Author Topic: On Narrative Design  (Read 14539 times)

Mister Andersen

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Re: On Narrative Design
« Reply #30 on: February 19, 2016, 02:36:09 AM »

Morgenstern

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Re: On Narrative Design
« Reply #31 on: February 19, 2016, 10:10:17 AM »
  Wow. Reading that, I feel like it's about 94% utter horse shit. A real student of the Tolkien school of fantasy where the First Age was glorious and it was a direct slide into the shit heap from there.

  To me, the rules provide a structure for when the GM doesn't have an opinion. They give the players some expectation of consistency in the absence of special circumstances which are almost by definition numerous beyond the capacity of any written volume to address. If the GM does have an opinion, that's how things work on that occasion. Done. As true with 25 pages of rules as 400. The book is your back-up band, not your master.

  I've had my fair share of rules lawyers at my table. I'm happy to entertain suggestions, rules-based or otherwise. But when push comes to shove, I'm still the hardest working person at the table and the responsibility is on me. Not many rules' lawyers I've had to deal with have persisted after the simple question, "Do you think you or your character is aware of every factor at play in these circumstances? I know what the book says. I also know there's more involved. Either trust my judgment or don't. But if you don't there's no reason for you to play." Most people have a really good time at my tables. Their trust is rewarded. Some... some leave, and that's a good thing for all concerned, because I'm not there to help you masturbate your way to inevitable victory. At my table, you'll probably win, but you're gonna work for it. There will be setbacks. Some from dice and rules and some because I specifically kick you in the face for dramatic effect.

  Glorifying imagination being required to fill in the gaps in primitive and patchy design doesn't make that design better and it doesn't make imagination any more common amongst the people who actually play. Spoilers: a lot of gamers aren't that imaginative. Really, the proliferation of RPGs into the mainstream shows us in excruciating detail most people would rather have a solid shared experience where everyone knows everyone else is seeing the same thing than to have 5-7 independent imaginations churning away and the inevitable misunderstandings and confusion that arises when some element of those fill-in-the-blanks imaginings fail to line up. There's a reason visual play-aides like character portraits improve the game experience (and sell very well). I'd rather see design that was intuitive enough that imagination adds to it, multiplies its grace and charm, but isn't a strict requirement for it to function at all. I feel like the last few I've worked on do a good job of saying "this is the mechanic and the price you pay to access it. Why you have it and what it looks, smells, tastes, sounds, and feels like is up to you... oh, and here's a few suggestions." If I have regrets on FantasyCraft it's not having relentlessly hammered home the vast power being put in player hands to skin things as they prefer. And I think a lot of players just aren't used to being invited to partake in the creation of the shared experience that way.

  People are often surprised how fiercely rules agnostic I am, particularly in light of my love of gamist system design. Point blank, no bullshit: a good Gamemaster can entertain a table for hours with nothing more that a couple of coin tosses and outcomes made up on the spot. A bad Gamemaster can run the most intuitive and evocative game system into the ground. And if that's true WHAT IS THE SYSTEM ACTUALLY FOR? To me the best systems help players and GMs see eye to eye, they foster shared understanding and expectations, they create obvious avenues for success and failure during play. They give the Game Master a repeatable, reusable fallback solution in those moments where he or she doesn't feel like they have knowledge, experience, or vision to deliver a satisfying outcome. When in doubt, go with the rules - but ONLY when in doubt.

  Likewise good systems support Players of all levels of creativity. That means everyone from the most effusive speakers and gifted strategists to the comparatively quiet, shy and awkward should be able to play and succeed. System mastery, self-confidence, and enlivening role-play can come as you learn those skills rather than be the Day One expectation before the first die hits the table.
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Desertpuma

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Re: On Narrative Design
« Reply #32 on: February 19, 2016, 10:14:42 AM »
*APPLAUSE*


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Krensky

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Re: On Narrative Design
« Reply #33 on: February 19, 2016, 10:57:32 AM »
* Hands Scott the mic.

Excuse me, you dropped this.
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Valentina

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Re: On Narrative Design
« Reply #34 on: February 19, 2016, 10:59:01 AM »
Ironically there is still a "Caller," and I know this because I frequently take that position. The game is what changes, not the gamers.

I also frequently play Leaders and Defenders because I like to know the bedrock roles are being filled.

Quote from: Gary Gygax
"(Another of Gary’s quirks was that he really did not like wizards and that human fighters should be the heroes of the campaign.)"

*wild laughter*

And no doubt, that was an epic eruption of erudition on Morg's part. :)
« Last Edit: February 19, 2016, 11:33:57 AM by Valentina »
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Mister Andersen

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Desertpuma

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Re: On Narrative Design
« Reply #36 on: February 22, 2016, 06:05:52 AM »


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Mister Andersen

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Re: On Narrative Design
« Reply #37 on: April 18, 2016, 01:38:46 AM »

Mister Andersen

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Re: On Narrative Design
« Reply #38 on: April 29, 2016, 09:46:13 PM »
 Helpful things for action writers to remember

    Sticking a landing will royally fuck up your joints and possibly shatter your ankles, depending on how high you’re jumping/falling from. There’s a very good reason free-runners dive and roll.
    Hand-to-hand fights usually only last a matter of seconds, sometimes a few minutes. It’s exhausting work and unless you have a lot of training and history with hand-to-hand combat, you’re going to tire out really fast.
    Arrows are very effective and you can’t just yank them out without doing a lot of damage. Most of the time the head of the arrow will break off inside the body if you try pulling it out, and arrows are built to pierce deep. An arrow wound demands medical attention.
    Throwing your opponent across the room is really not all that smart. You’re giving them the chance to get up and run away. Unless you’re trying to put distance between you so you can shoot them or something, don’t throw them.
    Everyone has something called a “flinch response” when they fight. This is pretty much the brain’s way of telling you “get the fuck out of here or we’re gonna die.” Experienced fighters have trained to suppress this. Think about how long your character has been fighting. A character in a fist fight for the first time is going to take a few hits before their survival instinct kicks in and they start hitting back. A character in a fist fight for the eighth time that week is going to respond a little differently.
    ADRENALINE WORKS AGAINST YOU WHEN YOU FIGHT. THIS IS IMPORTANT. A lot of times people think that adrenaline will kick in and give you some badass fighting skills, but it’s actually the opposite. Adrenaline is what tires you out in a battle and it also affects the fighter’s efficacy - meaning it makes them shaky and inaccurate, and overall they lose about 60% of their fighting skill because their brain is focusing on not dying. Adrenaline keeps you alive, it doesn’t give you the skill to pull off a perfect roundhouse kick to the opponent’s face.
    Swords WILL bend or break if you hit something hard enough. They also dull easily and take a lot of maintenance. In reality, someone who fights with a sword would have to have to repair or replace it constantly.
    Fights get messy. There’s blood and sweat everywhere, and that will make it hard to hold your weapon or get a good grip on someone.
        A serious battle also smells horrible. There’s lots of sweat, but also the smell of urine and feces. After someone dies, their bowels and bladder empty. There might also be some questionable things on the ground which can be very psychologically traumatizing. Remember to think about all of the character’s senses when they’re in a fight. Everything WILL affect them in some way.
    If your sword is sharpened down to a fine edge, the rest of the blade can’t go through the cut you make. You’ll just end up putting a tiny, shallow scratch in the surface of whatever you strike, and you could probably break your sword.
    ARCHERS ARE STRONG TOO. Have you ever drawn a bow? It takes a lot of strength, especially when you’re shooting a bow with a higher draw weight. Draw weight basically means “the amount of force you have to use to pull this sucker back enough to fire it.” To give you an idea of how that works, here’s a helpful link to tell you about finding bow sizes and draw weights for your characters.  (CLICK ME)
        If an archer has to use a bow they’re not used to, it will probably throw them off a little until they’ve done a few practice shots with it and figured out its draw weight and stability.
    People bleed. If they get punched in the face, they’ll probably get a bloody nose. If they get stabbed or cut somehow, they’ll bleed accordingly. And if they’ve been fighting for a while, they’ve got a LOT of blood rushing around to provide them with oxygen. They’re going to bleed a lot.
        Here’s a link to a chart to show you how much blood a person can lose without dying. (CLICK ME)
        If you want a more in-depth medical chart, try this one. (CLICK ME)

Hopefully this helps someone out there. If you reblog, feel free to add more tips for writers or correct anything I’ve gotten wrong here.

Morgenstern

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Re: On Narrative Design
« Reply #39 on: May 15, 2016, 01:32:51 AM »
  While I spend a lot more time fretting over mechanical design rather than narrative, I thought this episode of Extra Credits about "Easy Games" was interesting. I often find myself pointing straight at a lack of a good tutorial as a problem in video games I play and was pondering how to apply it to Table Top RPGs.

  One thing I worry about with Mastercraft is while characters are born competent, that also means there's a TON of decision making that goes into even a 1st level character. Pretty much all the types of mechanics are in play at level 1 with the exception of Expert and Master classes. You need to set up a lot of picks right out of the gate, with interests, proficiencies, class, and feats being LONG lists to browse. And that after the largely immutable choices of attributes, Talent, and Specialty (which I like to think are probably one of the more intuitive parts for new players - at least they mostly SAY what they are/do/mean. The flexibility gives the system a lot or width (which eventually translates to depth in strategies to advance the story) but its kind of brutal as an introduction. Gear is at least sort of simplified by the lack of early coin, and reputation is mostly held off until you have a few adventures done. I can see why several editions of D&D locked proficiencies to the classes - one less choice to wrestle with when the player's most vulnerable to confusion.

  Hmm.
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SilvercatMoonpaw

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Re: On Narrative Design
« Reply #40 on: May 15, 2016, 01:28:17 PM »
"A writer can gain much more from gaming than simple confidence."
I don't know: I was a lot better writer back when I was confident then I've been since I've been a gamer (not that gaming is what made me a worse writer).

At least, I was more prolific when I was confident.

Spoilers: a lot of gamers aren't that imaginative.
True dat.