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MoonHunter Sayeth: 20180420


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Metaphors in Play
or Jane! How do I use these crazy things!

First it was the classic post "Choose your Metaphor". Then there was the follow up "Dialing it in - Metaphor style". Now I have a third. This is getting to be "a topic". This piece deals more with the fun and "practical" how of things.

To summarize to this point- The metaphor is a way to think of the game, its story, and story structure. Normally a GM uses the metaphor to help plan plot lines and the pacing of plot points and the sessions. Since most gamers are big consumers of stories in various media, they have all have an intuitive feel for when things should happen in a given media. A GM can use this tool to make their game story more affective.

It really does work well. It is something everyone should do. But, then there are some spin offs.

A Comment from Choose your Metaphor to get this rolling...
Veracusse;bt550 said:
Thanks for posting a link to this. I must have missed this in your archives, but I really enjoyed reading it. I'd really like to know how you do commercial breaks, sponsors, etc. with you and your players.
Lets hit these in an order that makes sense in use.

Commercial Break. (TV Show or Movie on TV)
It started as a joke. It became an institution. We do commercial breaks when there is a break in the gaming action. Usually we use them to get snacks, go to the bathroom, etc. However, some of us just hang out. (Sometimes we wait for when they get back to begin.) So we have fun with the commercials that would be run during our "show" and say who our sponsors are and if there are any "special linked commercials".

"Hah! My character's actor is a heart throb, so my Mountain Dew commercial will have lots of hot babes... including Ms. Icy Hot who is ignoring me in game".

"Hah, you are the old man. You get the medicare prescription commercial."

"Well my actor has a movie deal and this tv show is beneath them." Yes, it is similar to Twilight. You have made millions, have lots of fans, and still do not have the love of the critics.

Think about it: The characters now have "actors". They also have other currencies directing the game (my career, my popularity, my other projects).

We do commercials and these comments for the comedy factor (for the most part). Everyone likes throwing one or two out of these things a night/ break. The person who does the best job one gets a drama point or some trivial eps.

This also started as a comedic element of gaming we did for fun. See how these go.

"Hey, we are a CW show... where are all our Hot Babes and Hot young guys?" ("Who knew Hot Babes and Guys of an ethnically diverse and balanced cast was going to be a Bit?".)

Or something like "Can we be an MTV series where we can have more "intimate moments on screen?" or, "sorry.. we are an ABC family show, so we are very G rated, maybe PG," or, "I wanna be on Showtime or HBO! More blood, violence and sex... and a bigger budget too!" Okay, I will see what I can do.

These are spin offs of the main metaphor. In some ways they are metaphor modifiers, framing things in terms of the model media. Some examples you can easily see are: "what would we see on this network's show?", "what is our movie's rating?", and "What is our budget like - Old Dr Who or New Dr Who?" You can see the advantages of using the metaphors, as it keep how we should be playing set in the player's minds (and the GM's too.)

We then have the Gold Measurement Standard:
"Would this action happen in a (produced product of your metaphor)?", is a check that both GMs and Players can use. It will help keep the feel of the chronicle consistent.
There is more on this at the bottom of the first article. After your read this piece, come back and think about The Gold Measurement.

For those other seemingly neglected media metaphors
Comic Books and Novels and video games could have these sorts of things. Comic Companies are the equivalent of the networks. You can set the it in one of the ages (Gold, Silver, Bronze, Iron, etc). For Books, publishers could be used; but most players don't know the difference between them to make it useful. Commercials have been attempted in these formats We were playing a comic format supers game and someone jumped in during a quick break and did a whole little story about how his super character saved the day using Happiness Fruit Pies. We all laughed so hard, he won points and spare points from other players. Now some players have decided that "their novel" is written by a famous author. I have had to modify chronicles because the players decided they wanted to be written by Mercedes Lackey or Neal Stephenson or GRR Martin. (The author choice determines the quality/ quantity of description, some plot choices, and a voice/ style of play.) Now I ask that question up front when we are getting bits for the chronicle. This works with comic writers as well (as you can use the example of a series they wrote as an example... such as Cockrum and Byrne X-Men Run.)

Now to things not asked about in the question...

These are all related to thinking about the metaphor and extending it... then spinning off new ideas.

Chronicle Name
It is The Name of Your Show (series, book, or movie). It can have a base name and the episode/ movie number. (Quest for the Grail 3, The Green Knight Returns!) I can not stress the importance of "naming the chronicle" enough. (Even naming the arc or episode is a good idea.). It is a great writing tool, that is also a great gaming tool. It acts as a controlling idea for the chronicle. It gives the players (and the GM) a convenient handle on the chronicle. It gives the group a way to think about the chronicle. It helps the group determine what is important. It shows what style the game will have. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. It is important. It will make things better. Do it.

Opening Credits
One thing, when I am playing a TV show or movie metaphor chronicle, is playing The Intro Music. It is our cue to pay attention the game is starting. Sometimes we will even play out bits for the intro as well. Players will sometimes suggest scenes or images to capture the feel of the chronicle. (We also play the theme music softly during tactical times.)

Players will often cast "actors" as the person playing their character. This gives them nice visuals/ photos of the character and a feel for their personality and the personality of characters they play.

Some players make their own actors, having them "play" various characters in various chronicles. This is a good mental tool for players and GMs, making it easier to think about and play a given character (protagonist or non-protagonist, major or minor). I think I will be discussing this in the future.

Previously on...
Say a few bullet points about some past actions/ scenes in the chronicle that will have relevance to this session (or just something you want to keep fresh in the player's mind).

Inset action, drama, and commercial breaks between these two bold points.

At the End
End Credits could be run, just like opening credits. It is the sign off and playing of the end credits music. I have tried to implement this on a regular basis, but it seems to get lost in the wrap up, packing up, and final shuffling of stuff.

One part of the end credits does seem to be implemented all the time.

Bloopers: Ever watch an older Jackie Chan movie? Remember those bits at the end? Since most chronicles are "action shows", they can have an easy to do "blooper reel" at the end of each episode (if we have time.) The players think about their "action scenes" for the episode and think about how they could of gone terribly wrong in a really funny way. One of my players kept doing I slide down the banister, the hood of the car, or the shiny floor... so he constantly was sliding into the nuts or falling off what he was sliding on or spinning out of control.. If we have someone do a pretty amusing fumble, usually they submit that. It gets to be pretty fun. This one tends to be "the one we really compete about". Everyone throws one or two into the reel and we vote on which one was the best. The winner get two drama points and some more XP for the next session or if there is two that are close, they split the prize.

Marvel: My player's have not wanted "Marvel Moments" after the credits of a short movie chronicle, but I am sure it is just a matter of time. I am going to plan for it when I have that opportunity again.

--- -0- ---
These are all the basic spinoffs off the metaphor. They are new ways to "frame the discussion" about the chronicle. They give us a new language to talk about the chronicles. In addition, it gives us new ideas... extensions of the metaphor. Some of these ideas help us have more fun through our games... simply by thinking of them in a different ways.

--- -0- ---
There are still surprises
The metaphor for the chronicle does shape how we think of things; sometimes in unexpected way. Here are some examples:

This one caught me off guard. We were running a Kung Fu based TV show and a player said, "We need to have a Christmas episode or a very special episode or given the date a tie in to the superbowl" How am I going to combine football and a kung fu tv show? . . . . Okay, here is the deal. You get the ninja mooks to face you off with you in the park and I will make sure there is a football there. Then we compete for the best scene of KUNG FU FOOTBALL. (We ended up "playing football" with a mystic artifact as the ball.... oy the things we do for art.) It was a bit silly, but the players loved it.

Another unexpected way was someone invoking the audience. After a specifically "bad" sessions where things happened, one player yelled, "The Fans love me! I can't die!" How many drama points do you have?" "Seven!" Oy, I've never worked for so little. Except once, and that was a very noble cause..... (Okay, even GM's do movie quotes while gaming.) Okay, maybe in an episode or three we can write your character back in. Next week, you are running the Ninjas for me anyways..

You can work with the players to follow the metaphor examples, to a degree your group feels comfortable with. If you want to see how far this can go, might I suggest Hong Kong Action Theatre! either edition. That game has actual mechanics for this sort of shenanigans.

One more thing Jackie. Magic works for GMs too.
Not having a good bit for a commercial break and again not having a good thing for the blooper real, I used my time to "advertise the next chronicle". (Now I do it all the time.) I use the commercial break, or lead ins (start the action/ lead in then commercial break and entry credits) or post scenes (half screen commercial with half screen rolling credits) to "run the commercial for an upcoming series, book, or movie". This is The Chronicle Copy or some similar written bit formatted as a commercial. The players have appreciated the effort I take in doing this. The players are cued to pay attention to things during game, so they pay more attention to those "commercial bits" than they do any hand out or description before game.

--- -0- ---
There is a lot of fun to be had with the metaphor and spinoffs. Players can be engaged in activities related to the metaphor. They can work with the metaphor to make the game more interesting to them.

There is a lot to think about here. There is a lot that you can be comfortable with and much that a group might not be comfortable.

This does give you a lot to think about, especially if you use the Gold Measurement for the chronicle, the metaphor, and the spinoffs (oh so many spin offs).

This is taking the chronicle metaphor and modifiers to the next level.

Do you want to level up your game?
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