bazhsw
 member, 8 posts
Thu 14 Feb 2019
at 21:33
Interest Check:  Social realism free-form
An idea has been floating my head for a week or two now and I just wanted to float it here to see what kind of interest there may be.

I really enjoy freeform slice of life games but one thing I notice a lot of is that characters are often idealised versions of people.  They may have problems, but often the images are of supermodels and celebrities with perfect teeth and hair and a Hollywood tan.  They are games where eminently successful people mix with other super successful people.  Everyone says 'hi' when they meet in 'the friendliest place ever'.

All this is of course wonderful, but I am after something else.  Characters who are dispossessed, the underclass, the downtrodden.  Characters who have very real and present problems.  A place for real stories to be told.

A game rooted in the tradition of 'kitchen sink' social realism - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitchen_sink_realism

I think I have a setting of a fictional British city 'sometime in the 80s'.  My thinking is it's far enough away to be 'historical' but close enough to at least pin something familiar on.

I suppose my first question is does this game idea actually excite anyone?

I can think of tons of stories and characters but feel it is a big ask for the following reasons;

1) Lack of focus - a friend mentioned there is a reason people play DnD.  Because there is a clear goal.  This would be a sandbox but there would be an expectation characters would come with their own ideas for their own stories and themes
2) Setting - I can easily give pointers to those unfamiliar with the genre but the time and place may seem rather 'alien' for a game we want to be 'real'
3) There is a reason people want to play superheroes.  To escape from day to day.  In this game I think I am asking people to stay in 'the day to day'.
4) Tone - I want a setting that has space for gritty, challenging stories.  But I also want warmth and camaraderie.

I'm really enamoured and excited about writing about a desperately lonely taxi driver but I want to put it out here to gauge just how niche this may be?
TheatricalHysterics
 member, 19 posts
 A little theater
 Never hurt anyone.
Thu 14 Feb 2019
at 22:39
Interest Check:  Social realism free-form
Straying away from normality is right up my alley. I'd be very interested in exploring a game like this.

To answer your first question: I'd look forward to creating a day-to-day character who is flawed and is not mirror-perfect. My only concern would be as you say, finding a GM who is able to provide a slice-of-life game in a sandbox freeform setting, but at the same time making sure that all the players involved have enough to keep them entertained and continually writing good content. The moment a few characters collide in a game, that's usually the extent of exploration and interaction, and it can be hard to navigate to other players and not feel like you're deserting the first person your character tried to have an interaction with.

Freeform may look and sound easy, but there is a level of complexity in it that transcends a good game. Giving players a reason to keep writing is, in my opinion, the key to running a solid freeform game regardless of the type of freeform game you want to write.
CaesarCV
 member, 350 posts
Thu 14 Feb 2019
at 22:47
Interest Check:  Social realism free-form
While I'm not interested in this sort of game, I do think that there are ways to try and make it work a little better, and try to hone down the concept to keep things focused.

The main thing that I personally recommend would be to try and limit the setting. Rather than trying to simulate an entire town or city through free-form, have it center around a particular location. Perhaps that location is a seedy bar, perhaps it is a particular tenement, or even something stranger and more exotic like a broken down theater or a dingy gentleman's club. Having it honed down to a particular location helps keep players together and interacting, and allows for certain events to form naturally or through GM intervention.

Perhaps the Seedy Bar has a couples night, or the landlord of the tenement decides to set up a block party. If a central NPC like that is GM controlled, they can help to guide people on their way and get them into more interactive stories. It also gives players a central place to hangout and do group play when they're not out writing out their own stories on other threads and such.
bazhsw
 member, 9 posts
Fri 15 Feb 2019
at 07:21
Interest Check:  Social realism free-form
Thank you both for your feedback.  I am grateful.

I agree that keeping people interested and moving is going to be difficult.  All to often a lot of these games fall into 'pair-ups' for those with active stories and wandering around, then boredom for those who don't.

I have the ideas for events and situations and I envisaged creating a number of NPC archetypes to drop in here and there to move reduce the incidence of what is described.  In practice, that could be quite difficult as it puts lots of work on  a set of shoulders.

Thank you for your comments CaesarCV regarding location.  In my head I see 'everywhere' but I definitely need to curb my enthusiasm.  Having everyone live in one apartment complex is definitely an approach I will take with a few other key locations.
tibiotarsus
 member, 31 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Fri 15 Feb 2019
at 17:28
Interest Check:  Social realism free-form
I personally love this kind of character/level of realism in a setting, but have no interest in soap opera style 'here are some normal humans doing normal human things' stories. Normal people in weird situations, weird people doing normal things, weird people who live in a weird place, those are all a draw for me; if you couldn't get enough people to float this project as it stands, I suspect you might pick a few more folk up if you were willing to add something strange in there, like a cult off in the background, or a corner shop rumoured to sell small, finite, but working bouts of good luck (or bad luck for your enemies), that kind of thing.

I think perhaps a definite theme/very limited setting might help keep folk together and cope with the RPoL Vanish, e.g. everyone works in/for the mine, most of them are distantly related because Wales is like that and currently they're on strike, or everyone is a regular of this one pub that's becoming a haunt of the local IRA guys, what do/can we do about this, kind of thing. Gives folk a place to be and a thing to do whenever they jump in, and a place to put those who've faded out, plus it should make weaving RTJ questions into the plot easier, e.g. "why and how long have you worked in the mine? What relation are you to Jones the whistle? How much Thatcherite police brutality do you think you can take and what's your breaking point?". Kind of thing.
bazhsw
 member, 10 posts
Sat 16 Feb 2019
at 17:12
Interest Check:  Social realism free-form
Thanks for this.  I think my natural preference is to push away from weird (most because I'm playing in a lot of that and fancy a change).

Your ideas are good though (I love the pub idea).  Incidentally this game had a tighter focus but I broadened it thinking it would get more interest.  Your feedback and that of others suggests honing in on shared objectives is something that will garner greater interest.  Definitely food for thought.

Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts.