Saturday, September 09, 2006

A few thoughts on Reputation

There is resistance. I know there is, and most of it has to do with things properly in the past. I am coming to have an appreciation for the way that the Camarilla is run. But i fear that trying to get the thing off the ground here is colored by the excesses and personality problems of the past.

I'm not seeing it, frankly. It seems that all the troublemakers and drama queens have either grown up or moved on, and i am happy to report that my contact with the new Camarilla has been pretty darn good.

Now gamer chemistry is a tricky thing. And in your domain, it may be a different story. as always, your mileage may vary. But it seems like that the people round these parts and in Columbus seem to have their heads on straight.

As a matter of fact, it is my hope, that i can show others that this is the case. Heck, with the class-A players i've got, it's my hope that i can show other people in other places how it's really done.

See the problem is one of reputation. Once a gamer's rep is wrecked, it's not irrepairable, but it is going to take time. and it is going to take energy.

Each and every person i know, that's ruined their own rep, has had the devil's own time repairing it. (In some cases, this was entirely deserved.) Even getting tagged as someone who regularly "Flakes" on people, is enough to make it hard to get invited to play.

Protect your reputation. The best way to do this is to do what you say you'll do.
The other best way is to lead by example.

Sono finito


At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Everett said...

I think you hit the nail smack on the head (as my experiences in tabletop closely mirror yours), but let me play devil's advocate for a second here.

You've discussed in the past that players react the way we as Storyteller's have trained them to react. If the players think we have rewarded munchiness or OOC drama or extreme B.O. or whatever in the past (either with plot or experience) we get more of the same.

I think the problem is when a few people mature and the rest get stuck in their old comfortable DnD routines. They are unaware they even need to change, and no-one has told them so. Because we used to be like them, we actually used to encourage their behavior. Of course, this whole idea may just be smoke and mirrors, but I'd recommend taking extreme steps to encourage those behaviors you want to see more of:

Want fewer cardboard cut-outs? Require a two-page character background, or require newbie's to chump a disposable NPC for a several sessions before you allow his character.

Don't like players showing up late? Start the opening meeting five minutes early (_my_ watch says its 7MP) and only pass out attendance XP during that opening meeting.

You've mentioned the problems of trying to carry the administrative details alone - reward those players who help out (not during the LARP, but during the intervening time between get-togethers) with blue book XP or extra social merits (nice haven, membership to a private club, fast car, wins the lottery, etc.). The great thing about the social merits is someone can always steal his character's car if he stops maintaining the LARP web page. You get the idea.

On an entirely unrelated note, I recently came across the Dean Koontz books "Fear Nothing" and "Seize the Night" both about a character named Christopher Snow, who has XP (xeroderma pigmentosum) the IRL medical condition where one can't repair the damage light does to skin. That means that night is Snow's natural environment - sound familiar? The second book, although it still deals with the genetically engineered monkeys from book one, deals more heavily with a time machine that only partly works. I'm a big fan of time travel style sci-fi (Star Trek, Babylon 5, Back to the Future, etc.) but the scene in the abandoned military complex where the time machine used to be is the best paradox scene I have ever read/watched. The best part is that Koontz doesn't explain to the readers why the time-travel effect happens the way it does (which is entirely original) - after all the character's aren't physicists - he just presents it as "this is the way it's working and no-one knows why, just deal with it."

I ran the story (only slightly modified because of vampires) for my players and received some of the best reviews I've ever gotten for a game; you might want to try it too. I think there's something to be said for not explaining everything.


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