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Author Topic: Storytelling, GM-Control, and Drift  (Read 12085 times)
clehrich
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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2005, 07:24:48 PM »

I know "me too" posts are verboten, but since M.J. replied to my post, I'm going to say "me too" on Marco's post.  Exactly.  It shouldn't be controversial, but it is.

Maybe it won't be any more?
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Chris Lehrich
contracycle
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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2005, 01:15:23 AM »

Quote from: John Kim

Right.  This is exactly the point that Marco was driving at in his recent GNS thread, Retroactive Story.  Narrativism as defined is about one process (or one class of processes) for generating story.  It's not about story itself.  On the other hand, Marco met with some stiff resistance to the idea in that thread.


Yes he did, because his conclusion was that therefore "story" can be meaningfully said to appear in any CA.  I dispute this, and did so on the basis  that G and S are explicitly about something other than "story", whatever that may mean.  IMO the term is largely valueless, and the only place it CAN have relevance is in Narr.

I fully agree that we should discuss story in terms of rising tension, denoument at al.  That is, we should talk about really existing story as a thing, rather than deploying the overly-broad and overly-general term "story" which is so prone to being misunderstood or meaning different things to different people.
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Marco
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« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2005, 05:07:59 AM »

Quote from: contracycle

Yes he did, because his conclusion was that therefore "story" can be meaningfully said to appear in any CA.


Well, firstly:

1. I said that the theory indicates that Story can appear in any CA. You can supply the "meaningfully." Ron uses specific (scientific) wording in the Story Now definition that might indicate that theory finds Story-as-structure secondary to Nar.

2. Under the theory, Story-as-structure might be primary to Sim. If you take an action because "it's what a guy in a movie would take" and it disassociates you as a player from Premise then you get story and you don't get Nar.

It's situations like this that make the story-def in the glossary valuable, even necessary.

3. We don't know what 'Storytelling' or 'story-gaming' is under the theory (save for general agreement in this thread). I suspect that at least sometimes it's a bunch of highly immersed guys playing vampire who are thrown a seires of Narrativist Bangs at them by the GM and if the situation mutates out of the GM's control the GM will do whatever he or she can to get the game back to where they can handle it (sometimes it's the GM being a bully too or some kind of shared attempt at uncovering the GM's situation)

Is this Sim or Nar? Under the theory it could be either and if there's a really low tolerance for GM-intradiction, the GM isn't all that competent, and the players are really dramatic and wild in their reactions to the Bangs then maybe you get dysfunction and the players are pissed off.

On the other hand, if the GM is skillful at keeping interesting things happening no matter what the players do and the players don't have to break Actor Stance, then you either get Sim or Nar (at different times) depending on what the analyist (who could be a player or might not be) thinks of the action at that time.

I don't think "hard core" Story-gaming is expressed under GNS as a CA. I think it's a collection of techniques and they'll varry greatly depending on how well the GM thinks on his feet, how well he knows the players, how much the players are willing to sacrafice in terms of immersion or story-control when things reach a crisis point, etc.

4. We can say challenge doesn't appear meaningfully in Nar games (or genre) but that doesn't make any sense. All stories have conflict (challenge) and tension derived from that. Many stories benefit from being within a genere without being slaved to it.

I think that "meaningfully" is in the eye of the beholder.

-Marco
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contracycle
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2005, 05:12:34 AM »

Is such "story gaming" an actually observed phenomenon?  The case of a group of immersed players girrving on Narr bangs but with a GM who feels this is escaping their "control" seems like a classis Sim/Nar agenda split.

So as far as I am concerned, until such time as a functional "story mode" can be claimed in some way, the situation is already described in GNS as an agenda conflict, whether skillfully managed or otherwise.
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Storn
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2005, 05:20:28 AM »

Quote
I think I meant something in between. You're right -- this terminology is imprecise, and does need focus. Just to clear up the initial (and basically not very important) question, I think I basically meant:



Quote
That is, we should talk about really existing story as a thing, rather than deploying the overly-broad and overly-general term "story" which is so prone to being misunderstood or meaning different things to different people.


No it doesn't.

"Story" works fine as a definition precisely because it is imprecise.  It has for literature, movies, even interpertive dance or music.  The song "Papa was a rolling stone" has a story.  So does War & Peace.  Just because one is music, the other a huge novel doesn't make either story invalid or a non-story.  Just because one is small and the other huge doesn't make a difference.  Game groups devoting time to lots of character flavor and day to day activity or groups that have tons of dice rolling and combat and no flavor... makes NO difference.  Both are stories.

Who cares if you have a different interpertation of what is story than I do?  Good!  That exploration of what is different makes for an interesting conversation.  And story is not always a thing... it can be a Process, especially in gaming, where there may be multiple co-authors...  In my opinion, it is precisely this *negotiation* of what the story is going to be within the group that creates that evening's session and thereby, that story.

I agree with Marco and Chris... Hack and Slash will generate story, through player actions and reactions, the interpertation of the dice and the group effort WILL LEAD TO A STORY.  Probalby bore the pants off of me, but it is still a story.

When it comes to RPG, story will happen.  The DEGREE it will happen will vary from session to session, group to group, game system to game system.

But it doesn't matter, IMO, if you are Gamist, Narr, or Sim, Story will happen to your RPGing.

Sure, it is a broad definition.  But I think this continual parsing of terms is not healthy for discussion.  There is a real chance of missing the forest for all the trees.

Remember something very key about the World of Darkness and Vampire in the beginning.... the term "storytelling system" was as much MARKETING as it was labeling.  Really not all that high falutin'... it really just came down to some good, smart marketing.
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contracycle
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« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2005, 05:27:21 AM »

Yes, Storn, you are making my argument for me.  I have been suggesting that any sequence of events can be seen as a story for about 2 years now.  Furthermore, it is precisely on this basis that I claim the term is virtually useless: if it does not matter what your agenda is, and any sequence of events will do, then it is impossible to have a disucssion about GOOD story, and it is impossible to have a serious discussion about structuring events in G and S without that analysis being polluted by the story model.

Thats why it should be limited to Narr IMO, or discussed only in the context of structured story with the usual technical features.  You say above that story works perfectly well for other mdeia but in fact your are mistaken - all those media have their own technical jargon.  The loose usage of story is preempting that level of procedural analysis on our part.  When constructing a play to be performed, you must discuss it in terms of the techniques of play performance, not discuss the elements of your story.
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Storn
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« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2005, 06:06:46 AM »

Quote
you must discuss it in terms of the techniques of play performance, not discuss the elements of your story.


bulpucky.  "must" is a strong word.

You can certainly discuss a play in precisely the same terms as any other media.  

The ebb and flow of the story.  The opening, the middle, the end.  Main characters, supporting characters, environment.  Conflict.  Color (yes, music and written words can have color) Resolution.  Subplot.  Theme.  

Doesn't matter right now if I'm talking about a play, a comic, a roleplaying session, a movie, a song or even *gasp* an illustration.

Certainly, each media has its own technical jargon.  Because each media has its own challenges that are different.  The demands of Swan Lake are different than teh demands of Death of a Salesman.

Your procedral analysis has to take BOTH into account, the common terms for ALL stories... as well as the technical jargon of that particular media... or you don't have much of an analysis.  You just ignored the things that are common.


Bringing it back to role playing.  Player X leans on a novel approach/model and wants long, liesurely epics.  Player Y thinks of comic book pacing model and wants stacatto, flurries of action and angle.  Player Z thinks TV and Movies and wants framing, visuals described.  None of them are wrong.  Each of them can frame their Role Playing with  any of those influences.  All of those approaches can be really useful in RPG situations.


AS for talking about GOOD story, you are really talking about good CRAFT... again, IMO, this doesn't preempt talking with loose terms.  Good movies, tv, comics, books, illustration and role playing game sessions have many things in common.  We need to acknowledge when they work and when they don't.  And a lot it is personal preference... and that has to be acknowledged too.

But Craft is particular to that media.  The Craft of dance is quite different than the Craft of movies.  The Craft of Role Playing seems similar to novels, comics, tv, movies... but that wee "interaction" thing really makes it considerably different.  

I can tell you if a peice of artwork is *crafted* well, regardless of whether I like it or not.  I can tell you if a game session was crafted well, regardless if I liked it or not.  Novels?  Not so good at telling... I"m not much of a writer and I don't dwell on the craft of writing.  But in artwork, you can have GREAT artwork with lousy craft, sometimes deliberately so.

And great Craft doesn't necessarily mean great Art.  But it is a good way to bet.

So lets talk about the Craft of Role Playing on this forum.  Here's the thing about Craft... it rests on Rules of Thumb... not hard, fast rules.
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contracycle
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« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2005, 06:29:51 AM »

Quote from: Storn

bulpucky.  "must" is a strong word.


Indeed

Quote

You can certainly discuss a play in precisely the same terms as any other media.  The ebb and flow of the story.  The opening, the middle, the end.  Main characters, supporting characters, environment.  Conflict.  Color (yes, music and written words can have color) Resolution.  Subplot.  Theme.


Lets assume its a play.  Which characters are on the stage when the curtain rises?  What is the last scene before the intermission that closes the first act?  Does character A enter stage left or stage right?

Quote

Your procedral analysis has to take BOTH into account, the common terms for ALL stories... as well as the technical jargon of that particular media... or you don't have much of an analysis.  You just ignored the things that are common.


No, the things that are common to all stories should be discussed in terms of inversal story charcterisitics and features.  But the actual production of a work, in this case a game, must be able to discuss its own process and aims and methods.  We cannot use terms suitable for sim if the sim model contorts to make itself story-like, thius concealing the very specifics we need to discuss.

Quote

But Craft is particular to that media.  The Craft of dance is quite different than the Craft of movies.  The Craft of Role Playing seems similar to novels, comics, tv, movies... but that wee "interaction" thing really makes it considerably different.  


Fine - I accept craft as a suitable term here.  But how then are we to discuss the Craft of Sim, if we do so in terms of story?  I'm well aware that the interaction thing is very very different and indeed that is one of the main things that the term "story" obscures.

Knowing the story of a given piece is only a tiny chunk of the activity of actually producing it as a live work.  Now you also have to figure out how to communicate it.
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Storn
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« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2005, 06:54:20 AM »

Quote
you must discuss it in terms of the techniques of play performance, not discuss the elements of your story.



the Craft of Sim, the way I see it, still has to take Story into consideration... and yes, I'm talking about my loose, messy, universal term.

Why?

Because Sim is a Rule of Thumb, a predilection, a "want" to have a world that is detailed and has internal logic and the exploration of that world... not an all-encasing mindset of a gamer.  

I've rejected the GNS model for some time, because I think every roleplayer is G and N and S simutaneosly.  You cannot do all of them at the same time and be roleplaying.  Ever.  That is my theory.

I'll reiterate that theory.

You cannot play a game without rules.  5 people can tell a story around a table without rules... but it ain't a game.  So everyone has a little Gamist in them.

You cannot have a game session w/o Narrative (an order of events)... even if it is random roll on a wandering monster chart, that imposes a Narrative on the group story.  "We fought a demon, then some gnolls" is a narrative.  So everyone has a little Narr in them.

You cannot have a Narrative without a structure, an environment.  Some degree of simulation for the group to agree upon is needed.  So everyone has a little Sim in them.

Now, folks fall more heavily into one of the GNS camps and I think GNS is great as vocabulary.  But since I believe that nobody can be ONLY G or ONLY N or S... then GNS terms are RULES OF THUMB.

Since we are then talking about Rules of Thumb and Role Playing Game sessions... a Simulationist still needs STORY.  Therefore, we can still talk about the craft of Story, both universal and media specific, and still impact the Sim leaning person.


Now.  How to Craft a good session for a Sim?  That is a different question but very important.  

I'm a good GM.  I have a predominately Sim player.  My suggestion is to let them have a lot of input on the world.  Let them flesh out details, subject to GM review, of course, sometimes the details could derail a plotline or introduce an element that is not needed.  Come up with things to explore for that character, whether it is the next valley in fantasy, or the next cool hacking program in Cyberpunk.  We can discuss game mechanics, does the Hacking rules support that desire for Player Sim to explore, be surprised, and have input?  Or does it stifle such by being too cut and dry.

There.  Now I'm talking about the Craft of being a GM.
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contracycle
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« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2005, 07:14:00 AM »

Quote from: Storn

Now, folks fall more heavily into one of the GNS camps and I think GNS is great as vocabulary.  But since I believe that nobody can be ONLY G or ONLY N or S... then GNS terms are RULES OF THUMB.


Well I sympathise with that position; I don;t think individuals hold to one CA relentlessly, and can even switch in or out.  But that is not in fact relevant to this point.

Quote

Since we are then talking about Rules of Thumb and Role Playing Game sessions... a Simulationist still needs STORY.  Therefore, we can still talk about the craft of Story, both universal and media specific, and still impact the Sim leaning person.


Fine.  I've already acknowleged that story is nearly universal to any sequence of events; and that the Craft of Story can indeed be discussed.  Byt my question is this: when do we get into disucssing the Craft of sim?  

Quote

 Come up with things to explore for that character, whether it is the next valley in fantasy, or the next cool hacking program in Cyberpunk.  We can discuss game mechanics, does the Hacking rules support that desire for Player Sim to explore, be surprised, and have input?  Or does it stifle such by being too cut and dry.


Fine.  Now where is Story in any of this stuff?  Sim is not story.  Sim does not look like story or behave like story.  If you told a narrative in which a character entered a valley and looked around and then entered another valley, it would be a BAD story even in the most charitable view.

And, would all these techniques be appropriate to a Narr group?  Probably not - thus what you are describing are Sim concerns, not GMing concerns, generally speaking.  Which is exactly why it is innapropriate to discuss sim in terms of story, becuase it prioduces the wrong impression of what should work and what not.
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Marco
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« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2005, 07:38:13 AM »

I think the problem here is this:

Sim-A: Story is very unlikely (I go from one valley to another)
Sim-B: Story is very likely (we are committed to playing a game that will come together as though it was a movie--even though we do not connect with the premise as players)

Gareth: am I right in that you don't believe Sim-B exists or is "sim" under GNS?

-Marco
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Silmenume
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« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2005, 08:09:28 AM »

The question once again begs what is meant by "story."

If "story" is broad enough to mean that there is this person who bumps into a series of Situations that he deals with then yes Sim can produce this "type" of story reliably.

If you mean "story" in a more structured sense with a clear beginning, middle, and an end with a central through line (though it need not be Theme) then the answer is Sim-B does not exist.

Sim is "about" manipulating structures from within the SIS and reacting to those very same structural manipulations, story is one type of meta-structure.  They are not one in the same and the first in not geared towards producing the second without much potential player deprotagonization.
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contracycle
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« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2005, 08:16:49 AM »

Quote from: Marco

Gareth: am I right in that you don't believe Sim-B exists or is "sim" under GNS?


Correct.  The only way that a group of people could about achieving Sim-B is to agree to not make any decisions for their characters, especially not sim decisions.
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Marco
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« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2005, 08:18:55 AM »

Okay, so what is happening when the PC's are playing in the Blood Brother's 2 Chainsaw massacre game and the situation is laid out in a fairly story-ish-fashion and they are making decisions to make the product of play be "like a movie" (and grooving on being scared and acting/talking in character and stuff?)

What's the mode of play?

-Marco
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #29 on: February 03, 2005, 05:04:31 PM »

Quote from: Storn
I've rejected the GNS model for some time, because I think every roleplayer is G and N and S simutaneosly.  You cannot do all of them at the same time and be roleplaying.  Ever.  That is my theory.

I think (from your subsequent comments) that you mean "You cannot fail to do all of them at the same time and be roleplaying." That is, you appear to be saying that all three must be active for roleplaying to occur. As you continue,
Quote from: you
I'll reiterate that theory.

You cannot play a game without rules.  5 people can tell a story around a table without rules... but it ain't a game.  So everyone has a little Gamist in them.

You cannot have a game session w/o Narrative (an order of events)... even if it is random roll on a wandering monster chart, that imposes a Narrative on the group story.  "We fought a demon, then some gnolls" is a narrative.  So everyone has a little Narr in them.

You cannot have a Narrative without a structure, an environment.  Some degree of simulation for the group to agree upon is needed.  So everyone has a little Sim in them.

What you're saying makes sense but for one major flaw. The things you describe here are not "Creative Agenda". They are techniques used in play.

A creative agendum is something very like a central goal or motive that drives the player's actions. It is something very like the central concept that the player thinks is "fun" about role playing games.

Some people have great fun killing monsters and taking treasure. I think you've indicated that you would get bored with that rather quickly. I've had players who loved to do that so much I was bored just running the game. On the other hand, I've had great fun taking standardized tests, and most people find them less than enjoyable. I also like getting involved in classroom discussions, debating theory on the Internet, delving into theology--I find these things "fun". I remember hearing of a man who really enjoyed running his own business. That would not be enjoyable to me at all, and I have made every effort to avoid being elected president of Valdron Inc because I don't want to have to do that. We enjoy different kinds of things.

Creative Agendum is that part of the model that points to why the players are enjoying the game. It connects the fact that they are exploring the shared imagined space to the way they explore it, because it directs what it is they want to build in that shared imagined space. Do they want to build challenges that show off how well they can do things? Do they want to build discussions about personally significant issues? Do they want to build fantasy castles in the air, the stuff of daydreams, a place to be and see and otherwise experience? Those are your creative agenda.

People usually do pursue one of the three exclusively, or at least primarily. Many think that the others are "wrong", or "not roleplaying". There are a lot of us who enjoy all three--I have been arguing that it is possible to enjoy all three since System Does Matter appeared at Gaming Outpost and started all public discussion of the ideas. I do enjoy all three, and will shift between them in play.

But it is extremely rare for anyone to be pursuing all three agenda simultaneously, because by their very definition they are The Thing you're after at a given moment.

You've rejected a straw man, Stron. The theory does not identify gamism, narrativism, or simulationism with the caricatures you've presented.

--M. J. Young
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