It is in fact, a core component of not liking things.1
A few years back, Christopher Chinn created an excellent little survey called The Same Page Tool that does a great job of asking some of these questions more explicitly. This is good! Communication is good.2 And while I definitely recommend tweaking Chinn's instrument to suit your specific needs, that's not an indictment; I recommend doing that with pretty much everything. The important part is that we're talking about what the game will be before it starts.
|It's hard not to use people on Segways as a segue. Note my failure in this regard.|
I mean, come on. It's the title of the post. I really hope it's not a surprise.
Actually though, it's two surveys. Reasons!
And good reasons at that. These different paradigms are absolutely compatible - they can, and often will, exist side-by-side in the same game - but in this case, what we don't know can absolutely hurt us.3 There's two surveys here, one each for GMs and players. I haven't robustly tested this survey instrument, and there are a couple things possibly being conflated here.4 Since this is a discussion tool, and not an instrument of empirical measurement, I figure that's probably ok.
So, here are our surveys! There will be a key at the bottom, but the basic idea is simple: rank your agreement with each statement on a scale of 1-5, with 1 = Strongly Disagree, and 5 = Strongly Agree. Don't worry about "getting it right," or "what a given question is supposed to mean," just go with what seems appropriate.
Your score in a given category equals the sum of your answers, minus the score of the reverse-coded question (again, they'll be pointed out in the key afterward, but you can probably spot them.) This generates a score from 0-15 in each dimension, which is primarily of use when compared to the other dimensions.
Again, it's a discussion tool. Make sure to discuss.
If people are interested, I can do a more objective version of this, which doesn't flagrantly advertise what it's asking you about, but I figured this format was fine for a discussion tool.
Anyway, that's enough explanation. Let's talk about MICE!
|These little guys are ready for some serious action. And so are we!|
- I have prepared a lot of detail about the world, and I’m excited for the players to see it
- You could call this a “discovery campaign,” where PCs find out about the setting
- The quirks, details, and minutiae of the setting are unimportant to this game
- A plot arc ends when there’s nothing left to see where the PCs are
- You could call this an “episodic campaign;” where the PCs solve a series of problems
- I expect the PCs to investigate mysteries, complete quests, and fix things
- A plot arc ends when the PCs have gotten to the bottom of things
- Challenges like puzzles and mysteries are not a big part of my plans
- I have prepared, or expect to create, lots of interesting NPCs for this game
- You could call this a “dramatic campaign,” where characters grapple with their emotions
- I’m more interested in what happens than the people it’s happening to
- A plot arc ends when somebody’s resolved their emotional/relationship conflict
- I’ve prepared a conflict that places the world in jeopardy, it’s up to the PCs to set that right
- There’s no one “big bad,” and the PCs are not out to save the world
- You could call this an “epic campaign,” where characters fix an imbalance in the setting
- A plot arc ends when a major wrong in the setting is made right
- I’m excited to explore the setting
- You could call my character an explorer
- I care about what’s happening in the setting, not the setting itself
- A plot arc ends when there’s nothing left for the characters to discover here
- I’m excited to solve mysteries
- You could call my character an investigator
- I’d rather gloss over puzzles, investigations and the like
- A plot arc ends when we’ve gotten to the bottom of things
- I’m more interested in the plot than characters’ relationships/motivation
- I’m excited to explore my character
- You could say that my character has a personal plot arc they’ll be going through
- A plot arc ends when somebody has meaningfully changed
- I’m excited to save the world
- I’m not really interested in the overall plot; other aspects are more compelling
- You could call my character a hero
- A plot arc ends when we’ve addressed a meaningful threat to the setting
Milieu Score = 1+2+4-3
Idea Score = 1+2+4-3
Character Score = 1+2+4-3
Event Score = 1+3+4-2
Milieu Score = 1+2+4-3
Idea Score = 1+2+3-4
Character Score = 2+3+4-1
Event Score = 1+3+4-2
And that's it!
Hopefully this can spark some useful discussion, which leads to some awesome games.
1 - Expectation Violation Theory is really interesting, and worth looking into further.
2 - Communicates the guy with advanced communication degrees, in a blog about communicating
3 - Seriously, has the phrase "what they don't know won't hurt them" ever been true? About anything? Definitely not in fiction, at least; it's less foreshadowing, and more flat-out telling you "this person not knowing this thing can absolutely hurt them, and you can know with 100% certainty that it will by the end of the story. Probably at a dramatically appropriate moment.
So what I'm saying is, if you find yourself using the above phrase, recognize that Checkov's gun has been loaded, and placed center stage. Act accordingly. :)
4 - Specifically, the concepts of "episodic" games (as opposed to "long-term" games) has gotten a little conflated with the Idea paradigm. I left it this way, because I'm not certain that an Idea story can be sustained over a long campaign without becoming an Event story. I could be incorrect on this - we're treading on unfamiliar ground here - but on the whole, I believe it achieves the instrument's aim, which is to get people defining what they want to do a little better, then talking about that.