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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 06:34:31 AM



Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 06:34:31 AM
Can this idea please just die?

You can't understand the difference between Narrativism and Simulationism this way: A Narrativist will sacrifice character integrity in order to address Premise.  It's just not true!

Addressing Premise means character integrity.  That's straight out of Egri.  Making your character behave uncharacteristically kills your Premise, it doesn't address it.  That's because your Premise is a moral position you're trying to prove, to present a case for, and your character is the case.  If you have your character behave unrealistically, you've flushed your case down the toilet.  We've all seen this happen, watching a movie or any random episode of ST:tNG.  We go, dude, this sucks, Data wouldn't do that.  This episode is lame!

You can't prioritize addressing Premise over character integrity, because addressing Premise depends on character integrity.

In the real world what you've actually got is:

1) Whether you address Premise or not.  This is a concern at the Creative Agenda level.  It depends on whether you have fit characters locked into an escalating conflict across a moral line.  Neel K. calls it "protagonists, antagonists, a conflict, and a crucible," same thing.  

2) Your standards for how "true to character" a character's actions have to be.  This is a concern at the Exploration level.  It depends on taste.

They're absolutely unrelated.  You can have a game with uncompromising standards for character integrity and it may or may not address Premise.  You can have a game with squishy, whatever-in-the-moment standards for character integrity and it may or may not address Premise.  Addressing Premise requires you to hold your characters to your standards, whatever they happen to be.

Seriously: never yet was a story served well by its author sacrificing its characters' integrity.  Name me one.

Remember in the Fugitive with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones?  Harrison Ford gets his foot stuck in the sliding door and Tommy Lee Jones shoots him in the face, except it's bulletproof glass and Tommy Lee Jones didn't know that?  We see the spack of the bullet into the glass, with Harrison Ford's face behind it?  Great visual, but a harsh violation of Tommy Lee Jones' character.  They broke his in-world causality, his integrity as a character, to have him shoot the guy in the face.  Not in keeping at all.  We're like tilting our head to the side going, dude, that was a high price to pay for a nice visual.

Did it ruin the whole story for you?  If so, you have high standards for 2.  If not, you have lower standards for 2.

Did it contribute to the story?  In no way.

Will fucking up your character that way ever make your Premise stronger?  Never.  Like I say, name me one time.

When push comes to shove, do you choose to address Premise or play your character true to himself?  Bullshit.  When push comes to shove, if you choose to address Premise, it's BY playing your character true to himself.

-Vincent

(I guess the straw that broke my back was in Jay's post here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=125882#125882), but he's not the only one by far.)


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: xiombarg on June 30, 2004, 06:49:17 AM
I think the issue is, Vincent, that a lot of people think it's one or the other, and don't realize you can do both. What you're reacting to is really just a reaction to kneejerk-Simulationist "My Guy Syndrome", where the player claims (and might even believe) there is only one in-character action that keeps character integrity, while that isn't generally the case. It just requires a bit more thought, either in choosing what you do, or, as you imply, in terms of choosing what the character is. But to get that point accross, sometimes you have to exaggerate the importance of addressing Premise over "what my character would do".


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 07:04:04 AM
Kirt: I suppose that's fine, although I don't really get it.  My concern isn't that so much.  

It's this: "the most important thing to me is being true to my character, so I must be playing Sim, not Narrativist."  Which easily becomes this: "I'm playing Simulationist [I've concluded erroneously], but there are all these moral issues I'm raising and dealing with - it must be that Narrativism depends on [some random crap] instead."  

The [some random crap] might be "pre-articulated Premise," "being willing to sacrifice character integrity," "making little-n Narr non-congruent key decisions," "self-consciously formal story structure," or anything else in the long list of ways people misunderstand Narrativism.

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 30, 2004, 07:04:19 AM
Hiya,

Agreed in full, Vincent. Been saying this so long that when it crops up, I usually just toss up my hands.

It's also related to mis-presenting the difference/relationship between author and audience in role-playing.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: John Kim on June 30, 2004, 07:24:08 AM
Quote from: lumpley
Can this idea please just die?

While I generally agree with you, this is an obnoxious statement.  If I ask nicely for your ideas to die, will you just drop them and believe what I say?  I don't think so.  If you want to convince other people, then you should treat their opinions with respect and make rational counter-arguments.  

Quote from: lumpley
  When push comes to shove, do you choose to address Premise or play your character true to himself?  Bullshit.  When push comes to shove, if you choose to address Premise, it's BY playing your character true to himself.
...
(I guess the straw that broke my back was in Jay's post here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=125882#125882), but he's not the only one by far.)

I think Jay is fairly directly responding to Chris Edwards' post last week on the "Virtuality and Ouija Boards" thread where he explicitly detailed what he considered the trade-off between playing in-character and playing Narrativist.  

What Chris was responding to was my point about Virtuality.  If there is no conflict between these two, then where is the trade-off between Virtuality and Narrativism?  Don't just spout platitudes -- address the examples of my Water-Uphill-World game and Chris' HeroQuest game.  Was my game both Narrativist and Virtualist?  Conversely, what was Chris doing when he perceived a trade-off?  

Quote from: lumpley
The [some random crap] might be "pre-articulated Premise," "being willing to sacrifice character integrity," "making little-n Narr non-congruent key decisions," "self-consciously formal story structure," or anything else in the long list of ways people misunderstand Narrativism.

Well, that's because people argue that Virtuality (i.e. rgfa Simulationism, cause-and-effect reasoning) is opposed to Narrativism.  As I explained in the ouija board thread, this puts you in a bind.  Either these two are not opposed, or Narrativism needs to include more than just addressing moral issues.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 07:47:43 AM
Hey John.  The two are not opposed.

RGFA Sim, Virtuality and all of Ben's other "types of Simulationism" are approaches to Exploration, not types of Sim at all.  As I've said  before (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=120823&highlight=#120823).

(And I said it was a rant.)

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on June 30, 2004, 07:55:01 AM
How is a group deeply committed to cause-and-effect reasoning "mindful" (or whatever) of premise? That seems to contradict the social-reinforcement that's Story-Now (social reinforcement isn't given for pemise-addressing aspects either by the GM to the players, by the players to the GM, or by the players to each other).

Is Story Now optional to Narrativist play?

-Marco


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 08:00:45 AM
If your group's deeply committed to cause and effect, they're deeply committed to cause and effect.

If they're also socially reinforcing Premise-addressage, they're also socially reinforcing Premise-addressage.

I don't see the either/or.

-Vincent


Title: Re: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Valamir on June 30, 2004, 08:03:36 AM
Quote from: John Kim
 

What Chris was responding to was my point about Virtuality.  If there is no conflict between these two, then where is the trade-off between Virtuality and Narrativism?  Don't just spout platitudes -- address the examples of my Water-Uphill-World game and Chris' HeroQuest game.  Was my game both Narrativist and Virtualist?  Conversely, what was Chris doing when he perceived a trade-off?  


I don't follow you John.  I'm not seeing anything in Chris's posts on that thread that's incompatable with what Vincent is saying in this one.  In fact, they're pretty much in agreement just going from completely different starting points.


Quote from: Chris
During play I may (and have) need to decide if my desire as a player to address a moral issue in a particular way falls within the bounds of how I view my character. I often make the choice to go with my desires as a player and address the moral issue in the way I see fit. Those decisions often appear to the other players to be revealing aspects of the character.


There is a character.  It does not exist except as concieved inside the player's head.  There is some aspect of the character that the player has not exposed in play yet.  Therefor that aspect of the character does not yet exist in the SiS.  The player has in his own mind filled in some of those details but since those details have not been expressed in the SiS they are not yet "real" in game.  When confronted with a moral issue the player can choose to allow these as yet unreal details dictate what the character does, or the player can make the choice the player wants to make even if it violates these details.

When the player makes that choice details are revealed about the character.  These details are different from the potential details that had been floating in the player's head.  It is those potential details that Chris is "violating".  He's violating the fidelity of the image in his head.  But since those details were never part of the SiS they were not real.  They were not "the character".  The details that now arise as the result of the player's choice now are part of the SiS.  They are now real.  They are now known facts about the character.  It is these REAL facts about who the character REALLY is (not who the player had initially imagined him to be) that Vincent is talking about in this thread.  

Vincent: Addressing Premise must be true to the integrity of the REAL character (as revealed in the SiS)

Chris: Sometimes Addressing Premise means you have to be willing to modify the idea that you have in your head for who the character is but have not yet expressed in play.

These are in no way incompatable.  The modified idea that gets expressed in play becomes the REAL character.  The idea you had originally had that you then changed in order to more effectively address premise simply becomes a road not traveled, an idea to be saved for future use.

I'd say that this is pretty much exactly how characters get developed in actual novels and is really what authors mean when they say that a character comes alive and takes on a life of their own.  They mean that in order to effectively address the premise of their work, they had to adjust their initial thoughts on who the character was.  The story demanded that change, and the author went with it.  It doesn't violate the integrity of the character, because the character doesn't exist until written down and read by a reader.  As far as the reader is concerned what they read is simply the way the character is...they never see what the character might have been inside the author's head.  They see only what actually got put down.  Same as in the SiS of an RPG.

Quote
If my decisions up to that point have reinforced a different view of the character, going with my preferences as a player may appear to show the character going through internal changes.


Similarly, if the choice the player wants to make does violate something that has been established in the SiS, then the player has an obligation to portray the character as growing, changing, developing, etc.  As long as the transistion from what had previously been established in the SiS to what is now being established in the SiS is reasonable and believable, then no violation of the REAL character's integrity has occured.

Quote
Sometimes the way in which I want to address a moral issue falls outside the bounds of the character to a degree that I feel would be disruptive to the fidelity of the imaginary space. So, I compromise. I reign in my decision in a way that it will fall comfortably close to my view of the character.


And finally, Chris acknowledges that if that transition isn't reasonable or believable.  That it would violate the integrity of the REAL character (the "fidelity of the imaginary space") then the player must adjust the choice he was going to make to address the moral issue so as not to do this.


Again.  They seem 100% compatable view points to me.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Valamir on June 30, 2004, 08:14:36 AM
Which to complete the thought...

This means to me, that the desire to be faithful to the player's intial concept of the character (what I referred to above as "potential details") is what seperates a Simulationist CA from a Narrativist CA.

Both CAs are concerned with exploring character.  They just have different methods of doing it.  I don't think it would be unreasonable to suggest that a key difference in this method is that to a Narrativist, the character does not become real except through play.  Any aspects of the character that have not yet been revealed through play (i.e. entered the shared imaginary space) are available to be molded and changed as play progresses to meet the needs of addressing the premise.

To a Simulationist, however, the character completely 100% entirely exists already. Even the aspects that haven't been shown in play are considered to be real.  Play doesn't make them real, play simply informs the other players what that reality is.


In either case the integrity of the character as observed by the other players is 100% identical.  An outside observor is not likely to be able to tell what aspects of the character were part of a Sim players initial character concept.  Or what aspects were written in play by a Nar player's in game choices.  As long as the character winds up reasonable and believable...


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on June 30, 2004, 08:20:07 AM
Understood--it's the ramifications I'm curious about.

1. Any garden-variety lit-story-game will have a premise in its situation pretty much by nature of conflict (man v. man, man v. nature, man v. himself).

2 In the course of the game the conflict is resolved.

3. If the game is not railroaded that would seem to qalify as Nar (the Nar essay explicitly says this).

That seems to leave Sim as either railroaded or absent any human interest in situation (in practice this means lacking strong emotions because absent challenge, it's the premise that makes strong emotions happen).

It also seems to mean that story-structure of any kind isn't part of the equation (despite the fact that "great stories" of which good-structure would certainly be a part is usually associated with Nar play): the cooperative writing a story thing  is some other (secondary?) priority that would certainly exist in Sim and Gam as well.

-Marco


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 30, 2004, 08:25:49 AM
Hi Marco,

Nope. You're missing the key issue - are or are not the actual humans involved in play doing the "addressing?"

If just one of them is, then you have Narrativist play on his or her part, but not necessarily functional - a lurker or a Prima Donna or a Typhoid Mary.

If none of them is (the outcome of the "addressing" is embedded in the assumptions of play), then you have Sim-Situation. This is a fun way to play but it is not Narrativist. It's also common. I'm surprised you are not acknowledging it.

If they all are, to whatever degree, then you have Narrativist play.

This issue - what is "to address" - lies at the center of every debate you've participated in or generated at the Forge. Story structure is a red herring.

Best,
Ron


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Ben O'Neal on June 30, 2004, 08:34:23 AM
Quote
In either case the integrity of the character as observed by the other players is 100% identical. An outside observor is not likely to be able to tell what aspects of the character were part of a Sim players initial character concept. Or what aspects were written in play by a Nar player's in game choices. As long as the character winds up reasonable and believable...

This stuck with me. I thought GNS was a diagnostic theory. If the above is the key difference between Nar and Sim characters, how can we, as outside observers, identify them to be able to name them such?

I'm probably missing something simple though, but I'd like to know what it is.

-Ben


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on June 30, 2004, 08:35:27 AM
Ron,

Red herring it may be--but I'd hoped you'd discuss that in the Nar essay. Jesse (IIRC) hits the exact question without using terms like 'address' or even 'premise' and you tell him explicitly that Situation with human interest stuff that is resolved by play is Nar play.

When you ask if the other people are doing the "addressing" do you mean the "resolving the situation"?

I'd think so. Mostly all the players are involved in resolving the situation.

-Marco


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 08:37:05 AM
Ralph: Oh jeez do I not think so.

If my initial, private conception of my character has her locked into a moral conflict with fit opposition, I don't have to reconsider, refigure, adjust or fiddle with her behind the scenes at all.  I don't have to be willing to do so.  I can absolutely to-the-fucking-wall refuse to do so, and still play Narrativist.  Because it's the locked into a moral conflict with fit opposition part that matters to Narrativism.  When I happened to come up with my ideas doesn't figure.

Nar vs. Sim for good god sake doesn't depend on Develop-at-Start vs. Develop-in-Play.

Marco: bingo.

Narrativist players loyal to the word "Simulationist," especially from the RGFA days, are justly outraged.  I've swiped their identifying word and used it to describe something they aren't into, and I'm telling them that now they're Narrativists, which they don't get or own or identify with.

... But:

I see that my take on what you wrote is different from Ron's.  I understood your "If the game is not railroaded..." to equal Ron's "are or are not the actual humans involved in play doing the 'addressing?' ... If they all are, to whatever degree..."

In Simulationist play, the players cannot collaboratively take on moral issues.  That's because: if the players are collaboratively taking on moral issues, it's Narrativist play.

Anyhow, story structure arises from the escalating conflict that makes up the flesh and bones of addressing Premise.  Addressing Premise gives you a good (or at least passable) story structure, all by itself.

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 30, 2004, 08:44:14 AM
Hello,

Marco, you wrote,

Quote
Jesse (IIRC) hits the exact question without using terms like 'address' or even 'premise' and you tell him explicitly that Situation with human interest stuff that is resolved by play is Nar play.


Your "exact question" is not Jesse's question. I think you fall into one of the two problem-audiences I identify in the essay (dunno which), and therefore are very, very likely to get all tangled up whenever you try to participate in my dialogue with someone else.

I really don't think it's valuable to try to disentangle you. Past experience shows me that you seem to like staying tangled.

Quote
When you ask if the other people are doing the "addressing" do you mean the "resolving the situation"?

I'd think so. Mostly all the players are involved in resolving the situation.


I do not mean "resolving the situation." Almost all role-playing involves resolving situations, from "I hit him" to "The empire is crumbling" to "DarkFyre and my guy are getting married."

What I'm talking about with "addressing" is specific to the emotional involvement with the general question of the Premise, and it requires the power to bring one's own judgment into the "answer" that is to be realized (in the older sense of the word) via the player-character's decisions & actions during play.

You may insert "conscious" or "intention" into the above paragraph as you see fit. However, that will be another red herring if you replace instead of insert.

To continue, the typical outcome of addressing premise will have story structure as an epiphenomenon.

Best,
Ron


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on June 30, 2004, 09:00:38 AM
Ron,

This is from the essay:
Quote

Jesse: I'm just still a little confused between Narrativism and Simulationism where the Situation has a lot of ethical/moral problems embedded in it and the GM uses no Force techniques to produce a specific outcome. I don't understand how Premise-expressing elements can be included and players not be considered addressing a Premise when they can't resolve the Situation without doing so.

Me: There is no such Simulationism. You're confused between Narrativism and Narrativism, looking for a difference when there isn't any.


That's not the exact same words--but it is my exact same question. I'd know.

Put it another way:
If there is deep emotional involvement in the resolution of a non-railroaded situation that isn't tied to competition or winning, how is that not addressing premise?

What situations that engage us don't boil down to some derrivable premise (other than winning)?

Basically I think the identifying factor to Narrativst play is the depth of emotional involvement (and lack of railroading). Premise might be entirely unidentifiable to the participants or observers. I don't think presence of moral issues as a focal point of play gets you there because every story game has moral issues as a focal point of play.

I also think John Kim points out that story structure as part of the definition isn't given or, likely, even typical: every deep feeling RFGA Simulationist is (likely) doing Nar play and few of their games would be story-structured.

You can consider that tangled. That's up to you.

-Marco


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Valamir on June 30, 2004, 09:34:14 AM
Quote
Ralph: Oh jeez do I not think so.

If my initial, private conception of my character has her locked into a moral conflict with fit opposition, I don't have to reconsider, refigure, adjust or fiddle with her behind the scenes at all. I don't have to be willing to do so. I can absolutely to-the-fucking-wall refuse to do so, and still play Narrativist. Because it's the locked into a moral conflict with fit opposition part that matters to Narrativism. When I happened to come up with my ideas doesn't figure.


I don't think I agree with this Vincent.  It may happen that you don't have to do any of those things.  But unless you're playing solitaire, the SiS is constantly changing and evolving based on the input of all of the players.  There is no guarentee that your initial conceived "locked in moral conflict" or "fit opposition" will survive contact with the other players and what they are doing.

The situation that you envisioned may well morph into something that no longer allows you to address the premise in the manner in which you'd planned without some fiddling.

In fact, this seems to me to be a crucial Instance of Play defining moment.  At this moment its all about what you prioritize.  Are you prioritizing addressing Premise by being willing to fiddle.  Or are you not willing to fiddle in which case you're saying that addressing the premise isn't as important as not fiddling.

Again, such a binomial choice may never actually arise in play...but it can, and at such a juncture, it seems you would need to be willing to do so.  

No?


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: C. Edwards on June 30, 2004, 09:41:38 AM
Hey,

Ralph has the right of it in regards to my posts in the Virtuality and Ouija Boards thread. I do think Vincent and I are mostly in agreement. And, just as a disclaimer, the ideas I was expressing about my "micro" view of play aren't necessarily an official part of the Big Model. Meaning that while I think the area of a player's internal dialogue is represented in the Big Model, it's not articulated in detail nor expressed in the manner I was attempting in my posts.

I was basically delving into what I believe is Ron's "author/audience" distinction. Ralph made a great point about that with his "potential details".

-Chris

edit: to note the cross post with Ralph and add:

Quote from: Valamir
In fact, this seems to me to be a crucial Instance of Play defining moment. At this moment its all about what you prioritize. Are you prioritizing addressing Premise by being willing to fiddle. Or are you not willing to fiddle in which case you're saying that addressing the premise isn't as important as not fiddling.


I agree with this fully, it is to my mind, one of the primary factors in distuingishing one's own GNS preferences.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 09:42:32 AM
Marco:  If your question is the same as Jesse's, why would you expect a different answer?

Effective emotional engagement around the table with an interesting human issue equals Narrativism.

"Effective" means "empowered to contribute meaningfully, via input into the SIS (generally character action)."
"Around the table" means "no player's shut out."
"Interesting human issue" means "Premise."

Depth of emotional engagement isn't it.  If you're deeply emotionally engaged but unable to contribute meaningfully, no Narr.  You're along for the ride.  If you're deeply emotionally engaged but it's not an interesting human issue, no Narr.  You're playing what-ifs or wish fulfillment.

Now...  
Quote from: You
Premise might be entirely unidentifiable to the participants or observers... every deep feeling RFGA Simulationist is (likely) doing Nar play and few of their games would be story-structured.

Premise won't be entirely unidentifiable, or else how would the players engage with it?  Just because they or you or I don't happen to spot the Premise, don't happen to articulate it, doesn't mean there isn't one.  Similarly, a group of RGFA Simulationists, while playing Narr right along, might be intentionally ignoring the story structure under their noses.  That's ouija board play.

If this were a real conversation with actual RGFA Simmists, here's where we'd take the discussion to Actual Play.  Maybe we'd get somewhere and maybe we wouldn't.  Meanwhile, there's no use arguing theoretical cases: you end up where Jesse ended up.  "But what if they're fully engaged with Premise, collaborating like fiends, and still playing Sim?"

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 09:52:30 AM
Ralph:  Well, that's what I'm saying: there are no Play defining moments.  There are Play defining instances of play, where an instance of play is hours and sessions long.  Do you, over time, address Premise, or do you not?

edit: I should say, it takes only one moment to scuttle your CA, as when Tommy Lee Jones shot Harrison Ford in the face.  But it takes a whole bunch of play to fulfill your CA - not just accumulated moments, but what emerges from them over time.  end edit

An unwillingness to create a character (DaS or DiP) who'll let you address Premise is, yes, an unwillingness to play Narrativist.  To play Narrativist requires you to be willing to play Narrativist.  But your willingness or unwillingness doesn't define the play.  I might be perfectly willing to play Narrativist but, then, not do so.

Does that make sense?

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on June 30, 2004, 10:00:55 AM
Vincent,

I don't expect a different answer: I just don't think the ramifications of the one Ron gave (story structure being a likely given, for example) are as I usually see them stated (I think story-structure is being piggy-backed on).

For one thing: I don't think that "what-if's" or "wish fufillment" generate high-emotional involvement outside of premise (i.e. I stipulate as someone who wrote many English papers in any situation where there is what-if or wish-fufillment one will be able to find Premise or "winning").

In fact, I believe that was likely Egri's entire point.

As for Effective Input: I hear you (I stipulated no railroading).

But I think there's some unstated assumptions there: clearly all characters Nar or not will have limits on their actions either imposed by the game system or the situation.

If the player wants to make his input in a way that violates situation ("I now grow wings and fly illustrating my address of premise as XYZ") when that's not feasible is that a violation of Nar play? Or would that be 'unreasonable' (this is an extreme example--the real cases would be far closer to the line).

If the GM says "no" to the wings does that constitute Force?

As to the hypotheticals? I don't agree: the theory says that story-structure is common and likely. I see a huge part of play where I don't think it'll occurr. That's a question as to whether the boundaries are correctly drawn.

-Marco


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: John Kim on June 30, 2004, 10:04:13 AM
Quote from: lumpley
Premise won't be entirely unidentifiable, or else how would the players engage with it?  Just because they or you or I don't happen to spot the Premise, don't happen to articulate it, doesn't mean there isn't one.  Similarly, a group of RGFA Simulationists, while playing Narr right along, might be intentionally ignoring the story structure under their noses.  That's ouija board play.

If this were a real conversation with actual RGFA Simmists, here's where we'd take the discussion to Actual Play.  Maybe we'd get somewhere and maybe we wouldn't.  Meanwhile, there's no use arguing theoretical cases: you end up where Jesse ended up.  "But what if they're fully engaged with Premise, collaborating like fiends, and still playing Sim?"

Um, hello?  Vincent?  What am I, invisible?  (jumps up and down waving his arms)  

I specifically asked you to talk about actual play of my Water-Uphill-World campaign.  Let me repeat again...
Quote from: John Kim
What Chris was responding to was my point about Virtuality. If there is no conflict between these two, then where is the trade-off between Virtuality and Narrativism? Don't just spout platitudes -- address the examples of my Water-Uphill-World game and Chris' HeroQuest game. Was my game both Narrativist and Virtualist? Conversely, what was Chris doing when he perceived a trade-off?

So let's talk about real play.  There were most certainly moral issues within Water-Uphill-World.  How would you decide if it was Narrativist?  To my eye, the transcript lacked story structure and was very meandering, but there were many moral questions.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Matt Snyder on June 30, 2004, 10:17:39 AM
John,

I don't get it. First, I am not familiar w/ the often referred to Water Uphill game, so it's quite possible I'm missing something. That said:

Quote
There were most certainly moral issues within Water-Uphill-World.  How would you decide if it was Narrativist? To my eye, the transcript lacked story structure and was very meandering, but there were many moral questions


This seems an impossible question from where I'm typing for the following reasons:

1) A transcript very rarely makes anything clear about Creative Agenda. I don't care about the transcript. I care about what the players at the table were doing, deciding, and relishing in. (Perhaps that's what you mean by transcript?) See Ron's example in the Narrativism essay. We know nothing about that play from its "transcript."

2) That there are "many moral questions" similarly says nothing much at all. There may be many moral questions raised in, say, Gamist play, but the players don't particularly care, and they certainly aren't focusing on those. What was going on there? Were people addressing those questions? If so, Narrativism. If not, Something Else. Was it just the GM (presumably you) "addressing" those questions? If the players did address them, and addressed many of them (if, in fact, these were distinct and separate Premises), then maybe you had, um, messy Narrativism going on, but it's still Narrativism. Narrativism play doesn't mean "good" or "focused" or "better" play necessarily, of course.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 10:18:06 AM
Marco:
Quote from: You
If the player wants to make his input in a way that violates situation ("I now grow wings and fly illustrating my address of premise as XYZ") when that's not feasible is that a violation of Nar play?

Yes.  It's a violation of Exploration.  It's a violation of every CA.

How can making input in a way that violates situation possibly address Premise?  Addressing Premise means fit character, escalating conflict, moral line, fit opposition.  According to Egri, growing wings and flying when it's out of character to do so would be "jumping" conflict, not escalating conflict.  We the audience go: the fuck?  That's lame.   We don't go: hell YEAH!
Quote
Or would that be 'unreasonable' (this is an extreme example--the real cases would be far closer to the line).

I don't get you.  I agree that real cases would be closer to the line, though.  Tommy Lee Jones shooting, etc.
Quote
If the GM says "no" to the wings does that constitute Force?

No.  The wings were never a thematic contribution on the part of the player.

As far as story structure goes, I have a hard time seeing where fit characters escalating a moral conflict into crisis and resolution would fail to produce a reasonably good story structure.  I think you're asking this: "but what if they just meander around and bobble and hit-or-miss the Premise, but still address it?"  The answer is, choose one or the other.

John: Well, there it is.  Did you meander around and bobble and hit-or-miss the Premise, or did you address it?

What would you say were the main take-home messages of your Water Uphill game?

With Matt, who would you say contributed those take-home messages to the game?

Answer in Actual Play, I'll be there.

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on June 30, 2004, 10:28:50 AM
Vincent,

Sorry for being absurdist--I was trying to avoid arguing one specific issue. Might not be possible. It's more like this:

Silence of the Lambs
Player: "I don't want to engage with Lecter. He's too creepy. (thinks: I'll explore the premise of my character's alienation within the FBI some other way) I will hunt for the killer myself."

GM: "Fine -- although with no other leads, you're aware that killer will very likely kill another family."

Player: "Not acceptable. I have detective skills. I should be able to turn up other clues."

GM: "The whole FBI has detective skills too--there aren't any other good leads in this situation--you can roll but the odds are very very bad--perhaps impossible unless we can think of some angle I've missed."

Player: "You're shutting down my input."

No one is violating plausibility or exploration. The situational constraints allow for the character to take off on her own--but the course of action is per-situation ineffectual in the GM's opinion.

Has the GM constructed a panama-canal style game (Lecter or nothing) in a way that's antithetical to Nar?

-Marco


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 10:58:03 AM
Marco, it's not a lot to go on - I mean, I wasn't there, what do I know? - so recognize that you're asking me to judge on too little information.

If your question is: is violating the integrity of the game world the only way to shut down Narrativism?  Then the answer is, of course it's not.  Yes, the GM squashed the player's input, my-way-or-the-highway style, and thereby screwed Narrativist play.

If your question is: could the player prevail and go on, over the GM's initial reluctance but with the GM's later buy-in, to address Premise without Lecter?  Then the answer is sure, maybe, if they manage to do it.

If your question is: in order to make the game turn out Narrativist, does the player have to violate her character's integrity and go back to Lecter?  The answer is definitely not.  What has to happen is the player and the GM have to stop trying to undercut and block one another, so they can get on with it already.  Maybe the player's character isn't fit for the conflict that addressing Premise will entail.  That happens sometimes, she'll have to make a new one - either from scratch or by modifying this one.  Maybe on the other hand her character's all loaded and ready and it's the GM's sitch that isn't.  We don't know.  If they work it out between them, they'll get Narrativist play.

(Notice, per the topic of the thread, that "making a fit character" is not at all the same thing as "sacrificing a character's integrity."  Refusing to make a fit character screws Narrativism.  If you've got a fit character, sacrificing his integrity screws Narrativism.)

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Matt Wilson on June 30, 2004, 11:00:19 AM
That example doesn't work for me either.

The player says "X is important to my guy (and me via my guy). Because of X, I don't want my guy to do Y."

The GM says, "If you don't do Y, good chance of significant consequences."

How is that not story right now, right here? The player, as your example continues, is fighting for "story later" by trying to avoid any consequences from the decision.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 11:07:10 AM
Quote from: I
(Notice, per the topic of the thread, that "making a fit character" is not at all the same thing as "sacrificing a character's integrity."  Refusing to make a fit character screws Narrativism.  If you've got a fit character, sacrificing his integrity screws Narrativism.)

Preemptive: "I sacrificed my character's integrity to make him fit for Narrativist play!  Sometimes Nar play requires you to sacrifice your character's integrity!"  Bullshit.  If that's what you mean by "sacrificing integrity," why the hell don't you call it "giving my character the tightening up, fleshing out and kick in the pants he needs to make him worth playing"?

Fit characters, yes, are one thing that distinguishes Narrativist play from Simulationist play.  Character integrity isn't.

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on June 30, 2004, 11:08:45 AM
Vincent,

I wasn't thinking about violations of character. I do think that there is such a thing as set-character-concepts that would be a personal violation to change.

I read some as saying "if it's not on the table as a character personality it doesn't count for continuity" and while that's true as far as shared-space go, it's not true for my internal imaginary space.

So I think I agree with you there.

I would *not* expect the player to violate character or "need to" in order to address premise.

When you say:
Quote

Yes, the GM squashed the player's input, my-way-or-the-highway style, and thereby screwed Narrativist play.


I disagree. I don't think the GM violated anything at all.* I agree with Matt Wilson: the GM (IMO) isn't employing 'force' any more than refusing to let the character grow wings is using force.

I think it's the *player* who is opting out personally.

-Marco
* unless prior to the game the GM had pre-approved "this is a game where you always solve the crimes" or something ... some IME abnormal social contract.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 11:12:20 AM
Marco: That's fine with me.  Recognize, as I said.  Where does that leave us wrt Narrativism?

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on June 30, 2004, 11:27:38 AM
Vincent,

It leaves me wondering why Call of Cthulhu with it's Nar-rich game world isn't considered Nar-facilitating. Silence of the Lambs is, IMO, the same structure as basic Investigative games. It could be run with nothing but an FBI simulation-system.

The hypothetical agent's decision not to engage Lecter didn't "make a difference" in one sense (the family is still killed). But a lot of other actions could make a difference--it's the player's choice.

I've seen arguments to the effect that CoC is a 'foregone conclusion or theme' (my paraphrase). I've seen statements that it's the 'whiff factor' of skills.

The first doesn't make sense the same way the example doesn't. The second I think I kinda understand but it seems a minor factor compared to the overwhelming assistance towards meaningful play the setting gives.

I don't recall a lot of railroading stuff in the how-to text. Certainly no more than the stuff in TRoS ... (or maybe I miss-remember).

-Marco


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: timfire on June 30, 2004, 11:44:13 AM
This thread is quickly drifting. Why don't you guys start a new thread to discusss what is/isn't Nar, or maybe post a reply to the Nar & Force thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=11806)?
Quote from: Ron Edwards
It's also related to mis-presenting the difference/relationship between author and audience in role-playing.

Ron, could you elaborate on that? I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 11:49:54 AM
Marco: I've never played or read CoC, so I can't help you with that.  As far as Silence of the Lambs and investigative games, sure.
Quote from: In an old thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=4704&highlight=), I
But see, that means that a Narrativist game needn't depend on its resolution mechanics. All the resolution mechanics have to do (at minimum) is foster consensus among the players, so the game happens. It's the game's characters, including opposition, who make it happen -- and thus, potentially, the game's character creation system can do all the work.

Some game rules provoke Narrativist play more or less reliably.  Some you can play Narrativist with pretty easily, if your instincts are good, but they do rely on your instincts - do you happen to create fit characters?  Some undermine Narrativist play.  No news there, surely.  The difference between a Nar game using FBI Simulation rules and a Sim game using the same rules is, as always: are there fit characters locked into conflict across a moral line?  (Can I find and shoot him? isn't a moral line.  When I find him, do I shoot him? might be.)

Timothy: I've been using character integrity for my anchor right along, but fair enough.  I'm going to post this post here anyway.  Marco, if there's more to be said, launch a thread?

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: ADGBoss on June 30, 2004, 12:26:27 PM
Marco

Quote from: Marco
Vincent,

It leaves me wondering why Call of Cthulhu with it's Nar-rich game world isn't considered Nar-facilitating.


Perhaps because Nar-rich game world has nothing to do with Nar, Sim, or Character Integrity.  The Forgotten Realms, Paladium Fantasy, and World of Darkness are "Nar-rich" worlds, with many stories to be told and a great many moral dilemmas to ponder, but that does not make them Nar-Facilitating. Any planet with a significant number of intelligent beings striving to live would be Nar-Faciliting in that context.

Setting cannot by itself be Nar-Facilitating since it is static until Play occurs. Now it can be Inspiring, which however is not the same thing.


Sean


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: M. J. Young on June 30, 2004, 12:49:48 PM
Wow. Good stuff.

Over in Trying to define S, like G/N, by its relationsip to conflict I posted that I was going to address this issue here.
Quote from: Silmenume
A Narrativist puts more stake (prioritizes) in addressing Premise than reacting to Situation in a fashion that highlights Character mediated response. IOW the Narrativist in this case is willing to ignore what is normally an issue for a person, acting in a fashion that appears to be illogical (ignoring a potential threat to one?s life) in order to prioritize addressing premise rather than address the conflict in a manner that a player who is prioritizing exploring Character would be.

...But in Sim limiting our actions and responses to the circumstances of our created characters is a priority. Not so in Gamism where Character is a tool whereby Challenge is addressed and the players are rewarded for successfully addressing the fictional conflict. Not so in Narrativism where character integrity can be sacrificed in order to address Premise. Premise addressing has priority or Character integrity. This is not to imply that character is not important to either agenda, but rather character integrity is not the prioritized element. By prioritized I am speaking of that element of play which is the choke point of player action. A Gamist is bound by player integrity ? no cheating is allowed via breaking or bypassing the agreed upon parameters of the Challenge. A Narrativist is bound by player integrity ? a player must address the agreed upon Premise and do so without impinging upon the protagonism (I think that is right word) of the other players. A Simulationist is bound by Character integrity. If a Simulationist player breaks character integrity then he is sometimes accused of cheating but is actually starting to pursue other Creative Agendas.

As Vincent said right at the top of this thread, character integrity is not exclusive to simulationism; to clarify the emphasis, it's not essential to simulationism, either. It is no more necessary to any one agendum than to either of the other two. It may be more common in one or another, but that's only historical, not definitive.

Vincent disagreed with Ralph's assertion that the difference between narrativist and simulationist characters was that narrativist characters were defined during play and simulationist characters were fully defined before play. Vincent quite rightly objected that narrativist characters could very well be fully defined prior to play. I will similarly object that simulationist characters may very well be developed through play. To a large degree, simulationist exploration of character begins with, "I have a character who believes/thinks/does this; let me start playing him and see what the ramifications of this is for the rest of his life and identity." If the character is fully formed before play, there's not much to explore about the character--which doesn't mean that simulationism isn't possible, but rather that with such a character you will use the character to explore something else far more than you will explore the already defined character.

The degrees to which character, setting, situation, system, or color must be either defined or internally consistent are all independent variables--independent of each other and of creative agenda. Simulationism is better served by high definition and high internal consistency in most of the elements, but can have low definition in all of them and low internal consistency in some. Narrativism is better served if some of the elements have low definition, but internal consistency will still have to be high in some elements at least sometimes.

--M. J. Young


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on June 30, 2004, 01:01:55 PM
M.J., I even disagree with this:
Quote
Simulationism is better served by high definition and high internal consistency in most of the elements, but can have low definition in all of them and low internal consistency in some. Narrativism is better served if some of the elements have low definition, but internal consistency will still have to be high in some elements at least sometimes.

The two variables - CA, standards for internal consistency - are absolutely independent.  That is, your group will set standards for internal consistency based on your tastes*, and then your CA, whatever it is, will depend on you meeting those standards.  High, low, it doesn't matter at all from your CA's point of view, what matters is that you're meeting them.

In order to fulfill a CA you have to be functionally Exploring, is all I'm saying.  What counts as "functionally Exploring" will vary from group to group, but doing it is a rock-minimum for fulfilling a Creative Agenda.

*Tastes: this is where I'd put the "technical approaches" I've talked about.  RGFA Sim, Virtuality, is a taste - it sets a standard for internal consistency in your game.  Your group might then go on to fulfill any of the CAs.

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: John Kim on June 30, 2004, 02:08:58 PM
Quote from: lumpley
The two variables - CA, standards for internal consistency - are absolutely independent.  That is, your group will set standards for internal consistency based on your tastes*, and then your CA, whatever it is, will depend on you meeting those standards.  High, low, it doesn't matter at all from your CA's point of view, what matters is that you're meeting them.

In order to fulfill a CA you have to be functionally Exploring, is all I'm saying.  What counts as "functionally Exploring" will vary from group to group, but doing it is a rock-minimum for fulfilling a Creative Agenda.

*Tastes: this is where I'd put the "technical approaches" I've talked about.  RGFA Sim, Virtuality, is a taste - it sets a standard for internal consistency in your game.  Your group might then go on to fulfill any of the CAs.

Interesting.  I'd like to see more about your resolving your disagreement with Ralph over whether sticking with a strongly pre-defined character is incompatible with Narrativism.  For my two cents, this goes back to structure.  Strongly pre-defined characters and Virtuality will lead to an unstructured narrative which will have at best mixed messages.  However, while unstructured there are still plenty of moral issues being addressed.  If you want structure and a single overarching premise or message, then you have to abandon Virtuality and/or allow some fudging of character.  

Per your request, I have split off the discussion of my campaign into an Actual Play thead, Water-Uphill-World: Virtuality Examined.  I'd prefer that discussion of Virtuality go there.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Valamir on June 30, 2004, 06:20:57 PM
Quote
For my two cents, this goes back to structure. Strongly pre-defined characters and Virtuality will lead to an unstructured narrative which will have at best mixed messages.


That idea is still very much just simmering gently on the stove, I'm not yet committed to it.  But I do think that as we reach a level of understanding with the core concepts of the big model we should be able to make more concrete judgements about techniques and combinations of techniques as they point towards a specific CA.

I think there is something central to the difference between Simulationism and Narrativism that can be found in different assumptions about game reality and the shared imaginary space and whether something is real even if its not entered that space, vs. only if it has.  Right now I'm just sniffing around the edges of that concept, but so far, it seems to me, to fit.


Quote
However, while unstructured there are still plenty of moral issues being addressed.


This, however, I do disagree with.  I think "there are still plenty of moral issues present." would be a correct sentence.

But I think there is a big and crucial difference between moral issues being present (possible in any CA) and moral issues being addressed (the defining feature of Narrativism).

This concept is what is represented by "Story Now".  Or my prefered turn of phrase "Story on Purpose".  Or as Ron has called it being "mindful".

Currently I don't know of any better way to take that concept and pin it down with more precise language.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Sean on June 30, 2004, 07:13:15 PM
I think the idea that there's always some particular action a fictional character would take, given our conception of that character, in a given situation, is false.

(I also think this is false of real people, but let's not go there.)

Let's therefore look at our conception of our character as an operator, in the mathematical sense. The input is the Situation (this is only one kind of case, but a common one); the output is the character's Action.

This operator has two kinds of output:

- Situation as processed through character conception yields some particular action.

- Situation as processed through character conception still leaves it open what sort of action the character might take.

It's when the second output is the one you get in play that the whole issue of 'is this Nar or Sim' arises, IMO. A Sim-facilitating technique here is to run the function over again, with closer scrutiny to the details of the character's psyche; or in a traditional game simply to punt, and ask the GM questions like 'well, what would a person of my character's sex/race/social class do in this situation', etc.

A Nar-facilitating technique here is to say: damn! Well, if there's a few different ways I could go here, which one will make for the most interesting story?

Vincent, I don't agree with you, assuming I understand you correctly, primarily because I think your emphasis is misleading. The way you put things suggests to me the idea that character conceptions applied to situation only ever yield the first kind of output. This in turn makes you want to say that CA and 'integrity' are orthogonal. To which I say: yes, in the sense you spell that out, which is relevant to this issue, but also no, in another sense which is also relevant. Wanting a definite 'yield' for the operator I describe above in all cases is (a) entirely optional, (b) a Sim-facilitating technique, and (c) describable by a reasonable English-competent speaker as an interest in 'integrity'.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on June 30, 2004, 11:33:17 PM
vicent,

Im very pressed for time. Id lost my train of thought. I wanted to look at the case where the character declines to address the premise in the players optimal way (saving the family) because the player feels fidelity to their internal concept of character.

From the players stndpoint the gm has exercised force--creating a my-way-or-the-highway situation.

From the gms perspective they are keeping continuity. Either the player could decided her PC is sterner stuff (less vulnerable or afraid) or the gm could create clues for her to follow.

I think in this case the conflict is due to conflicting arenas of contunity: both parties  see thing their way and its at odds with the most rewarding flow of story generation.

This is a very speciic case--but one that I think illustrates a trade off.

But the trade-off isnt in terms of premise or exploration--its in terms of willingness to violate perceptions of continuity. Its also about trying to build a good story (so to speak). If neither are committed to that over conception of world or character you may get a frustrating tragedy that is, in story terms "what really happened"--despite the fact that the gm isnt railroading and the player is addressing premise (taking up her father-figure issues with the fbi rather than Lecter).

-Marco
[ also: I disagree that address of premise will put the player in the case of generating focus, symmetry (begining of story is relevant to the end), theme across multiple scenes, or any of the other story tropes. Address alone isnt enough for structure IMO

Also: I find the gms actions indistnguishable from force despite the fact that I dont think they kill Nar play.]


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: contracycle on July 01, 2004, 12:06:12 AM
Quote from: Marco
I wanted to look at the case where the character declines to address the premise in the players optimal way (saving the family) because the player feels fidelity to their internal concept of character.

From the players stndpoint the gm has exercised force--creating a my-way-or-the-highway situation.

From the gms perspective they are keeping continuity. Either the player could decided her PC is sterner stuff (less vulnerable or afraid) or the gm could create clues for her to follow.


I can't really parse this, especially the bit I bolded.  The character did not decline to address premise, because premise does not exist for characters.  Thus, the PLAYER must have declined to address premise in the players optimal way.  If the player has declined to address premise, that player is clearly not playing Narr.

The GM's issues over continuity are, it seems to me, wholly irrelevant (except inasmuch as they may clue us in to an agenda conflict).  If the players grooving on Narr, the continuity is only of secondary importance, and if they are grooving on Sim, then the continuity is important but the whole scenario is then Sim anyway.

That seems to me implicit in the request "please Mr GM give me another clue so I don't have to wrestle with this dilemma".

I can't accept therefore that the GM is applying force.  This is the Situation; both character and player are responding to it.  If that is force then all GM actions must be force.

Quote

I think in this case the conflict is due to conflicting arenas of contunity: both parties  see thing their way and its at odds with the most rewarding flow of story generation.


Continuity is not story generation in any sense.  If continuity is a reward in its own right, then that is still not story, it is sequence of events or virtuality play, surely.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: TonyLB on July 01, 2004, 04:47:14 AM
The discussion seems (to me) to be trending toward saying that everyone who is playing Narrativist is always going to agree.  I think this weakens what is otherwise a strong and convincing set of ideas by portraying Narrativism as a boogeyman that the GM can use at will to negate the investment of a player who has legitimate creative differences within a shared agenda.

For example...
Quote from: contracycle
If the player has declined to address premise, that player is clearly not playing Narr.

I agree with the idea that a player who declines to address premise at all is not playing Narr.  But a player who declines to address premise in one particular instance is an entirely different matter.

Unfortunately, I don't have a good anecdote or example of functional Narrativist disagreement, largely because I haven't played enough functional Narrativist.  I recommend that if somebody can show an example of how players can reasonably disagree on how to fulfill the Narrativist agenda it would permit us to draw some useful contrasts with situations (like those listed so far) where the disagreement rises from an unstated difference of agenda.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on July 01, 2004, 06:12:15 AM
John: Very cool.  I'll see you there.
Quote
Strongly pre-defined characters and Virtuality will lead to an unstructured narrative which will have at best mixed messages.

That depends on the characters.  Strongly pre-defined characters whose definitions weren't chosen to a particular Premise, sure.  Strongly pre-defined characters pre-defined to a Premise will, turn them loose and watch what they do, address the Premise.  Like it were no thing!

Ralph: Cool.  How much flexibility does creating a fit character demand of me, its creator?  More than creating just, y'know, a made-up person?  Could be, could be not!  I'm happy to leave it an open question.  Certainly it deserves its own thread, at least.

Sean: Cool.  How about this?

When a circumstance dictates only one possible action that the character can reasonably take, in both Narrativist and Simulationist play the player will have the character take it.  Neither kind of play calls for the player to break the character's integrity.

When a circumstance dictates a range of actions that the character might reasonably take, in both Narrativist and Simulationist play the player will choose one from that range.  Neither kind of play calls for the player to break the character's integrity.

Here's where we disagree:
Quote from: You
A Sim-facilitating technique here is to run the function over again, with closer scrutiny to the details of the character's psyche; or in a traditional game simply to punt, and ask the GM questions like 'well, what would a person of my character's sex/race/social class do in this situation', etc.

Those are also Nar-facilitating techniques.  They are, in fact, Exploration-facilitating techniques.  The fitness of a character, his place in the moral conflict that defines Narrativism, is embedded in his psyche, his sex/race/social class.  Looking deeper into the character for direction is very appropriate in Narrativist play.  Narrativist play too, I mean.  All play.

Marco: there is no circumstance where breaking with your established character will address Premise more optimally.  Because addressing Premise de-fucking-pends on not breaking with your character.  Sacrificing your character's integrity sabotages the conflict you're using to address the Premise, inevitably.

I wish you'd put it that way - "what if breaking with your established character would address Premise better?" - instead of presenting this made-up partial case and expecting me to intuit your question.

Tony: In Narrativist play, everybody's going to be grooving on everybody else's Premise-addressage, as Gareth says.  Disagreements of the "that's not relevant to the Premise!" sort might come up, but the group will resolve them or the game will crash.  The GM certainly doesn't have any power to say "address Premise differently!  Address Premise MY WAY!" in functional Narrativist play.  I'm not sure I'm getting your concern, though.

Recap: You don't address Premise by magic.  You address Premise by taking a fit character locked into a moral conflict with fit opposition and playing it through to its logical conclusion, which is: escalation, crisis, resolution.  You can watch it happen.  It's there to be seen, or else it's not there.

You can't fuck up the conflict - by fucking up the character, the opposition, the escalation, the moral line, anything - and somehow still address Premise.

You have to take the right character and play him or her hard, with uncompromising integrity and unflinching realism.  Choose the wrong character and you're screwed.  Compromise and you're screwed.

("Uncompromising" and "unflinching" as locally defined, to your group's standards, as potentially informed by RGFA Sim or whatever.)

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: TonyLB on July 01, 2004, 06:53:44 AM
Quote from: lumpley
Tony: In Narrativist play, everybody's going to be grooving on everybody else's Premise-addressage, as Gareth says.  Disagreements of the "that's not relevant to the Premise!" sort might come up, but the group will resolve them or the game will crash.  The GM certainly doesn't have any power to say "address Premise differently!  Address Premise MY WAY!" in functional Narrativist play.  I'm not sure I'm getting your concern, though.

My concern is that I think you're portraying Narrativism more rosily than even you believe it to be.  This is a natural response when you feel that something you care about is under attack, but it draws more attacks, and since I'm really keen on Narr I'd like to help avoid that.

When Narrativist play is good, everybody will be grooving on each others Premise-addressage.  But if you say "Oh, if it's not good then it's not Narrativist" then you're going to convince people very quickly that you aren't talking about a mode of play, you're talking about a utopian vision.

It's like saying "We're a rock band, we're all dedicated to rock and roll, so there will never be any creative differences... and if there are it's because somebody here isn't really a rock'n'roller!"

I think that if you're interested in conveying what Narrativism really is then you'll have more success by describing it as it is, blemishes and all.  You've said that the Silence of the Lambs example is not an example of a Narrativist problem.  Fair enough.  Let's hear something that is an example of people playing Narrativism and having a clash of opinions within the context of the CA.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Mark D. Eddy on July 01, 2004, 07:06:42 AM
Wierd. A fit character, a fit opponent and moral conflict gets "automatic" narrativist status if it runs through the wash-rinse-spin of escalation-crisis-resolution? So what if the conflict isn't moral?

More to the point of this thread, what if you discover, in play, that the original character isn't fit for the moral conflict posed (e. g., there is no way to reach crisis with this character)? Do you sigh, give up, and move to a new conflict, or do you violate the original character? The latter choice seems more frequent in my experience with N-leaning players, usually because the rest of the group will howl if they say "Screw this shit. This isn't working for my character. We need to do something else."


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on July 01, 2004, 07:21:14 AM
Tony:  Yes!  Exactly like a rock band.  They'll find a way to make their visions work together or they'll split up.  "Find a way" is hard work sometimes, it's not rosy except when you've accomplished it.

Here are my own contributions to your call for clashes of opinion within a Narrativist game:
Adventures in Shared Character Vision (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8930)
More Adventures in Shared Character Vision (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9257)
You may've read them already.

My goal for this thread has never been to portray Narrativism, as such.  Is been to kick the shit out of the idea that playing Narrativist can possibly require you to violate your character's integrity.

Mark: see my preemptive, here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=126027&highlight=preemptive#126027).

Choosing a new character to play isn't "violating your character's integrity."  Lots of characters aren't fit for Narrativist play.  If you find that you've got one who isn't, you can either play non-Nar or trade the bastard in for one who is.  If you do have a fit character, you never have to compromise him.  In fact you can't compromise him and keep playing Nar.

(If the conflict's not moral, you've got some other kind of play.  Of course.)

edit: Oh and Mark, fit characters, moral conflict, escalate, escalate, escalate, crisis, climax, resolution - that's the Story half of Story Now.  It's not "automatically" Narrativism, you still need the Now half.

edit: Anybody want to talk about what makes a "fit" character?

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Mark D. Eddy on July 01, 2004, 07:37:25 AM
Interesting. I thought I was talking about something other than the pre-empted topic. The character has been fit in the past, is likely to be fit in the future, but in a given instance of play, something has gone wrong. And the social structure of the rest of the gaming group is that  the instance of play can't be abandoned. I then have the choice of bailing on the gaming group or having my character go against type. When Social Agenda is in conflict with Technique, the Creative Agenda means precisely squat, I supose is what I'm arguing.

And what a "fit" character is varies so wildly from system to system, gaming group to gaming group, instance of play to instance of play, that I'm not sure you can say what a fit character is prima facie.

Hmmm... Vincent, I just realized that I'm now hearing that it's not a good idea, easy, or possibly possible, to run a traditional campaign style game in a Narrativist fashion. Is this, in your opinion, true?


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Bankuei on July 01, 2004, 08:18:11 AM
Hi Vincent,

Sorry to come late to the party :)

I suspect the reason that "character integrity" becomes such an issue between Sim and Nar play is that I've seen it used as a shield during play to either enforce one of those CAs or try to "sneak in" the other in a group playing the other one.

Possible examples:

-The GM uses Force to railroad actions because of character integrity("A samurai wouldn't do that!"

-The player deliberately designs characters who will go against the grain, thereby assuring a moral conflict(and using character integrity as the reason).

-A player fails to really address the Premise, because the character reacts 2 dimensionally, without any thought or deviance from "character integrity", and in extreme cases, the player finds the group lax("bad roleplayers") because they seem to be shifting all over the place...

Remember, "My Guy" is often the only area of some control and input on the part of players trapped in intense Gamist/Sim habits...  So "My Guy" is the first and easiest weapon players will go to in order to try to get input into the game and the CA of play.

Chris


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: contracycle on July 01, 2004, 08:50:28 AM
Quote from: Mark D. Eddy
Interesting. I thought I was talking about something other than the pre-empted topic. The character has been fit in the past, is likely to be fit in the future, but in a given instance of play, something has gone wrong. And the social structure of the rest of the gaming group is that  the instance of play can't be abandoned. I then have the choice of bailing on the gaming group or having my character go against type. When Social Agenda is in conflict with Technique, the Creative Agenda means precisely squat, I supose is what I'm arguing.


OK that, and Tony's remarks, are perhaps an interesting point.

I believe it has already been established that clashes within a CA may exist according to preference for sub-CA's, correct me if I'm wrong.  But I think the question about campaign style play does touch on something I find confusing about Narr, as an outsider, and possibly throws Marco's question into a different light as well.

Lets hypothesise that we have a game that is entirely Narr - no CA conflict whatsoever.  The group sits dwn and decides characters and premise and whatnot and they run and complete story 1.  Now in orthodox campaign style play, they would move on to story 2.

But: what if one of the characters is now rendered Not Fit by the transition to story 2?  Does that then, in Marco's terms, potentially require that character's player to NOT address premise in their preferred manner?  Instead, obliges them to address the premise in a manner that accords with the rest of the groups desire?

All of these qwould be easy enough to deal with in explicit Narr, but not surely for vanilla narrativism.

I would think that probable responses would be along these lines:
- the character whose can't address this premise or this premise in an appropriate manner is dropped.  The story they were here to tell, the answer to the premise question they were called in to being to give has been given, and the character is put out to pasture.
- there's a whole new round of character definition and content negotiation such that it never happens.  My only concern about this is other aspects of the contract may militate against such an open negotiation, if this is Vanilla Narr.  This is interruption of play is what leads to the suggestion that Narr is antithetical to campaign-style play.
- It never arises because ANY answer to premise is a good answer, and so no answer that a player desires to give can possibly be frustrated by the answer given by any other.

Thoughts?


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on July 01, 2004, 08:53:53 AM
Mark:  Oh!  I didn't get the "fit in the past, fit in the future" bit.  Let me reflect.

Sometimes the social contract of your group forces you to violate your character's integrity, absolutely.  The obvious example is when you have to have your characters form a party, even though there's no earthly reason why they would.  My position is that those social expectations are destructive to Narrativism, because they break the character or some other part of the conflict.  If your group expects you to violate your character's internal causality, they do so at a cost to Narrativist play.

I'm not sure what kind of "something" could go wrong with an instance of play such that now your character's not fit.  Some new, radically out-of-step conflict, maybe.  In which case, you'd be justified in saying, "hey, my character's not cut out for this.  What shall we do?"  Dunno.

Meanwhile, quite the contrary: it's easy to say what makes a fit character, and it's not at all system-dependent.  (That's why I raised the question, thanks for taking me up on it!)  The fitness of the character is defined by the moral line of the conflict - by the Premise.

Leon and Matilda in the Professional are both fit characters.  They're perfectly balanced across the moral line of the conflict: does Leon take Matilda in?

Chris: that's what Kirt said too, way back at the beginning of the thread.  That's probably where it comes from: one of us trying to explain to a newcomer that Narrativism is: would your Samurai do that? where Simulationism is: your Samurai wouldn't do that.  

The problem I see is that some people have taken it to mean this: When push comes to shove, do you address Premise or play your character true?  That's the difference between Nar and Sim.  That's the bogosity I'm trying to talk people out of.

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on July 01, 2004, 09:01:34 AM
Gareth: Yes.  Exactly.  Those are your choices.

In Sorcerer, when you resolve your character's kicker, if you decide to keep playing the same character you write him a new kicker.  That is, you find a new conflict he's fit to take on.

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Paganini on July 01, 2004, 09:32:14 AM
This thread has become unfocused and abstract to an impractical degree. To get back to Vincent's original rant...

Vince, I don't usually disagree with you, but I got to now. Train of thought commencing:

A transcript is an account of the sequence of events that is created in the SiS during play.

The definition of Sim is that the priority of the players is to ensure that the transcript is internally consistent with respect to one (or more) of Character, Situation, Setting, etc. Such a causal transcrapt may include Premise (problematic human issue) and theme (resolution of said issue), but the players of the game do not care how those issues resolve, so long as they resolve in a way that is consistent with the previously established prameters of the SiS.

The definition of Nar is that the player does indeed care about the Problematic Issue resolving in a particular way. The player desires a specific outcome, because it has personal significance. Having the moral issue resolve a certain way makes a point about the player's beliefs as one of the Real People (TM).

That's the thin dividing line: If you don't care how the Problematic Issue resolves, it's Sim with Theme. If you do care how the Problematic Issue resolves, it's Nar.

So, there will absolutely be times when resolving the Problematic Human Issue in the way *you* want it to resolve will violate the game's causality. It may even contradict SiS parameters that you have previously established about your character. This happens constantly in literature, movies, and so on. It's called a "turning point." The character does something unexpected, something that is out of character given what you already know about him. This is interpereted by the audience as character growth. It's a fundamental part of making three-dimensional characters.

In the hypothetical pure Sim-Char mode, a player will *never* make a decision that will violate previously established facts about his character. If the character is described as being miserly, he'll *always* be miserly, until the player gets tired of playing a miser and makes a new character. The miser will never take pity on the poor starving waif as penetence for the death of his own brother, who died in a workhouse.

In the hypothetical pure Nar mode, a player will violate the previouslly established facts any time he needs to, to ensure that the Problematic Human Issue is resolved with the outcome he wants it to have.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: hanschristianandersen on July 01, 2004, 09:35:45 AM
Quote from: Vincent
Anybody want to talk about what makes a "fit" character?


I'll take a stab at it -

A fit character is one whose positioning or meta-game qualities facilitate addressing premise.

In my experience, this is often accomplished by having some aspect of the character's backstory or personality that can be readily leveraged to create compelling bangs.  (In that respect, it could be said that pretty much any Sorcerer character is "fit", because otherwise how are you going to write the Kicker?)

When I mention meta-game qualities, I'm thinking in particular of The Riddle of Steel's "Destiny" spiritual attribute - Destiny is not a measurable part of the SIS, but it exerts influence into the SIS in a way that can make for great bangs.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on July 01, 2004, 10:06:36 AM
Hans:  Absolutely.  Sorcerer's character creation rules are designed to do one thing: create characters fit to take on "what would you do to get what you want?"

Nathan:  Huh?  I don't agree with a word of that.  I have no idea where that understanding of Simulationism and Narrativism would even come from.  It's certainly not supported by the essays or by any of the Narrativist games I know.

Let's take this:

I make a character who's passionately committed to a moral ideal that I personally find problematic: a vigilante with a gun, he shoots child molesters in the head while they're out on bail.  That's his deal.

I put him at a turning point: his 18-yo nephew, to whom he's always been a guardian angel, has just been arrested for (allegedly) molesting a child.

To launch play, the GM tells me that my guy's nephew calls him to arrange bail.  I gotta find out whether the kid did it and then I gotta decide what to do about it.  I think we all know that he did it, and what I'm going to be finding out is a) how difficult it is to know beyond a doubt, and b) how human he is despite the fact.

You're saying that if I, Vincent, want this to play out such that killing this kid is the right thing to do, I'm playing Narrativist, but if I'm curious to find out whether killing the kid is the right thing to do, I'm playing Sim?

That's like, nonsense.  That's not the difference between Narrativism and Simulationism a'tall.  I'm thrown for a total loop, I'm not sure what to say.

Anybody want to back me up or knock me down?

edit: This post of mine is the most off-topic post yet, you ask me.  I'm going to copy it into a new thread, um... here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=126228#126228).  So back me up or knock me down in that thread and here let's keep talking about character integrity.

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: timfire on July 01, 2004, 10:47:51 AM
Hmm, I kinda see both sides of this argument. Using the vigilante example, let's say play began with the player establishing that the PC never shows mercy, by killing his priest for child molestation. Then this thing with his nephew comes up.

At that point, the player decides he wants the PC to spare the life of the nephew. Let's say that the PC decides family is more important than justice, or whatever. Is that breaking the intregity of the already established character? If it is, does that weaken the statement the player was trying to make?

I can see the argument that it isn't, since the PC obviously has some sort of personal code, but... I don't know, I haven't made up my mind on this.

Is this an example of the character becoming unfit?


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on July 01, 2004, 10:59:46 AM
Timothy:
Quote
Let's say that the PC decides family is more important than justice, or whatever. Is that breaking the intregity of the already established character? If it is, does that weaken the statement the player was trying to make?

No, that's exactly the answer to exactly the question.  The situation poses: is family more important than justice-or-whatever?  If I choose one way, I'm saying yes, and if I choose the other, I'm saying no.  My character's fit and able to make a statement on the issue: to address the Premise by playing the conflict out to a conclusion.

Ron, there's a great statement in a post somewhere about this, something about how Narrativist play is taking a question and saying right here, right now, for these circumstances, this is the answer.  And then you can choose new circumstances with new pressures and considerations and say right here, right now, this is the answer.  Do you know the post I mean?  I recall you really digging it when it was posted.

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: timfire on July 01, 2004, 11:19:49 AM
Quote from: lumpley
Timothy:
Quote
Let's say that the PC decides family is more important than justice, or whatever. Is that breaking the intregity of the already established character? If it is, does that weaken the statement the player was trying to make?

No, that's exactly the answer to exactly the question.

If that isn't, then how was Tommy Lee Jones attempting to shoot Harrison Ford violating character integrity? I'm still trying to wrap my head around this. (Also, it's been a while since I watched that movie.)


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on July 01, 2004, 11:26:32 AM
Ah.  Before he tried to shoot Harrison Ford in the head, he clearly wanted to get to the bottom of it, not kill him.  After he tried to shoot him, he clearly wanted to get to the bottom of it, not kill him.  Trying to kill him was this weird act that looked good but was out of nowhere.

Do I kill him? was never part of the conflict between them.  Do I help him? probably was, I think - it's been a while since I've seen it too.

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: JackBauer on July 01, 2004, 11:31:53 AM
I've never actually seen The Fugitive, but it sounds like under the circumstances, Jones' character was startled and that's the reason he fired. Maybe he was'nt deliberately trying to kill Harrisons' character. This makes sense. But if I'm not visualizing the scene properly, don't blame me since i've never seen it before.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: TonyLB on July 01, 2004, 11:36:55 AM
See, the Fugitive example is perfect for exploring the ways that creative difference can come up in the same Narrativist CA.  Yippee!

Adam is playing the Tommy Lee Jones character.
Bob is playing the Harrison Ford character.
Cindy is GMing.
The Premise is "How much can you excuse in pursuit of a worthy goal?"

They've been playing for a while, Bob's character falls, Adam says "I take the shot".

A huge fight erupts, with Bob saying "Dude, that is totally violating your character and screwing the premise!  We're pursuing the goal of finding the one-armed man, how can shooting me possibly be pursuing that goal?"

Adam says "No you are pursuing the one-armed man.  I'm just pursuing you!  My character has never cared about getting to the bottom of this crime, he cares about his duty to bring you in, guilty or innocent, dead or alive.  Remember when we met inside that big dam?  You said 'I didn't kill my wife!'  Remember what my guy said?  He said 'I don't care!'  And he doesn't, so stop telling me how to address the premise!"

Cindy sits back and munches on goldfish crackers, enjoying the show.  When they've vented enough steam she says "Doesn't matter, it's bullet-proof glass, we just get a big spanging starburst and everyone moves on.  You okay with that?"


Does that sound like a clear-cut example of disagreement within CA?  Something we could hypothetically compare and contrast with the Silence of the Lambs example of CA-incoherence?


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: lumpley on July 01, 2004, 11:50:04 AM
Why are we comparing them again?

Not cranky, I've just lost track.  Remind me?

-Vincent


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 01, 2004, 12:20:06 PM
Heya,

This thread did just officially lose my interest, with these hypothetical examples.

If we can freely spin who the players are, what they want, what their characters do, and how they all react to it, then we're in cloud-cuckoo-land for purposes of making any GNS-relevant point.

Actual play is really the touchpoint, and I recommend sticking with it.

Best,
Ron


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on July 01, 2004, 02:43:54 PM
Quote from: contracycle
Quote from: Marco
I wanted to look at the case where the character declines to address the premise in the players optimal way (saving the family) because the player feels fidelity to their internal concept of character.


That didn't make sense because I was logged into an internet terminal and couldn't edit anything I wrote (easily).

What I meant was: The player declines to address the premise she'd wanted to address (the conflicting father figures) because the player's idea of character (Agent Starling isn't [whatever] enough to hang with Lecter).

Quote

I can't really parse this, especially the bit I bolded.  The character did not decline to address premise, because premise does not exist for characters.  Thus, the PLAYER must have declined to address premise in the players optimal way.  If the player has declined to address premise, that player is clearly not playing Narr.


I think in this case the player's viewpoint is that the GM has used force to cut off all aspects but the GM's "one-true-way:" playing Lecter's mind games.

Sure, the player *can* try to solve the problem on her own--with her own skills--but the important captive will very likely die.

The ramifications of force-being-deadly-to-Nar or the player/GM precieving a difference in "internal" character (as imagined by the player) and "external" character (as established in play) are what I'm trying to hilight here.

Quote

The GM's issues over continuity are, it seems to me, wholly irrelevant (except inasmuch as they may clue us in to an agenda conflict).  If the players grooving on Narr, the continuity is only of secondary importance, and if they are grooving on Sim, then the continuity is important but the whole scenario is then Sim anyway.

For the hypothetical I assume an observer would say the players are grooving on Narr (for this train of thought).

The player is hyped on father-figures-issues (which is what Silence revolves around, IMO) then the player is grooving on Nar. So is the GM. The situation is full of premise with the abusive father figure of the FBI for whom Starling will never measure up or the psychopathic but ultimately more accepting father figure of Lecter.

Both are there. The GM has used his power in a way that places heavy governance on action specifically wrt theme/premise.

Looks like Force to me.

Quote

If that is force then all GM actions must be force.

Yes. Me too. Hence the example.

If Force is just another term for "railroading" then just use railroading.

-Marco


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Sean on July 01, 2004, 07:49:02 PM
Hi Vincent -

That was a productive exchange. The issue we're dealing with is connected to the whole Sim vs. Exploration thing and the edge of that precipice falling into which leads to False Doctrines like 'Sim doesn't exist' and 'Beeg Horseshoe'.

You're right that CA and integrity of exploration are orthogonal, and I thought so when I wrote my last response too.

Your reply to me, that the first technique can also be Nar-facilitating, seems right - sometimes. At other times, it's Nar-stultifying, though, whereas the second one never will be.

A real life analogy. You get offered a job - it's not what you trained for or what you dreamed of, but it's interesting. It's not something you'd never ever do, but not something you exactly thought you'd be doing either.

One person searches his soul, looking deep within himself, to find out whether it 'could be his calling after all', whether it's 'the right thing for him to do', that sort of thing. Another person asks: would taking this job be an interesting chapter in the story of my life or not?

Subjectively, they are extremely different approaches to the question. One may bounce back and forth between them.

On the other hand, consider perviness. You can be exploring the system hardcore to gain some advantage from it - this is a form of Gamism - or you can be exploring the system as an exploration of the possibilities for in-game causation, the underlying reality as it were, of play - that being Simulationism.

We talk about Simulationism in terms of Exploration squared, focus on exploration, focus on in-game cause. The first technique for deciding what your character is going to do, in many contexts, sounds more like that than like attention to the moral and emotional significance of play. (Except, of course, when that kind of deep soul-searching is what you get your moral and emotional rocks off from. In which case I suppose, for you, it's Nar-facilitating after all.)

In a long-ago thread on this on rpg.net, I discussed this in relation to Whale Rider. Let's say you're playing the female protagonist of that film, and you're working your way towards your shot at tribal leader.

It would not be unreasonable to say: "this is a patriarchal culture, sorry. you can excel in female-appropriate ways, or you can leave the tribe behind and become great as an individual in the broader society, but they've never had a woman leader, and never will, sorry". Not unreasonable at all. "Yeah, that would be a great story, but it's not how it really works."

If you stop there, I suppose, it's probably Sim. But you could say almost the same words and make exactly the same decisions in play because you wanted to be dealing with the theme of patriarchal oppression, in which case the same stuff would be Nar. So I guess it depends on why you're exploring it this way, so in that sense, as you said, they're orthogonal.

And stories with incoherent characters suck. We all know that.

But there are some subtle shades in this discussion that should not be overlooked, or at least anyway I think so, which is why I brought them up.

I think your characterization of Narrativism mistakes the goal for the reality. Everyone wants to be grooving off each other's premise-addressing, but we don't always succeed, and we're still playing Narrativist when we fail.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: contracycle on July 01, 2004, 11:04:42 PM
Quote from: Marco

What I meant was: The player declines to address the premise she'd wanted to address (the conflicting father figures) because the player's idea of character (Agent Starling isn't [whatever] enough to hang with Lecter).


How is that possible?  I mean, that means the player made the wrong character.  I cannot see how a player can be said to desire to address a certain poremise a certain way, but then to also design a character that prevents them from addressing that premise that way.  How and why would this happen?

I cannot see why we shopuld decide the player made the wrong player; thats trying to play FOR that player.  If the player builds a character to address premise a certain way, it seems reasonable to accept they did so competently.

Quote

Sure, the player *can* try to solve the problem on her own--with her own skills--but the important captive will very likely die.


So what?

Quote

Both are there. The GM has used his power in a way that places heavy governance on action specifically wrt theme/premise.


I can't see how; theme <> content.  The GM has only exercised power over content precisely because, as you say, both are there.

Looks like Force to me.

Quote

Yes. Me too. Hence the example.


Not me too; I don't accept for one second that all GM actions are Forceful.

Quote

If Force is just another term for "railroading" then just use railroading.


It isn't.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on July 02, 2004, 01:04:31 AM
Quote from: contracycle
Quote from: Marco

What I meant was: The player declines to address the premise she'd wanted to address (the conflicting father figures) because the player's idea of character (Agent Starling isn't [whatever] enough to hang with Lecter).


How is that possible?  I mean, that means the player made the wrong character.  I cannot see how a player can be said to desire to address a certain poremise a certain way, but then to also design a character that prevents them from addressing that premise that way.  How and why would this happen?

I cannot see why we shopuld decide the player made the wrong player; thats trying to play FOR that player.  If the player builds a character to address premise a certain way, it seems reasonable to accept they did so competently.

Emphasis Added.

You ask how or why that can happen. Lots of examples right here. Other posters on this thread have suggested that a character who seems right for situation A (the start) may no longer be seen as fit for situation B which developes. Personally I think a great many "railroading" charges are exactly that (I use quotes since the term is used loosely here--I'm not sure I'd consider them railroading).

I think it can happen a lot sooner than that: even if the GM had said "This adventure will revolve around father-figure issues and a condition of crisis where two candidates are brought into play" there's still plenty of room for change of situation where the player sees the character as unfit.

Your take on this is interesting: you assign responsibility for this to the player (the emphasis--the 'wrong' character).

The player, IME, will usually see the events unfolding as the GM's use of Force (insofar as I can tell).

Since I don't think any one's 'right,' I don't think it's possible to say "the player made the wrong character" unless one can also say "the player is responsible for every mutation of situation."

Quote

Not me too; I don't accept for one second that all GM actions are Forceful.


I think Force is a perception on the part of the player wrt the player's intent to address premise. Any GM action could potentially be seen as Force.

It seems that the only example of Force that isn't railroading that I can think of is when the player is happy to have her atomic-level do/do-not decisions made by the GM--even in cases where the outcome is diametricly opposed to the players wishes.

I've never met a player who was happy with that. It has always been considered dysfunctional IME.

-Marco


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: contracycle on July 02, 2004, 03:30:25 AM
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Other posters on this thread have suggested that a character who seems right for situation A (the start) may no longer be seen as fit for situation B which developes.


Sure; I explore that scenario.  But I also gave some indications as to why I think its only a notional, as opposed an actual, problem.  I recognise the theoretical possibility, but I am ont aware of any actual reports of this problem and not sure that I would expect to see any.

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even if the GM had said "This adventure will revolve around father-figure issues and a condition of crisis where two candidates are brought into play" there's still plenty of room for change of situation where the player sees the character as unfit.


Yes, but that does not mean that the character being unfit is actually a problem.  If the player is not concerned with continuity as their CA, the character can just be changed.

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Your take on this is interesting: you assign responsibility for this to the player (the emphasis--the 'wrong' character).


Well I think I can point to the wrong spanner without levelling a moral condemnation of the manufacturer.  So the character is wrong for the situation, so what?  Its just a character - there is no spoon, as you would say.

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It seems that the only example of Force that isn't railroading that I can think of is when the player is happy to have her atomic-level do/do-not decisions made by the GM--even in cases where the outcome is diametricly opposed to the players wishes.



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Force
The Technique of control over characters' thematically-significant decisions by anyone who is not the character's player. When Force is applied in a manner which disrupts the Social Contract, the result is Railroading. Originally called "GM-oomph" (Ron Edwards), then "GM-Force" (Mike Holmes).


By this definition, a discussion about what type of character is appropriate is not the assumption of power over the CHARACTERS thematically significant decisions.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on July 02, 2004, 05:26:02 AM
Contra,

Whether or not there "is a spoon" may be a differentating factor between people with Nar and Sim proclivities. Certainly a lot of people here consider what I'm calling the "external continuity" (or SiS) to be more important (or the only important thing) than "internal continuity" (a personal assessment of character that may not be clear to everyone).

But that can't be a *defining* factor of Sim vs. Nar. A Nar player who doesn't wish to "violate" their character is, IMO, well within their rights to say so (I think this is Vincent's take and I think he's right to have it).

That is why I think Force is simply a matter of perception and each and every thing a GM does might or might not count for a person.

Where you don't think that'll happen commonly ("it's notational"), I think it's at the heart of almost every 'railroading' incident where the GM believes that the "railroading event" is simply a natural outcome of the world rather than a mad scramble to prevent some action on the character's part.

Where the GM is mad-scrambling, I think that's pretty clearly in the dysfunction bucket in almost every case I can imagine.

I think that problem is stock-standard: an incredibly common issue in play. Any time a GM is basing their calls on what they "think would happen" rather than "what 'must' happen for the story" this can come up.

-Marco


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on July 02, 2004, 05:43:33 AM
Quote from: Marco
Any time a GM is basing their calls on what they "think would happen" rather than "what 'must' happen for the story" this can come up.


When faced with the choice of one over the other, the ideal choice would be both. Should in come down to a choice of one or the other, in the composition of fiction, this is a good indication that either the scene should be cut or what has occured before must be rewritten.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on July 02, 2004, 05:54:14 AM
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
Quote from: Marco
Any time a GM is basing their calls on what they "think would happen" rather than "what 'must' happen for the story" this can come up.


When faced with the choice of one over the other, the ideal choice would be both. Should in come down to a choice of one or the other, in the composition of fiction, this is a good indication that either the scene should be cut or what has occured before must be rewritten.


I agree with the "optimal"--but there may be a choice condition and that'd be Virtuality vs. Story-First play (not Sim vs. Nar, IMO).

The idea of cutting scenes and re-writing them is a good one--but one that's antithetical to immersive play (IMO) and absolutely counter to Virtuality.

If Virtuality can be a form of Nar play (and I think it can--we'll see how John's Water-Uphill thread turns out) then clearly the test of re-writing or cutting is simply a matter of personal taste within either mode.

-Marco


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: contracycle on July 02, 2004, 05:58:58 AM
Marco I'm not sure I follow what it is that you are trying to demonstrate.

Quote from: Marco

Whether or not there "is a spoon" may be a differentating factor between people with Nar and Sim proclivities.


Thats probably the case.  I'm not sure what it has to do with decisions WITHIN one subset though.  I mean, the only scenario in which two players could have a real disagreement over premise - and I'm not sure this is even possible - is if they are already both playing Nar.  So I cannot really see how a potential distinction between Sim players and Narr players matters to the discussion.

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Where you don't think that'll happen commonly ("it's notational"), I think it's at the heart of almost every 'railroading' incident where the GM believes that the "railroading event" is simply a natural outcome of the world rather than a mad scramble to prevent some action on the character's part.


Where WHAT will happen?  What I have been responding to is the possibility that one Narr player may have to accomodate the other Narr players in the room.  So we are NOT talking about people concerned with the "natural outcome of the world" as a big issue.

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But that can't be a *defining* factor of Sim vs. Nar. A Nar player who doesn't wish to "violate" their character is, IMO, well within their rights to say so (I think this is Vincent's take and I think he's right to have it).


But, are they even able to?  I don't think that has been demonstrated.  As I mentioned before, I suspect that any answer to premise is a good one, so I cannot imagine a scenario in which a player is frustrated from  addressing premise by the actions of other players.  Is there a problem here to solve?

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I think that problem is stock-standard: an incredibly common issue in play. Any time a GM is basing their calls on what they "think would happen" rather than "what 'must' happen for the story" this can come up.


But that sounds like a classic GNS mode mismatch.  That seems to to explain the scenario within an already established framework; we have an answer to this problem already.  What you are indicating is the group has divergent expectations about what play is "about".

What I don't understand is why you think the mismatch that would occur between Narr and Sim would also occur between Narr and Narr, or that it would matter.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on July 02, 2004, 06:12:25 AM
You've lost me too, Contra.

What I was trying to demonstrate is that a player may envision their character as un-fit to address premise after some mutations of situation. I think that can *clearly* happen--I don't know if that's even an issue here (do you disagree that that can happen?)

How that un-fitness is addressed doesn't seem to be a CA-issue to me. It seems to indicate a focus on "getting the story going in a direction I want" vs. "keeping a virtuality intact."

I think that both can be done while "playing Nar" and don't conflict with "address of Premise"--it's a matter of how one precieves continuity (and violations thereof).

-Marco


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: contracycle on July 02, 2004, 06:34:10 AM
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What I was trying to demonstrate is that a player may envision their character as un-fit to address premise after some mutations of situation. I think that can *clearly* happen--I don't know if that's even an issue here (do you disagree that that can happen?)


I genuinely have no idea.  Narr is not my style of play so I have seen little of it.  My feeling is that "no it can't".  I mean if the premise was, say, 'would you sell your granny for enough money', then I can't really see how a player might be compelled to answer 'no' if they wanted to answer 'yes'.

In linear media, the author usually gives AN answer to the proposed premise.  If there was a movie about granny-selling, different characters in the movie may give different answers.  The audience then observes and appreciates this premise and agrees or disagrees with it.  I can't see that any given premise or answer to it is mutually exclusive with any other premise or answer anywhere.

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I think that both can be done while "playing Nar" and don't conflict with "address of Premise"--it's a matter of how one precieves continuity (and violations thereof).


OK, I agree its matter of how one perceives continuity and violations thereof.  But if we are establishing that the play group in question is Nar, then we already know how they see it: continuity is subordinate to premise.  In fact, we identify the presence of Nar by observing the preference for premise-addressage rather than continuity when one must occur at the expense of the other.

Please note that violating continuity is not the same as violating character integrity; sometimes continuity is violated in order to preserve character integrity.  Strangely I think this is likely a feature of sim.


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: Marco on July 02, 2004, 06:44:56 AM
Quote from: contracycle
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OK, I agree its matter of how one perceives continuity and violations thereof.  But if we are establishing that the play group in question is Nar, then we already know how they see it: continuity is subordinate to premise.  In fact, we identify the presence of Nar by observing the preference for premise-addressage rather than continuity when one must occur at the expense of the other.

Please note that violating continuity is not the same as violating character integrity; sometimes continuity is violated in order to preserve character integrity.  Strangely I think this is likely a feature of sim.

Emphasis added.

If continuity is subordinate to premise then I think Vincent is wrong in this thread: someone who is interested in immersive IC experience should prefer Sim to Nar and John's Water-Up-Hill game was probably not Nar since the goals of Virtuality are counter to Nar.

A lot of people, to my read, disagree with this (Vincent, here, IMO). And I think it's shaky too.

I think any game where there are high emotions involved that aren't based on winning will have an identifiable premise that a lit-major could find. It seems to me that the difference between Sim and Nar is then one of intellectual interest vs. emotional involvement.

But since something can be both emotionally and intellectually stimulating to the same degree, Sim is simply inferrior Nar.* Beeg Horseshoe.

-Marco


Title: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant
Post by: contracycle on July 02, 2004, 06:59:57 AM
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But since something can be both emotionally and intellectually stimulating to the same degree, Sim is simply inferrior Nar


Only if it is true that they can be to the same degree - which is not a given - and only if anyone cared.  But if I, as a simmer, fundamentally don't care about the premise, then the alleged 'superiority' of Nar is so much arrogant elitism.

A little while back someone pointed out that movie trailers are all accompanied by a dramatic voice-over delineating the emotional conflict.  Thats the stuff I always write off as the hype, and ignore.