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Author Topic: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant  (Read 20241 times)
Mark D. Eddy
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« Reply #45 on: July 01, 2004, 07:06:42 AM »

Wierd. A fit character, a fit opponent and moral conflict gets "automatic" narrativist status if it runs through the wash-rinse-spin of escalation-crisis-resolution? So what if the conflict isn't moral?

More to the point of this thread, what if you discover, in play, that the original character isn't fit for the moral conflict posed (e. g., there is no way to reach crisis with this character)? Do you sigh, give up, and move to a new conflict, or do you violate the original character? The latter choice seems more frequent in my experience with N-leaning players, usually because the rest of the group will howl if they say "Screw this shit. This isn't working for my character. We need to do something else."
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Mark Eddy
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"The valiant man may survive
if wyrd is not against him."
lumpley
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« Reply #46 on: July 01, 2004, 07:21:14 AM »

Tony:  Yes!  Exactly like a rock band.  They'll find a way to make their visions work together or they'll split up.  "Find a way" is hard work sometimes, it's not rosy except when you've accomplished it.

Here are my own contributions to your call for clashes of opinion within a Narrativist game:
Adventures in Shared Character Vision
More Adventures in Shared Character Vision
You may've read them already.

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

Mark: see my preemptive, here.

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

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

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

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

-Vincent
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Mark D. Eddy
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Posts: 157


« Reply #47 on: July 01, 2004, 07:37:25 AM »

Interesting. I thought I was talking about something other than the pre-empted topic. The character has been fit in the past, is likely to be fit in the future, but in a given instance of play, something has gone wrong. And the social structure of the rest of the gaming group is that  the instance of play can't be abandoned. I then have the choice of bailing on the gaming group or having my character go against type. When Social Agenda is in conflict with Technique, the Creative Agenda means precisely squat, I supose is what I'm arguing.

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

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

"The valiant man may survive
if wyrd is not against him."
Bankuei
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« Reply #48 on: July 01, 2004, 08:18:11 AM »

Hi Vincent,

Sorry to come late to the party :)

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

Possible examples:

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

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

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

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

Chris
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contracycle
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« Reply #49 on: July 01, 2004, 08:50:28 AM »

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts?
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lumpley
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« Reply #50 on: July 01, 2004, 08:53:53 AM »

Mark:  Oh!  I didn't get the "fit in the past, fit in the future" bit.  Let me reflect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Vincent
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lumpley
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« Reply #51 on: July 01, 2004, 09:01:34 AM »

Gareth: Yes.  Exactly.  Those are your choices.

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

-Vincent
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Paganini
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« Reply #52 on: July 01, 2004, 09:32:14 AM »

This thread has become unfocused and abstract to an impractical degree. To get back to Vincent's original rant...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the hypothetical pure Nar mode, a player will violate the previouslly established facts any time he needs to, to ensure that the Problematic Human Issue is resolved with the outcome he wants it to have.
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hanschristianandersen
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« Reply #53 on: July 01, 2004, 09:35:45 AM »

Quote from: Vincent
Anybody want to talk about what makes a "fit" character?


I'll take a stab at it -

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

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

When I mention meta-game qualities, I'm thinking in particular of The Riddle of Steel's "Destiny" spiritual attribute - Destiny is not a measurable part of the SIS, but it exerts influence into the SIS in a way that can make for great bangs.
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Hans Christian Andersen V.
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lumpley
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« Reply #54 on: July 01, 2004, 10:06:36 AM »

Hans:  Absolutely.  Sorcerer's character creation rules are designed to do one thing: create characters fit to take on "what would you do to get what you want?"

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

Let's take this:

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

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

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

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

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

Anybody want to back me up or knock me down?

edit: This post of mine is the most off-topic post yet, you ask me.  I'm going to copy it into a new thread, um... here.  So back me up or knock me down in that thread and here let's keep talking about character integrity.

-Vincent
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timfire
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« Reply #55 on: July 01, 2004, 10:47:51 AM »

Hmm, I kinda see both sides of this argument. Using the vigilante example, let's say play began with the player establishing that the PC never shows mercy, by killing his priest for child molestation. Then this thing with his nephew comes up.

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

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

Is this an example of the character becoming unfit?
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lumpley
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« Reply #56 on: July 01, 2004, 10:59:46 AM »

Timothy:
Quote
Let's say that the PC decides family is more important than justice, or whatever. Is that breaking the intregity of the already established character? If it is, does that weaken the statement the player was trying to make?

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

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

-Vincent
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timfire
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« Reply #57 on: July 01, 2004, 11:19:49 AM »

Quote from: lumpley
Timothy:
Quote
Let's say that the PC decides family is more important than justice, or whatever. Is that breaking the intregity of the already established character? If it is, does that weaken the statement the player was trying to make?

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

If that isn't, then how was Tommy Lee Jones attempting to shoot Harrison Ford violating character integrity? I'm still trying to wrap my head around this. (Also, it's been a while since I watched that movie.)
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lumpley
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« Reply #58 on: July 01, 2004, 11:26:32 AM »

Ah.  Before he tried to shoot Harrison Ford in the head, he clearly wanted to get to the bottom of it, not kill him.  After he tried to shoot him, he clearly wanted to get to the bottom of it, not kill him.  Trying to kill him was this weird act that looked good but was out of nowhere.

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

-Vincent
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JackBauer
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« Reply #59 on: July 01, 2004, 11:31:53 AM »

I've never actually seen The Fugitive, but it sounds like under the circumstances, Jones' character was startled and that's the reason he fired. Maybe he was'nt deliberately trying to kill Harrisons' character. This makes sense. But if I'm not visualizing the scene properly, don't blame me since i've never seen it before.
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