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Player-authored plot in RPGing

pemerton

Legend
I think BW is a bit meticulous for me, lol. Playing it would be interesting, but I think its not the game I would excel at GMing. PbtA games seem a bit more visceral and 'loose' in terms of how things can be worked out. Moves are more focused on the actions vs the motivations, at least in DW
@Campbell is the poster on these boards who I think most clearly articulates the contrast between (i) BW and (ii) AW or DW that arises from the different roles that intention plays in action declaration and hence in the narration of consequences (especially failures). I tried to explain this in another recent post:

One reason that Campbell has hesitancy about BW (and similar systems - Prince Valiant, and our indie-style 4e D&D probably both tick that "similarity" box) is that its resolution prioritises a player's goals for his/her PC (expressed via Beliefs) and his/her intention in action declaration

<snip>

it does this via its general framing principles, its intent-and-task resolution, its approach to consequence narration on a failure (which draws on both the preceding features), and its principle of "say 'yes' or roll the dice". Campbell's concern about this package is that it can elevate the conception of the character as a character over the purist fidelity to the fiction, both as established and its unfolding trajectory. And I think he's right. But I still love it, and prefer it, because of the thematic intensity I find in it. (And maybe it also fits better with my sentimentality.)
To elaborate just a bit on the above: the framing principles are to frame into conflict by putting pressure on Beliefs; intent-and-task and consequence narration I think are already clear in this thread; and "say 'yes' or roll the dice" means that where there is on conflict then no dice are rolled - which is very different from the AW/DW principle of if you do it, you do it.

But I'm not sure that I see these features of BW as an issue of meticulousness. Can you elaborate?
 

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@Campbell is the poster on these boards who I think most clearly articulates the contrast between (i) BW and (ii) AW or DW that arises from the different roles that intention plays in action declaration and hence in the narration of consequences (especially failures). I tried to explain this in another recent post:

To elaborate just a bit on the above: the framing principles are to frame into conflict by putting pressure on Beliefs; intent-and-task and consequence narration I think are already clear in this thread; and "say 'yes' or roll the dice" means that where there is on conflict then no dice are rolled - which is very different from the AW/DW principle of if you do it, you do it.

But I'm not sure that I see these features of BW as an issue of meticulousness. Can you elaborate?
It just feels like there are just a bit more moving parts. PbtA pretty heavily relies on just moves. Bonds and DW's alignment can be used to explain things, and allocate XP, but technically they don't DO anything in play except provide indications of things the GM is supposed to challenge. IME DW is a really simple game to run. There can be choices, obviously, and some thought should go into it, but of all the RPGs I've ever played it is the one that kind of seems to 'run itself' pretty much. As GM I just do whatever is most obvious to do and things 'work'.
 


Alternate approach to the ESB reveal under Burning Wheel

The earlier in the campaign interaction, Luke was convinced by Ben specifically that Vader:
Obi-Wan: A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all but extinct. Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force.
Luke has a belief to match.
Luke's player says, "I'm losing to bad; I'm looking for a way out."
GM replies: "Vader's trying to corner you, not taking the lethal strikes he could have."
Luke offers a search roll; Vader uses Telekinesis on doors. A tie.
"Ok, Vader cornered you, but there is a way out. It may be suicidal to take it, but it will avoid capture. You're cornered on the bridge to some equipment hanging over a void.
Luke's player offers, "One last effort... I want to hurt him, so I can toss him over."
GM responds, "Bloody Versus? Sure... Vader wants to disarm you."
Dice roll, massive blowout. Wound is pretty severe, too. "Disarm via hand amputation?"
"uh... I can't afford another Mortal... if it drops a level, I'll take it."
"Your hand, lightsaber still in its grasp, flys down and away. Vader then starts a social conflict. Duel of Wits, or a versus?"
"Versus, please."
"Vader says, 'There is no escape. Don't make me destroy you. Join me and I will complete your training.' Uh, Intimidate. Plus 2d for Deep Secrets at 8d" GM pulls out 5d for Vader's intimidate, pointing. "Obviously, Vader is trying to switch your loyalty. Sure you don't want full Duel of Wits?"
"Deep secrets? No, no duel of wits - you built him with too many tools... Ok, I'm resisting with my Will, plus my Rebel Wise, and a couple persona." pulls out 7d,
Dice clatter. "Vader has 7 successes, including three sixes... and still has a fate. You feel him calling on the dark side..." 3 more dice clatter. "Damn, none."
"I got six success, 4 of them 6's, Spending a fate." Clatter, "Damn! 1 more success."
"Tie, Since you tied, you need not join, but tell me what you want me to hit..."
"Let's make it matter. 'I'll never join you!'..."
"'If only you knew the power of the Dark Side...' let me see your beliefs again?... Oh...'Did Obi-wan ever tell you what happened to your father?'"
"Is this a new versus?"
"Nah, I've a reveal in mind... "
"'He told me enough! It was you who killed him!"
"Vader relaxes his stance, holds out his hand, 'No. I am your father.'"
"Luke whines, "No! That's Impossible!' Can Luke see any exits below?"
"Now, here comes the versus to change your belief... and yes, you can... 'Search your feelings, you know it to be true.' Using Vader's 4d Persuasion, plus 1d from intimidation."
"Using Sense Force to resist... plus my Loyal to the Rebellion trait and a destiny. My goal is escape"
Dice clatter... "BLEEP! Tied again..."
Luke's player writes a new belief... "Because Vader is my Father, I must find out why Ben lied..."
the GM starts off, "Luke. You can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son. Come with me. It is the only way."
Luke's player then Narrates, "I Stand up tall, clutching my stump, and fall backwards. I'll TK my way into one of the exits..."

On the way down, he reaches out to Leia...
She then tells Han's player to turn around. He grumbles, due to his, "I'm no hero, so I protect myself first" instinct is being challenged. "Yes, dear. Han grumbles about it, but Love Leia trumps protect self..."
 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Thats one of the many reasons why I like narrative tools like bennies and aspects that allow the players to establish facts not only about their own character but also the immediate scene and the wider world too - which they, the GM and other players can invoke and change.
While the GMs job may be to set up the scenario and play the core NPCs, the RPG should be a shared experience where all players get to create their story.
 

@aramis erak

You've got a bit more negotiation going on there then I would normally use in BW (as GM or player). I like your treatment of Han. And your new Belief for Luke.
I went to BW after using Burning Empires. And built on advice from Luke - not all of which is actually in the books.
I assure you, it's within the playstyles Luke envisaged, just as your example is.

Not all players like DoW; many would rather just doing a social equivalent of Bloody Versus. Agree to the stakes, compare the rolls, and shift the story... noting that a tie is "Neither gets everything, both get something."
That's a philosophy that I've taken from BE forward: don't break ties, embrace the incomplete on both ends.
I wish I'd encountered BW in my 20's...

I've also found that agreed upon stakes makes even hard moves (like forced change of beliefs) much easier to accept.

Plus, using Bloody Versus in place of Fight or Range and Cover, and a versus in place of Duel of Wits, can really speed up play.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!

My Players usually do navigate the story...I'm just the driver, they tell me where to go*. :)

That said, I have used, to rather surprising and VERY rewarding experiences, the "Plot Development Cards" from PIGames ( MasterDeck Plot Development (for MasterBook & Shatterzone) ). I've used them with several game systems and genres...from Zombie Apocalypse, to Star Frontiers, to D&D. As they are "system/genre neutral", they just fit right in! The benefit to them, from what my Players said, was that they felt they could "stir the pot" when they wanted to. If they were getting board with something, or if something was going horribly wrong, or spectacularly right...they could just toss a "P13: Someone or something has turned from good to bad", or maybe "P23: A character finds something that is not where it should be". Those seemingly 'little' things can, and have, had VERY large and entertaining effects on the game. Absolutely LOVE those cards!

EDIT: *...specifically. I get to choose if I drive in the left lane, middle lane or right lane, if I turn left to go around construction, or slow down and go through it...but they choose where they "want to go", so to say. Just to be clear. :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

pemerton

Legend
I went to BW after using Burning Empires. And built on advice from Luke - not all of which is actually in the books.
I assure you, it's within the playstyles Luke envisaged, just as your example is.
No worries in that respect. I think my main departure from the text is to not always follow its advice on full explicitness about the consequences of failure. Luke talks about this in the Adventure Burner - ie allowing the consequences to be latent in the situation. This may be one way I drift slightly closer to AW-type play.

Not all players like DoW; many would rather just doing a social equivalent of Bloody Versus. Agree to the stakes, compare the rolls, and shift the story... noting that a tie is "Neither gets everything, both get something.
I have a version of that in my example - Ben's Soothing Platitudes vs Luke's Persuasion.

don't break ties, embrace the incomplete on both ends.
I like ties. They come up in BW, in Prince Valiant (very similarly-sized dice pools) and even Classic Traveller (different resolution system as you know, but a narrower and "bunchier" range than d20 or d%).

using Bloody Versus in place of Fight or Range and Cover, and a versus in place of Duel of Wits, can really speed up play.
I like Bloody Versus. Especially because I'm a terrible scripter and the main person I play with (the GM in my OP actual play) is a brilliant scripter! (He's also a terrific card and boardgame player.) So in scripting I nearly always get hosed.
 

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