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Yepesnopes

PCs and the narrative vs the amount of rolls on a session

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Hello all!

 

I wanted to hear from you how much narrative effort do you ask to your players when they use the assist manoeuvre, or when they spend advantages to grant boost dice to a fellow PC. Just a sentence like "I look under the bed to help Luke searching for the safe" or "I also kick the door to help the wookiee smash the door", or do you ask for something more elaborated?

 

I ask this because in a rather average session at my table tons of rolls occur (we are a large group of PCs at the table), and it turns nearly impossible to put even just a decent narrative sentence for each single assist manoeuvre (or advantages spend granting boost to a next roll). For this reason I told my players they can go just for the mechanics part of the rule, although if they want they are welcome to invent a narrative sentence (which they do sometimes).

 

Do you find yourselves also in a similar situation with smaller groups of players (four or so) or is just a consequence of my large group?

 

Cheers,

Yepes

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I can feel your pain with this, and I even have trouble coming up with the narrative a lot of the times. I have 5 players, so I don't know how that compares to you, you just said a large group, which for some people that could be 4 players :) I feel 5 is starting to get to the large group size. Anyway...

Yes, I still make my players tell me how they are using their advantages to help out their teammates. I do not only allow them to say "I spend my two advantage to give a boost die to Lobot on his computer check" without telling how that can give him that boost die. I don't blame the size of a group for this, I blame the players and the GM. Please don't take offense, I am not putting you or your group down, I am putting all of us down. :). This is what really sets this system apart from the old ones, and so many other current systems being played right now. Not too many of us are used to this Narrative mechanic, and it puts us out of what we are used to and our comfort zones. There have been times I have waived the narrative, passing it in favor of time, but I shouldn't. It forces the player to think, to be an active participant in the game, not just sitting there being entertained doing nothing. So, I say, use the narrative system, make your players get engaged with the story telling, even if it is only that they help look under the bed...so be it! Giving a boost die does not mean that that character is doing anything extraordinary. How can I give someone at a computer terminal a boost die if I am not plugged in to? Roll vigilance; one advantage came up. Hey Lobot, I got your back man, so don't worry about that, take your time man! Lobot gets a boost because I have his back and he can concentrate more on his task than keeping any eye out around him.

Well, that's how I look at it anyway, some others may not. So I again, I say it is not how many people you have, it is the type of people you have. (Again, not intending to be rude here.) Since the dawn of the RPG it has been the GM that is the story teller not the player. Players had very little impact on the environment around them, but now they do!! They can miss the target and the player can still have an effect on the environment that can help their allies or hinder the enemies! (A player rolled some really good advantage, but missed, so he told me that his shot went high, hit the fire suppression system in the ceiling, and suppression foam shoots all over the baddies, giving them all a set back die, I said and an UPGRADE!) are you sure you want to bypass those moments of awesome in favor of saving time? Then, I would go back to Saga. Because this is what this game is about.

So Yepes, spend the time with the narrative mechanic, don't make your players come up with elaborate ideas to spend an advantage for a boost die, but get them used to doing it, and they will become more comfortable with it, and in time, quicker, easier, more seductive the narrative becomes. Sorry...

I have now told my players that if they can't tell me why they are handing out a boost die, it does not happen. A couple of times, they forgo it, but not too often. So I hope I have helped to inspire you in favor of the keeping the narrative aspect of the dice in your game, not just the mechanic, and good luck out there with your group. In time, you will find they all feed off of each other's ideas and narratives, trying to one up one another.

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Putting the system on a pedestal doesn't help anyone. Requiring description or not is a table decision, and one that may vary from situation to situation. Requiring description isn't necessarily better if it doesn't add to the enjoyment of everyone - and if you've ever seen an Exalted player go too far with being descriptive you'll understand that more description isn't always beneficial. Sometimes "I'll help." is all that needs to be said.

Edited by HappyDaze

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Putting the system on a pedestal doesn't help anyone. Requiring description or not is a table decision, and one that may vary from situation to situation. Requiring description isn't necessarily better if it doesn't add to the enjoyment of everyone - and if you've ever seen an Exalted player go too far with being descriptive you'll understand that more description isn't always beneficial. Sometimes "I'll help." is all that needs to be said.

I I fail to see how I am putting this game on a pedestal, but then why shouldn't I? Yes Happy, you are correct, all this is a table decision. But that is why people come here, to get ideas and help at their tables. 

For me as the GM, a player telling me that they give a boost because "I help" will not fly. But to each their own.

 

I wanted to hear from you how much narrative effort do you ask to your players when they use the assist manoeuvre, or when they spend advantages to grant boost dice to a fellow PC. Just a sentence like "I look under the bed to help Luke searching for the safe" or "I also kick the door to help the wookiee smash the door", or do you ask for something more elaborated?

So Yepes, ignore my first post here. 

It is your table, do what you want.  ;)

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I have a table with three really good RPers (I'm no slouch, myself), and two more players.  One has some...issues, that prevent full social interaction the way you and I see it.  The last player is just plain shy, and does not improvise well.  They are good friends to the last, and we have a great time every week.

 

These two players at times, can only manage a simple phrase like "I help out."  Other times, my shy player rides a bobcat with a stump-grinder attachment out of the wreckage of an exploding cantina.  Go figger.

 

The point is, everything is contextual, and sometimes all you are going to get out of a player is one short sentence.

 

To be honest, sometimes that is all that is necessary.  And there's nothing wrong with it.

 

I like to challenge my players, and we all show up every week to have fun.  However, If I start stalling an adventure to force creativity from each player on each roll of each turn, two things will happen:

 

1) When you push and force creativity, the well runs dry pretty quickly, and

 

2) undue pressure on the players to "perform" will suck the fun out of the game very quickly.

 

It's a table decision because the table will always be made up of individuals with different strengths and weaknesses and human quirks and foibles.  Heck, sometimes people are just tired after a long day of work and kids and "life."  That's half the reason some of us do this:  Escapism.  

 

If you are in the middle of an epic battle scene, or a highly pivotal and stressful sabacc game (you should have been there for our smuggler facing down a Black Sun Underboss across a table Casino Royale style), then it is a great time to push a little and get some more out of them.  If it is just slicing a terminal in an unguarded office or negotiating the price of Corellian Whiskey for a mother's day present, sometimes it's better to just roll the dice and move along.

 

Look at the context, check the pulse of the narrative and go from there.  That's my advice, and so far for our table, it's working out pretty well.

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My experience with the narration is varied. Some of my players are uncomfortable with narrating results, but I'm pushing them. The results are not always awesome, but it helps, it also encourages me to have fun with it.

What seems to my players' issue is to know where the limits are, and their insecurity with Star Wars lore and how things work, like tech, the law and so on...

Edited by Jegergryte

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I have a table with three really good RPers (I'm no slouch, myself), and two more players.  One has some...issues, that prevent full social interaction the way you and I see it.  The last player is just plain shy, and does not improvise well.  They are good friends to the last, and we have a great time every week.

 

These two players at times, can only manage a simple phrase like "I help out."  Other times, my shy player rides a bobcat with a stump-grinder attachment out of the wreckage of an exploding cantina.  Go figger.

 

The point is, everything is contextual, and sometimes all you are going to get out of a player is one short sentence.

 

To be honest, sometimes that is all that is necessary.  And there's nothing wrong with it.

 

I like to challenge my players, and we all show up every week to have fun.  However, If I start stalling an adventure to force creativity from each player on each roll of each turn, two things will happen:

 

1) When you push and force creativity, the well runs dry pretty quickly, and

 

2) undue pressure on the players to "perform" will suck the fun out of the game very quickly.

 

It's a table decision because the table will always be made up of individuals with different strengths and weaknesses and human quirks and foibles.  Heck, sometimes people are just tired after a long day of work and kids and "life."  That's half the reason some of us do this:  Escapism.  

 

If you are in the middle of an epic battle scene, or a highly pivotal and stressful sabacc game (you should have been there for our smuggler facing down a Black Sun Underboss across a table Casino Royale style), then it is a great time to push a little and get some more out of them.  If it is just slicing a terminal in an unguarded office or negotiating the price of Corellian Whiskey for a mother's day present, sometimes it's better to just roll the dice and move along.

 

Look at the context, check the pulse of the narrative and go from there.  That's my advice, and so far for our table, it's working out pretty well.

So my post was intended to say this, but this sounds so much better.

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I want more narration at our table because it is frigging awesome and fun (and what makes FFGs SW what it is), so I suggested some XP bonuses to our GM and his reply was basically this...

 

...

 

The point is, everything is contextual, and sometimes all you are going to get out of a player is one short sentence.

 

To be honest, sometimes that is all that is necessary.  And there's nothing wrong with it.

 

I like to challenge my players, and we all show up every week to have fun.  However, If I start stalling an adventure to force creativity from each player on each roll of each turn, two things will happen:

 

1) When you push and force creativity, the well runs dry pretty quickly, and

 

2) undue pressure on the players to "perform" will suck the fun out of the game very quickly.

 

It's a table decision because the table will always be made up of individuals with different strengths and weaknesses and human quirks and foibles.  Heck, sometimes people are just tired after a long day of work and kids and "life."  That's half the reason some of us do this:  Escapism.  

 

...

 

We chatted some and I decided to just lead by example. Breaking the d20 mindset, and the fact that some of our players are not thespians, or creative on the fly is just something that I have to get over. As time has gone on, the table has become more creative and some of the players have crept out of their shell.

Edited by Dex Vulen

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I think it depends on whats going on - as many of the other GMs have said on here, it's really gotta be a game time decisions. Sometimes a roll with, "The blasters miss their mark, distracting my target" works better than a long winded paragraph of how the searing heat of the blaster bolt, blah blah blah. Quality over quantity is also my rule of thumb and if it's a simple pass of a boost die, if the player did a good job of narrating the roll, that will work.

 

I do most of my GMing in PbP fashion, so things are a little different and I require some narration in every post. My one table game, I don't expect their to be as much narration, because realistically you can't require the average players to talk about rolls in depth on the fly consistently, they'll burn out of the game (at least in my experience). While, as GM's we typically want to tell the story, the players also need to have fun. If they're having a great time with an excellent combat scene, requiring descriptions for every Advantage spent becomes tedious at the table and can really add in unnecessary fat to a rather free-flowing game. However, if you get a bunch that like's that style of play (describing everything), definitely keep it going.

 

I believe ultimately, it comes down to your players and the type of game you're running; if you are doing a slower paced, narrative PbP then requiring more description in posts is more likely to be accepted by your players. If you're playing a faster paced table-top game, your players may be more concerned with moving along than describing everything.

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My group went through a natural progression with this. I encouraged light narrative involvement with dice pool building and interpretation from the start but they did go through a small munchkin period where assist dice were just added "because I was standing there". Things have sort of settled down now and with system familiarity and general experience came a desire to have the dice "do their job" so to speak. I think now there's a nice balance between mechanical and narrative styles of play, which in my case fits the player makeup of my table perfectly.

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Very very interesting thoughts so far, thanks to you all for sharing them.

 

I did not say, but indeed the size of my group is a problem. We are nine, me the GM, plus eight players. This is a hell of dice rolls, but this is of course a limitation of ours.

 

Cheers,

Yepes

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My group is a veritable mixed bag when it comes to narration. . .or when we even need to bother making die rolls because of how good the narration is. My players also know that I give bonuses for good narration (either boost dice for actions they are taking or XP for descriptions as to how the action panned out), so for the most part they strive for it.

 

From what I'm seeing, the die-hard LARPer loves giving details, the people who fell in love with FATE try to spin things as though they were leaving behind Aspects, and the d20 players are a mix between being the "I hit it with my fancy vibrosword!" (with a 4 success hit) to "I parry the droid's force pike and with a spin, slash across it's torso and place a well aimed blaster bolt into it's core!" (a pair of critical hits while using two weapons).

 

Some days, though, we're all having an off day and can't get anything done. It also doesn't help that our game normally only runs 3-5 hours (with dinner involved) after everyone gets out of work, 

 

All said and done, my group of five seems to enjoy giving the details because they know I enjoy them enough to reward it, they seem to enjoy the extra narrative to paint the picture, and they revel in the slapstick that occurs on a really bad roll. Of course, I don't penalize poor narration, nor am I guilt free when we are all rushing the end of a battle due to a player needing to get home before his wife plans his bloody demise. . .

 

The narrative elements aren't for everyone, of course, but they really do seem to add a great deal to the gaming experience, regardless of the game being run.

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Very very interesting thoughts so far, thanks to you all for sharing them.

 

I did not say, but indeed the size of my group is a problem. We are nine, me the GM, plus eight players. This is a hell of dice rolls, but this is of course a limitation of ours.

 

Cheers,

Yepes

wow, that's a lot of players. I personally won't run a game for more than 4 anymore, but to each their own. You've got some interesting challenges there in order to keep things moving. cheers.

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I don't require them to be thespians, just tell me how they are executing an assist.  I think that's fair enough. Whether it's act as a spotter for a long shot.  Yell at a target and get them to partially expose themselves.  Hold the flashlight for the guy/gal picking the lock, etc.  I think that's pretty simple and fair and keeps the assist from just being a given every turn in every situation.

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My group tends to flow in the narrative a lot more than the average group I think. We actually don't roll "all the time." We use a couple of rules to help facilitate this.

 

First: Rolling with Intent. There is never a situation where a character says "I pick the lock" or "I hack the computer." My players are expected to add intent ("I try to pick the lock before the guards arrive" or "I want to hack the computer to find imperial flight paths in the area without being detected". If there are no consequences for failure, I don't ask for a roll.

 

Second: Let it Roll. There are no re-rolls upon failure. Also, you are either rolling, assisting the active player, or doing nothing for each roll. I never have a situation (except combat initiative) where I allow every player to "make a Perception/Vigiliance/etc. check."

 

These rules are both inspired by Burning Wheel. They help keep rolls down and the action moving.

Edited by JasonRR

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Very very interesting thoughts so far, thanks to you all for sharing them.

 

I did not say, but indeed the size of my group is a problem. We are nine, me the GM, plus eight players. This is a hell of dice rolls, but this is of course a limitation of ours.

 

Cheers,

Yepes

Thats way to many players, no wonder your having issues.

Cull your group and your play experience will improve.

With that many players nothing we say here will help....

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Very very interesting thoughts so far, thanks to you all for sharing them.

 

I did not say, but indeed the size of my group is a problem. We are nine, me the GM, plus eight players. This is a hell of dice rolls, but this is of course a limitation of ours.

 

Cheers,

Yepes

I think with a table that big I would split the group in certain encounters and/or limit the number of players that can help or assist. I try to encourage players to be descriptive but that really starts with the GM.

In the beginning I would just ask what the player wanted the outcome to be and then I would narrate it. Once players started to understand they started narrating for themselves.

Example: Player shoots minion stormtroopers and hits and gets advantage. "I want to give a boost die to X" Me: "great. You fire off a barrage of blaster bolts striking one of the stormtroopers incapacitating him. Your attack is so fierce that the stormtroopers try to take cover from you leaving their left side open giving X a perfect opportunity to strike. X you gain a boost die."

The better the GM is at it, the better the players will get over time. Make a cheat sheet of disease and adjectives you can use.

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I wound up breaking my party into two groups because of the number of peeps playing and running into the same time constraints vs' narration.   I find my games/stories/fun factor has increased by leaps and bounds because of this.  I was able to section off my hack and slashers, and thus provide a campaign that is more to their liking.

That said, for the original intent of this post...  I will take whatever narration they are willing to give me, with the most thoughtful and/or in character comments receiving extra oomph. 

 

Seriously, once I switched from a more mechanics based game (had to be with such a large group), to a more narrative game the enjoyment and "star wars" factor increased dramatically.  The hack and slash campaign stayed pretty much on par with where it was.  In addition my players are becoming much better role-players as a byproduct.  If this game were to do nothing else, I have to give it major props for that.

Edited by Shamrock

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