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How do you do pre-game talks, if at all? Ons, offs, don't-fucking-go-there, etc...

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  • How do you do pre-game talks, if at all? Ons, offs, don't-fucking-go-there, etc...

    How do you do pre-game talks before a game? Especially with a new potential group?

    A big part of the reason behind this thread is to find ways to make it a bit more efficient, as groups tend to fizzle out if it takes too long before the actual gaming starts. Well, I'm considering trying to do more "one shots" to get to know new players, but frankly my head seems to be to full of crap so any idea sprouts to a potential big campaign because of all the fertilizer. Still, that is my current best idea, as actually gaming a bit and getting to know each other tend to make most more comfortable to actually talking.

    I tend to want to talk about gaming style, and what to include or not include, before even talking about setting and mechanics. A lot of people tend to roleplay because of escapism, while I'm more interested in RP from the point of exploratism. So I need to make sure my want to explore something won't stomp right into what the others want to get away from, but then it is the same problem between two different escapist players.

    Different games tend to require a different level of pre-talk. A setting like Star Trek, unless wanting to explore the dark underbelly outside the Federation, is quite safe for most as it is a setting where people actually have to be reminded that there have been such thing as sexism, racism and homophobia on earth; they are that far past that. On the other end of the scale do we have the Swedish game Noir, where for example sexism, racism and homophobia all are quite noticeable part of the setting. Noir is a game I really want to make sure I fairly well know where peoples don'ts are. Settings like WoD/CofD and Exalted are somewhere in the middle.

    But it isn't just the "how to deal with difficult and sensitive topics" but also the gamestyle at large; level of creative influence of the players, cultural gaming or adventuring, action or horror or drama, etc? How to mix them.

    Quite a bit tend to be fairly narrowed down just during the general talks from before everyone meeting for the first time, as just the "looking for group" message tend to lead to an initial selection and follow up questions and talk help to narrow it down further. But it tend to be quite a bit more I want to straighten out before an actual game begin.

    I can't say I'm structured when doing the talking. Mainly it is kind of a continuation from earlier talk, as it generally has been quite a bit of individual talks and group talk, just doing it with the group actually gathered. But, as I mentioned above, I get a feeling most aren't comfortable talking about what they like and don't like, and also I guess quite a few don't really know in a "but I know when I see it" sense.

    So, how do you do it? And do you have any suggestions?

  • AnubisXy
    replied
    I let players know about a week ahead of time what kind of campaign I'm going to run to give them a chance to think about characters. Then I always have a session zero before starting a campaign (though sometimes a short session zero will turn into a first session as well). Everyone gets together, I give a general outline of what the campaign I'm going to run will be, what sort of themes will be included, what the mood will be, what kind of characters I am looking for (maybe no joke characters, or no characters who can only solve problems by punching them with their fists, or everyone has to have a certain skill, or everyone needs to have a shared background in some way).

    At this point the players all discuss what kind of characters they're looking to make, I'll give any suggestions, the players may try to figure out ways their characters are familiar with one another and such. If players have any major secrets they want their character to have, they need to talk to me alone in a bit to tell me, and I'll decide whether it's something the rest of the group should know, or if it's cool if the player keeps it secret from the other players.

    Secrets that can force PvP (a character who helped kill another player's family or such) are inevitably going to be "open secrets" where, even if the other characters might not know it, all of the players at the table know it and will work together out of game to craft a reason why this secret will not devolve into PvP if it gets revealed - if they can't do it, then the player can't have that secret.

    During this time I'll also ask if there's anything a particular player is interested in having his or her character explore during the game, and at this point I remind every player that if there's some subject that they're uncomfortable with seeing appear in the game, they should feel free to talk to me after the session or shoot me an email or whatever and I'll do my reasonable best to make sure that doesn't appear in the game (don't worry, I won't play amateur psychologist) or if it does appear in the game at least treat it in a way that won't be upsetting.

    Finally I remind everyone again that the goal of roleplaying is to tell a collective story that is fun for everybody, and people should absolutely not make characters to PvP or make other players feel uncomfortable - doing so is a major offense and I'll kick people out of the campaign for that, even close friends, (and I've done it before so they know I'm serious). I tell everyone that, even if roleplaying is a hobby we do for fun, I still like to keep things at least semi-professional - the group's fun may come before your own personal fun, and if you insist on hogging the spotlight or taking actions that run other players fun, that will be an issue and we'll have to deal with it when it comes up, but hopefully we're all in this together and that won't happen.

    I've been playing with several members of my group for the last 20 years, so we're all fairly comfortable with how we roleplay and know what's going on, but I still start every campaign with the same spiel. I find it lays out a good framework for everyone to start from, we all have a good understanding of what is to be expected in the campaign, we have some reasonable ground rules that everyone understands going into the game, and we have an opportunity to make sure all of the characters not only mesh with one another but mesh with the campaign as well.
    Last edited by AnubisXy; 09-08-2016, 02:35 PM.

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  • ManusDomine
    replied
    In my group we happily include phobias and other issues, but my group is also made of adults and professionals, who've gamed together since 1997, meaning that we have a pretty good handle of each other.

    When I do games for new players, I always open it by asking them to write all psychological issues they feel might be a problem, and then writing a list of media they like on the other page, then I spend a lot of sleepless nights tailoring the game to these expectations.

    This usually works out well, and as a lawyer it's not like the sleepless nights are a new thing to me.

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  • Lundgren
    replied
    As long it works for the group

    But then, when it comes to finding or putting together a new group, it is the question of what people like even if staying away from the more sensitive topics. After all, what people want with the game might not be compatible. Solving a pre-generated adventure vs. sandboxy improvisation, superheroes with fangs vs. experiencing an in-game culture and mindset, the view on how rule mechanics should be handled, etc.

    But then, I'm at the point where I rather roleplay with strangers, or not at all, than making too many compromises on gaming style with my friends. So having a somewhat compatible playing style might be a bit higher on my priority list than most.

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  • Papa Bear
    replied
    Huh, I guess I've been at the other end of the spectrum here. I've never had one of these talks before a game.

    Maybe it's because I generally don't use many of the more sensitive subjects. I've never found a good reason for it. These are horror characters, which means they're already metaphorical examples of all sorts of horrible things. Why use the mundane versions?

    But, hey, that's me.

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  • Darksider
    replied
    ‚ÄčThe title of the thread isn't "How I Treated My Players Like Shit And Made Them Grateful For It" nor is it "What Are Justifiable Phobias And Triggers?". Keep it on topic or stay out of the thread. No one wants to hear about abuse fantasies played out at the gaming table.

    @ Innocent Flower specifically, don't accuse others of inflating issues to justify their own phobias, that's clearly a violation of rule # 1 of the forum.

    Ignoring this warning will result in a suspension

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  • Lundgren
    replied
    Originally posted by hm8453a View Post
    Lundgren, Gothenburg University hosted me a few years ago! Just lived there for about eight months. Are either of your parents Sami?
    Then I hope you got a chance to visit GothCon, which is in Gothenburg each Easter. And considering where Sweden tend to end up on "the cultural map of the world," I hope you didn't find Sweden all too strange

    Neither of my parents have any Sami heritage to my knowledge. So, if I have any Sami heritage, it would be from at least a few generations back.

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  • Lundgren
    replied
    Originally posted by LokiRavenSpeak View Post
    Example my dm said lets run a mage game. Then on session 0 he dropped he wanted a game of teenagers, with families and etc on the first part of the game.

    I explained to him that i dont like to roleplay family relationships, i just dont. And that the DM, just downplayed my character family to the background until they vanished while using that "free time" to explore the family relationships of another player who really wanted his family to be a focal point.
    I suspect that I tend to overload people with information when doing a pitch, especially when trying to set up a new group as I also try to mention gaming styles. If there is something specific I want to have in the game, I try to put it as early as possible in the pitch. Some stuff is just a suggestion, sort of a "hey, what do you guys think about a bunch of teenagers and have quite a bit of focus on family life?" If everyone but one likes the idea, then I would try to bounce things back an forth to find something that works for everyone. Might even be quite a few options that could work where one character don't even have any family relations (even if it is the cliche of "tragic accident").

    We all won there, so my advice is to talk and listen to what each character want from the game.
    Yep While some things might clash and not be compatible, quite a few are compatible if spending some time fitting things together.

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  • hm8453a
    replied
    Originally posted by Innocent Flower View Post
    Maybe you've got a bias and are inflating the issue to justify your own phobia
    Also, we call that gaslighting, but you probably know that from your A levels =D.

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  • hm8453a
    replied
    I am an historian, not a psychologist. We're not talking about higher academia entitling me to pitch in and not you. I don't have a Ph.D. in psychology. What I do have is real-world experience in the field, which is also not the relevant part, as appealing to that just 'cause is a logical fallacy. However, when you yourself acknowledge the exposure to stimuli is not the way to treat a phobia, and when we've looked at how the APA classifies phobias in the same exact category as GAD, AFTER you've said that exposure to stimuli will treat a phobia and that phobias are not the same as anxiety disorders, you've discredited yourself more than a little.

    Now. I myself did not include phobias on my chart of triggers to include, if you'll notice. That's because there are too many to include, and they could be literally anything. There are other triggers I didn't include either. Link below. I highly suggest you check it out, it lends a lot to the conversation:

    https://medium.com/the-nib/trigger-w...0e6#.wjwz0z52h

    "Breakfast" is not the type of trigger I could include on my list. It is the type of trigger that would have to come out in a conversation with your players. But for them to feel comfortable sharing their phobias with you, they have to know you won't invalidate them. You said yourself, earlier in the thread, "maybe I'm just an asshole", but if your players think so as well, they won't feel comfortable sharing with you, and that's not just about their mental health. They'll have all sorts of barriers that will get in the way of play.

    But I'm rambling. Not everyone cares about playing with people they're close to like my group does.

    Lundgren, Gothenburg University hosted me a few years ago! Just lived there for about eight months. Are either of your parents Sami?

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  • Lundgren
    replied
    While I don't know the DMV-IV definition of a phobia, a very common layman term for phobias are "an irrational fear of something", which probably is quite accurate. Quite a few that have a phobia (as my friend with the pictures of fish phobia) knows it is irrational, but when the fear kicks in, the analytical part of the brain is not really part of the show anymore.

    Some people might want to face their fears, and someone with a mild phobia might like to do it through roleplay. I had a "strong respect for heights", which was a lot stronger than my brothers respect for heights. I went rock climbing, and while I'm still not entirely comfortable around heights (still, apparently less than most in the same platoon as me), I consider a certain level of respect to be healthy.

    However, trying to push someone into "getting over" their fear are seldom a good thing and might worsen it, as the feeling of being forced can connect to the thing they have the phobia against. A former workmate of mine, whose mother is a psychologist, made the joke of "how many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one; but the light bulb has to want to be changed." I think that one kind of fit quite well, but it also fit the "are you safe with..." question mentioned earlier, and not making that decision for them. But just as I went rock climbing, they might want to face their fears.

    I would guess that the reason there is so many being afraid of spiders in England (and here in Sweden) is because if a young child see a spider here, they also see someone freak out about it, so they will make the connection of spider = bad. In Australia, where there actually are both a lot of spiders, and dangerous spiders, people have to learn how to deal with it, so when a young kid sees a spider, it isn't panic they are seeing, but people handling the situation (or ignoring it). Possible that it can "be transfered" to adults as well. So by that, there can definitely be a cultural factor to phobias.

    Originally posted by hm8453a View Post
    (Also, Lundgren, where in Sweden are you from? I used to live in Gothenburg.)
    Ah, cool I'm in Stockholm, but my parents are from up north. From Sweden yourself, or just lived here for a while?
    Last edited by Lundgren; 09-02-2016, 11:44 AM.

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  • Innocent Flower
    replied
    All of which was taught, good professor, it's simple entry level psychology. I didn't go into detail because it wasn't neccessary. I did say i wasn't university level on the subject, and I'm somewhat perplexed by your own hypocritical accusations of navel gazing. Maybe you've got a bias and are inflating the issue to justify your own phobia, but I don't think you're entitled to dismiss someone because you're at a higher level of academia on the topic. A talk at a table is never going to put you into the deep end, at least with me. If your good at reading people, it's OK to test the waters. If the waters become fine, it's ok to go a little deepet. It's simple. You don't need to be a professor on the subject. It's a game. We're not going through every stage of CBT, I'm not throwing spider props at people nor are we talking about anything but the milder phobias. we're just talking about stuff in a game.
    Last edited by Innocent Flower; 09-02-2016, 11:16 AM.

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  • hm8453a
    replied
    I'm about to head back to campus to teach, so I must be brief--taking A levels in psychology is not akin to being a psychologist or working in treatment.

    Part of how I know this is because if you were actually in the field of psychology or ever had been, you would know what I've said above--exposure therapy is not "MAKE PEOPLE FACE THE THING". Exposure therapy is an extremely specific method, where the patient makes a list of stimuli of varying degrees of difficulty for them, and in a very controlled environment, with a psychologist, they are exposed to the absolute lowest level of that list for a very, very short period, and then it's removed. There is then talk therapy to place what the patient went through, and to see if the psychologist thinks it's safe to go up a level, if they have to stay at level one for a longer period, or if the list needs to change. Exposure therapy is NOT "just get over it anyway, expose yourself and you'll be numb and get over it, that's for the best". Exposure therapy requires an extended period of treatment with a professional in a safe space, not triggering yourself with friends during a game where you're supposed to be having fun. You are not a professional, and it's extremely entitled for you to suppose you know how to beat phobias in real life because you studied psychology at the A level. Just saying.

    Even as someone WITH experience in the field, and WITH phobias of my own from forced medical experiences with needles and testing as young as four years old (I discussed this on a different thread) I would never presume to tell someone else how to beat their phobias. Recovery is different for everyone. If you want to navel gaze about recovery because you took psychology at A level, start a blog.

    Off to campus!

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  • Innocent Flower
    replied
    Ok. Point taken. But I still think there's a difference in both severity and tact.
    A fear of hieghts isn't going to be triggered in a game heavy with aeroplanes and cliff climbs.

    as for a fear of spiders, that's a thing I've got a problem with because it's so common and quite often wouldn't be diagnosed as a phobia but rather a cultural problem. I'm an australian living in england. A country where nobody was afraid of some of the worst spiders to a country where many people are afraid of, at their most terrifying, completely harmless spiders. It's such a toxic fear, I've had people flip their shit and get agressive at ME because I wasn't charging to the other end of the house to kill a tiny thing that had appeared behind the TV. but I've never had this bullshit happen in game, arachnobobes are a special kind of contagious phobia.

    Maybe I'm just an asshole. Hieghts, tight spaces... all are reasonable irrational fears that could cause PTSD, but players with fear of heights have been fine with cliff faces, hanging off of helicopters and sheer drops. Rape and the killing of children are easily understandable and reasonable triggers. But fuck british arachnophobes. Some of them at least have the courtesy to be embarased about what they know is irrational, but a few of them are genuine assholes about the condition.

    Also. Studied psychology at A level, and phobia was a module. It's no university education on the matter, but I know enough to say that phobias at the table are a reasonable step towards beating phobias in real life.

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  • hm8453a
    replied
    (Also, Lundgren, where in Sweden are you from? I used to live in Gothenburg.)

    Leave a comment:

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