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11 hours ago, drunkonduty said:

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.

 

This a thousand times this!  Have their been wonderful "in character" dramatic moments that might have been spoiled if someone broke character immersion? Of course. Those are wonderful when they happen, but they are rare, and they absolutely only happen when there is a level of trust between the players. Miscommunication happens WAY more often and derails WAY more games than "going meta" ever harms immersion. And on the plus side, meta discussions have driven way more "oh cool!" moments than ever happened organically in immersive play. 

 

Believe me, I'm old enough and old school enough to recognize a generation of role players coming of age with the deep, if unexamined desire to have this transformative experience through immersive play. It was kind of like the unspoken holy grail of gaming, often from a very simulationist POV (before that was ever a term.) Kind of a "the more real we treat this, the more immersed we are, the more transcendent the otherly experience will be" thing. 

If you've actually achieved that in game play... and I have a few times... it is really special. It is also rare, and CAN STILL HAPPEN when introducing meta-play alongside it... and most often, the attempts to create it by enforcing "immersion" were much more likely to cause game destruction than transcendent play. 


I've had the same, joyful, intense experience in very meta-play, where each player is in the groove and they are aware of how their characters are affecting the SIS and they are making great decisions and adding great elements to the mind space and the story just sings! 

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16 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

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

 

First, I would say "can be", not "is".  Second, your One True Way does not stave off potential problems so much as change their nature.  Let's explore some alternative paths.

 

16 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

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!"

 

Now, let's assume Blastman Player says "No, wait, I just want to play Blastman storming off in a huff - you guys just go on without me".

 

GhostGirl's player, however:  "Hey, I want to play my character's dramatic scene - she is a peacemaker, and she would not just sit there and watch BlastMan storm out."

 

Both players want a dramatic moment for their character.  The two moments are mutually exclusive.  Meanwhile:

 

16 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

SmartGuy Tactical Player 3: "Fuck 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)

 

 

BlastMan, GhostGirl players:  Screw you, SmartGuy.  All you ever want to do is roll dice with your minmaxed cheesy character builds.  The rest of us want to role play our characters, not just roll combat dice."

 

OK, now we have a real player conflict.  The problem is not lack of communication, it is lack of alignment of expectations.  My example is extreme, but it could be more that SmartGuy is really into the battle plan and wants to put the role playing on hold, while BlastGuy and Ghost Girl are really taken with this opportunity to deeply role play their characters, so they'd rather turn tonight's session into a role play focus, and leave the battle plan and big combat session for next time.  Looks like BeamerDude leans to SmartGuy's way of thinking, but he's not as married to which way tonight's game session goes.

 

16 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

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...

 

BlastMan adding "I want my 'storming off in a huff' moment" added to the above, and GhostGirl adding "I want to play GhostGirl's peacemaker vision - I want my character's dramatic moment of calming BlastMan down."

 

And we are still at PS 12.

 

Meanwhile, SmartGuy's vision is of pulling off a genius tactical play against Destructo.  If his plan does not come off without a hitch - all players cooperate with his vision, and Destructo is readily defeated, nothing goes wrong with the plan, then he didn't get his dramatic moment and his player considers the whole game a waste of time.

 

16 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

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.

 

OK.  So BlastMan's player wants to storm off in a huff and leave the rest to plan.  GhostGirl's player wants this moment in the spotlight for her character's peacemaker role.  SmartGuy wants to shove all this role playing bull and get on with the wargame aspect of planning and implementing Destructo's defeat.  And BeamerDude just wants to play a game with all his buddies happy.

 

Their goals are not consistent.  You cannot make all of them happy.  I would have thought that we would have figured out the group had different goals for the game many sessions ago, frankly.  Now, if what we appear to have is snarling across the table and unhappy players, then it's time to put the game on hold and sort out the player objectives.  If the players are grinning while the characters are fighting, great, game on.

 

Where we potentially have a real problem is where BlastMan and GhostGirl are totally engaged in role playing their characters, while SmartGuy and BeamerDude were all over tonight's expected epic battle, and are now disengaged from the game completely.  Either they are going home furious that those artsy-fartsy role players derailed their battle plan and tactical exercise evening, or BlastMan and GhostGirl are going home to rant on the message boards about those Effing ROLL PLAYERS who just bring a bunch of combat stats on a sheet, with no personality or life, to a ROLE PLAYING game.

 

That communication  should have happened before the campaign even started.  Was it supposed to be an intense, immersive campaign centred on role playing fully-fleshed out PC personalties?  If so, maybe BeamerDude just being along for the ride, and perhaps having even said "I'm OK with that, but I want my character to be more of a spectator than a participant in all the drama" is OK.  SmartGuy just being here for the tactical combat is outside the social contract.

 

Maybe it was supposed to be a Game of SuperPowered Combat first and a role playing exercise second.  Everyone was supposed to bring characters who will get along and work together, and BlastMan's "I'm angry so I storm off and to hell with the team" character is inappropriate to the game.

 

4 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

 

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...  🙂

 

Yup.  We could also very easily have players whose goals for the game differ.  Finding out that Player 1 wants a character-driven drama filled with internal team conflicts and role playing interactions with various PCs and NPCs while Player 4 just wants to sling dice and blast the Bad Guys, within the shell of a minimalist scenario and setting at the game session is not going to end well regardless - maybe a discussion of what the players want out of the game should have happened long before the first session where those opposed expectations come into conflict.

 

 

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This stuff can be pretty simple.  My character is "Impetuous, Impulsive and Impatient".  He's played that way, and it means he often makes snap decisions that are sub-optimal.  Player 3 is all about min-max, optimization and perfect combat tactics.

 

We are headed for a blowup. 

 

My character blasts an Explosion at the Bad Guys, and it knocks Player 2's flyer 4 hexes back for a loop.  Player 3 goes off on a tirade on what a stupid move that was - we should ALWAYS take the exact best tactical move in combat and role playing be damned! 

 

We don't have a failure to communicate in tonight's game.  We have a failure to communicate game expectations, or a failure to abide by the game expectations we agreed to.

 

EDIT TO ADD:  Practically, just as I should know going in that your group plays with a very meta style, open-book character sheets and every action explained out of character.  If I am not OK with that, I should say so, and bow out of the game.  Just as, if you want that open book style and that's not the way my group operates, I should be clear on that up front, before we sit down at the table.

 

That "Communication 101" tagline is great.  The 101 course is introductory, and it should already be completed before we even design our characters, not need to be revisited in detail during "Advanced Role Playing in a Superhero World 412"

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4 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

 

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 agree with this... but what is interesting, is that immersion can just "happen" for moments when the group is in a groove. It is transitory... fleeting... but cool. I think the big issue was, in the past, most gaming tried to "force" this by "STAY IN CHARACTER!" or whatever... with the idea of sustaining those immersive moments. 

My take is that this is impossible, and what you want is a trusting environment where slipping into those moments is possible... and perhaps un-intuitively, that comes from LESS immersive play... MORE meta-play. A focus on player agency and communication can actually result in more "drama moments" than trying to force everyone to be immersed all the time. 

 

I do have plenty of experience where players may not forget who they are, but they mix their personal emotional state with their character's. i.e. SmartGuy's player really is all about the tactical stuff, and when the game isn't about that, he can get annoyed and that annoyance is not immediately conscious and comes across in snarky behavior by SmartGuy "in character" but if examined, is really being driven by the PLAYER'S dislike of "blah blah emoting... blah blah NPC shit" etc. Players tend to create characters that can explore the aspect of the game the players find compelling... and immersion can get ugly when the player's preferences are being emoted through the character and often not even consciously.

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5 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

OK.  So BlastMan's player wants to storm off in a huff and leave the rest to plan.  GhostGirl's player wants this moment in the spotlight for her character's peacemaker role.  SmartGuy wants to shove all this role playing bull and get on with the wargame aspect of planning and implementing Destructo's defeat.  And BeamerDude just wants to play a game with all his buddies happy.

 

Their goals are not consistent.  You cannot make all of them happy.  I would have thought that we would have figured out the group had different goals for the game many sessions ago, frankly.  Now, if what we appear to have is snarling across the table and unhappy players, then it's time to put the game on hold and sort out the player objectives.

 

Yes... of course this COULD happen... and that is the whole point of what I'm talking about... that if you don't encourage some meta-play, you might be grinding along for a while before it really gets ugly! All because people have not been encouraged to communicate and explain their actions. What you say here, "  I would have thought that we would have figured out the group had different goals for the game many sessions ago, frankly." is exactly what I'm getting to. How else do you figure out the group goals unless you encourage this communication as part of play? There is no way to have clearly defined "We are having all the meta-discussion up front and once in play, never break character" because often people aren't really aware of their preferences, or realize what one person means by "emotional play" is very different from what another means with the same words. 

And everyone has to compromise in a game play group. Everyone needs to realize that not every bit of the game will be exactly what they want. Maybe SmartGuy's player isn't really a jerk, he's ok with the emoting parts usually, but this game, he's feeling that it is getting carried away and he's really not had a chance to do his thing in a while... and this is all unconscious and only really manifesting as irritability in the player and character... so unless SmartGuy's player feels comfortable to say, "Hey, time-out a second... I'm feeling we are really getting off track here... I'm not so happy about this..." because he knows he is in an environment where that is ok to say... well, then it can get ugly.

 

But you are right, if every player insists on "their way only" then nothing will work... but you can't find compromise if you aren't openly communicating. BlastGuy's player says, "Yeah... you are right, this is disruptive, and I didn't really intend that... what can we do?" GhostGirl's player, "Well, I like it, but maybe this isn't the exact right time for it... so maybe... "There's a moment where BlastGuy is flying off and GhostGirl reacts with her powers and he turns in a rage... their eyes meet... something really connects, deep and scary, maybe enhanced by her power. She breaks off contact and BlastMan flies away, but both know there is something really important happening."   Then we can come back to that."

 

GM: Ok, BeamerDude? 

BeamerDude's player (relieved): I find GhostGirl looking... white as a ghost, but she assures me she's alright.

GhostGirl: "BlastMan will be back... I know it... but we've got to get back to the plan. Destructo won't wait!"

SmartGuy's player: rubbing hands "Sweet"... you two walk back in... the secret base blueprints are spread out on the table... SmartGuy's already got lines and arrows drawn and gear lists on the white board... for a moment he notices the tension and says, "Did I miss something?" but shrugs and totally ignores your replies... "And anyway... BeamerDude, you are going to need to come in from above..."

 

Everyone laughs.

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Hugh Neilson said:

Somehow, this just felt right for this thread...

 

image.thumb.png.bec9f78a7fe0bd12114013b91cfe1e58.png

 

Funny... but seriously... I hate this stuff. Backstory is awful... it should be developed in play. Nothing I'm talking about has anything to do with backstory... which is just a pre-play form of solipsistic "role play".

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1 hour ago, RDU Neil said:

 

Funny... but seriously... I hate this stuff. Backstory is awful... it should be developed in play. Nothing I'm talking about has anything to do with backstory... which is just a pre-play form of solipsistic "role play".

 

I couldn't agree more.  And there are far more people that prefer to describe what their character does vice try to become the character bad accent and all.  In my current games I either run intros using pregens to teach a system or require all the PCs to be built during a character build session.  No backstories permitted until ALL THE PLAYERS have generated their preliminary characters.  Backstories are fine as long as they do not dramatically impact/change the rest of the players concepts or try to introduce elements that don't fit the campaign concept already agreed to. 

 

If the agreed upon campaign world does not have magic, then no, you cannot suddenly be a mage with Takofanes as the hunted.  Why? Everyone else as well as the GM will have built everything on the assumption of no magic and then here you come.

 

 

As for the terms "Role playing" and "character development".  My definitions are keyed to the game being a TTRPG not a theatrical exercise.  "Role Playing" for me is the entirety of at the table playing.  "Character Development" is the between game process of spending experience/leveling up ( depending on system ).

 

I know that people have an aversion to "simple", but adding ten thousand extra words to describe things isn't helpful. 

 

But whatever floats you boat 😜

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23 minutes ago, Spence said:

As for the terms "Role playing" and "character development".  My definitions are keyed to the game being a TTRPG not a theatrical exercise.  "Role Playing" for me is the entirety of at the table playing.  "Character Development" is the between game process of spending experience/leveling up ( depending on system ).

 

yeah... it is unfortunate that RPGs have turned "character development" into "leveling up."  I still think of it from a literary POV, where character development is the whole point... to experience the growth of the characters, changes in their values, mores, expectations and beliefs, through the fictional events. I've seen some RPG related quotes about "Character development is bullshit. Character growth is what is important."

Again... a shift in the meaning of terms based on context. A discussion of leveling up vs. growth could be fun, but actually a different thing altogether than what we've been talking about here. Either or both is possible in either style of gaming we've been talking about. Leveling up vs. growth is one of the "goal differences" Hugh was mentioning... not necessarily a style play.

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8 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

This stuff can be pretty simple.  My character is "Impetuous, Impulsive and Impatient".  He's played that way, and it means he often makes snap decisions that are sub-optimal.  Player 3 is all about min-max, optimization and perfect combat tactics.

 

We are headed for a blowup. 

 

My character blasts an Explosion at the Bad Guys, and it knocks Player 2's flyer 4 hexes back for a loop.  Player 3 goes off on a tirade on what a stupid move that was - we should ALWAYS take the exact best tactical move in combat and role playing be damned! 

 

We don't have a failure to communicate in tonight's game.  We have a failure to communicate game expectations, or a failure to abide by the game expectations we agreed to.

 

EDIT TO ADD:  Practically, just as I should know going in that your group plays with a very meta style, open-book character sheets and every action explained out of character.  If I am not OK with that, I should say so, and bow out of the game.  Just as, if you want that open book style and that's not the way my group operates, I should be clear on that up front, before we sit down at the table.

 

That "Communication 101" tagline is great.  The 101 course is introductory, and it should already be completed before we even design our characters, not need to be revisited in detail during "Advanced Role Playing in a Superhero World 412"

 

re. Communication at the start of a campaign; at the formation of a new gaming group. Yes. Absolutely vital. I agree with you completely.

 

But even if this is done, done well, with the best of intentions by all parties, agreements are reached and understandings made; down the track situations will arise in which breaches of these trusts will occur. They just will.

 

I referred to an incident in my previous post in which I had contributed to de-railing a game session. Allow me to expand.

 

Situation: Playing with people I have known and gamed with for years. But I only get to game with them occasionally as I moved away for work some time back. On a visit back we were playing a game in which I was "guest-starring." The GM asked me to play a character who was indicative of the darker world behind the Silver Age 1970's comic book style that the other characters represented/inhabited. He suggested  a former Nazi rocket scientist. I was uncomfortable but what the hell, I like to be a team player and give the GM support. I went to great lengths to inform people what my character was AND that he was never an ideological Nazi. Like many people he joined the party because that's just what you did if you wanted to get ahead. He had some wrong headed bullshit ideas, but wasn't an actual genocide defending s#!tbag. I did my Communication 101.

 

In play I made an IN CHARACTER remark that was racist but that I felt was appropriate to the character. One of the other players was very hurt by it. And rightly so as it spoke directly to her personal experience. Obviously I was an idiot. What I should have done was stop first and check with her and the other players if where I was going was okay with them. I didn't and it wasn't. Much more hurt was done than losing out on a bit of (lame) drama.

 

So for all that I like a good immersive experience something I need to remember and put into practice is:  Communication is an ongoing process. It isn't done once and then everyone is dandy. Ya gotta keep working at it.

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

Yes... of course this COULD happen... and that is the whole point of what I'm talking about... that if you don't encourage some meta-play, you might be grinding along for a while before it really gets ugly! All because people have not been encouraged to communicate and explain their actions. What you say here, "  I would have thought that we would have figured out the group had different goals for the game many sessions ago, frankly." is exactly what I'm getting to. How else do you figure out the group goals unless you encourage this communication as part of play? There is no way to have clearly defined "We are having all the meta-discussion up front and once in play, never break character" because often people aren't really aware of their preferences, or realize what one person means by "emotional play" is very different from what another means with the same words.

 

First, you have the communication up front, before play even begins, rather than bring in two Drama Queens, a Combat Monster and a Tactical Wargamer and expect them to get along.  The game you describe, on which I elaborated, ends up derailed whether or not the players explain why they are playing their characters in the manner they chose to play them.  BlasterMan and Ghost Girl want to play out very different, mutually exclusive, dramatic scenes.  SmartGuy doesn't want to play out either one.  BeamerDude just went out to get a Slurpee, hoping the fight will be over when he gets back.

 

There is a big difference between "hey, if you're not sure, meta discussion is OK in play" and "you must meta-discuss every action you take and provide complete details of your character to all the other players".

 

10 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

And everyone has to compromise in a game play group. Everyone needs to realize that not every bit of the game will be exactly what they want. Maybe SmartGuy's player isn't really a jerk, he's ok with the emoting parts usually, but this game, he's feeling that it is getting carried away and he's really not had a chance to do his thing in a while... and this is all unconscious and only really manifesting as irritability in the player and character... so unless SmartGuy's player feels comfortable to say, "Hey, time-out a second... I'm feeling we are really getting off track here... I'm not so happy about this..." because he knows he is in an environment where that is ok to say... well, then it can get ugly.

 

We still have four players who each want different things.  Your description is one possibility.  Another is that BlasterMan and Ghost Girl say "Hey, it's a Role Playing Game, and we want to role play our characters.  The fight will happen in its own good time, so suck it up, buttercup."

 

10 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

But you are right, if every player insists on "their way only" then nothing will work... but you can't find compromise if you aren't openly communicating. BlastGuy's player says, "Yeah... you are right, this is disruptive, and I didn't really intend that... what can we do?" GhostGirl's player, "Well, I like it, but maybe this isn't the exact right time for it... so maybe... "There's a moment where BlastGuy is flying off and GhostGirl reacts with her powers and he turns in a rage... their eyes meet... something really connects, deep and scary, maybe enhanced by her power. She breaks off contact and BlastMan flies away, but both know there is something really important happening."   Then we can come back to that."

 

Sounds like team story writing rather than a role playing game to me.  It also seems like Smart Guy is insisting on, and getting, his own way.  Too bad if Ghost Girl doesn't like having her decision to play her character, rather than play Smart Guy Tactical Theater, overridden.

 

10 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

GM: Ok, BeamerDude? 

BeamerDude's player (relieved): I find GhostGirl looking... white as a ghost, but she assures me she's alright.

GhostGirl: "BlastMan will be back... I know it... but we've got to get back to the plan. Destructo won't wait!"

SmartGuy's player: rubbing hands "Sweet"... you two walk back in... the secret base blueprints are spread out on the table... SmartGuy's already got lines and arrows drawn and gear lists on the white board... for a moment he notices the tension and says, "Did I miss something?" but shrugs and totally ignores your replies... "And anyway... BeamerDude, you are going to need to come in from above..."

 

Everyone laughs.

 

So now we have BeamerDude's player playing Ghostgirl her player.  How nice.  Maybe the other player would like to run her own damn character, thank you very much.

 

Saying "hey, this is the game I want to play and you guys aren't playing it" is not an automatic recipe for everyone else to fall into line and play the game Smart Guy wanted to play tonight.

 

10 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

 

Funny... but seriously... I hate this stuff. Backstory is awful... it should be developed in play. Nothing I'm talking about has anything to do with backstory... which is just a pre-play form of solipsistic "role play".

 

So there should be no backstory to explain WHY BlasterMan is so enraged, or why GhostGirl is a peacemaker, or what makes SmartGuy an insensitive douche and BeamerDude a laid back doormat?  Without backstory, where did DNPC's, Hunteds, etc. come from?  The characters should definitely develop during play, but just as they are going somewhere, they are also coming from somewhere.

 

And if GhostGirl wants to have an elaborate backstory, but I don't want it read to me in play, why can't both of us have what we want?  Is her elaborate backstory, explained only when her character chooses to discuss it in the course of gameplay, robbing you of something?  Of course, that "full PC disclosure" policy practically requires everyone read her 19 page back story, I suppose, so now it is a problem for your game.  In fact, now no one is happy.  GhostGirl's player didn't want her elaborate backstory to be fully known to the other players, just to inform her of how she would play her character and perhaps create some plot hooks.  BeamerDude, BlasterMan and SmartGuy didn't want to read it either.

 

5 hours ago, Spence said:

 

I couldn't agree more.  And there are far more people that prefer to describe what their character does vice try to become the character bad accent and all.  In my current games I either run intros using pregens to teach a system or require all the PCs to be built during a character build session.  No backstories permitted until ALL THE PLAYERS have generated their preliminary characters.  Backstories are fine as long as they do not dramatically impact/change the rest of the players concepts or try to introduce elements that don't fit the campaign concept already agreed to.

 

So I can't figure out why I have these DNPC's, or Hunteds, or psychological issues, or what my Secret ID does for a living before my character is fully written, as are all of the others?  Then I can't actually create my character.  Definitely agree that the backstory has to be consistent with the campaign, and not impose on any of the other PCs, but that does not mean a backstory should be avoided.

 

5 hours ago, Spence said:

As for the terms "Role playing" and "character development".  My definitions are keyed to the game being a TTRPG not a theatrical exercise.  "Role Playing" for me is the entirety of at the table playing.  "Character Development" is the between game process of spending experience/leveling up ( depending on system ).

 

To me, role playing is actually playing a character rather than a cardboard cutout that is just a bunch of combat stats making decisions based on what seems most likely to "win" the game, devoid of any personalty.  That's a TT  G, lacking RP.

 

And character development is development of personality, not adding new powers and abilities.

 

As you say, YMMV.

 

1 hour ago, drunkonduty said:

 

re. Communication at the start of a campaign; at the formation of a new gaming group. Yes. Absolutely vital. I agree with you completely.

 

But even if this is done, done well, with the best of intentions by all parties, agreements are reached and understandings made; down the track situations will arise in which breaches of these trusts will occur. They just will.

 

In play I made an IN CHARACTER remark that was racist but that I felt was appropriate to the character. One of the other players was very hurt by it. And rightly so as it spoke directly to her personal experience. Obviously I was an idiot. What I should have done was stop first and check with her and the other players if where I was going was okay with them. I didn't and it wasn't. Much more hurt was done than losing out on a bit of (lame) drama.

 

Bolding added.  Any character which pushes what are likely to be hot buttons should pretty much be avoided, unless one can be rock solid certain that the rest of the group are all OK with it.

 

If BlasterMan had dropped a racial or sexual slur, I don't think a metagame comment is likely to fix the impact on the player to whom it spoke directly to personal experience.

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aforementioned

46 minutes ago, Hugh Neilson said:

So I can't figure out why I have these DNPC's, or Hunteds, or psychological issues, or what my Secret ID does for a living before my character is fully written, as are all of the others?  Then I can't actually create my character.  Definitely agree that the backstory has to be consistent with the campaign, and not impose on any of the other PCs, but that does not mean a backstory should be avoided.

 

You didn't actually read what I wrote.  I didn't say anything about no backstories at all.  I said:

Quote

No backstories permitted until ALL THE PLAYERS have generated their preliminary characters.

 

It is during the CharGen session that the players sketch out their preliminary ideas and bounce them off the rest of the players and the GM.  They do not get to walk in with a 27 page manifesto already written and expect everyone else to build around it.   And then they usually have the gall to act wounded or cry that they are not being allowed to play what they want.  When the reality is they just want to be catered to. 

 

Preliminary character?  A super detective martial artist.  A master of the mystical arts? Is there magic in the campaign or not?  Is it a super criminal campaign or is it a mutants versus Genocide campaign.   All of these preliminary items needs out be sketched out before backstories are explored.

 

If the campaign doesn't have magic, you will not be able to have your Heroine be Hunted by Spymistress Tharlis since Skarn the Shaper wouldn't exist.  So showing up with that 27 page manifesto would be pointless. 

 

But it is Champions, so if the players want to include magic.  That is if they ALL do, then it is an easy thing to incorporate as long as the decision happens BEFORE the aforementioned 27 page manifesto :tsk:       :bounce:

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OK, I saw "preliminary characters" as a lot further along than you meant, so that makes more sense.  This is just ensuring that the players understand the campaign background and expectations, though - that is, your character needs to be written to the campaign.

 

Super-powers appearing for the first time?  Then you can't bring a third generation Super carrying on a legacy.  Your SuperMage works great in an Avengers game (very diverse power sets) but not in a "Only origin is Mutant" X-men pastiche.

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6 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

OK, I saw "preliminary characters" as a lot further along than you meant, so that makes more sense.  This is just ensuring that the players understand the campaign background and expectations, though - that is, your character needs to be written to the campaign.

 

Super-powers appearing for the first time?  Then you can't bring a third generation Super carrying on a legacy.  Your SuperMage works great in an Avengers game (very diverse power sets) but not in a "Only origin is Mutant" X-men pastiche.

 

 

Exactly.

 

And my apologies for being unclear.  The curmudgeon in me makes too many assumptions.  I am working on it though :ugly:

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On 7/11/2019 at 10:50 AM, Hugh Neilson said:

Bolding added.  Any character which pushes what are likely to be hot buttons should pretty much be avoided, unless one can be rock solid certain that the rest of the group are all OK with it.

 

Yes. That's my point. I should have opened communication with the other players before going on being all  "immersive."

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12 hours ago, drunkonduty said:
On ‎7‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 8:50 PM, Hugh Neilson said:

Bolding added.  Any character which pushes what are likely to be hot buttons should pretty much be avoided, unless one can be rock solid certain that the rest of the group are all OK with it.

 

Yes. That's my point. I should have opened communication with the other players before going on being all  "immersive."

 

On this point, have any of you played with the "X" card? This is usually used in Con games... where it is just a card sitting in the middle of the table with a big black X on it. Everyone knows that if someone reaches out and taps the card, play stops... whatever was being done is rewound until we are at a point where the offending bit started, and play goes in a different direction from there. The player tapping does not have to explain why, just that "I don't like that" and it backs up.

In Drunk's story, the other player could have used the X card and such, but as much as it is around in Cons, I've never used it in play with people I really know. Still, just the concept... "Things may arise in play that are uncomfortable/disturbing to a player... X card nixes those, out of hand" gives people leeway to stop things.

Interesting that I've never seen it used in some game that got pretty dark and ugly. In fact, the only time I saw it used was around one player Xing out certain actions of another player because the game was very serious and those actions were silly and whimsical and broke the "feel" of the game.

Again, I'm not sure I'd suggest it for a regular play group, but the mentality of play it generates simply be being there... which is, "Hey, consider how your game actions might affect the players" is real.

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1 minute ago, RDU Neil said:

 

On this point, have any of you played with the "X" card? This is usually used in Con games... where it is just a card sitting in the middle of the table with a big black X on it. Everyone knows that if someone reaches out and taps the card, play stops... whatever was being done is rewound until we are at a point where the offending bit started, and play goes in a different direction from there. The player tapping does not have to explain why, just that "I don't like that" and it backs up.

In Drunk's story, the other player could have used the X card and such, but as much as it is around in Cons, I've never used it in play with people I really know. Still, just the concept... "Things may arise in play that are uncomfortable/disturbing to a player... X card nixes those, out of hand" gives people leeway to stop things.

Interesting that I've never seen it used in some game that got pretty dark and ugly. In fact, the only time I saw it used was around one player Xing out certain actions of another player because the game was very serious and those actions were silly and whimsical and broke the "feel" of the game.

Again, I'm not sure I'd suggest it for a regular play group, but the mentality of play it generates simply be being there... which is, "Hey, consider how your game actions might affect the players" is real.

 

This is a great approach, which probably sees Con use rather than home game use simply because the nature of the Con is that you can't know the people who will be playing in advance.  It would be a great fix for the assumption we do know enough about everyone sitting around our own tables, though.

 

I suspect it sees little use in dark, ugly games because the players signed up knowing this was a game which could turn dark and ugly (where silly and whimsical actions would break the feel of the game).  Moving a Toon game into torture would merit a tap on the card, but who would sign up for a Toon game expecting to play out a torture scene?

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On ‎7‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 8:50 PM, Hugh Neilson said:

So there should be no backstory to explain WHY BlasterMan is so enraged, or why GhostGirl is a peacemaker, or what makes SmartGuy an insensitive douche and BeamerDude a laid back doormat?  Without backstory, where did DNPC's, Hunteds, etc. come from?  The characters should definitely develop during play, but just as they are going somewhere, they are also coming from somewhere.

 

And if GhostGirl wants to have an elaborate backstory, but I don't want it read to me in play, why can't both of us have what we want?  Is her elaborate backstory, explained only when her character chooses to discuss it in the course of gameplay, robbing you of something?  Of course, that "full PC disclosure" policy practically requires everyone read her 19 page back story, I suppose, so now it is a problem for your game.  In fact, now no one is happy.  GhostGirl's player didn't want her elaborate backstory to be fully known to the other players, just to inform her of how she would play her character and perhaps create some plot hooks.  BeamerDude, BlasterMan and SmartGuy didn't want to read it either.

 

I was referring very specifically to Spence's version of backstory... the player showing up with a preconceived tome they are emotionally attached to and expecting it to be accepted into play by the group. I prefer players to be arriving to the game, and even during play, in an open state of mind to who their character is and how they will play out. Sure, I have a Secret ID, but I didn't work out every detail about why or how... and if during play it turns out this doesn't really fit, or needs to change, or it takes on a different form, based on the way the story is unfolding... ok then, make that shift.

It might just be me, but I tend to approach things in a very sketched out, vague, general direction sort of way. Like, maybe I'm GhostGirl's player and I usually don't go for emotional drama, but during play I find that coming out, and being very natural as I discover who GhostGirl the character is right along with everyone else... and that kind of play is now important to me and I never would have stated that early on.

So many times we had players have a character built or written out a certain way, but into play, that isn't working the way they thought it was, or that aspect of the character is just not applicable to the story, or it turns out not be fun... so things get changed. Just as the GM should be open to what stories they are going to structure based on what their players express interest in, players should be open to being malleable to what comes out in actual play, rather than be married to a pre-conceived idea.

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On ‎7‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 8:50 PM, Hugh Neilson said:

Bolding added.  Any character which pushes what are likely to be hot buttons should pretty much be avoided, unless one can be rock solid certain that the rest of the group are all OK with it.

 

If BlasterMan had dropped a racial or sexual slur, I don't think a metagame comment is likely to fix the impact on the player to whom it spoke directly to personal experience.

 

Totally agree with this... and maybe one of the reasons I have knee-jerk issues against "immersion" which I used to love. Too many times, players did disruptive things and just wrote it off as "in character" which may have been true... but the point is, the play group and play dynamic is what is real and important, not the character. If being "in character' messes with the play dynamic, that is wrong, no matter how "in character" the behavior is.

Hopefully, some regular metagame discussion minimizes the situations where things go 'too far.'

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6 hours ago, RDU Neil said:

 

Totally agree with this... and maybe one of the reasons I have knee-jerk issues against "immersion" which I used to love. Too many times, players did disruptive things and just wrote it off as "in character" which may have been true... but the point is, the play group and play dynamic is what is real and important, not the character. If being "in character' messes with the play dynamic, that is wrong, no matter how "in character" the behavior is.

 

There are lots of answers to "it's in character".

 

It's also in character for the rest of the group to react - so, if you're "in character" to offend the rest of the group, don't complain when, perfectly "in character", you are ostracized.

 

It's "in character" for my thief character to steal from the party?  Sure.  It's also "in character" for the strict law & order character to chop off his hand.

 

Ultimately, if you design, and insist on playing, an asshole character, I would suggest that tells me something about you, the player, as well.

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On 6/18/2019 at 12:47 PM, Anaximander said:

I while back I bought the starter box for the Star Trek game by Modiphius.  ...

 

And, while on the subject of taking concepts from one game system and applying them to another, what concepts from other games would you or have you implemented in Hero, and what concepts from Hero would you do likewise for other systems?

 

Last Friday we played a different new offering from Modiphius, their John Carter of Mars game.  I tripped over a mechanic of theirs which made me declare on the spot that I would never play that system again, except when being a playtester proofreader-and-goober for a convention event (which is what I was last Friday, actually).

 

That system has custom 6-siders that you roll for damage.  Two of the faces of each of those are blank, which means zero damage.

 

Guess who rolled nine consecutive blanks for damage that session, after spending player resources to get good hits and roll lots of damage dice?  Because no damage is almost equivalent to "you missed".  It's funny when it happens to Jackie Chan in a movie.  It's not funny when I get to be Yet Another Game System's butt-monkey.  Yeah, I know that's about a one-in-20,000 chance.  That stuff happens to me, reliably.  (It's a contributor to why I really dislike d20 systems with their flat probability distribution functions.)

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I like from Savage Worlds (though Hero has suggested it but hasn’t been embraced) a mook rule.  An extra only has 1 wound ( whereas wildcards, PCs and certain NPCs has 3). If they receive one wound, they’re out of the game.  Makes battle faster. I see no problem treating NPCs different from PCs.

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On 7/10/2019 at 9:14 PM, Spence said:

It is during the CharGen session that the players sketch out their preliminary ideas and bounce them off the rest of the players and the GM.  They do not get to walk in with a 27 page manifesto already written and expect everyone else to build around it.   And then they usually have the gall to act wounded or cry that they are not being allowed to play what they want.  When the reality is they just want to be catered to. 

 

Preliminary character?  A super detective martial artist.  A master of the mystical arts? Is there magic in the campaign or not?  Is it a super criminal campaign or is it a mutants versus Genocide campaign.   All of these preliminary items needs out be sketched out before backstories are explored.

 

If the campaign doesn't have magic, you will not be able to have your Heroine be Hunted by Spymistress Tharlis since Skarn the Shaper wouldn't exist.  So showing up with that 27 page manifesto would be pointless. 

 

But it is Champions, so if the players want to include magic.  That is if they ALL do, then it is an easy thing to incorporate as long as the decision happens BEFORE the aforementioned 27 page manifesto :tsk:       :bounce:

 

On 7/11/2019 at 7:17 AM, Hugh Neilson said:

OK, I saw "preliminary characters" as a lot further along than you meant, so that makes more sense.  This is just ensuring that the players understand the campaign background and expectations, though - that is, your character needs to be written to the campaign.

 

Super-powers appearing for the first time?  Then you can't bring a third generation Super carrying on a legacy.  Your SuperMage works great in an Avengers game (very diverse power sets) but not in a "Only origin is Mutant" X-men pastiche.

 

On 7/12/2019 at 9:47 AM, RDU Neil said:

 

I was referring very specifically to Spence's version of backstory... the player showing up with a preconceived tome they are emotionally attached to and expecting it to be accepted into play by the group. I prefer players to be arriving to the game, and even during play, in an open state of mind to who their character is and how they will play out. Sure, I have a Secret ID, but I didn't work out every detail about why or how... and if during play it turns out this doesn't really fit, or needs to change, or it takes on a different form, based on the way the story is unfolding... ok then, make that shift.

It might just be me, but I tend to approach things in a very sketched out, vague, general direction sort of way. Like, maybe I'm GhostGirl's player and I usually don't go for emotional drama, but during play I find that coming out, and being very natural as I discover who GhostGirl the character is right along with everyone else... and that kind of play is now important to me and I never would have stated that early on.

So many times we had players have a character built or written out a certain way, but into play, that isn't working the way they thought it was, or that aspect of the character is just not applicable to the story, or it turns out not be fun... so things get changed. Just as the GM should be open to what stories they are going to structure based on what their players express interest in, players should be open to being malleable to what comes out in actual play, rather than be married to a pre-conceived idea.

 

So I’m just going to throw this out there: Ron Edwards’s new Champions Now project goes into great depth on character creation, development, as well as setting development so that they can all integrate and also grow together. I’ve read the rough text, but he’s added a lot more. I even did a character creation session with him in he early development phase. The book should be coming out soon, and will be announced on this site for sure. You may want to take a look at it just for another thoughtful way to bring all these themes from the last few days together. 

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