Player-driven campaigns and developing strong stories

pemerton

Legend
It might be good to add that if a GM wants a player driven game, they will have to make a group. Your chances of it just happening are close to zero. You can't just want over to your group of friends and expect them to be all be exactly what you want. The GM will need to make the group, person by person.
I don't think there's any particular evidence for this. In my experience most RPGers are happy to be creative about their PCs, and to decide things like What my character wants and What my character does.
 

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What does that have to do with narrativist RPGs. At most it's a truth of human nature.
Gamers are humans.
Basically at this point you might as well just call it cooties.
Ok, but I don't know what that is.

So I don’t understand what you’re imagining here. The incentive structures are set up in every way to defy Force (both in a GM’s temptation to use it and in a GM’s application of it during play). The game just works when you have neither metaplot nor preferred inputs, its fun to not have those things and be surprised by where play goes, and the system openly defies you and exposes you if you try to fight against it and impose metaplot.
I can understand your confusion. The problem is your narrow focus. You say things are things because you say they are, then say you play a game a set way. Then say see what was said does not happen if you follow everything I said. And, ok, that is true with that very narrow focus. So to understand, widen your focus.

Though I'd be interested to know how the system does stuff?

I don't think there's any particular evidence for this. In my experience most RPGers are happy to be creative about their PCs, and to decide things like What my character wants and What my character does.
Sure, that's maybe less then half of the players out there. A good chunk of the other half are the self insert ones that just play the game as themselves. And the rest just want to play the by-the-numbers combat game.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I've listened to like enumerable podcasts and "how to DM" videos and read books about DMing theory, and I've come to the conclusion that the vast majority of the ones that think they are running character driven games are really running high illusion GM driven games.

What games have you played or GMed that promote player-driven play? Not which have you read, or which have you listened to a podcast about? Which do you have actually play experience with?

Because I and several others in this thread have shared actual games and actual examples of play that display that player-driven play is absolutely possible, and all you have done to take the opposite stance is to insist it is so.

Why should a neutral observer of this converstion listen to your opinion over that of others with the opposite opinion?

Oh, I agree. One of the things that came out of the Forge era is a realization that the processes of play weren't well encoded, described and transmitted to the players. A lot of the games that came out of the discussion do a very good job of not only telling you the rules, but also telling you how they want the game to be played.

This is both good and bad.

How is it bad? Generally speaking, I'd expect clarity in any set of rules and procedures would be viewed as a positive. In what ways do you think it is a negative?

Player Driven is where the game is made for the real life players. They are playing their character as a self insert: as themselfs. If the player likes combat and loot, then the character likes combat and loot. The player cares nothing about the fiction at all. For example if they have an elf character and some elves ask for help, the player utterly does no care and just asks "can we have more combat now?"

That doesn't sound like anything anyone is promoting here as player-driven play.

It's more about letting the players determine the direction and focus of play. Or at least, letting them have much more say than is often present in traditional games.

And, don't all the highly praised games, like Dungeon World and Blades in the Dark force the players to do things? Is this no really a huge point of these games: to force the players to play the game? Though sure "force" is too harsh, as it's more "strongly encourage", but it's the same at the end.

Force players in what way? I mean, if I suggest Blades in the Dark as a game, I suppose the players are "forced" to play a criminal type of some sort, and to band together with the other PCs into a crew. But I think that'd all be covered by basic acceptance of taking part in the game. Once we're beyond that point, there's not a lot of play that is forced on the players.

There is some structure to the game... it's expected that the characters go on scores and then recover during downtime, and so on. But otherwise, no, not much is forced on the players. I mean, they're expected to follow the rules, but I don't think that's what you have in mind.

Have you ever played or run these types of games?

It's not seeing the forest in the trees sort of thing. The whole game is an illusion. See these games were made as an alternative to D&D types games where the DM has all the power, and the players just play along. With the rules of these games, it feels like limits are placed on the GM and it feels like the players are given tons of power. And a GM that wants to can really lean into the whole "ask question thing" with "react to the players thing" and act like they have a blank slate in mind for everything. This gives the players the illusion they are all powerful and in control of the game, and making the GM just play along.

It's not a binary situation where either the GM has all power, or the players have all power. There is shared authority in these kinds of games. There are rules that are expected to be followed by each participant. I think that's one of the main differences between these games and many traditional ones (or traditional-minded GMs maybe): the GM is not above the rules. They are expected to honor what the dice say, and what the players declare.

Do you typically think that there is anything that the GM cannot override about the rules? I know that's how it seems from your past posts. Many games specifically don't want that to happen. No secret rolls, nothing happening without the players being aware... all of this stuff limits how the GM is able to steer things.

It might be good to add that if a GM wants a player driven game, they will have to make a group. Your chances of it just happening are close to zero. You can't just want over to your group of friends and expect them to be all be exactly what you want. The GM will need to make the group, person by person. It takes time, but you can make whatever group you want.

What do you think about games that are designed to deliver that exact experience? Don't you think it's more likely that such a game would make it easier for players to get into that kind of mindset? Like, if that's the way the game works, why would the players have a hard time with it?
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
What do you think about games that are designed to deliver that exact experience? Don't you think it's more likely that such a game would make it easier for players to get into that kind of mindset? Like, if that's the way the game works, why would the players have a hard time with it?

While I'm more on your side than not here, I think this ignores that there are a certain number of players who, at the least, do not want to do the lifting to derive their own purposes. They might not need a GM to do it for them, but they'd at least need the other players to because its just not something they're interested in; they just want to go and play.
 

pemerton

Legend
I think this ignores that there are a certain number of players who, at the least, do not want to do the lifting to derive their own purposes. They might not need a GM to do it for them, but they'd at least need the other players to because its just not something they're interested in; they just want to go and play.
And?

There are players who want their RPGing to closely resemble a tabletop wargame, or a board game; there are other players who want their RPGing to be very different from these other sorts of games?

There are all sorts of players. Who see "going and playing" as involving different sorts of things.

If the OP is wanting to increase the player-driven elements in their RPGing, presumably they believe that they know, or can find, some players who'll be up for that.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
While I'm more on your side than not here, I think this ignores that there are a certain number of players who, at the least, do not want to do the lifting to derive their own purposes. They might not need a GM to do it for them, but they'd at least need the other players to because its just not something they're interested in; they just want to go and play.

Sure, and there would be any number of games and/or GMs that would suit. I’m not challenging anyone’s preference in this thread. I’m simply saying that the kind of game @Yora described in the OP is possible.

Having said that, I don’t know how much of the difference we can attribute to the “lifting” you mention here. It assumes greater effort on the part of the players. I don’t know if that’s always the case.

It may be, but it may not. For instance, I’ve played in plenty of trad games where the play group simply could not figure out what they were “supposed” to be doing, despite great effort toward that. I’ve certainly found such games harder than many others. I’ve also found GMing such games to be far more challenging in many ways. And less so in others.

I think it’s too subjective to attribute it to anything other than preference.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Sure, and there would be any number of games and/or GMs that would suit. I’m not challenging anyone’s preference in this thread. I’m simply saying that the kind of game @Yora described in the OP is possible.

No argument. It was more your last sentence ("Why would players have a hard time with it?") I was reacting to: they'd have a hard time with it in some cases because they just fundamentally don't want to do it. I'm making no claims how common this is, just that its a thing.

Having said that, I don’t know how much of the difference we can attribute to the “lifting” you mention here. It assumes greater effort on the part of the players. I don’t know if that’s always the case.

It may be, but it may not. For instance, I’ve played in plenty of trad games where the play group simply could not figure out what they were “supposed” to be doing, despite great effort toward that. I’ve certainly found such games harder than many others. I’ve also found GMing such games to be far more challenging in many ways. And less so in others.

I think it’s too subjective to attribute it to anything other than preference.

I'm not claiming that it is, just that with some people its strong enough it doesn't matter what tools the game they're playing give them, because they just won't use them.
 


hawkeyefan

Legend
No argument. It was more your last sentence ("Why would players have a hard time with it?") I was reacting to: they'd have a hard time with it in some cases because they just fundamentally don't want to do it. I'm making no claims how common this is, just that its a thing.

Sure, but again that seems about preference rather than either player ability or difficulty with the rules.

I'm not claiming that it is, just that with some people its strong enough it doesn't matter what tools the game they're playing give them, because they just won't use them.

I wouldn’t disagree. But I took your use of lifting to imply effort. I think there’s a difference between not being able to do something and choosing not to do it.

Generally speaking, I don’t think that Story Now type games are overall any more or less difficult to play than traditional games. So, setting aside any individual’s preference for or against them, I’m not sure what more you were trying to say.

To reframe my original point here, and again, setting aside matters of preference, I think a game like Apocalypse World and many of its PbtA offshoots enables player driven play without the need for a whole lot more effort on the part of the players. I would say it involves a different sort of effort, but not really more effort.
 

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