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Author Topic: CA not simultaneous... what of sequential variance?  (Read 5279 times)
PlotDevice
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« on: July 27, 2005, 09:32:30 PM »

I would like to pose a question, if I may. Creative Agendas of different kinds cannot be satisfied simultaneously. What of manifesting them in the one gaming group sequentially, using the same ruleset?

Hypothetical: Slayers d20 / DnD

Reward cycle 1: kill the monsters leading up to the end of level bad guy using clever spells and tactics. Get XP -> go up a level.

Reward Cycle 2: Fight the end of level bad guy, who part the way through the combat reveals that he has taken the families of the heroes hostage. Start using Psychological warfare rules: Theme of the Price of Victory gets resolved by second guesssing that the villian is not as villiainous as they are pretending, and convincing them to turn themself in. Reward is solution of the overall problem without resorting to violence, and the gaining of the end of level bad guy as an ally against other problems.

Is this an adequate example of gamist then narrativist CA manifest by the same group using the one ruleset?

Warm regards,
Evan
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Evangelos (Evan) Paliatseas

"Do not meddle in the affairs of Ninjas, for they are subtle and quick to radioactively decapitate."
Alan
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2005, 09:43:36 PM »

Hi Evan,

So, you want to systematize incoherance?  I think it's long accepted that CA supported by a game can change.  I don't see why it can't change from one reward cycle to another.  As another poster was saying in another thread, D&D3e actually can hae different rewards from different aspects of the system.  The thing is, both of these designs will lead to grinding of enjoyment gears as the players shift expectations between the environments each reward system creates.  That lessens the enjoyment of play.

Incidentally, your second reward cycle is not narrativist.  It doesn't reward Story Now, it rewards non-violent solution.  Could be gamist.
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
PlotDevice
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2005, 09:53:43 PM »

Hi Alan!

In terms of what I want: Systematising incoherance sounds like an interesting take on it. I guess on one level I am trying to understand what exactly is bad about incoherance of CA from one part of a game to another, if all the players are on board for the ride and are aware of what is going on. Other things follow from that if it is a viable premise.

Re: Story Now, I will take that away and try to elucidate the example better, perhaps.

Warm regards,
Evan

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Evangelos (Evan) Paliatseas

"Do not meddle in the affairs of Ninjas, for they are subtle and quick to radioactively decapitate."
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2005, 05:18:58 AM »

Hiya,

The easy and basic answer is "yes." In theory, and probably in practice, role-playing groups could switch over to another CA or even alternate, in sequence. A coherent CA applies (if it happens at all) to an instance of play. If we're talking sequential instances, then different CAs are certainly possible. You can find some mention of that in the Hybrid section of the Narrativism essay, where I suggest that S-N-S-N is more likely than an S/N hybrid.

The difficulty comes in organizing and transitioning among those instances in such a way that it's not some kind of painful process. We coined a word for this a while ago: "Transition." To date, the most ambitious description of game design along these lines was Scattershot, which was best described as letting the group socially customize the reward system, relative to actions and events in play, as it saw fit. You can find all sorts of postings and argumentation about that in the inactive Scattershot forum. However, since the actual game design never appeared, it remains an idea rather than a thing.

A more focused version, specifically intended to Transition to highly-active Narrativist play, is Robots & Rapiers, which doesn't really fulfill the conditions you're talking about - you should go and bother Ralph to make sure it's done for GenCon, though. The world will be a better place with Robots & Rapiers in it.

Back to what you're describing though, is such a thing, overall, incoherent? Not if the transition is socially and creatively smooth. That would be coherent play, per instance. If, on the other hand (and as I suspect usually plays out), those shifts are hitchy and, for lack of a better word, marginalizing toward the content of the game under the other CA, then each instance is rendered internally less coherent.

Best,
Ron
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2005, 05:55:21 AM »

Coherence is not a function of how many CA's are implemented, but HOW they are implemented.

Given that there are different flavors of Gam, Sim, and Nar, I would even postulate that you can have a game that's 100% Nar and 100% incoherent.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
PlotDevice
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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2005, 06:09:12 AM »

Thanks Ron.

I'll take some time and read Scattershot. Sounds ambitious, more so than I would have attempted. I had a read through of R & R online a couple of months ago, and loved the premise, style and writing. I think it shows real promise as something quite special.

Drat being several thousand kilometers away from GenCon.

Back to what I am describing, myself: supporting everyone being on the same page would be significantly challenging for this kind of game. As Vaxalon has put it "how" this is implemented would be key. I think it could be managed with the right presentation and genre choice... if the system itself was robust enough to support the concepts.

Minor asside: Some of the Actual Play reading I have done about Prime Time Adventures seems to switch between Right to Dream reward and Story Now reward. But that might be more a sign that I need to get a better grasp on those concepts than an astute observation.

An interesting thought excercise for me regardless. Thanks again.

Warm regards,
Evan
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Evangelos (Evan) Paliatseas

"Do not meddle in the affairs of Ninjas, for they are subtle and quick to radioactively decapitate."
PlotDevice
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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2005, 10:46:48 PM »

Just had a bit of a read through the Scattershot forum... very interesting indeed. Hard to navigate, I might add, but some good stuff in there.

Looks like the concept of Transition was designed as a semi-covert attempt to adapt players familiar with simulationist framework RPGs into a different play agenda.

I think conceptually the idea has promise, but the execution strikes me as weak in a key area: It gives avenue and rewards the players for their own hidden agendas individually. I think this might contribute to incoherant game play, because the system does not do enough to assist players into directing their inclinations toward a group agenda/experience. I think this factor is a fundamental result of the covert nature of the design objective.

I'll muse on that a bit. Making a relevant point of it: I think the concept of Transition shouldn't have the covert element if it is to be successful.

Warm regards,
Evan
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Evangelos (Evan) Paliatseas

"Do not meddle in the affairs of Ninjas, for they are subtle and quick to radioactively decapitate."
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2005, 05:43:58 AM »

Hi Evan,

I totally agree with you. A lot of my dialogue with Fang was aimed at making the whole thing more explicit. Then again, as I see it, he was working from a very late-1980s viewpoint, based on playing tons of Champions at that time, in which the primary skill of a GM was to make sure that diverse agendas among players were thrown enough bones per session to keep them coming back. (My concern with that is that a person never gets anything but a bit of bone.) It is possible that covert mechanics of this kind were what he wanted, no ifs or buts, so there you are.

Still, there were some great ideas in there. I really liked the bonus dice mechanic, for which the standards were to evolve directly out of the social interactions during play itself - a DIY reward standard. My old Champions games would have been 1000 times improved by such a thing.

Now, to go back to your question and point, any such approach to design/play is going to carry the risk of Incoherence. To put that in context, and to back way up, any role-playing carries a risk of Incoherence just as any social leisure activity might break down over diverse agendas of whatever sort. But yes, if you deliberately consider Transition as a design/play goal, then the risk goes up.

The question is, is it worth doing at all? Ralph, for example, has whipped Robots & Rapiers into a very streamlined, very wickedly-pointed approach which makes no mystery at all about what it's up to. So is the curren design even Transitional, any more? It's more Narrativist from the get-go, now ... although it does present, I think, a great route to enjoyment for people who hear (for instance) me say "I won't railroad ya" but don't believe it. I think you'll really like these rules, but I can't say that they start by rewarding Sim and then switch to rewarding Narr.

As the "bad old man" extremist, I'm afraid I tend to stay with, "F'god's sake, just focus" as my own approach, but in all fairness, that's just me. Answering the question, is Transition worth it as a design/play goal, is an individiual thing.

Best,
Ron
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