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Tell me of awesome moments and how we can get them.

TonyLB

Wanna-be Super
damion4242 said:
As anyone ever specificly tried to replicate cool and had it work?.
Yes.

Figure out the palpable features of "awesome" to you. Example: To me, one mode of awesome is when a player is willing to take a moral stand without having demonized all other view-points ... when they're willing to say something that someone could reasonably disagree with, and stand by it.

Make a game that objectively rewards that palpable action. Dogs in the Vineyard creates a situation where any moral judgment is going to be questionable ... and then massively rewards players who are willing to make a moral judgment even so.

Play that game often enough that your group understands the value of the reward, and starts thinking about how to get it. First-time Dogs players often try to "solve" the town. I did my first time. When they finally understand that the town isn't meant to provide them with easy answers, and they aren't meant to seek them, then the awesome begins.

Sit back and enjoy the awesome.


Do you wonder why some people are serious (even fanatical) evangelists for their favorite Indie Games? To my mind, the reliable results of the sequence above provides the explanation.

If you play Dogs in the Vineyard you will get awesome-cool moments of players making real, human, moral judgments ... every single time. If you play PTA you will get awesome-cool moments of players riffing off each other's ideas and making something greater than the sum of its parts ... every single time. And so on, and so on. That's the kind of mojo that people want to share, even (especially!) with folks who don't believe in such mojo.

To the people who say things like "You can't plan for awesome," or "Awesome just comes when you're doing other things," I say "Your experience is not universal. Just like some baseball players succeed at radically improving how often they hit a home-run, some roleplayers succeed at radically improving how frequently they have awesome moments. If you check out what they're doing, maybe it will work for you ... or maybe not."
 

wgreen

Retired User
BlakeT said:
A serious thought ... One way to ensure that you don't get moments like you describe/want is to allow too much out of game chatter to get in the way of a a well told story. Nothing kills momentum in a scene more than Johhny turning to the player on his right and asking how XXX went yesterday, and then ask the guy to this left about some TV show he missed.
You know what the number one cause of this kind of behavior is, in my experience? Player boredom. If this starts happening, make something fun and interesting happen. It'll shut 'em up but good!

-Will
 

wgreen

Retired User
TonyLB said:
Figure out the palpable features of "awesome" to you. Example: To me, one mode of awesome is when a player is willing to take a moral stand without having demonized all other view-points ... when they're willing to say something that someone could reasonably disagree with, and stand by it.

Make a game that objectively rewards that palpable action. Dogs in the Vineyard creates a situation where any moral judgment is going to be questionable ... and then massively rewards players who are willing to make a moral judgment even so.

Play that game often enough that your group understands the value of the reward, and starts thinking about how to get it. First-time Dogs players often try to "solve" the town. I did my first time. When they finally understand that the town isn't meant to provide them with easy answers, and they aren't meant to seek them, then the awesome begins.

Sit back and enjoy the awesome.
Corollary: for games like D&D, Iron Heroes, and the like, awesome is the seeking out and completion of kewl, fun encounters. Agree/disagree?

Further: what are good ways for players of such games to seek out (or, in other words, collaboratively create) such encounters during play?

-Will
 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
TonyLB said:
To the people who say things like "You can't plan for awesome," or "Awesome just comes when you're doing other things," I say "Your experience is not universal. Just like some baseball players succeed at radically improving how often they hit a home-run, some roleplayers succeed at radically improving how frequently they have awesome moments. If you check out what they're doing, maybe it will work for you ... or maybe not."
Funny that you should say a baseball metaphor concerning teh awesome.

Let's say that home runs are those moments where the group just leaves the session floored, in a little shock, moved, changed, in awe of what went down at the table. I'm not going to even pretend that this happens every time I sit down to game with my buddies. But it does happen every so often and when it does it is nice. You go home from these and someone asks, "How was the game, dear?" and you struggle for words to communicate the awesome nature of what went down between friends at the table that night.

If you weren't friends before a home run, you are damned well closer to being so after it. It is that kind of session.

And base hits are the solid sessions where you go home and someone asks, "How was the game, dear?" and you say, "It was really fun," and you smile and relate a cool thing.

Playing games that compliment my play style and goals haven't necessarily increased my home runs but they have greatly increased my base hits and the players and I don't strike out anymore, we don't leave games where nothing happened.

Hope that made some sort of sense and didn't de-rail the thread too horridly.
 

AusJeb

Dreaming One
Validated User
Kilgs said:
-I printed up an Excel sheet with all NPC Vampires, Notable Human NPC's, factions, gangs etc... then I populated the information that every character would have gathered. So each of them had different pieces of information, some it conflicted, some of it was just plain wrong. That gave them the background that they needed to "insert" themselves into the game. The "Social" expert was arguing about whether or not the Toreadors actually would associate with the Anarchs and so on.
Excellent story. So, did you use the spreadsheet to keep track of who knew what or did you give it out to the players?

My experience:

1. About one of them. In a Werewolf game I ran, we had a session filled with action, atmosphere, and tension. The PCs were crossing the Baltic at night on a ferry from Sweden to Russia. Some nasty spirits were pursuing them, and they played a cat and mouse game, in and out of the Umbra.

2. Why it rocked. It was one of those nights when things came together:

- I was getting a handle on the setting and did a great job setting the atmosphere on the ferry. When the PCs jumped into the Umbra they found themselves on a skeletal framework sliding over the moon-lit sea with spider spirits scurrying over the framework after them.

- It was a confined space. The PCs could go anywhere on the ferry, but not leave the ferry. They had to figure out how to survive until the ferry docked.

- The players were engaged. We had been playing for several weeks, and everyone was comfortable with the game and their characters. They had a clear idea of where the game was going. It helped that there were only two players that session.

3. The hard part - how you think we might be able to get the same cool stuff. Asking these questions is a good start. The other key bit is to focus on the narrative and try to keep the mechanics in the background as much as possible. I think that this session benefited from the minimal amount of time devoted to combat. It is also important to do your prep work on the setting so that you know your NPCs, and so that you can improvise when needed.

As others have suggested, listening to your players is always good. Listening wasn't quite as important to this experience, but it definitely had played a role in establishing their characters. It is important to listen to see what your players are interested in, both before the game begins and what they respond to in the game.

In one fantasy game, I had a player who contributed two great bits to the game. The first occured when they discovered people from their clan that were working with the Aegyptian invaders. A throw-away comment from me turned into a running blood feud with NPCs that I didn't even have stats for. Later, in an otherwise unremarkable encounter with a patrol, the player pointed to a minature and said, "He's a Myrmidon." The NPC didn't have a name and wasn't intended to be exceptional, but he made a series of exceptional rolls (and the PCs flubbed rolls against him). After that encounter, the NPC had a name, The Myrmidon, and he became a recurring villain (with upgraded stats). It is important to listen and recognize when a player gives you gifts like these.
 
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committed hero

nude lamia mech
Validated User
Ars Magica, our covenant was in the throes of an all out attack by another covenant that had been infested by demons. One particular demon had seduced several grogs, and was apparently after a maiden that had fallen in with thr group. After a series of events in which our magical and holy protections frittered away, the hammer fell. A running battle lasted for several hours of play, and in the end several beloved characters lay still. During the climactic portion of this battle, the demon's last gasp was an offer to heal the dying maid in exchange for the soul of her newborn daughter. We all new what the answer would be, and what would happen when she spoke it, but hearing it play out gave us chills.

So, an emotional connection to the game. It doesn't necessarily have to be exploited in a horror-type situation, but it makes players invest something in the play.
 

Jade Bells Ringing

have dice, will travel
RPGnet Member
Validated User
well, basically, I was runing 1st edition AD&D and the PCs were on there way somewhere and stopped ofr the night in a small town. I no longer remember what the players did to incite the bar room brawl, but that fight is still mentioned with fondess 20 years later for little things like the priest who was chucked out a window for pulling a wooden mallet in a fistfight.

You can try what you want, but it is the players that make the awesome. Some have it, some don't, and some rise to the occaision...occaisionally.
 

Ghost_rider

Flaming head of DOOM!
Validated User
My experience:

1. About one of them. Our Shadowrun Team had been sent into the sewers to clear out a ghoul lair. When we arrive, no one is home, but we hear noises coming from an offshooting tunnel. My character moves to the tunnel and can see a horde of ghouls running towards them, screaming unitelligibley. He drops to one knee, shouts for backup, and starts firing his assault rifle. The other team members join in, inluding the mage, who summons a water elemental, and gives it the instruction "Protect me, destroy all the ghouls". As he says this, the ghouls become closer to discern speach, which are, in fact, outrage at us invading our home and pleas for mercy. We immediately cease fire, except for the elemental, who proceeds to tear a swath through them. We turn to the mage to tell him to stand down, but he stands there grinning, as the elemental kills them one by one. Finally, it finishes by killing a 6 month old baby by exploding from inside with it's engulf attack. The GM gives graphic description of it, and we are helpless to stop it because even if we attack the mage, the elemental will attack US!

2. Why it rocked. I, and not just my character, felt genuinely angry and sickend by the event. We were still talking about how horrific it was in the bar after the session, both the slaughter, our own inabilty to stop it, and the fact that the mage dismissed it with a simple shrug and the words "they're just ghouls, fuck 'em."


3. The hard part - how you think we might be able to get the same cool stuff.
Find out what makes your players tick. Give vivid discriptions. make them get emotionalyy involed and 'awesome' will follow.
 

kinnygraham

Gaunt Avenger
Validated User
I love these threads.

I started one like this a coupla years back (on which Craig shared his amazing Star Wars story as well) so I'm going to use my story from there:

The game is MERP. One GM and just two players are present (normally, there were five players). Our two characters are brothers - minor elven nobility exploring the ruins of an elf city in Eregion - not too far removed from the gates of Moria. One of the characters has a 'minor' or 'lesser' elven ring - probably made as an early 'experiment' in the craft - a forerunner if you will of the Three that were to follow. We have in our possession a map - obtained in an obscure and dusty corner of Rivendell - which suggests that another such ring can be found in these very ruins. We are exploring a grand, if now dilapidated structure - probably the dwelling of a great lord. Time is of the essence - because we know that our journey has been tracked by agents of the Enemy.....

We enter by a window, climbing down to the floor below. We encounter a room with some steps leading down to a circular floor and as we step into this circle....The lights dim and tongues of fire can be seen around the circumference - elvish script to be sure, but the speech is that of Mordor. A faint guttural voice can be heard, both everywhere and nowhere - chanting the foul Black Speech..'Ash nazg gimbatul...etc'. I glance at my companion and not that the stone on the minor elven ring that he is wearing is glowing brightly....the circlular floor on which we stand begins to descend smoothly into the depths .....and it is at this point that my own knowledge of Tolkien crystallises and that I realise where we are....we are in the the house of Anatar - the name which Sauron took when he assumed a fair form to deceive Elves, Dwarves and Men before betraying them with his Rings of Power - and this may well be where He first designed the lesser and then the greater rings . As I blurt this information out to my companion - who is only seconds behind me in this realisation, we are rather chillingly informed by the GM that we hear the singular, unforgettable and blood-curdling howl of a Ring-wraith out in the ruined city ....as we descend deeper and deeper into the bowls of the earth....

What a moment eh ? The hairs were standing on my arms by this point... Having read Tolkien all of those years this was one of several moments where I felt that the story we were creating matched anything in the books. THIS was why I played rpgs.....

Why did it work ? A combination of lots of factors.

The 'atmosphere' was right. Very little OOC chat - meant good focus on what was happening. I'm all for the argument that gaming is a social thing like any other hobbies - and that general chit chat is to be expected. But im my experience the best gaming comes when that general chit chat is minimal or non-existent.

A GM with good descriptive skills and a good sense of timing.

Play was also enhanced by simple but effective props - 'authentic' maps and such like............

A common passion for the 'game world' (ie Middle Earth) meant that this was one of those happy moments where some arguably OOC knowledge actually enhanced the game (although it could be that our characters were familar with the Ring history...can't remember now)....

Those are my suggestions/explanations.......
 
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