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Indie RPGs, BDSM, and Anarchy

Plume

New member
Simon Marks said:
I'm going guess here - I think it's context. It informs your decisions. It tells you that this character is stronger than that character and this task is this difficult to do. Is that right?

Is it a superstructure that gives a context?
That's a very good description of what I want. I don't mind fairly detailed chargen at all because it helps us make sure we share expectations of what characters can know and do. We just want the play tidy.
 

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
Simon Marks said:
Which is what?

What is the goal of the system? What do you use the system for?

I'm going guess here - I think it's context. It informs your decisions. It tells you that this character is stronger than that character and this task is this difficult to do. Is that right?

Is it a superstructure that gives a context?
My answer is multifold. In my group systems serves as both a vital way to abstract important events that we don't wish to focus on (such as bluffing or bribing a minor npc into performing some useful service) and to (swiftly) resolve physical actions. While it's clear that a master thief should have no trouble picking an ordinary lock (and so we don't bother to roll), it's far less obvious what would happen when the master thief is faced with a specially-made high-security lock. Such a scene can be resolved with the PC researching the specific lock, bribing someone into obtaining the key or access code, or with a die roll where the PC simply attempts to pick the lock.

In addition, system becomes even more important when dealing with the complexities of using pyschic powers or magic, since the results of using such powers in unusual situations is often non-obvious. I'd far prefer a simple die roll than a lengthy (and often unresolvable) disucssion about whether or not a particular power would affect an object in a particular fashion.

System is vital in our game and systemless play holds no interest for us, but it's an (essential) aid and not the focus of play.
 

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
Balbinus said:
It sounds promising certainly, that ties in to what I was saying about consistency I think.

It provides a reliable framework of causality within which interesting things can happen.

Well, systems I prefer anyway, obviously other systems have quite different goals. Prime Time Adventures is apparently a great game but not one that aims to provide a reliable framework of causality, that isn't what it cares about. Gurps and BRP, that is what they care about, same for Unisystem.
That's an excellent point and one I also completely agree with. A sensible, transparant, and (for me at least) simple system makes the game-world feel more real by giving it a more direct impact on play.
 

drnuncheon

Registered User
Validated User
Balbinus said:
I have played DitV, and I did find that all the stuff that interested me was taken out of my hands and decided by dice instead.
But...it's not.

The dice don't choose when to enter into a conflict. They don't choose when it's worth it to Escalate. They don't choose when it's time to Give.

You're the one deciding all of that. You're the one saying "Hey, this is important enough that I'm going to stake my character's life on it" or "You know what? If he's that set on it I'll let him have his way."

I dunno. I think that either I'm not getting what you're saying, or you're not getting Dogs, or quite possibly both.


EDIT: OK, adding more because I posted too soon:

"All of this involves rolling a metric fuckton of dice and none of it especially relates to what is happening in game, it is an exercise in bidding and wagering, a kind of dice poker game."

Well...it should relate to what is happening in game. Being able to turn, block, or take the blow is going to be a representation of how the situation is going.

J
 
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Balbinus

Repairer of Reputations
drnuncheon said:
But...it's not.

The dice don't choose when to enter into a conflict. They don't choose when it's worth it to Escalate. They don't choose when it's time to Give.

You're the one deciding all of that. You're the one saying "Hey, this is important enough that I'm going to stake my character's life on it" or "You know what? If he's that set on it I'll let him have his way."

I dunno. I think that either I'm not getting what you're saying, or you're not getting Dogs, or quite possibly both.

J
Actually, that's fair. I guess a better way to put it then would be to say that just as I really get interested I have to switch to a metagame perspective which damages immersion, and thus my fun.

To be honest, I wouldn't really care what the dice were doing, the mere fact of having to do that much metagame thinking is enough to make it unfun for me.
 

flyingmice

Avenging Aerial Rodent
Validated User
Balbinus said:
Actually, that's fair. I guess a better way to put it then would be to say that just as I really get interested I have to switch to a metagame perspective which damages immersion, and thus my fun.

To be honest, I wouldn't really care what the dice were doing, the mere fact of having to do that much metagame thinking is enough to make it unfun for me.
This is what damages my play experience all the narrative-focused games I have played. Having to yank myself out of immersion to deal with meta-game stuff. Thing is, the meta-game *is* the game in this type of game, from my experience. You can't avoid dealing with it by design.

-mice
 

drnuncheon

Registered User
Validated User
Balbinus said:
Actually, that's fair. I guess a better way to put it then would be to say that just as I really get interested I have to switch to a metagame perspective which damages immersion, and thus my fun.
Aha, that makes it a lot clearer. Dogs and similar games do require a different mindset from traditional immersion.

...actually, that might account for what Andrew Morris mentioned here: "Is there something about DitV that makes it the game that GMs play when they're not running games? Four of my five players had GM badges."

GMs are used to playing non-immersively - in a traditional RPG they are expected to act as author, director, and supporting cast. So they are by nature going to be more comfortable playing in a game where those roles are given (even in part) to the players.

J
 

TonyLB

Wanna-be Super
Players are not stupid. They know (even if they can't always articulate) when the rules are serving the players. If the rules are not serving the players, then your best sessions will be the ones where you hardly roll any dice. The rules will "get out of the way" ... a common phrase which implies that the rules were in the way in the first place. They were obstructing, rather than helping.

EDIT: Just to be clear: the above is not disagreeing with what anyone said. It's saying "Yeah, sometimes the best sessions are the ones where the rules get out of the way. That is true. But, examining that notion, I conclude ..." and then on into the rest of the post.​

To take a deliberately extreme portrayal: If you want to play a political drama like West Wing, and you use D&D rules, then your best sessions are absolutely going to involve very few rolls. The sessions that involve a lot of rolls have killing and maiming, and picking of locks and the like ... none of which help what you're trying to do in the game. If you were playing a dungeon-crawl, and wanted to kill things and take their stuff, then your best sessions would be the ones where lots of dice hit the table. Then the game system would be helping you.

If you have never experienced a game system where the rules made "just talking plus dice" more satisfying (for you) than "just talking" alone then it's easy to assume that it's impossible. You'll assume that the best a set of rules can ever hope to do, vis-a-vis conversation or socializing, is to get out of the way gracefully.

For many people, however, Dogs in the Vineyard was the first game that pointed out that "just talking plus dice" can be better than "just talking." The game system can contribute to an experience that (for some players) is more satisfying than trying the same thing without the rules. I think that's why people are making the comparisons to combat. They're trying to explain the feeling that you haven't yet had, by comparison to a feeling you (presumably) have had.

Yes, we can all describe swinging a sword at the dragon. But does it sink deep, or does it glance off the armor? If it does wound the beast, how much closer does it bring it to simply collapsing dead? For some people, figuring those things out through rules makes for a better combat experience than freeforming them.

So, in Dogs: Yes, we can all describe calling on the wisdom of the Book of Life to shepherd a strayin' soul. But does it sink deep, or does it glance off their cynicism? If it does touch the man, how much closer does it bring him to giving himself over to the Will of the King? For some people, figuring those things out through rules makes for a better conversation experience than freeforming them.
 
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jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
drnuncheon said:
GMs are used to playing non-immersively - in a traditional RPG they are expected to act as author, director, and supporting cast. So they are by nature going to be more comfortable playing in a game where those roles are given (even in part) to the players.
Actually, in our games, the GMs (myself included) attempt to immerse ourselves in important NPCs as much as possible. While this is a more difficult task than being a player, when it works, it is wonderful, and it works for us quite often. Often, the NPCs that end up appearing most frequently are those whose heads the GM can get most into.
 

Plume

New member
TonyLB said:
For some people, figuring those things out through rules makes for a better conversation experience than freeforming them.
This would be an extremely important comment if anyone had ever denied it. What some of us are concerned about is why games of evident quality and obvious innovation end up not appealing to us, either on reading or after playing, particularly when it seems like the creators are interested in a bunch of the same topics of play that we are.
 
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