The GM as Entertainer

edited October 2007 in Story Games
I've recently seen a few discussions here (Somebody should help these people understand story gaming and more recently Help me understand: GM writes the plot) which have looked at the role of the GM as the entertainer in a game, the one who presents a story, world, or plot which the players interact with through their characters only, rather than through any sort of larger control over the narrative. A lot of the people here (unsurprisingly perhaps) deeply dislike that sort of gaming, and it seems to me that a lot of the drive for shared world creation, narrative control, GM-less games and so forth comes not from the desire of the traditional GMs to share their power, but from a deep dislike of that sort of power relationship in the first place.

Now I took some of those discussions off the board and explained them to my (traditionalist) GURPS players (who include my wife). I explained about shared world creation, and shared story direction, and concepts like the players stepping back from the characters and conflicting about the story, rather than the results of actions, all the things that get mentioned here that are very far from 'GM as entertainer' and I was fascinated to find that they didn't like them at all. My wife, especially, was almost repulsed by the idea. They *Wanted* to be entertained in a roleplaying game. They wanted to be fully immersed in a single character and interact with the world only in that way, rather than through any meta system. They wanted me to present them with a world (something I am happy to do) for them to explore, investigate, fight and so on.

The way my wife put it was that, of course she wanted to influence the direction of the game, and the stories that were told, and the world itself, but she wanted to do that through the actions of her character, not in any meta sense. If she wanted her character to become head of her own church (as happened in one game) then she would do it by in-character actions, writing a holy book, preaching to the people, spending treasure on buildings, and so on, not by deciding at one remove that she would like that element introduced. Similarly if she was interested in a love affair and a romantic arc for the game she would do that by falling in love in-character and therefore making that important, not by deciding that there should be a romantic theme to the game. As far as she is concerned (and I am not trying to insult anyone) gaming that didn't involve full immersion in your character was not roleplaying at all. It might be gaming, but not roleplaying.

Now I happen to think that there are more things under heaven and earth (etc.) and that there are many styles of roleplaying on a huge spectrum, but I was very fascinated by how counter my player's views on what they wanted from a game were from many of the preferences I see here, so I thought the subject deserved a thread of its own.

Comments

  • edited October 2007
    I had very similar experiences when attempting to try out some of the indie-stuff, especially anything with collaborative setting creation or player narration. The initial response to hearing about it has almost always been an entrenched suspicion and rejection.

    When we've actually done it, though, in every case people have gone "Actually, this isn't that different from what we were doing before." In practice, people aren't giving up much of what they expected they would be, and they're getting access to a raft of new stuff that helps them achieve the game they want.

    The big fears seem to be (among the people I've gamed with, at least) that there'll be no mystery and players won't be able to get into character. Neither of which has turned out to be the case.

    But it fascinates me how, time and again, the immediate response whenever these techniques are mentioned to someone new is instant dismissal. Rather than try to verbally convince people, which can get very wibbly and frustrating, I've decided it's more efficent to just suggest they'll find it less weird than they expect, and then actually playing something with them so they can see it in action.

    But then, thinking back, those reactions were my exact same ones when I first bumped into some indie games. It was actual play threads written by people who were clearly enthusiastic, intelligent, and valued a lot of the same stuff I did that convinced me to give them a try.
  • +1 convincing to Chris.

    I've also tried persuading people that these games are worthwhile. But you can't really explain the fun of Dogs (which isn't in the rulebook) any more than you can explain the fun of Twister.

    And I've found (and this is just IMO) that players can be selfish and/or lacking in confidence when it comes to producing content for the whole group. There's a lot of fear there.

    Plus, mechanically, many games are set up to create barriers between players, and between the players and GM. Eg, characters with dark secrets, fudging dice, GM screens and competitive play. The barriers aren't necessarily bad, but can become an entrenched and assumed part of the hobby. When they should really just be playing pieces.
  • edited October 2007
    Dave,

    I think it's important to separate the idea of GM-as-entertainer (he turns up to play with energy, he gives you confidence it'll be a good game, he's entertaining at the table) from GM-as-preparer (he's prepared the story you're going to play out).

    For example, I've played Best Friends, very successfully, with traditional gamers at conventions. In those games, I'd do lots of GM-as-entertainer (being energetic, upbeat and giving them confidence the game would be good), but no GM-as-preparer ("OK, this game can play lots of ways: Sex And The City, Mallory Towers. How do you want it?").

    Lacuna, too.

    Also, I think that ideas like "You create the world together" play better than they sound. If you say "So, what kind of thing do you want to discover through this door?", people are usually OK with it.

    Graham
  • Hituro,

    It sounds like your wife wants to feel like she achieves things through hard work. Have you discussed how you, as the GM, can make things as easy or as hard for her as *you* like?
  • Joe, that may be right, but at the same time I think there is a big issue of character agency. She is a LARPer by preference (which is as far from story gaming as it gets generally, and as much immersion) and she wants to not just play a character, but *be* one. Deciding something about how the game will progress out of character is, for her, getting between her and the character she is playing.

    So with Graham's example above if I say "So, what kind of thing do you want to discover through this door?" she would reply "my character doesn't control what is behind the door, so I don't want to, I want my character to open the door, and discover what is there, and react to it". It assumes that the world is a pre-created and independent thing which you can interact with through your character, but in no other way, because there shouldn't be another way.

    Note that I am no more experienced with story gaming styles than she is, though like Chris I have read APs and looked at people's responses and thought there must be something in this, because these people are having fun. (My last Solipsist playtest showed that I was not currently equipped to produce such awesomeness, because I haven't played such games either).
  • Hituro, not all the story games give the players authorship rights about "what's behind the door". Far from it.

    Maybe you just tried to do a step too long for your current group/style.

    You don't need to move from "traditional" to "completely decentrated" in one step. You don't need to move that far, at all, if your group does not enjoy it, and still enjoy a lot of the games we like to call "hippie/story games".

    A player in Dogs in the Vineyard has no right at all to say "the sinner is THIS person, and the sin is THIS". Because that's the domain of the Dogs' GM.

    A player in Don't Rest Your Head cannot simply say "Officer Tock is a nice guy, and comes to serve me tea at five", because the setting is still firmly in the hands of the GM. Now, if a character had a madness talent of "Mind reprogramming"... I'd let them try to roll for it... a tea serving Tock (maybe fuming inside because he knows he's been manipulated) could be a fun moment! :-D
  • edited October 2007
    Hi David,

    I don't know if this in any way applies to you, but when I started getting into the indie-games, I didn't initially cotton on that this...
    "So, what kind of thing do you want to discover through this door?"
    ...direct level of player contribution to the game wasn't an assumed or necessary part of them. I've several players who aren't comfortable with being on the spot like that, or having that sort of overt OOC control over the world. So we played games that didn't require it, or handled it in different, less overt, ways.

    (We started with Donjon, which was a bit too much too soon in this regard, I think, then tried things like Trollbabe, Shadow of Yesterday, Dogs, and Mortal Coil)

    Techniques like bangs, collaborative setting creation (which in no way prevents the game from having mysteries, it just ensures that the player get mysteries they want), flags, and different forms of player contribution to the game world (like Burning Wheel's circle tests, which I think many traditional players would be completely fine with) are often much more readily accepted by people, because they're a lot like things we were doing anyway. They're just a bit more eplicit and reliable.

    Edit: Total cross-postage with Renato, there
  • Thanks Renata and Chris, as I said *I'm* as much of a newbie to the Story Game thing as my players are, but I did grasp that there were games that didn't hand authorship rights to the players, this just happened to be a conversation about the games that did (and grew from playtesting Solipsist, which most certainly *does* do that).

    I guess some of it is terminology. In a traditional game you still have bangs, after all, why introduce a scene as the GM which your players don't care about, and you still get forms of collaborative setting creation, because the players tell you where they want to go, and what they want to look for, and what sort of adventure they want to have, you just don't flag it as such. And talking of flags, as someone said, every advantage, disadvantage, and skill in a traditional game is a flag, because the player wants that trait to be useful in some way, or to come into play.

    So maybe its not having these things that people resist, but formalising them?
  • I think that's exactly it. And the best way to do that is probably to find a game that's not too unfamiliar and freaky, and give it a whirl in the spirit of experimentation. Mortal Coil was it for us. We found the token-based conflict resolution quite a struggle, but everything else was so great and so easy that it more than made up for it.

    The formalisation is important, too. Because while, for example, it's true that every skill, advantage, and disadvantage in a traditional game can be seen as a flag, they aren't always flagging up what they seem to be. Sometimes a player takes a hgih skill because high investigation skill because he wants to use it to blow past investigation scenes, for e.g., where I probably would have assumed that it meant he wanted a lot of juicy investigation scenes. The advantages of the formalised techniques in indie games is that they're built with this sort of thing in mind, and so communicate the player's intention to the GM better.

    And those games that did have player narration we instead looked at in terms of player authority. This allowed the GM to do the narration, like people were used to, but the player with the authority could chime in, make changes, or require certain things occur. Which, at the table, was very much like how a lot of games work, anyway.
  • Thanks Chris, that is a lovely summary :)
  • Hi Hituro; if you're looking for some baby steps, take a look at the Raising the Stakes.pdf I put out a little while ago. That's written for d20 but I'm sure it could be converted. I've had great luck getting traditional players to start thinking of how to make the game cooler without really rocking their boats.
  • I've seen links to that multiple times but I'm PDF shy :) I'll take a look
  • The file's hosted at the E6 wiki

    http://esix.pbwiki.com/

    Here's the link

    Raising the Stakes
  • Thanks for that, it was an interesting read. Conviction and death flags don't get me very excited, the same mechanics in various forms exist in things like WFRP and Ars Magica already, so no controversially there, and I don't run games with non-agreed character death any more, but the raising the stakes bit is very interesting.

    Doesn't it sort of imply, though, that the players are being oppressed by the system, and are therefore happy to be able to move past it and do things it wouldn't let happen, or which wouldn't happen often? There is a mindset inherent in, say, GURPS players, that the system is there to accurately model reality, rather than to model coolness.
  • Well, I'd decribe my tastes as something like, on a 1-10 point scale:

    Traditional GMing: 4
    Reading a fantasy book: 5
    Story game GMing: 6
    Story game playing: 7
    Traditional, "character immersive" playing: 9

    Naturally these values depend on exact nature of the game, who I'm playing with, etc, but they are good round numbers based on actual experience.

    I'm sick of having to do Traditional GMing. If I must GM, I'd much rather do a story game. I also like playing story games - they are fun. But far and away my favorite is traditional setup with a high focus on getting my mindset aligned with a character play - if I get to be a player.

    I'm also open to the possibility of a Holy Grail game that combines VERY HIGH and MAINTAINED focus on maintaining a character's perspective with low or no GM responsibility in a tabletop setting. Just haven't played it yet. I'm looking forward to trying Bliss Stage since it implements some of the techniques I think would be needed for such a game.
  • Yeah, the idea came to me when I had a player *sigh* heavily before attacking a kobold. I wanted stunts. But it often ends up being used for other things - more plotty things.

    But accurately model reality? Oi... I don't think I can be much help with that. Isn't that... science?
  • Graham is correct that GM as entertainer is a different thing to GM as preparer of the world.

    I want in play as a rule to experience the world through the vehicle of my character, in fact pretty much exactly as Hituro's wife does.

    This bit "If she wanted her character to become head of her own church (as happened in one game) then she would do it by in-character actions, writing a holy book, preaching to the people, spending treasure on buildings, and so on, not by deciding at one remove that she would like that element introduced. Similarly if she was interested in a love affair and a romantic arc for the game she would do that by falling in love in-character and therefore making that important, not by deciding that there should be a romantic theme to the game." is my preferred mode of play.

    But that has nothing to do with GM as entertainer, my view is we are all equal participants in creating the entertainment at the table, we are all players in that sense. We use different tools to create the entertainment, but I am not being passively entertained.

    GM as entertainer to me suggests the players expect to turn up and the GM to create an entertaining game for them, GM as preparer merely means the GM prepares the stage on which the performances will take place. They're very different things. All players who expect the GM to be entertainer also expect the GM to be preparer, but the converse is not true.

    This bit to me: "They wanted to be fully immersed in a single character and interact with the world only in that way, rather than through any meta system. They wanted me to present them with a world (something I am happy to do) for them to explore, investigate, fight and so on." does not equate to a desire to be entertained, after all they want to interact, explore, investigate, fight and so on. They are not asking to be passive, they are asking for a particular kind of creative input.

    As an aside, personally I think if you want to sell trad gamers indie games the best thing to do is go for something quite different, go for MLwM or Polaris, something which is obviously not trying to do similar stuff to Gurps. That way people can enjoy them (or not) as a thing in their own right, because sometimes folk like Gurps because actually it really just does do exactly what they want from an rpg.

    As my tastes are actually really well described by the comments you describe your wife as making, I suspect my tastes and hers are very similar. Sometimes it is just a taste thing, I don't see the GM/Player thing as a power issue to be honest and for me shared creation simply doesn't add anything to my rpg fun (though I'm keen to try Contenders, but then it's not trying to do the same thing as Gurps but a bit different).

    Nb. I am in no way saying above that Contenders et al are not rpgs, because IMO they plainly are, just in case I was unclear.
  • Posted By: HituroThanks for that, it was an interesting read. Conviction and death flags don't get me very excited, the same mechanics in various forms exist in things like WFRP and Ars Magica already, so no controversially there, and I don't run games with non-agreed character death any more, but the raising the stakes bit is very interesting.

    Doesn't it sort of imply, though, that the players are being oppressed by the system, and are therefore happy to be able to move past it and do things it wouldn't let happen, or which wouldn't happen often? There is a mindset inherent in, say, GURPS players, that the system is there to accurately model reality, rather than to model coolness.
    There is an argument that some folk want games that feel real, while others want games that feel like a particular genre or source of inspiration (and others want other things entirely obviously). I think that's true, and the folk who want it to feel real will tend to dislike any genre emulating mechanics they encounter, if their preference is really strong they will often simply see the genre stuff as stupid and not making sense.

    Fun ensues when you mix the two groups up...
  • Posted By: HituroThanks for that, it was an interesting read. Conviction and death flags don't get me very excited, the same mechanics in various forms exist in things like WFRP and Ars Magica already, so no controversially there, and I don't run games with non-agreed character death any more, but the raising the stakes bit is very interesting.

    Doesn't it sort of imply, though, that the players are being oppressed by the system, and are therefore happy to be able to move past it and do things it wouldn't let happen, or which wouldn't happen often? There is a mindset inherent in, say, GURPS players, that the system is there to accurately model reality, rather than to model coolness.
    I've found that some story game techniques were stuff I'd used in trad games for donkey's years, others were new to me. In chatting to people I've found they've often had the same, but not always with the same techniques.

    It's an important point, stuff can be made to seem stranger than it actually is, sometimes calling something a bang or a kicker makes it seem stranger when actually the group may already have used something very similar and this could just be an improvement on that.
  • Moment of Zen...

    David... you've played with Greggor and some of those folks, right? Did their play seem very strange to you? Did Greggor convince you to play by laying down the Forge Theory? Or did you guys just decide to play, and then play something like DitV? Did you enjoy it?

    Never talk theory to players as a way to convince them of what to play.

    Just don't.

    Here's the percieved subtext, "We've been playing all wrong all these years, it's really not fun. But if you play this really weird other way that requires a theory to understand, then that'll be fun."

    Yeah, I'd probably say fuck you, too, if somebody came at me like that.

    What's really interesting is that, from your description of her, your wife is 100% on with the sort of play that we describe here. Which is perhaps LESS radical than LARP is in terms of how different it is from traditional TTRPGs.

    We don't "deeply dislike" the traditional style of play. We've just found that the way we play now is free from some problems that the traditional style tends to cause in terms of our enjoyment. The difference is minor. Really.

    Mike
  • Posted By: Ryan StoughtonBut accurately model reality? Oi... I don't think I can be much help with that. Isn't that... science?
    When I open a GURPS rulebook and see quadratic formulae for explosion strengths I think it might be :)
  • Posted By: Mike HolmesMoment of Zen...

    David... you've played with Greggor and some of those folks, right? Did their play seem very strange to you? Did Greggor convince you to play by laying down the Forge Theory? Or did you guys just decide to play, and then play something like DitV? Did you enjoy it?
    Ahhh sadly you are labouring under and very rational misapprehension. I live round the corner from Gregor, I have eaten with, talked with, and walked with Gregor, but I have yet to play anything with him other than Solipsist. If I am being an advocate of story games (and I'm not totally sure I am trying to be) then I am a lousy advocate, because I am yet to partake :)
  • Posted By: Mike HolmesNever talk theory to players as a way to convince them of what to play.
    Absolutely, Mike is spot on.

    I didn't engage different brain functions playing MLwM or Dogs or anything, it's still gaming. The trouble with leading with theory is you lead with an implicit negative, something is wrong but here's a fix.

    Leading with a positive is always better, "here's a great game I found, let's try it and see how it flies".
  • There are many ways that indie games can support what your group likes to do. It's not all shared narrative and unusual distribution of authority.

    Take The Shadow of Yesterday's Keys. It's a simple little change: instead of giving out XP equally to everyone for some general thing like monster killing (which your players might not even be that into), it allows each player to pick their own things they get XP for. Simultaneously, it also signals to the GM: this is the stuff I'd like to play more of.

    I'd try these little but very powerful things first.
  • Riddle of Steel. Riddle of Steel! Riddle. Of. Steel.

    Seriously, that game is, in my experience anyway, a great way to transition really traditional gamers into something more indie-ish. Why? Well, the XP system is brilliant, and completely based on (what we now call) flags, but in a way that really encourages immersion in the character's PoV. And outside of that XP system, it really has nothing unfamiliar to trad gamers. I mean, yes, the game is known for its revolutionary combat system, and it does take some getting used to, but it's still just a dice-based mechanism for killing and/or being killed.

    To give a more specific example: Hituro's wife wants her character to become head of her own Church. All the player does is write that down on her character sheet, and now she gets XP (and bonus dice!) for furthering that goal. Is something like writing a character goal down on your sheet too much of a remove?

    Matt
  • GURPS was the first RPG I played and from 1992 through 1996 was the main game I played. Try PTA.

    The gameplay can feel familiar to the traditional gamer. The GM can hide as many secrets as he wants from the players. The GM can retain a lot of control about world and NPC creation. The "dice" (cards) still decide the results but the players have the chance to help in deciding what they want to play. And, have a chance to tell how things happened.

    In GURPS, in a Fantasy setting, the player may say "I am going to the tavern since the guy we are looking for would probably need a place to rest and eat".

    In PTA it would be: "I want a scene:
    Location - tavern
    Agenda - find information on the guy we are looking for
    Focus - plot."

    The player is not deciding if the guy is or ever was in the tavern, nor what is in the tavern. He has full control of his/her character. The GM frames the scene, just like in GURPS. Plus the GM gets his turn to request a scene too.

    You can make a very GURPSy character on PTA.

    Aleanor
    Edge - master swordsman
    Edge - photographic memory
    Contact - Milly, rogue wizard
    Issue - lust (he is conflicted between his chastity vow and the desire towards the opposite gender)

    I see some big advantages in PTA:

    Combats are a lot quicker.
    The players don't have to hope for the GM picking up on the flags.
    The players have a greater chance in focusing in the aspects of the game they enjoy the most.
    The game becomes more balanced betwen the focus on the PCs vs focus on plot.

    It was an easy transition for me. I took this game to Brazil and played a 4-session series with a group of strict D&D players and they absolutely loved it.
  • Here's my take on "GM as entertainer".

    I have played a lot of traditional games. A lot of Savage Worlds, and D&D 3.5. I was always the GM, and I got very, very good at doing it. Prepping for an adventure, whether it was a half hour writing up a D&D dungeon, or five minutes scrawling down some notes for Savage Worlds, was fun for me. I liked thinking up cool scenes that I knew would impress the players, and working out how to get those scenes into a game in a way that would work with what the characters were trying to do. I didn't script outcomes, but I did script means of achieving outcomes. I didn't decide if the PCs were going to catch the theif or not, or even if they tried. But I did decide that, if they did try, there'd be a rooftop chase scene, and an ambush. I was pretty good at predicting what they'd try and what they wouldn't. I was also pretty good at predicting what amount of challenge the PCs could handle. I got very good at prepping a D&D encounter that would almost but not quite take out the party.

    These games were very fun for me, and very fun for the players. I got to impress my friends with the cool scenes I'd come up with, got challenged to work what I'd prepared into what the PCs were trying to do so they'd achieve their goals using the means I'd prepared for, and sometimes deal with the unexpected pleasure of scenes going in new directions, of not knowing where things were going to end up, and having to come up with engaging and fun challenges on the spot.

    Here's the thing though. Whether the game was fun or not depended entirely on me. I'm not saying that the games were fun solely because I as a GM was so awesome, but just that, for there to be any fun at all, I had to be doing my job right. Any other player could be having an off night, ringing in their play, or not turning up at all. The players were required for fun to be had, but if I, as the GM, did my job wrong, the fun stopped dead. If I made an encounter too easy, it was palpably less fun than one that almost killed everyone. If the encounter was too hard, the effect was even more pronounced. If everyone dies, the fun ends.

    At a fundamental level, I think any game in which the GM has unlimited power over how much opposition the PCs face is putting the GM into the role of an entertainer. It's making the GM responsible for the fun. Ultimately it's up to the GM whether an action has any chance of succeeding, and it's down to the skill of the GM whether the players get to create the story they want, experience the setting in a compelling way, or enjoy overcoming challenges. I think this is independant of creative agenda.

    I'm not saying that "GM as entertainer" is a bad model for play, but it is an inherantly problematic one. Any game that relies on one player to make the fun happen is going to be problematic.

    "Shared Narrative" is only one way of breaking down this model of play. It means that everyone's responsible for making scenes that are interesting to them. If you're not having fun, maybe it's because you're not making scenes that you enjoy. It's no one elses job to do that. On the other hand, a shared narrative game where one player still has the power to remove your character from the game arbitrarily is still putting that player in the role of an entertainer. So I think "Shared Narrative" is a bit of a red herring in this discussion. "Limited GM power" (up to and including GMless play) is where it's at, in terms of reducing that effect. But that's only if you want to reduce it. If you're comfortable in the role of an entertainer (like GMs for Dogs, Burning Wheel, Cold City, SotC, and a whole lot of other indie games) then there's no reason to change.
  • OK, Zen aside...

    I'd agree with you 100%, Simon. But I still wouldn't lead with this, if trying to convince people to play. Saying, "If we all shared the responsibility more evenly, it'll make play better" is still saying that there's something to fix.

    Let me be more clear. Even if you feel that there's something that needs fixing, don't present your argument that way. RPGs are odd beasts, in that they take a lot of effort on everybody's part. Saying that the players in a traditional game aren't taking enough responsibility is belittling the huge committment they've made to play. Like you say, you can't have fun if they don't show up to play. Even if that's all that's required (and you know it's more than that, even if slight), that's still saying a lot.

    This is to say nothing of the fact that RPGs require a lot of mental work to amble through, and in figuring this out without much leading, really, players are doing an amazing job. I'd say that this is *especially* true in traditional games. In fact, the effort level is similar to what people put into their religions, in many cases, and the ritual nature of RPGs make them take on the weight of religion (ever wonder why it's so prone to flameyness?). Given this investment that they have to be part of this fun, it's going to be very insulting to imply to these people that they're not pulling their weight, or that what they've done is wrong. Which is what such rhetoric will do.

    Even if you present the complaint as other than the "GM Entertainer/Shared Narrative," the problem will exist. It should suffice to simply present the RPG in question that you want to play like anything else you want to do, "Let's try this, I think it'll be fun!" If people ask why they should try a different system, tell them that these systems have some differences that you want to try out.

    Don't present it as "better fun." Present it as "another sort of fun." You'll get a much better response.

    David... if you haven't played any of these games, and you're making one... consider playing one. It might give you some very important perspective. This other paradigm (be it part of a story-game or whatever) is really far less strange than most people seem to think. And that'll really only become apparent when you give it a try.

    I recall when I first shifted over to using these sorts of techniques. Looking back, I was quite nervous, and found it rather difficult. But this is solely because after 25 years of running games at that point, I had a set of skills that I was quite comfortable using. And now I was learning to play again.

    But here's a substantive difference (could be because I was much older and experienced, perhaps, but I think there's other reasons): It took me a very short time to become a good GM with these techniques than it did with the old ones. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that over the course of playing, oh say, ten session, I became a far better GM than I had been in 25 years of running games. I went from feelings of inadequacy as a GM to feeling that I ran a pretty good game.

    RPGs will probably never really be an "easy" activity... it's a good challenge always. But they should never be so hard that you fail a high percentage of the time, to have fun sessions. So, yes, I agree with Simon that, for whatever reason, these games do improve your chances of success, at least if you're a GM like I was. But all you have to do is play these games, and that'll become as clear as it's ever going to be.

    The proof is in the puddin'.

    Mike
  • Risking double posting to go back to Zen...

    I have never, ever run a game using a rule system that had shared narration, or just any RPG using the techniques that increase shared narration, and had somebody afterwards tell me that they didn't like it.

    Not once.

    I have had a few players who, having had somebody try to convert them, and then having tried a game I've run this way, tell me that it's a distinctly different sort of fun. But that's not the same as them saying that it wasn't fun. Most people, who haven't heard the evangelical screed, don't seem to notice that the game was in any way differnt from other RPGs at all. Or at least they don't comment on it.

    If you were a massage therapist, and you had a better technique than the other guy, and you gave a massage to somebody who had gotten a massage from the other guy, would you expect that they would think anything other than, "Gee, that was a good massage"? They could probably identify some of the differences if you asked them afterwards, but why would they care?

    Mike
  • Oh yeah, as usual Mike, we're on the same page. You don't start a productive game session with "Ok guys, I'm sick of entertaining you. From now on, you're going to have to work for your fun."
  • Posted By: Mike HolmesDavid... if you haven't played any of these games, and you're making one... consider playing one. It might give you some very important perspective. This other paradigm (be it part of a story-game or whatever) is really far less strange than most people seem to think. And that'll really only become apparent when you give it a try.
    Ah-ha ... and you have hit upon the same issue I am discussing over on the Solipsist playtest thread, the issues in the playtest came from me coming to the table with the wrong sort of head on, and not getting how different a mindset my own game was going to ask from people, me included. Thankfully the playtest was just what I needed to make that clear to me, and I am now thinking quite differently about the role of the GM and what he does in the game, as I should have before.

    Hopefully Gregor or Per or someone of the sort will solve my 'not having played yet' issue sometime soon :)
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