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Referee's Lounge Discussion of how to (and not to) Referee Traveller and Cepheus Engine games. No edition warring allowed.

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  #11  
Old September 25th, 2017, 06:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnDriscoll View Post
I refuse to be that Referee that says, "What do you guys do?" or "Are you sure you want to do that?" I'd rather start a Traveller game with players new tabletop gaming, than act as a facilitator to a group that just wants to sit and be entertained and be told what awesome things their characters do.
The reverse is that I remember a couple of players for other systems who really got into the game, but didn't want to play. One guy was laughing it up and appeared to be having a blast. We were playing a Car Wars campaign out of one of the Autoduel Quarterlies.

I've written about this before but this was the famous instance where our convoy got approached by tambourine banging Hari Krishnas, who came up to our car windows and characters asking for donations. The guy running the game went around the table asking each player in turn, and said new-comer flatly laughed and said "no", which is when the Hari Krishnas whipped out their Mac-10 submachineguns and sprayed us and our cars. I vaporized one with my turreted laser, and the new player just thought it was the most hilarious thing ever. A Car Wars character can only take three points of damage, but a Car Wars LASER shells out something like 3d6 of damage. And the image of this weapon just plowing through an unarmored character just sent the guy into hysterics.

But then he didn't want to play anymore after that one session. Whatever. It's like anything else, you meet all types. And I'd rather have a dozen of him at each gaming session, even if they're new faces, than passive people who are too intimidated or don't want to be there because it's not their favorite system.
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Last edited by Blue Ghost; September 25th, 2017 at 11:13 PM.. Reason: for clarity
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  #12  
Old September 26th, 2017, 05:56 PM
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Try putting them in the military or an intelligence agency. They have to go where they're told.

That sometimes works with D&D players.
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Old September 27th, 2017, 12:28 AM
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In a Traveller session I ran a few years back, the guy hosting the session intentionally got drunk, and couple other players "called in sick". Drunk host got really obnoxious, but it was his house. So, what are you going to do?
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Old November 3rd, 2017, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnDriscoll View Post
Train your players to say where their characters are, and what they are doing, whenever they open their mouths at the table. Just saying those two things will keep the action going and give the Referee/Players plenty of ideas for what can happen next.
Although it has been years since I have refereed a game, I am planning a grand adventure for a friend the next time i see him. I will ave everything set up so all he has to do is throw dice and talk. This will be a one-on-one game, but i thought about other games I did.

Everyone needs something to do. With the Darwinistic TRAVELLER universe, every skill may ave an application somewhere, especially with devious players who want to spoil your plans for their characters. It is a tough balancing act, but it can be done if multiple characters are involved, say a naval for shipboard and a marine for the landing party.
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Old December 9th, 2017, 12:02 PM
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In a fantasy context, passive players are those that expect you to throw ONE obvious quest at them, which they will then seek to complete in as straight a line as possible. Extra setting details are for immersion purposes and are rarely considered as clues to adventure in their own right.

Traveller is not as well suited to this mode of play as D&D is, but does have the tools necessary to feel expansive to the Ref while feeling comfortably linear to passive players. The various incarnations of the "random" Patron system may resonate with such players; someone approaches them with a task and offers recompense for doing it. String these together, either with interludes of trading or just narrating that into routine if they aren't interested, and YOU will get to drag them around to visit all the places you want them to visit and THEY will be entertained with their task resolutions and problem solving.

If you want to slowly train them to be more active, use a rumors matrix to drop side hints. If they are paying attention, eventually one or more of those hints may elicit a "wait a minute" moment as they begin to suspect that a side hint may actually be the next step in their current active quest, or just be helpful even if not related.

As an example of starting a campaign on this basis, I would consider starting with a random planet-bound Patron or two to get the (shipless) PC's itchy to escape their starting world, then offer them Foodrunner (JTAS Amber Zone) at the same time as another planet-bound patron that offers enough payment to get a ticket somewhere else. The choice between passage money or a ship will provide you with a clue about what they want even if they can't put it in words at the beginning.

If they choose passage but soon regret it (say you run Aces and Eights on their trip), have a Patron waiting for them with a gateway to Annic Nova (or similar with a less idiosyncratic ship), or introduce yet another branch of the food smugglers from Foodrunner. They're everywhere, after all.

If they go the ship route, another random patron or two will ease the way into running Kinunir, spreading out the chapters with more randoms. The rumors matrix in Kinunir may be the hook that finally gets them to be more active, but if not you've still run months of Traveller for happy, if less imaginative, players.
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  #16  
Old December 12th, 2017, 11:52 AM
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Sometimes passive players are trying to learn the rules, both house and mechanics, and are shy about asking questions.
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Old December 12th, 2017, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coliver988 View Post
I just finished up a mini-campaign with two friends. Both were fairly passive players and rarely took any initiative on their own. While this works if you have a few active, outgoing players, what do you do when the entire group consists of players that don't seem to really engage yet want to play?
First, you ask them whether they really want to play that.

Second, you tell them to write at least three goals per character on their character sheets, which don't include the words "credit" or any numbers. Then award XP, or some meta-game resource if you're not using XP, depending on how much they do to chase said goals.
Of course, then you have to present them with a setting where they have many opportunities. But hopefully, you're doing that already!
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Old December 13th, 2017, 09:28 AM
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Along with the other advice from everyone, thanks. Next time I referee we'll establish the ground rules as to what they really want to play and what their goals are as players and characters. They did say they were having fun and enjoyed it but at times it was hard to tell.
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Old December 13th, 2017, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Ghost View Post
In a Traveller session I ran a few years back, the guy hosting the session intentionally got drunk, and couple other players "called in sick". Drunk host got really obnoxious, but it was his house. So, what are you going to do?
You leave. I have done that at times. The interesting thing is once one player gets up and leaves because of a drunk, the rest of the players follow fairly quickly. The drunk never hosts another event. Period.
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Old December 15th, 2017, 07:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coliver988 View Post
I just finished up a mini-campaign with two friends. Both were fairly passive players and rarely took any initiative on their own. While this works if you have a few active, outgoing players, what do you do when the entire group consists of players that don't seem to really engage yet want to play?
As others have pointed out, there are broadly three types of players who play RPGs.

There are players who want (or insist) on playing in a sandbox where they're allowed to do whatever they want. Many of them almost egregiously so; if you give them a plot angle, they'll intentionally avoid because they want their "freedom." I call these "Free Agency" or "Bethesda" RPers after the game company known for their open world sandboxes; the idea that their fate is their own is very important, choice or the convincing illusion of it is all-consuming for them. The impression I get is the larger portion of players and GMs on CotI are sandbox players and sort of look down on the other kinds.

The other major camp are the "rails" players. I call them the Visual Novel (VN) RPGers. They want to play out dramatic scenes and be part of epic stories -- that is their whole reason for playing. They want to feel a part of the story, they even want central parts of in it, but what they don't demand are total freedom. They enjoy playing the role of someone with a "destiny" or a "quest"; a destination that they cannot really avoid. They like clear signs of where they should go and what they should do next; these should not be told directly by the GM but instead should be a logical (and clear) outcome of in-world events. The most blunt of this kind of quest are the infamous "collect all the parts of the Rod of 12 Parts." However, most movie plots also are a good example; the heroes go from scene to scene by clues they found in the earlier scene (You find evidence the evil empire plans to attack the good kingdom -> The kingdom will want to know -> Journey to the kingdom pursued by agents of the empire -> etc). Most of these kinds of players enjoy playing games like D&D (dungeons have a clear goal - go into the dungeon, get the loot, fight the final monster and get out. The goal and methods are clear and unambiguous) or the Star Wars RPG (dramatic storylines). These kinds of players find sandbox games dull or pointless because there's "nothing to do." Often I find these kinds of players are passive because they don't want to make the "wrong" choice - the choice that leads to more "pointless" stuff that the GM didn't prepare for and doesn't lead to the more "interesting" stuff. If you're running games for this sort, it's (in a way) easier than that freeform games - players like this want entertaining scenes or "set-piece" situations.

The third group of course, are the really passive players. Sometimes they're disinterested (eg; they're looking at their cellphones the entire game). Sometimes they're not sure what they can do - they want to do things, but the whole "roleplaying game" thing isn't very clear to them. That group you need to speak with them to find out what they're into.
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Last edited by epicenter00; December 15th, 2017 at 07:39 AM..
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