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Narrative Control


Feb 5, 2011

Welcome to episode 59.  Fattig and I are talking about Player versus Player awesomeness in games.  We’ve got fears, trepidations and we talk about how we’ve overcome then and the amazing stories we’ve seen come out of doing so.

Hosts: Sean Nittner and Eric Fattig

Length: 54:58 (yep, sorry another long one, but it is worth it)

Show Notes

[00:22] I stab your character in the back… Well I stab YOU in the face!
[01:17] Intro to the show: Player vs. Player
[01:26] Player vs. Player baggage.  Lots of bad experiences.
[04:11] But… pvp can make for the most awesome experiences in the game.

Examples of great PVP.

[05:06] Example the one: L5R – Al-Saleen and Tso Lou discuss balancing love on the edge of a blade.
[09:02] Example the two: L5R – Rei and Tso Lou opposite sides of empire building.

Why player versus player is awesome.

[14:26] Knowing that players are your antagonists raises the stakes and the tension at the table.  Players are more alert and attentive throughout.
[15:59] Players can do more when they have meaningful interactions between the other PCs because they aren’t limited to the GMs bandwidth.
[17:06] PVP gives the GM a chance to step back from center stage and manage the game.  Gives the GM a chance to see the bigger picture.
[19:03] It is more fun for the GM if he or she doesn’t have to be the only source of antagonism.
[19:24] Players make the BEST antagonists! NPCs take a lot of work to portray and players can easily dismiss them.

[24:00] How do we do the good and not the bad

[25:50] Ensure there is never a one-sidededness between PCs, they must always have a chance and always have something to lose.
[26:50] Creating constraints.  Players need a sandbox that will demonstrate what are appropriate actions and consequences.
[29:35] Plenty of external threats to make the player conflicts precious and dangerous.
[30:44] Use a system where players can bounce back from defeat.  Apocalypse World: Player vs. Player moves.   Burning Wheel: Explicit stake settings that are negotiated.  Smallville stress just ups the ante and makes the conflicts more intense.  Dogs in the Vineyard relationships can move from problematic (d4) to beneficial (d6+) as the result of fallout.
[38:38] Player versus player conflict should not be a zero-sum game.  We can give and take different things that we value differently.
[43:29] Examples of games that bring player versus player action.
[43:43] The Gift
[46:54] Duneville
[50:15] So much awesome that can come out of player conflict.  The game doesn’t need to be about PVP, just make a safe space for it to happen and watch the magic.

[51:30] News of the <blank>!

[52:17] Dundracon coming up! – You can be a god in my game!
[52:50] Good Omens 10 year anniversary
[53:01] GM Seminar in March at EndGame.
[53:33] EndGame Minicon April 9th – 5th anniversary of Minicons

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