You are viewing chadu

entries friends calendar profile Atomic Sock Monkey Previous Previous Next Next
I Have Powers - [s7s] A Question: Player Narration of Success and Failure (longish)
I am the Monkey King!
chadu
chadu
Add to Memories
Share
[s7s] A Question: Player Narration of Success and Failure (longish)
Occasionally when doing game design, I come up with a mechanic or a take on a mechanic that seems really obvious/intuitive/easy/fun for me, but that some readers just don't get, some readers get (and decide whether or not they like it), and some readers really really groove on.



The primary example here, of course, is the Damage system of the various PDQ games -- when you take damage, you reduce one or more of your choice of Qualities. This permits a player to attempt to keep his or her character's effectiveness optimized for whatever conflict the character is in as long as possible. (As rob_donoghue has thumbnailed it: "You can punch Spider-Man in the girlfriend!")

Anyway...

In an Unknown Armies campaign long ago, taschoene was getting frustrated by whiffing many, many rolls, even in stuff his character was good with. (Well, UA is kinda a whiffy system.)

What I eventually suggested to him -- and I believe it helped -- was that he should interpret that failed roll in a way that, while it sucks he flubbed, it was still FUN for him.

Thus, the nugget of this idea for S7S was born.

One of the ideas I'm pushing in S7S is player narration of both their character's successes and failures, with the GM helping out (by embroidering, slightly editing, or taking over if the player is coming up blank) with the narration.

I think this does several things (but I might be mistaken; speak up if you have an opinion!):

1. Eases the sting of failure. When it's the player's right to explain how the character failed, they feel some "control" over the randomness of the events depicted by the dice.

2. The intended action may have failed, not the character. S7S swashbuckling PCs are STYLISH and AWESOME. When something goes wrong, it should be in a STYLISH and AWESOME way. It doesn't even have to be the character's fault.

One of the examples I give in the book is that of climbing a fortress wall. Say the character flubs his Climbing/Athletics/Acrobatics roll to do this. That does not have to mean the character sucks at climbing -- other complications, outside of the character's control, may have arisen (like a defender at the top of the wall cuts the rope free of the grapple or starts dropping pointy rocks on the character, a cannonball smashes into the fortress wall and shakes the character loose, an ally begins to fall and the character stops climbing to swing over to rescue him, etc.).

3. It gives the player's character a chance to earn Style Dice. The more a player talks, the better chances of the GM and/or other players think something that player said was cool or funny... which leads to Style Dice.

4. It eases the GM's burden of moment-by-moment description. By ceding a bit of narrative control in the clinches to players, the GM can spend more time describing the rest of the world and all of the NPCs.

5. It increases the GM's burden of overall material to juggle. I see this as a positive thing -- if the players are constantly inventing new stuff or situations from their narrations ("I failed at my Diplomacy attempt because in this culture, when you bow to the Countessa, having your right arm behind you back is an insult, and that's the way we do it on Colrona!"), the GM is getting more and more tools to build new/further/deeper situations, setting details, and characters.

[It probably does some other things, too, but I can't figure those out at the moment: there's too much blood in my caffiene system. (MOAR CAWFY!)]

Back to the point at hand: Is player narration of both success and failure one of those bits of "mad rpg theory" that you -- personally -- do not get, get and dislike, get and like, or get and groove on?

Inquiring mind (er, me) would like to know!

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments
lordpeers From: lordpeers Date: April 23rd, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really, really like this aspect of the rules. It's an excellent way to give players more narrative imput without a sense that victory or failure is arbitrary and meaningless.
chadu From: chadu Date: April 23rd, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Coolio. That's the way I see it, too.
bruceb From: bruceb Date: April 23rd, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Put me down for "get and am profoundly apathetic about, with occasional annoyance both as player and GM". It feels mostly like the answer to a question that I'm not asking, and of only marginal utility to questions I AM asking, and while I've not checked the S7S presentation, in general the triumphal tone in which such things are presented just pisses me off.

Yeah, I'm grumpy about it.
drivingblind From: drivingblind Date: April 23rd, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
The "triumphal tone" part -- that's "trad player got touched in the bad place by the hippie gamer" baggage, I suspect (which isn't a judgment -- I've lugged around the same bags myself on more than one occasion). So I'd like to set that part of the observation aside on the proposition that you and I are inclined to view Chad as less likely to gloat in the text about how clever he is than the average bear.

So what's left, with the tonal/presentation issues set aside? I *think* it's this: it's not that you don't like the possibility of occasionally handing the determination of how success and failure occurs to a player, it's that you don't like it being *mandated* as always-on. Is that right?

I'm asking in part because of the overlap with my own perspectives, here. At heart, I'm a strong-GM-authority traditionalist. I do lots of hippie stuff in my designs and play here and there, but I always enjoy an element of "... and the GM makes a judgment call/approves that/whatever". I don't want a GM who's a moderator for the table, at the end of the day. I want one who has a clear vision and a strong agenda for where the game can be taken, but is also clever enough to take input from the players and change and adapt his vision and agenda to entirely new directions.

Are we on the same page, man?
bruceb From: bruceb Date: April 23rd, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Pretty much.

What I really want - need, probably - is the advice on making failure interesting and rewarding to the player. That's the practical revolution that I'm really interested in, and probably the single biggest thing that's changed about my play style this decade, putting that as an active priority everywhere I can.

For me, narrative authority is a side effect of that. I don't especially care about it, to be honest. I don't lie awake at night worrying about. I have lain awake at night worrying that bad luck with the dice left my players stranded without much fun to have, and wishing I could think of more to make the failures at their intended efforts lead to something more rewarding.

As nearly as I can tell, my players feel about the same, or at least many of them do. They like narrating. Some like it a lot. Some end up explicitly GMing scenes while I just watch sometimes. :) But narrative authority doesn't seem to be the answer to their concerns about failure, either.
drivingblind From: drivingblind Date: April 23rd, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yep -- that's why Fate has the element of aspects that when they work against you, you get a reward.

Which actually exists, in some ways, in S7S/PDQ# as well. The "players narrate failure" bit is just one element of several, IIRC.
bruceb From: bruceb Date: April 23rd, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have very much confidence in Chad. I'm just frothing partly because I'm tired of this sinus headache.
chadu From: chadu Date: April 23rd, 2009 04:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
"trad player got touched in the bad place by the hippie gamer"

I characterize that tone as "show me where the bad GM touched you" myself.

I don't want a GM who's a moderator for the table, at the end of the day. I want one who has a clear vision and a strong agenda for where the game can be taken, but is also clever enough to take input from the players and change and adapt his vision and agenda to entirely new directions.

I hope I did exactly that in the text (but I suspect I may lean a fraction more hippie than you).
From: mickbradley Date: April 24th, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is all very useful to me guys, thanks. I think if I could consistently trust that a GM could be the person that Fred is talking about, I'd prefer that vibe myself. And ideally, I still do, actually.

It has been said that the best and most efficient & effective form of government in an ideal world would be a benevolent dictatorship. But lacking an ideal world, democracy is actually a better idea.

And yes, I guess that is probably coming from my own "the GM touched me in a bad place" thing C'est la vie.

The great thing about the designs of Evil Hat and ASM, though, are that the rules allow for adjustment of the narrative authority dials without doing any harm to the system.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 23rd, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
For my own reference of scaling GM authority, how would you characterize the GM authority of our Dreamation game sessions: The Do playtest compared to your Dreamation InSpectres game?
chadu From: chadu Date: April 23rd, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
while I've not checked the S7S presentation, in general the triumphal tone in which such things are presented just pisses me off.

Out of curiosity, is the tone above "triumphal" to you, Bruce?

And if/when you see the S7S presentation, I'd love to have your thoughts on it.

But I kinda dig what you're saying, if I'm thinking about the same presentations of such that you are. I really tried to avoid that sort of tone.

(I think the basic summary of my thoughts is "explaining why a sucky die roll doesn't HAVE TO mean your character is incompetent.")
bruceb From: bruceb Date: April 23rd, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd call it only mildly triumphal, and I think I'm grumpy because (besides the sinus headache aforementioned) it's your obvious happiness at solving what isn't MY problem, dammit. :)
chadu From: chadu Date: April 23rd, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I feel you, mang. My head's in a sinus pain vise today, too.

Sorry to step on your grump with my joy.

. . .

Okay, that sounded less-weird in my head before I wrote it.
bruceb From: bruceb Date: April 23rd, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I owe you an apology. You have an entirely justified happiness going there. I'm sorry for being unusually rude this morning.
chadu From: chadu Date: April 23rd, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Apology unneccessary, but accepted.

No worries.

Bygones.
whswhs From: whswhs Date: April 23rd, 2009 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't tend to approach such outcomes in that way.

On one hand, there are outcomes with hard physical consequences: you get a broken leg, you lose consciousness, you die. I do not consider those to be negotiable. Player characters are narrated as physical entities that exist in a physical world, and one of the traits of physical worlds is intractibility. It's the GM's job to maintain the ongoing sense of the world, including that intractibility.

On the other hand, there are what could be called soft outcomes: loss of self-control, failure to persuade, social awkwardness and humiliation, revelation of information. It's much harder to reduce those to a short "lost points" treatment. But as a GM, I deal with those by talking about them with the player, and sometimes with the whole group of players. "What might Chad have said that would give offense to all of his players and totally fail them to accept his ruling on this rules question?" Framing it as a choice between GM control and player control treats it as an adversarial or zero-sum situation, and in doing so completely fails to grasp the shared interest of both players and GM in maintaining a believable world in which a credible narrative can emerge. It seems from your detailed comments that you do in fact envision an ongoing process of negotiation, but describing it in terms of a rules alternative between player control and GM control does not convey that.

And I'll close with a bit of narrative: In my recent fencing-students-in-1717-Paris campaign, three of the PCs got set upon by a gang of street thugs, including a big guy with a club. And in the aftermath, the surgeon's examination of the injured leg of one of the PCs showed that it was broken, and broken badly enough so that it could not be expected to heal straight. And the player's comment was, "Bad Leg and Addicted to Laudanum? How cool is that?!" That's the kind of players that I want to have.

On the other hand, if your rules system is producing so many series of bad rolls that it's hard to maintain the sense that a highly competent character actually is competent, then I would call that a defect in the rules system as a rules system; and I think that allowing the GM to have mercy on the players by letting them plea bargain to a less disturbing outcome is just failing to address the basic failure of the rules. Whenever any dice engine becomes destructive of narrative flow, it is the Right of the Players to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new game mechanics, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect good participatory narrative.
chadu From: chadu Date: April 23rd, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Player characters are narrated as physical entities that exist in a physical world, and one of the traits of physical worlds is intractibility. It's the GM's job to maintain the ongoing sense of the world, including that intractibility.

I think we've had something like this discussion before, Bill, previously about superhero games. ;)

Let me try to summarize to provide a basis for further discussion, and please correct me if I misrepresent:

* You like enumerating the rules of the setting, and then hew to them in a hard, simulationist sense.

* I like enumerating the rules of the genre/media underlying the setting, and I hew to those in a strong, verisimilitudic sense.

Fair characterization?

Framing it as a choice between GM control and player control treats it as an adversarial or zero-sum situation, and in doing so completely fails to grasp the shared interest of both players and GM in maintaining a believable world in which a credible narrative can emerge. It seems from your detailed comments that you do in fact envision an ongoing process of negotiation, but describing it in terms of a rules alternative between player control and GM control does not convey that.

In the text, I believe I do not present it as an adversarial battle for narrative control -- though I do do so in this lj post. As part of the rules, players describe success and failure; the GM handles everything else, and can step in if the player doesn't want to narrate.

I don't know if that mitigates things.

And the player's comment was, "Bad Leg and Addicted to Laudanum? How cool is that?!" That's the kind of players that I want to have.

Me too! And I've been lucky enough to have several in the course of playtesting and writing the game.

I think the new Foible mechanic helps reward that sort of thing, and the existing Story Hook mechanic does too.

On the other hand, if your rules system is producing so many series of bad rolls that it's hard to maintain the sense that a highly competent character actually is competent, then I would call that a defect in the rules system as a rules system

Actually, all of the PDQ-based games are somewhat slanted in favor of PC success (Average Ranked character doing an Average Difficulty task is trying to hit a 7 on a 2d6 roll.)




Edited at 2009-04-23 04:28 pm (UTC)
whswhs From: whswhs Date: April 24th, 2009 04:26 am (UTC) (Link)
You say that "S7S swashbuckling PCs are STYLISH and AWESOME. When something goes wrong, it should be in a STYLISH and AWESOME way. It doesn't even have to be the character's fault." But "the character's fault" isn't a necessary explanation in any game system. I mean, say we're playing GURPS, and I have a character with skill 20 in something. They'll still fail on a rolled 17 and critically fail on a rolled 18. But that's not going to come across as "the character's fault"; it's the irreducible minimum of bad luck and unfavorable situations that anyone can run into. Very few game systems let you build a character who has a zero probability of failure.

On the other hand, this stated goal is somewhat at odds with your statement that "all of the PDQ-based games are somewhat slanted in favor of PC success (Average Ranked character doing an Average Difficulty task is trying to hit a 7 on a 2d6 roll.)" You've just defined a situation where a character fails 42% of the time! If I wanted to build a character who came across as awesome, I would want them to be able to succeed better than 95% of the time, and succeed at a penalty better than 50% of the time. You seem to be defining a mechanic under which those "awesome" characters can't attain a very high rate of success, and then complaining that the result is frustrating to the players, and coming up with a narrative trick to make the failure bother them less. But if you picked a more appropriate mechanic in the first place you might not have that problem.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves." If you define numbers that produce frequent failures, then those numbers will produce the impression that the characters are inept.
chadu From: chadu Date: April 24th, 2009 12:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
But "the character's fault" isn't a necessary explanation in any game system.

I would agree that it isn't necessary, per se, but it's an entertaining explanation.

I mean, say we're playing GURPS, and I have a character with skill 20 in something. They'll still fail on a rolled 17 and critically fail on a rolled 18. But that's not going to come across as "the character's fault"; it's the irreducible minimum of bad luck and unfavorable situations that anyone can run into.

In my play experience, the majority of players ascribe failures and critical failures to the fault of the character, not bad luck or crappy situations.

Different gamers and gaming environments, I reckon.

You've just defined a situation where a character fails 42% of the time!

Success 58% fits my definition of "slightly slanted towards success."

My apologies. I momentarily forgot that you're not into my game system -- very few characters will have Average Rank Qualities. (Average Rank is the assumed untrained ability in anything that isn't secret, esoteric, or special.)

The majority of characters will be Good [+2] at things they're trained in, some will be Expert [+4], and a few will opt for Master [+6]. That gives, respectively, 2d6+2, 2d6+4, and 2d6+6 versus an Average Difficulty of 7.

How do the statistics of those work out?

Edited at 2009-04-24 12:23 pm (UTC)
whswhs From: whswhs Date: April 24th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Chance of failure is respectively 17%, 3%, and none.

In general, I would consider "none" to be too small a chance of failure; even the world's greatest master ought to have a small chance of failure on a task difficult enough to roll for at all. But the smallest chance of failure possible in your system is 3%, the same as for Expert. That's probably too high. It's part of the reason I don't really like 2d6 systems all that well; the 3d6 system of GURPS not only gives you an irreducible minimum of failure of 2%, but lets you have an irreducible minimum of critical failure of 0.5% within that! Given that you're working with 2d6, though, I think it's probably better to go with Master having no chance of failure.

As to players ascribing failures to the character's lack of skill, I find it hard to believe that anyone would do so if it said right there on their character sheet that the character had skill 15 or 16. I don't see my players doing that. The saying I'm familiar with in those circumstances is "the dice know," which I take to be expressing a sense of fatalism, if anything: the dice are seen as a medium for divine intervention, as it were.
bryant From: bryant Date: April 23rd, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
For the last couple of years, informed by the indie gaming player narrative tendencies, I've been explicitly reserving failure narration to myself as the GM in order to create and maintain the illusion of a world that the players do not control. Both as a GM and as a player, I prefer the worldbuilding that has a singular vision at the head of it. I'm in favor of player contributions and ideas and suggestions, and I totally get and approve of player narrative techniques -- I just also recognize that I want a different effect.

Mind you, I also seek out game systems that make PCs heroic. 4e appeals to me in this way. Dark Heresy fails to make PCs heroic out of the box, so I made some convenient excuses to give PCs bonuses on every single roll and reminded them about the aiming options a lot.

I.e., I tune the system in order to maintain player interest rather than tuning the narrative of failure.

Games that do not provide room for either player or GM narrative are less useful to me. Fortunately it's generally an easy kitbash. Games that explicitly talk about both options and how to use them in play are superawesome and mostly nonexistent, alas.
chadu From: chadu Date: April 23rd, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Games that explicitly talk about both options and how to use them in play are superawesome and mostly nonexistent, alas.

Well, I hope I do that implicitly, if not explicitly, in S7S.

If/When you read it, let me know what you think.
inkylj From: inkylj Date: April 23rd, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, my take as a player is generally that if my character fails a lot, then he (or she or it or whatever) is incompetent. You can narrate a failure or two away but if it happens a lot, eventually people run out of inspiration and it just comes down to "well, I guess you miss. Again."

So, uh, narration doesn't really help with that. (And actually the same tends to apply to successes too -- eventually both the GM and I tend to run out of ideas and fall back on the defaults of the system.)

The other points are fine, I guess. Everyone I play with is playing for style all the time -- this is the main reason we play -- so point 3 doesn't matter much. Points 4 and 5 seem to contradict each other to some extent; if the player narrates something unusual the GM'll have to do more work to fit it in, not less.
chadu From: chadu Date: April 23rd, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, my take as a player is generally that if my character fails a lot, then he (or she or it or whatever) is incompetent.

I disagree, having recently -- along with a co-player -- had a HUGE RUN of crappy dice luck in the last D&D4e session we played. Both of us were 7th level characters, with plenty of bonuses and nifty gear... and couldn't roll over a 5 on a d20 (both of us!) over a period of nearly an hour.

Points 4 and 5 seem to contradict each other to some extent; if the player narrates something unusual the GM'll have to do more work to fit it in, not less.

Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast; I contain multitudes. ;)
reverancepavane From: reverancepavane Date: April 23rd, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

It depends entirely on how much you trust your players and their reaction to the dramatic moment. With some groups it works well, with others, not so much. I have, however noted a tendency of even when it is being done successfully, people tend to fall back to being reactive to the gamemaster. Probably from habit. [Actually the style die mechanic to purchase background seems to have more of an effect in this regard of building the world/events than the success/failure of rolls.]

It also probably works best with situations of "total success" or "total failure," rather than in situations where actions can be repeated ad infinitum. In the later case it often just becomes a minor inconvenience to goal-hungry players (although perhaps charging style dice for repeat attempts might alleviate this situation).

So it can work, and work well, but it does require familiarity with the game that both the players and gamemaster desire. I suppose it all comes down to bad form over blocking other characters, including the NPCs.

Incidentally, Houses of the Blooded does a similar thing mechanically with it's wager system. If you fail the test then your statement doesn't succeed, but you do get half your claimed wagers to describe the situation. In the example given, you fail to leap between the buildings (the stated objective) and then you spend your wagers to "grab a clothes line and swing onto a balcony below, surprising a beautiful woman with whom you want to spend the night with." While a nice idea in actually quantifying the degree of failure and success, I personally found the game system a bit too too "clunky" to do a good job at it (although it's improved if you double people's effective dice, allowing them to make more wagers, but then you have to rely on the players not attempting to roll all their dice to get "overkill" on the success chance).

chadu From: chadu Date: April 23rd, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
It also probably works best with situations of "total success" or "total failure," rather than in situations where actions can be repeated ad infinitum.

Strong agreement here. In play, I found that for Challenges (skill rolls), players narrated readily and easily with minor GM input, but in Duels (conflicts and combat) I as GM ended up doing most of the narration with minor player input.

I mention that in the book, btw.
matt_rah From: matt_rah Date: April 23rd, 2009 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I kind of like the Luke Crane school of "GM wrests narrative control away from the player on a failed roll" thought. (I very much ran DRYH this way this past weekend, for example.) BW/BE/MG also reward failure in other ways, through tests.

That said, I am 100% with you, Chad, in caring much more about genre/literary verisimilitude than about the fidelity of the setting as an entity independent of the narrative. And so I think whoever narrates failure, that narration should be done in a way that reflects the kind of game you are playing.

Matt
chadu From: chadu Date: April 23rd, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
And so I think whoever narrates failure, that narration should be done in a way that reflects the kind of game you are playing.

Agreed. Thanks, mang!
jbteller4 From: jbteller4 Date: April 23rd, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't had a chance to run S7S yet, but I like the idea of players narrating for success or failures. There are other reasons, too, but two that jumped out are:

1) After years of only GMing, I've started rotating, so I've been a player again--and I know that I want to narrate... :-) (in fact, I've found playing to be almost boring lately, which has really made me look at my own GMing from a different perspective), and

2) In my experience with my current group, the more they narrate and have input, the more engaged they are (and the better the game goes in general). But the old GM before me was a very dominating GM (I'm not really knocking the GM--he had an energy and creativity that kept it interesting, but the fact was you were a participant in his game, not equals)--so my players are still getting comfortable with player narration. It's definitely hasn't been their training until two years when I've been introducing new games and styles of play gradually. So having player narration responsibilities (and rewards) clearly spelled out and proceduralized is helpful.


And I also really like the idea that failure is not necessarily due to the character's skill. In books and movies, it isn't uncommon for a conflict to end due to outside influences (like a wall crumbling between opponents or the rope being cut or running out of time). And, of course, the same goes for successes (a character could win because of circumstances, dumb luck, etc., too). I like those kind of elements in a story, and tying it to narration of success or failure keeps it fair and fun.

(I've realized lately that I'm much more interested in following "story logic" and genre conventions in games than I am in any kind of reality emulation.)
chadu From: chadu Date: April 23rd, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
In books and movies, it isn't uncommon for a conflict to end due to outside influences (like a wall crumbling between opponents or the rope being cut or running out of time). And, of course, the same goes for successes (a character could win because of circumstances, dumb luck, etc., too). I like those kind of elements in a story, and tying it to narration of success or failure keeps it fair and fun.

That's what I'm trying to aim for with this.

Thanks!
bloodthorn From: bloodthorn Date: April 23rd, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Given that I pretty much play "dirty hippie" games exclusively (and some are dirty hippie by dirty hippie standards), I'm no stranger to such mechanics.

I was wondering if you've ever looked at Ron Edward's Trollbabe? It's the only game I know of where the player narrates Failure explicitly and the GM narrates Success explicitly. Since only the player ever rolls in that game it boils down to loser narrates.

I haven't played it so I can't say how it works out in practice but I thought it was worth bringing to your attention.
chadu From: chadu Date: April 24th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't ever read TROLLBABE.

You think it's worth checking out?
eynowd From: eynowd Date: April 24th, 2009 12:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I haven't had a chance to run S7S yet (it's on my list of things to do in the not-too-distant future), but having read through the rules, I like the sound of it.

I'm all for anything that encourages the players to be more creative than "oh, I missed!".

So, it'll be interesting to see how it plays out in practice. I suspect some of the guys I play with will struggle somewhat with it, simply because many of them have a far more traditional gaming mindset and don't know how to cut loose with description. (Creating aspects for SotC characters the other night was less inspiring than I had hoped...)
chadu From: chadu Date: April 24th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think having the setting-specific example Qualities might help you out there.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 24th, 2009 01:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Groove on!

>> Back to the point at hand: Is player narration of both success and failure one of those bits of "mad rpg theory" that you -- personally -- do not get, get and dislike, get and like, or get and groove on? <<

This is one of the main fuels of gaming for me. If it isn't there, I get bored. If I'm gamemastering, I have to make sure that one person's narration doesn't bore someone else, because if I'm enjoying it, I'll let it run forever. I kid you not, I had to make "Pause" cards for the quiet players in my last game. But when the balance was right, it was just awesome.

The fact that you engineer this stuff into the mechanics of your games is why I play and recommend them. I have yet to find anyone else who does this as well, let alone better, than you.
chadu From: chadu Date: April 24th, 2009 12:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Groove on!

On the internet, no one know that you're a dog blushing furiously.

Thank you.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 25th, 2009 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Groove on!

You're welcome.

The more I think about it, the more I realize -- you're not just a better designer, your process is smarter. You consider what people enjoy about gaming, what they want to do WITH and IN a game, not just the idea of the game itself. When you have those end goals in mind, it's easier to build the mechanics of the game to support them. That way, even if the details aren't perfect, it's simple to tweak them into place; we don't have to rebuild half the game to get what we want. And the mechanics also do a lot of the refereeing by discouraging bad behavior and rewarding good behavior on the part of the players: you make it easy to do the right thing and hard to do the wrong thing. So the gamemaster doesn't have to spend as much time ragging on people.

Almost all the games out there are variations on a theme that began with the rise of fantasy roleplaying games, and people forget that the origin was in wargames. That necessarily puts intricate combat at the forefront in most games, but that's not why everyone plays. There are far fewer systems designed with a broad focus or a different focus, let alone ones that put heavy-duty infrastructure behind anything else. World Tree, for example, is a super-flexible system that lets people emphasize different things, but where it really shines is the magic system; that's a good example of game mechanics supporting something other than straight combat.

I like games that are different, but most are unique more because of their setting/character flavor than their mechanics. You seem to write at a much deeper level of code than most people do. That stands out. The end result is usually a game that is not only fun to play, but enlightening in terms of life lessons. Since that's another prime reason I play, it's another major attractor for me.
flatvurm From: flatvurm Date: April 24th, 2009 07:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I get it. I like it. :)
chadu From: chadu Date: April 24th, 2009 12:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Spiffy!
From: mickbradley Date: April 24th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
get and groove on, dude!
senatorhatty From: senatorhatty Date: May 3rd, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I get it. I like it. I still can't get my mind around using it for damage!

But I strongly suspect that I'm still too steeped in games in which the combat mechanics take up a plurality of the book.
41 comments or Leave a comment
profile
chadu
User: chadu
Name: chadu
calendar
Back February 2014
1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
232425262728
links
page summary