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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mercutio01 View Post
    Think of it like a branching tree. You plan up to the first splits of the trunk, the first branches, and the first set of twigs. During play the players take a trunk you didn't plan for, but that doesn't mean all the branches and twigs after that split can't be shifted to account for the change in play. And it doesn't mean they all have to shift, either. You can take the split trunk and create entirely new branches and twigs to mesh in with the already created ones.
    Yes, I think this kind of lattice approach is very good.
    ***Henry/S'mon Super Quick d20 NPC Generation System*** The Gods of the Copybook Headings With Terror and Slaughter Return!

    eriktheguy, on S'mon's latest idea:
    There are 2 major problems with your idea:
    1: It is far too awesome
    2: see 1

 

  • #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    Yes, for any computer game, the content (including any random content generators) is all pre-created before the players begin play, so this is the best you're ever going to get. But with a live GM, new content can be created during play.

    What I, and I think others, are trying to say, is that the best advice for at-table play is advice which helps the GM to create new content during play, in response to player input. And a major factor is that, as Danny says, the possible outcomes for tabletop play are effectively unlimited. So using even good computer game design, or gamebook design, as a model for at-table play, is leaving money on the table; it's not taking advantage of the strengths of the tabletop-RPG medium.
    *Someone XP S'mon for me, please*

    The extemporaneous interaction of the participants with a human referee that can alter the game environment in response to player action is the heart of what a role-playing game is. We should cultivate advice that assists this process.
    Words of wisdom from Gary Gygax:

    From my perspective wanting less in the way of rules constraints comes from being a veteran Game Master who feels confident that more good material comes from imagination and player interaction with the environment than from textbook rules material.
    more words of wisdom:

    • Rashness and foolhardiness are harbingers of death, as is timidity, in such adventure setting.
    • Those that complain about real challenges might be better off playing Candyland with their little sister
    • First and foremost, munchkinism arose as a contemporary of the OD&D game. Nothing in the rules of that or any other version of the game was needed to make it flourish.
    • There is no relationship between 3E and original D&D, or OAD&D for that matter. Different games, style, and spirit.
    • [E]xperience has taught me that everyone has their own gaming preferences, and it is not a matter of "good" or "bad" in all, save in light of one's own preferences.

  • #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt James View Post
    So, I think people are missing my intent, which I can totally accept. I wrote that blog post while the idea was fresh on my mind and I could have expanded more. It was never meant to be all-inclusive or a single fix to all problems. It was to promote another way of thinking out story design. The conclusion (card 11, if you will) doesn't have to be black and white. I've see a couple people getting hung up on this. The cards help to lay things out spatially. Some people operate better this way--I am one of them.
    Heh. Yeah I got what you were saying - it's about method not outcome. Some DMs don't plan anything in advance, so your blog post obviously wasn't aimed at them. It's simply a framework that can be as complex or simple, as binary or expansive as you want. And like all plans it won't live up to players perfectly.

    One of the advantages I see in your index card grid is how you can move ideas around to see new relationships/connections. I notice when planning in bullet point or table that the graphic presentation makes that challenging. I do most of y planning on the computer, and the closest I've found to the "perfect" solution for me is Freemind. But I'm going to try your method after new years and see how it works.

    Nothing like trial and error!


    Oh yeah, about the succubus is the princess to rescue scenario...I think on major option is missing. Hint: it was the premise for one of the most awesome story hours on ENworld

  • #44
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    Just to be clear, while I rarely write out whole adventures a-la commercial product, even at my most improvisational, I try to work with a flow chart and some general notes.

    Oh yeah, about the succubus is the princess to rescue scenario...I think on major option is missing. Hint: it was the premise for one of the most awesome story hours on ENworld
    Do tell!

    No, really, do tell- some of us don't do story hours.
    IAAL...and an MBA. No, really!
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  • #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dannyalcatraz View Post
    Do tell!

    No, really, do tell- some of us don't do story hours.
    @sepulchrave wrote up his campaign "Tales of Wyre", and I think it's still going. Here's the link: http://www.enworld.org/forum/story-h...ales-wyre.html. Once you start reading it's very hard to start, so you've been warned

    The basic premise (and this isn't giving anything away) is a succubus who claims to be penitent and the dilemma this poses for the party's paladin. Can a devil of pure evil be redeemed? The answer in the story hour is not what you'd expect.

  • #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dannyalcatraz View Post
    Seen it twice, so far.



    Succubi are quite persuasive: between their shapechanging, energy drain, DC 22 charms and high Cha, they can really do a good job at finding alies. Just sayin'.

    While I know guys fall into ruts- like my buddy who plays Wizards 85% of the time- if you challenge them, they tend to come up with at least one unusual tactic. It then becomes a question of whether the oddball plan has the votes to be carried out.

    Or, occasionally, whether someone uses it as the basis of their "Leroy Johnson Plan."
    Twice in thirty years of gaming? I'd say that qualifies as not too bloody likely.

    It's not a case of falling into ruts. It's the fact that most players are fairly rational people and you can, by and large, predict what they're going to do most of the time. If they don't have a helm of opposite alignment, they're not going to run out and find one to "save" the succubus. If the party is good aligned, it's unlikely they're going to ally with the succubus against the guy that hired them.

    Again, it's possible, but, not very likely.

    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon
    Only in the trivial sense that my daily life also "creates a story".
    Could you expand on this? Can you provide examples of how play in any RPG cannot result in a story with setting, plot and character?
    The rules don't give the DM their authority. The consent of the players does. - Mallus

  • #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Could you expand on this? Can you provide examples of how play in any RPG cannot result in a story with setting, plot and character?
    Those are two completely different questions. What I said is that my daily life, or yours, inherently has setting, plot & character to the same extent as there is inherently setting, plot and character in an RPG session.

    What I am saying is that the events of an RPG session are no more inherently 'a story' than are the events of somebody's actual life. An RPG is not inherently a story-creation medium in the sense of creating something that much resembles an actual dramatic (or comedic) story of the sort that you see in eg a film, novel or play.

    But of course it can* give rise to such a story, whether by accident (just like real life), or by design. For the latter there are actual story-creation RPGs, such as the Indie Narrativist games.

    *Your second question is based on a false reading of what I said.
    ***Henry/S'mon Super Quick d20 NPC Generation System*** The Gods of the Copybook Headings With Terror and Slaughter Return!

    eriktheguy, on S'mon's latest idea:
    There are 2 major problems with your idea:
    1: It is far too awesome
    2: see 1

  • #48
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    Guys, it was not my intent for this to to rile up the community. It is just one way of doing things and not necessarily the right way for everyone. It might spark some ideas in someone, who then takes the barebones idea I gave, and turns it into something that works for them.

    Adventure design is only successful if you, and the consumers of your fantasy, are having a fun and enjoyable time. Merry Christmas. Remember to hug your dog or cat.

    Now, it is time I do something that is very difficult for me, personally: I must go put on some pants.
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  • #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    It doesn't prevent improvisation, but I think Matt's gamebook approach may discourage improvisation because it encourages the GM to consider player activity as taking place only within the pre-scripted game matrix. The risk is that if the GM has put (considerable) effort into detailing 3 options, but the players go 'off script' and choose option 4, then the GM may be less able to react than if he had simply created a situation with the intent that the players address it however they wished.

    I see this a fair bit with 4e DMing advice from eg Chris Perkins or the 'ID DM' blog - lots of advice on steering players back 'on script' if they err from the pre-charted course. I think Matt was the third GM to post something similar in the past 2-3 weeks; plus also having just been reading through EGG's Yggsburgh and seeing a completely different & IMO better approach, I may have reacted a bit too strongly to Matt's advice in particular. Because it is good advice for video game authors, and it's pretty good advice for writers of plot-based adventures for publication, too. It's just that IMO it's not such good advice for GMs at their own tables.
    I haven't read Yggsburgh myself (everything I know about it is second hand) but it seems to me that might be setting the bar a bit high.

    Different people have different DMing styles.

    We have one DM in my group who's sort of a Yggsburgh type, though moreso regarding the big picture than the small. He has pages upon pages of detailed notes about his epic setting, which spans hundreds of thousands of years of time and two universes (as well as numerous alternate timelines). That's by no means to imply that things are set in stone. We've more than once overturned the "anticipated" result, thereby resulting in far flung changes to the setting. He's quite detail oriented.

    Then there's arguably the best DM in our circle. He runs from maps. No real notes to speak of; he'll scribble the names, encounters, treasure, etc. right there on the map and just runs. He's by far the most flexible and improvisational DM I've ever gamed with, going so far as to allowing us to create a temporal paradox even though he'd never intended anything of that sort, and wasn't initially sure how to handle it. We paid a dear price for it, but he nonetheless ran with it where most DMs would likely have just said no, thereby creating one of the most memorable events in my group's history.

    Then there's me. I won't lie; I started out as a crappy, railroading DM. In the beginning, I'd write out pages upon pages of adventure notes that I'd try to stick to like a script, going so far as to write out long monologues. In all fairness though, I constantly sought to improve my style, regularly reading about the art of DMing as well as studying DMs whose games I admired. Over time I improved significantly, both in offering open ended adventures and in streamlining my prep time. I've tried my hand at creating a Yggsburgh style game; it doesn't work for me. I lose interest in running the game long before I have the area fleshed out to that level of detail. I've learned that I need to prepare just a bit more than I'll need for my first game, then jump in feet first. That works for me. Nowadays I use a short bullet point list or a flowchart, jotting down important names, encounters, and drawing little maps. It's really just there to facilitate a lot of improvisation though. I don't force my players in any direction; they're free to do as they wish, even to the point of ignoring the adventure and doing something else (which rarely occurs, but when it does I improvise).

    I think the matrix would actually help break DMs out of the scripted adventure mode of thinking, because it engenders a level of dynamism. One group might proceed through the adventure via encounters 1, 5, and 9, while another does 2, 3, 6, and 8. Yggsburgh might do the same, but I think it could discourage many DMs by seeming like an unattainable standard. Indeed, one could look at Yggburgh as being a massive, multi-dimensional matrix of encounters. Certainly more dynamic in it's design, but also less manageable for DMs without limitless free time on their hands.

  • #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fanaelialae View Post
    Then there's arguably the best DM in our circle. He runs from maps. No real notes to speak of; he'll scribble the names, encounters, treasure, etc. right there on the map and just runs.
    Yeah, me too. Sandboxes like Yggsburgh or the 3e Wilderlands of High Fantasy are actually very sketchy at the operational level, and require a lot of improvisation to function. I see them as improvisational aids, and they can be seen as matrices (or lattices, per a previous post). Where they differ from the typical gamebook approach is that they do not funnel the PCs to a particular pre-scripted end point.

    I don't create anything like Yggsburgh or Wilderlands either, I just see them as useful GMing aids.

    I can't personally use notes or cards the way Matt describes, I find I lose everything! I need stuff stuck together in one document. But I think a one-page matrix type flowchart can be a good way to describe a physical environment that can be navigated. I don't personally find the sort of timed flowcharts used in plot-based adventures useful; the only thing that works well for me is a description of what the NPCs will do in the absence of any PC intervention, written with the expectation it will be deviated from. Clearly different peoples' minds work differently and I'm sure this is a good approach for some.
    ***Henry/S'mon Super Quick d20 NPC Generation System*** The Gods of the Copybook Headings With Terror and Slaughter Return!

    eriktheguy, on S'mon's latest idea:
    There are 2 major problems with your idea:
    1: It is far too awesome
    2: see 1

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