limitations of scope

Hi, Im needing some fresh perspectives to riff on for a WIP.

This is a GMless game that will be intended primarily for those who have never roleplayed before.

Basically Im stuck on how to define a list of constraints or limitations on the *scope* of what can be described/narrated/achieved in a single scene.

The intention is that players dont overachieve during a single scene to the point that the game becomes trivial, nor that intentions become so granular that everybody tediously dies of old age before anything significant happens.

If I thought I could get away with it, Id make a list of generic scenes that players could fill in the details of to fit their situation, but I suspect the number of such required might be prohibitive.

I know this is a hand wavy vague request, but I dont want to lead responses in any particular direction.

Comments

  • Microscope has a good idea where you start each scene with a specific question and end the scene as soon as the question is told.
  • Microscope has a good idea where you start each scene with a specific question and end the scene as soon as the question is told.
    Yes!!!

    In 'adventuring' the standard measure of scope is 'a try'/'an attempt' or 'an exchange of blows' when fighting.

    Also, in conflict resolution you usually zoom in when the situation is interesting (can I discover the vulnerability of the monster while dodging its attack?) and zoom out when its not (driving thru intersections -> does anything special happen while im driving home?).
  • Is there a mechanical underpinning to the game that could flesh out intent and allude to soft boundaries for the scope of scenes? A change in the relationship map, gain/loss of currencies, etc...

    Something that you can point to and say, "Once we've decided that this thing has been achieved any further fictional positioning in a scene is basically for naught."

    Ideally, it prevents overreach because there are limits to what you can mechanically achieve regardless of how grandiose and expansive your fictional successes, but it also adds weight to even seemingly minor or trivial scenes if you get something valuable out of them.
  • Microscope has a good idea where you start each scene with a specific question and end the scene as soon as the question is told.
    That makes sense so that everybody knows when the scene has reached a conclusion, but it doesnt really solve the scope problem. How 'big' a question can it be?

    It also underlines another point - at this stage, I would prefer to be less meta if possible. I think the game will work better if players are unaware of what other players are trying to achieve with a certain scene.
    Is there a mechanical underpinning to the game that could flesh out intent and allude to soft boundaries for the scope of scenes? A change in the relationship map, gain/loss of currencies, etc...

    Something that you can point to and say, "Once we've decided that this thing has been achieved any further fictional positioning in a scene is basically for naught."
    Yep there are, and in some cases achieving those, or no longer being in a position to achieve those, is a perfect end to a scene but in general, I think it will be hard to align every scene with one of those.

    Its more of a case of players achieving as many of those mechanically underpinned things as they can within the limited amount of spotlight that they have on their turn.
  • Unaware of intents with a scene? Read Microscope♥
  • By "overachieve", I assume you mean "get the entirety of what they want." Is that right @stefoid ?

    If so, define the entirety of what they want, chop it up into whatever number of steps best fits the pace of your game (3 steps = faster, 10 steps = slower), and then set your scope equal to one step.
  • Unaware of intents with a scene? Read Microscope♥
    will do, thx
    By "overachieve", I assume you mean "get the entirety of what they want." Is that right @stefoid ?

    If so, define the entirety of what they want, chop it up into whatever number of steps best fits the pace of your game (3 steps = faster, 10 steps = slower), and then set your scope equal to one step.
    yep, thats the 20,000 ft view, but the mechanics/instructions of how to to convey that to people who havent roleplayed before?

    Let me back off a bit.

    So there are 5 people who have never roleplayed before sitting around a table and there is no GM. Its the 1st players turn to frame a scene and describe to the other players what their character is doing in that scene

    So lets say the situation is they have to rescue the princess from the dragon.

    What does the 1st player say?

    In a practical sense, the scene needs to be primarily about their character, but not necessarily exclusively. The turn needs to resolve in a reasonable amount of real time at the table. The scope of the scene needs to advance the character(s) a 'step' closer to resolving their goal one one way or the other, without being too great or too small.

    What is the essence of sensible scope limitation, distilled as concisely as possible?
  • edited July 2018
    It is classic narrative pieve advice to begin as close as possible to the crisis. So the steps will be fixed not by time measure, but according to expectable obstacles or notable events in the story, depending from genre and foreshadowing. It could be that the quest symbolises inner struggle like so : learn player character secrets, fight, unite or be defeated (3 steps).
    So : we enter the rocky pass and will be walking a couple of days would be part one.
  • I would say that you need to first establish the characters. Who are they and what are their drives? The connect the characters (their drives) to the goal of the scenario (save the princess).

    Depending on how long you want to play, you need some kind of pacing mechanism. InSpectres and While the World Ends got their own versions of it. InSpectres with tokens you earn from succeeded rolls, and WtWE from earning dice from relations so you finally can roll enough successes to reach your goal.

    You don't need to go all out on mechanics, but you probably need some sort of obstruction along their way. What it is depends on the game, but it can be an obstacle that questions the person's drive or collide the drive with another character's.

    It's not up until after that point they can finally reach for the goal of the scenario.
  • all good ideas here. grist for the mill, thx!

  • edited July 2018
    So lets say the situation is they have to rescue the princess from the dragon.

    What does the 1st player say?
    Using the approach I described above, they say:

    "How long are we playing, again? Is this a 10-step game or a 5-step game or a 3-step game? Ah okay, it's 3-step game. So now we'll chop 'rescue princess from dragon' into 3 steps."

    "If this is my personal mission, I'll name the steps. But we're all in this together, right? So each of the 3 of us names one step."

    "I'll say the first step is to learn the dragon's secret weakness from a hostile sorcerer. So that's what this scene will be about."
Sign In or Register to comment.