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Author Topic: */me waves*  (Read 1097 times)

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Offline Egregius

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*/me waves*
« on: July 01, 2008, 04:51:48 PM »
Greetings all! Celedor asked me to introduce myself. Aye, then verily I will.

Been playing RPGs officially since middleschool (I was around 14 years old I think), though unofficially I had done some freeform RPGs experiments much earlier, I later realised. By using a puzzlemap in the back of a comicbook, I made up an interactive story with a friend: "While walking through a grassy field in the wilderness, you suddenly fall through a hole you didn't spot in time. You've landed in a dimly lit tunnel; the walls are too high, smooth and steep to scale. What do you do?"
He decided his actions, I provided the descriptions of the surroundings and the consequences of his actions. Then we switched places using the same map.

I later found out a number of my other geeky friends have done similar 'RP-experiments' when they were young :)

My official RPG-playing was mostly AD&D 2nd edition (Forgotten Realms, Waterdeep, Dark Sun), occasionally 2nd and 3rd edition Shadowrun, and at the end some 3rd edition D&D. I'm not a big fan of D&D's alignments or hitdice or the fact that my favorite kind of characters, mages, could neither survive being sneezed on, nor contribute much useful at early levels.

After an..uhm..'conflict' with my regular DM, my RPing experiences came few and far in between. Played a number of sessions of a humorous postapocalyptic homebrew system of a friend called 'The Crib', a session of Dark Dungeon at a Con. Tried my hand at GMing myself an Alternity campaign (I still like the system a lot), a Play-by-post Dark Dungeon fantasy setting spun off from a completely freeform RPG session I did on my birthday once (The players playing themselves in real life, while at a local amusement park, they went on a rollercoaster ride...after being sucked into a vortex, they landed in a cornfield, dressed as fantasy-personae...yes I did the D&D cartoon ;)).
Anyway, the alternity and DD PbP ran aground due to writer's block on my behalf (I didn't know how to continue or where to go with it), and then I tried my hand at a Shadowrun tabletop campaign. Went with lots of hitches, attributed to the complexity of the system, lack of preparation on both sides repeatedly :-[, and a lack of animo eventually.

So why am I here? I wanted to see how others did things, and how others resolved the things I/we ran into. I'm also interested in cooperative storytelling, which is where I wanted to take my campaigns, since we traditionally play a sort of "GM provides strict challenges, players do everything to overcome them, including complaining about the rules", which is hardly..ideal.  ::)
Pacing was also an issue.

I'll be mostly lurking, but who knows? Perhaps if I eventually get inspired enough..though at the moment I'm much too busy to commit to this sort of thing. ;)

Offline rafmeister

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Re: */me waves*
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2008, 04:56:52 PM »
     A few games have lounges set aside for lurkers to make comments. For example, I have Jerry's Saloon in my mechwarrior game. This thread is set aside for anyone to make comments in, on most topics.
"Hold still while I get that squirrel off your face with my morningstar."- Aloysius (first level magician).

Offline Celedor

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Re: */me waves*
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2008, 05:01:33 PM »
Welcome again. . .enjoy lurking. (My games have lurker lounges also, feel free.)

Perhaps you could explain something to me. (Unless I'm misunderstanding you)

I like the idea of free form, but I still feel some need for a GM, rather than a referee/editor. . .it starts to feel too liquid, and the challenge factor evaporates for me. . .and I guess that's important to me since it starts to feel flat. . . .I can create prose all day long, but writing to me becomes work, I need to develop all ends of it, and resolve the conflicts.

I guess, what it comes down to is that as a GM I enjoy the responses of the players and the challenges they present me in the directions they choose to take things. . .so the work is worth it.

But as a player, I like to explore and challenge the environemnt, which in my mind is less taxing, less like work than GMing. . .

The freeform environments seem to make players GM themselves, which makes the easygoing fun of being a player and make it into work like GMing without the thrill of mystery or challenge being a player usually holds.

That make any sense? Or are you talking about a more structured freeform than what I've been looking at? (Or am I just missing something important?)
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Offline Egregius

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Re: */me waves*
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2008, 07:17:46 PM »
I'll clarify myself a bit.

What attracted me to RPGs in the first place is the freedom of it, the opportunity for creativity. I remember my cousin describing to me (before I had any RP experience myself), how he, in a Das Schwarze Auge (The Dark Eye) game, set fire to a hut filled with orcs and barricaded the door, thereby 'defeating' them. I remember thinking to myself: "Wow! You couldn't do that in a computergame like Bard's Tale!", which was what I played a lot back then. You could come up with all sorts of clever solutions to challenges, without being bound to what the system has defined for you to be possible (which in that day and age was usually very limited). Even in Nethack not everything is possible.

But as I played AD&D, I started feeling the system sometimes cramped playing style. A complaint I heard a lot about 3rd edition is that when Feats determine what you can do, you suddenly can do a lot less; which echos my sentiments. Hence my experiment with a more freeform RPG.

During that session I did on my birthday it was more of a story and environment to be explored, with the main challenges consisting of puzzles in various forms (e.g. figuring out who to talk to, or how to reach that hole in the ceiling by figuring out the answer to the riddle). I asked everyone beforehand what they would like to be in a fantasy setting, and I gave them various powers/abilities/skills based on that. Conflict resolution was basically:
"Can I do this?"
Me: "Oh sure" followed by description, or "Well you try, and you almost succeed, but then.."

Hence use of 'skills' were resolved by a judgement call on my hand.

It worked well and was a lot of fun, and a friend thereafter set up a longer-term RPG himself, also completely freeform. That one did involve combat, and resolution of conflict also went like:
Player: "I (try to) do *this*!" with the GM, based on a judgement call, describing what happens next. It went well those initial sessions, the focus lay on resolving the story instead of opposing the GM's challenges (the story-challenge was to escape an alien prisonplanet, and we all had some superpowers) but I do suspect that in the longer run, we might have developped a need for a more standardised/neutral conflict resolution system. Then again, all might have gone well, if the sessions didn't end prematurely due to external factors. (Eh, you know how it goes)


Anyway, my focus on storytelling came about when I noticed a distinct difference between roleplaying styles between my first group and a group of friends who live further away. My first group (including me) plays more adversarially: focused on getting ahead in the game, and overcoming the GM..his challenges. During play, people work with what the GM gives them.
The other group however, is more focused on having a fun time together. Not that the first group isn't having fun with their style of play, but the other group is a bit more relaxed and looser. In the other group a guy once played a halfling in complete servitude to another player's character, and the halfling wasn't good for much except cooking, doing chores, and a large slapstick factor. Such a character would be unthinkable for the first group, mainly because it isn't in their 'character' to play a good-for-nothing character that doesn't add to the party's survival chances.

What the other group also differs on, is that they're more likely to add elements to the story/setting themselves. For the first group, I have to add every element myself as GM; that's what they'll use (if that). The other group will grab objects from the environment I didn't describe (but don't object to) in their actions. E.g. "I jump on the table and then leap for the chandelier, to the visible chagrin of the inn-keeper, intending to swing towards the exit" while the first group would more likely end up fighting the adversaries closing in on them toe-to-toe because they think less 'out-of-the-box'.


So when I mention 'cooperative storytelling', I mean to get roleplaying to the same richness of texture and variation as better fantasy/sci-fi novels, instead of the GM doing all the work, and the players merely reacting.
My biggest frustration doing my DD PbP was me typing up a whole scene description, as richly detailed as I could manage, and the player then responding with a one-line action, as in: "I go that way". I don't want to do all that hard work without the reward of seeing good roleplaying :P

So to answer your question Celedor: I didn't mean cooperative storytelling as in "GM tells part of the story, players tell part of the story", but more as "GM provides setting and the beginning direction of the story + conflict resolution, players flesh out their part of the story (including some scenery and minor NPC reactions if need be) and occasionally get the opportunity to give the story a new direction (to which the GM needs to be open)."
And what I ran into in the past was: "GM provides setting, story, challenges, descriptions; players react". Which is too much hard work without reward for me :)

And to not confuse freeform roleplaying with cooperative storytelling, with freeform RP I merely mean the other extreme end of the spectrum opposite 'everything determined by premade rules'.

Offline Celedor

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Re: */me waves*
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2008, 07:27:56 PM »
heheh. . .OK, you and I are on the same wavelength now.

Funny enough, I've always considered what you're describing as "Role Playing" while the more dungeon crawly, "GM sets em-up you knock them down" style I always called "Roll Playing". . .

There are, of course shades between the two, but if anything I often start to get bored if a game is too combat oriented, any of a multitude of products like World Of Warcraft make for an easier means to combat monstering. . . .then again, the very ability to bend the circumstance to your idea, rather than be stuck with the limited pre-programmed options can make a combat oriented game fun. . .but I find that continuous combat and puzzle solving for their own sake is sort of where I came in as a kid, and I've grown out of that. . .there's still a place for both, but how the PCs and NPCs interact with the environment is most of the fun. . .

I think it's on our list of GM tips, said in a clear and concise manner:

Quote from eijatriis
Quote
Tip # 8
The characters ARE the story, not just in the story.

We create the setting and the story evolves as the characters move and live within that setting.

This style of GM work, we can tailor the story to each character. At times this results in multiple threads spinning off, but the richness of the story, and the player interest blooms.

Thanks for the answer. . .I think I need to bug someone else to delve the "Cooperative Storytelling" thing that I'm finding so mysterious. You seem to be a story/character centered GM. . .like most of the folks around here.
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Offline Egregius

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Re: */me waves*
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2008, 08:28:44 PM »
Ah yes, that quote is quite good. It's precisely what I'm aiming for, as basically all my experience as GM has been 'Challenge centered GM'. I'd like to progress to story/character centered GM, but I/we have RPed little since my/our teens. At least, no long campaigns where I as GM and the players could get into the swing of things.

But now I'm curious as to what you did differently in the sense of freeform, with your zombie experiment :)

Offline Celedor

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Re: */me waves*
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2008, 08:37:53 PM »
No rules. . .just play. I suspect that's really hard to do in most genres, but in this instance all the characters and NPCs are human "Normals" (in the HERO game sense). . .without magic, superpowers, psionics or super tech in play, the scope of action is much smaller, and within the realm of things I can use common sense on. . .like "How hard would it be to hit a motionless zombie crouched on it's knees in the head with a golf club?" is explicable as compared to what you deal with in most games.

I'm having fun so far. . .lets see if it has legs and we can complete the scenario arc.

I can't really think of any GM on this board who's a rules zealot. . .the rules are there to make the game work, they're not the most important thing.
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Offline Sorloc

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Re: */me waves*
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2008, 02:49:19 AM »
I'm not sure I can be trusted in a free-form game...


Oh, and welcome!

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Offline Celedor

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Re: */me waves*
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2008, 03:11:11 AM »
always a comforting thing to hear. . .hehehe.
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