Author Topic: An Old Podcast: #43 -- sorry, just listened to it.  (Read 4974 times)

dlouismartin

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An Old Podcast: #43 -- sorry, just listened to it.
« on: August 19, 2012, 11:54:13 AM »
I am playing catch-up in terms of hearing all the podcasts. The podcasts are excellent. I have listened to the competition, and I find myself agreeing with the RPPR guys much more often. In my opinion, the Fear the Boot guys are a little to "my way or the highway." That said, I wanted to share my own perspective on a podcast that is old, but that I just listened to.


RPG Characters & Free Will

I was listening to a podcast and the topic of character on character persuasion was brought up. Character A wanted persuade character B that his course of action was best. Character A asked the GM if he could roll to persuade Character B to see his side. The podcasters unanimously agreed that this was not the way to handle it. I immediately agreed with this decision, but upon further listening to I started to think deeper about the topic.

1. Now there are some things that I absolutely agree with as it relates to the points raised by the podcasters. The following is paramount: the free will of the PC is to be protected at all costs. Unless there is some kind of mind control in place, the player should always be free to make their own decisions.

2. I absolutely do NOT agree with the fact that it is not the GM's place to tell the PC how they "feel". Think about this for a minute. Telling someone how they feel has nothing to do with impacting their free will. Thoughts and emotions come to us from seemingly random places. Things just pop into our heads, and it is my opinion that the GM can plant seeds. I don't think it is the GM's place to impart everyone's thoughts and feelings. I do, however, think it is okay to plant those seeds in an attempt to make the story more compelling.

Think of the following examples:

The players sit in a jazz bar, and the scene is set. The GM describes the singer as not only a beautiful woman, but he further describes her singing as beautiful and emotionally moving. MOST of us who run games have painted similar scenes. So why is this something that we think is okay?
Answer: Because the GM is unlikely a beautiful woman and unlikely a wonderful jazz singer. So he describes it in a way that details emotional tangibility.
Oratory: A rousing speech may be described as inspirational - an emotional response. We accept this because we know that the GM isn't an expert orator, great general, or an inspirational coach.
I think it is okay to tell a player that they "feel" something, but ULTIMATELY it is up to the PC to decide how they respond.
The GM has a job to create a living world. I personally also think that it is the GM's job to coax some performances out of their players. Some players need this more than others, but mature and experienced players may enjoy the challenge of being told something.   

Think of this scene:
Lighting the candles in the church provokes a memory. Your father lit these same candles and smelling the wax burn all these years later brings you a small measure of peace.

Describing a "small measure of peace" is by no means "mind control".

So, with some judicious use of description, emotional or otherwise, you can create memorable games that provoke and challenge mature groups.
When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.
-Thomas Paine

Guy

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Re: An Old Podcast: #43 -- sorry, just listened to it.
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2012, 02:11:50 PM »
Wow, I didn't know MONSTERS used the forum. You horrible monster.

Seriously though, I think the point intended by "A GM can't tell you how you feel" isn't that he can't tell you the feeling of a setting, but that he can't tell you what to think, what your opinion of it is. That becomes skewed when what he's telling you the result of a player's diplomacy - what you think about it IS how the speech makes you feel, typically.

dlouismartin

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Re: An Old Podcast: #43 -- sorry, just listened to it.
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2012, 04:08:00 PM »
Wow, I didn't know MONSTERS used the forum. You horrible monster.

Seriously though, I think the point intended by "A GM can't tell you how you feel" isn't that he can't tell you the feeling of a setting, but that he can't tell you what to think, what your opinion of it is. That becomes skewed when what he's telling you the result of a player's diplomacy - what you think about it IS how the speech makes you feel, typically.

You have me at a disadvantage. Not sure what you mean by monster.

But I agree, sort of--- opinions are all based on thoughts, but not all thoughts are opinions. SO -- I think that the GM shouldn't interfere with your opinions (or conclusions for that matter), but shooting you some emotional seeds is okay once in a while.

I think that a thought enters your mind. That thought may provoke an emotional response with little time to ponder. That emotional response is then further examined by our ability to reason, and then a conclusion is reached.

So my point is that I think it is okay for a GM to say: "The officer's passionate oratory gives you chills." or "The baliset's melody is soothing and you feel relaxed." or "The horrific countenance of the killer's face is unsettling."

I also think something like this is acceptable: The blaster bolt screeches by your head. A near miss. You feel a jolt of excitement when you realize that the shooter's blaster appears to have malfunctioned. He frantically works on it as you prepare to return fire.

Allow me to pose a question for all the talented GMs out there. How would you handle this situation: The PC wants to give a speech to a group of soldiers. These soldiers are all standing around the rest of the group. Simply put - the other PCs are nearby. The player is a bit shy, and just asks if he can roll his appropriate skill. He throws some dice. A resounding success! What would you, as the GM, say to the other PCs as you describe the scene?


When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.
-Thomas Paine

clockworkjoe

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Re: An Old Podcast: #43 -- sorry, just listened to it.
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 12:16:41 AM »
I'M THE ONLY MONSTER HERE

srsly though

I agree and I think I said this in the podcast originally but you don't choose your emotions - love and fear happen to you - they aren't choices for the most part.

dlouismartin

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Re: An Old Podcast: #43 -- sorry, just listened to it.
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2012, 10:58:52 AM »
Another point on this thing to is this: A player may be less persuasive than his character. Fair enough. So in a pinch I may let him roll a persuasion check when dealing with another PC, but -- here is where we have to be creative GMs again. Say he rolls amazingly well...

Cicero's rhetoric is brilliant. He raises points that you never considered before. You feel a moment of doubt enter your mind. For a moment your logic seems flawed. You are surprised by how well he speaks -- so eloquent. He places the gun on the table in front of you, and your eyes flick to the prisoner and back to the gun. Cicero tells you to kill her. WHAT DO YOU DO?

And here is the kicker --- THE PLAYER NOW DECIDES how to act. I know that as a GM your are influencing their thoughts, but you aren't making them pursue any action that they ultimately don't want to. If the player decides not to shoot, then everyone should get on with the game. If he does -- cool. Maybe the game will go off in a tangent that wasn't thought out, and maybe that will be fun.

When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.
-Thomas Paine