The Energy System allows the players to narrate or better yet interpret, what the results of their rolls are. Some players have a bit of trouble with that and understandably so, since in most games they are passive when it comes to narration.
Because of this, I’d like to give the players some simple processes that would help them think through narration (or interpretation).
GMs do narration all the time, they’re used to it. Fill a table with players that have been GMs and I think there would be no problem. Some players think they could never GM. It seems magical to them how this person comes up with all this stuff.
To make the choices simpler I thought about introducing a list of ideas to develop the players narration but it ended up being either too vague to be useful or way too long and overwhelming.
So I need a different strategy. It needs to be concrete as possible for the players to easily absorb the advice.
I actually have a goal for player narration in the Energy System and that is for the narration to explain the dice roll as much as possible. That, I think, is key to this effort.
Of primary importance are dice depletions in this system and so I think that should be the focus of the players “interpreting” their rolls. Encouraging the players to say how each die depletes and why would be a great step forward.
In their early stages, with a player struggling to develop their narration skills, the GM can readily help out at this point. I’m thinking of something akin to Archipelago’s ritual phrases are in order. They don’t have to be as robust, they just have to be functional for the prompting we want to do. If there are phrases that are standardized, they’re less surprising when said, they are much more likely to be supportive than unintentionally demeaning and are probably easier for the GM to recall and use. This also conditions the players to expect GM intervention in their narration which is occasionally needed if the player is narrating something that contradicts known facts (even if it’s only the GM that knows them at the moment).
As the player gets more fluid in their narration, they will need less and less prompting. I can imagine a rules lawyer player using their narration as a weapon to suss out secrets from the GM, but that’s a problem for a different day.
Here are some prompts to help the players interpret the events connected to their rolls.
What made it go that way? – Prompting the player to start off a description.
What mistakes were made? – When the player hasn’t described a depletion.
Keep going – When you want the player to add more narration either because they’re doing well or they’ve stopped before fully explaining the roll.
Think of other ways – When the player uses the same description again.
That can’t be – When the player contradicts facts that they may or may not be aware of.
I’m not sure if these are the best phrases to use, I’ll try using them in our next session and see how it goes.