What's That Game's About?


  • Coder

    (Pulling this over from an advertising thread that is, really, about classic Changeling. As you can see in a moment, this isn't.)

    @Wizz said:

    @Thenomain said:

    I like playing nChangeling because it offers a low-power campaign type that I miss, where what you are messes up what you want to do. Vampires are Vampires. Werewolves are Werewolves, Mages are Mages. These are their job descriptions.

    Just as an aside, this is definitely true of oMage/Vamp/Werewolf, but nWerewolf-- to me, when it's played well-- definitely dials back on "I am noble monster, I fight evil" and is more "regular dude/dudette who has some bizarre part-time obligations, struggles to find a normal place in society against new and unfamiliar instincts" as well.

    Really, they all have exactly as much depth as you give them.

    That is interesting (honestly interesting, as the kind that makes me want to respond), considering that in another thread someone (@Coin) said that in nWerewolf, you were either doing the things that Renown demands or you aren't playing Werewolf.

    I think that's more true than what you state. You can play someone who is Joe Blow, Sudden Werewolf. You can even play in a troupe with the same goal, just like you can play a Changeling chronicle about storming the gates of Arcadia, but I don't see these games being about this. It's an option, not the thrust.

    This is one of the things that makes World of Darkness simultaneously popular and pointless. You can reasonably argue that you can "do anything", and "anything" includes things outside the key word in the title up there: Things that are dark, and foreboding. The corner bar and movie nights are not dark unless they are exceptions that prove the rule. And they're not.

    D&D (any of them) is about being Adventurers. You're forced into it. Your character is assumed to seek out trouble, else are you playing D&D? Are you? I don't think so. In Traveller, you're assumed to be explorers; a suggestion that is in the title. Fading Suns: You're going to play politics and religion.

    World of Darkness, the core game without playing creatures, still has you playing a role, but instead of telling you what the role is, like the games above, it tells you what the setting is. As long as you are engaging in that setting, you're playing World of Darkness.

    Then the supernatural game-lines pop in and we merge that idea back into the first games. You're not a werewolf, you're a werewolf of a particular philosophical bent with a particular role, even if your character didn't get to pick it. You as a player did pick it. You now have a character with a philosophy and a role in a setting.

    If you want to say—and it is legitimate to say—"I'm not going to engage with the philosophy/role/setting", then I don't think it's unreasonable to say, "Then you're not playing the character/game." Even if it's Joe Blow who didn't want to be a Rahu, if you're not playing "Joe Blow who didn't want to be a Rahu", then you're not playing Werewolf.

    This is my take on it, however.


  • Politics

    I agree with @Thenomain in essence. If you're not going to play the hunting and gaining of Renown, if you're not going to play the Pactmaking, deaddrops, and information brokering, if you're not going to play the politicking, backstabbing, and manipulations, then, in my perhaps elitist way, I don't really see how you're playing Werewolf, Demon, or Vampire.

    I can understand someone's motivations for wanting to avoid those things so they can just have the ossum powahz, and I can definitely understand not wanting to be beholden to them on a strict basis on a medium like a MU, which is time-demanding and may limit them.

    It's my opinion and the subsequent understanding of a separate point of view that makes me want to find a point in between.



  • I think the lines get very, very blurry in nWoD in terms of 'what you are playing'.

    There's very little 'setting' at all really when you get down to it. Sure the splats describe other NPC monsters, or some political structures... but there's no 'Bad guys own New York! Flying monkeys pooping acid are swarming over Africa!' going on in the background. There's nothing to anchor you to the world.

    oWoD was about being X, in a world where ABC and D were happening. ABC and D happening narrowed your path a bit and forced you to react to it.

    nWoD is about being X. But there's no set ABC and D happening on the side so there's no focus, nothing outside of your own desire to drive your character in any direction.

    For example, lets say you're Wally, a Red Talon werewolf in oWoD. You're a killer deep down inside, beneath whatever you try to do with your 'mortal' life. In fact you find it hard to interact with people as your rage gets higher. You always have to be on your toes because the BSD are going to get you. Or the vampires. Or the other creatures. There's spirits coming out of the woodwork and the setting materials themselves tell you in black and white some of the hotspots in the world and provide you with a dire, immediate 'something' to either act against, for, or at least acknowledge.

    Now you're playing Willy, a Blood Talon werewolf in nWoD. You're a fighter at heart. There's nothing really keeping you from living a mortal life. Even as your mojo gets stronger you only get a few minor penalties and people might eye you funny but you can still do whatever. Whatever you're doing boils down to what your pack is up to though. Unless you're packless, in which case you might be a taxi driver. Or a stripper. Or maybe you hang out on the corner flinging shit at traffic like a homeless person. There's nothing keeping you from it. The only threats to you are those invented by yourself or the person directly running your chronicle.

    On the topic of renown? You're going to earn it in oWoD. There's threats to face. It's not a matter of going out and seeking it; the trouble will come to you. System-aside (requiring player votes to earn is.. inconvenient in a MUSH) renown in nWoD feels more like something you have to go a-questing for.

    In oWoD you're standing on the castle wall, firing arrows down at the invading barbarian hordes.

    In nWoD, you're a knight errant. If you want to find danger you have to go seek it out for yourself.

    Sorry for rambling.


  • Politics

    @Admiral, I disagree entirely as there are no differences when it comes to how it applies on an OOC level.

    Your examples are inaccurate, too. That Red Talon can just as easily sit in the wilderness doing jack shit about the Wyrm. The Blood Talon has to deal with spirits crossing the Gauntlet and starting shit, Bale Hounds, Pure packs trying to take his territory, other Forsaken trying to take his territory, the Hosts, the Ridden...

    How immediate any danger is to the player characters is directly proportionate to the person running the chronicle, regardless of which of these games you're playing. At best, I'll agree that the oWod was much more specific regarding what was dark about it, but that's just what I like more about the nWoD: it gives me more room to customize.


  • Pitcrew

    I agree with @Coin with the caveat that there are games out there that completely make ways of getting Renown, the insidiousness of Demon, and the machinations of Vampire without incentive. Largely it boils down to players themselves being unwilling to have their pretendy times interrupted by actual theme and staff being avoidant and cowardly about enforcing theme or actively shaming players for trying. It just becomes a soulsucking fool's errand and at some point, you just get tired of struggling against a current where its all supernatural boinking and marriage telenovelas and people flipping the fuck out OOC that their pillow fort is being disturbed....

    ...largely by taking a squating shit all over you OOC until you give up.


  • Coder

    Let me, now, contrast Changeling: The Lost. In Changeling, you are playing someone who was kidnapped and escaped. They agree to hang out with other survivors and they have one of four basic philosophies on what to do as a survivor. There is also no substantial penalty on not choosing a philosophy. As Courtless, a character has fewer super-powers to choose from. It doesn't have any roles besides that. The game is about being a survivor, and that makes Joe Blow, Sudden Scarecrow, a lot more open.

    I don't know Vampire, so I can't speak for it. I really have spent almost no time trying to read the theme, so I'm at a disadvantage here, but one of the things I liked about Masquerade: Bloodlines was that it started off with: Whups, you're a vampire! You are Joe Blow, Sudden Malkav-- oh, I see where I'm going. Malkavian. There's your role. Are you going to play it? Do you need to involve yourself in politics as a Malkavian? No? Then that's what the game is about. Ventrue, Gangrel, and others don't always have that luxury. oVampire was a very political game, and you would run into it sooner or later because that was what the game was about. You can ignore it, but then you're not quite playing the game you bought.

    @Admiral said:

    I think the lines get very, very blurry in nWoD in terms of 'what you are playing'.

    There's very little 'setting' at all really when you get down to it.

    This doesn't matter. There is very little 'setting' to core D&D, yet people know exactly what to do in it even if they've never played before. "You are a Thief in a quasi-medieval high-fantasy world. What do you do?" What do you do?! You steal shit. You backstab people. You are a Thief in a quasi-medieval high-fantasy world. Thief. Medieval. High-fantasy. GO!

    The core WoD rulebook gives you about as much information, but suddenly there's an uncertainty about it. There's no more uncertainty than there is about D&D; you will have arguments about whether or not technology is advanced enough to have the concept of leaded glass, and how fragile potion bottles are. There are examples, real and humorous, about people filling tons of three-ring binders full of world-building.

    Why should WoD be any different? Could it be—and I suspect that it is—because we're applying a tabletop to an online social gathering? Something for the back of your head.


  • Admin

    You know what's common about D&D, Traveller, Fading Suns and World of Darkness? They are all games, played by players because they enjoy playing them.

    The point of games is to have fun playing them. The theme is there to facilitate that fun, not the other way around.

    If an element is not fun (for whatever reason) so your players actively avoid it then it should not be part of that game. If it is fun then you don't need to force people to participate in it; they will, because they presumably came to play because of it.

    Finally, I've yet to see an answer (not from @Coin, I mean in general, over the many years of playing on MU*) that satisfied my question: Who benefits from forcing players to play out a particular aspect of the game they don't find enjoyable? "The game" ? "Theme" ? Those are abtract elements. Who, specifically, benefits and how?


  • Politics

    @Arkandel, I can just as easily ask "who benefits from ANY sort of regulation as to Experience spending? Who benefits from any regulation in a game at all? Why have rules if someone doesn't benefit from them?"

    That's a philosophical question. Who benefits from having wait times to buy things? Etc, etc. It may be a question that you find fundamental when it comes to pondering regulation policy on a game, but at some point you have to decide one way or another.

    And you know, sometimes, the answer is 'the game benefits', because those regulations will ensure the people playing are the people who want to play the themes of the game published, with people who share that desire.

    That said, I'm not saying the rules for Eldritch will be draconian to the point of driving others away, which I think I have made abundantly clear by repeating it over and over that I want to find a compromise.


  • Admin

    @Coin said:

    @Arkandel, I can just as easily ask "who benefits from ANY sort of regulation as to Experience spending? Who benefits from any regulation in a game at all? Why have rules if someone doesn't benefit from them?"

    But if you did ask it, you'd have answers. For example delay-spending on experience points improves the suspension of disbelief by making it impossible to be a triple Master the day after your Awakening, Otherwise it's literally inexplicable why this is happening in the IC world.

    It's not just a philosophical question, it's the point of a 'yes-game' approach that when you say 'no', there has to be a good reason. That doesn't mean you don't say no.

    That said, I'm not saying the rules for Eldritch will be draconian to the point of driving others away, which I think I have made abundantly clear by repeating it over and over that I want to find a compromise.

    And even if no compromise is found that's not a bad thing. We are having this debates because you specifically asked for input, but ultimately it's up to you - and any game's administration - to make the choices they think are best. It's not the end of the world if some players disagree with any given decision.


  • Politics

    @Arkandel said:

    We are having this debates because you specifically asked for input, but ultimately it's up to you - and any game's administration - to make the choices they think are best. It's not the end of the world if some players disagree with any given decision.

    Actually, and I am going to admittedly be a bit of a dick here:

    <dickery>

    We're having this debate because you have strong opinions on Renown that I fell into debating with you on a thread about Sphere Caps and Waiting Lists. I never actually asked for input; in fact, I think the first few times I answered, I ended my post with 'we'll see when the book comes out', or something to that effect.

    That doesn't mean I didn't fall right into debating it with you. But that's not why we're having the conversation. If anything, we're having it because I value the community's opinions even while disagreeing with them and am willing to take them into account and discuss them regardless of directly asking for it. Otherwise, I would have just not replied to the topic when it came up.

    </dickery>

    As for your "who does it benefit?", how about: Limiting Renown spends to IC acts played out strengthens the sense of accomplishment that doing such monumental and storied deeds should come with, and not only helps the player feel proud of the character they're playing (which increases their fun!), but also shows, rather than tells, others what that character is capable of and why they are deserving of that Renown.


  • Coder

    @Arkandel said:

    The point of games is to have fun playing them.

    Yes. Yes. But. But no.

    No, the point of a game is to have fun within the constraints put upon you. Maybe you think throwing the Monopoly money into the air and stuffing the pieces up your nose is fun, but you're not playing Monopoly.

    Who benefits from forcing players to play out a particular aspect of the game they don't find enjoyable?

    You might as well ask, "Who benefits from forcing players going to jail when they draw the 'Go to Jail' card?" The question does not, to me at least, have a connection to what a game is. The benefit is that you agreed to it, you made a social contract to engage in the game and therefore tacitly agreed to follow the rule.

    If I can find it, I will link to it, but one of the classic ludologists, one of those people who made a point of running statistics and exploring what makes a game a game, says this of a game:

    First and foremost, a game must be voluntary. You cannot force someone to do something and still call it a "game". If you don't find something enjoyable, you don't do it. If you are forced to do it, it's not a game.


    Finally, this is not meant to be a thread about Eldritch. You guys want that, there's a thread about it. Or get a room and hate-screw each other already. My question is basically: How do you know what a game (edit: a game line, a specific set of rules in the RPG sense) is about?



  • @Admiral said:

    oWoD was about being X, in a world where ABC and D were happening. ABC and D happening narrowed your path a bit and forced you to react to it.

    nWoD is about being X. But there's no set ABC and D happening on the side so there's no focus, nothing outside of your own desire to drive your character in any direction.

    This depends somewhat on the edition. I picked up the first V:tM1e/softcover right when it hit the shelves, and it didn't have anything like the concept of the Metaplot that emerged much later.

    In part, this might have to do with which oWoD approach someone ran across first -- the kind with or without built-in metaplot, or even the concept of one.


  • Admin

    @Thenomain said:

    @Arkandel said:
    No, the point of a game is to have fun within the constraints put upon you. Maybe you think throwing the Monopoly money into the air and stuffing the pieces up your nose is fun, but you're not playing Monopoly.

    When Magic: the Gathering came out its developers had a vision for it. For the most part they were right; one of those gameplay elements they included though was having an ante. The idea Garfield had was that it was a collectible game, no one would ever have all the cards, but each player would pick a card at random in each game and the winner would take it. There were even cards which affected that ante card.

    It was right in the rules.

    No one used it. The game itself was a smash hit but that rule was unpopular in practice and was ignored. It doesn't mean the rules were thrown to the wind ("let's have more than four of each card!") because the limitation improved gameplay.

    It's not all or nothing, either accept constraints or throw them all to the wind. Some rules make no sense for the actual environment they are implemented in, no matter its original purpose and intentions.


  • Coder

    @Arkandel said:

    No one used it.

    What you're referencing here is something we tend to call a house-rule. They tend to (and in my definition, must) support what the game is about and therefore are also informed by the game's existing rules. Not every single rule defines a game, but instead the purpose of those rules as a complete system defines what is known as "the game".


  • Politics

    @Thenomain said:

    My question is basically: How do you know what a game (edit: a game line, a specific set of rules in the RPG sense) is about?

    You only know what you're told about it, by the book, the GM, or the other gamers.

    I realize I'm not helping, but that's the jist of what I'd say.


  • Coder

    @Ganymede said:

    @Thenomain said:

    My question is basically: How do you know what a game (edit: a game line, a specific set of rules in the RPG sense) is about?

    You only know what you're told about it, by the book, the GM, or the other gamers.

    I realize I'm not helping, but that's the jist of what I'd say.

    This is, in fact, why I find Changeling a much more open-ended game than Werewolf. And my hate-on for Mage's tepid "Atlantis" history. It also underlines the point that I tried to make and that I think Ark was getting to: Some of the rules are social decisions.

    The expectations of the books, the rules are the only thing that connects our understanding of games. I am, tangentially, constantly disappointed that games don't make more effort introducing their take on things to new players, or even to older players looking for a refresher.

    So. Yeah.


  • Admin

    Sometimes it's also a matter of inertia. It doesn't need to be a rational decision.

    For example GMC/nWoD 2nd Edition seems to be commonly considered a significantly superior system than its vanilla counterpart, but I'm still not using its systems for social resolution, filing +jobs for beats or anything like that. Others might be like that, I don't know.

    However that's not a criticism of or problem with the system itself.


  • Politics

    @Thenomain said:

    Let me, now, contrast Changeling: The Lost. In Changeling, you are playing someone who was kidnapped and escaped. They agree to hang out with other survivors and they have one of four basic philosophies on what to do as a survivor. There is also no substantial penalty on not choosing a philosophy. As Courtless, a character has fewer super-powers to choose from. It doesn't have any roles besides that. The game is about being a survivor, and that makes Joe Blow, Sudden Scarecrow, a lot more open.
    : Whups, you're a vampire! You are Joe Blow, Sudden Malkav-- oh, I see where I'm going. Malkavian. There's your role. Are you going to play it?

    Now maybe I am missing something here, but to me those roles are just as prelevant in Changeling The Lost as in any other gameline, instead of Clan, Auspice or Path you have Seeming. A Fairest is inclined to be a spesific way, there's sections of books dedicated to describing how Fairests are, just like there are for the others mentioned above. It's the attributes/qualities that are inherent to the thing you were turned into.

    Then we have the society organisations in form of Orders, Tribes, Covenants and Courts. And just like you can ignore those and be Courtless, you can be a Ghost Wolf, Apostate etc. And just as well as there are expecations on a Blood Talon to be a spesific way (I do not think it is, since 'warrior' culture is a very broad theme.) a Winter is expected to be a certain way, and you'll certainly have people who say you're doing it wrong.

    Am I overlooking something major? I very well might be.

    I can agree that Changeling as a game is open-ended with what you want to do with it, Werewolf has their -duty- which their gameline is about, but in that regard Werewolf is the exception, not the rule. No other gameline has that sort of thing that I can think of right now.


  • Coder

    @Olsson said:

    Now maybe I am missing something here, but to me those roles are just as prelevant in Changeling The Lost as in any other gameline, instead of Clan, Auspice or Path you have Seeming. A Fairest is inclined to be a spesific way, there's sections of books dedicated to describing how Fairests are, just like there are for the others mentioned above. It's the attributes/qualities that are inherent to the thing you were turned into.

    This is probably what I knew was missing from the post. I did say "more open", too, putting a subconscious holder there.

    In Changeling, Seeming (and Kith) is presented as, "You experienced x." There are no expectations or social groupings based upon it, and one oft-ignored bit of rule-slash-fluff is that you can barely remember what happened in Arcadia. Seeming doesn't turn out to be your role as much as your attitude. Fairest are pretty and social divas. Ogres are big and ugly and strong. These are encouraged by their power sets, but because anyone can take their power sets the idea of role becomes pretty muddy.

    Kith, on the other hand, is pretty straightforwardly a role, but a role in the same way that "what you went to school for" informs your job in the wide world. Again, there is no internal thematic pressure for you to follow it. A statue becomes a violent gun-nut. A mouse becomes a maven of the movie night. You can do these things and still exemplify the character.


  • Admin

    @Olsson said:

    Am I overlooking something major? I very well might be.

    I don't know if you overlooked it or not, but I believe so. The stereotypes are such because the majority of characters fit certain criteria but such templates are not meant to be made of cardboard. A Fairest can vary in her concept or evolve during gameplay, for example. They are suggestions more than constraints; this is what is expected from someone from that group to act like, not what they are all like. In the real world we have an image of what a US Marine is like but anyone who's met some knows they are just y'know, people. They're not clones.

    Similarly how a game should be played merits a whole lot of discussion because not everyone sees it the same way. In fact I'd even say it's a sign of a good game to fit more than one interpretation.

    For example I really like SHH's theme, and I'm an elitist bastard when it comes to things I like; see, in my mind that means a constant shortage of essential goods, of having to watch over wells for drinkable water, wearing patched clothes that don't quite fit and coming to realize how much is lost since civilization has all but collapsed and so much human knowledge is gone for good. So I've often grumbled - in private - when other people played like it's any other kind of game and hold big celebrations where alcohol and food flows freely, and their biggest concern is who's dating whom. It doesn't fit my vision of the game, you know?

    But that's a peeve. It's not my game (which I mean in the way that it ultimately belongs to its community even more than the people who actually pay the bills and run it), and so I wouldn't dream of enforcing the behavior. What I can hope is that through plot we could make it fun enough that more folks would want to play that way instead.

    That make sense?


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