STTW and Enforcing Play

  • 2 Replies
STTW and Enforcing Play
« on: September 21, 2010, 11:02:27 AM »
Vx, as you asked, a thread for Storming.  I'm going to ask you a question that came to mind, and probably in the process answer it myself.

You expressly described the game as attacking a gamist agenda.  I can see how that works -- the goal is pretty much for the PCs to whup the monsters and get the treasure/save the town/whatever.  When I think of my days in an on-again off-again D&D third-edition game, it was pretty much accepted practice (in our group, anyway, and in what appears to be the larger part of RPG audiences) that you more or less followed the GM's story and contrived a reason to be there, because to not do so would be "showing up to poker night without nickels".  Reflecting on that notion and experience, I found it, frankly, dysfunctional.

There was a 3rd edition Dark Sun campaign I worked in for a while.  It had a great adventure hook going in -- I was playing a psion whose master had gone missing, and was told he was killed outside of town or some nonsense.  Cool.  So I go outside the town, throwdown Sensitivity to Psychic Impressions (or whatever that power was called), an ability that let me go back quite a few years and view in hazy detail all the vivid emotional moments in an area.  I saw a couple things, fights, rises and falls, but nothing about my master.  Cool.  So I do some more digging and come to find out he's halfway across the world.  Cool.  So I set out to find him, and my buddy half-ogre (who genuinely thinks I'm just a really cool dude) follows me.

Then the plot takes a left turn; suddenly I'm part of this prophecy coming true, where a psion and an ogre would go about to these shrines and save the world.  I tried like hell to ignore that, because, thinking in my character, his attitude is pretty much "so fucking what?  This prophecy is ridiculous, has nothing to do with me, and I have zero compelling interest in following it.  I don't give a shit about what I'm 'supposed to do' to save the world and return its lush greenness, and I doubt it'll work anyway; I've learned not to take shit like that on faith.  I don't care, I'm going to go save my master!"  And the GM spent the better part of an hour pretty much twisting my arm into following his preplanned storyline because without it there was no game.

What your example with modern Storming seemed to do, essentially, was take what we thought of as a dysfunction -- because, perhaps naively, we were playing D&D as a Nar game -- and enforce it in a way that makes it fulfilling, at least in theory.  Pretty much, don't write your plots such that there's sprawling worlds and free will; they're all together for a reason, enforced by rule, and they go out laying the smack down on monsters because it's their job.  Remove the trappings of an external, non-linear storyline, and focus on getting down to the nitty-gritty of beating the bad guys in combat (or whatever).  So we established why Elliot's character wouldn't leave yours -- we more or less sat down with the predetermined knowledge that it's your characters' job to stick together.  You're there because you have to be there, not because you necessarily want to be.

That much I get, I think.  So let me see if I can attack the other angle, the "We're better off fighting on until we're truly beaten than ditching out as soon as it turns against us".  I've got two guesses:

1) Attacking until you're truly beaten means you suffer no worse loss than if you'd skipped out.  You keep pressing, and since your low-endurance butt got wounded anyway, you're out the next session regardless.  So you might as well give it all you've got.
2) From a tactical standpoint, bailing out and regrouping gives you the ability to redouble your strength and get some more appropriate gear/spells/whatever, but also gives the monsters time to entrench and stand against you when you show up again (which, of course, you will).

Is any of that on-target?

Re: STTW and Enforcing Play
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2010, 08:51:57 AM »
I think you're pretty much on target. Except maybe one thing.

I don't think the way you "tried to play D&D" is Nar at all. Narrativism is "Story Now". The mandates of two explicitly Story Now games (Dogs in the Vineyard and Apocalypse World) are "play to find out what happens" and "don't plan ahead". What your GM was doing was "story before", but he failed to tell you and then tried to railroad you into this story of his. He wasn't playing to find out what would happen and he was planning ahead. That's definitely not Story Now.

I think that is Right to Dream play, except the GM was playing his Dream ("There is a cool prophecy and there is an epic story involving this prophecy.") without communicating it to you, and you were playing your Dream ("My character would follow his master's trail."). I find it is very symptomatic of a lot of "early" RPG play, especially in D&D and Storyteller and with younger/beginner groups.
Where you two did connect, were probably the encounters, trials and fights along the way, because right then, you could forget the other bullshit and just have a fight, trying to beat each other (Step on Up), which is what D&D is built for (more or less).

Re: STTW and Enforcing Play
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2010, 08:53:48 AM »
Double post. My bad.