Sneaking Story Game stuff in through the back door.

I feel I've generally had a good influence on my traditionalist group as a champion of smaller games, or games falling outside of the typical D&D, Exalted, Vampire, M&M quadfecta that typifies the general pattern of the group's play.

So far the only real Yes, And successes I've had for making new introductions has been Fiasco (although public opinion wanes without new, compelling playsets) and Dungeon World (although a version removed somewhat from its original purpose and design). Otherwise my legacy as the "the Indie RPG guy" has been in inaugurating a tradition of lifting little design elements from Story Games wholecloth and depositing them where possible in "the classics" just to give some meat to the world's characters and their stories.

For example, before my insidious influence no two PCs would have thought to establish how they knew each other before the adventure. These days the playgroup is super happy with announcing their prior relationship to the person to their left. Basic world building stuff, right?

You can see my frustration. They enjoy Story Games when they happen, but they won't initiate. It's got smoother with time, but busy graduate lives have reduced my ability to better my fellows and I'm desperately casting around for potent design nostrums I can drop on my less-than-receptive group in my flyby visits.

What little tools do you have in your collective pockets to boost basic elements like Character, Narrative, Theme or Mood?





---
Postscript. Yeah, sure, in a perfect world I'd have a frank and meaningful discussion with my group about what they want from play. Sometimes these conversations just aren't comfortable or willingly entered into by all parties. Primetime Adventures was so divisive that a second season is unlikely to ever get off the ground, Last Train Out of Warsaw crumbled mid-game and had to be stopped, loosing me much credibility, and that Polaris even exists is a running joke at my expense. That said, I love these people and I want to play with them. They like what I do to their games, they just can't swallow big pills.

Comments

  • edited July 2015
    I've found a couple of things that slot into my D&D game:
    • The "ok, but HOW are you doing it" from AW, DW and "Old School Primer" way of resolving skills. The phrase I usually use is "what are you doing exactly?"
    • The petitioner/granter structure from Robin Laws
    • The "diegetic initiative" from DW

    We also recently decided to add strong character relationships a la DramaSystem to our D&D game, and maybe scene framing also.

    I think D&D works really well without any explicit scene framing though so I don't mind either way.
  • You can see my frustration. They enjoy Story Games when they happen, but they won't initiate.
    I feel your pain :) Have had similar experiences, although I'm sure that each established group has its own preferences and dynamics.

    Would it be fair to say that this is about how a group's own way of playing RPGs meshes with games that ask for their own procedures to be followed?

  • Would you be awesome and talk me through how these tools work for you and why they're useful?

    Curiously, the "but how?" skill resolution thing has never been absent from the table. Traditionalists they may be, but lacking the desire to own and colour their character's actions they are not.
  • • "How are you doing it" works because it helps me answer what happens. If they're just "We be searcha for the magic doors roll search bam seventeen!!!" I'm at a loss as to what happens. But if they're like OK, we tap the walls I can be like "They sound solid".
    • Petitioner/granter helps me keep dialogue scenes sharp and clear. Instead of searching for words I know what to say.
    • DW's initiative system make it more seamless between hitting the orcs and interacting with the milieu like climbing trees. "Hitting the orcs" is an action just like "Climbing the trees" is an action, there's no "initiative roll".
  • edited July 2015
    As I think you know, the DayTrippers GameMasters Guide includes a lot of my GM philosophy along with the system. In that book I deliberately fused "Trad" and "Modern" techniques with elements lifted from the Storygame toolbox to create a hybrid sketchily-prepped experience with a strong narrative arc. Bits of DayTrippers that I would suggest as answers to your question...

    - Shared Action Resolution (Bipartite resolution in which Players narrate positive results and the GM narrates negative ones)
    - Progressive Character Generation (char points may be spent during early adventures)
    - LifeShaping Events (things that drive the character, narrative hooks on PC sheet)
    - LifeShaping Dice (if a LifeShaper can be tied to a move, Player gets an extra die)
    - Character Development Scenes (once per session each Player may call for one. If the scene gives the GM a problem/hook, PC gets 1XP. If the scene provides a creative solution to a current problem, PC gets 1 XP. May include LifeShapers.)

    The above techniques could all (in theory) be lifted out, tweaked slightly, and used in any system or setting. In addition, if you actually run a game of DayTrippers, there are environment types in the game which are designed to yield a large amount of chaotic material for Players to project on, and for that material to be incorporated back into the fiction in meaningful ways.

    - Subjective Slips to Dream Worlds are one example, in which the laws of physics, logic and the line between objective and subjective may be suspended. Characters may learn the skill of Lucid Dreaming and literally take over for the GM momentarily.

    - The Multiversal Chao - a swirling non-reality comprised of bits of other realities - is a psychological bath of collaborative fiction that arises spontaneously based on both random and "automatic" cues from both Players and GM. It's storygamey chaos on a stick, surrealistic collaboration, with everyone rolling to maintain their sanity every frame. Fun times.

  • What's petitioner/granter?

    Also, what's:
    Dungeon World (although a version removed somewhat from its original purpose and design)
    The best success I've had with story game techniques in traditional roleplay is stuff where the GM guides the players in certain directions. If they don't want to take initiative, you can still often pull things out of them by leading them there.

    Example:

    1. To establish a character's values, ask provocative questions, a la AW. "What's your character's biggest nightmare?" "What would that look like?"

    If they're really resistant, you can mechanize it. ("Ok, each you if you get one 'Protector' token. You can assign that token to the person your character cares about most [not a PC]. They get to spend that token for a +1 on any saving throw, should they need it.")

    ("Name a personal goal for your character, unrelated to adventuring. It's now worth 750XPs." "Who does your character hate the most? Write that down; you'll get a +1 on any roll which leads to them being hurt, humiliated, or taken down a notch.")

    2. Scene framing: it's easy to get players to do this for you just by doing a little questioning, too.

    GM: "Who do you want to talk to next?"
    Players: "We need to go talk to the General!"
    GM: "Where do you think he would be right now?"
    Players: "Probably having lunch in his tent, surrounded by his generals."
    GM: "Ok, great: so you walk into the tent to see the General eating roast pheasant. They've got a map spread out on the table, marking the enemy's position..."

    When I do this, nobody notices that *I* wasn't the one who effectively framed the scene - the players did it, I just narrated it for them.
  • edited July 2015
    Joking answer: Hit them with Burning Wheel, tell them it's an ultra-crunchy fantasy game in a gritty setting, and get them addicted to writing Beliefs for their characters. :)

    More seriously, don't try to sneak a whole new game on them without warning. Though, since there is tons of precedent for adding new bits to D&D. I think more or less what you're currently doing can probably work. Haven't tried it myself with a whole group, though I have had occasions of coaxing reluctant players.
    When I do this, nobody notices that *I* wasn't the one who effectively framed the scene - the players did it, I just narrated it for them.
    Adding to this: concentrating on questions from the character's point of view can make a huge difference in how willing players are to make stuff up.
  • Burning Wheel's Let It Ride mechanic requires a single skill check to be sufficient for all tests against that particular task. If you're climbing a mountain, you roll a Climb check once and that rides for the rest of the foreseeable future. No more asking for Climb checks. This removes a classic railroading tool from the GM's toolbox.

    Apocalypse World's to do it, do it rule is surprisingly powerful. Another game's rules might not map fiction to moves as tightly as A*W, but you can apply the idea in this way: Before people roll dice, they have to do something in character to justify it. And when they do something in character that triggers a part of the rules, they should trigger the rule. "I get 13 on my survival check." "That's nice, but what are you doing?" "Oh, I'm scouring the forest for herbs and mushrooms and maybe a creek for water."
  • I've had messy results with Let It Ride in D&D actually :(
    but "to do it, do it" I love. Baker's got his IIEE [that is to say, how what you say in the story maps to what happens with the dice around the table] down cold.

    Petitioner/Granter? A petitioner ask someone for something and a granter has something that is asked for. And may give it freely, or fight tooth and nails for it using a variety of tactics.
    An NPC might want the PCs to fight the well of knives, so the NPC uses petitioner tactics to ask the PCs to do so. This just means that I as DM say "Guys... I beg of you. I beg of you as moral, upstanding followers of Kothilixa. This well of knives must be eradicated" and that they say "Uh.. naw we don't wanna. What's in it for us" and so on.
    Normal talking but explained in a way that even I understood it.
  • edited July 2015
    Another technique that works great for me, especially for starting a session, for Players who get stuck and can't think of anything, or for newbies who feel uncomfortable looking out through their character's eyes...

    Be a Camera. Sometimes I will not only frame the scene but literally describe camera movements like a film. Take a minute to set up some exposition shots and a few details of the surroundings. I might even mention what the soundtrack is doing, sometimes it's literally playing on the CD player. This all sets a mood and throws the Player into an "audience" stance which is passive and familiar. When the camera lights upon their PC, I ask them what's the next thing we see.

    Basically shifting their point of view from internal to external. For whatever reason (either the passivity and familiarity of the film experience, or the shift to third person), this often makes it easier for the Player to imagine the next thing we see.

  • I've found the easiest way to get in some player narration is with a "Uh, OK, you crit. Wow - that'll drop the orc - how does it look?" I sometimes affect a (not entirely false) act of being short of inspiration, and try to get a player to bite, particularly when the result is suprising:
    "Looks like you failed your seduction roll. Normally so reliable - what's happened?"
    "Maybe she's still covered in orc blood from the encounter before where she decapitated that cheiftain"
    "Yeah, we'll go with that -..."

    And, more explicitly, Twists from BW/Mouse Guard, flagged and up front. "So you need to roll Streetwise to find out where the bandits are hiding. If you fail, you'll still find out, but you'll cause trouble when doing it - maybe they know you're after them, maybe the Thieve's Guild come and pay you a visit about poking around their patch."
  • edited August 2015
    Start with something small, like let them know that they can start to invent things in the environment.

    Ask questions back to enforce that behavior and break their normal habits of having to wait for the game master's approval. "Yes, is there a chair in the room?"

    It usually takes around 20-30 minutes before they get it.

    Expand on this on later sessions when you feel that you can add more player influence to the gaming session.
  • Cheat blatantly XD
    Use a GM-Less game that sort-of looks-like a normal traditional game... you will be the facilitator but you say you are the GM... and you say that to help them do things right you will have an active PC too, you know, the classic "avatar of the master"...

    Then whenever the game needs someone else to offer an input, you tell them in an off-hand way "mmm... YOU! how does the room smells like?" as if it was you GM-style of making the Players feel involved.

    It might work!
    Or they might lynch you.
    Either way... FUN... right? XD
  • Wait… isn't this just exactly what we hate in fudging and illusionism, just that its our side doing it? There's no need to sneak in story techniques. They're usually gonna be welcomed with open arms. Be honest.
  • edited August 2015
    Joking answer: Hit them with Burning Wheel, tell them it's an ultra-crunchy fantasy game in a gritty setting, and get them addicted to writing Beliefs for their characters. :)
    Love that one!

    I'd also suggest bringing in PvP conflicts. ApocalypseWorld (AW) has great GM advice on creating PC-NPC-PC triangles.
    Generally, any conflict that cannot be solved through hitting/punching can lead to more story elements. If your opponents are uber-powerful or loved ones are involved, PCs may need to resort more to social interactions or innovative ideas.

    I find also Fate a pretty good system for slowly introducing story elements into a traditional group. While having skill pyramids and solid mechanics, you have also: Fate Points, collaborative city creation & character background stories, Aspects/Troubles.

    Finally, you can get players interested in their character's development - for good or worse.
    Here is a quote by WarriorMonk, posted here:
    In narrative terms you can go Fiasco and try to put your character into the worst kind of trouble and forget about how it's going to get out; it doesn't matter, you're playing an actor in a movie who is trying his best for going for an oscar at whatever role he is playing. His character may be stupidly hilarious and die in the first scene, but if he can make that a part everyone will remember, that's the goal.
  • 13th Age is basically D&D that sneaks storygame stuff in through the back door.
  • I really think you should be upfront with what your doing here. I do understand it can be frustrating when you really like an approach and the group doesn't want to do it. It is especially frustrating if their dislike of something stems from not wanting to try things with an open mind. But ultimately it is their right to be that way. I would probably be a bit resentful if a person snuck something in like this, not because my game was tainted by stuff I think I don't like, but because it shows a lack of respect for me. It would be similar to knowing someone refuses a certain kind of food for whatever reason and sneaking it in. It isn't your place to force someone to try things. It is also intellectually insulting.

    That said I think if you have an open discussion people will likely be receptive to some things. For example the whole connecting back stories and PCs prior to play is well established in traditional campaigns (that is something I have seen and used since the late 80s).
  • edited August 2015
    For once I agree with @Bedrockbrendan.

    One thing that I have found to be true in both discussion and play regarding indie / hippy / story-gaming etc. is that if you are frustrated by the way your group currently does things, you need a new group, even more than a new system. The only exception would be if all of you are like, "We like what we're doing, except for this one specific thing that keeps cropping up." But something broader, like wanting a less centralized GM role, or games with less combat, or any of the other stereotypical "story game" things? Forget it. You're not going to get it with those people.

    The longer you've been playing with them, the more true that is.
  • I very much agree with that... except! If you're the GM and organizer, you can find things to work which make it more fun for you. (Like the ones I suggested above.)

    If you're a player and the GM is into it, that could be enough, as well.

    But, generally speaking, you'll be happier with another group (which could even include some of the same people, if they feel the same way or are very flexible).
  • I can say from experience that being open works better than any dirty hippie mechanic ever conceived. And believe me when I say I've been there, trying to sneak all sort of tricks and turn things upside down behind my GM screen. It's useless.

    I added Fate aspects to my game and players started hitting them buttons like mad trying to game the system, and reciting them whenever they felt they were about to get in trouble just to get some hero points. After a couple of times it didn't added story to the game but it became a sort of internal joke.

    I tried mechanics that made roleplaying needed to gain more power, and again the players were able to tell instinctively there was a button to extert advantages from the setting, and so it became commonplace to hit it. Or when the mechanic felt too circumstantial or convoluted, they plainly stopped using it.

    Lately I've seen that it's often my very own fault. Yes, I want there to be more story, more drama, more roleplaying, but am I actually putting it myself on the story? Or I'm just waiting for them to interact with the NPCs that have scenes written in order to put some story myself? Is it that they haven't reached the place of the map where everything happens and so I'll have to keep rolling random encounters until they get there?

    So with a wide degree of success I tried switching gears. On a random encounter I felt that after the initial surprise scene (the monster got the initiative and the party made a mistake I took to make the scene more interesting) and a couple of hits with poison and using all the creture tricks, the rest of the battle was just going to be rolling dice and exchanging numbers. So I interrupted the battle narrating how the whole forest around them started to move under a fierce wind... but with some rythm. I looked at them and started moving my arms and making sounds to represent a gigantic creature flying. They all opened their eyes and said "¡A DRAGON!"

    Frag the random encounter, it was sent flying and I asked everyone for a strength save or be sent flying too. All creatures in the forest run away and I got rid of the random encounter table for the rest of the session, as it made sense nothing except them would dare remain in the area. Of course, they went to investigate...

    On other campaign, I was kinda burnt by the prep and hadn't put much effort into it lately. The players were in the middle of a randomly generated dungeon (please, don't use those generated online, most of them look good enough on the screen but suck big time on play) controlled by a fanatic cult. When they had reached the middle of the dungeon they suddenly came up with the idea of making a fanatic cult of their own.

    On another occasion I would had considered this a potential campaign-breaker and perhaps I'd even present other options and events until they forget about it. But I honestly loved the idea: for once they finally had the initiative of stopping to blindly follow clues and quests through the setting and building something themselves. I decided to play along and quickly made some rulings about convincing people into their cult and by the end of the session they had turned half the town into it. By the next the villains were sending them their spies and minions while they were training minions of their own. They finally guided them to "the promised city in the clouds" an ancient mobile base they used for the final assault. It was totally worth it.

    So, instead of adding rules, look at the parts of the game you haven't been using that are somewhat story-related, talk with the players about what do they want from the game, tell them what would you like the game to have and then see if you actually need new mechanics; by then you'd probably actually need less than you think.
  • I think people are missing in the OP that the group is open for story mechanics, but they are don't have the confident/experience in using them.
  • You can bring them in through the front door openly, that's all I'm saying. I'm not saying they can't be added to traditional games.
  • edited August 2015
    I think people are missing in the OP that the group is open for story mechanics, but they are don't have the confident/experience in using them.
    He should still be upfront about what he is trying to do. In fact if they are open to such mechanics, he has no excuse to not have a discussion with them about what kind of game he wants. The attitude that the OP is bringing here to the group is one that would seriously bother me as a player or GM even if I liked the stuff he likes. It's one where the person inserts things in a sneaky way, and suggests they know what is best for everyone. Talk to people, find out what they want and what they are open to doing during the regular game (it may simply be they are happy to play fiasco as a separate thing, but don't want that in their regular game, or it may be they are totally open to it in their regular game). If someone did this at my table, it would feel like they were trying to teach me a lesson or something. Like they think they are better than everyone else and trying to bring us to their level. This is the attitude the OP expresses:
    ......but busy graduate lives have reduced my ability to better my fellows and I'm desperately casting around for potent design nostrums I can drop on my less-than-receptive group in my flyby visits.
  • Read the intention, not the words being used. It's about taking baby steps into story game like mechanics and techniques, where trying to throw them into the deep end hasn't earlier worked.

    It's about how to introduce story game mechanics gradually.

    Answering with "Look for new people" isn't a good reply in my book this time, or trying to take out negative words out of their context and using that to proclaim it's a deceitful way of doing it. Not helpful ... at all.
  • edited August 2015
    Read the intention, not the words being used. It's about taking baby steps into story game like mechanics and techniques, where trying to throw them into the deep end hasn't earlier worked.

    It's about how to introduce story game mechanics gradually.

    Answering with "Look for new people" isn't a good reply in my book this time, or trying to take out negative words out of their context and using that to proclaim it's a deceitful way of doing it. Not helpful ... at all.
    You're not their teacher. This isn't swimming lessons where your purpose is to bring people to some other level. It is incredibly deceitful and condescending to approach your game group like this. If you have so little respect for them that you feel the need to bring them 'up to your level' there is a bigger problem than Playstyle.

    If he doesn't want a new group, then he either needs to have a frank discussion or accept things as they are. If he can't do those things, he absolutely needs to find players more suited to his style.

    I am not taking anything out of context. The OP was pretty clear about what he was doing. He explicitly stated he was sneaking it in through the backdoor and even justified it in his final paragraph.
  • edited August 2015
    (Double post)
  • Read the intention, not the words being used. It's about taking baby steps into story game like mechanics and techniques, where trying to throw them into the deep end hasn't earlier worked.

    It's about how to introduce story game mechanics gradually.

    Answering with "Look for new people" isn't a good reply in my book this time, or trying to take out negative words out of their context and using that to proclaim it's a deceitful way of doing it. Not helpful ... at all.
    If the issue is genuinely that they want to add in story stuff but need his help and prodding for that to happen, then he doesn't have to be sneaky about. He can say 'do you guys mind if I do things during play to encourage fiasco style outcomes, by prodding you and such". That is a very easy conversation to have.
  • edited August 2015
    You're not their teacher.
    All game masters are teachers; they must convey the rules, the playstyle, the world, and give feedback to all the characters' actions (which makes the players learn and adopt). I do this all the time on conventions, where I set up story games. Sometimes I have to teach them the new playstyle because they have only played traditional roleplaying games before. The easiest way I found is do it gradually, often through fluency play (introduce one part, play with so everyone are comfortable with it, then introduce a new bit).

    I even made one of my gaming groups pick up a totally new style of playing. It took me a couple of session, but then they got the hang of it and enjoyed it. There is no magic behind it, no trickery, just two playstyles merging together.

    If they don't like it then they don't like it, and it's time to drop it, but that's not the case here. "They like what I do to their games, they just can't swallow big pills." Hence, my first post in this thread addressing that; how to gradually introduce them to it.

    Not many games do that or can do it. My own Matiné does it, but it's designed to do it by taking a traditional game system and then gives out techniques for how and when to apply those game mechanics to bring a totally new playstyle.
  • If that is the case all he has to do is say 'I am going to help out by doing X during play." If they genuinely want him to show them how to make the game run that way, it will be totally fine when he brings it up. But it looks to me they have misgivings since he sites several issues within the group over these kinds of games in his final paragraph (and that is why he is sneaking it in). I just don't understand, if they want it, why he can be upfront about it. I am always upfront about the stuff I do as a GM: I am clear on lethality, level of realism and adventure structure. That way if people want something else, I can make the game work for them. I am not there to educate people without their knowledge or buy-in.
  • edited August 2015

    All game masters are teachers; they must convey the rules, the playstyle, the world, and give feedback to all the characters' actions (which makes the players learn and adopt). I do this all the time on conventions, where I set up story games. Sometimes I have to teach them the new playstyle because they have only played traditional roleplaying games before. The easiest way I found is do it gradually, often through fluency play (introduce one part, play with so everyone are comfortable with it, then introduce a new bit).

    I even made one of my gaming groups pick up a totally new style of playing. It took me a couple of session, but then they got the hang of it and enjoyed it. There is no magic behind it, no trickery, just two playstyles merging together.

    If they don't like it then they don't like it, and it's time to drop it, but that's not the case here. "They like what I do to their games, they just can't swallow big pills." Hence, my first post in this thread addressing that; how to gradually introduce them to it.
    Slowly introducing elements is fine. This happens in sandbox too. Players need to take initiative for that to work, and sometimes it requires training wheels. Doing that is perfectly okay if your are upfront about. Saying "this is a sandbox game, and I am going to show you how it is done" is totally fine. However if I had a group of story gamers and told them we were going to run something narrative, while I secretly groomed them for sandbox play, I think there would be an issue. I think it would also be a problem is I felt I was superior to the narrative players and needed to fix them. When I read the whole post by the OP, I get a much different impression than you seem to have. If he is slowly introducing elements, being open about it, and they are fine with it, that's great. I don't get the impression that is what is going on exactly.

    I think if you go into a game as a GM with the attitude, I am going to show them what is cool about X; and your honest about what your doing, it is fine. On the other hand, if your approach is, I need to fix these people and bring them to my level, so I am going to slip stuff in, then there is an issue. My problem with the OP is it is a bit unclear where he resides on that spectrum and my gut says it is closer to the latter based on the entirety of the post. Perhaps I am incorrect in my assessment and the OP can correct me.
  • Perhaps it's a cultural thing, perhaps it's my personal way to see the world, but I think it's polite to think the best of any stranger even when their choice of words is poor or expresses an opinion we're totally against. That person usually has a good reason for saying such things in public, so I often try to put myself on their shoes and ask before calling them one thing or the other.

    So, I can't really say that I have met a GM that has walked into a game session thinking "I'm going to have fun by cheating all these fools into doing my bidding", but instead they are mostly thinking about "What can I do to have fun with my friends, myself included?"

    So yeah, the road to hell is paved with good intentions but come on, the OP isn't asking "How do I lie better to my players?". I've been in similar shoes and I get the vibe that their players have an idea of the game that he doesn't often share, but that he feels that asking his players to play it like "another game" is like imposing on them and therefore, too much. Instead, asking them "I want to try X ruling and see what happens" and expect it produces the gameplay you want may feel less intrusive.

    My point in my previous post is that trying to be less intrusive is actually what doesn't work. Players will probably love this shiny new ruling and adapt to their own way of playing, instead of realizing that the GM isn't having the same fun as them. So, being open and direct about it isn't only for the sake of being a more honest person, but for practical reasons. The players will never understand you're not enjoying the game as much as them if you keep using indirects and never telling them.
  • edited August 2015
    I am happy to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I said I could be wrong and am interested in any clarification by the OP. But it's in the thread title and it is in the body text of the post of the itself in more than one instance. All I have to go by is what the poster said. When someone says 'how can I sneak this in' and mentions their 'nefarious influence' on the game, and describes introducing mechanics as a big pill, I think it is fair to be critical and push back a bit against the notion of sneaking things into play when there is a potential conflict of style/preference at the table.? The postscript also suggests issues at the table. Others who normally disagree with me on lots things have had a similar reaction so I don't think it is a wild interpretation of the post. And it is relevant because it ties in with concerns people have about things like railroading and illusionism.
  • Oh well, it's just me then.
  • Y'all could wait for Potemkin to respond, and know for sure, right?
  • edited August 2015
    Apologies, I've been a bit tied up recently, and so haven't had time to read through the replies as yet, but a while ago I posted a thread on a similar topic, which contributors here may or may not find useful.
  • Read the intention, not the words being used.
    I am not taking anything out of context /.../ But it's in the thread title and it is in the body text of the post of the itself in more than one instance. All I have to go by is what the poster said.
    You're sooo focusing on the words and not the intention, but because you can't see it yourself, I will leave it at that.
  • edited August 2015
    Read the intention, not the words being used.
    I am not taking anything out of context /.../ But it's in the thread title and it is in the body text of the post of the itself in more than one instance. All I have to go by is what the poster said.
    You're sooo focusing on the words and not the intention, but because you can't see it yourself, I will leave it at that.
    I am happy to get clarification from the OP. But just going by the text, that is the intent and the outcome I am seeing here. If he isn't arguing for sneaking things like that, and his position is actually a bit more nuanced, I am happy to acknowledge I was incorrect in my assessment of his position. Given that this is a thread about sneaking in elements through the back door, being a touch critical of the idea is, in my view, fair.
  • Sneaking things in can work, but it can also be rather unsatisfying for players if they find out what you were doing. I tried it twice - once using a game mechanic that was not actually a real mechanic at all, it was a system that disguised 'making up a result' as a dice roll and rewarded players for being highly descriptive by having them succeed when they were and fail when they were not. The second time I got them to improvise most of an adventure without realising it by asking them what they thought about things and what they thought was going on as we went along and whenever they gave me an answer treating it as if they had succeeded or failed in working out something I had pre-planned when actually all I had was a quick story seed noted down.

    The first unfortunately tended to mean eloquent players dominated the game and the second people really enjoyed until I told them what I had done, at which point they all suddenly felt cheated because they had thought they were being really clever in working everything out.

    After that I decided to just not sneak things in and either play with people who wanted to try out the same things I was interested in or simply invest in playing what they wanted to play and make the most of it. End of the day I just started to ask people - would you like to do/use this right now?

    Sometimes using things like giving characters hereditary holdings when they were created that they could invest in manage helped, the later lifted from Pendragon and dropped in other games (it worked quite well in Vampire as a way of their running business empires through a long dark Ages Campaign). They would jolt players into thinking about long term goals, their past and how they were relating to others (PCs and NPCs) a bit more but I think it only really helps when its pretty obviously useful in the game. So often it comes down to what players think they are going to get from it - in this case it was an increase in their sense of their characters power and prestige in the game.

    I have always found successes with some groups/gamers tended to be a bit hit or miss - I once got a group playing Two Fisted Tales to provide sound effects in game when their character was idle or elsewhere and everyone loved it - but they never felt comfortable doing it in any other game.

    I just took peoples interest when it was there and ran with it and shrugged off the times when it wasn't... eventually the composition of the gaming group changed and I had a lot of new players who were more open to trying things largely because they actually had very little idea of what alternatives there were... and then we started seriously playing games with more storytelling and even deliberately and knowingly improvising them as a group.
  • edited October 2015
    My experience largely concurs, @Hybridartifacts. There's my dragon in Lady Blackbird story, for instance. Four players were surprised in a good way and one player was surprised in a bad way.

    People differ and the artist must remain flexible. Even in online media, player stance falls along a spectrum. Back in the 90's when I was working on virtual worlds for Intel's "The Palace" software, we did an informal survey of a few hundred early adopters, asking whether they (a) felt their avatar was like a part of them and felt hurt when mean things were done to their avatar, or (b) felt their avatar was an external object and were unfazed (or even amused) when mean things were done to their avatar. The results were almost exactly 50/50.

  • Back in the 90's when I was working on virtual worlds for Intel's "The Palace" software, we did an informal survey of a few hundred early adopters, asking whether they (a) felt their avatar was like a part of them and felt hurt when mean things were done to their avatar, or (b) felt their avatar was an external object and were unfazed (or even amused) when mean things were done to their avatar. The results were almost exactly 50/50.

    Fascinating. Not entirely sure what to make of it.
  • Back on the Forge, Mike Holmes had a set of "standard rants" that he'd point to when certain subjects came up. Standard rant #7 was called "You can't sneak up on mode,", and it argued that "sneaking up on mode" was a bad idea, because if a game were functioning well, trying to make little changes would just be frustrating. As Mike said:
    The most common thing that happens when you do make such alterations is that no change in play mode occurs at all. The players still only see the game's original message, and they don't adjust in any way. Which is hugely frustrating to the GM in question as they really thought that the little changes would be fun and get the players to participate in the desired mode. Often whole rules just get entirely ignored.

    The second most common thing is that the players alter their mode a little, but then complain that they're being made to do things that are uncomfortable, boring, or just not what they expect out of play. Canalized players know what they want, and even when they're presented with something that’s potentially fun, they might not see where it's fun. Especially if it happens to conflict with what they normally consider fun. Again, this is just making things incoherent.

    And it doesn't matter how long you discuss matters like this outside of the game. Play of any mode has an intuitive sense that one can only obtain through participation. Remember those people you introduced to RPGs, and their first awkward moments with it? None of it is really "natural" and so expecting to be able to talk someone into an understanding of it is just asking too much.

    Prompting in play can be the worst option because then the player may come to resent the GM for the above reasons. They "just want to have fun" and here you are trying to "fix" their play.
    Mike's advice to folks who wanted to introduce a different agenda to their play group was to stop and pick a game that strongly supported that agenda from the get-go.
  • I thought this thread was about implementing story game typical elements in traditional roleplaying games.
  • I thought this thread was about implementing story game typical elements in traditional roleplaying games.
    It is, and I think what Bill is saying is "It doesn't work."
  • edited October 2015
    I already posted about how this works in DayTrippers (see above), but feel free to ignore my input. Wouldn't want to stand in the way of anyone's categorical performance ideology!

  • I already posted about how this works in DayTrippers (see above), but feel free to ignore my input. Wouldn't want to stand in the way of anyone's categorical performance ideology!
    I don't think that's what he's talking about, and I don't think it's what the OP is talking about either.

    The OP was asking "How do I ninja storygames tech into my existing trad games?"
    You responded with "Well, in this completely new game, I make design decisions X, Y and Z."
    And Bill is saying "Just adding random stuff to your game isn't really going to produce a useful change. You should try playing an entirely new game."

    You did not, in fact, post about how you have successfully lifted those techniques out of DayTrippers and placed them in a traditional game.
  • edited October 2015
    That was not my claim, @Airk. It was also not Mike's ( @Potemkin's) question.

    Mike (who is at least passingly familiar with DT, as one of its originators), said "I'm desperately casting around for potent design nostrums..."

    I mentioned some "Bits of DayTrippers that I would suggest as answers to your question..." and went on to list and summarize those bits for the uninitiated. Among them: "Bipartite resolution in which Players narrate positive results and the GM narrates negative ones." Much like the techniques Sandra ( @2097) posted earlier, this technique can be applied to almost any RPG. Same with the other techniques I mentioned, to varying degrees. The fact that it came from DayTrippers is just a genealogical detail (later downthread I make another suggestion that did not come from DT).

    So that's one thing. Then another separate thing happens: @Rickard mentions he thinks this thread is about "implementing story game typical elements in traditional roleplaying games" and you suggested that it was, and that @Bill_White had answered the question. I'm not really sure why you felt a need to respond at that moment, but the combination of your post and Bill's post made it seem that you consider the question categorically closed. Perhaps you do.

    But as can be seen from other suggestions in thread (not just mine), the question is not closed. There have been quite a few suggestions and some related experiences, both successful and not.

    I think there's something about the unfortunately off-the-cuff title of this thread that puts people in a defensive mood.

  • My point was that Mike's (@Potemkin, I mean) experience seems to confirm Mike Holmes' observation--the group he plays with will adopt some story-gaming techniques piece-meal, but actually shifting their style of play to a different mode is something that they're unwilling to do. I assume this means that they're enjoying the games that they're playing the way that they're playing them. That's hard to change. Arguably, the techniques that Mike is looking for are ones that are somehow consistent with both what he wants and what they want. So I would say we need more description of what they like--what are the moments that seem to energize the other people at the table--and that will possibly help identify specific techniques that will "stick" the way that "invent connections at the table" did.
  • Right. Without knowing Mike's players, we're just tossing a bunch of vague suggestions at him that might or might not be practical (or practicable) for his group.

    But then again, there's always the secondary audience: people who find this page via google or whatever. Some of this might be helpful for them as well. So, cheers, y'all!

  • edited October 2015
    I still maintain there's a huge difference between these two:

    a) I want to change the general tenor of my gaming culture to make it more "story gamey", and get everyone to contribute more.

    That requires you to be clear about what you want, and the other people in the group to be on board with it. Be prepared for failure as well as success (it's just a question of personal preference, after all, and even then some people are resistant to change in principle).

    b) I want to include some "story gamey" mechanics or techniques in my games for my own enjoyment as the GM (or a player, although that's not as easy).

    I think there are ways to do b) which don't step on anyone's toes, like, for example, using Flags from character write-ups. (A Flag is some feature of the character which indicates the player's interest in something: you then use that Flag to include relevant material in the game itself.) If you don't get any useful Flags from character creation, you can tease some out through provocative questioning or oblique techniques like character journals (if your players are into that kind of thing).

    It's possible that such a technique conflicts with whatever your group is grooving on (what some call creative agenda), but not likely - just keep your ears open as you try different things.

    Mike asking "what little tools do you have to boost..." sounds more like the latter to me. Can you play up certain story game elements or mechanics in your game without "breaking" the mode of play or destroying what's fun about your games? Of course you can.
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