Justin Evans and I just released Narrative Control - Episode 36: Dare to be Stupid.
The episode was inspired by a clip from John Wick but mechanically it was backed primarily by Mouse Guard and Fate (with a few nods to Burning Wheel as well).
The premise is that good stories are built on heroes who fail, make mistakes and otherwise goof but prevail in the end. Mouse Guard, in my opinion is the most elegant system for reproducing that model. It’s still counter intuitive to many players, however, who cringe at the thought of failure.
The episode is 25 minutes long, but if you’re interested in just the Mouse Guard content, that goes from 10:49 to 18:22. Burning Wheel mentioned at 20:55 and 22:52.
itunes takes a little while to read our RSS feed. I usually notice a few hour delay. I just opened mine and didn’t see episode 36 in the queue but when I right clicked on Narrative Control and said “Update Podcast” it refreshed and 36 started downloading.
This episode was fantastic, especially as someone running MG as an inexperienced gamer. Something you said about Obstacles in MG really stuck: The fact that, whether you succeed or fail, the Obstacle is still out of the way; you don’t have to deal with it again. And if you fail, you can get a twist to a completely new Obstacle. I know that concept is in the book, and I got that whether you succeed or fail you don’t have to roll on that Obstacle again, but the way you worded it totally made me grok it instantly, whereas I didn’t quite get the same level of comprehension of the concept from just reading the book and playing.
I think this will help me run my game better! I just didn’t quite understand that when you impose a twist as a consequence to failure, that first Obstacle, fictionally, is out of the way. Thanks!
It was interesting to hear about your player who cringes at failures. I don’t love them, but damn they’re fun. Obviously people don’t attempt to fail, but failure can introduce whole new story elements.
I like how you lay out that failure doesn’t “de-protangonized” a person. Great example with Han Solo. Meeting up with Lando on Cloud City was a failed Circles test for sure, but it didn’t make him less a hero. It made him a fun and sympathetic character. Faults and set-backs endear characters. Unerring characters are boring.
However, I watched the youtube video guy and saw the Dare to Be Stupid portion and I really don’t agree. It isn’t about being stupid. It should have been “Dare to play your character,” which includes doing stupid things, as well as making sacrificial actions, enacting selfish twists, ignoring cries for help, etc.
I also really liked the part about how a failed roll doesn’t have to just result in the guy swinging over the snake pit falling into the snake pit. It means when he gets to the other side, there’s dudes with guns! I remember this from reading BW, but it hadn’t quite made the trek over to how I GM Mouse Guard. This will really help as well.
Exactly! I think it is too easy to think of failures as absolutes, rather than setbacks. When we expose ourselves to stories in any form (books, movies, shooting the bull at the corner store) we absolutely expect our heroes to fail and prove exactly how heroic they are. In fact, thinking on it, those who succeed all the time generally are cast as villains.
Hmm… this isn’t really well developed yet but if you’ve read Song of Ice and Fire think about Geoffrey, Cerci and Tywin vs. Tyrion and Jamie. The prior bunch of Lanisters pretty much always get what they want (I’m just starting Feast of Crows now, so if this doesn’t come true for Cerci, that is just because I haven’t gotten that far yet), where as the others are always failing. Which characters do we love, which do we hate? And which do we love to hate?
While I drifted quite a bit in the podcast from “Do stupid shit” I think at the core they are still about the same thing. Stop “risk aversion”. We’re trained in life to minimize risk, but this isn’t life it’s a game. You can’t really get hurt. Your character doesn’t really exist. You may love him, but in the end he’ll only be cooler if he changes and suffers and grows.
John’s take, which in many ways is more radical than mine, is to bring in complications that don’t even have to be there. Consequence of failure? Whatever! How about consequence of “I think it would be cool to see what happens when I poke the dragon’s belly!”