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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: Protagonization, and what happens when it doesn't happen  (Read 12364 times)
greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #30 on: February 07, 2003, 02:55:42 PM »

Matt and Rich are going back and forth about character creation and using background to create stories...and I have to say the method sounds all Simulationist to me: "Here's my character, now make a story for us from it!"

And I don't mean that in a bad way, I use and have used that method myself, I mean it from the perspective of "Narrativism." In that detailed, colorful backgrounds the GM uses to create stories are not it. They're an essential element of "it" but missing definite components of Narrativist prep and play.

cruciel pipes in with his statements about what this player likes to do versus what that player likes to do and how the system rewards can screw certain types of players. The idea of system rewards being of paramount importance in play -- so much so that they cause player tension and rift -- sounds Gamist to me.

We're talking GNS preferences...and is it just me, or is that going right over everyone's head? (Or am I seeing things?)
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Jason Lee
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Posts: 729


« Reply #31 on: February 07, 2003, 04:50:23 PM »

Quote from: greyorm
cruciel pipes in with his statements about what this player likes to do versus what that player likes to do and how the system rewards can screw certain types of players. The idea of system rewards being of paramount importance in play -- so much so that they cause player tension and rift -- sounds Gamist to me.

We're talking GNS preferences...and is it just me, or is that going right over everyone's head? (Or am I seeing things?)


Well, in GNS terms:  more like rewarding background detail with a system reward will be enforcing a specific mode (I agree with Sim, if I had to try and neatly lump it into a GNS mode).  (More incorrect, but tidy GNS lumping to follow - they are just some example priorities for the sake of brevity).  The Gamist may feel cheated, because Joe Butt got more points for background.  The Nar may feel contricted because he may have rather built his character's background during play, and the system is not in favor of him doing so.

So, I'm supposing you could say that rewarding character background with improvement rewards could safely be included in a coherent Sim|Explore:Char design.

 I won't deny some Gamist bent, but my stance comes from a desire to keep a character's personality/background transparent from the system to support (or rather, not conflict) with different modes.
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- Cruciel
Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #32 on: February 08, 2003, 05:23:43 PM »

I agree with the vast majority of what's been said, but I wanted to make a few comments.

I think the success of the One Party System (to coin a catchy phrase) depends almost entirely on social contract issues (what doesn't?).  Some games have the OPS built into then fabric of the game, so that our assumptions about the party are given substance in the game world.  Good examples would be Nobilis (a family of Nobles due to circumstances), Continuum (a "corner" of time travelers for mutual protection), Rune (a war party of Vikings), and the much less effective efforts made in WoD games (Vampire coteries, Mage cabals, etc.).  But I think it's safe to say that if the One Party System is going to work well, it would be a big help if it was specifically incorperated into the way the game works.

If you'll look at the places where the OPS is most effective (I'd argue for Nobilis, Continuum, Rune, and others like them), you'll notice that it's not necessary for the characters to like each other, to have positive relationships, or to want to be together all the time.  The necessaities of the game environment force them to stay together as a group.  While this limits the kinds of games you can tell, it does mean that the Party stays together, for better or worse.

Consequently, I'd argue that the opposite is true as well: especially for gamer audience that comes with the expectation of an OPS, abandoning the Party needs to be built into the fabric of the game.  Examples of this being done effectively are fewer, but Universalis comes to mind (just because ALL characters are modified PCs and will not be in the same place) along with games that encourage PC villians and player-antogonism (where one PC can run off and plot against the others).  There are definitely other ways of encouraging Multi-Party Systems (including Parties of 1), but I can't think of any that I remember looking terribly effective.

But, like many people have noted, trying to force/assume a One Party System on a game that doesn't offer solid support for that... well, communication is the real key.

Later.
Jonathan
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Marco
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Posts: 1741


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« Reply #33 on: February 08, 2003, 08:24:19 PM »

Quote from: clehrich

Anyone ever tried something like this?


All the time! And it's great! :)

Despite what someone else said, it works *fine* in Sim gaming--if the action's at all interesting (and it usually is) because the story's good. The GM and/or the players need to have a decent sense of the dramatic and a little experience with timing.

-Marco
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clehrich
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« Reply #34 on: February 08, 2003, 08:34:47 PM »

Marco wrote:
Quote
All the time! And it's great! :)

Can I ask how you go about it, specifically?  You mention timing, but how exactly do you encourage this?  From my perspective, cycling PC centrality ought to protagonize everyone, but I'm not sure how it would work in concrete terms.
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Chris Lehrich
Marco
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« Reply #35 on: February 08, 2003, 08:58:32 PM »

None of this has to do with "protagonization" per se--but here are some suggestions:

1. Time Slicing is fine--if you allow players involved in the same thread to group and share time (1 player gets 15 min, 2 get 30 min) then, while there's some impetus towards group cohesion, people off by themselves are assured of their time.

2. Have the players discuss what they're gonna do before they do it. Surprising the GM is fine--but giving the GM some prep time can lead to greater depth.

3. Everyone's an adult and the GM (the moderator) makes a real attempt to be fair. If someone's in a long combat, the GM might stop the clock. If someone doesn't get to play much one session, the GM and other players respect that next time.

4. Have other things to do if the group is big. I've been in games where there's a video going in one room, a Playstation in another, and a couple of guys out in the pool. We were *all* there for the role-playing but the players (I think 6) were getting 1.5 hr time-slices (it was a hard-core 3-day game-athon with little sleep).

5. Be entertaining. If it's "spotlight" on you, and the other players are watching, exercise a little showmanship. This could be coming up with a few good one-liners, really playing things to the hilt with dramatic flair, or good, old fashioned risk taking (if it suits you). During a spotlight session it's not a good time to argue with the GM about small matters, play in an unfocused fashion, or exhibit turtle behavior.

6. GM Tricks--these probably interfere with protagonization (I suspect that for some people any word that comes out of the GM's moth deprotagonizes them)--but here are some timing tricks:
  a. Dramatic enterance (now, if players are being brought together it shouldn't be against their will--but if everyone's in synch then this can work very well). Have two plot-lines that looklike they won't intersect come together in a surprising way.
  b. Cliffhang: cut short another player's session (make the time up later) to let him hang off a cliff (warning: some people *hate* this--don't do it to them ... most people (IME) dig it, though, and it's great for the spectators)
  c. Out of Character Revelation: during time-slicing something can be revealed in one thread that *really* changes the meaning of another. Usually it's best to cast *past* events in a new light (that guy you killed? He was the Heiress's *father!!* (gasp!).
 
-Marco
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JAGS (Just Another Gaming System)
a free, high-quality, universal system at:
http://www.jagsrpg.org
Just Released: JAGS Wonderland
Buddha Nature
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Posts: 94


« Reply #36 on: February 09, 2003, 09:06:59 AM »

I have to toss in a "me too" here.  I have to admit that this is a major reason (in addition to work/life related issuses) why I have not gamed in almost two years.  The guy who runs many of our games acts quite simirlarly to Jack's GM.  He comes up with an "epic" plot, something huge and embroiled, then gives us some minor pointers towards char creation (D&D3E) and then basically has us follow along the railroad tracks.  If you want to do something different you can but you lose "screen time" for it.

Interestingly enough though it seems that this behavior has finally come to a head and the game has imploded due to this behavior.  As such I am going to start testing the waters with my group to see if they can handle something less scripted, though I am nervous that all they have ever played is Sim stuff and at my heart I favor Nar.

I plan on doing something like the "X-Games" that have been mentioned here where there is a different indie game each week (or two if it goes long).  After getting througha bunch of systems and styles I will get their opinions on something more lengthy.

If anyone is interested I plan on running Wraiths (via either Risus, Window, or GURPS), Inspectres, Sorcerer, TROS, Universalis (which I am chomping at the bit to play), and possibly Wyrd.  Anyone have any suggestions on a good "order" for these to kind of slowly ease them into more and more uncharted terrirtory?

-Shane
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Valamir
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« Reply #37 on: February 10, 2003, 06:23:28 AM »

Quote from: Buddha Nature

If anyone is interested I plan on running Wraiths (via either Risus, Window, or GURPS), Inspectres, Sorcerer, TROS, Universalis (which I am chomping at the bit to play), and possibly Wyrd.  Anyone have any suggestions on a good "order" for these to kind of slowly ease them into more and more uncharted terrirtory?

-Shane


Depends on what part of play you're looking to ease.

Inspectres or Universalis are probably the easiest to learn mechanically and also have the least "setting" stuff to absorb before beginning play.

Risus and Window are mechanically pretty simple but Wraith might require a bit of effort to get a handle on the setting.

Of the list TROS is probably "easiest" if you define easy as offering the most familiar points of contact to other traditional games.  Mechanically its probably the most difficult (i.e. has the most parts to learn) of those on your list (with the possible exception of GURPs depending on what bells and whistles you're adding).  

Sorcerer is moderately difficult mechanically because what at first seem to be fairly simple mechanics actually require a much different mental approach than equivelent mechanics in other games (it took me about 3 sessions to figure out how to apply the mechanics to combat effectively).  Plus, the subject matter itself is probably best suited to 3-4 sessions plus a dedicated character creation session than a 1-2 session total context.

Wyrd is a brilliant concept that I'd be kicking Scott in the ass to finish reworking (except he's like twice as big as me...).  Its probably the most "non traditional" game mechanically on the list.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #38 on: February 10, 2003, 07:24:43 AM »

Hi there,

I suggest that InSpectres and The Riddle of Steel are best suited for your purposes, mainly because playing the characters is so accessible during play, and the systems' reward mechanics are constantly available as well. (H'm, to a certain extent those phrases are saying the same things, although not entirely.)

Best,
Ron
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Buddha Nature
Member

Posts: 94


« Reply #39 on: February 10, 2003, 07:07:35 PM »

Well here are my thoughts on the systems and how they could be good/bad for the aforementioned "easing."

Inspectres - Fairly minimal prep time on my end (I think) which is a good thing since my time is fairly limited these days, easy mechanics to pick up, but the narration of successes mechanic might be something they might have trouble wrapping their heads around--though hopefully the comic tone might help in that regard, the confessional is going to be a bit tough I am betting though

Universalis - No prep neccessary, I am not sure how easy the teaching of the system would be though (anyone have any suggestions from demos?), but it is definitely one I am _way_ psyched to try out - I think it is the one that could really crack open the creativity and narrow mindset of my players

Risus/Window - You are right in that they are mechanically fairly simple which would be good.  The Wraiths I am reffereing to was mentioned in Actual Play here.  It is more of a metagame mechanic - each player (there is no GM) plays a member of a special forces team working on a mission, but only part of the team is actually physically on the mission, the rest act as "surveillence".  All communication is spoken as through radios...  It is timed as well (like an hour long)

TROS - It would be definitely similarly feeling to most of what they have played and I would run it in George R R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire world.  There would be a lot of prep though and I would really need to feel comfortable with the combat system to be able to run it - not that I am adverse to that though.  My concern would be as to whether or not in a one-two session game would highlight the SA's or not--not just the combat.

Sorcerer - I would agree with Valamir here, I mentioned to the players a while back about how Sorcerer ran - that characters were as powerful as they were willing to be - and they thought it was crazy--that the characters would run out of control...  Something I thought boded ill...

Wyrd - Scott is awesome, Wyrd is awesome.  It is a game that really takes some mindset shifting - I tossed it on the list because it would be another way of moving them away from their "comfort zone"

Donjon - I didn't put this on the first list because I didn't have it, now I do.  I think either as comic or serious it could be another good way to help them out - the genre would be comfortable, but they might need to get used to the narration technique.

Ron - what did you mean about the "reward mechanics?"

-Shane
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