Jump to content
Anaximander

Ideas from Other Game Systems

Recommended Posts

19 hours ago, Spence said:

 

Things like this always puzzled me.  A one shot con game run in a 4 hour game slot is not going to have character development.  Are there really people that expect otherwise?

 

Mileage will vary.  I recall one convention where I ran into members of an acting troupe that I had gamed with previously.  Our chosen characters had already met so they continued on like old adventuring veterans who had run into a fondly remembered ally of yesteryear.

 

The acting nerds were as much into acting out their actions as they were the combat.

 

I recall one got mind controlled to attack his ally - dropped him with a sneak attack and with his off-hand strike (D&D 5th ed) acted out cutting his throat for a double-death-save failure.  Even the guy getting his throat cut was into it.

 

Gamers vary wildly in what they enjoy - even with one-shots.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

I actually disagree with this. I can tell a novel worth of character development in a short gaming session, while combat and guns are blazing. The problem is, people think "character development" is some drawn out thing that "happens over time" like just trying to live inside the skin in some simulated way. Character development is really about demonstrating some core, fascinating aspects of a character within a narrative arch, and can be done in ten sentences spread out across a game. Hell... in ten minutes of a demo of Protect the Queen, I created a character out of thing air who went from "some guy accompanying the queen" to "the tragically fated hunchback gardner who died for the queen after years of psychological torture, knowing only the love of her cold touch" and had people going "oh my god!" in his final scene... and that was like six sentences in four quick scenes in ten minutes (with three other people doing their thing as well in that time.) 

  

Character development is critical, or it is all pointless.

 

You called it Character Development and the gave a paragraph describing Role Play.

Which are two distinctly different parts of the game. 

 

We'll just have to disagree 😜

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Spence said:

 

You called it Character Development and the gave a paragraph describing Role Play.

Which are two distinctly different parts of the game. 

 

We'll just have to disagree 😜

 

Interesting, because yeah, I'd totally disagree. The "Protect the Queen" scenario had ZERO "role" for me to play. Just a blank slate, and I "developed" the entire existence of the character, their arc, their raison d'etre, the motivation and symbolism, throughout the game. I did not speak once "in character."


Role play would be, "Here... you are the moody loner secretly in love with the cheerleader and looking for a way to fit in" now bring that to life... play a role. Talk "in character" and play out every excruciating moment of that awkward first date with the cheerleader... because that is what they character would do.

What I described was nothing like that.

 

Character development is the "why."   Why is the character moody? Why do they love the cheerleader? Why does it matter to them that they fit in?"  "Why is any of this dramatically relevant?" 


Role play is the "how"... how they act, how they speak, how they make decisions.

I'm much, much, MUCH more interested in the Why than the How.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, ScottishFox said:

The acting nerds were as much into acting out their actions as they were the combat.

 

I recall one got mind controlled to attack his ally - dropped him with a sneak attack and with his off-hand strike (D&D 5th ed) acted out cutting his throat for a double-death-save failure.  Even the guy getting his throat cut was into it.

 

Now this... THIS is "role playing" and something I am very much NOT into at all. I don't mind a bit of it, but being at the mercy of the theater majors putting on a play is not really enjoyable to me. I'm a story teller... I think like the written word... theater of the mind evoked by words kind of thing. I'm the very opposite of the method actor. Living "in the skin" of the character is not what I'm about... but positioning that character with a cold, dispassionate eye of a writer who needs that character to be and do a certain thing, in order to evoke a certain pathos or drive a thematic arc.

 

I guess that could be called role playing in a generic way... fulfilling a role, rather than playing a role... but I still see them as very different things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part of the issue is that we all define various terms differently.

 

I would consider RDU Neil's story from Protect the Queen to be background, personality design and role playing, not character development.  I would classify "character development" as the character growing, evolving and changing through his experiences, which typically does require time as a baseline must first be established, events occur which challenge that baseline, etc.

 

So, to revisit that example:

 

Interesting, because yeah, I'd totally disagree. The "Protect the Queen" scenario had ZERO "role" for me to play. Just a blank slate, and I "developed" the entire existence of the character, their arc, their raison d'etre, the motivation and symbolism, throughout the game. I did not speak once "in character."


Role play would be, "Here... you are the moody loner secretly in love with the cheerleader and looking for a way to fit in" now bring that to life... play a role.

 

To me, that is "personality design" - the only difference between the typical character here being that you did not design the personality of your character.  Playing the role you designed is also role playing.

 

Talk "in character" and play out every excruciating moment of that awkward first date with the cheerleader... because that is what they character would do.

 

That's largely gameplay, in my view.  The game could play out that awkward first date, or the characters could be trying to escape from undead hordes which have inexplicably descended on their school, or any of a number of scenarios, influenced to a greater or lesser extent by the moody loner's secret love and desire to fit in .Some gamers will take on the character's "voice" and others will describe his actions.  Both are role playing that character in the decisions they make, guided by that character's personality.

 

I don't find "acting out the character's actions" to be role playing either.  I don't think you need to do a Kirk shoulder roll in the GM's basement to role play an acrobatic character, make a great speech to role play an orator or seduce the GM's sister to role play Casanova.

Character development is the "why."   Why is the character moody? Why do they love the cheerleader? Why does it matter to them that they fit in?"  "Why is any of this dramatically relevant?" 

 

I would classify the first two as backstory - the explanation for the chjaracter's personality.  The third is part of plot development taking the characters' personalities into account. Are they dramatically relevant at all?  Do they impact game play?  Maybe, and maybe they do not.  We can flee the zombie horde without that moodiness or unrequited love ever becoming relevant, or our loner might find the opportunity to confess his love while hiding from the undead, or he might throw himself at a zombie to save the cheerleader, dying for his unexpressed love, with the rest of the characters and players never knowing why he sacrificed himself.

 

"Character development"?  That would be actual growth during the story.  Perhaps, seeing the vacuous and selfish cheerleader's true colours come to the fore as she calllously manipulates the other characters to save her own skin causes him to fall out of love with her.  Maybe, working with the jock, the cheerleader and the nerd, our moody loner actually fits in to the group, and opens up to them, losing both his moodiness and his loner outlook. 

 

"Hates thieves" is personality.

 

"Family was left to die, penniless, by heartless thieves" is backstory that explains why he hates thieves

 

Game play where another character, a thief, saves his life, perhaps repeatedly, and shows himself a valuable team player, is an opportunity for character development.  Or an opportunity to work with that thief over a period of years, repeatedly saving each other's lives, only to continue referring to him as a "no-good thief" because I wrote "hates thieves" in his background, and in his complications, at the start of the campaign, and  nothing can ever change his views.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like when there's a modest amount of role playing at the table.  I like my players to play characters and not character sheets.

 

A personality in a story - not a complex array of statistics and powers.

 

Additionally, experienced role players will keep their bits VERY short so they don't slow the game to the crawl acting out each moment of combat in painful detail.  It takes some skill and empathy for your fellow players to do this well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Role play is acting. The voice, the mannerisms, The predilections, that define the character. Character development is what happens over time. Felix 9 was a very rigid character, and changed slowly if at all. ( might be interesting to look at him in the 30 years since the end of the Cold War). Thunderbird changed quite a bit over time as he integrated more into the community. He went from a somewhat untrusting military know it all, to a smooth talking and confident spokesman for the team. The other team mates went from co-workers and colleagues, to friends. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would define Character Development is the change in the characters story over several role playing sessions; while small shifts in development happen in single sessions full Character Development Arcs play out over the long term.

 

Role Play just being in character. I expect that at a con-game. Otherwise it's just rollplay and while I can play monopoly, it's boring.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, very much yes... your many descriptions of "character development" being "the way the character changes over the course of play"... I totally agree with that.

I think that character development starts in character creation... but I'd argue often too much is done there. Often, like Cancer's comment about having such a top-down simulationist leaving no room for PCs and play... the same can be said of too much character development during creation. The player with the three novel set of background for their character, who brings them fully formed and fulfilled and just wants to "be" their idealized character... :sick:

 

I agree that development in play is what we usually want, and I still think that can happen in a single game session.


The game and the system play into that, but even something as much as "Cocky hard-ass cop in big shoot-out scenario, has a moment where he can be the kick ass dude but instead chooses to protect the bystanders and get them out of the building. Both the character and the player realizing in that moment that this is who this guy really is... wants to be... " etc.  Straightforward, but to me that moment is what makes the shoot-out scenario resonate and come alive. 

 

6 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

or he might throw himself at a zombie to save the cheerleader, dying for his unexpressed love, with the rest of the characters and players never knowing why he sacrificed himself.

 

Responding directly to this... I also think that it is important to realize that RPGs are a unique experience. Where seeing a movie or reading a book or playing a video game is consumption, and filming a movie and writing a book and coding a video game are production... RPGs are both, at the same time. The players (including the GM) are creating the game/experience/story, but they are also the audience of the game/experience/story. 

While the characters may never know why he did it, the PLAYERS absolutely should. If you as the player are so wrapped up in your own head and motivations, etc., but fail to bring the rest of the audience (play group) along with you... you have failed, hands down. That kind of thing is solipsistic and detrimental to group dynamics. My character Jimmy may be utterly stunned and confused at Kyle's sudden sacrifice, but Neil the player and audience member should be emotionally on that journey with Kyle just as much as Kyle's player. Character development is that journey.

This is also why I tend to be down on "role play" (acting) because it is often solipsistic... the player so focused on inhabiting the PC that they fail to involve the audience and be the creator of a entertaining experience. It also tends to allow for the asshole player with the asshole Wolverine clone to be a complete asshole in play, and excuse it with, "It's what my character would do!" Completely unacceptable to a workable social contract at the table. 

For character development, it not just my job to allow for it during play, but to push for it in such a way as the moments where these changes comes up and are demonstrated in play are dramatic and entertaining and interesting for the player audience. Character development, to me, serves this very meta requirement of good play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

While the characters may never know why he did it, the PLAYERS absolutely should. If you as the player are so wrapped up in your own head and motivations, etc., but fail to bring the rest of the audience (play group) along with you... you have failed, hands down. That kind of thing is solipsistic and detrimental to group dynamics. My character Jimmy may be utterly stunned and confused at Kyle's sudden sacrifice, but Neil the player and audience member should be emotionally on that journey with Kyle just as much as Kyle's player. Character development is that journey.

This is also why I tend to be down on "role play" (acting) because it is often solipsistic... the player so focused on inhabiting the PC that they fail to involve the audience and be the creator of a entertaining experience. It also tends to allow for the asshole player with the asshole Wolverine clone to be a complete asshole in play, and excuse it with, "It's what my character would do!" Completely unacceptable to a workable social contract at the table.

 

I'll flip that around. 

 

"My character dismisses yours because he is a brooding, moody, secretive loner who can't come out of his shell due to childhood trauma caused when his parents were gunned down by a mugger, with him left to cry over their bodies, something he never talks about with anyone." 

 

No.

 

How does my character know that?  My character can only react to your character's actions.  Personalities should come out in play.  Backgrounds could come out in play.  There may be scenarios that bring them to the forefront.  Or the characters, after working together and forging a mutual respect, friendship, etc., may choose to share some of their history. 

 

Don't read me a story about your character.  Participate in the stories that include your character, and let his story come out in play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/3/2019 at 2:11 PM, RDU Neil said:


While the characters may never know why he did it, the PLAYERS absolutely should. If you as the player are so wrapped up in your own head and motivations, etc., but fail to bring the rest of the audience (play group) along with you... you have failed, hands down. That kind of thing is solipsistic and detrimental to group dynamics. My character Jimmy may be utterly stunned and confused at Kyle's sudden sacrifice, but Neil the player and audience member should be emotionally on that journey with Kyle just as much as Kyle's player. Character development is that journey.

This is also why I tend to be down on "role play" (acting) because it is often solipsistic... the player so focused on inhabiting the PC that they fail to involve the audience and be the creator of a entertaining experience. It also tends to allow for the asshole player with the asshole Wolverine clone to be a complete asshole in play, and excuse it with, "It's what my character would do!" Completely unacceptable to a workable social contract at the table.

 

So...much.... disagreement.

 

 The first rule of tabletop is never inviting assholes in the first place.  So one of the GM's first diktats is to not allow anyone to play the "asshole loner" type.  You have to integrate in the rest of the group.  Set expectations first, in terms of character types, and tone, so that expectations walling in are managed.  As to Role play, "living inside someone else's head" for an evening is a very major attraction for Role Playing Games for me. Framing something else. "This is what My character would do", is a valid reasons IMO. I don't think that  another character's reasons would need to be evident to the group, unless in game, and in character reasons were discovered. I find that the less OOC information is transmitted to the player, the easier it is to manage assumptions and expectations. For me it is the Role play and the character involvement that gives context to the dice rolling fights that arise from the situation. If I eschewed role play, I'd go back to straight war gaming, because I am not here to arive at the dinner table to participate in an unscripted radio drama about such and such characters. I am here for the role play, and for the tactical problems to puzzle through with my friends.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On July 2, 2019 at 4:16 PM, RDU Neil said:

 

Interesting, because yeah, I'd totally disagree. The "Protect the Queen" scenario had ZERO "role" for me to play. Just a blank slate, and I "developed" the entire existence of the character, their arc, their raison d'etre, the motivation and symbolism, throughout the game. I did not speak once "in character."


Role play would be, "Here... you are the moody loner secretly in love with the cheerleader and looking for a way to fit in" now bring that to life... play a role. Talk "in character" and play out every excruciating moment of that awkward first date with the cheerleader... because that is what they character would do.

What I described was nothing like that.

 

Character development is the "why."   Why is the character moody? Why do they love the cheerleader? Why does it matter to them that they fit in?"  "Why is any of this dramatically relevant?" 


Role play is the "how"... how they act, how they speak, how they make decisions.

I'm much, much, MUCH more interested in the Why than the How.

 

 

Dude, I'm out of rep for today, 

 

but I wanted to say "thanks."

 

 

Thanks.

 

 

Duke

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

 

I'll flip that around. 

 

"My character dismisses yours because he is a brooding, moody, secretive loner who can't come out of his shell due to childhood trauma caused when his parents were gunned down by a mugger, with him left to cry over their bodies, something he never talks about with anyone." 

 

No.

 

How does my character know that?  My character can only react to your character's actions.  Personalities should come out in play.  Backgrounds could come out in play.  There may be scenarios that bring them to the forefront.  Or the characters, after working together and forging a mutual respect, friendship, etc., may choose to share some of their history. 

 

Don't read me a story about your character.  Participate in the stories that include your character, and let his story come out in play.

 

In what way did I even imply reading a story? Never. But if your character is acting all moody and grumpy, cool... but the player better be quite open about "Hey... understand that my character is really angry and defensive, but that is not me, the player... I'm totally cool with how this is playing out." 

And to your initial experience... "My charaxter dismisses your character becuase he is a brooding moody secrative loner..." is a legitimate response. The rest is a misplay because the player is allowing the character to know things they wouldn't. But if your character has been anti-social and unwilling to cooperate... even if we the players know why... it is actually quite acceptable for the characters to react negatively to this. That is the drama that plays out. What is important about the meta-conversation is making sure the PLAYERS are ok with is. If you are ok with your character being ostracized and dismissed because that is a likely outcome of their anti-social behavior... cool. Good drama can come out of a character being written out for a while because he's an asshole and the player is like, "Yeah... he is an asshole and kicking him out seems right." Later, a plot might arise where that character comes back, when it is dramatically interesting to force characters to work together AND THE PLAYERS ARE ALL COOL WITH THIS DRAMA BEING EXPLORED. 

 

What is not acceptable is the moody PC player expecting everyone to accept this and somehow allow that behavior and keep him around even though it is sucking the fun right out of everyone else's play. If BlastMan storms out of the conference room, breaking the doorframe with his casual strength, angry because the rest of the team won't just go into Destructo's HQ guns blazing... ok... that's a legit reaction. What comes next is important... if the PLAYER just sits there, says nothing, just "He storms out," without offering any meta-explanation, that's unfair to the rest of the group who aren't sure if the PLAYER is all upset, or if just BlastMan is? How is the rest of the table supposed to react? 

Now, if the player says, "Going meta for a moment, yeah, BlastMan is acting a bit unhinged. The idea that his mom might still be alive is clearly causing him to crack a bit, and I'm cool with however the team reacts. If BlastMan gets benched for the actual attack, ok, that can be some cool interpersonal drama there to explore."   Whatever... that isn't "reading a book" but it is incumbent on each player to let the other players know what they are thinking. Clarifying situations and avoiding misinterpretations. It is a group dynamic creating a shared imaginary space, so what is going into that space needs to be shared.

 

Now, if GhostGirl's player says, "Do we have any idea why he's half-cocked like this? Do we have any clue about this mother stuff, because if not, GhostGirl would probably read him the riot act?"  And BlastMan's player can say, "Oh no, she wouldn't know... that could be cool... let's play that out," and bam, you are back into the role-playing and having a good time as characters scream and yell at each other, but the players are having fun. 

Without a very short meta discussion instead the whole thing degenerates, as players fail to communicate because their characters fail to communicate. No way no how is that good for play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, RDU Neil said:

 

In what way did I even imply reading a story?

 

Right here...

 

On 7/3/2019 at 3:11 PM, RDU Neil said:

While the characters may never know why he did it, the PLAYERS absolutely should.

 

If the character does not share, and the other characters do not know, then the players should not be read a story.  It's all right if the other PCs' motives and decision-making is not an open book to them.  They do not need to see that he has a Complication of "In Love with the Cheerleader".  Let them figure it out - or not - in play.

 

1 hour ago, RDU Neil said:

 But if your character is acting all moody and grumpy, cool... but the player better be quite open about "Hey... understand that my character is really angry and defensive, but that is not me, the player... I'm totally cool with how this is playing out." 


And to your initial experience... "My charaxter dismisses your character becuase he is a brooding moody secrative loner..." is a legitimate response. The rest is a misplay because the player is allowing the character to know things they wouldn't.

 

How do the other character(s) know that my character is a brooding, secretive loner?  They can observe his behaviour and reach that conclusion in play.  Explaining his personality, rather than letting it play out, is the same provision of out of character info that would not be known in character.  My character would not say "Hey, I'm Blastman, and I am a brooding secretive loner", with or without tacking on more explanation as to why he is a brooding secretive loner.  If I have to explain that "the character is not the player", something is wrong, but better to state that "as a player, I'm fine with the way things are playing out" if there is any doubt perceived at the table.

1 hour ago, RDU Neil said:

But if your character has been anti-social and unwilling to cooperate... even if we the players know why... it is actually quite acceptable for the characters to react negatively to this. That is the drama that plays out. What is important about the meta-conversation is making sure the PLAYERS are ok with is. If you are ok with your character being ostracized and dismissed because that is a likely outcome of their anti-social behavior... cool. Good drama can come out of a character being written out for a while because he's an asshole and the player is like, "Yeah... he is an asshole and kicking him out seems right." Later, a plot might arise where that character comes back, when it is dramatically interesting to force characters to work together AND THE PLAYERS ARE ALL COOL WITH THIS DRAMA BEING EXPLORED.

 

Sure.  There is an onus on each player to bring a character to the table who can play within the group - whose positives outweigh his negatives - outside of a game where the PCs specifically are forced to work together.  If you are NOT OK with your character  being treated like an anti-social asshole, make a character who does not behave like an anti-social asshole.  If everyone else is there ready to play a plundering pirate in our plundering pirate campaign, and you show up with a meek, mild character whose goal in life is to avoid all danger and run a tea shoppe, well run along and run your tea shoppe - I guess your character is left behind when he walks away from an offer to set sail in favour of staying home and selling tea.  The rest of the PCs are under no obligation to shanghai yours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

Without a very short meta discussion instead the whole thing degenerates, as players fail to communicate because their characters fail to communicate. No way no how is that good for play.

 

17 minutes ago, Hugh Neilson said:

Sure.  There is an onus on each player to bring a character to the table who can play within the group - whose positives outweigh his negatives - outside of a game where the PCs specifically are forced to work together.  If you are NOT OK with your character  being treated like an anti-social asshole, make a character who does not behave like an anti-social asshole.  

 

It’s funny you guys bring this up, because I had a friend create a noire-type anti-social asshole character for a globe-trotting Pulp HERO group. He kept trying to say, in character (not as the player), “I’m antisocial and I don’t really like people,” or “I don’t really care or need anyone else.” They were all a bit over the top and a bit too obvious. Everyone rolled with it in game, but I felt compelled to pull him to the side afterwards and remind him that his character is in a group in the game, and he should think of a really good reason why he’d even be in a group, and why that group would even want him in it in the first place. A little conflict could actually be fun, but it had to make sense. If that didn’t fit his character, I suggested he save that character for another time and rethink a different character for this particular in-game group. 

 

I don't want to force my players to do things they don’t want, but I think it’s only fair that they at least have some kind of reason for playing with the group of characters. As players, they’re all cool with each other. It’s just that this particular character conception needed some tweaking. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Hugh Neilson said:

If everyone else is there ready to play a plundering pirate in our plundering pirate campaign, and you show up with a meek, mild character whose goal in life is to avoid all danger and run a tea shoppe, well run along and run your tea shoppe - I guess your character is left behind when he walks away from an offer to set sail in favour of staying home and selling tea.  The rest of the PCs are under no obligation to shanghai yours.

 

In this case, the PCs should sail to China and back to Europe with a hull full of tea.

 

That should set up tea shoppe guy for life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

If the character does not share, and the other characters do not know, then the players should not be read a story.

 

Your "read a story" implies some big long monologue or something, which is not at all what I'm implying... but what I am saying is that everything that happens (nearly) should be all done up front with the rest of the players as audience. Something happens just to one player, off screen in their personal life, it still plays out in front of the entire group, so all the players enjoy the scene and understand that PCs story. Their characters might have no idea, but the players certainly do. Only occasionally, and usually to allow the player to really prepare a certain reveal or dramatic moment, would I be ok with GM and player going off to do their own thing. 

 

Same thing goes for whatever the players are introducing to the SIS. If a player is thinking, "Wow... BlastMan just wouldn't be ok with this, and he is terrible at expressing himself, so he's going to storm off in a rage," great... and the player can describe that... but intent is important. What does the player intend that scene to do? How will it move the drama/story/action forward? The player should explain that. "Ok... I'm storming off here because I really feel BlastMan is raging, unreliable and going to cause problems." Other players can ask questions, "Ok... so are we looking at playing out a group conflict here, or maybe you want BlastMan going rogue while the rest of the team tries their own approach?" Maybe the original player is like, "Oh yeah... I hadn't thought of that, but cool... yeah, can we do that? BlastMan will be trying to take out Destructo his way, while you guys are going in with an actual plan, and that will be a totally messed up situation. Fun!"   Or whatever. 

2 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

They do not need to see that he has a Complication of "In Love with the Cheerleader".

 

Wow... I take this VERY differently. Everybody sees every character sheet, and players will specifically do things like, "Oh... doesn't this trigger your enraged by Magic thing!" or point at their own sheet saying, "Oh yeah, this is totally a moment where I'm leaning into my "In love with the cheerleader" psych lim."   All whether or not the other characters know about it... it is about the players all having input to how things play out. It is one of the things I love about a lot of the PbtA games or Blades hacks... the PCs all have built in personality triggers and relationships and such on them... but not just in a generic way like Disads in Champs... but things that act as actual role playing compells and even like stats, where you get game effects by pulling the strings of your character. Like in a game of Cartel I just played, at the beginning every character had a relationship of some kind set with two other PCs. My PC 'had a debt' to another, which I determined because he patched her up, no questions asked, when she stumbled into his store with a bullet in her leg. Near the end of the game, my character came across his, who had been shot in the throat and was bleeding out. I was pursuing the Narco boss, but we as players both stopped at that moment, "Oh man... I owe you/you owe me!" as we both recognized this was a moment where that established relationship had to affect the game dramatically. My character totally stopped her initial pursuit, dropped everything to get this guy she really barely knew, to a hospital, and it changed the ending of the game significantly. Did that character or any of the others really know why she did that? It probably seemed like a random, out of character act to the PCs, but  the PLAYERS knew exactly why it happened and it had that very satisfying moment of "Oh yeah... this is cool drama..." that only comes from that audience/meta POV of grasping the dramatic cause and effect and thematic shifts that are happening. 

 

2 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

If I have to explain that "the character is not the player", something is wrong, but better to state that "as a player, I'm fine with the way things are playing out" if there is any doubt perceived at the table.

 

You act like no one ever has their own personality and ego wrapped up in the character they are playing? That even the best players get emotionally carried away by the pressure of the action or drama? There is a reason people say, "I do X" and "I say Y instead of "My character does X or says Y". It happens all the time, and in moments of conflict and heightened emotion, it is incredibly important that players take that moment to step out of character and reassure people, "Hey, I'm not really angry now, even though I just spent five minutes calling you all every name in the book!" I've had players who have known each other for decades nearly come to blows because a bad day or difference of opinion was affecting game play and character decisions that were really two players very angry at each other. I realized this because they were both getting really shitty to each other IN CHARACTER without breaking out to reassure "hey, this isn't real, this is role playing". 

 

In my experience, players get very emotionally invested in the success of their character, or that the story plays out in a way that they imagine... and when things go against them or the story takes a turn they aren't expecting or don't particularly like, it is much better that we are all comfortable "going meta" and discussing this instead of everyone "staying in character" and trying to show their frustration through the unexplained actions of their characters. I've been playing for 40 years now and that shit happens WAY too often.

There is ALWAYS doubt perceived at the table, IMO, when a character is going through a particularly difficult scenario or stress or complication... and unless the player steps out and smiles and says, "Oh I'm having fun here... really... my character is miserable, but not me... bring the emotional pain... this is cool..." I'll be very attuned to the fact that the PLAYER might be feeling the stress and expressing the emotions, not just the character.

 

2 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

but I felt compelled to pull him to the side afterwards and remind him that his character is in a group in the game, and he should think of a really good reason why he’d even be in a group, and why that group would even want him in it in the first place. A little conflict could actually be fun, but it had to make sense. If that didn’t fit his character, I suggested he save that character for another time and rethink a different character for this particular in-game group. 

 

I don't want to force my players to do things they don’t want, but I think it’s only fair that they at least have some kind of reason for playing with the group of characters. As players, they’re all cool with each other. It’s just that this particular character conception needed some tweaking. 

 

Oh, this is part of the social contract for sure... and usually expressed right up front, but as you note, not all players are attuned to it. A mature response from a player might be, "I really do want to play the anti-social angry loner type, but I want to figure out how that character can be part of the story and add to the fun of the play group." Then the group can meta discuss "OK, how do we make the game work with one character always on the outs with everyone else?" And the group can come up with a way to shift perspectives between the group and the outsider or whatever.  Maybe scenes where the loner has information that he needs the others to act on, and he is like the terrible arrogant Batman type, where the other characters are like, "What a douche canoe... but he has good intel, so we'll keep working with him." But the players are all smiling and laughing because the scenes are enjoyable drama.

The likely issue here is similar to what I stated above, it wasn't just about the character... the PLAYER was emotionally invested in being the brooding, anti-social loner. The player enjoyed being a douche canoe "in character" and wasn't really concerned with how it affected the game or the others. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of great discussion and the point that we are all running on different definitions is spot on.  

 

But my main point is still valid.  In a con game constrained within 3.0 to 3.5 hours you will get role play and some fighting but not character development.  Does it happen?  Yes there are con games that luck into a group of players that make it happen.  But that is the exception. 

 

In a con last year I was a player in a CoC game and all the players already new the rules and genre.  We had a fantastically fun game and all aspects of a horror RPG came into play.  Great stuff.  But that was once in over 15 years.  :winkgrin:

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

 

Your "read a story" implies some big long monologue or something, which is not at all what I'm implying... but what I am saying is that everything that happens (nearly) should be all done up front with the rest of the players as audience. Something happens just to one player, off screen in their personal life, it still plays out in front of the entire group, so all the players enjoy the scene and understand that PCs story. Their characters might have no idea, but the players certainly do. Only occasionally, and usually to allow the player to really prepare a certain reveal or dramatic moment, would I be ok with GM and player going off to do their own thing.

 

Whether it's a long monologue or a compelling need to explain the motivation behind every action in 15 second sound bites, it's still "read me a story".  Don't tell, show.  Don't explain the character sheet, play the character.

 

To me, if something is going to happen off screen, it needs to be quick (and resolved by notes) or out of game time (email or phone calls between sessions).  Having players sit around and do nothing for more than a couple of minutes?  No. But that does not mean every character needs to be an open book to every other character.  Frankly, I am no more interested in sitting around the gaming table watching Player 3 play out his secret ID's relationship with his DNPC girlfriend for an hour or two than I am sitting around the gaming table for an hour or two with the other players while the GM and Player 3 play out that relationship in the other room.

 

8 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

Same thing goes for whatever the players are introducing to the SIS. If a player is thinking, "Wow... BlastMan just wouldn't be ok with this, and he is terrible at expressing himself, so he's going to storm off in a rage," great... and the player can describe that... but intent is important. What does the player intend that scene to do? How will it move the drama/story/action forward? The player should explain that. "Ok... I'm storming off here because I really feel BlastMan is raging, unreliable and going to cause problems." Other players can ask questions, "Ok... so are we looking at playing out a group conflict here, or maybe you want BlastMan going rogue while the rest of the team tries their own approach?" Maybe the original player is like, "Oh yeah... I hadn't thought of that, but cool... yeah, can we do that? BlastMan will be trying to take out Destructo his way, while you guys are going in with an actual plan, and that will be a totally messed up situation. Fun!"   Or whatever.

 

No thanks.  Blastman stormed out.  The other players need to decide what to do next.  They can chase after Blastman.  They can let him go.  We don't need to go meta and script what will happen next ("Hey, do you want our characters to come after Blastman and try to reason with him and play out a group conflict, or do you prefer that our characters let him storm away, and plan their  next actions only to have Blastman's actions crater the plan, or are you just taking the night off and Blastman will be back next week?".

 

Blastman took his action and stormed off.  My character's next action is determined by my character's personality, not the scene Blastman's player wants to direct.  Maybe one of the PCs chases after Blastman.  Maybe they all do.  Maybe Laser Leader interrupts Blastman's tirade with "You've pulled this type of stunt once too often.  Walk out that door and you are walking off the team."  Just as I don't get to decide Blastman's actions, he does not get to decide how my character, or anyone else's character, reacts.

 

Group conflict can be problematic - if half the team walks out with Blastman and the other half lets them go, either we need to weave a plot together that brings them back into a group, or we may have to decide which sub-group will be the focus of the game going forward, and the players not on that sub-team need new characters.  Perhaps next campaign will revolve around the other sub-group and their new teammates. 

 

8 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

Wow... I take this VERY differently. Everybody sees every character sheet, and players will specifically do things like, "Oh... doesn't this trigger your enraged by Magic thing!" or point at their own sheet saying, "Oh yeah, this is totally a moment where I'm leaning into my "In love with the cheerleader" psych lim."   All whether or not the other characters know about it... it is about the players all having input to how things play out. It is one of the things I love about a lot of the PbtA games or Blades hacks... the PCs all have built in personality triggers and relationships and such on them... but not just in a generic way like Disads in Champs... but things that act as actual role playing compells and even like stats, where you get game effects by pulling the strings of your character. Like in a game of Cartel I just played, at the beginning every character had a relationship of some kind set with two other PCs. My PC 'had a debt' to another, which I determined because he patched her up, no questions asked, when she stumbled into his store with a bullet in her leg. Near the end of the game, my character came across his, who had been shot in the throat and was bleeding out. I was pursuing the Narco boss, but we as players both stopped at that moment, "Oh man... I owe you/you owe me!" as we both recognized this was a moment where that established relationship had to affect the game dramatically. My character totally stopped her initial pursuit, dropped everything to get this guy she really barely knew, to a hospital, and it changed the ending of the game significantly. Did that character or any of the others really know why she did that? It probably seemed like a random, out of character act to the PCs, but  the PLAYERS knew exactly why it happened and it had that very satisfying moment of "Oh yeah... this is cool drama..." that only comes from that audience/meta POV of grasping the dramatic cause and effect and thematic shifts that are happening.

 

All that needs to be added to make that totally in-character is your character mumbling "I owe you".  Presumably, the other character also knows he patched up yours, so the other player should know that as well.  In the right circumstances, he could just as easily say "you owe me", and your character would have to make the choice.  Or he could wave you off "too late for me - get the job done" and yours might refuse because "I owe you - either we both get out of here or neither of us do".  Play the game.

 

There is no more reason that the other players should be reading my character sheet, or scripting my actions, than that they should have full details on the opposition and script what they do as well.  If you want to play the game as "joint characters we all control for theatre", that may make for an interesting game as well. It's not what I associate with role playing games.  My character is just that - MY character. 

 

8 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

You act like no one ever has their own personality and ego wrapped up in the character they are playing? That even the best players get emotionally carried away by the pressure of the action or drama? There is a reason people say, "I do X" and "I say Y instead of "My character does X or says Y". It happens all the time, and in moments of conflict and heightened emotion, it is incredibly important that players take that moment to step out of character and reassure people, "Hey, I'm not really angry now, even though I just spent five minutes calling you all every name in the book!" I've had players who have known each other for decades nearly come to blows because a bad day or difference of opinion was affecting game play and character decisions that were really two players very angry at each other. I realized this because they were both getting really shitty to each other IN CHARACTER without breaking out to reassure "hey, this isn't real, this is role playing". 

 

In my experience, players get very emotionally invested in the success of their character, or that the story plays out in a way that they imagine... and when things go against them or the story takes a turn they aren't expecting or don't particularly like, it is much better that we are all comfortable "going meta" and discussing this instead of everyone "staying in character" and trying to show their frustration through the unexplained actions of their characters. I've been playing for 40 years now and that shit happens WAY too often.

There is ALWAYS doubt perceived at the table, IMO, when a character is going through a particularly difficult scenario or stress or complication... and unless the player steps out and smiles and says, "Oh I'm having fun here... really... my character is miserable, but not me... bring the emotional pain... this is cool..." I'll be very attuned to the fact that the PLAYER might be feeling the stress and expressing the emotions, not just the character.

 

In most cases, I do not find it that tough to read the other player.  When he's describing a violent argument, smiling all the while, it is clear that the conflict is in game.  I've played with the same group for a long time, so it's seldom an issue.  But if it is an issue, asking "It seems like this is getting pretty heated - are we all OK with that as players?" is better than leaving any doubt.

 

And when I am immersed in my character enough to be using "I" rather than "my character", no one should be questioning whether I should be playing my character differently.  "Well, I think your character would make a different decision"?  No.  In- game "You owe me - remember when I patched up your leg."  Fine.  OOC "Your character would not do that after I patched her up all those years ago."  Not fine.

 

8 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

Oh, this is part of the social contract for sure... and usually expressed right up front, but as you note, not all players are attuned to it. A mature response from a player might be, "I really do want to play the anti-social angry loner type, but I want to figure out how that character can be part of the story and add to the fun of the play group." Then the group can meta discuss "OK, how do we make the game work with one character always on the outs with everyone else?" And the group can come up with a way to shift perspectives between the group and the outsider or whatever.  Maybe scenes where the loner has information that he needs the others to act on, and he is like the terrible arrogant Batman type, where the other characters are like, "What a douche canoe... but he has good intel, so we'll keep working with him." But the players are all smiling and laughing because the scenes are enjoyable drama.


The likely issue here is similar to what I stated above, it wasn't just about the character... the PLAYER was emotionally invested in being the brooding, anti-social loner. The player enjoyed being a douche canoe "in character" and wasn't really concerned with how it affected the game or the others. 

 

A lot of this can be expressed up front.  Your own example of every character having some connection to two others is a good one.  "You have all worked together for years" is one I see on occasion that fails miserably in the event it becomes clear there is no way two of the characters could EVER have worked together for hours, much less years.

 

I recall many years back a larger group where group conflict was taking over the game, and making it "no fun" for anyone.  There were, IIRC, 8 players. One character was ready to walk away from the whole group.  Three were aligned on one side and four on the other. 

 

GM:  "Guys, before we go on, let's be clear.  Everyone here should play their character as they see fit.  If that means the group splits up, that's fine."

 

[GM holds up a die in one hand, then pointing at the player to his left, then around the table] "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight...  If the group splits, you guys can tell me that's it - we're not working together.  Then we roll the die.  Whoever's number comes up, that's who the campaign follows, and the PCs not on that team will be retired from the campaign.  Maybe we'll come back to them in another campaign, but this campaign follows the group we roll."

 

Funny...the players figured out a way to compromise their irreconcilable PC differences - sanded off some of the rough edges - and the game continued with the same group.  Inter-party conflict?  Sure, plenty.  Irreconcilable differences?  Not any more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

 

Whether it's a long monologue or a compelling need to explain the motivation behind every action in 15 second sound bites, it's still "read me a story".  Don't tell, show.  Don't explain the character sheet, play the character.

 

To me, .....

 

Snip

 

Yes.  You have pretty much described my take on things too. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/5/2019 at 9:34 AM, Hugh Neilson said:

Whether it's a long monologue or a compelling need to explain the motivation behind every action in 15 second sound bites, it's still "read me a story".  Don't tell, show.  Don't explain the character sheet, play the character.

 

I'm surprised you don't see how problematic this is.

 

BlastMan Play the character:  "I storm off. You are all idiots! I'll take on Destructo myself!"  (huff grunt, slouch in chair looking pissed)   (Question on everyone's mind... is this acting or is BlastMan's player really pissed?)

 

Other player 1: "Uh... ok then... so what do we do?" 

 

GhostGirl Emotional Player 2: "I go running after BlastMan. I hate when people are upset!"

 

SmartGuy Tactical Player 3: "**** him! Jeezus... we've got an attack plan we have to prep. Now everything has fallen apart.  (Serious question... is  SmartGuy's player upset, or just SmartGuy? Are we role playing or is he really angry because he loves the tactical part, and BlastMan's player is messing with his fun?)

 

BeamerDude: "Hey, I agree with you, we need to plan. Let me go get GhostGirl and..."

 

SmartGuy: "Oh, you are leaving to? Christ, what a shitshow." (slump in chair grumbling)

 

GM: BlastMan... GhostGirl is following you, calling out your name.

 

BlastMan: "Back off!" I snarl and fly off into the night off the balcony!

 

GM: GhostGirl, do you want to do anything?

 

GhostGirl: "No, you can't leave!" I use my possession power to stop him!

 

BeamerDude: "Oh shit..."

 

GM (shaking head): Ok... post Segment 12...

 

--

 

I mean, seriously... and all the while, BlastMan's player is like "I never wanted any of this! I just wanted to storm off... be dramatic for a moment... he'd cool off after a while!... but because we can only "show" in character and aren't allowed to "go meta" and explain PLAYER motivation (remember... characters don't exist... things only happen because the PLAYER wants them to... the character can't want anything...) we are suddenly into playing out intra-PC combat BECAUSE NO ONE WAS ALLOWED TO EXPLAIN THEMSELVES!

 

All could have been avoided if BlastMan's player was allowed to say, "I'm cool with you all doing your plan thing. I just want BlastMan to show how emotional the situation is for him."

 

or maybe...

 

GhostGirl's player could say, "This conflict is great, and I really want GhostGirl to have a chance to confront BlastMan in this emotionally charged situation... I feel a big character reveal could happen here."

 

or maybe...

 

SmartGuy's player could ask, "Hey... really? I was hoping to get to the attack plan. Are we really derailing this?" and letting folks know that the player is kinda unhappy about this.

 

 

It is FREAKIN' COMMUNICATION 101!!  Tell people what you are thinking, avoid assumptions and keep everyone on the same page and working together in the SHARED Imaginary Space! SIS is important for a reason. Everyone is involved... one player's head space is not isolated, and should actually be shared with the others... that's what it is all about.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎7‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 9:34 AM, Hugh Neilson said:

And when I am immersed in my character enough to be using "I" rather than "my character", no one should be questioning whether I should be playing my character differently.  "Well, I think your character would make a different decision"?  No.  In- game "You owe me - remember when I patched up your leg."  Fine.  OOC "Your character would not do that after I patched her up all those years ago."  Not fine.

 

Part of this is the tone... not telling you how to play your character, but asking "Would your character really leave me to bleed out?" because hey, maybe you'd forgotten about he "owe me" thing... or maybe you had, and yes, this is clearly your character reneging on a debt, and dramatically we should understand that.

 

If a player describes a character's actions and it seems odd, out of character, or out of place for the scene, messes with expectations... it is totally legitimate for others to say, "Hold on... that seems odd. I wouldn't have expected you to leave him their to die. Am I reading this situation correctly?"

 

Then you can respond:

a) I wouldn't stop I have to get the... oh wait, crap, I just remembered I owed you... damn, right... I need to rethink this...

 

or

 

b) Yes, you see a momentary flicker of doubt, but the I steel my gaze and walk away, vengeance more important that a debt owed!"

 

or

 

c) "Yep... it is odd. You are reading it right. Let's play this out."

 

 

Or whatever else might be the situation. Half the time players misconstrue the situation, or have imagined the scenario out of whack with the others... and the communication is short, simple and gets everyone back on the same page. Or just reassuring the table "Hey... yeah, we are on the same page... this is a character moment, it should be straining expectations."  And cool, everyone is back in the groove.

 

No player perfectly plays their character in every situation. GMs don't make the best choices every time. Plenty of times my players have said,"Wait... are you sure X would do Y? What about that time when...?" and I'm like, "Oh crap... yeah... forgot that in the moment... you are right... let's pull back a bit, instead what happens is..."

 

That kind of thing keeps play groups on the level and working together... and avoids misunderstandings and over-reactions, etc. It's not about one player telling another how to role play, it is about communicating expectations and intent clearly, creating understanding and trust. After a while, weird or out of character moments can give rise to nothing more than a raised eyebrow from one player and a "trust me" nod from the other... because communication is built up and trust has been EARNED not just expected.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

 After a while, weird or out of character moments can give rise to nothing more than a raised eyebrow from one player and a "trust me" nod from the other... because communication is built up and trust has been EARNED not just expected.

 

I agree completely. And in fact I'd go one further - even when the trust is there miscommunication can still happen. It's always beneficial to stop now and then and let the other players know what it is that you're thinking. Can this de-rail a potentially good bit of drama? Yes. But so can not communicating. And not communicating has the potential to de-rail whole gaming sessions and friendships too. I've been a contributor to that in the past. And not even the distant past.

 

Communication is always good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/5/2019 at 2:34 PM, Hugh Neilson said:

And when I am immersed in my character enough to be using "I" rather than "my character", no one should be questioning whether I should be playing my character differently.  "Well, I think your character would make a different decision"?  No.  In- game "You owe me - remember when I patched up your leg."  Fine.  OOC "Your character would not do that after I patched her up all those years ago."  Not fine.

 

One of the things my group does not do is immersion.  We often use I rather than my character but it is almost never at a point where I think anyone is unaware that they are playing in a game with their friends.  I do think that questioning someone's character actions can be tricky, even when it is within the game rules - we can see that whenever we talk social conflict, where the game system might suggest that a character is convinced of a fact that the player is not...  🙂

 

Doc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...