Posts Tagged ‘technique’
Infamous’ post starts so well; I wish I’d thought of the word ‘Romantic’ when I was trying to describe the difference between RPGs and wargames, and I could agree harder with him on the player/character skill divide (GMs of the world, please don’t stop games just because “someone’s character wouldn’t have known that” – advance the game by asking them HOW their character knows that. Players, take that as a means to advance and not a coded “you have done something I disapprove of”). But as he gets into talking about the problems that seasoned wargamers have with playing RPGs, though, some rhetoric comes up that puts FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF MY FACE.
FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF MY FACE do not make for happy, constructive discussion of games, but now that they’ve gone down a bit, let’s see if we can’t unpick some game-breaking assumptions.
I’m enjoying the Dark Ages Vampire game enormously, which probably indicates the lack of meta-thoughts and general chit-chat about it on this ‘ere blog thing. However, in the last few weeks a few things have happened that are probably interesting enough to warrant a brief discussion.
Specifically, things I regret.
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I’ve been thinking about how I run games, and player agency, and railroading, quite a lot of late. One of the things about doing the Show is the need to answer questions about how I do things, and to restate basic truths of RPGin’ in ways that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of doing.
I realised, the other day, that there’s a definite shift in all my games that occurs at around the fifth session of play. Before then, PCs tend to be ordered about by NPCs, with player agency governing how things are done rather than what things are done. After then, players tend to have settled in a bit more, to have an idea of what the game world is like, to have developed their ideas about Who The Big Bads Are and Who’s Not Totally Evil and their own interests in things that I have (most likely) made up largely on the spur of the moment. At that point the gears change; the players decide where to go and what to do and I tend to let them make their own enemies. If they’ve decided someone’s the villain, then they’ll treat ‘em like that no matter what I do, so I might as well roll with it. If they’ve decided they want something, my job is to put things in the way of that, ideally other things that they’re interested in.
I’m just not sure if that’s the Right Way to start. It smacks of railroading a bit, and that’s Wrong, right? Except… I tend to think a good poke in one direction starts a long-running game off very nicely. The poke can be resisted immediately, with the ‘no we don’t want to do that let’s do this instead’, but it’s still achieved the goal of getting the players to do something instead of experience analysis paralysis or fart around with no sense of goal or urgency. Even telling an NPC to fuck off is a start.
Here’s a comment that I made on a recent Von Show that (I hope) will show what I’m on about.
Sounds a bit wrong, that.
Coop of Fighting Fantasist tells me of a random dungeon generator for that noblest of classless sword-and-sorcery d6-fests ADVANCED FIGHTING FANTASY, which is good… but I don’t think the mechanic that’s being used is necessarily being taken to its full potential. Jaquays spoke of multiple levels, entrances and routes into and through a dungeon environment, moving beyond the linear into the topographically interesting, and you can read more of the principles of Jaquaying here. I’m not here to pontificate about principles (unusually!) but to offer some practical notions.
This week, in Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, yer Uncle Von will demonstrate how all this story-game theory comes together into practice. In this second post, I’ll be showing how I integrated ‘what my players want to play’ with ‘the WoD metaplot’ and ‘what I actually want to run’.
From the players’ choices, I need developed characters and infrastructures for Nosferatu, Brujah and Tzimisce – it also means I need some Cappadocians handy in case Hark wants to leap that way later. This stage occurred sort of concurrently with the beginnings of the city design – while I was learning about Constantinople I discovered underground rivers, mazes and holy springs, and really wanted to have a sort of holy turf war going on underneath the city between two Nosferatu bloodlines (different ancestors, different faiths). So I want two lots of Nosferatu.
From the metaplot… WHOO. Constantinople’s fall in 1204 is the turning point for the Dark Ages metaplot, so there’s a lot of baggage there. For starters, I count four Methusalae involved somewhere. Michael (4th generation Toreador, thinks he’s an angel, dies in the siege, and the whole ‘Vampire Paradise’ was his idea so when he goes down the dream dies with him), Antonius (Ventrue, decided to make him 5th generation, he’s dead before 1204 but he will have descendants and such), Mary the Black (5th generation Baali… bugger that, there’s too many clans already, and the Baali’s archetype works perfectly well with a member of a proper clan, so let’s make her a Toreador too) and the Dracon (4th generation Tzimisce).