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TOPIC: What does the ref­eree do now…?

What does the ref­eree do now…? 9 years 8 months ago #154

  • IanP.
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Michael wrote:
Under Blade, your job is to keep pres­sure on the play­ers. The play­ers will engage with the ini­tial sit­u­a­tion you’ve pre­pared in any way they choose. You have to enact the NPCs’ reac­tions to the play­ers’ actions, thereby pro­vid­ing sup­port and, more usu­ally, adver­sity for your play­ers. When­ever the play­ers become com­pla­cent or stall, it is your job to turn up the heat under­neath the PCs by hav­ing the NPCs seize the ini­tia­tive, thereby hit­ting the play­ers with unfold­ing events. By thus either react­ing to the play­ers’ actions or putting pres­sure on them by inde­pen­dent NPC action you are respons­ble for sus­tain­ing the inter­play between PCs and NPCs until some kind of res­o­lu­tion to the ini­tial sit­u­a­tion is reached.

How does the ref­eree keep the pres­sure on the play­ers? How is this sup­ported mechan­i­cally by Blade?

Regards,
Ian P.
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Last Edit: 9 years 8 months ago by IanP..
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What does the ref­eree do now…? 9 years 8 months ago #157

  • Michael
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IanP. wrote:
How does the ref­eree keep the pres­sure on the play­ers? How is this sup­ported mechan­i­cally by Blade?
Pro­gress­ing from the least to the most pow­er­ful tool:

With the firm rule that all rolls are made in the open. While this does at time ham­per the ref­eree in fak­ing results to aid his NPCs, it will also pre­vent him from going easy on PCs by fak­ing results in their favour. This puts con­sid­er­able stress on PCs.

With the Com­pli­ca­tion mechanic. When­ever a player “botches” a Check, the ref­eree may elect to save the detri­men­tal con­se­quences of this Check until later, as a “Com­pli­ca­tion”. He may then visit the detri­men­tal effect of this Com­pli­ca­tion upon the PC at a later time, though he need not delay it too long. The actual detriem­n­tal effect need not be some­thing that is a direct result of the “botched” Check; any kind of tena­cious con­nec­tion between Check and Com­pli­ca­tion suf­fices.

With the referee’s side of the Drama mechanic. The ref­eree may use Drama to “buy” lucky breaks or suc­ce­ses with­out the need to roll fo rhis NPCs. To do so, he offers a point of Drama to the play­ers, one after the other, in any order he chooses, and includ­ing play­ers whose char­ac­ters are not ven in the cur­rent scene. As soon as any player accepts, he gets the point of Drama and the ref­eree may enact the dsired lucky break for the NPC.
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What does the ref­eree do now…? 9 years 8 months ago #158

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Michael wrote:
Pro­gress­ing from the least to the most pow­er­ful tool:

There are some quite pow­er­ful tools at the ref­er­ees dis­posal here — tools that are metagame in nature. The Com­pli­ca­tion mechanic sounds cool — there will be occas­sions when a botch has lit­tle last­ing con­se­quence for a char­ac­ter, but by con­vert­ing it to a Com­pli­ca­tion the impli­ca­tions for the char­ac­ter could be dire indeed. How seri­ous an impact can a Com­pli­ca­tion have on a char­ac­ter?

In terms of the Drama mechanic, are play­ers not involved in a scene able to expend Drama to have an impact on the scene?

Regards,
Ian P.
Fama nihil est celerius
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What does the ref­eree do now…? 9 years 8 months ago #160

  • Michael
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IanP. wrote:
How seri­ous an impact can a Com­pli­ca­tion have on a character?
There are few lim­iters to the referee’s use of the Com­pli­ca­tion mechanic, save the admo­ni­tion that it should be enacted in the sub­se­quent scene at the very lat­est, and that it should have some con­nec­tion to the failed Check.

This poten­tial sever­ity of Com­pli­ca­tions is inten­tional. They are only likely to fol­low if a player tries some­thing clearly beyond the capa­bil­i­ties of his char­ac­ter; and as all Checks are made in the open and the ref­eree has to state their dif­fi­culty ahead of time, the player will be well equipped to adju­cate his chances of suc­cess and of grave fail­ure alike. If the chance of grave fail­ure – and thus Com­pli­ca­tion – seems to big, the player should for­goe the roll and endeav­our to alter the cir­cum­stances of the task at hand to be more favourable to him.

This is, once again, an inten­tional fea­ture: In Blade, you do not Check for triv­ial things, but only for impor­tant ones. And we do not want play­ers to reg­u­larly resort to the dice friv­o­lously in things that are impo­rant on the off chance that their char­ac­ter is suc­cess­ful against all odds. If he wants to do this, he may, but he has to be pre­pared to face the con­se­quences.

Still, in our expe­ri­ence Com­pli­ca­tions do on the aver­age not occur more fre­quently than once per ses­sion per player – though this does of course depend on the player and his fool­har­di­ness.

IanP. wrote:
In terms of the Drama mechanic, are play­ers not involved in a scene able to expend Drama to have an impact on the scene?
No. And Drama can only ever be used to pur­chase things that effect either your own char­ac­ter or your own own char­ac­ter and the other PCs jointly, never some­thing that does only effect some­body else’s PC.

We mean to encour­age Drama man­age­ment by entic­ing every­body to look after his own store of Drama – it is not only a pow­er­ful tool to influ­ence the plot in the direc­tion one wants, it may also mean the dif­fer­ence between life and death. And espe­cially in this respect we are afraid that some play­ers, being friv­o­lous in their use of Drama them­selves, would reg­u­larly look to other play­ers’ and their stores of Drama to save them. This would place an uncom­fort­able moral bur­den upon those play­ers, which we do not want, and might well lead to seri­ous fric­tion if a player refuses the life-​safing Drama expen­di­ture requested by another, less care­ful player.
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
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What does the ref­eree do now…? 9 years 8 months ago #168

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Michael wrote:
We mean to encour­age Drama man­age­ment by entic­ing every­body to look after his own store of Drama – it is not only a pow­er­ful tool to influ­ence the plot in the direc­tion one wants, it may also mean the dif­fer­ence between life and death. And espe­cially in this respect we are afraid that some play­ers, being friv­o­lous in their use of Drama them­selves, would reg­u­larly look to other play­ers’ and <em>their</em> stores of Drama to save them. This would place an uncom­fort­able moral bur­den upon those play­ers, which we do not want, and might well lead to seri­ous fric­tion if a player refuses the life-​safing Drama expen­di­ture requested by another, less care­ful player.

I can under­stand the rea­son­ing here. I am won­der­ing though that since all PAs are vis­i­ble to all play­ers that each player is quite capa­ble of think­ing of Com­pli­ca­tions and new plot arcs that would both put pres­sure on other play­ers as well as poten­tially make the game more inter­est­ing for all play­ers — is there a mech­a­nism through which that can hap­pen?

Regards,
Ian P.
Fama nihil est celerius
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What does the ref­eree do now…? 9 years 8 months ago #174

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IanP. wrote:
I am won­der­ing though that since all PAs are vis­i­ble to all play­ers that each player is quite capa­ble of think­ing of Com­pli­ca­tions and new plot arcs that would both put pres­sure on other play­ers as well as poten­tially make the game more inter­est­ing for all play­ers — is there a mech­a­nism through which that can happen?
Putting pres­sure on play­ers is the referee’s job, not their fel­low play­ers’.

If one player dis­cerns an oppor­tu­nity for using Drama in a way that seems inter­est­ing in view of another player’s Pas­sion Attrib­utes, he may sim­ply tell the other player. There is noth­ing in the rules that for­bids talk at the table; it is in fact encour­aged. The deci­sion and respon­si­bil­ity whether or not to expend Drama in that way is then up to the player con­cerned, not to those uncon­cerned. And if he would like to but is out of Drama — well, we are unsym­pa­thetic; after all, we want play­ers to man­age their Drama resource.

Still, actual play has taught us that there do arise instances of one player putting pres­sure on another by use of the Drama mechanic. The more com­mon one is purely reac­tive: When one player accepts a point of Drama offered by the ref­eree for some­thing to hap­pen that effects another player. The slightly less com­mon one is proac­tive: As char­ac­ters are fre­quently together in a scene, it may very well hap­pen that one player expends Drama for some­thing that is in his inter­est but at the same times goes against another player’s character’s inter­est.

I have seen either hap­pen at least once per ses­sion on the aver­age, and the player adversely effected has always taken it in good humor. This is of course a mat­ter of per­son­al­ity and a func­tion­ing social con­tract in the group, but it cer­tainly helps that play­ers are not seen to oppose another player out of sheer spite, but only inci­den­tally.

That said, it would be sim­plic­ity itself for a group to just decide to allow Drama expen­di­ture across the board, but for the rea­sons given we wouldn’t rec­om­mend it.
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
Last Edit: 9 years 8 months ago by Michael.
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What does the ref­eree do now…? 8 years 10 months ago #1804

  • War­wolf
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hav­ing read through this topic I can see how you could pitch this to a ref­eree who is used to old style RPG’s. How­ever one thing I have to ask is, how do you pitch this to play­ers who are used to Ref­eree dri­ven games, and like them. I have at least one player who is very happy in ref­eree dri­ven games. and I am at a lost to fig­ure out how to explain the dif­fer­ence in a way that won’t turn him off by mak­ing it seem like he has to do a lot of work he doesn’t nor­mally have to do. Help please!!
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What does the ref­eree do now…? 8 years 10 months ago #1805

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War­wolf wrote:
I have at least one player who is very happy in ref­eree dri­ven games. and I am at a lost to fig­ure out how to explain the dif­fer­ence in a way that won’t turn him off by mak­ing it seem like he has to do a lot of work he doesn’t nor­mally have to do.

Every­body likes to stay in their com­fort zone. It is only nat­ural. A player who has only expe­ri­enced referee-​driven, reac­tive play will of course say that that is the style of game that they want to play. And there are many games designed to sup­port that style of play.

Blade though isn’t one of them.

Many years ago when playtest­ing SatF for TRoS I had a player who, at the end of the evening’s play, said to me:

“That was the best RPG ses­sion I’ve ever played. It was incred­i­bly intense. But, I came here to drink a bot­tle of red, eat some pizza, crack some rude jokes, and roll the dice when told to do so. If I want inten­sity I’ll stay at work…“

There will be play­ers who just don’t want to play in the style Blade demands.

That said, while the play style is dif­fer­ent it isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a lot more work for the player. At least not in-​game. Pre-​game, when all the pay­ers are com­ing up with their char­ac­ter con­cept and inte­grat­ing their PAs they will be required to actu­ally think about what they want from the game. What story they want to tell through their char­ac­ter. This though isn’t par­tic­u­larly oner­ous. In tra­di­tional RPGs play­ers would spend days rolling up their char­ac­ter and invent­ing intri­cate back-​stories that explained the con­vo­luted path the char­ac­ter had taken through the char­ac­ter gen­er­a­tion process. Instead of doing that, play­ers now have a ses­sion together before the game starts where they cre­ate their char­ac­ters and spend time deter­min­ing what they want the game to be about — what the future of the char­ac­ter will hold as defined by those PAs, instead of the minu­tiae of the character’s past as defined by a back-​story.

In play the player is nat­u­rally more engaged because the sce­nario is about those PAs the play­ers spent time co-​creating, instead of a com­pletely unre­lated plot cre­ated by the ref­eree. This isn’t more effort for the player — it is actu­ally less effort, because the player can see quite clearly when their char­ac­ter is sup­posed to take the lime­light in a scene — because the scene engages their PA(s). If a scene doesn’t engage a character’s PA, the player knows the scene has been designed for some­one else. There are no Wan­der­ing Mon­ster scenes in Blade. Noth­ing that hap­pens is ran­dom.

Good luck!

Regards,
Ian P.
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What does the ref­eree do now…? 8 years 10 months ago #1807

  • Michael
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War­wolf wrote:
How­ever one thing I have to ask is, how do you pitch this to play­ers who are used to Ref­eree dri­ven games, and like them.
Pretty much what Ian said. Not every­body likes every RPG there is or every style of gam­ing, nor do they need to. Blade takes a pro­nounced approach to gam­ing and if some­body just doesn’t like this approach, even after hav­ing given it a fair chance, well, so be it. He is prob­a­bly served bet­ter by another sys­tem, and all the best to him.

How­ever, if you really want to pitch this style of play to some­body who you expect to be reluc­tant, you are in the best posi­tion to do so — the referee’s posi­tion. Phil and I have said repeat­edly that we designed Blade for the adult gamer with an adult’s busy lifestyle where it can’t be expected of the ref­eree to prep every sin­gle ses­sion for hours on end the way we did in our teenage and stu­dent days. Being the ref­eree of your group, you can plead lack of time as rea­son for your wish to switch from referee-​driven to player-​driven gam­ing. The player who strongly desires the for­mer will be in a bad posi­tion refus­ing you at least a fair try, con­sid­er­ing how this would amount being deaf to your plight and demand­ing that you toil on prep­ping.

Giv­ing it a try, your pal may come around — or not. In the end, player-​driven gam­ing just isn’t for everybody.
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

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