After I posted our Session 0 beta description… Ron responded with… "It's possible to ruin things by front-loading and world-building, but this is more like what I described than not. It was more talky than I've been recommending, and granted, a little more content via consensus than I prefer, but that latter is a preference rather than a mandate."
I responded with, "
Content via consensus… bad?
I'm interested in your dislike of content via consensus…"
Ron said: "
Not "bad." Let's see, on an everyone-to-me scale of negative implications for game features and practices …
- This is broken, ill-designed, no fun, and contra-indicated. Do not do it if you value your time even a little.
- This sucks. I mean, for me and what appears to be a lot of other people.
- This is no fun for people in |[specify] circumstances or with [specify] preferences.
- You might not want to do it because [this] is what typically happens.
- I don't do it because I dislike what typically happens.
- Anyone might like it but I tend not to, unless something else is in place so it works for me
This falls into #3 to ##5, counting downwards, and since this is a project design toward a particular zone or aesthetic of play, I was careful with my verbs in my comment above.
I then went searching for any refernces to this. Not easy to find, but one was very recent, even though it doesn't use Content by Consensus in term, it clearly is calling out EXACTLY what I'd described in my Session 0 post:
Ron: "Brainstorming before character creation and indeed before anything else, usually resulting in a shit-ton of minor “not” statements, a number of comics references, a lot of super-alternate history, and a detailed set of origins and how-we-mets. As a whole, this is not play or prep for play, it is its own process of fiction production which drains play potential and removes actual individual creative contribution in favor of an editorially-acceptable blend."
The last phrase there seems to be the rub, as Ron sees it. "…drains play potential and removes actual individual creative contribution in favor of an editorially-acceptable blend."
Now, this is couched in mild terminology, but clearly drenched with disdain for this process. I'm just not sure why…
What is removed from play by this process other than a clash of expectations that creates hard feelings and friction in the group?
In what way is an editorial direction (by the group, not an edict from the GM) a bad thing? I don't see this minimizing individual contribution as much as simply providing a framework for it. The creative process is enhanced by boundaries vs. pure white space.
Every assertion by a player or GM is, by the nature of itself, also a series of "nots"… so how is it a problem to knock some of this out in pre-play, which I agree, is a process of fiction production, but a necessary one.
If the process is "too talky" then how else should it look, since RPGs are all talking.
Also, I feel this process serves a very important social function for the group… if the table can only be convened once every other week or so, how do you keep the enthusiasm and interest going, but by talking and throwing out ideas and "what ifs?" The players wanted to share what they had come up with, and get feedback… not just from the GM, but from the group. Then, when the table is convened, there is the sense that there is already a "thing" to be sitting down to, and an investment in the game, not just in the character (which was an old, old problem that made for very ugly times.)
What am I missing about consensus building that is problematic? Also… perhaps it is just me, but "a project design toward a particular zone or aesthetic of play" is what Ron is after… but I am not at all clear what the zone/aesthetic is. Perhaps I'm dense, or perhaps our play is inherently rejecting that aesthetic and we don't realize it.