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    GMing "In the Open"


    Join date : 2009-12-08
    Posts : 483

    The Waste Character
    Name: Jarrol
    Race: Goliath (Half-Giant)
    Class: Ardent

    GMing "In the Open"

    Post by dhlevine

    As the current discussion on my Apocalypse World campaign log ( shows, I'm a big fan of discussing the game with my players. This is probably a big part of what draws me to "indie" games, which often have much more in the way of formal rules for robust player input, and to elements of more "traditional" ones that I can game that way (e.g., the player quests in D&D4).

    But it's got me thinking about two things. One is that there can be an odd relationship between mechanics and just talking to folks. Lots of games I like have "flags," which are little things the player can do to alert me about what they want out of me, the GM. This can be as explicit as Burning Empire's Beliefs or as implicit as the way that, if someone in my D&D game spends a precious feat slot on Skill Focus: Diplomacy, she's telling me that she wants to talk to people a lot.

    However, "flags" can be ambiguous. Does that +13 Diplomacy mean that she wants to role-play out high stakes negotiations? Or that she wants to be able to breeze through them by saying, "fuck you, I roll my giant-ass Diplomacy and the guards let us in."

    And each game has its own sets of flags. Burning Empires, e.g., is very rigid on "screen time" but gives players powerful tools for making the game be about what their characters want. Prime Time Adventures, on the other hand, lets you make the game about what your character wants by enforcing rules about screen time. And in a game like my Apocalypse World game, there's no rule enforcing screen time (though, as I point out in that thread, there are some implying screen time), but nothing stopping Dan from stepping forward and saying, "hey, I'm feeling ignored." On the one hand, why should he have to? But on the other, a screen time mechanic might not respond as flexibly (just as, in Burning Empires, occasionally Beliefs would feel more like shackles than drivers of play).

    The second issue is the hoary one of immersion. Does it hurt your play if you know your GM is focusing on your character b/c you got less focus last session, as opposed to b/c the "natural" logic of the game would lead to more interesting stuff going on near you (or whatever)?

    Of course, The Waste will avoid some of this stuff by mostly being about killing the crap out of monsters.
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    Post on 2010-08-27, 15:45 by Adam Dray

    I'm assuming these aren't rhetorical questions. =)

    What's stopping Dan from stepping forward?

    1. He's new to the group. He doesn't yet know the social norms, or how things work in Apocalypse World.

    2. He's new to the group. His character isn't really established so he has a looser grip on what he can do to get more screen time.

    3. You're a very aggressive MC. You push very hard and that's good. But it means that it's hard to push back sometimes. I mean pushing in terms of pace, not emo-cock-punching, though there is that, too (also a good thing).

    Apocalypse World, at least, seems to have a mechanical questioning thing built-in for interrogating flags. If I put a diplomacy flag on my character, it behooves you to ask me questions about it.

    What about immersion? I immerse pretty well in the AW game. But the longer I sit there not doing anything, the more I lose my immersion. Immersion requires regular check-ins to keep me "down." Don't have to be long ones, but they have to come fairly often. Ten minutes or so, I can stay "down" (in character) and keep reacting to other players' scenes as if I were Ebb. Much longer than that, I come "up" and start thinking about the meta.

    The fix? Faster scene cutting. More scenes with multiple characters together. More scenes where the outcome affects characters not present.

      Current date/time is 2018-07-19, 05:41