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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: Jack Spencer Jr on June 25, 2001, 09:09:00 AM



Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on June 25, 2001, 09:09:00 AM
I suppose there are several ways to look at it.

Some of the more recent RPGs (meaning post 1982) have been focused on story even to the point of having mechanics that mimic the- what is it?- feel, look, flow of real literature.

I have to ask, is this a good thing?

Not to say these games aren't fun.  They probably are (well, maybe not this one *tosses in trash*) but is it really so easy to turn good storytelling into a contrivance?  Is it that easy to build a wind up toy built of dice-rollin', card-drawin', sone-pullin' and people yapin' that spits out a "good" story.

Do I sound sarcastic?  Sorry.  But I mean it.  Do these games really do what they say they do?  Is it as workable as they say?

If so, I've been working too hard on my fiction.


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on June 25, 2001, 09:26:00 AM
Most games spit out fodder for stories, post-game.  You and your buddies do a whole lotta stuff and later you weave it into some kind of a tale (you impose structure and order onto it vis-a-vis the A to B timeline of the game's events).

The games I like are the ones where the characters are IN a story and the players are "writing" their story as they go along.  At the end (because there HAS to be an end) everyone sits back and says, "wow" and then a new game starts up.  It is the experience of creation that is important, rather than the post-game re-telling...


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 25, 2001, 09:40:00 AM
Hi Pblock,

"I have to ask, is this a good thing?"

This is a mileage question. Classifying something as good or bad requires a set of stated desires or criteria.

So, for me, yes, it's a good thing. For you, who knows? All we can do is (1) observe that such behavior and such game designs exist, and (2) discuss what goals are involved in such things. Oh, and (3) decide how we individually want to role-play in light of these comparisons.

This sort of question worries me, though. It has a tendency to provoke massive, epicyclic posting frenzies. In a plea for reason, I ask everyone to avoid such things in the future.

Best,
Ron


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on June 25, 2001, 09:41:00 AM
OK, I'm still not getting it, I guess.

I don't believe I nor anyone in my groups, past or present, has ever restructured the game events into a story save as memories in our heads.  They may be recounted in a similar manner to how your grandfather may recount war stories.

In other words, I fail to see how these story-orientated games do that, which is as much as I want from an RPG really, than, say, D&D in the hands of a good GM  (or DM if I must use their term.  >sheesh<)

I suppose they probably hide the dice rolling a little better which tends to be right up from in D&D.  I'm reminded of an episode of Red Dwarf where the hologram guy was recounting a game of Risk he played:

"He rolle a two and a three, I rolled a five and a six..."

dull, but I usually forget that sort of thing, mostly.


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: joshua neff on June 25, 2001, 09:51:00 AM
i'm with jared (duh).
the audience for rpgs aren't people who pay tickets to see the final product, it's the players themselves. the creators are the audience. so, what i look for in an rpg are mechanics that help facilitate that kind of thing--story-creation & enjoyment.

this, of course, assumes that you play rpgs for the story. i do. unfortunately, i think the trends of the 90's, particularly as spearheaded by ars magica & vampire, have created this notion that story is the most important thing in all rpgs, no matter what, superior in every respect to all other aspects of rpgs, ROLEplaying over ROLLplaying, blah blah frickin' blah.

i think that's absolute bullshit. i play rpgs for story-creation. not only do i not think my style of play is in any way superior to, say, wargames with characters or some hardcore simulation or heavily-railroaded -story-as-given-by-the-gm or (however you & your friends like to play), i wish wish wish WISH that rpgs would stop pushing this story-uber-alles thing (& if they are going to focus on story, i wish they'd have mechanics that reflected that goal). i would love to see more rpgs proudly & vocally focus on tactical gamism or simulationism or whathaveyou. (like rune, for example.)

but for me personally, yes, i think story-focused mechanics are a bloody good thing.


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: james_west on June 25, 2001, 09:55:00 AM
I hate to sound like a shill for Ron, but -

Nothing will make it as clear to you as buying Ron's game (or the supplement Soul of the Sorceror, even if you don't have the original and don't plan to buy it) and reading it.

I can't imagine that, after reading that, you will still think that mechanics are irrelevant to quality of the story produced.

                           - James


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: joshua neff on June 25, 2001, 10:00:00 AM
a good story-oriented rpg doesn't "restructure" anything, it facilitates story-creation by players & gm. i think good examples of this are: story engine (just bought the revised hardcover edition & it seriously rocks!), hero wars, dying earth, sorcerer, & just to mention it before ron does, prince valiant. there's no "let's have a good story as the result", it's "let's have a good story NOW"--dealing with a strong premise & mechanics that facilitate story-creation do that.


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 25, 2001, 10:02:00 AM
Pblock,

You might be interested to know that a GM using a system like Prince Valiant, Hero Wars, Sorcerer, and several others, does not fudge his or her rolls "in order to promote story."

Historically, lacking systems which facilitate story-creation, GMs inclined toward this goal did have to do this. Now, with systems built in line with this goal, there's no need.

And yes, Fortune (dice, cards, etc) still plays a big role in resolving things during play.

Best,
Ron


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on June 25, 2001, 10:04:00 AM
Heya, Ron.

I don't think it's so much a milage question as a poorly phrased question, I guess.  Leave it to me to misquote myself.

What I'm getting at, I think, is there are several games that claim to focus strongly and exclusively on story.  I'm still in the middle of my reseach on this but I have to wonder if 1) if that's *really* what they're doing and 2) if they're really as different as some make them out to be.

I haven't read *every* game that claims a storytelling bend I don't think I want to TBH.  I still haven't read the Apprentice version of Sorcerer because I'm reformatting it so it'll print out double-sided as a 32pp. booklet  (If you want me to save it for you, Ron, just ask)

What seems to be happening with these story games is the focus is on, well, storytelling.  And like games of old, the person with talent or skill in that field will have an advantage over the other players.

position based combat games gave advantage to people who knew small group tactics and, possibly wargame experience.

point-based character creation gave advantage to those who could crunch the numbers better

hell, physical sports gave advantage to those who were in better physical condition

video games gave advantage to those who've got better hand-eye coordination

now story games give advantage to those who are better at coming up with stories.

I dunno.  I suppose this is all unavoidable and probably for the best but at some point I got the sick, sick idea that RPG leveled the playing field, that is what game balance is all about right?, but the truth is they don't.

I'm very disillusioned right now.

...
    ...
       ...
          meep
               ...


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Zak Arntson on June 25, 2001, 11:30:00 AM
Quote

Is it that easy to build a wind up toy built of dice-rollin', card-drawin', sone-pullin' and people yapin' that spits out a "good" story.


It was probably a combination of both players and game system, but Dying Earth has a simple mechanic that oozes story creation.

I played it this weekend and will post a summary in the Actual Play section here.  The simple dice-rollin' people yapin' mechanic used supports telling a good story better than any game I've played and/or read (though I haven't played/read Sorcerer yet, Ron.  Just got it last night!)


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: joshua neff on June 25, 2001, 11:36:00 AM
zak--

oh, please post that! dying earth, hero wars, & story engine are all games that i've recently read that had me tapping my feet in excitement. i'd love to hear how an actual dying earth session went.


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: james_west on June 25, 2001, 01:42:00 PM
pblock -

While I'm sure it's true that people who are fundamentally good at making up narrative on the fly are going to be better at narrativist games, a good rules set can provide some very strong crutches to people who ain't that good.

                  - James


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: joshua neff on June 25, 2001, 03:11:00 PM
james--

that's been a big issue of mine for a while now.
when i was growing up, i had the whole mass of traditional gamist/simulationist rpgs to play with. narrativist mechanics didn't even occur to me. i ended up being one of those "fudge the dice rolls & ignore the rules" gms.
& now that i've discovered games like dying earth & story engine, it's like a whole new world has opened up for me. i was wondering recently what my gaming would have been like if i'd grown up with those games, as well as d&d & traveller.
so, yes, i think narrativist mechanics can be a good thing for proto-narrativists.


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Zak Arntson on June 25, 2001, 03:30:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-06-25 15:36, joshua neff wrote:
zak--

oh, please post that! dying earth, hero wars, & story engine are all games that i've recently read that had me tapping my feet in excitement. i'd love to hear how an actual dying earth session went.



Okay, check out the Actual Play section, it's up now!

http://indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?topic=258&forum=14&6


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on June 25, 2001, 08:08:00 PM
James-

crutches, eh?  I'd really be interested in what those are or what those'd look like.  I know there are free trial versions of some games, but are they any good?

I've heard Story Bones, the bare bones version of Story Engine isn't very good.  Didn't stop me from d/l-ing it anyway

Can't say about Apprentice verison yet...

most of those others are commercial systems  Know of any free ones?  I already got Puppetland.

You see, I'm also trying to write fiction and one story I got, "Who Mourns For The Clowns?" needs serious help.  Mechanics for good storytelling would be great.


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: joshua neff on June 25, 2001, 11:50:00 PM
pblock--

story bones is okay, but doesn't compare to story engine. check out the new revised edition (paperback's only $15). also, read hero wars, particularly the rules regarding lending of action points & augmentation (& the character creation & advancement rules). read dying earth (& read zak & clinton's report on it in "actual play"). if you can find a copy of prince valiant (i stumbled upon a copy in one of my local game shops, the same day i stumbled upon a copy of whispering vault in a different shop), grab it & read it.
but then, these have all been recommended before, no?

Quote
You see, I'm also trying to write fiction and one story I got, "Who Mourns For The Clowns?" needs serious help. Mechanics for good storytelling would be great.


well, good rpg storytelling mechanics are not the same thing as good advice on writing fiction. completely different beasts. i'd say good narrativist mechanics would be closer to good improv theatre exercises, but even that's only half the deal.


[ This Message was edited by: joshua neff on 2001-06-26 03:54 ]


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Stivven on June 26, 2001, 04:53:00 AM
Quote

a good rules set can provide some very strong crutches to people who ain't that good.


This is a huge part of the of any story based game - the presence of a system that (arguably) puts all of the players on the same level w.r.t. creating the story.

The idea behind it is to make the story-system an integral part of the game, as oppossed to an offhand paragraph where the writer gives a prospective GM some 'advice' on 'storytelling' in the game. The story 'crutches' facilitate story through rules, not through group interpretation/house rules.

Steve



Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on June 26, 2001, 05:48:00 AM
J Neff- (fixed it :smile:

I did d/l the rules synopsis for Hero Wars but it really doesn't tell me most of the stuff you told me to look for.  It does have a little chart for Character Delevopment Costs and all I can say is if this is all the full game offers, it's different from games like GURPS how?

I'm willing to blame this lack of anything blindingly different on the fact it's a trial version of the game.

I suppose I oughtta go read the actual play post on DE.  

"well, good rpg storytelling mechanics are not the same thing as good advice on writing fiction. completely different beasts. i'd say good narrativist mechanics would be closer to good improv theatre exercises, but even that's only half the deal."

Rats.  I guess I'll have to write it myself, then.

BTW what's the other half of the deal?


Steve-

"This is a huge part of the of any story based game - the presence of a system that (arguably) puts all of the players on the same level w.r.t. creating the story.

Interesting since earlier in this thread I lamented the fact that some of these story games give a definate advantage to people who can tell a story well.

Oh, wait.  Harrison Bergeron.  A level playing field.

[ This Message was edited by: pblock on 2001-06-26 10:44 ]


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: joshua neff on June 26, 2001, 06:35:00 AM
*sigh* it's josh, not jeff. (& it's spelled sorenSEN, just in case it ever comes up.)

as far as i recall, the hero wars pdf only gives the basic mechanics, which don't reveal the brilliance of the rules, narrativist-wise. you're gonna have to actually go to the main rulebook. or, if that seems to pricey, check out some of ron's posts either here or at gaming outpost regarding the narrativism of hero wars (or read his review of it here at the forge). or maybe if you ask him really really nicely, he'll discourse to you on what makes the game so damn narrativist & cool. (he can do it much better than i can, especially as he's actually played it, while i've only read it.)

the other half of good narrativism? (at least, the narrativism that i'm talking about, & i believe ron, jared, logan, & paul are, too.) i guess it's the realization that unlike improv theatre, or radio, or novels, or movies, rpgs don't have an end product nor an audience that's separate from the creators. the creators (players & gms) are the audience, so anything dramatic has to hook them. so, certain dramatic techniques that may work in lit or theatre or film don't necessarily work in rpgs. & the point isn't to end up with a brilliant story that you can write down & share with people, it's to create a brilliant story RIGHT NOW, one that's relevant to the audience, who are also the creators.


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on June 26, 2001, 07:06:00 AM
hmm.. it sounds like narrativism requires fairly like-minded group of players who would like the same sort of story, (regardless of the difference between RPGs and other media)

Most of my friends seem to like different types of movies and books, etc.

I'm still having trouble with this story NOW not later stuff.  This is different from other games...how?

Near as I can figure (and I'm probably missing something) is situations like typical RPG combat isn't exactly a good story situation as it's played and must be unraveled a little afterwards.  In play it's all to-hit modifiers and critical successes that peter out on the damage.  Afterwards it's sword swings and parries and stuff.

Most of the rest of the game can be very story-orientated but I guess they lack rules to emphasize the story so it's just as likely the players sit around and do nothing as not.  (That's their own fault IMO)

I dunno.  I'm getting the feeling that I just don't have the mindset for these sort of games.  Not that I won't enjoy 'em if I were to play but I'd be saying things like "this is different from a typical RPG....how?"

_________________
When you're picked last for kickball you're not going to be much of a team player.

[ This Message was edited by: pblock on 2001-06-26 11:10 ]


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: joshua neff on June 26, 2001, 07:30:00 AM
Quote
hmm.. it sounds like narrativism requires fairly like-minded group of players who would like the same sort of story, (regardless of the difference between RPGs and other media)


no, i wouldn't say so. but it does require a group of people who are all on the same page, not just regarding what's happening in the game, but what's driving the game--the premise. a good narrativist game isn't helped by the gm keeping everything closed. communication is essential. saying "i have this idea--i want to run a game of swashbucklin pirates" isn't as much help as "i want to run a game of swashbuckling pirates, driven by the idea of freedom vs control" & then elaborating on that as much as possible. so, going into the game, everyone knows why they're there & what conflicts are going to be driving the story.

Quote
I'm still having trouble with this story NOW not later stuff. This is different from other games...how?


because not all rpgs are concerned with story. some claim they are, but the mechanics don't support it. simulationism (at least, as far as i'm concerned. i'm staying out of the faq arguments for now.) isn't concerned with story, it's concerned with, well, simulation. story might be the end result ("hey, wasn't it cool when that happened?"), but dramatic concerns in the moment aren't an issue, whereas they are in narrativist games. conflict resolution is completely in the realm of "what happens when a player does this", i.e. the mechanics of action. narrativism is also concerned (possibly more concerned) with dramatic conflict resolution. which is why interaction with demons & humanity are given more weight than lots of skills & attributes in sorcerer.
now, there can be loads of conflict in a narrativist game, but it tends to be resolved in more narrative ways, eliminating the "whiff factor" of "declare specific action/roll (or whatever) to determine outcome" of most rpgs. instead, there is either the sorcerer & over the edge way of allowing some sort of roleplaying to affect combat (& keeping the declarations more general), or the much-taunted "fortune-in-the-middle" of hero wars & story engine, where you make a general declaration ("i'm gonna take the bastard out!"), you roll (or whatever), & then retroactively determine outcome. so, instead of "the expert swordsman swings, only to whiff it & miss the nasty little goblin" you have "damn, i didn't get any successes! okay, my expert swordsman moves in to splatter the nasty little goblin, but realizes one goblin death won't matter much in the long term, so i let him go".
narrativist rpgs also tend to accent combat less, having it resolved exactly as any other dramatic resolution would be, like a debate or a seduction. not because combat isn't important to a narrativist game (hell, it's central to extreme vengeance!) but because dramatically, it's no different than any other conflict (as opposed to most rpgs, with long lists of combat modifiers & tables of various weapons & such).


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on June 26, 2001, 07:53:00 AM
hmm...  interesting, interesting.

I guess I'm not as far off as I thought I was, then.  The idea of treating combat like any other conflict is something I've been trying to get my head around.  It's depressing how the typical RPG combat/everything else concept is ingrained in my thinking.

SO it's about dramatic rolls (assuming dice).  That is, rolling only when it's important and, even then, the importance of the situation influences the rolling.

I'm more into the simulation of it myself but even I have been annoyed by useless rolls which effect the outcome w/o being especially useful.  I joke about a real life RPG where you must buy up your ass-wiping skill to avoid getting shit on your hands.  (anyone care to play?)

A more real example was a game of Staking the Night Fantastic.  The players go into a warehouse following some suspicious-looking character and the GM asked if we have flashlights.

There's a time and place for if you didn't say it then you didn't do it and that ain't it.  Our characters had spend the last couple months in intensive training in the Bureau, the players had not.  The characters should have thought to grab flashlights, I don't care what the intelligence rolls said.

Interesting, as I have said.  I'll have to apply this to Who Mourns For the Clows?

Did I say that was a story?  I lied.


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Paul Czege on June 26, 2001, 08:20:00 AM
Hey,

I'm still having trouble with this story NOW not later stuff. This is different from other games...how?

Think about storytelling outside the context of RPG's. If you're telling about an event that happened to you, it's a process of selecting, organizing, and presenting a relevant subset of the superset of all possible information you could include in the story. And the organizing principle is your purpose for telling the story, the message you want to convey to the audience; you organize and present your information around that theme.  As such, storytelling is a retroactive process of selecting details and organizing them to make a theme.

Traditional RPG's are "storytelling" like that. You pick from all the details of the game session and organize them for yourself in retrospect. You discard all the non-dramatic combat whiffing, for instance.

Narrativist RPG's aren't story in retrospect like that, because riffing on the theme is intentionally part of ongoing game events. Games like Sorcerer enable this for the play group by having mechanics that are granular and sophisticated in relation to the Premise, and by focusing on those things that hook the player on the story, rather than asking the player to work to be interested in what the character would probably find interesting. So story is an ongoing process, not a retroactive one. Scenes are framed so they contribute to story, not just because they're an event that follows logically in sequence after prior events, and ended when they've served their purpose.

Make sense?

Paul


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 26, 2001, 12:41:00 PM
Hey pblock,

As far as the experience of actual play is concerned, the difference between (say) my old Champions and (say) my current Hero Wars is so huge as to beggar description. What the GM does is different. What the players do is different. What the PCs are for is different. What everything is about is different. What the mechanics do (per unit, per action) is different.

In (say) RoleMaster, I announce, "I swing at him!" and roll. In Hero Wars, I don't. It's a whole different SORT of announcement, and a whole different SORT of resolution. A Hero Wars "ability" is not a skill, and doesn't represent a % chance of success in the same way as a Call of Cthulhu or RoleMaster skill.

Here's the bad news. The downloads for either Sorcerer, Story Engine, or Hero Wars are totally inadequate. You only get "the point" from the full rules of each one.

I also suggest, regardless of whether this style of play is "for you" or not, that really playing it is probably your best bet for achieving some understanding of it. Paul Czege may be your man for some dialogue about his experiences in this regard.

Best,
Ron

[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-06-26 16:44 ]


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: jburneko on June 26, 2001, 02:55:00 PM
Hey Ron,

Quote

As far as the experience of actual play is concerned, the difference between (say) my old Champions and (say) my current Hero Wars is so huge as to beggar description. What the GM does is different. What the players do is different. What the PCs are for is different. What everything is about is different. What the mechanics do (per unit, per action) is different.


You say a lot of stuff like this and then never give any concrete examples.  I notice that there are a lot of people (me included) who are really curious about all this narrative stuff but seem to 'stare blankly' like you're conveying a bunch of totally alien concepts -- in chinese.

A lot of RPG books have a 'sample transcript' of what a session is supposed to be like.  Side Note: In my opinion SLA Industries has THE BEST transcript of what an RPG session is supposed to be like.

So I have a couple of ideas:

1) Why don't you make up a sample transcript of what narrative play should be like.  And I"m not talking just a few examples I'm talking about an extended 4 or 5 page transcript so that people can get an idea of the flow and the rhythem, how often dice are used when the players chime in and when they bow out to the GM, etc, etc.

2) If writing a fictional transcript is too difficult or too time consuming then I have a proposal.  TAPE RECORD, or even better video tape if you can, one or two of your actual game sessions.  If you don't want to type it up and edit it (for simplicity) send the tapes to me and I'LL volunteer to transcribe and edit it.

What do you think?

Jesse


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: joshua neff on June 26, 2001, 04:56:00 PM
or at least run something at gencon. i don't know if that would help jesse at all, but i'd get a kick out of it.


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on June 27, 2001, 07:14:00 AM
Quote

You say a lot of stuff like this and then never give any concrete examples.  I notice that there are a lot of people (me included) who are really curious about all this narrative stuff but seem to 'stare blankly' like you're conveying a bunch of totally alien concepts -- in chinese.


Thanks, Jesse.  You hit it right on the head.

Why? Do words fail you in describing it or are you just afraid some nitwit like myself will think the way you play your Hero Wars campaign is the way ALL narrativist games are like?

_________________
When you're picked last for kickball you're not going to be much of a team player.

[ This Message was edited by: pblock on 2001-06-27 11:17 ]

[ This Message was edited by: pblock on 2001-06-27 11:44 ]

[ This Message was edited by: pblock on 2001-06-29 00:30 ]


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Mytholder on June 27, 2001, 08:00:00 AM
Jesse wrote:
Quote
A lot of RPG books have a 'sample transcript' of what a session is supposed to be like. Side Note: In my opinion SLA Industries has THE BEST transcript of what an RPG session is supposed to be like.

The sample transcript in Nobilis v2 kicks the crap out of the example of play in SLA and every other game I've ever read. It's (a) totally true to the game (b) dramatic (c) hilarious and (d) actually has characters who seem like real players, instead of the idealised perfect roleplayers you see in other books.

Er. Anyway. Froth over.

Seriously...although I'm fairly sure I "get" narrativism (and I've only read the old free download of Sorcerer so far - I really must give Ron my nice new credit card number, so he can beggar me), having an example of play would really help get the narrativist concept accross.

(Thinking about it, it might be useful to do similar sample game sessions for other styles too...but that's a topic for the main forum...)


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Supplanter on June 27, 2001, 08:42:00 AM
Quote
The sample transcript in Nobilis v2 kicks the crap out of the example of play in SLA and every other game I've ever read.


(Envious boggling.)

Wait a minute - just how do you know what the sample transcript in Nobilis v2 looks like????

Best,


Jim



Title: Story, schmory
Post by: jburneko on June 27, 2001, 08:59:00 AM
Quote

On 2001-06-27 12:00, Mytholder wrote:
The sample transcript in Nobilis v2 kicks the crap out of the example of play in SLA and every other game I've ever read. It's (a) totally true to the game (b) dramatic (c) hilarious and (d) actually has characters who seem like real players, instead of the idealised perfect roleplayers you see in other books.


Oh, really?  That's why I thought the one is SLA was so good.  It actually showed players making mistakes and the GM sliping on a cheesy accent but then showed what the turn around time on these little flubs should be.  I liked it BECAUSE it felt like real players.

But now, I'm dying to see this transcript you're talking about if you think it's better.  Umm... Just what IS Nobilis?  I've never heard of it.

Jesse


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: John Wick on June 28, 2001, 11:12:00 AM
Quote

On 2001-06-25 13:09, pblock wrote:
I suppose there are several ways to look at it.

Some of the more recent RPGs (meaning post 1982) have been focused on story even to the point of having mechanics that mimic the- what is it?- feel, look, flow of real literature.

I have to ask, is this a good thing?


For some.
Maybe not for you.

I don't think there's a single game out there that everyone can agree is "good."

And that's the way it is.


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on June 28, 2001, 08:04:00 PM
I think I'm starting to get it.  

RPGs are often described as Let's Pretend with rules.  This is fairly accurate.  Let's pretend is all about experience of what it's like to be a fireman or cowboy or Han Solo (I did that! I did that!) or, at least what we think it's like, anyway.

Narrativist games is like campfire stories with rules.  Well, campfire stories already have rules, really:  

*  The whole group is telling a story
*  When it's your turn, you must pick up where the other person left off.
*  Take the story wherever you want
*  Then pass it on to the next person

Games in the narrativist style take this a step or two further, allowing the other players to effect and alter a player's story, giving the players control over one character, etc, etc.  Specific vary by game.

Is this far off?  This is the impression I've gotten at this point.

I'm starting to wonder if continuing to call these games is a misnomer, just as when D&D grew out of wargaming it was essentially incorrect to call it just a wargame.

Is it?  I'm not sure.  If you didn't called it RPG, what would you call it?


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: joshua neff on June 28, 2001, 08:25:00 PM
Quote
I'm starting to wonder if continuing to call these games is a misnomer, just as when D&D grew out of wargaming it was essentially incorrect to call it just a wargame.

Is it? I'm not sure. If you didn't called it RPG, what would you call it?


why wouldn't you call it a game? why not a roleplaying game? there are rules, there are players engaging in an activity bound by those rules--sounds like a game to me. & as the players are taking roles, it sounds like a roleplaying game to me.

pblock, it sounds like you're getting it (whatever that means), but i strongly suggest you find a copy of the basic story engine rules & if you don't want to buy them, at least read them in the store. or the main hero wars book. on one hand, narrativist games are very different from other rpgs, but on the other hand they're really not all that different & i don't think it takes a phd in quantum physics to wrap your head around the concepts behind narrativist rpgs.

traditionally, rules in rpgs are for determing the outcome of "stuff"--usually combat, but possibly jumping over a pit, or fast talking a guard, or whatever. these are broken down into individual actions, with the idea being one must randomly determine what the outcome of each individual action is.
narrativist rpgs don't necessarily do this. they attend to "narrative stuff"--a duel between romantic rivals, a philosophical debate, an attempt to steal the king's jewels. maybe these are broken down into individual actions or maybe the whole scene is resolved by one roll of the dice (or whatever)--but if broken down, the point still isn't to see "how things really would happen". any rules in a narrativist game should be about driving the story. this doesn't mean fudging a death because it's not appropriate for that scene (although it could mean that), it simply means that if it's not relevant to the narrative, there's no point in rolling dice (or whatever). the rules either focus on the premise (sorcerer & extreme vengeance, for example) or focus on general story-based resolution (story engine & theatrix).
am i making any sense at all, or is this just more confusing babble?


[ This Message was edited by: joshua neff on 2001-06-29 00:26 ]


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on June 28, 2001, 08:48:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-06-29 00:25, joshua neff wrote:

why wouldn't you call it a game? why not a roleplaying game? there are rules, there are players engaging in an activity bound by those rules--sounds like a game to me. & as the players are taking roles, it sounds like a roleplaying game to me.


Perhaps, perhaps not.

WHen D&D was going to press, they decided to refer to it as something other than wargame, since they figured it was different enought to call it something different.  They probablly did this to tell customers that D&D wasn't like most other wargames out there and probably to impress potential customers  Ooooh!  What's this new thing?

Yeah it was a marketing decision.  I'm given to understand one person in the group thought the term "role-playing game" was wrong but was outvoted.  I wonder what they the hobby would have if he wasn't.

It's unlikely that anyone would put a new name on a game at this point because there just isn't a big pile of money to be made, unfortunately.  (Some money, but not the pile that'd attract dumb people who'd rename stuff for no reason)

Actually several RPGs came out with descriptive name other than "Role-playing game" on them.  Sandman from Pacesetter calls itself a "Storytelling Game." and contains a brief paragraph about why they called it that instead of just RPGs. (Like they did anything especially different from then-current games compared to some of the games we're talking about)

I asked what you would call these games if the term RPG didn't apply more out of curiousity than any real desire to draw a division here.  I don't what I'd call them.


I will name them George and I will hug them and pet them and squeeze them


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Mytholder on June 29, 2001, 12:40:00 AM
Attempts to define what an rpg is tend to fail. Everytime someone comes up with a good definition, someone else points out some game that should be covered but isn't, or is covered but certainly doesn't fit into the fuzzy brainspace we mark "rpgs". Baron Munchausen and Pantheon are good examples of these activities-which-involve-roleplaying-but-aren't-exactly-
traditional-rpgs-so-what-the-smeg-do-we-call-them-games....


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: jburneko on June 29, 2001, 08:10:00 AM
Quote

On 2001-06-29 04:40, Mytholder wrote:
Attempts to define what an rpg is tend to fail. Everytime someone comes up with a good definition, someone else points out some game that should be covered but isn't, or is covered but certainly doesn't fit into the fuzzy brainspace we mark "rpgs". Baron Munchausen and Pantheon are good examples of these activities-which-involve-roleplaying-but-aren't-exactly-
traditional-rpgs-so-what-the-smeg-do-we-call-them-games....


You know, games like Baron Munchausen, Soap and Puppetland I think are RPGs from a different evolutionary standpoint.  These games are what RPGs would have been like had they developed from victorian parlor games instead of war games.

"The minister's cat is a noble cat... The minister's cat is an elegant cat..."

Jesse


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: Supplanter on June 29, 2001, 09:32:00 AM
I'd tend to ID Puppetland as the One of These Things That Is Not Like the Other on the list of three. The player/character and player/GM relations seem much more characteristic of traditional RPGs than Munchausen, which I have read, or Soap, which I've only read about. Certainly Munchausen and Soap really are something new in the way of RPGs, and the "parlor game" lineage is a very tenable theory for them.

Best,


Jim


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: contracycle on July 19, 2001, 02:38:00 PM

Hi guys

I'm new, but I'm going to bust right on in here, partly because that I suspect that is one of my accomodations to the socially inept thing, possibly/plausibly in conseqence of my GM role.  

Let me have a crack at HW and how the mechanicla format influences play.  Characters have Action Points (AP''s) which determine their "dominance" in a scene.  AP's are controlled by an ability rating, the most appropriate rating for the contest as a whole, although actual actions may be carried out with any ability (and I do mean ANY, you can do wild stuff, a bit like Mage, if you want).  This neatly encapsulates say a Dex-type task in an overall combat contest.  Furthermore, the contest is based on a bidding mechanic by which players bid character-derived AP's in an exchange which may cause the loss or transfere of points between the antogonists.  This means that the players control of the pace of the contest, byt their bid sizes, and that the process of exchange leads the players and GM to kinda negotiate their way to an outcome.  It does not primarily rsolve discrete actions, so much as overall influence of the situation.

One of the ways that this changes actual play behaviour is characterised in the advice to GM's not to give concrete results to actions - for example you do not usually respond to a dice result with "you hit"; you encourage "vaguer" actions like "I charge in with a flurry of blows, driving him back" and respond by narrating the "true" outcome with an eye to the mechanical exchange of AP values (and for example, whether they were transfered or outright lost).  This flexibility allows great reign to potentially fuzzier attributes like, say, loyalty to a patron: you could use such an attribute to increase your effectiveness in the exchange - "In the Name of the King" is a legitimate and effective, well, tactic.  Or can be, anyway :wink:

I think a lot of the design difference here is that HW resolves the whole contest, with all participants (pretty much) in one mechanical resolution, and uses sub-resolutions to allow discrete decisions within that framework.  And the fact that the AP contest features a fairly regular attrition means that it also kinda "counts down" the contest, which is useful for the GM.


Title: Story, schmory
Post by: contracycle on July 19, 2001, 02:40:00 PM
there was meant to be a smilie after that first paragraph :smile: