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Author Topic: Roleplaying Theory  (Read 3634 times)

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Online TheGlyphstone

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #25 on: April 07, 2012, 09:31:47 AM »
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Wait, so you're ready to create three different cities, but not a different mystery along the way?
Yeah, just put the cabin before the crossroad, then! Since you are creating it with the idea "players can't miss it", no need for giving them false choices.
Really? Who builds creepy haunted mansions at crossroads, seriously?

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Which is often a litmus test for illusionist GMs, yeah ;).
But what's the passing/failing of the test? The placing of the cabin, or the refusing to 'relocate' it once its location is known?


Besides, I'm completely sure the GM isn't doing more work if it's a pure sandbox. He might need to improvise more, but that actually means even less work he could need to do. Or he could ask them "fine, guys, I need to know now - where are you going next session?" After all, preparing four cities makes preparing 4 encounters pale in comparison.


What if he did? If he only has 1 Red Cabin mystery (and no, the locals don't know it exists, that's why it's a mystery : ), why does the simple litmus test between 'Good Improv' and 'Bad Illusionist' become nothing more than asking the players which way they're going the previous session versus making it up between sessions? That is in fact lying to your players even worse, because you're implying to them OOC that you spent extra time during the session break specifically creating an encounter when you in fact had one shelved for just this circumstance. If he wrote up that Red Cabin 2 months before and never had a chance to use it till now, he becomes a horrible GM because he decides it's time to bring out that adventure and dumps it on the road where the players are going - when you're someone with limited free time each week, you'd be smart to prepare in the time that you can, which sometimes means pre-preparing modular plot hooks and having them ready to insert into the story at will.

Otherwise, any DM who has his plot arc plan further than a week ahead becomes a 'bad illusionist', because there will be things like the BBEG's plans that the players don't know about and have no effect on (yet). Reactive knee-jerk aversion to the GM doing anything independently of player action or knowledge is just as bad as iron-clad railroading...very few RPGs are run by committee, and those that do are built from the ground up to accomodate that (and are very entertaining, from what I've heard of them).

Offline Deva

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #26 on: April 07, 2012, 09:37:08 AM »
creepy haunted mansions are awesome. every campaign should have one. even sci fi campaigns...

I almost want to make a haunted house campaign now.. players could be ghosts or victims..*wanders off to plan*

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #27 on: April 07, 2012, 10:00:54 AM »
creepy haunted mansions are awesome. every campaign should have one. even sci fi campaigns...

I almost want to make a haunted house campaign now.. players could be ghosts or victims..*wanders off to plan*

Creepy haunted space station. Problem solved. ;D

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #28 on: April 07, 2012, 03:43:46 PM »
Really? Who builds creepy haunted mansions at crossroads, seriously?
People that care about tradition and occultism, of course. Crossroads are tradtional places for such mansions!
Not to mention I didn't say št the crossroad", but "before we even reach the crossroad" ;).

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But what's the passing/failing of the test? The placing of the cabin, or the refusing to 'relocate' it once its location is known?
I answered that one in my previous post, TG.

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What if he did?
What if he did what?

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If he only has 1 Red Cabin mystery (and no, the locals don't know it exists, that's why it's a mystery : ), why does the simple litmus test between 'Good Improv' and 'Bad Illusionist' become nothing more than asking the players which way they're going the previous session versus making it up between sessions?
You're twisting what I said, but I'm pretty sure it's accidental.
That's not the litmus "good improv-bad illusionist". It's "honest railroad-dishonest illusionism" and as I said, I appreciate the railroad more. One of them is telling them they will meet this cabin no matter where they go, but he changes the end location. The other makes it seem like everything depends on their choice, while in effect only the city does change. See the difference?

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That is in fact lying to your players even worse, because you're implying to them OOC that you spent extra time during the session break specifically creating an encounter when you in fact had one shelved for just this circumstance.
It's only implying that you want to detail the right city.
Personally, however, I'm implying nothing. I use something like the time I travel from work the day before to think about the session. My players know it.

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Otherwise, any DM who has his plot arc plan further than a week ahead becomes a 'bad illusionist', because there will be things like the BBEG's plans that the players don't know about and have no effect on (yet).
No such thing has been written by me or can be implied by a honest reading of my posts, TG!
Re-read the part about in-game reasons being a good enough reason to have stuff that didn't depend on the players, if you need to. So much for the BBEG plans. They're an in-game reason.

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Reactive knee-jerk aversion to the GM doing anything independently of player action or knowledge is just as bad as iron-clad railroading...very few RPGs are run by committee, and those that do are built from the ground up to accomodate that (and are very entertaining, from what I've heard of them).
TG, I'm the GM more often than not. My players know I consider "you bastard" after they're surprised by a twist to be a compliment to my skills.
Do you honestly think I've got "reactive knee-jerk aversion on the GM doing anything independently" ;D?
Also, yes, GMless games are fun. We're not discussing these, though, AFAIK.

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #29 on: April 08, 2012, 12:41:32 PM »

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TG, I'm the GM more often than not. My players know I consider "you bastard" after they're surprised by a twist to be a compliment to my skills.
Do you honestly think I've got "reactive knee-jerk aversion on the GM doing anything independently" ;D?
Also, yes, GMless games are fun. We're not discussing these, though, AFAIK.
That just means you have that knee-jerk aversion to doing it yourself rather than having it done to you. And while I can't be certain you have an active aversion, you are rather obviously condescending in your word choice and phrasing towards people who don't act like you do (your way, Railroading, or railroading and lying about itillusionism).

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I answered that one in my previous post, TG.
If you had, I wouldn't be asking it.

Me: If they skip the Red Cabin or turn around and decide to follow a different road instead - now you do need to create a Yellow Bandit Caravan or a Green River Crossing, because the player's actions have opened your box and fixed the location of the Red Cabin Mystery plot (and incidentally, the Red Cabin itself).
You: Which is often a litmus test for illusionist GMs, yeah ;).

...That doesn't answer the question at all. Which is the Illusionist, the DM who has his side-plot fixed once its location is determined, or the one that moves his side-plot in front of the players even if they turn around take a different road? Or is the only viable alternative giving the group a detailed map of the haunted forest no one has ever returned from because they are the PCs?

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You're twisting what I said, but I'm pretty sure it's accidental.
That's not the litmus "good improv-bad illusionist". It's "honest railroad-dishonest illusionism" and as I said, I appreciate the railroad more. One of them is telling them they will meet this cabin no matter where they go, but he changes the end location. The other makes it seem like everything depends on their choice, while in effect only the city does change. See the difference?
See, now you're doing the twisting. One of the scenarios is a GM who openly takes away the player's agency by saying nothing they do matters, they will encounter this mystery - he doesn't care if the players have a good game experience, only that they do what he wants. The other GM wants the players to have the best game experience he can provide within his own resources and time. Everything still depends on the player's choices except for the location of the encounter, and without being given the GM's notes, the players can't know whether the location was fixed or mutable. You've painted the two variant as sides of the same ugly coin to create a false dilemma.

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It's only implying that you want to detail the right city.
Personally, however, I'm implying nothing. I use something like the time I travel from work the day before to think about the session. My players know it.
You very much are, though - you're implying that any DM who doesn't do short-term improv the way you do is 'doing it wrong' as an evil, fiendish railroader who can't even be honest with their railroading. Maybe you're a brilliant improvisationalist, able to create a detailed haunted mansion stuffed with traps, puzzles, NPCs, and interaction opportunities the day before the game, or else you have vast amounts of free time in which you can lovingly detail every square inch of the world with said fully fleshed out and detailed sideplot locations. Other people don't - they prepare when they can, but aren't willing to throw their players' enjoyment of a game out the door by using simplistic or poorly detailed plots to satisfy their need to have metagame control over the DM's world.


That's the real issue I have with your black-and-white view of this, because it amounts to saying 'if you can't do detailed improv on the fly, you suck'. Consider several scenarios, each marginally similar to another:
-In Scenario 1, the GM has a haunted mysterious forest with three roads. He has decided that a bandit camp lies to the North, a river crossing to the East, and a trader's caravan to the South. While the players may or may not know these things exist where they do, they are fixed.
-In Scenario 2, the same haunted forest exists, but the Bandit Camp, River Crossing, and Caravan are nebulously located. His Bandit Camp is the most detailed and complex encounter, so it will be on whatever is the first road the players choose. If they turn around, or come back later, the Bandit Camp remains on that road, and the next road they pick has the River Crossing - currently only a rough outline that can be detailed later once he knows it is needed. The players in this instance cannot know where these things are, because the DM doesn't either.

Now, you are openly and unambigiously proponent that Scenario 1 is Good and scenario 2 is Bad. The issue is that with Scenario 1=Good, you assume that the GM has limitless time for preparation. He cannot necessarily know, without asking, which route the players will take when they enter the forest. With limited time, he must divide his prep work between his three scenarios - a Scenario 1 GM will end up with either 1 fully written encounter and 2 unfinished sketch-outlines, or 3 half-written and probably lackluster encounters. If he devotes his time to fully detailing one direction and they end up picking another direction, his work is wasted and the players have nothing to do. The 'bad' Scenario 2 GM, comparatively, definitely has 1 fully written encounter, ensuring the players at least have an opportunity to experience a good encounter even if they choose poorly at the crossroads.

Now, Scenario 1a/2a, so-written because it can be a variant of either of the above, includes the same DM with a backup folder of sideplots, mini-adventures, and NPCs to be slotted in whenever necessary. Let's go with Scenario 1, where the GM has all the time he needs to create three fully detailed encounters at the ends of three different roads. But the players, for player-reasons unknown, ignore the roads and go haring off into the woods to the Northeast. Now GM 1 has a choice - end the session immediately because he has nothing already set in that direction, improv something on the fly that could go ill or well depending on improv skill, waste the players' time with random encounters, or dive into his backup folder and pull something out to drop in their path, which turns out to be a Red Cabin Mystery. Now, the actions of the players have out-of-game caused this Mystery to appear when otherwise it would have remained tucked away until needed; this is 'illusionism', and thus Bad. All of the other alternatives, though, involved the players either not having fun or doing nothing whatsoever. GM 2's story would be much the same as this, except it's likely that Bandit Camp, River Crossing, Caravan, and Red Cabin are all in his backup folder to begin with.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2012, 12:44:28 PM by TheGlyphstone »

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #30 on: April 08, 2012, 05:35:38 PM »
TG, I think this discussion is getting more emotional than it's worth it. So, if you don't mind, I'd answer your questions here, and consider the topic closed? I respect you and don't think a gamestyle preference is worth any bad blood, and I get such a feeling from your post. (I also know the topic of illusionism pretty much always gets heated, as it's got ardent proponents and people that dislike the idea equally ardently ;)).
Besides, I think you have presented your viewpoint quite clearly, and I need to make some explanations. However, I assume I after that, my viewpoint would be just as clear. We're unlikely to change each other's minds, and that's not the point of the thread, IMO! As I see it, it's presenting the different options with their pros and cons. Any GMs can pick whatever they prefer, and try how it works for them.
At least, that's how I see gaming theory threads. To expect us to reach a conclusion about any game style being superior would be pointless. We simply can't do that, as it depends on the group's preferences as well! However, it's worth knowing when each technique is likely to blow in your face.

That just means you have that knee-jerk aversion to doing it yourself rather than having it done to you.
I object to the "knee-jerk" denominator. It can't apply when I have run games in this style myself ;D!
Basically, if you can name a technique, I've either tried it, or if it's such a new indie-story-game option, I'm probably willing to give it a try and see what it brings to the table! The reason I've decided some GMing techniques aren't worth my time is that according to my experience, they've been actively harmful to my enjoyment of the game, both as a player and as a GM, since I run the kind of games I like to play.

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And while I can't be certain you have an active aversion, you are rather obviously condescending in your word choice and phrasing towards people who don't act like you do (your way, Railroading, or railroading and lying about itillusionism).
I explained in my previous posts that I consider these choices inferior for me, given my preferences. Yes, I'm making my preferences crystal clear, and after years in the hobby with different GMs, often playing more than once a week face to face, in addition to the forum games, guess what? I don't plan to apologize for that.
If I haven't talked about how these are inferior to me,  personally, as a subjective opinion, you might have had a point here. But you'd need quite a bit of skipping my posts in order to miss me making the point that it's my own, purely subjective opinion!
Here, let me refresh your memory.

As for bad GMing, some people like being railroaded. It's bad GMing for me, subjectively.

(This was bolded in the original post, in the vain hope nobody would miss that).
Please keep in mind that in this post, I'm only talking from my own name, about my opinion, and don't pretend it's universally valid!

Railroading a willing group means there's no out of game problem, hence why it's also known as participationism. It works, as long as the players are fine with it.


(This wasn't bolded in the original post)
I agree. That's why I make it a point to avoid them to the best of my abilities >:)!
I like sandbox games, I like character-driven stories, and I like combinations of those two. But honestly, I don't much care for the best examples of the other approaches. So I think I actually save time and frustration for both me and the GM that might be running them 8-)!
Go ahead and compare. The posts are still in this thread, and I assume a mod can guarantee I haven't changed the one I quoted here after your post, or something like that.

So, if you feel like I'm attacking your style, I'm not. I'm not saying you should stop running like that, or you're a Bad Person, either.
I'm saying that yes, if that's how you run games, I'd appreciate an warning. In this way, I might avoid joining your games, and neither of us would spoil the other's fun, or I'd join knowing what I'm going to get. This would also mean that if I join, I've accepted that's how you run games, and have for some reason decided to still give it a try. Rest assured, if this happened, I wouldn't be complaining even if I found later I didn't enjoy it, and you would retain my best feelings.
Not quite true if I join a game and find out mid-campaign it was Powered by Illusionism. And frankly, if you expect to hide for more than a rather short campaign, lasciate ogni speranza >:)!
If that's enough, and you can agree to disagree, I'd strongly advise you against reading the rest of my post. In case you want me to answer your questions though, I did so as well.

Rest of Answers
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If you had, I wouldn't be asking it.
My bad, but in my defence, I thought I had!

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Me: If they skip the Red Cabin or turn around and decide to follow a different road instead - now you do need to create a Yellow Bandit Caravan or a Green River Crossing, because the player's actions have opened your box and fixed the location of the Red Cabin Mystery plot (and incidentally, the Red Cabin itself).
You: Which is often a litmus test for illusionist GMs, yeah ;).

...That doesn't answer the question at all. Which is the Illusionist, the DM who has his side-plot fixed once its location is determined, or the one that moves his side-plot in front of the players even if they turn around take a different road?
The one who doesn't change it is the more subtle illusionist, while the other switches to railroading once it doesn't go his way. That's all.

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Or is the only viable alternative giving the group a detailed map of the haunted forest no one has ever returned from because they are the PCs?
Oh middle, I love thou dearly, no matter how excluded thou might seem!
:P
Or, in other words, the jump from "no illusionism" to "perfect transparency with metagame information" is a non-sequitur. The two aren't tied.

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See, now you're doing the twisting. One of the scenarios is a GM who openly takes away the player's agency by saying nothing they do matters, they will encounter this mystery - he doesn't care if the players have a good game experience, only that they do what he wants.
Yes, you can't deny it's a rather direct approach, right?

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The other GM wants the players to have the best game experience he can provide within his own resources and time. Everything still depends on the player's choices except for the location of the encounter, and without being given the GM's notes, the players can't know whether the location was fixed or mutable.
After several threads on illusionism, I was waiting almost in dread for this argument. Not because I can't refute it, but because I hate refuting it.
Basically, this amounts to the argument that the players will never know if it's "done right", and besides, it's for their own good. Been there, considered it from all angles, and I'm not persuaded.
Let's just say this. The only way they might not know is if they tacitly accept you using this technique, including accepting you making decisions for their own good. And if that's the case, there's probably no problem.
My only advice is to make sure they wouldn't mind before the campaign. Finding out that they very much mind mid-game is bound to be unpleasant, if my experiences with it are anything to go by.

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You've painted the two variant as sides of the same ugly coin to create a false dilemma.
They are the sides of the same coin. One of them is simply much rougher. Some people might accept one of them but not the other. That doesn't change the underlying principle, though.

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You very much are, though - you're implying that any DM who doesn't do short-term improv the way you do is 'doing it wrong' as an evil, fiendish railroader who can't even be honest with their railroading.
Actually no, I don't think anyone has to do it my way. I'm also well aware of at least two other approaches to sandbox GMing which avoid this issue without relying on pre-determined outcomes like illusionist GMs or railroading GMs do.
One of them relies on extensive preparation as a primary tool, replacing my own "short-term improv". Such GMs often have quite a few binders of notes for the setting where they're running their games, and have devoted years if not decades to its development. The other approach relies on the use of random tables whenever necessary.
And of course, I also use notes, and random tables, so you can obviously mix and match the three to your heart's content.


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Maybe you're a brilliant improvisationalist, able to create a detailed haunted mansion stuffed with traps, puzzles, NPCs, and interaction opportunities the day before the game, or else you have vast amounts of free time in which you can lovingly detail every square inch of the world with said fully fleshed out and detailed sideplot locations.
I strongly doubt I'm brilliant!
My sessions run for longer than I prepare for them, though, that much I can tell you. So, I guess I tend towards the improv variant, without the claims for brilliance.

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Other people don't - they prepare when they can, but aren't willing to throw their players' enjoyment of a game out the door by using simplistic or poorly detailed plots to satisfy their need to have metagame control over the DM's world.
Interesting enough, I've been accused of using too convoluted plots for my NPCs, but never of making them too simple. And yeah, it's easy to generate a haunted mansion with traps and history. I've seen enough GMs doing something similar on their first session to know it's not the big deal you make it out to be.
I don't want meta-game control over the setting, either, unless we agreed to play a game where it's assumed. So, unless we're playing HotB or Fate, I don't want it. I don't think I've played or run anything like that this year. But if the players want this, we'll talk about it. So far, they seem satisfied.
But yeah, I still love that excluded middle, where I somehow run games without all of this stuff. And many GMs I know do the same.

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That's the real issue I have with your black-and-white view of this, because it amounts to saying 'if you can't do detailed improv on the fly, you suck'.
Much as you'd like to paint my position this way, it's got no bearing on it. Should I repeat the spoilerblock?
"If you use one of these techniques I find to be killing my enjoyment of the game, I don't want to play with you. Thank you for warning me in advance, though, and good luck finding people that would enjoy your game!"
Now, that would be a fair representation of my position ;D! I doubt losing one player would spoil your sleep.

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Consider several scenarios, each marginally similar to another:
-In Scenario 1, the GM has a haunted mysterious forest with three roads. He has decided that a bandit camp lies to the North, a river crossing to the East, and a trader's caravan to the South. While the players may or may not know these things exist where they do, they are fixed.
-In Scenario 2, the same haunted forest exists, but the Bandit Camp, River Crossing, and Caravan are nebulously located. His Bandit Camp is the most detailed and complex encounter, so it will be on whatever is the first road the players choose. If they turn around, or come back later, the Bandit Camp remains on that road, and the next road they pick has the River Crossing - currently only a rough outline that can be detailed later once he knows it is needed. The players in this instance cannot know where these things are, because the DM doesn't either.
Note taken.
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Now, you are openly and unambigiously proponent that Scenario 1 is Good and scenario 2 is Bad.
First, writing Good and Bad with capital letters is something I leave for D&D alignments.
Second, that's also a misrepresentation. I'm openly and unambigiously telling you that Scenario 1 means I'd probably like your game, and scenario 2 is likely to see me leaving once I get the idea that this is how you proceed. Hope I'm entitled to my preferences? And the people that share them are also entitled not to play in a game run in a way that spoils their fun?
If you agree with that, we have no disagreement. As I've said multiple times in this thread already, there are people that would enjoy Scenario 2, there are GMs that run like this, and I know more than one example of such groups IRL!
I just don't play with them, as I have no fun with the way their games are run, and due to the lack of habit, they're awful players once you give them my way of running. End result, we're happier in different groups.

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The issue is that with Scenario 1=Good, you assume that the GM has limitless time for preparation. He cannot necessarily know, without asking, which route the players will take when they enter the forest. With limited time, he must divide his prep work between his three scenarios - a Scenario 1 GM will end up with either 1 fully written encounter and 2 unfinished sketch-outlines, or 3 half-written and probably lackluster encounters.
First, I don't prepare "encounters", I prepare locations, events, NPCs and the like.
Second, since we said already that's how I run my games, I can confirm it doesn't require long preparation. Actually, it takes me less time than preparing a whole "encounter" for a linear game.
Given the feedback, I'd conclude that improvisation doesn't yield worse results than having stuff mapped up. Of course, you must make the necessary preparations to improvise, but it takes next to no time.

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If he devotes his time to fully detailing one direction and they end up picking another direction, his work is wasted and the players have nothing to do.
Yes, if he prepares in a self-defeating way, the players accidentally pressing the "defeat GM preparation" button is a possible outcome. Your point?

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The 'bad' Scenario 2 GM, comparatively, definitely has 1 fully written encounter, ensuring the players at least have an opportunity to experience a good encounter even if they choose poorly at the crossroads.
So, not following what the GM wants them to is "choosing poorly"? No comment.

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Now, Scenario 1a/2a, so-written because it can be a variant of either of the above, includes the same DM with a backup folder of sideplots, mini-adventures, and NPCs to be slotted in whenever necessary. Let's go with Scenario 1, where the GM has all the time he needs to create three fully detailed encounters at the ends of three different roads. But the players, for player-reasons unknown, ignore the roads and go haring off into the woods to the Northeast. Now GM 1 has a choice - end the session immediately because he has nothing already set in that direction, improv something on the fly that could go ill or well depending on improv skill, waste the players' time with random encounters, or dive into his backup folder and pull something out to drop in their path, which turns out to be a Red Cabin Mystery. Now, the actions of the players have out-of-game caused this Mystery to appear when otherwise it would have remained tucked away until needed; this is 'illusionism', and thus Bad. All of the other alternatives, though, involved the players either not having fun or doing nothing whatsoever. GM 2's story would be much the same as this, except it's likely that Bandit Camp, River Crossing, Caravan, and Red Cabin are all in his backup folder to begin with.
And your point is? That you can use illusionism as a back-up tool only and mix it with other approaches? I've never denied that. And yes, this might be more acceptable to some people than the other options. To others, it might make no difference.
Now, as I said, I consider the topic of illusionism closed for me. I've said what I've got to say, and if it wasn't clear this time, it wouldn't be cleared on the 15th time around, either.


Now, let me suggest a topic. The topic is personality mechanics.

What do you think is preferable, influencing the characters, or influencing the players?
On one hand, some people hate them with a passion, feeling that being able to influence the character without influencing the player reduces the player's control over the character.
OTOH, the characters and the players are different people, and it makes sense that whatever influences one of us might leave the other unmoved, and vice versa. Point in case, many of my characters wouldn't bother reading a thread discussing roleplaying theory!

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #31 on: April 08, 2012, 05:46:23 PM »
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TG, I think this discussion is getting more emotional than it's worth it. So, if you don't mind, I'd answer your questions here, and consider the topic closed?

Fair enough. I still feel attacked by being told I'm 'doing it wrong' to mix actual preparation and modular improvisation ('illusionism'), and think it's a bit presumptuous to assume one will always know the difference between a location/event that was guaranteed to be in a particular place and one that was slotted into place on the fly, but if that's your experience, more power to you.

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What do you think is preferable, influencing the characters, or influencing the players?
On one hand, some people hate them with a passion, feeling that being able to influence the character without influencing the player reduces the player's control over the character.
OTOH, the characters and the players are different people, and it makes sense that whatever influences one of us might leave the other unmoved, and vice versa. Point in case, many of my characters wouldn't bother reading a thread discussing roleplaying theory!

What do you mean by 'influencing the characters'? Mind-controlling magic or other effects?

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #32 on: April 08, 2012, 06:31:56 PM »
Fair enough. I still feel attacked by being told I'm 'doing it wrong' to mix actual preparation and modular improvisation ('illusionism'), and think it's a bit presumptuous to assume one will always know the difference between a location/event that was guaranteed to be in a particular place and one that was slotted into place on the fly, but if that's your experience, more power to you.
I told you, it's not bad and wrong if your group likes it. It means I'm not likely to be in your group.

And always, no, but since I act on "one strike, I'm out of this campaign" rules, you have no margin for errors. I find it more than a bit presumptuous to assume that I'd never get the difference.
Now let's put this to rest.

What do you mean by 'influencing the characters'? Mind-controlling magic or other effects?
Mind-controlling magic is magic. I'm talking about stuff like failing a Sanity check in Call of Chtulhu, or getting your Passions played on in Pendragon and succeeding the check when you'd want your knight to apply more cold logic instead and see his hate is blinding him.

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #33 on: April 08, 2012, 06:44:00 PM »
That sort of thing tends to be tied into the ruleset for thematic reasons or atmosphere. You can't actually drive your players crazy by describing a Shoggoth, but seeing one has horrible effects on the minds of mortals, so Sanity rolls make sense. It's part of the game - when you sign up for a CoC game, you do so prepared for your character to go crazy to some degree; joining a Pendragon game implies you're playing a Arthurian knight with all that entails. If a player isn't interested in the genre tropes tied to that setting, they should be playing something else.

Offline FenrisulfrTopic starter

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #34 on: July 23, 2012, 04:52:20 AM »
As I'm currently waiting on a four hours compile, and not much else I can do here at work at them moment; so I thought I would see if I could resurrect this thread. :)

When I look at the forum games here, most appear to fit into "character driven plot" category. So presenting different tools and how to apply them, and identifying differences when it comes to forum based play, could be useful. I write "appear" as some can look that way, but has a pre-agreed plot that the story is following and thus are helped by other tools.

"Character driven plots" (a.k.a. "Story now") is at the opposite end from "linear plots" (a.k.a. "Story before"), even if it is possible to remake a linear plot into a character driven one. After all, a James Bond Universe M.I.6 agent is most likely quite motivated to carry out the objective given by M; and a Star Fleet Officer would most likely follow the orders given. But more than one Bond and Star Trek movie are about the main characters going directly against their orders. When and why that happens is part of what makes the difference between the two types of plot.

It is also possible to mix between the two, which might be preferable here on E. In a game with slave auctions, deciding in advance that one character will be bought by another character would be a linear plot as the story has to reach a certain result. But everything else can be character driven, unless the story ends there.

So what is the tool for a character driven story?
Those that I can think off are:
Setting
The meat for a character driven game is choices. But for choices to have a meaning, they can't live in a vacuum. The setting gives the frame to place everything within.

Motivations and agendas
The characters and the NPCs has opinions on what is important (i.e. their moral code) and have things they want to achieve.

Relations
People know people. Some they like, some they don't. Combined with agendas, there are suddenly conflict of interests and people to hinder or ask for help from. As the NPCs have their own agendas, they have their own conflicts and just as the player characters might ask for help, the NPCs might come to them.

Flags, veils and blinds
This is sort of a distilled O/O; what do the player want the character to get into, and what do the player have as soft or hard limits when it comes to where the story goes. Just because a character has a background that makes him a great driver or a weapons expert doesn't mean the player are interested in exploring either during the roleplay and is just flavor. But the character with an average driving skill and no weapon training at all might love his character ending up in shootouts and car chases.

Bombs
A bomb is a choice with at least two mutually exclusive options, all being equally good or bad. A bomb can be that the loyal mafioso, with a strong code to never harm children, gets and order to kidnap a child for ransom. The options are at least; obey and hurt the kid, refuse and they send someone else (mildly hurting the loyalty and the kid still get hurt), or protect the kid throwing all his loyalty out the window and giving him some dangerous enemies. Picking between being "rich and healthy" or "poor and sick" isn't a bomb, unless it is a religious play and being "rich and healthy" means giving up ones chance to go to heaven.

Now, it might be that these are not directly translatable to forum games in general, or erotic roleplay in specific. So they might need to be modified. Then there might be more tools out there. So any thoughts, questions, opinions, additions or suggestions? :)

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #35 on: July 23, 2012, 10:07:45 AM »
When I look at the forum games here, most appear to fit into "character driven plot" category. So presenting different tools and how to apply them, and identifying differences when it comes to forum based play, could be useful. I write "appear" as some can look that way, but has a pre-agreed plot that the story is following and thus are helped by other tools.

"Character driven plots" (a.k.a. "Story now") is at the opposite end from "linear plots" (a.k.a. "Story before"), even if it is possible to remake a linear plot into a character driven one. After all, a James Bond Universe M.I.6 agent is most likely quite motivated to carry out the objective given by M; and a Star Fleet Officer would most likely follow the orders given. But more than one Bond and Star Trek movie are about the main characters going directly against their orders. When and why that happens is part of what makes the difference between the two types of plot.

It is also possible to mix between the two, which might be preferable here on E. In a game with slave auctions, deciding in advance that one character will be bought by another character would be a linear plot as the story has to reach a certain result. But everything else can be character driven, unless the story ends there.
I want to note something that has little importance on the rest of your points.
Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
Specifically, I want to note that "story now" implies a narrativist approach, due to the Forge influence. This is misleading, however. You could easily get a character-driven plot with a simulationist approach, as long as exploring what makes the characters behave in one way or another is part of the simulation. It generally is, IME ;). OTOH, a game that focuses on story can have a pre-determined plot. It's what the dramatist gaming is about ;D!
Bottomline, the game being character-driven exists independantly from the gam-sim-nar approach.
With that out of the way, I fully agree with your points and just have a couple things to add.

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Bombs
A bomb is a choice with at least two mutually exclusive options, all being equally good or bad. A bomb can be that the loyal mafioso, with a strong code to never harm children, gets and order to kidnap a child for ransom. The options are at least; obey and hurt the kid, refuse and they send someone else (mildly hurting the loyalty and the kid still get hurt), or protect the kid throwing all his loyalty out the window and giving him some dangerous enemies. Picking between being "rich and healthy" or "poor and sick" isn't a bomb, unless it is a religious play and being "rich and healthy" means giving up ones chance to go to heaven.
I wouldn't say a "bomb", in your terms, need to have the options being equally good. Like in your example, the mafioso wants the money, and doesn't want enemies. But can he allow a child to be hurt, if this conflicts with his code of honour?
Basically, the point here is both options should have downsides. If one of them doesn't, then yeah, it's not a choice, it's a no-brainer. But the two aren't nearly close to being equal. And still, he might well put not breaking his code above his loyalty to the boss!

There's also the issue of meta-currencies, like FATE points, being used to reward acting in character. Since the players can auto-compel themselves to get more of them, they're a very powerful tool for making the game character-driven. But it's not a narrative technique, it's a system-based one.

So let me add something that can probably be filed under one of the above headings, but is important enough to deserve its own heading in my book.
Secrets and Set-ups is the name of the game.

What happens when not all the info on the characters is readily available? We get a secret. This can be quite the powerful motivating force.
What happens when the GM establishes with two or more players that their secrets be mutually exclusive or would lead to them resorting to violence?
Well, pull it off wring, and you're probably just having a jerk GM ;). But pull it off right, revealing the secrets only after the characters have been through danger and common obstacles. When their loyalty to the group and each other is established as a motivation, you can help them reveal their secrets in an accidental manner.
Then you've set up a bomb, pure and simple. Is the werewolf hunter going to kill the werewolf in the party? Is the werewolf going to try and avenge the deaths of many that might be his relatives? Are they going to try and find a cure, or try and use their respective abilities for some greater good? And how is this going to impact on them as characters?
The problem with this kind of bombs is, they can blow in your face, by having the characters resorting to violence. So, you should only do that if the group is on board with the idea - although the exact conflict might be something they didn't know about.

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Now, it might be that these are not directly translatable to forum games in general, or erotic roleplay in specific. So they might need to be modified. Then there might be more tools out there. So any thoughts, questions, opinions, additions or suggestions? :)
IME, they apply quite well in forum games as well - as long as the game is character-driven. Which is not a given, as you noted at the start. That's why different styles of playing exist, of course.
Still, setting up bombs becomes even easier with erotic roleplay games >:)!

Offline FenrisulfrTopic starter

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #36 on: July 26, 2012, 05:37:41 PM »
Well, I guess I should have written "somewhat equal" in regards to bombs.

By the way, there is a kind of "bomb" that has one that is obviously wrong "doing nothing", and then a lot of other options. The introduction adventure to Twilight 2000 ("Escape from Kaliz" if I recall), the player character is perhaps a squad at best and a larger enemy force is heading their way. But where and how is up to the players. Well, they can stay and fight. But that would probably make a quite short game >:(

And when running a pen and paper game with dice mechanics, when not knowing what to do, just roll a dice and go "hm..." Tend to freak out at least some players and keeps them busy for a while ;D But not a clue how to translate that to a forum game. Hit the dice bot randomly?

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #37 on: July 26, 2012, 06:10:43 PM »
GM dice rolls are rarely done in-public on a PbP, so that might not have the same effect as it does on tabletop.

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #38 on: July 27, 2012, 01:25:15 AM »
Well, I guess I should have written "somewhat equal" in regards to bombs.

By the way, there is a kind of "bomb" that has one that is obviously wrong "doing nothing", and then a lot of other options. The introduction adventure to Twilight 2000 ("Escape from Kaliz" if I recall), the player character is perhaps a squad at best and a larger enemy force is heading their way. But where and how is up to the players. Well, they can stay and fight. But that would probably make a quite short game >:(
I don't think it's a bomb. It's just a "situation, resolving it is up to you". I mean, they might find a solution with no downside but for the enemy :D!

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And when running a pen and paper game with dice mechanics, when not knowing what to do, just roll a dice and go "hm..." Tend to freak out at least some players and keeps them busy for a while ;D But not a clue how to translate that to a forum game. Hit the dice bot randomly?
I never make rolls that don't matter, but I usually make rolls that are more about some NPC's planned actions, and of course I don't tell the players. It tends to produce the same effect >:)!


GM dice rolls are rarely done in-public on a PbP, so that might not have the same effect as it does on tabletop.
All of my dice rolls, in PbP or in tabletop, are public for the players, I usually post them in the OOC thread so nobody misses them unless they really want to ;D!

Offline FenrisulfrTopic starter

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #39 on: July 27, 2012, 06:11:21 AM »
I don't think it's a bomb. It's just a "situation, resolving it is up to you". I mean, they might find a solution with no downside but for the enemy :D!
But they have to act. :-) After all, a bomb is a good tool to use if the RP is winding down; get the motion going again.

It is the difference between "the next town is raided by bandits" and "this town is raided by bandits." In the first, the players can just ignore it and consider it to be the problem of somebody else.

But as the word "bomb" is quite defined by now and in my opinion exclude the variation I used in my previous post. Which I guess you are referring to with "I don't think it's a bomb." So I guess it would need another definition ("incoming"? ;D )

Then of course, in my opinion, how and when to apply it differs between a story focused game and a simulationistic game.

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #40 on: July 27, 2012, 08:24:59 AM »

All of my dice rolls, in PbP or in tabletop, are public for the players, I usually post them in the OOC thread so nobody misses them unless they really want to ;D!

Well, I did say 'rarely'. Our previous exchange is proof that you have an unusually high level of transparency in games you run. ;D

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #41 on: July 28, 2012, 02:48:29 AM »
But they have to act. :-) After all, a bomb is a good tool to use if the RP is winding down; get the motion going again.
But it's not the only tool to get them to act.

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It is the difference between "the next town is raided by bandits" and "this town is raided by bandits." In the first, the players can just ignore it and consider it to be the problem of somebody else.
Believe me, if I'm playing the right sort of character, it's still somebody else's problem ;D!
And if I'm playing another sort of character, I'd still get involved in the first case. It's all about the PC, after all.

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But as the word "bomb" is quite defined by now and in my opinion exclude the variation I used in my previous post. Which I guess you are referring to with "I don't think it's a bomb." So I guess it would need another definition ("incoming"? ;D )
That's what I was referring to, indeed. I don't have a specific word for that, since I simply call them "problem situations" or some derivative thereof. You've got a situation, PCs have goals and available tools. Go and solve the problem >:)!

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Then of course, in my opinion, how and when to apply it differs between a story focused game and a simulationistic game.
I prefer "narrative" to "story-focused", as it implies other games don't concern themselves with story.
There are definitely some differences, but it's mostly a matter of approach and using the same tools with different goals in mind.

Well, I did say 'rarely'. Our previous exchange is proof that you have an unusually high level of transparency in games you run. ;D
I'm not sure it's that "unusually high". Maybe it's more transparent than you're used to, but definitely normal for my extended circle of roleplayers. Dice being public is also normal for quite a few OSR guys, and for quite a few narrative guys, and for quite a few simulationists ;D!
IMO, that's just due to variations in local gaming culture, and different approaches to the game.

Offline FenrisulfrTopic starter

Re: Roleplaying Theory
« Reply #42 on: July 28, 2012, 10:23:51 AM »
But it's not the only tool to get them to act.
Of course it is not the only tool :-) But while I like the pattern approach of identifying different tools.

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Believe me, if I'm playing the right sort of character, it's still somebody else's problem ;D!
Well, unless we are talking of a character that can wipe them out without putting his beverage down, it still might be the problem of getting out of the town in time. Or looting it before the competition gets there ;D

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That's what I was referring to, indeed. I don't have a specific word for that, since I simply call them "problem situations" or some derivative thereof. You've got a situation, PCs have goals and available tools. Go and solve the problem >:)!
To me, "problem situations" sounds as a fitting name for a section in a pattern book to which "Bomb" belongs. :-)

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I prefer "narrative" to "story-focused", as it implies other games don't concern themselves with story.
While to me they are quite much interchangeable. After all, "narrative" just as much makes it sounds like gamist and simultionistic games would be to just talking about the numbers, and "simulationist" implies other games lacks logic reasons to what happens. In any case, I will not complain if you prefer "narrative" :-)