View Full Version : Group storytelling styles: Cooperative, Competitive, Passive

04-09-2008, 04:25 PM
I've been thinking that what makes a game tell a good story is the degree of cooperation between the players and the GM, but wondering if that's actually the case. It seems that the players' investment in the story has fallen into one of three categories:

Cooperative: The players and the GM have the same ideas of where the story is heading, or the players are actively participating in furthering the GM's plot without an idea of how things will turn out.

Competitive: The players are actively working against the GM's plot, maybe out of passive aggression or frustration, or because they have a genuinely different idea of how they want things to go.

Passive: The players just go along with the story, not working to advance it, but not working against it either.

Has this been others' experience as well? Has a good game been the result of cooperation between the GM and players to tell a good story, or has competition between the GM and players produced something finer than could have happened on anyone's own? Not just something-cool-happened-no-****-there-I-was type of events, but also changes to the overarching story that made the game more interesting overall-

04-09-2008, 05:28 PM
I think issues about the global attitude of a group of player can be worked out by the GM asking simple questions. What style of game are they looking for (lot of combat , mystery or political conspiracies), what settings they feel are attractive (medieval fantasy, cyberpunk, sci fi etc..). Especially at the first session of a campaign a GM should have a clear idea of his players expectations.

If after that the passive and/or aggressive attitude exists, I guess it can either be that the players need some brainwashing or the GM really has issues in the way he runs his games. I'm joking about the brainwashing part of course, but some player more used to video games or board games don't realize that tabletop RPG are not about winning as much as building an interactive shared story. When it comes to issues about how the GM runs his game, it's time for the big bad medicine : time to put the ego on the side and accept criticism and even stimulate it. Maybe one is too authoritarian, or too predictible, or needs to improve his plots, his descriptions or the way he plays NPCs roles...

04-10-2008, 12:32 AM
Well I pose questions, I don't provide answers. So the players need to come up with the answers. Becasue I do it this way the players are part of the creative process. I never go into a scenario knowing how the thing will play out. I get my fun out of watching my players puzzle out the problems or create their next problem simply by brainstorming it.

04-12-2008, 11:25 AM
not to mention the players managing to create whole new countries and civilizations and plot lines whole cloth because of some fumble and the frantic catch-it-catch-it-catch-it that follows. let them write the story, you just describe it in an interesting and exciting fashion. they'll do all the work after that. =D then you start feeling like the walls of a canyon trying to contain a flood of creativity, rather than a guy chasing a pack of cats.

jade von delioch
04-12-2008, 02:48 PM
some games to take a look at.


Take a look at Panty explosion and classroom death match.