Milostyl
 member, 65 posts
Thu 28 May 2020
at 04:58
Advice: Passive Playstyles
I don't why I'm chiming in but I'm doing it anyway.  I've been doing this a long time and I don't think there's any really solid solution to what you are asking advice for.  Everyone is different.  Every game is different.

There are so many factors outside of your control as a GM, you can't always be secure in the idea that the game is fun for everyone.  You just have to roll with the punches and accept that some just won't respond to things like you want them to.

My advice:  You can't run a game like your directing a movie.  Giving cues and playing to cues in my opinion defeats the purpose.

Your examples seem extreme to me.  The lack of any imagination, idea, concept of what to do is not a fixable thing.  Find out where they live and offer to take them out to a bar and buy them a few drinks to loosen up maybe?  Yeah right.

I disagree with that being a playstyle.  Being a passive participant in a virtual text-based roleplaying game is not in any way, shape or form a "style".  It's the exact opposite.

Honestly, running a good game to me is being a good manager.  Keep the people that want to be there, fire the people that just show up and become a burden by their presence.  It's that simple.  Don't make it more complicated, you will save yourself a lot of trouble.
tibiotarsus
 member, 158 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Thu 28 May 2020
at 09:09
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
Milostyl:
I don't why I'm chiming in but I'm doing it anyway. 


Probably you need attention or/and food, to be honest. I disagree with several parts of your approach, but we'll move around that and I'll throw the conversation ball back by asking this: assuming someone with these habits straight up can't fit into my games ever, how do I spot that at the hiring stage? What questions should I ask that might catch the character-as-hat types in a filter and gently shoo them back into the wild?

I was thinking asking for an example of a memorable IC conversation, but that'd weed out players that had come from RP-weak groups, newbies and unfortunate people on RPoL who'd never been in a game that got out of the tavern, so to speak. Sure, there's no magic question, but maybe a few that would confirm that passive supporting roles were this player's Thing, maybe. Or I could ask for a description of play style with a few very neutrally-worded examples (haha, me versus tone...that'll go well), though that would assume a little self-awareness and experience...hmm.
sean213
 member, 4 posts
Thu 28 May 2020
at 12:06
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
I should preface this by saying I haven't been a GM on RPol, only a player. So this is partly supposition on my part. But I have been the GM for many real life games.

I recently had to fill out a RTJ that did a good job of getting me thinking about my character. The whole thing ended up being somewhat of an essay, but maybe it needs to be. Try asking some questions that probe for not just character traits, but for how they would react to various things.

For example "How would your character react if the found out they had accidentally killed an innocent? How would it effect them emotionally and what actions would they take in response?" The level of thought and detail they give to a question like that might be a good indicator.

Edit: Another option "What are some things that annoy your character? What are their pet peeves? When they are forced to deal with these annoyances how do they handle it?"

This message was last edited by the user at 12:14, Thu 28 May.

tibiotarsus
 member, 159 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Thu 28 May 2020
at 14:03
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
You know, that's actually pretty dang useful.

With great irony, just you mentioning that made me realise I have not had this problem anywhere near as badly with systems that have those more specific questions built in, as opposed to ones that have slots that are clearly there for plot hooks and could be more generic/plugged in and forgotten about. Thanks!
Hendell
 member, 243 posts
Thu 28 May 2020
at 14:19
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
If your problem is stronger when you have players who haven't (or perhaps don't know to?) answered basic character creation questions then it probably isn't because they have a passive playstyle.  It is probably because they haven't developed a playstyle at all yet.

One of the evolutionary paths for gamers is to start on the RP side, which you seem to be quite comfortable and familiar with.  The other major starting point is on the wargame side, or sometimes called the rules master.  Both paths tend to meet somewhere in the middle eventually but the steps to get there are wildly different.

I have almost always found myself closer to the middle of both camps than the vast majority of people so I tend to look like the 'other' camp from both perspectives as I do the things they don't expect.  But if you are on one end you will need to figure out how pulling others in your direction works without making it difficult for them to continue playing or blaming them for being the 'wrong' type of gamer.
tibiotarsus
 member, 160 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Thu 28 May 2020
at 14:41
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
Maybe my first post has gone off the top here, but no, I'm actively looking to try and understand a genuine playstyle that does seem to come from the wargame side, but doesn't respond to things I'd expect to motivate players coming in to my (explicitly non-combat-dominant) games from there either, unless there's things that motivate said players I just don't know about. In which case...take a look at the first post in this thread and tell me what those motivations are, because that's what I was asking!

Little bit put out to be read as "blaming people for being the wrong type of gamer" when I'm actively seeking a way to mediate the effects of people who might have joined a game less than ideal for their playstyle because of wanting to branch out or thinking they'll enjoy the premise, by the way. Not what I'm about. There is such thing as a fit so poor it'll sink a game like concrete shoes sink a clown, however, and no-one - that player included - wants that.
Talon
 member, 390 posts
Thu 28 May 2020
at 15:04
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
I agree with the mindset that most players want to engage in a rich experience (Though how they define rich varies, some like to write 3 paragraphs, some feel 3 sentences is plenty rich. That's definitely something to screen for during the RTJ phase) A lot of players who have played RPGs in the past have also experienced that moment when they've been told "Nope, you can't do that," hearing no multiple times will make some players adopt a hands off approach since they think "Well, I tried throwing water on the fire, smothering it with a blanket and even asking it nicely to put itself out, I'm out of ideas, I'll sit back till the GM tells me what I'm supposed to do."

It definitely takes some time playing with everyone so everyone gets a sense of where the boundary is of what they can do and what is worth attempting. I think that's part of the reason folks like the very structured RPGs, the guidelines of what is feasible are much more codified so it takes some of the guesswork out. At least until the players encounter a puzzle (I'm not a huge fan of puzzles in tabletop RPGs since they tend to go like the example above.)

I do think the narrative approach to RPGs can overwhelm players since in narrative games options tend to be obscured. Think of the "You all meet in a tavern scene" that is a trope. Despite how popular the concept is I've very rarely seen it actually go well, players make a little awkward small talk, then stand around not sure what to do with themselves because their options aren't clear. That's what I've seen a lot when there's forced player interaction, encouraging player interaction tends to be a lot more successful (Give some bonus XP or something to mechanically support it)
Hendell
 member, 244 posts
Thu 28 May 2020
at 15:34
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
I wouldn't say that a game with a low combat component is specifically unlikely to attract the more mechanics focused gamers.  The thing they want is conflict, that has little or nothing to do with combat in many cases.  Some sort of target or opposition, and some way to interact with it and come out ahead that involves both choices and randomization.

If that is a political court that has more wordplay great, but make that wordplay tied to the mechanics of the character sheet, not just the text the player types.  Give some indication of what the target objective and chance of success, vs risk of failure could be.  And don't be afraid to prompt them by private line for a specific roll if you see that one as being more appropriate to their intentions and the situation than something else.
tibiotarsus
 member, 161 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Thu 28 May 2020
at 16:16
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
@ Talon - I think you've had some GMs who aren't very good at thinking on their feet, there...maybe it's because I teach students during summer exchanges, but I've never given a GM 'no' without a why and explicit alternative options, because otherwise it's not constructive. In all cases I've played with these folk long enough for them to observe that, but that itself + poor observation might be what leads to the inverse problem, of taking every option regardless of stated character traits or reason.

I suspect those failed tavern meets are either too big a tavern (nothing to do, GM - well, let's face it, DM in this case - hasn't actually interwoven enough party backstories to create a nucleus of established interrelation) or have no 'mother hen' NPC to gather the party up...I've never tried to force interaction, either, though folk who come in from the looser side of things rarely have trouble with striking up a conversation.

Can you think of a reward that would catch the attention of people who don't seem to respond to in-game rewards (e.g. loot, NPCs thinking well of them and being helpful) unless I'm metaphorically bonking the carrot against their face?

In case it's pertinent/y'all might have a better idea what's going on with this, I should mention one of these players - the 'NPCs remembering when my character said mean things is railroading' one - was in a game with a system that explicitly rewarded bonding and community-facing interactions with mechanical benefits and couldn't seem to work out how to get them, despite multiple NPCs (and me) explaining that for long term benefit all round (ka-ching *reward!*) you teach a man to fish, so to speak, rather than giving the man one fish. Especially if you just hurl the single metaphorical fish at the man and expect him to know your intentions were charitable rather than those of an unpredictable fish-hurling maniac. Might be just down to a poor memory and not seeing NPCs as three-dimensional beings again, but maybe that specific sort of mechanical reward is a step beyond the reach of those who're still working out active roleplay. Just thinking aloud here.


@Hendell - You think it's conflict they're after, then? How do I provide (preferably, because mess) non-violent conflict they'll engage with, bearing in mind the backstory/main story hooks don't seem to be getting any bites?

For instance, current issue (who I really want to keep, some flashes of cool potential in there when there is any action) is potentally facing a capital charge if the real perpetrator isn't caught, has had someone significant on paper to the character stolen by said perpetrator, and doesn't seem to get that finding said perptrator fast or actively looking for clues or persuading the official investigating the crime to stop kicking him without inducing more kicking would be good things to do. What would register as a conflict that energised/caused activity rather than one that might be taken as a 'no'?
Hendell
 member, 245 posts
Fri 29 May 2020
at 00:09
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
Conflict and or a contest of skills, call it whatever you want but there is a type of player that needs to have a thing to do, more than a puzzle to solve, more than a role to play.

It sounds like you have been trying to tease them softly into biting one of the many plot hooks hanging before them but none of them are of sufficient urgency or obviously valuable enough to separate them from the others.  There is some chance you are actually creating some level of choice paralysis by offering so many similar options.

I would say quit messing about and hit them with the finality of the situation.  Have them arrested, probably best if you either trick or coerce the other characters into helping, or you risk them starting a fight just to prove a point.

Once arrested they are offered a way out in the form of proving their innocence by finding the true culprit.  But don't give them that for free, base it on the quality reputation of some of the other PCs who will speak for them, or even better have them earn it with some form of social persuasion in which someone needs to make some fairly difficult rolls or use magic.
tibiotarsus
 member, 162 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Fri 29 May 2020
at 10:52
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
Hendell:
Once arrested they are offered a way out in the form of proving their innocence by finding the true culprit.  But don't give them that for free, base it on the quality reputation of some of the other PCs who will speak for them, or even better have them earn it with some form of social persuasion in which someone needs to make some fairly difficult rolls or use magic.


^ The above is pretty much where we are in play, save that it's not an urban setting and the frontier law is currently dragging the suspects about the countryside (consider the setting closer to a Western than fantasy, though it's neither) in search of courtworthy evidence and/or the missing NPC; I don't think the stakes could be clearer. The...heheh, let's anonymise with the term "sheriff" is abrasive as a pony ride where you're tied behind the pony and I think I messed up in my spoon feeding because I advised asking the sheriff's permission to dismount and investigate an area (A), but that persuasion (rolls optional) would be needed if the character desired to go and re-investigate a nearby place (B) that had already been seen and reported on: PC asked to get down to go to area B, no persuasion given, and the sheriff, unpersuaded, said no. I think the player felt discouraged or confused by this. I arranged it so social logistics would require all PCs to move to area B for a bit, since it seemed PC wanted to go, but they haven't had time to post or are unenthusiastic.

Were two areas too much choice there? What mini-conflicts or flags could I provide to encourage active investigation? I think we might be on to something with conflicts, but if the prospect of hanging and/or a friend's death isn't sufficient motivation to act a bit worried/with urgency maybe even that's too big-picture. I'm trying to think of how to generate engagement with small or intermediate goals, so the player will realise things to act on on their own, e.g. yes, you have to persuade the sheriff, because he is an NPC, but neither one that's specifically there to help nor to fight (though the Big Bad - or Big Eldritch*, anyway - will definitely try to goad the party into attacking him or vice versa, so that's on the table, just not as clear as "here is ogre -> FIGHT!").

Hmm. Typing that, I feel maybe that might be an issue, too? As in, in a wargame it's pretty obvious who one fights and who one doesn't, and other extras are set dressing, 'press A to get bath/bread/beyond' kind of thing, but an NPC who's there to move a plot among a world with depth and consequences beyond "kill the thing, level up, huzzah" might be hitting the uncanny valley between known types and a GMPC for them. Like, maybe they see an extra with more than one function and some depth and think it'd be like PvP with me to conflict with that NPC at all, rather than what I assumed was being over cautious. Not sure how to make that less intimidating, though. Again this is just thinking aloud rather than anything concrete, but clearly other GMs have the same issue, so I think it's productive to consider.



*I have very traditional Scottish/Japanese-style approach to other-than-human entities and find the conflation of unseelie and evil ridiculously crude and reductive. Just because something causes harm to humans doesn't give it a moral value.
sean213
 member, 5 posts
Fri 29 May 2020
at 13:46
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
tibiotarsus:
<lI think I messed up in my spoon feeding because I advised asking the sheriff's permission to dismount and investigate an area (A), but that persuasion (rolls optional) would be needed if the character desired to go and re-investigate a nearby place (B) that had already been seen and reported on: PC asked to get down to go to area B, no persuasion given, and the sheriff, unpersuaded, said no. I think the player felt discouraged or confused by this. I arranged it so social logistics would require all PCs to move to area B for a bit, since it seemed PC wanted to go, but they haven't had time to post or are unenthusiastic.

Were two areas too much choice there? What mini-conflicts or flags could I provide to encourage active investigation?


Depending on the players background he may have felt shut down when the sheriff said no. From his point of view he did what the GM suggested and it led nowhere. Having social logistics move the group to area B anyway takes away any feeling that the player's choices could made any sort of difference.

I can see why you would think the sheriff needed more persuasion. Maybe instead of a hard no a better option would be to have the sheriff say something along the lines of "That sounds like a waste of our time to me. We already searched there once. Give me one good reason I should let you go back to area B". As long as the player can come up with a reason, any reason, let him roll.  Yes it's spoon feeding him, but it sounds like he is under the impression that no means no. It's easy to think that way if you see the NPCS as mouthpieces for the GM rather than people with their own motivations who the GM is trying to portray.


Another thing to remember is that not all people are as persuasive, charming, or intelligent in real life (or via forum post) as the characters they choose to play. I certainly don't have 18 Charisma in real life but I have played characters with it in d&d. Sometimes you have to give them a chance to roll the dice and if they roll well then let them succeed. Basically sometimes its best to allow their character to persuade the npc even though they failed to persuade you.

This message was last edited by the user at 13:51, Fri 29 May.

sean213
 member, 6 posts
Fri 29 May 2020
at 13:58
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
And on the opposite side of that. If, down the road, this player surprises you by writing a highly persuasive post and does a good bit of roleplaying then encourage that behavior. In that case let them succeed without the die roll. And make sure to point out the fact that they should have needed a roll, but are auto succeeding because the npc was so convinced or impressed.

This message was last edited by the user at 14:04, Fri 29 May.

tibiotarsus
 member, 163 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Fri 29 May 2020
at 15:01
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
In reply to sean213 (msg # 24):

You're absoloutely right, I should have had the specific "give me one reason" prompt in there (the rest was pretty much what he said, haha). Dangit. Y'know, I think I'll go apologise for that as a means of starting a dialogue about support.

...and yes, I definitely see social rolls as a tool for backing up RP rather than an absoloute necessity (so long as they say something, even "[character] gives an eloquent speech" at the very least), but remembering to point out and praise things is something I always need to consciously remember to do, so thank you for the reminder there as well. Useful stuff!
MrKinister
 member, 68 posts
Fri 29 May 2020
at 15:32
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
I suspect you may be dealing with a young* human being who is unaccustomed to social interactions. They may be inexperienced or immature, or perhaps merely introverted. If that is the case, you may have to let them be, give them space to simply exist in the environment they find themselves in until they muster the inclination/motivation to interact with others.

If this is the case, such a player will at that moment in their lives just find themselves unable to meet your minimum interaction expectations. If they are pressured to interact they may just shut down, withdrawing into a shell. But given enough space for them to feel comfortable they may find that their position would be improved with some communication and/or interaction.

I don't think you have to drop them from your game, unless you really demand everyone follow the line of interactions, but it may not be productive for you to spend too much time with them. And at the same time, don't put too many game hooks on this player as they may not take a single one.

I am, of course, speculating on this individual. People can only roleplay as far as their own personal experience and understanding gives them the latitude, so a person with limited life experience will have a limited roleplaying range.


*Young mentally or emotionally, irregardless of their physical age.
tibiotarsus
 member, 164 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Fri 29 May 2020
at 16:31
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
Hm...I think you're describing a spectator player there, rather than a passive one. Specifically, the difference is I believe all the instances of passive players I've encountered do want to contribute story moments to the game (the 'buddies with Nyarlathotep' player even told me so) rather than just sit in it and experience a game existing.

I should note I'm not forcing complex RP or interaction, but in the games and style I personally run, I do need characters to do something, i.e. more than could be contributed by a sack of potatoes, for the game to remain functional and thus fun for me and my other players. I sincerely hope my minimum requirements aren't too high, but...hff, the RPoL Vanish taking two of my more active players really doesn't help the present situation/distribution of pressure for story momentum. I am contemplating fishing for more, but I don't know I'll find the fit/s I need.

This message was last edited by a moderator, as it was off-topic, at 04:37, Sat 30 May.

MrKinister
 member, 69 posts
Fri 29 May 2020
at 17:03
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles

This message was deleted by a moderator, as it was off-topic, at 04:37, Sat 30 May.

tibiotarsus
 member, 165 posts
Fri 29 May 2020
at 19:57
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles

This message was deleted by a moderator, as it was off-topic, at 04:38, Sat 30 May.

evileeyore
 member, 330 posts
Fri 29 May 2020
at 21:05
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles

This message was deleted by a moderator, as it was off-topic, at 04:39, Sat 30 May.

MrKinister
 member, 70 posts
Fri 29 May 2020
at 23:22
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles

This message was deleted by a moderator, as it was off-topic, at 04:40, Sat 30 May.

evileeyore
 member, 331 posts
Sat 30 May 2020
at 03:33
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles

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engine
 member, 770 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Sat 30 May 2020
at 05:28
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
tibiotarsus:
they don't do anything unprompted.

When I'm a player, I tend to wish more players were like this.

tibiotarsus:
Conversely, they often do anything prompted, even if it's clear that would be a bad idea in-universe.

This makes sense to me. They want something to happen, rather than nothing. Not doing the thing means nothing changes, doing it at least should change something.

At some point, this becomes actively antisocial, but it seems like there's an easy way to avoid this kind of thing: don't give them prompts that you don't want them to follow.

tibiotarsus:
Now, sure, I understand that some people are all about the roll play and see characters as a kind of hat rather than an in-universe person with hopes and dreams and will to stay alive,

There's a huge range of approaches to roleplaying between those two. I find it frankly worrisome when people treat their character as too real, and it's usually counter to anything interesting happening when people are focused on their character's will to stay alive, rather than the interest of the player or the table to have interesting things happen to the character.

I see my character as a role, as if I were an actor. That can also be a spectrum, with some actors being very weird about their roles, but many of them recognize that the character is a separate thing from them and that the use of the role is, sure, to be believable, but also to do what is required to be entertaining, which is often more complicated than doing something that's completely in keeping with the character as a real person.

tibiotarsus:
My theory is these players come from a roll-heavy, highly linear play background - find ogre, kill ogre, loot, yay, you win - and are trying to branch out into investigative and less rigid games,

I urge a more charitable take on it, and on this kind of play in general. Again, there's a spectrum.

tibiotarsus:
- Are you such a player? What do you want from a game? How do I give it to you?

In short, yes. I am highly reactive, but I won't react to every prompt. I also don't know much of anything about my character at the start of the game, which doesn't give me anything to reference for guidance, but also doesn't make me feel trapped or tricked into doing things.

More than having the "role" of a particular character, I find I also enjoy a defined "role" in the activity of the game. If my character has a wide smattering of weak skills and abilities, I might not feel like it's worth trying anything, like anything I do will be wrong, so I'd better not act unless I have to. It might then seem that I'd be better with a strong focus on something, and that might work - if that particular thing comes up.

I really like having a clear goal, the shorter-term the better. A long-term goal is OK, as long as there are lots of clear short-term goals that either progress me, or give me something to do in the mean time.

tibiotarsus:
- Is this playstyle simply unsuited to more character-driven, non-combat-heavy games?

No. Character-driven, or not, combat or not, really doesn't have anything to do with it. But it would probably be instructive to consider why people enjoy combat:
- There are often clear roles.
- There's often something to react to.
- There's often a clear goal (hopefully not just survival, but that's often it).
- Games often have a clear way to make a character who's good at it.
- It's fairly easy to get one's character into a situation in which it is likely to arise.

Other types of situations can have that, but the classic "opposite" of combat - talking - lacks many of those things, especially in an investigation-type game in which the "talking" itself doesn't necessarily accomplish anything overt, but prompts reactions that are meant to be picked up on and followed.

tibiotarsus:
If so, how should I find out and/or warn them at the pitch stage?
At the pitch stage, you probably can't. It takes some conversation, I think, to see how a person enjoys interacting, and it might take a preliminary session or two.

On the other hand, you seem to have pretty clear expectations for what it takes to play the way you want, so just highlight those and judge applicants on their responses. I've been passed over for game slots because I didn't immediately get what kind of character pitch the GM wanted. It's common to see requests for background and even likely story hooks. If someone is hesitant or does the bear minimum, then either talk to them for clarification, or just part ways.
evileeyore
 member, 332 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Sat 30 May 2020
at 15:52
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
engine:
I urge a more charitable take on it, and on this kind of play in general. Again, there's a spectrum.

Yes, this.

I'm in a game, a cross between the "West Marches", "Megadungeon", and "Thieves World" styles (it's a mega-dungeon, based under a thriving city rife with political, religious, and racial strife).  So there are like 10 distinct groups of Characters running about doing things, I'm in 5 of those groups with 5 different Characters with varying levels of "engagement".

In one, I'm the clear driving force for what we do.  When Players in that group are trying to figure out what to do their first thought is "Let's ask Jareth" despite my continued insistence that another Character is actually in charge.  In another group, I'm playing the most laid back, relaxed "I'm not doing nothin but fightin and carryin heavy stuff" Character (which is pretty much all she's good for).  In that group absolutely no one would ever say "Let's ask Jednesa what we should do" because they know better.

So even in one game, I'm on two opposite sides of the "driving force" spectrum.

quote:
More than having the "role" of a particular character, I find I also enjoy a defined "role" in the activity of the game.

I like both, in fact all my Characters will have both.  An in game meta-mechanics role, Striker, Tank, Skills Guy, Face, Healer, Buff=bot, etc; in a social game these would be Face, Planner, Peel-Out, Wingman, etc...  and a 'role' role, like the Red Sonja Warrior Out Of Her Element, Drunken Failure Seeking One Last Chance to Make It Right, Pious Warrior Driven To Fight Evil, Wants To Be The Best of The Best of The Best Sir!, Teenage Rebel With Crushing Guilt Complex, Con-artist Who Just Found Religion (I literally just listed my Characters in a game here).

quote:
If my character has a wide smattering of weak skills and abilities, I might not feel like it's worth trying anything, like anything I do will be wrong, so I'd better not act unless I have to. It might then seem that I'd be better with a strong focus on something, and that might work - if that particular thing comes up.

This, I find, is the single greatest reason many Players become passive.  They are so afraid of FAILURE in game that they only move when prodded or when they think the Character can succeed.

I avoid this by just trying things that would be "in Character", regardless of the success chances.  I mean, my longest running character on this site has a roughly (all skills and abilities taken into account) 55% chance of succeeding anything he tries, I mean why not jump in and do something?  When failure is all you know, it's best to get real good at it.

quote:
I really like having a clear goal, the shorter-term the better. A long-term goal is OK, as long as there are lots of clear short-term goals that either progress me, or give me something to do in the mean time.

This is also key.  Depending on the game genre (Dungeon Delving, Social Heavy Politics, Fantasy Heartbreaker, Space Opera Drama, Supernatural Angsty Goth Wanking, etc) this can lend itself well to either Player defined goals, or GM defined goals, often times a mix of both.

But this requires Good Communication from both sides of the GM screen.

quote:
No. Character-driven, or not, combat or not, really doesn't have anything to do with it. But it would probably be instructive to consider why people enjoy combat:
- There are often clear roles.
- There's often something to react to.
- There's often a clear goal (hopefully not just survival, but that's often it).
- Games often have a clear way to make a character who's good at it.
- It's fairly easy to get one's character into a situation in which it is likely to arise.

And in many cases (most Fantasy RPGs) your Character is good at it.

Look at OSR games, the character stats are all centered around Orc and PieTM, "Kick in the door, kill the Orc, take the pie".  In OSR games, social play is completely dependant on the Player's ability to schmooze, sweet-talk, act tough, romance, etc.  So if the activities fall outside the Player's wheelhouse, those activities won't be compelling (no one likes failure*).


* Failure of the Character and failure of the Player are two separate things, but for most people they are treated as one and the same.  Most people who are into RPGs aren't into the drama heavy pathos of Character suffering and angst-play.  They want the rush of a successful Orc and Pie, even if it's a social-romance game ("Kick in the doors" = Get past the romantic target's defenses; "Defeat the Orc" = Overcome the romance target's resistance to romancing; "Get the Pie" = I'm leaving this one unexplained).

quote:
Other types of situations can have that, but the classic "opposite" of combat - talking - lacks many of those things, especially in an investigation-type game in which the "talking" itself doesn't necessarily accomplish anything overt, but prompts reactions that are meant to be picked up on and followed.

There are some good systems that have mechanics to gamify this, which can really help with Players who prefer to Orc and Pie an investigation...

quote:
At the pitch stage, you probably can't. It takes some conversation, I think, to see how a person enjoys interacting, and it might take a preliminary session or two.

One thing that could help (I have only been skimming the thread so forgive if this has been said) is to put in the game description that it is a Social Heavy Game Expect A Lot of Player Driven Socializing With Each Other and NPCs.

Or, maybe more aimed at what I think tibiotarsus wants (?):
"This Game is about the PCs actively working together and engaging in world.  I will not be hand-holding you or actively pointing out what your Character's need to do nest.  This game requires Proactivity and Engagement."

Now, some people will see that and not understand it and dive in and be what
tibiotarsus has.  But you will also weed out those who really just want a Beer and Pretzels, Orc And Pie game.  A game where they interface with the mechanics, don't have to think too hard, and strive for the next Pie laden 'dungeon'.

And of course you'll also attract individuals like me, who see non-combat interaction and Player/Character driven goals as a means to its own end.

quote:
If someone is hesitant or does the bear minimum, then either talk to them for clarification, or just part ways.

Exactly.  There are alway more Players on the boards.  Just recruit for you want, bring them in.  It's possible with the right sort of Player interaction the more recalcitrant Players will start to open up and interact in the manner you'd prefer.  If not, start cutting the uncooperative Players free.
tibiotarsus
 member, 166 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Sun 31 May 2020
at 11:38
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
@_@ ...I'm going to try and address these together and circle back if I miss something. Engine, excellent to hear from you, EE, it sounds like you have a vibrantly active playstyle that includes the ability to play passive characters, which would be fine in my games. We seem to have latched on a bit hard to the notion that I'm being down on playstyles that don't integrate well with how I work, and again, all I am trying to do is build bridges to help players get further towards the place on that spectrum my games are designed around. Optimum functionality, you know?

Engine, my first post covered the unfairness of just giving passive types no choices and sidelining them, so I'm moving down to people...  From what I've seen, I think poor player/character separation is a trait more common in those treating characters as hats. I'd say that if a fully-rounded sapient being doesn't pull plot like they should when the GM has a full backstory to give them handholds from and is pulling their own weight, then the player has just picked the wrong person to put in the game. Character development can save that situation, so long as the player is willing to do that, though I'm fully aware that's not what some people play for.

Relevant tangent: I suppose it doesn't much help that I have no empathy or social instincts (i.e. "common sense" - though I may act like I have it, that's just because I'm pretty old and have learnt things one by one), just savant-level sympathy and logical understanding*: humans, including fictional humans (and non-humans played like non-humans, not just "she pointy ears" or "him green") I am very good at working out with a little input, automatons flexibly built around a role, not so much. The latter is very creepy to me, because I'm interacting with a hat in-world on the premise that people in that world think it's a wo/man, but also, actually, the player... I don't know if I'm getting the fundamental discomfort of that situation for me across (kind of like having to deadpan address a sock puppet as a separate interviewer at a serious job interview, becoming increasingly aware it's not a joke), but I'm not objecting to PCs, well, having classes or a certain amount of archetype, or players taking a while to work out how their character plays, just pointing out that if a player like the above thinks I want a Intriguer What Intrigues and starts playing that, but their backstory says they grew up in a tribe where honesty and punching were key to survival then to cope at all my poor brain will try to reconcile those things (Punchy Tribe dislike [trait] kind of people [PC] can reasonably be read as so [PC] got good at intriguing for hiding that trait -> goal/reward for X character = appropriate to [trait]) and automatically come to conclusions that just cause more confusion. If they're also passive in playstyle and I'm trying to motivate them, with my current knowledge base I get a complete mess.

Anyway, mostly I get from this that I need to become better at really obvious generic mini-goals, which is for sure a fair point. I have a notebook for this, even. I'd still like ways to get specific at least mid-term goals in there, but I think 231 had it right about specific starting questions, and that may well solve the present issue (and hopefully future ones).


more @evileeyore:

Fear of failure...ach, probably, but I don't know another way to inject reasonable confidence save by pointing out ways to improve, and if the character just goes "OK," when NPC concerned-about-PC says "why don't you talk to the armourer?" but never actually goes there... I don't know. I had a passive player once quite literally turn down aid from God, the Devil and a descendant of Malinoxichtl (it made sense in context) and then complain of feeling useless. I think the player in that particular instance was actually burnt out on TTRPGs in general and unwilling to admit that to themselves, but still.

That...is not how romance works, and anyone persistently trying to break down an NPC's will or reasonable defences to romance them rather than raising themselves to a level where trust was not a barrier (I am a big believer in Miyazaki's rule of bonding on a foundation of "inspire each other to live") would likely get the boot. Not that PCs can't just, y'know, hook up in my games if the proposition is reasonable, but if they want a genuine relationship the combat approach won't work, may turn multiple NPCs hostile if it becomes harassment**, and is a good example of an instance in which orc pie can't always fit in with how I roll. Safe, sane and consensual pretend object-conquest dynamics excepted, of course.

As for systems, I play what I play: my aim is to fit fringe wanderers into what I do because they have shown interest in what I do, not change what I do to become mainstream enough to tap a larger player base. I'm only envious in the difficulty finding fitting or replacement players sense: the payoff of weird niche games is finding people a lot more invested in those games, because who else is running, say, Cthulhu Dark Ages or the seafaring variant of Lonley Timbers? (I'm not running either, but that niche) I suppose I can work on my advertising, indeed, though once having tried that I got a player I had to metaphorically lasso and rope down before they vanished over the horizon without the party, cramping their style some, and then they got RL issues and had to quit anyway, leaving me with plot-thread mopping to do, so I think that's why I got skittish about trying that right there in the ad.

Heh, I did a thread like this on the complexities of fishing for niche games, but hmm. Fair enough. We'll see.


*anyone seen the TV show Hannibal? That version of Will Graham is pretty much me. Minus the being decently tall and beautiful bit, though feel free to imagine me 6' and played by an underwear model if you like.
**yes, I know - boy do I - the socially awkward can't always tell where the line is, but I will give warnings (and explanations to the genuinely unthinking, though seriously, "would I like this if a bigger dude tried it on me" isn't that hard, people. No offence to the world's non-hypothetical biggest dude, whoever he is) both IC and OOC before dropping Consequences or the ban hammer on them as appropriate.

engine
 member, 771 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Sun 31 May 2020
at 16:53
Re: Advice: Passive Playstyles
tibiotarsus:
We seem to have latched on a bit hard to the notion that I'm being down on playstyles that don't integrate well with how I work, and again, all I am trying to do is build bridges to help players get further towards the place on that spectrum my games are designed around. Optimum functionality, you know?

Well, I'd say that if you can get to a point where you no long try to describe play styles in a simplistic and uncharitable way like this:

tibiotarsus:
From what I've seen, I think poor player/character separation is a trait more common in those treating characters as hats.


then that alone will help you make a lot of progress. I can guarantee you that no one thinks about their play style like "playing a hat," even if they'd agree with that description. You have in this thread expressed interest in thinking of playstyles in the same terms as those people who actually play in those styles. Good for you and keep that up, and in the meantime give up your personal way of thinking about those playstyles. It will free you up to think differently, and make people more interested in helping you.

tibiotarsus:
I'd say that if a fully-rounded sapient being doesn't pull plot like they should when the GM has a full backstory to give them handholds from and is pulling their own weight, then the player has just picked the wrong person to put in the game.

I'm don't know exactly what actual activities and responses you're describing there; do you mean, like, be proactive and responsive to what the GM is providing? If not, it's possible my following words won't apply.

I'd say you're coming at this from a skewed angle. You appear to be assuming that the character is a fully-rounded sapient being. Even the characters of people who think they're doing that are not, in my experience, that, but at best a caricature of that.

When you say "treat characters like hats," do you mean "play the game as a way to take on attitudes and approaches that they themselves wish they could in real life"? Like, say, someone who plays a dark, mysterious loner for reasons having to do with how they themselves are seen or treated (or not treated) in their own lives? Like, it lets them be someone who gets treatment or reactions that they themselves want? Because I would imagine that that's not in line with what you think of as "roleplaying" a "fully-rounded sapient being," since such a player would not play their character to react normally, but to act in a caricature of normal that feeds into those real-world needs.

But I'd expect someone who does play that way not to be particularly passive, as they probably have at least an unconscious sense of how they want to play the character to get what they want. I think you're talking about people who, when they play, don't appear to want anything, or at any rate don't appear to want any of the things you're offering them.

tibiotarsus:
Relevant tangent: I suppose it doesn't much help that I have no empathy or social instincts (i.e. "common sense" - though I may act like I have it, that's just because I'm pretty old and have learnt things one by one), just savant-level sympathy and logical understanding*:

I cannot relate to this, so my what I say probably isn't going to help. But it's interesting for me to think about things like this, and it might help me in my own roleplaying.

tibiotarsus:
I'm interacting with a hat in-world on the premise that people in that world think it's a wo/man, but also, actually, the player... I don't know if I'm getting the fundamental discomfort of that situation for me across (kind of like having to deadpan address a sock puppet as a separate interviewer at a serious job interview, becoming increasingly aware it's not a joke),

I would suggest interacting with that player differently, then. I don't know how you play, but if you are focused on "in-world" interactions, take a step up/down. Don't interact with the "sock puppet," but interact with the player. Abstract things a bit. In terms of the sock puppet analogy, instead of answering its questions, say to the puppeteer "What kinds of questions does it ask me? What is it trying to get at?" and respond at that level "Okay, it wants to know about my background, so I tell it that while trying to let my personality shine through, because my goal is to..." That's still roleplaying, but it's of a different order, and it frees you up to fill in the gaps in a way that makes more sense to you and is more like your idea of a "fully-rounded sapient being."

To try to explain a different way, I love Star Trek, but when I watch it I don't take it literally. I can't, because what they're actually doing and saying doesn't make sense, in really any way at all. But the story and the concepts are still interesting to me, so I can watch it at that level and "fill in the blanks myself." Okay, they didn't just limp at sublight speeds over to a nearby nebula that would probably be light-years away and the nebula isn't actually as thick as a terrestrial cloud, but neither of those things is the point of the scene: the point is that they're being chased and can't outrun their pursuers and so need someplace to hide that will even the odds. That I can directly relate to, no matter how little anyone involved in the film knows about science or dialog or continuity.

So, a similar step back might help you. Okay, this investigator is not literally saying things or having reactions that make consistent, natural sense, but what is it they're trying to accomplish? If you say "You're at this scene, what are you doing?" and the player shrugs and doesn't give you anything, don't take that to mean the character isn't doing anything; of course they are, but for some reason what they're doing isn't resulting in progress on your story, or whatever. The reason doesn't even have to be determined or stated (and is probably better left vague), but the point is that there is a reason and it's a reason that makes logical sense to you. Take that as an article of faith, and move on in the game.

tibiotarsus:
poor brain will try to reconcile those things (Punchy Tribe dislike [trait] kind of people [PC] can reasonably be read as so [PC] got good at intriguing for hiding that trait -> goal/reward for X character = appropriate to [trait]) and automatically come to conclusions that just cause more confusion.

Try not to do that, or at least try not to do it unilaterally. If such conclusions are necessary (I would suggest that are not) work with the player on them, rather than coming up with internalized reasons which are unlikely to be related to how the player is thinking about things. Above all, you're trying to get the player to "buy in" to the game. A big part of this is getting their agreement, and they can't agree to things that only exist in your mind, and not very likely to agree with things that you have created. But most people agree with things they themselves have had a hand in creating

tibiotarsus:
Anyway, mostly I get from this that I need to become better at really obvious generic mini-goals, which is for sure a fair point. I have a notebook for this, even. I'd still like ways to get specific at least mid-term goals in there, but I think 231 had it right about specific starting questions, and that may well solve the present issue (and hopefully future ones).

Okay, I hope that helps. Try collaborating with the players on those goals, and keeping an open mind. I'm afraid that many GMs are less than open to player input when it directly impinges on what they've created. A player expresses interest in a goal, but it involves things and people that the GM didn't put in the game. The looser the GM's game is or the more relaxed they can be about player input, the more they can side-step the risks involved in trying to come up with things on their own that players might or might not care about.

Good luck.