Narrative Punt Return

I was thinking about other games that have contrast, the possibility for drama built in to them and I thought of american football, and how after an opponent scores. the other team get's the ball, kicked toward them. It's a good way of keeping the drama of the game, the contrast of the back and forth immediate.

Right after a team score, the other team get's the ball, or often likely get's the ball.
Sure there's on-side kicks, and ways to try and capture the ball before the opponent get's it, but it's the exception to the rule.

It'd be great if rpgs had this. This awareness of drama.

Comments

  • edited February 12
    This looks like balancing by rewarding the loser in a conflict. Lady B, Burning Wheel, Capes, my game, and probably other games do this.
    Drama also lies in the weaving of conflict between characters or factions, but that is no the topic.
  • Many sports (e.g. football and basketball in very similar ways to American football) have a a team on the offensive and a team on the defensive, with only the former able to score.

    Switching roles and losing the privilege of being on the offensive after scoring or after a foul is just common sense: it provides negative feedback (giving a chance to the other team) and it is nicely sportsmanlike.

    The interesting difference is between sports with fixed, scheduled offensive and defensive roles regardless of performance (e.g. cricket and baseball), sports where roles switch by scoring but also by playing badly and losing the ball (e.g. football and basketball), and sports where roles switch continuously by design (tennis, volleyball, pelota, etc.).

    Each category has its special type of drama: the judgment of definite scoring attempts, the thrill of failing or succeeding "softly" and quite often in addition to actual scoring events, the interactive contest to push the opponents beyond their limits before they do the same to us.
  • DeReel said:

    This looks like balancing by rewarding the loser in a conflict. Lady B, Burning Wheel, Capes, my game, and probably other games do this.
    Drama also lies in the weaving of conflict between characters or factions, but that is no the topic.

    I think it's much more than that; a simple resource reward(XP).
    Sure, it's that too - giving the other team a go at scoring, but in action, it's creating drama, by orienting the oftentimes climax of play(a touchdown/conversion/field goal), at the end of a phase. Then beginning a new phase, with an opposing group, with contrasting desires, right after this climax.
    The field goal or conversion, adding to the already cathartic touchdown.
    It's smart. Emotionally smart.
    Of course, ignoring all the commercial breaks

    These games you name dropped, I don't imagine they do this, but if you would describe how their play in structured like american football, I'd be all ears.

  • Many sports (e.g. football and basketball in very similar ways to American football) have a a team on the offensive and a team on the defensive, with only the former able to score.

    Switching roles and losing the privilege of being on the offensive after scoring or after a foul is just common sense: it provides negative feedback (giving a chance to the other team) and it is nicely sportsmanlike.

    The interesting difference is between sports with fixed, scheduled offensive and defensive roles regardless of performance (e.g. cricket and baseball), sports where roles switch by scoring but also by playing badly and losing the ball (e.g. football and basketball), and sports where roles switch continuously by design (tennis, volleyball, pelota, etc.).

    Each category has its special type of drama: the judgment of definite scoring attempts, the thrill of failing or succeeding "softly" and quite often in addition to actual scoring events, the interactive contest to push the opponents beyond their limits before they do the same to us.

    Role-playing games could learn a thing or two from highly popular games, like both footballs.
  • edited February 12
    So, in BW (Torchbearer ?) you gain checks when you accept defeat. Checks allow you to get back at it faster and meaner.
    In Lady Blackbird if you don't score you keep your dice pool ready for the next occasion.
    What I thought was from Capes is in fact from my game, that the winner of a goal gives the tokens they used to the (best) loser, which makes it probable that the first one now will later be last (...)
    Also, Nuts, The suitcase (Levity fast games), and Fate have the conceder get nuts or tokens.
    In all cases, it's more a competition for decisive contribution than opposition proper.
  • Many sports (e.g. football and basketball in very similar ways to American football) have a a team on the offensive and a team on the defensive, with only the former able to score.

    Switching roles and losing the privilege of being on the offensive after scoring or after a foul is just common sense: it provides negative feedback (giving a chance to the other team) and it is nicely sportsmanlike.

    The interesting difference is between sports with fixed, scheduled offensive and defensive roles regardless of performance (e.g. cricket and baseball), sports where roles switch by scoring but also by playing badly and losing the ball (e.g. football and basketball), and sports where roles switch continuously by design (tennis, volleyball, pelota, etc.).

    Each category has its special type of drama: the judgment of definite scoring attempts, the thrill of failing or succeeding "softly" and quite often in addition to actual scoring events, the interactive contest to push the opponents beyond their limits before they do the same to us.

    yeah, this is right. In more structured games, teams are handed the initiative and in less structured they have to seize it. Surely the latter is better for drama? (drama being defined as an 'exciting, emotional or unexpected event'.
  • A short comment, as an excuse to say how fascinating this whole discussion is. Also,

    Stefoid, I'm not sure I'm in agreement with you on that one. While I do feel that your definition is a bit too narrow to my taste (though I'm yet to find a better one, I'm afraid), I feel like your descriptions of structured and un-structured games – while fascinating – lead me to a different conclusion: un-structured games don't necessarily lead to better drama, even by your definition. True, they can be less surprising (though not always), yet they can lead to huge amounts of drama – just look at some of the Nordic freeform games. Some of the games I've ran and/or played were extremely structured and without a tidbit of a surprising happening. Sometimes, knowing one will have to make a difficult choice is more dramatic that being surprised with having to make one on the spot (I think Hitchcock said something about it, will have to look for the quote when I'm back home).
    To put it differently, I'm not sure one method is absolutely better at creating drama. What I am positive about is that each method creates a different kind of drama. It really depends, I will say, on which emotions one wants to play on and with.
  • I think that looking at games which create exciting reversals of fortune would be a very good thing, indeed. It's a surprisingly hard thing to do in game design.

    I once put together a dice mechanic which creates lots of really exciting "reversals of fortune", and dramatically so. It's fun to play!

    However, testing it with a friend left him feeling that it was fun, but ultimately random, which could be unsatisfying. Without a good use of that mechanic within an actual game, I haven't had a chance to test it further.
  • stefoid said:

    Surely the latter is better for drama? (drama being defined as an 'exciting, emotional or unexpected event'.

    I don't think drama has anything to do with the unknown, in fact, suspense is caused by knowing, but not appearing, let alone resolving. I don't think it needs to be exciting for it to be dramatic either. It just needs to show contrast, and move the story forward in some way(direction/mood/speed/pov).


  • I was thinking about D&D and how monsters work, at least how it works when I've played it.
    I wondered how it'd be if for every player action, there was a DM action. Would it break play? Slow it down?

    You have six players, and they're fighting a dragon, that dragon get's six actions.
    You have 4 players, and they're fighting a dragon, it get's 4 actions.
    Would it make play any more dramatic?
  • Nathan_H said:

    You have six players, and they're fighting a dragon, that dragon get's six actions.
    You have 4 players, and they're fighting a dragon, it get's 4 actions.
    Would it make play any more dramatic?

    Framed in any rule and incentive system that is remotely similar to D&D, such a scaling would be considered grossly unfair and/or absurd: people joining the fight against the dragon must help, even by a negligible amount that gets rounded off to zero (e.g. additional firebreath victims who don't get a chance to attack), never make the dragon stronger.
  • Well, what were those players doing, while there was an awaken dragon? And, I see actions as all things, not just attacking. I mean, in D&D there's no real helping anyway, right? Some classes can take a hit for another player character, but are there actual teamwork rules? I see an action like a scene in a movie, or book. Something worth showing or describing. That might not be a direct attack. For example, taking to the air, showing off physically, verbally taunting, hiding, diving, those kind of things. Things not often meaningful in game, but meaningful in story.

    How did this work in Tunnels & Trolls?
  • Doesn't it feel like bullying when it's a whole party against a couple of goblins?
    I mean, that's the flip-side, right?
    It doesn't feel very heroic, to me.
  • Nathan_H said:

    Well, what were those players doing, while there was an awaken dragon? And, I see actions as all things, not just attacking. I mean, in D&D there's no real helping anyway, right? Some classes can take a hit for another player character, but are there actual teamwork rules? I see an action like a scene in a movie, or book. Something worth showing or describing. That might not be a direct attack. For example, taking to the air, showing off physically, verbally taunting, hiding, diving, those kind of things. Things not often meaningful in game, but meaningful in story.

    How did this work in Tunnels & Trolls?

    I'm not sure what you mean: there's no need for explicit "teamwork rules" in D&D, or most other RPGs.
    Synergies between actions, powers etc. are specified, more or less explicitly, in the respective rules (for example, a spell to push someone, a spell to make the ground slippery, a suitably close cliff, and rules for falling damage).
    Even more importantly, collaboration towards killing a dragon is mediated, very simply and effectively, by the additive nature of combat damage: everybody contributes some hit points towards the target goal or enables other to deal more damage, the worst contributors deal 0 damage and do nothing useful before quitting, and only specific and unlikely blunders and disasters like disturbing a companion can give negative value to a character's participation in a fight.

    Regarding "things not often meaningful in game, but meaningful in story" they are either actually meaningful in game (e.g. intimidation, taunting and hiding are commonly covered by rules) or harmless, mechanically neutral details that can be added to the narration of how characters do something useful (e.g. "I attack the dragon with my sword... by diving between its legs in order to slash its belly and getting out before it crushes me").

    I don't see any problem with rules not covering absolutely everything in detail beyond selecting a RPG that is about what you want it to be about: powergaming by coming up with clever ideas on the spot vs. powergaming by optimizing characters for effectiveness in the long run, choosing acceptable risk levels given the objectives vs choosing how to best spend limited resources, tactically rewarding detailed combat vs. quick and simple combat, killing vs. gaining influence...

    If you like rules about aiding, consider Masks: there are rules that reward specific cases of aiding someone, in rather abstract terms, with mechanical bonuses and, ultimately, happiness.
    It's a game about the frail personality and tough relationships of a team of adolescent superheroes, so aiding others is an appropriate important subject to have rules about, in order to deal with altruistic character classes and with teamwork. D&D tends to have a very different focus.

    Why are you specifically interested in Tunnels and Trolls?
  • Nathan_H said:

    I mean, in D&D there's no real helping anyway, right? Some classes can take a hit for another player character, but are there actual teamwork rules?

    You can buff/debuff, heal, distract, position yourself to provide a flanking bonus to another character, etc... These kinds of actions are incidental, sure, but it doesn't mean you're not working as a team just because there's no "I make a Teamwork Action!" button for you to press.
    Nathan_H said:

    Doesn't it feel like bullying when it's a whole party against a couple of goblins?
    I mean, that's the flip-side, right?
    It doesn't feel very heroic, to me.

    Where did you ever get the idea that murderhoboing was supposed to be heroic?
  • I'm not sure what you mean: there's no need for explicit "teamwork rules" in D&D, or most other RPGs.

    Well, need is certainly subjective, right? Like if I express a desire for something, isn't that enough of a need?

    Synergies between actions, powers etc. are specified, more or less explicitly, in the respective rules (for example, a spell to push someone, a spell to make the ground slippery, a suitably close cliff, and rules for falling damage).

    I'm gonna read this as much more "less explicitly" than more so. I mean, what's explicit about the interplay between things like a Thief's Pick Pockets and a Paladin's Detect Evil? Can a Paladin detect a Theif's evil intent?

    Even more importantly, collaboration towards killing a dragon is mediated, very simply and effectively, by the additive nature of combat damage: everybody contributes some hit points towards the target goal or enables other to deal more damage, the worst contributors deal 0 damage and do nothing useful before quitting, and only specific and unlikely blunders and disasters like disturbing a companion can give negative value to a character's participation in a fight.

    I understand how D&D works. It appears you and I might disagree on what is enjoyable, desirable, simple and effective.

    Regarding "things not often meaningful in game, but meaningful in story" they are either actually meaningful in game (e.g. intimidation, taunting and hiding are commonly covered by rules) or harmless, mechanically neutral details that can be added to the narration of how characters do something useful (e.g. "I attack the dragon with my sword... by diving between its legs in order to slash its belly and getting out before it crushes me").

    You seem to be a man, or woman who is fine with absolutes. I am not that kind of person. You have an ability to define meaningful, and not meaningful much easier than I.

    I don't see any problem with rules not covering absolutely everything in detail beyond selecting a RPG that is about what you want it to be about: powergaming by coming up with clever ideas on the spot vs. powergaming by optimizing characters for effectiveness in the long run, choosing acceptable risk levels given the objectives vs choosing how to best spend limited resources, tactically rewarding detailed combat vs. quick and simple combat, killing vs. gaining influence...

    I'm with you. I've certainly played role-playing games in that way, but they're kind of shitty games. I don't see any problem with other people playing role-playing games in that way, but it's just not for me.

    Why are you specifically interested in Tunnels and Trolls?

    It handles combat very differently.

  • Nathan_H said:



    Well, need is certainly subjective, right? Like if I express a desire for something, isn't that enough of a need?

    I understand how D&D works. It appears you and I might disagree on what is enjoyable, desirable, simple and effective.

    You seem to be a man, or woman who is fine with absolutes. I am not that kind of person. You have an ability to define meaningful, and not meaningful much easier than I.

    I think you are discussing what you like in a RPG on a mostly emotive level, while I am "fine with absolutes" because I am discussing game rules instead, and rule systems work in a certain way regardless of whether one likes their outcome or not.

    Game rules are formal and define what is meaningful and not meaningful: what is not in the rules is not meaningful, what is in the rules is meaningful. The more rules there are about something, the more it matters; it's a simple issue of attention on the author and the player's part.
    As a player, you don't have the luxury of deciding what is important: if you do, you are modifying the game (and fighting against it) or using it as a customizable toolkit to create the actual game you mean to play, instead of following the rules.

    This principle goes further than specialized rule systems that emphasize as much as desired obvious, "realistic" elements of the fiction (e.g. D&D has many ways to attack more effectively and defend more effectively in melee, but nothing about accounting or mathematics even if both activities obviously occur somewhere offscreen).
    RPG rules can (and should) also deliberately distort realism to offer abstractions and models with a certain behaviour (e.g. many games restrict themselves to fungible "hit points" to avoid dealing with localized wounds and their varied and debatable effects) and they often define systems of completely abstract entities they are dealing with (e.g. periods and events in Microscope, character level and alignment in D&D, moves in PbtA and similar games, scenes and player turns in too many games to count).
  • The idea that what matters is in the rules I have found incomplete. You can also have rules "all around" the hollow form of what matters. Incidentally.
  • edited February 20
    DeReel said:

    The idea that what matters is in the rules I have found incomplete. You can also have rules "all around" the hollow form of what matters. Incidentally.

    If "the hollow form of what matters" is not your own projection or hallucination or arbitrary superstructure it must be a product of the rules of the game, which are therefore unusually indirect (and probably fragile and ineffective) but still focused in their own way on what is important in the game.

    Setting aside theory, what examples of such an exotic approach to game rules do you have in mind?
    I can only think of less ambitious examples: games which don't bother describing complex emerging behaviour that players are not expected to predict before discovering it in play or through dedicated study (even the common case of minmaxing characters in option-rich and exploit-rich environments like D&D or GURPS falls in this class), or games with "secret" design objectives that would be spoiled by an explanation (for example, Munchkin rules appear to be badly written on purpose, in order to cause the same sudden discussions about special and unclear cases that are so common in the old school RPGs that are parodied).
  • Well, nothing fancy, just : the rules don't need to mention the behaviour or experience at the table. Monopoly and Oiligarchy both have a secret lesson that profit in itself is dull, yet there is no rule about in the game.
  • Indeed. There's a long tradition of this kind of thing in RPGs, too. (Like the idea of a game with such deadly combat mechanics that the real way to play is to avoid combat at all costs, and look for more diplomatic or clever solutions.)
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