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Gwathdring

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A member registered Nov 25, 2016

Recent community posts

Weird pokemon lore reveals that left everyone in and out of the fiction going "huh?" were definitely the star of the anime.

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P.S. That said, I'm not suggesting either an ethical or otherwise realism. I think one of my favorite things about Pokemon other than the cute little critters is the absolutely baffling world building in the show. The Officer Jenny's and the Nurse Joy's and the complete lack of rules consistency in terms of what Pokemon can and cannot communicate with humans about--in addition to providing comedic moments intended and otherwise, it kept things floating in this whimsical narrative logic perfect for the road trip sort of plot arcing. You never know what weird thing you'll encounter the next town over because nothing really makes any sense beyond the scope of each individual Thing Of The Week's internal logic.

As such when it does come to fighting, I like the genre-savvy sort of arc to battle tactics over the more game-faithful approach that looks at resistances and so forth. What seemingly unrelated narrative obstacle needs to be solved before you can dig deep enough to win that boss fight with a massive thunderbolt? It's cheesy and it's great.

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I was never particularly into the fighting, so I'm not sure if that's my advice or if that disqualifies me from offering advice in the first place. :P Not exactly because I felt bad for the cute things (though I definitely did), but even with all their cool, dangerous powers there just tended to be lots more interesting stuff to do with those powers when it wasn't just gladiator matches. A simplistic fix for this is to keep the training of pokemon for everything from public service to agriculture to warfare that shows up in various pokemon media, but back off on the sheer density of arena battles in the setting. But if you can really sell the story of cute monster MMA fighting separately from "like pokemon, but," that could work too. For me at least, it's a tough sell. I want to be friends with the squirrel turtle and go on adventures.

"It used 12 sided dice because those looked like the in-world version of Pokeballs"

This is excellent.

I'm reminded of Psi-Run which gives "first say" to the GM when the player succeeds and to the player when they fail--this changes for different aspects of the result other than success and failure, too, which seems like something PBTA-style moves could really easily leverage to shift the texture of different moves. In Psi-Run, for example, while the Goal result is as above, the Harm result gives first say to players when unharmed or minimally so, to the GM when significantly harmed, and back to the player when mortally wounded. Some of the results give first say to the other players rather than the rolling player or the GM.

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Ooh! I liked the idea of having more Insight-like numbers that cause trouble, so you're always juggling your resources against internal tension rather than against cosmic horror. Which led me to "What about Chtulu Dark but you're a Bioware protagonist."

If it's within your competency, roll your die.
If you've got just the person for the job, roll their Pulse Die.
If the plan is especially risky or complex, roll the Drama Die.

When you challenge someone's drives roll their Pulse die like an Insight check. When someone is unsure of the mission or has their trust challenged, roll Drama like an insight check. If a characters Pulse or the group's Drama die are the highest, as with Insight. When Pulse tops out, that character lays everything they have on the line for their drives--even if it pits them against the group--and then leave. When Drama kicks off, two people go at each other and at least one of them won't be staying with the team.

Ideally the protagonist is controlled by the group s a whole, but it presumably also works with no "protagonist" character or as a one-on-one game. Haven't managed to check yet.

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Not definitely, no. A cracking of underbrush announces it a near thing with the outriders, though. They call and whistle, changing patterns as they, at the very least, know you should be within reach.

no gods watch over you

These two videos started out of sync, for example at the same time:

The second video is not only important for the correct audio experience but to set proper expectations for my wrestling career.

Do you remember where? Because that also sounds rad.

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My favorite use is probably linked conditions. They probably show up in other places but I'm familiar with them from Shadows of the Sith by Fred Hicks. They're basically consequences without a stress track, only some of them run in chains. I really love the idea of creating these sorts of customizable mini-arcs as a tool for dealing with characters getting themselves into trouble. Here's an example for the Rogue archetype: 

Current (-1)
Lasting (-2)
Terminal(-4)
Exhausted


Trapped ->
Imprisoned ->
Broken: Even if you escape, they got to you, maybe even turned you. What now?
Exposed ->
Hunted (by ___)

Hurt ->Wounded ->
Maimed ->
Dying

I know I've regretted making moves because they made the conversation about my character or about the situation less interesting. In some groups, a short digression can lead to a ret-con or to a brief set of forward-revisions to get everyone back on the same page,

As for what that means, in what sense? What it means for designing the moves and the system or something else?

I'm not much of a Death of the Author sort of person, myself. Especially in the age of the Internet, the author can sometimes get into a situation where no matter how much they want to be dead with respect to their work, they are consistently revived in it and unable to escape being present while it is at the table instead of merely when it is being made. Commentary tracks, development blogs, and help threads all put massive holes in the idea that the author's intent can vanish into the ether no matter how strongly we preference play at the table from an analytical perspective.

I don't think there's anything wrong with having a platonic session. I suppose I got stuck on the implication that many games seemed to be missing a way of conveying that to the players or at least that, from the perspective that they have a platonic session somewhere in abstract space, they lack the tools to lure players sufficiently close to it. It's that aspect--the Platonic Session as a critical tool--that has me a bit lost. I certainly see why it can be a useful way to think about how to develop a good tool-set for players. I'm just also tempted to point out that shorter, more focused story games doing a more consistent and focused job of this is a feature of those games more so than a bug in other games.

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"consciously or not"

I guess this is at the heart of where I'm losing you. If despite intentionally designing a game that has a quite varied array of platonic sessions that aren't easily coalesced into one narrative focus I'm not necessarily making something that needs more narrative focus to consistently deliver the intended experience or an otherwise engaging experience.

"When you say you're building games that provide tools for players to do interesting things, the particulars of those interesting things are what make up the fundamental grounding of your platonic session (and the needed guidelines for narrative tools)."

Suppose I have my session concept. The game is then not in the concept but in how the tools I provide lure players through the messy thicket of the game's ideas and their desires and their ideas of what the game's ideas are. Players often crash out of that thicket in a whild direction, so some games try to cultivate a very specific and consistent path through it.

But (whether or not this or that designer had a Platonic Session in mind) I think it's interesting to give players instead an explosive energy and a bunch of spare parts and, if they must be mundane, a machete and see what sort of path out of the thicket they come up with and what sort of story is produced. Some game systems seem very good at bottling the sort of energy that makes that work rather than merely creating a directionless mess of themes players have to bring their own energy to.

Accordingly, I don't think it's a widespread design failing that mostly shorter, more focused storytelling games provide these path-cultivation tools in a way that fits your framework of a Platonic Session. That's less a mistake on the part of everyone else and a particular feature of those types of games! I think there's a lot to be said for games that consistently create worthwhile experiences but do not consistently create the same kinds of stories. We can still call that a platonic session, saying for example that in Game A, the platonic session is one that deals with themes B, C and D. But at that point we may as well be talking about themes, surely, rather proposing that too many games lack narrative tools.

Edit: I'm sorry, I got lost editing that when I went in for typos. I'm not sure how to revert and I'll try not to do that again but it's quite different from the post that was responded to below. Should convey the same ideas though.

I think regular check-in is an important part of running a smooth session in general--whether it's for safety or for narrative resonance or for having fun or even just to decide when to take a break or stop for the night.

I'm not expressing that because the tools are a shorthand for direct communication clearly they are a panacea, I am expressing that the abuse of the tools that was described does not look like a tool problem, it looks like a more specific problem with the behavior of the people who did those things. You can't replace caring how people feel and paying attention to that with a pithy rule system nor can you replace feedback from people who are uncomfortable--on the spot, in private, or wherever--with an external tool-suite. These things do not offload the responsibility of diligence, but neither are they supposed to.

I'm not trying to correct anyone on their own needs, but I'm wondering how useful the framework that many or most of these tools are bad because some people misuse them or because they aren't one-size fits all really is. I completely understand that these tools will not support everyone in every situation of need and I personally find the x-card in particular far less useful than other approaches. I'm not looking to dispute any of that, but I'm not seeing where this particular approach leads to.

I suppose we can launch in a slightly different direction and express which tools are best for which sorts of issues and groups, but beyond that I'm in a more optimistic version of the end of the thread--there really isn't a way to design around people engaging recklessly or harmfully, but there are ways to prepare players acting in good faith for issues they might not anticipate. I think my favorite approach is definitely games that describe several of these tools and the reasons for using them rather than dropping one or even several into place as though they're part of the system of the rules rather than part of the more nebulous social contract of sitting down to enjoy this thing together.

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I tend to hack whatever I'm preparing to run most recently if I'm not doing something more or less my own. My FitD projects all started when I was knee deep in preparing to run Blades for the first time--it's the point when I'm most comfortable with a system and what makes it tick, I very quickly learn to correct various preconceptions I had once I actually start running it, and I haven't had time to steep in things that don't work out for me longterm. Altogether it means I'm primed to think about why mechanics do what they do but I don't fixate on fixing things and can instead focus on poking at the various bits to see if I need them for what I'm doing, and if not whether I can just rip them out or if I have to bother to put something back in their place. If a project doesn't build enough momentum or identity by the time I become more familiar with the ins, outs, pros and cons of running a system, the hack is probably dead unless I port it to my new darling or to something less directly cribbed from existing work--I just can't separate the  game I'm trying to make from the (original source) game I've been playing at that point.

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I can certainly get behind the idea of narrative guidance, but the less focused an experience you're trying to create, the more counter-productive this can be. I'm skeptical that every game does have a platonic session. Or rather, that every game is well understood through the lens of having a platonic session, or better designed by a designer who uses that framework. There's more than one way to guide players, and I think a lot of games that don't draw the shape of a platonic session or an otherwise refined narrative guideline for players do instead draw a very detailed picture of how to use the mechanics as narrative tools on a scene-by-scene and session-by-session level.

A game of Apocalypse World or Spire probably isn't a good candidate for the platonic session lens; these are games that wrap narrative into mechanical minutiae and crowbar flavor into crevices of the system and the voice of the text and then hand players the power to obliterate anything resembling a consistent narrative structure with each new ability selected in character creation--Spire much more so than Apocalypse World, but they're both in that general direction. Games like these often have quite a bit of text dedicated to helping players use those chaotic systems effectively not by steering the session into a particular shape, but by steering the participants in the conversation into a particular frame of mind. This is by no means incompatible with what you seem to be after, I'm just not sure it's quite the same thing, either, and it doesn't seem to be an issue of missing material to me.

I can't speak to anyone else's creative process, but both as a GM and a designer, I find it very helpful to proceed with a looser sense of purpose in mind. I make the game I want to make that does what I want it to do, but when I get down to the more difficult work of testing and refining I'm not worried about a platonic session, I'm worried about providing others tools that do interesting things. I think most games lack clearer narrative guidance not just because some of them need more but because a lot of them don't. If the goal is for players to tell a very particular story, naturally it makes sense to guide players along that path very strongly. But that just isn't the goal of many, many games.

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"The major issue i have with both of these tools is that the responsibility is on the person who is uncomfortable with the subject matter to speak out."

I guess my issue here is that I don't understand the alternative. Whether you use the X-Card or the "Be excellent to each other" boilerplate or any standard politeness metric or what-have-you, there isn't a way to access what people are uncomfortable with that isn't communication. You can ask people what they're comfortable with outright, you can encourage them to speak up if there's an issue that you're not aware of, you can pay attention  and check in periodically even if the explicit tool or tools in use haven't been engaged, and so on. Some of these "back to basics" sorts of maneuvers are just less formalized versions of popular safety tools for hopefully obvious reasons. They're mostly just nice efficient packages for the same sorts of rules that keep our friends safe in any less formal conversation.

But nothing, formalized tool or not, functions when the person who is uncomfortable does not speak out. The rest of the table can use all sorts of tools (x-card, "back to basics", whatever) to try and encourage that and can hunt around for whatever best fits the group, but these are all just frameworks for communication. You can't skip the communication part and even "back to basics" doesn't skip it. You're always going to be left with guessing what someone might be comfortable with until room is created for them to speak up and they take advantage of that.

I get why it sounds right to say that it shouldn't be your responsibility to compel everyone to treat you with respect and dignity. I don't get why it sounds right to expect other people to know what treating you with respect and dignity looks like in minute detail without you stepping into that conversation. There will never be a substitute for communicating your needs and preferences. If you can't trust the people at your table to respect that or hear that, there's a problem. Maybe there's a problem with those people or with the community that those people were drawn from or with the kinds of things that particular game is encouraging people at the table to do, and so on and so forth. But I would echo the earlier sentiment that if people are coming to the table and unilaterally deciding to push up close to people's boundaries ... the biggest problem isn't naming those boundaries but those people.  I can see why naming those boundaries might make it worse--there's always going to be a bit of the "don't think of the white elephant" problem even in good faith, but that is miles away from playing chicken with the comfort of other people at the table as you describe players doing in that thread.

That's not a broken safety tool. That's an asshole, and there isn't a safe way to play with people who are not interested in your comfort.