Agreed. Although I would say here the rules are probably the least influential part of this.
I don't think so. I think they have a profound impact on how a game works. I would argue that it is more important than player skill, which was your original point. I think player skill is the least important of the three. There are plenty examples of brand-new players who are totally engaged and play with inspiration and excitement, despite their lack of expertise.
Also, look at D&D as an example again. Highly detailed NPC and monster entries, specific spatial distances and effects for combat and spells... all these things promote a certain kind of play that require at least some prep, mostly in the forms of maps and statblocks.
What if D&D didn't have monster stats? What if the ranges and areas of effects of spells were more broadly categorized? That would effect how people play.
You seem to be of the opinion that the only way for the players to drive play is if they're highly skilled players. And while that may be one way to do it, there are others. Having the game itself help with that, and the GM, too, are huge parts of it.
These things don't really have anything to do with the rules, and they can occur in lot of ways. For me a lot of this occurs in asking the players about backstories, which is a time that just about game or any style of play you can allow players to inject things into the setting without it being much of a risk. So you can allow players to inject NPCs, families, factions, deities, cults, whatever into your game and have personalized fronts and allies that will play a role in the future story. And you don't need rules for that. But what that to me does is something the opposite of 'no myth'. This is an opportunity to collaborate on the world's myth.
That opportunity doesn't completely go away after the story starts, but it does get more limited after the game starts because you have to avoid inserts that would be retcons or which would be too important to the story or which would imply PC knowledge that would be problematic. But it's often OK to allow some injection of player world building at later points.
By rules, I meant the procedures of play just as much as I meant the actual mechanics. It's not so much about backstory as it is about what's to come. The players can have a lot of say on that, if the game is designed to bring their wants to the fore, and if the GM knows to pay attention and proceed with that in mind.
It can also be specifically the mechanics. The Spire game I mentioned took on the epic feel it did largely because of Fallout, and the impact it had on the characters, which then impacted play. One character in particular had a journey in the game that was like nothing I've ever experienced in any other game. It would not have happened without the rules working the way they do, the player being open to having his character changed in fundamental ways, and the GM being able to help with it.
I don't see how there is much difference between the two. Sooner or later you need enough of the world for the story to take place in, and that implies preexisting stories. And much of those stories both logically and by story necessity can't be stories the PC took part in, because otherwise there would be no mystery and no exploration. But whether or not the player has chosen to work with you to insert backstory into the setting, the world is still there for the PC's stories. And this needs to be true whether or not the player has the slightest idea at the start of what they wanted to accomplish. Because most of the time, they don't. And even if they did, they have no more ability than the GM (and indeed much less) to predict and shape how the story goes because well, randomness will happen and discoveries will be made and mistakes will be made and no plan survives contact with the unknown.
I don't think that setting is about pre-existing stories. The setting should be there for the player characters. Look at the original Star Wars... there's clearly a lot that has happened in the past. But all of it is there to propel Luke on his journey. That's the focus. If that was an RPG, we shouldn't be as concerned about solving all the little tidbits about the past. We should be focused on Luke's journey.
Don't make the focus of your game be about the players learning what's in your 22,000 word backstory (hell, even Lucas was making it up on the fly). Make it about finding out about their characters and what they care about and what they do about it.
As for inconsistencies... what do you think is more likely to result in them... my one page of backstory or your 40 pages?
Oh dear. No, the post is asking questions about how things are done without seeming to understand that things are done that way for the simple reason that there isn't an alternative. I don't think you have any idea just how many systems I have read the rules for. You'd be much better off assuming that I am aware of the alternatives to fortune mechanics or having a GM or whatever.
I don't care how many systems you've read the rules for. Your second sentence here renders the point moot. I cannot see how you will have read so many games and feel that there is no alternative to the approach you've described. There absolutely is, and I'd expect someone with a strong grasp of the wider RPG industry to know that.
Yeah. So what is the fun of inventing the solution to your own puzzle? You say that I don't need to do those sorts of things, but you don't really produce alternatives.
I didn't suggest that anyone should do that.
Because at this point we're like 8 or 9 bounties into the campaign and I'm trying continually to avoid the routine that you'd have if you approached this entirely from a realistic perspective. Realistically, most bounties wouldn't be all that interesting. There wouldn't be a story. They wouldn't play out as great TV episodes. I'm continually throwing twists at the players. In this particular circumstance the Prefect has agreed to write out the Writ of Remandation and pay a bounty if the PC's will provide the criminal. So the PC's find themselves playing the unusual role of 'local sheriff' while otherwise doing the usual things that they would do to hunt down a bounty, only this time they don't have a puck and a face they are looking for. They still have their Imperial Peace Keeping License, and they are still doing all the same things they normally do, just this time they actually have magisterial authority - something that they've wanted at times in prior adventures but haven't had. In some senses, this is fulfilling a bit of a power trip/fantasy that the players previously had, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could just arrest people?"
So look at the Mandalorian as an example. It started out with a bounty hunter. Then it became about something else as a result of what happened as the show unfolded. If we viewed this as an RPG, maybe the player said they wanted to play a cold-blooded mercenary, and so the GM decided to test just how cold-blooded they were by introducing a child for them to care for. And we'll make the child important in some way that the players will understand, even if the character doesn't. Then leave it up to the player if they turn the kid in or decide to protect him.
That decision can then help shape how things are going forward. The GM should let the player decide, and then proceed accordingly. If the player decided to save the kid, then we know they care about something. So then the question maybe becomes how much? Enough to risk their sense of self? Their heritage and legacy? And so on.
If the player decides to turn the kid over to the remnants of the Empire and collect their bounty, then the GM should accept that and not somehow steer things so that the kid shows back up and so on.
Fundamentally, that's not that strong. That's in total just about the same as my session zero where we discussed concepts for a new campaign and agreed that it would be Bounty Hunters. If the system was Blades, we'd still have a Crew of Bounty Hunters.
It formalizes it as a process and makes it explicitly a part of character creation. My character's Friend and Rival are on my character sheet, just like my Action Ratings and my Gear. And they're meant to come up and to matter, though perhaps not as frequently.
You're dismissing multiple things as not being strong examples, but yet they're not meant to be applied in isolation. Combine these practices with a game that allows for them to happen and a GM who knows how to help with that, and collectively, they work quite well.
Sure. And if the players had said we all want to be Jedi Survivors and made appropriate PC's then that would have had the same effect and I would have made a completely different campaign with completely different adventures.
Right, that's a good first step toward player driven play. I don't think it's all that can be done.
Again, that's not that strong. Yes, it encourages or even forces players to do that in way that most games don't, and yes, I only had one player in this campaign bother to make a backstory at all. But if players wanted to bring in contacts, friends, and enemies I would have totally been on board with that. I've done it for prior campaigns, so it's not even like these players didn't realize that was an option. It's just not a priority for this group.
So this reminds me of all the posts here and elsewhere lamenting how pointless the Bonds, Ideals, Flaws, and Traits are in D&D 5e. They're just there, without much connection to anything else, accept if the GM remembers to grant inspiration. They're tacked on.
But what if they were more integral to the game? What if the GM actively used the Bonds to help craft the setting? What if the game instructed the GM to actively find ways to test the characters Ideals? What if the Flaws couldn't be conveniently ignored?
Other games effectively incorporate these kinds of elements into the game such that play of any given game is ABOUT the characters, rather than being about something else and just featuring these characters.
I mean he could, but he's just not supposed to. But this is so weak, because it's not like if we were playing Dungeons and Dragons and the group decided to be smugglers and a player inserted backstory for a character that made them enemies of the Red Saches gang that I'd ignore that and wouldn't let it shape the campaign. Regardless of the system, the players can make their own fronts, collectively or individually before play. That's great, but then I'm still the one that has to bring that to life. Nothing has changed much between systems for me here. There are some changes Blades brings about, player driven flashbacks for example and concrete ways to describe the groups growing influence in the downtime minigames between heists, and yeah without writing in your own minigame tracking influence like that is hard in systems that don't explicitly support that minigame. You can fudge it without a minigame, but minigames do make that sort of thing more compelling.
I could keep going, but your examples to me don't really demonstrate to me a lot of change from what I'm already doing in games.
I mean, in my current D&D game that I'm playing in, we're doing the Temple of Elemental Evil. It's a perfectly fun game. I'm enjoying it. It's not player-directed at all. It can't be, really... it's about the threat of the Temple. It's not about Malacus the Eladrin Wizard. My character and any other PC could be swapped out and little would change about the game.
Yeah, and the result in my experience is always bland shallow games filled with incoherence and illusionism and ultimately for me a distinct feeling for me as a player that have no real power over anything because the GM feels impowered to metagame. And if the GM's metagaming, you got no agency and very little impact over the story.
What do you mean by GM metagaming here?
I consider myself a pretty darn creative person. You can look back through old threads were people ask me for creative content and what I generate for them as evidence of that claim. There are probably people more creative than I am, but I've never met a single person creative enough to wing a story at any depth without extensive preparation. I know that claim offends people who say that they are doing that, but until they actually demonstrate it to me I'm just not going to believe it. And particularly in an RPG, where you are the GM inserting the fictional positioning and consequences into play at every turn, if you didn't actively limit your power by pre-establishing some truths that constrain what you can do, well I don't by that the players have any choices at all. It's all Schrodinger's Setting at that point, painted as serves the GM's ideas of what the story should be from moment to moment. If you don't have prep, literally nothing can happen except what you want to have happen.
I don't see how anyone can demonstrate it to you except perhaps if you actually played with them. Have you actually played or GMed any of the games I've mentioned, or similar ones? Would you be open to doing so?
It feels very much like you're starting with your conclusion, and then working from there.