Instant New GM Education

edited May 2012 in Story Games
A recent, extremely dissapointing experience with a clueless GM and an otherwise fun game has driven home a basic need in this community:

We need a sheet we can carry around with us that gives a set of basic principles, preferrably in Bullet format, as to what makes "these kind of games" fun.

I'm not talking about really jargon-heavy stuff from the Forge (although a lot of Forge concepts are good, when you turn them into "plain talking.")

I'm talking about just the basic ideas you need to embrace to make a game "like this" work.

Here's an example:

The players in the group have just as much of a contribution to make to the game as the GM. (Probably a better one to start with.)

*About the Forge there: "Stake-setting" for instance. It's a wonderful idea, and once you've got used to it, stake-setting is a good term. But it's only so much gobbeldy-gook for someone to hear it without a sufficient background education. Is there a bullet point we could use?

For instance:
A lot of these games look at task resolution differently. The dice are rolled not to determine if you succeed or fail, but what you get out of what you did.
(No, that doesn't quite work, but I'm sure one of you smarter guys can condense it properly.)

Or: There's a difference between saying what happens and saying how it happens. This kind of game takes that very seriously. You can sometimes win the general outcome you want (your character saves the princess but the team gets captured) and then someone else comes along and adds inconvenient but fun details (the princess was working for the other side, the team learns the information you need to finish the quest from eavesdropping on their captor, etc.)

Or: Many of these games are about compensations, succeeding when you have to but discovering the price you're willing to pay.

Or: You need to look at task resolution differently for each of these games.They have a new kind of behavior they want to encourage and once you've found how the rules reflect that behavior, you can understand how the game works. Fortunately, the designer usually states what that behavior is pretty directly.


Well, you can see why someone like me would need a sheet like this. It's very difficult to sell a confused GM on a game when you can't even get across first principles.
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Comments

  • I like a lot of the principles in AW for Story Games in general, such as:
    • Play to find out what happens.
    • Look through crosshairs.
    • Address yourself to the characters, not the players.
    • Ask provocative questions and build on the answers.
    • Be a fan of the players' characters.
    I think these in particular are well-suited to the Story Games ethos.
  • edited May 2012
    Would you mind expanding on the "look through the crosshairs" one - I have no idea what that means.
  • Play to find out what happens works, but it says that right there in, say Ghost/Echo.

    Some GMs, it turns out, interpret that as "play to find out What I Made Up" - which is the traditional way of doing things.

    Play to Find Out What Everyone in the Group Wants to Happen - maybe that's clearer but not overly long?
  • I think this is a bad idea because the role of a GM in Dogs in the Vineyard is ridiculously different from the role of a GM in In A Wicked Age and that's ridiculously different from the role of a GM in Apocalypse World, and those are three games by the same person.
  • I think the closest you could get would be an expansive glossary of gaming concepts/techniques. There's really no substitute for reading and playing and discussing a bunch of different [types of] games. You have to do the legwork to be at the top of your game.
  • Posted By: JDCorleyI think this is a bad idea because the role of a GM in Dogs in the Vineyard is ridiculously different from the role of a GM in In A Wicked Age and that's ridiculously different from the role of a GM in Apocalypse World, and those are three gamesby the same person.
    JD is exactly right. I think "general use" GM principles are bleh. Each game needs their own (except when they don't).
  • Yes, good GMing is different from game to game, and it's going to be more different the better you understand the nuances. Mediocre GMing is the same each time. The games from the tradition I pride myself as good with (for example MLwM, Dust Devils, TMW, Primetime Adventures, TSoY, etc.) are different despite having been published very close together and taking influence from each other, and I would give different advice for each. Some basic principles could be derived (I consider the fact that a skilled GM with these games can adapt quickly to a new game), but they would be exactly that incomprehensible theoretical gobbledygook due to the necessity of wide application. Like, I'd say that "System Matters" is great GM advice and a cornerstone of my own style, but what's that gonna do for some newbie?
  • Yeah, I admit that I'm skeptical about one set of "instant GM" guidelines working for more than a few closely related games.

    I could say some pretty interesting things about how Bliss Stage and Mouse Guard (and maybe Dogs and Agon and Blowback) are "mission-based" games and what that means for GMing, but I would say something totally different about sandbox games like Apocalypse World and Burning Wheel.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: ArpiePlay to find out what happens works, but it says that right there in, say Ghost/Echo.

    Some GMs, it turns out, interpret that as "play to find out What I Made Up" - which is the traditional way of doing things.

    Play to Find Out What Everyone in the Group Wants to Happen - maybe that's clearer but not overly long?
    For me, a huge and absolutely integral part of "play to find out what happens" is "things will happen that you don't want to happen". Sometimes the dice tell you things no one in the group wants, and that's what happens because that's why we're playing.
  • Yeah, I'm sort of with Jason: "This Thing Of Ours®" isn't actually a 'Way' (as in the Chinese "tao"). It's history is "merely" self-publishing, with a lot of hard thought about what causes "4 hours of play for 20 minutes of fun." And that's just about it.

    Not much can be said about those aspects of TTOO® beyond, for example, "read the rules and actually do what they say; don't try to wrench them into parallel with an existing game that you've played before."

    For example: Someone just skimming Burning Wheel might TRY to play it like D&D... and wonder why their advancement is so slow and the whiff factor so high. But if they play by the RAW, they'll be pinging BITs and rolling in Artha and will see that the system works pretty well, for what it does (closely couple significance of actions FOR THE CHARACTER to advancement). Conversely, someone all into stakes setting will spit and struggle with In A Wicked Age, because they aren't declaring discrete actions and using The Stick to drive the fiction when they have the advantage--they're all, like, "what's at stake and what can I roll in" thinking that Vincent only ever made games like Dogs In The Vineyard. :) It cuts both ways....

    But, hey, if you can find some good nuggets for speaking of specific aspects of TTOO®, then we could drop the nuggets that actually apply directly to the game in the offing (rather than 'Standard Operating Nuggets For Indie Games'). Five or six bullets on each game, specific to that game would do wonders for 'level-setting' folks prior to a first session or demo/convention game.

    [TLDR: I like the notion, but not generalized for all "indie" games (as that's a non-category with regards to play techniques in TTOO®).]
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: JDCorleyI think this is a bad idea because the role of a GM in Dogs in the Vineyard is ridiculously different from the role of a GM in In A Wicked Age and that's ridiculously different from the role of a GM in Apocalypse World, and those are three gamesby the same person.
    Well, and here's the thing: Those three games aren't THAT different. Dice mechanics aside, they have embraced a similar ethos.
    1. Players (not just the GM) are important and so is player input
    2. These rules are not about just solving the problem or beating the opponent
    3. Maybe you should discuss things as a group sometimes instead of just taking the GM's word for it
    4. Compromise is OK and a good way for everyone to have fun

    PS. Gregor (Teataine) had a good point.
  • You know, a group of good players can guide a bad GM during play.
  • Yes, Graham, but here in the Great American Southwest, I am usually all alone. I know one guy who plays this stuff and he lives quite a long distance away (we are separated by several cities - which is considerable out here in the wastelands.)

    So I get really, REALLY excited when I see a game I recognize about to be run by someone. And, more often than not, they run it just like they've run D&D for the last 10 years. And I have no authority what-so-ever to influence them. Saying "Read the Rules" only goes so far and, if I'm having an off day, they get defensive.

    For instance, you should hear the butchery of a Mouse Guard game I overheard - or the reason these guys won't play Primetime Adventures.
  • RP,
    Yeah, I have had similar issues. One tool I have found helpful is this:
    http://casualgamerscorner.pbworks.com/w/file/53438621/Expanded_Master_Flowchart.pdf
    It is a theatrix Prop and I am not sure of the license it was shared under. I think it was a free download at the time, but I am just not sure.
    Either way, it is generic, one or two pages and gives decent GM advice in flowchart form.
    Also:
    http://bankuei.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/the-same-page-tool/
    Or this:
    http://bankuei.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/jonos-big-flowchart-of-what-game-are-we-playing/
    Good luck man!
    Dave M
  • RE: Look Through Crosshairs

    Basically, it means that none of your MC/GM/DM stuff is sacred, and whenever the spotlight shines on an NPC, area, treasure, etc, basically anything you've made, consider first killing it, maiming it, destroying it, etc. This is honestly more AW-specific than any of the other advice, but it has value for any game, I think. It certainly speaks to me as a GM to remind me that the game isn't about my guys and my story, it's about being a fan of the PCs, and my guys are just the shadow that makes their light shine all the brighter. If there's a status quo, yo, I'll solve it.
  • If you've got a community that is, in general, not super invested in exploring different ways to play, then a bullet point list isn't really going to fix things for you.

    Your best bet, really, is to be the change you want to see.

    Pick a game or two that you think would be a really good introduction. Run them. Run them a lot. Expect to have frustrating experiences doing so. Expect people to come to the table with expectations and to struggle. Learn to get better and better at explaining how being a player for those games you've chosen is different from being a player in an illusionist trad game.

    Once you've got a whole bunch of people excited about the different type of game experience that can be had with different games (and that will be only a small percentage of the "a lot" of people you run the games for) then you can start acting as a mentor for other people who want to try running games.

    That's my advice. Do the work. Create a community of indie rpg players. It's hard work. It'll suck sometimes. It might pay off nicely.
  • Posted By: TeataineFor me, a huge and absolutely integral part of "play to find out what happens" is "things will happen that you don't want to happen". Sometimes the dice tell you things no one in the group wants, and that's what happens because that's why we're playing.
    This.
  • Posted By: ArpieThose three games aren't THAT different. Dice mechanics aside, they have embraced a similar ethos.
    No they haven't.
    1. Players (not just the GM) are important and so is player input
    This is true for all RPGs, including Vampire and D&D.
    2. These rules are not about just solving the problem or beating the opponent
    Yes they are, in IAWA.
    3. Maybe you should discuss things as a group sometimes instead of just taking the GM's word for it
    No, this isn't true in any of the games, if you don't believe what the GM says, none of the games work.
    4. Compromise is OK and a good way for everyone to have fun
    Not (necessarily) in Dogs.
  • Posted By: JDCorley3. Maybe you should discuss things as a group sometimes instead of just taking the GM's word for it
    No, this isn't true in any of the games, if you don't believe what the GM says, none of the games work.

    Yeah, it's actually a pretty common misplay to bring a vaguely egalitarian ethos to these games, Vincent's as well as others. I've had to help people with gimped GMs several times over the years, as they've gone into one game or another with the attitude that "new style gaming is about cooperation and therefore the GM should be adaptive and engage in active dialogue with the players to constantly reaffirm that the game is shaping to everybody's satisfaction". Most of these games don't work like this, and their blade will be blunted by a GM unwilling to utilize the specific powers the game allocates to him to their full extent.

    If I had to give authority-related general advice, I'd go for "You are not responsible for the group's fun." That's one of the bigger consistent differences I see between traditional and Forge games (not each and every game obviously, but trends). A GM who is not willing to forego responsibility will overstep or be unwilling to execute his duties because he feels a pressure to second-guess the game using his own prior experience and expectations. It's much easier to get acceptable results as a fresh GM if you just forget about being the source of the group's creative commitment and do whatever the game says (or whatever you think it says - few texts are fully understood without considerable experience). If it goes wrong, you can just laugh it up and blame the designer, no need to carry the creative responsibility yourself.
  • edited May 2012
    What JD and Eero said. Indie games culture often tries to encourage a more functional social environment surrounding play, where the players can say: "Hey GM, what's up when you did XYZ? Can we talk about it?" But that's not always (or typically) written into the rules of the game. Plus, power distribution is all over the place, from super-trad setups to more lassez-faire approaches to things that are neither (uh, Agon's competitive-cooperative one-upmanship?). Sometimes when a GM does a poor job, it's not because they don't get indie games (which are, after all, not that different from other games), but because they do a poor job of managaging player involvement (either this one time or all the time), which -- as JD points out -- is an issues in ALL games, not just indie stuff.

    Is what you want more of a handbook on creating a healthy social environment for play? That sounds like a tougher but more possible thing. "Don't be a dick" is often quoted but not very actionable as a method.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: UserCloneRE: Look Through Crosshairs

    Basically, it means that none of your MC/GM/DM stuff is sacred, and whenever the spotlight shines on an NPC, area, treasure, etc, basically anything you've made, consider first killing it, maiming it, destroying it, etc. This is honestly more AW-specific than any of the other advice, but it has value for any game, I think. It certainly speaks to me as a GM to remind me that the game isn't about my guys and my story, it's about being a fan of the PCs, and my guys are just the shadow that makes their light shine all the brighter. If there's a status quo, yo, I'll solve it.
    Thanks for taking the time to explain that. I'm sure it's common parlance, I just had never come across it using that term.

    I like it though. It's an important concept.
    "None of your GM stuff is sacred" is very, very important to get across. It's one I take for granted these days and often forget how difficult it was for me to give up some of my Golden Boy characters.

    And in response to J. Walton:
    I really am talking about games that were specifically spawned from the culture you mention. I have met many GMs who walk into it cold.

    Oh, and, Hello, Dave. I wasn't ragging on you. You're even further away from me than the other guy I was talking about (Scott in the Springs.) By which I mean, I can rely on Scott for a good game experience. This close to the Colorado/New Mexico border, you run into the GMs-who-play-story-games-like-D&D (Illusionist GMs, to use some dreaded Forge parlance.)

    And now to get into the whole ball of worms from my third statement: I've got to double-post. I apologize for this, but the quotes are difficult to put together.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: Eero TuovinenPosted By: JDCorley3. Maybe you should discuss things as a group sometimes instead of just taking the GM's word for it
    No, this isn't true in any of the games, if you don't believe what the GM says, none of the games work.

    Yeah, it's actually a pretty common misplay to bring a vaguely egalitarian ethos to these games, Vincent's as well as others. I've had to help people with gimped GMs several times over the years, as they've gone into one game or another with the attitude that "new style gaming is about cooperation and therefore the GM should be adaptive and engage in active dialogue with the players to constantly reaffirm that the game is shaping to everybody's satisfaction". Most of these games don't work like this, and their blade will be blunted by a GM unwilling to utilize the specific powers the game allocates to him to their full extent.

    If I had to give authority-related general advice, I'd go for "You are not responsible for the group's fun." That's one of the bigger consistent differences I see between traditional and Forge games (not each and every game obviously, but trends). A GM who is not willing to forego responsibility will overstep or be unwilling to execute his duties because he feels a pressure to second-guess the game using his own prior experience and expectations. It's much easier to get acceptable results as a fresh GM if you just forget about being the source of the group's creative commitment and do whatever the game says (or whatever you think it says - few texts are fully understood without considerable experience). If it goes wrong, you can just laugh it up and blame the designer, no need to carry the creative responsibility yourself.

    What about town construction in Dogs, then? What about the contributive ideas in Apocalypse World?
    I agree, the statement needs work, but I think there's a really important paradigm that people are just missing when they bring these games to the table.

    And you're entirely correct, Eero. Being too egalitarian in the face of a games you mentioned, can kill it - that's why reading the rules thoroughly is a really good idea. It's something I'd really like to have on a sheet I hand to new GMs.

    Maybe I just need a T-Shirt that says: "You'd better not be running one of these new damn games without having read the rules first. Because if sit in on your game and you play it just like you and I have played D&D since 1982, I will feed your dice to you." But then I'd need to find a suitable graphic.

    Also, if you use the phrase "I'm a role player, not a roll player" you will probably end up sucking polyhedrons as well.
  • Posted By: ArpieWhat about town construction in Dogs, then?
    Town construction in Dogs only makes sense in the light of the GM having a pre-planned outcome for one particular course of action of the PCs. If the PCs do nothing, the GM has already planned out what will occur. This is the central step of town creation. The GM must absolutely pre-plan exactly one outcome. Saying the GM doesn't pre-plan what will happen in Dogs is wrong. They do pre-plan what will happen if the Dogs do nothing. Further, that planning helps the GM work out what happens if the Dogs do something - it establishes how the town works, what lines of communication, action and obligation exist before the Dogs come in and start punching people.

    In fact, not doing the town creation process and just eyeballing a town that sounds interesting or has a cool set of sins in it and seeing what the Dogs do when they show up is one of the key ways I've failed at Dogs in the Vineyard.

    (Have these guys not ever played D&D in a different way either? D&D's had a lot of changes since 1982, in many different directions.)

    Anyway, you could tell them you don't like what they're doing and what you want to try?

    Seems like it could work, or at least give you a key piece of information about what they're actually willing to do for you.
  • I'll admit, Dogs in the Vineyard has been a thorn in my side since I got involved with "these kinda games." It always comes up as a sticking point one way or the other (and I also freely admit I have not enjoyed playing it.)

    But my point about town construction isn't that the GM has no input, but rather that, other than what a lot of players (at least in my area seem to expect) additional input on the town is needed from the players. The players do add quite a bit to the town and many GMs are used to handling just about everything there is about a location in their games (and they have been making such thoroughly-mapped-out games since 1982 or earlier or later, yes. I started gaming around 1982, so it's my benchmark.)

    And me just telling GMs what I'd like to see doesn't work because of the prevalent "just wing it" mentality you're denouncing. GMs from more traditional gaming forms that I run into are very used to ignoring, fudging and improvising the mechanics of the games they play. They consider my suggestions to pay more attention to the rules hidebound or "rules lawyering."
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: ArpieAnd me just telling GMs what I'd like to see doesn't work because of the prevalent "just wing it" mentality you're denouncing. GMs from more traditional gaming forms that I run into are very used to ignoring, fudging and improvising the mechanics of the games they play. They consider my suggestions to pay more attention to the rules hidebound or "rules lawyering."
    I guess what I'm saying is, don't make it just a "wouldn't it be cool if" suggestion. Make it a "I don't want to do a wing-it session. I'm tired of that and I don't think it's working. I want to play this one by the rules. Can we?" If they say no, that gives you some key information - you will need to start locating other opportunities, or make your peace with the game group as it is.

    Their position isn't wrong - they're satisfied with it and may be less satisfied with alternatives. It's just a matter of taste, and you can never argue someone out of that, or teach them to like something they don't.
    Posted By: ArpieBut my point about town construction isn't that the GM has no input, but rather that, other than what a lot of players (at least in my area seem to expect) additional input on the town is needed from the players.
    Player input isn't really needed in town creation. Players can declare that their Dog has relationships with people in the town, the town itself, the town's problems if they want, but if they want to be a complete stranger riding in, that's absolutely fine too. In fact, the town where all the players are tangled up in the problems of the town already only really makes sense in a one-shot.

    Dogs is a very traditional RPG (this is a bad category, don't use it.)
  • My experience mirrors JD's: the towns are created pretty much independently of the players, especially at first, though you do a bit of the "challenge the players' beliefs" thing that you do with Burning Wheel, creating situations that you know will push some PC buttons. However, once play begins, the towns are highly interactive and change based on what the players decide to do. Even the Dogs' mere arrival sets things in motion that otherwise might not have happened. So the players' input definitely matters, but typically only after play begins.
  • Oh! Almost forgot to mention this, Arpie: read Play Unsafe, by Graham Walmsley. Lots of nuggets of wisdom strewn throughout.
  • Aside...
    Posted By: UserCloneI like a lot of the principles in AW for Story Games in general...
    I would argue that the principles in AW are actually codifications of very traditional GM best practices. E.g., "Address yourself to the characters, not the players" is a *very* trad, actor-stance-y way to run a game.

    I mean, I look at the MC principles and see a bunch of great advice for running old-school D&D, honestly.
  • Posted By: ArpieMaybe I just need a T-Shirt that says: "You'd better not be running one of these new damn games without having read the rules first. Because if sit in on your game and you play it just like you and I have played D&D since 1982, I will feed your dice to you." But then I'd need to find a suitable graphic.

    Also, if you use the phrase "I'm a role player, not a roll player" you will probably end up sucking polyhedrons as well.
    Arpie,

    I'm getting a sense that you're expecting others to change their ways to meet your expectations so that you can be a player in games you want to play.

    Learning to play a different way takes time and effort and learning and personal growth and change. Why would anyone want to go through all that just to make you happy?

    What I'm hearing is that you want them to do the work and that you don't want to do it yourself.

    I think it's time for you to lead by example. RUN the games you want to see run, the way you want to see them run. That's the best way to show people the fun that can be had and inspire them to do it themselves.

    I'm not trying to attack you by saying this. Just suggesting that you reconsider your approach. It's been my experience that the only reliable way to create change in a community is through modeling and inspiration and long, hard work.
  • Not all games could use the same advice for players, correct. And a lot of designers are adding their own advice on how to run their games (though a bit more of advice and more clear guidelines could help here and there). The Same Page tool linked by Dave looks like a really good starting point for a lot of games and perhaps that's the key here, Arpie:

    The advice sheet should be made by the players themselves along with the GM with the rulebook at hand. They all pour in whatever they find fun, the GM adds whatever thinks may be fun from the book to use in pure form (only if the players don't want to use the rules as written, in worst case they should adapt to at least one new mechanic they haven't used before, otherwise what they want is just a different setting and there's no need to play a new game) and then the GM gets to use that to define the way they are going to play.

    You can get all kind of good advice but in the end people play what they want in their own way. However it's cool if you manage to get them out of their safe places and try something new.
  • Posted By: RobMcDiarmidI think it's time for you to lead by example. RUN the games you want to see run, the way you want to see them run. That's the best way to show people the fun that can be had and inspire them to do it themselves.
    truth
  • Posted By: ArpieWe need a sheet we can carry around with us that gives a set of basic principles, preferrably in Bullet format, as to what makes "these kind of games" fun.
    Honestly, I would stop using phrases like "these kind of games". There is no monolithic style that pervades all post-Forge RPGs, and no single list of best practices is going to make them all work, nor will would such a list guarantee your enjoyment at the game table. On top of that, there's plenty of "story gaming" one can do with "trad" RPGs, too. Just look at Ron Edwards' or John Wick's accounts of their days playing Champions.

    I want to second RobMcDiarmid's advice above. Run some games. Pick ones with strong procedural guidance that evoke the kind of play you want to experience. Run them as-written. The fact that you're finding people running games like Mouse Guard or PTA is a good sign. Offer to GM for these people and show them how it's done!

    And let me say that I understand your frustration. I have totally been through the "nobody understands this great new way to play" phase of post-Forge RPG fandom. It can be painful! But you can't force other people to want what you want ("You can't sneak up on mode" as Mike Holmes has said). All you can do is offer to run some games for your friends and hope they enjoy playing them. If they don't, you need to start looking for other people to game with; there is no other solution.
  • Don't you think this kind of connects with the "We shouldn't be calling them RPGs anymore" discussion? I mean, players (and GMs) could probably make less assumptions on how a new game should be played if there wasn't for the "Role Playing Game" cathegory used to relate this new game to older ones. It's like, you learn how to play football, and then someone comes from overseas with a "variation" of the game, also called football there... except this is soccer. And then everybody complains about why are they kicking the ball, why does it has that shape, etc. instead of thinking "it's a totally brand new game and I don't know how to play it, let's find out how"
  • That would make a lot of sense except that Role-Playing Games have always been ridiculously diverse and played in an enormously diverse number of ways. Like, Toon came out in 1979.
  • Well, variety in game texts doesn't necessarily translate into variety in the culture of play.
  • I think "roleplaying game" is a perfectly good term. Any baggage people have associated with it has roots that go beyond the terminology, I think.

    I think "story games" is a problematic term, as I do the phrase, "these kinds of games". Those are loaded with assumptions.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: UserCloneOh! Almost forgot to mention this, Arpie: read Play Unsafe, by Graham Walmsley. Lots of nuggets of wisdom strewn throughout.
    Yes. I've read it.

    To be honest, that's what lead me to find out about "tilts" which lead me to read Impro for Storytellers which let me make some cool tables that helped get me out of an idea-generation slump I was in.


    I don't know what to say to Buzz but: You're right, but I'm not ready to give up quite yet.
  • Hey RP,
    Wasn't taking it as ragging at all, was trying to help.
    Did you check out any of those links? I think they would go a long way towards the tool you are looking for.

    Also, at a very core level, there are differences around how these games should be played/GM'd. But I think if you are looking for a specific style of play, it wouldn't be that hard to work up a wishlist, etc. that lets people know what you are looking for. I think this is a great idea and maybe more designers/groups should incorporate something like this during the "pitch" phase of a new campaign...
    Dave M
  • edited May 2012
    JD, Toon lists 4 attributes, 23 skills and Hit Points. The wiki says it's from 1984, though. Anyway, I'm not saying RPGs aren't diverse, I'm saying that it's easier for players to stick to ways of playing they know better instead of adapting to new games. And that using a single term to define different ways of playing makes it easier to think both old and new games should be handled in similar ways. So Eero is right.

    Have my experience here not as a definitive argument, but add it to your own and see if there's a sort of commonground: My group started playing WoD with a GM with experience as an actor and a consistent disregard for some rules, favoring the story. Then we started playing D&D with another GM and played the same way. We took the GM by surprise until he decided to turn tables on us and made rules rain on us restraining our characters and cutting most of the freedom we originally felt. We had to adapt and it was a different kind of fun for a while, though eventually that led me out of the game.

    Now, had it been the other way around, perhaps I wouldn't have played WoD at all or would probably try and engage more the rules than the roleplaying part. Who knows. And not that I play a vampire whenever I play, but I have more fun when I roleplay a character than when I try to engage a set of complex rules to optimize it's numbers.
  • Paolo, I think the primary problem is that, for decades, there has existed "prevailing wisdom" that game texts are irrelevant, system doesn't matter, and all you need is a good GM. I think this has less to do with terminology and more to do with the evolution of game design and procedures of play.

    We've had about a decade or so of discussion now that has challenged all of that prevailing wisdom. Game design has evolved, as have the attitudes we have towards games both old and new (hello OSR). My preference is to adopt these new attitudes and play these new (and old) games.

    I think it's all slowly trickling into the mainstream.
  • Posted By: WarriorMonkAnyway, I'm not saying RPGs aren't diverse, I'm saying that it's easier for players to stick to ways of playing they know better instead of adapting to new games. And that using a single term to define different ways of playing makes it easier to think both old and new games should be handled in similar ways.
    I disagree. Pasta is a word that defines a huge variety of dishes. Just because a person always orders spaghetti and meatballs and complains that other pastas don't taste like spaghetti and meatballs doesn't mean that the word "pasta" is a badly formed category.
  • edited May 2012
    Arpie, there are a lot of folks in this thread who share a certain fear endemic to American liberals: the fear of admitting that most close-minded hicks are going to stay that way. They haven't been led astray by the glorious truth having been kept from them. They're just hicks, and past a certain point, there's nothing you can do.

    You've been complaining about the gamers you're surrounded by for a long time. It's time to make a plan B, for if change isn't coming. I recommend that it include people who are not gamers.

    [Also, let's see if I get this edit in before the inevitable explosion: no, not all fans of traditional RPGs are hicks. It's pretty clear from Arpie's posting history, though, that the gamers he's dealing with are.]
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: misubaThey're just hicks, and past a certain point, there's nothing you can do.
    You know, I've been in Arpie's shoes before. I was excited about THESE NEW-FANGLED GAMES, but the people I normally played with didn't share my excitement.

    Not because they were rubes, but because they just hadn't been hit by whatever hit me (game text, podcast, excited dude running a game, whatevs).

    Going at your friends with a "I am fixing all our problems now" mentality is no fun for anyone, and a bulleted list won't help that. As several people upthread mentioned, the key is to RUN GAMES and share what excites you, or maybe share a copy of a really grabby game text, like Dogs in the Vineyard. These other measures seem destined to frustrate you and make your friends want to beat you.
  • Well, technically speaking, I'm a hick. I grew up in a very poor rural area. But I do prefer the city, you got me there. And I can't admit anyone is close-minded because of all the close-minded things I myself have done (and am probably still doing.) If I hear someone complaining about games and I know there's a solution to their specific complaints in a given system and I recommend that system but they play it in exactly the same way as they've always played (you know, the way they're complaining about) then I prefer to think of it as pathological.

    I admit, it might be pathological that I seek out post-Forge story gamers in my neck of the woods when I am not dealing with a large and diverse population, but I had similar problems living in Denver. It's difficult for me to come up with alternate solutions due to my own limited resources.

    This list idea was one attempt at an alternate resource and this discussion has been very useful. I may not go with the list, but I have managed to farm some really good, "plain talk"-sounding advice to give to my fellow hicks.

    Also, I'm starting to enjoy the TOON argument. (My current unobtainable dream is to design some sort of cool Cartoon RPG before smarter, more motivated, better-resourced dudes beat me to it. All I've got right now is an in-depth study of the way slapstick works, but I haven't bent any rules to it, yet.)
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: akooserWasn't sure which side of the border you are on. I live in NM.

    Didn't want to derail the thread but we have have 2-3 groups down here in Albuquerque and 1-2 in Santa Fe that play a variety of games. Most likely to far for you. Some of us make it up to the Arroyo Seco area from time to time.

    Oh and there are a number of BW groups in the area or so I am told. One of out local gaming stores sells out of the BW books on a regular basis but I've never run into folks who play outside of our groups.

    ara
    Yeah, I'm a good hour north of Trinidad, Co (itself just the other side of Raton Pass from Raton, NM.) I've wanted to move to Albuqueque for years, but lack the skills and funds for such a move. You ever hear of Walsenburg, CO?

    (There's BW groups up in my area, too. Well, there's groups that say they played BW and it was "too fiddly" but they don't like Mouseguard, ether. I suspect they weren't playing that by the rules, either.)

    Thanks for writing, tho'! If I ever get down to Bubonicon, I'll seek you out.
  • Posted By: JDCorleyPosted By: WarriorMonkAnyway, I'm not saying RPGs aren't diverse, I'm saying that it's easier for players to stick to ways of playing they know better instead of adapting to new games. And that using a single term to define different ways of playing makes it easier to think both old and new games should be handled in similar ways.
    I disagree. Pasta is a word that defines a huge variety of dishes. Just because a person always orders spaghetti and meatballs and complains that other pastas don't taste like spaghetti and meatballs doesn't mean that the word "pasta" is a badly formed category.

    I disagree that we disagree in that. "Pasta" is not a badly formed category, nor are "RPGs". People will expect something they are used to when you say "try this, it's a sort of pasta". And if it's not the pasta they are used to, they will know. Some will be polite and regret eating it later, some will complain and some will say "hey, this exotic stuff is amazing!"

    So my point is that if you've got something quite different from a trad game and it's not meant to be played as a trad game, don't sell it as an option for playing a sort of trad game. Because from a lot of comments I've been reading around in this forum and a few others, there still seems to be an awful lot of players misunderstanding "RPGs" for "Trad Games", when, as you truthfully say and I agree, the actual spectrum of the hobby is much much larger than that.
  • edited May 2012
    Well...I think "trad games" is actually the badly formed category due to the huge variety of styles of games, approaches and play present even in that category...the amount of innovation in the hobby has always been about the same: ridiculously huge...but I think I get what you mean.
  • Posted By: buzzPaolo, I think the primary problem is that, for decades, there has existed "prevailing wisdom" that game texts are irrelevant, system doesn't matter, and all you need is a good GM. I think this has less to do with terminology and more to do with the evolution of game design and procedures of play.

    We've had about a decade or so of discussion now that has challenged all of that prevailing wisdom. Game design has evolved, as have the attitudes we have towards games both old and new (hello OSR). My preference is to adopt these new attitudes and play these new (and old) games.

    I think it's all slowly trickling into the mainstream.
    I think this is one of the most useful and relevant quotes to come out of this conversation. I might just put this on a page - if not for others to read, to remind myself when I start getting frustrated.
  • Say, Arpie, what was the game that this clueless GM ran? (Sorry if you said and I missed it.)
    Posted By: JDCorleyI think this is a bad idea because the role of a GM in Dogs in the Vineyard is ridiculously different from the role of a GM in In A Wicked Age and that's ridiculously different from the role of a GM in Apocalypse World, and those are three gamesby the same person.
    If you ask 'how are these different', sure, you'll come up with all kinds of stuff. But if you ask 'how are these similar' ... I think you'll also find a lot.
  • Yeah, sure, you can't run all indie games exactly the same way or they'll break (just as surely as trying to run them with a trad GM mindset), but there are definitely some broad overarching principles. *Most* of the AW ones apply, *most* of the time, to *most* of our games. That's the closest you're going to get.

    Matt
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