Narrative Control – Episode 22 – Coaching Players

Hi and welcome back to Narrative Control. This week Justin and I are talking about coaching players, helping them to contribute more to the game and get more out of it.

Hosts: Sean Nittner and Justin Evans

Length: 29:39

Show Notes

[00:27] Introduction to the show: Coaching players.
[01:17] promo
[01:33] Trying to tell a story without context… it’s hard.
[02:17] The old saying “It’s easier to tell as story with limits” – Is this really an old saying?
[03:15] Coaching players: Helping them tell good stories.
[03:25] A reading from Play Unsafe by Graham Walmsley. Sometimes at conventions players just want the GM to lead them through an adventure.
[04:47] Why players might be afraid of doing something “wrong?”
Establishing the theme of the game
[05:32] When kicking off a game, make sure everyone is telling the same story.
[05:55] In the beginning of a game establishing the theme of the game.  Make sure your players a buying in from the start.
[06:39] Example: The spy genre is very diverse.  Pussy Galore and Jason Bourne don’t belong in the same story.
[07:05] Fear the Boot “Group Template” – Players defining why their group is together and what they will be doing.
[09:05] Randy’s idea: A reality TV show of drivers on the Doc Wagon.
Establishing the goal or objective of the game.
[09:45] Up front: What is the goal of the game?  Make sure that the characters have appropriate long term goals
[11:03] Giving players short term goals they can achieve right away.  Example: Burning Wheel’s beliefs system.
[12:27] Shadows of Yesterday uses experience keys to make explicit short term goals.
[12:49] Kristin from This Modern Death suggested getting rid of the WoD Virtues and Vices and replacing them with activities you’re proud of and those which you use for coping.
[14:22] Plot Cards.  Easy short term goals that you can give out randomly to the players.  This encourages certain scenes to come up.
[16:27] Incentivizing player generated scenes with in game rewards (fate chips, drama dice, etc)
[16:45] Justin’s Firefly themed plot cards at
Getting players to shine the spotlight on each other.
[17:28] Players were more forceful personalities hoarding the spotlight?
[18:03] What if the job of a player was to shine the spotlight on other people?  The idea came from Son’s of Kryos. You have to endure one of Sean’s stories.  Ways to encourage this.
[19:42] Burning Wheel: The helping mechanic tends to benefit you more than using the skill on your own.
[20:40] Sharing a common pool of XP and limiting how much each character can generate, so everyone has to participate to gain the group it’s greatest reward.
[21:45] Fan Mail from Prime Time Adventures. Fan mail allows you to enter a scene with a supporting role.
Rewards for good role-playing, make both hosts uncomfortable.
[22:42] Many games include an XP reward for good role-playing.  Assigning a reward to the MVP and Workhorse.
[24:40] Encourages people to continue hogging the attention and can disappoint other players.
[25:09] We also see this at con games.  Swag going to the “winner” of the game. A good idea from Rich Taylor. Giving the reward to the player that made the game the most fun for everyone else.
Games that rotate narrations, encouraging people to take the stage.
[26:45] Prime Time Adventures (I know… again) gives out a random narration element, allowing different people to narrate every scene.  Not mentioned in the podcast but another game that does this is Dust Devils.
[27:30] A similar mechanic in Zombie Cinema.  Choose a side in any conflict and decide if you want to ally, giving you a chance to narrate.

Direct Download: NC_Episode_022.mp3