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Old 08-26-2015, 01:26 PM   #11
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: How to tell players what they can do?

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Originally Posted by Gnomasz View Post
The question is, how can I prepare myself to ask stuff like this during actual play? The only thing that comes to mind is go over prepared clues, the character sheets and rules and consider possible moves.
In part it's experience. We sometimes decry player knowledge and feel characters should be able to do things the players are ignorant of. But a bit of player or GM knowledge of how investigations are done, how military special operations are prepared, and how crimes are planned and carried out helps enormously with knowing how to do things plausibly in-game.
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Old 08-26-2015, 01:52 PM   #12
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: How to tell players what they can do?

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Originally Posted by Gnomasz View Post
Huh, a parable. I guess I could've asked the Wizard Eye caster if he wants to just check once where's what or if he wants to cast the spell multiple times over the whole night to see behaviour patterns. The question is, how can I prepare myself to ask stuff like this during actual play? The only thing that comes to mind is go over prepared clues, the character sheets and rules and consider possible moves.
Well, for example, in melee scenes I habitually ask, "Are you targeting a specific part of the body or are you just striking at the whole person?"
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Old 08-26-2015, 02:03 PM   #13
Dingle
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Ireland
Default Re: How to tell players what they can do?

Assuming your players are ok with getting free advantages, you could give everyone a free Common Sense [10] and just tell them every time they are about to charge in without thinking.
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Old 08-26-2015, 02:17 PM   #14
trooper6
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Medford, MA
Default Re: How to tell players what they can do?

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Originally Posted by Gnomasz View Post
That I did, but maybe I did it wrong? Here's what I've written:


Reading it over again I think I shouln't have said the "still human" part. But what else? Truth be said, two players have chosen to be part of magic schools, but they play so seldom it's barely noticable. The core players seemed not to even notice (One asked me about an idea for a mage, but said he "doesn't see a reason to belong to a school").
You know what I think? I think the problem is that you are not getting player buy-in to the campaign frame. This could be because you are not explicit enough about the frame...or because the players don't like the frame. And there may be some things that are a bit unclear about the setting.

So, setting question regarding your player who didn't see a reason to belong to a school. Is it even possible to be a magic user and not be part of a school in your game world? If it isn't, then you tell him...arcane training is only available in schools. If it is possible to learn outside of schools...then what is the reason, in the game world to belong to a school? Why do people in the universe join schools? Considering that the players are supposed to be special forces who are hunting down people who misuse magic (is that correct), is the reason people join schools because if you are outside of a school you get hunted down for being an apostate mage? Is it because you don't have access to Magic Styles, advanced spells? What is the answer to your player's question? Have that answer and then explain it.

But let's go back to your campaign frame. Am I correct in understanding that the campaign frame is: All PCs are in the employ of the Royal Academy of Magic as Special Forces hunting down people who are misusing magic. If that is true, then the PCs made need to be able to fit in that frame. And I doubt the Royal Academy of Magic will sign up a non-aligned mage if that is a thing they disapprove of. So...no nonaligned mages if you want a character in the frame.

So...do your players buy into this frame? What sort of frame do they want to play in? They have told you what they don't want--they don't want murder hoboing...they want "story" and "drive"*...but what sort of stories are they interested in exploring?

You can do a couple things. You can ask them...but...from some of the other things you've said about your players...I don't know if that would work. What I'd recommend is preparing 3-4 different campaign frames all set in your world (Royal Academy Witchhunters; Underground Mage Resistance; Mongol Raiders; etc). Then you present the different frames to them, talk (in person) more about the setting...and ask them if they have any different frames in mind. Then have a vote. Once you all have collectively decided on a frame, then talk (in person) about character concepts. Don't accept any concept that doesn't fit the frame. Then make characters.

*I wanted to say something about drive. Your player said he needed drive for his character. I think you would do well to mandate that each PC must have a short term and long term goal. Not all drives should be handed to the players on a plate by the GM...the players should also be doing some of the work to motivate their characters. Telling them that they need a short term and long term goal for their PC at character creation actually will help you craft interesting interactive adventures, but it will also place some of the generation of "drive" in the hands of the players...which will result in more buy in from them and a better game long term.
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Old 08-26-2015, 02:20 PM   #15
ArchonShiva
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Montréal, Québec
Default Re: How to tell players what they can do?

The first step, definitely, is asking whether everyone, you included, is having fun.

Aside from the fact that you're excited about imbuements existing, are you actually unhappy about the fact that nobody uses them?

You could try the Mega Man approach: have the bad guys very obviously use ability X or option Y, and make sure to quickly describe what it does specifically:
  • He uses an Imbument to make his sword burst into flames, adding 1d6 fire damage!
The point is to make your players ask "Can we do this?"

All the same, have your bad guys use random hit locations instead of targeting the torso (I actually make all attacks random unless they take a -1 for a torso hit), which will make various hit location effects come up; mooks hitting a PC's torso don't accomplish much of anything anyway, but even a relatively weak hit to a weapon hand can disrupt them - not to mention a disfiguring face hit! (obviously, this being Action, it will heal fully unless it was inflicted in a dramatically memorable fashion).

Again, your players will ask "can I hit HIS hand?"
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Old 08-26-2015, 06:41 PM   #16
doulos05
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Seoul, Korea
Default Re: How to tell players what they can do?

As others said, it sounds like your players aren't sold on the idea. It's also possible they don't understand what you're looking for. From what you're saying, it sounds like a group that is dissatisfied with murder-hobos, but isn't really sure how to play something else so they keep falling back into their murder-hobo habits.

One suggestion not made yet is to say, "Hey, I'm looking for us to spend at least a little bit of time planning before each major battle. For an idea of what I'm thinking of, watch a heist movie like one of the Oceans series, The Italian Job, or a Mission Impossible. If you incorporate ideas from one of those movies in your plans, it will be rewarded in game, both with points and with awesome story stuff like explosions and plot twists." Obviously, you'd want to replace the specific movies with movies that actually match the taste of what you're looking for.
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Old 08-26-2015, 07:08 PM   #17
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: How to tell players what they can do?

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Originally Posted by doulos05 View Post
One suggestion not made yet is to say, "Hey, I'm looking for us to spend at least a little bit of time planning before each major battle. For an idea of what I'm thinking of, watch a heist movie like one of the Oceans series, The Italian Job, or a Mission Impossible. If you incorporate ideas from one of those movies in your plans, it will be rewarded in game, both with points and with awesome story stuff like explosions and plot twists." Obviously, you'd want to replace the specific movies with movies that actually match the taste of what you're looking for.
I have to offer a cautionary note about that.

A few years back I ran a "consulting criminals" campaign, where the PCs were master criminals who got hired by other criminals to pull off challenging jobs and/or get the fat out of the fire after a job went wrong. We had the first scenario, and they researched the job in depth (stealing a lot of diamonds from the vaults of a specialized investment firm), worked out a detailed plan, and carried it offer with no more than a couple of trivial problems. It was a triumph. But all but one of the players thought it was as exciting as having their teeth cleaned.

And note that caper films don't do that. In a caper film you have just enough montage to show that the heroes WERE planning. Then you go to the carrying out, and the plan is revealed to the audience in its execution, for the first time. So it's dramatic and tense. And if things go wrong, the audience haven't sat through a long series of planning sessions that now turn out to have been wasted. I think this effect can be gotten in an RPG, but actually having the players make plans is not usually the best way to do so.

If you spend a lot of time on planning, and the plan comes off, then it's going to be an anticlimax, over and over. If the plan doesn't come off, there's going to be a lot of frustration at the time that was spent working out ideas that didn't work. Either way, many players won't find it fun.
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Old 08-26-2015, 07:13 PM   #18
doulos05
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Seoul, Korea
Default Re: How to tell players what they can do?

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I have to offer a cautionary note about that.

A few years back I ran a "consulting criminals" campaign, where the PCs were master criminals who got hired by other criminals to pull off challenging jobs and/or get the fat out of the fire after a job went wrong. We had the first scenario, and they researched the job in depth (stealing a lot of diamonds from the vaults of a specialized investment firm), worked out a detailed plan, and carried it offer with no more than a couple of trivial problems. It was a triumph. But all but one of the players thought it was as exciting as having their teeth cleaned.

If you spend a lot of time on planning, and the plan comes off, then it's going to be an anticlimax, over and over. If the plan doesn't come off, there's going to be a lot of frustration at the time that was spent working out ideas that didn't work. Either way, many players won't find it fun.
True, maybe James Bond would make a better example... I seem to recall seeing or hearing an article or podcast about how to do the planned heist campaign. It covered several possibilities, but I can't remember it well. One suggestion had them rolling dice in a shortened planning phase to bank points into a pool used to create serendipity, but I can't recall what the details were.
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Old 08-27-2015, 12:25 AM   #19
evileeyore
 
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Default Re: How to tell players what they can do?

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
If you spend a lot of time on planning, and the plan comes off, then it's going to be an anticlimax, over and over. If the plan doesn't come off, there's going to be a lot of frustration at the time that was spent working out ideas that didn't work. Either way, many players won't find it fun.
Wasn't there something in either one of the Actions or a Pyramid about "revealing the plan during play"? That might be useful to the OP.
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Old 08-27-2015, 07:21 AM   #20
Anaraxes
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: How to tell players what they can do?

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
In a caper film you have just enough montage to show that the heroes WERE planning.
Not only that, these scenes usually reveal little bits of the plan that are important, yet (hopefully) don't actually give away what the plan actually is.

The early seasons of Mission: Impossible do this visually, during the opening sequence with the theme and the fuse crawl. Almost all of those shots are important plot points, but the viewer doesn't recognize their significance until they see them again in context. (Later seasons get lazier, just sampling the episode or telegraphing the plot.)
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