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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: Josh Roby on November 21, 2005, 09:47:22 AM

Title: Architect Stance
Post by: Josh Roby on November 21, 2005, 09:47:22 AM
Okay, total snippet of a thought, here.  While Actor, Author, and Director stances describe the stances that player-participants take "in play" while things are happening, there's also procedures that player-participants perform outside of play, and stances that they take to do so.  One of these is the creation of material to be used in play -- in rough form, the kingdom in trouble, the necromancer who kidnapped the princess, the orc tribes that protect the necromancer's stronghold, but also in more subtle ways like the country that your character hails from, your immediate family, and details of the character's backstory that are not determined before play begins.

Some games allow players to take this "architect" stance in varying ways, either restricting it to the GM, or allowing only the players to determine things about their character, or occasionally distributing such power in other, more egalitarian ways.  What's more important to my thinking is that in some instances of play, this sort of creation happens during play, while things are happening, and can inform character decisions (I have no options available to me... until I make up this allied kingdom over here that can supply me with cavalry).

Or is this just another way of looking at Director Stance?  Can a player take up "Architect stance", creating background content, without taking up Director stance which frames the scene and determines what content is immediately available to the characters?

Also, am I retreading ground and should be reading some old posts somewhere that have already discussed this in detail?

Title: Re: Architect Stance
Post by: Mark Woodhouse on November 21, 2005, 10:30:13 AM
I see the distinction that you're making, but since Stances specifically are about what happens during play, I think that the "created stuff" all has to enter the SIS through Director, Author, or Actor stance. I'd even venture to say that this may be a point-of-failure for a lot of players - they have a bunch of cool stuff that they have come up with, but they can't find a way to get it into play within socially-accepted Stance limits.

Title: Re: Architect Stance
Post by: Andrew Morris on November 21, 2005, 11:49:12 AM
Joshua, I'm not sure how your "Architect Stance" differs from Director Stance. According to the glossary definition of Director Stance, "even features of the world separate from the characters" can de defined. If I'm missing something in your ideas, please set me straight.

I could see this as a subset of Director Stance, perhaps, in much the same way that Pawn Stance is a subset of Author Stance. Architect Stance could be Director Stance without any focus on the characters, or something like that.

Title: Re: Architect Stance
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 21, 2005, 03:07:30 PM
I think that Architect Stance is, as many other stabs at stance before have been, an attempt to look at play from an angle other than how it relates to the character. What Josh is describing isn't a stance in terms of the definition of stance. But he's right that there are a lot of ways to look at how a player is addressing the game that are important to consider in addition to stance.

Josh, are you familiar with "Audience Stance"? Which is where the player is just taking things in? It's another case of a state of play that's not technically a stance, but is interesting to consider.


Title: Re: Architect Stance
Post by: Josh Roby on November 21, 2005, 03:43:11 PM
Thanks for the feedback, guys.  I'm trying to rough out the shape of the concept in my head, to see if there's even something to talk about.

From bottom up, Mike, yes, I'm thinking of 'stance' in terms of the player's stance in regards to the game, rather than the player's stance in regards to their character.  This is an important distinction to make, and thanks for clarifying it.  This is much like Audience stance.

Andrew, the only real difference between Director and Architect as I'm seeing them is the relationship to the immediate scene or the player's character (not sure which or both, yet).  Director stance allows you to introduce imagined elements outside of your character that still bear on your character's immediate situation (small s); Architect stance allows you to introduce imagined elements outside of your character that don't necessarily bear on the character's immediate situation.  Admittedly, that may be a subset of Director stance as presently defined, but I think there's an important shift of emphasis.  If a GM asks a player to create an NPC that will appear in the next adventure, is that really putting that player into Director stance?  The player isn't directing anything, he's providing material for the director to use.

Mark, usually I like the "nothing exists until it appears in play" axiom because in many cases it's very much true, and a very liberating concept for players and GMs both.  However, I don't think it applies to all cases, or at least doesn't apply in the same way.  If we're playing Star Wars, ewoks and wookiees probably exist, even if we don't mention them.  No one will bat an eye when somebody brings them into play; however, if somebody tries to bring a Klingon into play, there'd probably be some protests.  What's the distinction between those two?  They're both aliens, and they're both being introduced through the same methods, but one is ratified easily and the other provokes criticism.  The reactions of the players must be referencing some standard of what can be included -- the ewoks pass but the klingons fail.  I'm thinking that when we dabble in "Architect stance" we're fiddling with those standards in some way.

Title: Re: Architect Stance
Post by: timfire on November 21, 2005, 04:24:02 PM
Director stance allows you to introduce imagined elements outside of your character that still bear on your character's immediate situation (small s); Architect stance allows you to introduce imagined elements outside of your character that don't necessarily bear on the character's immediate situation.

I know that the wording in the glossary would seem to suggest that a player's use of director stance would somehow have to relate back to their character and the immediate situation, but the term is usually used to refer to any manipulation of the environment. It also doesn't matter if the player retains control over the object, or whether the GM takes over. As such, what you suggest would just be considered plain old director stance, accordng to the current usage of the concept.

Here is a somewhat recent discussion on stances:

[Stance as Credibility Distribution] ( --- Original thread
[Oracle Stance?] ( --- Spinoff thread

Title: Re: Architect Stance
Post by: Josh Roby on November 21, 2005, 07:54:44 PM
Yes, Tim, and I agree with that assessment of the current definition.  I'm just wondering if there really are two things in the box -- similar but distinct -- that's labeled Director stance.  Or if I can tease out some measure of insight by prodding the box enough. ;)

Title: Re: Architect Stance
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 22, 2005, 07:30:15 AM
I agree that what you're describing is a subset of director stance. I don't see how that makes it a non-useful designation, however.

Stance seems like the term that demands to be used here. But the problem is that if one does so, then people think that you're adding to the old model, and that the definitions of the old model pertain to the new entries (architect must somehow pertain to character in some way that's different than director stance, for instance). Or, the other potential problem is that people will assume that the old stances don't have their original definitions, but ones like the new stances.

That is, people might think that director stance no longer has to do with doing things unrelated to the character, or that architect stance is defined only as a subset of director stance (meaning that it's defined as something you do without regard to character). Actually this last definition would work, I just think that it's unneccessary to cram things into the old stance definitions for these to be useful.

So what I'm saying is that it might be useful to use some other term than stance for this. Or, if it's just too good to pass up, I suggest that we have clarifying terms to separate the stances that refer to the old model, and this one. For example we could have Actor Character Stance, and Architect Game Stance. Or something like that. There is a current term that might be useful, which is Authority. That is you can at this point talk about the player employing his Worldbuilding Authority. Or using that being a Architect Mindset? If we really want to refer to how the player is thinking?

Or, lastly, throw out the old model, and create an entirely new one that incorporates all of this. This could have character stances and non-character stances as different branches or something.

Again, I'm seeing four viable terminology options here:
1. Accept the definitions of the current stance model, and simply say that Architect is a subset of Director stance.
2. Add a level of description to the stance model that would keep the models separate, but still use the term stance.
3. Use a different term for things like Architect POV and Audience POV.
4. Come up with a new model that redefines all of the stances in terms of something other than character genreally (and perhaps allow for some of the stances to be defined in regards to character).

BTW, the theoretical value of stance having character as the central referent is that, generally, as part of a CA, stance variations have some of the same problems and points of interest that GNS modes do. Using character as the central referent makes it pertinent to most RPG play, and allows the categories to be mutually exclusive (overlap in such models usually makes them pretty ineffective as diagnosis of play style becomes near impossible).


Title: Re: Architect Stance
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 22, 2005, 08:07:07 AM

I'm seeing some old confusions arising, and in the most difficult possible way - embedded in true statements. So therefore untangling the confusions is going to be perceived, I can just see it, as disagreeing with the true stuff.


The Glossary definition is carefully worded and "usage" that diverges from it typically indicates misunderstanding. I'd like to stick with it for a bit before haring off into speculative and secondary terms. Mike, in particular, I think you're mixing people up kinda badly.

Stance refers to how a real person contributes to play relative to a fictional character. Three points to consider.

a) Not all contributions to play require a Stance, although most happen to, which isn't surprising considering that Situation requires characters. Josh, a lot of what you're talking about doesn't require Stance at all. It's just input of another kind, providing stuff about a character which later gets incorporated into play which does include Stances.

b) The concepts of your or my character are irrelevant to Stance. Similarly, the concepts of GM and player are irrelevant to Stance. Josh, this is where I think you may be mis-reading - confounding "a character" with what we call "player-characters," and also bringing the traditional notions of ownership into the discussion when not even traditional play is observed to include that ownership.

c) Characters are sometimes (fictional) inanimate objects; "furniture" are not characters if they are (fictional) people. Stances refer only to(ward) characters. Josh, this is just for clarification, as I think these concepts got a pretty good workover in recent blogs.


Title: Re: Architect Stance
Post by: Roger on November 22, 2005, 08:24:58 AM
The underlying term at issue here is not, in my opinion, "stance".  

Joshua points it out right in the second sentence of his thread-starting post (emphasis mine):

While Actor, Author, and Director stances describe the stances that player-participants take "in play" while things are happening, there's also procedures that player-participants perform outside of play, and stances that they take to do so.

It is my suggestion that the actual term at issue here is "play", in the sense of "in play" and "out of play".

In much the same way that "System", in the Lumpleyian sense, encompasses much more than simply the text of the rules, I would suggest that "Play" encompasses much more than those moments when all the players are seated around the table, rolling dice.

In short, I believe that there are no procedures that player-participants may perform "outside of play."  Indeed, in that space "outside of play", by definition, there may be no such entities as player-participants.

I hope that brings some clarity to what is going on between Architects and Directors.  I would suggest that they are identical terms, as I've tried to demonstrate that their chief distinction -- occuring "in play" or "out of play" -- does not exist.


Title: Re: Architect Stance
Post by: Josh Roby on November 22, 2005, 09:41:57 AM
I'll agree with the general consensus, here, that Architecturing is not a Stance since Stance is defined as in relation to a character, as I recognized a couple posts ago.  If anything it's a "small-s" stance, a stance towards the game as a whole instead of a stance towards character.

I don't know if it really requires a new class of terms as Mike suggests, since "worldbuilding" already exists in common usage and probably works just fine.  That worldbuilding duties can be distributed to various players, and that they are in and of themselves credibility mechanics, are perhaps just aspects that have always been implicit but not highlighted.

Roger, I usually divide the entire RPG experience into "roleplay", "in play", and "out of play" -- roleplay is when you're in the fictional moment, in play involves game elements outside of the fictional moment (worldbuilding, cgen, XP), out of play involves stuff that isn't part of the game but affect the game -- dinner, friends, social contract, etc.  In this case, worldbuilding/architecturing is in play without being roleplay.

Unless anybody has some further dazzling insights, I'm done with this thread.  Thanks for your feedback, guys.

Title: Re: Architect Stance
Post by: M. J. Young on November 24, 2005, 05:58:32 PM
I was cited: Stance as Credibility is my thread.

I think that if that's a correct analysis (and I think it is), that stance is about what statements a player can credibly make, then "architect" as defined here either is not stance at all (because it does not involve making statements into the shared imagined space) or is a particular set of limitations on (and thus a form of) director stance. Director stance does not mean that a player can make any statement about the shared imagined space he wishes and have it be credible; it only means that his credibility extends beyond making statements about things directly related to his character's influence.

Of course, if stance is not a particular definition of the credibility exercised by an individual player, then that analysis doesn't apply; but I'm inclined to think this understanding correct, particularly as it integrates what system does (apportion credibility) with what stance is (exercise granted credibility).

--M. J. Young