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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Setting Premise Narrativism  (Read 2801 times)
Tony Irwin
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« on: November 30, 2004, 01:41:08 PM »

Can anyone summarise and help me understand setting premise narrativism? I've already read this thread but would really appreciate some help with the idea.

Many thanks!

Tony
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timfire
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2004, 02:15:17 PM »

You can also check out this thread started by me in the Half Meme forum. My summary is this:

Character Premise: The "problematic conflict" stems from the characters themselves. I think this is most common type of premise you'll see. "What will you do for power?", "What are you willing to die for?" Here, the conflict is largely internal to the character.

Setting Premise (Ron's type): The problematic conflict stems from the setting.  "Do the needs of the community outweight the individual?" Note, how the individual responds to this question is still very important. It's just that the conflict starts from an exterior source. (Is that right Ron?)

It's important to note that there's rarely a "pure" character or setting premise. Different games have different balances of these types.

Now, Paul Czege has also proposed a second type of "Setting Premise". What's important to Paul's type of Premise is how the setting reacts to the Premise. It's sorta the reverse of Ron's type. With Paul's type, the characters act to problemize the situation for the setting, just like how the setting acts to problemize the situation for characters in Ron's type. Paul has tried experimenting with this type of Premise, but without much success. But Mike Holmes has observed play along these lines in Uni.

So Paul's type is still up in the air. Some consider it just a matter of terminology, since Ron considers any acting agent to be a "character" (meaning, that it's still "characters" acting in Paul's type).

Hope that didn't confuse you.
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--Timothy Walters Kleinert
Paul Czege
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« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2004, 06:35:14 AM »

Hey Tony,

I've already read this thread but would really appreciate some help with the idea.

Any specific questions? I'm unsure where to start.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Tony Irwin
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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2004, 01:08:34 PM »

Quote from: Paul Czege
Hey Tony,

Any specific questions? I'm unsure where to start.

Paul


Thanks, I appreciate that, here's four!

Could you name any games which support setting premise?

Also, are there any movies that come to mind which might demonstrate setting premise?

Does Fang have it right with:
Quote from: Fang
It seems like 'what suffers' is where the Narrativism is. If the Character 'does what they do' and suffers for it, it's Character-based; therefore, if the Character does what they do, and the Setting suffers for it, it'd be Setting-based. But I'm no expert.


I've seen a recurring episode format on Star Trek (all series) where the crew encounter a culture and their very presence causes a festering problem in the culture to errupt as a divisive issue... racism/sexism/science vs religion/care for the elderly/poverty/treatment of criminals/addiction. By the end of the episode the culture has decided either way and is irrevocably changed, while the crew still pretty much believe what they believed at the start of the episode but now at least we've seen their beliefs in action. Is that setting premise?

Cheers,

Tony
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2004, 09:03:20 AM »

Hey Tony,

Could you name any games which support setting premise?

I think it can be done with lots of games. Either you railroad it, maybe baiting the players along with combat interludes, or you use negotiation and Social Contract. But that's not what you're asking. You want a system that actively facilitates it, which ain't common. But upon reflection I think your Star Trek example is an excellent one, because what occurs to me now is that the most setting premise facilitating game I'm familiar with is Everway, which is basically ST:TNG recast as a dimension-hopping fantasy.

How does it facilitate setting premise? Don't ask me. I don't think it's a mechanical facilitation at all, which is why I never thought of it as a setting premise game until just now. Somehow, the meta-setting and the game text creates a shared sense of purpose for the play group around resolving issues the GM embeds in the scenario realm/setting, and installs the player characters with the significance to have that impact.

I bet half, or more, of all Alyria games are setting premise as well, because the play group creates the storymap and the characters. But again that's a group choosing setting premise, not mechanical facilitation. The players could just as easily choose for their Alyria game to be character premise. Everway is more consistently setting premise, almost entirely consistent, actually.

I imagine mechanically facilitated setting premise narrativism would have a reward system hooked to engaging with setting issues and/or a similarly architected endgame trigger. Coming soon from Half Meme Press ;)

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Sean
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2004, 01:57:55 PM »

Very cool threadlinks.

Timfire appears to have appreciated something which went missing in the original threads, an ambiguity in the various ways in which the five elements of exploration can work with premise.

1. Premise is 'just one thing', the human question addressed by play.

2. The original discussion turned on 'where is an individual character's premise coming from'? It could be set individually character by character (SA's in tRoS) or set by the setting (Hero Wars, Dying Earth). Trollbabe is a game that effectively sets it both ways by strongly dictating character type. Sorcerer, on the other hand, is sort of stretchy: the system sets a premise-type which 'settings' in the broader sense instantiate.

3. Paul's discussion actually posed a second question: which element of exploration is addressing the premise? Normally this is character, but there's no reason that character actions couldn't add up to make the setting itself address the premise, without the consequences for the individual characters necessarily being that morally significant. ("Is life worth living?" might be addressed en toto rather than character by character, with the survival or otherwise of the whole world maybe the thing at stake to answer the question.)

So anyway, that's my take: an ambiguity here between 'where the premise comes from' and 'what element of play addresses it'. I wouldn't mind confirmation or denial from the principals though...
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2004, 02:10:24 PM »

Hey Sean,

....So anyway, that's my take: an ambiguity here between 'where the premise comes from' and 'what element of play addresses it'. I wouldn't mind confirmation or denial from the principals though...

Nicely stated. That ambiguity has certainly plagued my own thinking. Read my http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=4546">stuff about Type2 Narrativism if you don't believe me. In my thinking, Type2 is when the GM crafts the Premise, and Setting-Premise is when the setting answers it.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
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