11 Responses

  1. bateleur
    bateleur May 1, 2013 at 3:30 pm |

    This sounds like a great system! Seems like it could be adapted to almost any setting with relatively little work, too.

    (I wouldn’t actually want to play, but that’s just because I never like GMless games much.)

    Reply
    1. undying-admin
      undying-admin May 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm |

      My feeling is that it ought to work fairly well with GMed games as well (perhaps minus the ‘Secrets’ deck). A lot of it is basically trying to imitate the kind of mutual character roll-up that used to be commonplace in trad GMed tabletop RPGs. Although pregen characters are pretty much universal in freeforms, I don’t think they need to be: or, at least, there is room for the player to add quite a bit of customization along these lines over a pregen skeleton.

      What don’t you like about GMless games, by the way, if you don’t mind me asking?

      Reply
      1. bateleur
        bateleur May 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm |

        What don’t you like about GMless games, by the way, if you don’t mind me asking?

        Not at all! It’s really just that they remove, for me, the mechanism that makes RPGs actually work. My character is in a room and hears running footsteps approaching from down the stairs. An archway leads out of the room to my left and on the right is the door to what I assume is the master bedroom. Over the mantlepiece in front of me is a sword. What next? And the point is, whatever I choose I am interacting with a world that already exists. The GM knows what’s beyond the archway, what’s behind the door, whether the sword is sharp, who’s running up the stairs and what they already know about the situation. And when I make my choice, the GM can judge the results of my actions in the context of the world.

        I appreciate that for some players these things don’t matter and it’s more about the interaction of characters. Certainly I love a good in-character conversation, but for me there’s a limit to what I can get out of that without the context of a world backing it up. Perhaps I decide my best chance is to deceive the guard running up the stairs. “I am Sir Tristam of Greengate, a guest of the Bishop. I heard a cry for help from this chamber!” I claim. Does the guard believe me? In an improvised-on-the-spot world I find it impossible to care. His conclusion is based on little more than narrative convenience and perhaps the whims of the players involved. Nobody knows a thing about Sir Tristam, certainly not about Greengate and probably nothing about the Bishop either. This lack of information focusses attention away from all the things which make such a tense conversation interesting to me and towards trivia like the tone of my delivery or what personality the player has picked for the guard. Indeed, even the personalities tend to be shallow stereotypes because one simply doesn’t have adequate opportunity to communicate anything much else.

        Erm… sorry, that got a bit long. 🙂

        Reply
        1. undying-admin
          undying-admin May 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm |

          Not at all, good to hear thoughts expanded!

          Your critique would seem to apply to prepless GMed games as well as to GMless games: am I reading that right?

          Thinking about GMless vs GMed games to start with, the two are quite different kinds of activity, both of which I enjoy in different ways.

          But saying that, a GMless ‘game’ (which is perhaps not strictly a good name for it) works better if you avoid setups which will require eg. the improvisation of NPCs on the fly, or the exploration of new areas of gameworld, as those will necessarily expose the weaknesses of the method.

          An advantage of a closed scenario like the Blackpool one is that the areas within which the players are inventing stuff can be carefully chosen to minimize such awkwardnesses. (“Rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty”, as Vroomfondel might have said.)

          Reply
          1. bateleur
            bateleur May 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |

            Your critique would seem to apply to prepless GMed games as well as to GMless games: am I reading that right?

            To an extent, yes, but it’s a matter of degree. I enjoy campaigns more than 1-offs, 1-offs more than prepless 1-offs and prepless 1-offs with a GM more than those without. Also, prepped vs unprepped isn’t a binary thing. For example, if a GM were to improvise a game based on a book they’d read (but I hadn’t) that would have some of the qualities of a prepped game without any extra work put in and I suspect in practice similar effects often apply even to nominally prepless games.

            (And yes, I agree with your other comments.)


          2. undying-admin
            undying-admin May 3, 2013 at 11:39 am |

            I suspect in practice similar effects often apply even to nominally prepless games

            Mm, indeed. I think in prepless games players are almost always in practice drawing on a body of books, films, other games etc that they’ve internalized: and the solidity and consistency of such materials will be influential on the way the game comes out in play.


  2. triskellian
    triskellian May 2, 2013 at 11:37 am |

    Ooh, interesting. I increasingly think this kind of middle ground between pre-genned and player-genned characters is the way to go with one-offs (including GMed ones, in disagreement with Dom’s comment). I might steal some elements of this in the future!

    Reply
    1. undying-admin
      undying-admin May 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm |

      There you go, I responded to him before seeing this comment, so we are of like mind it seems!

      (I did actually mention your Belbin-inspired team roles idea during the dev process: the other writers were quite taken with it.)

      Reply
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