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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Real World Premise?  (Read 3466 times)
Maitete
Member

Posts: 13


« on: January 12, 2006, 10:27:36 PM »

Hey all,

I have a long-term group of friends with whom I have been gaming weekly for around 6 years.  I've had several dysfunctional moments with one particular member of the group over the years, who also happens to be a good friend outside of gaming.  We continually disagree over approaches and meanings surrounding gaming in general, and by extension real life relationships.  He is a hardcore Gamist, and I primarily a Narrativist, although I can enjoy his games on occasion.  The group has recently been discussing reconciling these differences and trying to expand this particular person's gaming horizons by allowing me to introduce new games to the mix.  I've chosen Sorcerer as the first introduction to Narrativist gameplay for this other player.  Another friend and I have come up with what we think would be a pretty cool Premise for our first game, but I'd like to hear what others think.

We'll call the Gamist in question Player A.  Player A has an interesting outlook on life.  He does not enjoy introspection, he revels in his use of cliche, and proudly remains "stagnant" (his words) in all areas of gaming, food, women, etc.  Needless to say, introducing new games to our group is a study in dysfunction when he's involved.  Some might question whether it's even worth trying, but you'll have to take my word that he's a good enough guy to be worth incorporating in our group.

The other friend and I were discussing possible Premises for the first game, and wanted to both hook Player A and demonstrate the value in creating meaty, emotional play by addressing real world concerns in a roleplaying setting.  So here's the Premise:

  • What does it take to "break" you?

Basically, each person's demon will have the qualities the player defines at first, but will be played to the max as far as cunning, manipulative measures, designed to drive the character "over the edge" and into further Sorcery.  The demon's methods will be guerrilla tactics and subtle twisting of desires, including giving the character "what they want" but in such an extreme manner as to make that desire unappealing; i.e. be careful what you wish for...  For Player A, the demon will deride introspection, glorify cliche and superficiality, minimizing the value of creative effort, and encouraging "stagnation" as a quality to be upheld, ruthlessly if necessary (based on Player A's real world traits).

So, each demon will have some subtle tailoring suited to the player's real-life perspective.  This will all be up front, and explicit when we begin.  Player A will probably not respect the ability of roleplaying to have any sort of "breaking" impact upon him, but that's precisely the point.  If Sorcerer (and Narrativism in general) is as powerful as I think it is, I believe it might show him the value of new gaming styles, if nothing else.

What do you think?  Is this a valid application of Narrativist principle?  I understand Narrativism to be about real, emotional drama, and have the ability to impact a person, possibly very deeply, through rolelpaying/storytelling.  Do I expect too much from Sorcerer?  Or is this exactly the type of depth Sorcerer was designed to explore? 

Thanks,
Tony
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Lamorak33
Member

Posts: 183


« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2006, 12:22:21 AM »

Hey hows it going!

Hey all,

I have a long-term group of friends with whom I have been gaming weekly for around 6 years.  I've had several dysfunctional moments with one particular member of the group over the years, who also happens to be a good friend outside of gaming.  We continually disagree over approaches and meanings surrounding gaming in general, and by extension real life relationships.  He is a hardcore Gamist, and I primarily a Narrativist, although I can enjoy his games on occasion.  The group has recently been discussing reconciling these differences and trying to expand this particular person's gaming horizons by allowing me to introduce new games to the mix.  I've chosen Sorcerer as the first introduction to Narrativist gameplay for this other player.  Another friend and I have come up with what we think would be a pretty cool Premise for our first game, but I'd like to hear what others think.


I think you sound like gamist guy thinks you nar guys are sanctimonious holier than thou roleplayers. He may be right. There is an old adage, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't MAKE it drink.

The good news is that you don't need to. Sorcerer is an excellent game that supports narratavism, but don't ram narratavism down the guys throat  - just play and see what happens. Show, don't tell. Leave all the GNS and Big Model exploration debates between you and the other guy who is interested - gamist guy sounds like he just wants to play a game. Hence my advice, just play, you may be pleasently suprised.

Regards
Rob

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Bill Cook
Member

Posts: 501


« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2006, 01:58:25 AM »

What Rob said. And to back off even further, consider that the incompatibility may be insoluble. It makes sense to try out Sorcerer anticipating that it may support/promote Nar, but not as a tool to "break" it to A. Is he interested in exploring new styles of play? It sounds more like you're interested in him exploring.

Having said that, I'm in your same situation. Leaving aside GNS, the stagnant comment gets my attention. By that do you mean that he is unmoved by what is irrelevant? And by cliche, do you suggest that he values consistency over novelty? Assuming I'm seeing him right, the way I get at guys like this is to get really clear on what they're after. Then I make sure that they explicitly assent to the scene framing. Then, regardless of physics or what's on a list, when they attempt something, I make sure that it's resolved as a step back or a step forward.

It can be exciting, learning about GNS and learning to play Sorcerer, specifically. It's a real Nar darling. But what you've shared regarding premise for a game sounds like floaty enthusiasm. I mean, it's still an RPG. You still roll dice and kill stuff, only now your choices are pregnant with meaning. And the focus of play shifts to creating that meaning. Sorcerer won't make you accomplish that shift, but it supports that focus if you have it.

In my Sorcerer campaign, I had a real shoot 'em up player who said he wanted to play a bitter old man obsessed with immortality and the might of violence. Sheesh. So during play, I framed scenes to pose an escalating series of questions: Even if your victims are innocent and haven't harmed you personally? Even if it means betraying the trust of those who love you? Even if they must die, painfully, by your own hand? Even as they beg you through tears? Even for nothing more than to satisfy your own selfishness? Even though a psychopathic sexual predator becomes your master?

To which he answered yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!! Everyone at the table became utterly disgusted with this character (not the player). They hated him. How could you not?! And his player really loved the campaign.

I encourage you to collaborate with A to come up with something concrete.
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Maitete
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2006, 05:11:10 AM »

I think you sound like gamist guy thinks you nar guys are sanctimonious holier than thou roleplayers.

I admit, the above post may have sounded like we are a bit heavy handed, but I believe that was mostly late night philosophical musings.  I tend to think in terms of "cosmic significance" a lot, so having grandiose ideas about roleplaying or a particular plot is par for the course for me.  As far as gamist guy, I don't think our difficulties have gotten to the point of him thinking we're "holier than thou" or anything.  As it is, we all get along socially, then diverge when it comes to the question of what game to play tonight.  Without going into 6 years of off and on dysfunction in detail, we usually end up with gamist guy's preference, as he's always willing to GM, and I've finally decided that I deserve my own style once in awhile. 

What Rob said. And to back off even further, consider that the incompatibility may be insoluble. It makes sense to try out Sorcerer anticipating that it may support/promote Nar, but not as a tool to "break" it to A. Is he interested in exploring new styles of play? It sounds more like you're interested in him exploring.

Absolutely correct.  If given ultimate freedom, gamist guy would play one of three game systems for the rest of his life.  I recognize whole-heartedly that everyone has their own preferences, and I have already sought and found another group that is more compatible.  But as social friends, gamist guy feels like he's missing out, wants to enjoy some of our cool stories, wants to be included.  I'd like to have him join us, but his favorite introduction to a new system is to attempt to min/max it, or to somehow include a popular media reference (I'm the Predator, I'm the T-1000, etc.).  So the Premise is the above attempt at "force-feeding" depth of characterization, by basically challenging things he actually believes, "pushing his buttons".  Of course, who better to do that than a demon?

Having said that, I'm in your same situation. Leaving aside GNS, the stagnant comment gets my attention. By that do you mean that he is unmoved by what is irrelevant? And by cliche, do you suggest that he values consistency over novelty? Assuming I'm seeing him right, the way I get at guys like this is to get really clear on what they're after. Then I make sure that they explicitly assent to the scene framing. Then, regardless of physics or what's on a list, when they attempt something, I make sure that it's resolved as a step back or a step forward.

Thanks for the insight there.  I'll definitely try this.

Thanks to both who posted replies.  You've made some really good points.  Of course, I intend to just go ahead and play, as gamist guy has even expressed some interest in Sorcerer.  I do enjoy the discussion however, so keep it coming!

Thanks again,
Tony
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2006, 06:13:29 AM »

Hiya,

Guess we'll have to start with the main issue first.

Quote
you'll have to take my word that he's a good enough guy to be worth incorporating in our group.

I don't. As in, I don't take your word for it. Why not? Because what you're saying makes absolutely no sense.

For "group," substitute the word "band." Now consider what happens to a band when that very sentence is used to justify the presence of a particular member. If the result of your consideration is anything except "the band crashes and burns" or "the band limps along in a mediocre fashion," then go back and consider it again.

I don't doubt you that he's a "good guy." That's great. Good for him, good for the world, good for all of us. That has nothing to do, at all, with whether and how you want to role-play with him present.

You cannot expand this person's horizons or change any aspect of his preferences in role-playing by introducing Sorcerer to him. Or any other game. All of the anecdotes about how "Dogs changed my life" or "My Life with Master revolutionized my group," and similar, are predicated on the person being interested in the issues of Narrativist play. They are always preceded by the person struggling a little or setting for less in his or her previous history of play.

When a person expresses solid, unswerving, and when necessary obstructive input into play which militates against Narrativist goals, at every step in his or her previous play history, then you are merely starting a duel, and one you cannot win. You see, you're fighting for the other person as you wish him to be (and not for yourself), and he's fighting for himself as he really is. Who do you think is eventually going to win that?

You say "as social friends, gamist guy feels like he's missing out, wants to enjoy some of our cool stories, wants to be included."

Oh? He says this? Right up front, "I want to try role-playing a completely different way for completely different goals, following your lead to see how it might be done." That's what he said? I don't think so. I mean, I wasn't there, but I really don't think so.

What I think is, you don't want him to feel like he's missing out, you want to include him. For some reason, whatever it may be. Paul Czege struggled for years and years to find what he enjoyed in role-playing, finally to realize that he had to abandon the inclusion of his friend Tracy - who although he had been included in every step, every game, every discussion, and every bit of negotiation, and whom Paul would have called his "best and most loyal role-playing friend," was absolutely and flatly committed not to having fun in the way Paul wanted. For ten. Years.

Or Matt Snyder with Flash, same thing. It almost happened that way with Vincent and Emily Care, although I'm not sure if the two of them realize that. Or hundreds of other examples, on or off the Forge, the majority of them (off-Forge) ending with disaster and stagnation and negative impacts on other relationships in the two people's lives. I'm not kidding, this is serious business.

Jesus Christ, man, you're even protecting him from me, even now, by not using his real name! I can't talk to you about this in a constructive way unless you get more real with yourself, and identify what you really want out of this, and stop playing the mediator. I don't care about him. I care about the customer & player of Sorcerer, you.

Now, about that Premise. It's fantastic. It works wonderfully. It's perfect for Sorcerer and central to the vision of the game design. I look forward to every actual play post you put up ...

... but the game is built to satisfy a specific set of needs that people bring to it. If someone brings Hard Core Gamist needs to it, the game will upset them - it cannot be broken, and therefore they will adopt the other, more vicious forms of Hard Core participation ... and then, they simply become a dick and start blaming the game, and everyone else for making them play it or being so stupid as to have suggested this "obviously shitty" game.

Hey, maybe I'm wrong about this particular guy. I'm describing patterns of behavior, though, which have been confirmed over, and over, and over again. Nothing you've said suggests to me that this guy represents anything different.

Best,
Ron
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Maitete
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2006, 09:03:00 AM »

First, thanks for the detailed post.  I appreciate your passion for the topic, as well as your obvious experience with situations exactly like mine.  I expect, in the end, I'm going to have to go the road you mention with Paul Czege and Matt Snyder.  But I'm not ready to give up without at least one more try.

When a person expresses solid, unswerving, and when necessary obstructive input into play which militates against Narrativist goals, at every step in his or her previous play history

I thought you said you didn't know who this guy was?  But seriously, that's a common trend with this player.  He absolutely wrecked our first game of Universalis (my other attempt at expanding group horizons) by inserting the Predator in our late 17th century Pirate caper on a small colonial island.  The actual Predator from space.  I wouldn't have even cared if it were some other alien he came up with, but the Predator?  Ack.  So, I certainly think he's torn between what he would call "losing a good gamer and friend" and protecting his way of playing against all comers.

Thanks for the compliment on the premise, though.  My thoughts were influenced by your Sex and Sorcery, and that's something I think is worth discussing.  You mention on page seven the survey you sent out in 2002, and one of the questions was "Have these in-game, imagined events had any impact or connections to the social dynamics of the real people?  What, specifically?".  Although I know your focus was on gender and sexuality issues, I think this question applies to other social relationships as well.  Is it possible to address his lack of interest in change, his purposeful obstruction and fascination with surface concerns only in the gaming setting, and thereby possibly influence the real life situation?  I think this question goes a bit beyond the Premise I asked about originally, but it looks interesting.

My take on it is that anyone can adapt given a certain amount of information and motivation.  Motivation is obviously key here, but does that motivation necessarily have to involve interest in the actual content we've been discussing?  As an example: I heard several references by you, Ron, to a game called Hero Wars.  After reading your review, I decided to look into it.  I read some other material on the net, and quickly determined that it sounded cliche, stupid and silly, with little redeeming value.  Ducks?  You're kidding me.  Medieval knights within a few miles of primitive hunter-gatherer cultures?  Nonsense.  But your recommendation nagged me.  I respect your work and your style, and I believe you to be a perceptive, intelligent human being.  If that's the case, then there had to be some reason for you to like this system and this setting.  I decided to buy the game despite my initial impulses, and read the main book, just to give you the benefit of the doubt.  Now, I'm a certifiable Glorantha nut, I believe because I found some of those touchstones that you mentioned.  Had I just looked into the surface and ignored my respect for your opinions, I would've missed the wonders of HeroQuest.  I had motivation, but it was not toward HeroQuest content.  It was a social motivation based on my opinion of you.

To bring it back to the current thread, that is the kind of thing I expect from "gamist guy".  His name's Dana, by the way, I just didn't know the ethics behind using someone's name on this forum.  Anyway, I expect him to act on the respect for me he continuously talks about, by taking a leap and being open to something that might seem at first to be cliche, stupid and silly.  To delve a little deeper and try to find what I like about it, and see if that clicks with him as well.  Since none of our out-of-game discussions have brought us close to that goal, I thought addressing it in an interesting game might function the way satire does: by exaggerating some quality, it brings that quality under scrutiny (see Gulliver's Travels for some great examples).

Thanks again for all of your input!
Tony
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May
Member

Posts: 7


« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2006, 11:38:20 AM »

Hi Tony
Unlike Ron I do not fear that lives will be lost if you proceed your attempt to unite incompatible elements in your game. (Okay he didn't write that, but it was close ;). But like everyone else here I do think you're setting yourself up for disappointment and wasted efforts. Mostly because you wrote that you think this player will be open to giving the game an honest try out of respect for you, and yet nothing else you've written about him indicates that he has ever been inclined to do that. I'm thinking of terms like "purposeful obstruction". If one is exceedingly bored with a game the mature person tells his group that this isn't his kind of game and votes himself home. He (or she) does not hang around to ruin it for everyone else out of frustration; this implies a severe lack of respect for fellow gamers. As for feeling left out of a game he doesn't actually want to play......Isn't there something else you could do together? Video night? Boardgames? Something?
 
The real world premise is likely present in some form in most roleplaying games as the whole thing works better if it is in some way or other dealing with issues that the people around the table are interested in exploring, which again relates to their real personalities somehow. But I'd personally be a little sceptical of your "tailor made model". Not that I don't model my games: If one player likes his character to go through lots of heavy, emotional angst, another likes it more action oriented and so on, I do try to give them what they want. But if I got the feeling that my GM was trying to be my selfappointed therapist I'd feel a little mentally groped. But of course it doesn't sound like the issues you're planning to home in on is anything this particular player is sensitive about, so it might not be a problem. 

 All this being said I wish you the best of luck with your game - and if anything I wrote sounded very harsh, I didn't mean it like that ;)

~May
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Lamorak33
Member

Posts: 183


« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2006, 03:25:45 AM »


To bring it back to the current thread, that is the kind of thing I expect from "gamist guy".  His name's Dana, by the way, I just didn't know the ethics behind using someone's name on this forum.  Anyway, I expect him to act on the respect for me he continuously talks about, by taking a leap and being open to something that might seem at first to be cliche, stupid and silly.  To delve a little deeper and try to .....


yeah yeah, just play damn it! I also don't agree with Ron that it is a lost cause, but it might be. My experience is that narratavist type play comes more naturally to folk - its certainly easier for newbies to get into IMHO. 

And word to the wise, steer clear of personal issues for addressing premise and wot not. Rape victims for example might not enjoy you having their player character raped for example. Come back with some feedback when you actually play something, asuming you can check your roleplaying theory proclivities at the door and don't bring them to the gaming table. Just saying.

Best regards :^D
Rob
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