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 Post subject: Player to player interaction
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:27 am 
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One of my favorite parts of a roleplaying session is when players interact with each other. It is even better when there is a conflict between the two players that isn't combat. Because of this I love the Smallville roleplaying game but talking with Mord he said he didn't like it. I just saw this on Rob Donoghue's blog:

Smallville deserves mention in this regard because I cannot think of another game where lateral connections are so essential. Relationships with other characters are an essential part of your character sheet. This is mighty stuff, but in some ways its _more_ of a solution than I’m looking for. I don’t want things to be quite that explicit, but at the same time I want character issues to be drivers of play with each other, at least occasionally.
http://rdonoghue.blogspot.com/2011/04/lateral-connections.html

Anyway, I find that this type of roleplay doesn't occur much and Smallville forces it. Usually, players will talk to each other but they are usually just discussing the events in the game. Their seems to be some consensus that you shouldn't make player conflict the focus of all games but it should still be there.

So, if you let it occur naturally there is a good just it won't occur and will occur in small bits. So, what are some ideas are out their for creating tension and conflict between characters without making it the focus of the game?



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:38 am 
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I like to introduce player conflicts by presenting objectives that are both good and bad. In other words, present choices that aren't obvious "fight the orks!" but morally ambiguous "should we collaborate with the somewhat oppressive but generally benevolent elven overlords or side with the racist and heretical human rebels?"

Since I'm generally using FATE 3.0 based systems, choosing objectives where player aspects are in conflict is made a bit simpler. However, this doesn't make the player tension the focus but it can make player interactions revolving around the game objectives an interesting side-story.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:23 am 
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i'm in total agreement with uber_snotling on this one. presenting the players with choices that are divisive, controversial and/or morally ambiguous is a great start. to make those choices matter to players, it helps to set up those dividing lines among the pc's at the very start: character generation. discussion between players, to get a feel for what the pc's motivations are all about, is crucial. in my experience, for whatever reason, a small number of players (no more than 3) makes the environment more conducive to this sort of gaming experience. in the rare instances that this happens in larger groups, i've seen player to player interactions happen most when players are allowed to speak to one another away from the gaming table, or carry more than one conversation simultaneously.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:57 pm 
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I agree with Uber Snot.

Just to add. I think the uncertainty of outcomes of decision making points within the scenario can facillitate much like in the same manner Uber illustrated.
Mind you I think for some genre of games benefit from this play more than others. I also think this is a slippery slope to play when conflicts that initially seem minor can be blown out of proportion by the players who are just taken up by the momentum of the conflict.



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:05 am 
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I agree with Skyman that this is very play-style dependent. Many players have not liked this type of game because there are no clear right choices and their role as "good guys" is not clear.

It is a lot harder to imagine how to make this sort of player interaction work in a game where the players are clearly the white hats. Can you describe how Smallville does it?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:39 am 
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In Smallville instead of skills you have relationships. You gain extra dice by challenging these relationships. You can also buy new relationships easily. This makes the about the relationships and since all the PCs are starting relationships you are encouraged to deal with them.



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:02 am 
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cczernia wrote:
In Smallville instead of skills you have relationships. You gain extra dice by challenging these relationships. You can also buy new relationships easily. This makes the about the relationships and since all the PCs are starting relationships you are encouraged to deal with them.


Well, and your Values. As Colin ably demonstrated at Hyphen-Con, though, the real point of Smallville isn't necessarily to roleplay in accordance with your Values and Relationships, but to challenge them at a near-constant rate. Not only does doing so triple the number of dice it adds to your pool for that conflict, but it's the most reliable way to improve your character. (The other way is to enter a conflict with someone, escalate it to the point where you know you won't be able to win, then "lose" and take a bunch of stress -- which also later adds to your Growth pool.)

That's what really makes Smallville so focused on intra-party conflict. The system encourages you to go against what it says on your character sheet, then rewrite Values and Relationships to reflect the left turns you've taken.

If I were to do that Hommlet hack again (and I might), I'd certainly do a few things differently. I knew a lot of the action would focus on conflicts within the party, but I hadn't realized to what degree that would be true.



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:30 am 
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To be clear - I think PC conflict can be fun and great. But in Smallville it's the end-all and be-all of the game. And *that* I'm not interested in. It's just a visceral reaction. Like smelling a fart. I cringe back from it.



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:40 pm 
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mordraine wrote:
Like smelling a fart. I cringe back from it.

Really? C'mon, you don't have a moment where the fart kinda draws you in and makes you say "Wow, that's quite a fart"? Forget about games now -- I'm just talking about farts.



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:52 pm 
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*guffaw*


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 2:56 pm 
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devlin1 wrote:
Really? C'mon, you don't have a moment where the fart kinda draws you in and makes you say "Wow, that's quite a fart"? Forget about games now -- I'm just talking about farts.


That only relates to my own farts. As George Carlin says about your own farts: "That's fairly decent!"



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