Here is a funny thing about most of the systems I've read, no one gives guidelines as to how many rolls matter. I learned this from some Old School GMs who make it tough by just making me roll more, and arbitrarily choosing which of the times I rolled matter more.
Further Explanation: No system really talks about: That in a span of a session or event in a session, how many or which rolls matter. If you look at Combat Systems, which have more rolls than all the other circumstances in a game (much higher relative to in game time) you will notice that there are More rolls and each have various weights in how they influence circumstance. There is so much emphasis, yet if you step back and look at all the elements of the adventure: social, logistical, intrapersonal, etc... and ask "what should matter more?" its completely arbitrary. Like why can combat be a simple roll, (like any other skill) brings to light more of how arbitrary emphasis can be.
This is a simple and powerful technique, and something that comes naturally in logistics, echoed in the For want of a Nail. If the GM so wishes it, he can make the entire adventure hinge on a nail or a characters life, a magic items survival, etc... . In GURPS it can mean a character can die because he failed a fast draw roll, or in other game systems that death can be from Logistics or Fatigue, or that one can only die by the hand of the enemy.
Why the technique is so effective is because our attention and memories are easily played with, even when we think we are paying attention. These memory errors come out more if you record your games. One Interesting internal feedback I get when I do so is - Thats not how I remember GMing or Playing it! The weight of the roll, when viewed more objectively outside the game can be manipulated, Skills to do so can be found in Verbal Self Defense techniques and many other Social management skills.
F* u justin why the heck are you bringing out this closely held GM secret!
I'm an open source nut, and my tricks are all in display, because I want to learn. Of course, you cannot execute any trick without practice - yes the f-ing reality that we cannot do things on the fly - only a logistician would nag this reality. So practice in privacy or among friends and enablers allows you to perform these tricks well. Its freaking science, there is a rational to the trick but it doesnt stop being amazing just cause you know whats behind the veil. For me, what is amazing is the work and inspiration behind the trick.
The other funny thing about this trick is that it is used in conversation, its called "changing the topic" or "deflection" found in. Hell just using the verbal self defense listed give you an array of Gaming Tools for both GM and Player.
Makes you wonder if the Gamers Hanging Out Community a Verbal Dojo where we practice facilitation by just hanging out and listening to each other? What kind of conspiracy is learning to amicably listen to anyone willing to share their gaming experience, joys and frustrations has the self interest of self improvement.
In Narrative Games (like Fate and other such systems), Players who understand this concept cannot be controlled - as they shouldn't be because it is more of a collaborative game. Same goes in many simple discussions where everyone is contributing and no one is trying to dictate the issues without everyone's consent.
No matter what the system, the GM (and the players) should have power to emphasize what matters.
Because, even with this Power over the story the Players have the power to say your game is no fun. Awareness of the technique means, you can see how hard the GM is working to make it challenging or so that you can give the GM the opportunity to look deeper into the context of the situation and turn it around. And if both parties are trying to make it challenging, then the experience becomes more rewarding.
So we make a judgment on the GM based on how he uses such a power (like if he wants to share it).
So basically, the same Cognitive Framing techniques we naturally use can be further honed to surprising flexibility and adaptability as to help us GM better AND deal with people and life events better. *cough*bullshit*cough*
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