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The players wanted something from the innkeeper. Whether or not he knew where to find this girl, Tiliva. [Implicitly, but not stated at the table: the innkeeper is the granter, the players are petitioners.]We went into the mode where you say what your character says; I was portraying this innkeeper.I was like, shuddering, and going "No, I don't know her! Who told you?" [Being a little transparent to set up the scene -- but by now, I can be pretty subtle and the players still pick it up.]And they were like "We think you do know something". [Implicitly, tactic: laying the cards on the table and asking for the same]And I was like, fearfully "No. I'm not involved". [Implicitly, tactic: flat out denial]And they were like "Who're you afraid of?" [Implicitly, tactic: good cop]And I was like "I just don't want there to be any misunderstanding. I don't want you to think I'm caught up with that glitch stuff. You know I hate it." [Implicitly, tactic: being clear, setting boundaries, identity politics]And they said "GLITCH! WTF ARE YOU IN WITH THE GLITCHERS YOU SCUM!" [tactic: bad cop]And I: "No, it's not like that at all, that was what I was trying to say. I was helping her, but..."They: "WERE YOU HELPING THE GLITCH? That's so wrong!!!"I: "This is what was afraid of. You guys jumping the gun. Look... I can't explain it but... I'll tell you where she is if you promise not to turn her into the city guard." [The innkeeper diegetically thinking: they'll understand once they see her. Tactic: bargaining.]They: "Sure, sure, we promise, now where is she?" [Tactic: false promise, deception]Robin Laws' idea is simply to be mindful of motivations/desires and of "tactics".Guys as you know I'm pretty challenged when it comes to social skills.I was doing allright in my no-myth days but I had a lot of trouble portraying random shopkeepers in those first few sessions of The Lost Mine of Phandelver.I picked up Unframed and read Laws' chapter and everything became much crisper and better and more dramatic in the dialogue scenes, both the players and me did better just by me seeing the "petitioner / granter" structure and tactics exchanges in my own head, not even mentioning it to the players, just talking the scenes out old school style.But after a new player joined he was really trigger happy with "I ROLL PERSUADE" "I ROLL DECEIVE" etc, and I was struggling a bit with it, the other players approached me and they were like "It's kinda frustrating that you need social skills to resolve social situations".And I was like. OK. We need to whip out Hillfolk proper. I want to try it.And we tried it.And we've gone back to D&D but informed by the idea of "dramatic scenes", even though they've nixed the drama tokens (for now). So far (two sessions in, since our DramaSystem game) it has worked very well.Heaven knows that I didn't have any social skills. But this way of thinking has really helped me and now I think it's helped the players, too.PS.I know that Laws had fiction in mind, it grew out of Hamlet's Hit Points and analyzing cable TV shows.But it's also similar to the teachings of behavioral therapy on social skills.
it's a very good match with Kevin's "socialite challenge" tables.
it's a very good match with Kevin's "socialite challenge" tables.Is this a thing I can look at?
Suppose you're the GM, and to you, this old lady is a compelling character with a strong and interesting motivation. You're ready to play her, and excited for a back-and-forth with varying stakes and tactics.
they repeat the same tactic over and over
they fail to take anything away from your responses
they try tactics at random
they can't tell whether they are wasting their time with no chance of success or not
their goal is vague ("tell us anything you know that might help us!")
they refuse to escalate beyond a certain point, but also refuse to take "no" for an answer
various other bad stuff that falls out from the above or otherwise erodes the fun
Where do you draw the line between "this needs to go better" and "time to end the scene, which is fine"?
Like, the players eventually get the info they wanted, but getting there was kind of a chore
So it's bad for the game in the long term, but because it often seems navigable enough in the short term, it often doesn't register for me as "address this now!"
A similar problem (long-term lack of enthusiasm) occurs when one dialogue scene is fun and another one sucks and no one is clear on what comprised the difference. "This one was fun!" doesn't seem to be sufficient without at least some awareness of what we all did to make it so.
I have all sorts of thoughts about dice/clouds, formal/freeform, challenge/entertainment, opposition/collaboration and more. For now, though, I'm just trying to understand what's been working for you, so I can enter those components into the equations.
I thought vague, meandering, goalless, confusing dialogue scenes sucked
Laws' text solved that problem (as long as I can remember to use it).
Is roleplaying your NPCs according to Laws' texts really all you did (aside from the very few exceptions you've noted)?
Is there other stuff you started doing? For example, have you appointed yourself the arbiter of when a scene has gone on long enough, whereas previously (in the days of sucky scenes) you hadn't?
for example by overcoming her skittishness, earning her trust, getting to the root of her unease, and assuaging her unease with some combo of genuine knowledge and viable deception.
The challenge is for the players to overcome these hurdles and get a look at the map
PCs: "We can take it. We are strong in spirit."NPC: "That's easy to say, but hard to prove."DM: "What do you do?"
"Wake up. Focus. You are in this situation, you are at a prompt, you are at a fork in the road. You've seen her attitude, there's not much more I can do to convey it. What do you do or say now?"
But, to clarify, I only say "What do you do", that whole phrase you quoted is just implicit.
I'm not saying that it doesn't take in practical goals, but Robin is quite explicit that a concession applies to the emotional need of the petitioner even if it does not grant exactly the practical thing they wanted at the outset.
The March Warden (an NPC) asks the PCs to clear the great swamp of encroaching orcs.
Loki wants Thor to let him out of his cell.
I could go on, but I think you get the sense of the process here.
1)[victory scenario elided]The players feel that certain kind of awesome that comes from a well-earned victory.This is the part I love.
2) The players decide that Vigdis has some village relationship that impacts her helpfulness, my hints that they're off base fall flat,
they try to make deals with Vigdis for protection of her allies or destruction of her enemies,
We consider saying, "That's it, you go all you could, move on,"
but then the players feel like they're so close, maybe they should just try another new tactic, perhaps some fake ritual, but how would that work?This is the part I hate.
Sure, but then what's the leverage? Want away.
A scene with no leverage at all is the same as a scene with no resistance but with the opposite result. All the leverage examples are 'emotional' in DS terms (which uses a somewhat loose definition of the term TBF). Even if you are simply accepting a bargain, you're conceding the rightness of your counterpart's position.