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Narrative Control


Feb 25, 2011

Welcome to the LOST EPISODE.  The one that should have come before, but didn’t. Because sometimes there are things lost between the GM and Player.  We’re talking about that communication.

Hosts: Sean Nittner and Joe Harney

Length: 32:38

Show Notes
[00:24] Welcome Joe Harney.  The Lost Episode
[00:45] When things are lost between the players and GMs.
[01:13] GM as the window to the world.
[1:40] You walk into a cargo bay.  What image in evoked?
[01:58] The cargo bay of Serenity.
[02:30] Value of a license setting. Establishes setting, tropes, situations,etc.
[02:58] Challenge: License settings are great… assuming you know them!
[03:28] Licensed settings require that you get everyone to a baseline understanding.
[03:45] The Battletech universe. Over 100 books. Outside our normal scope of understanding.
[04:20] Medieval Fantasy – more commonly understood setting and topes.
[05:08] Using a setting with reflexive knowledge.
[05:54] The strength of the World of Darkness settings.
[06:25] The Tolkien Syndrome – Detailed descriptions that bore the players.
[07:14] And effort to “show not tell”.
[07:48] Focus on what the scene is about.
[08:12] The opening scene from CSI – Displaying a lot of information.
[09:00] Announce what a scene is about.  You enter the scene to do X.
[09:37] Players trusting the GM to give them the information they need.  GMs trusting players to take information and push forward in with it, not…
[10:02] “I attack the gazebo”
[10:34] We’re not all looking to tell the same story, but we want our stories to be compatible.
[11:12] Discrepancies about what is actually happening in a game.
[11:42] Be willing to back up a step, if necessary.
[12:35] All the work GMs put in to their games, sad if it doesn’t come to fruition.
[13:16] Benefit of not planning a game.  Nothing holding you to a plan if things change.
[13:40] Middle ground: Planning a game based off flags presented by the players.
[14:09] Discrepancy in expectations of consequences.  A bugbear to untangle
[15:25] GMing Seminar with Robin Laws and John Wick on what happens when GM and Players have different expectations of consequences.
[16:41] Easier to undo a calamity before it happens.
[17:10] The mood of the game can also shift into a different space if not held in check
[18:04] This isn’t the game I thought I was playing.
[18:18] Inspiration for this episode: A LiveJournal post.  Stakes not agreed upon in advance. 
[19:15] Sacred cow turned into sacred-cow-burger
[19:42] Why are we here? What is this game about.   Are we playing to tell a cool story? Are we playing to win?
[20:46] Are those goals tied to game styles (traditional – narrative games)?
[21:43] Games that have specific mechanics to add story elements: Fiasco plot twists.
[22:36] Joe does some brain surgery.
[22:54] Win conditions, however, are easier to mechanize
[23:20]Agree about what the game is focused on.  Can I trust the GM to make mistakes.
[24:35] Secrets.  Do you trust the GM to expose them?  Burned players.
[25:28] They downward spiral of mistrust.
[26:01] GM afraid to offer up game elements that the players will “break”.
[27:46] The Superman metaphor
[28:18] Tangingting… again.  Player fulfilling power fantasies.
[29:32] Know where you are on the spectrum of “do you want win?”
[30:41] Hording the cool.  Afraid that the cool will be lost if you spend it.
[31:15] Wrap up.  Thanks Joe!

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