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Author Topic: "Sacrificing Character Integrity" - a Rant  (Read 20322 times)
TonyLB
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« Reply #60 on: July 01, 2004, 11:36:55 AM »

See, the Fugitive example is perfect for exploring the ways that creative difference can come up in the same Narrativist CA.  Yippee!

Adam is playing the Tommy Lee Jones character.
Bob is playing the Harrison Ford character.
Cindy is GMing.
The Premise is "How much can you excuse in pursuit of a worthy goal?"

They've been playing for a while, Bob's character falls, Adam says "I take the shot".

A huge fight erupts, with Bob saying "Dude, that is totally violating your character and screwing the premise!  We're pursuing the goal of finding the one-armed man, how can shooting me possibly be pursuing that goal?"

Adam says "No you are pursuing the one-armed man.  I'm just pursuing you!  My character has never cared about getting to the bottom of this crime, he cares about his duty to bring you in, guilty or innocent, dead or alive.  Remember when we met inside that big dam?  You said 'I didn't kill my wife!'  Remember what my guy said?  He said 'I don't care!'  And he doesn't, so stop telling me how to address the premise!"

Cindy sits back and munches on goldfish crackers, enjoying the show.  When they've vented enough steam she says "Doesn't matter, it's bullet-proof glass, we just get a big spanging starburst and everyone moves on.  You okay with that?"


Does that sound like a clear-cut example of disagreement within CA?  Something we could hypothetically compare and contrast with the Silence of the Lambs example of CA-incoherence?
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lumpley
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« Reply #61 on: July 01, 2004, 11:50:04 AM »

Why are we comparing them again?

Not cranky, I've just lost track.  Remind me?

-Vincent
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #62 on: July 01, 2004, 12:20:06 PM »

Heya,

This thread did just officially lose my interest, with these hypothetical examples.

If we can freely spin who the players are, what they want, what their characters do, and how they all react to it, then we're in cloud-cuckoo-land for purposes of making any GNS-relevant point.

Actual play is really the touchpoint, and I recommend sticking with it.

Best,
Ron
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Marco
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« Reply #63 on: July 01, 2004, 02:43:54 PM »

Quote from: contracycle
Quote from: Marco
I wanted to look at the case where the character declines to address the premise in the players optimal way (saving the family) because the player feels fidelity to their internal concept of character.


That didn't make sense because I was logged into an internet terminal and couldn't edit anything I wrote (easily).

What I meant was: The player declines to address the premise she'd wanted to address (the conflicting father figures) because the player's idea of character (Agent Starling isn't [whatever] enough to hang with Lecter).

Quote

I can't really parse this, especially the bit I bolded.  The character did not decline to address premise, because premise does not exist for characters.  Thus, the PLAYER must have declined to address premise in the players optimal way.  If the player has declined to address premise, that player is clearly not playing Narr.


I think in this case the player's viewpoint is that the GM has used force to cut off all aspects but the GM's "one-true-way:" playing Lecter's mind games.

Sure, the player *can* try to solve the problem on her own--with her own skills--but the important captive will very likely die.

The ramifications of force-being-deadly-to-Nar or the player/GM precieving a difference in "internal" character (as imagined by the player) and "external" character (as established in play) are what I'm trying to hilight here.

Quote

The GM's issues over continuity are, it seems to me, wholly irrelevant (except inasmuch as they may clue us in to an agenda conflict).  If the players grooving on Narr, the continuity is only of secondary importance, and if they are grooving on Sim, then the continuity is important but the whole scenario is then Sim anyway.

For the hypothetical I assume an observer would say the players are grooving on Narr (for this train of thought).

The player is hyped on father-figures-issues (which is what Silence revolves around, IMO) then the player is grooving on Nar. So is the GM. The situation is full of premise with the abusive father figure of the FBI for whom Starling will never measure up or the psychopathic but ultimately more accepting father figure of Lecter.

Both are there. The GM has used his power in a way that places heavy governance on action specifically wrt theme/premise.

Looks like Force to me.

Quote

If that is force then all GM actions must be force.

Yes. Me too. Hence the example.

If Force is just another term for "railroading" then just use railroading.

-Marco
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Sean
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« Reply #64 on: July 01, 2004, 07:49:02 PM »

Hi Vincent -

That was a productive exchange. The issue we're dealing with is connected to the whole Sim vs. Exploration thing and the edge of that precipice falling into which leads to False Doctrines like 'Sim doesn't exist' and 'Beeg Horseshoe'.

You're right that CA and integrity of exploration are orthogonal, and I thought so when I wrote my last response too.

Your reply to me, that the first technique can also be Nar-facilitating, seems right - sometimes. At other times, it's Nar-stultifying, though, whereas the second one never will be.

A real life analogy. You get offered a job - it's not what you trained for or what you dreamed of, but it's interesting. It's not something you'd never ever do, but not something you exactly thought you'd be doing either.

One person searches his soul, looking deep within himself, to find out whether it 'could be his calling after all', whether it's 'the right thing for him to do', that sort of thing. Another person asks: would taking this job be an interesting chapter in the story of my life or not?

Subjectively, they are extremely different approaches to the question. One may bounce back and forth between them.

On the other hand, consider perviness. You can be exploring the system hardcore to gain some advantage from it - this is a form of Gamism - or you can be exploring the system as an exploration of the possibilities for in-game causation, the underlying reality as it were, of play - that being Simulationism.

We talk about Simulationism in terms of Exploration squared, focus on exploration, focus on in-game cause. The first technique for deciding what your character is going to do, in many contexts, sounds more like that than like attention to the moral and emotional significance of play. (Except, of course, when that kind of deep soul-searching is what you get your moral and emotional rocks off from. In which case I suppose, for you, it's Nar-facilitating after all.)

In a long-ago thread on this on rpg.net, I discussed this in relation to Whale Rider. Let's say you're playing the female protagonist of that film, and you're working your way towards your shot at tribal leader.

It would not be unreasonable to say: "this is a patriarchal culture, sorry. you can excel in female-appropriate ways, or you can leave the tribe behind and become great as an individual in the broader society, but they've never had a woman leader, and never will, sorry". Not unreasonable at all. "Yeah, that would be a great story, but it's not how it really works."

If you stop there, I suppose, it's probably Sim. But you could say almost the same words and make exactly the same decisions in play because you wanted to be dealing with the theme of patriarchal oppression, in which case the same stuff would be Nar. So I guess it depends on why you're exploring it this way, so in that sense, as you said, they're orthogonal.

And stories with incoherent characters suck. We all know that.

But there are some subtle shades in this discussion that should not be overlooked, or at least anyway I think so, which is why I brought them up.

I think your characterization of Narrativism mistakes the goal for the reality. Everyone wants to be grooving off each other's premise-addressing, but we don't always succeed, and we're still playing Narrativist when we fail.
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contracycle
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« Reply #65 on: July 01, 2004, 11:04:42 PM »

Quote from: Marco

What I meant was: The player declines to address the premise she'd wanted to address (the conflicting father figures) because the player's idea of character (Agent Starling isn't [whatever] enough to hang with Lecter).


How is that possible?  I mean, that means the player made the wrong character.  I cannot see how a player can be said to desire to address a certain poremise a certain way, but then to also design a character that prevents them from addressing that premise that way.  How and why would this happen?

I cannot see why we shopuld decide the player made the wrong player; thats trying to play FOR that player.  If the player builds a character to address premise a certain way, it seems reasonable to accept they did so competently.

Quote

Sure, the player *can* try to solve the problem on her own--with her own skills--but the important captive will very likely die.


So what?

Quote

Both are there. The GM has used his power in a way that places heavy governance on action specifically wrt theme/premise.


I can't see how; theme <> content.  The GM has only exercised power over content precisely because, as you say, both are there.

Looks like Force to me.

Quote

Yes. Me too. Hence the example.


Not me too; I don't accept for one second that all GM actions are Forceful.

Quote

If Force is just another term for "railroading" then just use railroading.


It isn't.
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Marco
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« Reply #66 on: July 02, 2004, 01:04:31 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
Quote from: Marco

What I meant was: The player declines to address the premise she'd wanted to address (the conflicting father figures) because the player's idea of character (Agent Starling isn't [whatever] enough to hang with Lecter).


How is that possible?  I mean, that means the player made the wrong character.  I cannot see how a player can be said to desire to address a certain poremise a certain way, but then to also design a character that prevents them from addressing that premise that way.  How and why would this happen?

I cannot see why we shopuld decide the player made the wrong player; thats trying to play FOR that player.  If the player builds a character to address premise a certain way, it seems reasonable to accept they did so competently.

Emphasis Added.

You ask how or why that can happen. Lots of examples right here. Other posters on this thread have suggested that a character who seems right for situation A (the start) may no longer be seen as fit for situation B which developes. Personally I think a great many "railroading" charges are exactly that (I use quotes since the term is used loosely here--I'm not sure I'd consider them railroading).

I think it can happen a lot sooner than that: even if the GM had said "This adventure will revolve around father-figure issues and a condition of crisis where two candidates are brought into play" there's still plenty of room for change of situation where the player sees the character as unfit.

Your take on this is interesting: you assign responsibility for this to the player (the emphasis--the 'wrong' character).

The player, IME, will usually see the events unfolding as the GM's use of Force (insofar as I can tell).

Since I don't think any one's 'right,' I don't think it's possible to say "the player made the wrong character" unless one can also say "the player is responsible for every mutation of situation."

Quote

Not me too; I don't accept for one second that all GM actions are Forceful.


I think Force is a perception on the part of the player wrt the player's intent to address premise. Any GM action could potentially be seen as Force.

It seems that the only example of Force that isn't railroading that I can think of is when the player is happy to have her atomic-level do/do-not decisions made by the GM--even in cases where the outcome is diametricly opposed to the players wishes.

I've never met a player who was happy with that. It has always been considered dysfunctional IME.

-Marco
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contracycle
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« Reply #67 on: July 02, 2004, 03:30:25 AM »

Quote
Other posters on this thread have suggested that a character who seems right for situation A (the start) may no longer be seen as fit for situation B which developes.


Sure; I explore that scenario.  But I also gave some indications as to why I think its only a notional, as opposed an actual, problem.  I recognise the theoretical possibility, but I am ont aware of any actual reports of this problem and not sure that I would expect to see any.

Quote
even if the GM had said "This adventure will revolve around father-figure issues and a condition of crisis where two candidates are brought into play" there's still plenty of room for change of situation where the player sees the character as unfit.


Yes, but that does not mean that the character being unfit is actually a problem.  If the player is not concerned with continuity as their CA, the character can just be changed.

Quote
Your take on this is interesting: you assign responsibility for this to the player (the emphasis--the 'wrong' character).


Well I think I can point to the wrong spanner without levelling a moral condemnation of the manufacturer.  So the character is wrong for the situation, so what?  Its just a character - there is no spoon, as you would say.

Quote
It seems that the only example of Force that isn't railroading that I can think of is when the player is happy to have her atomic-level do/do-not decisions made by the GM--even in cases where the outcome is diametricly opposed to the players wishes.



Quote
Force
The Technique of control over characters' thematically-significant decisions by anyone who is not the character's player. When Force is applied in a manner which disrupts the Social Contract, the result is Railroading. Originally called "GM-oomph" (Ron Edwards), then "GM-Force" (Mike Holmes).


By this definition, a discussion about what type of character is appropriate is not the assumption of power over the CHARACTERS thematically significant decisions.
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Marco
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« Reply #68 on: July 02, 2004, 05:26:02 AM »

Contra,

Whether or not there "is a spoon" may be a differentating factor between people with Nar and Sim proclivities. Certainly a lot of people here consider what I'm calling the "external continuity" (or SiS) to be more important (or the only important thing) than "internal continuity" (a personal assessment of character that may not be clear to everyone).

But that can't be a *defining* factor of Sim vs. Nar. A Nar player who doesn't wish to "violate" their character is, IMO, well within their rights to say so (I think this is Vincent's take and I think he's right to have it).

That is why I think Force is simply a matter of perception and each and every thing a GM does might or might not count for a person.

Where you don't think that'll happen commonly ("it's notational"), I think it's at the heart of almost every 'railroading' incident where the GM believes that the "railroading event" is simply a natural outcome of the world rather than a mad scramble to prevent some action on the character's part.

Where the GM is mad-scrambling, I think that's pretty clearly in the dysfunction bucket in almost every case I can imagine.

I think that problem is stock-standard: an incredibly common issue in play. Any time a GM is basing their calls on what they "think would happen" rather than "what 'must' happen for the story" this can come up.

-Marco
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #69 on: July 02, 2004, 05:43:33 AM »

Quote from: Marco
Any time a GM is basing their calls on what they "think would happen" rather than "what 'must' happen for the story" this can come up.


When faced with the choice of one over the other, the ideal choice would be both. Should in come down to a choice of one or the other, in the composition of fiction, this is a good indication that either the scene should be cut or what has occured before must be rewritten.
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Marco
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« Reply #70 on: July 02, 2004, 05:54:14 AM »

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
Quote from: Marco
Any time a GM is basing their calls on what they "think would happen" rather than "what 'must' happen for the story" this can come up.


When faced with the choice of one over the other, the ideal choice would be both. Should in come down to a choice of one or the other, in the composition of fiction, this is a good indication that either the scene should be cut or what has occured before must be rewritten.


I agree with the "optimal"--but there may be a choice condition and that'd be Virtuality vs. Story-First play (not Sim vs. Nar, IMO).

The idea of cutting scenes and re-writing them is a good one--but one that's antithetical to immersive play (IMO) and absolutely counter to Virtuality.

If Virtuality can be a form of Nar play (and I think it can--we'll see how John's Water-Uphill thread turns out) then clearly the test of re-writing or cutting is simply a matter of personal taste within either mode.

-Marco
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contracycle
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« Reply #71 on: July 02, 2004, 05:58:58 AM »

Marco I'm not sure I follow what it is that you are trying to demonstrate.

Quote from: Marco

Whether or not there "is a spoon" may be a differentating factor between people with Nar and Sim proclivities.


Thats probably the case.  I'm not sure what it has to do with decisions WITHIN one subset though.  I mean, the only scenario in which two players could have a real disagreement over premise - and I'm not sure this is even possible - is if they are already both playing Nar.  So I cannot really see how a potential distinction between Sim players and Narr players matters to the discussion.

Quote
Where you don't think that'll happen commonly ("it's notational"), I think it's at the heart of almost every 'railroading' incident where the GM believes that the "railroading event" is simply a natural outcome of the world rather than a mad scramble to prevent some action on the character's part.


Where WHAT will happen?  What I have been responding to is the possibility that one Narr player may have to accomodate the other Narr players in the room.  So we are NOT talking about people concerned with the "natural outcome of the world" as a big issue.

Quote

But that can't be a *defining* factor of Sim vs. Nar. A Nar player who doesn't wish to "violate" their character is, IMO, well within their rights to say so (I think this is Vincent's take and I think he's right to have it).


But, are they even able to?  I don't think that has been demonstrated.  As I mentioned before, I suspect that any answer to premise is a good one, so I cannot imagine a scenario in which a player is frustrated from  addressing premise by the actions of other players.  Is there a problem here to solve?

Quote
I think that problem is stock-standard: an incredibly common issue in play. Any time a GM is basing their calls on what they "think would happen" rather than "what 'must' happen for the story" this can come up.


But that sounds like a classic GNS mode mismatch.  That seems to to explain the scenario within an already established framework; we have an answer to this problem already.  What you are indicating is the group has divergent expectations about what play is "about".

What I don't understand is why you think the mismatch that would occur between Narr and Sim would also occur between Narr and Narr, or that it would matter.
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Marco
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« Reply #72 on: July 02, 2004, 06:12:25 AM »

You've lost me too, Contra.

What I was trying to demonstrate is that a player may envision their character as un-fit to address premise after some mutations of situation. I think that can *clearly* happen--I don't know if that's even an issue here (do you disagree that that can happen?)

How that un-fitness is addressed doesn't seem to be a CA-issue to me. It seems to indicate a focus on "getting the story going in a direction I want" vs. "keeping a virtuality intact."

I think that both can be done while "playing Nar" and don't conflict with "address of Premise"--it's a matter of how one precieves continuity (and violations thereof).

-Marco
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contracycle
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« Reply #73 on: July 02, 2004, 06:34:10 AM »

Quote
What I was trying to demonstrate is that a player may envision their character as un-fit to address premise after some mutations of situation. I think that can *clearly* happen--I don't know if that's even an issue here (do you disagree that that can happen?)


I genuinely have no idea.  Narr is not my style of play so I have seen little of it.  My feeling is that "no it can't".  I mean if the premise was, say, 'would you sell your granny for enough money', then I can't really see how a player might be compelled to answer 'no' if they wanted to answer 'yes'.

In linear media, the author usually gives AN answer to the proposed premise.  If there was a movie about granny-selling, different characters in the movie may give different answers.  The audience then observes and appreciates this premise and agrees or disagrees with it.  I can't see that any given premise or answer to it is mutually exclusive with any other premise or answer anywhere.

Quote
I think that both can be done while "playing Nar" and don't conflict with "address of Premise"--it's a matter of how one precieves continuity (and violations thereof).


OK, I agree its matter of how one perceives continuity and violations thereof.  But if we are establishing that the play group in question is Nar, then we already know how they see it: continuity is subordinate to premise.  In fact, we identify the presence of Nar by observing the preference for premise-addressage rather than continuity when one must occur at the expense of the other.

Please note that violating continuity is not the same as violating character integrity; sometimes continuity is violated in order to preserve character integrity.  Strangely I think this is likely a feature of sim.
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Marco
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« Reply #74 on: July 02, 2004, 06:44:56 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
Quote

OK, I agree its matter of how one perceives continuity and violations thereof.  But if we are establishing that the play group in question is Nar, then we already know how they see it: continuity is subordinate to premise.  In fact, we identify the presence of Nar by observing the preference for premise-addressage rather than continuity when one must occur at the expense of the other.

Please note that violating continuity is not the same as violating character integrity; sometimes continuity is violated in order to preserve character integrity.  Strangely I think this is likely a feature of sim.

Emphasis added.

If continuity is subordinate to premise then I think Vincent is wrong in this thread: someone who is interested in immersive IC experience should prefer Sim to Nar and John's Water-Up-Hill game was probably not Nar since the goals of Virtuality are counter to Nar.

A lot of people, to my read, disagree with this (Vincent, here, IMO). And I think it's shaky too.

I think any game where there are high emotions involved that aren't based on winning will have an identifiable premise that a lit-major could find. It seems to me that the difference between Sim and Nar is then one of intellectual interest vs. emotional involvement.

But since something can be both emotionally and intellectually stimulating to the same degree, Sim is simply inferrior Nar.* Beeg Horseshoe.

-Marco
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