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Author Topic: Disabling Pawn Stance and Enforcing Character Beliefs on Action  (Read 15454 times)
Sindyr
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Posts: 795


« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2009, 06:34:33 AM »

PS.  You cannot edit a post on the Forge once it has been submitted - if you see any spelling/typing mistakes in my posts, that is why.
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-Sindyr
Luke
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« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2009, 07:18:59 AM »

In this self-selecting group, I do not know that anyone is left at the Forge that would see the warts, much less point them out, so I felt obligated.  This place can yet have something to offer, but you have to know what you are walking into, to have the most benefit.

What does this have to do with this discussion?
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Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2009, 07:49:48 AM »

Just trying to help the OP both get where the responses he is getting are coming from (as he seemed to indicated a perceived disconnect between his questions and the answers he is being given) and trying to help the OP have reasonable expectations and an understanding of the origin of the replies he is getting and that he is likely going to get. I knwo that in his position, I would consider myself well served with such a response, addressing the nature of the replies in order to better utilize them.
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-Sindyr
otspiii
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« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2009, 09:33:22 AM »

Or would they? I'm not so sure. I think there would still be players that would buck against what their character would do, no matter how well they understand their character's beliefs.

These are the sort of people that I've been keeping in mind when trying to puzzle through this. That, and potentially new players who have never dealt with a tabletop RPG before; they may not necessarily have the depth of experience to grok how to separate their characters from themselves. We've got to enable that kind of distinction and help make it clear.

Why would they play your game, though, if it forces a play-style on them that they don't enjoy?

I guess I have a question for you.  Are you designing this more to encourage accurate character action or accurate character experience?  Is it more important to you that a character acts the way they "really would" during play or that the player experiences the situation through the eyes of the character?
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chance.thirteen
Member

Posts: 210


« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2009, 01:09:27 PM »

The short version: what do you think will make the players care what about how conflicted their characters?

Typical answers: (these are not based on GNS)

The player makes up the character so will care about what the characters goals and experiences are.

The player makes up the conflicts, or the possible outcomes, and so will be interested in what occurs.

The player has many tactical options, and so puts personal rational effort into trying to produce an outcome (be it winning, or drama, or good gambling)

In the end, how do you want to get your players to invest some of themselves in the process so they feel a connection to play? To use the terms already used, why do you think the player will care about whether their character meets the goal of Romance or do they give that up to meet the goal of Feudal Duty? Or whatever the moral conflict du joue is. (See, that was a funny.) The idea that the players will provicde their own reason to be playing is a given, but it doesn't mean you can't address it, massage it, tailor your game to it and so on.
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GnomeWorks
Member

Posts: 15


« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2009, 01:40:49 PM »

Just wondering, but did anything in my post help you at all? It sort of got lost in your discussion about game motives and such. I'm just wondering if what I suggested sounds feasible or not to you, and whether you have any questions about my suggestion.

Your suggestion pretty much matched what we're going with, at the moment - options 2 and 3 can cause change in the character's beliefs, but option 1 doesn't.

Was there more to your post that went over my head?

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As for your player being irrelevant, I think thats not a problem at all. however, I think you are trying to aim your game at both simulationsists and at other types. As I understand, a Simulationist will have no problem getting in character and playing that character the way they think it should be played. Their decisions will rarely stray from their character's expected decision unless mechanically coaxed to.

You have hit the nail on the head. This is a game being written by a simulationist, for simulationists.

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As for being worried about new players not grokking it, Thats where your mechanics should lightly coax them in the right direction, that is, acting as the character would, as they have made it. Again, I think my above suggestion for virtues changing up and down if ignored, and only going up for "accurate character portrayal" lends a stong enough push toward playing the character accurately from the sheet.

Well, if virtues go up when followed, that makes it harder for the character's opinion to change, which is why I'm leery of the virtues going up if the player simply follows the static values.

Quote from: Callan S
Does the GM decide whether the character would do that/whether it's in character, or does the player?

Generally it will be the player. I can envision a scenario in which a player acts wildly out of character, though, and the GM looks at the player and says, "Let me see your character sheet."

If the players need to be kept on a tight leash, regarding ethics, then the GM would probably check the characters' virtues every session. With more trustworthy and experienced players, that need goes away.

So, I guess the answer is - it's situational.

Quote from: Luke
Gnome, forgive me for chuckling as I read your response. You made me smile.

No offense taken?

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Apparently, I've gone too deep into design speak for you. I apologize. I'm going to push it a bit further, though.

Sure, just don't be surprised if I don't follow what you're saying...

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Based on what I'm reading from your posts, you seem to be at odds with your own design.

There has been a bit of a feeling of that, yes.

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You indicate your game isn't "about" anything but you laid out a system of contrapuntal virtues and ethos around which the design is centered. If the game isn't about anything, why not just play poker and talk in funny voices? At least there's strategy to engage me there. You even cite Pendragon and then go on to assert you don't understand how games are about anything at all. I disagree. I think you understand what Pendragon is about, otherwise you wouldn't have set it as your baseline. All games are about something, even yours.

I used Pendragon as a baseline for my ethos system. That this is the subsystem upon which the game hinges seems a really strange assertion to me; admittedly this is the only thing that I have presented, but the whole is greater than just this.

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Your game lays out virtues like responsibility vs freedom. By definition that's an ethical or moral choice. Yet, you assert that, and I'm paraphrasing here, you're not interested in moral choices.

I'm not interested in the players' concerns about moral choices. I am interested in the characters' concerns about moral choices. A player can have an immediate and strong moral reaction to a situation, while playing a character who would be conflicted; the reverse is also possible. In these situations, the player should act as the character would, their own opinions being irrelevant insofar as the game is concerned.

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And I'll say it again: Characters don't make decisions, players do. Characters don't play your game, players do. A character is a set of numbers scribbled on a piece of paper, nothing more.

Yes, and I want the players to act as much like their characters as possible, yet with still providing for the opportunity for the player to act "outside the box," as it were.

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And how exactly do you think people make decisions? We make them on an emotional level. You intuitively recognize this by using virtues and ethos, but you're also denying this in your statements to me.

I'm not even really sure I agree with that idea, that we make decisions on an emotional level.

With this concept, there is a right way and a wrong way to play the character. The character would act in certain ways in response to certain stimuli; it is not guaranteed, of course, but there is an action-set that is more probabilistically-likely than any other, and the character's action should be drawn from that set. The player's feelings on the matter are - and should be - irrelevant in the process.

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If you want to achieve your design goal, "a system that can enforce the character's beliefs on the player, but simultaneously allow the player to force the character to take an action even if it's against the character's ethos/beliefs/whatever." the first step is to induce your player to care about the "beliefs about opposing ideas." I think if you marry your impulses, you'll have a stronger design. I think if you remain at odds with yourself here, your design will reflect it.

Hmm... is that the way to do it?

Thinking about my own experiences, I don't need to have emotional investment in a character's beliefs in order to follow through on them. Even characters whose opinions and such vary vastly from my own, it's much more of a logical process, on the player end: would the character do this, no, why, explanation points to another sort of action, would the character do that... and so on.

Also, there are players who just won't care. Or don't know how to care. These people need to be taken into account, as well.

Quote from: Sindyr
Just wanted to give you fair warning based on my own experiences. (Actual play, as it were.) In this self-selecting group, I do not know that anyone is left at the Forge that would see the warts, much less point them out, so I felt obligated.  This place can yet have something to offer, but you have to know what you are walking into, to have the most benefit.

I take any kind of design advice anyone gives me - anywhere, doesn't matter - with a large grain of salt. Largely because, even if I were to show someone the entirety of the system as it's written thus far, there are still pieces floating around in my head that aren't written. The framework might be on paper, but the spirit still isn't, and until I figure out how to express it in a way that makes sense, advice is going to be very iffy.

Also, I've been around the block a bit. I know that the Forge has a reputation. I had an idea of the kinds of advice I would find; even if the folks around here are as narrow in game design choices as that reputation would claim, there is still a use for it - there's a reason I brought this particular question here, because, if anybody could help me hammer it out, they would be here.

But thanks for the notice.

Quote from: otspiii
I guess I have a question for you.  Are you designing this more to encourage accurate character action or accurate character experience?  Is it more important to you that a character acts the way they "really would" during play or that the player experiences the situation through the eyes of the character?

That seems like a ridiculously fine distinction... but I think I get it.

Accurate character experience would be like... the player is thinking on the same wavelength as the character would? So if a player were playing a D&D-style paladin, for instance, that player would start thinking about the events in-game as the paladin would? This would reach a point where the system that set up the character's beliefs would become unnecessary, because the player would eventually - hopefully - embody those beliefs fully, right?

Whereas accurate character action would be more like... the player isn't thinking on the same wavelength as the character, but still taking the appropriate kinds of actions? So even if I'm an anarchist playing a D&D-style paladin, I can still do that without me personally being affected by my character's beliefs? I interact with in-game situations appropriately for the character, even though - as a player - I am rebelling against my every action?

If these are accurate definitions... the first one kind of scares me, a little. It's neat to an extent, when you start thinking like the character, but for a system to actively encourage it? That seems weird and slightly untenable, mechanically.

The second option seems much more reasonable, to me. And again, I'm not sure if the player's feelings on the matter are relevant.

Quote from: chance.thirteen
To use the terms already used, why do you think the player will care about whether their character meets the goal of Romance or do they give that up to meet the goal of Feudal Duty?

The virtues aren't so much goals as they are ethical guidelines. But I think that misses your point - why does the player care about following or breaking their character's virtues, right?

I'm not interested, really, in setting up situations in which a character becomes conflicted. I'm not interested in that kind of thing. When it happens, it's interesting, but it should arise naturally out of what's going on, not be forced - and because of that, I'm a lot less personally invested in what the decision or outcome is.

As a player, it's not about my feelings regarding the character's beliefs; it's about how the character feels regarding the character's beliefs. I - the player - might be certain about how a certain situation be resolved; the character might not be. As a player, I should be examining this in my head: why is the character conflicted? Are there any other beliefs the character has that can be brought into this analysis, that would sway the decision one way or the other? How does the character feel about the ramifications of following the courses of action available?

Does that address your point?

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The idea that the players will provicde their own reason to be playing is a given, but it doesn't mean you can't address it, massage it, tailor your game to it and so on.

What? No, we play for the sake of playing itself. There is no grander reason than that. There isn't, and there doesn't need to be.
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jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2009, 02:48:15 PM »

Gnome,

I think people in this thread are trying to get you to see something about the play process that you're not seeing.  I know what they're getting at and I can see you're not seeing it.  I don't think I can help you see it so I'm going to try to help you from a different approach.  Consider this:

I play role-playing games to socially create a narrative that addresses real-world human issues that engage my personal emotions.  Without that, I don't want to play.  I've been in games where we just kind of socialized "in character" and they bored me.  Role-playing my character is not enough.  I have to be role-playing a character to a specific creative end.

Now that's just me.  If that isn't your thing, awesome.  I don't want to change your thing but I do want you to see that there are other things out there.  Now given the fact that *to me* a character is a bundle of emotionally charged fictional issues ready to be confronted by an equally emotionally charged fictional situation that resolves with thematic weight, I can comfortably say I've never made an "out of character" decision in my life.  Every time I've had my character do something, it's because it's what I believed he "would" do given the circumstances.  Most of my out-of-character decisions come in setting up the character and positioning him in a given situation but once that starting point is set (sometimes scene-by-scene in a given game) and the "Go" button is hit, I role-play him in the most believable manner possible.

In your post you talk about the characters in very Pavlovian terms.  The idea that given enough information about the character there exists a probabilistic curve of behaviors given a certain stimuli.  Okay, let's go with that.  I believe that is what you want and, again, I don't want to change your mind about that.  But this is my question: In play, who is the final arbiter of this curve?

Let me get more specific.  I'm sitting at your table.  I have my character takes action.  Who is the final arbiter of whether my character's action is "on the curve" given the situation?  Can the GM say, "No, your character would never do that?"  Can the group take a vote on whether my action is "on the curve?"  In other words, how do I, as a player of your game, know what actions are on and off the curve?

Because here's the thing: Likely given the same information you and I would not objectively agree on the same "shape" for the probability curve.  So, unless, you want a lot of out-of-character arguing at your table over what a given character's probably curve looks like you need some way of communicating it to the players across the group, up to and including simply vesting one person with the right to say "No, not on character's behavior probability curve."  Full stop.

Does that make sense?

Jesse
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Luke
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« Reply #22 on: April 07, 2009, 03:08:03 PM »

I'm not interested in the players' concerns about moral choices. I am interested in the characters' concerns about moral choices. A player can have an immediate and strong moral reaction to a situation, while playing a character who would be conflicted; the reverse is also possible. In these situations, the player should act as the character would, their own opinions being irrelevant insofar as the game is concerned.

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And I'll say it again: Characters don't make decisions, players do. Characters don't play your game, players do. A character is a set of numbers scribbled on a piece of paper, nothing more.

Gnome,
I understand exactly what you're trying to do. What I'm trying to do is point you in a direction. Try to listen to what I'm saying. You must motivate a player to make decisions. You must induce a player to make decisions desirable and profitable within the context of the game. Insisting that a player will simply do as the character would isn't helpful.

And, disagree or not, choices are fraught with emotion. Logical decision is largely a fallacy. Check out this excellent RadioLab podcast about choice.

And, Gnome, Sindyr, knock it off with the barely-veiled condescension about "the folks around here." I am talking about game design, I'm not trying to induct you into our cult or induce you to design a particular type of game. I'm talking about basic game design: you must motivate these players to make the types of decisions you desire.

-L
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #23 on: April 07, 2009, 03:08:21 PM »

All games are about something, even yours.

All games are about something, but they are not all about the same thing, or even the same kinds of things.  

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And I'll say it again: Characters don't make decisions, players do. Characters don't play your game, players do. A character is a set of numbers scribbled on a piece of paper, nothing more.

Thats true and it's not true.  Of course, really there are only players, but equally, what is the point of playing a character at all if the character itself has no identity distinguishable from our own?  The character has to push back on the player - or at least, it does if one of the goals is to explore the minds of people other than ourselves.  So sometimes, it is entirely appropriate to have the character make decisions, or at very least prompt them.

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And how exactly do you think people make decisions? We make them on an emotional level. You intuitively recognize this by using virtues and ethos, but you're also denying this in your statements to me.

To reduce everything we do to simplistic emotional twitching does not capture how people really work.  If that were true we would never agonise about conflicted choices, ones in which our reason and our emotions demand different actions.  So I don't think it makes much sense to obviate that kind of self-experience in design in favour of wallowing in chat-show angst.

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If you want to achieve your design goal, "a system that can enforce the character's beliefs on the player, but simultaneously allow the player to force the character to take an action even if it's against the character's ethos/beliefs/whatever." the first step is to induce your player to care about the "beliefs about opposing ideas."

The problem with that proposition is that if the characters concerned live in a world any different to our own, then learning to think like the character is an exercise in research which most people, rightly, are not going to undertake.  Surely it is entirely sensible to use the mechanics of play to represent concerns which would not be immediately apparent or impinge upon the way we are used to thinking?  Our habits of thought, the values espoused by our culture, are not universally applicable to all times and places, let alone imaginary ones.  Showing these issues mechanically is precisely how you induce the player to care, even think about in the first instance, these different concepts.  And it seems to me that if you don't do that, all you end up with is 21st century people in drag, unable to relate to or even understand the setting in which their characters move.
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
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contracycle
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Posts: 2807


« Reply #24 on: April 07, 2009, 03:17:57 PM »

Now that's just me.  If that isn't your thing, awesome.  I don't want to change your thing but I do want you to see that there are other things out there.

Will you allow that Gnome may, in fact, already have considered those options and made a choice?  Because it seems to me that you are leaping to the conclusion that anyone who has a difference preference to your own just has not thought it through.

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But this is my question: In play, who is the final arbiter of this curve?

The author of the system.  That's precisely why the mechanics are being presented for discussion.

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  In other words, how do I, as a player of your game, know what actions are on and off the curve?

By interacting with the mechanics incarnated on the character sheet.
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #25 on: April 07, 2009, 03:19:24 PM »

And, Gnome, Sindyr, knock it off with the barely-veiled condescension about "the folks around here." I am talking about game design, I'm not trying to induct you into our cult or induce you to design a particular type of game. I'm talking about basic game design: you must motivate these players to make the types of decisions you desire.

No, you are conflating your preference with basic design.
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
otspiii
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« Reply #26 on: April 07, 2009, 04:13:55 PM »

And again, I'm not sure if the player's feelings on the matter are relevant.

Hrmm, I think this is where you differ with me, and it sounds like with a lot of the posters here, too.  It sounds to me, and correct me if I'm wrong, like your ideal style of play is just creating a world and then staring into it and watching as logical conclusions play out within it.  You construct an artificial reality and then have things happen in it, and do your best to make sure that those things are realistic.

The problem that I have with it is that it just sounds like a way to kill time and that's it.  The world is imaginary, and no matter how hard you try it'll only ever be a shadow of reality so why is it important that it pretends to be realistic?  If you aren't trying to make the players care about the game as anything beyond a way to avoid boredom for a few hours then why should they play your game over any other RPG that's ever been created?  Why is your game more fun that, say, taking a nap?

Err, that sounds accusatory but I don't mean for it to be.  You wouldn't have built the system if you didn't feel like it had something worthwhile about it that would make it more fun to play than just sitting around with friends talking about nothing in particular.  The thing is, nobody can really give you any meaningful advice on how to improve your game until they understand what that thing is.
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greyorm
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« Reply #27 on: April 07, 2009, 06:10:48 PM »

Sure, yep, this is the situation as it is. We want to go from here to some kind of immersion-thing.

I think Luke is trying to point out that you can't truly immerse in something that doesn't exist, ie: there is no "there" to go TO. A character doesn't exist as a separate entity from the player, a character is only ever a series of choices and reactions on the part of the player made in reference to how that player believes an individual with certain defined qualities would react. It isn't its own thing or person, and can't ever be.

Thinking otherwise, that fictional characters really do exist independently, is a lot like thinking Batman really exists somehow. Nope. Batman is a collection of a set of traits that different people interpret and portray differently, even if those depictions are mostly the same on a basic level. But there is no real "Batman" to compare each of those interpretations against and say decisively "this is how Batman would REALLY react/think/behave" because there is no Batman, just an individualized perception.

Yes, there's a tendency to anthropomorphize the character-object (because that's what humans do), rather than accept that it is a puppet  you are making move via various strings with no inherent quality, will, or being-ness apart from you, or accept that it's movements are really just your movements in disguise. But the illusion that it is otherwise is what immersion seeks, which IMO is also what a good actor seeks in portraying a character, but without falling for the idea that they really are separate (that is, an actor knows he isn't "channeling" a different personality...because there's nothing TO channel). A good actor recognizes that fifteen different actors will portray the same character fifteen different ways because the character is only the actor's own expressed will, even if they each play him fundamentally the same.

Now, that is important to think about/know, but it doesn't really help you design your game unless that happens to be a mental barrier you are running into in creating workable mechanics. I'm not sure it is, so moving on.

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Sufficient knowledge and analysis of an individual's personality and past life experience would most likely be able to produce a relatively accurate probabilistic spread of probable actions given certain types of stimuli...we do not understand enough about ourselves, in the real world, to even begin accurately modeling how fictional persons in a fictional setting would react to fictional circumstances...

That is true, as clearly some behaviors are outside the boundaries of a person's expected behaviors. I definitely agree with that. My point was that what things are inside the boundaries of expected behavior are much wider than what might be believed, including at times completely conflicting choices or decisions that are all still feasible and realistic within the boundaries of that character: there is no necessarily "best" or "most true" choice, only a set of reasonably appropriate choices (which may vary depending on who is doing the viewing and portrayal, as they personally judge how the various character elements "would really" interact/respond/think).

I think you indicated that was something you understood in one of your replies above, so we're on the same page there. But I'm not sure if your system reflects the above, or if it tries to lock players into the idea that there is an optimal choice, rather than a set of such?

And no matter how wide or narrow those boundaries are, from my perspective, you can't really encourage immersive role-playing with the system as you are currently proposing it. I say that as the method you've suggested seems (to me) to be creating a game that doesn't encourage immersion but quite the opposite: one that involves people checking character sheets to see what their character would do, rather than engaging in the art of (essentially) improv acting and really getting into character.

This is because, by constantly being forced to ask themselves "What would my character do?" and checking a sheet, more distance is created from the character rather than less. The illusion of the character making its own decisions can still arise from that, but it does not arise through immersion. An immersive solution would help players get into character; otherwise, from my perspective, we're just doing Pawn stance with behavioral attributes instead of the other details or numbers on the sheet.

Assuming you want immersion as your goal, and not just pseudo-accurate character portrayal by whatever means: perhaps one place to start for you would be reading up on various schools and methods of acting, and the various training engaged in to get into and stay in character those various schools utilize, and that might lead to some ideas for how to help players get into their characters and role-play more. Because what you seem to be aiming at is recreating method acting for use in role-playing games.

If immersion is not what you're looking for (which one of your responses seems to indicate), then we're looking at Pawn stance based character portrayal: "According to the values listed on my sheet, I think my character would do THIS. So that's what he does." And we might need something more mechanical to support and encourage the use of the sheet for those reticent to do so or confused as to how to do so, or even what the benefit in play of doing so would be to them (though I suspect this latter type of player is not your target, in which case you can and should forget about catering to them or "solving" them in the rules).

My thought here, though, is that people who like to do what you are describing will like your game and won't need such rules, and people who don't aren't going to and won't use them anyways. You can't say "people should just do it because!" and then ask for rules that will encourage them to do it, because encouragement won't function without reason; if people already believe they should do it just because they should, they will.

Unless I am misunderstanding who you are trying to target with these rules (you seem to be wanting one group in some places, and worrying about another group in others)?

However, from what you've said, it seems more like you want something that looks like immersion from the outside, but functions like "check behavior against a virtue" on the inside (or really doesn't matter how it functions, as long as the output looks like immersion), ie: better "role-playing" as that term is sometimes defined. Is that accurate?

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The player's feelings on the matter are - and should be - irrelevant in the process.

Except they can't be irrelevant to the process, because the player's feelings are informing the character's feelings and their expression...or rather, ARE the character's feelings, given a character, by itself, has no "feelings". Which isn't to say the character must/will be portrayed in-line with the player's feelings/desires/beliefs, because that isn't what is being said, only that the idea that the player's brain--constructing a representation of the character's feelings--being irrelevant is kind of weird.

Frex, if I hate golf or cringe at violence, that is going to affect how I approach and play a character who loves golf and violence. Again, not to say I wouldn't be able to play such, but I am not irrelevant to the character at all. I think this is clear in that, if you look at the way method acting functions, you have to find ways to approach the character and feel like the character and choose the decisions the character would make based on your own experiences and feelings.

So I understand why you say, "I'm not even really sure I agree with that idea, that we make decisions on an emotional level," because it conflicts with your desire to have characters and players be wholly separate entities (though one of them isn't even an entity). Yet there are well-respected studies that bear out the truth that we usually react, and then decide to support our reactions with conscious arguments and rationalizations. Which is why method acting recognizes this and trains folks to use the actor's own internal histories and reactions to drive external expression of personalities often completely deviant from their own.

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admittedly this is the only thing that I have presented, but the whole is greater than just this.

True, but keep in mind your system influences play. If you have virtues, play will be (in part) about virtues, because that's part of the system. Just like if you have hit-points and combat rules, play will be about fights and injuries. Rules are like tools in a box, what sorts of tools you provide will determine what sort of thing is made. Simplistically, the mechanics you include in your game effect game play in much the same way as a box of hammers, nails and wood will lead to much different output than a box of wires, pliers, and capacitors.

And when someone says "about" they mean literally that, not some metaphorical literary high-froofroo post-modernist conceptualizing. So it confuses me that the question confuses you: D&D is about going into dungeons and killing stuff and gaining power. Vampire is about a secret society of vampires living hidden in the machinery of the modern world and their politics. Shadowrun is about robbing corporations in a grim high-tech future with elves and dragons. Or even more coarsely: You play an adventurer. You play a vampire. You play a cyber-criminal.

A setting-based or setting-less system without built-in situation--along the line of GURPS--is also about something, which depends on what the group using it decides to do with it and what rules from GURPS they choose to utilize in play. Though, in a broader sense, GURPS is about using a set of rules to try and (realistically) simulate individuals interacting in a chosen genre.

That is what is being asked when someone asks what your game is about, and it can change the specifics of the advice given.

One sort-of solution: have you read Sorcerer or The Riddle of Steel? Sorcerer grants bonus dice to actions for role-playing. You could do something similar with the virtues you've described, giving a player a minor bonus when the player chooses to have the character behave in-line with its concept. In this case, a person could still act outside of their behavioral proclivities or tendencies, but simply wouldn't have the bonus they would normally get (not a huge penalty, but a minor irritation, thus encouraging playing the character without overly penalizing them for not doing so).

There is a somewhat similar mechanic in TROS, if more specific, called Spiritual Attributes. These are personality descriptions that grant bonuses to a character who is acting in accordance with them, but which can be changed in play as necessary. They're a little more narratively-inclined than I suspect you would be interested in (passion, faith, loyalty, etc) but could be altered to work with a more Pendragon-ish style of personality traits.

I don't know that either is completely what you're looking for, but they may be something to start from.

-----

Also, Sindyr, Contra...quit trolling the thread, which is what shallowly-disguised pot-shots and pointless grievances are. Just because you see an opening to snark doesn't make you a truth-teller, it makes you an ass when it adds nothing germane to the topic (and no "But I was just WARNING them" isn't germane) regardless of any truly relevant material you might add.

Perhaps you don't even get why, but consistent behavior like this is also why at least one of you has ended up with a well-established reputation as a sniper and troll on multiple other design lists and forums, despite your other worthwhile contributions. Help out, don't just sit and play aloof site-critic and pretend that's truly helpful to solving Gnome's design issue. Seriously, guys, you're smart enough that you don't need to stoop to shit like this.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Callan S.
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Posts: 3588


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« Reply #28 on: April 07, 2009, 08:09:29 PM »

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Generally it will be the player. I can envision a scenario in which a player acts wildly out of character, though, and the GM looks at the player and says, "Let me see your character sheet."

If the players need to be kept on a tight leash, regarding ethics, then the GM would probably check the characters' virtues every session. With more trustworthy and experienced players, that need goes away.

So, I guess the answer is - it's situational.
The problem is is that you've envisioned a scenario in which a player acts wildly out of character. Of course in your own imagination that is the situation, because you specifically imagined the player to be out of character. But in real life, how do we physically measure whether that is the situation? If the player were running around the room, that can be physically measured. But measuring whether they are in character?

Currently whether the GM takes over the character seems to hinge on nothing that's physically measurable. If the GM were to take over at all, it'd be based on opinion only. Not situation. How it switches over to GM control is just opinion based, not situation based. Noting it because you don't want to tell people it's situation based when it's opinion based. Or I'd think so, anyway.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
GnomeWorks
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Posts: 15


« Reply #29 on: April 07, 2009, 08:36:18 PM »

Long post incoming.

I play role-playing games to socially create a narrative that addresses real-world human issues that engage my personal emotions.  Without that, I don't want to play.  I've been in games where we just kind of socialized "in character" and they bored me.  Role-playing my character is not enough.  I have to be role-playing a character to a specific creative end.

Cool beans, whatever works for you, man.

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I don't want to change your thing but I do want you to see that there are other things out there.

That's fine; like I said, if it works for you, good ups. However, your reasons for playing and the things you want out of a game don't make sense to me. That doesn't mean "you're doing it wrong." It just means that I don't grok it, and I don't want to go that route.

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In play, who is the final arbiter of this curve?

Okay, lemme explain in more detail how this works.

There are forty virtues, each opposed to another, so a set of twenty pairs of virtues. Each virtue then itself is part of an ethos, which are currently denoted by color: white, blue, black, red, and green. Each ethos has eight virtues, four of which are opposed by another color (ie, white has four virtues opposed to black and four to red; red has four opposed to white and four to blue; and so on).

Each ethos has a general rating. This rating is expressed as a number that turns into a dice pool.

Each virtue has a general rating. This rating, also, is expressed as a number that turns into a dice pool.

When you check virtues against each other, you can (1) compare their average dice pool values and go with the one that's higher, (2) roll their dice pools and go with the one that gets higher, or (3) act against the first option and go with the virtue with lower value without having to deal with rolling.

In (2), if a virtue rolls over its average value, it gets 1 point towards increasing to the next rating. In (3), the opposed virtue (the one that's lower) automagically gets 2 points towards its next rating.

A virtue needs 5 points to reach its next rating.

As a functioning example: let's say that you're trying to make a decision that is steeped in conformity, a white virtue, opposed to liberty, a red virtue. Your white ethos rating is 3, your conformity value 2; your red ethos rating is 2, your liberty value 4.

These translate into the dice pools of 1d6+1d4 (6) for conformity, and 1d4+1d8 (7) for liberty, the numbers in parens being averages.

If you go with option (1), you take the averages and compare - in this case, 6 and 7. Liberty wins.

If you go with option (2), you roll them and compare. Obviously the possible results are quite large, but liberty will probibalistically win, though it's not guaranteed - somewhere in the 55-60% range.

If you go with option (3), you go with conformity, and your conformity rating might go up.

The system in total is a bit more complex than this - virtue ratings carry over to affecting the ethos they're a part of, and also negatively impact the ethos of its opposing virtue - but that should give the general idea.

In summary, the system itself is the final arbiter of the curve.

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Can the GM say, "No, your character would never do that?"

No.

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Can the group take a vote on whether my action is "on the curve?"

How... would that even be a reasonable thing to happen? No.

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In other words, how do I, as a player of your game, know what actions are on and off the curve?

By consulting your numbers. Yeah, they're abstract, but they kinda have to be.

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Does that make sense?

Oh yeah, totally. I think we do that. The game itself is the final arbiter. If the game says it makes sense, then yep, it does! And the game itself is flexible enough that pretty much anything is reasonable... whether or not that's a good thing, I don't know.

Quote from: Luke
Try to listen to what I'm saying.

I'm trying, man. If I'm being particularly dense, trust me, it's not on purpose.

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You must motivate a player to make decisions. You must induce a player to make decisions desirable and profitable within the context of the game. Insisting that a player will simply do as the character would isn't helpful.

Yes, we'd like to motive the player to make decisions consistent with the character's beliefs.

The first and third sentences here, I get those. I don't get what you're trying to say in the second one.

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And, disagree or not, choices are fraught with emotion. Logical decision is largely a fallacy. Check out this excellent RadioLab podcast about choice.

I whole-heartedly disagree with you, good sir.

Quote from: otspiii
It sounds to me, and correct me if I'm wrong, like your ideal style of play is just creating a world and then staring into it and watching as logical conclusions play out within it.  You construct an artificial reality and then have things happen in it, and do your best to make sure that those things are realistic.

Yes! This is exactly the goal.

There's more to it than that, though, which is complexifying this whole issue...

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The problem that I have with it is that it just sounds like a way to kill time and that's it.  The world is imaginary, and no matter how hard you try it'll only ever be a shadow of reality so why is it important that it pretends to be realistic?  If you aren't trying to make the players care about the game as anything beyond a way to avoid boredom for a few hours then why should they play your game over any other RPG that's ever been created?  Why is your game more fun that, say, taking a nap?

This is the problem.

If characters' actions are determined mechanistically, always, then there is no reason for a player to sit at the table. None whatsoever.

As the GM, I would greatly prefer it if all the things I have to control and deal with were mechanistically determined, or at least mechanically determinable.

However, a player needs to have some amount of control over their character, or else there's no reason to sit down at the table.

These are the conflicting ideals that I'm trying to reconcile.

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Err, that sounds accusatory but I don't mean for it to be.  You wouldn't have built the system if you didn't feel like it had something worthwhile about it that would make it more fun to play than just sitting around with friends talking about nothing in particular.  The thing is, nobody can really give you any meaningful advice on how to improve your game until they understand what that thing is.

It sounds accusatory to you probably because it's not your shtick, which is fine. No offense taken!

Quote from: greyorm
I think Luke is trying to point out that you can't truly immerse in something that doesn't exist, ie: there is no "there" to go TO. A character doesn't exist as a separate entity from the player, a character is only ever a series of choices and reactions on the part of the player made in reference to how that player believes an individual with certain defined qualities would react. It isn't its own thing or person, and can't ever be.

The character can have independent fictional existence, as can the imaginary world in which the character exists.

Do these things really exist somewhere? No; they only have existence in our minds. But if we have a system for determining events and outcomes and such, then how it works is this: conceive of the world or character, following system parameters. When the fictional construct is completed as per the rules being used, do not interfere with the "internal" aspects of it from that point forward - those things are off-limits. You can poke and prod and interact, but you're trying to maintain the integrity of the fictional construct. If you fiddle with it internally, you disrupt the integrity of it and destroy any meaning it had.

Does that clear up how I'm looking at things?

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I think you indicated that was something you understood in one of your replies above, so we're on the same page there. But I'm not sure if your system reflects the above, or if it tries to lock players into the idea that there is an optimal choice, rather than a set of such?

Check out the more detailed presentation of the system, earlier in this post; hopefully that will help answer this question.

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And no matter how wide or narrow those boundaries are, from my perspective, you can't really encourage immersive role-playing with the system as you are currently proposing it. I say that as the method you've suggested seems (to me) to be creating a game that doesn't encourage immersion but quite the opposite: one that involves people checking character sheets to see what their character would do, rather than engaging in the art of (essentially) improv acting and really getting into character.

I don't know if this is a good or bad thing...

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This is because, by constantly being forced to ask themselves "What would my character do?" and checking a sheet, more distance is created from the character rather than less. The illusion of the character making its own decisions can still arise from that, but it does not arise through immersion. An immersive solution would help players get into character; otherwise, from my perspective, we're just doing Pawn stance with behavioral attributes instead of the other details or numbers on the sheet.

Hmm...

After a time, however, I would think that the numbers on the sheet would more deeply solidify in the player's mind, and you would stop having to check the sheet. It's like learning to play a piece of music; after awhile, you stop needing the sheet music and can simply play from memory.

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Assuming you want immersion as your goal, and not just pseudo-accurate character portrayal by whatever means: perhaps one place to start for you would be reading up on various schools and methods of acting, and the various training engaged in to get into and stay in character those various schools utilize, and that might lead to some ideas for how to help players get into their characters and role-play more. Because what you seem to be aiming at is recreating method acting for use in role-playing games.

Hrm, possibly.

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...then we're looking at Pawn stance based character portrayal: "According to the values listed on my sheet, I think my character would do THIS. So that's what he does."

How is that Pawn stance?

My interpretation of Pawn is that the player simply acts through the character; the character is basically a glove into the fiction, and the player occupies it. The glove doesn't do things on its own or start the conversation of what to do. The system I've presented can sometimes call for the character to make an action that the player is not interested in.

That would seem to be completely antithetical to Pawn stance.

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Unless I am misunderstanding who you are trying to target with these rules (you seem to be wanting one group in some places, and worrying about another group in others)?

I'm trying to account for multiple types of people.

(1) People who are looking for the sort of game that this is. Even so, not all of them are necessarily able to think like the character, or fully consider what the character is like and how they think about the world. The mechanics assist in that regard, and provide mechanical guidelines.

(2) People who are utterly unable or refuse to roleplay. The hope is that this system would force at least some semblance of it upon them.

(3) People who have no idea what they're doing - namely, people new to the hobby who happen upon this game first. We want to help them figure out how to roleplay. This acts as a guideline for that.

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However, from what you've said, it seems more like you want something that looks like immersion from the outside, but functions like "check behavior against a virtue" on the inside (or really doesn't matter how it functions, as long as the output looks like immersion), ie: better "role-playing" as that term is sometimes defined. Is that accurate?

That... looks like an apt description of what is going on here. I'm not sure if it's what I want, but it sounds accurate as to what I've presented thus far.

Quote from: Callan S.
If the GM were to take over at all, it'd be based on opinion only.

No, that's not the point of the GM looking at the character sheet.

You can act wildly against character. Basically the GM looking at the sheet would simply be to ensure that the player is modifying the character's virtue and ethos values appropriately.
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