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In a game i don't like because a friend is running it

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I have told my GM and friends not to invite me to any “Taste My Steel” or similar swashbuckling games, I told them politely and cheerfully, that I was not a fan of that genre, or pirates from the similar time period. They understood because I made it clear early.

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1 hour ago, Trechriron10 said:

I would say that the majority of people who prefer Story Games have seriously backed away from this stance. I also find these days that people are more likely to play both traditional and story games. I believe the worst of this superiority complex is behind us. I suggest forgiving the overly-enthusiast and focusing on what you like.

 

Two days ago, on a different forum, there was a discussion about Story Games and whether it was possible to "lose" in a Story Game.  The Story Gamers in the thread were simultaneously trying to argue that the "success with complications" was both "losing" and that it was what makes Story Games rewarding to play.  I pointed out that defining the same thing as both "losing" and "what makes the game rewarding to play" was self-contradicting unless you're some kind of masochist -- nobody plays a game hoping to lose.

 

This was a pretty devastating counterargument that demolished the argument they were making, so I was then told that I was "basically confessing that I  can't contribute anything interesting to a narrative" and that I had never "played any game with an actually good group."  Those are direct quotes.  And the a-holes honestly thought they weren't being insulting and condescending.

 

I have never had a pleasant encounter with Story Gamers.  As soon as I tell them that I enjoy all aspects of gaming (gamist, narrativist and simulationist) and want a game that provides a balance of each, and that I find Story Games's narrow focus on narrative only removes enjoyable aspects of gaming while highlighting the fundamental flaw of narrative in games (i.e. most gamers are not great storytellers, and a randomly generated narrative constructed by a committee of mediocre storytellers tends to be bad), the only response I ever get is being told I am essentially a witless dullard and that every single person I have ever gamed with is also a witless dullard, with the strong implication that the story gamers are all brilliant storytellers who effortlessly craft griping narratives (and yet none can point to the popular works of fiction derived from Story Game sessions...) and only know other genius intellects such as themselves.  I don't think they are capable of not being condescending assholes.

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15 minutes ago, Killer Shrike said:

For instance, while I like Fate a lot I do not like PbtA (or Blades in the Dark) but accept that others do.

I don't like Fate as a game, mostly because I don't like any system that isn't HERO and I particularly don't like games that rely on GM Fiat for conflict resolution (which Fate does in spades), but I absolutely love Fate as a character creation system for HERO.  In my last four campaigns I have had players use Fate to create their characters, then converted their Fate characters into HERO characters for actual game play.  I find HERO works much better when the GM is the only person allowed to build game elements, since HERO is essentially a programming code interpreted by the GM.  Players can (and should) contribute to the narrative and introduce story elements, but I really think the game works much better when only the person translates those story elements into game elements.

 

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28 minutes ago, Thumper said:

I don't like Fate as a game...but I absolutely love Fate as a character creation system for HERO.  In my last four campaigns I have had players use Fate to create their characters, then converted their Fate characters into HERO characters for actual game play. 

 

You may find this document I wrote up many years ago relevant then...Trait Driven Hero

 

 

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3 hours ago, Thumper said:

I don't like Fate as a game, mostly because I don't like any system that isn't HERO and I particularly don't like games that rely on GM Fiat for conflict resolution (which Fate does in spades), but I absolutely love Fate as a character creation system for HERO.  In my last four campaigns I have had players use Fate to create their characters, then converted their Fate characters into HERO characters for actual game play.  I find HERO works much better when the GM is the only person allowed to build game elements, since HERO is essentially a programming code interpreted by the GM.  Players can (and should) contribute to the narrative and introduce story elements, but I really think the game works much better when only the person translates those story elements into game elements.

 

 

First, having read your comments on Story Teller players, I have to say wow.  You hold them in a much higher esteem then I do :sneaky:

 

Second, wow.  I don't remember ever coming across this concept and I have definitely never thought of it myself.   I will need to look more closely at this concept.  Maybe another thread with some examples?

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4 hours ago, Thumper said:

Two days ago, on a different forum, there was a discussion about Story Games and whether it was possible to "lose" in a Story Game.  The Story Gamers in the thread were simultaneously trying to argue that the "success with complications" was both "losing" and that it was what makes Story Games rewarding to play.  I pointed out that defining the same thing as both "losing" and "what makes the game rewarding to play" was self-contradicting unless you're some kind of masochist -- nobody plays a game hoping to lose.

 

To play the Devil's Advocate, isn't placing a Limitation on a power which you expect to come up in play and disadvantage your character, or taking complications you expect to raise challenges and hinder your character in play, building an element to contribute to your character losing?

 

I also don't find running rampant over under-powered opponents any more "rewarding" in a game than being crushed like a bug by overpowered opposition.

 

And I have met many gamers who have found value and reward in a character's meaningful death - the ultimate "loss" which can really be suffered in an RPG.

 

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The first thing that I would do would be to talk with the other players and discover what their attitudes toward the game is. If it turns out that your opinion is contrary to everyone else, then it would be a good idea to find some other activity for while this game is going on. However, if several others feel similar to you, then it would be a good idea to confront the GM as a group and figure out some other game or activity that could be performed in its place.

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21 minutes ago, Hugh Neilson said:

To play the Devil's Advocate, isn't placing a Limitation on a power which you expect to come up in play and disadvantage your character, or taking complications you expect to raise challenges and hinder your character in play, building an element to contribute to your character losing?

I'll agree that an easy victory with no challenge is not fun -- this is precisely why I like the HERO system.  It's very predictable because it's very well balanced, and makes it easy to design balanced encounters that provide challenge but allow for high probability of victory, which are the most fun. That said, saying an easy victory is not fun is not the same thing as saying losing is fun, and I think the position you're defending is always going to fall prey to hinging on that false dichotomy, that there is only easy victory and losing.  Obviously being challenged is  rewarding, and being challenged can result in losing, but being challenged and losing are not remotely the same thing.

 

No one, when designing game elements in HERO, is acting on the maxim "Losing is the optimal outcome."  Personally, when I build anything in HERO I apply limitations using some balance between simulation concerns and readability concerns.  Generally I aim to apply the least necessary limitations (and advantages) to simulate how the power or object would function in cinematic reality.  I'm never designing with the goal of "losing."  Sometimes I apply limitations because I really, really need some more points  I also think your argument hinges on conflating "to" and "can."  Adding limitations to powers can contribute to losing, but nobody is adding limitations to cause their own loss.

 

More importantly, if losing is fun, why spend any of your points at all?  Leave all your characteristics at their base (or hell, drop them to their minimums!), don't buy any skills, perks or powers, sell off your senses and movement, and play a blind, deaf and insensate lump of flesh that can barely crawl across the ground.  That absolutely maximizes your chance of losing.  That's what someone who really believed that being overwhelmed by challenges and failing to accomplish goals was the optimal outcome would do, so the fact that no one is doing that strongly suggests no one is building characters to lose.

 

As for your last point, a meaningful death can certainly be rewarding -- but all that proves is that not all deaths are losses.  I've had characters experience death that was cool and meaningful and made for a great story.  And then there's Basilisk, a lizard-like mutant with a petrifying stare I created for the first Champions 3E campaign I ever joined.  While inside Dr. Destroyer's base, he walked around a corner and into one of the base's auto-defense turrets and was vaporized in one shot.  That happened about an hour into my session playing him.  That was a loss, because I really liked the character concept, spent hours building the character, and then he got wasted before I even got to take a single combat action with him.  I never got to use even one of his powers.  I was just the tagalong background character who dies to show the audience that this base is SRS BSNS, and spent the rest of the session making my next character.

 

And actually, that next character also demonstrates why story games are bad for narratives.  That character was Dragon Master, a mystic master of the martial arts.  He had KS: All Martial Arts Styles.  The GM threw C.L.O.W.N. at us, and I squared off against Toe-Tapper.  He hit me with his cane and caught me in a Mental Paralysis with the special effect "causes irresistible need to dance."  I convinced the GM to let me use my KS to recall the repertoire of Capoeira, a Brazillian martial art developed by slaves who had to hide their practice as dance moves.  This allowed me to "dance fight" and whup Toe Tapper's butt while shaking my own.

 

That's one of my favorite HERO stories, and it only happened because of the active GM of traditional games.  In a PtbA game, I would have attacked Toe Tapper with the intent to defeat him, roll to "Have A Fight," and either:

  • Success (I defeat him.)
  • Success with Failure (I defeat him, but am injured.)
  • Failure (He defeats me.)

There's no possibility of Toe Tapper getting a Success With Failure because he doesn't roll or make attacks.  There's absolutely no possibility of "Success That Is Turned Into Failure By The Player's Quick Thinking And Cleverness."  Systems like PtbA rob you, as a player, of chances to actually be clever, and replace them with opportunities to describe yourself being clever.  Which, imho, is a poor substitute for the real thing.

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31 minutes ago, Thumper said:

 

No one, when designing game elements in HERO, is acting on the maxim "Losing is the optimal outcome."  Personally, when I build anything in HERO I apply limitations using some balance between simulation concerns and readability concerns.  Generally I aim to apply the least necessary limitations (and advantages) to simulate how the power or object would function in cinematic reality.  I'm never designing with the goal of "losing."  Sometimes I apply limitations because I really, really need some more points  I also think your argument hinges on conflating "to" and "can."  Adding limitations to powers can contribute to losing, but nobody is adding limitations to cause their own loss.

 

As for your last point, a meaningful death can certainly be rewarding -- but all that proves is that not all deaths are losses.  I've had characters experience death that was cool and meaningful and made for a great story.  And then there's Basilisk, a lizard-like mutant with a petrifying stare I created for the first Champions 3E campaign I ever joined.  While inside Dr. Destroyer's base, he walked around a corner and into one of the base's auto-defense turrets and was vaporized in one shot.  That happened about an hour into my session playing him.  That was a loss, because I really liked the character concept, spent hours building the character, and then he got wasted before I even got to take a single combat action with him.  I never got to use even one of his powers.  I was just the tagalong background character who dies to show the audience that this base is SRS BSNS, and spent the rest of the session making my next character.

 

Sometime it happens.I'ts happened to me. (and there is Paranoia< where that was the whole point of the game.

 

31 minutes ago, Thumper said:

 

And actually, that next character also demonstrates why story games are bad for narratives.  That character was Dragon Master, a mystic master of the martial arts.  He had KS: All Martial Arts Styles.  The GM threw C.L.O.W.N. at us, and I squared off against Toe-Tapper.  He hit me with his cane and caught me in a Mental Paralysis with the special effect "causes irresistible need to dance."  I convinced the GM to let me use my KS to recall the repertoire of Capoeira, a Brazillian martial art developed by slaves who had to hide their practice as dance moves.  This allowed me to "dance fight" and whup Toe Tapper's butt while shaking my own.

 

Now that was clever.

 

31 minutes ago, Thumper said:

 

That's one of my favorite HERO stories, and it only happened because of the active GM of traditional games.  In a PtbA game, I would have attacked Toe Tapper with the intent to defeat him, roll to "Have A Fight," and either:

  • Success (I defeat him.)
  • Success with Failure (I defeat him, but am injured.)
  • Failure (He defeats me.)

There's no possibility of Toe Tapper getting a Success With Failure because he doesn't roll or make attacks.  There's absolutely no possibility of "Success That Is Turned Into Failure By The Player's Quick Thinking And Cleverness."  Systems like PtbA rob you, as a player, of chances to actually be clever, and replace them with opportunities to describe yourself being clever.  Which, imho, is a poor substitute for the real thing.

 

I love the way you think, Sir.

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9 hours ago, Thumper said:

I'll agree that an easy victory with no challenge is not fun -- this is precisely why I like the HERO system.  It's very predictable because it's very well balanced, and makes it easy to design balanced encounters that provide challenge but allow for high probability of victory, which are the most fun. That said, saying an easy victory is not fun is not the same thing as saying losing is fun, and I think the position you're defending is always going to fall prey to hinging on that false dichotomy, that there is only easy victory and losing.  Obviously being challenged is  rewarding, and being challenged can result in losing, but being challenged and losing are not remotely the same thing.

 

I am sticking with "it depends".  The team can lose, with the game still being fun.  This is especially so in most Supers games, where "we lost the battle" tends not to mean "we lost the war" or "the characters are dead - make new ones".  If losing is never fun, then the Talisman games we used to play, 8-10 of us, back in the day, must have been 80% to 90% no fun, as there could only be one winner.  Yet everyone (even the guys who just never won a game) wanted to play again next time.

 

In RPG's, it can be pretty tough to define "losing", as the game goes on regardless.

 

9 hours ago, Thumper said:

And then there's Basilisk, a lizard-like mutant with a petrifying stare I created for the first Champions 3E campaign I ever joined.  While inside Dr. Destroyer's base, he walked around a corner and into one of the base's auto-defense turrets and was vaporized in one shot.  That happened about an hour into my session playing him.  That was a loss, because I really liked the character concept, spent hours building the character, and then he got wasted before I even got to take a single combat action with him.  I never got to use even one of his powers.  I was just the tagalong background character who dies to show the audience that this base is SRS BSNS, and spent the rest of the session making my next character.

 

First, I will note that this did not happen in a storytelling game.  It happened in a "zap, you're dead" variety of a typical Gaming-focused RPG.  "Oops, you did not make perfect tactical decisions so you are dead.  Make a new character and try to play smarter next time."  Worse is the "random chance RPG", a great example being those early-edition D&D artifacts where you roll randomly and either gain great power or have your character crippled or killed.

 

In a storytelling game, the term "fail forward" comes up a lot.  Yes, you failed (lost), but that should advance, not end, the story.  In a storytelling game, I would not expect a character to be vaporized out of the gate.

 

9 hours ago, Thumper said:

And actually, that next character also demonstrates why story games are bad for narratives.  That character was Dragon Master, a mystic master of the martial arts.  He had KS: All Martial Arts Styles.  The GM threw C.L.O.W.N. at us, and I squared off against Toe-Tapper.  He hit me with his cane and caught me in a Mental Paralysis with the special effect "causes irresistible need to dance."  I convinced the GM to let me use my KS to recall the repertoire of Capoeira, a Brazillian martial art developed by slaves who had to hide their practice as dance moves.  This allowed me to "dance fight" and whup Toe Tapper's butt while shaking my own.

 

One could also assert that your approach was weaseling out of the effect of the Mind Control.  You were told to dance, and you were affected by the mechanic of Mental Paralysis, which prevents attacking.  Yet you argued your way into not actually being affected by the Mental Paralysis mechanic.  Hard-core tactical gamers would scream bloody murder if such an interpretation were used against them when, really, by the rules, they had earned their victory.

 

9 hours ago, Thumper said:

That's one of my favorite HERO stories, and it only happened because of the active GM of traditional games.  In a PtbA game, I would have attacked Toe Tapper with the intent to defeat him, roll to "Have A Fight," and either:

  • Success (I defeat him.)
  • Success with Failure (I defeat him, but am injured.)
  • Failure (He defeats me.)

There's no possibility of Toe Tapper getting a Success With Failure because he doesn't roll or make attacks.  There's absolutely no possibility of "Success That Is Turned Into Failure By The Player's Quick Thinking And Cleverness."  Systems like PtbA rob you, as a player, of chances to actually be clever, and replace them with opportunities to describe yourself being clever.  Which, imho, is a poor substitute for the real thing.

 

Again, I am coming back to "it depends".  My understanding (I play tactical, not storytelling games - I am too lazy to make up creative narratives after every die roll, so I often rely on the mechanics to adjudicate the degree of success and failure) is that storytelling games are broadly flexible.  So, in a storytelling game, I could certainly see a chain of events as follows:

 

Thumper:  Dragon Master attacks Toe Tapper with the intent of defeating him to turn him over to the authorities.

GM:  Ok - roll to Have a Fight

Thumper:  Ugh!  a complete failure.

GM:  OK, as your character closes in, Toe Tapper flashes out with his cane, and DragonMaster is consumed with an all-encompassing urge to dance, to the exclusion of all else.  Toe Tapper chuckles at your dance moves.

Thumper:  Wait, Dragon Master is a master of all martial arts - including Capoeira, a Brazillian martial art developed by slaves who had to hide their practice as dance moves.  He will try to "dance fight" and whup Toe Tapper's butt while shaking his own.

 

Hey, what a great storytelling moment.  Either DragonMaster should get an appropriate roll to pull that off, or it should just succeed automatically since it both flows with the direction in which the story is being told and is just plain cool.

 

Kind of like a Hero game where my character rolls a successful Investigation skill roll.  Does it mean the whole mystery is laid out and explained for us, or does it move us one step closer, advancing the story?

 

MOVING OFF-TOPIC - We've talked in the past about different game focuses, and how Hero could be modified to accommodate them.  Hero RAW focuses on combat as the main problem resolution mechanic.  As a result, it has a super-detailed, crunchy, granular set of combat rules.  But what if we wanted to play a game of court intrigue, where most problems will be resolved through social, not physical, combat?  Well, we really need a similarly granular set of rules for social interaction/conflict to  build the same level of drama and interest.  At the same time, we don't want 2 hour combats, so we could relegate physical combat to the Skills System (make opposed Dueling/Brawling skill rolls; make an Assassination skill roll at -6 due to the Duke's castle defenses).  Storytelling games, to me, really reduce all task resolution to simple, non-granular systems. 

 

Not nearly as much room for tactics, and very little granularity.  But also no grindy, endless combats - the story keeps moving.

 

Can we envision bad storytelling games/GMs/players?  Hell, yeah.  Can we honestly say we have never seen a bad Hero game/GM/player?  I certainly can't. 

 

Are there some people who just can't stand the storytelling approach and want those more detailed mechanics?  Absolutely.  Will some other people hate the lengthy, granular Hero combat system no matter how well it is used?  Sure.  Hell, we have  a thread going on right now where someone just suggested 4e was the perfect level of rules, and subsequent editions have too many rules, so the optimal level of "crunch", even within a game system which, at its core, has not changed a lot through the editions, is not the same for every gamer, by any stretch.

 

Seems like I am back to "diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks".

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