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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: Laurel on October 17, 2001, 11:10:00 AM

Title: Roles & Stances
Post by: Laurel on October 17, 2001, 11:10:00 AM
Ron suggested a new thread to cover this topic, and I'm going to go on a limb and do it because it involves an issue I'm working with in Narrative game design on my own so it interests me.  I don't feel like I have a perfect definition for "role" but what I can offer is enough to work with from there.  My apologies if this is simply old covered ground for most everyone.

I think that both roles and stances exist within RPG theory and the two terms are not interchangeable.  To use Ron's work, a stance is narrowly defined as how as "how a person arrives at decisions for an imaginary character’s imaginary actions."  Therefore, in order to be a stance, something must be a decision process for determining character action.

A player's role in a game, however, is something different.  It doesn't directly relate to character action.  Instead, it relates to a player's mode of participation which may or may not involve character action.  Role-playing a character is a role for a player.  Being the GM is a role.  Agreeing to bring Pepsi to the game every week and doing so might be a role.  

My argument is that when one is not actively "role-playing", but rather sitting back and listening to the GM, or GM-Player, or player-player dialogue or action that does not directly involve them they are being an audience and not utilizing a stance.    

Why should stance be differentiated from  types of general participation (roles) in a game?  Because its a term being used specifically to designate the different processes at which players determine how/why character action.

Stance a valuable term.  But so is role or an equivalent (function? purpose?) to address different ways in which players can participate in a game.  I think that the idea of having roles as a player of a game beyond making and "role-playing" a character might be confusing to some people, because they don't realize that "role" has a different context here than "who/what your character is".


Title: Roles & Stances
Post by: Laurel on October 17, 2001, 11:21:00 AM
*sigh* And even after searching first, I missed the fact that the thread was already well-established as "Audience" below.  I'm sorry for starting an unnecessary thread.

Title: Roles & Stances
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 17, 2001, 12:03:00 PM

Hey, but I like the Role thing. Might be even a better way to look at it than my proposed behaviors. In the game that I'm working on we've gone to the length of including some of the game roles that a lot of people don't think of and made rules for them.

For example, the Role of Host. This is sometimes discussed in games, but our game goes so far as to actually have an important game mechanic related to it. In fact there is a whole section on defining such meta-game roles. I recently came up with a version, for example that addressed child care in the rules. Howzat for PC?

Very interesting,

Title: Roles & Stances
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 17, 2001, 02:00:00 PM
Laurel & Mike,

I'm good with this thread. Ideas are exploding all over the place today, and more "nodes" are better than a few, at this point.

I know that I said elsewhere that I wasn't proposing a term for "behaviors at a role-playing session," but then again, I was the one who used Role for non-participatory Audience stuff in the first place, so I might as well live with it.

List some Roles. I'm interested. As I said before, it seems as if the first step is to identify Disruptive Assholery and boot it out the window. Looking at what's left, and making sure not to bring Stance issues/actions into it, what do we have?


Title: Roles & Stances
Post by: Laurel on October 18, 2001, 12:00:00 PM
Some suggested roles with a few examples of "constructive" behavior (behavior that leads to a high fun factor).  

The person who serves as meta-game facilitator.  They arrange for a place to play, coordinate players into a time frame.  A really great host might go above and beyond by being the one to ensure there are snacks, that everyone has a ride home and bus fare or babysitters. The Host is also the one hopefully best suited for dealing with meta-game conflict, like angry/disruptive players.

These are people who are not actively roleplaying at that moment in time, but are witnessing the events that are going on.  Audience reaction at critical junctures (cheering on a fellow player who just preformed an extraordinary success) can add a great deal of "fun" to the game.  A really great audience, however, knows when to watch and listen without commenting or providing distractions.  

These are people who are actively roleplaying and involved in stances, no longer witnessing game events but creating them through the actions and dialogue of their characters.  A really great player might play dynamically but be responsive to cues and suggestions from other players so that both the game and the meta-game proceed smoothly.

The details of what a GM does within their role are heavily influenced style and system.  In most traditional RPGs, the GM choses the game system and develops the setting, situation, color, NPCs as well as serving as moderator, mediatory, and director for the playing group.  


Title: Roles & Stances
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 18, 2001, 01:40:00 PM
The Host can also have a more direct effect on play. The host can provide mood through music, lighting, and other atmospheric elements. They may be able to affect play in other manners as well.


Title: Roles & Stances
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 19, 2001, 07:58:00 AM
Hey Mike,

People who aren't Hosts can do that too, though, can't they? I mean, in my Hero Wars game, I'm not the Host (one of the players is), but I sometimes bring music or otherwise alter the environment. Or another player can do that too. Granted, the Host more or less has authority over that usage, or I presume so in well-behaved circles.


Title: Roles & Stances
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 19, 2001, 09:16:00 AM
Hmmm, good point. That's why I see these more as behaviors. But if you wanted to specify a Role for it, er, Sound and Lighting Directors?

The interesting thing is that, of course, many of these Roles are assumed by single individuals. The point at which you define it as a Role, then, would be where it can't be broken down further, or where it happens to be traditionally. Hmmm...