Narrative Control – Episode 67 – Setting Expectations

Welcome back to Narrative Control, season 3. We’ve taken a break for Gen Con and my very own Big Bad Con and now we’re back in the saddle. Season 3 has a new format. We’re taking calls from listeners and offering up what advice we can about their gaming conundrums. This week we talked to David Miessler-Kubanek from We’re talking about intellectual properties, setting expectations and finding out what’s going on with an unhappy player.

Hosts: Sean Nittner and Lenny Balsera

Guest Caller: David Miessler-Kubanek

Length: 32:01

Show Notes

[00:31] Welcome back to Narrative Control. Intro to the season three format.
[01:22] Eric Fattig is out for today. Welcoming guest host Lenny (not Leonard) Balsera.
[01:45] What real friends are for.
[02:57] “Shuu Nittner” – A name that will never been used.
[03:13] Sean’s current project – Apocalypse Galactica.
[04:09] Lenny working on Fate Core and Paranet Papers for Evil Hat and just moved to Austin, TX.
[04:34] Bringing on David Miessler-Kubanek from
[04:57] David’s “Dragonfly” game (Star Wars mashed up with Firefly)
[05:54] Problems started when some new players joined the game. Specifically a player with a LOT of Star Wars lore. Problem identified: One player’s expectations not matching up with the rest of the group’s expectations.
[07:49] Lenny’s first salvo – setting expectations. Why do we do it? Not to adhere to them but to have a framework for talking about them when it comes up in the future.
[09:34] David noticed a play style difference. One player who has read all the rules, knows all the mechanics, versus his own play style which was much less tied to mechanics. Problem re-identified: Player was unsatisfied by the mechanics, and uncomfortable with the rules system. Trad player walking into an indie game.
[11:28] Communication was poor. Can we revisit that communication? Start the game over, start the discussion over?
[12:40] Is David’s gaming style compatible with this player? Looking back, would he want to start up the game again with just a few of the players? All of them?
[14:09] Problem re-re-identified. Is it hurtful or malicious to be concerned with whether or not a group is going to have a good time, if that means not including a previous player?
[16:05] GM’s confidence being shaken by a bad experience. An experimental game with an experimental system. Was it his fault. What to do to get back in the saddle?
[18:49] Role-playing games are a conversation. Internalizing that very hard to do. Identifying if the problem is about the game or the social dynamic?
[19:56] Getting the conversation away from the trappings of the game. Problem is potentially fixable as soon as it is out in the open.
[21:37] Often discussion in RPGs is about trying to manipulate the game “If I make it about how this system works, I’m not being a dick.”
[22:52] “I want what I want for me. But I don’t want to look like a jerk, so I’ll use the game mechanics to get it.”
[23:10] When it is the games fault. But that is still a human problem.
[25:00] Regrets about the game. David starting the game back up again. The game was fine, the mechanics were fine. Start this bad boy back up again!
[28:01] Why setting expectations is important (redux)? It creates a foundation for change and a place for the conversation to start from.
[29:26] The future of David’s gaming group.
[31:01] Would you like to be on Narrative Control? Email us at, hop on our forums, or tweet me @seannittner.

The conversation continues…. Here!

Direct download: NC_Episode_067.mp3

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