Asking questions to set up your game

Chris gives some great tips on how to get together for a new game and really tie your players’ characters into a Relationship Map in this thread. Excerpts from near the end of his post:

I think the big [goal] to [asking players questions about their characters to deepen the R-Map] is to get the players into a situation they really can’t just back out of. Yes, the players. They invent these characters and these Kickers in response to your questions and they think it’s all just sort of back-story. Suddenly they find that the entire game is about nothing but them; everything else is sort of incidental frills, in a sense. That’s what Doyce meant about GM-ing Sorcerer being zero-energy.
See, you might have in mind that all these Kickers are really about [X]. Forget that. If it works, it works, but it’s irrelevant. What matters is the characters, and putting them in situations where they have to make choices between Humanity and more apparently desirable options. They’re really tightly woven together through relationships, so that they can’t even agree that the situation sucks; instead you get,
“This sucks.”
“Yeah, that was always your problem, you’re a whiner, and that’s why you couldn’t ever get it up.”
“Oh, Lisa darling, maybe that wasn’t Dave’s problem, because you know, we have lots of fun in bed; maybe it’s your frigidity, and have you talked to a doctor about that? I just worry about you, you know.”
“Listen, bitch, just because you’re a slut who’ll screw a table leg….”

Meanwhile the city’s is in flames and your demons are ready to fight it out and you’re thinking “maybe I could just summon another demon.”
There’s some additional great observations from Scott about Chris’ “running Sorcerer and Narr by asking questions” technique over here. Highly recommended reading on how it all comes together in play:

Notice how Chris, in his post above, defines what’s happening by asking questions of the player. This is a subtle and radical shift in the focus of play. Most posts here have talked about how different Sorcerer is from other rpgs, but Chris’ post actually shows how it is different, if in just a humorous example.
Traditionally, a GM tells the player whats happening. The player functions as a receptacle of the GM’s imagination and makes a few choices, rolls a few dice. But the basic dynamic is “GM to player”. The vast majority of roleplaying is performed in this fashion with players affecting the plot only insofar as they are able to with good dice rolling, tactics or kewl powers.
Narr, at least as I’ve read it in Ron’s books (and the couple of times I’ve got it right by accident), is very different. It’s far more collaborative and the flow isn’t from GM to player but more like the GM setting the tone and overall big picture (not plot), the player setting the details, the GM working with those details and sending it back to the player, while the plot works itself out in the exchange (from my understanding, at least). The players are key collaborators in determining what the story is, where it goes and how it gets there. The story does not exist without the players. That’s a 180 degree shift from most roleplaying and your players may be butting their heads up against that.
The one key technique that I think you can take from this thread (and Chris’ post especially) is to ask the players questions. Everyone likes to answer a question. Everyone likes to help somebody else figure something out.

One of those things that you can get right in Sorcerer if you’ve been recently playing some InSpectres or Octane or Paladin or Trollbabe or Donjon or something — it’s more difficult if you’ve switching between a subtle narr-supportive system like Sorcerer or Heroquest from from a traditional system. Good stuff.


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