*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 25, 2022, 02:51:19 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 84 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4
Print
Author Topic: Horseplay gone too far?  (Read 25316 times)
Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #30 on: May 21, 2003, 11:37:55 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
..., if character creation does not give the player explicit "rights" concerning the story-role of the character, but provides abilities and options that might influence and possibly change the story-role, then some clashes are going to occur over that role.

OK, let's consider this a bit, dropping the horse thing. First of, reading the description of what happened, the goal put before the players was to nab this NPC who apparently has a magic ring. This NPC has the ability to make himself and his horse disappear, so the problem before the players is how to nab this guy without him just disappearing on them again. This sounds to me like fairly gamist play and John responded in a gamist manner by looking at the abilities he has to work with, and came up with a possible solution. Maybe not a good or viable solution, but a solution nevertheless.

John, is this a accurate view here?

Besides the horse incident, has there been any other incidents that would reflect the stuff Ron is talking about.
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #31 on: May 21, 2003, 11:51:15 AM »

Hi Jack,

Um, you might be goin' a little overboard with the Gamism thing. John's play was certainly strategic, but strategy can be a momentary or supportive part of N or S play just as moments of Premise+Theme can be part of G or S play - it's a matter of prioritizing. I'm still thinking my GNS distinctions in my above post are more consistent with what I've seen so far.

Best,
Ron
Logged
John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #32 on: May 21, 2003, 12:07:12 PM »

Quote from: Mr Jack
  Hmm, how about 'when transforming into an animal the character can chose all aspects of the creatures form, including colouration, size, age and sex (within normal ranges for that animal)'? That actually might be kind of cool, since it would allow, for example, a player to transform into a juvenile and solicit sympathy from adult animals.

I think Mr Jack's suggestion here is actually a perfect solution of what rules can do.  This change simultaneously encourages things like Loki's trick (by allowing a male like Loki to change into a female horse), as well as preventing the situation with Gudrid (since the addition makes it explicit that sexuality is under the caster's control).  In short, it gives powers the player, and without disrupting game balance.  

Incidentally, let me say that I think the example of Loki is a great one -- because it draws from Norse myth (also a source for Tolkien) as well as being an intriguing example of gender.  In the myth, Loki (a man) turned into a female horse to lure away the giant's horse and thus prevent him from completing his task.  What's more, Loki actually bore a foal as a result of sex with that horse.  This was Sleipnir, the magical eight-legged horse which was later Odin's steed.  

I also completely disagree with Jack that this change represents "micromanagement" and leads to 600 page manuals.  The change proposed is very simple and easily expressed.  I also think that this is completely different from saying "handle sex with taste".  The Loki trick is, I would argue, far from tasteful -- but it gives power to the player and opens up a lot of potentially interesting ground.  

Quote from: Caldis
  To me this is an example of a break in the social contract.  The Gm, maybe egged on by lurid jokes, came up with a situation that the players found inappropriate.  It doesnt matter if he was doing it in an attempt to railroad the story line or if it was just an off the cuff attempt at creating a humorous situation, in either case it was offensive.   [...]   I think Ron's description of the three types of sexual content levels typical in RPG's to be useful in hammering out where the group comfort level is.  In a game with a bunch of rowdy teenaged boys I dont think having your character in horse shape be the object of the stallions affection would be out of place.  

This is completely misreading me.  I was not at all offended by the inclusion of sexuality.  Quite the opposite!  (As a side note, Liz is rowdier than any bunch of teenage boys.  Chris Lehrich can attest to this.)  I wanted to make clear that from my initial post, which is why I made a question of what line was crossed.  

I think what made it particularly jarring was the off-the-cuff nature of the "in heat" ruling, as something on the spot which I had no say in (and which my character was not prepared for, despite being the shapeshifter).  Other posters have pegged this as being caused by the GM's discomfort with how we were derailing the plot, which I think is right.  If I had actually been trying to distract the horse sexually (a la Loki), I'd bet his ruling would be the opposite.  Upon reflection now, I think what made it actually offensive was that it was aimed at sexually disempowering my PC.  Wow.  This might be a feminist cliche, but I think it fits.
Logged

- John
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #33 on: May 21, 2003, 12:10:35 PM »

Hi John,

I agree with you - the "appropriateness"* of the sexual content is irrelevant once we really look at this instance of play. We're talking about power, roles, story, and control.

Best,
Ron

* I really hate this word; it's in quotes to indicate my distaste for its use as some kind of moral yardstick.
Logged
Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #34 on: May 21, 2003, 12:35:01 PM »

Quote from: John Kim
I think what made it particularly jarring was the off-the-cuff nature of the "in heat" ruling, as something on the spot which I had no say in (and which my character was not prepared for, despite being the shapeshifter).

Hmm.. OK so this is more the issue, then. This is something the shapeshifter should probably have known before, but didn't. I personally dislike this kind of thing because it's like acting without all the information. You had know idea that this would have been what would happen, but you should have. The shapeshifter might have noticed if she was in heat when changing into an animal. That kind of thing. This is not the same as trying something and it not working. It's like climbing 50 floors worth of stairs because the GM forgot to mention the elevator.
Logged
Emily Care
Member

Posts: 1126


WWW
« Reply #35 on: May 21, 2003, 12:38:05 PM »

Quote from: John Kim
I think what made it particularly jarring was the off-the-cuff nature of the "in heat" ruling, as something on the spot which I had no say in (and which my character was not prepared for, despite being the shapeshifter).

As Jack said, you weren't given a chance to decide on your course of action based on the full knowledge your character would have had access to. One way to look at it is that you were denied the use of some of your in-game resources.  And, as Chris Bankuei might say, the ball was taken from your hands.  

Quote from: Ron
I agree with you - the "appropriateness"* of the sexual content is irrelevant once we really look at this instance of play. We're talking about power, roles, story, and control.


Which is how sexism functions in the real world.

--EC
Logged

Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #36 on: May 21, 2003, 12:50:53 PM »

Hi Emily,

I agree with you in full. The GM in question is apparently so concerned about story control that he will descend into sexism (an abusive form of control by definition) to keep it.

Do I assume correctly, that you agree that whether it's "appropriate" to mention, show, or think about large pink horse erections or stinky female horse secretions is a separate issue from the above?

I'm trying to separate out the issues of power/control, subset-sexuality, from issues of PG vs. R vs. X rating. As John points out, the latter issue seems as if it's not the key one here.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Emily Care
Member

Posts: 1126


WWW
« Reply #37 on: May 21, 2003, 01:18:43 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Do I assume correctly, that you agree that whether it's "appropriate" to mention, show, or think about large pink horse erections or stinky female horse secretions is a separate issue from the above?


I certainly don't assume to assert any universal appropriateness of discussion of horse's bodily fluids et al.  I'd say that the control issues are related to the fact that the horse's woody was invoked in a manner that was locally inappropriate.  What made it inappropriate was that it was used as a way to disempower the player.  

What I meant by my comment about sexism, is that sex is just an avenue for control in sexist behaviour in the real world, just as it was in John's play example.  

--Em
Logged

Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games
ADGBoss
Member

Posts: 384


WWW
« Reply #38 on: May 21, 2003, 01:41:09 PM »

Quote from: Emily Care
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Do I assume correctly, that you agree that whether it's "appropriate" to mention, show, or think about large pink horse erections or stinky female horse secretions is a separate issue from the above?


I certainly don't assume to assert any universal appropriateness of discussion of horse's bodily fluids et al.  I'd say that the control issues are related to the fact that the horse's woody was invoked in a manner that was locally inappropriate.  What made it inappropriate was that it was used as a way to disempower the player.  

What I meant by my comment about sexism, is that sex is just an avenue for control in sexist behaviour in the real world, just as it was in John's play example.  

--Em


Sex and or Sexism has become a weapon of disenfranchisement at least in terms of player action.  My question is: is it any worse to disempower through sexism then through just plain obstructionism? i.e. Well you cannot imitate his horse because I said so.

That is to say, in the hard cold world of RPGs, does it matter when a player is disempowered if its through sexism or something less morally noxious? In all do respect to the nature of sexism and its victims, I would say I have to agree that any such disenfranchisment is incorrect behavior, regardless of the weapon of choice.

Of course the issue still comes back to GM.  Mainly because we have not heard his side of the situation its hard to fully understand the thought processes under which the decision was made.

One last thing which is for me a question of clarity. When we say system with regards to this and similar situation, what is it we are talking about?

The Simple mechanics of the system?
The above plus examples of intended play?
All canon material as well? Supplemets, free downloads
All of the above plus commentary from the author(s) / designer(s)


Sean
ADGBoss
Logged

John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #39 on: May 21, 2003, 01:42:24 PM »

Some answers to Jack's questions:

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
  What was the goal of this chapter? To catch and interrogate this NPC (perhaps taking his ring which sounds like a faux one ring, or possibly is the one ring and Frodo has the forgery? Did Smaug eat Bilbo and that's why this ring was found among Smaug's bones?), thus leading to the next goal? Or was it to follow the NPC to some place and situation where a resolution point will occur? If we knew this, then we could know a bit more about this situation and know why this particular move was blocked. If the GM was protecting his "story stuff" or if the goal before the PCs was to nab this guy and the GM was just putting up another obsticle.  

OK, let me fill in some of the details.  Our guess is that this is one of the five magic rings given to the dwarves (i.e. along with the nine given to Men and the three to the elves).  It somehow ended up in Smaug's horde and was on his body when he was killed (his belly was covered in jewels from his horde except for one spot).  

I don't know exactly what the GM had in mind, but I am fairly sure that there is some sort of multi-stage quest where recovering the ring is a later goal.  However, what happened was that we doggedly pursued after the rider even though he had a major lead on us.  At this point, I think the GM had a problem.  Catching the rider before he delivered the ring would short-circuit the plot.  However, as long as there was the slightest chance of catching him, we kept trying.  We encountered a lot of setbacks, including him having a significant lead on us, warnings that there may be hordes of orcs near Dol Guldur, and then him disappearing in our hands only to be attacked by two trolls.  After killing the trolls, we kept trying to find him.  We became lost at one point (I think with magical influence), but we kept going back and forth trying to find him.  Eventually, we spotted his horse again, which was when this happened.  

I suspect that in his plan, we were supposed to take time to investigate the background of the ring, and follow up on strange events that happened along the way.  However, we viewed all that as time wasted while the ring got further away.  For example, we nearly had to fight two trolls earlier in our journey, but my character lead them away in bear form and then gave them the slip.  I think we were supposed to fight them, track where they came from, and get some clues.  

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
 First of, reading the description of what happened, the goal put before the players was to nab this NPC who apparently has a magic ring. This NPC has the ability to make himself and his horse disappear, so the problem before the players is how to nab this guy without him just disappearing on them again. This sounds to me like fairly gamist play and John responded in a gamist manner by looking at the abilities he has to work with, and came up with a possible solution. Maybe not a good or viable solution, but a solution nevertheless.

John, is this a accurate view here?

Well, no.  As I said, I think all of us players had some sense that we were taking the pursuit too far -- and that we were supposed to do something else.  However, we mostly felt that that didn't make sense for our characters (well, for three of our characters anyhow).  There was a point when we asked the GM "Look, if we can't find this guy, just have us miss him and let's skip to it."  However, I think he didn't want to blatantly railroad us -- thus his logic was that it should be very difficult to catch the rider but not impossible.  

Of the PCs, one is a bounty hunter who values catching his quarry over his life.  Another is a carousing elf who is reckless and defensive of his people (the elves of Mirkwood).  And my character who is very morally determined to fight evil and aid good for her people the Beornings.  (This also matches in the mechanics: Thallen has the "Fey" flaw; Ardan has "Reckless" and "Stiff-necked"; and Gudrid has four levels of the "Resolute" edge.)  The odd man out is Borri, who is a gluttonous smith/stonecutter whose ambitions include becoming as fat as his uncle Bombur.  As players, we have agreed that there is really no good reason for Borri to be with us -- we've been trying to think of reasons but it doesn't work well.  

As for her decision to go in as a horse...  Well, I had been prepared to essentially sit out our attempted ambush like I did the previous three combats.  Howevever, I suddenly got the idea as Ardan and Thallen were going to circle around the horse.  I think it was reasonable  as an in-character decision for Gudrid, but no, it didn't necessarily represent any deep inner part of her psychology.  

I'm still not perfectly comfortable with GNS (I think I get it confused often with the rgfa threefold, which it isn't), so I don't want to assign a label to this.
Logged

- John
Walt Freitag
Member

Posts: 1039


« Reply #40 on: May 21, 2003, 01:46:29 PM »

I feel the same as Emily.

While horse erections/fluids are not the specific issue, the problem does appear to go beyond just disempowering the player-character (or the player). After all, if the GM had just said that the NPC's horse was wearing an anti-magic charm that prevented the shapeshifting from working in that vicinity, the story control issue would be the same, but I doubt we'd be having this discussion about it.

The aggravating circumstance, as it were, is the use or threat of an indignity upon the player-character sufficient to be in and of itself a preemptive punishment against the player. The element of inappropriate (damn, there's that word again, but in this context I just mean mood-ruining, or inappropriate for the creative agenda) humor figures in there as well. The same objections would apply, without invoking explicit sexism, if for example the GM ruled that attempting to approach the NPCs horse in shape-shifted form would (due to the action of the hypothetical magic charm) cause the PC to turn into a hippopotamus wearing a pink tutu.

[Edit to say: I cross-posted this with the previous two posts. Consider this my proposed answer to the important first question in Sean's post. And John's post reveals a likely motive for the GM to have acted this way. The GM appears to want there to really be a chance for something to happen, but doesn't want to ever let it actually happen. There should be a name for this condition, since I suspect it's not uncommon; neither railroading nor illusionism quite describes it.]

- Walt
Logged

Wandering in the diasporosphere
John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #41 on: May 21, 2003, 02:59:38 PM »

Quote from: ADGBoss
  Sex and or Sexism has become a weapon of disenfranchisement at least in terms of player action.  My question is: is it any worse to disempower through sexism then through just plain obstructionism? i.e. Well you cannot imitate his horse because I said so.

Well, in some sort of theoretical objective sense, maybe not.  But I personally found it much more annoying than generic non-sexist obstructionism.  And games are about personal taste, after all.  Obviously, in a perfect world you wouldn't want obstructionism at all, and have egalitarianism for all races, sexes, and religions... oh, and free ice cream.  But I think it's worth considering the question of sexism as a specific subset.  

Quote from: ADGBoss
 Of course the issue still comes back to GM.  Mainly because we have not heard his side of the situation its hard to fully understand the thought processes under which the decision was made.  

While I completely stand by everything I said, I don't really want to point  out this thread to the GM yet, as I think it will make him very defensive.  Ultimately I do want to confront him on this, but I would prefer to do it much more slowly.  I might point it out to Jim, who is another player.  

Quote from: ADGBoss
 One last thing which is for me a question of clarity. When we say system with regards to this and similar situation, what is it we are talking about?
The Simple mechanics of the system?
The above plus examples of intended play?
All canon material as well? Supplemets, free downloads
All of the above plus commentary from the author(s) / designer(s)

Well, it is in some sense a vague definition, but in this case I would call the "System" whatever is included in the core rulebook(s).  So no supplements or downloads or non-core-rulebook commentary.  

The tricky part is that this means that different elements may be part of the system.  Some systems (like LotR) are world-specific, in which case the setting is a part of the system.  Other systems (like GURPS) don't have a setting, so that isn't part of the system.  Any examples of play in the rules are definitely part of the system IMO.  I think these are very important elements of a game.  A system is definitely more than just the abstract ways of rolling dice and so forth.
Logged

- John
Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 1121

student, second edition


WWW
« Reply #42 on: May 21, 2003, 03:30:45 PM »

Quote from: John Kim
Quote from: ADGBoss
  Sex and or Sexism has become a weapon of disenfranchisement at least in terms of player action.  My question is: is it any worse to disempower through sexism then through just plain obstructionism? i.e. Well you cannot imitate his horse because I said so.

Well, in some sort of theoretical objective sense, maybe not.  But I personally found it much more annoying than generic non-sexist obstructionism.  And games are about personal taste, after all.  Obviously, in a perfect world you wouldn't want obstructionism at all, and have egalitarianism for all races, sexes, and religions... oh, and free ice cream.  But I think it's worth considering the question of sexism as a specific subset.  


Yeah, sexism has a special sort of real-world power that some GM saying "I said so" doesn't. Which probably explains part of why this GM used it instead of just saying "I said so."
Logged

Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #43 on: May 21, 2003, 05:31:24 PM »

Hi folks,

I'm glad to see this thread taking on such a constructive direction.  What I wanted to comment was that I concur with the idea that the "inappropriateness"(in Walt's meaning, in regards to LOTR) may have been along the lines of "player punishment" through humiliation of character.  

What I find terribly telling is this:

Quote
Catching the rider before he delivered the ring would short-circuit the plot.


Which a clue to the real source of the problem.  I have found that that the key problem with pre-established plot, railroading, illusionism(successful or not), is that it by its nature, tends to almost always lead towards miscommunication and in many cases, dysfunctional play.

Consider this- the GM is fighting to maintain control, power, whatever, which is expressed not only in the "on the spot" ability to ret-con things into  existence, but the ability to predict the possible range of events in play*(flowchart, plot, etc.).  The problem and threat to the latter form of control is that the players are unaware of exactly what the plot is "supposed to be".  Because of this, the players will naturally step out of the lines of it.  The GM then forces players to step back into line via using Conflict and Outcome to force the players' hands in regard to Character("Oh, you can't catch him, you need to deal with Trolls first!").

As players keep stepping out of line(intentionally or not) from the plot they don't know about, the GM gets frustrated, and eventually as the carrot fails, the stick comes in.  Here's dysfunction in action- "I'm punishing you for not following the plot you don't know about, and I can't tell you because it would ruin the surprise."  The terrible part here is that this is the "standard" mode of play for many people, and the GM is probably not consciously aware of it, for him it may simply be, "That's how play goes".  

Chris

*For those that saw Matrix: Reloaded, that speech near the end was all about this.
Logged
talysman
Member

Posts: 675


WWW
« Reply #44 on: May 21, 2003, 11:34:28 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I think everyone agrees that the Social Contract is what's at stake.

I was kind of hoping that people would follow up on my later post, which concerns how System can and does contribute to the issue.


not being familiar with the new LotR rpg, I can't really comment on whether that system has the issue mixed-messages issue. however, it did occur to me, based on the rpgs I actually do have, that these games mostly do not send much of a message at all about story role versus functional role, which may thus lead GMs and players to "fill in the blanks" in the contradictory way you describe.

and perhaps, this is the design flaw we may need to concentrate on. should a game design state up front "the players choose their functions -- their `classes', if you will -- while the GM, as creator of the story, will select which story role the character will fulfill"? or its inverse?

or should we think about chargen designs where the player explicitely selects the "Information Finder" or other roles as a different layer in the character design phase?
Logged

John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!