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G/N/S and the Contract

Started by GreatWolf, April 17, 2001, 10:59:00 PM

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Okay.  Here is a topic to start us off (I think)  So much of the discussion about G/N/S has centered purely around system and I wonder if we are neglecting the human angle of this discussion.

I do agree with the sentiment that using G/N/S to class gamers (as though it were a personality typing system) is a bad idea.  However, I wonder if it can be used to class gaming campaigns.  Here's what I mean.

One day I gather my gaming group to play a short Shadowrun campaign.  We discuss beforehand our expectations of the campaign, especially as it dovetails with the system goals of Shadowrun.  If all goes well, we would probably determine that we are seeking a Gamist focus to our campaign.  If a significant portion of the group had different goals, I would probably suggest taking another look at the system that we propose to use.  Now, maybe the group feels that the Gamist system that Shadowrun uses could be sufficiently twisted to its purposes (e.g. certain Simulationist outcomes could potentially be supported by the system).  Otherwise, something needs to change.

I think that establishing the campaign's goals using G/N/S is a good way to avoid the dreaded campaign fizzle that we do our best to avoid.

Thoughts?  Comments?

Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown

Ron Edwards

Your example is at the top of my list, Seth, in terms of the whole raison d'etre for the G/N/S discussion in the first place, and I don't think I'm over-stating things to suggest that John Kim and the other contributors to the original G/D/S would agree as well.

"Fizzle" is the enemy. Good and focused game design, clear understanding of one's own goals as a player or GM, and actual communication using shared, useful terms among the group are our weapons. I think this weaponry is exactly what G/N/S is FOR.


Ron Edwards

At the risk of replying to myself, I wanted to follow up a bit more on this.

Let's figure out some mechanisms.

What actually WORKS when preparing a role-playing situation? I'm talking socially, among GM and players, prior to play or even character creation.

(I'll take it as a given that most of us are no longer having players "just show up," with the exceptions of one-shots and demos. In my regular group, we always take an evening, or a half-evening after the end of a given story/game, to get set in our minds for the next one.)

I'm a big fan of the one or two-page handout, in which I try to capture the flavor and goals without (a) repeating every last picky rule and (b) preaching about G/N/S. It helps that it's pretty much given that we're taking a Narrativist approach anyway. I always include an outline of PC creation too, so we're not passing the rulebook around and around.

Anything else? Other methods? Preferred topics or questions with new groups or new players?