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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 14339 times)
Judd
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« Reply #30 on: February 16, 2007, 03:05:29 PM »



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.

Ryan,

If all's well, very often the bits you will need to do 4 won't come from them talking about the games but from what they put on their character sheets.  I'm trying to understand the problem between 3 and 4 for ya.

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Web_Weaver
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« Reply #31 on: February 16, 2007, 05:38:52 PM »

Hi Ry,

Can I try and break down part 4 of Valamir's list.

4a) Think back to your broad brush stoke setting from part one, what kinds of potential scenarios did you envision or use to sell it to the players?

4b) Having been part of the discussions from part two, you will be familiar with the kinds of characters the players are interested in, and what their group and individual motivations are, and from Part Three the potential conflicts that the players are interested in. Based on these, make a note of at least one question that you think needs asking about each character. i.e. "how strongly does she feel about that contact/friend", "OK, so he is brave and fearless, let's see if that holds true even when...". In other words test the characters at face value, if possible directly use the suggested conflicts if they can be phrased as a question in your head.

4c) Ensure that the questions can be asked in a way that is compatible with the setting, both pre-defined and discussed.

4d) Start play straight away by setting up situations where those questions are asked up font and personal. Don't hold back the questions for later development or cool long term plans, just get right to it, use all the good stuff right away and force the players to answer through tough choices or dilemmas.

4e) Make notes on their choices and after the first session is over, use these, and your setting concepts to help develop more sophisticated dilemma's along with more fully fleshed out NPCs, back-story and other setting considerations. You see, as long as you ask questions in a direct and uncompromising way, you will never actually run out of the "good stuff", it keeps being generated by the answers to your questions.

If this sounds scary, like you are "running by the seat of your pants" then all I can suggest is either give it a try or stick to your old methods. It's either the hard slog, exhausting way, or the initially scary but not actually that different "let the player's drive the story forward" way.

Quote
From the sound of it, there aren't indie games that are doing this without totally changing the structure of play.

They don't totally change the structure of play, they just hand over the responsibilities in ways compatible with your initial question. And, it's a lot easier to grasp the subtle changes required by playing them than it is to try and change your style with a game that is not supportive of these techniques.

Running the games mentioned is a sure fire way of helping with this. They are not actually as experimental or different as you think, they just do the things above well.

I banged my head against a brick wall for months trying to introduce these concepts into my existing campaign, with only limited results, but 5-6 weeks of running Dogs in the Vineyard has not only demonstrated the style to the players in a direct and fun way, but it has also taught me a ton of stuff and pulled into clear focus the things I had been attempting before.

Jamie

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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #32 on: February 17, 2007, 04:39:12 AM »

Rycanada, I hope you make it this far because it feels to me like you're drowning. We here, with good intentions, are piling rocks in your backpack while you're trying to stay afloat. This thread seems to have regressed into Rycanada vs The Forge and that's not helping anyone. You really seem lost at the forge now... are you precognitive or what?

Personally, I think that you don't need a complete overhaul or anything. Perhaps it's as simple as saying at the end of a session "Guys, I'm a bit exhausted, so I need help coming up with our next adventure. So here's the deal: without your input, there's gonna be no play next week."

You're not suffering from any horrible play experience, right? You seem to sense an approaching burn-out and want to learn a few tricks to prevent it. That's smart. I think you've got quite some material to think about by now and perhaps the best thing to do is to let it sink in for a few days.
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Ry
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« Reply #33 on: February 17, 2007, 10:56:56 PM »

Am thinking, will keep thinking.  Still interested in input, but not in comment today.  At the very least, I appreciate that everybody seems genuinely interested in me getting to run (or at least participate in) great games.
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Judd
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« Reply #34 on: February 17, 2007, 11:51:52 PM »

Am thinking, will keep thinking.  Still interested in input, but not in comment today.  At the very least, I appreciate that everybody seems genuinely interested in me getting to run (or at least participate in) great games.

That is an awesome and wise response.

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #35 on: February 19, 2007, 01:17:20 PM »

Very true. Everyone give Ry a little space for while, OK?

Best, Ron
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Ry
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« Reply #36 on: February 21, 2007, 07:40:28 AM »

I need to go back to the beginning of the thread and try to understand what people are saying.  I definitely misunderstood what Callan meant about not being interested in building buy-in into the game.  (I probably misunderstood Varamir too, but I'll start with Callan.   Otherwise, my posts will need their own Internet).

Callan said:  I'll be blunt, I'm not interested with helping you to build it into the game.
I heard:  You're asking a dumb question - this isn't something you build into the game.
Now I think Callan meant: I'm not interested in talking about how to make this into a mechanic.  What it CAN be is clear, up-front communication with the players before the game begins.  And I don't mind helping you figure out what you would need to say to them.

Now if I understand Callan's point, then, well, I disagree in part, but only because I think that a well-defined procedure that tells the players "build a team" (rather than the existing "build a bunch of individuals and the GM will make them into a team") would be a big improvement.  Likewise, something that says "At the start of the session, the GM tell the players what the pitch is before he makes it, and the players will figure out why their characters will swing, then the GM will actually throw the pitch." instead of "Show up, the GM will let fly, swing only if you think it's a good enough pitch, otherwise start alphebetizing the GM's DVDs." would be another big improvement. 

I want to figure out how to make that improvement, and I think part of that means putting some kind of structure in front of the players.  But maybe I still don't understand Callan's point.
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Ry
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« Reply #37 on: February 21, 2007, 04:42:00 PM »

To Varamir:  I really see your point.  Although the idea of Universalis or Dogs didn't fly, there's some interest in Primetime Adventures.  I'm going to give a few sessions of that a try, see who comes out of the woodwork.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #38 on: February 22, 2007, 10:04:01 PM »

Hi Jasper,

Thanks for considering my post further, its a real compliment Smiley. I'm sorry I sounded negative - I wanted to just give an offer without coercement, and sort of withdrew personally to do that. Sad

Onto business. Smiley Yes, I totally see how your examples are improvements and increase yield. However, I would say it's like building a better oil rig. It mines more oil, its more efficient with the oil it collects, it uses less fuel. All those things are great and absolute musts and I'd love to talk about them.

However, to get oil an oil rig must be sunk above a patch of oil. No matter how efficient it is, if there is no oil below, no oil can be mined.

Now that analogy may or may not fit the situation. But it's one I put my money in, for what its worth as a relative stranger to you on the net. So you can see why I'd decline to talk about designing oil rigs in isolation, with no talk about geology and locating oil deposits.

Now, applying that analogy to people - imagine one player who is seriously into spaceships. Loves them to bits and not much else. And imagine another player who's seriously into furies - cat girls in particular. Loves them to bits and not much else.

Now imagine the most efficient, effective rig designed to drill for 'cat girl oil', being sunk into the 'land' which is the spaceship loving player. It's been sunk into dry earth. There's no cat girl oil to draw forth. It's efficiency is lost - not because its a bad design - its a brilliant design! But the land is dry!

And of course a rig that drills for 'spaceship oil' sunk on a catgirl lover - same problem.


In terms of a well designed procedure to form a team, that's a great topic. But I don't want to talk about it in isolation - talking about how to 'get' buy in from players is to me, is talking about getting oil out of them with a rig regardless of whether that oils in them to begin with.

I've probably been a bit picky in not wanting to talk about 'getting player buy in', because I only really want to talk about 'getting the player buy in that's already there!'. I didn't really realise the distinction I was making or commincate well.
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Ry
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« Reply #39 on: February 23, 2007, 05:50:04 AM »

Hey Callan (I think you're talking to me instead of Jasper, so I'll just run with it)

I'm thinking about your oil rig example, something where Mitch the player goes:

"Hey, I like spaceships, Jess likes catgirls, and we both like scenes in bio domes and  extended nature metaphors."

I say: "Great.  I like life-hating chemical monstrosities."

Jess: "Eww!  Catgirls hate chemo-monsters!"  (Jed is grinning, so I can tell he likes the idea.)

Mitch: Sweet.  Do Chemo-monsters fly spaceships too?

I say: "Of course.  In fact, due to their advanced knowledge of chemistry, they can build larger and deadlier ships."

... Later, Mitch builds the cybernetically enhanced Space-Captainpants, and Jess makes Mikura Miyowa, spacefighting ace.  They have enough backstory that they work out and set up some conflicts in the world (Space Captainpants is getting through the fact that his personality has changed on account of having parts of his brain replaced, Mikura is overly hot-headed because she feels the need to prove Catgirls are better pilots than humans, cyber or no cyber)...

These players have bought in, and they've had lots of creative input into what's happening.

.... BUT ....

At some point, Mitch and Jess say "OK, we know enough, we're ready.  Can you surprise us?"

I say "I'd be happy to.  I may draw out some star charts and some other background around the stuff we've talked about, OK?"

-- ry
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #40 on: February 23, 2007, 08:25:24 AM »

Yep, Callan mixed up our names. It happens.

Quote
At some point, Mitch and Jess say "OK, we know enough, we're ready.  Can you surprise us?"

Yup, there the fun starts! Those example players provided some buttons to push (very broadly, cybernetic identity and racial supremacy), the challenge is to push them in imaginative ways.
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contracycle
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« Reply #41 on: February 24, 2007, 01:54:17 AM »

Quote
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.

and the reason for that it is that it is NOT universally applicable advice.

This 1234 process is something I have tried many times, and I find it so useless as to regard it as being actively counterproductive.  Yes, people can draw a setting in broad strokes, create characters and motivations... but then step 4 relies on a bolt of inspiration striking the GM out of the blue that makes sense of all the inputs.  IME what you get is a bunch of ideas that never quite get off the launchpad.  the fact that this is supposed to be done here, now, makes this even worse.  For someone who is burned pout, and exhausted by creating and managing plots, this is just about the worst possible mechanism, because they are now in an even tighter spot, with more cred on the line, with greater expectation from the players.

It seems actively foolish, IMO, to propose that GM's burned out by plot creation problems should commit themselves to even greater stress and work related to plot creation, on even shorter deadlines.

And that is why the reaction you see is so common, and will remain so.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #42 on: February 24, 2007, 08:56:33 PM »

Hi there Ry
Quote
Hey Callan (I think you're talking to me instead of Jasper, so I'll just run with it)
Oh hell...I just feel so stupid!

But I'll push through and get on with buisiness.
These players have bought in, and they've had lots of creative input into what's happening.

.... BUT ....

At some point, Mitch and Jess say "OK, we know enough, we're ready.  Can you surprise us?"

I say "I'd be happy to.  I may draw out some star charts and some other background around the stuff we've talked about, OK?"
Does it strike you at all, that they you've stopped drilling them for catgirl and spaceship oil, and they have actually turned a drill on you?

To be more accurate, this drilling rig isn't terribly sophisticated. Unlike the clear group instructions you talked about, this one just goes 'can you surprise us?'.

Also it suffers in the aim department, just like planting a catgirl-oil rig on the strictly spaceship loving player. Except in this case the players don't even know the oil their aiming for, since it's a 'surprise'. And yet they sink it into you as if you will be a source of it.

Them drilling you is fine. But I think the techniques and aim are poor relative to their needs. We could talk about setting up exactly what drills they are empowered to use in game and how they could be designed, if you like.

But does the foundation idea seem off aim? That they are drilling in you for 'surprise oil'? Ignore the rest if you do - but in that case I'd really love to see more actual play account, so weve got more to work with.
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Marco
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« Reply #43 on: February 26, 2007, 12:19:49 PM »

I think that Ralph (Valamir) is on target here. The 1234 method is just basic step-wise interaction. If you don't use that exact series of steps (or better yet, incorporate some more feedback into it where players might revise their characters a few times with each other's character's in mind) you can use a few different ones.

For example, the basic idea can come with some pretty concrete character-creation guidelines. I've very, very rarely wound up with random stuff at the end of the process because if something isn't fitting earlier on, I talk with the person who's input isn't jiving. Sometimes I've been convinced of a way to fit it in. Sometimes the person (and sometimes it's me) has changed my input.

Furthermore, this is probably just a formal way of doing stuff that Ry has already been doing to some degree. Very few games get built in a total vacuum. I suggest that simply thinking about how players are approached with ideas--how feedback can be requested, etc.

I'd also suggest that a lot of this work can be done using email, Skype, or phone. Putting out a one-page "Scenario Basics" document can get a lot of good feedback and doesn't require everyone to be in the same room.

-Marco
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