Monday, January 19, 2015

What Milsim has Taught me about Describing Combat and GMing

Airsoft and RPGs always keep being a source of contemplation. RPGs and behavior economics give me the words to describe most of what is happening in the game (while philosophy is for the WTFs). By knowing these terms I am able to describe what is happening and learn from it.

Then there is how I've improved in airsoft in the 7 years I've been playing coming from a sheltered, panicked, absentminded, and anxiety ridden person. Whats happened is that I had to find benchmarks/anchors by which to measure and understand what is happening and improve. Pain and Suffering is arbitrary - it is always hard, and change has always some sacrifice and suffering. The thing is when I found these benchmarks, the amount of Pain I can take, and the familiar symptoms and emotions they became a signal of what is to happen next - I learned control and a glimpse of what may be going on in the minds of my Characters and the Heroes I've read.

We don't look for the -5 penalty we are able to suffer to still succeed at a 80% chance, I look for a profile so small that my Iron sights will cover it when I aim my gun down at a distance I've experienced my BBs travel straight enough. I know in 25m I can hit the corner of my enemy's head if they tried to peek and I have the initiative. I know some of my guns can't hit that range accurately unless I use a mid cap and fire and correct my shots for it to hit, and even then the BBs are unreliable in their paths. I learned that I cannot assign penalties to what I feel, and they can never describe quite as adequately what is happening....

Go by Sensory and Emotional Cues

Hesitation, Buckling into a severe expression, the Sound you hear of footsteps and shuffling to the periphery of your vision, etc.. These Sensory and Emotional Cues can be learned by reading novels OR by actually experiencing them in reflection and in After Action Reports.

OK, after action reports is when we all talk about what happened as we percieved them. There is no judgment on the error - if you were mistaken, it happened what is important is getting the most honest and accurate information about what happened so that we all (everyone involved in the AAR) can learn something. Perception plays a lot of Tricks on us, there are many biases acting on us BUT its easier when we have something shared to talk about and communicate - What happened in this event. You can say this becomes a REALITY benchmark, and you can measure from here.

Note, my captain and a lot of the team are GURPS gamers, and GURPS books draw a lot from Technical and Historical resource books plus experimentation. It should be no surprise why it becomes a very useful language when we describe` some of what happen 

"When I got to the vantage point, I took a Wait maneuver, expecting an opponent to come from those corners (A successful tactics roll). The moment I saw any movment, a shadow or a reflection from the particles that littered the floor I started shooting. Sure enough they were there and they didnt expect me to fire so soon..."

For me. I can now see how my hesitation and anxiety clouded my judgement as I grew more confident since I journalized all these feelings. It illustrates how our emotions can handicap us immensely from performing at the level we can do... then there is the Heighten performance of being in the "Zone" when emotion, consciousness, and physical action are in perfect sync. 

This list can go on, but it will be so artificial to memorize. If you have the chance to challenge yourself in a new experience and try new things (while Tweeting/Sharing) the  words that arise from it, you may grow your own vocabulary to describe these many sensory and emotional instances. 

Teamwork - a Gaming Group is a TEAM 

Playing with a Team, and learning about my Team mates got me into to their heads that I have an internal conversation with them. I know what they normally approve, wont approve, and would do and we cover each other's blind sides. In TTRPGS, when I GM I feel the same kind of camaraderie and meld with the players when the Game is getting good and the DICE is making things harder and harder for us.

Its not that I know what they are going to say, its just that We've had this conversation before and I would be an ass if I wasn't paying attention and remembered what their answer was. In fact I can predict how they are going to act, they just gave me the tone and stance they take to know when something is important to them.

Having a reciprocation or responsive relationship is not just in the realms of  romance, companionship, and work... it is found in other mediums like Games. It can be as simple as making sure you give a receipt that you received communication (like "copy") but in RPGs its more of "Active Listening" type of Receipt.

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