We’ve been looking at Dystopia Rising Evolved for a few months now and we’ve been talking a LOT about the changes of the mechanics, the story and the items. One thing I haven’t seen much discussion on is the evolution of our communication in our community as a result. SO - I’mma start that off.
There’s several places in the new book that refer to ‘having an adult conversation’ about Character versus Character conflict - and me, being the communication nerd ya’ll lovingly tolerate, I realized that no one really told you what we meant when we said ‘Adult Conversation’. So we’re gonna dig into it a bit.
First, it’s important that ya’ll practice Active Listening.
Pay Attention to what the speaker is saying, don’t think about what you’re going to say in response.
Show that you’re listening through body language.
Provide Feedback / Paraphrase back to them. “What I”m hearing is…” etc.
Defer Judgement, let the speaker finish their thought before you interrupt to counter-argue or ask a question.
Respond appropriately by being honest, respectful and treating the other person how you’d want to be treated.
Second, it’s really important that you keep in mind that you’re both approaching the situation from the same side of the table. You’re not opponents, you’re teammates looking to make sure both of you enjoy the story that unfolds.
Third, if you start having difficulty and you’re not sure why - first place to check is how ya’ll are communicating. It’s not easy stuff but sometimes talking about the how will help someone identify the missing piece or source of miscommunication.
Beth plays Doc Widow and I play Treasure. I decide it would be fun story if the characters started bickering more about how to run the Lascarian pack both our characters are a part of. I message Beth and say “Hey, just wanted to let you know that I think it’d be neat story if Treasure and Widow start arguing more about pack things. Thanks!”
….That…that’s not a conversation. That’s a notification. Conversation requires give and take, message and response.
Fyre Sol & Treasure this time. Treasure has been avoiding Fyre Sol for -months- and he’s done with it. Truate hits me up and says “Hey, so Fyre Sol has been trying to have a conversation with Treasure for months.” Me: Yeah, she’s avoiding him cause she soooo doesn’t wanna have that conversation. Him: “He’s about fed up with it and he’s just gonna start screaming at her.” Me: Do it! Sounds fantastic!
Later at game Fyre Sol tries one more time to get Treasure into that conversation and she avoids it, so a few hours later he starts SCREAMING at her in front of a group of people. They then walk off to go have the conversation in private after Treasure shushes Fyre Sol’s ranting.
Perfect. The conflict was discussed in detail beforehand and enthusiastically agreed to -and- we stuck to that agreed level of conflict.
Now Munch and Treasure. They have a history of settling arguments with a physical fight. Jeff and I have talked about this a -ton- and we both have a lot of fun with it. It’s an established part of our LARP-ing relationship with these characters. During Game Munch and Treasure start arguing and I use my right hand to make a C on my left shoulder. Jeff gives me a thumbs up. Our characters then try to beat the shit out of one another but no theft and no infection loss occur.
Also perfect! When it’s something that’s been discussed and is an established part of your RP together, all you need is that confirmation that they’re up to it at this specific time.
One more time, Lulu & Treasure. There’s a little territoriality that they’re both edging towards some direct conflict, so I reach out to Caroline. “Hey, it looks like Lulu & Treasure are gonna clash over this territory - you okay with some conflict RP?” Them: Sure, that sounds fun! Me: “It might get physical, are you okay with that?” Them: Yeah, combat’s fine.
The game comes and sure enough, tensions are there. I put the C on my shoulder to check, get a thumbs up and then I grab Caroline’s arm and am really surprised when they give me a thumbs down and pull away from me.
This one was bad because I had a specific ‘physical’ in mind and Caroline replied with ‘combat is fine’ and in the heat of the moment I didn’t confirm they consented to physical RP. So while we talked, it wasn’t good enough.
So, I can’t keep giving examples - but there’s two good and two bad ones. It’s not always simple and we’re going to have to learn how to do this together BUT we can do it - I have no doubt. <3
SO - Talking to the team about all of that - I came to realize that I had an expectation of ya’ll that I hadn’t properly communicated.
Whenever two players have an interpersonal conflict that doesn’t involve rules being broken I always tell them that we’re available to be mediators AFTER they have tried to resolve it themselves first. And we’re going to stick with that.
What I have just realized is that in my mind, if there’s a conflict and that conversation doesn’t go well - I then had the expectation that a conversation would follow about HOW those two people were communicating. The mechanics of their communication as it were.
Did Susan say something that was hurtful and accusatory? I should point it out.
Did I interrupt Susan several times? That’s something they should point out to me.
Have I explained to Susan that when I’m struggling to find a word I might pause and stare off into the distance and I’m not ignoring her?
Like….it might sound really simple but talking about how a message was received can really help.
“Hey, Truate - when you use the word ‘whatever’ in response I feel like you’re dismissing my point of view. I don’t think that’s what you intend so can we find another word?”
Anyway - I’ll try to adjust my expectations and be ready to jump in sooner on interpersonal conflicts but I’d also like ya’ll to look at this and really think about if you’ve done this with people you’ve had miscommunications or arguments with in the past. <3