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better gaming through chemistry

jim pinto

First Post
writing the book

well.

i will say that i am in the process of dicussing this project with other writers.

doing it will not be for profit, but because i love this hobby and after 8 years of writing for it, i want to do something that doesn't follow the "bigger orc, with bigger sword" thread of books that have blotted the d20 landscape.

POD makes even the lowest selling books feasible, so long as the writers accept their not going to get rich doing this.

haha.

anyway.

people interested in contributing ideas, concerns, must haves, essays, or stories from their game sessions should contact me off list.

(this is in no way closure on this topic, but i'm in outline mode as we speak)
 

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Barak

First Post
Man, I want you to know that I understand what you're going for, and that I'm not dissing you for trrying, or anything.

I just -really- don't see that sort of book helping anyone who needs help.

Not that it might not make money.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
jim pinto said:
people interested in contributing ideas, concerns, must haves, essays, or stories from their game sessions should contact me off list.

Burn the thought of COMMUNICATION through that book with a foot-wide laser beam. :)

I'll post some personal anecdotes, if time permits, next week.
 

Barak

First Post
That illustrates my point pretty well. Think about it. People who have a problem with communication don't generally read books. They might use rule books, but that is not what we are talking about here.
 

jim pinto

First Post
Barak said:
That illustrates my point pretty well. Think about it. People who have a problem with communication don't generally read books. They might use rule books, but that is not what we are talking about here.

i don't think its as bleak as all that, but i don't think it'll sell millions of copies either

feh...

back to brainstorming

btw

that takes me to my second concept (which i elluded to in post #1)

the concept of player primers... at this point i think i'll save it for the book, but there's a lot to be said for dolling out information to pcs slowly... instead of letting them know everything about the red wizards of FR (or whatever)

- jim
 

Lonely Tylenol

First Post
LostSoul said:
:lol: A bit overwrought, but funny.

No, you're right, of course; it is a two-way street. Player 3 made a few "errors" that would keep him from enjoying the game.

He didn't tell the other players or the DM about his background before he created the character.

He was completely unwilling to compromise.

He wasn't willing to see where things were leading.

If I was the DM, I'd say, "Okay, the orc took her to the sewers! Unfortunately, it's plagued by rats and worse. So maybe Tom goes to find Bob, a Wizard, and Fred, a cleric, who can help him out. And that orc? He had a red armband. You can make a Knowledge (local) or Gather Information check to find out what that's all about."

Now maybe I didn't have any orcs statted up, but I can change one of the NPCs into an orc without too many problems.

Well, isn't that just railroading again? Sure, the player's background is being used, but no matter what, they're going into those damn sewers. It's just that now, the DM has to contrive ways to get them in there, regardless of what they had in mind. Wouldn't it be better if the players and DM came together to work out a way to get them involved in his plot instead of the DM having to shoehorn the characters into it? That's why a player's guide to getting involved in the story could be a good addition to a book on "how to play".

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this essentially how they recommend it be done in White Wolf games? Everyone sit down together and work out where they want the plot to go and the part their character should play in it, before they even really get going on the roleplaying? Isn't that part of what the Prelude is usually about...getting the characters integrated in the plot and with each other before scene one?
 

jim pinto

First Post
Dr. Awkward said:
Well, isn't that just railroading again? Sure, the player's background is being used, but no matter what, they're going into those damn sewers. It's just that now, the DM has to contrive ways to get them in there, regardless of what they had in mind. Wouldn't it be better if the players and DM came together to work out a way to get them involved in his plot instead of the DM having to shoehorn the characters into it? That's why a player's guide to getting involved in the story could be a good addition to a book on "how to play".

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this essentially how they recommend it be done in White Wolf games? Everyone sit down together and work out where they want the plot to go and the part their character should play in it, before they even really get going on the roleplaying? Isn't that part of what the Prelude is usually about...getting the characters integrated in the plot and with each other before scene one?

yes. if any books have touched on this subject at all, its the player's guides to the various worlds of darkness.

but two pages in the back of player's guide to mage does not exactly address the level of responsibility player's should show to help create a more co-operative environment.

awkward? do you want to contribute?
 
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jdrakeh

Adventurer
Jim,

As I said elsewhere on this thread, I'd be interested in contributing a section about social contracts and playing to expectations (as defined therein) - but for some reason I can't send a PM to you. So, if you would, please drop me a line at jdrakeh [at] softhome [dot] net

Thanks much.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
Dr. Awkward said:
Well, isn't that just railroading again? Sure, the player's background is being used, but no matter what, they're going into those damn sewers. It's just that now, the DM has to contrive ways to get them in there, regardless of what they had in mind.

Interesting question. Is it railroading? What is railroading? I think it's the inability to make meaningful choices. I'm going to look at the example based on that reading.

The player in the example has defined his own goal as it relates to the plot. (Maybe not his goal as it relates to play; maybe he wants to test himself in combat, or deal with issues of trust and loss, or whatever, and none of that is addressed explicitly in the example.)

Anyway. He's got his own goal. He's saying, "This is what is important to me." He's making a meaningful choice, because he's choosing to do something that matters to him (instead of following the DM's plot willy-nilly).

The specifics of the adventure are open, but I doubt many players would want to dictate all of that in the beginning. What they want is to make a meaningful choice. Does going into the sewers - because that's what the DM has planned - mean that his choice to go after his wife is not meaningful? I don't think so.

What would make it more meaningful? If he had a choice between going after his wife and something else. That "something else" would have to have enough allure so that it's not a simple choice. "My wife was taken by orcs! I have to hunt for her in the sewers. But that hag from the forest has been taking a lot of interest in my kid. If I go after my wife, I can't watch over my kid. If I go after my kid, what happens to my wife?"

The DM would have to make that choice have impact. If he goes after his wife, his kid is going to be in a bad way, maybe possessed by a demon or whatever. If he takes care of his kid, facing off against the hag, his wife gets the stockholm syndrome and when he does finally meet up with her she wants nothing to do with him. "If you really cared about me you would have come to save me!"

Okay, that's a lot of speculation that goes beyond the example I posted. To look at just the example, he's making the choice - do what is important to me. He's going to have to go through the DM's adventure, no matter what that is, since that's what happens in D&D. (Maybe in some other game system it'd be different, who knows.) But because he's saying, "This is why I'm adventuring, this is what it's all about for me," I think that there isn't railroading in the example.

Well, that's my opinion. What do you think? I'm really interested to hear from someone who disagrees.

Dr. Awkward said:
Wouldn't it be better if the players and DM came together to work out a way to get them involved in his plot instead of the DM having to shoehorn the characters into it? That's why a player's guide to getting involved in the story could be a good addition to a book on "how to play".

Yes! It would be much better. Then the DM can take the input from the PCs and give them what they're looking for. He could have the orc hunt for the one guy, a lot of undead for the cleric who took Improved Turning, and an imp for the guy who's interested in planar creatures.

I agree with the advice "Get involved with the story". But I'd say that the story has to be your own. (Unless you like being a cog in the great wheel of the DM's story; that's cool too. I don't think many people enjoy that though - especially me! ;) ) Framing it as "following the DM's plot" is bad advice, in my opinion. Saying that "If you like to tell stories, you should put a lot of work into your character so that, through him/her, you can tell your own story" I would totally dig.


Re: White Wolf: I have no idea, never having played nor read through a WW book.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
Artellan said:
I've played in some of LostSoul's campaigns and I can shed some light on his DMing style ... He's one of those DMs that, if the players are always following his hooks wily-nily, he'll eventually get bored.

This is important to understand where I'm coming from. Forever, I've felt like I've been railroading in ever campaign I've been in. I'd write "the plot", and if the PCs did something I didn't expect, I'd roll with it no problem. But I became good enough at it (or my players felt like they had to/wanted to do what I had planned) that what I had written up was exactly what came out in play.

So I'd get frustrated with myself (and, in weaker moments, my players) but I had no idea how to do anything differently. I wanted the players to tell me their stories, but how does that happen? Every now and then I'd stumble upon something that made it happen, but I had no idea why it occured and what to do to make it happen more often.

So recently I've had an epiphany of sorts, and I see that giving them hard choices to make (in the Rat Bastard DM style) is where it's at. I argue against railroading because I did it for so long, lessening my enjoyment of the game for so long, that I don't want anyone else to get caught in that trap.

Actually, that's not it - I'm arguing against my old self, and the way I used to do things.
 

jim pinto

First Post
jdrakeh said:
Jim,

As I said elsewhere on this thread, I'd be interested in contributing a section about social contracts and playing to expectations (as defined therein) - but for some reason I can't send a PM to you. So, if you would, please drop me a line at jdrakeh [at] softhome [dot] net

Thanks much.

can someone explain why post 124 has my signature on it, but post 147 does not?!?

j-drake... e-mail me whenever

and yes, anything you'd like to contribute would be awesome
 



Lonely Tylenol

First Post
jim pinto said:
yes. if any books have touched on this subject at all, its the player's guides to the various worlds of darkness.

but two pages in the back of player's guide to mage does not exactly address the level of responsibility player's should show to help create a more co-operative environment.

awkward? do you want to contribute?

If there were two of me, sure. But despite the volume I post here, I actually have very little time to do anything but work these days. I've got time to spend 15 minutes here and there emptying my head onto a message board, but not the time to write any polished essays or guides. Thanks for asking, though, and feel free to rip anything you like from anything I post.

edit: If you ever do that, and would like to credit me, just let me know and I'll send you my real name. (I don't care about being credited, for the record)

If this project doesn't see daylight until the summer, my tune might change, since that's when I get free time.
 
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jim pinto

First Post
LostSoul said:
Well, that's my opinion. What do you think? I'm really interested to hear from someone who disagrees.

i think this was addressed before, but essentially this is a bad background concept. its scope is so limited, that i as DM would make you find the orc dead on the side of the road on the way to town, your wife, miraculously alive.

creating a limited revenge background (unless all the pcs are on the same revenge adventure) is short-sighted. it limits campaign potential and it limits your own choices... why would anyone make a character that only wants to do one thing?

certainly railroading adventures are bad for a player like you, but railroaded PCs are equally bad for a DM like me.

i grow weary of players that showing up demanding i entertain them, with a 20 str half-orc that only wants to get drunk and kill peasants.

a better background is this... my wife and son were killed... i have nothing else to live for. so i'm packing up my mule, rake, and +2 shovel and seeing what lies beyond the horizon... i want to see the world before i die kind of character.

your version of the PC has no need to adventure once your kid and wife are safe.

'BAM! you win.'
 

jim pinto

First Post
Dr. Awkward said:
If there were two of me, sure. But despite the volume I post here, I actually have very little time to do anything but work these days. I've got time to spend 15 minutes here and there emptying my head onto a message board, but not the time to write any polished essays or guides. Thanks for asking, though, and feel free to rip anything you like from anything I post.

i will steal from you liberally without guilt
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
jim pinto said:
i think this was addressed before, but essentially this is a bad background concept. its scope is so limited, that i as DM would make you find the orc dead on the side of the road on the way to town, your wife, miraculously alive.

This is very strange to me. You've got something that you can play with for a long time. I hunt down the orc. Oh, he's working for the Bandit King? I hunt him down too. I find him? Who's to say that my wife will be just like I remember?

There are a ton of ways to play out that basic concept.

Whereas... "I'm an adventurer" is nice to hear, when you're the DM, because then you don't have to do anything different. Okay, well, we can play this module, or that module, or Dragonlance, or whatever. He'll like them all.

And you know what? If I do find my wife and kid, and "BAM! I win!" happens, I can always make a new character. I did what I wanted to do, I'm happy.

But forget about that concept. It was a simple one-liner I came up with on the spot. Is it that you don't like a player to tell you what he wants to do at the beginning of the game? Or is it that my example sucked ass? If the latter, tell me what kind of characters would work for you.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
Oh, and:

jim pinto said:
i grow weary of players that showing up demanding i entertain them, with a 20 str half-orc that only wants to get drunk and kill peasants.

Players have a right to be entertained. Just like the DM has a right to be entertained. If it's the 20 STR half-orc that wants to kill peasants that bothers you, tell the guy that you don't want to play like that (which is pretty much the same as saying, "We play D&D" or "We play Vampire").
 

jim pinto

First Post
LostSoul said:
This is very strange to me. You've got something that you can play with for a long time. I hunt down the orc. Oh, he's working for the Bandit King? I hunt him down too. I find him? Who's to say that my wife will be just like I remember?

There are a ton of ways to play out that basic concept.

Whereas... "I'm an adventurer" is nice to hear, when you're the DM, because then you don't have to do anything different. Okay, well, we can play this module, or that module, or Dragonlance, or whatever. He'll like them all.

And you know what? If I do find my wife and kid, and "BAM! I win!" happens, I can always make a new character. I did what I wanted to do, I'm happy.

But forget about that concept. It was a simple one-liner I came up with on the spot. Is it that you don't like a player to tell you what he wants to do at the beginning of the game? Or is it that my example sucked ass? If the latter, tell me what kind of characters would work for you.

this IS a great setup, if you work it out with the DM a week ahead of time... if he knows about it before the game starts. i apologize if i assumed you were dropping it on him.

i think DMs that have hit snags come up with smarter starts to campaigns anyway though...

instead of... make some characters for next week, we're playing DnD... instead they do something like... all of you are lawful neutral or neutral good characters ... eagerly trying to become paladins in the "church of banana hammock" (in a game world where paladin is a prestige class, not a base class)....in order to prove your worth to the church, you'll be going to the village of robot junction to uncover the source of a plague that could hurt the kingdom if it spreads (pcs receive one potion of cure disease each).

now the DM has told the pcs GENERALLY what the campaign (or at least the first adventure) is about. anyone making a character that wants to avenge his wife needs to understand that this first adventure takes precedence. he shouldn't complain if his personal story isn't catered to in the early acts of the "story."

so.

in retrospect, your example fails if there's no planning on either side of the screen, but succeeds if the PC is flexible enough to follow the trail of the orc into the sewers.

(btw) the DM would be wise to put the PCs in a situation where someone saves the orc-hunter's life.... strengthening the bond of the party.
 


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