Creating the Scenario with the Character Sheets in Front of Me

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johnmarron:
I'm a complete convert to the need for flags and markers as overt signals to the GM that "this, THIS is what I, the real person playing the game, want the story of my character to be about.  This is what I come to the table for and would enjoy."

That said, I'm wondering if Flags need to be mechanical components of the system, or part of the reward mechanism, as in TROS SAs?  I think I'd be more comfortable as a GM with devevloping a set of techniques, dialogues, or questions to be used in pre-game prep to tease out or get the player to decide on and clearly express their goals for play, than having to hardwire this into game mechanics (but I realize that I'm going against the tide of Forge design ideals in this preference).

Anyone seen or given any thought to ways to get this info out of the players without making it part of the game rules?  I'd like to see a process or technique that could be applied regardless of what system was being prepped for.

John

Judd:
Quote from: johnmarron on December 20, 2005, 09:02:28 AM

I'm a complete convert to the need for flags and markers as overt signals to the GM that "this, THIS is what I, the real person playing the game, want the story of my character to be about.  This is what I come to the table for and would enjoy."

That said, I'm wondering if Flags need to be mechanical components of the system, or part of the reward mechanism, as in TROS SAs?  I think I'd be more comfortable as a GM with devevloping a set of techniques, dialogues, or questions to be used in pre-game prep to tease out or get the player to decide on and clearly express their goals for play, than having to hardwire this into game mechanics (but I realize that I'm going against the tide of Forge design ideals in this preference).

Anyone seen or given any thought to ways to get this info out of the players without making it part of the game rules?  I'd like to see a process or technique that could be applied regardless of what system was being prepped for.

John


In my experience they have more punch behind them when they are tied into the system with a reward mechanic attached.  Otherwise they are just a questionaire that isn't a part of the game's economy.

If you want a technique, make up five loaded questions the players have to answer about their characters during the chargen process.  Loaded, in that by answering them they are creating characters who are tied to the game's concept.  It wouldn't have much punch but it'd probably work.

But why not just have it tied to the system?

I say the following with a smile on my face and I'm not meaning any condescension: John, man, I don't getcha, really I don't.

jburneko:
I think something that people who dislike this kind of information embeded in the game mechanics miss is the fact that the majority of these games also include real-time update rules for that information.  Just because you ask pointed questions at the start of your campaign about a player's character doesn't mean it's going to stay that way.

In The Riddle of Steel the players can change their spiritual atributes and indeed when I run it I let them do it anytime they want, mid-session if they like.  I've introduced stuff in play that caused a player to rewrite two or even three of their spiritual attributes.  Add to that the fact that SAs are meta-game values, so,  just because a player removes "Passion: Love For My Wife" doesn't mean that character doesn't love his wife or that his love for his wife is somehow deminished it just means the player isn't interested in having his love for his wife be an issue at the moment.

So the SAs act as a real-time vector of what the player wants the game to be about right here, right now.  And if something catches their interest they have the ability to update that vector to say, "more please" or "less of that" as they see fit.

Jesse

Michael S. Miller:
Quote from: johnmarron on December 20, 2005, 09:02:28 AM

Anyone seen or given any thought to ways to get this info out of the players without making it part of the game rules?  I'd like to see a process or technique that could be applied regardless of what system was being prepped for.


IIRC, Wick's 7th Sea has a multi-page questionaire that will bring these things to the light--if you know what to look for. That's one of the problem with non-systematized "flag-gathering" systems. They're hard to read. Players don't know how to give the information of "What I want my character's story to be about," so they often bury it in a dozen pages of character background. And GMs, in general, don't know how to read it. If they already know what to look for, they claim that they don't need the questionnaire, and if they don't know what to look for, all the answers on the questionnaire look like that dozen-page character background.

The other problem, of course, is that many, many gamers are trained to ignore any and all "GM advice" as unhelpful filler text. Nonsystematized flag-gathering questionnaires--along with anything else without a number next to it--fall into that category of stuff to skip.

I'd like to point out that just gathering the Flags, just having the player write it on the character sheet, is not enough. The GM also needs to know how to turn those Flags into engaging Bangs. I put a lot of thought into this when writing With Great Power... It's not enough to simply have the players choose which Aspect of their hero is most important to them--the GM must know how to follow those choices toward an engaging story. In WGP...'s case, I coach GMs on how to turn those Strife Aspects into the objects of the villains' nefarious Plans, and give instructions to always set Stakes that furthers those Plans.

Josh Roby:
Quote from: johnmarron on December 20, 2005, 09:02:28 AM

Anyone seen or given any thought to ways to get this info out of the players without making it part of the game rules?  I'd like to see a process or technique that could be applied regardless of what system was being prepped for.

If it's a process that is applied to the game, doesn't that make it part of the game's system?  I stoop to rhetorical questions; I shame me.

I think what you're asking for is something that doesn't hit the character sheet and have a specific place where it goes on the sheet.  Dogs does this, technically speaking.  But I can't tell you how useful having this information written down in front of the character's faces is.  First of all, having the characters write it down as part of their character makes them invest in the statement "this is what I want."  Afterwards, it's right there in front of them as a constant reminder as what they wanted the game to be and what direction their characters should be going in.  And finally, putting it down on paper as a mechanical element means that it can be referenced in the reward system, and on-target play can then be reinforced.

Jesse's also got an important point -- these aren't set in stone.  There should always be mechanisms to change them.

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