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Director Stance (more) (split)

Started by LordSmerf, October 20, 2004, 10:13:57 AM

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Ron Edwards


Stance is not "power." This is a common misunderstanding. In fact, I suggest that "power" be recognized as a colloquial and local term which means whatever a given posting person wants it to, which is why it's not in the Glossary. A good thread to read is Stance is still not power.

Nathan (Paganini), your proposed weather mechanic has nothing to do with Stance. I think you are falling into the common trap of thinking that any announcements or any game-input at all about the "world" must be Director Stance. Although quite a bit of Universalis play involves Director Stance, not all of it does.

I keep saying this over and over - Stance does not account for any and every moment of play. Your statement "You don't even have to have character's present" is nonsensical as an example of anything to do with Stance.



Ron, let me see if I can make this clearer.

In the first place, I don't need you to teach me what the current stances mean. I understand your definitions. I grok what you mean when you say Director stance.

The point I'm making is not that all Universalis play is called Director stance *right now.* I'm saying it logically *should be.* (Actually, Director stance is not really a stance, but that's more of a semantic argument than a technical one.)  The point I'm making is that requiring Director stance to be defined in terms of its relationship to character is nonsensical.

Here's basically how I see where we're at now:

Ron: Stances are about character, so Director stance has to be environmental manipultion in relation to some character.

Me: The presence of characters is totally incidental to manipulating the environment, so Director stance is not really a stance. It's something else, and we should look at all the different ways that in can work in addition to being in relation to character.

Here's why:

Actor, Author, and Pawn stances are all coherent with one another - they require character because they are about a player activity that involves character - namely, a player deciding what that character does.

The player activity that's central to Director stance does *not* require a character. The activity is manipulating the environment. You can do that in relation to character, yes. But you can do it just as well without that relationship. Either way, the player is doing the same thing - he's manipulating the environment. Why call it a stance, then? It only even remotely resembles the other stances if it has this artificial restriction of character relationship. But, there are a lot of ways to manipulate the environment.  So why do we only have a word for *one specific*  one - the manipulation of environment with respect to character?

Sure, MoVs in TQB and a lot of Uni play aren't covered by the current definition of Director stance. But, then, what *are* they covered by? These activities *look* exactly the same as Director stance, but without spatial relationship to a character.

So you can say "it's not Director stance." Fine. But what is it when you're doing the exact same thing as Director stance, but without the tie to character? Why is it called Director stance when you do have a tie to character, when Director stance isn't even remotely like any of the other stances?


I don't know Pags.  This really seems much ado about nothing to me.

I don't know why or where this focus on whether or not Director stance infers a relationship to a character comes from, why you think its a meaningful, useful, or at all important distinction, and what benefit there is to changing the definition to account for your percieved issue...I really don't.

I can tell its important to you, but at this point, I kind of have to shrug and think I'm not going to be able to help you, because I can't perceive why its an issue at all.

But I will leave you with this thought:

When you think you are doing stuff in a game that you think ought to be considered Director Stance, but you think is currently being excluded because what you are doing doesn't involve a character and thus doesn't fall within the definition, consider these three possibilities...

possibility #1) Working up stuff about an environment that absolutely positively has nothing at all to do with character in any way...probably isn't roleplaying.  You might be using mechanics derived from a roleplaying game to do it...but without a connection to character is it really roleplaying?...or just shared imagining of world creation stuff...

possibility #2) There actually is a connection to character that you just haven't articulated.  Meaning that most of the time you think you're making changes to the environment that have nothing to do with probably aren't.  Your changes probably can be described in terms of their relation to a just haven't conceptualized it in that fashion yet.

possibility #3) You're anthropomorphizing various setting elements.  In the process of using rules to effect the environment and make things happen in the environment, chances are those various environmental features are acting as a proxy for character for you.  This is pretty common in world building exercises and Aria: Worlds made an entire game around the concept.  So in a sense...once the weather becomes like a're back to the current definition of Director Stance working just fine.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that 99% of every instance that you think you're performing Director Stance activity that isn't covered by the current definition probably falls into one of these 3 possibilities...and the other 1%...right now...doesn't hold all that much interest for me I'm afraid.


Ok.  I think we have gone about as far as we can.  We have one side which has a problem with current Stance theory.  I believe that the reasons for that problem have been well articulated.  That side understands current Stance theory and just feels that something is wrong.  We have another side which does not see what the problem is.  They acknowledge that it bothers some people, but they just do not see a problem there.

I believe that this is about as far as we are going to be able to go on this train.  I think it has been profitable, and commentary has really helped me to get a good grasp on what I find wrong with Stances.  Additionally, I have reached a point where I don't care.  Yes, I am unhappy with Stance theory, but it is what it is.

I will shortly be kicking off another thread to address the nuances of authority and justification that Nathan and I (and, I percieve, others) are really caught up on.  We, hopefully, won't even mention Stances.  We'll talk about these elements and discuss what they are useful for.  Perhaps when we have some coherent stuff we can come back and discuss Stances again, but then again maybe not.

Current projects: Caper, Trust and Betrayal, The Suburban Crucible