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RDU Neil

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RDU Neil last won the day on July 10

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About RDU Neil

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  • Birthday 08/04/1967

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  1. This is very true, and why I've all but abandoned HERO for actual play. The fact that it became a system for engineers and coders to play around with how sophisticated their builds could be... and not really an RPG for actual play... has eventually worn me out. I'm actually writing a PbtA style RPG for supers that rejects this mentality completely... and embraces the above. Mechanical sophistication and complexity is often the bane of a good game.
  2. I'm confused. It sounds like audio from a couple years ago? A glimpse at Infinity War at SDCC? Why is it labeled 7/19/19?
  3. 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.'
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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".
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!
  11. Seriously. I mean... watching that 16Bit video I posted actually makes me sniffly. Just say, "On your left..." and I start to choke up. I'm not just saying it... it happens, every time.
  12. 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.
  13. 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: "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) 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.
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