Payn's Ponderings' To script, or not to script?

pemerton

Legend
In You only live twice there is a scene where Bond fights across Kobe docks defeats all comers, girl safely in tow then just when it looks like he's won, a mook steps out from behind some crates bonks him on the head and lights out - captured. If you tried this, your players would be fully justified in protesting it would just feel like I don't care what you do this is the way the story is going. GM ex machina.
What system(s) do you have in mind?

In Burning Wheel, this would be a versus test - maybe the mook's Stealth + Weapon skill vs the PC's Observation. The dice would determine what happens.
 

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aramis erak

Legend
In You only live twice there is a scene where Bond fights across Kobe docks defeats all comers, girl safely in tow then just when it looks like he's won, a mook steps out from behind some crates bonks him on the head and lights out - captured. If you tried this, your players would be fully justified in protesting it would just feel like I don't care what you do this is the way the story is going. GM ex machina.
A bad roll by a player followed by a great one by me as GM resulted in an instagib of a PC, who was then left in an alley....

D&D? wouldn't make much sense. Star Wars (FFG or WEG), L5R (FFG or AEG), Star Trek Adventures (and other Modiphius 2d20 games)... it can be a single roll that results in a beautiful KO.... (Dune is the exception there.)
 

Of course that's one of those things that gets complex. If you have a system that permits one-roll takeouts of PCs, it can be very hard to not end up with that happening too frequently (because even if the probability is low, a given PC is going to have a lot of dice thrown at them over their operating careers). Sometimes that's okay depending on expectation (no one who's ever played BRP based games hasn't gotten at least somewhat used to it) but its really not what some people want.

The alternative is you buffer it with metacurrency--but then, depending on how players use it and how it gets rewarded you can get a different set of problems where it still comes across as a situation essentially baked into the run of the game by the GM, or where players start to hunker down to one extent or another when they're low, producing notably anti-genre play.
 

Haiku Elvis

Adventurer
I wasn't thinking of the KO itself as much, at least not mechanically, more the when victory seemed secured taking it away without options on the players side. But now you mention it I dont like "miss a turn" conditions (KOs, sleep, paraylysis etc.) or all or nothing rolls either.

I'm happy to flex my interventionist GM muscles and put what PbtA games would call a hard move on the players but the counterbalance is players should still able to make choices and control how they respond.

@Thomas Shey I know what you mean I've played 1e WFRP where getting out of bed too quickly can be fatal.
If it means players think twice about combat and try other methods it is good but if they get too scared to do anything not so much.
 

@Thomas Shey I know what you mean I've played 1e WFRP where getting out of bed too quickly can be fatal.
If it means players think twice about combat and try other methods it is good but if they get too scared to do anything not so much.

Even when they're willing you can sometimes get gloom and pessimism from some people to a level that gets, well, unpleasant.
 

kenada

Legend
What is your take on adventure writing? Do you make expansive plots, or are your adventures simpler to complete and move on?
An adventure is a situation and possibly a site. I don’t know how it’s going to go; I don’t prep plots. Admittedly, my creative agenda is atypical for a D&D-like game.

Do you go with predetermined events? If so, how do you make them enjoyable and get buy in from your PCs for the temporary suspension of agency?
That depends on what you mean by events. I have things that happen on a schedule because the world happens whether the PCs engage or not. It provides color, and sometimes the PCs trip over it in unexpected ways. I would not have a set of narrative beats that I need to hit and then try to force the PCs into them. That would be unprincipled (see link above).

Are these literary trope explorations better suited for one shot style adventure? If not, how do you weave in and out of these events during play
I would frame them as a stakes question then play to find out what happens, assuming they make sense to even ask. I wouldn’t force the game into a state to make that possible.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
What is your take on adventure writing? Do you make expansive plots, or are your adventures simpler to complete and move on?
There is more than one way to get from plot point A to plot point B. So I can plan out cool scenes without worrying too much about not getting to use them. But I won't plan too much between the points. So, expansive and simple?
Do you go with predetermined events? If so, how do you make them enjoyable and get buy in from your PCs for the temporary suspension of agency?
PCs don't run the world, but they sure do live in it. If i have an event planned, I won't tie PC hands if I can help it . If there is temporary suspension, it' s minimized.
 

pemerton

Legend
Do you go with predetermined events? If so, how do you make them enjoyable and get buy in from your PCs for the temporary suspension of agency?
PCs don't run the world, but they sure do live in it. If i have an event planned, I won't tie PC hands if I can help it . If there is temporary suspension, it' s minimized.
I assume that "PCs" in both these posts really means players.

Drawing the distinction is more than mere pedantry. At least as it seems to me, the question for RPGing isn't is there a problem that this character's agency was limited or defeated by this event that they suffered?, which is a matter of in-fiction causality. The question is is there a problem that this game participant's agency was limited or defeated by this gameplay process?

What's the gameplay process whereby the GM tells the player "Your PC is now a prisoner"? Until we know what that process is, we don't know whether or not there was any burden on the player's agency. And until we know how action declarations made for PCs who are prisoners are resolved, we can't know whether or not there will be any burdens on the player's agency resulting from the GM's pronouncement.
 

payn

Legend
I assume that "PCs" in both these posts really means players.

Drawing the distinction is more than mere pedantry. At least as it seems to me, the question for RPGing isn't is there a problem that this character's agency was limited or defeated by this event that they suffered?, which is a matter of in-fiction causality. The question is is there a problem that this game participant's agency was limited or defeated by this gameplay process?
Fair enough.
What's the gameplay process whereby the GM tells the player "Your PC is now a prisoner"? Until we know what that process is, we don't know whether or not there was any burden on the player's agency. And until we know how action declarations made for PCs who are prisoners are resolved, we can't know whether or not there will be any burdens on the player's agency resulting from the GM's pronouncement.
You tell me? I asked you how you do it?
 

pemerton

Legend
You tell me? I asked you how you do it?
It depends on the system.

Does it use task resolution? Some sort of conflict resolution? Whole-of-scene resolution?

What sorts of action declarations does it permit? Is there a mechanic, analogous to Circles in Burning Wheel, that permits a player to make a check to see if a desired NPC turns up? Does the system permit the GM to decide in advance that an influence check can't work in a particular situation, or against a particular NPC?

Marvel Heroic RP, Apocalypse World, Burning Wheel and Classic Traveller are all pretty different systems. But I think any of them has scope to have being taken prisoner as a result of failure (the details would be different, depending on system) and none of them makes it impossible or even hard for players of imprisoned PCs to declare actions that might have meaningful effects, including the possibility of freedom.

The last time I remember PCs being taken prisoner was in my Classic Traveller game - details here.

EDIT: There was also arrest, imprisonment and escape in a Wuthering Heights one shot - details here.

ANOTHER EDIT: Neither episode of capture was pre-planned. Neither involved any suspension of agency for the players, either in the lead-up to the capture or once it took place. They illustrate why I don't really agree with your OP remark:
I do wonder sometimes about using these literary tropes in play though. My take has always been that if any of the above examples are to happen, its at the very beginning of the adventure.
Neither of these episodes of capture took place at the very beginning. Neither caused any problems for game play.
 
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I like the description of an "adventure" as a situation or a site. How the players interact with that is up to them, but the notion of an "adventure path" - or even a single adventure - where players move through a series of scenes, even where some flexibility is assumed, is sort of alien to me.

I prefer a giant stable of NPCs with whom the PCs can interact in logical ways as a means of driving the game forward, so most of my prep time is spent with NPC development. I'm a big fan of encouraging the players to push the game in unexpected directions, but there is a tacit understanding that this happens within the "mythic logic" of the game itself - which is rather particular to each game or campaign, and, to some extent, demands familiarity and a shared vision.

Sometimes PC capture occurs, but this is always a player choice based on the "defeated" condition which might mean death under other circumstances. I don't enforce PC death, although players are free to choose it - or suggest some other development - when defeated.
 

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