Leading/loaded/provocative questions as a GMing technique

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Leading/loaded/provocative questions as a GMing technique
« on: January 20, 2015, 03:58:13 PM »
Hi folks,

Where does the concept of offloading storytelling power to the players by asking loaded questions come from? In particular, when it applies to questions after character creation, when it seems to be a very old technique indeed.
(And which is the best generic term for that, “leading”, “loaded”, “provocative”, or something else?)
As in, such as AW's 7th Priciple, “Ask provocative questions and build on the answers”, come from? I have looked through my copy of DitV, and could not find it stated there explicitly. (I thought it might already be in there, but I have as of yet neither read all those rules beginning to end, nor played it, so I had to rely on the pdf search function as a first approximation.)

I have googled inside the Forge archive using search terms like “leading OR loaded OR provocative question”, but the hits I found were about questions asked there being loaded, not about provocative questions as GM technique.

I asked on rpg.stackexchange (http://rpg.stackexchange.com/q/55121/5843) and have not got a proper answer there either.

Can anyone point me to where this concept appears implicitly and explicitly for the first time, and what may have sparked it being a prominent technique these days?

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lumpley

  • 1291
Re: Leading/loaded/provocative questions as a GMing technique
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2015, 11:49:01 AM »
I take it that you mean questions like "Uncle, you're out in the burn flats meeting with Dremmer, but you don't have your guns and armor with you. Why don't you?"

(They aren't really what Apocalypse World means by "provocative questions," although a lot of people take them to be, and I guess that's fine.)

Anyhow back in the Forge days we called that kind of question "the Mountain Witch trick."

I don't even remember whether they appear in the text of The Mountain Witch, or whether they were just part of the body of that game's play.

-Vincent

Re: Leading/loaded/provocative questions as a GMing technique
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2015, 06:59:40 PM »
Yep, that's an example of what I meant. In general, I'm looking for the idea of not just asking the players “What do you do?”, but also about other stuff that might be something that would traditionally be in the narrative authority of the GM. In particular if it's a question that establishes something that the player could, but would probably not have said themselves (the “you don't have your guns and armor with you” part), but than gives them a good bit of authority back.

Hmmm, now I feel like I need to reread Apocalypse World (something I should probably do anyway at some point). Some skimming first…

One of the questions you give as Mikael's playtest questions is “Why can you only fit two people in the cabin of the Tank?” This is precisely that type of question: It establishes that indeed only two people fit into the Tank, but leaves it open to the player why.

From the first session part, the “Marie, Bran, you two are trapped outside of the holding, you’re hunkered down inside an old gutted RV. Outside, six of Dremmer’s gang are setting up camp, looks like they’re settling in. They don’t know you’re there, they just blundered in on top of you. What are you two doing out here, anyway?” or the “Keeler, this person named III corners you that night. She’s fucking pissed off, she comes straight at you, fists first. What did you do to her?” are also clear examples of this type of question.

But some of the questions you suggest in the passage on Opening Your Brain are also like that, such as “Who was your first kiss? Tell about it.” or “What’s the worst hurt you’ve suffered that you can’t remember?” – They both establish that a thing has happened, but then disclaim the decision of how.

The general thing-to-do of “Turn questions back on the asker or over to the group at large.” does not have the “leading” part to it, but is otherwise kind of this.

Off to look through Forge archives and the Mountain Witch rules for this principle, then…

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lumpley

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Re: Leading/loaded/provocative questions as a GMing technique
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2015, 07:04:41 AM »
Come back and let us know what you find! I'm interested.

-Vincent

Re: Leading/loaded/provocative questions as a GMing technique
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2015, 07:40:50 AM »
Next find: In The Mountain Witch, this sharing of narration goes in the other direction!

Players have the authority to declare things about their Fates, but the rules say:

“What is important to understand about characters’ Fates is the purpose for these Fates in play is to set up future conflict. […] For this reason, to get the most out of a character’s Fate, players should use their Fate-given directorial power to “introduce” game elements. That is to say, the player briefly narrates the game element into play before handing the control of the element to the GM.”

This is because “There is a general role-playing principle that states that when the introduction, resolution, and consequences of a conflict are all decided by the same person, that conflict becomes unsatisfying for the player. […] Sometimes called the Czege Principle after Paul Czege, author of My Life with Master, who discovered the principle after a particularly uninteresting play session.”

Otherwise, I did not find any mention of questions like that in tMW (yet).

Re: Leading/loaded/provocative questions as a GMing technique
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2015, 06:10:04 AM »
I could not find this “Czege Principle” stated in my copy of My Life with Master. The search continues…

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lumpley

  • 1291
Re: Leading/loaded/provocative questions as a GMing technique
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2015, 07:43:10 AM »
The "Czege Principle" was coined by Ron Edwards after Paul wrote about playing my game Chalk Outlines.

I might be able to find some good references for you this morning. Hold on!

-Vincent

Re: Leading/loaded/provocative questions as a GMing technique
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2015, 08:05:17 AM »
Oh, from context I had thought it had been a particularly uninteresting game of My Life with Master. I'd never have imagined you could write games that lead to “particularly uninteresting play session[s.]” In particular for people who I would have thought know what they're doing…

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lumpley

  • 1291
Re: Leading/loaded/provocative questions as a GMing technique
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2015, 10:40:26 AM »
Ha! Flatterer.

Here are a few threads for you to read. Notice the links under "compiler's notes" too.
http://indie-rpgs.com/reference/index.php/welcome/readinglist/190

-Vincent

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noofy

  • 777
Re: Leading/loaded/provocative questions as a GMing technique
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2015, 07:45:50 AM »
I know its necro-ing, but this is a good thread. This skill (as I've developed it over the last few years) has become the most valuable technique both as player and GM. When you play with a group where ALL the players consciously utilise this 'trick' to play to see what happens?!

The games really sing.

Re: Leading/loaded/provocative questions as a GMing technique
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2016, 07:28:54 PM »
It's an amazing technique!

Someone http://rpg.stackexchange.com/q/55121/5843 pointed me at the Everway cards again, and judging from http://www.ioffer.com/img/item/140/695/609/oZdV58eU83oZ5HS.jpg or http://www.departmentv.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/IMG_1756.jpg, the questions are of approximately the relevant form if you take them as they are, but taking them as a guide to interpreting the image on the other side, I don't know whether they are an example of what I'm looking for or not. (And if they are, is there a causal connection?)