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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 76 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: (new guy) Lost at the Forge...  (Read 14338 times)
Callan S.
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« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2007, 12:23:59 PM »

Ah crap, that first sentence didn't come out right at all. Probably screwed my whole post. Bolded the changes.
Quote
Do you remember how you felt before they bought into that 'same tribe' idea? Before that point, they would have had expectations for fun being provided from you. But you can see that, only once they bought into an idea could they have any fun.
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Ry
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« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2007, 05:45:45 AM »

Do you remember how you felt before they bought into that 'same tribe' idea? Before that point, they would have had expectations for fun being provided from you. But you can see that, only once they bought into an idea could they have any fun.

Yeah, that's pretty close.  I mean, their buy-in is a prerequisite for their fun. 
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Callan S.
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« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2007, 11:37:07 PM »

Cool! Does that address your problem at all?

I'll ask you a bit of a difficult question though - regardless of how overwhelming it is to get buyin from them - is the question of how to do it still rather attractive, like a complicated puzzle or riddle might be attractive? I mean, you have pulled it off - you gave an example of it and probably have done it quite a few more times. It is possible, if hurculean in effort.
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Ry
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« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2007, 06:47:38 AM »

Cool! Does that address your problem at all?

Not... really.  I mean, just knowing that their buy-in is required for their fun doesn't help me build that into the game.

I'll ask you a bit of a difficult question though - regardless of how overwhelming it is to get buyin from them - is the question of how to do it still rather attractive, like a complicated puzzle or riddle might be attractive? I mean, you have pulled it off - you gave an example of it and probably have done it quite a few more times. It is possible, if hurculean in effort.

Yeah, I've done it many times, and it was very satisfying when I did it, but what I want is to get them on board without the huge effort.
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2007, 12:07:50 PM »

Yeah, I've done it many times, and it was very satisfying when I did it, but what I want is to get them on board without the huge effort.
Indeed, don't burn yourself up. Reducing effort can be done, among other ways, by limiting content, by reusing content, by defining content as needed during play, and by offloading content ("content" is used very broadly here). The first three you can do all by yourself, the last one requires collaboration and a certain loss of control, which is scary. I'll take your Game 1 example and highlight some interesting bits:

Quote
Game 1 I have to work to get the players' character concepts to mesh into something like a party.  This is not too bad with the core group - most recent campaign they all made young men from the same small warrior tribe, who were raised essentially as brothers.  The campaign before that it was a small order of knights.  Both ideas came from me, and characters were built to match.  I told them a bit about their family and relatives in the village, set up a rivalry with another group of young men in the tribe, and the first session was focused on that rivalry (which helped build that sense of comraderie).  The game started with the two groups challenging each other to a big brawl outside of the village (without alerting their parents), the player-characters won, but then had to work with the defeated group to scare off some bandits (by pretending to be adult warriors).

Now all the bold parts were your input, but that needn't be the case. So you told them a bit about their family and relatives. That's fine, but what about letting them come up with the stuff themselves for a change of pace? If you tell them they have a loving wife that's one thing, but if they come up with it themselves it might even be more valuable to them, just because they had to make the effort to come up with it. It was their decision, so they probably care about it. Ask if that is the case. That's another way to generate buy-in.
Put another way, instead of saying "play is going to be about this", it's saying "what's play going to be about?" The question mark is essential.

I baiscally took that approach with my latest adventure. I must say, it doesn't just happen by itself. You've got to both restrain yourself and push the players. It's really like trying something new. It can be a dud. I can be refreshing.
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Ry
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« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2007, 01:46:38 PM »

That sounds like what I'm looking for, but I need a framework for my players to work with - just free-form "prodding" them has lead to some problems before.  Are there games out there with good rules for generating contacts and conflicts?  I need to put some paper in front of them to get this to work.
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Valamir
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« Reply #21 on: February 15, 2007, 03:53:10 PM »

See what you think of the method I outlined in This Thread[/quote]

Keep in mind that the original context was for a pick up and play game and the audience I was writing to was a bunch of people who already get it and play that way, but the concepts I was espousing there make for a great technique to make the players the driving force of the game's conflicts.

It also makes for a great exercise.  Run through a routine like this a few times in a game that has a low investment time so no one will be too broken up if its rough for practice.  Then when you roll out your "big game" everyone will have flexed those player driving force muscles a bit and likely see opportunities to take some initiative.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #22 on: February 15, 2007, 06:25:37 PM »

Cool! Does that address your problem at all?

Not... really.  I mean, just knowing that their buy-in is required for their fun doesn't help me build that into the game.

I'll be blunt, I'm not interested with helping you to build it into the game. My idea is that "You, in advance of game night,  present the game design as much as you can, say the key features someone would play it for and leave it...whoever turns up on the game night, has sold themselves"

You want to know how to get their buy in? Lets turn your question onto you.  How do I get your buy in to my idea?

Is there some way I can trick you? Out play you intellectually? Engage your sympathy? Add elements that I know your attracted to, so I make you buy in? Corner you? Capture your imagination so much your mind is tricked into giving in?

Can you feel any resentment or a internal flinch reflex like you just touched a stove top? Monitor your own resistance to taking on my idea, think about it for a minute or two, see how you react - this is precisely the issue your up against. And its nothing to do with the idea itself or its quality - its to do with me trying to force it onto you, by whatever means I have at my disposal.

Of course I'm somewhat screwed in what I'm illustration if you just take on my idea right now. But consents like that - its a wild, free thing and unpredictable.

Anyway, I don't intend to try and force it. Like my idea itself, I'll pitch the features of it - it reduces that pressure you describe to nil or about nil. While you may have fewer players turn up, they turn up raring to go. If no players turn up, your still in profit as you can do some other activity. Even playing your playstation is an improvement on dealing with non buy in players for several hours, in my estimate. And it avoids the flinch issue I illustrated above, pretty well.

Thems the features! Hope it appeals! Smiley

Although I will say one has the urge to 'do' something at a game, as GM. But with players selling themselves, what's left to do? That's why I asked whether it was a sort of chewy problem to get into, above. I'd say that's another feature of my idea to use it for - because instead of that 'chewy' problem, you can start setting up all sorts of activities for yourself as GM which can be about any fun thing you like.

Thanks for reading my posts Smiley
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Ry
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« Reply #23 on: February 16, 2007, 05:50:44 AM »

Hi Callan,

If you're not interested in suggesting things that I can build into the rules (or the quasi-rules governing how to begin a campaign or session), I appreciate your interest but I don't think there's much here you can help me with.  Thanks for the input, but I get the sense that we're not talking about the same thing.

Jasper, that pretty much hits it on the head.  I guess I'm looking for some more structure in building the characters as a cohesive group...

and Valamir's link looks like a big help for figuring out that framework.  Valamir, do you have any ideas for how you would adapt that system for a game that was a bit more about player co-operation in solving problems (even party-internal problems) and defeating threats?
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #24 on: February 16, 2007, 06:47:30 AM »

Quote
Jasper, that pretty much hits it on the head.  I guess I'm looking for some more structure in building the characters as a cohesive group...

Glad I could contribute!
Having structure is nice, and Valamir has great stuff going on, but I don't think you should try searching for a holy grail here. There's no set of ten questions that will guarantee success, because the people involved are the most important factor.
I believe pitching character ideas is actually very much like a brainstorming session, so techniques for successful brainstorming can be a help. It's about collaboration, asking open questions, getting those creative juices flowing, building on other people's suggestions, listening, keeping your mouth shut, being open-minded, making notes, and making sure everyone participates. Really the best way to learn it is to do it.
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Valamir
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« Reply #25 on: February 16, 2007, 08:03:05 AM »

Here's basically the crux of the issue as I understand it.

You have a group that has always relied on you to take ownership of providing them with fun.  That has left you pleased, but exhausted, and now you'd like them to start taking a little ownership of their own fun.  IMO that's a great goal.  By and large (and a lot of folks here can confirm this about their own play) ALOT more fun is had at the table when the whole group is equally committed to driving the fun forward than when most of the group sits relatively passive waiting for the GM to drive the fun forward...no matter how good the GM is.

But Jaspar's right.  There is no magic formula that is going to transform your group quickly and painlessly into that model.  There's alot of inertia there that is and will work towards keeping things exactly as they are...ESPECIALLY since you've been successful with things as they are in the past, and doubly successfully if your fellow players aren't equally committed to the idea that something needs to change.

Further, its something of a Pandora's Box.  If you do manage to overcome that inertia and nudge your players into greater proactivity, you can't expect to treat it like a gauge..."this much and no farther".  Its not a dial that you can choose to set at exactly the balance between GM does everything and Players do everything that you wish.  Different groups will settle at an equillibrium point they find comfortable, but that may well be far short or much farther than you envisioned.


So as to your specific question...yes, I can envision structures where players can be proactive and yet maintain the "party mentality" but I don't think that will help you at this stage.  Because it isn't something you can just put in place and have it work.  Transitioning to a more proactive playstyle is a road frought with peril.  Best case you can expect your first several sessions to be blah...most likely they will totally suck.  Suck because you aren't driving things towards fun the way you always have, and your players don't yet know how to drive themselves.  Its possible that you'll discover that some of your players are entirely unwilling to make the journey, and worst case...you might lose them altogether.

Instead, I'll repeat my advice above.  Set aside the grand campaign you're currently envisioning.  If its something folks are eagerly anticipating you don't want to spoil it with blah and suckage.  Disappointment will often lead to bitterness and anger if something important is involved.

Play something else.  Play a totally different game system that none of your players has any vested interest in.  Play something experimental...people are far more tolerant of blah and suckage in something experimental than with something they know and love.  They are also far more willing to step outside of their old comfort zone and try something new...this is one of the most effective ways of overcoming that old inertia.

Games that are particularly good for this because they are easy to get into, don't require ridiculous amounts of prep, and DEMAND that players behave in a proactive fashion or the game simply doesn't work:  Prime Time Adventures, Universalis, or for the more daring Dogs in the Vineyard, or 9 Worlds.  Shadow of Yesterday is also a good option but because it is less weird than the others its easier to fall back into old habits which defeats the purpose of the exercise. 

The point is that no ones ego gets bruised if these games don't work...in fact, I'd expect the first session or two NOT to work.  Your asking your players to stretch the way they interact with an RPG in ways they've never done except as a GM (if they've ever GMed). 

Give them some time to practice with games that don't matter to them but flat out don't allow you to even play without taking that proactive responsibility.  THEN after a good many sessions of a variety of different games when your group has settled into its own equilibrium of player's taking responsibility for their own fun and they've seen how enjoyable it is, and you've seen how much less work it is to just let go more completely than you may be envisioning...THEN go back and revist that grand campaign idea and see if your players can take the way they've been playing in these other games and adapt it to your current system...assuming anyone is even interested in playing your current system at that point.

That's really the best advice I can give you.  I can try and provide some answers to your question, but I fear it just flat out won't work that way.
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Ry
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« Reply #26 on: February 16, 2007, 10:15:35 AM »

Hmm... again, this seems kind of at right-angles to what I'm talking about.  Maybe I haven't been clear enough.  My goal is a lot less overarching than what's proposed.

I don't mind creating the context for play, presenting the problems and threats the players overcome.  I don't mind preparing that, and I have a pretty good set of resources for doing so.  What you're suggesting sounds like trying to get away from prep, or sharing responsibility for narration during the meat of play, rather than building player-characters into each other and into the setting, and connecting them to the conflicts.

What I want is just that the PCs start play having bought into the idea that they are a tightly-knit group that works together to solve problems and defeat threats.  They should be connected to the conflicts that exist in the world.  From the sound of it, there aren't indie games that are doing this without totally changing the structure of play.  If that's the case, then Jasper's comments that it all comes down to brainstorming are spot on.  I remember the Serenity RPG had a little piece about building a pilot episode, so maybe between that and Valamir's ideas I'll be able to hack together a procedure to encourage that brainstorming.
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Valamir
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« Reply #27 on: February 16, 2007, 11:10:21 AM »

It isn't that simple, Ry.

There are tons and tons of ways to tie PCs together in a group to work together...literally thousands...and for the most part they're all shite.  Why?  Because grabbing the character is a useless pointless superficial activity.  Characters aren't real.

PLAYERS are real.  In order to get the end result you're looking for you have to grab the PLAYERS...this is what all the "buy-in" discussion earlier on was about.  You can tie up the characters 6 ways till tuesday, but if the players aren't into it, it isn't going to help you.

So, how do you get the players to buy into it?  And by "buy into it" I'm assuming you mean something more engaged than just being along for the ride.  A "yeah, whatever you say, lets just play" response is easy to get...and also not very helpful.

You said before that you'd had characters all be from the same village, or all be part of the same knightly order...that's fine...I'll bet you got what amounts to a "yeah, whatever, I'm cool with that, lets play" response.  They'd have agreed to just about anything that seemed reasonable while they waited with breathless anticipation for whatever you'd do next.

But imagine how much stronger the buy in would have been, how much more powerful the player's connection to the setting and situation, how much more aggressive they could have been at driving the story forward if they'd had more investment in that village or in that knightly order than just going along with an idea of yours (here I'm making a pretty big assumption they did not have any bigger investment...I could be wrong).

So how do you get players to put that level of investment into the game.  There are lots of ways, but the single most powerful, most effective, and most reliable way is to have them be joint participants in creating the situation to begin with.  That doesn't mean cedeing all GM powers and playing GMless...there are many ways to get there. 

Sorcerer, for instance, has a very traditional GM role.  But it also has a very explicit process for getting player buy in to the world and input into the situation.  Do a search on One-Sheets in the Sorcerer forum and you'll find a host of advice for coming up with the flavor and color of the game and getting the players on board with it.  The best Sorcerer advice of all is to fill in the back of the character sheets where players outline all of their connections to the world and come up with a Kicker.  The GM then takes all of that and comes back with situation tailor made to fit all of those component parts.

In orther words...
1) create the world in broad strokes and get the players jonesing about the color and the flavor of the setting. 
2) Then have them create characters they want to play but do it jointly so that everyone is feeing off of each other's ideas and starting to get fired up about everybody's characters...do all of the character creation publically so everyone knows everything their is to know about each other (and ideally suggested some of it themselves.  It doesn't matter if the other characters would know it...but its important that  the other players do.
3) Then identify the sources of conflict the players are interested in having those characters pursue,
4) and ONLY THEN start designing an adventure or campaign and make sure its entirely structured around those sources of conflict.  That's one technique.  There are many others.

The games I suggested above go WAY beyond what you're looking for, I know that.  But the skills they require players and GMs to develop in order to play them successfully are exactly the skills you'll need in your group in order to kick their buy in of your game up to the next level.  So my suggestion is not that these games will give you what you're looking for for your game.  Rather they'll give you the practice with opening up your play to greater mutual participation by everyone at the table.

THEN you can take that experience back and actually get somewhere with what you're trying to do.


Ok, enough beating that horse.

You've asked a specific question, and basically the answer you've got so far is "forget your question, you have to go back to first principals and then you'll have a better sense of what question to ask"...that can be pretty annoying for someone who thought they were asking for something pretty simple.

So in the spirit of at least trying to answer your specific question...check out this link to Wicked Dead's Fraternitas rules.  Its basically a mechanical way of building and reinforcing a sense of brotherhood among characters.
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Ry
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« Reply #28 on: February 16, 2007, 12:48:09 PM »

It isn't that simple, Ry.

There are tons and tons of ways to tie PCs together in a group to work together...literally thousands...and for the most part they're all shite.  Why?  Because grabbing the character is a useless pointless superficial activity.  Characters aren't real.

PLAYERS are real.  In order to get the end result you're looking for you have to grab the PLAYERS...this is what all the "buy-in" discussion earlier on was about.  You can tie up the characters 6 ways till tuesday, but if the players aren't into it, it isn't going to help you.

OK, this is just not helpful at all.  Of course I can ram things down players' throats to connect their characters to the world.  In fact, they don't even complain when I have done this.

But if players are the ones making choices and building characters that are well connected to conflicts in the world, I'm not ramming things down anyone's throat.  There's an emotional commitment that comes just from creating a character, especially when you have the expectation that your GM is playing to that character.

But imagine how much stronger the buy in would have been, how much more powerful the player's connection to the setting and situation, how much more aggressive they could have been at driving the story forward if they'd had more investment in that village or in that knightly order than just going along with an idea of yours (here I'm making a pretty big assumption they did not have any bigger investment...I could be wrong).

As I've said, I have absolutely no complaints about how those games went, besides the fact that a lot of pressure is on me.  Their level of emotional commitment to their characters and the story couldn't be higher - but I had the burden of engendering that commitment.  From there, they ably drove the story.

In orther words...
1) create the world in broad strokes and get the players jonesing about the color and the flavor of the setting. 
2) Then have them create characters they want to play but do it jointly so that everyone is feeing off of each other's ideas and starting to get fired up about everybody's characters...do all of the character creation publically so everyone knows everything their is to know about each other (and ideally suggested some of it themselves.  It doesn't matter if the other characters would know it...but its important that  the other players do.
3) Then identify the sources of conflict the players are interested in having those characters pursue,
4) and ONLY THEN start designing an adventure or campaign and make sure its entirely structured around those sources of conflict. 

OK, I'm with you from points 1 to 3, but 4 is not going to work.  My players aren't going to be consistent game to game, and I can't expect them to come over (many have an hour drives) to just talk about a game - I don't have the luxury of designing material away from the table.

The games I suggested above go WAY beyond what you're looking for, I know that. (...) THEN you can take that experience back and actually get somewhere with what you're trying to do.

Again, this sort of assumes I have a single, consistent group that's going to gain skills and come back wanting to play.  I am looking at a variable group - and I can't think of any players that would be interested in me putting them into a kiddie pool to train them up for my actual game.
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Valamir
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« Reply #29 on: February 16, 2007, 01:26:11 PM »

Ry,
This is a pretty common pattern for new posters to the Forge, who perhaps aren't ready to have their core assumptions about how gaming is supposed to look put in the spot light.

The pattern goes like this:

Gamer shows up with some deeply felt disatisfaction at the way their gaming is going.  They'll post useing phrases like:

"I'm pretty dissatisfied with my current game rut," 
"get exhausted"
"I'm sick of being responsible for everyone's fun"

Then, some advice will come that suggests the solution isn't some simple tweak to the way they've always done things.  The suggestion will be made that changing from their current rut might require a good bit more fundamental upheaval and challenging of assumptions then they'd initially anticipated.

The gamer's initial reaction to this...nearly every time...is to recoil with shock and to interpret the suggestions as some accusatory finger that they haven't been gaming right.  Their posts now consist of going out of their way to show how things aren't that bad...its really pretty good...we're very satisfied.

I see you falling into that trap here.  No one is accusing your group(s) of being broken, no one is suggesting you need a kiddie-pool because you're not good enough gamers, no one is claiming you're a bad GM.  Those quotes up above are from you.  "rut" "exhausted" "sick" those are the words you used...before you felt like you had to start defending your group. 

You didn't use those words accidentally. You came here with some serious issues...those are Not Good words.  Assuming you weren't exaggerating just to get attention, those words say "something has to change".

So I guess the ball is back in your court.  You're going to have to decide what you really want out of this thread.  I and others are happy to spend however much time needed to help work through these issues, but they have to be issues you're interested in working through or else its just a waste of our time...and yours.   

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