Coherence at the game table

Hello, all, ūüôā

Yesterday, I had another excellent session of Shadow of Yesterday. While the game is proving to be consistent uncompromising fun, lessons to be learned as regards the nature of role-playing itself are naturally becoming fewer and fewer as our grasp of the mechanics and the game mode increases.

Still, I learned a valuable lesson about coherence at the table, not only from the sessions themselves but also from pre- and post-play talk about what had happened in the previous session and what happened in this one.

When I talk to people about GNS and describe the different agendas, every so often, I get a response along the lines of, “yeah, we have all of that stuff in my campaign; some players like challenges, others like statements, others yet just like to be there, so we try to accomodate, and it works great”. No, not so much, it doesn’t. There’s a ton of arguments to be made regarding the advantages of Creative Agenda coherence, and I have yet to see a¬†decent one against it.

Coherence regarding Technical Agenda, however,¬†while probably not as vital,¬†can still prove to be important. Consider, if you will, a group where one player is trying to address premise using deep character immersion, while another is consistently and exclusively using author stance to do the same. Sure, in some circumstances, it might work well. But just as likely, the immersive player won’t be as able to have his character build a decent mental model of the author stance player’s character, and the author stance player won’t be able to count on the immersive player for support and cooperation regarding story direction.

Perhaps an example will show you what it is I’m talking about. Here’s a Forge Actual Play post about sessions five and six of our TSoY game.

If Godinho had been a deep character immersive player, that particular relationship would have been a lot harder to develop between our two characters, if not outright impossible. Technical Agenda coherence made it all so easy. Cool, eh?


2 Responses to “Coherence at the game table”

  1. Rui Anselmo says:

    Hey Jo√£o!

    I’d like to ask you about character relations: how do they come up, at your table? Do they come up:

    -Because all are playing at the same table and it kind of makes sense (also know as just because)?, or
    -Because the players interpret their’s and other player’s characters’ reactions in a way that leads to a character relation forming (also known as “I feel a good vibe from you”)?

    I ask this question because of what you’re describing on your AP: it seems that the relation between your character and that of Godinho’s came up “just because”, and while I don’t think this is bad (after all, the character’s actions are what the player makes of them), I also think in a very SIM way and it just doesn’t make sense other than “just because”; care to share some thoughts on this?

  2. joao-mendes says:

    Hey, Rui, ūüôā

    As usual, you ask just the right questions. This time, though, the answer may surprise you: neither.

    The relationship I talk about in that AP post came about because we, as players, decided that slavery was a cool issue to be explored, and as players, placed our characters on opposite lines of the issue, but with converging interests. Now grantedly, this was all just largely coincidental, rather than prearranged, but still, it is quite beyond the “just because” answer, and it has nothing to do with the “character vibe” answer.

    As for the other relationships that have arisen during play, there’s an even simpler answer: in TSoY, you gain XP by making statements with your characters via whatever Keys you purchase. You can think of each Key as being its own very self-contained NAR premise. Each player was simply on the lookout for a cool Key to buy and a cool statement to make. As such, the relationships are implied and enforced by the Keys, rather than arising on their own and then supported by them. Again, beyond “just because” and unrelated to “character vibe”.

    Did I make sense just there?