thread: 2012-06-11 : Ask a Frequent Question

On 2012-07-15, Moreno wrote:

"In this game, you play teenage Mormon gunslingers traveling from town to town. They come upon the scene or aftermath of a murder and they have to decide what to do about it, who to punish, how (and whether) to help the town survive it.

Sorry, but this is Color.

"There's a GM, whose job it is to create the backstory that led up to the murder. You roll dice to resolve conflicts between the characters, and the dice put a lot of pressure on everybody to escalate."

And this say to me that there is a GM, that that GM has authority over the backstory, that he must prepare for the session (but it don't say how much), that the game has conflict resolution and use dice.

It say nothing about the most important thing in the game.

This specific example ring a lot of alarm bells for me, because I have seen, first hand, what happen when you try to explain DitV in that manner (Obviously you explained how to play DitV even more times than me, but from I saw in a lot of articles, blog and forum post even now, you have exactly the same problem with the exact same consequences).

The usual answer, when someone describe DitV (to people used to traditional rpgs) using color, is "I would hate to play a game like that, because I not a religious person, and my dream is not to play a Mormon" or something like that.

What happened, is that they presume some kind of "Right to Dream" play.  They think that playing this game would be a celebration of Mormonism or of religion in general, and they presume that the manual has a big list of "laws" that the PC have to enforce, and that the GM will give XPs only if you follow that law.

Other times, the answer is this:
"I see. So the GM prepare the story. No, thanks, I am fed up with railroading GMs, no story in my game, please"

I think it's clear what they assumed here...

Other times the answer is this:

"No, I don't like mistery games. If we miss a roll and miss a clue, the game stop until we find another way to get it. If I wanted a game set in the old west, I would like a game with a lot of gunfights and dramatic action, not a game where I, as a player, have to put together a lot of clues trying to find the solution to the mistery".

I hope you are seeing as there are all possible interpretation perfectly compatible with the quoted description you wrote above. The difference is that they assumed right to dream, story before (incoherent) or step on up play.

And why should they not make these assumptions? 99.99% of the players of traditional rpgs consider one of these options (or another one that still assume a single one of the three agenda modes) "the way rpgs are played" and they never experienced another one.

I see these wrong assumptions both in the people I try to explain DitV (IF I use only color or the description of some game techniques), and in a lot of people who write american blogs and forum posts. Stopping talking about that did not help at all.

What help really a lot, is starting to talk about that.
"that" what? That difference:
Creating Theme

What it's needed to explain how to play DitV is the concept of thematic play. Maybe not in general or all these words, but some sort of explanation is needed. That explain that you don't celebrate Mormonism in DitV, but you engage directly with the premise as a human being with his own answer. (I personally added something like that in the Italian appendix of the Italian second edition of DitV: a lot of people told me later that that appendix helped them a lot to understand the game. It can't be because of my illuminating prose because most of what I wrote were direct citations of your posts where you talked about thematic play and creative agenda applied to DitV: it's the simple fact of talking about that that is necessary)

And it's sufficient? Yes. I can explain to someone how the dice works during the initiation conflict, or he can read the book by himself after buying it. I can explain the setting and premise in ten seconds. But these, alone, push the people who would enjoy the game to avoid it, and attract the wrong people (the ones that talk in Italian forums about the way they tricked their players with a big mistery and the "big bad" got away, until the final fight of the story they have already prepared).
If I can explain the concept of thematic playing, the player can read the rest in the game manual. But at that time I can see if the idea of playing like that is grabbing them or not.

What it's needed to understand how to play DitV, at the end, isn't the difference between "Story now" and the other creative agenda? Not the difference between "the specific way you play DitV and the specific way to play Polaris", that I get is what you mean at this time when you talk about Creative Agenda (I would use "the game": it's made up by the social contract, all the techniques, all the SIS, etc, after all). I am talking about the difference between playing DitV story now, and playing it right to dream. Not a difference at the table, but in the image the game present of himself to prospective players.

Why I am going on and on about this point? Because the avoidance of talking about that didn't cause a nice new world where everybody lives together in harmony without that naughty GNS, what it did cause is a increase in confusion.  That affect me in two way: it make explaining how to play DitV much, much harder (because it increase the numbers of places that talk out of their asses about the game, saying that you play something like an inquisitor from WH40K, only in the west: I read this one less than a week ago), and make more difficult for "me" understanding how to play new games.

Actual play example: the first time I played misery bubblegum, I was profoundly dissatisfied with the game. It did nothing of what I tried to make it do. Reflecting upon the game and the rules and the cards, i finally got to what the problem was: I was mislead by all the talk about "the way it simulate anime", in a lot of posts and articles that talked about color, color, nothing that color (and some rules) and never talked about creative agenda at all, and I thought that the objective of the game was to create a Anime. And I was distraught seeing how the game encouraged destroying everything that was build in the narrative until that point, and even if that disjointed narrative was made up of pieces typical of anime, at the end it wasn't even a story, but only a sequence of events.

Thinking about that, after the game, I realized that I should have played to win.

The problem is simply that nobody talks about these things anymore. Because they say they aren't "useful"
More confusion is more useful?


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