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Archive => Indie Game Design => Topic started by: Jonathan Walton on November 01, 2002, 04:49:54 PM



Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Jonathan Walton on November 01, 2002, 04:49:54 PM
I was drafting a webpage/introduction for my game Storypunk (formerly the project called "Quixote & Coyote," discussed here and here) when I was suddenly inspired by multiple sources.  My muses were:

-- Narcissist v0.5 by Aetherco, a time travel game about alternate history as righteous rebellion

-- Haroun & the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie, my favorite novel of all time, bar none.

-- Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, specifically, the opening lines:

Quote from: Floyd
          So... so you think you can tell
           Heaven from hell
           Blue skies from pain.
           Can you tell a green field
           From a cold steel rail?
           A smile from a veil?
           Do you think you can tell?


You see, Storypunk is about the world being a story that we're all part of, very much like Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage" concept.  Originally, I was working with a bizarre mix of Universalis & Mage, where characters would build a new story, piece by piece, to be in, and then try to use their story to affect the Myth of the Real, which we all live in.

However, after reading Narcissist & Rushdie and listening to Floyd, I think there are some more interesting possibilities here that might move Storypunk out of the shadow of the "metaphysics" games that everyone and his brother seem to be sick of.

A Question of Clarity

What if it was unclear just whose story you were a part of?  You call your home story "reality," but does everyone come from the same story as you?  If Don Quixote's story is the novel that he lives in, a story that (like your own life) has a beginning, an end, and some content in between, who's to say that Don Quixote's story isn't just as much "reality" as yours?

If Don Quixote hacks his way out of Cervontes' novel and into your "reality," he'd doubtlessly think that it was a fantasy world.  Likewise, if you hacked your way out of "reality" and into a story of your own devising, you'd call that story a fantasy, while the inhabitants of your story would call it "reality."

Who, after all, has the right to decide what is "real" and what is "fantasy," if those two things are not completely distinct?

A Story to Come From

Now, in Storypunk, every character would have a particular story to have come from.  This could be called their Origin or something like that.  You could claim to have come from "reality," but most other story hackers would laugh at you and dismiss you as someone who hasn't yet seen the truth.  More likely, they'd have Origin's like "Herman Melville's Moby Dick" or "The Creation Myths of the Apache," claiming to come from one story or another.

Just what novel has your life recorded in it?  Well, that might be one of the first things you'd have to find out.  It might turn out that you're a character from a 23rd century historical novel.  Or you could be someone's autobiography.  Or you could be from one of the wizard Tarisnon's many fantasy stories about a world without magic.  Who knows?

If you'll notice, each of these Origins implies that there actually is a "real world" out there somewhere, one in which the authors of your stories exist.  Where is Herman Melville from?  Perhaps he's a character in someone's novel too.  After all, the story-within-a-story is one of the oldest concepts in storydom.  Just ask Shaherazad (sp?).  Or, you could hold out belief, like many do, of discovering the "true" reality out there somewhere, one producing all the stories that exist.  Or, an alternative faith could be believing that there is such a thing as the First Story, one from which all other stories spring in a factal pattern.  Your God would then be the First Storyteller, who is the ultimate Origin of everything that is.

Hacking Literature, Folktales, & Myth

I didn't call the game Storypunk just because it sounds cool.  The characters are basically hacking their way across storydom, finding new stories to be in and seeking out more information about the story they came from.  You could get caught up in a great victorian romance, or battle space pirates, or witness the trials of Hercules, or wander Appalachia with Jack the Giant-Killer.  And it wouldn't be like most time travel or world-hopping games where you randomly jump to a destination or have a bunch of templates to select from.

You could change your story by one of two ways, finding a story within a story to be a part of (i.e. getting sucked into a work of literature, folktale, or myth), or by creating you own story, getting pulled into the reality you build yourself.  The latter could also be done as a group, in the style of Universalis, with each character contributing some components to the story they want to step into.

What About "Escaping the Real"?

One of the key themes of my original "Quixote & Coyote" concept involved the characters always being unable to escape the banality and horror of their crappy lives.  As in kill puppies for satan, they were complete losers, but decided to ignore reality through fantasy, rather than by slaughtering cute animals for Lucifer.  This new conceptualization seems to give that idea a kick in the teeth.

Does it?  I'm not sure.  Are the two ideas completely incompatible?  I don't think so, but it's something I'll have to think about more.  Could the characters get forced back into their Origin stories every now and then, forcing them to deal with a reality that is (at least to them) rather uninteresting compared to all the other stories they could be in?  Would that work?  Maybe.  But, in this second reimagining, I was also hoping to let players take on the roles of literary characters or those from myth and legend.  Obviously, playing Merlin stuck in Camelot would not have the same effect as playing Bob Jones who has to take out the garbage and pay his credit card bills.

What do people think?  Am I shooting my old idea in the head?  Is this idea "better" (i.e. more thought provoking and interesting)?  Is it worth moving away from my old concept?

Later.
Jonathan


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Paul Czege on November 01, 2002, 06:14:20 PM
Jonathan,

It's very cool. I like everything...except this:

I was also hoping to let players take on the roles of literary characters or those from myth and legend. Obviously, playing Merlin stuck in Camelot would not have the same effect as playing Bob Jones who has to take out the garbage and pay his credit card bills.


Literary characters, in my mind, are storied out. Their themes are revealed. The Premise and conflict that disgorged them into significance to their human audience has been answered. Merlin in Camelot no longer has anything to say to a human audience. Merlin at The Alamo, maybe, but retrofitting new Premise and conflict onto "used" literary figures is an exceedingly difficult task, requiring a great deal of insight into how the character's original thematic answer to Premise might be reinvigorated with meaning through the resolution of a specific new conflict that casts entirely new meaning and understanding into it. My recommendation is to ditch the idea. Keep historical and fictional settings, and "underbelly"¹ the player protagonists within them.

Paul

¹ Clarification on this term is available upon request, but could probably be found easily through a search of older conversations.  


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Christoffer Lernö on November 01, 2002, 06:24:54 PM
Jonathan, it seems what you actually have here are two different ideas. The Q & C and your new take "Storypunk".

Personally I think both have potential, although I must say that Q & C tickled me the most as an interesting game. That would be partly because it ties into things that can make you start debating the whole concept from a buddhist viewpoint(!) There is a lot of narrativist themes available from Q & C.
On the other had, I was a little wondering how you'd make group adventures to come together in a Q & C game.

Storypunk on the other hand is more straightforward and seems to naturally flow from Torchbearer, something I can't ascribe to being an accident. May I suggest that you drifted towards Storypunk partly because of the underlying system.

The most important thing as I see it is for you to decide why you drifted towards SP. If it's only partly because of the system and SP represents the game you really wanted do in the first place, then that's fine, but if it's a drift because of the game system you should maybe think twice before you go SP instead of Q & C.

I think both have potential.


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Jonathan Walton on November 01, 2002, 06:28:42 PM
Hmm... I'm afraid Merlin was a bad choice of an example, here.  I wasn't really intending for players to play famous characters or those whose exploits and personality they were very familar with.  Instead, I was going to allow them to choose a character concept from literature, folklore, or myth, but not play a specific pre-existing character.  For example, they might be able to play a gnarled old eccentric wizard, but they wouldn't be allowed to play Merlin or Gandalf.

It was also a bad example because I was going to argue that the vast majority of storydom is not limited to the traditional roleplaying genres of fantasy, sci fi, westerns, horror, pirates, etc.  In fact, the vast majority of storydom comes from the primordial legends of early human history, hundreds of thousands of years before the present.  Even if the characters choose to stick around "modern storydom," the vast majority of stories told, even today, are NOT fantastic adventures.  You would instead be more likely to encounter characters from romance novels, thrillers, historical fiction, TV sitcoms, biographies, New Yorker articles, or just the daydreams of a thousand office workers or elementary school children.

Does that address your concerns, or are you still opposed to allowing PCs to come from stories outside "reality"?

Later.
Jonathan


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Jonathan Walton on November 01, 2002, 06:33:44 PM
Quote from: Pale Fire
I think both have potential.


Agreed.  But they're also too similar for me to do BOTH.  That's why I either need a way to combine the ideas, or I need help in picking one over the other.  I'm trying to do some pondering on my own, of course, but I was soliciting help just because both ideas seemed to have such potential.

Later.
Jonathan


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Paul Czege on November 01, 2002, 08:16:47 PM
Jonathan,

Does that address your concerns, or are you still opposed to allowing PCs to come from stories outside "reality"?

It absolutely addresses the concern. I have no problem with player characters modeled on archetypal figures from folklore and myth.

Carry on!

Paul


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Gwen on November 01, 2002, 09:27:13 PM
Quote
I didn't call the game Storypunk just because it sounds cool. The characters are basically hacking their way across storydom, finding new stories to be in and seeking out more information about the story they came from. You could get caught up in a great victorian romance, or battle space pirates, or witness the trials of Hercules, or wander Appalachia with Jack the Giant-Killer.


Sounds good, but where did the "punk" come from?

Is the victorian romance between a green hair go-ganger and a cybered out assassin?

I'm just making sure there's punk elements in the game before "punk" end up as some sort of RPG suffix.

EDIT:  Which, i realize it IS an RPG suffix, but hopefully not an arbitrary one.


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: talysman on November 01, 2002, 11:56:24 PM
I think this is a cool concept; I also like the Q&C concept (hey, why wouldn't I? "Brazil" is one of my favorite movies.) I, too, hope you can keep both ideas...

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
Quote from: Pale Fire
I think both have potential.


Agreed.  But they're also too similar for me to do BOTH.  That's why I either need a way to combine the ideas, or I need help in picking one over the other.  I'm trying to do some pondering on my own, of course, but I was soliciting help just because both ideas seemed to have such potential.


rather than pick one over the other, I think there is a way to combine the most important features of both. Gwen's post gave me the idea, plus earlier discussions of Terry Gilliam's other "Brazil"-like movie, "The Fisher King". why not make all the characters "crazy" people who consider themselves literary characters? not necessarily the dual reality from Q&C, but rather each new story the character enters has no other role for the story-hacker than "crazy person", until the hacker makes a role.

in a way, "Miracle on 34th Street" is an expression of this idea. pretend that Kris Kringle is a story-hacker that has escaped from legends about Santa Claus into another story about the modern day. he's a nobody when he arrives and quickly becomes labeled "mentally incompetent"... until he can force his premise onto the story he has entered and become the hero.

you could also assume that travelling from story to story is through a hierarchy of "containment": the santa claus myth is contained in the story of "Miracle on 34th Street", which is contained in our world (story?) -- the next story Kris would enter... this would impose a certain rationality on story-hacking: if you wind up in 23rd-century Mars, you can't go to medieval europe next, because medieval europeans didn't tell stories about your adventures on 23rd-century Mars. you could go to the early 20th century America, however, where your story was printed in "Amazing Scientifiction" ... and from there, to the late 20th century, where your 1930s adventures are part of a novelist's peudoautobiographical memories of an eccentric person the novelist once met...


Title: Re: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: RobMuadib on November 02, 2002, 12:35:08 AM
Quote from: Jonathan Walton

What About "Escaping the Real"?

One of the key themes of my original "Quixote & Coyote" concept involved the characters always being unable to escape the banality and horror of their crappy lives.  As in kill puppies for satan, they were complete losers, but decided to ignore reality through fantasy, rather than by slaughtering cute animals for Lucifer.  This new conceptualization seems to give that idea a kick in the teeth.

Does it?  I'm not sure.  Are the two ideas completely incompatible?  I don't think so, but it's something I'll have to think about more.  Could the characters get forced back into their Origin stories every now and then, forcing them to deal with a reality that is (at least to them) rather uninteresting compared to all the other stories they could be in?  Would that work?  Maybe.  But, in this second reimagining, I was also hoping to let players take on the roles of literary characters or those from myth and legend.  Obviously, playing Merlin stuck in Camelot would not have the same effect as playing Bob Jones who has to take out the garbage and pay his credit card bills.

What do people think?  Am I shooting my old idea in the head?  Is this idea "better" (i.e. more thought provoking and interesting)?  Is it worth moving away from my old concept?


Hey, it's late and I am about to go to bed, but had someting I wanted to share. It was an episode of ST:DS9, one in which Sysko is in some alternate identity crisis, in this case a guy in a mental hospital who thought he was actually Captain Sysko of DS9, through the show he was writing the story of this Sysko and the related characters on the walls of his cell. Despite the shrinks telling him he was delusional and they didn't exist. I just thought it was an interesting plot line, particularly because of the vast importance that Sysko had in the story (Being the emissary and all, and fighting in a major war, truly escaping the real.)  

Additional to this was as similar image, I think it was in Kult, about a guy who had written all over the walls of his cell until finally he just disappeared, leaving his story without an ending. Then there is the similar feel/situation in 12 Monkeys, in which Bruce Willis' character was in a same sort of situation, though he actually ended up writing his own story to a certain extent, or at least knew the ending. I guess it is just a cool theme that appeals to me. On a similar take is HP Lovecraft's the Dreamquest of Unkown Kadath.

So I guess I like the some of the variations, stories already written in which you are in, stories freeing you. Perhaps you should consider allowing travel between the different realities. Perhaps others destroying or erasing your "origin story" or the mss of it, or something pulling you back to the real world, or reducing your powers.

I think there is certainly room for your original idea in there. And I think making the power somewhat fragile and subject to inference much more interesting.

(Oh yeah, in a related note is the idea of being able to enter painting and other works of art, another common theme of traveling through. )

As for storypunk, it could certainly be interesting, I could see all sorts of amusing parallels to real world writing. Oh shit, I just got a rejection slip..ahhhhhhhhhhhh:) Or, oops, forgot to run a spell check. He banished me, He summoned an editor and redlined me until I couldn't maintain my link anymore.

Anyway, just some tangential thoughts, it could certainly be quite interesting. Another idea is being trapped in a short story, being stuck in a loop, etc. All kinds of interesting things you have to address in your mythology/theory of the story hacking. Oh yeah, someone else mentioned the Neverending story as well, another interesting take, the pivotal attic scene when he finds his name in the book, and the characters talking about him.

laterz

Rob


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Gwen on November 02, 2002, 01:35:41 AM
Some of the best movies for this idea are by Gilliam, but I HIGHLY suggest the Adeventures of Baron Munchausin over Brazil.

Brazil is a great movie and a good example for this game, but the dream sequences are very abrupt.  From what I've read on the game, it is intended to slowly flow into the dream, which is why I would suggest Baron Munchausin.  (Also by Gilliam)

That movie is quite surreal and is also a GREAT example of how several players can wind up in one intertwined dream.

There was also a short film about the old people in a retirement home thinking they were pirates and turning over couches and using canes as swords.  Might be an Atom Film, not too sure.

And then there's that friggin' Robin Williams movie where he dies and starts living is his wifes painting or something.  It did really bad in the box office, but I hope someone else knows the name of it.  What Dreams May Come?  I think thats it.  That movie supposrts this idea too.


Title: Storypunk Stuff
Post by: RobMuadib on November 02, 2002, 06:03:34 AM
Johnathan

Hey, one last bit, as to which I prefer. I personally like the Q&C aspects of the game. Escaping the real seems the more intriguing aspects of it. Certainly, if you structured the game such that the players are normal characters that learn hints that their life is in fact "not real" could make a more interesting take on it.

You know, you could be sitting on the train and the guy across the way is reading some book and is subvocalizing, when you notice he is reading about what is currently happening to you. Perhaps you catch a glimpse of the back of the book as he leaves with a picture or some author.

I guess I like the idea of us being the scrawlings of some madman on his wall, or someone's fever dreams. One of the oldest creation/reality myth is that world is just someones dream, and will end when they awake.

Maybe this way the players could learn the secret runes (inked in red-- what can I say the editing element appeals to me) that will allow them to leave their story and enter another. The theme of what do you do when you find you aren't real, but yet you know you exist being another favorite.

As for the classic story realms, I can imagine these being domains of other older "storypunks" who have learned the runes and made their domain in this more stable, protected, realm. Perhaps there is the fear that your story will be lost, the last copy burnt. Imagine the fear of the Storypunks of a book-burning or some such. Or the fights that might occur between Storypunks over some hugely popular new realm. Imagine the fighting that might occur among story punks over same establishing a realm in Harry Potter, how many of these books have been printed and exist, etc.  

Then you get into whether it has to exist as a written word. Thus all storypunks would have a creation myth, perhaps the oldest storypunks tracing their genesis all the way back to some monks manuscript, while newer ones exist on someones mac harddrive, etc. Or, eek, you came from some X-files fan fic, or something.


Anyway, I think the idea of characters becoming aware of their non-existence and learning the way into other stories is more interesting. Also, the idea of the "Classics" and other great works being realms fought over or coveted by other storypunks interesting. Being that normally storypunks trace their genesis to one of a kind manuscripts or such. I think that tenous grasp on existence would provide the perfect impetuous to seek out the other stories you mention, and provide a very interesting take on traveling between alternate worlds. (Think of how many storypunks would want to establish a realm in the bible, or the Koran, or some such, an interesting take on holy war.)

Anyway, just thought I would offer my vote towards what I consider the more interesting take. It seems to me the enter any bookworld that interests you pretty much what you can do with most any RPG. i.e. lets play a game like the 3 musketeers, etc, etc.

anyway, some ideas to consider

HTH

Rob Muadib


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Jonathan Walton on November 02, 2002, 08:20:01 AM
Quote from: Gwen
Sounds good, but where did the "punk" come from?


A few different places, actually:
-- Cyberpunk, in that the characters are rebelling against "the man," except this time it's in the form of the stories that try to put them down and restrict them; they do this by "hacking" their way out of one story and into a new one; this rebellion + hacking gives the connection
-- Steampunk, Deiselpunk, etc. : these words arose from the same root, Cyperpunk, but they don't mean it in the same way; the "punk" in these terms refers to the way Steam/Deisel tech has permeated every layer of society, making it seem oppressive and omnipresent; Storypunk follows along the same lines, having story be everywhere

Quote from: talysman
why not make all the characters "crazy" people who consider themselves literary characters? not necessarily the dual reality from Q&C, but rather each new story the character enters has no other role for the story-hacker than "crazy person", until the hacker makes a role.


I like this.  So, if a Merlin-esque wizard hacked his way into a work of detective fiction, he could no longer perform any magic (since it was not within the realm of the story he was in), so he would either have to create a new role for himself within the world (and maybe regain some of his powers) or change the story until he could do what he wanted.  Of course, until he did either one, he would be subject to the treatment of the other characters in the story.

This, again, would bring back some of that feeling of oppression and marginalization.  When you entered a new story, you would have no place in it and would be automatically placed on the outskirts of society, unable to fully take part.  And if you created a new role for yourself, you would be submitting to the rules of that place, which limits your ability to express your true self, which may not be appropriate.  Maybe there could be the danger of losing your identity to the role you have created?  Maybe you could become "storyblind" (like "dreamblindness" in Nightbane), where you can no longer remember that you have not always been a part of this story.  Maybe Kris Kringle has a danger of losing himself to the boring normality of 34th Street.

Would that work to bring back some of the themes I was playing with in Q&C?

Quote
you could also assume that travelling from story to story is through a hierarchy of "containment"


I also think I might steal this idea, since it really reinforces the "story within a story" approach.  Of course, the characters could still invent their own stories to step into, but it would be much simpler to find a story that already exists and move into it.  I like the idea of jumping into books, or plays (inserting yourself in with the actors), or movie screens, or the story being told by an old woman in front of the hearth, etc.

As in Continuum and Narcissist, players could keep track of their path through stories, and be able to "work backwards" (or tangentially) to try to return to previously-encountered tales or even their Origin story.

Quote from: RobMaudib
Perhaps others destroying or erasing your "origin story" or the mss of it, or something pulling you back to the real world, or reducing your powers... And I think making the power somewhat fragile and subject to inference much more interesting.


Agreed.  I had pretty much forgotten the idea of stories being ephemeral things that don't last very long.  Thanks for bringing that back up.  Now, I have to think about how I want stories to "crash" in this new conceptualization.

Perhaps is we took your later suggestion that long-lived, well-known stories are the only ones that are really stable, so the little stories invented by the characters would probably be the least stable, since they are known only to them.  They would be temporary solutions at best.  The Classics (including things like the Bible or Gilgamesh) would be the safest places to hang out, but also the least interesting, since their stories are already well-known throughout all of storydom.  If you want adventure, you have to go find it among new stories (which are in danger of being ignored and not remembered) or very old stories (which are in danger of being lost completely).

The consequences of being in a story that "crashes" would be severe.  Perhaps you are flung randomly about storydom and completely absorbed by whatever story you end up in.  For example, you might take on all the characteristics of a medieval peasant and forget all about your previous adventures.  Once you finally awaken, after a long time, to your former life, you'd then have to escape from your story and find your former companions (or new ones) to go story hacking with.  Still, perhaps "crashes" would also be fairly common, and your own identity would be constantly tempered (in both a Nobilis and Torchbearer sense) by the different characters you would become after crashing.  You might not be a medieval peasant anymore, but some part of that would always remain.

In fact, what's to say that your Origin story, wasn't merely the story you ended up in after a very bad crash?  You might not remember anything before that, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.  There could be some who believe that all the roles in storydom are played by the same 20-100 characters, who, at various points, crash into those roles and play them until they are able to escape.  So, the various people you meet might even be different version of YOURSELF, crashed and lost within that story for a while.  You could even awaken, after a crash, and find yourself in the role of someone you've previously met and talked to.  You could even (in a Continuum Gemini sort of way) reenact that encounter with yourself.  After all, time means nothing in storydom.

The idea of being stuck in a looping short story is really cool too.  I can just imagine "Groundhog's Day" in an Edgar Allen Poe story.  It would be horribly frightening, because you'd barely manage to survive, say, "The Pit & The Pendelum," and then you'd have to go through it all over again :)

Quote from: Gwen
There was also a short film about the old people in a retirement home thinking they were pirates and turning over couches and using canes as swords. Might be an Atom Film, not too sure.


Are you sure you aren't thinking of the beginning of Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life" where the old pirates attack another office building using the filing cabinets as cannons?  It's called something like "The Voyage of the Crimson Permanent Assurance."  Very fine example, indeed ;)

Current Thoughts:

It seems more and more clear, at this point, that both ideas are certainly feasable.  And certain people seem to prefer Q&C and some seem to think I can combine the two ideas in a way that works.  Perhaps I could offer them both as a different set of options for using the same game system?  Perhaps there could be ways of moving the campaign back and forth between the two conceptualizations, until the players weren't sure what was the "real world" and what was "story"?

Maybe, in a more Q&C-based campaign, the characters could still jump into books and movies, but they would always "crash" back into the real world.  We could still use the Chains system I developed earlier to make their real lives a living hell.  Then, in a more Storypunk driven campaign, the characters would "crash" back into other stories, losing a piece of their original identity.  Do you think I could offer that option without weakening the core concepts of the game?

Certainly, the first option would be a darker one, focused on the real world consequences of getting lost in fantasy, and the latter option would be more fanciful, but with the threat of identity loss.

Anyway, I definitely appreciate everyone's thoughts so far and would love to hear more, especially about some of the suggestions I've responded to here.

Later.
Jonathan


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: talysman on November 02, 2002, 09:09:22 AM
Quote from: Jonathan Walton

Quote from: Gwen
There was also a short film about the old people in a retirement home thinking they were pirates and turning over couches and using canes as swords. Might be an Atom Film, not too sure.


Are you sure you aren't thinking of the beginning of Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life" where the old pirates attack another office building using the filing cabinets as cannons?  It's called something like "The Voyage of the Crimson Permanent Assurance."  Very fine example, indeed ;)


nah, it's an episode of the 1980's version of "Twilight Zone". the episode was called "Kick the Can", I believe. senior citizens reminesce about childhood games, like kick the can and sneak out to relive it ... and discover that they can magically regain their youth. I think it starred some of the same actors as "Cocoon".

anyways, as far as Storypunk versus Q&C, I don't think there's as big a gulf between the two as you think. both concepts describe what the characters do (live in fantasy) but Q&C didn't elaborate beyond those general terms; what it did elaborate was the motivation: the characters are at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to taking control of their own lives. living in a fantasy world is an escape, a means for them to take control.

compare Storypunk. the motivation is rather vague, but what the characters do ("live in fantasy") is much more detailed than Q&C: the characters hack stories and seek to fulfill their fictional role by finding a story they belong in.

so you have two very similar game concepts, one with a detailed character motivation, the other with a detailed character goal. I don't see what the problem is... combine them! drop everything from Q&C except that motivation to escape the mundane and put it into Storypunk, which needs a motivation to drive the game. you can even add some loose philosophical speculation about the real-life goal of real-life people to be the "main character" in their own story.

as an aside, you might want to find Robert Anton Wilson's "The Cosmic Trigger". Wilson frequently drops comments like "I thnk we're all living in a science fiction novel" into some of his other works; THIS book is part one of his autobiography, and he talks about actually feeling like he was in different novels at different times. could be pretty inspiring...


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Matt Snyder on November 02, 2002, 09:09:38 AM
Jonathan -- interesting stuff here. There's lots of material being discussed, so I'll just try to stick with your core questions, which seems to be, "Is this idea better than my previous idea (the Quixote thing)?"

My answer is a resounding yes. Here's why, from my perspective.

While I like the first idea you posed (Q&C), I feel it's a bit limiting. You may have a clearer idea, but from where I'm sitting, I'm not sure what characters do. To me, going off on some Quixotic quest ... in downtown Cleveland is clever. But if the conflict is "while not paying his credit card bill" I'm just not as interested. (Now, if it's "while losing touch with his wife" I'm a bit more interested.)

But, the notion of "hacking" one's way through narratives -- literally -- is much more appealing to me. I just seems like there's much more to do -- each "story" or realm or whatever, has preconceived conflicts. By their own hacking (or the hacking of others, villains or otherwise), those conflicts might get thrown off. So, right there we've got the notion that a character has to deal with the conflict, or deal with the ramifications in that and subsequent "story worlds" if he doesn't.

And to put it even simpler, the title Storypunk just grabbed me. When I realized it was an evolution of Q&C, I thought AHA! Now this is a cool idea.

Also, it really reminds me of a game idea posed here (was it here on the Forge? My memory's failing me) wherein characters from literature had escaped into the "real" world, and the players were a kind of ghost-busting squad to set things right. Can anyone help my swiss cheese brain on that one?


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Shreyas Sampat on November 02, 2002, 10:05:12 AM
I think talysman makes a great point here.
Storypunk's really bloomed into something amazing to see.
Incidentally, forgive my jumping from thought to thought... This is a stream-of-consciousness sort of reply.

Origin Stories:
Somehow, I don't find this idea very powerful.  I do think it links well with Story Death: What if the characters ran around the web of stories, not just to keep themselves entertained, but because if they didn't keep them moving, the stories died?  It would become a devastating humiliation to be inside a story when it kicked the bucket, but the idea requires a certain amount of story-death frequency; what happens when stories deeper down in your chain collapse?  Do you lose the power that story granted you?  Are the really skilled story-hackers, like Shaharizaad (it's an Arabic name from shahar, "city", and -izaad, a feminine name suffix; her sister Dunyazaad's name comes from dunya, meaning world), traditionally adept at something in particular, like embedding stories deeply, or linking them together with patterns of inference and implied causality that makes all the stories in the pattern behave like one?

Now this Story Preservation idea raises a question: What is to tell the hackers the expected longevity of a story?  Does the environment they percieve change with the shifting of the story's power?  Is this possible without damaging the features of environment that contribute to the mood of the particular story (Gothic grey half-light, Torchbearer's bright colours, the wine-dark sea of Greek myth, the endless night of a slasher movie)?  How much does the story impinge on the hacker?  How much of the hacker has to be defined?  I imagine that only what the hacker has defined for himself is what is constant - Rapunzel's hair was long, but what colour was it?  The Emperor had no clothes, but I guess everyone else did, or the story wouldn't be very clever...

What is a story?
Is every cheap slasher flick a distinct story, or are they all the same story, with points where they branch and rejoin like poorly spun yarn?  What is to say that The Thousand Nights and a Night is a single story, rather than a frame that holds hundreds of stories together?  What is a story like?  From outside it, can you smell it, taste it, touch it?  Is there a Sea of Stories?  What does it feel like when you step from one story to another? (I'm envisioning something like Amber here - you step behind a tree, and on the other side it is night.)

I guess I've made it clear that at the moment I'm a lot more interested in Storypunk than Q&C... This isn't really the case.  After all, what was Haroun, but a little boy who escaped into a story?  There's no reason that story hackers can be totally disconnected from the Real World, unless this Realm of Stories is such that that is the case...
...Wait, story-time is timeless?  You've created an apparent paradox with that; if stories can die as their real-world manifestations are forgotten, then the Story Realm depends on external time... ...maybe the timeframes are decoupled somehow?  Back to Q&C, if you do choose to connect the realms somehow, you could have real-world 'escapees' in the Realm - maybe they're valuable to story hackers because, as real living people, they're capable of real living creativity?  Are story hackers creatures of the Realm, or escapees themselves?


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Jonathan Walton on November 02, 2002, 02:16:36 PM
More good comments to respond to...

Quote from: talysman
I don't see what the problem is... combine them! drop everything from Q&C except that motivation to escape the mundane and put it into Storypunk, which needs a motivation to drive the game.


I guess my concern here is how to put the "escapism" theme into Storypunk any still have it be as meaningful as it was in Q&C.  To do this, I would have to limit characters to being people from the "real world" (or at least the story disguised as the real world).  I guess I may be clinging on to the "characters from story and myth" idea a little too strongly, but it was part of what drew me to Storypunk in the first place.  I suppose one solution might be to emphasize the character's ability to create roles for themselves within the stories they escape to.  This could be reoccuring roles that they could regain, as long as they were able to find the same (or a similar) story again.  That, for all intents and purposed, the character could secretly BE the Count of Monte Cristo's cousin Rembrandt, exiled in the "real world" when he felt that his home was really off in storyland.  It was just that no one else would believe him...

Quote from: Matt Snyder
Each "story" or realm or whatever, has preconceived conflicts. By their own hacking (or the hacking of others, villains or otherwise), those conflicts might get thrown off. So, right there we've got the notion that a character has to deal with the conflict, or deal with the ramifications in that and subsequent "story worlds" if he doesn't.


I think you may have unintentially stumbled upon something rather cool here.  Get this:

Hacking stories damages them, making them more likely to "crash."

If the characters don't hack there way into stories, they will be forced to deal with the horrors of their real lives, or will be merely pushed to the periphery of a tale without being able to affect it in any way or really even take part in the action.  However, it is the hacking itself that damages stories.  After all, who wants to hear about the adventures of the Count of Monte Cristo's cousin Rembrandt?  No one.  By making yourself a part of the story you love, you are (in a Haroun-ian sense) polluting the story, destroying many of the things you love about it.

This would lead to both some interesting internal conflicts and some interesting social conditions among story hackers.  Also, as in Continuum, maybe the hackers native to a particular story would resist your attempts to make yourself the focal point of it.  Say if Captain Nemo hacked his way into your life and started taking over things and reshaping it as he saw fit, wouldn't you try to stop him?  After all, he'd be destroying YOUR story.

Maybe it would also be possible, with a ton of work, to hack a story to make it focus on yourself, and then stabalize it so it would continue to exist.  Maybe if the adventures of cousin Rembrandt ARE more interesting than the adventures of the Count, the story will still have enough strength to survive.  Maybe, in fact, the Count is not even the original hero of the story, but he hacked his way in just like you did.  You might even try to find the original hero and put him back into the story, unpolluting it and restoring it to its original glory.

Quote from: four willows weeping
What if the characters ran around the web of stories, not just to keep themselves entertained, but because if they didn't keep them moving, the stories died? [snip] What happens when stories deeper down in your chain collapse?


Good question.  Personally, I envision story hacking not as a chain but as a tunnel.  You hack into one story, find a story within it, and then hack into that one.  It's like those cartoons where they keep opening doors to find more doors inside.

I can imagine what might happen if the story you were in crashed.  You'd fall back through all the stories you passed through and try to resolve them on the way out.  Think about the way 1001 Nights is structured.  Each of Shaharizaad's stories informs the story outside of it.  The lesson from one is applied to the meta-story situation.  So you'd basically be closing the doors, each in turn, as you fell out of the stories and back towards "reality."

Quote from: EXAMPLE
0. You are studying for a Shakespeare final and enter King Lear.

1. Inside King Lear, the Fool tells you a story about another jester, Hop-Frog (an Edgar Allen Poe story).  You enter it.

2. To escape watching the horrific ending of Hop-Frog, you tell your own tale of a beach in Hawaii.  You enter it.

3. You dawdle too long on the Hawaiian beach, entranced by its warmth & beauty.  The story (being merely of your own creation) looses its strength and crashes.

-2. You fall back into Hop-Frog, witness the King and his ministers being burned alive and stay until the story ends.

-1. Lear's Fool finishes his tale and he is hanged.  Whatever role you have taken in the story is slaughtered.

0. Since your role has died, you are forced back into the reality of studying for your Shakespeare final, hopefully having learned something about Lear, but still missing the warmth of the beach.


However, I'm not sure what would happen if any of the middle doors closed before you could get out.  What if Hop-Frog's story was attacked while you were still at the beach?  Maybe that would force you back into the story that was collapsing, so that a longer story tunnel would leave you more open to being attack (since there would be more places to attack you).  Maybe a chief way of getting you "out of someone else's story" would be to attack a story lower on your chain/tunnel, to pull you back down the tube.

Just some thoughts.  What do people think?

Quote
Are the really skilled story-hackers, like Shaharizaad, traditionally adept at something in particular, like embedding stories deeply, or linking them together with patterns of inference and implied causality that makes all the stories in the pattern behave like one?


I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this.  Maybe my example will help clear up what I had in mind.  Are you suggesting that the connected stories might have a stronger influence on each other, to the point where they might be hacked together to become a larger story or have common elements?  I like the notion of hacking stories together to make new stories or a larger connected group, which might somehow provide more strength.  Still, this kinda goes against the hacking=pollution/damage theme I was developing earlier, unless only certain kinds of hacking damage stories.  Maybe arrogantly forcing the story to focus on you might be damaging, but subtly weaving the stories and connecting them together could actually have a positive effect.

Quote
What is to tell the hackers the expected longevity of a story?


I guess my original intention was to make this universally obvious as a metastory trait (i.e. "You can tell that the story you're in has enough strength to last for the next 15 minutes.").  Still, you're right that there ought to be more poetic ways of showing this.  Most stories would naturally have a beginning and an end, but if the characters didn't know the story very well, they wouldn't be likely to know what part of the story they had hacked into.  You might be able to tell just from the feel of events.  Was this this climax?  Did there seem to be a rising of tension?  Was everything being resolved as if things were nearing the conclusion?  I think the characters would have to discover these things by context.

Now if the story was crashing because they'd polluted/disrupted it through hacking, I the story might rush towards conclusion/collapse in a much different way.  In a Greek epic, there could be omens (a flock of crows gathers, a calf is born with 3 legs, etc).  In a suspense story, the characters might find themselves seperated from each other, easy prey for dark forces.  Again, most clues would be contextual, that bad things were soon to happen that would destroy the story and/or the characters roles within it.

Quote
How much does the story impinge on the hacker?  How much of the hacker has to be defined?  I imagine that only what the hacker has defined for himself is what is constant - Rapunzel's hair was long, but what colour was it?  The Emperor had no clothes, but I guess everyone else did, or the story wouldn't be very clever...


Not much, truth be told.  The character's role only needs to be described so much as it matters to the story.  Additional detail could be added in play as it becomes relevant.  Actually, there could be some interesting mechanics like: "whatever traits the character introduces will eventually have some relevance to the story."  For instance, if the character notes that his role only has one eye, the background on how he lost that eye is sure to come up.  Makes for good story logic.

Quote
Is every cheap slasher flick a distinct story, or are they all the same story, with points where they branch and rejoin like poorly spun yarn?  What is a story like?  From outside it, can you smell it, taste it, touch it?  Is there a Sea of Stories?  What does it feel like when you step from one story to another?


Does this really need to be pre-determined?  I would think these kind of things could be developed as color, flavor fiction, or left in the hands of GMs and Players to develop themselves.  Maybe one group would want to explore the genre of slasher flicks in detail, calling to mind the subtle differences between them.  However, to another group that seems to travek only between larger genres, there might be a single slasher story that they revisit over and over again.  In fact, those kind of distinctions are most a matter of perspective in storydom.  If you focus very closely on a story, you can see the various threads that make it up and step into any one of them, but if you only focus on the big picture, you only see the main streams.

Quote
Are story hackers creatures of the Realm, or escapees themselves?


I don't think there are any creatures native to Story itself.  It would like being native to a place between Canada and the United States.  There is no such place.  You're either in one or the other.  In this sense, there is no external place called "Story," there are only the various tales that make it up.

Whoo!  A whole ton of good stuff there.  Keep it coming!  I really like the directions this project may be headed in.

Later.
Jonathan


Title: Too many beginings, not enough endings
Post by: RobMuadib on November 02, 2002, 02:54:29 PM
Jonathan

Yep, it's me again with more random thoughts. I guess I am more fond o the Origin reality and stories as escape aspect. So, another idea I had, somewhat influenced by too many ST holodeck episodes, is that maybe powerful Storyhackers are able to take on the LEAD roles of stories. That is they have the power to take on the role of the Count Of Monte Cristo, or Sherlock Holmes, etc. Thus claiming a StoryRealm for themselves.

The advantage of this being that they have access to the entire story setting reality, and they have all the timespace not shown in the stories to do with as they please. I'm reminded of my favorite qoute from Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead. "An exit from one stage is an entrance on another."

Which brings up another point, maybe story hackers can take the character beyond what has been shown, the known story as it were. This is a VERY popular theme in SF/Fantasy writing. What happens to the character after his known story is done? This idea would tie into the Taking over a story by becoming the lead role of it, much like shown in lots of ST holodeck episodes.

So I guess you need to really narrow your focus and settle upon the nature of the Storypunk reality. It would seem there are many many "parallel" ideas with regards to stories and existing in stories and such. Perhaps you should create a number of parallel games, perhaps like Aetherco did with Continuum/Narcissist.

Anyway, I guess I will have to hear what you decide upon as the focus of the game, as there are many many different things ideas going on in the thread currently. Like I said, too many beginnings, not enough endings.

It is certainly a very rich idea for an RPG.

I look forward to hear what you decide.

HTH

Rob


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Jonathan Walton on November 02, 2002, 06:18:58 PM
I'll respond to your suggestion in a minute Rob, but let me get out an idea that just hit me in the back of the head.  I always want my games to do too much, and this may be an instance of that, but anyway...

Vikings & Parole Officers

So, what if I make Storypunk GM-less, as well as Fortune-less?

No, don't run away.  Don't tear out your hair.  It could work.  Do you know about Robin Law's game Rune?  In it, players basically take turns being a kind of Dungeon Master, in the old-school D&D sense.  They spend points to construct obstacles and hazards for the group of Viking PCs.  Then, the Vikings run through the obstacle, with the DMing player's character taking a support role.  Then, the next player pulls out his obstacle, takes his turn as DM, and the Vikings splatter their way through that one.

Here's the kicker: DM's get bonus points if they succeed in thwarting the PCs.  We're talking GM advancement rules, here.  Revolutionary stuff, but in a very old-school hack-n-slash fashion.

So what does this have to do with Storypunk?

The core mechanic of Rune's GM-less turn-taking system is giving players an incentive to make life miserable for the other players, thus creating conflict that works.  Both sides gain advantages from the conflict, so neither side complains too much.

So, what if, in Storypunk, the players take turns acting as "parole officers" for each other?  Here's how this might work: the characters ride a train of stories until it crashes hard.  They fall back through storydom and into their Origins/reality.  Now, as per a predetermined, rotating order, each player is assigned to be the "parole officer" (new term needed) for another player's character.

EXAMPLE:

To simplify things, let's say me and Shreyas are playing a two player game.  I serve as the PO for Shreyas' character, Daniel (a homeless man living on the streets of Boston), and he serves as the PO for my character, Kong Xun (one of the nameless peasants from "The Romance of Three Kingdoms").  My job, as Daniel's PO, is to give him hell.  Likewise, Shreyas will do the same for Kong Xun.

Shreyas has Daniel awaken in an alleyway.  I immediately declare that some punks have come by and decided to rough up Daniel for whatever he's got.  When a police officer happens by, the punks run off (having already taken everything) and the unsympathetic officer tells Daniel to "go get a job."  Basically, in this case, I'm acting as the GM for Shreyas, giving him crap to encourage him to want to leave his story as fast as he can.  Why do I do this?  Because the faster Shreyas can get Daniel out of his story, the sooner all the characters can get back into describing their adventures through storydom.

Once Daniel gets out, Shreyas becomes the PO for Kong Xun.  Turns out a battle was fought in his rice fields, destroying the young plants completely and spoiling the harvest.  Also, some warriors carried off the daughters of one of his cousins, who comes to Kong Xun asking for help.  And the village tax collector is getting impatient and threatening to report him to the county head.  Kong Xun better get the hell out of Dodge.

/EXAMPLE

A game with a larger group would be even more fun.  It might be possible for the rest of the players to ALL serve as PO's for you, while you take your turn struggling in your Origin story.  Or you might just take turns, with players breaking off in pairs to deal with the "downtime" between hacking runs through story.

Again, there would be rewards for both sides in this conflict.  The characters would be struggling against the horrible story they want so badly to escape from, gaining something from defeating the forces and escaping, and the POs woud be rewarded if they make the characters want to leave ASAP, since the group portion of the game would resume more quickly.

This is a VERY rough system, since I just came up with the idea minutes ago.  Does it sounds workable?

Later.
Jonathan


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Bob McNamee on November 02, 2002, 06:28:21 PM
Remind me of the "Beasts" (I forget the actual term used)
in Robert Heinlein's "The Number of the Beast"- which was about fictional characters meeting traveling to other stories etc...all while being pushed by some kind of heartless maniacal author


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Kenway on November 04, 2002, 07:52:55 AM
If Jonathan doesn't mind ripping off the proto-Mondo 2000 (cyberpunk) magazine, he can call the game "Reality Hackers."


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Mark Withers on November 04, 2002, 09:01:05 AM
StoryPunk sounds absolutely incredible! I really think you've hit on a very nice concept here, it's accessible but still very different.

I'm not sure that I have anything contructive to say, only that I'd love you to keep working on and updating the game.

I'm working on writing my own game at the moment, but as soon as StoryPunk gets fully playable I will grab some friends, give it a playtest and write an Actual Play report.

Keep it up!

P.S. I think it works better with a GM. Vikings and Parole Officers might be a little bit competitive for my liking.


Title: Re: Too many beginings, not enough endings
Post by: Jonathan Walton on November 04, 2002, 11:19:59 AM
Quote from: RobMuadib
So, another idea I had, somewhat influenced by too many ST holodeck episodes, is that maybe powerful Storyhackers are able to take on the LEAD roles of stories. That is they have the power to take on the role of the Count Of Monte Cristo, or Sherlock Holmes, etc. Thus claiming a StoryRealm for themselves.


So, I've been spending a serious amount of time considering Rob's suggestion, because his point, I think, is a very valid one.  In truth, there's really two different ways of handling how characters manage to intrude into stories:

1.  Characters enter a new story as themselves, and have to create new roles within the boundaries of the story.

2.  Characters enter a new story by "possessing" existing characters, instantly becoming a part of the ongoing action.

Now, I could allow one specific type, or I could make them options.  However, this brings up other questions about the nature of story in Storypunk and how maleable stories are.  Here're a series of options:

A.  Stories are fixed entities.  Changing them results in polluting, damaging, or even destroying them.

B.  Stories are flexible, but fragile.  You can bend them slowly, making small changes to shift the story in another direction.  However, making large changes will cause effects similar to #A.

C.  Stories are tough and resiliant.  Any changes you make will most often get woven into the story itself, without causing any undo damage to the story.

D.  Stories are difficult to change, like a strong river of narrative flowing forcefully in a single direction.  However, once you impede the river's path, it can flow wildly out of control, going places you least expect.

E.  Stories are as changable and ephemeral as dreams.  So what if you completely alter a specific tale?  Someone else will simply come along later and alter it further.  Change is the natural way of things.

F.  Stories are fragile but infinite in number and variation.  So what if you destroy one version of Hamlet?  There are still hundreds of millions of versions out there, and you can't possibly destroy them all.  You can make all the small scale changes you want, but the big picture remains the same.

G.  Stories are.  Who cares if you walk into Hamlet and screw everything up?  Look inside your own memory.  Is the Hamlet there screwed up?  Well then, what are you whining about?  Stories are greater than any one person, and can't be harmed that easily.

Basically, both these questions have to do with how much players should be allowed to alter existing stories and what this means for stories in general.  Anyone want to share any thoughts on this subject?  Should I use a mixture of A-G, with major stories leaning towards G or F, with minor stories more resembling A, B, or E?  Once I figure that out, it should be easier to determine what roles characters should be allowed to take, since their degree of influence will be defined.

Also, not that many people seem excited about the "Parole Officer" idea.  Would it be better then to give players an incentive to take Author/Director stance and invent problems for their characters to deal with?  That might be more fair than giving temporary GM-like powers to other players.  Not sure how the mechanics for that might work, but it would probably involve Chains and a Torchbearer-like way of putting them into Crisis in order to alter them or advance as a character or get back to story hacking sooner.

Hopefully, I'll find some time to write up Storypunk v0.1 and get it on a webpage in the near future.  Until them, some continued discussion to help me nail down some of the remaining problems would be great.

Later.
Jonathan


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: szilard on November 04, 2002, 01:44:50 PM
I may not be suggesting anything new here... maybe it is taking Q&C and tacking it onto Storypunk, but...

What if you just loosened the use of "story" as a term?

If the "real world" is another story, aren't there an infinite number of potential stories that vary only slightly from the real world? Why not allow characters to hack into them?

There could be two types of transitions between stories: the Mundane and the Fantastic. In a Mundane transition, it isn't necessarily apparent that the story has changed. The change might be to a new story different from the old one only in theme or the introduction of a new character or event vaguely appropriate to the old setting. A Fantastic transition would involve shifting to a story wholly incompatible with what it was before (which could include a change in setting or a new character or event that is completely incompatible with the former story).

Frex, a character is from a story much like our own and gets thrown in jail. Afraid that this story will end poorly for him, he could shift into a Prison Break story. This would be a Mundane shift. Alternately, he could access the prison library and shift into a Fairy Tale that he read in a book there. If the Fairy Tale became uncomfortable, then he could perform a Mundane shift from it to a more pleasant version of it...

Basically, the mundane shifts would function much like Q&C. The Fantastic shifts would be more difficult (and possibly dangerous) in some way. The twist is that the mundane shifts could occur relative to ANY story... not depending upon one story being Real.

~szilard


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Jonathan Walton on November 04, 2002, 02:13:12 PM
Interesting suggestion.  That almost makes Storydom more like Shadow in Amber, where the travel of the Amberites allows for seamless shifting between the infinite possibilities embodied there.  It would be obvious to them that some parts of the story had changed, but to the natives of the various stories, their influence would be inperceptable because they'd simply be moving between different stories.  This would, most likely, make it harder to play on the idea of "polluting" or "damaging" stories, because the changes would only take place inside the travelers' perception.

As for your distiction between Mundane & Fantastic, it sounds vaguely similar to the distinction between Coincidental & Vulgar magick in Mage.  It would be possible for a dark crime drama to shift into a heroic jailbreak story, but less likely for it to turn into a Biblical parable.  I don't think the distiction is so much fantastical as having to do with suspension of disbelief.  People start reading a story with certain expectations, and, if you decide to diverge wildly, you break those expectations, to the point that you might as well be beginning a seperate story.  Not a bad issue to bring up.  The only concern I have with that kind of thing is that it would seem to allow characters control over their Origin story, which gives them fewer reasons to want to escape that story and go wander about Storydom.

Hmm, definitely some good points to consider.  I'm going to have so many options to play with when I try to finally nail this thing down :)  I'm excited, but somewhat intimidated by the desire to incorperate ALL of these suggestions.  Keep them coming, though!

Later.
Jonathan


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: szilard on November 04, 2002, 02:25:12 PM
Hmmm... hadn't thought of the Mage parallel (which is odd since I'm going to be playing it in a few hours).

What if it were Mage turned on its head, though? Instead of vulgar changes being the ones that backfire, the coincidental changes affect the story, but the story pushes back? (Vulgar changes wouldn't arouse such responses because they would involve new stories - not changes to old ones.)

Maybe it pushes the character out of the story - and into storydom? This could provide some motivation.

So... the time a character stays in any single story could be limited by the amount he monkeys with it. He might only be able to return to his home story for brief periods (or longer if he doesn't edit anything).

~szilard


Title: Storypunk: "Do you think you can tell?"
Post by: Jonathan Walton on November 04, 2002, 02:38:16 PM
What if we invert your suggestion yet again and say: instead of pushing you out of the story, making mundane changes draws you into the story, causing you to get caught up in the ongoing narrative.  This means, the more your influence a particular story, the harder it is to break out of that story later on (and you have to break out of the story into order to make any BIG changes).  So if you just want to hang on the periphery and hop from story to story, that's not too hard, but if you actually want to change the specifics and have interesting adventures (which is presumably why you've escaped from your Origin in the first place), you have to put some investment into the story itself.

This would be true in the character's Origin as well.  The more effort they put into changing their lives, the more investment they'd have in it and the harder it would be to escape.  This is almost the opposite of the "Chains" concept I was playing with earlier, but is somewhat similar in theme.

Later.
Jonathan


Title: Re: Too many beginings, not enough endings
Post by: talysman on November 04, 2002, 08:48:14 PM
Quote from: Jonathan Walton
Quote from: RobMuadib
So, another idea I had, somewhat influenced by too many ST holodeck episodes, is that maybe powerful Storyhackers are able to take on the LEAD roles of stories. That is they have the power to take on the role of the Count Of Monte Cristo, or Sherlock Holmes, etc. Thus claiming a StoryRealm for themselves.


So, I've been spending a serious amount of time considering Rob's suggestion, because his point, I think, is a very valid one.  In truth, there's really two different ways of handling how characters manage to intrude into stories:

1.  Characters enter a new story as themselves, and have to create new roles within the boundaries of the story.

2.  Characters enter a new story by "possessing" existing characters, instantly becoming a part of the ongoing action.

Now, I could allow one specific type, or I could make them options.  


how about: character must enter a story first as themselves, then either make a major change to the story (creating a role for themselves) or find an existing role and merging with it, becoming the other character. you could make it easier for a character to change the story as one of the existing characters, but all the changes must be Mundane ones, to use slizard's idea. Fantastic changes are only available to characters who are "story outsiders".

I would also say that option G for story malleability is the best one. entering a story really doesn't affect the original story, it creates a duplicate that has the same inertia as the original. you then attempt to mold it to fit your needs... but if you damage this proto-story, it cannot exist as a story, and it crashes. it's like writing: you can draw inspiration from any story you wish, but if your alterations are done artlessly, your version cannot stand alone and will have no impact on culture as a whole.

as for the Parole officer idea, I think it relies on the concept of a "real" world, although you could assume that real worlds are relative to the character. it might be more interesting if "crashing" a story cuts characters loose into the void and they land in a random story. maybe the player to your left names your final destination and the player to your right specifies which "outsider role" you get stuck in?


Title: Re: Too many beginings, not enough endings
Post by: Jonathan Walton on November 04, 2002, 09:21:28 PM
Quote from: talysman
A character must enter a story first as themselves, then either make a major change to the story...


:)  I can see myself now, stealing Nobilis mechanics...

-- Lesser Changes of Story can yadda yadda
-- Major Changes of Story can yadda yadda

Seriously, the idea rocks, but I might refine it a bit.  Check this out:

Actor Stance (to be easily confused with the GNS term of the same name)

The character merges with an existing role in the story.  This has the following dangers and benefits:
     - Mixing of identity/loss of self to Role
     - Harder to get out of the Story
     - Actions limited by Story/Role norms (mundane changes)
     + Little danger of harming Story
     + A part of the Action!  You can affect the Story from the inside
     + Possibility of character advancement/change

Author Stance (also to be easily confused with the GNS term of the same name)

The character has no role in the story, existing only on the periphery.  This has the following dangers and benefits:
     - Can't really interact with the Story
     - Your "alien" actions damage the Story
     - No possibility of character advancement/change
     + You can alter the story in dramatic ways (non-mundane)
     + Easy to leave the Story, hopping to another one
     + You are safe from being caught up in or altered by the Story

And I suppose that puts the GM in Director Stance... :)  Funny how that works out.  Maybe I can have a core part of the mechanics be the characters switching back and forth from taking various Stances.

Quote
I would also say that option G for story malleability is the best one.


That's the one I was leaning to as well.  It came to me at the very end and was really an "all of the above" choice.  I like the idea of story variants always crashing, because they lack the strength of the original.  That makes the stories themselves permanent while still making any story you're in very fragile.

As for how to deal with "downtime," I'm still pondering that one.  In many ways, it depends on just how GM-less and Fortune-less I decide to make the game.  Hopefully, that stuff will become clearer as I begin to nail down concepts and mechanics.

The haze is definitely getting clearer...

Later.
Jonathan