orcbabykilling, PvP, pickpocketing, antisocial behaviour

edited February 2012 in Story Games
This is a spinoff from the "Confessions of a Dungeon Master" thread.

There's a certain style of play which includes all the things in the subject line. Have you played in this style? Was it fun? Was it terrible?

If it was fun, what do you think made it fun, and would it be possible to recreate now?


  • edited February 2012
    1. Start with only people you like and communicate well with.

    90% of Traumatic D&D Stories involve someone who should not have been at the table. Send that person packing. If you can't, do not play a chaotic, unfocused, crazyplayer Old School game for the first time. Do not do it. Do not do it. They will help you ruin your game.

    2. Forget Static Creative Agendas

    The whole game thrives on the players having conflicting creative agendas--this is what makes the game happen. This one acts while this one strategizes while this one tries to shape the plot. As long as everyone's happy you _can_ juggle those chainsaws--all in the same combat round. Believe me.

    3. Forget Your Plot

    Your players will pickpocket and babykill their way out of any plot. They will slay your plot and build their own. This is good. This is God's work. Give them a playground, not a Yellow Brick Road.

    4. Prep Like A Lunatic At Least In The Beginning

    You need contingency plans. And contingency plans for the contingency plans.

    5. Use Random Tables

    Why do old schoolers love random tables? We need them. On Saturday my PCs have literally 29 locations they could go to. At any speed. When they arrive, I need things for them to hit

    6. Use Abulafia.

    It's fast, it's full of goodness.

    7. Make Sure Everyone IsCool With Whats Going On

    If the players get TPKed and then immediately roll new characters, you know you are running a good game. But otherwise the signs can be subtle. If anything sucky happens to anyone, make sure they are cool with what is going on

    8. Split XP Evenly Between The Whole Group Unless You Want Backstabbing

    9. Embrace the Roguish Work Ethic


    10. High Fantasy Heroism Is Not What This Game Is About

    Your players are The Grey Mouser and Cugel and suchlike. If you do not recognize those names, get googlin then get readin'.

    11. Death Is Ok

    12. Fear of Death Is The Mother Of Invention

    If your players are worried they'll die, it makes them think.

    13. In Setting Up The World, Be Inventive

    14. In Adjudicating The Play, Be Merciless

    Never fudge, never re-roll. The world is a puzzle to be solved, not dream-stuff to be manipulated

    15. Give PCs Resources You Don't Know How They'll Use

    Potion that turns anything blue. Door that removes all inorganic material from anything passing through it.

    16. Your NPCs Suck And Are Going To Die

    The players are the thing. They may like your NPCs--but probably they will ignore them and focus on what they are wearing.

    17. Don't Let Character Gen Take Too Long

    If it does, then the player gets attached to the PC-as-born rather than the PC-as-made-by-play

    18. Find a Way To Make Everything That Happens Matter

    If you fail your second roll to sneak into the orc camp rather than your third roll, the consequences should be different

    19. You Play, Your Stats Don't

    This kind of play is based largely on "Pawn" stance. Don't get hung up on "who your PC is supposed to be" the PC is a tool to solve problems which you slowly get in tune with. Sometimes you become the axe gnome, sometimes the axe gnome becomes you, sometimes you die, rolll 3d6 in order and now you are a sword dwarf


    20. Always Consequences. Always the Possibility of Death.
  • When I was 13, this was hella fun as a form of unrestrained power-tripping. Except for PvP, cuz then you broke the next guy's ability to power-trip.

    I think that specific joy doesn't last long beyond adolescence, but I think older people still use RPGs to revel in the freedom to break taboos and do stuff they aren't free to do in real life, regardless of whether they'd really want to do it in real life. See: every game where you're a badass, and every game where messed-up relationships and extreme actions are the norm. Doing both at once (badassery and violations) does seem to get scarce, though. I mean, in Sorcerer you can use your badass demon control to flay your best friend... but then you're supposed to, y'know, take it seriously and stuff.
  • edited February 2012
    @David Berg

    This kind of game is not necessarily reliant on Power Trippery.

    It can also be regarded as a test of wits.

    However, if this comment is ignored and this is consistently referred to as power tripping or trying to be a badass, this will very quickly turn into a flaming fireball thread and be one of those Story Gamers Accidentally Alienating People Not Like Them things.
  • @Zak: I would play the shit out of that game.

    My problem is that no one around here knows how to run it, and I haven't got the skills (or frankly the patience). Is there a shortcut to 4 and 13, or is having a strong, creative DM just part of the necessary tools?
  • edited February 2012
    I played this exact style using AD&D for about five years when I first started gaming. Shit like player-kills, stolen loot, hidden alignment, backstabbing and murder and stuff were all common place in our games.

    It was incredibly fun. Super wicked great and I think fondly on every second of it, even when I remember hating my friends for killing my precious pet character.

    I think what made this fun / bearable was that we didn't take it as seriously as I seem to take games now. Like, if I put time and effort into a character then, to have him killed was more a case of "oh, shit, I should have been more careful around you assholes" and now, if I put a ton of time and effort into a character, I guess I expect that everyone will respect that, or maybe the games I play in now are more character-driven (vs plot or world driven) and so I don't see that level of direct PVP action. I don't know what's different. I know why it worked, though - we all knew what we were getting into, we'd discuss it in depth with new players. We'd talk up how much fun it was to get one-over on each other and there was a degree of fun, friendly competition. I don't remember anyone really getting upset about something that happened.

    Our DM was INTEGRAL to the play style. If you were going to helm a game, you had to know what shitheads we all were and be able to adapt. To be fair, even and reasonable to everyone and to stick to your guns when you made a rules call. We never once blamed the DM for favouritism or gave whoever it happened to be a hard time. We believed that the DM made the final call and that was that. If you didn't like it, roll up a new character and ready yourself for next time, you might be the one to find a new loophole. The DM had the world to run and wasn't babysitting us. If he said "a dragon is menacing the town of Wherever" and we said "fuck you, we don't care" you best believe that town would be ruins when we visited it months later. There was a plot going on in every game but our engagement in it was up to us.

    I think, too, outside the game and the rules and everything, the reason it worked was because we separated our characters from ourselves. "I killed you because I am Lawful Evil and you are Chaotic Good" was a completely valid answer. So was "I am a Drow and you are a filthy wood elf." or "I wanted your Ring of Invisibility". We accepted these things as character motivations and, as Justin Achilli once put it, we relied so heavily on the "Nuremburg Defense of Gaming" that it because common place. We weren't apologists for our characters. If you made a character who was a total friendless dick, mind you, you'd get beat down for it eventually.

    The game that feels the most like my early D&D play, now? Diplomacy.
  • Posted By: PeterBB@Zak: I would play the shit out of that game.

    My problem is that no one around here knows how to run it, and I haven't got the skills (or frankly the patience). Is there a shortcut to 4 and 13, or is having a strong, creative DM just part of the necessary tools?
    Having a lazy, flexible GM works pretty much the same way, actually.
  • Skinnyghost knows what's up
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: Zak SThis kind of game is not necessarily reliant on Power Trippery.
    Agreed. I never felt like we were trying to out-badass each other. Just that, sometimes, a PC would do a thing and you'd respond "in character" and, because PCs are sometimes violent individuals (or sneaky and murderous or worship foul entities or WHATEVER) you come to a place where one of you has to tear up your character sheet and start a new "guy". And maybe that guy has a vendetta to carry out against the guy who murdered your last dude. Or maybe not - maybe you just wanted to be an Abjurer this time.

    Character-creation-excitement / new class-race-alignment ADD can be a very powerful "get over it" motivator.

    Also, to address "orc baby killing" in my experience, drawing from that very-heavily "acting out / PVP / game mode we're discussing here" style, it was something that came up a lot. We'd capture prisoners or come across questionable circumstances but it was never an out-of-game dilemma that I can remember. It was;

    a) What's your alignment? Do what that says you ought to do.
    b) Don't like that? Explain why you're not doing it, Mr Chaotic Evil.
    c) Someone else want to do a thing that your alignment doesn't agree with? Try and stop them with words or your swords or whatever.
    d) Are you going to fight them over it? If not, consider vengeance later. If so, cool!
    e) It's over. Someone won the argument, or you came to an agreement and maybe somebody died over it. It's cool that they stood up to you and won or lost. Moving on.

    Players didn't have alignments, their characters did, right? Sometimes it was fun to see what it would be like to have incredibly strict moral codes / be a chaotic villain out for blood. It was seen as experimentation and play - not serious commentary on anything, really. Playing your alignment was pretty heavily policed by everyone in our group, though we kept our alignment a secret from everyone but the GM so as not to be exploited for it.
  • I've been playing a campaign of a hacked version of Anima for 5 years. The group of players has been more or less stable, but the PC changed in every "season" of the game. In the first season, PCs ended working for the main villain instead of stopping him. The setting is actually made to suggest that PCs with supernatural backgrounds are most of the time feared or hated by common humans. There's even a twisted incarnation of the Inquisition in the game, which actively pursues and destroys supernatural beings, such as the PCs themselves.

    So the players were between a rock and a hard place: on one side the humans and on the other the main villain, who also was a powerful supernatural being as them. Now, this guy, instead of rejecting humankind, was trying to make them evolve and grow stronger by exposing them to the worst dangers he could place in the world. And suddenly the PCs were in the middle of liking that concept and not being able to directly oppose that villain... and had already acted against humans -by accident, of course- so the choice of serving the powers of evil came easy to them.

    Even when I gave PCs a chance to free and redeem themselves, they only took it partially and one even choose to remain faithful to the main villain. All in all it became a really interesting starting point for the campaign. Of course, in the next season, I had them made new characters and confronted them against the old ones, who now were more powerful generals of the dark lord. We even used a mechanic that we called "villain of the day": one of the players used his old PC and got a task from the dark lord, concerning the new PCs, either to stop, capture, misguide them or recover an item from them. Every session, a different villain was used by each player, while the others had to deal with him with their less powerful PCs. That also took a lot of the load off me as a GM.

    In the last season the players created a fanatic cult of their own, positioning themselves as the high priests of the cult. They even invested skill points to became more convincing leaders and manipulate a whole city into following them, creating their own sacred books and everything.

    It's been a hell of fun -literally- it all comes from people actually rolling with it, and the GM has to be the main example of that disposition. Of course, it makes railroading -even good railroading, if we can use the term in such way- almost impossible. It demands quick reactions from the GM, especially being able to adapt to the changing mood and frame new scenes and situations to match the players feelings, instead of pulling and pushing them into a particular feeling with plot hooks, blocks, distractors and excuses.

    So, the only thing we didin't had from the list was pickpocketing among PCs. but that was because:
    1- Anima doesn't use alignments, so players get freedom of action and don't have a mechanic excuse to fight among themselves.
    2- The setting is dangerous enough so one member of the team alone can't make it, even if he goes to a big city -especially if he goes to a big city. They see it's better to stay as a team.
    3- players don't get xp for killing monsters individually, they get it for roleplaying, good ideas and teamwork; so since there isn't any benefit on playing solo, players naturally don't see a point in antisocial behavior.

    It doesn't mean it hasn't happened, it's just that there was space in the game for everything, and I always made an effort to include that in the fiction, so the event didn't interrupted the play, becaming instead an interesting variation to the usual session. I believe that simple mechanics could help prevent unconfortable situations in the table, and some tolerant gaming philosophy can help ease such situations once they appear, without resorting yet to taking the problematic players apart and having a talk with them.
  • System hacking was a cardinal sin for my group. It was by-the-book or you didn't do it. We played that shit as-written because it was the only way to maintain order. Unless you were the DM, then you could make up monsters all you wanted or make up new spells or magic weapons, but you didn't bend the rules.

    It was okay to make a new acid-spraying beholder-ogre hybrid but it was not okay to say that falling did 1d10 / 10' instead of 1d6.
  • You know, the funny thing is that I could fully see that group embracing something like Burning Wheel and having a kick-ass time of it.
  • A thing to remember is you can always choose to stop playing the game for a moment to address issues like grown men and women. You can do things like say "let's not have our characters kill each other, okay?" and measure/adjust the reaction to that suggestion as people in a room who are talking to each other, not as a part of gameplay. As if you're saying "oh, wait, that's my coke, don't drink that, I have a cold" despite the fact that you are playing D&D over the course of that afternoon.

    Or even "let's not kill each other's dudes today" or "let's not kill each other's dudes until at least we get out of the Red Mausoleum." You're not guaranteed to get it because not everyone always agrees on every point, but remember, playing D&D doesn't stop you from being in a room with people who can be talked to.
  • There's nothing in Burning Wheel's actual rules that militates against this kind of play. Though there are some things in the mechanics that might slow it down, some GMs will like it slow because it means you have more time to plan the next thing after your PCs ignored or blew up the last one.
  • edited February 2012
    I think the procedure of play is neutral enough to player agenda that problems come when you expect things to go along with what you came to the table for just because you're playing this game. Inevitably play requires dynamic readjustment among players because moods and agendas and relationships are always in flux. With people you know really well, you can do most of this instinctually. But sometimes, since the game doesn't aspire to take care of these issues, you may need to pause. Like in a non-game conversation where at times you might have to try saying "I'm sorry, I think I got off the wrong foot. Let me try to make this right."
  • Posted By: Zak SThere's nothing in Burning Wheel's actual rules that militates against this kind of play. Though there are some things in the mechanics that might slow it down, some GMs will like it slow because it means you have more time to plan the next thing after your PCs ignored or blew up the last one.
    Interesting. Would playing BW add anything, or would it just be an unnecessary difficulty when you could just play LotFP?

    (I can see it helping with "18. Find a Way To Make Everything That Happens Matter", but it seems like it would go against "19. You Play, Your Stats Don't", given the whole "beliefs" thing.)
  • Posted By: PeterBB(I can see it helping with "18. Find a Way To Make Everything That Happens Matter", but it seems like it would go against "19. You Play, Your Stats Don't", given the whole "beliefs" thing.)
    That's assuming Zak's principles are the gospel way to play this kind of game, which, accurate many may be, they're not.
  • edited February 2012

    Cross-posting there. I was responding to Paul, not you. I think your numbered description sounds hella fun. I'm missing the connection to orcbabykilling, pickpocketing, and antisocial behaviour, though. The system you describe sounds like it could be used for just about any kind of game content (well, any kind that threatens death). Why use it for those 3 things?

    The only answer I'm familiar with is power-tripping. If you say you've seen another answer, I believe you, but would you mind describing it some more?
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: skinnyghostPosted By: PeterBB(I can see it helping with "18. Find a Way To Make Everything That Happens Matter", but it seems like it would go against "19. You Play, Your Stats Don't", given the whole "beliefs" thing.)
    That's assuming Zak's principles are the gospel way to play this kind of game, which, accurate many may be, they're not.

    Well... sure... but I was responding to something Zak said. Seems like I can use his list when talking to him? :P
  • Posted By: PeterBBPosted By: skinnyghostPosted By: PeterBB(I can see it helping with "18. Find a Way To Make Everything That Happens Matter", but it seems like it would go against "19. You Play, Your Stats Don't", given the whole "beliefs" thing.)
    That's assuming Zak's principles are the gospel way to play this kind of game, which, accurate many may be, they're not.

    Well... sure... but I was responding to something Zak said. Seems like I can use his list when talking to him? :P

    Yes! True!
  • How these things are related:

    orcbabykilling can occur when players basically do not take the setting seriously as a moral universe yet still want to have fun in it.

    pickpocketing can frequently occur in any setting where you basically have a wide open sandbox xp-for-gold set up. sometimes the PCs go questing for gold, sometimes they just fish around in the NPC's pockets

    and antisocial behaviour: antisocial behavior is closely tied to chaotic sandbox play for reasons under that link i posted at #9

    Basically, the overarching theme is: players not working together to work on a predictable issue or quest or challenge.

    The countertheme is: using the players' desire to fuck up the setting as an engine of adventure. Thsi requires flexibility and improvisation.
  • @PeterBB

    Yeah, you're right, and so does the slow character gen. But I can see it working if you jigger it right.
  • edited February 2012
    Huh! I guess I should go read that link. Thanks.

    I'm getting the impression that perhaps I'm the only one who read Paul's title and interpreted it as "griefing the world for the fun of it", and maybe the rest of y'all are just considering each item on its own merits. My formative RPG experiences may have biased me... being an omnipotent sadist at 13 was pretty memorable!
  • edited February 2012
    BW could maybe be made to try and work, especially once the online chargen is up and running again. Might go with 3 LP characters or even a big pool of them for folks to jump in with if there main characters got killed. If speed of play is an issue, could always stick with the hub, Bloody Versus.

    The improv and seat-of-one's-pants play is pretty much how BW is played but with Beliefs as an inspiration.

    That said, I don't think BW would be the game to play for the games described above. BW would be about these pick-pocketing, orc-baby-killing maniacs and how they change and what they become. Eventually, one of the players would care about something, take some aspect of the world seriously and make a belief about that something. At that point the game would change its face. That would be an interesting moment but I think Bee Dubya's the wrong game for this particular job.
  • edited February 2012
    Okay, I read it. The Roguish Work Ethic sounds to me like "how can we milk the world for personal gain?" which often leads to capers. I love that stuff.

    It's not at all what I think of when I hear "anti-social behavior in RPGs", though. I mean, literally, it clearly is anti-social. But I don't know anyone who talks about heist or caper games that way. "We're playing outlaws!" or "We're the badguys!", sure. But when I hear "anti-social" I think of power-trip stuff like, "The bartender was rude to me, I'm burning the bar down."

    Now I'm curious to see what Paul was thinking when he started this thread...
  • How in hell is "The bartender was rude to me I'm burning the bar down" a power trip?

    that is not "imagining you have more power than you do for the hell of it"

    That's a player-generated adventure hook. Find oil, sneak in, get away, avoid the police, That's all good--that drives a game.
  • edited February 2012
    Ha ha ha! I hadn't even thought of that. Heh. Okay, you're right, it's totally possible to take what I said and turn it into . But man, I have never seen a game where (a) the players cared about risks and consequences, and would thus have any reason to sneak, escape, and evade authorities, and also (b) they did risky dangerous stuff just because they felt like it, for no reward other than the petty satisfaction of over-reactionary vengeance. If you actually care about getting caught, you probably don't burn the bar down over rudeness, right?

    What I meant in my example was a situation where you do not fear being caught. Like, say, you're 12th level in a 0-level town. That's when you burn the bar on a whim. That's the kind of anti-social I remember. I've never seen an anti-social petty vengeance caper. Or, at least, I haven't seen one that wasn't a comedy (sounds like a Fiasco premise, actually).
  • @david

    if your players aren't constantly keenly aware of the possibillty of their immediate death then you are doing it wrong.

    (at least in this playstyle)
  • Hint: Zak's game and the hypothetical game in the first post aren't the same game at all.
    But Zak's very good at teaching his game, listen to him.
  • @teatine

    sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't

    and if you're hanging out in my house watching me play every week you really should stop because it is creepy
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: Zak Sif your players aren't constantly keenly aware of the possibillty of their immediate death then you are doing it wrong. (at least in this playstyle)
    Right! I'm just describing why this playstyle is not what I think of when I hear the phrase "anti-social behavior". That phrase means a different thing to me. To me, it refers to a style where the anti-social-ness is the defining quality. In The Roguish Work Ethic, I'd say that resourceful profiteering is the defining quality.

    In your style, I assume I'd be facing death for a better reason than a rude bartender. If not... well, that's kind of funny. :)
  • edited February 2012
    Paul T's original post was itself a reference to another post where a game was described. Luke Wheel announced it was "everything that was wrong and bad about role-playing games" and said it was because the game included (among other things):

    - a dwarf grabbing a woman's boob while the magic-user tries to do some legitimate research

    -the gnome going invisible and-solo while the group tries to make a decision

    -and the thieves stealing and killing everything in sight

    Aside from the fact that the dwarf is an elf and female (and played by a woman) and that the gnome would be a tiefling this is pretty much exactly my game about every third saturday.
  • edited February 2012
    Oh my god, dude, that cracked me up. Yes, you and Luke should definitely not play together. Just imagining him at that game has me in tears.

    Now I'm curious about the going solo thing, though. Do you, as GM, split the screen time, alternating back and forth between the tiefling and everyone else? Does everyone else consider it a dick move that now they get to play half as much? Or is it taken in a competitive spirit, and they'll be sure to return the favor by initiating their own side-missions? My questions about orcbaby anti-social pickpocket were all about why, but for PvP, I actually do wonder how. I encountered logistical hurdles with that, and I can't see a solution from what you described, other than, "Hit the loners with deadly stuff they won't survive on their own."
  • Zak your first post in this thread is top notch.

    pickpocketing and overreactionary antisocial capers are the bread and butter of how I play PCs in my friends' traditional dnd games. It's a ton of fun and it makes a lot of sense because the GM can fill several hours with fun and dangerous adventure just from a single ill conceived bar fight. It's that fear of doing the wrong thing that poisons low fantasy rogue-ish games.
  • edited February 2012
    Tulpa, is the over-reaction fun because it's funny? Or because it's something we all may get the urge to do in real life, but never would do, because of morals or consequences? Or something else?
  • @david berg

    You cut as in a movie--it's a pretty common technique. Sometimes they survive, sometimes they go "Holy Fuck Splitting The Party Was A Terrible Idea". Everyone really gets pretty much the same screen time, it's just chopped in different ways.

    Sooner or later they come together. Metagame, they know where they fun is.
  • Right on. I don't think that's trivially easy, but it sounds like you and your crew are good at it.
  • David, I've never considered acting in any way like any of those characters.

    It's fun for the same reasons Fiasco is fun. Yes, it can be funny. Usually it means that my characters are on the run, fighting to survive and courting disaster at every turn.
  • Cool, gotcha. I was wondering if it was something outside my experience, but that sounds pretty familiar. Though perhaps "cuz it's funny" was an over-simplification.
  • Re. powertripping.

    I've been in one game where we as players were consistently trying to get this sort of shit going. Except it turned into boring powertripping because the GM didn't give us consequences -- in hindsight because those consequences would not have been in line with the tenor he had in mind for the game. Bad communication. It wasn't a horrible experience, but it wasn't a good game either.
  • You guys, man, stop having threads I want to post in while I'm asleep.

    This is exactly the kind of game I ran in high school, and that I've been working on re-designing from the ground up for the past year-ish. I'll be back.

    PS. Hey Zak! Can I steal "Your NPCs Suck and Are Going to Die" for my game text? That's a perfect way to say it. It'll fit right in along with the other stuff I've got, like telling players "The World Is Your Ashtray."
  • Ok, first thing off the top of my head, with Forge theory. Please ignore if you hate or don't care about Forge theory; I really don't want to argue about it, we can agree to just leave each other alone about it. I'll lay off it after this post. If somebody wants me to explain more about this issue, start another thread or something. k? Thanks.

    This kind of game does exhibit a single, coherent Creative Agenda, specifically Gamism of a certain stripe. Sometimes it *looks* like something else, but it isn't. The GM is basically a referee, and runs the world as a simulation, but it's not Simulationism. Sometimes there's a sort of story, in a picaresque kind of way, even with morality involved, but it's not Narrativism.

    Lemme explain.
    1) If you take this kind of game and strip everything down to the skeleton, it's about problem solving. A dungeon is a problem: how do I get the loot out of here without dying? A monster is a problem: how do I neutralize or avoid this thing without dying? An NPC is a problem: how do I get what I want from this dude? Other players are a problem: how can I exploit these guys for personal gain without losing the collective gain we get from working together? And so on. Sometimes players will take some problems less seriously than others, but that doesn't make it any less Gamist.

    2) Players set their own victory conditions. When they achieve them, they win. This is where it can start to look like so-and-so is trying to shape plot or address Premise or whatever, but that's not what's happening. The player is just pursuing a victory condition that happens to look story-ish. Now, the ref runs the world as a simulation, so when the players push, it pushes back, which creates problems that need solving, and that's where this becomes a Gamist thing, because the player is merely concerned with tackling those problems in order to win in his own fashion. And sometimes these victory conditions are very small! At this very moment, one player might be trying to become king of Kansas, while another mostly just wants to get X character in bed, while player 3 wants to kill as many orcs as he can, and player 4 will feel like he won if he just survives this round of combat.

    More about other issues to come later. Work calls.
  • Zak I have a disconnect when you equate your games to the one Holmes described. Specifically your points 11, 12, and 14 in your earlier post seem competely at odds with Holmes depiction where he mentions fudging to keep characters alive and the dwarf grabbing the lady of the castles breasts at dinner doesnt sound like one where the players are "fearing death" more like taunting it or laughing in the face of danger.

    How is it possible to enable fly in the face of reason madcap zaniness, everyone for themselves, stab everyone else in the back buggery with a dangerous world where anti-social loners should most likely end up alone and dead in short order?
  • Ok, now for antisocial capers.

    So, Roguish Work Ethic is part of it. The other part of it is The World Is Your Ashtray. This is part of players setting their own victory conditions, and "I'ma burn down the bar because the bartender was rude to me" is a perfectly legitimate one. Since the GM runs the world as a simulation, the world pushes back, and this becomes a problem: how do I burn down the bar without being punished? If the player is interested in that challenge, he will fucking go for it.

    Back in the day, one time my brother blew up a water tower to flood a town. Why? I don't remember the character's motivation, but my brother's was that he wanted to. It was his victory condition at the moment. He did it, and there were consequences (lots and lots of cops). He dealt with that by pinning it on my character, who ended up going down in a hail of gunfire on a rooftop. But, hey, that's how it goes sometimes.
  • edited February 2012
    How is it possible to enable fly in the face of reason madcap zaniness, everyone for themselves, stab everyone else in the back buggery with a dangerous world where anti-social loners should most likely end up alone and dead in short order?

    I think that if the DM can resist the temptation to act as as the karmic forces of the world and keep the consequences limited to the pragmatic, this scenario tends to enable itself. As long as there is a certain level of anarchy in how the game world is structured, it becomes reasonably possible (if not guaranteed) to get away with chaos in a lot of situations as long as the players where to spread chaos "wisely" or just luckily.

    (When I say karmic I mean it colloquially, not as a type of resolution.)
  • edited February 2012
    When I was in high school we kind of did do the whole "orcbabykilling, PvP, pickpocketing, antisocial behaviour" thing, but we also had our characters perform virtuous acts just as often. This is because there were really only two reasons why our characters did ANYTHING back then:

    1) It was funny

    or, more often

    2) It was what we thought would solve the immediate problems that came up in the game.

    We did role-play our characters a little if we had concepts we thought were cool, but all of that took a back seat to problem-solving because at the time that's where we thought the handles of the game were, regardless of what we were playing (as I recall mainly 2nd Edition AD&D, Shadowrun, Talislanta and various home-brewed games). We were used to playing arcade games and early computer games and that's where we thought the fun was. So we did WHATEVER IT TOOK to deal with the problems in front of us, whether that involved stealing something from another PC, restoring lost artifacts to churches, slaying orc babies or rescuing orphans. If looked at psychologically, most of our PCs would probably have been considered amoral sociopaths (or possibly psychopaths, not quite sure).

    Ultimately I found I was dissatisfied with the results of that, and eventually realized I was more interested in playing the character than "winning the game" through solving any and all problems thrown at my PC. So I started gearing my style of play more toward role-playing and discovered I had a lot more fun with it (which makes sense because I turned out to be a theatre guy).

    I don't know if I'd be able to play the game the old way again. I might be if I try to look at it as more of a board game. But, knowing me, I'd probably end up drifting back to "RP First" mode because, to be frank, while I was shy and introverted as a teenager, as an adult I'm an incorrigible ham. ;)
  • edited February 2012
    @Marshall Burns

    "Your NPCs Suck And are Going To Die" is actually Jeff Rients

    For my game in particular:

    I do not recognize "gamism" as a rational word.

    I can say that all players being into "challenge-based play" and goals is absolutely not the case here.

    Some people have goals in the game, some just enjoy showing up and Being Their PC (much like self-confessed "theatre guy" otherdoc describes).

    I have highlighted PCs that have goals in the game (often temporary, arbitrary, and quickly forgotten) because those PCs are the ones that are the engine of exploration in the game (the theatre-player is easy, s/he takes things slower). Though you only need one at any given time.

    My observation is that Creative Agendas (Edwardian and otherwise) change rapidly depending on which one looks shiniest at any given moment to a given player and that they frequently overlap and the group stays happy.



    There's a fight, one player wants to view it as a tactical challenge, another player wants to view it as a reason to role=play being a coward.

    Your PC being a coward and running away is one of the elements of tactical challenge that I have to deal with (just as any general has to deal with troop morale)

    My PC wanting to stay and fight is an interesting complication to your drama about being a coward ("Oh, he stayed and fought bravely and died/won handily despite the fact I ran away")

    If you would like to tell me that my players are not doing what I observe them doing, that goes in a new thread you post called "I have decided Zak S is a pathological liar here's why..."

    @Vernon R

    I did not say "I run a game identical to the game in that essay" I said what I said in comment #33.

    Sometimes splitting the party is an effective survival tactic and sometimes it is not.
  • Zak,
    Ok, I don't want to talk about Creative Agenda anymore, because a) I suspect we don't mean the same thing when we say the phrase, and b) Very Bad Things (TM) happen when you talk about CA too much on this forum. So I request that both of us not use words like CA or Gamism (I probably shouldn't have in the first place).

    Now that that's out of the way, allow me to clarify a point: when I talk about goals, I don't mean character goals. Character goals are incidental (and, like, fictional, whatev). I mean player goals.

    I'm really not even saying anything about challenge-based play, necessarily.

    Lemme put it this way: when I sat down to play my home-made game in high school, or when I sit down to play D&D or MADcorp/Madlands today, it is for this reason:
    I want to find out what happens when these characters, powered by the acumen and whims of these players, face X set of problems (not 'challenges,' per se, but problems). Would you say that lines up (100%? 50%? 0%?) with your game? If it doesn't, cool, no skin off my beak, dood. Just trying to clarify what we mean when we say things.
  • Posted By: otherdocWhen I was in high school we kind of did do the whole "orcbabykilling, PvP, pickpocketing, antisocial behaviour" thing, but we also had our characters perform virtuous acts just as often.
    We had that, too. We weren't all Chaotic Evil and sometimes the party would do really amazingly heroic shit because, you know, that was what was fun at the time.
  • edited February 2012
    @Marshall Burns

    I mean player goals too. ( I know what "creative agenda" and "metagame goal" mean.)

    My motives as a GM? I want to see what happens. Period.

    The players have their own goals however.
Sign In or Register to comment.