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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: Adventure seeds for indecisive players  (Read 9707 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #30 on: June 07, 2002, 01:08:47 PM »

So Jeff,

I agree with you, as a matter of fact, that the focus on Narrativist play in the last few posts are not addressing the issues you raised. My posts in this thread did not suggest such an approach - I saw, and still see, that you are dealing primarily with Simulationist issues of GMing and (now that you're clarified the players' views) playing.

So let's back it up. The goal here is to meet your needs. First thing is to toss out the Kicker thing - someone suggested it, you reacted, people reacted, blah blah. OK, fuck it. No Kickers, not what you want, all done. (Just to ensure that you don't feel universally attacked, see my post that already said so, way back there.)

Now what? Looking back in the thread, both Ralph and Josh suggested rewarding the players for decisive actions, so that they perceive decision as "better" than the outrageous caution you describe. That means reviewing your own behavior to see whether you have tended to smack'em for being bold, in the past. (I don't know whether you have or not. Just reflect on it, that's all. Could be "no.")

Also, in all this Kicker-this-and-that, I think Christopher made an excellent point with his Black Hawk Down example. It struck me as the immediately most practical approach, and especially well-suited for TROS.

Now for some behavior/courtesy issues. Saying "... some people here ..." won't do. Give the respect of addressing someone you disagree with by name, and further, do not fling insults even when you feel insulted. That's flaming.

Finally, Jeff, you must realize, no one here can read minds. It's really hard to have someone say, "Help me with X," and you say, "Try this," and the person flips and says, "Don't criticize my intelligence, that's not what I want." Hell, how's anyone supposed to know that? If you're courteous to the person and explain how it doesn't apply, when he's way off base for your needs, then maybe that person will turn around and provide the perfect solution.

Best,
Ron
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Blake Hutchins
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Posts: 614


« Reply #31 on: June 07, 2002, 02:36:49 PM »

Hi Jeff,

In the realm of computer game design, one of the first things we ask ourselves about gameplay is, "How do we want players to address risk?"  In a massively-multiplayer context, we want players to take risks, because risk-taking is a big part of the fun of gameplay.  If we make penalties for character death too nasty, the players will exercise waaay more caution than necessary, thereby diluting the fun adventure factor.  You can't be Indiana Jones if you're always fleeing the first hint of danger.

Of course, if you want a suspense-laden game -- think Thief from the computer gaming analogy, a game that was very stealth-oriented -- then you want the consequences to discourage balls-out, in your face risk-taking.

So Ron's right on the money in my opinion.  Aside from wanting some adventure seeds, you might want to examine the rewards v. consequences metric in your games to see what kind of behaviors you might inadvertently be reinforcing.  Along the adventure seed route, take a look on the net for plot hooks and plot types.  The taxonomy of X number of stories may suggest some great ways to get your players moving.

And just to reiterate another point of Ron's, I think you've gotten a lot of sincere, well-meaning feedback here.  If some of it has rubbed you the wrong way, take a deep breath and read it again with a more charitable eye.  I say this because some of the most embarrassing incidents I've had over the last decade came from reading aggression and criticism into notes and correspondence where the other person meant nothing of the sort.  *shrug*  Absent the paralinguistic cues, it's really easy to take things the wrong way.

Hope this helps.

Best,

Blake
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Jaif
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Posts: 327


« Reply #32 on: June 07, 2002, 03:14:51 PM »

Ron,

Quote
The short version:

My local group has become very indecisive in games. I'm looking for a few low-fantasy adventure ideas that will help break us out of the mold.


That was my original statement.  I padded it out greatly with a longer statement, which may have been my downfall.  I received a lot of attention to the first part, but almost none to the second.  Some of it was helpful stuff, as you point out, and I do appreciate it.  Kickers may be a mechanic to do something I used to do simply by being around players all the time (grab ideas from them and place them into the story.)  Points, or perhaps somewhat less arbitrary approaches, may be a really good way to help as well.  Also, the idea that I may have seized so much control is worth exploring.

Where I blew up, and I apologize for doing so, was this:

Quote
You're afraid that all you're prep will go down the drain? Becasue the players will ignore what you have prepped? Would that stop the game from getting played, or would the play just happen in a less well defined atmosphere? The latter I'll bet. You just end up winging it a bit, right? I mean do players always stick to your well designed plots and maps all the time anyway? I'll bet you've had to develop some of those winging skills like almost every other GM.


I did not like the tone of this "You afraid little boy? People gonna ignore your ideas?  Maybe baby sim GM gonna have to wing it now like us grown-up narrativists."

I take it as a point of pride that I wing stories and campaigns with the best of them, as well as include the player's ideas.  It's something my group compliments me on (specifically: "You make us feel like heros." or "I feel important.").  My downfall has always been simple notetaking and such, and it's a flaw I'm slowly rectifying.  

Again, I'm sorry I blew up.  That comment came straight from left-field as far as I could see, and hit me square in the face.  I reacted poorly.

Mike,

You're still not getting it.  I don't have a special need for maps.  My players do.  They don't want me to say "a water supply"; they ask questions like "what is it", "where is it", "are there guards nearby", "how far away", and so on.  One player asks for a map or drawing of almost every situation, even when he's just haggling in the market.  I've even taken to putting GURPs cardboard heroes on the table, because they use them to setup the story so they can see it, and even aid me in moving them around. (They were doing this with dice and coins before.)

The players want to visualize the situation clearly and conquer tactical situations.  They aren't limited to that, and not every player is identical in that regard, but it's a strong streak running through the group.  There's a sim side to it (the water supply better be in the same place next time) and there's a game side to it (how do we get to the water supply to...).  It's my job to provide that, and it really, really helps us a lot if I'm not drawing maps and making characters on the fly all night long, given their volume.  Actually, I do the latter (characters) extremely quickly, I'm just bad at notetaking and make mistakes in later games sometimes.

That's why the prep work.

To bring this around to my original point (however poorly I may have made it), I started a campaign with so many possibilities, and such an open environment, that the players (who did have less investment, and therefore understanding), were rather indecisive in the face of their choices.  They wanted to chose "right", but weren't equipped (to be loose) to do it.

So, what I want to do is give them what they want.  I've tossed kickers to them, and I've received "huh? maybe".  I've begged them for kicker-like input, and they said "you're doing fine, we're just catching on slowly, when's next game?"  I'm still going to draw info out of them some way, but I want to make a tight adventure with clear choices, and some easy ones to get them started.

Jake, I did like your idea, but I get a feeling I don't want to trap them right now.  But you did inspire me to another old cliche..."You hear a piercing female scream come from the forest, what do you do?"

That'll get them moving.

-Jeff
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #33 on: June 07, 2002, 06:19:39 PM »

Righty then,

All points about whose tone "meant" what, and who reacted how, may be left behind us, then. It helps if anyone is to apologize, that they do it by name, but to do so at all is good, and I appreciate that.

So! It looks like your conclusion is based on what the players want/need, and that they're uncomfortable without knowing that they're solving The Problem or whatever in their actions.

"... I want to make a tight adventure with clear choices, and some easy ones to get them started."

Cool. Tell you what ... if you're still soliciting ideas (and I'm not sure you are, any more), maybe a new thread is best? Just so people can get started on it without negotiating the minefield this one turned out to be, a bit?

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #34 on: June 07, 2002, 07:41:14 PM »

This might be coming from way out in left field, but if your players are that visually oriented and have a strong desire to "see" with maps and figures what's going on around you, you may want to consider playing around with Neverwinter Nights when its finally released.  The ability to put each player into a setting that they can actually see might make for an interesting experiment for your group.  Not that that helps your immediate issue, unfortuneately.
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #35 on: June 07, 2002, 09:39:49 PM »

Hey Jeff,

I don't have a special need for maps. My players do. They don't want me to say "a water supply"; they ask questions like "what is it", "where is it", "are there guards nearby", "how far away", and so on. One player asks for a map or drawing of almost every situation, even when he's just haggling in the market. I've even taken to putting GURPs cardboard heroes on the table, because they use them to setup the story so they can see it, and even aid me in moving them around. (They were doing this with dice and coins before.)

Just out of curiousity, how do you think your players would react if you suddenly started handling things and presenting detail to the players like movies do, and you explained it to them that way. Say they're in a market, pursuing a suspicious NPC, and it looks like a gunfight is going to break out. They begin asking questions about whether their line of sight is obstructed, if there are innocents in the way. And you paint with a broad brush, maybe just by using positioning gestures with your hands relative to each other. "You're in this area. The guy is over here. There are some booths and stuff obstructing your view a bit." When they start getting crunchy, positioning pennies and stuff and asking for confirmation that they've got things right, you explain that you don't want to do it that way, that you just saw Heat or Platoon or Tombstone or something, and that you want to try and handle things more cinematically. Movies don't kick up a map when a gunfight breaks out to establish everyone's position. They deliver a blurry shot of some people who may or may not be in the way. Perspective is distorted, so you can't tell exactly who among the good guys is closest to individuals among the opposition, or how far someone has to move to the side to get a clear shot. What happens if you do this with you group?

Paul
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Jaif
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« Reply #36 on: June 08, 2002, 04:55:51 AM »

Quote
Just out of curiousity, how do you think your players would react if you suddenly started handling things and presenting detail to the players like movies do, and you explained it to them that way.


They wouldn't like it, they never have.

RE: Neverwinter Nights

All of us are very aware of that product.  I have a "passion: Hatred of D&D system", but someone else will pick it up and run it.

-Jeff
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Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #37 on: June 08, 2002, 06:09:27 AM »

Hi Paul & Everybody,

Listen.  Jeff has been fairly explicit about the kind of material and style his players want.  They want tactical and strategic detail.  They want to make the hard choices in tough situations.  They want to know all the options and risks so life and death decisions are made with all the ramifications of Special Ops training.  While everyone here's been offering all sorts of options with the best of intentions, they're not looking for movies.  Movies are something completely different.  Movies are about "entertaining moments" for lack of a better phrase.  Combat is about getting the job done right with minimal loss against the greatest gain.  (The victories won along the way are also "entertaining," but in a way very different than movie moment entertainment.)

I personally have enjoyed both styles, have played both ways, and -- specifically -- have in this case, tried to respect both styles.  So....  Since we now know what kind of game Jeff's group wants to play, I'd recomend we focus the suggestions to that kind of play.

If you're still having trouble mapping this in your imagination, this might help: leave movies behind.  Don't think nutty adventure fun.  Think: your life is on the line.  No, your life --  not some super-duper Jedi who we know is going to last four more movies.  There's a place for that kind of entertainment, but we're looking for a different kind of entertainment.

And then feel out how would you build an experinece with that kind of intensity, fear, risk, and triumph into scenario and rules.  It sounds like the RoS rules bring us more than half way there.  Now let's respect the scenario end of things, the style of play to match that, and we'll stop putting Jeff on the spot of having to say endlessly, "No, but thanks again."

Jeff,

If I've misrepresented your group's needs, I apologize 'aforehand.  From the outside, what I've describe above certainly seems to be what will jones the group.  I feel this perhaps pathetic need to make it clear -- one more time -- that in no way am I denegrating this style of play, see nothing wrong with it, and have enjoyed it in the past myself.

Take care,
Christopher
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Blake Hutchins
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Posts: 614


« Reply #38 on: June 08, 2002, 09:48:39 AM »

Hi Jeff,

I know you said maps aren't the issue.  Still... Campaign Cartographer or some of the other map generation software may help speed up prep time to provide more easily detailed sets.  Given your players' needs, I don't see how you'll be able to avoid the tactical information a map provides.  I've also used whiteboards to depict tactical positioning, and that's worked fairly well, though drawing the maps out tends to knock down pacing in what should be a tense situation.

If I may ask:  how much prep do you usually put into a game session?  How much would you like to put in ideally?  Realistically?  A buddy of mine used to put in about four hours of prep per hour of play for a weekly DnD 3e game.  Way more than I'd be comfortable doing, but he seemed fine with it.

And I agree with Ron.  Starting another thread would be a good idea.

Best,

Blake
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