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trechriron
07-04-2008, 03:49 PM
** Disclaimer ** This theory is focused towards GMs and how they run their games.

I have been polishing up this theory with some supporting actual play experiments, and I wanted to poll the group to see where attitudes sit currently. The prevailing mindset might help me steer some of my experiments to prove out some of the attitudes I garner.

The theory in a nutshell: If the GM focuses on giving the players a super fun experience, the GM will in turn have a super fun experience. This will feed back on itself creating a "firestorm" of fun that will transcend systems, settings, player idiosyncrasies, and gaming "styles".

When you peel back the layers I am offering a bold statement (in a nearly silly simplistic theory).

Fun is the fuel of a good gaming experience. Nothing else. I have played piles of systems, in more settings than I can remember, with a ridiculous diverse number of gamer "types", across a number of preferred gamer "styles" and this is the one common element that has glued together games for me.

Fun? "Trent have you gone nuts? Of course FUN is important! Why do we need a theory to explore the obvious?!?!? STOP DRINKING!!" :crazy:

OK. OK. Yes, but the HOW is where I need to clarify my theory. It's a simple statement to start, but there are nuances to the application. How do you inject FUN into the experience? Is there a common denominator that makes one game experience MORE fun than another?

I believe the answer to that last question is "yes!" and I am going to share my thoughts on this. This will ONLY be available here on P&PG. I will not be working out my theory anywhere else. Only this group of tabletop focused comrades do I want to help me polish up my theory of Player-Centric Play (PCP).

I have several points to add which I will add in separate posts.

My poll will be simple. After reading the thread, let me know if this theory has merit or is pure crazy talk! :D

Also, I want to discuss the application of this approach. So healthy debate, examples, questions, and ideas are of course Welcome!

trechriron
07-04-2008, 04:01 PM
Empowerment. Character Empowerment.

When we take away a character’s capabilities, limit or remove possibilities, reduce or influence probabilities, and/or force inescapability; we are removing the FUN from the game.

“But, Trent.” You say. “How the hell do we provide challenge and risk into a game without some hardship or adversity?!?!”

I didn’t say remove the risk or adversity. That’s silly. You’re game would end up being cheesy slapstick at best. I am saying don’t remove the characters' ability to do something about it. I will provide some examples of mistakes I felt I made in the past, the results of those mistakes (taken straight from the players’ mouths), and what I think I could have done differently to invoke FUN versus disappointment.



Why this focus? Simply because of all the theories I have read, problems I have seen online in forums, debates about play styles and approaches, game design theories hoping to channel fun with focused systems, and frustrations of players talking about games they don’t enjoy. I also needed to look deep and find out why, after so many years GMing games, I wasn’t always keeping players in my games or having trouble getting my regular gaming friends to play with me.

The last string of games I have run have been a blast. I have been applying these ideals to my GMing and I believe they are helping me create FUN games that people want to come back to.

Please read on…

nijineko
07-04-2008, 05:23 PM
initial off-the-cuff response: (lucky for you i'm a very light oriented individual, so no doom and gloom from me!)

the first thought i had about "fun" was that it is in the eye of the beholder. different people find different types of things fun. were you to manage to gather a like-minded group together, then i think what you describe would be very likely to happen. a group of very differently-minded individuals would have to conciously work towards accomplishing cooperation and taking turns in the spotlight to be able to have a chance of achieving "fun-copation". (taken from the word syncopation, in case you were wondering. unless you like "fun-stalt" from the word gestalt.)

cplmac
07-05-2008, 05:44 PM
Yes, if your are not having fun, there is no point in continuing on.

mrken
07-05-2008, 07:59 PM
I need to leave for a moment, I will get back to this, so please don't pass judgment on my theory until I get a chance to articulate it more! :biggrin::biggrin:


Hey, you gotta hurry up a bit. Was holding my breath while you gathered your thoughts on this, but I couldn't hold it any longer. ;) But I will wait to comment.

trechriron
07-06-2008, 02:55 AM
Hey, you gotta hurry up a bit. Was holding my breath while you gathered your thoughts on this, but I couldn't hold it any longer. ;) But I will wait to comment.

I am updating them now. I have much more to post...

trechriron
07-06-2008, 03:05 AM
...

the first thought i had about "fun" was that it is in the eye of the beholder. different people find different types of things fun. were you to manage to gather a like-minded group together, ...

This is EXACTLY the kind of prevailing mindset I am hoping to dispel with my theory. :D

1) Assembling this magical group of like minded people is a disservice to yourself. First, there is no such thing. Secondly, even people who enforce some sort of "rules" or peer pressure end up cajoling people to behave a certain way, but eventually they will fall back on what they want. Finally, the variance in player personalities and approaches can actually make a game better (more to back that up in the "ideals" as I post them).
2) You may think there is some magical subjective fun spot that differs in every player out there. There isn't. I say this from experience. Sure, the nuances (I LOVE to play thieves, or I despise in-game love scenes) may vary, but I feel my theory is more basic. If you apply these ideals to your approach I believe the focus on fun WILL overcome all the nuances we spend an untold number hours debating.

More to follow...

trechriron
07-06-2008, 03:32 AM
I am not coming at my PCP theory from a system perspective. I am coming at it from an “in game” at the table playing a game perspective. I don’t care what game you play, PCP applies. Let’s dig in.

You can’t control player attitudes or desires. They come to you already baked. You can’t control the moods of the players when they show up, how hungry or tired they are, or how focused they are going to be. Frankly, none of that’s important.

Why? How many of your obsessions have you obsessed over tired, unfocused, and even maybe not in the best of moods? Think of something (not gaming) that you absolutely love to do. Would you still do it if maybe you were hungry? Tired? Have you ever lost yourself in a conversation, or playing a video game, or daydreaming where you simply forgot about EVERYTHING? Ever pushed past exhausted and famished to finish level 60? Paint that last part? Compose that last line? Kill that last baddy?

If someone is having fun, in the moment, totally IN TO IT; it is going to be near impossible to distract them. You have seen it countless times in your life and you have experienced it in many avenues before. So. Are your games like that? Is everyone chomping at the bit to play? Talking about it all week long? Begging you to keep going past the agreed upon stopping point?

That is the kind of passion and OBSESSION I want from a game. It’s not that hard really. At first I thought it was impossible. But some simple application of PCP and my games fulfilled my desires for that feedback. The Firestorm of Fun.

Basic formula: The Players are having fun playing characters that are fun to play thereby encouraging the GM to keep applying PCP to the game, thereby making the play more fun, thereby creating the incredible passion at the table that makes the GM have MORE FUN.

It just builds like one of those sci-fi atomic powered engines in a hovering vehicle or something. A hum-whirl of fun-ness, rolling back on itself until the game ends with giddy joy on everyone’s part. It’s not hyperbole. I have watched it happen. I have recreated it faithfully.

So, that’s the basis of PCP. Fun feeds itself. It reciprocates. Even better, it sets a precedent at the table. It removes the attitudes, the conflicts, the fidgeting, the ADD. People get into it like they obsess about WoW or BSG or any number of things us geeks like to obsess about. It doesn’t just make fun it keeps people focused on making MORE fun.

Every THING we do involves various people with different attitudes, ideas, faiths, outlooks, personalities, habits, and DIFFERENCES. It’s the human condition. But people manage to play sports together, found clubs and social groups, and collaborate (passionately I might add) on numerous things. I believe that you can overcome most differences in people by making the THING that you’re doing worth focusing on over and beyond those differences. For tabletop RPGs, it’s fun. I believe fun can be designed by applying PCP to the game.

So first to detail The Common Denominator, then on to The Ideals.

trechriron
07-06-2008, 04:43 AM
Character not Player Empowerment:

Notice I say “character” not “player”. This is an important distinction. Again, you cannot change PLAYERS. They are people and come to you already with set mindsets, ideas, approaches, and idiosyncrasies. And why would you? This is a game for crying out loud, don’t make your experience more complicated than it needs to be! As a GM we should be focused on giving the players a good time by focusing on empowering their characters. You are the bringer of the “in game” world, the maker of events, the creator of nations, and the actor of NPCs. Your power rests IN THE GAME.

“But, Trent, what about courtesy, schedules, food arrangements, and all those other things people talk about being important for a successful game?”

They are important. Just not AS important as some may think they are. Especially when trying to create a fun game. Don’t stop trying to make everyone as comfortable or make the gathering as convenient as possible. That would be foolish. I am just concentrating on “in game” play. Follow the advice about "out of game" play as you feel it applies.

However, I believe creating a fun game will lessen the effects of out of game aspects because, when having fun, people just tend to not manifest aberrant or distracting behaviors as often. They are too busy having fun. :D

Note: Yes the theory is about Player-Centric Play. We are focusing on creating a great fun game by empowering the characters not the GM. The game is about the players. The GM is about the fun. If we (as the GM) are having fun, it's because the players are having fun. I haven't met many GMs who are in this for anything else.

Capabilities:

What did the player want from this character for this game when they sat down at the table? Take that away and you are sure to sabotage the fun for that person for this game. Period. Most games are designed to make characters capable at something. There is a reason this particular character exists for this game and that is what you should be focused on. There is way to introduce risk and adversity to a game without removing a character’s capabilities.

Possibilities:

You can’t do that. It’s not available. There’s nothing there. Often as GMs we will control the situation by limiting or removing possibilities. I am not talking about character options at creation. I am not talking about breaking genre for the setting you are running. I am talking about stonewalling character choices in the game. It’s considered normal to focus character creation options on the genre, setting, and game you are running. It’s generally no fun when in the game you can’t accomplish anything. The more a character’s choices are HINDERED, the worse that fun void gets.

This is especially “fun crushing” when we remove possibilities that are in the purview of the character’s capabilities. We have a super character that needs a phone booth to change into costume so we take away all the phone booths. Even worse, when we simply HINDER things by refusing to have anything around the players are dreaming up COULD be around.

There are subtleties to this area, but it generally comes about because the GM is trying to steer the game in a certain direction. Fun games come from collaborative story creation. Not story “telling”. I will explore this more in The Ideals, but the common term is “railroading” an adventure. PCP does not involve any railroading at any level.

Probabilities:

“So you are running across the street about to catch the villain when a 200 car pileup happens right in front of you” “Man those thugs are good, they keep hitting us with every hail of gunfire and we can’t nick their hats.” “Climbing the rope to get out of this pit has a “super impossible” difficulty? Strange, isn’t it just a normal rope?” “I have a toolbox, three experts, and a potion of ‘Get ‘er Done!’ and I don’t get a bonus?” “What are the odds?” What are the odds?

Sometimes a GM will control a game by removing bonuses, adding penalties, and making things happen to steer the game in certain direction. “What are the odds?” is a funny quip maybe two times and then it starts sucking the fun right off the table.

Steering the game by fixing probabilities fires players up and not in a good way. Being that you are the GM you have “ultimate” control of the probabilities either with the system itself and certainly the “in game” world. This really applies to character empowerment and not the ebb and flow of say an adventure. Having the evil minions show up at an inopportune time is fun. Having the character’s weapons out of ammunition, even though they are crack trained super spies who wouldn’t ever leave a fight without reloading, is NOT FUN. I am not talking about FAVORING the characters here. I am talking about NOT victimizing them with probability.

If you weigh probability against the characters repeatedly, you are going to create a fun-free-suck-zone that players are going to come away from and generally not want to return. Let the characters make their odds with the system. Be fair. Be neutral. Introduce the events and actions you want and then let them unfold. Be flexible. You are not “telling” a story. You are creating one collaboratively with other players at the table.

Inescapability:

This one is simple. No matter how clever you feel. No matter how hard you want the players to think. Don’t. Ever. Put the characters in an impossible to escape situation. There are some horror games that put people in helpless situations (frankly helplessness is an important aspect of horror) but unless the players volunteered to play that kind of game, and know full well what they are in for, you generally are going to get some unhappy players.

Capturing characters is just fine. Just make sure there is a way to escape. If they can’t figure it out, engineer one. I cannot imagine a game ending in the capture, torture, and death of the characters that players would walk away from thinking “that was fun”.

People generally don’t play games to feel helpless. If you have a group that gets together to play a game of helpless characters, so be it. But unless you’re setting, genre, and game is focused on that, don’t interject an inescapable situation just because. It magnifies any fun-suck-zone by a thousand.

You want to keep characters in action, doing the stuff they were designed for, accomplishing things, and engaged. This is the key to building fun and a fun playing experience.

Anytime you put the kibosh on this, you are taking away fun.

trechriron
07-06-2008, 04:44 AM
Warning: This rambles a bit. Sorry, but I need to get this out there for discussion. I promise to polish up the whole thing once I get some input from you fellow tabletop GMs.

What do the Players want from the game? Help them make characters that will provide those wants. Make sure the game is going to include things that both challenge and engage those characters.

Fun makes people focused. Focused players tend to manifest aberrant behaviors less often (if at all) when they are having fun.

Fun begets more fun. People will start to work towards making play more fun when the actual play IS fun.

The idea of “impossible odds” pulling together a party is bunk. Maybe in the movies, but at the table I have not seen any group of players respond to this well. Ask the players how they want the characters to come together ahead of time. It may feel “unnatural” at first, but it gets everyone IN TO IT. That’s one of the keys to building fun. Get started right away. Build momentum and stay on that wave until the fun is IN YOUR FACE.

Say Yes. Don’t sweat the small stuff. This is a great idea that has made the rounds out there on the InterWebs and its brilliant. Toss stuff at the characters. Build the plot and adventure. Don’t get all wrapped up on perfect “realism” or “logic”. Work with the players on what could be there and go with it. Often players will limit their own characters. They are telling you something. “I want to explore this issue right now.” Let the players guide those moments where the food ran out or the engine doesn’t start. They will hint at you when they are ready to dig into the grit and it makes that moment even more IN YOUR FACE with fun because the players are GETTING INTO IT! If it has to be dark, let the players steer and keep it flowing. Those dark gritty moments will have the players walking away giddy with fun versus feeling victimized by your “arbitrary” introduction of unwanted darkness.

Again, risk, adversity, and challenge are important for a fun game. If you put the characters in a blizzard they need access to shelter and clothing. Yes, the storm is a hazard, but you aren’t out right killing everyone because of it. If they strip off all their cloths and go for a naked blizzard safari, then have them freeze to death of course. But don’t just victimize the characters because you think that makes it more challenging. The risks and challenges should draw on the capabilities of the character and the desires of the player.

Railroading: Don’t do it. You don’t need a perfectly scripted plot. It’s a practice in silliness that is just going to frustrate you. Focus on what the characters want, riff off the energy and suggestions at the table, have some encounters and ideas ready to go, and keep things MOVING. Determine several ways for characters to learn a clue or gain important information, resources, or connections. If they pass one up, insert it again down the road.

Storytelling: Is what people do in books and movies. Roleplaying games are about collaborative story creation. The GM is not “telling” anything. If you feel you have some message to share, you need to finesse it into the story the players are helping you create, not jam it up in everyone’s face like it’s your birthright. If you really want to TELL stories, write short stories. Don’t use the game as a venue to PUSH your story on the players. If you want a moral or idea to come about, let the events and character reactions speak to that for you.

Writing adventures for PCP have some nuances that I need to include in a separate “how to build adventures for a PCP game” post.

PCP focuses on what the players want from the game, channeling those wants into the character, and focusing “in game” play on the character’s capabilities to create play that is fun. This fun builds on itself focusing play on making more fun. You are focused on the players in so much as you want to make sure the characters they make can be engaged and challenged in the game you are running.

There are nuances. You can’t just say YES all the time and always capitulate to player demands about how a game should work. This is not about just randomly inserting GONZO stuff to appease players. This is not “Monty haul” or “give away the farm”. This is keeping the plot, the adventure, the reactions consistent with what builds the story and fun without using the power of the GM to victimize the players.

I have some personal examples to share but for now, I am curious what everyone thinks so far...

jayphailey
07-06-2008, 01:11 PM
Agreed. The trick is to find something that works for everyone or at least can switch opver the course of a session.

My last two games fell over - new players felt like their characters weren't properly integrated nor integral to the story line.

In my Zombie attack game , one player wanted to strike out on his own and munchkin out on the Zombies - but NPCs and circumstances interfered with this leading to player frustration.

My best game so far have been a long the lines of "You're just hanging out, minding your own business when two storm troopers come through the door blasters... blasting."

Jay ~Meow!~

tesral
07-06-2008, 06:19 PM
The Rule of Yes follows on this or it follows on the Rule of Yes depending on how you look at it. Minor stuff should be where the player wants it. Need a phone booth, you have a phone booth. A coil of rope? Got one.

One thing I put in my games is the Adventurer Pack. 5-25 pounds of Heisenberg "stuff". What stuff? You don't know until you need it. You never considered that 50 feet of rope would be handy? Well your character did and you have a coil of rope, subtract five pounds add "rope" on your sheet. Any such mundane equipment. It isn't a magic item, it is me the DM being a facilitator of fun. I don't want the lack of a torch or the fact that modern people forget about flint and steel to be a party stopper.

What anoys me is the game master that is a "Rule of No" type. Can't this and can't that. None of this will destroy their game, but they have to be "in control".

cplmac
07-06-2008, 08:19 PM
I try to be positive and say "Yes" to the party at most times, but there are the few times that what they are asking for something that if I feel that it would make things to easy, I have been known to on occaision to tell the party, "No". Usually this only happens when someone is trying to get a rather strong magical item.

trechriron
07-06-2008, 08:37 PM
I try to be positive and say "Yes" to the party at most times, but there are the few times that what they are asking for something that if I feel that it would make things to easy, I have been known to on occaision to tell the party, "No". Usually this only happens when someone is trying to get a rather strong magical item.

This would be telling me a couple potential things. 1) Maybe the adventure is too hard or the players don't see a way to accomplish success. 2) Maybe they just want to experience having control of a powerful magic item. I might approach a similar situation like this;



They players communicate a desire for a powerful magic item. As the GM I say "anything is possible" and continue on.
The characters start inquiring at local magic shops, wizard guilds, and local markets for any rumors regarding this magic item.
I build several rumors, clues, and hints from various sources on what it would take to find this magic item.
Bam. Instant adventure. Maybe they find or not, but I am going to provide FUN because they wanted to.

Now, what about the princess they were saving? That's a choice. I design some of the events in my games with time tables, and some without. It depends on the nature of it, but I am careful to not give the players a sense I am punishing them for making a choice. I want them to feel the choice was open and that they were in control of making that choice. I want to avoid the vilification of the GM as "arbitrarily" victimizing characters.

Example: If I say that the Evil Bandit Lord is going to kill the princess unless he receives 1000 gold by the appointed time, I may have determined the event ends with her death at the appointed time in advance.

However, if the players believe the only way to succeed is with this magic item, I may alter the outcome slightly to further the story without an outright failure because they made that choice. it depends for me on how I feel the players are going to react. Perhaps they want to explore vengeance over heroism? Perhaps they want to "call his bluff" and "outsmart" him? Maybe I'll have the bandit lord fall in love with the princess or maybe they fall in love with each other! Thereby staying the actual execution until the players find this magic item.

Maybe I'll just make the magic item real but with considerably less power than they thought. It will help defeat the Evil Bandit Lord, but it's not going to allow them to take over the world.

Using PCP you have to gauge the results of these decisions. I want to further the plot, the storyline, AND the accomplishments of the characters. I can't just "punish" them and expect the game to be fun. I am loathe to ever say NO as a GM. I ask "what are doing?" "how do you proceed?", etc. If they want to chase after a powerful magic item, so be it. I am not going to stop them nor am I going to outright say "there is no such thing". Frankly, that's NO FUN. :D

Talmek
07-06-2008, 11:33 PM
<Awesomeness Snipped For Sake Of Space> Fun makes people focused. Focused players tend to manifest aberrant behaviors less often (if at all) when they are having fun.

Fun begets more fun. People will start to work towards making play more fun when the actual play IS fun. <Awesomeness Snipped For Sake Of Space>

This is it. Right there. These few sentences tell more truth about GM'ing than anything else I've read.

Fun really does make people focused. If you can find the happy medium of engaging your players without reducing the challenges to "Let me whip out my ultra-mega-super-slicer +10", not only will your players enjoy it, but they'll trust you even more. Hence, removing any negative opinions of your GM abilities and the TPK you caused just a few nights before :D

Engaging your players will in fact make them pay more attention to what's going on at the table, instead of reducing the time spent to off-topic conversation and derailing the experience for everyone.

It's a vicious cycle. If you can engage your players, they'll have more fun...causing them to pay more attention to the game...causing them to play since they're having fun and so on and so forth.

For the record I like your theory, however the true difficulty would be the implementation of it without making it into an item grab.

Engar
07-07-2008, 01:10 AM
First let me say that I was very skeptical of your theory. I rather expected a self agrandizing rant or a lot of psychobabble by a freshman college psych major. Sorry about that, I can be way too cynical. I now read your theory, agree and like it. (btw: I am not your "crazy idea" poller so you still have someone else to woo, LOL).

I have played with DM's who like their script and characters are only allowed to read lines. I have also played with DM's far more interested in mechanics than roleplay like a complex chess match. I even played with one or two who simply had story ideas too far out for me to engage or so strictly performed that deviation while not discouraged did require them to call the game to plan for the new course before the next game day.

I will get to criticizing myself later in case you were worried...


Possibilities:

You can’t do that. It’s not available. There’s nothing there. Often as GMs we will control the situation by limiting or removing possibilities. I am not talking about character options at creation.

I am curious about the distinction you make here. I have always been fairly strict about what I allow for character creation, prefering more mundane and very easily balanced characters (for example only the core races/classes). Some players have been clearly disappointed at this and consoled little or not at all by my encouragement to roleplay the desired characteristics rather than actually have them statistically (even with incentives for such creative roleplay).

Since part of the theory involves universal application, how do you address the player who is disatisfied from the start with a balanced character. I could allow them their half-dragon weretiger druidic spellsword, but what does that do to everyone else? Especially if the player is not particularly interested in balanced compromises (that not being the point to them). How do you address the power gamer if "fun" is having the most powerful character and best toys?


Inescapability:


This one is simple. No matter how clever you feel. No matter how hard you want the players to think. Don’t. Ever. Put the characters in an impossible to escape situation. There are some horror games that put people in helpless situations (frankly helplessness is an important aspect of horror) but unless the players volunteered to play that kind of game, and know full well what they are in for, you generally are going to get some unhappy players.

People generally don’t play games to feel helpless. If you have a group that gets together to play a game of helpless characters, so be it. But unless you’re setting, genre, and game is focused on that, don’t interject an inescapable situation just because. It magnifies any fun-suck-zone by a thousand.

"This one is simple." Ouch. I basically agree, yet this is the part where I make confessions. My most recent campaign most closely fits this flaw (not exactly I guess). The fact that they kept playing for years is either loyalty, complacency, or they got enough else out of it to cover somewhat for the downside.

I ran a campaign where the party won only small victories while an epic loss pervailed throughout. Undead raped the land in numbers too unstoppable for the party to handle. They could save a village, save important people, but innevitably the undead marched on in legions. In hindsight, it was not up to my own standards of "fun", but it was what it was. It did have an epic conclusion in process where I offered options for the party to finally have their lasting victory, but it hardly made up for it (and never happened before I moved away...ugh).

That and I have great difficulty running for powergamers (as aluded above). I focus on roleplay and present a fair share of combat as well, but I am often lost with players who care more about rolling dice than acting in character.

Overwhelming my players in the last game I see and can improve on, but for how to engage rollplayers disinterested in roleplay I am at a loss. Most of them in the past simply lost interest (which I thought was probably just as well at the time), but how would the theory address this? Especially if some players love interacting with the world in non-combat situations and others are looking to stab that character (player too if they could) in the back as soon as they leave town to keep from ever again having to sit around while they barter over rations. The theory seems to suggest "fun" cannot conflict with itself so can it allow for temporary suspensions of one "fun" for another?

trechriron
07-07-2008, 02:14 AM
First let me say ...


Thanks!



... I am curious about the distinction you make here. I have always been fairly strict about what I allow for character creation, preferring (sic) more mundane and very easily balanced characters (for example only the core races/classes). Some players have been clearly disappointed at this and consoled little or not at all by my encouragement to roleplay the desired characteristics rather than actually have them statistically (even with incentives for such creative roleplay).

Since part of the theory involves universal application, how do you address the player who is dissatisfied (sic) from the start with a balanced character. ...

How do you address the power gamer if "fun" is having the most powerful character and best toys? ...


Well, for the sake of PCP, unless you can appease this “power gamer”, you would not be providing a PCP game for him\her. This is where a solid pre-game comes into play as I have alluded to. Here is the basic outline that I feel offers both you AND the player the best experience.

1) You pick a system, setting, genre and the basic guidelines of what kind of character you feel best fit in with the game. These are the limiting factors. They exist in everyone’s game in some form or another and should not come as a surprise to anyone.
2) Ask the players what they want from your game and suggest character types from your choices in step 1. At this stage (character creation) saying no is perfectly acceptable. You can’t just run any game with any variables. You are running THIS game with the variables YOU chose as the GM. If they don’t like that, you should dig deeper and make sure they really want to play in THIS game.
3) If you can’t reach an accord about your approach and this game, you should find another player. Ask this player to find a game they will fit in better. You just saved yourself and your other players all the heartache of trying to make this player fit.

If you’re dealing with this kind of fun-suck-zone before you can even start playing I would seriously question whether I want this person in my game. PCP is about how GMs apply their power to the “in game” play.

If you can’t even get INTO the game, I would call foul and eject the player. Just my two cents on this one… (note that I don’t feel these really apply to PCP at all as PCP is about “in game” application of ideas by the GM).



... but for how to engage roleplayers (sic) disinterested in roleplay I am at a loss. ...


You focus the game on the characters that you helped design to fit the player’s desires. So, you can offer XP, items, contacts, adventure, or accomplishments as rewards to this character versus the reward of interaction and engagement your “roleplayers” are looking for. They want to build power and capability. There are many ways to do that “in game” without any of the “fiddly bits” in the system. If they are “system focused” then relate your “in game” rewards with the system bits. The Magic Sword of Sr. Fergusen, greatest sword master of the twelve dales has a history, secret words to unlock its powers, and requires the heart and actions of a true hero. It’s not just a +5 sword. It’s a +1 sword, maybe, if wielded by the right person for the right cause. Just FINDING this sword or winning it in a contest could be just the kind of “power building” reward these kinds of players are looking for.

You don’t have to give away the farm, but to keep this player interested and engaged they need “fiddly bits”. If you want them in your game, and you want to provide them the PCP experience, you need to tailor your adventures to accommodate both types of players in your game. I would be interested in exploring this dilemma further in the adventure design posts…

Of course, if in the beginning, you have a “roleplaying” centric game and this power gamer tells you they want to reach level 30 in record time with the Dragon’s Claw super magic item of doom; you have the wrong player for YOUR game. You have to explain to them BEFORE you get started that not only can you NOT provide a fun game for them but you’re simply not INTERESTED in trying to provide the kind of game they’re looking for. Honesty is the best policy when starting a game. Don’t get desperate and try to shove the power gamer peg into the roleplayer hole…


...
The theory seems to suggest "fun" cannot conflict with itself so can it allow for temporary suspensions of one "fun" for another?
...


I don’t believe it has to (anything can theoretically conflict with itself). I think you can engineer a scenario to provide challenge and conflict without purposefully using your GM power to victimize the characters. Again, there are nuances here and I need to put up some of my personal experiences and adventure ideas to clarify I think, but there certainly is a way to give all the players a great experience at the table through their characters without removing capabilities, removing possibilities, hindering probabilities, or enforcing inescapability.

I love the questions! let’s keep talking while I collect my thoughts on a bad experience and PCP-ize the adventure…

Engar
07-07-2008, 08:23 AM
This is where a solid pre-game comes into play as I have alluded to...

PCP is about how GMs apply their power to the “in game” play.

If you can’t even get INTO the game, I would call foul and eject the player. Just my two cents on this one… (note that I don’t feel these really apply to PCP at all as PCP is about “in game” application of ideas by the GM).

I misunderstood the theory's boundaries. I am an old DM in a very new situation of bringing together completely unfamiliar players (having had a core group for years). Thank you for the pre-game bullet points. I am a bit out of my element and can use a new player common sense refresher.


You don’t have to give away the farm, but to keep this player interested and engaged they need “fiddly bits”. If you want them in your game, and you want to provide them the PCP experience, you need to tailor your adventures to accommodate both types of players in your game. I would be interested in exploring this dilemma further in the adventure design posts…

I liked the example. Sort of a Weapons of Legacy (if I remember that book right). Perhaps a weapon of epic renown but balanced statistics (or tiered with new discoveries that can engage the player while granting discretion to the DM). Satisfaction for the player/character's desire for powergaming without unbalancing mechanics.

Is your adventure design post current or future?

trechriron
07-07-2008, 07:29 PM
...
new discoveries that can engage the player while granting discretion to the DM). Satisfaction for the player/character's desire for powergaming without unbalancing mechanics.


Exactly!



...
Is your adventure design post current or future?


Future post. Work has been brutal so the weekends are my "play time". :biggrin:

tesral
07-07-2008, 07:40 PM
Along this line I like reward items that don't necessarily give bonuses. Stuff that is fun to have but doesn't improve your combat score.

cplmac
07-07-2008, 08:26 PM
Sorry, now that I read my previous post and trechriron's reply, I didn't explain myself well. On the rare instance that I tell the party, "No", it's not that they have no hope to aquire the item that they are asking for. For really powerfull magic item, I will usually have them work to get it, rather than just say, "OK, here it is."

I have seen DM's that will just give the party any magical item they ask for. The next thing you know, everyone has so many magical items, that there is nothing much that can slow the party down, even if there are only 2 or 3 PC's that make up the party.

tesral
07-07-2008, 10:14 PM
Sorry, now that I read my previous post and trechriron's reply, I didn't explain myself well. On the rare instance that I tell the party, "No", it's not that they have no hope to aquire the item that they are asking for. For really powerfull magic item, I will usually have them work to get it, rather than just say, "OK, here it is."

I have seen DM's that will just give the party any magical item they ask for. The next thing you know, everyone has so many magical items, that there is nothing much that can slow the party down, even if there are only 2 or 3 PC's that make up the party.

I seldom give anything. They work for it. I have high magic, but if you have +3 weapons, depend that the foe will have the equivalent.

I have players glad I toned down some spells or items becasue they didn't want them used on them.

Increase the fun. Always work to increase the fun.

trechriron
07-08-2008, 12:24 AM
... "OK, here it is." ...


Ouch. Those GMs are missing out on a great opportunity to inject an amazing adventure into their game...

trechriron
07-10-2008, 05:48 PM
Back when I first started GMing, I had a huge group playing a AD&D Forgotten Realms game. I was having troubles getting all the party members integrated and working like a team. So I came up with a harebrained idea. I will put them through some kind of tribulation they have to work together to survive. Something intense, that will build camaraderie.

Here's what I did. (I am seriously being open with you people so please read my idiotic mistake and understand I was young and inexperienced...).

The party had made a major enemy out of this super evil Orc Warlord. He was working for a super evil mastermind of the Zhenterim and they we're planning this HUGE invasion. They had these amazing flying battle platforms, flying ships, and an unfathomablly GIGANTIC army of Orcs, Trolls, Ogres, Goblins, and various Monsters of Evil(tm).

They had messed with some of his plans so he sent a battalion of his forces after them. They fought off some of the assault but decided to flee and seek help. The evil commander chased them.

Right into the main marching force of the Evil army (this was a setup by the Evil Warlord to get rid of those pesky kids...).

I had them beaten, captured and repeatedly tortured over a 2 session horror-fest of depravity. Then I "let them" escape. I tried to set it up so they would first live through this terrible experience and then work together to escape, but the "set up" to get them out ended up being contrived and campy (not to mention the general mood at the table not being all that great...).

So, how did my little stunt work?

The game fell apart within 2 weeks and I had a whole table of SUPER pissed players.

In otherwords - It didn't work. Worse yet, it had disastrous results and ostrasized me from my players (some who were good friends). It was completely STUPID.

That was decidely NOT PCP.

Based on my PCP theory, how do you think I could have injected the idea of the Orc Warlord Army and an intense, difficult situation without victimizing the players?

I want to hear opinions and ideas before I share how I might accomplish this today... (if you're willing to participate with a self-confessed reformed EVIL GM of Crappyness(tm)... :biggrin:)

Engar
07-10-2008, 06:32 PM
I think I shared something similar earlier, just substitute "undead" for "living" monsters. I do not know if I am on track here. The possibilities are endless and might have followed allong almost identically to a point. I leave it to you to pull out the science from my example:

Last I checked orcs, trolls, most of the evil underlings mentioned are not terribly bright. It might have been as simple as offering more options for victories after the capture (a little railroaded with the sheer numbers, but very forgiveable if it makes for a great storied victory). Giving the party information about their surroundings which includes escape methods might begin their "re-empowerment". Perhaps when they wake up at night bound with hemp one is made miserable by the sharp edge of a stone under their thigh while if another is paying attention they see a rusty nail next to one foot. The interior guard is snoring in a leaned back chair with a sap and a whip in his lap to quiet any objections.

Some excellent opportunities to kill a few important leaders as they try to escape can further bring back the light in their eyes (and maybe get some of their equipment back since the leaders are likely to "comandeer" good stuff). Then a near flawless escape might lead to a heroing flight to higher ground offering visuals to emphasize the sheer magnitude and nature of their enemies' armies while the narrow path prohibits their following in mass. Perhaps on the way they encounter an outrider patrol of orcs/trolls/whatever who are in the process of killing a friendly scout. By saving the scout and giving him the information they gained about the army they might turn the tide of battle, find themselves requested for an audience with important people and asked to perform daring tasks in defense of their kingdom (auto hook!).

jayphailey
07-10-2008, 10:10 PM
Hmm.

Perhaps ... Just noodling here.

I'd put the PCs waaaayyyy over here, essentially right on the edge of the Orcish invading army.

The Oricsh army is moving to inade the Good Guy Zone!

They know if those rotten kids get away and warn the Hummies, the invasion will become a quagmire.

So they dispatch teams to hunt down the PCs.

The PCs know that the only large scale back up to be had is in the arms of the human kingdoms.

The long term plot is "Out run the Orcish pursuers and get to civilization in time to give proper warning."

Each session might depict the PCs running into something that's either dangerous, bad, Bad if the Orcs get ahold of it, or filled with innocents to try and facilitate the evacuations of.

In this way - the PCs may just be any random group of people, who's wagon/caravan/stagecoach bumbled into the Orcish Army and they are the survivors of the resulting mayhem.


How's that work?

Jay ~Meow!~

trechriron
07-11-2008, 01:13 AM
Hmm.

...


How's that work?

Jay ~Meow!~

That is EXCELLENT! It brings in the flavor of an overwhelming army but puts the characters in control of their destiny and keeps them engaged and active. This is exactly how we might see something like this play out in the movies.

Brilliant!

trechriron
07-11-2008, 01:17 AM
...

I think we are getting closer with the ideas of giving the players opportunities, but in the end, I think I would avoid the whole capture thing all together unless the players CHOSE to get captured.

If they did get captured, I would make it so Xena\Hercules\T.V.-esque to avoid any "creepiness" or disturb the players (too much). :D

shilar
07-11-2008, 10:25 AM
The Rule of Yes follows on this or it follows on the Rule of Yes depending on how you look at it. Minor stuff should be where the player wants it. Need a phone booth, you have a phone booth. A coil of rope? Got one.

One thing I put in my games is the Adventurer Pack. 5-25 pounds of Heisenberg "stuff". What stuff? You don't know until you need it. You never considered that 50 feet of rope would be handy? Well your character did and you have a coil of rope, subtract five pounds add "rope" on your sheet. Any such mundane equipment. It isn't a magic item, it is me the DM being a facilitator of fun. I don't want the lack of a torch or the fact that modern people forget about flint and steel to be a party stopper.

Got to agree with you hear I call it adventure stuff. It covers the basics for those who don't easily slip into the character mindset.

shilar
07-11-2008, 10:58 AM
Over all I have to say this theory has merit. However as you keep saying this is about in-game activity. Sometimes though what should be possible and what you can allow to be possible need to be seperated. I run old school Mage, it is a system where literally anything is possible. I also let the players kind of run wild, they can try to do almost anything. Unfortunately this sometimes leads to things becoming unmanageable. Every so often I have to say no. I never leave them with no choices, I never break their toys, but sometimes to keep the fun going for every one you need to say no to a particular player for a particular situation. Thankfully I have been blessed with players who for the most part understand this and accept it. Then move on to the next devilishly nasty thing they want to try.

tesral
07-11-2008, 11:29 AM
Part of the problem wit the capture scenario is you violated the player's comfort zone. There are times and places for this, but I don't think that RPGs are one of them. They where not comfortable with the creepy torture parts. While it might drive the PCs together you violated the player trust as a GM.

Getting captured isn't necessarily fun in and of itself, but it can be endured, and can be fun on the escape part. I personally would not have gone past them getting tossed in a box together.

At that point you have a hot box scenario. The PCs must cooperate to get out. This is a good scenario. I think you took it passed the player's limits.

I did one off the cuff scenario when I didn't have a large enough group. I told the players "You wake up dead". They then went through a number of adventures on the plain of shadows until it became apparent that they where not dead at all, but under psionic attack and the attacker was trying to kill them with their own minds. They escaped the attack, but never did learn who it was.

I may use that one with the current set of players the next time I come up short. They have made enemies at this point.

Engar
07-11-2008, 01:04 PM
I like that idea (wake up dead...), but I see little difference between that and being captured. Both are railroading. It may even be worse since the players percieve their characters as dead just because the DM said so. Railroading can still get the job done, but it is like calling on the darkside; there are always hidden costs.

The only real power players have is to play or not play. All other power is only percieved (and actually at the discretion of the DM who has both the power to play or not and the power to allow others to play or not). In either case the DM has taken away all the players choices (not allowed them to play). He then gave that power back, but by then the players are keenly aware of the reality of power and must rebuild their illusions.

EDIT: You know what, that was way too critical. If it was fun so be it.

jayphailey
07-11-2008, 08:17 PM
I think the "Wake Up Dead" scenario, or one I noodled about not too long ago -

The first thing the *players* are told is that their slave shipment (They are part of the slave shipment) is under attack and they have a surprise opportunity to create mayhem and head for daylight.

That establishes that the whole "I am railroading you into my plot" is past tense as the game starts and the players are now free to make the GM cry at will.

Huh.

I am imagining it as

Player: "Why am I a slave being shipped to Butt-crack-istan?"

Me: "I don't know. How *did* your character come to be on a slave ship bound for the suck-a** islands?"

A clever, or disruptive player might say "I slew a man in Reno, just to watch him die. Since then I have had a religious experience. I am atoning for my sin. I deserve to be here." and refuse to escape.

However at that point... what the hell. Extra points for finding a creative way to make the GM cry.

If that character sees drowning in a sinking slave ship as his atonement for his sin. He goes to the afterlife and the player rolls up a new character.

Jay ~Meow!~

nijineko
07-12-2008, 10:04 PM
2) You may think there is some magical subjective fun spot that differs in every player out there. There isn't.

i actually don't think that way. just the first off the cuff, and i think we are using different definitions for certain vocabulary, to boot.

more to the point, i'd like to share some of what i do think. what i do believe is that a truly great dm does not need to severely restrict the players options or choices, but rather creatively resolves or circumlocutes the issue such that it becomes simply part of the plot in the mutual story that the group is building. i also believe in natural consequences resulting from choices made. give players options, choices, and/or show them how to acheive the cool character they desire, and players cooperate back.

russdm
07-13-2008, 12:24 AM
Don't over focus on the players though. They might start to think they are all important. Which would be bad. The players are part of the world not in control of it.

boulet
07-13-2008, 02:21 AM
I can't see how one could over-focus on the players. If you don't provide a story they want to contribute to then you're just imagining this lovely world for yourself. Like Tesral likes to say : if you feel like imagining a story alone, you only need a computer and write a frigin novel...

The contract with the players implicitly or explicitly is "the GM provides an adventure players will enjoy to interact with". The few times I didn't manage to do that, by a weird coincidence, they felt like playing a board game or a different rpg at the next session. And I can't blame them to react this way. A good lesson I was glad to learn.

Maybe if one ran good games before, the players will be patient and grant the benefit of a doubt. One could even manage to make them accept some "my way or no way" kind of GMing. But the enthusiasm will run short. It's like every position of authority in real life : with great powers (like narrative control) comes great responsibility. The GM has to provide the recipe for some awesome fun, if not a putsch will eventually happen. Now I agree the imaginary world doesn't revolve around the PCs (that might happen once in a while though). But the story must be about them.

russdm
07-13-2008, 05:41 PM
Now I agree the imaginary world doesn't revolve around the PCs

Thats all I was trying to say. Not that other stuff.

tesral
07-13-2008, 11:03 PM
more to the point, i'd like to share some of what i do think. what i do believe is that a truly great dm does not need to severely restrict the players options or choices, but rather creatively resolves or circumlocutes the issue such that it becomes simply part of the plot in the mutual story that the group is building.

Restrictions are going to come. I have never seen a party structure where any type of character can mix with any other.

Saturday game. The PCs started as members of a circus that is shipwrecked. Any concept that could be about the ship was permitted. One PC was not part of the Circus but fit the boatload ,and one PC was a native of the land they are wrecked in.

Previous party all came from the same BF Egypt town. Your character needed to be someone that would be native to the town.

Any case where I restrict the kind of PC is it to build a unified party. That enhances play when everyone is going the same direction because they want to.

Tomcat1066
07-14-2008, 04:59 AM
Previous party all came from the same BF Egypt town. Your character needed to be someone that would be native to the town.


Similar to what I'm planning for my next campaign. Everyone has to end up the THIS town. I don't care how they do it, but their character needs to end up there at the very least.

Other restrictions, IMHO, need to be based on the question "is it reasonable?" If the PC wants a +5 sword and they're first level, well...they're going to have to wait. If they want to play a dragon...well...probably ain't going to happen in this campaign either (though a PC with a desire to be a dragon could be fun ;) ).

Of course, the answer isn't "no", it's a "not now" kind of thing, where the player has to seek out this type of thing. Personally, that makes it all the cooler when I have to quest for something ;)

trechriron
07-17-2008, 02:18 AM
...

Of course, the answer isn't "no", it's a "not now" kind of thing, where the player has to seek out this type of thing. Personally, that makes it all the cooler when I have to quest for something...

It depends. I am concerned about what people might think how the pre-game applies to PCP. The pre-game only affects a PCP game in one way.

Are you willing to engage and challenge the character this player wants to play?

Remember, PCP is not focused on the pre-game which I feel is a more GM-centric area that helps defines boundaries and set expectations. You could be running a Rifts-like world of resplendent possibilities where the pre-game boundaries are less defined or say a historical fantasy setting where you must be from this little hamlet in Southern France. In the end, it doesn't really matter for a PCP game. What matters in the in-game play and more importantly how you (or the universe you are representing) engages the players.

If the PC's decide to quest for the Great Sword of Sir Martin Forland rumored to be capable of slicing diamonds in half and cleave 10 men with a determined swing, so be it. Do they find it? When they do is it exactly as the legend tells of it?

In the end, the ability to not only quest for the sword, but to find clues and have the universe engage the characters in their journey; that will make the game player-centric.

I don't think there is anything wrong with saying "you can't play a dragon in this game". I do however think it's disappointing to head out in search of a dragon to be stopped at every turn with dead ends and road blocks. It starts to feel like you've "set off the beaten path and the GM doesn't like that".

PCP is not about saying 'yes' or 'no' per se. It's about engaging the characters in a way the players envisioned them so as to create the most fun in game at the table. This fun focuses play ON fun (and in game fun at that), which in turn helps to alleviate many of the challenges group face at the table (like bored players, or ADD).

Just wanted to clarify because we seem to keep coming back to the pre-game. This moment can be difficult because defining the setting and what you want or don't want in that setting can get players irked. If Frank always plays sneaky types, and this campaign does not support that well, we might piss Frank off. Great! It's better you're honest now and Frank's expectations are set BEFORE you waste each others time.

Now, if you think the sneaky type will fit in the game then you'd better ENGAGE Frank's character, in game, to help fulfill his desire to play a sneaky character.

The strongest impact the pre-game has on your in-game is this simple matter. If you allow them to play something, you had better engage them. If you have no intention of engaging that type of character then don't allow it to be played! Period.

Just my friendly suggestion to help set you up for a successful PCP game from the get-go. :D

trechriron
07-17-2008, 02:22 AM
Restrictions are going to come. ...

Any case where I restrict the kind of PC is it to build a unified party. That enhances play when everyone is going the same direction because they want to.

Again, I think having the pre-game set boundaries and act as that hand shake between all the players and the GM is a good idea. That is where I feel the bulk of the GM-centric "heavy handedness" needs to come in.

It sets the expectations that then help the GM understand WHAT they need to bring to in-game play.

trechriron
07-17-2008, 02:31 AM
Don't over focus on the players though. They might start to think they are all important. Which would be bad. The players are part of the world not in control of it.

I disagree completely. It's not about WHO'S in control. It's about engaging the characters and driving the story based on in-game play. The characters ARE the world in a PCP game. It's about building fun by providing a fun game to play in. If you read my previous posts; it creates the fun that begets fun.

I have run several campaigns in the past where I set up regular events that happen unless some interference from the characters stops the event. The characters were witness to any number of seemingly random events and happenings. What did this accomplish?

My players felt they were watching a story not creating one.

I believe GMs leverage control of the game by using this kind of "excuse" to victimize characters. "It was just a random thing" or "sometimes these things happen" is pure rubbish. As the GM if you introduce ANYTHING to the in-game, you did it DELIBERATELY. Period. You can make all kinds of excuses to that effect, but in the end you are the wizard standing behind the green curtain.

This is precisely the attitude that creates a GM-centric game and takes away the reason these players sat down at your table.

You have to engage the characters in a way that the players desired to play them. There is simply no other point to running a game. Once you can provide that challenge and purpose, you have started a spark of fun that will feed into itself.

I am tired and need to hit the hay, but I am glad you posted this. I could go on for hours on this subject, but I hope we can discuss this further. I believe these kinds of attitudes sabotage GMs. Once the players are disgruntled you are garunteed to be unhappy.

Just as fun can snowball so can the frustration and unhappiness.

Just my two cents of course...

Tomcat1066
07-17-2008, 05:09 AM
It depends. I am concerned about what people might think how the pre-game applies to PCP. The pre-game only affects a PCP game in one way.

Are you willing to engage and challenge the character this player wants to play?

Actually, I was talking about in game believe it or not. I've had players what super spiffy magical items to just be available in local magic shops and get upset when they can't find them in the largest of cities. Hence my answer of "not now". Usually, it's because they've gotten a large treasure and they want to spend it on something cool.

Pre-game, I nix stuff all the time. I also nix prestige classes and feats later in the game if they don't fit with the world. But for items, I'll let them search for anything. In time, they will find it as well.

Engar
07-17-2008, 08:34 AM
I think a few consideration in character creation needs to set the stage for PCP games. I know the meat is about play, but the interaction over creation can really affect the attitude of players later. I have played with numerous players who if I painted a box, the first thing they did is seek a way to squirm out of it. It is the nature of many creative DnD players. Example: I told all my players that their characters have spent the last year in a local orphanage. They might have arrived a year ago or right after being born, but that was the "box."

Almost immediately I saw gears turning how to "escape" so when one of them wanted to play a middle-aged guy I was ready and just tossed it back to them. I asked how he fit into the year at the orphanage rule and clarified it was not a hostel or homeless shelter (how can you squeeze him back into the box)? Turns out he was the groundskeeper. I can do that.

tesral
07-17-2008, 09:41 AM
I disagree completely. It's not about WHO'S in control. It's about engaging the characters and driving the story based on in-game play. The characters ARE the world in a PCP game. It's about building fun by providing a fun game to play in. If you read my previous posts; it creates the fun that begets fun.

A distinction needs to be made here. The PCs are their world, not the world the players however are the game and the game needs to be about the PCs. Their story, their trials, their triumphs.

The World is a larger place that moves whether the PCs are their or not. In time they will have an impact on the world, perhaps even a vital one, but they are not the world.

But, to every person their story is the most important one. And the GM needs to concentrate on those stories. Even if those characters never become epic heroes to the Greater World, in their world they are.

Two concepts: The Game World, which should be a large and vibrant place with the feeling that it could overwhelm you. Awe and wonder can abound. Many things exist that are larger than the PCs or unconcerned with the PCs.

Two The Game. This is what the PCs move in and it must be about them. The two are similar and cross but are not one in the same.

agoraderek
07-17-2008, 12:40 PM
i still think its crazy talk.

<returns to whipping his players with salt encrusted barbed wire>

trechriron
07-17-2008, 03:55 PM
A distinction needs to be made here. ...

Two concepts: The Game World, which should be a large and vibrant place with the feeling that it could overwhelm you. Awe and wonder can abound. Many things exist that are larger than the PCs or unconcerned with the PCs.

Two The Game. This is what the PCs move in and it must be about them. The two are similar and cross but are not one in the same.

I still think that you detail The Game World and set the historical record, but in play, the events you introduce are deliberate. You can't use "The Game World" as an excuse to victimize the players (IMO), it is countermand to PCP. Yes, the world exists outside the players but what you introduce and how you engage them WITH that world will define whether the play is PCP or not.

Also, I agree with the excitement and desire to have a vibrant wondrous setting. I love the Eberron setting because it has so much to it. Same with Harn World. I like the inspiration they provide and I think having that detail does help create a sense of robustness and completeness.

shilar
07-23-2008, 03:48 AM
I think the point tesral is making is that sometimes an event introduced deliberately can be most purely about the game world and not the game. To borrow some terminology it's all about the ratio of crunch and fluff. Crunch is the game and should be the majority of what is described. Fluff is the game world dressing less satisfying but still important to create the masterpiece(and no clobbering the party with cream pies). A fair can be just a fair not a heinous trap, an incredible vista greets a weary traveling party not as an ambush site but as the end of a long and perilous journey, and an NPC can be just a gal you meet with an interesting tale or goods to trade not a disguised noblewoman with a rebellion in need. These touches make the world plausible and/or dramatic. Just remember to keep a good ratio(95/5 or better) of crunch to fluff.

Tomcat1066
07-23-2008, 05:05 AM
I agree. If everything is about the players, then as a player I feel the world has no depth. A random NPC that's just there in the inn every time the PCs are there. His family was killed by orcs, but the king's men took care of them. Still, he drinks to kill the pain. It effects the players in no way at all, but adds something to the world that makes it seem more real.

When, as a player, everything in the world is centered on my character, including all the little tidbits, I feel like the DM hasn't really developed the world at all and is just throwing out names, places, and monsters to give us something to do.

However, like shilar said, there has to be a line. The game should mostly be about the characters, since they are the story. But not everything has to be about them directly.

tesral
07-23-2008, 06:24 AM
Yes, exactly, the game is about the players and their characters. The world is not. The world is the place where the game happens.

jayphailey
07-23-2008, 07:13 AM
Like any other NPC, the Game world has no idea that it's a supporting player in someone else's story.

It thinks it's having it's own story over there.

Jay ~Meow!~

Engar
07-23-2008, 08:13 AM
I look at it like a movie. The cameras pan out once in awhile or switch to show important events so that everyone can understand what is going on, but they always return to the lead actors and their reactions.

coffeedragon
07-25-2008, 03:02 AM
I think it's important as a GM to know your game-world.
Your characters drive the story, but if the world they find themselves in is vague or unconvincing then the players start having trouble getting in to their characters... what's an anguish-ridden vampire without his suitably gothic setting?
Similarly, if you as a GM are having trouble imagining your game world or setting, the game very quickly becomes dull. I ran into that head-first when I tried to DM D&D Darksun. I loved the basic concept of the campaign setting, but when it came time to play, no-one could really relate to the setting and the game fizzled half-way through the first session.
Having an established idea of the cultures, people, languages etc that your characters will interact with is what gives an adventure its flavour and lets your players feel they are portraying characters that are a part of another world.
It also makes life as a GM that much easier because you can confidently give your players options no matter where they are or what they decide to try.

coffeedragon
07-25-2008, 03:05 AM
PS, great theory Trent! I will be applying everything I've read in this tread just as soon as I get my game running... which should be sometime in the next 3 years... maybe;)

trechriron
07-25-2008, 12:01 PM
PS, great theory Trent! I will be applying everything I've read in this tread just as soon as I get my game running... which should be sometime in the next 3 years... maybe;)

Thank you! I hope it helps create a firestorm of fun for you! Here's some good mojo in your direction to forming a group and getting a game going. :D