The 'education' to storytelling and role-playing

Hi all. I've played role-playing games, storygames, CYOA books, computer based interactive fiction and "similar" stuff and, on my side, I've written a few story game, role playing and computer based interactive fiction games.
In my opinion "narration based games" (as a whole) are difficult to be played and many effort must be spent in designing games that would help people to seamlessly flow from static fiction to "parlour" and "conch shell" games, toward more complex games (both in terms of fiction generated and about rules underpinning it) such as story-games and/or focused thematic role playing games.
New comers would benefit a lot with games with focus on "education" in narration games.
What do you think about this?
Rob

Comments

  • I think this is fertile ground, absolutely. I've seen some good steps made in this direction and I hope to see many more!
  • Probably most people need a lot of practice, experimentation and/or instruction to learn the skills necessary to game in the way that brings them the most pleasure. Of course it depends on what you're looking for in a game. If you just want to roll dice in anger, it's pretty easy. But many people trad and "indie" alike want something else and that something else often requires either an in-depth set of techniques (at least on the part of the GM) or at least a hell of a lot of creative energy.
  • rgrassi, thanks for making the question I couldn't ask when I got here and kinda been afraid to ask at this point. I've read a lot of the games published by people in SG, but I've barely being able to play maybe two of them as intended.

    And I've been here since the Forge closed, which is quite a long time.

    My perception on most of the designs is that there's a huge gap between RAW and the game as intended, where a lot of techniques the GMs, facilitators or players use get lost unless you see them in play, which seems to be the only way to transmit them properly.

    The reason I've been afraid to ask "how the heck do you play that?!" is that there are a lot of AP reports, FAQs, reviews, analisys and threads on gameplay and opinion that it's easy to feel that the answer is somewhere there under your nose, that you're probably not the first one to ask such questions or that (and this specifically in my case) either you're lacking the understanding, cultural background, quality creative quick impro skills or language skills to translate all this information properly. If I'm not sure myself on how to play a game, then that's the end of it, because I can't ask my group's help or comprehension to try it and find out a way to make it work. I did it one or twice and ended up being somewhat unsuccessful experiences that my group isn't prone to repeat, not to mention that with the time they have developed a preference to play on the safe side with tried and tested gamesthey are familiar with, instead of trying something new.

    So, most I've been able to do is hack a lot of what I've been reading here and there and then applying it like paint over one of the games we're more used to, in a not too invasive way to see how it works and what does it add to the game experience.

    So far I'm still clueless about how Fiasco could be played without having actors/witers in the group, or at least without being familiar enough with any of the Cohen Brother's movies. I never got how clocks nor Hx nor strings work in AW, though I did got the Moves concept and how to GM with it, and I totally love it. I couldn't get how to let players define the stakes without having to wait ten minutes for each of my players to make a decision. I often realize I won't be able to play the game I'm reading when I reach the point where the author leaves the best part of the game content up to the player's imagination.

    Not that I can't try, but I can't demand my players to generate quality content and/or portray the characters good enough to entertain everybody every single time we play the game. It would require us all to be in rare form to be able to pull it up, but since everybody says it was incredibly fun, easy, intuitive and deep in play, I can only conclude that I'm still missing a ton of techniques to be able to play the game like everyone.

    Techniques aren't intuitive at all. Yes, they come from tricks, signals and conventions we learned when we learned most of our conversational skills or storytelling ones, but then again, we learned those, and how and when to apply each one by reading, watching and talking with people who mastered them. Not everyone is familiar with how you use yours to play the game, nor shares your cultural background. I like to check more on the cultural background behind many games I read, it's a good incentive to learn about it, but definitely, not enough is getting done to actually teach how RPGs are meant to be played and enjoyed.

    Here's a compilation of roleplaying techniques I made a few years ago with the help of everyone here. You may recognize a lot of them, while others may be totally unfamiliar. You may be even surprised that one you use a lot isn't listed, if that's the case please let me know, I'm not updating this list actively but I'm glad to add something every now and then.
  • WarriorMonk,

    Story Games has a lot less traffic than it used to, so many of the helpful people are gone. Still, I encourage you to ask questions! You're right that a lot of games (most?) leave out REALLY key elements about how they should be played.

    The "help me understand this"-type threads have been my favourite part of Story Games. I've seen great advice to and from people, and always come away learning something.

  • edited April 2016
    FWIW I've played Fiasco with first-time role-players many times and they've generally picked up the nuances of narrative-oriented play more quickly than people with lots of experience with D&D/trad games. (Shared familiarity with Coen Bros. movies helps, of course.) To do it, do it?
  • edited April 2016
    FWIW I've played Fiasco with first-time role-players many times and they've generally picked up the nuances of narrative-oriented play more quickly than people with lots of D&D/trad games.
    I've noticed a similar pattern with narr-y type games and mechanics. Sometimes you are vastly better off with almost total newbs than experienced gamers for these sorts of games.

    OTOH, the problem isn't just one of D&D/trad experience.

    I used to post a lot about concepts for combining the use of miniatures ( something I truly love) with more narr-y type game techniques.

    For me, it was as simple and obvious a pairing a chocolate and peanut butter. Heck, I even tried a couple of things out to test proof of concept that worked pretty well, and showed me at least that I was on the right general track.

    Trying to talk about it at TF or SG turned out to be one of the Top 5 Most Quixotic Things in Komradebob's Entire Life. Turns out that, as a group, gamers have very distinct ideas about minis use that simply cannot be worked around, even when they have solid narr-y play experience. I felt like that dude in Brave New World writing poems about his mother and trying to share them.


    One thing that might help communicate the techniques and concepts is, in addition to playtesting, having a pal play amateur anthropologist for you. Have them observe, record, and write down what they think was happening during play in their own words. Double Bonus points for having a gamer and a non-gamer both do this for you.

    You may end up with a lot better explanation and terminology for the things you aren't getting right in terms of explanation, and you'll certainly be able to identify, quickly, the more mystifying elements.
  • Also, just as a thought, educational videos is an under-explored area, from what I can tell.

    I've seen some instructional videos and demo videos for various games, but they're still a bit undeveloped. They often show off the mechanics, but don't have much in the way of asides about the hows and whys of what people are doing. A fair few have been made out of actual play sessions. An AP video is probably a good start for an instructional video, but it might be even more useful restaged, re-written, and re-shot, rather than just edited.

    I suspect that a bunch of the stuff I tried talking about would have been vastly easier to show in video, than try to explain in writing.
  • Your efforts did carry fruit, though, Bob: I learned from your miniatures discourse and wrote a game last fall that is specifically a Forgite story game (drama-oriented Sim with princess play for the players, to be specific) with miniatures, exactly as you described earlier. My game features an elegant conflict resolution system that utilizes miniatures positioning, and the player character miniatures have a central role in the character immersion/exhilaration that the game attempts.

    We managed to even playtest said game earlier in the spring. Definitely has potential, though it's also pretty different for the GM compared to my past experience, which means that I'd need to play it more to learn to play it well. It was very much an exploratory playtest, referencing the other thread about playtesting.

    It would make sense to link you to the game, but as it happens, I wrote it as a sort of a birthday present / call to action to a gamer friend of mine, so an English-language game text doesn't exist - a Finnish one does, as a nice little booklet of all things, but nobody else aside from us two has a copy at this writing :D
  • That sounds really interesting, Eero.

    And I agree that the miniatures discussions, while confusing to people's prior assumptions, were fruitful and worthwhile.
  • Also, just as a thought, educational videos is an under-explored area, from what I can tell.

    I've seen some instructional videos and demo videos for various games, but they're still a bit undeveloped. They often show off the mechanics, but don't have much in the way of asides about the hows and whys of what people are doing. A fair few have been made out of actual play sessions. An AP video is probably a good start for an instructional video, but it might be even more useful restaged, re-written, and re-shot, rather than just edited.
    Oh, yes, most definitely.

    Even just a "post-mortem" tacked onto the end where the people involved discuss the hows and whys would be good, to be honest.
  • Thanks everybody for reply. Looks like there's something true in my perception.
    My opinion on this is that I perceive the narration games mostly games in which players "talk and agree about something". What they say each other, How they say that, how they agree varies from game to game. It's a sort of discussion with several levels of difficulty and complexity about the way to achieve the result of the game (mostly focused toward an aesthetic goal, such as the agenda...).
    But in all this we mostly fail to remember that it's a game in which people talks each other.
    And in each game I set up I always remember to start from that. I'm not talking about experienced players. I'm talking about new comers.
  • Is some of the problem, perhaps, that we all tend to skip the stuff that seems super obvious to us in our descriptions/rules texts, and jump forward a couple of steps?

    I saw something like that happen recently with an event LARP. a friend of mine wanted a Cthulhu themed LARP birthday party. About 20 people participated and it was run by another mutual friend. Everyone had their character packs ahead of time, knew broadly the set up, and was going to be given a quickie overview of the mechanics to be used prior to the game officially starting.

    In terms of the player pool, probably a third or so had some kind of gaming background, tabletop or LARP, some of us extensive. Pretty much everyone involved had some kind of performance or theater background, at least minimally.

    What I noticed was that ( putting aside some confusion about the mechanics) there were a ton of people who weren't sure what to do during the might in a broader context.

    They got the core thing was Go out, portray your character, and interact with other people doing the same.

    And everybody tried to do that, but then they'd end up in these sorts of "dead-ends", wondering what to do next.

    It occurred to me afterwards that every character had a ton of secrets, and sometimes people would kinda-sorta hint at them, but everyone also played a bit close to the vest about them also. it was a four hour game session, and by the end of it, most of the secrets were still mostly secret!

    D'oh! Headdesk moment.

    I realized that no one had been told anything like:
    Every character has secrets. So does yours. None of the characters want their secrets know, but as players, part of your goal is to make sure that other characters learn your character's secrets. Like in a soap opera, really. It builds the tension!


    So kay, not great instructions as written, but you see what I'm getting at. There was an important behavior necessary ( or at least desirable) that the players had never been instructed in, but we had jumped ahead to mechanics for skill use and combat.

    So maybe that's part of the trick. There's this stuff that exists past "That is roleplaying?" and before "How to play this game" that isn't making the texts. Stuff about player goals, group goals ( the real people, I mean) and before the mechanics are discussed.

    And it's really important.
  • I agree. There are all kinds of little 'hidden' behaviours (often counter-intuitive, like working against your own interests in making sure your secrets come out) which are vital to these games working well, and sometimes it's very difficult to unearth them. (The designer and original players tend to take them for granted, or they wouldn't have enjoyed the game so much in the first place!)

    However, good design can sometimes also make things a lot easier.

    When I do something like a scenario containing multiple secrets, I like to distribute that secret to both a) people who want the secret kept, uh, secret, and b) people who have something to gain from exposing the secret.

    A simple way is to assign a secret to a person, and then also let a second person (from the opposition) know what the secret is.
  • Also, just as a thought, educational videos is an under-explored area, from what I can tell.

    I've seen some instructional videos and demo videos for various games, but they're still a bit undeveloped. They often show off the mechanics, but don't have much in the way of asides about the hows and whys of what people are doing. A fair few have been made out of actual play sessions. An AP video is probably a good start for an instructional video, but it might be even more useful restaged, re-written, and re-shot, rather than just edited.

    I suspect that a bunch of the stuff I tried talking about would have been vastly easier to show in video, than try to explain in writing.
    You know, I readed Fiasco, I loved the playsets, the tilt, the mechanic where you either get to frame a scene or how it resolves, players adjudicating dice and all, and still couldn't get how would everything come into play exactly. I mean, most mechanics in the game are there to help you improvise a coherent story with rich characters, irony and fun, but still I couldn't wrap my head around how to come up with the details or make up good characters.

    Then I saw Tabletop's AP video and kinda confirmed what I thought from reading the book, that to make it work really good with no blank page syndrome, you need all players to be either writers, actors or both, which desqualifies half of my player group or more. So basically, my problem isn't about how the game works, but how do I make it work with my group, which is kinda harder to ask in here, since most answers would be on the side of "you're playing it with the wrong people", which more or less, I'll have to end admitting to be right.

    I saw another Fiasco AP video played by some guys who have a channel where they play all kind of games while getting drunk, I can't remember the name. While still fun, it ended up sounding like how my group plays D&D sober, so I think we aren't missing too much of the Fiasco experience.
  • WarriorMonk you really need one person with those skills - a strong facilitator who can model good, fun behavior and edit aggressively - at the Fiasco table. More is better, of course, but if you have one you'll be fine.
  • Is some of the problem, perhaps, that we all tend to skip the stuff that seems super obvious to us in our descriptions/rules texts, and jump forward a couple of steps?
    ...
    So maybe that's part of the trick. There's this stuff that exists past "That is roleplaying?" and before "How to play this game" that isn't making the texts. Stuff about player goals, group goals ( the real people, I mean) and before the mechanics are discussed.
    Definitely. In my experience that's a general problem.
    Just for example I've reading now a book whick explains a lot of games you can do with cards (from 2 players up, with standard decks) and even if the game looks very simple some step is always missing. Maybe they're considered "implicit" or "obvius" but so far "I still haven't found what I'm looking for... :)" , meaning with that a game in which rules and procedures are explained step by step in the most possible easy language for players.
    Rob
  • Come on Jason, not you too T_T. Well, at least with your comment I can see that the issue isn't exactly about our group not having a strong facilitator, but about how can one of us become one. So far I'm guessing that

    1-The facilitator would need to watch at least three of the referenced movies, or as much as he needs to get how the fun is created in those movies.

    2-I tried telling my players they weren't playing just characters, but impro actors going for an Oscar for "best supporting character", with the caveat that their characters are common people with too much ambition and poor self-control, would that be enough or there's something else to help them get all in the right mindset?

    3-Edit agressively sounds good for me, I mean, I get the feeling I'd know more or less how to do it, but if I had to explain my GM buddy who has this low level of asperger how to "edit agressively" while controlling himself to not ruin everyone's fun, what would you call a limit to "editing agressively"?
  • Fiasco is definitely a challenging game. I've seen two types of problems/hurdles:

    1. Getting the game to a higher level, in terms of being entertaining and achieving a satisfying story.

    Fortunately, here the level of the players themselves is in your favour. If they're a creative and outgoing bunch, they'll naturally try to "up their game". If they're not, then perhaps they don't need to? After all, the group only has to meet its own internal standards of fun. I don't believe you need writers and actors - my experience has been quite the contrary - although veteran RPG gamers seem to have some serious trouble with this kind of thing due to ingrained habits.

    So - smooth, satisfying gameplay:

    This part benefits a lot from aggressive editing, and a sense of the genre. Watching the Tabletop video (while also realizing that it's edited!) is very helpful as a model. Keep the scenes short and snappy, and if they meander, ask, "Hey, so what is this about? What is such-and-such-a-character trying to accomplish here?"

    "Aggressive editing" works well in this context, I think, if you think of it more like facilitating and less like "editing". After all, it's not a single person who has creative control and director powers; it's one person who's trying to HELP the group stay on track and have fun, as well as to cut out some unnecessary material.

    Perhaps it helps to think of the facilitator as asking lots of questions (even leading questions) rather than use director-like fiat to, say, cut a scene. ("That's a great line! Maybe that's how this scenes ends. What do you think?")

    2. Handling the freeform roleplay, without strict definition of roles and responsibilities, can be very challenging for some groups. It's not easy to understand what you're allowed to say when. Can you describe the weather when you're playing your character? Stuff like that.

    Perhaps Jason will have some better advice here, but this one has always been tough for me. Again, looking for clarity of communication, lots of "metagame talk" (talking about what's happening as it's happening, instead of trying to 'stay in character') is helpful. Ask lots of questions and try to get things to move along - if something is stuck or not working great, just move to the next scene.

    Fiasco itself doesn't help you a great deal here, just leaving your group to figure it out. Some people see that as a feature, but it can be a real cause of trouble, in my experience.


    An unrelated note:

    No reason you couldn't roll some dice at some point, if people are looking for inspiration, you know? You don't need rules for that; just make something up. If that helps the group get past a stumbling point, then so much for the better.
  • Hmm, ok, so it's not totally like "you are actors..." as I mentioned above, but "you are writers and actors..." so, you actually need to play half in character and half in an author stance that uses your character as a reference point perhaps? That's an indication more useful for a trad player. They all stress out if they think they "have to GM" in order to play a game.

    This could have been useful when we playtested Kingdom too, though then I think we made the mistake of not playing it in a more competitive way. We're kinda used to reaching an agreement when we work together (because we used to make and edit comics together, so reaching an agreement is our second nature) and to enjoy Kingdom you actually need to agree about the objective but be totally competitive about how to reach it.
  • Excellent thread.

    Something I noticed when the Forge games started to become noticeable were that people in general didn't understand how they should be played. I blame this on how traditional roleplaying games have taught roleplaying designers the wrong way of presenting the book.

    When taking away the ordinary playstyle, that everyone knew, and presenting a game with a totally new playstyle, then it became apparent that ordinary roleplaying games lack in educating HOW they should be played. They only present WHAT to play with.

    × A strength with this could be that different groups makes different interpretations and therefor different playstyles can be born.
    × A major disadvantage is that people then will play every new game with this playstyle, and when it doesn't fit, it's a bad game.

    ---

    When reading Impro, I realized that roleplaying games also were bad at building a group mentality. I can think of a few games that does that really well ... or at least one game - Paranoia. I haven't read or played it myself, but every time a few Paranoia players come together, they instantly speak in the same way. Traditional roleplaying games only tell WHAT the players should play with, not HOW they should cooperate together.


    ---

    Roleplaying games are also not games, but game engines. They are mostly tool boxes, and then the game master is left to do whatever with those tools. Sure, some instructions come with them but everyone knows how to use a hammer anyway, right? Roleplaying games, in general, lack a solid structure of play - of HOW to be played, rather than with WHAT to play with.

    A huge majority of roleplaying games lack a HOW to the WHAT.
  • Agreed, Rickard. Paranoia is a perfect example of this, too: even the title of the game itself (!) is already priming you to play the game with the right mindset.
  • You know, Mindset should be the title of the first chapter in every RPG, and it should list what kind of things I could expect as a player and another of things I could expect as a GM/facilitator while playing this game. Things like "mooks should be easily killed but bosses would be totally lethal", "number crunching is mandatory for a good game experience", "The GM is expected to impro a lot and focus more on the NPCs-PCs interaction than in story quality", etc.
  • So true!
  • When my brother designed a zombie miniature game - where villagers defended their village against a zombie horde - he designed in such a way that the game master didn't have to bother with moving the zombies in the best way possible. Instead he drew up guidelines for how the zombies moved. Here are two guidelines.

    Smell Brain: zombies always move towards the nearest group of humans.

    Moar Brain: if two groups of villagers are at equal distance, the zombies will choose the largest group of people.

    Anyway, when the players discussed strategy they used the terms to communicate. "I can move [there] so they can smell brain. I need one more to move there so we are moar brain." I really liked that way of creating a mindset.

    ---

    In roleplaying games, the pitch of the game could also set the mindset. That's how I get people to play my games the right way from the start, when I game master at gaming conventions.
  • It's not only mindset question. It's that "narration" is difficult.
    When you play a narration game and you expect that the outcome of the game is a ...err a narrated story, even unconsciusly the players want coherency in the plot and desire aesthetic goals (I'm no considering at the moment the bias from the expectations of the players group vetween each other).
    Having coherency and aesthetic is difficult and all the players must be 'educated' in telling a story, which is no easy at all.
    Rob
  • In my experience, most people have excellent "story instincts", without any training.

    The difficult part is learning to collaborate with others - a give-and-take where each person participates without any one person dominating the store is a much less natural thing.

    Most people also "try too hard", being TOO creative and inventive. (Despite protests, before playing, that they don't have enough imagination!)

    I see those as the primary stumbling blocks of creative narrative gaming.
  • Yes, Paul. The secret for most games is to "learn" how to storytell together.
    That's a real hard step. Experienced players learn this through years of practice.
  • I agree with everything Paul_T said.

    ---

    On a different note. Something I started to get annoyed by the last couple of years, when I studied the structure of roleplaying books, were that anyone reading the book needs to puzzle together how the game should be played by selecting bits from different chapters and putting them together.

    The whole structure of a typical roleplaying book isn't pedagogic at all. It's the divide between different parts that makes it seem like roleplaying games are complex. Having a game master, advice, game mechanics, character generation, adventure writing ...

    Roleplaying games doesn't need to be that complex. We just made it look like it is.
  • That's a great point, Rickard. I agree in full!
  • edited May 2016
    I agree also but I think that there are two separate topics that are uncorrectly discussed together.
    1) Independently from a well a manual is "well written" how could we improve the skill of storytelling in players?
    2) Independently from the skill of storytelling of the players how could we improve the quality of a "rpg / storytelling" game? Would a 'standard' structure (such as sequence of chapters, in line help, hints, ..., table of contents) help?
    Rob
  • I agree! I've also been exploring this problem for years and I'm still having issues with it. Some of my conclussions so far:

    -You can have as many skills, powers, equipment, spells, etc lists as you want, as long as you use less than 10 mechanics to support all of them. It doesn't mean all of the things in the list would be flavor, you can always have common sense, setting logic or narrative coherence to easily distinguish which one is applicable in different circumstances. The limit in the number of mechanics is to facilitate the players and GM to learn the game. You can actually get away with one mechanic for everything.

    Think of the most complex RPG you have played or GMed. How many mechanics did you used? How many did you discarded to play it? It will probably still be more than 20, but IMHO, 10 is a good number for a complex tactical game.

    -AP examples beat the most clear explanations you can give. AP examples in comic format beat the best written APs. APs in video format do some things better and some worse, as not being able to control the speed at which you feed the information to your brain may make assimilating small details harder. Yes, you can always watch the video again and again and pause on specific moments, but it's a bit cumbersome. On the other hand, comics can't properly communicate the timing for certain gestures, expressions, reactions, phrases, etc that are quite important to negotiate properly. Also, flow diagrams!

    -Explaining how the game is played isn't only about explaying the mechanics; it's about ...the order of the conversation (the GM speaks first, frames the scene, then asks the players what they want to do, they do each in turns, etc)
    ...how things must be expressed (in some games you must always express intention, not state that things happen the way you said, as that would be faux pas)
    ...how things will be negotiated (what kind of things could be argumented, which are out of discussion, all the types of ritual phrases used to negotiate, control or influence the story pacing, establish additional details, when discussion is over and things can go on, etc)
    ...when are mechanics engaged and when not (if it's a simple task it's automatic, or when it may generate interesting results, the conflict resolution mechanic should be engaged, but then you have to consider the timing for asking rolls or not considering the atmosphere: are players engaged, interested, frustrated or just not in the mood? How can you tell?)
    ...what kind of justifications you can use either as a GM or a player to justify a turn of events? How to not overdo with them until they become just excuses? How to build trust in the group?

    And the list goes on and on, all of which is quite important to learn and while it can be learned on the go from listening other players, it could be somewhat painful if you're playing with people without the proper skillset. Most of the designers who I discussed these things with keep saying this things are just "advice", while it's actually unwritten rules that they have internalized so much they think it's everyone's second nature, and if they don't use them it isn't because they don't know, but because they lack manners, common sense, they are not sociable enough or just misfits you shouldn't play with. Actually not explaining properly some of these sort of things can actually generate some behaviours they may pass onto another games and groups, further ruining other player's experience.

    -Explaining things more than once in different sections beats cross-referencing, which in turn beats only having a table of contents, so do all three. Do you have a complex procedure like character creation, setting brainstorming or dungeon design? Go ahead, make a chapter for each and then make a small section at the end of each chapter to resume all the things encompassed by the chapter into a single simple procedure. It should be at the end, because if you put it first, people won't get it so easily.

    Strange but true: we first usually try to get the gist of a chapter of rules by reading it slowly, then faster as we grow in either frustration or curiosity, then we skip whole pharagraphs or check text boxes for examples or other elements that stand out, then we just flip the pages until something catches our eye. If the thing that ends up catching your eye by that moment is a resume of the chapter, your chances to go "Aha!" and then going back to read the details interested increase. By comparision, if you see this resume first, you're bound to find obscure terms that you will have to search in the chapter to understand that resume at all, so you will bookmark the resume and start flipping pages forward and back until you get an idea of what's the chapter about.
  • edited May 2016
    Good post, WarriorMonk.

    I have some promising attempts at conveying information (in other fields) through mixed media, and I think they could work for RPGs.

    For example:

    * A video which pauses every now and then to show you a bit of explanatory text (or subtext). You click when you`ve read it and are ready to proceed.

    * A video which has text "commentary" going on simultaneously.

    * A text with embedded videos, demonstrating specific elements being described in the text. (Acts much like a teacher who can explain a concept and then "act it out" to illustrate it in action.)

    Animated comics could be interesting, too: you could use static images most of the time, and then motion video for some of the frames. (Especially good to illustrate timing or pacing.)

    Summaries and diagrams are really helpful, as well, but you already covered that!

    The next level would be some kind of interactive app/program which allows you to learn at your own speed (dynamically spending less time on the things you already understand and more on the things that are tripping you up), but I'm less clear on how to do that well.
  • About improving storytelling, well, the creative skills are there, you just need to generate confidence for players to unleash them.

    In my experience, it just starts by asking them for a minor specific contribution, like answering an open-ended question with whatever they have in mind. 90% of the time they will throw anything thinking it's crap and even joking about it, totally expecting everyone to refuse their idea so they can get off the hook and put that responsability on other. But then if you take that input, give it a twist, show it back to them as if it were gold and start building upon it, this generates a shock from which imagination sparks like crazy, starting a chain reaction in the whole group.

    Then the player who gave the first input feels validated and lowers their guard, to later try to take back some control of their creation depending on other players input. That's the cue for the GM to sopt everyone in their tracks a bit to give coherence to the whole, and pass onto another step. I usually do this for brainstorming the setting and works like a charm.
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