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Author Topic: [Dust Devils] Malt and Tease, Final  (Read 2837 times)
Tim Alexander
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Posts: 304


« on: December 30, 2003, 08:50:28 AM »

Hey Folks,

After a bit of a hiatus the group and I gathered again to finish up the DD story that began here and continues here. Unfortunately though, the group had lost almost all of the momentum from the previous session, and it all felt a bit flat. Rather than give a detailed account of the events that occurred I figured I'd bring up some of the things we discussed afterwards in feeling out why it wasn't entirely satisfying.

We spent a bit of time debating some of the mechanics of how stakes are won in a conflict. One of the players was pretty against the idea that the whole pile of stakes goes to the winner of a conflict, even when two players had essentially the same goal. He proposed a split pot in those situations. It seemed he felt that the stakes provide a interplayer conflict in those situations that deters from the cooperation that should be going on in game. While I agree with him that it breeds a level of competition among the players, I think it's a pretty necesary device to make the resolution system work as intended. While we spent a lot of time going round and round on this topic, I think it was really tangental to any of the real issues at hand. We eventually begged off making a largescale system change until such time that we though we were actually succeeding with the game as written.

Which brings me to the next point that was brought up, that mainly we decided that we really missed the point. This session had practically no deviltry to it. While the previous sessions both needed more devil, I don't think we were at all focused on including it this time through. One of the players brought up a really excellent point, relating the whole thing to improv. One of the cardinal rules in improv is that you're constantly trying to make the guy you're working with look good. If everyone is focused on getting the other guy's story to be cool, work well, etc. it's far more likely to succeed than if everyone is working to their own goals. While I don't think the group was specifically selfish in their choices, I think that by not being focused on each other it just sort of strangled play.

Lastly there is still some shaking out of how best to frame a conflict and how much the narrator does with it. I maintain this is mostly a learning process that will sort itself out with more play. Even with all the above problems it wasn't that the game was unfun, just less charged than it warrants.

Questions? Comments?

-Tim
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2003, 09:53:23 AM »

Hi Tim,

What kind of adversity did the characters encounter?

Yeah, I'm asking about the in-game, imaginative constructs called characters, not about the players. What did they actually face as problems?

And now for the real-people side of that question: given player X, who provided that adversity for him or her? (applies to all players, and to the diversity of adversity-situations for each one)

Best,
Ron
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Tim Alexander
Member

Posts: 304


« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2003, 10:23:38 AM »

Howdy Ron,

Problems the characters faced were:

-Both characters were locked up for a night after Maria escaped.
-Santiago had a short lived shootout with Grace while picking up the package.
-Jeb, Santiago, and the Sheriff all ended up in the bad guy's hotel room, with Jeb and the Sheriff squaring off. Jeb wanted to ice the guy and the Sheriff wanted to preserve the law.
-Grace kidnapped Maria and set an ambush to retrieve the vase.

In looking at them laid out, all the adversity in the game that effected the PCs was created by the dealer. Perhaps with the exception of the resolution of the jail cell, in which Jeb (Chris' PC) breaks out, leaving Santiago (Tony's PC) to explain his absence in the morning. Beyond that the PCs were fairly neutral in creating consequences for each other. In fact, this was stated in the discussion afterwards as being a big part of my role as dealer. We talked a bit about how that might not be just my job, but I'm not certain that point made it across.

Insight? Angles to try?

-Tim
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2003, 12:20:18 PM »

Hi Tim,

You have Sex & Sorcery, right? How about some of those techniques discussed in chapter 7? All of them are variants on Bangs.

Crosses = elements of character A's scenes show up in character B's scenes
Weavings = non-PC aspects of the situation align tightly or come into conflict, as opposed to merely co-existing
Bobs = blocks or "rests" in the adversity
Openings = opportunity for player input (in or out of character) to Weave or Cross

What I guess I'm concerned about is that it doesn't strike me that anyone felt especially interested in how any given character's Devil was at stake. All of the techniques above are aimed at providing everyone with the opportunities to develop Premise: minimally, to be attentive and interested in one another's actions; maximally, to bring it to a fever pitch.

Another way to look at it is that Story Now is very much like Step On Up, in terms of social input and feedback. Sure, you can play Gamist in which everyone is operating according to an individual, wholly-internal, wholly-unexpressed reward system ... although who on earth would? The same idea seems to me to apply to Narrativist play; unless character A grabs player B in terms of Premise, there's no realized Premise, if you see what I mean.

What do you think?

Best,
Ron
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Tim Alexander
Member

Posts: 304


« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2003, 02:13:27 PM »

Hey Ron,

I think you've pretty much nailed it, at least how I see it. Everything that came out in the discussion afterwards points to that conclusion. In retrospect I'm not certain realizing that mid-game would have helped us fix it. We had all lost a handle on a lot of the aspects of our game. We were sort of playing a climax while everyone (including me, which probably hurt us more than anything) was a bit uncomfortable in their skin. We should have backed off, I think we tried to push a theme that was ready to pop last session, but that no one remembered quite why. We remembered what it was like to be comfortable, and snippets of why, but we lost a lot of the background picture.

Your bringing up the techniques from S&S is really useful. I'm familiar with them, I use them though I'd never really had terms for them. They require both a requisite comfort with the story at hand, and a level of engagement from the players that was lacking pretty hard, and by players I include myself of course. So, I think we're going to roundtable out another try at it, this time really making it all about the devils. I want to make sure that everyone has some neat ideas about where characters might go, especially those characters that aren't their own.

So do I sound like I've got a handle? Anything that would be useful out in the open during the prep that I might be missing?

-Tim
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