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Narrative Control


Sep 19, 2010

Hi and welcome back to Narrative Control.  This episode I’ve got Shaun Hayworth on from This Modern Death and we’re talking about teamwork as it compares to niche protection in terms of giving each player a roll in the game and each character spotlight in the fiction.

Hosts: Sean Nittner and Shaun Hayworth

Length: 38:24

Show Notes

[00:27] Intro to the show. Teamwork vs. niche protection
[00:53] We have our obligatory bad joke. At least we kept in under a minute
[01:25] Inspiration for this show. Our Atlantic City Dresden Files game.
[03:40] Every game, at its core, has an intention that players get to play.
[04:36] Original idea of how to keep everyone involved: niche protection.  Some examples: Dungeons and Dragons, White Wolf, and Shadowrun.
[05:42] Where niche protection fails.  One role eclipses another or one role isn’t important in the game.
[06:32] Example: Non-combat concepts in games that are built around a combat system.
[08:33] One alternative to niche protection is to focus a game around a character’s motivations rather than role in the party.  Shaun super fanboy waxes poetically on Burning Wheel.
[10:36] We’re all in favor of driving characters by motivation.  It doesn’t have any real downside, but it doesn’t always give everyone a role when all the character are involved in a scene or conflict.
[11:16] Some mitigation: tie the characters together.  Make sure the players are talking.
[14:10] Sean defines teamwork as: The overall goal of the group is not achieved until everyone has put their efforts in and the outcome reflects those efforts.
[15:19] Mouse Guard conflict system.  In each volley of an exchange a different mouse takes lead and the others support him or her.
[18:27] Burning Empires. Firefight is all about teamwork.  One character makes a command role to issue out actions to others (who can intern aid in that command role to give themselves more actions).
[20:44] Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies.  Vehicle Duels bring in all members of the crew to make it work.
[23:30] Freemarket.  Ganging up on the Super user.
[25:54] World of Darkness games.  Teamwork merits in Hunter and Werewolf.
[28:26] The game that inspires a lot of teamwork…. Dresden Files.  Partially the fate system but specifically in the “using help” section of Thaumaturgy.  This is huge.  Adventure worthy!
[37:59] Teamwork is manageable in games, where niche protection isn’t always.

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