.  I suspect it's fairly widespread.  Now, it can be a fun and good way to play, but it can give rise to cetain behaviors.

The main thing is just plain laziness on the part of the players.  Expecting the GM to all the work and to figure out the story for them, never taking an active role in the game they claim to enjoy.

I dunno.  I think I lost it again.

Bottom line is Bobby G is not narrativism.  It is railroading.

Are they any other scenerioes as distinct as Bobby G?

Feeling good was good enough for me.
Good enough for me and my Bobby {Mc}G.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2001, 10:10:00 AM »

Jack,

I'm with you on most of this issue, specifically your focus on what my point was. I'll quibble about the judgmental aspect of calling the players "lazy," especially since at least half of the responsibility for using Bobby G preparation lies with the GM.

I agree that the next step is to discuss Actual Play - specifically that of scenario preparation that does NOT rely on railroading. I'm doing a very extended example in the Sorcerer forum, but I'd like to hear others' views.

Dav is my first pick, by the way, 'cause I get to experience his very cunning usage of Intuitive Continuity almost every week.

Best,
Ron
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2001, 04:15:00 PM »

I suppose the judgement aspect lies in the possibility more than actuality.

That is, some players do take an active role in the game, some do not.  Some sit back and wait for the GM to entertain them, never doing anything if they don't have to.  Scenerioes like Bobby G help run such groups, since they MUST do something or are carried along by the plot of it.

This is probably a different subject altogether and such players should question why they spend their saturdays playing but not really playing when they could be doing something else that they'd really enjoy.
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Marco
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« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2001, 07:16:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-10-30 13:10, Ron Edwards wrote:

I agree that the next step is to discuss Actual Play - specifically that of scenario preparation that does NOT rely on railroading.


If the players are narrating the outcomes of their actions then it gets tricky (I haven't played that way) but some of the least railroaded scenarios I've been in are straight D&D-type scenarios where the GM makes a bunch of dungeons and encounters and NPC's and organizations and time-lines (on day six the orcs will attack the town) and turns the PC's loose.

The paladin decides to go rescue people. The thieves hook up with the gild and do their thing ... like that.

Even better is when the GM has a meta-plot which is designed to catch the characters intereststs as well as the players and then introduces into play like a chef stiring in a little ingredient at a time.

In this case *more* prep is better since the more work that's done on the world the more there is for the players to interact with when/if they aren't going after the meta-plot.

(This doesn't have to be fantasy: I once played a modern day scenario where each character did their own thing an pursued their own interests. The key to doing it well--if the player himself isn't narrating the outcome of their own actions--is for the GM to be comfortable/prepared enough to have interesting things happen as the Karate master decides he's going to organize a local tournament or some such).

I'd have called those games *pure* simulationist gaming. I'm not so certain now.

-Marco
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2001, 07:35:00 AM »

Hi Marco,

One of the issues here is the definition of metaplot. I believe that what you have described is "back-story," rather than metaplot, in that basically there is a lot of material that has already happened and it's going to be interesting to players/PCs. I also think you are including changes or developments in the setting that provide opportunities for the players to continue or initiate meaningful actions for their characters.

However, most of the time at the Forge, the term "metaplot" is used to indicate outcomes of the game's conflicts that are fixed by the GM (or by the GM as agent of a published adventure). Thus the conflict at hand may be the unity of the Seven Tribes, but the GM is fully aware that the Fourth Tribe is going to fall apart permanently when the chief is assassinated, and the

It's a tricky point - but if the conflict at hand is the unity of the tribes, that's metaplot (a form of large-scale railroading). If the conflict at hand is something ELSE, then what I have presented above is NOT resolving those conflicts, but is instead providing a nice arena for them to be worked out in, and is therefore not railroading.

A good comparison is the Hero Wars of Glorantha as opposed to the War of Ascension in Mage.

In Hero Wars, it is predestined that the gods will recede into (for all purposes) nothingness, and that the world will become much more mundane. This is not the conflict at hand, it is merely Setting in terms of time. The conflict concerns what the Heroes redefine as the primary moral issues of the new world, as their role in the Wars supercedes that of the gods. How this conflict develops and is resolved is strictly a player issue.

I should also point out that the players at the Hero level of play are expected to KNOW that this is the case - the outcome of the Hero Wars (in the big sense) is not a secret to be revealed to them through play.

In Mage, the conflict at hand for the players/characters is the War of Ascension itself. And through a series of published supplements, the publishers tell us how it works out - which factions eliminate which ones, which NPCs are instrumental in these events, and so on. The player-characters may address their minor concerns independently, or may aid with the details of an NPC's achievement, but the conflict that is supposed to be of primary interest is essentially predetermined, in chapters as well as in whole. Furthermore, the GM is expected to be "channelling" these outcomes to the players, who are expected to be acquiring and experiencing them only through the medium of play.

I should like to state that many Forge members enjoy playing Mage and - as far as I can tell - have often drifted its application away from what I have described. This post does NOT explicitly accuse anyone of ACCORDING with the published expectations of Mage. I do stand by my interpretation of the published expectation, however.

Hope this helps to clear up the difference between [Simulationism with the Exploration focusing on Situation and Setting] and [Narrativism with a strong emphasis on Setting].

Best,
Ron
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Marco
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« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2001, 07:59:00 AM »

Garrrh! Definitions.

I meant meta-plot in the X-files sense: where sometimes Moulder and Scully do one-shot adventures and sometimes they participate in something which (at least purports to) advance a larger storyline.

This meta-plot is the GM's "story" in that it consists of elements that he's put together and has some themes the group may be intereted in exploring but whether or not its is outcome pre-determined isn't important to what I was saying.


-Marco

[ This Message was edited by: Marco on 2001-10-31 11:10 ]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2001, 08:16:00 AM »

Yeah Marco, that's what I figured you meant. In which case, we're not really talking about metaplot, but plain old plot! Whether long-term or short-term really doesn't matter.

In terms of role-playing, "plot" (of ANY mode of play) is only established when the session or events of play are over. Anything before that is not plot but preparation.

Now, in Narrativist play, the distinction between these is TREMENDOUSLY well established. If the GM preps tons of events to happen during play over which the player-characters have no control, that's fine! But if the GM preps tons of OUTCOMES of situations in which the player-characters are supposed to be the protagonists, then that's a kick-in-the-nuts transgression of the social contract of play.

Best,
Ron
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contracycle
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« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2001, 09:07:00 AM »

So - why is Bobby G railroading and not setting exposition?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2001, 09:43:00 AM »

Gareth,

Bobby is railroading and not setting exposition because the scenario cannot proceed UNLESS the player-characters make certain decisions in a certain way. The GM's job is to keep providing barriers that force these decisions (a) to be made and (b) made "correctly." I believe I explicitly stated these elements of this mode of play when I first introduced the topic.

In other words, it's like voting in a totalitarian state. You can vote, but until you vote the "right way," you have to do it over.

Best,
Ron
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contracycle
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« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2001, 09:59:00 AM »

OK well this is going in circles, I've had enough, never mind.
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2001, 10:06:00 AM »

Gareth,

I disagree. I've said one thing, and I keep saying it. People have tried to mess with various elements of the argument (what is "plot") (what is "railroading") (etc) and nothing has challenged my points.

Failure to refute an argument does not constitute going in circles. At least not for the defender of that argument.

Best,
Ron
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contracycle
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« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2001, 10:18:00 AM »

No, Ron, people have not tried to "mess" with your argument, because for one thing that would imply malicious intent.  Disagreement is not indicative of malice and I am annoyed to be so treated.
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Laurel
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« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2001, 10:21:00 AM »

So, to sum all of this up (after reading both threads):

Note to GMs

For Narrativist play, PCs cannot be rail-roaded through mandatory predetermined scenarios in order to accomplish their objectives.  The "story" of Narrativist play is, after all, constructed from the actions, motivations, and dialogue of the PCs.  Therefore the plot must be flexible and sustainable even with rapid change in both circumstance and tone in order to provide a true Narrativist platform.  
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Marco
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« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2001, 10:39:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-10-31 12:07, contracycle wrote:
So - why is Bobby G railroading and not setting exposition?


Contra,
It's railroading because it's *defined* as railroading. Any Bobby G. "type" scenario which wasn't railroading wouldn't be Bobby G.

Ron,
Part of the reason things get twisted is because the terminology in use is, despite Forge history, *confusing.*

I think in many cases a lot of these arguments reduce to "what I said is true because of the way I defined it."

When I object to your terminology I'm not messing with your argument--I'm objecting to what I see you as stating your argument as. In other words, there's no 'convincing someone you're right' stage here--it's just about definitions.

I think a lot of the problem is word-choice, and I think that some of it is (I would say unintentionally) the sort of word-choice that is *inclined* to produce misudnerstanding.

-Marco





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Just Released: JAGS Wonderland
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2001, 07:34:00 PM »

Both Marco's and Gareth's latest posts have been answered via private messages.

Best,
Ron
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