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[Epiphany?] Procedural vs. content-oriented games

manwhat

Thoroughly mediocre GM.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
But I see how Masquerade has been coming back strong
I mean... if you consider "White Wolf once again no longer exists as a separate entity because of the numerous scandals caused by the new line runners" strong, I guess...
 

downer

Fairy Tale King
Validated User
I've never encountered anyone like this - were they novice gamers?
Sort of. They started gaming in complete isolation. One out of a circle of friends got the AD&D books and they puzzled together a game from that. Nobody to teach them how to play, just a bunch of good friends and a weird, but delightful new activity. It was a kind of serendipitous moment for them and my wife, who was among them, still likes to remember those days. Then I ran a bunch of games for them, as an experienced GM, who had already run a lot of different systems for a lot of different people, and the results were markedly mixed, more so than I was used to. So I tried to pinpoint our differences, so I could run a better game for them, but they always blocked any such attempt, like it would "break the spell". Part of it is, I suppose, that their early games weren't all that good once you remove the halo of that "one perfect summer" that surrounded them. The campaigns all fizzled out after a few sessions and, from hearing the tales, the GMs weren't terribly inspired to begin with. That's a bit of a special situation, but it makes them into the most obvious case of "don't talk about the game, just do it" I've met.
I ran a game for another group at the same time that also didn't appreciate the way I handled things, but we had some long and fruitful discussions of playstyle (they were interested in an antangonistic "beat the scenario" type of game, which I had no idea how to run) before we decided to go our separate ways. They were otherwise in a similar situation - grew up together, discovered gaming together - but they were at least willing to consider what made their games fun and mine not.
 

Valmond

Registered User
Validated User
I mean... if you consider "White Wolf once again no longer exists as a separate entity because of the numerous scandals caused by the new line runners" strong, I guess...
White Wolf itself, sure, but when you consider Requiem 1E's supplements are plenty and came out fast and that Chronicles of Darkness (2E) is having a really difficult time getting translated (Requiem, the biggest game had to resort to a kickstarted-like in France, twice because it failed the first time because of poor communication), that supplements are coming out very... slowly... and that pretty much any discussion about Vampire I see, outside of the Onyx Path forums dedicated to 2E, has been about Masquerade pretty much since the time 20th anniversary came out... Yeah, I'm not seeing 2E holding up very well (which saddens me as I like it better). And sure, there have been scandals, but now the consensus seems to be "Great, Onyx Path is getting Masquerade, Masquerade will be not stupid again !", not "Hey remember Requiem, which didn't have those problems and is a perfectly good game ? Why not play that ?".
 

Ilya

No creativity for titles
Validated User
Sort of. They started gaming in complete isolation. One out of a circle of friends got the AD&D books and they puzzled together a game from that. Nobody to teach them how to play, just a bunch of good friends and a weird, but delightful new activity. It was a kind of serendipitous moment for them and my wife, who was among them, still likes to remember those days. Then I ran a bunch of games for them, as an experienced GM, who had already run a lot of different systems for a lot of different people, and the results were markedly mixed, more so than I was used to. So I tried to pinpoint our differences, so I could run a better game for them, but they always blocked any such attempt, like it would "break the spell". Part of it is, I suppose, that their early games weren't all that good once you remove the halo of that "one perfect summer" that surrounded them. The campaigns all fizzled out after a few sessions and, from hearing the tales, the GMs weren't terribly inspired to begin with. That's a bit of a special situation, but it makes them into the most obvious case of "don't talk about the game, just do it" I've met.
I ran a game for another group at the same time that also didn't appreciate the way I handled things, but we had some long and fruitful discussions of playstyle (they were interested in an antangonistic "beat the scenario" type of game, which I had no idea how to run) before we decided to go our separate ways. They were otherwise in a similar situation - grew up together, discovered gaming together - but they were at least willing to consider what made their games fun and mine not.
I'm just speculating here, but maybe they blocked the attempts to discuss not necessarily because it would "break the spell", but because they didn't want someone dictating how they were supposed to play—not after they went all the trouble to learn it by themselves, with their friends, in a way that actually worked to some degree (or so they believed)? Learning the game was an experience they all shared, something important to them. Discussing the outcome of that experience, that it wasn't the "better" way to play, would imply they reached a "worse" way instead.

Not saying you tried to dictate anything at all. That's just how they could have perceived the attempts to discuss rules and playstyle. Some people can be fiercely protective of their playstyles, framing any discussions as an attack on them. "If it's right then it shouldn't be up for debate, if it's being questioned in any manner at all, then you're saying I'm doing it wrong." People won't always say it out loud, but this is a strong motivator behind many "let's not discuss it" situations.

To add insult to the injury, since they were long time friends, they'd perceive you as an outsider. There are things that they could be willing to discuss among themselves, but that they wouldn't take well when coming from an "outsider".

My friends circle learned to play by themselves too. The games had quirks because of it. We never played the system scenarios, it was always some original setting the GM cooked up, with a couple of homebrew rules to accommodate it. Investment by the GM part wasn't an issue, they were always invested, but I think they only managed to finish one campaign, years before I met them, when everyone had more time to play. We usually ran into either schedule conflicts, that slowed down the game to the point everyone lost the interest in it, or disruptive playing: when a player does something stupid just for the lulz, wrecking the game in process. The GM was invested in the game, and having this sort of thing happening must have not gone down well with them.

They had no issues with discussing the mechanics behind a game, it was more of a general communication issue. You don't want to criticize your childhood friends too hard, you know? They'd rather let a campaign fizzle than create a serious wrinkle in the friendship.
 

downer

Fairy Tale King
Validated User
Not saying you tried to dictate anything at all. That's just how they could have perceived the attempts to discuss rules and playstyle. Some people can be fiercely protective of their playstyles, framing any discussions as an attack on them. "If it's right then it shouldn't be up for debate, if it's being questioned in any manner at all, then you're saying I'm doing it wrong." People won't always say it out loud, but this is a strong motivator behind many "let's not discuss it" situations.
The amusing thing is that we never even reached the discussion stage. It was impossible just to get them to say out loud what they wanted out of a game. I ran a game for them and noticed that they were unhappy with it. So I asked them what was wrong and if I should do anything differently. Just what I think a considerate GM should do when running a game that leaves a lot of options in their hands (3e D&D in this case). But it all ended with evasive responses at best. In the end, we quit the game and went on to playing board games. It's not that we don't get along, we've become good friends. But when it comes to RPGs, there's just no talking to them. Or rather, you can do a lot of lofty discussion of the topic as long as they don't have to say how they feel about. We freely discussed the respective merits of AD&D and 3e, for example. It's a bit weird.
 
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