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Author Topic: Bangs and Narrativism... I -so- need help  (Read 17188 times)
Blankshield
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« Reply #30 on: March 24, 2004, 01:40:05 PM »

Quote from: TonyLB
Quote
If so, have you been playing to that and having them ignore it?

They have not entirely ignored it.  They have done precisely as much as I actively encouraged them to do, then dropped the projects.
Quote
You can throw as many Bangs as you want at players, but if they're waiting for the railroad because that's what they really want, no good is going to come of it. Is it possible that all this time you've been asking "What do you do?" to players who are waiting for you to say "You should do this"?

I think you're quite right.  But I ASKED for people who were willing to take some responsibility for driving the story.  Pretty much in those words.  I've asked for them several games in a row.  It doesn't seem (from my personal experience) to be helping.

So I'm sorry if I haven't responded to people's suggestions that I do so, but I was worried that I might be snappish about it.  I hope I've managed to express my concerns without biting anyone's head off.  It's a sometimes frustrating situation.


Yeah I think you've mananged to retain politeness.  But ya know what it really sounds like to me?  Your players do not really want what they said they want..  They say "Yeah!" to player driven, no dictator-GM story, but when given it, it falls flat because they either discover it's not all pie and roses, or it falls flat because they don't know what to do with it.

The first is, well, out of your hands.  Shrug and move on.  If it is that they simply don't have the tools or really understand what their part in player-driven play is, try using a system that teaches those techniques.  Universalis, as I understand it, comes highly recommended. (haven't picked it up yet... but I anticipate spending an obscene amount of money at the Forge booth this GenCon)

Just some thoughts.

James
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Lisa Padol
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« Reply #31 on: March 24, 2004, 01:58:02 PM »

Quote from: Blankshield
Yeah I think you've mananged to retain politeness.  But ya know what it really sounds like to me?  Your players do not really want what they said they want..


Yes. Or maybe they do not want what they think they want.

I remember a game where one player created a catburglar. The GM figured that this meant that the player wanted to have the PC do quiet sneaky stuff, and he was very surprised when she had the PC kidnap someone in broad daylight, with not a shred of subtlety or subterfuge. Definite communications glitch in there.

-Lisa
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TonyLB
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« Reply #32 on: March 24, 2004, 02:05:09 PM »

Well, I worry that I'm being patronizing to my wonderful players, but there also exists the possibility that the PCs do not know what they want, and are uncomfortable with anything new until it is presented in a way that jibes with what they have done before, or appeals to their inner needs.

I find that a somewhat (though not very) comforting notion, because it implies that if I can just figure out how to present things just so, I'll be able to convince folks to try something a little new and have fun with it.

On the other hand, I've heard the following definition:  Insanity, n.:  Doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result. :-)
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ptevis
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« Reply #33 on: March 24, 2004, 03:32:04 PM »

As one of the players who has let Tony down in the past, I figured I'd chime in.

The problem for me was that the PBeM format let me freeze. I'd try to figure out the "correct" solution to whatever situation my character was in, and the only-marginally-interactive nature of email let me dither far too much. I could never have gotten away with that in a face-to-face game. Of course, if I lost my fear of doing the "wrong" thing (which was completely irrational, I now realize), it wouldn't have been a problem at all, but that's a side issue.  What I think would have help me would have been a "ok, you've been dithering too long and here's the result of your inaction" type response (which is what I'd do as a GM in a face-to-face game).

--Paul
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Paul Tevis
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Callan S.
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« Reply #34 on: March 24, 2004, 07:37:28 PM »

Hi TonyLB,

Well basically author stance is either shared and they can make, from whole cloth, a choice they want to take. Or the GM has the author stance and they can only ever make choices from what he's interested in (and hopefully one thing he's intersted in is what they are interested in)

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but either you have author stance or you don't. It's one of these situations or the other.

But that doesn't mean the GM can't hand out temporary author stance, on the understanding it will be removed at a certain point or if its used in a certain way.

That way your dickering players can be handed authorship stance so that they can at least create a line of approach (but not author their own success/author an earlier end to the session/campaign). EDIT: I didn't notice we'd hit three pages and more info was given, so I'll add this: Be clear when your handing over author stance to players. They either have it or they don't, IMO, so saying 'look, you can all drive the story' means that at some point they will be handed this stance so they can do that. Make sure they know when they have it...the net equivalent of body language is not going to tell them.

But you'll find players just don't know how to handle author stance unless hand held through it the first few times (even as I write this, I wonder how I'd go as a player handed author stance...and I GM a lot!). Even then, they might not like it or might not like another player 'playing god/author/GM'.

In the end, I myself have tried to run games that were a beutiful reflection of just what the players wanted to do. But the fact is, every time you make a choice, you give up power. The ablity to make a choice is power...having made the choice isn't power, it's just events in motion now. By not making choices those PC's remain powerful and everyones afraid to let go of that.

These bangs mean that if they make a choice (loosing some power), it'll lead to more information and more choice latter (gaining more power). Spending some money to make even more money.

But if they keep getting a reward of more choice (more power) by just snooping around and not making a choice (zero investment), they'll repeat that process. IMO.
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Alan
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« Reply #35 on: March 24, 2004, 09:25:43 PM »

Hi Noon,

You might be confusing author stance with director stance.  In author stance, a player makes a decision about his character's actions based on what he, the player, wants the character to do.  In director stance, the player makes a decision about what happens outside his character.  Directorial power is what historically has been reserved to the GM.
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- Alan

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Trevis Martin
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« Reply #36 on: March 25, 2004, 01:39:06 AM »

Tony,

I don't know if you mentioned it but what format exaclty are you playing in?  Is it all done by private emails?  Are you responding to all players individually?  Is it in a mailing list?  Does everyone see all interations or turns?  Do you even run in a formal turn structure? Are you on a bulliten board system  of some type (more commonly called Play by Post)?

I'm asking because my more successful games have been play by post, either on a bbs or a wiki.  There is more of a sense of community with everyone watching. There were also specific threads for kibbitzing, etc. One of the things that helped me keep up with it is that I had to log into the sites everyday to check them, like I do with the Forge.

I'm not saying that any other format is inferior.  I just want to know the kind of feel you've got going with  your PBEM.  

regards,

Trevis
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Itse
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« Reply #37 on: March 25, 2004, 03:20:14 AM »

TonyLB:
Quote

Well, one question is how you can make a positive Bang with the same sense of urgency... something they must respond to, but which leads them to achievement rather than just letting them spin the consequences of trouble.


I think the "must respond to" approach is often misguided. Trying to force the players to do something using make-believe threats to make-believe characters isn't always that effective. If they are not being active, you can't force them. Using force will only get an immediate reaction, but it will not change their attitude towards the game.

Quote

sort of hard to put into practice in an existing game, unfortunately.


Sorry to say, but if you have a problem, most often you can't make it go away without some hard work. But, I don't really think it's that hard. Every character should have something they want, and most players can at least come up with things their character could want, if presented with the opportunity. Good characters are usually more than potential victims. Also, if a plot device doesn't relate to anything the characters want, there's something wrong with it. Then again, if the existing game keeps freezing no matter what, it's best to let it die and start a new one.

It's not so much about what you do, but more about how you do it. You always have a choice in how you present any plot device; through opportunity or through threat. The crime lord -plot could easily have been presented through threats, but it was presented as an opportunity by giving the players information. Information creates opportunities and builds confidence; with enough information almost every problem can be turned into an opportunity.

(Now, I don't mean that everything in every game should always be presented through opportunities and never using threats. What I'm talking about here is just problem-solving when the players have that all-too-common foxhole-attitude.)
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TonyLB
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« Reply #38 on: March 25, 2004, 06:29:07 AM »

Quote from: Trevis Martin
I don't know if you mentioned it but what format exaclty are you playing in?

Short answer:  Individual emails (except where PCs are grouped).  I think that this lends itself to Simulation (and in my case Blood Opera).
Quote
I'm asking because my more successful games have been play by post, either on a bbs or a wiki.  There is more of a sense of community with everyone watching.

Longer answer:  I've got a tangle of thoughts on this whole matter, which I'm going to branch off into a separate thread in this same Actual Play forum discussing techniques for Asynchronous Roleplay.  I hope to see you there.
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #39 on: March 25, 2004, 07:11:08 AM »

Quote from: ptevis
As one of the players who has let Tony down in the past, I figured I'd chime in.

The problem for me was that the PBeM format let me freeze. I'd try to figure out the "correct" solution to whatever situation my character was in, and the only-marginally-interactive nature of email let me dither far too much. I could never have gotten away with that in a face-to-face game. Of course, if I lost my fear of doing the "wrong" thing (which was completely irrational, I now realize), it wouldn't have been a problem at all, but that's a side issue.  What I think would have help me would have been a "ok, you've been dithering too long and here's the result of your inaction" type response (which is what I'd do as a GM in a face-to-face game).


Hi, Paul. Welcome to the Forge!

This is exactly what the first page of posts was talking about: consequences for inaction as well as action. In a PBeM game, would this take the form of a real world time limit? e.g.-"The ransom demand states that the ransom must be paid in two days' time. OOC: That's two in-game days. In real life, I'd like all posts regarding pre-ransom drop activities by April 15."

Not having done much PBeM, I'm not sure how feasible that would be. Just a thought.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #40 on: March 25, 2004, 07:22:11 AM »

Quote from: Michael S. Miller

This is exactly what the first page of posts was talking about: consequences for inaction as well as action. In a PBeM game, would this take the form of a real world time limit? e.g.-"The ransom demand states that the ransom must be paid in two days' time. OOC: That's two in-game days. In real life, I'd like all posts regarding pre-ransom drop activities by April 15."

Not having done much PBeM, I'm not sure how feasible that would be. Just a thought.

Heh... serendipity.  This is, in fact, very nearly what I've done in my current game.  I said "Okay folks, with your indulgence, in the next week of real time I would like to fast forward about a week of game time, to get to the good meaty bits".  It's a good technique, and certainly better than sitting back and hoping that the players will come to a consensus to advance time without any assistance :-)

I try to be really careful though, because you never know when someone will have the flu, or lose their job, or be moving house... or all three.  Real life is a tricky thing, much trickier than the controlled situation of having everyone around a table with doritos and dr. pepper.  Just a concern to be borne in mind, not a vote against the technique.
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Clay
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« Reply #41 on: March 25, 2004, 10:28:53 AM »

I would like to speak for a moment about nuts and vices.  Principally what you lack is enough nuts in enough vices.  

You've talked about players being willing to let the world go to hell in a handbasket.  That's hardly shocking, since most likely they make water on the world on a daily basis.  Rather give them something that's valuable to them.  Now threaten the valued thing with something bad.  Hence the nuts in the vice.

People don't give a rat's backside about the world, society, or the anonymous unknown person about to be crushed by the falling gargoyle in front of the bank. They care about their own welfare and people tied to them by bodily fluids, usually either blood or semen (or at least a hopeful exchange of one or the other).  You need to give those things to your players, then threaten to take them away.  They need to be things that have real value in the story.

As for player freedom, at the level you're talking about it's a load of fertilizer. The world won't sit around waiting for them to act. The world will act all on its little lonesome, and the players will have to hop to keep their nuts out of the vice.  Keep the world active and throwing stuff at them. Don't let them lollygag about.  While they're chatting up the librarian for half the day, their sister is fighting off the black hats who want to send a message.  This puts his nads in a vice and gives him the opportunity to be the hero.

Your players are never going to drive the story by themselves.  You need to put their nuts in a vice and force them into action.  Provide them with the opportunity for heroism, and make sure that they can't avoid that opportunity.
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Clay Dowling
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TonyLB
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« Reply #42 on: March 25, 2004, 11:57:46 AM »

Quote from: Clay
Your players are never going to drive the story by themselves.  You need to put their nuts in a vice and force them into action.

With all due respect, I must disagree with your hypothesis on the ground that I have personally encountered numerous counter-examples.  In short, I've seen player-driven stories plenty of times.

Now if you want to argue that the GM (or just me personally) is incapable of reliably causing a player-driven story to evolve, then I'm more willing to entertain your theory... my personal experience wouldn't contradict it.  I've only ended up with player-driven stories by wonderful and wholly unintentional alchemy.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #43 on: March 25, 2004, 12:35:51 PM »

Hi everyone,

If I'm not mistaken, the basic topic of this thread has been beaten into the ground insofar as it deals with actual play.

Tony, I think you've been remarkably tolerant of over-hasty comments from some people who should know better.

So, everyone, let's take theoretical stuff to Theory, and specific actual play stuff to new threads in Actual Play, and close this one down.

Best,
Ron
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