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Binary Options Hack fast and easy! Note that this is not using the general, broad definition of "story" but something more like the Story Now definition. Agreed, which is why I've been stressing the importance of defining your terms which is not to say that I've been all that great at it myself, but with regards to "story" I honestly hadn't realized the disagreement was on that level until you pointed it out.
Also, many people do conversation in first person by actually talking rather than by narration — e. I should have gone into more detail about what I meant. The player is not performing the action but making a representation of it.
This representation is usually verbal but can include physical actions. However, what is universal is that it isn't the actual action - the player is not in the same place, is not the character, and so they cannot perform the actual action. He can make a very similar action speaking the same words, holding a pendant in the same way and so on but it's still a representation, an illustration of the character's action.
To me, this is the same as in the examples I listed upthread, with the storytellers on the stage who would tell part of their tale through gestures. Sorry that this is cut short but work is calling. I'll try to continue later. I can't care less. My reasoning goes this way: All those things I've said are just there to maximize the choices the players have, how much the players care for those choices, how interesting to everyone around the table the consequences will be and how dependant of all this the conclusion will be.
You're free to differ, of course, but at my tables it works wonder, whoever the players are I do lots of convention games and demos. I haven't followed this thread religiously since the OP got banned, but just have a question to Greg P. Sorry, just noticed you said these could be built into the game directly.
So, my follow-up question is, in your opinion, how do you build things like that straight into the game? Either you already know how to GM and play that kind of game to every player's satisfaction in that case, you don't even need a rulebook or you don't, and it that case, you can learn how by following an ad hoc game's rules.
For the second case: You trust the designer that their game, played properly, is going to be fun. Those rules can include things like "here's how you prep your session", "here's how to play an NPC" or "here's your PC's place in the world". My favorite games do. By giving the players GM included procedures that do that. That's what a rulebook is, isn't it? A list of things to do in order to play the game properly.
I don't think I'm saying anything far out or controversial here. Skilled GMing is just ad hoc procedures for the type of game wanted that the players GM included internalized or came up with. Now, the real, complete answer is exactly what the whole field of RPG design theory is about. And it's in its teenage years: And for the punchline: IMH non-designer O, the first things to keep in mind is that there's the players GM included in the real world on one side, the characters in their imaginary world on the other side, and that these two parts interact because the former tell small story bits about the later to each other.
All your rules and procedures are just there to say how, who, which and when. I would consider that to be moderately controversial. Who's to say what playing it properly is? And if people had played them "properly" then there wouldn't have been the explosion of 3rd and 4th generation games in the 80s. More recently, if people had played 3. I would say that a rulebook is a list of things you need to do to play a game.
But I wouldn't go as far as to say how to play it properly. That's a bit close to One True Way for me. How to play well, OTOH, is good advice. The game designer s. It's obvious to me. You play a game properly if you play that game according to the rules and procedures layed out by the people who decide how the game is played. They made a game. They gave you a blueprint about how to play it. Can you have more fun playing a game improperly than properly?
That's how better games are made. Do you play a game properly if you don't follow its rules? If you play, say, Chess, and you decide that knights don't move according to a 2-to1 L-shape but to a 3-to-1 L-shape, are you playing proper Chess? If you're sure you've done that, and it wasn't fun, then the game's not your thing.
Go design a game that's your thing. If people at large prefer your game better than the older game it's based on, if they find it more fun, congratulations! You've made a better game. Also, More recently, if people had played 3. I beg to differ: Would have they played these classes any other way, they wouldn't have had anything relevant to say about the game. I wasn't intending pointing that out as criticism, but since the latter part of the thread has been largely concerned with what "story" means and the various definitions floating around I wanted that to be clear.
What you've said in your last few posts is spot-on, as far as I'm concerned. Oh, no problem with that. I'm trying to use as fewer words as possible to keep my ideas less garbled and to make sure I go straight to the point, as a countermeasure to my natural tendency ie.
Sometimes that can come out as harsh, and I apologize for that. Also, despite a good grasp on the english language, I'm not a native speaker, so a lot of times subtle connotations are lost to me.
Same thing here on all counts, so no worries. Except the way that people played 3. In effect, people played it wrongly, that is not in the way that the designers intended it to be played. You seem to be saying that the designer is always right and the designer takes precedence at the table, despite the fact that the designer isn't actually present in the vast majority of cases. And I maintain that is nothing more than promoting the Cult of the Designer.
It's saying, "We the people who make these games don't trust you, the people who play these games to play them properly. That's One True Way in action, right there. If playing a game as written is a different thing from playing it as intended, then the designer of that game has failed. Either they have failed to accurately explain their intended mode of play or they have failed to create a system that supports it.
If you're interested enough in talking about it, and interested enough that you know you don't want it in your game, you should be able to define what it is, I think. Just saying "I don't want story in my games" and then refusing to define "story" seems pretty weird to me.
Honestly, I don't see how it's my responsibility what anyone else does. I want everyone to be straight about their definitions and argue honestly and be clear about what they want, but I can't make them. From what I've heard, the problem with 3.
So yes, I think there was a failure of design, but that discussion's been done over and over and over in the d20 forum so there's probably no reason to bring it over here.
It's not required that one have a better definition before pointing out the problems with someone else's definitions though. And my recollection was that earlier in the thread some folks were trying to provide alternative definitions - it's back in the part of the thread where arguments from authority regarding the definition of narrative seemed to be very popular.
It's not your responsibility. And while you can't make them, neither can I. Personally I didn't find those attempts convincing, since they seemed more suitable to other disciplines where "story" was contrasted with other ways of portraying a narrative and where careful analysis was possible.
In roleplaying the methods of storytelling are quite different in many ways multiple participants, told in the moment, randomizers, almost never an external audience etc meaning the tools of analysis needed are both much harder to come by and less relevant. As for the criticism, at least some of it seemed based on antipathy towards the term itself rather than how it was used. Some posters seemed to want to define "story" in such a way as to be able to say that their kind of roleplaying didn't involve it because they didn't want to be involved in "story gaming" or whatever.
Of course, if that creates a useful definition that can be used to make interesting distinctions it doesn't really matter what their motives were, but to me that didn't seem to be the case. I suppose I phrased my question wrong: I know what rules are and how they affect gameplay.
Unlike a frightening majority of posters in this thread, I wasn't asking for a definition. What I meant to ask was what kind of procedures do you implement to create a structure to play like that that doesn't severely restrict the players' ability to make those meaningful story decisions? I ask because some months ago, I was trying to develop a kind of rising action mechanic.
I eventually abandoned it, but it went something like this; the unit of play here is one session, which was supposed to represent one 'episode' of the story. In each episode, the stakes begin low; conflicts are verbal only, unless one side or another wants to raise the stakes. When the stakes are raised, physical altercation can occur, but doesn't result in death for the PCs or named NPCs. When the stakes are raised again, death is on the line.
So you had clear rising stakes that protects PCs and important NPCs from dying in non-climactic scenarios, which was one goal of the system. Running parallel to the stakes was a character growth system where PCs invested so much XP into certain plot points related to their character background, essentially weighting what threads in the plot they care about, and then resolving them at high stakes multiplied the XP you received back from it.
It was easily gamed but I couldn't see a way around it without severely limiting the players' ability to choose when to resolve their own storylines, creating structural railroading that I found distasteful and overly narrow as anything but a half-baked gimmick. Thus, I abandoned it for other things, namely school.
After the successful kickstarter for Robin Laws' DramaSystem a month or so back, my mind has again returned to mechanics that lend a narrative structure to games, and I'm beginning to re-think my conception of RPGs. IMH non-designer O, the first things to keep in mind is that there's the players GM included in the real world on one side, the characters in their imaginary world on the other side, and that these two parts interact because the former tell small story bits about the latter to each other.
While this is accurate, I'm not sure if it's a useful angle from which to approach design. Furthermore, because the rules are by far focused on interaction between the imaginary characters and their environs, as opposed to those between players, it's not really a story writing or collaborative authorship game, either.
While yes, that does happen as a matter of course, it's not the actual subject of the game. The subject of the game is the imaginary characters and their actions. The whole idea of maximizing player choices and making real, tangible consequences is talking about role-playing more than story-telling. How do we design a user experience, if you will, that lends itself to that? Story-craft and characterization are important aspects, because the role-play is dependent upon assumptions that stem from the background story, both of the world and the individual characters, but while the moment-to-moment role-play is built on top of a foundation rich with story-telling elements, it is a distinct experience that emphasizes different elements.
Story is both a foundation and a by-product, but shouldn't necessarily be the focus of play. BTW, I do support the idea of having a section of the rules for both player and GM devoted to story-craft. Characterization for players and basic drama for GMs, something like Dan Harmon's circles theory for sketching plots and scenes. I'd like to see some material developed specifically for RPG use, though. TheBigDice, I'm still really curious about the idea of illusionism still existing even if the players have control over certain parts of the game.
Maybe my example didn't seem like control enough to even be called control - I'd argue that, but moving past it for now - do you have an example of players having control over how things are in game enough to show part of the control of the game is in their hands, thus is isn't illusionism? This is an interesting point! It's definitely true IMO that the story produced by roleplaying is usually a side effect or byproduct rather than the main reason for playing.
I'd say an obvious example of players having control is the way Houses of the Blooded works. By giving players the opportunity to decide success or failure on a skill roll, and what the outcomes of those failures and successes might be, huge amounts of control is handed over to the players. To the point where the GM is playing a reactive, rather than the more traditional proactive, role.
As for Illusionism, I'm starting to have trouble with the concept. The more I think about it, the more I'm starting to form the opinion that "agency" is just a term used as shorthand for "can't see the rails and has some wiggle room when it comes to character choices.
The problem I'm having is, unless you're playing in a game where the GM is literally rolling randomly for everything, how do you reconcile prepared NPCs and encounters with giving players the freedom of choice? Even the most elaborate sandbox is only really giving an illusion of freedom. You might not be able to see the walls, but they are there.
However, I'm still in the 'taking things to the extremes of the base idea' part of thinking on the subject, so there may be more to come on that. This is how I've felt about story in RPGs for a long time now. And yes, I have been pilloried for it from time to time. But seeing someone else come to the same conclusion independently makes me think maybe I wasn't so far off the mark.
I think the difference expressed hugely simplisticly is between "If you go to place A you'll have encounter X and if you go to place B you'll have encounter Y" non-illusionism and "If you go to place A you'll have encounter X and if you go to place B it will really be place A and you'll still have encounter X" illusionism. Basically, the choice having real and meaningful consequences, even if the choice is uninformed and limited to a small number of options and the consequences have been prepared beforehand.
In a more extreme non-illusionist variant the GM will have a prepared world where he knows how things work and create logical consequences to the choices the players make, but I don't think that's necessary. That's an issue of preparedness. Or over preparedness, in some cases. However, what happens when the players want to go to place C, with C being the place you haven't prepared for, but is similar in many ways to A? Say, they choose to go to a different coastal city from the one you planned for.
How much can you boorow from place A before it starts to become blatant illusionism? How much can you discourage traveling to a place you hadn't prepared before it becomes railroading? That's the kind of admittedly fringe situation I'm having issues reconciling with absolute freedom, railroads and illusions of freedom.
I agree that story is often not the focus or intent of those playing a RPG, but I dislike describing it as side effect or byproduct. That makes it sound less necessary than it really is and potentially unwanted.
You really can't have an RPG session without a group of people telling a story about what the characters do and what happens to them.
I would describe storytelling as the vehicle, framework, or even 'delivery device' for the game and the other aspects of it that might be of more interest to any particular group of players. I'm not convinced that story is absolutely necessary to the RPG experience. And what little there is comes in the form of backstory to handwave away a dungeon. Now there are approaches that place more emphasis on story to various degrees. But it is possible to downplay those elements. Just as it's possible to play down the importance of the random resolution concept or indeed to do away with the character sheet altogether.
The idea of a game where the players take on a role in an imaginary scenario allows for a heck of a lot of variations. No matter how straightforward the action is, in a role playing game session people are describing events and the actions of characters.
The form is that of storytelling. If it were a straight arena combat session, where everything done 'in the game world' is restricted to combat moves, then I would agree that it's not storytelling. It could be done without a story as the framework. But even in the most killer dungeon, it comes down to people relating the actions of characters. The story has little to no importance to the participant, but the form of the activity is still that of telling the story of what happens to the characters.
As I pointed out before, in a roleplaying game, even the most 'gamist' player, one who is just in it for combat, or a power gamer who wants to 'win' the dungeon still says "I or "My guy", or "Grognar" moves up 5 feet and swings his ax at the orc.
People playing a RPG use the form of storytelling, even when they don't care one bit about storytelling. It's funny, I'd say that's both alot of power and potentially not much power at all. For example, who's deciding what skill rolls they need to make? It's still the GM. Who can make sure it's a sequence of skill rolls, pass or fail, which roughly lead to where he wants.
I think it comes down to some sort of idea of what play is about, for a particular game system, and how much within that scope the players decide what the particular session or campaign is about. This is why some game theory uses 'incoherant' as a negative descriptor. It depends - think of a PC commiting some crime in a town. Now how do you compare where the GM has an endless stream of guards show up to take the PC down VS one where the GM has 50 guards show up to take him down, because that's how many guards the GM thinks a small town would have?
Let's even say that the GM is even a little biased, outraged at the crime - normally he'd think it was 30 guards, but in his bias he's pumped it up a bit. But he hasn't resorted to infinite amounts of guards. This is like a soft limit. The GM is restricted in his power in as much as he adhere's to a certain idea of the world it'd be preferable if that idea were written down so players could both explicitly agree to it and also call out bias inconsistancies, but ignoring that for now In as much as he doesn't rape his own idea of how the game universe works to get what he wants, the GM does not have infinite power.
This is probably also why simulationism is so common - people rely so much on these soft limits to actually get a game going, the game ends up being about these soft limits and maintaining them. But that's a bit of an aside. I totally grant these soft limits are very vulnerable to simply being broken by the GM without anyone knowing. Heck, as my bias example shows, the GM may break soft limits to some degree without even cognising it him or herself.
Newer games like 3: These are hard limits. I think I described a spectrum previously, at one end is play is the attempt to make story, at the other end is story that is entirely a side effect.
Then you have in betweens - a minor effort toward story, but leaving alot of it as a side effect of play, for example. What are they going there for? What did they see in the other city that interested them?
You can build on that idea. I'd say yes, modify the city you have, to fit in the descriptor that caught the players eye and drew them to the other city.
If the city is made different in more than just name and fluff because of a player choice - well, there's a difference! And with that, it becomes retrospectively a choice made between two different things.
If it still seems dodgey, I'd suggest sitting down with your players and giving the same example, then asking how much of a difference they'd want to have? Some rough examples from them. Some groups might not even want any difference except in the fluff. As I've said, when you know you've got consent for it, I call this participationism. It depends a lot on what we are playing and on why the players want to go to C.
But in a sandbox style game, I generally go with one or more of the following. Make up new stuff for C. It may help to ask the players to leave me alone for 15 minutes while they go get food, drinks, etc. Also, depending on what we are playing, making up stuff may involve a fair amount of 2 and 3. If there is travel involved in getting to C, an entire session can easily be taken up with random encounters along the way.
Griffin Mountain by Chaosium had fully customized encounters for wilderness travel with named NPCs and minimal back stories that could appear on the random encounter tables. Some even had simple encounter locations like a Troll Tomb or an ancient deity imprisoned in a megalith. These locations were not fixed in place on the map, but appeared as a special result in the encounter table for the right kind of terrain.
Griffin Mountain always seemed to hit a sweet spot on preparation ahead of time vs. It's not like the players don't realize that any RPG map has blank spaces in it. Actually I have heard people, who I wouldn't describe as extremely gamist use exactly that type of language. It's unusual, but not unheard of. Agreed; my comment was off-the-cuff and not meant to be interpreted strictly. As I've said upthread, I think the line beteween roleplaying games and other games perhaps worded slightly differently is that an RPG requires interaction with the fiction, which in turn makes some kind of storytelling necessary.
However, the interaction with the fiction and production of story doesn't have to be the focus of play, which is what I meant by the byproduct remark. We play to have fun, not to produce story, but story is nevertheless produced. My players have found that the results of play don't, for them, form a coherent story arguably they don't form a story at all - so recently my wife suggested that after the combat was done we do a recap or summary of what occurred.
We add transitions and additional color as needed to string together the results of the major actions, minor actions, and reactions into something more like a story. We find that enhances our fun, but it's not really something that is required to be able to play the game. I am pointing out that the view the Downer and others have makes sense from a particular frame of reference and it does not from a different frame of reference that is held by a subset of gamers.
The ontological status of RPG characters compared to real world individuals is not something I really want to argue about, but it is something that any theory of RPGs that purports to be universal needs to address.
During a wildland fire training exercise years ago, I got tapped to be operations chief, which means I was the one directly responsible for allocating resources to fight the fire. It was a lot of fun, honestly; at the time, I was qualified as a crew boss, engine boss, and initial attack IC, so ops chief was a couple of ranks above my pay grade, and I enjoyed the chance to try something new. I was ordering actual handcrews to cut line and actual engine crews to lay hose around a pretend fire, studying actual maps and requesting pretend retardant drops from imaginary aircraft over actual radios, making decisions based on invented weather reports, getting actual supplies to the crews on the line that I ordered from a play-acting logistics chief.
It was NWCG http: When I'm sitting around the table playing a roleplaying game, I feel the same way I did on that exercise. I'm making decisions and acting on them in real-time. The fact that I'm doing them in an imaginary space, rather than on the actual ground, is irrelevant to my experience of roleplaying.
Saying "all RPG sessions include narration" seems an uncontroversial but trivial point to me. If folks accepted the fact that it is a trivial description there would, I suspect, be less controversy. The controversy arises because some folks use a trivial defintion of narration and story to say "all RPGs include narration" or "all RPGs tell stories" and then draw unsupported conclusions based on other, less trivial definitions of "narration" and "story" about how games should be designed or played.
This is where I was headed upthread, before I was sidetracked. This is more or less consistent with my statement earlier that arena combat sessions using RPG rules could be run without a story element. I think things like this are in somewhat fuzzy boundary territory between RPG and war-games. The definitions between narrative and directive statements are a bit fuzzier than some folks want to admit. And given that there are, I suspect, more people who have done work-mandated role play than there people who have playing RPGs in their free time, your example isn't even an edge case.
One of our GMs used to use the characters from our Star Trek campaign as subjects for the in-class diagnosis roleplaying session for her immunology class. I'd say it is very unusual. I can imagine a situation where that kind of statement would come up, for example, a battle-map and miniatures are being used, and players are deep into combat and are getting into more of a war game mindset. But, I find it harder to imagine a player who uses that kind of language habitually while roleplaying.
It's within the realm of possibility, but I think most players would find it off putting to play with someone who played a whole session like that. I don't see fuzziness between narrative and directive language. The simple explanation is that directive language and other types used in roleplays are in character utterances within the fiction. In live roleplaying there is less need for narration, as things are acted out.
Also, narration is not absolutely necessary for story. Stories can be told entirely in dialogue. I suppose I assumed from your reference to the detailed dueling system in the game that it was combat heavy, with little else going in in some sessions, which was why players found there was little to no story.
I apologize for jumping to conclusions. I'm curious about what does go on in typical sessions of this game. Is it that the combat takes long enough that players were forgetting the details of other actions and events, or something else?
If there was no story, what was there to recap and summarize? When playing, were the players speaking as if they were moving game pieces? Or were they speaking as if describing the actions of characters? I hope the tone of these questions isn't coming off as offensive. I'm partly trying to make a point, but also genuinely curious about a what goes on in this game, to find out how it differs from my concept of what goes on in the roleplaying games I've played and seen.
People that came to RPGs from wargames may have been more likely to talk that way. How common or uncommon is irrelevant to the point that it did and does exist. I'm not trying to say most people play that way, but I'm not trying to say that everybody does or plays any one way when playing RPGs.
And to be clear, that's not how we are playing now. Not trying to be snarky, but how is the fact that someone might find the behavior off putting relevant? I suppose I assumed from your reference to the detailed dueling system in the game that it was combat heavy It is tactically rich with multiple named maneuvers with varied probabilities and effects. To us dueling, when it occurs, seems more combat heavy than Call of Cthulhu or Star Wars D6 which we played most previously to this.
My wife compared it to the combats we had in Runequest 2. When we played Runequest, back in the day, we were all in the same room and we had miniatures so we could visually see when characters advanced or retreated and which direction they were moving.
Now we are playing via video conference in three separate locations, without miniatures so the players have to imagine the scene, the movement, the attempted actions, the counteractions and reactions, and the results of all those attempted actions based almost solely on the spoken word. I didn't make my point clear. The missing story was the story of what happened in the duel. The result of all the maneuver choices: Then even if a hit was scored, the opponent might yield advantage in effect retreating or spend a Fortune Point rather than accept the hit.
The end result was confusing for some as to what the combat would have looked like. My wife wanted the string of moves and die rolls to be tied up in a summary of what happened — what the fight looked like as it were. On the other hand my wife very quickly caught on to the way the Social Combat works and can easily set up specific points to make or win and in character dialog to make the point. One of my other players has real problem with this. The dialog becomes too stochastic for her to see the totality and she has a hard time picking single points and making them, tending to kitchen sink the debate.
Might wife I apologize for jumping to conclusions. It's the favorite form of exercise on the Internet. Also, if dialogue can't tell a story a medium like radio theater is never able to tell a story without the addition of a narrator, and I think that's clearly false. Shouldn't this also extend to describing the the dialog that the character is speaking.
Even thought the dialog may be spoken in first person, ontologically it doesn't makes sense to claim on the one hand that a player holding an amulet in the real world is only miming the gesture of his character holding an amulet in the game world while a player 'speaking' to an NPC say Smaug the dragon is really speaking the words in the game world rather than miming the words that would be spoken in the game world by her character.
The speaker the player is no more nor less in the game world when speaking than when holding an amulet. Either both are miming a game reality or neither is. I really starting to think that there is as much a Myth of Narration or a Myth of Storytelling as there is a Myth of Reality. To me, yes, speaking in first person is a representation of the character speaking those words or something similar; when we do this it is often mixed with "I describe what just happened" instead of repeating a long-winded description that doesn't add anything, the most extreme version of which is the "blah": When a character is just conferring information to the other characters that the players already know the player will just go "I do a blah" or "Blah" as a shorthand for "I repeat the information you all just heard".
I didn't want to speak for anyone else who may have a different definition of narration or dialogue. That's interesting, it shows the fuzzy border between wargames and RPGs. Both category-wise and historically. I started playing in 78 or so, and never encountered it. But the group I was with went from RPGs to wargames, rather than the other way. Do you think there is good way to draw a bright line between them?
What is the characteristic a that a roleplaying game has, that a wargame doesn't? I don't think it's necessarily story, although I still feel that roleplaying has to have some story in it. You can play wargames as if they have a story too, it's just not necessary. A wargame could be played as an abstraction with pieces and rules. I would have said it was something about the way characters are treated.
Less like game tokens and more like avatars. However your description of that style of RPG argues against that. It's more why it would be off-putting I suppose.
Because it would go against the convention of an imaginary world that most players use to interact with the game, and disrupt that by treating it more like an imaginary game board. I'd say more that narration is very strong evidence, or maybe proof of story. On the other hand: Movies, plays, etc have stories, but don't have to have narration.
OK, that I understand. I've encountered complex combat where it can be hard to visualize what is happening at the time individual moves and rolls are made, because, for example, a defense roll could negate an attack, or it can't be determined if a feint was successful until the next exchange, etc. Then you have to look back after an exchange to understand how what happened under the rules could be interpreted into what happened in the fictional fight.
The player is describing what they want their character do speak when speaking in character. They are doing it by saying exactly what they want their character to say. They just aren't doing it using narrative language to do it. Just like a film can switch between narration and dialogue to tell a story, so can a game.
Usually players start dialogue by saying "I my character, Grognar says They are marking the shift away from narrative language to dialogue. The player may be holding an amulet in the real world. But it isn't the same amulet the character is holding in the game world. It is a prop, a representation of the amulet in the game. There are other ways to represent what occurs in the fictional world of the game than description and narration. Handling props is one, dialogue is another.
I'm not sure what's gained by positing an extra layer of fiction Myth of Storytelling , between the actions of the players and actions in the "game world". If the players feel they are storytelling, they already see themselves as interacting with a shared imaginary world. If they don't, they see themselves as interacting with something else, which we could call "the game," a different shared mental or social construct Myth of Reality.
I think the change from regular miniatures gaming to a game about one particular figure or hero is not that big of a change. In board game wargames leader units with unique values are not uncommon and I don't see a bright line from a named leader counter Alexander or Darius to a named PC Grognar. Just as the dialog the player is speaking is a representation of the dialog in the game world. Pointing this out gains two things 1 it illustrates a different POV that some gamers have when playing and 2 it avoids accepting and using inexact definitions to argue a one-true-way of all RPGs being X.
That's because they overlay the game with a myth of reality. It only becomes a directive if you agree to assume that there is something to manipulate. The definition I'm currently working from which is new, tentative and not at all fully explored is that in a roleplaying game you can take effective action purely by adressing the fiction - it has drama resolution, to use that terminology.
Basically, if just talking without referencing any rules can change how the rules are applied it is or at least can be an RPG. And I'm not talking about modifying the rules of the game by making houserules or such, just to be clear. If someone has a clear counter-example I'd be happy to hear about it. I'm trying to get my head around your definition still, so I could be off-base here, but the first thing that springs to mind is that I'm not sure if RPGs work that way. While yes, in an RPG you can say, "I pick up the amulet," and your character does so, seemingly without using a rule to do so, that is inherently referencing rules.
Lifting or Encumbrance, based on STR. Because if you said, "I pick up the castle," the rules say it doesn't happen. So just because there are many instances where the rules allow a player to determine their character's actions and even assume the result of many of those actions, some rule is always being referenced nonetheless, because the same narration applied to a different piece of fiction can return the opposite result.
Even those assumptions of seemingly given results may be challenged. For instance, if you say, "I pick up the amulet," the DM might just say, "You attempt to, but find it as heavy as a castle!
Correct me if I'm not understanding you correctly. Also, while yes, you can tell a story with pure dialogue and no narration, it sucks. Who Was That Masked Man Anyway, by Avi, is a children's novel with absolutely no narration, just line after line of dialogue. Reading it is a chore as you piece together who is speaking and even what has happened only after you complete each line or each paragraph or each chapter.
At least this was my impression when I was 10 and read it. I was the target demographic and at a pretty advanced reading level at that, but I still found it a tedious experience.
In a non-visual medium, like writing, you need narration. Well, for one thing not all games have rules for encumbrance. But yes, different situations will be handled differently in different games, in that some will be regulated by rules and some not.
However, as far as I know there is no game that can be called a roleplaying game that has rules for everything the characters do that can matter to the game, which is my point. First, I think discussing the quality of the story is a sidetrack if the interesting question is if it's possible to tell a story one way or another.
Second, that you didn't like it doesn't mean it was badly done though I haven't read it it, so it may well be. Third, my explicit example was radio theater, where you can easily tell the difference between the characters unless it's really badly made, which is a separate issue.
I'm reminded of Donald Barthelme's The King which is told primarily through dialogue, though there are descriptive passages as well. Of course, some of those dialogues involve unnamed observers where it doesn't really matter who is saying what, and which is mainly different from pure description in form and not so much in content. An example can be found on this page, under The King: Anders, my first thought was that miniatures wargaming done with a referee might be a counter-example, but then I re-read what you posted and I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "without referencing any rules.
And in a game without social rules, trapfinding rules, or knowledge rules, that will also be handled by drama resolution.
That describes wargames, though. Not to sound dismissive, but it sounds like your definition of an RPG is a game in which you expect things to happen which the rules don't cover? I'm intrigued to see what kinds of implications or conclusions you can draw from such a definition.
Conversely, I believe that if it matters to the game, there is a rule for it, whether explicitly or implicitly. If you interact with the fiction in any way, some rule is governing that interaction, even if it doesn't interfere with how 'drama resolution' would resolve it. P Sorry, there was a layer of sarcasm in that part of the response. I was 10 and hated reading it and distinctly remember being frustrated by not knowing what the context for all the talking was, and I'm just venting about it.
To the point, though: Radio shows have sound effects and different voices and a whole plethora of options beyond pure dialogue by which to convey the events of the story to the listener, and that makes them a fully-fleshed out medium. Dialogue on a page, as this book literally was, is not a complete medium, IMO.
It just didn't convey the information in the story well enough. Perhaps there are some stories which would be adequately served by only dialogue, but they would have to include very little action, only musings on a theme or something of that nature. Maybe a poker game? But you can't just not communicate actions in a story; they have to come out somehow, either through narration or audio cues or visual cues.
I don't know yet. I haven't really thought about it except as it's come up in this and similar threads. I fail to see how you get to wargames. In a wargame, you are typically not allowed to do things the rules don't cover. In an RPG, that could work: You've interacted with the fiction in a way that affects the game state. I'm picking this bit out again because I think it deserves more discussion. In a way, yes, kind of. More specifically, I think an RPG is a game where you expect things to happen that the rules don't cover and which will be handled purely by interacting with the fiction.
You say "I do this" and the GM says "That happens" and then you say "I do the other" and so on, and this results in changing the state of the game without you needing to reference any rules. I think it should be the case that anything that is central to the game should be discussed in the rulebook, but that's not quite the same thing, so I'll elaborate. At least some of this is discussed in at least most versions I think - I'm not an expert on older editions of the game, but there are no rules for it.
Meanwhile, there are fairly detailed rules for how to directly kill the monsters and take their stuff, so there you're pretty well covered. But even there you can quite quickly leave the parts that have explicit rules. For example, if you want to arrange a rockfall or divert a river you will somewhat depending on what edition you're playing have to just make it up as you go along, with the players describing what their characters are doing and the GM telling them what that results in, maybe with some bits being covered by skill or ability checks.
If you were playing Descent or some other dungeon crawl boardgame, taking those actions would not be at all possible, because you're not supposed to go to the fiction and use that to affect the game state in that type of game; you're just supposed to use the pre-defined moves you have available.
Sorry, there was a layer of sarcasm in that part of the response. My sarcasm detector was obviously broken so I'll just leave that be.
I'm not a literary critic anyway. By wargames you seem to only be describing boardgames for which what you say is more or less true. On the other hand, mMiniatures wargaming does allow for things not covered in the rules.
That is the role of the referee. Or the GM as referee made a ruling that affects the game state. To go back to your example of the saboteurs "I'll try to smuggle some saboteurs into Sicily by submarine" - in an RPG I wouldn't expect the GM to simply say in response - "You destroy the German beach defenses.
The Anzio landing is problem free. If that succeeds, make a Sneak roll for landing the saboteurs My recollection is that Diplomacy, which is a board game, is mostly about the player-to-player negotiations, alliances, secrets, and backstabbing and while there are negotiation rounds, there aren't rules for controlling or resolving negotiation.
Again, GM rulings to cover gaps in the rules. These rulings seem like a rules interaction to me. Historically, of course, Dungeons and Dragons evolved out of Dave Arneson's Castle Blackmoor campaign setting, which was originally what we'd now call a squad level fantasy tactical miniatures game. Arneson introduced more and more fantasy roleplaying elements as players asked to do things that, yes, weren't included in the rules.
I must admit I don't have much experience with refereed miniatures games, so I'll have to defer to you on that point. That's certainly a strike against my definition, since I don't think I'd want to include those in roleplaying games, even with a fairly expansive definition. But are you saying that's always the case? What I'm saying is that there are times when all that happens is describing actions in the fiction and that leads to substantive changes in the game state.
Are you claiming that never happens? That was meant as an analogy, not an example that could the transported straight into an RPG. Sorry if that wasn't clear. This is true, but it's also the case that the various negotiations and deals don't affect the game state.
There is no effect on how an attack resolves coming from Russia and Germany being allied, only on whether they are using the rules-mandated options of supporting each other.
There is no way to manipulate the fiction into changing the game state, only ways to manipulate your opponents into using the rules to your advantage. Can you think of an example of RPG play where there are no rules involved? It happens a lot in some peoples games, rarely or never in other peoples games, theoretically it could never happen.
I suspect in practice it always happens a little in all games - e. I started playing and running RPGs back in It was expected that the DM would have to interpret, make rulings, and make up new rules so implicitly I presume that anything a character could do in the game world is subject to the rules - even if it is a GM makes a ruling. On the other hand, players not characters did the conversing and strategizing.
Rules tell the players what things are specifically allowed and what things are specifically forbidden. Everything else is up to some decision mechanism - in general we resolve that with GM rulings but other mechanisms are possible - for example one could have all players including the GM vote on the outcome of an unspecified action with the GM's vote also acting as a tie breaker. I guess I see either decision method as part of the rules where rules includes both what's written in the game and what the group chooses.
I suspect that's where our disconnect lies. To me, making a decision about whether something is possible or what effects it has in the fiction when the action isn't based in the rules isn't interacting with the rules unless you need to make a decision that touches on an area covered by the rules. Most interactions between players, and many between players and NPCs don't have rules involved. Certainly in the case of older games, the rules are there to arbitrate physical action and the roleplaying which may or may not involve the fiction.
I'm a little uncertain about what you mean by "the fiction" in the context of an RPG anyway. It seems like another broad term that could be open to interpretation.
Is players negotiating how to split loot between them the fiction? Is coming up with a plan for a game plan for combat? Neither explicitly references rules of any sort. And they are just two situations off the top of my head. The problem as I see it is, trying to classify things where there are a lot of fringe situations that seem to break the classification system is a pain.
Roleplaying games are as difficult to categorise as rock music. It's fairly easy to say what isn't, but it can get really hard to reconcile two extremes as being under the same umbrella.
Even though they probably are. Yeah, I have no problems with it either, but Bren seemed to be coming from a very different place so I wanted to see if there was some common ground.
And yes, the line between what the players are doing and what the characters are doing can be fleeting, though in my experience that is usually only when it doesn't really matter to the game. As soon as it matters it's pretty easy to clear up which is which.
I don't know that it is very different. I not sure I understand what you mean by "the fiction. It seems like you are attempting to differentiate some portion of what happens in a game session the parts that use or reference the rules from other portions of what happens in the game session the parts that don't use or reference the rules and are calling the latter "the fiction. It's as if I'm painting something orange and someone keeps telling me I'm painting it red, because I used red pigment to mix the orange paint.
Whereas I feel like I'm being told there never was any red paint since it's all orange now. What's red and smells like orange paint? I'm colour blind to a small degree, so red and orange or red and brown if I'm watching snooker on TV can sometimes be hard to tell apart. Make of that whatever analogy you can. I call the imaginary world - which includes what happens in it - "the game world.
This is nothing new nor is it isolated to one side once someone mentions "story" and "game" in the same sentence. It wasn't so long ago that when talking about "backstory" a bunch of people jumped in to swear up and down they would never read pages and pages of character backstory and that the players should just say what they want and not force people to read and so on People who said they didn't mind or even liked some backstory in anything from bulletpoints to spoken form had to read pages of "argh, it's not really gaming, back in my day, etc Thing is so much of what was being pushed as "well do this instead of backstory!
And a lot of people who said they liked some backstory from players said they didn't need or even want it written out in prose, they just wanted some info to work with. What was actually being railed against was long written backstories that aren't represented through play. Which actually is, if not universally bad, something more potentially problematic in games. But that wasn't what was being asked or discussed by many.
However, that version of the term kept getting pushed as "what people must be talking about and I don't like it! And then some more. So yeah, I get the frustration. And yet I also gotta say if everyone would stop doing it on all sides of this issue things would go better. Also, I think we'd be better off if people didn't take what others called what you do for fun so damned personally. Storytelling isn't a dirty thing to be accused of. Just playing to see what happens isn't either.
And yet sometimes I think you'd get fewer fights just having people telling each other they smell or something To me, "the game world" as a term is both focused a bit too much on the world as opposed to the players' actions and such, and useful for other things, such as talking about the game world in the sense of geography, politics, cosmology and so on.
When a player describes a single bead of sweat slowly running down his character's face while he's defusing a bomb, that's part of the fiction. If I use the term game world to encompass that, then I don't have a word for the other thing. I think it'd be interesting to ask how much fiction and story are tied together in general culture?
In general culture, I think fiction and story are pretty much interwoven. So, has gamer culture seperated fiction from story? They are interwoven, but not identical. Something can be fictional without being a story. A story requires some kind of action. A character sketch, a setting, or a parody website are all examples of things that can be fictional without a story. And of course stories don't have to be fictional, news stories, history, biography, memoirs are all non-fiction stories.
If what you want is orange paint, do you really care about the red? When I pick up a bottle of orange paint, am I supposed to be wondering how much red is in it?
For me, parsing what is "story" and "narrative" and "fiction" is missing the forest for the trees. My experience of playing a roleplaying game is much more than the sum of its parts.
And now I've gone from mixing paint to mixing metaphors. Personnally, I'm doing both. I bet most people do. Storytelling doesn't mean the story is set beforehand. Some stories are created at the moment you tell them. That's what "story now" means. It's a story that's created while we play. We're finding out what kind of story and how it ends together, as we play.