Episode 232 – narrative combat

* (0:41) The first March of Dimes charity auction is still in progress.  You have a few days left to get your bid in!

* (1:35) Using narration instead of rules to resolve combat.  Being fair without dice to serve as an arbiter.  How to make it work without the players feeling cheated by the outcome.

* (39:01) Dealing with players that have the unusual, singular obsession of seeing their characters destroyed.

Hosts: Chad, Dan, Pat, Wayne

Comments (8)

AdrianMay 25th, 2011 at 1:15 am

Almost sounds like you guys are a step or two away from live action role playing.

KyleMay 25th, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Adrian, it’s not like they do narrative combat by default…

AdrianMay 26th, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Kyle I am meaning this as a bad thing I really do not have a problem with live action role playing. Like most but not all things in life the activity attractes people that you would want to be around and people you would rather not be around

KyleMay 26th, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Adrian – I understand now. I was unable to identify what your opinion was, because usually a statement of “being a step away” is taken as a negative comment.

FtB’s hosts vary in their preferences toward ‘acting’, some prefer not to act things out at all, while others seem to greatly enjoy ‘acting’ as far as using in-character voices. That said, I don’t remember any of the main hosts saying they’d like to go as far as props and costume.

LARP has it’s stereotypes, but I think it’s like any other hobby – as long as you don’t take it to an unhealthy level, it can be a lot of fun.

AdrianMay 26th, 2011 at 9:28 pm

All the larps I have seen people do never used props so I do not know what to tell you on that one.

LughJune 1st, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I’ve got two pretty different comments, so I’m going to separate them.

First, question for Chad: You said that your narrative combat had mechanics. What were they? I didn’t hear any in any of the descriptions of what happened. Note that “taking turns” is not a mechanic. Neither is extending trust that your players won’t be dicks. Did you do any comparing of stats? Was there any kind of currency to balance success and failure?

It sounded to me like you were just creating fiction together. While that’s cool in its own right, it’s no longer part of the “game.”

LughJune 1st, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Second, I wanted to come out as one of those players that seeks out death. However, I don’t seek out failure. They are not the same thing. In fact, I’d say they are diametrically opposed. I am looking for the blaze of glory, the ultimate sacrifice, the heroic last stand. After all, dammit, I’m a hero. I can’t be “careful” (read, cowardly) all the time. I have to grab the bull by the horns.

Besides, if I bet it all on one roll of the dice and lose, I just make up a new character. No big deal.

Of course, there is another element to it. I do have gamer ADD. I am constantly chasing the new shiny. A short character arc ending in a spectacular death is awesome, AND allows me to move to a new character with a new story. So, I’ll totally admit to that aspect of it.

DonJune 21st, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I liked the show, but it seemed to me that it dodged really dealing with one of the failures of narrative combat, when it’s used as a kludge for a system that cannot handle mass combat or mass combatants. It hits both problems in that it appears to be highly arbitrary at times and it doesn’t seem to provide an outcome one can settle with. In the gaming story example from the podcast, it was just a couple of party members rather than the party leading a town against a horde.

Not to go to deeply into a gaming story, but I was playing a Pathfinder game in which narrative combat was used as kludge as it would take way too long to game out a town vs an invading horde. My problem was the arbitrary nature of things, in that it didn’t seem to take into account the in-game prep time we’d taken to prepare the villagers vs the horde or my character’s skills or leadership abilities. I guess that inability to have my character and my skills relate to the outcome added to the feeling that it was arbitrary in the way a bad module is railroady: what is the point of my actions? While the rest of the campaign (which ended about a session after this) was enjoyable as was most of the campaign, I guess this instance of narrative combat cemented how using it as a kludge for mass combat is usually a downer for the players.

I guess I was wondering, if in future, mass combat and better ways to either gloss over it or do mass combat would be handled in a future podcast.

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