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Author Topic: [WoD 2.0] Freak Jersey, Actual Play  (Read 10315 times)
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2004, 06:30:20 AM »

That's a very clear answer.

In the method of play that Sorcerer involves, at the point where wheels are spinning, you throw in a Bang. I can see precisely why you felt that things might sputter out, and why the people playing felt that there was too much revelation of supernatural stuff. Just having freaky stuff happen doesn't provide the player with anything to create off of.

Bangs are very specifically defined. They catapult the character into some situation from which he cannot maneuver without making some character relevant decision - and moreover, it has to really be a decision. That is, there can't be an obvious answer. So, for example, putting something in the character's way to fight is not a bang. Because what is the option that says anything about the character? If you merely put something "freaky" in front of the PC, all the player can do is have his character act appropriately. No decision to be made about the characters values, or which impact any of the characters issues, etc. It's not about the character, it's about the player reacting to the GM's events.

Sorcerer play is not some "open session" format. Nowhere does it indicate that the GM shouldn't have some well thought out options for what might happen. Not what must happen in all cases, but even some things that will automatically happen.

Put another way, again, I'm not surprised at you or your player's reactions. I don't know of any advice from anyone that says that the GM should go in not having some very good ideas about how to make the game move forward if/when the players aren't driving it forward.

The only time where you should say, "What do you want to do next?" is when you've presented at least two (and probably a lot more) very obvious options for doing interesting things. Better, in fact, is to have that NPC show up, and say not, "Here's what you have to do" but "Here are two things that are interesting to you, which will you persue?"

Also, another thing to consider is to propell the player into Author stance by addressing them as the player and not as the character. IOW, "What scene do you want your character to be in next?" can often be much more effective, because the player can then act outside of character knowledge. He doesn't feel limited to "playing the character" thinking that bumping into somebody through coincidence is illegal. Instead he'll say, "Can my character bump into Bob at the bar?" And you're off and running. Far more options are open to the player when this is the case, than when he's simply supposed to "be" the character.

Now, all of this said, one can be prepared to propell play like this with incredibly little information. My session prep can sit on a 3 by 5 card, and has bullets like:

* Bob goes to Mary and asks her to kill Rollo for the magic diamond.
* Rollo finds Mary and confesses his love for her.
* Mary finds a book of spells including one to bring back her old lover from the grave.

I typically have about 3 per PC. Bangs like this get the players going such that it takes a while for the wheels to start spinning again. In fact, after enough of these, you need very few, because the players start to have an idea of things that they want their character to do. So asking what scene they want then gets a response, and you don't need to pull out as many new bangs to get things going.

But this all requires that the players get a sense of what's going on around them. The most important rule of all of this, is to reveal, reveal, reveal. This sounds contradictory to the player complaint that the supernatural was too prominent, but I refer here to revealing what the NPCs are about in terms of what they want from the PCs, and what their general motives are about. You can pace in the introduction of things like the supernatural this way by simply making this element of color have more weight in later bangs. That is, in some games there is no supernatural, right? So obviously you don't need to have that to propell play - Bangs are about values, not about nifty stuff happening. So you can color with the nifty stuff at whatever pace you feel like.

But unless the players have some real information to work off of, they can't ever answer even the "what scene next?" question. Put yourself in their position - could you proceed with the amount of information that you have currently? If not, give them more information to work with.

Lots of traditional play methods in the past have been about NPCs being obstacles to learning information - but this is so problematic for any but the most GM plot driven style of play that you have to learn to let go of it right off. Instead think of NPCs as the means by which you deliver to the players the information that they need to either feel the weight of a situation such that they feel that they've made important decisions when they do, or that they know enough to be able to put themselves into situations that are like this themselves.

BTW, this is a true for gamism as it is for narrativism. Sans all the clues, and whatnot, there's no "game" to play. All too often scenarios are designed such that a bad skill roll at some point will deny information to the player that's critical to their success. That's like having a game where you flip a coin and on heads you win - it doesn't allow for player intelligence to affect the outcome, which means it's not really a game.

So, to recap, always have Bangs that are based not on random happenings, but on events that not only you understand, but which the players will understand, and which relate to the character involved (no just to having events proceed along some timeline or something). The players expect, and reasonably so, that you're going to provide something off of which they can create - some few players can create in a vaccuum, but these are rare, and won't even do so unless you make it clear that this is the mode of play you're going for. So have something for them.

Mike
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2004, 06:35:40 AM »

I take your point, and I'll consider it.  I should say that things weren't always, "something weird happens," sometimes they did call for player reaction.  Also, I'm not sure how well actor stance would go over with this group.  They prefer to "be" the character as much as possible, and seem not to like looking behind the curtain and being able to decide what's going to happen next.  But I may consider giving it a try.

Also, while I was concerned about there being too much supernatural, and one other player was, I'm not sure how the other two felt.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2004, 07:37:35 AM »

I'm trying to give a vision of one sort of play that hangs with some of the tools you seem to be trying to use. If you want a more traditional game, then why not go back to the outlines that seem to have worked for you in the past? It sounds like your players might not like narrativism, possibly, if they only like to "be" the character.

If, on the other hand, you want to try the new mode out, simply prepare more of the stuff that had the players "reacting." Remember the other key about Bangs - if you can predict what the player will do, it's not a bang. Bangs leave a choice in the player's lap that must be his alone to make. If the answer to the bang is obvious, then it's just another event.

Using bangs, you may not have to have the players get out of "being" the character much. This does mean more work for you, however, as you'll be the only person at the table making the mode in question happen.

Mike
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DannyK
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« Reply #18 on: November 26, 2004, 10:34:13 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

Lots of traditional play methods in the past have been about NPCs being obstacles to learning information - but this is so problematic for any but the most GM plot driven style of play that you have to learn to let go of it right off. Instead think of NPCs as the means by which you deliver to the players the information that they need to either feel the weight of a situation such that they feel that they've made important decisions when they do, or that they know enough to be able to put themselves into situations that are like this themselves.


This so true, and it really runs counter to some of the standard procedure for running White Wolf games.  I like to think of the NPC's as being like characters in a Shakespeare play: usually you get a good idea of their personality and their issues after the first scene in which they appear.  Dickens novels are another inspiration for me, in terms of clear, bold characterization of NPC's.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #19 on: November 26, 2004, 11:08:44 AM »

Heh, speaking of Shakespeare, I've actually used asides at times to inform players about NPCs motives and such. Or just narrated "parentheticals" like, "'I'm going off to fight the war,' he says," I say in character voice, and then in my own, "But in reality he's just running off to Canada."

This, of course, will disturb the "immersion only" player.

Mike
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Judd
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« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2004, 12:44:30 PM »

Rob,

I agree with what Mike has said in his previous posts.

I suggest that you stick with Kickers.  The players seemed happy with the last session, even if you were uncomfortable with your last sessions' level of prep.

I'd suggest sticking with Kickers and preparing the outlines that you usually use for making a game, that I am better are rife with implied bangs that work for you.  Please post this in another thread for the next session so that we can see how it worked.  Using kickers and bangs in non-Sorcerer games is nifty.

Also, you should really buy Sorcerer.  It is well worth owning and I think it will help refine this process for you and spell out the terms that you are throwing around here.
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2004, 06:58:48 PM »

Once I've digested the WoD stuff I own, I will definitely consider Sorcerer.

And I think what I'll do is come up with my standard outlines, and then try to come up with a bunch of bangs as well.

People are saying that bangs shouldn't be used to goose players into action . . . when is it appropriate to use them, then?
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2004, 07:02:40 PM »

I asked one of my players (the one who was dissatisfied in part by the last game, Harris's player):

"How would you feel if, instead of saying, 'My Guy is going to go to the bar now,' you could instead say, 'I want My Guy to go the bar and run into Bob.'"

He asked, "Am I a player, or a GM?"

I said, "Player."

He thought for a minute, then said, "I'd have to think about it but I don't think I'd like that."

My reading between the lines suggested to me that he might like it if one of his players suggested that when he was GMing, but I'm not sure.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #23 on: November 26, 2004, 07:25:18 PM »

Quote from: RobNJ
People are saying that bangs shouldn't be used to goose players into action . . . when is it appropriate to use them, then?

Ummm... are they, in fact, saying that?  I don't see it, but maybe I'm just missing it.

That's a fascinating conversation with your player, by the way.  I wonder whether he'd be more comfortable if he had to spend a "Drama Point", or tap his "Story Widget", or some rules-based restriction in order to authorize him to take that sort of narrative control.
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #24 on: November 26, 2004, 07:28:33 PM »

Quote from: TonyLB
Quote from: RobNJ
People are saying that bangs shouldn't be used to goose players into action . . . when is it appropriate to use them, then?

Ummm... are they, in fact, saying that?  I don't see it, but maybe I'm just missing it.

Okay, what for then?
Quote from: TonyLB
That's a fascinating conversation with your player, by the way.  I wonder whether he'd be more comfortable if he had to spend a "Drama Point", or tap his "Story Widget", or some rules-based restriction in order to authorize him to take that sort of narrative control.

I would suspect, knowing him, he probably wouldn't really want that at all.  Spending a Willpower Point point to get 3 additional dice is different than spending a Drama Point to say, "I'm going to meet that important NPC in the bar."

I think that it may just be that my group prefers to "be" (or, techinically, to play at being) rather than to "play".  They never want to know things their characters don't, if possible.
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Trevis Martin
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« Reply #25 on: November 26, 2004, 08:03:09 PM »

Hey Rob,

I think there is some confusion about bangs.  It hasn't been said in the thread so far that you shouldn't put in bangs to inject some action.  What is being said is that bangs aren't merely clues, hooks, fights, wierd stuff or something to motivate the players to bring the characters to a particular place or person.  A bang can include clues, fights and weird stuff and make no mistake, bangs do cause action, usually a lot of it.  

Mike said it best in his message above

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Bangs are very specifically defined. They catapult the character into some situation from which he cannot maneuver without making some character relevant decision - and moreover, it has to really be a decision. That is, there can't be an obvious answer. So, for example, putting something in the character's way to fight is not a bang. Because what is the option that says anything about the character? If you merely put something "freaky" in front of the PC, all the player can do is have his character act appropriately. No decision to be made about the characters values, or which impact any of the characters issues, etc. It's not about the character, it's about the player reacting to the GM's events.


Its not being said that you can't use bangs to goad action or whatever, what is being said is that a lot of what you are mentioning aren't bangs because the characters are responding to events as best they can rather than being put into a place where they have no choice but to make a significant decision in a situation where it is unclear what is the best thing to do.  By best thing to do I  do not mean best in the tactical sense but best in an ethical sense.

Does that make sense?

best,

Trevis
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #26 on: November 26, 2004, 08:08:20 PM »

Trevis, that does make sense.

But I ask, then, when does one whip out a Bang?   It is not necessarily to goad action, but then what is it for?  When does one introduce one, and when does one let the plot trundle along as it's doing?
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Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG
Trevis Martin
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« Reply #27 on: November 26, 2004, 08:28:14 PM »

Well, to speak from my experience, I do use them to inject action into the plot.  I think of it as bang and consequences.  Usually what happens is that a bang is dropped and there is a series of scenes that play out from that.  Sometimes the series is long, sometimes it is short.  If consequence scenes (and by that I mean anything that the player wants to do, confront or pursue as the result of a bang)  When there are still a lot of flowing consequences and a sense of direction I generally let it trundle along.  I feel the focus slipping and I drop another bang.  

There are exceptions of course, sometimes a series of consequence scenes will lead into another bang.  It is sometimes a matter of feel and interest.  If you sense players are loosing interest or focus then its time to drop some bangs.  Now some bangs fizzle and have very little or no conseqence.  The player simply isn't interested in expanding on the consequences of it.  That's fine, that's why you develop a series.

Does that answer your question?

best,

Trevis
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TonyLB
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« Reply #28 on: November 26, 2004, 08:38:36 PM »

Yeah, Trevis said it better than I was going to.  But, also, you yourself said it a while back....
Quote from: RobNJ
The other big problem, besides me foundering and putting out too much supernatural stuff or too obvious stuff was the constant sense of unease I had where I always felt like things were going to sputter out.

That feeling of unease?  That's the sign that you need to use a Bang.
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #29 on: November 26, 2004, 08:47:37 PM »

The truth is I didn't use the Bangs I had in mind, since the Kickers seemed to drive the plot along.  In fact, the one Bang I used, in place of Manny's not-yet-evident-to-me Kicker, rather fizzled out.

So it seems I had correctly in mind what Bangs were to be used for, I just didn't wind up using them.

I think that Judd is right, though.  That my old outline style probably had a lot of implied Bangs, and that I was working off of what my players would give me.

Thanks, everyone.
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