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Author Topic: the SGR model - reconciling GDS/GNS (renamed topic).  (Read 3651 times)
RobMuadib
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« on: January 24, 2002, 05:43:16 PM »

Hey guys, I revised my document again, which I present for your edification and amusement. Please comment on it.


The SGR RPG Theory.
==========================================

RPG's are open-ended games in which the entertainment value
is derived from the concurrent expression of a story,
exercise of playing a game, and exploration of a role.

RPGs exist as formal languages (much like computer programming languages) with
which the participants use to engage in the three fundamental entertainments --
Story (S), Game (G), and Role (R). This is much like how Programming  Languages
are complex formal languages whose myriad elements facilitate the controlling
and invoking the capacities of a computer - sorting data, performing
calculations, output/input, etc.

Story(S) being the traditional experience of telling a satisfying
story. (In RPG's we (can) tell a story, traditionally that
of our character's adventure. We entered the dungeon and
fought monsters, overcoming them to gain loot and become powerful.)

Game (G) being the traditional experience of engaging in a structured
competition or challenge.( In RPG's we (can) play a game, traditionally
one where we are able to pit the abilities of our character against
the challenges posed. We fought 3 orcs, avoided 2 traps, to get
all that gold.)

Role (R) being the traditional experience of interacting with a different reality.
(In RPGs we (can) interact with a different reality - the world -
by taking on the role of a character, traditionally we take on the role
of a Warrior/Mage/Thief/Priest in a fantastic world of magic and medieval
realities.)

These are the traditional entertainment of "playing" role playing games.

Then by this definition, while participating in an RPG, you are
concurrently eXpressing a Story, engaging in the eXercise of playing
a Game, and eXploring a Role. We will call each of these "X's" a mode of
play.

Within each mode of play, you have a stance from which you are empowered to engage in that mode of play. These stances fall into 4 basic types, Character, Player, Guide, and Master

Character stance is defined by the fact that you are able to engage in each mode  of play only from the guise of a Character. In Story Mode, this would mean you  would only react to the unfolding events of the story as the character involved.  In Game Mode, you would only act to overcome challenges from the knowledge and  abilities of the character your playing. In Role Mode, you explore the situation or setting solely from the view-point of a character in that setting.

Player Stance is defined by the fact that you are able engage in each mode of play only as an interactive participant. In Story Mode, you react to your part in  expressing the unfolding story. In Game Mode, you act to overcome challenges based on your knowledge and abilities, and abilities. In Role Mode, you explore the situation or setting based on what interests you as a player.

Character Stance and Player Stance share an important distinction in that
they are limited to interacting to elements of each Mode as presented to them by another player acting in either Guide Stance, or Master Stance.

Guide Stance is defined by the fact that are able to guide the direction and nature of play in each mode. In Story Mode, you are able to take advantage of mechanics within the game language that allow you alter or introduce elements to the story being expressed beyond player or character means. In Game Mode, you are able to take advantage of mechanics within the game language that allow you  to alter elements of the game situation in your favor. In Role Mode, you are  able to take advantage of mechanics within the game language to alter or  introduce elements of game setting or situation, or to explore elements of the
setting other than as your nominal character.

Master Stance is defined by the fact that you control and direct play in each mode for the other characters participating in the role playing game. In Story Mode, you are able to introduce characters, describe settings, instigate events and others author or direct elements of the Story being expressed. In Game Mode, you judge outcomes, resolve disputes and control and manage the oppositional elements of the Game being played. Finally, in Role Mode, you are able to define the nature of elements of the setting and situation and establish the nature of background in which the exploration of Role occurs.

Traditionally, participation in a role playing game has been limited to one
player acting in Master stance, typically identified as the Game Master, with the rest of the participants limited to Character or Player stance,
traditionally identified as the Player Characters).

That is, the Game Master defines the scenario for the players, he controls and sets the opposition and challenges the players face, and traditionally he is given some power to create the trappings of the reality explored by Role, in D&D  these would be things such as magic items, classes, races, and other such constructed elements of the reality presented in the game.

Thus, in traditional role playing (or at least D&D), the GM is responsible for expressing the Story which the other players are an interactive audience too. This is the classic Dramatist model, or Dramatism. Now, newer games empower all the participants to act in Guide Stance, as well as player & character stance within Story mode. This is what is referred to as the Narrativist model, or Narrativism

Also in Traditional RPGs (or at least D&D), it is the GM's Game, and he is the  final arbitrator of what occurs. Only the GM gets to choose the opposition and set up the scenarios the players compete against. In other games, all the players are somewhat empowered to create challenges and other game elements for the players via mechanics that allow them to act in Guide Stance, consider Rune in which the other players control and define the opposition for each player.

Finally, in Traditional RPGs (or at least D&D), it is the GM's World, and he
gets to create everything, while the other players are limited to exploring
these elements of Role only in Character/Player stance. The GM creates the world, it's nations and peoples, he can create monsters, and weapons, and other items of interest. Now, in newer games say, Aria, all the players are empowered to take a hand in the creation of the world and its elements via Guide Stance mechanics.

Here is a summary of some evidenced Stances within each  mode of play.

STORY MODE PLAYER STANCES:
===========================================
Actor Stance - you take part in expressing the Story only from the guise of your character.

Author Stance - you take part in the Story, driving your character towards story elements and scenes that make a good story.

Director Stance - in this Stance you take part in the Story directing and
introducing story elements that present the best Story.

Auteur Stance - in this Stance, you control all elements of the unfolding story, with the other participants subject to heavy direction.

GAME MODE PLAYER STANCES:
=============================================
Avatar Stance - you are playing the game from the guise of
the character, with the intent of simulating the character's performance
against some challenge as represented by his knowledge and abilities.

Token Stance- you are the playing the game to win, both based on the
abilities of your character, and your own Abilities.

Referee Stance - you are controlling or directing the game for the other
participants in a fair and impartial manner.

Adversary Stance - you are controlling or directing the game with the intent of defeating the other participants via the challenges presented in the game.

ROLE MODE PLAYER STANCES:
==========================================

Immersive Stance- you interact with the situation, setting, and world
being explored solely from the standpoint of character.

Tourist Stance - you interact with the situation, setting and world
being explored based on the participants interest.

Tinkerer Stance - you interact with the situation, setting and world being
explored, using the Guide Stance mechanics available to you to add or
designing elements you find of interest.

Creator Stance - this create the situation, setting and world
being explored by the other participants.


Each Role Playing Game, then, presents the players with a specific combination  of stances they may take within each mode of play. This combination of stances  are provided by a unique set of mechanics with which to engage in each mode of play. The sum of these mechanics and supported stances form what we can call the Games Style. Thus each game, by virtue of its mechanics and their implied play stances,
can be said to support a particular type of play for the participants.

Rob Muadib.
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Rob Muadib --  Kwisatz Haderach Of Wild Muse Games
kwisatzhaderach@wildmusegames.com --   
"But How Can This Be? For He Is the Kwisatz Haderach!" --Alyia - Dune (The Movie - 1980)
Valamir
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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2002, 04:18:14 PM »

Very interesting.  Couple comments / Questions.

1) There are a lot of interpretaton of the word story.  I think most of them can be broken down into a couple of categories.  In one, story is basically any sequence of events being related in an entertaining manner (this is what your note on story seems to fit).  The other is that a "Literary Story" (my word used for distinction only) is more than just a sequence of events but adheres to some literary principals involving rising action, falling action, denouement, climax, etc.  How do players who are concerned with creating a "Literary Story", not just a "plain 'ole tale" fit into your scheme?

2) Where does the use or prohibition regarding In Character and Out of Character information fall in your Scheme?

3) What is the Guide Stance referenced under Tinkerer?

4) I suggest redefining your Stances as something else (say "positions") and then detailing what we think of as Stances as being a collection of these Positions.  For instance "Actor Stance" is Position A from Story, Position A from Game, and Position A from Role.  "Author Stance" is Position B from Story, Position B from Game, and Position A from Role (just making those up as example).  

In this way, the collection of "stances" as you are currently call them, become a menu of play choices (each of which indicates a particularly approach to S to G and to R) that result in a Stance.
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Valamir
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2002, 04:48:52 PM »

To offer some examples of what I meant by Postion (note brain storm samples only here).


Story Mode Positions

Series of Events:  The player / game views a Story as being the end result of whatever series of events occured in the game (a very Simulationist approach to story).  The story here usually does not end in a final resolution but continues on from event to event until the players choose to stop playing.

Literary:  The player / game supports a concious effort be made to craft the story using traditional literary principles such as premise, theme, climactic scenes, etc.  The story here usually has a very distinct point at which the players consider the story to be ended and resolved (this perhaps lends itself more towards a Narrativist approach)

Meta Story / No Meta Story:  This is a switch that denotes the player's / game's reliance on an over reaching story arc (provided by GM or published material) to provide the primary story elements.  The characters are generally viewed as participants (with varying degrees of influence) in this wider meta plot.  The story here usually has a distinct end point often predetermined or heavily dependent on the end forseen by the metaplot.  (this perhaps suggests a Dramatist approach to story).


Game Model Positions:

Causal Game Mechanics:  The player / game desires game mechanics that are derived from cause an effect.  This generally includes an upfront statement of intent, adjucation of difficulty and modifiers, a resolution mechanism, and enforcement of that resolution.  Here would be found "Fortune-at-the-end" style mechanics.

Interpretive Game Mechanics:  The player / game desires game mechanics that may suggest an outcome in direction and/or magnitude but leaves the actual description of specific details to the players descretion and interpretation.  This would include mechanics like "Fortune-in-the-middle" or "Monologue's of Victory".

Meta Game / No Meta Game:  This position is a switch which indicates the player's / game's desire for and use of Meta Game mechanics.  These are typically resources that do not necessarily coorespond to any actual in-game elements but can be used to alter in game results.  Hero Points, Trouble, Coincidence, etc are examples of these types of game altering mechanics.


Role Mode Positions:

In character:  the player / game encourages playing a role (controling a  character) only through what that character would know and do in a given situation.

Out of character (story oriented / game oriented): the player / game encourages the free incorporation of out of character and meta game knowledge into guideing a character's actions.  Players may use this knowledge to manipulate events in a way that leads to a better story or to manipulate events in a way that leads to greater success within the game mechanics.

Meta Role / No Meta Role: This is a switch that denotes the presence of and degree of control over non character items during the game.  Specifically this control includes altering, adding, manipulating setting or other characters.  i.e. what has been discussed here as Directoral Power.



From here you can define you stances "Actor" "Auteur" "Tourist" etc, as being a selection from the above menu (which is likely incomplete and not necessarily completely accurate at the moment).

For instance.  Universalis would be:

S: Series of Events / with no Meta Story
G: Interpretive Game Mechanics / with extensive Meta Game
R: Out of Character (story OR game oriented) / with extensive Meta Role


Thoughts...
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Logan
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Posts: 153


« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2002, 08:24:35 PM »

..
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Logan
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Posts: 153


« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2002, 05:32:54 AM »

..
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RobMuadib
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Posts: 230


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« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2002, 01:13:59 PM »

Quote from: Valamir

Very interesting.  Couple comments / Questions.

1) There are a lot of interpretaton of the word story.  I think most of them can be broken down into a couple of categories.  In one, story is basically any sequence of events being related in an entertaining manner (this is what your note on story seems to fit).  The other is that a "Literary Story" (my word used for distinction only) is more than just a sequence of events but adheres to some literary principals involving rising action, falling action, denouement, climax, etc.  How do players who are concerned with creating a "Literary Story", not just a "plain 'ole tale" fit into your scheme?

My Model thus far includes both. In that a RPG is a game in which you are
always, in part, telling a story, about the character's and situation, setting,etc. It could be a dull boring dreary story to retell, or the players
could have used good storytelling technique to make it interesting.

Whether or not they do that is dependent on how they play, it can be promoted and provided for in the game rules system, or not.  Which is to say, either style of storytelling is included, it just depends on the particular bent of the rules system. Most important this model, is how the rule system to empower the players to work towards telling a Story. Is it Dramatist, it's the GM story, the players have to follow along, is It Narrativist, do all of the players have means to affect the telling of the story, beyond the actions of their character.


Quote from: Valamir

2) Where does the use or prohibition regarding In Character and Out of Character information fall in your Scheme?

IC/OOC is the primary difference between Character/Player stance.
In character stance, you limit yourself to in-character reasoning, knowledge, interests, etc.
In Player Stance, you apply OOC reasoning and stuff as the person playing the game. i.e. I want my guy to do this, because it would be cool, or in Character Stance, - "but my guy wouldn't rescue the princess",etc.

Quote from: Valamir

3) What is the Guide Stance referenced under Tinkerer?
[\quote]
Guide in this case, is the use of particular design subsystems to create additions to the world, with the power to see that they are implemented
within the world. Aria, for example, is chock full of Guide stance mechanics in which all of the participants take part to create elements of the setting and such. It is Guide, because it is not exclusive to single player. . (This is largely where the theory fits in my game design ideas, which led to the inspiriation to create it.)


Quote from: Valamir

4) I suggest redefining your Stances as something else (say "positions") and then detailing what we think of as Stances as being a collection of these Positions.  For instance "Actor Stance" is Position A from Story, Position A from Game, and Position A from Role.  "Author Stance" is Position B from Story, Position B from Game, and Position A from Role (just making those up as example).  

In this way, the collection of "stances" as you are currently call them, become a menu of play choices (each of which indicates a particularly approach to S to G and to R) that result in a Stance.


Hmm, that sounds like a good idea, would be less confusing to GNS/GDS familiar people. (I currently throw that into being Game Style, but don't say much about it.
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Rob Muadib --  Kwisatz Haderach Of Wild Muse Games
kwisatzhaderach@wildmusegames.com --   
"But How Can This Be? For He Is the Kwisatz Haderach!" --Alyia - Dune (The Movie - 1980)
RobMuadib
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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2002, 01:58:17 PM »

Quote from: Logan

Is your effort really an attempt to reconcile GNS and GDS? I ask because I don't see how it takes me from GDS to GNS or vice versa. It doesn't really tie up the loose ends.


I suppose that was a bit misleading, the only "reconciling" I did was to fit both Dramatism and Narrativism as being Story Mode focused play styles, that differ in the way the power to shape the story is distributed. In dramatism it is primarily preserved to the GM, in Narrativism, it is largely provided to all via Guide type mechanics.


Quote from: Logan

I'm going to evaluate in broad terms here.

I think you've done well to recognize the elements Game, Story, and Roleplaying as integral parts of an RPG. That's all to the good, though I don't really agree with your interpretation.

I think, to move on, you have to go back to basics. To start, let's ask the fundamental question, "What is an RPG?" The question has been asked over and over, but you still have to ask yourself that, and maybe find your own answer. For me (after discussion with the never-here-seen Scarlet Jester), I have boiled it down to this: An RPG is a Game with aspects of Story and Roleplaying. The Game aspect is its rules, mechanics for play. The Roleplaying is all about portraying the character. The Story is all about what happens during play and why. As I see it, everything in the Big 3 theories (and all other theories that I've seen about roleplaying) is an analysis of the interplay of these elements with respect to game design, player behavior, or player goals - not necessarily in that order.


I would like to hear more on that idea. (Incidentally, Scarlet Jester offered an enormous rant in response to my posting of this in GO, it had many interesting points, and also included the words Nazi and Fascist:) )


Quote from: Logan

GDS and GNS both look at the act of Roleplaying and try to dissect player motive and behavior. GDS basically ignores the underlying mechanics, except to say that diceless roleplay is special. GNS acknowledges that system is important because it can support a style of play, but the overriding opinion is that GNS considerations do not extend down to the level of individual rules or rule structures. I think such considerations can and do reach that far, but that topic is separate.


Perhaps it is poorly presented in my posting thus far, but my model is limited to the design of games and there the gestalt effect of their mechanics in regards to SGR. That is, the only intent of concern here is
the designers.

Quote from: Logan

Story is a more difficult subject, because an RPG isn't a novel. It's more of a living creation. A novel is static; an RPG session is dynamic. You can run the same adventure ten times with ten different groups of players and get 10 different results. Even if the GM wants it to run the same way, the players and the dice always have the means to change the way things happen. At least that is what I have found.

I'm Not seeing the implications of what you wrote here, perhaps if you elaborate.


Quote from: Logan

To your use of stances... I see what you're trying to say, but I think the expression just doesn't work. You're trying to ascribe separate stances to each individual motive with respect to Game, Story, and Roleplaying (which, in your case, seems to be a stand-in terminology for GNS/GDS). I cull 3 useful stances from all rpg theory: Actor, Director, and Observer. Players include the GM, who traditionally spends the bulk of his time in Director stance.

 Hmm, perhaps I confused the issue by the use of the term stances.
But I am not referring to motive, but the amount of directive/controlling
power available to a participant, as provided by the games rules system.
SGR addresses some of the ideas in GNS/GDS, but is more objective and
drawn from the gestalt of a games' rule system.

Quote from: Logan

Goal/Intention: I have specifically avoided talking about goal or intention with respect to a particular stance. That's because I think any stance can be used to support or attain any goal.

The only goals of concern are the designers in setting the power distribution in each mode. That is by ascribing a certain amount of power to each participant in affecting Story Mode, he can directly support Dramatist play, or Narrativist play, etc.

Quote from: Logan

It's possible that I've overwritten your intended goals with my own imperatives. If that's the case, drive on as you see fit.


Logan

I appreciate your comments, and if anything by enumerating some related concerns provide a basis to make my model more useful
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Rob Muadib --  Kwisatz Haderach Of Wild Muse Games
kwisatzhaderach@wildmusegames.com --   
"But How Can This Be? For He Is the Kwisatz Haderach!" --Alyia - Dune (The Movie - 1980)
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