Sharpening your storygames skillz

edited February 2009 in Play Advice
I've been thinking a lot about how there are certain skills that storygames rely on which traditional games have not prepared me for.

What do you think are "must play" hippie games to get the best practice at all these crazy concepts they put forward. Mainly, I'd like practice in these areas:

Collaborative GMing (like Polaris)

Conflict Resolution (as opposed to task resolution)

stake setting

scene structure, namely, getting a full plot arc out of one session.

I have a few guesses as to what games would be good for some of these, but I'd like the opinion of someone who's actually PLAYED these games instead of just read them.

Comments

  • Group character creation after group discussion of the campaign and game direction.
  • edited February 2009
    Posted By: AndyGroup character creation after group discussion of the campaign and game direction.
    World Burning in Burning Empires is great for this. As is Misspent Youth's Authority Creation.

    Those are the two I've had experience with, but I imagine you could definitely throw My Life With Master in there as well.
  • Posted By: kevin.weiser
    scene structure, namely, getting a full plot arc out of one session.
    I'd like to learn more about this.
  • So you want to know about games that are good at teaching you how to, say, set stakes?

    I don't think any games are really great at this, because it's not really a procedural skill. It's a social and creative one. You get better by doing it, especially with a wide variety of people.

    Other social and creative activities help refine these skills, too, in my experience. If you are good at speaking and listening, and taking the pulse of a group and paying attention to your friends, and facilitating, and agreeing and building, you will be better at all the skills you mention.
  • Posted By: kevin.weiserscene structure, namely, getting a full plot arc out of one session.
    I'd volunteer my own game, Full Light, Full Steam, for this one, although in order to get that sort of practice, you need to play "loose," which is not in the book. By "loose" I mean, "just let the game work instead of trying to make it work like a traditional game." But even that is hard to do!
  • Jason,

    I don't necessarily think that's true. Take stake setting for example. Yes, practice makes perfect, so what's a game that makes it easy to practice stake setting? Burning Wheel is out because stake setting only happens for big events like a Duel of Wits or Fight! and there are big consequences for those stakes.

    A game that would be good for "practice" at stake setting would have you doing it often, and giving you many chances to see how these stakes are affecting play. Something like Cold City, perhaps?
  • Posted By: kevin.weiserWorld Burning in Burning Empires is great for this. As is Misspent Youth's Authority Creation.

    Those are the two I've had experience with, but I imagine you could definitely throw My Life With Master in there as well.
    With Great Power is a great system for this as well. Sorry, I couldn't tell by your first post that you were looking for GAMES that did it, I just thought you were looking for TECHNIQUES. Because these days, I pretty much do the above in whatever game I'm playing: Recently Legend of the Five Rings, Shadowrun.

    -Andy
  • Posted By: AndyGroup character creation after group discussion of the campaign and game direction.
    Starblazer Adventures has procedures for doing both.
  • <blockquote><cite>Posted By: Andy</cite>Sorry, I couldn't tell by your first post that you were looking for GAMES that did it, I just thought you were looking for TECHNIQUES.</blockquote>

    That's because I left a word out. Fixed now.

    Although your post does bring up a good point. So what are common storygames Techniques that will require practice and training for those come over from the WoTC and White Wold world? what games would be good, easy practice for these techniques"?

    Collaborative GMing:

    Group character creation after group discussion of the campaign and game direction. Burning Empires, Misspent Youth, *PrimeTime Adventures

    Conflict Resolution (as opposed to task resolution) Cold City (need help with this one!)

    Stake Setting Cold City, Misspent Youth

    scene structures


    In some cases: Acting independently, i.e. breaking of the "Splitting the party = certain death" mentality.

    In some cases: Allowing inter-party conflict.

    Collaborating with the GM to bring about conflict, as opposed to playing close to the chest so the GM can't "ruin" your plans.

    Any others?
  • edited February 2009
    Jason,

    Wow! That codex is fantastic! Just what I was looking for, thanks.
  • Posted By: kevin.weiser
    Conflict Resolution (as opposed to task resolution)

    stake setting
    The Shadow of Yesterday, for both. Also, Kevin, I would say that stake setting exists in Burning Wheel outside of the extended conflicts, although I don't believe the rulebook refers to it as such. Playing the Shadow of Yesterday definitely influenced how I make and resolve tests in Burning Wheel.
  • Not sure if any of these games really facilitate what you're looking for but here's how I was introduced to the techniques you list...

    Collaborative GMing -- Universalis, because that's basically what it does.

    Conflict Resolution -- HeroQuest, because - well - it pretty much breaks on just plain task resolution

    stake setting -- HeroQuest, again for the same reason as above. Necessity being the mother of invention and all that.

    scene structure -- The only games I've played that actually facilitated this were My Life With Master and With Great Power. I don't think it's something you can shoehorn in to a system that actively (or passively) works against it.
  • edited February 2009
    Play Trollbabe. A lot. Then play it some more.

    There. Your training is complete.
  • Posted By: AndyGroup character creation after group discussion of the campaign and game direction.
    Damn that means I've been a hippy since blue box Basic D&D! I am a pioneer!
  • Posted By: John HarperPlayTrollbabe. A lot. Then play it some more.

    There. Your training is complete.
    Yeah. I haven't played Sorcerer yet either. I'm wondering if I should play them first (poorly) to get the fundamentals down or last so I can really appreciate them.
  • Read a lot of stories.
  • Posted By: kevin.weiser
    Yeah. I haven't played Sorcerer yet either.
    The problem with Sorcerer is that it doesn't match your original criteria. There is no collaborative GMing (beyond the stuff setup in character creation). There are no stakes. And while scene structure is important it isn't about completing an arc in a single session. The only criteria featured in your original list present in Sorcerer is Conflict Resolution.

    That said Sorcerer is my personal Chess of "Story Games." It's really the only game I actively work at mastering. I enjoy many others and want to play and practice them but Sorcerer for whatever reason is the only one I seek to *master*.

    Jesse
  • Here's the thing. Does understanding how to run a fun encounter in D&D translate to understanding how to run a fun encounter in Exalted? Does having really good checkers skillz make you a better chess player?

    No. It does not.

    You've got to learn to play each game as itself. If you're very lucky, a few of the things you learn about your group dynamic will benefit your play in other games, but each game is its own thing and you have to approach it that way. Seeing skills as transferrable from game to game is one of the best ways to make all your games play the same, and dissolve whatever important differences there are between them.

  • Posted By: shreyasDoes having really good checkers skillz make you a better chess player?
    Actually it kinda does, when I taught chess to kids and we got to the idea of 'control of territory', we switched to checkers for a bit in order to have some tactile and simple exercises about how to target a specific area of territory and take it.

    I know what you're trying to get at and you're right, some things are not transferable.

    But if you dissolve the differences between two games and both play terrific now, what's the downside?
  • The downside is you paid twice for the same game. Whoops!

  • Posted By: shreyasSeeing skills as transferrable from game to game is one of the best ways to make all your games play the same, and dissolve whatever important differences there are between them.
    I'm going to have to agree with Jason here. I've played a bunch of games within a given class (e.g. Euro resource games, abstracts), and I've discovered that there are certain principles that carry over between the various games. Jason's example of "territory control" is a good example.

    Now, that being said, you still have to translate the principles into a particular game. For example, most abstracts require that a player seize the initiative to control the flow of the game. However, how that is accomplished within a given game is different, sometimes *very* different.

    Also, certain principles that are good in some games are really, really bad in others. My classic example is from a game of El Grande. My friend James was hoarding caballeros in his court to save for an uber-move later in the game. The problem is that El Grande isn't a long-term strategic game. So, when the "All players discard all caballeros from their court" card hit the table, his game was destroyed. James' plan would have been good in (say) Princes of Florence but not in the game that we were actually playing.

    Seth Ben-Ezra
    Great Wolf
  • I'm also weighing in on Jason's side in that I see certain skills as being transferable between games. In Chess, for instance, projecting a sequential strategy is sufficiently meta to apply to anything from Checkers to Pente to Stratego all the way to (provisionally, because the rules are so fluid) Fluxx. Different games alter the parameters and obstacles for various meta-skills, and certain games challenge or enable some skills more than others. Dramatic visualization takes one form in Wushu, another when stunting in Exalted. The output is different. My Life With Master produces a different experience than Call of Cthulhu, but you will likely apply a number of the same skills to both games.
  • If we're settling this discussion on poundage alone, I don't really think we need all of you on the other side of the scale.

  • Posted By: shreyasSeeing skills as transferrable from game to game is one of the best ways to make all your games play the same, and dissolve whatever important differences there are between them.
    You know, while I think that certain skills do transfer between roleplaying games, I think what Shreyas says there is absolutely correct. His word seeing is what is so bloody important. Remember all the problems people had with In a Wicked Age when it first came out? And why was it difficult for people? Because a lot of people see all their skills as transferable from game to game.

    P1: Hey I got this incredible skill called stakes setting.

    P2: Cool, let's use it to play IaWA!

    Do some skills translate? You bet.

    Should you see them that way? Best way to ruin your game or to turn all your games into the same one.
  • Here is my take on what some classic hippie games I have played can teach:

    My Life With Master
    Scene framing, fortune in the middle, collaborative creation of setting

    Primetime Adventures
    Scene framing, kibbitz (fan mail), story arc, collaborative creation of setting

    Dogs in the Vineyard
    Conflicts (determine cost rather than success/failure), setting stakes, narrative traits, the power of relations

    Grey Ranks
    Flashbacks, shared GM responsibilities, story arc, it's not about character success but about character development, playing for the story, not for the win

    Polaris
    Improvisation, the power of strong statements, process and ritual is as important as background and content, negotiation of conflicts, player responsibilities are not only to look after a pc.

    1001 Nights
    Improvisation, story telling, stances (narrator vs. actor)
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