GreenTongue
 member, 1030 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Mon 1 Nov 2021
at 17:05
How Much is Too Much To Ask?
Say I just read "Over the Wine Dark Sea" by Harry Turtledove and thought a game of sea-going traders set after the death of Alexander the Great, would be fun.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Over_the_Wine_Dark_Sea

Would expecting the players to have read the book be too much?

Say you thought the free rules "Revised Mazes & Minotaurs" would be perfect for it.
http://mazesandminotaurs.free.fr/revised.html

Would expecting the players to learn new rules be too much?

What would be too much?
gladiusdei
 member, 882 posts
Mon 1 Nov 2021
at 17:08
How Much is Too Much To Ask?
I wouldn't think of it as too much, since anyone that participates is volunteering.  But it may narrow down possible players to the point that you can't find enough people to play.  So you have to gauge interest versus how many people you want.  If no one applies, it might mean you have to lessen the requirements to get more applicants.

an interest check might help you find your answer.

This message was last edited by the user at 17:09, Mon 01 Nov.

donsr
 member, 2402 posts
Mon 1 Nov 2021
at 17:12
How Much is Too Much To Ask?
yeah?  never  expect player  to  read..watch, or  even hear about the stuff you may have done... sometimes i am pleasantly surprised  by knowledge of  folks who come into my games, but   every one has thier own tastes,  when i was in high shcioll  i read 4 different versions of the Iliad , the best one is   in prose  form, and details  every...single..hero and god that was in the war...

most folks know only  the  'top 5 or six  gods!
deadtotheworld22
 member, 164 posts
Mon 1 Nov 2021
at 18:17
How Much is Too Much To Ask?
So, I'd preface this with 'this is me being very cynical following a decade on this site' and that none of the points I raise below are meant to be slights on anyone's abilities or dedication as a GM, or their taste in books!

That being said, I think the issue is going to be that if you ask people to read a full novel before you let them into the game/accept their RTJs, you're probably going to struggle because a lot of players (myself included) are pretty jaded from investing time and effort into new games which either don't live up to expectations, or indeed are finished within a month.

That's not a reflection on any individual GM, by the way - it's simply that a significant proportion of new games on RPOL won't last very long, either down to a lack of players, loss of momentum, or the GM having IRL issues and having to step back. I've certainly lost games I've been GMing due to those issues, and I suspect most other GMs will say the same.

Given that statistically most people won't have read the book (realistically, you can only get away with assuming they have for things like Lord of the Rings or Potter), the potential worst case scenario is that an interested player invests their money to get a copy from Amazon, blocks out a few afternoons to speed read it (because they want to get in before the deadline), only to either have their RTJ rejected, or the game collapse for the reasons mentioned above.

Were it 'I want to try this new system - you may need to pick up a PDF which might cost you' then it's a bit different, because at least at the end there's a chance that the system could be transferable into different games, but if it's fiction, you may just end up with a book that you don't particularly like and nothing else to show for it - again, worst case scenario, but still.

I can absolutely see where one might come from on this in terms of 'this book/tv series/game captures exactly what I want to play', but I would ask in response 'can a player enjoy the game if they've not read the book?'

Unless you're specifically using characters from the book, then you can probably get the same results by citing more accessable sources, or being relatively specific about what you're looking for when discussing things like moods, themes and the the balance of action, socialising and character development.

At the same time, there's no reason not to cite it as a potential source of inspiration, or to encourage players who are interested or already playing to check out the book - it's part of the fun of the community. I just would worry that you'll potentially end up using it as unintentional gatekeeping which prevents interested players from taking the plunge!

This message was last edited by the user at 18:19, Mon 01 Nov.

GreenTongue
 member, 1031 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Mon 1 Nov 2021
at 18:59
How Much is Too Much To Ask?
In reply to deadtotheworld22 (msg # 4):

Would a freely accessible movie be too much?

To establish a common framework for the setting, is not a book or movie useful?

Is it unnecessary, do you think, to have an established setting in common?
Have you found that developing during play is more than enough?

The idea, in my mind, is to have that common feel for where the play takes place.
Yes, you can certainly learn as you go but, some level of expectations of how things are, I find helpful.
donsr
 member, 2403 posts
Mon 1 Nov 2021
at 19:14
How Much is Too Much To Ask?
  The one thing bad  about  some kind of  establish back drop, is the  some  folks  say ' No that isn't"..or.."it sgold be this way"

 My home brew has   brief Note threads to look for, and the rest, the players/Caharcter learn together.

unless there was some kind of pay involved?..most folks aren't doing homework.
InQueli
 member, 22 posts
Mon 1 Nov 2021
at 19:22
How Much is Too Much To Ask?
Donsr makes a good point: you might think watching a certain movie or reading a certain book will evoke exactly the right feeling you're looking for in your player's mind... but they might have a totally different takeaway from watching/reading it.

IMO it's better to briefly brief (ha!) prospective players on what your setting is like, what goes and what doesn't, and so on. At least you're making sure it's your version of the setting/mood/feel that's being communicated.

This message was last edited by the user at 19:22, Mon 01 Nov.

GreenTongue
 member, 1032 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Mon 1 Nov 2021
at 19:46
Re: How Much is Too Much To Ask?
deadtotheworld22:
I can absolutely see where one might come from on this in terms of 'this book/tv series/game captures exactly what I want to play', but I would ask in response 'can a player enjoy the game if they've not read the book?'

I suppose the flip side is 'can a player enjoy the game if they've read the book?'.
After all the book is a done deal and you will not be reenacting it. Will play be "as good" as the feeling from reading a professional author with complete control of the story.

I would not want to be in a game where I'm expected to be a puppet in someone's "future book".
deadtotheworld22
 member, 165 posts
Mon 1 Nov 2021
at 19:57
Re: How Much is Too Much To Ask?
So, in order:

GreenTongue:
Would a freely accessible movie be too much?


Films would probably be better than books, not least because they tend to be quicker and you can multi-task while doing them - there's also statistically a higher chance that more of an audience will have seen the film or something similar.


GreenTongue:
To establish a common framework for the setting, is not a book or movie useful?


I'm not disagreeing that it can be very helpful, but you've also got to consider what's practical. In an ideal world, I'd be in a situation where every game I set would potentially have multiple media reference sources which would mean everyone's on the same page as me, but I think you're always facing an uphill battle given the demands on everyone's time.

I'd also cite Donsr's point above about different people getting different things from a film or a book, and there is a further risk that, if you're just looking for a general setting point, that people will become too wedded to the book and potentially not accept/like any changes you make to the canon.

GreenTongue:
Is it unnecessary, do you think, to have an established setting in common?
Have you found that developing during play is more than enough?


It depends very much on the game, but in short, doing the prep work accordingly (both in scene setting and in RTJs) and during your play should be enough.

Established settings can also be a double edged sword - building on Donsr's point, if I ask four different players to make me a Star Wars character, you could easily end up with:

 - One comedy Gungan character called Mor Cha Bangs, played very tongue in cheek who blunders around in search of food.
 - One sadistic, unpleasant Sith Lord who revels in the pain and suffering of others, played as an edgy experiment on how far you can push it.
 - One deep character study of loss in the form of a surviving Order 66 padawan, which is mainly meditative and focused on character development.
 - One min-maxed Mandalorian with extra arms and immunity to lightsabers, who just wants to shoot things and make funny quips.

All of them are potentially valid within the overarching Star Wars setting, but you'd never want to put them all in a group together, because they all want different things from the game and wouldn't get along as a group.

That's where you'd need to be very specific as a GM as to what you want to draw out from a setting and from a game.

GreenTongue:
The idea, in my mind, is to have that common feel for where the play takes place.
Yes, you can certainly learn as you go but, some level of expectations of how things are, I find helpful.


I absolutely agree on wanting to find a common theme, but you need to be efficient about how you go about that process, both in terms of taking up potential players' time and in making sure that the examples you give actually provide players with the setting you need.

So for the original example, I'd probably either write some flavour text myself based on the original book (perhaps even picking a very evocative paragraph), or I'd find something similar and link it across (perhaps a clip from Jason and the Argonauts, or Assassin's Creed) with some instructions about what I was specifically looking for.

You may also find that something completely different is a better evocation of feel than asking someone to read a whole book - given the trading feel, you could perhaps say something like 'Firely, but set in Ancient Greece' if that's pertinent to the feel you want.
Hunter
 member, 1687 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
 Lurker
Tue 2 Nov 2021
at 01:55
Re: How Much is Too Much To Ask?
You should expect that people wanting to join a game about a book/game/movie/tv show know the content.  If you're running a Lord of the Rings game, and someone asks: "Who's Gandalf"?....enough said.
donsr
 member, 2404 posts
Tue 2 Nov 2021
at 02:52
Re: How Much is Too Much To Ask?
yep Hunter?..I have seen folks come into  games that were 'based' on something who came in saying 'they didn't know, but liked the Genre"..that's when you say " hey, take a look at this, skim through that"

 for Home brew, I say ' look at the note threads, everything  els eyou learn through RP"

 it shouldn't be a big thng? you have a player who wants to play.. OOC and PMs  are there to teach and coach.
GreenTongue
 member, 1033 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Tue 2 Nov 2021
at 16:53
Re: How Much is Too Much To Ask?
I've done that in the past.
Ran a "Just off the boat" Empire of the Petal Throne game.
Problem is the assumptions in the game don't always come to the fore until deeper in.
Some of those assumptions are not "bog standard European" and when they come up, it is not always a good outcome. I guess over a year is still a good run.

If you ask people to "study" the setting then they also have a "published version" expectation which may not be the GM's vision. Still certain aspects are core to the setting and being aware up front is good.

While I didn't get into great detail, they are still part of what makes the setting unique and if they are unsavory to a player, it's unfortunate.

So, there must be some "fine line"?
donsr
 member, 2405 posts
Tue 2 Nov 2021
at 19:36
Re: How Much is Too Much To Ask?
yeah....my standard is  " all the notes   threads are common knowledge, the rest learned from RP...BUT..there is nothing worng  with asking other folks  OOC as player, Or IC  as character"

 it does make it  realistic  and satisfying to see players   get into learning the world, and  building  thier place in it.
facemaker329
 member, 7367 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Tue 9 Nov 2021
at 05:43
Re: How Much is Too Much To Ask?
My recommendation, speaking purely as a player:

When you advertise the game, you describe the setting--not as "inspired by <insert book title here>", but in practical terms...time period, geographic region, what the game will focus on, any inclusion of magic/supernatural/divine influences or items, etc.  THEN you say something along the lines of, "attempting to catch the flavor of books such as..." and list the title or titles that inspired you.

If you just advertise it as "This game is based on this book", only people who have read the book and loved it enough to want to RP in that world are going even look twice.  If you lay out a premise for the game, you'll attract more players, who may then decide that they want to invest the time to read the book<s> you've recommended.

Same thing with a system.  If someone presents me with a setting that thoroughly intrigues me, I'll learn a new system for it (but, likely, only if they're willing to help me thud and blunder my way along for a while).  But that's only if I feel like the setting (or other players and/or the GM) is going to present a high likelihood of a payoff for the effort...I've tried learning new systems before and had the game go belly-up before I even finished reading the rules completely.

Will it work?  Well, considering I re-read the entire Silmarillion to give background to a character in a Middle Earth-based game (that was one of those 'I'll learn a new system for this' scenarios, as well), I'd say your odds are good that at least SOME people will have either read the book or will be willing to read it to inform their game play to some extent.  But unless you're basing your game on something with broad market appeal (like LOTR or HP or Star Wars, etc), I think you're going to hurt your own chances by expecting anyone who wants to join the game to have read the book.  In my younger days, I'd probably have a different answer...but I just plain old don't have as much time to read as I used to, and I still have a big stack of books that I already want to read, so it's hard to bump something to the top of the list unless I have a glowing recommendation for it from a friend whose tastes I trust.