Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

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Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Nathaniel Mason on Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:49 pm

Hello everyone,

I want to thank everyone for the overwhelming support and confidence shown me.  I hope that I will be equal to the responsibilities you have placed on me for however long I will carry them.  I have been narrating a weekly Game of Thrones campaign for six years, and narrating other game systems for forty.  I believe in players first and foremost.  My job is to ensure that the players are having fun and sufficiently challenged.  It is my hope that Reader will eventually return and I will be able to resume running my little whore in the shadows.  Until that time, I will do my best to see that all of you are entertained in his absence.

For the moment, my plans are to run Phase 2 of the current story, which I expect will run from 4-6 months.  At the end of that phase, we shall see what circumstances are.  Perhaps Reader’s schedule will have changed; perhaps you will want to appoint a new Narrator; perhaps I will continue.  None of us having a reliable crystal ball, we will address that when the time comes.

In keeping with people’s wishes for style, I will be creating a Narrator login, along with a Combat Moderator login and an Intrigue Moderator login.  I will be asking two others to fill those two roles and a Narrator forum will be created with them, as well as Reader, to discuss ongoing narrative and any issues that may arise.  Moderators may continue as PCs and will not have access to personal forums or overarching story.

I would like everyone to create two threads in their personal forums; OOC questions and IC questions.  I disliked the PM system on the old boards and I like the PM system here even less.  I would prefer to keep PMs to a bare minimum.  The first post in your IC question thread should be links to all threads you consider still outstanding and require Narrator attention.  OOC questions are always welcome, but if it is a question that the player base could reasonably answer, it should be asked in open OOC forum first.

Reader is still Narrator of record for Phase 1 events and those previous.  (He gets to clean up his own spilled Mushrooms.)   I will try and field what issues I can for past events, or pass them on to Reader if I cannot.  I will be posting the first Phase 2 event on Feb. 1st.  There will be a monthly event posted at the 1st of every month that will run the entire month.  This will be the overarching theme for the month.  There will also be a smaller event posted each Monday and each will last two weeks.  The first two Mondays will be related to/have an impact on the monthly event.  The third week will be an RP event.  The fourth Monday will be a high stakes voluntary bonus event which will give extra opportunity for people to progress in their personal goals (with the commensurate level of risk.)  There will be a small break in months with a 5th Monday.

Nathan will be NPCed for the time I am Narrator.  He will not be eligible to participate in events, gain event rewards, gain rewards for his House, or negotiate on behalf of his House.  He will continue narratively, he may be used to disseminate information to the players, he will continue to work towards his personal goals (under Reader’s supervision).  If, should Reader return, or the players desire another Narrator when my tenure is over, he will be returning to PC status.  I see no problem in this.  In my other games the position of Narrator is regularly rotated to prevent burnout and give everyone a chance to play.  I understand a few of you will have concerns over this, but either you trust me not to metagame, or you don’t.  If you don’t trust me not to metagame as a PC, then you don't trust me as a Narrator.  This has been approved by Reader, and was the only condition I placed on accepting the position.

Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that I had a heart attack last year.  My health is currently good and I have no reason to believe I will have any problems in the foreseeable future.  However, as I said, no crystal ball.  If for some reason I do not log in within a ten day period, assume that you need a new Narrator.  Smile
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Gwyneth Drakeson on Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:59 pm

Gleep! Best wishes for you!

Thanks for taking on this new responsibility and keeping the game moving forward!
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Reader on Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:03 pm

Bookmarked! Sorry for brevity, on phone.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Lady Corrine Marsten on Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:37 pm

Thanks for laying out your plans. I'll create the requested threads soon.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Baelon Drakeson on Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:07 pm

As Gwyn (and others elsewhere) said, thank you for stepping up to keep this moving. I do not anticipate your task will be easy, but will do everything in my power to help you make it successful.

First and foremost:
Nathaniel Mason wrote:Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that I had a heart attack last year.  My health is currently good and I have no reason to believe I will have any problems in the foreseeable future.  However, as I said, no crystal ball.  If for some reason I do not log in within a ten day period, assume that you need a new Narrator.  Smile
Oh dear. I sincerely wish you the best of health, and not just for the sake of the game!

Now, I have some questions and concerns about your stated plan.

Nathaniel Mason wrote:For the moment, my plans are to run Phase 2 of the current story, which I expect will run from 4-6 months.  At the end of that phase, we shall see what circumstances are.
Do you really mean Phase 2 alone? there are, as I recall, 4 phases to Story 3. The entirety of Story 1 took us about four months, and while I think that a somewhat slowed pace is a good idea, I think that trying to stretch one phase over 4 or more months is quite a bit too slow. Previously we indeed ran into the issue that some threads/events would spill over into the time allotted for the next game-time period, but we also had times where there were lulls and people were chomping at the bit to get to the next Day to begin.

Nathaniel Mason wrote:Reader is still Narrator of record for Phase 1 events and those previous.  (He gets to clean up his own spilled Mushrooms.)   I will try and field what issues I can for past events, or pass them on to Reader if I cannot.
I can understand the need (and desire) to have Reader resolve some of the more contentious matters from Phase 1 and before, but there are a number of off-season and Phase 1 events that would require little more than administrative wrap-up; given that Reader's availability is currently rather limited, perhaps it would be wise to try to separate the two and for you to wrap up the less contentious issues yourself? I think it would be a good idea to have at least most of them done before we move on to Phase 2 - particularly a number of off-season events, which I fear may slip off the table and remain unresolved indefinitely. Some of those are things that have significantly shaped house and character actions, and deserve resolution.

Nathaniel Mason wrote:I will be posting the first Phase 2 event on Feb. 1st.  There will be a monthly event posted at the 1st of every month that will run the entire month.  This will be the overarching theme for the month.  There will also be a smaller event posted each Monday and each will last two weeks.  The first two Mondays will be related to/have an impact on the monthly event.  The third week will be an RP event.  The fourth Monday will be a high stakes voluntary bonus event which will give extra opportunity for people to progress in their personal goals (with the commensurate level of risk.)  There will be a small break in months with a 5th Monday.
Two questions:
1) Story 3 was by design divided into two tracks, Stepstones and King's Landing. As players can only participate in one track or the other, perhaps it would be best to introduce the events for both tracks simultaneously? Otherwise we could end up with large stretches of time in which some players have little to drive their engagement; that is not a good situation to be in.

2) Is it your intent to add/remove/change content to/from Reader's existing plans, or are you intending to simply implement what he has already prepared?

Nathaniel Mason wrote:Nathan will be NPCed for the time I am Narrator.  He will not be eligible to participate in events, gain event rewards, gain rewards for his House, or negotiate on behalf of his House.  He will continue narratively, he may be used to disseminate information to the players, he will continue to work towards his personal goals (under Reader’s supervision).  If, should Reader return, or the players desire another Narrator when my tenure is over, he will be returning to PC status.  I see no problem in this.  In my other games the position of Narrator is regularly rotated to prevent burnout and give everyone a chance to play.  I understand a few of you will have concerns over this, but either you trust me not to metagame, or you don’t.  If you don’t trust me not to metagame as a PC, then you don't trust me as a Narrator.  This has been approved by Reader, and was the only condition I placed on accepting the position.
I strenuously object. I have raised my concerns elsewhere, and others expressed objections to my stating I wished to return to Baelon after one story (which I note you are now expressing for yourself as well). The DMPC issue has always been one of my top two issues, and I cannot state it enough - I have never in all my many years of gaming (not quite as many as you, but significant enough) seen a successful case of DMPCing. Often the fault arises not from the DM but in the reactions of the players. regardless of why it happens, however, I have over and over again seen DMPCs destroy games, and in one notable instance, friendships. I have seen a portion of a gaming group stage a walk-out because of it. If you cannot bring yourself to step away from Nathan-the-character, I urge you to step down from your position before you even begin. I care about the matter that much. It is a game killer, and I will not quietly let it go.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Lady Corrine Marsten on Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:24 pm

Baelon, it's not a DMPC. Nathan the character, from what I can see, is going to be an NPC. He doesn't get to contribute to personal goals, a House, or events. I don't see what more you could want. We can't just erase a very involved character as though they never existed. Many of us have interactions with Nathan the character, so I don't see what's wrong with us being able to interact with him like any other NPC.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Baelon Drakeson on Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:31 pm

It's a PC run by a DM. That's the very definition of a DMPC; further, Nathan stated he would be working towards personal goals.

I'm not saying erase him. I'm saying have him go on an expedition to Yi Ti, or the Summer Isles. Somewhere not directly involved in the ongoing events. The very fact that Nathan-the-character has been so influential on various houses and events is the very reason to set him aside.

It's no different than what those of us who were involved with Dyana, Fendrel, Sam, and Ser Jorah have had to do. We adapt and move on.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Gwyneth Drakeson on Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:32 pm

Yeah...I tend to agree with Corrine on this. I think it's okay if Nathan continues to exist in the game world, so long as he's not a 'PC' anymore. Especially since Reader continues to have some oversight in areas involving Nathan. Lets give this a chance.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Baelon Drakeson on Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:49 pm

As I've said, I have no issues with Nathan-the-character continuing to exist in the game world. I don't even have a problem with Nathan-the-player taking control of Nathan-the-character again in the future should he cease to be a Narrator, though others have expressed those sorts of concerns elsewhere.

I have an issue with Nathan-the-character continuing to influence the game events while Nathan-the-player is a Narrator.

Beyond that I do not care what happens to the character. His brothel burns down and he is too busy rebuilding and hunting down the arsonist to be involved. He is sent on an important and secret mission by the Queen. A rival spymaster starts killing off his informants. I really don't care what the justification is. There are countless options that would be perfectly in character and have the same OOC effect.

Of all the issues and concerns I have had, this one and this one alone is a line in the sand for me. I have seen too many games ruined because of similar things, and I have put too much work into this one to let this go. To be frank, I would prefer another hiatus to this... and I really don't want a hiatus.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Gwyneth Drakeson on Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:57 pm

Isn't that kind of like saying you'd support the certainty of the game dying over the possibility of it dying? I'm not sure I get that. Sad
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Baelon Drakeson on Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:59 pm

Neither is a certainty. Both are risks. I feel a hiatus is the lower risk.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Reader on Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:02 pm

Don't sweat my availability to at least help out and wrap things.

UK fund managers get lots of days off, and I'm willing to use some to finish my stuff off even if I'm busy with other stuff. It's ongoing commitments that are harder for me at the moment. I think that I've demonstrated that I'm not the type to disappear entirely, even when my personal/professional life is at it busiest. It's the least I owe people, and Nathaniel would understandably be demotivated at tying up a complicated, controversial event as part of his debut. Smile

Kicking a few of the other issues around with Nathaniel via PM, thanks to everyone for trying to keep a constructive, positive tone.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Nathaniel Mason on Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:24 pm

To be clear, Nathan's current personal objective is to raise Ser Jon's Roxton's status and give him the legacy he so richly craves. As I stated quite clearly, he would not have any impact or access to player driven content while I am narrator.

I will be using some of Reader's content, and some of my own. The schedule is designed to roll out content on a timely basis. The content could take place in KL or the Stepstones or elsewhere. There will be no tracks. Player content will be open to anyone. Travel time will largely be handwaved.

Event schedule listed is the minimum. There will probably be other events, but those will come out of player RP and will depend on how we are working through the schedule. Schedule will either expand or contract based on player actions. The 4-6 month timeframe is just an estimate.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Baelon Drakeson on Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:07 pm

Nathaniel Mason wrote:To be clear, Nathan's current personal objective is to raise Ser Jon's Roxton's status and give him the legacy he so richly craves.  As I stated quite clearly, he would not have any impact or access to player driven content while I am narrator.
To be blunt, that is quite different from what you said previously. In particular:
Nathaniel Mason wrote:He will continue narratively, he may be used to disseminate information to the players, he will continue to work towards his personal goals (under Reader’s supervision).
That makes it pretty clear that while he may not participate in mechanical events, he will still be active in non-mechanical ways.... which ultimately matter more.



Nathaniel Mason wrote:I will be using some of Reader's content, and some of my own.  The schedule is designed to roll out content on a timely basis.  The content could take place in KL or the Stepstones or elsewhere.  There will be no tracks.  Player content will be open to anyone.  Travel time will largely be handwaved.
So you are completely changing the structure, taking out the elements of having to make choices that matter, giving more characters opportunities to shine, and the 'letters from the front' RP aspect. Those were the requests made for Story 3 by various players (in the Wishes for next chapter) that led to the two-track structure and A/B/C event options design. I would heartily recommend that you review that thread (though like so many of our OOC threads it gets a bit sidetracked at times) and consider those wishes before you make those very major changes concrete.



Nathaniel Mason wrote:Event schedule listed is the minimum.  There will probably be other events, but those will come out of player RP and will depend on how we are working through the schedule.  Schedule will either expand or contract based on player actions.  The 4-6 month timeframe is just an estimate.
That makes sense.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Reader on Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:12 pm

Just to be clear (curse forum vagueness), Nathaniel will be at House Roxton during Story 3, as discussed with him via PM. He's too far away to have a non-mechanical influence. This is a reasonable concern and you're all on the same page, just got lost among the general maelstorm. Smile

Story 3 will be owned by Nathaniel, but in PM he noted an intent not to scrap existing plans (he may well tweak and adjust). Your hard work will not be abandoned.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Nathaniel Mason on Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:48 pm

Just to let everyone know. Septon Arlyn has accepted the role of Intrigue Moderator. Thank you very much for your assistance.

I had originally offered the role of Combat Moderator to Baelon, but he has chosen to step back from that offer. If there are any of the players that feel they might wish to fulfill that role, please message me.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Lady Corrine Marsten on Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:49 pm

I think Nathan is being reasonable. Most NPCs are played by the narrator. They all have their own stats and personal goals. That doesn't make them all DMPCs.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Septon Arlyn on Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:28 pm

Your welcome, and thanks for taking over the Head narrator spot
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Baelon Drakeson on Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:36 pm

Reader wrote:Just to be clear (curse forum vagueness), Nathaniel will be at House Roxton during Story 3, as discussed with him via PM. He's too far away to have a non-mechanical influence. This is a reasonable concern and you're all on the same page, just got lost among the general maelstorm. Smile
That is perfectly acceptable, so long as any contact is kept at other character's discretion - should someone wish a scene, write a letter, etc, so be it. Nathan-the-character being a plot mover, reaching out to others to share information or otherwise influence events, or similar is what I would be concerned about. It's not distance, it's agency.

Reader wrote:Story 3 will be owned by Nathaniel, but in PM he noted an intent not to scrap existing plans (he may well tweak and adjust). Your hard work will not be abandoned.
It's not just about my work, though I will be honest that is part of it. It's more that the work was significantly based on the stated wishes of the players, and I feel that abandoning those wishes is counterproductive to the well-being of the game.

Nathaniel Mason wrote:I had originally offered the role of Combat Moderator to Baelon, but he has chosen to step back from that offer.  If there are any of the players that feel they might wish to fulfill that role, please message me.
I said that I might have to step back from the position if certain aspects of your plans were not addressed. I am still willing to do it, in general.

Lady Corrine Marsten wrote:I think Nathan is being reasonable. Most NPCs are played by the narrator. They all have their own stats and personal goals. That doesn't make them all DMPCs.
It's not about stats or goals, its about plot-centrism and agency.

We all expect that the royal family and other major NCs will shape the events to come. They are central figures in the story, and leaving them out would defeat the purpose of playing in GRRMs setting. However, we do not expect them to to have new stories that are not part of the existing setting, save how they interact with the PCs and help tell te story of the PCs.

In a separate way, PCs shape the story, as a result of our agency as players. Our characters are important by virtue of being PCs, the focus of the action is on us, and so on. NCs set the stage, but the PCs are the actors on the stage. NCs do not make appearances, except when interacting with PCs. They are not telling the story, the PCs are.

When a Narrator gives an NC the plot-centrality and agency of a PC, that is a DMPC. At that point, the narrator is telling their own story, rather than allowing the players to be the fundamental driving force. It becomes to an extent a fanfic rather than an RPG. I'm not trying to belittle fanfics, but they are a different art form, a vision of a solo artist rather than collaborative creation.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Lady Corrine Marsten on Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:44 pm

Nathan explicitly stated he believes in players first of all. I think your concern is unfounded. I don't really care what Nathan the character does as long as it's good story that we can get fun rp out of. NPCs do stuff we react to all the time. They don't go into stasis when we're not interacting with them.

My bottom line is I trust Nathan and Reader.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Septon Arlyn on Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:04 am

Lady Corrine Marsten wrote:
...

My bottom line is I trust Nathan and Reader.

Pretty much this is where I stand as well. I am sure that if Nathan started acting in such a way that we would have a cause for concern I believe that he would be receptive to our feedback.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Loreia on Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:29 am

Pretty sure Nathan means that his character's seclusion to House Roxton and motivations for being out of sight and mind are merely an explanation. I don't see the character doing anything to influence the story or the people in it. I believe he's just a person/resource Jon how has to further his plans, a splash of world-building an nothing more until such a time as Nathan should step down and resume control of the character. Nathan's character has no leverage or influence. House Roxton is essentially his sojourn to Yi-Ti.

He's been put inside a cage - and it's a nice cage, it's gilded, has a little nest, and there's bird seed and water feeders, but it's just a cage. Maybe he'll get to be free again, maybe he won't... that's a sad analogy Sad

If I have said anything false, I ask that our new narrator correct me. Otherwise, I see no problem.

On Phase 2 changes
Nathan wrote:The content could take place in KL or the Stepstones or elsewhere. There will be no tracks. Player content will be open to anyone. Travel time will largely be handwaved.
Well, either one is participating in the war and therefore locked into that region, or they are not (like the noble lady PCs, or the septon). I have some reservations about that. Obviously player participation in said content should be within reason and up to the player, as with travel time (no journeys from the Wall down to the Twins in two days etc). Right?
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Nathaniel Mason on Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:13 am

Loreia wrote:
He's been put inside a cage - and it's a nice cage, it's gilded, has a little nest, and there's bird seed and water feeders, but it's just a cage. Maybe he'll get to be free again, maybe he won't... that's a sad analogy Sad

That is essentially correct.  There may be some narrative scenes to share story as a plot device.  There may be some Jon/Nathan scenes.  Quite a few people seem to like those and I enjoy writing them.  However, Nathan will have zero impact on the war effort, green/black faction, events of any kind, or any of the other driving forces open to players.


Loreia wrote:
Nathan wrote:The content could take place in KL or the Stepstones or elsewhere. There will be no tracks. Player content will be open to anyone. Travel time will largely be handwaved.

Well, either one is participating in the war and therefore locked into that region, or they are not (like the noble lady PCs, or the septon). I have some reservations about that. Obviously player participation in said content should be within reason and up to the player, as with travel time (no journeys from the Wall down to the Twins in two days etc). Right?

The first event on Feb 1st will be the war preparation event.  This event will be an opportunity for players to work for (or against) the war effort... or work for their faction at the expense of the war effort.  For this event, a PCs location is not as important as their actions.  One PC might be trying to drum up support in the Vale, another might be enlisting recruits in the Riverlands.  A third might be scouting in the Stepstones.  It is the actions, not the location, that matters.

The first weekly event will be a war planning summit called by the King (in an attempt to unite the two factions, which is one of his goals.)  That will take place in King's Landing, and I don't see any reason why any PC could not be there.

There will be events where a PC will have to make a choice between two options of an event due to location and timing.  However I do not want to lock any PC into a 'track'.  I want PCs to have more options, not less.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Loreia on Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:24 am

Okay, I understand now.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

Post by Nathaniel Mason on Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:00 am

It is difficult to write this, especially after all the wonderful support most of you have shown me, but after speaking with friends, family, and fellow narrators, I am forced to face facts and come to a decision.

I am leaving Dragon's Dance.

I'm sorry. I wanted to be there for you. I wanted to try and support the game that I and so many have devoted so much time towards. I wanted to make an effort to try and improve the game. Most of all, I wanted to provide good and riveting story for you all. I wanted to provide challenges and excitement and drama.

However, I don't see that happening. I cannot be your Narrator if every decision I make is questioned, every post I make is parsed, my very competence as a Narrator derided. I cannot be your Narrator if the vast majority of my time is devoted to defending my position, justifying my choices or asked to constantly second guess the path I wish to take. To be honest, I don't know any narrator that could.

My leaving should not have a substantial effect narratively. Nathan was to go off to House Roxton anyway, support his love with his considerable skills, and have lots of fabulous sex. I will miss him.

I genuinely wish all of you well. I do not know what the future holds for you, but I hope it is full of joy and laughter, good reading and good writing. I hope this game finds it's way, and if not, I wish you happiness in the other games you pursue and the fellowship that only good gaming brings.

Thank you all for the last two years, and thank you for welcoming my little whore in the shadows.
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Re: Transitions, Narrators, and Phase 2.

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