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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 94 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: The impossible challenge before breakfast  (Read 16369 times)
Marco
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Posts: 1741


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« Reply #30 on: November 03, 2005, 04:14:14 AM »

The players should keep missdirecting until the GM just quits trying to guess their goal. When I asked what the GM's motive is in trying to find out the goal I mean, why does he still try in the face of resistance?
This reminds me of those obfuscated code contests where people write computer code in the most obscure way possible. It proves you can do it (and know some clever tricks) but in the end it's nothing most coders would ever do to accomplish anything they want to (save for the contest or, on very small scale, some trick of extreme efficency in code-writing).

Basically it's counter to operation of most of the activity. I can't see why someone with concerns at this level would want to participate in a GM moderated RPG at all.

-Marco
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Justin Marx
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Posts: 88


« Reply #31 on: November 03, 2005, 06:55:28 AM »

Keeping the GM in the dark about player goals seems a tricky way to resolve GM complicity or opposition, to be honest it smacks of sim to me because what should the GM design as opposition? Whatever's realistic.... and besides, he'll be second-guessing what the players are doing to make the next challenge worthwhile. While I agree that GM assistence or overt opposition removes the joy of the challenge, and guaging player challenge is always difficult for a GM, however experienced, I think that secret player goals opens a whole new can of worms of problems, and can give rise to incoherence. I mean, how can GMs and players stay on the same page gamewise if they don't know what each other wants? With the lecherous elfophile example that Callan posted, where the player chases tail and screws up the GM plot, what's the point of the exercise? Sneaky goals to trick GMs, to avoid railroading?

I remember someone posted elsewhere, once upon a time, somewhere on this forum (how's that for a specific reference) that it is impossible to prevent player or GM abuse of the game if the participants involved are intending to do it. Secret goals usually arise because of bad GMs, but isn't this just a sign of incoherence in play?

To me it seems an intractable solution - on the one hand you have the GM 'railroading' in the loosest sense (presuming that in this case he is a good GM and is co-operative to player goals) because he is setting up situations that allow for player goals to be realised by setting the appropriate challenges. On the other, you have play running amok in all directions because the GM has no idea what the players are doing and the players are screwing with the GMs story ideas. The latter is all well and good, the GMs story ideas are not the player's, but it can go too far and lead to incoherence. A true story:

My brother has been running a WHFRP campaign for years now, that most of us try to politely avoid. Not because he is a bad guy, but he is playing a gamist game with a railroading narrativist storyline. Of course, one player in particular, who is far cannier than my brother is, gets a lot of satisfaction out of screwing with his plot. All the while pretending to go along with my brother's story, he almost deliberately chooses the opposite course of action that my brother had planned (i.e. making pacts with Chaos, snitching on the good guys, killing Dan's [my brother]'s preprepared allies, etc.). The way he does it is actually quite funny, to be honest I'm barracking for the player on this one (Dan is railroading after all).

As we are talking (or I am talking, am I talking in the right place) about old-skool Task Resolution sort of games, there's little way around it except by returning to randomised encounter tables and other sim-paraphenalia. I know I haven't answered a question here, I just think that secret player goals can cause a lot of problems. In a Conflict Resolution system, perhaps this would be a lot less troublesome, but for TR systems, it helps to have player goals explicit because the GM is the only one with the authority to construct a lot of the situations that would allow for the challenge to occur. Otherwise the players are going to be waiting around for opportunities for the secret goal to be realised "Hey, GM, I'm going to the tavern..... any hot elf chicks there?"

Justin
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Callan S.
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« Reply #32 on: November 03, 2005, 07:42:02 PM »

Excellent post, Justin!

Quote
Keeping the GM in the dark about player goals seems a tricky way to resolve GM complicity or opposition, to be honest it smacks of sim to me because what should the GM design as opposition? Whatever's realistic....

Yes, exactly what I'm looking for! I'm glad someone else could see it too...a real affirmation! (if somewhat backhand! :) )

Quote
I mean, how can GMs and players stay on the same page gamewise if they don't know what each other wants?
Big fat scene framing, full of player input! The GM can say "The next fight is on the edge of a volcano" and the players might chime in "With space ninjas", "and with lions made of fire jumping out of the volcano!" etc. None of this gives away the secret goal, but it lets player frame things that suits them better or simply interests them. Also, see below.

Quote
To me it seems an intractable solution - on the one hand you have the GM 'railroading' in the loosest sense (presuming that in this case he is a good GM and is co-operative to player goals) because he is setting up situations that allow for player goals to be realised by setting the appropriate challenges. On the other, you have play running amok in all directions because the GM has no idea what the players are doing and the players are screwing with the GMs story ideas. The latter is all well and good, the GMs story ideas are not the player's, but it can go too far and lead to incoherence. A true story:
Okay, A: I don't want the GM to 'allow' the player to achieve his goal, even if by 'allow' it means 'jump through these hoops of fire and I'll give it to you'. The hoops of fire are challenging and do deserve something for their completion. I used to enjoy that play technique. But now I think (for myself at least) that it doesn't mean I've engaged the game world, I've just engaged what the GM thinks is challenging.

And B: I should have explicity said this, but this 'secret goal' rule shifts an incredible load of responsiblity OFF the GM's shoulders. Before the GM was supposed to do all the work, creating some sort of path to glory. (excuse the upcoming tough guy talk) Well no longer...the player should damn well realise that he is entirely on his own when he makes this goal. No one is going to help him there...and as a gamist, he should relish that as much as it's spine tingling.

Now, if he's stupid enough to make a goal that he knows he hasn't a chance of completing on his own and instead thinks someone is going to hand hold him all the way to it...well, he should go back to story telling. Here, he's going to have to be realistic and come to an optimum compromise between what he thinks the game world will contain, what his personal skills are and what he wants. Your right, without the GM's help how can he reach what he wants? Now, say that again as a gamist challenge "How, without any help, can I get to what I want?". Further "How much will I dare to try and get...I could write down the goal of '100 GP', but what about a thousand? Or a kings crown? How far do I dare?"

The responsiblity is in the players hands to make an achievable goal for themselves. A damn fun responsiblity, given the difficulty involved! (/tough guy talk).
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