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OOC General D20 and Tabletop RPG Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Role Playing Resource' started by LightWarden, Mar 5, 2005.

Moderators: Penguinator, Ramza
  1. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    And like I said, I'll pay it. I'm in Australia, remember? My exchange rate trumps yours and that of the EU combined. :p :p :p Tell them it's my little contribution to America's great economic fightback! [face_flag]
  2. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    So I feel myself wanting to go back to basics with D&D.

    Anyone wanna play Tomb of Horrors? :p
  3. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Sure, I'm gam-

    Oh.


    Oh god.





    [image=http://cf.geekdo-images.com/images/pic1114807.png]




    :_|



    [image=http://i491.photobucket.com/albums/rr277/kadield/FetalPosition.jpg]
  4. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    I can dig that!*















































    * Provided I am given access to all WOTC materials, Dragon supplements, and third party supplmenets with which to make a Pun-Pun build. Only then will I be confident enough to stride in. :D

    I could dig it, though! :)
  5. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Not even Pun-Pun will save you from the sphere, fool!
  6. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
  7. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    It's that time of the month again.

    ...No, I meant it's time to have a look at another RPG system I located out on the Interwebs. And the one I've got in mind is something that's of interest to me because it engages some of my interests and would be a unique challenge to run in a PbP forum -- almost a reversal of the traditional OOC/IC model. And it requires no dice, just (in FtF gaming) just a bunch of index cards (see below for how this can be addressed in PbP).

    Meet Microscope, released back in August 2011 or so, by a guy named Ben Robbins. If you had to sum up the RPG, it's essentially "four people get together and construct a saga according to the rules of this RPG". There's no GM as such. Basically, the (up to four, five) players agree on a general premise that will be the subject of your saga, agree on certain things that can be excluded and included, agree an end point and a start point, and then you begin, turn by turn, player by player, to construct that history. You're free to move forward or backward in the timeline, and free to zoom in on almost any historical event and roleplay it out. You can go as long or as short as you want.

    The creator runs through a summary of how the game works here, which I'd encourage people to take a look at, but the basic setup comes down to this:

    Your history eventually is arranged in a fractal form -- periods, within which are any number of events, within which are any number of scenes. The cool part being that you can drill down into it as far as you like, you don't have to specify a given number of events or scenes.

    (1) Agree a big picture: e.g. "An ancient empire rises and falls". "Refugees carve out new life in a distant land". Do not go into heavy details. Just a concept that describes a direction will do.

    (2) Agree the bookends of the history: Big chunks of history are "periods" in Microscope, and that is, specify two periods of history -- and indicate whether it is a "light" period or a "dark" period. Describe how your history begins and ends. These are your starting and ending Periods, the bookends of your history. You?ll add more Periods later on, but everything will be between these points. To make a period, you...
    a) Agree on a short description for each Period, just a few sentences or a paragraph at most, painting a clear picture of what happens during that time.
    b) Decide whether each description is Light or Dark, whether what happens during that Period is generally happy or tragic. This is the Tone of each Period. The Tone of the starting and ending Period do not have to match.

    Say we pick "refugees carve out new life in a distant land" as the big picture. We might then agree the commencing period of that saga is "Refugees suffer religious persecution in their homeland" and specify that it's a dark period. We might then say the ending period of that saga is "Refugees crown their first king in their homeland, having created a place for themselves., and specify it's a light period.

    The attraction of the idea is that you could just as easily take these same two events and give them opposite tones: light for dark -- it's a happy time that the refugees in question suffer persecution, since their religion is brutal, and dark as hell when they crown their first king because they're going to spread their evil all over the world. It all depends on the group. Or you could just as easily take entirely different events, or even turn the beginning and ending periods into each other -- crown their first king, end with them fleeing religious persecution.

    You now know how the history begins and ends (and in FtF you'd record it on index cards) but you have no idea what happens in between.

    (3) Create the history's Palette -- The Palette is a list of things the players agree to reserve the right to include or, conversely, outright ban. It gets everyone on the same page about what belongs in the history and what doesn?t. You make two co
  8. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Sounds pretty damn cool, honestly, but... uh... how exactly is that something that requires a system?[face_thinking]
  9. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    I'm making little sense because I've just had two painkillers, but they are not contributing to my enthusiasm in any event. :D

    EDIT: You know what? Just read the two posts below. :D
  10. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Actually, I found a tract where Robbins defends the RPG as to why people shouldn't just go stone soup:

    If the game was just players taking turns making stuff up by themselves, it wouldn?t be very interesting and it wouldn?t be much of a game. Instead, Microscope intertwines creative independence with interdependence. One feeds the other. On the surface, you make history all by yourself: if it?s your turn, you make whatever you want, and no one else has any say unless you play a Scene. But the rules intentionally only let a player make a single layer of history at a time (or two if you?re the Lens), so you?re forced to work with what?s already on the table, building on what other players created and enticing them to explore and flesh out what you start.

    Scene creation has a similar feedback loop. The player making the Scene picks the Question and creates the setting, but as each player picks their character or reveals their thought their choice influences what the next player thinks about the Scene. And that?s all before role-playing even starts. It?s no accident that the last player to make history is the first player to choose during Scene creation: it gives them the first opportunity to influence the Scene and introduce whatever continuity they might want to carry over from their own turn.

    I talk a lot about how Microscope forbids collaboration or brainstorming, but that?s not really true. What it does is require that collaboration happen through the medium of the game, rather than through open discussion and normal social rules. You?re having a discussion. You?re just doing it through the language and vocabulary of the game. When you describe your Period, you?re telling the other players what you want in the history. When you explain why you think your Event is Light, you?re showing them what you think about the fiction. They respond by making history of their own, using the same language. The entire game is a dialog, just a dialog with it?s own rules.
  11. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Triple post, but more from Robbins on the turn-based thing:

    Microscope gives players a lot of creative power, but it also forces them to use it. When it?s your turn, you?re in the hotseat. You have to come up with something to add to the history. No one else can make suggestions, and you can?t ask for help.

    This is an intentional design choice. I could just as easily have made the game the other way, with open discussion and brainstorming. There are two reasons why I didn?t:

    The first is that, by forcing each person to contribute their own ideas, without cross-checking or consensus building, you get a far more unique and unexpected result. Creation by committee inevitably moves towards established tropes and stereotypes. The odd and interesting bits get watered down. By comparison, I don?t think I?ve played a single Microscope game where I wasn?t surprised and fascinated by how the history developed.

    The second is that, even with the best of intentions, when a group collaborates, social pressures mean that some people contribute more than others. Timid players may play game after game without ever making a major contribution, either because they?re not confident their ideas will be liked or because other players are more dominant and their ideas are adopted instead. Gaming groups can fall into these patterns without realizing it. The situation may not even be involuntary. Maybe the dominant players really do have consistently great ideas, so everyone is happy to run with them. Awesome. Maybe the timid players are more comfortable sitting in the backseat, not sticking their neck out and exposing themselves to other people?s opinions of their ideas. Fine. Rule systems that give players an option to control the fiction don?t solve the problem because, if it?s a choice, the same dynamics come into play: the dominant players exercise their mechanical authority confidently and the timid players are hesitant to use the rules to take control and create, again for fear that their ideas aren?t winners.

    Microscope eliminates that choice. If it?s your turn, you can?t back out. You have to make something, and the rest of us are going to sit here silently until you do. Let?s not harbor any illusions: the hotseat can be very uncomfortable. Painful even. But what I?ve seen after fifty games, and what I?ve heard from playtester after playtester after playtester, is that players who were normally quiet wallflowers surprised everyone with their contributions?even themselves. People who no one thought had ideas threw down amazing stuff. Some found it uncomfortable, but were rewarded when they fought through it. Others jumped right in because they?d been waiting to have a voice all along and now the structure finally made everyone else be quiet and listen to them.

    The hotseat may burn at first, but it pays off.

    The pressure to create is mitigated by the fact that you don?t have to make something awe-inspiring. You can just take your turn and add something simple to the history. That lets players ease into their new power. But even the humblest additions to the history may prove fertile ground for other players, who build on it in ways the original player didn?t expect. And when that player sees the ideas they thought were lame being embraced and expanded by the other players, it?s an unexpected pat on the back. They?re encouraged to build more. It?s a positive feedback loop.
  12. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    Sounds different. Communal worldbuilding? I'm up for that. :D
  13. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    We can run with as few as two, but the upper limit's apparently four with an option to stretch to five. Any other takers, folks? :D

    P.S. Since there's no GM, I count as one player, so with Xan that's two. :D
  14. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    It certainly is interesting. Sounds a bit like a writer´s room that needs to come up with a background story, really. Which is one of the most fun experiences there is in creative writing. Actually there might be a need of some people to get deeper into "character play", but that could easily be integrated by playing out certain scenes. Combined it would certainly be the most epic story ever written.

    Anyway the Library thread could have fours entries, so that every player can add something by actualizing his one and then the others can copy/paste.
  15. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Two? Make that three.

    Gah, curse my inability to find applicable images from The Magnificent Seven while on my iPod. [face_frustrated]
  16. LordTroepfchen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2007
    star 4
    I think I would like to try that. It is something new and that is nothing that happens all too often, right? Count me in, if you need a fourth.
  17. spycoder9 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 23, 2008
    star 4
    If you wanted to squeeze someone else in, I'd also be willing to give it a go. It sounds pretty fun, actually! :D

    Edit: So, I?m guessing the cut off point is 4 people? Missed my chance! Maybe next time, if this comes up again! Good luck with it though, and I?ll be following this very closely. Great group of people playing. :)
  18. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Sorry about that, spy -- better luck next time, as you say.

    ramza, Xan, LordT: It's up, over in the NSWRPF as "Microscope". Library Thread's also up, so I'll see you there!
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