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Author Topic: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.  (Read 4377 times)

Kyle Aaron

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #30 on: October 29, 2021, 12:19:44 AM »
From the yet-unpublished Book II of Conflict.

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The job of the Referee is to create a milieu with opportunities for adventures; things should be happening which the players will want their adventurers to interfere with, there should be places to explore, foes to fight, riches and glories to win.

The job of the Referee is not to “create a story” or ensure the adventurers behave in some particular way, except inasmuch as the already-placed elements of the milieu would determine it. That is, the peoples of the milieu will have apt responses to the adventurers' actions. Most particularly, the Referee should supress any desire to make a novel of their campaign, since this will lead to disappointment when the heroes do the “wrong” thing. Plus you're probably not a good writer, anyway.

The job of the players is to show up on time ready to play and with snacks, dice, their character sheets and other relevant gear, to create adventurers, playing them sensibly through the challenges offered by the milieux. They must find ways to make their adventurers useful, it is not up to the Referee to spoon-feed them expertise-appropriate challenges.

Some will disagree with this, but they are wrong.

GeekyBugle

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #31 on: October 29, 2021, 12:22:35 AM »
From the yet-unpublished Book II of Conflict.

Quote
The job of the Referee is to create a milieu with opportunities for adventures; things should be happening which the players will want their adventurers to interfere with, there should be places to explore, foes to fight, riches and glories to win.

The job of the Referee is not to “create a story” or ensure the adventurers behave in some particular way, except inasmuch as the already-placed elements of the milieu would determine it. That is, the peoples of the milieu will have apt responses to the adventurers' actions. Most particularly, the Referee should supress any desire to make a novel of their campaign, since this will lead to disappointment when the heroes do the “wrong” thing. Plus you're probably not a good writer, anyway.

The job of the players is to show up on time ready to play and with snacks, dice, their character sheets and other relevant gear, to create adventurers, playing them sensibly through the challenges offered by the milieux. They must find ways to make their adventurers useful, it is not up to the Referee to spoon-feed them expertise-appropriate challenges.

Some will disagree with this, but they are wrong.

You're on point, and people have the right to be wrong, I can't force them to be right.
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S'mon

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #32 on: October 29, 2021, 03:59:43 AM »
My current group of players are happy to sit on the railroad as long as it is going to interesting places.

I have one group that is mostly looking for a beer-n-pretzels game where they show up, get fed a level-appropriate quest, go do the quest, rinse and repeat.

Since I am actually running a status-quo sandbox with them, this has caused some issues. Rather than seek out a quest they can handle, they tend to wait until the NPCs say "X bad thing is happening", but X is probably the worst thing happening in the vicinity, and most of them are not very good at D&D combat, so they lose a lot of PCs... the NPCs (and me) are gradually learning not to suggest anything too difficult...  ;D

Currently 8 level 3-5 PCs are playing an adventure designed for 4-5 level 3 PCs, and having a great time. I think they're happy not levelling up fast, but hate having their cool quirky PCs die all the time, so I'll try to encourage them to seek out easy adventures in future.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2021, 04:02:08 AM by S'mon »

Wrath of God

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #33 on: October 29, 2021, 04:23:47 AM »
Quote
Some will disagree with this, but they are wrong.

For what I heard of Conflict that seems reasonable assumption.
But well there are so many various RPGs.
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Kyle Aaron

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #34 on: October 29, 2021, 04:48:38 AM »
No, the approach works for all normal roleplaying games, because it's an approach that depends on the players. The particular setting and game mechanics are irrelevant.

Godsmonkey

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #35 on: October 29, 2021, 08:21:38 AM »
From the yet-unpublished Book II of Conflict.

... to create adventurers, playing them sensibly through the challenges offered by the milieux. They must find ways to make their adventurers useful, it is not up to the Referee to spoon-feed them expertise-appropriate challenges.


This is one area that is often overlooked, and in many cases leads to GMs railroading. If PLAYERS don't seek opportunities to interact with the world, and instead wait for the GM to drop a piano sized clue on their heads, then the GM is all too likely to do just that.

Of course if the GM is focused on STORY, and not SITUATION, then the point is less relevant, since story too often leads to railroad.

Godsmonkey

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #36 on: October 29, 2021, 08:25:04 AM »
One personal point about the story/situation axis:

For me as a forever GM, it is FAR more fun to create situations, or even just let the players interact with the game world than it is to attempt to create a story that they have to navigate. For me the fun is in NOT KNOWING what they are going to do, and the challenge of reacting to it.

Forcing a story doesnt do that.

RandyB

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #37 on: October 29, 2021, 08:44:47 AM »
One personal point about the story/situation axis:

For me as a forever GM, it is FAR more fun to create situations, or even just let the players interact with the game world than it is to attempt to create a story that they have to navigate. For me the fun is in NOT KNOWING what they are going to do, and the challenge of reacting to it.

Forcing a story doesnt do that.

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HappyDaze

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #38 on: October 29, 2021, 03:25:09 PM »
No, the approach works for all normal roleplaying games, because it's an approach that depends on the players. The particular setting and game mechanics are irrelevant.
Is "normal roleplaying games" a way of say "True Scotsman?" There are some games that have mechanics that do involve story elements that are gameable. They are not necessarily "abnormal" for that.

Still, I think the "only correct way" to run the game is to ensure that everyone at the table is having fun. If you have a group of players that want story over open-ended situation, then you're doing it wrong if you stick exclusively to the latter.

Wrath of God

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #39 on: October 29, 2021, 08:47:44 PM »
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No, the approach works for all normal roleplaying games, because it's an approach that depends on the players. The particular setting and game mechanics are irrelevant.

Players and DM's are bound by social contract. As much as it's fake ideology in terms of society it works very well here.
And depending on game - assuming playing as RAW - of course generally speaking playing D&D 3.5 RAW players are quite in right to expect level appropriate challenges, that's the whole shtick of this game. Simmilarily playing Burning Wheel they can expect from DM to craft narratively situations that will challenge their believes/instincts and other character defining stuff, not to put them into sandbox to run in circles for 30 sessions before finding one. Because that's what game about if you play it RAW.

Quote
This is one area that is often overlooked, and in many cases leads to GMs railroading. If PLAYERS don't seek opportunities to interact with the world, and instead wait for the GM to drop a piano sized clue on their heads, then the GM is all too likely to do just that.

Of course if the GM is focused on STORY, and not SITUATION, then the point is less relevant, since story too often leads to railroad.

That indeed can be a problem. Alas as long as players are at least well reactive, and not straight up inactive I'm like fine with it. I guess it's like 75% of all players.

Quote
For me as a forever GM, it is FAR more fun to create situations, or even just let the players interact with the game world than it is to attempt to create a story that they have to navigate. For me the fun is in NOT KNOWING what they are going to do, and the challenge of reacting to it.

Forcing a story doesnt do that
.

If we define story as railroad to strict scenario - as was often case of modules written in 90s I think then I agree. However I doubt it's how storygamers or people playing narrative-heavy RPGs define story for use of this discussion. In fact many storygames ditch GM for that very reason.

Quote
If you have a group of players that want story over open-ended situation, then you're doing it wrong if you stick exclusively to the latter.

TBH as someone generally believing GM is also a player and social contract is mutual I see no reason why we should judge GM in this case, and not the players :P
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Steven Mitchell

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #40 on: October 29, 2021, 10:44:54 PM »
If I have a player that wants story over situation, then that player wasn't listening when the game was outlined, which is on them.  They are welcome to try it our way or leave, with no hard feelings either way.  There is no point in a GM running something they don't enjoy to satisfy player entitlement issues.  A player without such issues wouldn't wish it on the GM.

Kyle Aaron

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #41 on: October 29, 2021, 11:01:54 PM »
Is "normal roleplaying games" a way of say "True Scotsman?"
No, because the "true Scotsman" is arguing about what is or is not a Scotsman. I am not arguing about what a Scotsman is or is not, I am arguing about what is a good Scotsman, and what an inferior Scotsman.

A storygame is a roleplaying game, there's no doubt about that. A railroaded game is a roleplaying game, too. And so on and so forth. It's like how the plastic knives and forks we gave to our children as toddlers are real knives and forks - but they're inferior knives and forks.

S'mon

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #42 on: October 30, 2021, 03:01:16 AM »
And depending on game - assuming playing as RAW - of course generally speaking playing D&D 3.5 RAW players are quite in right to expect level appropriate challenges, that's the whole shtick of this game.

3e/3.5e DMG is quite prescriptive, page 49 3.5 DMG:

"how many encounters of a certain difficulty an adventure should have.
10% Easy EL lower than party level
20% Easy if handled properly
50% Challenging EL equals that of party
15% Very Difficult EL 1-4 higher than party level
5% Overwhelming EL5+ higher than party level  ...the PCs should run"

So yes per the 3.5e DMG the 3.5e player should expect a lot of balanced encounters, but also some easy ones and some flee-or-die ones.

Wrath of God

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #43 on: October 30, 2021, 08:31:19 AM »
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No, because the "true Scotsman" is arguing about what is or is not a Scotsman. I am not arguing about what a Scotsman is or is not, I am arguing about what is a good Scotsman, and what an inferior Scotsman.

The point is RPGs are not just Scotsmans, but also Welsh, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Cornish, Irish, Manx, Angloscots, Gaelic and Cantonese :P And each doing by design different things.

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A storygame is a roleplaying game, there's no doubt about that.

I'd say there is big doubt about it. On RPG.PUB there was massive debate about difference, our own Mutated Filipino Berserker taking active stance with his radical opinion that PBTA and FITD are not RPGs but storygames for instance. That I disagree - but for instance I'd say games like Fiasco are clearly storygames and not RPGs because even if you act parts of various PC's so to speak - the whole mechanics is divorced from PC's and is working entirely on directorial level, where players negotiate and roll for amount of power to estabilish new scenes and so on. That's difference from PBTA where many "moves" have very narrative nature, but you are generally stuck all the time with your PC.

Quote
A railroaded game is a roleplaying game, too. And so on and so forth. It's like how the plastic knives and forks we gave to our children as toddlers are real knives and forks - but they're inferior knives and forks.

Yes but railroad is almost by definition wrong, and justified as extreme measure with very hapless players. As it takes away their power in almost any given game.
Now of course genre focused games either old like James Bond or new liked Blades - had certain internal rails - protecting genre of the game, but within them players have freedom to act and solve situations in multiple ways.

And that's also matter of inferiority and superiority - if you want to emulate OSR game by either havy skill-based sim or Fiasco, you gonna fail miserably.
By Fiasco on it's own is very good thing to do Fiasco games, and Blades are very good to make Blades games.

Quote
3e/3.5e DMG is quite prescriptive, page 49 3.5 DMG:

"how many encounters of a certain difficulty an adventure should have.
10% Easy EL lower than party level
20% Easy if handled properly
50% Challenging EL equals that of party
15% Very Difficult EL 1-4 higher than party level
5% Overwhelming EL5+ higher than party level  ...the PCs should run"

So yes per the 3.5e DMG the 3.5e player should expect a lot of balanced encounters, but also some easy ones and some flee-or-die ones.

Indeed. But that's precisely level adequate aspect - I'm not saying all encounters have to be on par, but there is expected ratio of situation - easy, challenging and WAY TO HARD.
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crkrueger

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #44 on: October 30, 2021, 08:50:51 AM »
I do both.

My NPC's have their motivations. They have actions they enact during the game while my PC's are doing their things. The "Story" is where those actions intersect.

I merely present those interactions on either side of the equation and give my PC's all the leeway they can muster (probably more) to let them in on the NPC's motivations and their actions which of course influence their play. And I present all of this with as much detail as necessary to raise the fun to the highest level - or to extract the emotional reaction (desired or not) that elevates the game.

The story is simply what emerges out of those interactions.

Greetings!

Yep, Tenbones, I agree. I do the same thing, more or less. Sometimes, the Players really jump in and drive "The Story"--and other times, the various NPC's around them--their friends, henchmen, lovers, family members--also engage in and push their own "stories". Meanwhile, the various villains, other NPC's, factions, tribes and whatever in the wider campaign, they too, often have their own agendas and "stories" that they pursue. The bigger story, of course happens when all of that criss-crosses and intersects in interesting ways.

The Player Characters are often central, of course, and serve as "prime movers"--but they aren't the only story being told, or advanced. The world has its own population, with lots of other heroes, villains, NPC's, that are all each doing their own thing, regardless of what the Player Characters are doing. Naturally, at points of interconnection, such NPC's shall respond to the Player Character's actions and motivations. The entire world doesn't just stand around with their thumb up their asses waiting for the Player Characters to "Get Involved." Sometimes, the Player Characters can act bind, stupid, or otherwise entirely clueless, and can oftentimes suffer the consequences for such dithering. The world must always be active and dynamic.

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK

Eh, I think you and Tenbones are mischaracterising what you are doing.  Having a World in Motion doesn’t mean you’re telling a Story.  Having PCs who are Roleplaying their characters and thinking and choosing things as real people in that setting, then they aren’t driving a story, they’re Roleplaying people living their lives.

When you put stories and story in quotes…you’re not doing what the OP is talking about.  He’s talking about designing and running things with an actual narrative structure.
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