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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: Unsung SWAT: KABOOM (aka session 2)  (Read 18576 times)
Dana_mun
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« Reply #30 on: September 23, 2003, 11:40:02 AM »

ssooo....

The problem is I got too enthusiastic?

Look, I had no intention of being adversarial. My main agenda that night was to have fun. I really wasn't foucusing on anything mechanically.  I was foucusing on having fun, making sure I didn't blatently screw up, and maybe even impressing you guys since it was my first session and your all probibly twice my age. And when I get kinda excited, I tend to make weird jokes and act a little agressive. That's where the "I'm so gunna gift you". That wasn't anger. That wasn't me being adversarial. Perhaps I should have tagged this on "when i think of something pretty cool that would add something". So like Alex, I was just having fun. At worst I got the same descriptor I gave my character at the end of the session "tends to get carried away".

Does this help at all? Because from what I'm reading I'm the primary problem, and I'd like to help fix that. And next time if I am doing soemthing problematic, I'd like to be informed. I'm always open to feedback.
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xiombarg
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« Reply #31 on: September 23, 2003, 12:06:16 PM »

Dana, I didn't find your play problematic at all. That's my opinion, at least. In fact, I think you made the game much more vital than it was previously, tho part of that might have just been people getting used to things.

Mike, I have to admit I viewed Dana's actions more in the way she characterized it than the way you're characterizing it. That is, she was excited and full of ideas. "I'm gonna Gift you!" was more an expression of "Cool, I get to do this" than anything else. She seemed to enjoy bad stuff happening to her character just as much as it happening to other people. Not adversarial at all.

(Dana or Mike, feel free to hit me if I've mis-characterized anyone. I've already done it to Mike a few times in this thread...)

Given this, I'm starting to think that the whole adversarial thing is a red herring.

Now, here's the heart of things:

Quote
All this said, perhaps I'm just hypersensitive to these things and there's no real problem. But if there is a problem its that the rules seem to have multiple thrusts in effect, which has the potential to be confusing to players, IMO. How to fix it, if there is a problem, is much more difficult.

Kirt, I find it troublesome that it seems that your goals were constructed after the design was partly done. I think that this might be the source of the problem (should it exist).
It should seem to me that the best way to clear up the confusion -- since I don't want to remove the multiple thrusts -- is to discuss my intent in detail, so people know what's going on. It's the same reason I named it a "Gift" rather than a "Challenge" -- to remove possible misperceptions as to its purpose. This was part of my plan for the final PDF version of the game, actually.

As for the goals being constructed as the design proceeded, I've always had one, overarching goal: Focus on moral choices. I think what you're seeing as different thrusts can be interpreted as just different ways of viewing the consequences of moral action, both of which are encoded into the game. I don't think these goals were so much developed after the design was partially done so much as articulated better as time went on. That is, I zoned in on what I thought was interesting.

As for hypersensitivity... well, I have to admit at the start of last session you started going on about "incoherence" and I didn't see how what we were doing that was incoherent. I still don't get it. But it just might be my lack of understanding of incoherence, I dunno.

Perhaps it's a non-GNS play preference issue. Now, I know it's not in vogue in the Forge to think that surprise -- i.e. not knowing what's going on -- is compatable with Narrativism, that one needs to know as much information as possible to help direct the story.

But I like surprise. That's the reason I like the Lapse mechanic as it is, and that's the reason I didn't mind Dana hiding some of her character background. I think the unexpected can be a lot of fun, independent of GNS, and I want to encourage that. I know a lot of people think surprise is overrated in RPGs but I'm old-fashioned that way...

I mean, we might not be having a problem with the game itself so much as an old fashioned social contract issue... Mike, do you think this issue would become clearer to you if you GMed a game of Unsung? Perhaps with other people, perhaps not? And, yes, this is partially a cheap attempt to get more independent playtesting done. ;-D

Edited post-script: And I think Alexander's joking around wasn't funny because it was pointing to incoherence, so much as it was funny because he was playing on how Unsung is NOT that kind of game. That is, he was pointing out hidden assumptions in "mainstream" RPGs and contrasting with Unsung.
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #32 on: September 23, 2003, 01:26:01 PM »

This is spiraling all out of control. I'm making statements and people are assuming all manner of crazy things that I have not said.

Dana, you weren't a "problem", and you didn't do anything wrong; if anything I'd say you played quite well (not that it matters for purposes of what we're discussing here). I said that to you that night, and I haven't said that you were doing anything wrong here. You were a new player, and I can understand if you're feeling some anxiety over the situation, but it wasn't my intent to cause any, nor is there any actual reason for you to feel any. I fear going on with this discussion while Dana feels that she's being attacked.

Incoherence is a circumstance brought about by the system. It's what happens when the system gives mixed signals in terms of what play should look like, and players make assumptions to fill in the gaps (which they must). Therefore, it's just as much my "fault" that there were differencs in perception of the mode of play, if blame has to be assigned. Which it doesn't in terms of players. In any case, there was definitely some small examples of certain interesting kinds of Incoherence going on (some caused by the Indie Netgaming bias, actually). OTOH, they were hardly problematic. I think that's part of the problem here is that the incoherence didn't become problematic at any point, going entirely unnoticed by anyone but myself. So, in the absence of a real problem, it's hard to point out what I think is a potential problem in play.

And, worse, to the extent that it's potential it might never become an actual problem meaning that my concerns are unimportant. I wouldn't put money on it, however.

By using the term Adversarial I don't mean to imply rancor. If we're playing basketball, I expect you to both be adversarial and friendly at the same time. These are in no way mutually exclusive. In fact, you don't have to even believe in your side of the "case". As an analogy, if we're both lawyers and you don't think that your client is guilty, you're still required to play your part in the adversarial system. So it has nothing to do with emotional content. It has to do with the rules.

Now, as to whether anything was actually adversarial or not, I can't really say. All I've said so far is that it wouldn't surprise me if, given the rules as written and employed that night, that there wasn't some adversarial effects going on.

But now, again, we're overfocused on that one point, which is minor. I'm still talking about symptoms trying to get at what I feel is a root cause. Let's try something else.

Dana, if your character were to be attacked by a thug, would you see it as your role to do what you could to see that your character survived?

Mike
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Dana_mun
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« Reply #33 on: September 23, 2003, 02:47:19 PM »

I didn't think you were attacking me and I'm sorry if I responded in a defensive manner. Relax =). If anything, i appreciated the feedback, and I just wish I got it sooner. *hug*


as for your question, I'm assuming you mean within our game. granted I wouldn't be thrilled with the idea of my character dying. However, if it's from a gift, and I have to roll, I'd see the result. If it says survive, ce la vie. if it says die and I have a chance to change the roll, i'd consider the story impact before making a descision.

You know, I think I'll leave you boys to the mechanics. I'm over my head here. But i will stay tuned and if I got something to say, trust me, I'll speak out.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #34 on: September 24, 2003, 10:29:58 AM »

I'm still not communicating, Dana. Further, we need you for empirical data. Like I said, you're a good guinea pig because you don't know the theory here, and therefore have no bias surrounding it. So let's try again (please :-)  ).

In the game we're playing, your character comes to a door. You as the player know that there's a bad guy on the other side of the door who wants to see your character dead and is quite capable of making that happen.

Do you have your character:

 - call for backup.
 - storm through the door.

Now, why would you take the choice that you did? There are no right or wrong answers here, so please just go with your gut reaction. That's what we need.

Mike
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Dana_mun
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« Reply #35 on: September 24, 2003, 11:39:46 AM »

ahhh I see

Well within this case I'd  say a. call for back up. I'd make this call becuase it goes with my charatcers write up. She isn't an outgoing type -  I describe her quiet and observent. and she knows that she's no frix in that she can't take too many hits. She'd wait. Also since she is the villan (or at least, thats what I'm aiming for, subtle villan with a moral core on her own terms.) and she has no real desire for any of the group to live, she'd rather have them risk their lives then risk her pretty little head. She's not a nice lady right now. But that could change.

at root, I'm not basing this off the idea that I wanna save my char. I'm doing it because thats what my character would do.. she's a bit of a self preservationist ... jerk. and I try, when i roleplay, to keep true to the char sheet.


does that help?
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #36 on: September 24, 2003, 01:41:24 PM »

That does help, Dana, thanks for your participation. I think I've got it now.

Do you see how this relates to what Ben was saying, Kirt? Basically the problem is that I'm disincentivized from providing my own character's protagonism - no Gift Point. Dana is playing "correctly", following the idea that she shouldn't be pushing her own character's protagonism (other than in little ways - calling in the other teammates, frex). She didn't feel a need to find problematic situations. I did. The game was telling me that it was all about the moral conundra that characterize it. So I was trying to get into those.

Basically, you've got a very odd game. You're only encouraged to protagonize the other player's characters, mechanically, but informed by that same mechanic that the game is about protagonization through it. Is it a surprise that I wanted to use the mechanic on the character I was most interested in, my own?

The incoherence is that, given these conflicting messages, you have players who will play their characters either Sim or Nar, depending on their interperetation and/or their tradition. And that was exactly the small instances of incoherence that I was noting. Dana kept with a traditional "in-game" view of information. The rest of us pervy narrativist sorts kept playing with OOC info.

It didn't happen to result in problems in our case, but that's not to say it wouldn't in other groups. Our play was congruent, but if Dana hadn't been so open-minded about the Nar angle, might not my need to Gift my own character have potentially thrown a Sim player (who was enjoying the OOC Nar portions of the game, which do not conflict because of the separation)?

Mike
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xiombarg
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« Reply #37 on: September 24, 2003, 08:39:38 PM »

Well, I was aiming at a Sim/Nar hybrid.

I guess all I can say is I don't see why you're not rewarded, and why you're disincentivized. Attention on your character is a big reward, and even if you don't decide what happens during the Lapse, the fallout is entirely on your character, controlled by you. It very much puts the spotlight on your character.

Why should you be rewarded twice? The incentive is to play along because it spotlights your character, and because it's more interesting that way.

You can Gift yourself, you just don't get a point for that, because you're already being rewarded with attention. I know that's all the incentive I need to get my character in interesting moral situations.

Do you not believe that attention is a reward? Does the reward have to be less "soft" for it to "count"? I mean, would this problem melt away entirely if you got a Gift point for Gifting yourself? Or a Gift point every time you Lapsed?
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #38 on: September 25, 2003, 08:26:59 AM »

Quote from: xiombarg
Do you not believe that attention is a reward?
Attention is a reward when I'm making the decisions for my character. If/when it's not my decision what happens, then, no, it's not a reward. In fact, in some ways it's a punishment - I lose control of the character.

Note that all the modifications in play have been leaning towards giving the player control back. I can now beg for the other players to do what I want. Ben suggests I get to narrate it. But that's all just window dressing. Unless I'm making the decision, I'm not getting my Narrativist jollies. I'm relegated to getting them by creating the important decisions for other characters. I can create meaning for every character but my own.

And I'm talking about the Gifts here. The Lapse is controlled by the dice. I can only create meaning by putting other characters into potentially meaningful situations.

Yes I can gift my own character. But the system informs me that what I ought to be doing is Gifting other characters. If you did allow a Gift Point to be given to a player for Gifting his own character, what would it hurt? It wouldn't prevent you from Gifting other characters - that would still be open. If you're worried about Gamist drift, then make it so that Gift Points can't be used for increases in effectiveness.

Mike
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xiombarg
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« Reply #39 on: September 25, 2003, 10:04:52 AM »

But you can control whether you accept a Gift or not through veto!

Sigh.

Look, the reason you lose control is for the surprise factor. I honestly believe that having the other players make my character do something I don't expect and then having to deal with it is fun, not unlike the "self hosing" (aka "In the Crapper") from Metal Öpera. If you can control what your character does during the Lapse, the one thing I like most about the system -- my overall vision for the game -- is gone, and we might as well be playing Universalis. And there's nothing wrong with that, but this is another game.

I know I would enjoy that sort of thing, the angst-bunny that I am. And to me, the attention from the fallout of the Lapse would be enjoyable to me. Would we have had as many scenes with Alica if she hadn't blown that guy's head off in the Lapse?

So, the loss of control from the Lapse mechanic is not going to change. Given this, you didn't answer my questions from before:

* Would get a Gift point from self-Gifting fix the problem?
* What about getting a Gift point every time you Lapsed?
* What about getting a Gift point every time you passed a Responsibility check?

As for "what it would hurt" for you to get a point from a Self-Gift, well, it's very, very easy to slip into a situation where you're only paying attention to your own character. Time and time again, I've seen players use narrative control to take the spotlight away from other players. And I want to encourage a more "ensemble cast" feel.

Yes, I know, in theory if you have a mature, sensitive group spotlight-hogging won't happen. But it's easy to do by accident. I fall into it pretty often myself, when I'm a player.

And, yes, hogging the spotlight can be fun, but it's not the sort of game I want for Unsung.

I have to admit to a certain amount of frustration here, Mike. It sounds like, to me, that you're complaining that the game does exactly what I want it to do.
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #40 on: September 25, 2003, 11:00:12 AM »

Quote from: xiombarg
But you can control whether you accept a Gift or not through veto!
Sure, but that means less happens, not more. Then where's your attention reward? The only control you have is to allow your character to be protagonized by others, or to stop the character from being protagonized.

Quote
Look, the reason you lose control is for the surprise factor. I honestly believe that having the other players make my character do something I don't expect and then having to deal with it is fun, not unlike the "self hosing" (aka "In the Crapper") from Metal Ípera.
I never said it wasn't fun. It's just not fun all the time. Let's say that I decided that I wanted to control my character alone. I would veto all Gifts and then I would just give myself Gifts. This would get me no points, and would be pretty standard fare for RPGs. It's obvious that the unique part of the game is the interesting division of power. I'm not advocating being rid of it. I'm advocating fixing the other end of the equation so that playing the character in the moments in-between Gifts is interesting. So that I'm not always fixated on the other PCs.

Quote
* Would get a Gift point from self-Gifting fix the problem?
* What about getting a Gift point every time you Lapsed?
* What about getting a Gift point every time you passed a Responsibility check?
All irrelevant out of context. Or, no, alone these fix nothing. Because the problem isn't in the Gifting (I'm sounding like a broken record) it's in the rest of play.

Quote
As for "what it would hurt" for you to get a point from a Self-Gift, well, it's very, very easy to slip into a situation where you're only paying attention to your own character. Time and time again, I've seen players use narrative control to take the spotlight away from other players. And I want to encourage a more "ensemble cast" feel.
I agree. But as it stands the way the rules are written, I feel a slip away from playing my own character. You've done too good a job when the game encounters players like me. For players like Dana, it works perfectly, because it assumes that you have to balance against her predelictions. But you've made no attempt to balance against mine. If you give something to balance out play of your own character, then I think the problem goes away.

Quote
I have to admit to a certain amount of frustration here, Mike. It sounds like, to me, that you're complaining that the game does exactly what I want it to do.
Do you want me to stop playing my character entirely? How much did I play him last night? Vs. how much I played the other characters?

Indeed this does end up like Universalis in the end. Where all the players are playing all the characters. Except in this case for the player who created the character. The game needs some player goal for his own character that he can achieve through play.

Mike
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xiombarg
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« Reply #41 on: September 25, 2003, 11:27:47 AM »

Quote
Indeed this does end up like Universalis in the end. Where all the players are playing all the characters. Except in this case for the player who created the character. The game needs some player goal for his own character that he can achieve through play.
Well, then how about giving a Gift Point for accepting the Gift, or for a Lapse? The point here is you've played the character well enough to interest the other players, so you get a Gift Point.

Or, for a wierder idea, what about a (possibly optional) end-of-session "confessional" for every character that Lapsed, where the player gets to talk, in detail, about what happened to the character that session, their IC thinking, and where they think they are going? During that time, the player has a lot of InSpectres-style authorial power to add details to the game, as well as a big wedge of attention.

(That advantage of the above idea, wacky though it is, is that it gives the player a reward -- attention and authorial control -- but doesn't interfere with the main "team play" aspect of the session.)

As for how much you played your character, well, do you think people would have come up with as many Gifts for Alica or Christian if not for the way the players played the character? I think both Christian and Dana were rewarded for their play in that way.

Perhaps what needs to happen is I need to discourage "tabula rosa" characters like Ricky. There needs to be a "hook" -- Alicia's twitchyness and Mob connections, Christian's dad -- for every character. Perhaps I should require one in chargen...

I think the problem here is for the system to work, everyone has to play a character that the other players find interesting. Perhaps this means there needs to be more pre-game discussion about characters, or some sort of system of adding details to characters not currently in action.

Also, to prevent someone being left out of the action, perhaps there could be an additional reward for Gifting someone who hasn't been Gifted yet in the session...
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #42 on: September 25, 2003, 01:03:48 PM »

There's some good stuff in there, I think. The Gift point for the Lapse might work. Then you have an incentive to Gift yourself, hoping for the Lapse to occur. But still....

I agree that it's the characters we've created. And saying it's play is only to say that it's the character in return. That is, I truely haven't felt that any situations have arisen that I could have played better. They haven't grabbed me. But that's basically because I've created a character looking for a conflict (as you point out). I don't feel that I can provide that conflict. There should be hooks for each character, like the ones that the rest of the players put in to prevent my error (actually I think my archetype is cool, and would like to see some rule where he has to pick upa conflict early on - sorta DIP). I think this ought to be mechanical somehow. Perhaps related in some way to the descriptors. Which in turn would be the player's way of directing the character's conflicts over time. Something in that vein, I dunno.

For the extra reward, just have the first Gift given to a particular character in a session worth 2 points instead of one. This doesn't pertain to the problem in question at all, IMO, but I think it would be a cool rule.

The Confessional thing I'm not sure about, but it could be cool. At least you're really stretching the noodle on that. Good thinking. What do others think? I do love how they work in InSpectres....

What I think is really the answer would be to give some use for the Gift points that has some real meaning to play of the character. See, since the game is about the moral choices, I have little interest in the combat, etc. So I'm really not all that interested in using the Gift Points after I get them. I think if the player wanted them because of something cool they could do with them, that would be the missing link.

For example, if there was some target number of successes to finish a mission, like InSpectres Franchise dice (you have me thinking that way now) that would be generated per the rule of currency, then there'd be some focus on the character action that would be benefited by the current Gift mechanic. It changes the premise of the game somewhat to something like "can you get your job done while facing moral adversity" but I think that's not too far from what you wanted. Anyhow, I think something in there would be the solution to the problem.

Mike
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xiombarg
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« Reply #43 on: September 26, 2003, 07:39:01 AM »

Hmmm, I will have to cogitate on that one a bit, I think.

In the meantime, futher commentary and ideas are welcome...
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
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