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Black Gate Interview

Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 2:20 am
by M J Dougherty
I did one. Here;'s a link. ... dougherty/

It's 2:19AM and I'm writing about research projects and what the Travellers can learn about the Alo'hei.

Wild man in the forest looks like an attractive occupation about now.

Re: Black Gate Interview

Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:56 am
by Linwood
Great interview!

Just getting that on record before the questions start flooding in....

Re: Black Gate Interview

Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 12:18 pm
by Old School
Appreciate the insight on how you approach your Traveller writing. Thanks for taking the time.

Re: Black Gate Interview

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:14 pm
by arcador
Nice interview!

I had no idea the Traveller gigs are not the day-job. I assume it's not a 9-17 job. Either way, it puts me to shame with my flimsy attempts to write anything, besides a post in a forum or reddit. Yet I have mentioned before. I know a few semi-authors, and Martin (as a proven author) has tenfolds more capacity to produce quality writing.

In the interview, there is one very potent moment for me - that Traveller is a game where players have to make choices. The dice rolls are only a resolution to some of those choices. That is how we've always played in my group and perhaps that is why we were so attracted to Traveller when we've encountered it. The whole premise of the game is supplying players with tools - skills, with the generation system, and then equipment. With this inventory in their disposal, they have to apply it to a particular situation inflicted on them by the Ref or by themselves. And man, players do try to work it out.

Thanks to DnD, and perhaps other factors, the RPG niche is getting bigger nowadays. And a lot of new types of RPGs tend to appear. Some are novel, even interesting, but to my observation, many authors' desire to codify or structure the gameplay leads to fewer choices, in the meaning of finding a solution to a problem, and more rolls. And at the end, what the true potential, for me, of an RPG is the unstructured nature which a regular game otherwise imposes. A regular game is more of a card or board game. There is roleplay, roll resolutions, rewards, and so on, but with experience, the group would like to deviate from the loop. And many of those games fail outside that loop. Perhaps the short endurance is within their design.

Anyway, it's an important moment which supplies a game with, theoretically, unending thrills because of the unpredictable nature of the unstructured game. The enjoyment responsibility is shifted from the game system to the group itself. Yes, it's sometimes tougher job, but self-replenishing.

edit: clarity

Re: Black Gate Interview

Posted: Thu Nov 21, 2019 9:02 am
by M J Dougherty
A lot of the most boring adventures I've seen take the form of 'do this thing, roll that'. This approach works in a visual medium like an MMO but a typical RPG falls flat if it's reduced to just a series of task rolls.

Though I've met players who cannot cope with anything more open than Press X to WIN!

Re: Black Gate Interview

Posted: Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:33 am
by Moppy
In my experience not knowing how to run or play an adventure comes down to the GM more than the players.

One frequent crirticism of Drinax I hear - which I do not agree with - are that the adventures aren't playable out of the box because the GM isn't able to "read this, roll that" and doesn't know how to work out of the themepark and in the sandbox. I understand their sentiment but think the design is still valid. It's llike a lego set instead of a toy car. Just an alternative format for a game they may not be used to.

Most Pathfinder and D&D scenarios (with some notable exceptions like Kingmaker and the 2nd Westcrown one with the social system) are not very open ended and very linear in their plot, and some DMs are used to this to the point where they fear players leaving the plot and "ruining" the game. A game with a non-linear plot and some undefined elements is like a nightmare for them.

Re: Black Gate Interview

Posted: Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:22 pm
by M J Dougherty
The Drinaxian Companion (which I wrote) attempts to provide guidance on how to navigate in the sandbox (which I am sometimes credited with writing, but I didn't).
The players I'm referring to had been complaining that other players in the group were getting all the limelight (on account of them coming up with ideas and doing stuff) so I wrote an adventure specifically aimed at the complainers.

To solve the situation all they had to do was actually what they'd been hired to do - take the minisub out and fix the secondary powerplant on the seabed. Even with the other players deliberately faffing around and keeping quiet, the complainers never came up with the idea of doing what they'd been hired to do. The other players had to tell them - which led to more complaints about how we always do what those two want. I gave up at this point.

Re: Black Gate Interview

Posted: Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:35 pm
by Moppy
M J Dougherty wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:22 pm
When I was playing D&D, the DM books suggested prompting the players, out of character if necessary, back onto the plot. In some published Forgotten Realms scenarios there were scripted encounters for NPC to pop up and get the adventure back on track. (If the players haven’t done X, the patron reminds them at their next meeting, or “Gandalf” bamfs in and delivers a message). I am not joking about “Gandalf”. I doubt many modern players would tolerate a Gandalf intervention, but the DM might prompt them out of character.

In no way do I disagree with anything you wrote. However I think we are talking about very different styles of game, GM, and player.

Personally I dislike themepark games and always have a sandbox of some kind with no GM plot intervention.

Re: Black Gate Interview

Posted: Thu Nov 21, 2019 3:46 pm
by Condottiere
Pre campaign interrogations tend to establish what the players' current goals are for their characters, so the dungeon master has at least an idea what carrots should work.

Or their favourite non player characters in the campaign should start kicking the bucket.