[Critical Play] How Do You Roll?

edited January 2008 in Story Games
So Andy thought I should post this separately. It's a look at how we play and a means to discuss play techniques and hope that we learn a little something by examining one another's games.

Here is my most recent Actual Play in all it's digital glory (with a little editing to make us sound sharp). You can pull it straight HERE or in a zip file HERE.

So I ask...

"My point here is I ask you to listen. I ask you to critique us. Tell us what you think about our play style. How is it different from yours? How would you have handled and exchange differently? What did you like about it? What did you find a solid technique? Did you learn anything new or want to try something in your next game?"

The game is Psi-Run and you can check more of the AP on the Reality Vault.

- Don


  • Or, not so interesting?
  • Sorry, Don, I started listening, but it's rather long. I'll listen again.

  • LOL thanks Graham. Yeah, I think that's the big problem with these files, is that you have to be willing to block some time for them.
  • This is fascinating. Thanks for posting. I do recommend other people listen to it.

    What's fascinating me, persaonlly, is the status. You're much more high status, as a GM, than I am. Like, , people defer to you when you speak and you're the one who approves of the things on the character sheets ("You're absolutely right"). A bit like they're running their ideas past you before they write them.

    And then you said "Do you think it would help if we established things before we started?" and everyone said "No" and then you said "Come on, guys". Again, not a criticism: perhaps that's a very good thing, becausae you know how the game works, but interesting.

    (In our games, Steve and Simon are pretty experienced and don't hesitate to talk over me, speak up, etc. They'd write ideas down and wait for me to correct them and, if I did correct Simon, he'd frown. Sometimes I have to ask for quiet.)

    Huh, that was weird. I heard "Graham-speak" and thought, but, wait, these guys don't know me OH NO WAIT THEY'VE READ THE BOOK.

    Now, I'm up to the bit where you're framing the first scene. You just spoke for three minutes straight! I wish I could do that without someone interrupting! Beautiful imagery. Really imaginative stuff.

    Ah, interesting. 45 minutes in and you suggested what someone's goal was: "Maybe you're trying to get out". I hold myself back from suggesting specific things.

    And, again, fascinating, you see things in a filmic way: you talk about "off screen" and "the audience goes...".

    Right, I must go and catch a train. I hope that's of some use, Don: hope you didn't mind me getting fixated on the status thing.

  • *claps excitedly*

    Thanks, Graham. That is exactly what I am interested in hearing!

    I attribute our GM=high status play style to three things.
    1. Most of these people have come from a very traditional play-style, are relatively new to story games and/or play traditional games pretty frequently. They wait for me to take the lead and often expect it.

    2. This was a new game. I think much of the group was looking to me for direction since a lot of these games have instructions or more direction on how to play. I think they were looking to me for the subtext and expectations on some level and since the book didn't provide me with much I ran with it to expedite the process.

    3. I have been GMing for a long while. Although I have been involved in Indie/Story Gaming for some 5 years now it's only 1/6th of my gaming experience and, well, old habits die hard, I guess. I have always run very narrative games and so scene framing and coming up with descriptions has never been a big challenge. Even when I run into a block as others feed more into the narrative it only feeds the flame of my imagination, and I often run with it. I have to be careful that I don't walk over others when playing these games.

    Most of the people that I play with need a little ramping up to get their creative juices flowing. I think I may start some improv/situation drills for this instead of the front end of the game itself since it kind sets up input expectations.

    I have used film analogies for many years. We're all film buffs and thinking about things in reference to camera angles and what we as the audience are experiencing at home is never a stretch. You could imagine that PTA didn't have a big learning curve for us... LOL. How do you talk a bout these things? Do you at all? I would sometimes refer to speed lines if I was in a game I imagined as very anime inspired. A friend of mine once said to another person expecting to be late to one of my games "whatever you do don't miss the first half hour 'cause you'll miss the intro montage." LOL. A buddy that's running Star Wars now opens every game queueing the music and having one of use read the intro crawl.

    Where before I once would run great games because I could predict what players wanted and deliver in some planning and a good mixture of improv, now I think my strengths lie in feeding off the creative vibe and really just trying to fill in the details that everyone is spinning at the table. Bridging the gaps between their imaginations and pushing them a little more toward a really engaging game. I tend to think (and Dave and Joanna are more than welcome to tell me if I am full of it) that I am pretty good at SGs. That's one of the reasons why I wanted to post this because I wanted to hear other tricks or divergent play experiences that I'm not running with.

    Thanks for taking your time to listen. Graham, did you listen to this while doing something else or was this your sole focus? I was curious how you tend to listen to podcasts in general (I think this was asked once before, no?).

    Thanks again,
    - Don
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