Day 95: Follow my lead, ye Knights

October 30, 2009

Over at Judd Karlman’s blog, the Githyanki Diaspora, he’s talking about some old, bad play experiences, and he calls them “Museum Games”. To a certain extent he’s talking about the same things that piss the right honorable Ron Edwards off when he’s talking about “Illusionism” as a creative agenda.

“Museum games” and “Illusionist” both are pretty loaded; the implication I see in both is that the players are marginalized by the story-before-ness of them.

When I’ve had good successes with this style of play it was when I said right off “I’d like to tell a kind of dark ages fantasy epic kind of story; would you guys like to play the protagonsits?” and they were all like “Cool!”

We played 30 sessions and it was ridiculously awesome. Trippin’, as it were.  This was the Legends of Great Knights campaign, which was, more or less, without compare.

What I’d say now is “I’d like to tell this story and I need some help. I have a pretty good idea of the major plot but it needs actors and explorers to make it the best thing it can be.” and their contributions aren’t marginalized because they are contributing to a plot structure that they know already has a particular shape. We’re all working to keep their contributions within that shape, and while I have some privileged information, they have privileged spotlights.

So I tend say “Follow my lead” like I say “Story Now” or “Step on up”. A mountain-climbing team metaphor would probably work too.

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2 Responses to “Day 95: Follow my lead, ye Knights”

  1. Judd Says:

    Ryan,

    It really sounds not much like my bad experiences, in that you didn’t know where the end point was and allowed for much more player input into the going’s on at the table and where things ended up.

    What does this part mean:

    their contributions aren’t marginalized because they are contributing to a plot structure that they know already has a particular shape. We’re all working to keep their contributions within that shape, and while I have some privileged information, they have privileged spotlights.

    Shape sounds like creative constraints, which happen in any decent game I have ever played.

    I dunno.

    Judd

    • Stou'n Says:

      I dunno Judd, I think I fit the illusionist model pretty well.

      Here’s some more details of that game:
      1) The players were heroes. They really couldn’t lose a fight. For example, the mechanic was 2d6, GM describes… and the players knew that they basically couldn’t be killed unless it was really dramatically appropriate.
      2) They were on a pretty much inevitable path towards both greatness and incredible skill
      3) All their friends and the people they respected would ultimately be killed or turned against them
      4) They couldn’t save anyone, really – those people were killed or turned against them off-camera
      5) The players were expected to play their characters anguish at seeing their friends transformed into monsters/undead.
      6) The story basically went along a pre-written path that I made up.
      7) I was completely in control of the pacing. When stuff got too hard, I would ease up, when it got too easy, I’d make it harder. All of this

      The fact that we had fun was because they basically all played supporting roles to my efforts. I put an enormous amount of energy into the descriptions and acting of the NPCs (especially in combat) and I watched for their reactions. So that meant I could incorporate their contributions into the story, but it was more a question of letting them give the character a style than really making any decisions with long-term ramifications.


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