OOC versus IC

Here I come with a new question that may seem too far out there.
I first want to thank you guys for the support so far, it has been great:
no flames but direct suggestions without the “let’s use silk gloves in case he is too reactive” that we see so much lately on forums. Great community, really!

This one is kind of hard to put into words but here goes; questions setup:

In more traditional gaming styles, I have been used to make use of the mechanics but these where always presumed to be made “invisible” in the game world. Mouse Guard is “explicit” about the layout of the session. This is not directly linked to the game world but it exposes the way the Game Master plans the game to the players.

As I see it, the mechanics of Mouse Guard are very intertwined with not only the physics of the world but also with how the story is build. While the physics can easily be masked, the way to mask the story-line is not so obvious to me, especially since the players do take an active part in defining what the story grows into.

Here’s are my 2 questions:

Even if the layout of the game is explicitly explained in book, how transparent is it at the table?
I.e: do you talk about it or try to cover it?

If it is not covered, how much does it affect the mechanics in game, are they also an integral part of the session or are they blanketted (everyone knows they are there but nobody “talks” about them so not to break that 4th wall)?

I really don’t understand the questions or why they matter I guess. The rules and the mechanics are as transparent as the group makes them at table, this is not necessarily integral to the game itself.

I don’t cover it, or explicitly say “We’re in the GM Turn.” I explain in the beginning (to new players) how the sessions are laid out, explaining the difference between the two turns as reactive (GM Turn) vs proactive (Player Turn); ie, the players are able to take any actions that relate or react to situations presented whereas, on the Player Turn, the players are on their own recognizance (they are proactive and can do anything they have checks enough to try).

So the knowledge is there, but there’s nothing explicit until the Player Turn. Since it can be tough for the players to judge when the transition happens (unless it’s a straight-forward inference; ie, the mission is very visibly completed), I will say, “So, you have <quick recap of the mission accomplished>. What would you like to do?”

It comes down to your style. You can state the situation, or flow into it. I’d be explicit for the first bit til people are used to it. After that, it will become apparent when the players may act independently. Also, make sure they know they can do player tests in the GM Turn but it costs 2 checks instead of 1. So a player can alleviate Hunger or Anger in the GM Turn, but the test to do so costs that player 2 checks.

My group plays with a lot of rules transparency and talk of mechanics. This is not to say we don’t have scenes of mostly in-character interaction, but we make no effort to hide the mechanical side of what we’re doing. We freely alternate between being in-character and being out-of-character.

Kenshin,
I feel like this is covered on pages 8-12 of the book. You roleplay and offer a performance of your character and you play the game and discuss mechanics.

This is how most RPGs operate, MG is just explicit about it.

Okay, now I’m confused. I thought the original questions were related to the turn sequence of play. Are you asking about traits, skills and other mechanics in terms of how they’re spoken of at the table or is this discussion about how the GM Turn/Player Turn dialogue affects IC and OOC?

Hi Kenshin!

I’ve played twice and in both cases there was very little discussion of rules. Before we started, I emphasized that they needed to get checks to make rolls during the player’s turn. Other than that, everything operated like just about every other game I’ve ever played. Once in a while we’d stop to talk about something, and then plunged right back into it.

When I start session, I ask for the recap explicitly, giving them a minute to decide who gets it. Then I give the briefing. Then I ask for goals.
Then I start narrating.

When done with the GM turn, I say, “Ok, mark your free check. Who’s doing what?”

Thanks, I reviewed that part and yes, mechanics seem to be more integral to the GM’s and Players’ actions in game. Table chatter seems to be more prominent.

Rafe, you are probably the one who helped me most on these questions so far ( apart from Luke of course :wink: ). You where dead on, let me explain where it stems from.

I have new players on the Deliver the Mail mission. They fail the pathfinder test and ended up with the Raven. At that point there was a little confusion wich I talk about in this thread.

But right before the Raven, since nobody knew the rules, I said:
“Ok guys! Since you failed at the test, I will not put a condition on you BUT I get to twist the game!” It seemed so awkward for me! My style of play doesn’t show what happens behind my screen (if you’ll excuse the metaphor). THAT kind of 4th wall breaking seems disruptive to my immersion of the game. I was very anxious to see how it worked with other groups.

Well, the fact of the matter is that since I am not used to that kind of mechanics, they probably stood out more then they would have with another game. It will probably even itself out when I get used to it and they will just disappear from the “in-world” part of the game.

I tend to find OOC chatter is greater with MG than most traditional RPGs. It does lessen over time and you can take steps to lessen it. However, as mentioned in the rules, OOC chatter is important at various points during playing MG.

Kenshin, you don’t have to say that. In fact, you’re not supposed to. You’re supposed to just say something like, “Your cloak clasp glits in the afternoon sunlight, attracting a very curious, somewhat belligerent raven…”

There we go!
Thanks Luke, that’s all I needed.

I know it takes me time to grasp these kinds of things, but I just want to make sure I understand the reasoning behind your game mechanics. A lot rides on GM style and House stuff, but I find that I prefer to start with the very true essence of a game before starting to “tailor fit” it for my table. It’s great to be apple to pick the brain of the creator :smiley:

Thanks again for taking the time!

Glad I could [unwittingly] help! :wink:

To follow on the tail of Luke’s comments, telling the players how, in mechanical terms, the game has shifted will get them thinking in meta-game terms (and you’d be encouraging it, after a fashion): “Oh, you failed, Nick. Here comes a twist.” “Nah, Brian, we had a twist just now. I’m gunna end up with a condition.” <players wait to see who’s right instead of waiting on how the story/narrative unfolds>

Have fun and let us know how it goes!

Kenshin,
My game loves your good GMing instincts and techniques. It wants to support them, not trample them.