[Burning Wheel] Anti GM Bias?

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Old Scratch

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Other than discussion, have there been objective experiements about it?
Objective experiments? I don't think that's likely.

But has subjective experience and actual play born this out? Yes. I think it has.

Again, I don't think this is the place to discuss it, but I invite you to start a new thread titled: "System, does it really matter?" or "Systems aren't the Problem: People are the Problem". You think this thread has exploded...

Let me just say that if we took two games about betrayal: one is Paranoia and the second is the Mountain Witch, I can pretty much assure you both games play significantly different and would result in very, very, very different problems and issues showing up at the table. But I'll drop it... I'll copy and paste this into the thread you start on this subject.
 

Old Scratch

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You say "there's an essay on it" like that makes it only slightly less true than gravity. Got anything for the GNS atheist, which doesn't predicate a system's quality on its adherence to the RPG equivalent of astrology?
How about we talk about it in the other thread when somebody creates it? Okay?

Let's try and keep this focused on Burning Wheel and how people feel about how the system shapes play. Which, is rather ironic, given the direction that the questioning has recently shifted...
 
Why do we GMs think that such practices are actually good when we do it, but bad when players do it? Is BW proposing that perhaps we should adhere to the same rules we expect of our players?
In this rather controversial question i will toss my 2 cents in.

I think many will feel the difference is INTENT.

the Gm is supposed to not have HIS CHARACTER in the decision making process, he is looking out for the players and the fun of the game, not for HIS ONE CHARACTER benefit when he decides to change up the rules.

The belief is to the reverse for the player who often will be thinking of HIS CHARACTER, or so the theory goes, and so him not following the rules is bad and thus cheating.

IMX, neither is INHERENTLY good or bad. Both are good or bad depending on the intent and the outcome.

I have cheated as a player, choosing to MISS an attack roll when my die roll was sufficient because i wanted the other player to "getthe kill". (It was his prime adversary and it worked better story wise for him to get the kill instead of me. So I tossed the die snatched it up with a grimace and a growl and said "maybe you will have better luck.")

I did hot think it was wrong or bad for me to do so, but it was clearly CHEATING as i did not follow the ruls and did not clear my "not following rules" with the gm or other players.

But they still do enjoy talking about that scene.

not saying this is common or the normal use of "cheating players" but that it does happen and IMo isn't bad.

had i done the reverse, to snatch a kill from the other player, that would be bad.

similarly if the gm decides to do this to help the player enjoy the scene (the player drops the dragon to 2 hp but the gm says "you got him, he goes down" rather than drag it out another round) it probably works out well but if he does it to thwart the player's enjoyment or does it clumsily or too overtly too often, it likely backfires.
 

Burning Luke

i burn worlds
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I can't believe I'm going to do this:

Oh look, a list of facts! Please ignore! But Christ Almighty, I do not make this shit up. I daresay, I feel like the gainsayers are being deliberately obtuse, but I let's assume the best. Here's a random sampling of stuff you might have missed in your 17, 22, 4,000 years of gaming experience:

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Dungeon Masters Guide page 110: "You [The GM] do have every right to overrule the dice at any time if there is a particular course of events that you would like to have occur.

Golly, I wonder where the meme of the controlling GM started? Gee, I just don't know. That statement seems so reasonable. The GM always acts in the group's best interest. Always! He's my superhuman perfect daddy.

Fading Suns, 1st ed. page 209, How to Gamemaster: "Feel free to change both the rules and the setting." The text then instructs GMs to kill players with a shovel if they try to get them to follow the rules: "...those players who are going to want to follow every rule to the letter. The easiest way to deal with them is with a shovel..." Page 210 has more gems like "At least try to look like you're being fair.

Right. Completely functional rules set that requires someone to hack it on the fly according to their whim. That never causes problems. No!

Call of Cthulhu, 5th Ed. page 72: "...the keeper can determine the matter according to personal taste and local custom, without other ramification. To be fair, CoC's advice is generally pretty reasonable (it's also unsupported by actual game mechanics, but that's a discussion for another thread!).

All of the games talk about fun and fairness, enjoyment and entertainment, but then they break that cycle by granting one member of the group power over all of the other members of the group. It's classic power dynamics. Once you have roles of power and powerless, even the most reasonable and compassionate people slide into abuse.

Please ignore those facts!
-L
 

obonicus

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This is like a gift:
http://forum.rpg.net/showpost.php?p=7346873&postcount=14

Right, no one has ever encountered such a thing. And there aren't people here on RPG.net posting about getting revenge for being abused. Nope.
This is what really boggles me about this thread. The whole 'I've never seen a GM abuse his power!' thing, and meanwhile, we're on RPG.net, where we have 'crappiest GM' threads that are 2 years old, active, and have about 1500 posts.
 

DanMcS

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Golly, I wonder where the meme of the controlling GM started? Gee, I just don't know. That statement seems so reasonable. The GM always acts in the group's best interest. Always! He's my superhuman perfect daddy.

All of the games talk about fun and fairness, enjoyment and entertainment, but then they break that cycle by granting one member of the group power over all of the other members of the group. It's classic power dynamics. Once you have roles of power and powerless, even the most reasonable and compassionate people slide into abuse.
I don't think anyone denies that some GMs can be dicks (though some people claim to have no personal experience with bad GMs). You seem to be claiming that all of them (who don't run BW) are, and that it's caused by the game systems they play. Further, you look like you're claiming it's impossible this would happen with your game. This seems totally unbelievable to me, either that GM dickishness is caused by game systems, or that BW GMs can't be dicks.
 
A point that probably ought to be made clear on the "it's not a system problem, it's a people problem" issue:

One of the most potentially off-putting aspects of Burning Wheel/Empires is that there's a very, very strong philosophy of play fundamentally integrated into the rules and text. If you take the BW rules out of context of the philosophy, they really don't offer much different from a trad RPG. If you take the BW philosophy and retrofit it to your existing trad game, the risk/reward systems won't be there to support the philosophy.

To me, giving play philosophy rules-like weight is addressing the people problem. It seems to show up a lot in other indie games as well: Here's how you resolve conflict, and here's what and how conflicts should be addressed.

In contrast, there's precious little direct discussion of play philosophy in most trad RPGs out there. WW gave a lot of lip service to their Storytelling philosophy, but didn't support the philosophy with their very trad system. D&D? I remember reading lots and lots about how to set up and run a D&D game in the DM's Handbook, but IIRC it's largely logistical.

So in absence of explicit, from-the-mouth-of-the-creator play philosophy, players are left to develop their own. Is it any surprise that you've got GMs who make the jump from "The GM's word is final" and other Rule 0 variations, to, well, the bad sort of patriarchy?

p.
There is another side to that, too. I don't think "System Matters" nearly as much as people usually do when that spell it with capital letters. ;) Yeah, it definitely does matter for how a game plays, but not nearly so much for the social contract stuff. And in fact, I find the whole "social contract" discussion to irrelevant for my gaming. There's a catch though.

I simply don't play with people who can't pick up social contract easily, seemingly by osmosis. If we have a bit of a problem, we stop a minute, discuss it, and move on--like in other walks of life. I'm not in the "no gaming is better than bad gaming" crowd. I'm in the the "no gaming with certain people crowd, no matter how good or bad the gaming is" crowd. If I have to put up with nonsense from Person X to play super Game Y--then I simply don't play. IMHO, this is another fundamental, not much discussed, divide of RPG players:

1. Those seeking the best gaming possible at all time and thus looking for ways to ensure that great players with some question marks in their social contract abilities are enabled to be productive, vs

2. Those seeking to best social contract abilities in the players and then looking for ways to get great gaming out of those people.

I'm saying all that to make another point related to BW. Social contract help from BW is irrelevant to me at the player level. However, even for people like me, BW being explicit about this stuff still matters at the character level. BW has some mechanical encouragement to allow a player character to be a jerk and still function properly in play. If you want to play a campaign where protagonists can be jerks to each other, it's helpful to have system in place to do that. It doesn't matter how we get to the point where we can do that. #1 crowd says have rules to encourage social contract even for people that might take it a bit personally. #2 crowd says everyone at the table is supposed to be able to bring the native ability to the table to separate out the player side from the character side or we simply will not play such a game. Either way, it's helpful to have mechanics to handle what happens to the characters socially when Character 1 backstabs Character 2 (figuratively speaking).
 
I can't believe I'm going to do this:

Oh look, a list of facts! Please ignore! But Christ Almighty, I do not make this shit up. I daresay, I feel like the gainsayers are being deliberately obtuse, but I let's assume the best. Here's a random sampling of stuff you might have missed in your 17, 22, 4,000 years of gaming experience:

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Dungeon Masters Guide page 110: "You [The GM] do have every right to overrule the dice at any time if there is a particular course of events that you would like to have occur.

Golly, I wonder where the meme of the controlling GM started? Gee, I just don't know. That statement seems so reasonable. The GM always acts in the group's best interest. Always! He's my superhuman perfect daddy.

Fading Suns, 1st ed. page 209, How to Gamemaster: "Feel free to change both the rules and the setting." The text then instructs GMs to kill players with a shovel if they try to get them to follow the rules: "...those players who are going to want to follow every rule to the letter. The easiest way to deal with them is with a shovel..." Page 210 has more gems like "At least try to look like you're being fair.

Right. Completely functional rules set that requires someone to hack it on the fly according to their whim. That never causes problems. No!

Call of Cthulhu, 5th Ed. page 72: "...the keeper can determine the matter according to personal taste and local custom, without other ramification. To be fair, CoC's advice is generally pretty reasonable (it's also unsupported by actual game mechanics, but that's a discussion for another thread!).

All of the games talk about fun and fairness, enjoyment and entertainment, but then they break that cycle by granting one member of the group power over all of the other members of the group. It's classic power dynamics. Once you have roles of power and powerless, even the most reasonable and compassionate people slide into abuse.

Please ignore those facts!
-L
You're seriously slipping into hyperbole again, Luke. These aren't facts, they're quotes taken out of context to support your position. While that's great for 'debates' on the television networks, it's not so good for the discussion here.

I'm a 'traditional' GM, and by your reasoning, by not following your system, I must inevitably abuse my players. You're applying a...liberal...interpretion of social contract and group psychology here, and it just ain't washing.

I appreciate you coming on to answer questions on Burning Wheel, but being snarky and condescending like this doesn't paint a good picture of the game at all. :(
 
All of the games talk about fun and fairness, enjoyment and entertainment, but then they break that cycle by granting one member of the group power over all of the other members of the group. It's classic power dynamics. Once you have roles of power and powerless, even the most reasonable and compassionate people slide into abuse.
This is way off base, IMO.

The rules or suggestions you cite do NOT grant the Gm power over all the other members. they define some of what he can do and likely should be expected to do.

he doesn't gain power over the other PLAYERS because he cannot make them play. They play and participate at their own discretion. So he cannot as you suggest slide into abuse and they then are powerless because if he abuses them to their detriment they can simply leave.

the Gms has as a functional necessity making the game enjoyable for his players. When he violates that their POWER comes to light, they can simply leave, and he finds himself with nothing to do, no power at all.

thats why its not the classic power dynamics thing, its all voluntary.

unless of course he has some way to actually force the players into participating no matter what he does to them, but then thats not a system issue at all.
 
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