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[DitV] Paint Creek Branch

Started by Jason Morningstar, December 04, 2005, 01:48:47 PM

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Jason, I understand you. I'm by far the least significant participant in the conversation, though, and I don't have anything to tell you but: yep. You have to be willing to give your heart to your NPCs without any strings attached.

Being the GM means giving up rights that all the other players have - it means giving up rights so that the other players can exercise them.

You don't get to both pose the problem and participate in solving it.


Jason Morningstar

Thanks, everybody.  It's an interesting juxtaposition that I'm only now starting to really appreciate.  I think this was the first time in a game that limited my power as a GM that I really felt that limitation keenly. 

Eric, I didn't feel you were fucking up the game at all - I just felt sad for Dee and wished I could express that without tainting the scene.  I think not communicating was the only thing I could do, really, and that felt awkward, too.  It's sorta subtle, I guess.  I'm looking forward to finishing the town, which will not be at all subtle. 


Quote from: Jason Morningstar on December 05, 2005, 08:53:29 PM
Ok, I'm not getting through.  I couldn't call bullshit as a GM because what you were doing was perfectly acceptable.  Andrew quite capably voiced the opposition.  As GM I had no hound in that fight, at all.  That's all cool, no problems, what I'm trying to communicate is that I had strong feelings as a participant (not a GM)  that I suppressed, and I think that's interesting and worth thinking about. 

I think I get it.  Maybe.  It's about the game being everyone's game, and yet the GM has to muzzle himself because of his role and the influence he wields, whether he wants it or not.

I have my own solution.  I won't run a session (of any game) without setting aside at least twenty minutes afterwards for a bull session.  I've been GMing since about 1982, and I've run through a lot of NPCs I cared about, as well as having very strong feelings about the fates of PCs run by others.  For me, the strangest (and strongest) feeling is still the one I get when a group of players lets something happen to a fellow player's character, and I'm sitting there without a "player" voice, saying "NOOO!!" inside my head.  I had this feeling as recently as this past Spring, when a PC in my D&D game suffered more than any PC I've ever seen (in any game, CoC included), and was all but abandoned by his party members, who passed up what I thought was an unprecedented chance to turn the story into something magnificent.  More than twenty years of gaming, and the feeling was not at all muted, but was instead more intense than when I was new to the hobby.  And I didn't... get... to say... anything! 

But I've learned not to suppress this stuff forever; I can't do it without feeling cheated somehow, like I'm just somebody's stupid CPU.  However player-centric this hobby becomes, I will seize my right to speak, just not during the game.  I spill it after the game  -- in technicolor and surround sound!  The after-game session is my chance to laugh, shout, sob, or just vent my spleen.  My players understand this, and they use such sessions as sounding boards to feel out what I've got cooked up for future sessions.  Hey, it's fair they should get something out of it, even if it means I let slip some dark secret of my grand design.  [A nice thing about DitV is that I don't have to keep secrets from the players, so I can take my foot off the clutch and just let fly.  And strangely enough, this has yet to result in a "you should have" moment.]

Personally, Jason, I think your instincts about what is "out of bounds" are dead-on.  It sucks sometimes, but a GM has to be a little bit schizoid to be successful in the long term.  The GM has to care enough about the PCs and NPCs to put his heart into the game, as Vincent says, but then turn right around and detach when his involvement would screw something up.  It's jarring as hell sometimes.  The payoff, I think, is that a game with minimal railroading and GM-kibbitzing generates more surprises for the GM, which is a commodity in shorter and shorter supply, the longer you've been gaming.  And then there's the anticipation of waiting for the session's end to cut loose with the exclamation points.  "I can't believe you guys shot her!  She was a shoplifter!  Are you completely insane?"

Of course, another solution (which works with some groups and not with others) is to say "Hey, y'all, I'm just gonna spout off whatever comes into my head.  Ignore me and do what you feel is real."  The problem with this is that some of your players will see that dictum as a subtle caution sign, while some will take it and run with it just for shits and giggles.  It's the ol' Imp of the Perverse: some players will say, "Oh, Heavens to Betsy, I dare not defy the whim of the Dungeon Master," while others will say "He's just handing me ways of getting under his skin?  Cool!"  In this, as in everything else, you just have to know with whom you're playing.  Sounds to me like you have a pretty damn good group, though.


Quote from: Andrew Norris on December 04, 2005, 09:27:57 PM
Okay, the homosexuality angle.

Two questions on this character that come to one question - "How was this character made a Dog?"  Dogs are supposed to be teenaged, unmarried virgins (per the rules and setting).  This guy is neither, since he had a wife.

Not to try and force my interpretation onto the players of the game, or to try and make any statement about being gay and/or married, but these characters always seem to rankle me in one way - it gives one character total say in what the moral and supernatural realism of the game setting is.  DitV is, to me (and again, this is my gut talking) a game about the players collectively choosing if the King is a real force or a social guideline and where the line needs to be drawn in doing his work.  When a player plays a "sinner from the start" Dog, it says that the Elders and the Ancients and the Trainers and even the King called the Dog in error.  Not that they were called and failed, but that they were called as a failure already.

It is, to me, a disrespect to go ahead and declare to the group, without any play, what the truth of thiose issues will be by the very merits of your character.  It would be the same as allowing one player to define the supernatural level in the game as Wuxia-like over the other player's preferences.  The players of DitV define things in the grays of the situations, and in play.  To allow a character, who by virtue of their creation as a Dog, makes a pre-statement of Truth bugs me on some level.

I hope I managed to say that without sounding like a jerk, but I suddenly realise I am also coming off as a hedging hand-wringer too.  guess I'd make a bad Dog, too. <grin>

Judd M. Goswick
Judd M. Goswick
Legion Gaming Society

Andrew Norris

Hmm. Interesting points.

None of the "fit to be a Dog or no" issues with Elias came up during character creation, apart from him being married. (I suppose since none of us thought anything of it, that's a disqualifier that simply didn't make it into our version of the setting.)

I do know that I wasn't trying to make a prestatement of the truth of the setting. (I'm not sure how I could do that, and I hate when people "beg the question" of a game's Premise, so I don't think that's what I was aiming for.) But while I don't directly agree with you, I do think there's something to your point -- Elias does think he knows the Truth, although I don't think any of us think that correlates with the "Truth" of the setting, which does have to come out during play.