Discussion 32: Tone

CJ, Troll, and Kevin attempt (with some difficulty) to define tone, how it affects play at the table, and different systems that use a variety of tricks to reinforce their tone.

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22 Responses to “Discussion 32: Tone”

  1. Matt Says:

    I quite enjoy the chat episodes and this was no exception. My two hats for the tone-setting ring?

    -Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies: A style dice economy where the GM awards players for flair/ awesome badassosity/ playing to the tropes. Players can then boost their own rolls with the style dice or award them to other players for showing good form. It evoked a pleasant sense of camaraderie at our table. All for one and one for all.

    -Contenders -I cant say enough good about it.

  2. adam mcconnaughey Says:

    Lacuna does an amazing job at establishing tone.

    The game mechanics section of the book is above the PCs’ security clearance. The core mechanic is heart rate; you establish a resting and maximum rate. Nearly everything you do increases your heart rate. Since the players (at least at the start) don’t actually know what happens when their heart rates begin to reach and exceed their maximums, there is real and unavoidable tension near the end of every session.

  3. Funy Skywalker Says:

    Can you repeat the tone’s definition you’ve referenced in the podcast? I’m not english-speaking native… Thanks

  4. Kevin Weiser Says:

    From our notes, its “The emotional content provoked by the fiction, or the process of play.” How do we sound for you? Is there any advice you can give to make us easier for non-english native speaking listeners to understand?

  5. Funy Skywalker Says:

    It’s clear enough, thanks! :)

  6. stacey chancellor Says:

    This was intersting cuz i do think about tone in the type of game that you play, but had not thought about how mechanics also help determine the tone. DRYH was a great example of that. Very good stuff.

  7. Tim Randles Says:

    Another good example of mechanics influencing tone would be the Warhammer (Fantasy and 40k) role-playing games. The magic/psychic system alone strongly reinforces the struggle with Chaos that permeates the game. The insanity and corruption mechanics also do a fine job of this, though, they aren’t exactly unique to Warhammer.

    Concerning the discussion about Jen, I do think her role-playing preferences are rather unfortunate. I’ve begun skipping many of the APs she’s apart of because of this… although, I very much agree with Troll that her second character in Apocalypse World was easily her most interesting, focusing on relatively solid role-play over shock and awe themes that only create the illusion of an interesting character.

  8. Jen Dixon Says:

    Tim,
    My style isn’t for everyone yet I’m totally confortable with the twisted and freaky aura I’m capable of producing. There are certainly worse super powers to have. We appreciate your feedback and thanks for listening.

    Jen J Dixon

  9. stacey chancellor Says:

    Just goes to show that you can never make everyone happy…nor should you try too. You have to be who you are. I don’t think putting yourself online so anyone can listen to you is an easy thing.

  10. Jen Dixon Says:

    Stacey,
    DING. I pitty the fool that tries to be all things to all people.

    – Mr T

  11. Tim Randles Says:

    Hey Jen…
    I had hope I’d get a response because I don’t think I clarified exactly what my issues was. I put a little more thought into it and I think my problem isn’t your preference for the bizarre but, rather, the fact the you like to place the bizarre elements in the forefront. It seems to me that once you set your mind to some outlandish character element(s), you let them run wild and overshadow the more solid character/story development we see from CJ or Troll.

    The Apocalypse World AP is a perfect example. Whenever you played your brainer, much of your role-play seemed to revolve around creating the Nosferatu-like atmosphere. You placed the character development on the back burner to showcase how bizarre and unusual your character was. Once you changed to the maestro, your interactions with the NPCs and the other players seemed to focus more on character/story development.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with playing an unusual character, in fact, I think it can lead to some really interesting stories, I just think the character’s unusual nature shouldn’t take priority over showing the GM and other players (and, in the case of TWE crew, the audience) who that character is and how the events of the story are changing that character.

  12. stacey chancellor Says:

    I want to say something, but I don’t want it to come across as rude or anything. Don’t like fighting on boards. But here it is.

    I think when someone puts themself on a podcast, it allows people to see a lot of whom you are. Yeah, you can roleplay, but there is also joking and conversation involved that allows “us” the listerning to get to know you. This is not a bad thing and I have made friends with people that have started this way.

    Now with that comes the fact that people have the right to say what they think about it, as with any other type of public venue. I am a big fan of people getting to give their opinion. It is what makes this great. But saying that, criticism is tough thing to do on here. You want to keep it constructive or it can get nasty. Not saying it has gotten nasty (cuz for the most part people have been fair), but it feels like jen’s playing style is getting overly criticized.

    I have listened to most of the games, and is her character over the top sometimes? Sure. She even admits that. But I am not sure what the solution to this is(or that there should be one)? Jen is gonna play the way she wants, and she should play the way she wants. I think calling her style unfortunate, is not really fair. There is a line between being constructive, and just being critical. I have seen fueds start for less on these type of boards. Besides if if bothers someone enough, there are other podcasts out there. Or you can just avoid those with her, and that is fine too.

    This is their game and we are lucky enough to get to listen to them while they play. I think if we wanted to really analyze it would be easy to find “faults” with how everyone plays (or gm’s). It should be something that is enjoyed. :)

    Ok, I am done. Again, I am not trying to offend anyone, and I think your podcast is awesome.

  13. Kevin Weiser Says:

    A lot of this discussion about Jen is entirely subjective. She likes to play how she likes, and that’s not going to be enjoyable for everybody. I know she’s got some seriously rabid fans out there who love seeing how she’ll push the envelope every episode.

    This entire discussion cannot have a right answer. All I meant with the comment in the episode was that I know Jen’s tastes, and I try to take that into consideration when I’m picking which game we run next. Or, like in the example of our upcoming ICONS game, we got someone else. Jen wasn’t interested in super heroes and her style wouldn’t match the game, so we all agreed someone else might be a better fit.

    The real lesson to be learned here is know your fellow players. As Captain Indigo said tone determines which friends I invite to play. In our non-podcast games, sometimes I invite Jen, sometimes I don’t. Depends on the game we’re playing and who we’re playing with.

    And I’d like to thank/congratulate Tim, he’s our first listener to come out and say he doesn’t like a particular way someone plays. It’s a sign that we’ve gotten a large enough fan base that some of them will start saying their preferences. At first when it’s just one person, it’s hard to ignore. Once we get a big enough fanbase that half the comments are filled with criticisms, then we’ve really made it. :)

  14. Tim Randles Says:

    I actually agree the initial comment came across more insulting than I intended, Stacy, which is why I wanted to add further clarification afterwards. It wasn’t my intention to be insulting, in fact, in my second post, I was trying to offer more construction criticism. As Kevin pointed out, as the fanbase grows more criticisms will spring up and you have to keep in mind that not all criticism is going to be nearly as friendly (this is the internet, after all) so I don’t think anyone should sweat it too much. Really, though, I think I could very much like Jen as a player (loved it when she played the maestro, in fact) if she didn’t let the strangeness overshadow all the other stuff.

    To balance out the Criticism… I’m torn between my two favorite characters in the APs I’ve listened to… either CJ’s Thom or Troll’s Errol (probably Troll’s Errol, but it’s pretty close).

    Finally, I wanted to say that I don’t enjoy many of the other AP podcast because often times they seem to be more table talk than AP. The Walking Eye balances the two very well. Also, I think an important part of an AP podcast is to show the audience what the game and it’s mechanics are all about and many other groups spend very little time actually explaining the mechanics in any meaningful way. There hasn’t been a single AP I’ve listened to that I haven’t felt that I understood what the game was about and how it’s mechanics functioned. This is hands down the best AP podcast I’ve listened to.

  15. Tim Randles Says:

    … oh… forgot sound quality. The Walking Eye’s sound quality is spectacular.

  16. stacey chancellor Says:

    I have listened to a few others myself, but a lot of them are D&D (which I am no longer into). It is good to be able to say what you want on here. yeah it is just the internet, but people can still be just as easily offened online as in person.

    I loved all of the characters in the DFRPG (but I am biased) and the Apocalypse world ap was just a trip, but that game seems like it could always be a bit intense

  17. Jen Dixon Says:

    I do appreciate the feedback and comments here and I try not to get up in arms when the feedback is negative or harsh. Most people really have no idea how difficult it is to put themselves out there for public criticism.

    Stacey is dead-on with her comment that everyone can find faults when analyzing another’s game. I’ve come to accept the criticism as part of putting out a great podcast and I think it’s great that people are interested enough to criticize, it means they are engaged, and I can’t ask for more than that.

    I am exceptionally proud of the podcast. I feel like we do more than any other cast out there to bring gamers to indie/story games. We respect each other, we know our industry, we care about what we put out and we work very hard to keep things interesting for our listeners. We have been going for years now, which is a fucking amazing achievement for a hobby cast.

    Am I gonzo? Yup. Am I regretful or ashamed of my characters or gaming skills? Not a bit. I am a hard core pretentious bitch who loves to play odd, bizarre, uncomfortable characters. I play what I want to play and I have a great time doing it.

    Thanks again for listening and take care,
    Jen J Dixon

  18. stacey chancellor Says:

    by the way it is he…not her. :) No worries, I get that alot.

  19. Jen Dixon Says:

    Sorry about that man. 😛

  20. Tim Randles Says:

    Fortunately, I haven’t been hit by anything uncomfortable yet… I’m honestly not expecting I will be. I think CJ (if I remember right?) has a line about particularly messed up things happening to children, so, considering that line is already in place within the group, I don’t have a lot to worry about. It’s probably a good one to keep to anyhow. I imagine the majority of people find that subject uncomfortable.

  21. stacey chancellor Says:

    Am totally used to it. :)

  22. Jason Says:

    “Grey Ranks, very funny game.” I almost pissed myself. haha!

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