From Gaming Skills: Ryan Stoughton' s Thoughts on Possessiveness

edited February 2008 in Play Advice
From this thread
Posted By: Ryan StoughtonPossessiveness needs to be in this thread somewhere. Like, "well, fine, you can LOOK for traitors on the ship but there aren't any - let's stick with my idea because I'm the GM, OK?"
I'm not sure exactly what this means.

The only AP example I have that maybe comes close but maybe not is when Storn's PC and maybe Jim's were at a murder scene in our Cold City game. I described the apartment as having windows right up against a brick wall and for some reason that set off their radar. I had to stop 'em and say, "Guys, there's nothing about the windows; its just a shitty apartment."

And on we went.

Ryan, examples?

Comments

  • Basically it's the whole side of "say yes" GMing that isn't just about letting characters succeed at trivial stuff.

    For example, I've got a scooby of doothulu scenario and everything goes down at the haunted house. Maybe I should have started the game at the haunted house but that's a whole other skill. Players are sitting around in town chatting about this haunted house - they've just inherited it but the place is run down and hasn't been kept up for years. The owner died mysteriously.

    The players decide that they should bring along a lot of tools and safety equipment (hard-hats and such) because it's a run-down building and there's probably something wrong with it. Now, the scenario is designed for lots of room to room back and forth 7th guest / Myst type stuff and the GM doesn't want them bashing down walls. So he says "You don't have enough money." or "The hardware store is closed."

    OR EVEN WORSE

    He lets them buy the stuff but then throughout the game whenever they try to use it he gives it severely gimped mechanical properties when it comes to conflict. "Sure, it's kind of head protection but it's not improving your AC." or every smart idea by the players "we're boarding up those doors" is met with frustration "the wood is all rotten and when you nail into the wall you can just pull it out." Because this is a puzzle scenario and you're going to solve the puzzles, damnit.
  • There's a player side, too. My buddy Remi C was this UBER troll hunter in an old game. We used 2d6 roll high for resolution and it was very episodic (with me GMing a heavy spotlight on a given character per session). One of our other friends, Derek, showed up and was along for the ride in the game. NOw this was a character Remi had been building for about 20 sessions, and he was on this massive troll hunt that was probably going to make him the greatest troll hunter of the century.

    Derek just KEPT rolling boxcars. All night. They got through the scenario and Remi had a few cool moments, but all night I was worried that Derek was stealing Remi's story. But Remi was so cool with it that it ended up turning out awesome. In the end it was Remi who bestowed on Derek's character the honor of being a troll hunter even though he was an outlander. This made it even easier for me to take the next natural step and promote Remi to the head of the order (the former head bit the big one on the hunt).

    That's probably Remi's best quality as a gamer - the way he's cool with stepping back and giving the awesome to someone else.
  • So about a month ago Mo and I are playing a TSOY game in the 7th Sea setting. She is going on about how she's trying to find this spy. I'm sitting there looking at my relationship map and going "The hell? There is no spy? Where is this coming from?"

    Mo finally gets to the point where she just goes "Okay, I'm rolling my clandestinity, I want to find the spy." She rolls, and I'm still thinking "There is no spy, why the fuck are we rolling?"

    I almost say "No spy, no roll." I don't. I say "Um, okay, you're resisted by an average skill." We roll, she wins.

    She finds the spy. Who, as it turns out, is her husband. Who is working for the bad guy because he owes him money.

    Ouch.

    ***

    Example 2.

    We're playing Dogs. Mo says, "I want to find proof that she cheated on him." She reaches for dice.

    I say, "She didn't cheat on him. But if you want "FIND" "PROOF" you can totally frame it up or convince yourself she did."

    Mo says, "Oh. No, I didn't want that. She didn't cheat?"

    I say "No."

    Mo "I'm going to kill that liar."

    Ouch.

    ****

    Thing about it is in both of these cases Mo or I had to give up some ownership. In the first case I became willing to let the spy in. In the second case she was willing to let the world remain as it was.

    So for me I think its less a matter of "the GM needs to give it up" and more a matter of "a game is a negotiation, don't think you always need to win."
  • Posted By: JuddThe only AP example I have that maybe comes close but maybe not is when Storn's PC and maybe Jim's were at a murder scene in our Cold City game. I described the apartment as having windows right up against a brick wall and for some reason that set off their radar. I had to stop 'em and say, "Guys, there's nothing about the windows; its just a shitty apartment."

    And on we went.
    This is a great topic. A lot of times it's just a simple throwaway comment by a GM in a game where what the GM says is given a lot of weight by the rules. For whatever reason, a high-status or high-charisma player grabs onto it and promotes it to the rest of the group as a crucial part of the situation. It can be a very touchy situation or it can be comedic. I don't want to be a blocking asshole and say "Hey, you know that thing you're really totally invested in? Well, fuck you, it doesn't even exist." But on the other hand the rules give what I, the GM, say, great weight and one reason we all selected this game is because I wanted what I said to have great weight, so by obsessing over the "magic cow" (KODT fans know what I'm talking about here), they're actually blocking me a bit.
  • Posted By: Brand_RobinsSo for me I think its less a matter of "the GM needs to give it up" and more a matter of "a game is a negotiation, don't think you always need to win."
    In our Burning Empires game the other night, I asked a player who wanted to roll to find a spy that he believed his brother had planted in his ranks, "Would you be ok, if you succeed at the roll, if there's no spy and you're certain of it?" He said yes, we rolled, and we moved along. If he'd said no, we would have figured out what to do.
  • I find this kind of thing all of the time (if I'm on the right track to what we're talking about and I'm about 60% sure that I am) with any kind of investigative games.

    Often, veteran gamers will be looking out for me to fuck 'em. Dear friends who I ahve gamed with for years will suddenly turn suspicious.

    In Dogs, I have had to say, "No, really the Steward IS a drunk," because it isn't fun playing with a group who are looking under every bed for a GM mindfuck monster.
  • Hmm... Judd, that's a little bit at right angles to what I'm talking about. Possessiveness is more about "X should happen tonight, damnit." and trying to force the game there.

    In my initial example, if players start looking for the traitor, at least giving some consideration to "Hey, could I put a traitor on the ship?" and letting it ride is a pretty cool thing IMO. Graham talked about that a bit in Play Unsafe.
  • Posted By: JuddI find this kind of thing all of the time … with any kind of investigative games.

    ….

    it isn't fun playing with a group who are looking under every bed for a GM mindfuck monster.
    This is one of the reasons why I jumped in up to the hips to help develop Dirty Secrets. It short circuits this situations which, I suspect, every single roleplayer has run into at some point or another.
  • Ryan,

    So what about this thing?

    Vincent recently talked about a game of Sorcerer in which there were issues because not everyone wanted to do what Sorcerer did. That is to say, in Sorcerer you can make a character, think the character is going to be a good guy, and have the game turn him into a dick despite you. Or, make a monster and have him turn out human despite you. (How absolutely this happens is much up to debate -- but I think there really is a thing where Sorcerer, played hard to rule, makes character come out of something other than just what the player thinks about their own character.)

    Is that another thing here? Like, GM give up sole ownership of what happens to the world, player give us sole ownership of what happens to your character? Or inside your character?
  • Well, where the game takes you and whether or not you like it is a whole other skill, like maybe "choose a game that fits what you want"

    But everybody has to relax the grasp and understand they don't have sole ownership over anything. I seriously think that there's some Zen here, i.e.

    "Two men cross the desert, and they're terribly thirsty. Suddenly, rain begins to fall. The first man wants the water so badly that he grabs at the drops and tries to bring them into his mouth, and by the time the rain stops he's only had a few drops. The other man understands his karma and cups his hands gently, and gets plenty to drink."
  • I think we are talking about two different things in here...

    On one hand, GMs being possessive about their game, about their story and about how they think things should evolve during play. That is pretty much the complain about railroading. There is not much freedom, and the GM isn't allowing anything he didn't devised to happen.

    On the other hand, we have PCs obsessed with things that do not exist (I have had several Magical Cow experiences myself). They invest hours searching for something that does not exist, that wasn't there in the first place, and that they simply assumed was there. Searching for a nonexistant secret door simply means they didn't find one. It is not like saying "there is not" or "there is". It is "you didn't find any". They can't find what is not there...

    Of course, in a Story Game there is more chance for allowing them to decide if there ever is something or not... As long as they don't use it as an excuse to get some Character advantage (the idea is to narrate a good story, not to get better stuff for the character).
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