The Suck #2: Blooded Friday

After a month of fun doing Houses of the Blooded, we hit a kind of wall.

First thing wrong was that we were trying to do a kind of round-robin GM, Ars Magica Troupe style kinda thing. This thing can work and have glorious results bit it just wasn’t working for us. It led me to be less aggressive than I might have been. And just in writing that, I realize that there’s a pattern in me not being as aggressive as I’d like. Or I should say, as aggressive as when I GM a game and things go well.

I’m looking at my other bits and its all inter-personal, getting to know a new group stuff. I’ve gamed with Mario before but not for years and he’s getting to know everyone else at the table. Jeff and Storn have gamed with me but not with Mario or Anthony. Mario and Anthony play Warhammer and other GW games all of the time but not with any of the rest of us.

We’re all still figuring out our rhythm.

The main point of contention last week was Anthony’s character. I got a gitchy feeling when he made him and asked him some questions and others assured me that I was being too picky, so I let it go. Anthony made the right character for the wrong game. It became obvious to me because whenever he would talk about his character it was always to say what Sarac would not do, rather than what he would do.

There’s some trouble because Jeff’s character isn’t geared towards creating in-game facts and controlling the narration of the setting and that is a part of play that Jeff really enjoys.

It was just a night of talking about gaming, rather than gaming but I’d rather stop when things stop being fun and talk it out, rather than bull through a bad time.

So, there they are. Nothing dramatic but they just stood out, not only because I haven’t had tepid games like that in years but because two hit in the same damned week.

In the end, I need to:

11 thoughts on “The Suck #2: Blooded Friday

  1. What do you do…

    Most people tend to become fairly attached to the characters or even character concepts. If a character proves not to be appropriate to the game, what do you tend to do about it? It sounds like a very difficult situation to me so I thought I’d ask, as you have a lot more experience GMing than I.

  2. Re: What do you do…

    Alright, so there are a few scenarios.

    Player is having fun playing the character but the other players are not having fun playing alongside the character.

    If the character is killing fun for other players, something needs to change. Either the player change their approach to the character or you find a way to retire them and the player makes a new damned character.

    And you make sure the player knows why the soon-to-be-retired character wasn’t fun so the mistake isn’t repeated.

    If they make up another character who kills fun, the problem is a deeper issue.

    Player is not having fun playing the character and the other players are not having fun playing alongside the character.

    Everyone agrees! Yay! No problem here. Change the character.

    Player is not having fun playing the character and the other players are having fun playing alongside the character.

    Something needs to change but maybe watch out for the possiblity that its the player just not enjoying the system at the table.

    But maybe not, I’ve seen this happen and we retire the character and get the player into a new character without a problem.

    Hope that answers the question.

  3. Maybe we ought to compile a list of games that work as good icebreaker games for new groups to find their rhythm? You know, something where by the 2nd or 3rd game night, you guys have a good feel for each other and can vibe well?

  4. I don’t need to tell you that Houses is a demanding game. It is not a casual game. It requires Devotion. 😉

    I don’t like casual games. Something I can walk up to, sit down, know nothing, and play. That’s cool for some folks, but not for me. I need to feel engaged. Immersed. I want to feel something.

    It’s funny… I just had a talk with about this. I should write something up.

    • Immersion and Text

      I’m not sure devotion = immersion. That hasn’t been the case for me in the past.

      Honestly, if we’d had the book for Blooded, I think it would have been more smooth but operating out of a printed out word document in a three-ring binder is rough.

      And yeah, part of the problem was that not everyone had read the text.

    • Re: Immersion and Text

      I was just having a conversation with about the difference between entertainment and Art.

      I like Alan Moore’s definition of Art above all others. “That which reminds us we are not alone.”

      When I visit my mom in Vegas, she always offers to take me to a show. My dad doesn’t like shows, but my mom loves them. She wants to see the Blue Man Group and Celene Dion and shit like that. I always tell her, “I want to see Penn and Teller.”

      This isn’t just a random, Discordian attempt at subverting my mother’s intentions. You see, I know a trick they do in the show that demonstrates perfectly why I’m not at all interested in entertainment like the Blue Man Group or Celene Dion.

      It’s the American flag trick.

      As an introduction, Teller does the exact same trick with a piece of construction paper, a silk handkerchief and a plastic magic wand. And when he’s done, Penn explains that while the trick may look beautiful, it really doesn’t mean anything.

      Then, the go ahead and do the same trick again, except this time, without the silk handkerchief and construction paper. Instead, they use the American flag and the Bill of Rights.

      This is my favorite trick they do. Not because it’s complicated or difficult to figure out (it’s actually pretty easy to figure out “how it’s done”), but because they took a simple, beautiful vanish and turned it into a beautiful statement about the liberties we take for granted.

      I’m less interested in entertainment. I’m more interested in Art. And I hope Houses follows the same principles that Penn and Teller do. Something that looks beautiful, but upon closer inspection, reveals a message about morality, virtue, courage, and love.

      And that you are not alone.

  5. Key issues for me:

    1) Jeff didn’t make his character with everyone else. My observation is that his character didn’t have as many social connections with other characters. This problem was exacerbated by general attendance problems at the game. I observe that Jeff didn’t read the rules much, and I imagine that this could be a piece of why.

    2) My character was poorly designed. I chose to link my character closely to yours, Judd–and that was a terrible choice on my part. If I had my GM cap on, I would have linked my character to ANYONE else. You are the person I have done tabletop with the most in this game. I also tended to pull you out of any SG role. Ideally, I should have fastened my character to Storn, since he was the person I had gamed with the least (eventually, I did). Instead, I fostered a little clique between us that kept me tied down and pulled you down some too. I didn’t invest in relationships with other characters on the first day–sorta with Anthony’s, but not hugely. I was a bit selfish and closed as a result, and if I hadn’t been, I think the game would have be stronger. In my defence (of myself from myself), I played to something familiar in a situation that wasn’t familiar to me.

    3) I don’t understand how troupe storytelling works in my Ars group and didn’t work here. In the other game, Matt was SG about half of the saga, and the rest of us were SG for about the other half–everyone has run stories except one person new to gaming (and she will soon). In Ars, one person is SG each story–it’s very clear. But we had mostly itty stories and scenes, and all the adventures were resolved within a single night if not within an hour. I think part of the issue is related to #2–that I kept pulling you out of a SG role.

    I strongly feel we could work this out with time, but I don’t know if anyone else has the interest or will to do that besides me at this point.

    4) Not everyone was equally invested in understanding the rules and setting. They were evolving, to be fair–and therefore difficult to follow. The layout was a challenge too–hundreds of pages in a binder are hard to flip through without an index or table of contents and a very plain layout. But this issue did create some serious problems for us.

    If we remove your character, I think I should retire mine as well (which is fine). Sagay is poorly designed in terms of group dynamics. Without Lonor, he loses his most interesting feature–and that’s no good. A murder mystery would be fine. Another option is to make your character a vassal of mine, but I am not sure how you or I would feel about that.

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