edited February 2009 in Story Games
Okay, So here I am starting a new play by post game in 4th edition, and being slightly more inclined to indie sensibilities than I used to be, and rather than just trying to entertain everyone to the mostest, I'm just asking for preferences.

Now are these preferences what would be considered Flags? (ie a flags just preferences of gaming once you have the big details settled down (can preference for say 3.5 dnd over 4th edtion dnd be a flag? )or is there some more subtle meaning im lossing here.

either way thanks fro your input.


  • For me, flags as a term is most useful to mean specific things, events, or activities that a player would like to see in the game and its fiction and that they are expressing through, for example, things on their character sheet. I've written that up for Anima Prime here.
  • When I coined the term, I was thinking specifically of mechanics in games that help the group get together on the content (Spiritual Attributes, Beliefs, Keys, etc.)

    Pulling "flag-like" ideas from games without the mechanics is a lot harder- as people have mentioned before, sometimes someone min-maxes a sword skill because they want to have swordfights, sometimes they do it so they don't have to think about the swordfights when they happen, and can focus on things that they do want.

    Preferences between -what- games to play, sounds like social contract stuff to me.
  • Posted By: Logos7Now are these preferences what would be considered Flags?
    As I understand it, Flags aren't preferences so much as things in the game that let you identify the preferences of other players. I may like dealing with the Mudmen in the game, but if my GM doesn't know that, then we'll have a single encounter with the Mudmen and move on. If I can convey that information to the GM somehow, then he can reintroduce them later and we'll maximize our fun.

    Flags are one of many ways of identifying people's preferences. I could take a trait in the game that is, say "Favored Enemy: Mudmen" or "Always confused by Mudmen speech patterns" or something. That's a signal to other people that the Mudmen are important to me and my character somehow. Then they know I'd like to see the Mudmen come back later.
  • Okay, but ignoring all that interpets and oracles stuff,

    I'm flat out asking what my players want and do not want.

    So I'm just dealing with preferences then, and not flags at all?

  • Yeah. You may want to look up some of the stuff on Sockets which talks a bit about different things players find enjoyable to help figure out what works best for your group.
  • Hey Chris,

    Where is the best place to look up stuff about sockets?
  • Also, once you've asked about preferences and what people do and do not want...don't forget to ask again a while later. And again a while after that. What people want can and will evolve as the game progresses, and if it was useful at the outset to get some feedback, it stands to reason that it will be useful later on, too.

    It doesn't have to be a terribly formal "Tell me what you do and do not want" interview, of course. A lot of our group's ongoing input in that area comes through the usual pre-, post- and out-of-game chatter we do whenever we're hanging out together. Once everyone got on board with the idea that, hey, talking about what you like works, it became almost second nature to do it. Very cool.
  • Hi Clyde,

    As far as I know, Mo has originated the term and thought the most about it, though I know a couple of other folks have written about it as well.

    A lot of roleplayers have drilled into their heads not to think about play while it's happening which leaves it at a very non-verbal place to identify enjoyment.

    The nice thing about sockets is that it lets people pick and choose what they want to talk about as something they enjoy ("I really find a tactical socket with having to go through an equipment list") without having to have a full theory to go with it.
  • edited February 2009
    Hey Chris,

    Yeah, I'm familiar with Mo's blog. I was hoping there might be something that just says, here's the ideas, minus the discovery and prose part of a blog format. That's the main reason I haven't dug into it deeply, reading conversations to delve the theory takes years. Thanks though.

    Hmm... if anyone knows how to get a hold of Mo, could you have her email me by way of theoryfromthecloset through that wonderful place called gmail.com? Sorry for the sidetrack.
  • In 4e it's all about Quests and Personal Quests. You need the players to really engage it. They especially need to throw down new personal quests whenever something catches their fancy.
  • Hmm, the socket idea is interesting but im not sure its the same thing as flags, or at least not the same thing to my understanding.

    If flags are things that allow you to identify the preferences of players, then sockets are something more like positive preferences. Sockets being that thing which brings about my jollies are preferences that I enjoy?


    I like the word a bit moar than perhaps preferences because it gives the impression that its something to be fufilled or pluged in, I also like it because it makes me think of neuron's receptors floating arround in the vast chemical soup , waiting for the appropiate chemical to attach to them, which is visually fun, and perhaps gives a good idea of the layered/complex/not creative agenda way of concieving play.

    But other than that, I'm left with a rather big, so what.

    As for 4e and the quests but, I feel you are correct, but how would you suggest we go about it. Making your own quests, especially in the sense that you do it whenever it catches your fancy feels trivial, but you dont want to punish failure (as that in general only seems to work when the participants have no choice but to continue ) but do you really want a bunch of half assed and uncompleted quests denoting your story in the game so far?

    Oddly enough, some of my PC's are already doing this, denoting ancient eladrin cities that have been taken over by demonspawn and that he would really like to go back and cleanse with a holy fire. (Which is kewl, this is great, I'm affraid of the quest, to go to the bar and get really hammered, and the quest to go to the whore house and not catch a std, and the quest to catch the warlock on the loo, and tip the outhouse on him, which im not sure is a good fear or a bad fear )

    So to take another example, most of the group, Don't want to involve drow in any form. Now this isn't a flag because they told me outright rather than me interpreting it threw flags from some other source, and this isn't a socket because its a negative preference. Its not about enjoyment its about not enjoying drow, is it an anti socket, or is there some other fancy term for it.

    Thanks for your help everyone,


    >And if people want to go on moar about the 4th edtiion quest system, that would be awesome.
  • Hi Logos,

    You are correct sockets are not flags. I was confused about what you were asking for. Here's 3 different theory things which might be helpful:

    Flags: Mechanics for players to explicitly say what kinds of things they want in play (What's this game about?)
    Sockets: Things that players like (What games would be good to play?)
    Lines & Veils: Things players definitely don't or areas they're willing to explore (What is this game NOT about? How do we deal with touchy subjects?)
  • Woah, I've hit this lines and viels shit before and it just confused me.

    Got something you would consider inspired reading for lines and viels? What i saw was shit poor and wordy. (I know im one to talk but still)

    I'm just trying to get a handle on this whole flag things, I realized I was using a word without knowing the meaning more or less and while i had a good guess, I thought I would ask here to see what popped up.

    So Flags are mechanics for players to explicity say what kinds of things they want in play or Flags are mechanical Things where gms/game creative people can attempt to interpret what they want from the game (this is kinda what i thought it was up until you posted bankuei )

    I think I more or less get sockets, except the point of a special term for preferences.

  • Posted By: Logos7
    Got something you would consider inspired reading for lines and viels? What i saw was shit poor and wordy. (I know im one to talk but still)
    Here's the quick breakdown.

    If you're going to play a game where there's a possibility for risque material (Dogs in the Vineyard, Sorcerer, Vampire/WoD, My Life With Master, etc), you might want to have a quick discussion about things that you absolutely do not want to see at the table. Frex, Morningstar says "I don't give it an opportunity anyway, but I don't want to see any sexual violence in my games, period". I say "I don't want to see any gross violence towards animals". Dumb, but it's my issue.

    Anyway, the difference between lines and veils is that with veils, you're saying "I don't care if this is addressed in the game or not, I just don't want to see it". Frex, you could say that "NPC X was raped" (frex, if you're playing a modern gritty cop show-themed RPG ala Law and Order), but you don't ACTUALLY SEE IT at the table (that is, the fact that NPC X was raped/gets raped is there, but you don't actually play it out, see it happen).
    With Lines, you just say "I don't want to see it or hear about it or have it implied". So if you said that Rape was "over your line", that means that there's no implied rape, no one gets raped, no one talks about it, etc.

    It's just good form, otherwise people might get uncomfortable or even squicked out if you trip up someone's issue without realizing it.

    For me, I pretty much dwell in "adventure gameing land", so it's rarely an issue. Although recently we're doing a lot of modern gritty horror games: But in my groups, we've got a "if you have anything squicky that would make that scenario better, just leave it behind the veil. No reason to see it. And speak up anytime if you have a problem with anything" (frex, one of the players in my group says "no violence toards children, period"... which is fine, because none of us would have had real or implied violence towards kids ANYWAY... but still, it's a good reminder out there, that people have issues, so that we take care when presenting other things).

    Hope that clears it up a little.

  • Logos, as succintly as possible, I think:

    Flags are mechanics, components of games-as-played, that facilitate communication between players (often GM and PC players).
    Sockets are preferences of players, what they like and what they 'plug in' to.

    Flags can communicate sockets, but often provide more fine-tuned information: I may have a "character socket" while my flag is "Mysterious missing father." I want my missing father to be relevant in the game, presumably because that will allow for the characterization that I enjoy.
  • So are you looking for theory or techniques? Theory is broadly useful, but requires you take time to learn it, and you have to think about how to use it. Techniques are simpler steps you can use right away.

    If you already know you guys are playing 4E, go with the Quest suggestions above.

    If you don't know what your players are into, it might just be as easy to run a few one shots of different games and pay close attention to which players get excited over what.

    Otherwise, even with a fair amount of handholding, theory takes awhile to map to your experiences of play in order to be useful.
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