How hard should staff enforce theme?


  • Coder

    Misadventure suggested Themeslaughter. I may suggest: Bland Hole, the thematic pull from which no creativity may escape.



  • @Thenomain said:

    Misadventure suggested Themeslaughter. I may suggest: Bland Hole, the thematic pull from which no creativity may escape.

    I would always read that as Themes Laughter.


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel
    then you have the choice to either shift the game with the wishes of the majority or shut it down. I have seen games both ways. Me personally it would depend on how drastic the shift was on which way I go. But I don't begrudge staff of any game for taking either option it is one of those judgement calls they get to make.


  • TV & Movies

    @Pyrephox said:

    While I would like to see more games with a stronger theme, I don't think that the theme drifters are actively setting out to "ruin" a game, and I don't think they're a unified crew of saboteurs - they're just players. Playing what they consider to be fun. I feel like, if you want a stronger adherence to theme among the playerbase, you have to show the players WHY and HOW playing to the theme you're hoping for is going to be fun for them.

    I agree here. I don't think things are malicious and people will tend towards things that are fun. But it gets out of hand when there should be consequences and none come. This is where the staff can't be afraid to enforce their theme ICly if it is drifting from theme. The question is: IS this really out of theme or do I just personally think its cheesy?

    To answer that, you ask: How would the rest of the world (not the actual world, but the immediate environment) react to this?

    If you have a Pooh bar in the hedge, does that really affect anything? Are there other weirdly themed bars in the hedge? If so, this one wouldn't be so weird. However, if it stands out or if it becomes very popular among the Lost of the city, then it would probably attract attention. Both good, followed inevitably by bad. So make sure that happens. No one's intentionally trying to smash people's fun, but if the theme involves secrecy and hiding and you make something that stands out and/or allow it to be publicly known, then you get what you get.

    As an ST, I ask myself, if I had a Loyalist, what would I do here? How would my character react to finding out about this place? It might not be an immediate burning and smashing, but it could certainly be a good way to infiltrate or to do surveillance and track people back to their hedge gateways and/or beyond. And it may be a while but when I finally drop the hammer, I will also make it known, ICly, how and why. If the players don't learn to stop drawing attention, then I don't stop dropping hammers. The theme is not, don't make Poor bars in the hedge. The theme on my game is that when you attract attention you get hammers dropped on you.

    However if this bar is kept a secret, or it is no different than any other hedge bar (I don't even know if there are hedge bars or how common they might be, I'm just saying 'if'...) then smashing it up just because I don't like that particular choice of theme is just mean and players should feel slighted. This is how enforcing theme becomes unfun.

    @Miss-Demeanor said:

    @Pyrephox And I have personal experience with getting shut out of a sphere because I tried to play a game TO THEME, while the other group decided it should be all pretty princesses and tea parties. They aren't necessarily trying to ruin the game, but they have zero qualms about ruining YOUR experience if you don't play the same game they are. And yes, this is multiple time occurrences.

    I won't say that isn't your experience... but I think this is usually a case of those group of people not wanting to let you in because you ruin their fun. If they are all pretty pretty princesses at tea parties and you come in dragging down the mood and spoiling their fantasies you're not going to be fun to be around or fun to interact with. If you're reminding them, verbally or otherwise, that they aren't princesses and shouldn't be having tea parties then you're the downer, you're the stiff. I'm not saying they are right, but if they want to be pretty princesses at tea parties and there's nothing ICly which stops them from doing so, and no consequences come from it, then that's not on them, even if they look like total fucking retards while doing it. This is very similar to the plot of Mean Girls from what I can tell.

    It happens.

    But in seriousness, it sounds like you played to the stated theme, but the actual theme on the game was something else. And that's why staff's role in theme is important. To stop the 'drift'.



  • @Warma-Sheen Or maybe, just maybe, I was there first and THEY started dragging MY game down. I don't want in on their game. I want nothing to do with what they're playing. But I also shouldn't have to feel chased off the sphere I was in first just because THEY don't want to play to the theme that was set at the start of the game.



  • @Miss-Demeanor

    You really have to be on board with staff in these things. You can't police people, only staff can. So if you don't share their vision.. gonna have a bad time.



  • Doesn't stop them from policing anyone that doesn't share theirs.


  • TV & Movies

    @Miss-Demeanor If they aren't fun, then don't play with them. If you are being bullied by other players and your staff refuses to do anything about it, the fault there lies again with the staff not the players. But being chased off the game is different than being shut out of a sphere. If you got Mean Girl'd, then that sucks and it shouldn't happen. But it sounds like you didn't like how they play anyway and didn't want to interact with them.



  • A better term than enforcing might be reinforcing. Build up the parts that emphasize your setting and theme idea. Use "punishment" and "reward."


  • Coder

    I have a hard time believing one of the more important parts of this issue is what we name how to try and make theme consistent across players.



  • I started ignoring everything Warma said when he tried to justify there being a safe happy bar in the Hedge on a Changeling game by saying it didn't hurt the theme of the game. No. It hurt the theme of the game. Darkwater dove straight into Carebear land and never managed to get out.


  • Pitcrew

    Bars in the hedge alone. Hey guys! I'mma go into the hedge and get fucking ripped! This is a great idea and thematically not completely stupid! Muttermuttergetoffmylawn.



  • It was a Pooh bar. I'm sure they only served milk and juice.



  • @Thenomain said:

    I have a hard time believing one of the more important parts of this issue is what we name how to try and make theme consistent across players.

    How can you expect consistency in theme if you can't even get consistency in what you call it? :)


  • Politics

    @Arkandel said:

    Now - this is where it gets tricky - say they're having fun with it. In fact it's gaining popularity compared to the mainstream game purpose, more players are getting into that than chasing bank robbers or avenging kidnapped kids. What do you do?

    How is this tricky?

    If this part of the game runs contrary to what staff wants or expects, staff has three choices: (1) eliminate it; (2) accept it as a whole; or (3) compromise. Whatever is selected is indicative of how strong staff is or was attached to their theme and setting. This is wholly dependent on who is staff.

    Personally, I think the crime-angle is interesting and would accept it. If the new players brought a campy Batman or He-Man element, though, fuck them in the face.


  • TV & Movies

    @Admiral said:

    I started ignoring everything Warma said when he tried to justify there being a safe happy bar in the Hedge on a Changeling game by saying it didn't hurt the theme of the game. No. It hurt the theme of the game. Darkwater dove straight into Carebear land and never managed to get out.

    That's why you should read entire posts, so as not to miss the point.

    Edit: The point wasn't that it should be there. The point was that it is staff's responsibility to show why it shouldn't be there instead of blaming players for creating it.


  • Pitcrew

    @lordbelh
    I tend to agree with that Staff should always enforce theme, but I've always been on the theme-strict side of the equation. In fact, I can recognize that my theme-strictness as Staff has helped cause the dwindling or death of a couple of games in the past (Dark Times and The Fifth World if anyone's curious).

    There is definitely such a thing as holding on to theme too tight, and not letting players push the boundaries. That much I have learned. Players don't like to be constrained, or told that they're wrongfunning. It tends to make them less likely to try to be proactive in the future. And proactive (non-idiot) players are a treasure.

    On the other hand, you need some way to gently nudge people back into theme when they go haring off into some wild-eyed version of what they want to do.

    Say they're in the early Dark Times and they want to steal a full-stocked Imperial-class Star Destroyer from its crew with a half-dozen non-Force Sensitives by shooting their way to the bridge, and then go marauding around blowing up Imperial bases. If this is a good player and you want to guide them into a way to pull something like that off, maybe run a planning scene that a Staffer attends as an ex-Imperial Navy officer, where you can guide them into something a little less insane (pick a Victory-class or a frigate instead of an ISD, arrange for the Stormtroopers and Naval Troopers to be dropped planet-side for some purpose, suborn the Captain to relay your orders to the remaining crew, etc).

    I've become a big fan of "No, but" and "Yes, if" for enforcing theme. Either the general goal works, but the plan needs some changing, or the plan works, but the goals need to be shifted, or something like that. Even if you're shutting down part of the player's idea (or even most of it), there definitely still has to be something that you can encourage them with. This is, of course, barring people drinking Coca-Cola in ancient Egypt or flirting with the Prince at Court in your Crinos form and expecting hit to flirt back.

    On original theme games, this becomes even trickier, because you have to be able to express the theme clearly, lead players to the expression of that theme, and guide their exuberance for exploring that theme. To use an example from The Fifth World, when players started talking about using a weapon of mass destruction on the Hostiles (invaders from another world within the planetary system), I pretty much just straight-up shot them down on OOC channels. I clearly shouldn't have done it, despite our emphasis on a blending of fantasy and sci-fi, rather than straight-up sci-fi. It drove off a couple of players and made several others grumbly for a while. Looking back, I would have very much preferred to see how they were thinking about using the WMDs, how it could build RP rather than shutting down the war, and if there was a plotline to develop that made sense within the theme. Channeling the enthusiasm while retaining theme.