: Countdown to Ghostly Murder
The last one went well so here's another. Murderous Ghosts playtest document, T minus 5. Yeah?
Murderous Ghosts is a 20-minute 2-player rpg. It's semi-competitive: your object is to escape getting murdered by ghosts, but you're playing against the game, not against the GM. As GM, you're curious whether the other player will escape or get murdered, but you don't lose if she escapes. Your object is to give yourself the wigs.
1. On 2011-09-26, Vincent wrote:
All playtesting so far points to: it's a good game for giving yourself the wigs.
A weird true thing for me: I could run this game again happily, but I had to leave the room when Julia was running it for you, because it was giving me the wigs. Different things wig out different people! Who knew!
My experience of 'competitive' RPGs in the past has been that you're either not really competing, or you're not really engaging with the fiction. Competition, as a primary goal, almost inevitably creates a conflict of interest. I find, for example, that 'the Shab-al-Hiri Roach' only works so long as no one takes the competition element at all seriously (I don't think Jason would disagree with that position, either). I've not played Agon, but I suspect it's the same.
From what Vincent's describing, it sounds like the GM role in this game is what allows the player to play hard against the game, without losing that engagement with the fiction. Vincent, is that accurate?
I guess most rpgs (at least most Story Now supporting games) are in a sense "play against the game" in the sense that we have a shared desire to see these characters succeed, but also a shared commitment to following the rules of the game.
I'm pretty sure that no game can sustain a conflict of interests between players (or within a player), as well as having engagement with fictional content.
Simon: s/lay w/me - is that competitive? I haven't played it yet but there seems to be a strong element of that with the goes and dice tower toppling.
Mouse Guard is pretty competitive. You're supposed to make it hard for the heroes. Same for D&D, when played a certain way.
But otherwise I'd agree that if there's a strong competitive element between the players, then you can easily lose the engagement with the fictional content, because the competition happens with the ephemera, the numbers, the dice. The answer to that would be to make the competition happen at the level of the fiction. Storming the Wizard's Tower has some of that, as has Apocalypse World. Fictional positioning matters a lot, I'd say.
S/lay w/me is not at all competitive. At least, no more so than any other game where the GM provides antagonism to the protagonist.
Mouse Guard, the GM's job is to "make them heroes", not to win.
D&D is also not competitive, even played in the most dungeon-crawly, Step On Up manner. Actually I got a bunch of opinions about how Step On Up isn't at all about competition, it's about celebration (and testing) of a shared body of skills and knowledge.
Oh, I meant competition against the game itself, through the mechanics. Like Mars Colony, good example. Or Annalise, where you can be all hand-holdy-as-possible-within-the-parameters-of-the-game of each other, but the numbers are against you and you will lose everything if you play long enough.