Exalted Hack: Circles 3

February 7, 2007

In the comments, Shreyas said:

    “…set up scenes for which the choices other players have made for their character are important…”

    I’m not sure, Jon. This still sounds face-injurious to me. It might be face-punchy instead of face-stabby, but it’s still violence to the face.

    What about recognising and deferring when other players have something they want to say?

Which then led to the following important conversation:

ME: i don’t think i understand your comment
SHREYAS: i am not sure that i do too, anymore; i think it might have been like; ‘uh what why are you forcing mattering on me’; ‘i am the boss of the importance of my decisions’
ME: hmm; i saw it more as “taking somebody else’s flags and making them happen”; or sort of dividing up antagonism
SHREYAS: that is another angle on it; a lot of my thinking on games lately has been coloured by SI [Sol Invictus, the Exalted game in which he plays Birds-of-Trinity]; and i think um in that game; it would be v. weird for some entity to enslave my character’s mind in order for me to have a subplot about freedom from that; even though we all know that my character is about freedom from bondage and freedom from society and physics; does this make sense
ME: um, yeah; where did mind slavery enter into this conversation?
SHREYAS: okay, uh; freedom = flag; slavery = opposition to freedom
ME: yeah, but that’s not creating a scene in which your character can shine; that’s creating a scene that’ll suck; surely people know the difference? like, if I was creating such a scene, i might have a sorceror attempt to mind-control Birds or something, but the conflict would be about stopping that from happening; not about “ooo, Birds is mind-controlled”
SHREYAS: yeah, sure
ME: anyway, how do you folks handle scene framing?
SHREYAS: sorceror tries to mind-control me… that like sounds like it would hit my flaggish thing; but it’s weird; um; we have this thing; where basically; there is an elaborate ongoing plot; the guy that runs the game asks us, hey what are you doing next; and we have scenes about that; also; when we don’t need to participate in this plot; sometimes we just frame scenes for each other; like when birds realised that basically all the people in the world she might care about excepf five of them; are dead forever and their souls were eaten; i was like; oh, i need to have a scene with lucent where i tell him i am already dead and we need to have a funeral for all of us
ME: that’s cool; does the GM provide all the antagonism? unless you guys go look for trouble?
SHREYAS: i’m not sure in what sense of antagonism you are talking
ME: or do you do things like, “so Birds gets caught doing X?”
SHREYAS:he does handle all the characters that are not us
but we fight amongst ourselves
ME: i’m talking about fighting, mostly
SHREYAS: i think we have done like “hey let’s do a scene where we get caught doing x”; except not anymore simply as a consequence of being so good at whatever we do
ME: yeah, so i guess i’m trying to make this work without a GM
SHREYAS: so when we get caught it is a choice and a statement made by the characters
ME: or maybe a PTA style GM in the player playing the center
SHREYAS: rather than like, something out of their hands; mhmmmm
ME: so you don’t like the idea of players creating interesting situations for each other? you think people are likely to read each other wrong?
SHREYAS: i don’t dislike it; i just think that it falls in face stab land; that’s not a value judgement
ME: hmm; i’m not so sure; i do think forcing people to make choices is part of the face-stab thing; but like, “Birds is bad in polite company, let’s have her invited to a ball and see what happens”; that doesn’t seem face-stabby; it seems more, exploratory or something
SHREYAS: hmm; yeah; maybe i am just drawing the line differently; it’s not super important, i’m just trying to feel this out
ME: i think the key might be not having a specific conflict in mind, but a situation ripe for conflict in which the player and character can choose where the conflict is or if there even is one; like: character in an arranged marriage; character goes to visit relatives they barely know; character slumming among the locals; character meets someone they knew in the First Age
SHREYAS: mhm; i’m thinking about, how do you differentiate inflicting conflict from offering conflict; which is what you’re up to right
ME: i think so, yeah; i think i want to avoid the “so what do you do now” thing
SHREYAS: and it seems like, that’s going to be something you need to talk about in detail
ME: i want to find a balance between players creating situations for themselves and creating situations for the other players
SHREYAS: because like, in the specific case of birds – the way the social contract of that game works, if someone offers a conflict, you are pretty much obliged to engage it
ME: like the difference between a player framing a scene in PTA and the Producer framing a scene; both of those are important, i think
SHREYAS: so it’s inflicting no matter what the intent is behind the move
ME: well, you have to accept some aspects of the situation
but if there’s no specific conflict aimed your way; you’re not obligated to accept it; like, sure, you get invited to the ball; but then you concoct some elaborate scheme to get out of it; that would be okay
SHREYAS: sure; but you observed how in that case; you selected a conflict out of some set of hypothetical conflicts
ME: right, the conflict you chose is “getting out of this obligation”
when the conflict could have been “finding something to wear” or a million other things
SHREYAS: so what the obligation is is ‘engage in a conflict’; with varying degrees of decision about what the conflict is depending on the descriptive context
ME: it’s more “react to this situation in a way that is expressive (of your character) and entertaining (to everyone else)”; there’s not necessarily a conflict there; i mean, those are two of the main points of play, right? expression and entertainment?

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