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Narrative Control


Jan 25, 2010

Hi and welcome back to Narrative Control. This episode I yoinked an excerpt from Things We Think About Games.  “Take Your Turn Already”

Hosts: Sean Nittner and Eric Fattig Length: 25:08


[00:26] Intro to the Show and to Eric Fattig
[00:44] Open Design Podcast Promo
[01:18] Welcome 2010 and some bad audio (it gets better soon)
[01:35] I love introducing my co-hosts wrong.  Eric Fattig takes the stage.
[02:10] “Take Your Turn Already” – From Things We Think About Games  by Will Hindmarch  and Jeff Tidball.  Also, the audio improves here.
[02:51] Reading time with Sean
[03:24] Classic board game example: Placing settlements in Settlers of Catan
[04:57] How this applies to role-playing games.  Mechanical stumbling blocks in crunchy games.
[05:22] This still happens in rules-light games as players hesitate over choices about what to do regarding their character and the plot.
[05:37] Sean’s loathes planning sessions.   John Wick’s “Dirty Dungeon” from Wilderness of Mirrors.
[06:22] Our L5R game runs in a round robin style of play so we definitely see it when someone holds up the game because they can’t decide what to do.
[07:26] All you need to know is “Be Cool”
[08:00] Player agency.  How does it apply here?  We all want to do something cool, which can cause us to stall when we can’t think of something cool to do.
[09:06] How do board games address “bad decisions”?  Catch up mechanics, immediate penalization that corrects behavior, and victory point mechanics that rate performance after the fact.
[10:52] A fear players have that a bad decision will affect them in ways they don’t want for an extended period time.
[11:55] Many games mechanically are forgiving. You can lose a few hit points and keep smacking firbolgs in the face.
[12:54] Story elements however can be less forgiving.  There are things the GM can do to encourage people to take chances.
[13:40] Lead by example.  Create NPCs that have made mistakes and survived and become more interesting because of it.  Make flawed characters the norm.
[17:20] Take things out of game.  Let the players know that you will give them a warning if they are about to do something that could make the game un-fun.
[18:42] As an extension of this, negotiate stakes so the players know what will happen before the dice are rolled.
[19:54] The players can also help.  If they are rooting for you, you feel a lot safer in taking risks.
[21:50] It’s fun to be spontaneous.  It’s not like our characters have forever to decide what to do.
[22:47] In World of Warcraft, My #2 key is bound to Charge just for Arthas.

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