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Author Topic: The FitM pattern at other "scales"  (Read 4874 times)
Gordon C. Landis
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« on: May 31, 2001, 05:22:00 PM »

I've been thinking a lot about Ron's focus on linear vs. non-linear resolution mechanics.  It took me a little work to wrap my brain around Fortune in the middle (FitM), but I can get there - at least, when I map it into a "state general intent", "add fortune element", "decide on specific outcome" pattern.  I've seen some more . . . radical implementations that seem to place less importance (even NO importance) on the "state general intent" segment, and THAT begins to mystify me - it stops feeling like an RPG at that point.

So . . . I'm thinking, maybe the FitM mode can be expanded to higher-level story issues than action/conflict resolution.  Maybe it could be used to determine the "significance" and other elenents of a proposed scene as well.  There was an example somewhere 'round here about a sniper shooting at the players, and the question was asked (paraphrasing) "what's this for?  Just shake up the players and let 'em know someone's out to get 'em?  Have a real tense/suspensefull scene?"  The answer to those questions would determine how you handle it.  Well, what if the players had some input into that?  Into what KIND of scene it is?  I'm really kinda stretching here, but I can almost-envision something like:

GM: "OK, you're making your way out of the stadium.  The crowds have thinned, and it's no longer hard to keep track of each other.  We're going to have a MINOR, VIOLENT, LOW REWARD OPPORTUNITY incident here . . ." (Set the next scene, then a statement of general intent, then pause, allowing the players to intervene with Fortune - or Drama or Karma, I guess - based modifications)
Player 1:  "We're in my old neighborhood, and I still haven't come clean with my ex - I have an UNRESOLVED PERSONAL PLOTLINE here, and I want to bring her into this scene" (followed by a roll to see if he's "allowed", or in what way it happens, or a descriptor burned to make it so, or etc. etc.)
GM:  "That's going to raise the incident from MINOR to SIGNIFICANT . . . "
Player 2:  "OK, a SIGNIFICANT, VIOLENT incident!  My SENSE OF DANGER can kick in . . . "

Hmm, that's lapsing back into situational resolution system . . . anyway, I don't have a clear enough picture of the elements to take this too much further right now. Going with just the sniper/ex segments, maybe we now have a scene where the ex could get shot as she recognizes player one and dashes towrds him (determination as to if she's hit as appropriate to your genre/system).  Or maybe the GM can make the ex a little wacko and SHE's the shooter (manipulated by the real baddies who are the Conspiracy against the PCs).  The GM now has to respond to player input, but in a somewhat structured way.

Hopefully there's enough here to show my inkling that it might be possible to design things such that the very nature of events could be somewhat explictly determined in a "general posit", "system complication/modification/validation", "details determined" manner . . .

And that's it.

Gordon C. Landis
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Supplanter
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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2001, 07:15:00 PM »

I'm not convinced that fortune-in-the-middle is inherently narrativist. (FTM, I'm not convinced Author mode is inherently narrativist. Where do travelogues come from?)

I completely agree that fortune-in-the-middle could preclude a particular flavor of what Ron calls Actor mode and I remain convinced can be better called Possessor or Immersive. At least preclude it for some players some of the time - sometimes one can two-track one's mind after all, so the part of it that is not "in-character" could come up with continuations in service of the part that is in character. And I'm sure Ron is correct that the most striking examples of FITM extant are in Story-oriented games.

But. Avoiding the E-word for the moment, let us imagine a flavor of simulationism that prizes um, experiencing a particular setting. (Different e-word!) In this mode, nuances of personality are not crucial - if anything, action-focused, outer-directed characters are prized because they will materially interact with more of the game world than, oh, the sort of navel-gazers I've been known to play.

I can't see any reason in the world why FITM couldn't work for such a campaign. And I think there's a game out there already that could be played this way: Hero Wars. (The complication is that Glorantha's mythic structure collapses some level of story and simulation into each other.)

As has been said, the idea behind GNS is, when push comes to shove, which way do you jump? Given Intention/Fortune/Continuation, continuation presents player and GM with a choice. It's a decision to be made in an RPG is all it really is, and it would seem possible to make it in favor of either game, story or world/character goals.

Heck, I think FITM gets used in actual wargames. Seems to me that in Fifth Corps (going WAY back) and other games, you get results that winner or loser get to make material decisions about that seriously alter the flow of the game. You get a result of, say, " - / 6," and the defender gets the option of coming up with some combination of retreat distance and combat factor expenditures adding to six. 3 step-losses and 3 hexes retreated or 1 step-loss and 5 hexes retreated or 6 combat factors and not one inch of ground given. As representations of "what really happened" in a battle, those represent significantly different decisions, all made after the roll.

In a gamist RPG, you could state intentions and roll. You could get results in a number of defeat levels which represent the number of a balanced list of assets you have brought to the combat from which you must choose what to part. If the RPG emphasizes tactical combinations of posture, equipment and traits, and you succeed by coming up with the best possible combination for the current situation, then deciding which assets to part with if you get three defeat levels is gamist, and it's FITM.

It seems to me that FITM may currently show up mostly in narrative games but that its presence or absence is not integral to any of the three modes.

Best,


Jim

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Paul Czege
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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2001, 07:15:00 PM »

Hey Gordon,

...I'm thinking, maybe the FitM mode can be expanded to higher-level story issues than action/conflict resolution...what if the players had some input into that? Into what KIND of scene it is?

I'm thinking that FitM by definition expands action/conflict resolution to higher-level story issues.

Consider an example of conflict resolution for a Sorcerer character using Cover that Ron wrote recently to a thread in the G.O. Sorcerer forum:

Say you have "undercover cop" for your Cover score. Do you announce that you're looking around the bars and seedy dives, then roll, and if successful, wait for the GM to tell you what happens? No! You announce a desired OUTCOME of your investigation, including perhaps even the specific information you want, perhaps even inventing an NPC or two, complete with their specialties of knowledge. Making your roll creates them into the game.


It's similar to some stuff I wrote to the "Theatrix in Action" thread in Actual Play, except it goes further in allowing the player to invent details for the outcome. See how it takes an ordinary attempt by a player to gather information and turns it into a higher story issue? By definition, FitM advances the story, even when it's being used for simple resolution of combat maneuvers. It changes the nature of the relationship between the characters on some level.

I also don't think you need to genericize intent at all; statements like "MINOR, VIOLENT, LOW REWARD OPPORTUNITY" might seem like an abstraction that creates tension for the player about the ultimate outcome of the conflict resolution, but I think in practice even very specific descriptions of desired outcome from the player will be changed by the GM's interpretation of the result of Fortune, and that'll be the tension for the player.

See what I mean?

Paul
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2001, 08:55:00 PM »

Paul,

I may just be too old-fashioned, but much of this seems like "fortune at the end" FatE rather than FitM to me - without that (perhaps unnecessary to some) generalization to open with, it just doesn't "feel" like an RPG for me.  Too much just-made-up-out-of-practically-nothing, not enough follows-from-the-game-structure.  Maybe if I tried it, that would change, but what I was thinking here is that if we kept the "middleness" of FitM in something like the "announce desired OUTCOME" you describe, the feel I crave would be preserved.

hmm . . . maybe I want to quote some of your post after all:

>I also don't think you need to genericize intent at all;
>statements like "MINOR, VIOLENT, LOW REWARD OPPORTUNITY"
>might seem like an abstraction that creates tension
>for the player about the ultimate outcome of the conflict
>resolution, but I think in practice even very specific
>descriptions of desired outcome from the player will be
>changed by the GM's interpretation of the result of
>Fortune, and that'll be the tension for the player.

It's not just tension about the outcome, but control over the nature of the  . . . "scene"? that I'm looking to create.  The thing that makes FitM work for me is that flat-out rewrites of an established (or even vocalized) occurence are less likely - more often, you'll move from general to specific smoothly, never encountering a detail that "violates" the boundry of the initial parameters.  Let me try this:

Top (for now) Generality:  GM says "you've got the rest of the day open - what do you do?"

Player adds detail: "I'm going to use my Undercover Cop Cover to investigate [perhaps a specific person, perhaps a general issue, or perhaps litterally just in general to see what he stirs up]

There is now an opportunity for a "mechanics intervention", if you choose, which could impact/effect what's possible at the next level.

Next level generality:  GM could say "OK, how do you do that?"  That could lead down a fairly standard chain of linear resolution steps.  Or, at the other extreme the GM says "Tell me what happens" - seems like that can become FatE, leading to the possible (and undesireable, to me) "no that didn't happen - here's what happens instead".  I like the idea of something in the middle of these two, where the GM says (e.g., and possibly after some rolls/mechanics opportunities) "You make your way to the bar and sure enough, one of your local stoolies is there.  He's got a nervous look about him you've seen before - he knows something, and is afraid someone might KNOW he knows, and he can't decide if this is an opportunity to make a few bucks or a dangereous circumstance that could get him beat-up  - again."

Now, the player can attempt to add more details within that framework ("He knows where they've taken Lisa!  I grab him in an arm lock" - pause for Fortune or whatever to intervene - GM could say "he's very wary - you'll need to burn a descriptor", or any mechanic you want to intervene, no strictly Fortune-only - "march him into the mens room, and hold his face against the broken mirror, and grill him as long as it takes and as hard as it takes to get him to tell me.")  Again, mechanics can be applied, and the players assumption/assertion as to the NPC knowing about Lisa can be tested - if the mechanic says "NO", it doesn't invalidate the general situation we've set up, just the proposed detail (e.g., GM says "Nope, he's nervous about some drug deal he stands to make a few bucks off of").

The "avoid rewritting" thing is important to me, but you know what?  I think I've rambled off my main thought, which is that this "in the middle" stuff (as I outline it here, not the "in the end" version that makes me so uncomfortable) could be applied not just to resolution, but to "scene"(? again) content/significance/relevance as well.  E.G., the GM "intends" the sniper scene to be a minor, "unrolled" (no mechanics intervention incident), but the Player somehow intervenes and "raises the stakes" so the scene now becomes one where death really is on the table.

And I've obviously been at work too long, my query is NOT going to finsh in a sane time period, so I'll just leave it there.  Hope I clarified as much as I confused about my thinking . . .

Gordon C. Landis
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2001, 10:22:00 PM »

Hey folks,

This is a very rich, dense thread, so forgive me if I only address a teeny point or two at the moment. More later, I promise.

Jim wrote,
" I'm not convinced that fortune-in-the-middle is inherently narrativist. (FTM, I'm not convinced Author mode is inherently narrativist. Where do travelogues come from?)"

FitM (to borrow Gordon's shortener) is NOT inherently narrativist; it is, however, definitely not simulationist. I have begun to think that gamism and narrativist have a great deal in common in very broad ways, although they swiftly diverge in more specific ways. FitM would be one of those broad areas of congruence. A synapomorphy low on the phylogeny, if you will.

I've also suggested in the past that Gamism and Narrativism also share a general incompatibility (not total, but general) with Actor stance. [By the way, I'm perfectly happy with Possessor or Immersive, although I do think that the latter term is used for too many purposes in general RPG parlance.]

Gordon, I think I'm with you that too much softening of "intent" at the beginning of the announcement/resolution process is a quick way to madness. In practice, I've found that people work out a comfort zone of how "loose" they want to be before the dice hit the table (or whatever other Fortune method is employed). That zone varies from group to group, but as long as there's SOME retroactive specifying going on after the Fortune is consulted, we've got FitM happening.

Again, all, my apologies for not getting into all the great points and topics raised so far.

Best,
Ron
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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2001, 07:56:00 PM »

Quote

FitM (to borrow Gordon's shortener) is NOT inherently narrativist; it is, however, definitely not simulationist.


That's exactly what I ain't buying. I think FITM and author mode are both possible features of many kinds of simulationist game. I agree that FITM is problematic for Possessor mode, and actually that's only if the player is expected to provide the continuation. And there is a certain type of simulationist GM who may have problems allowing author mode - the kind who believes the best guardian against bias is maximal quantification and use of the rational side of the brain. But on the core test of, when push comes to shove, which way do you jump, there's no reason why a FITM continuation couldn't jump to the side of "the integrity of the game world," or the integrity of the characters.

Best,


Jim
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2001, 08:19:00 AM »

Jim,

I think you and I are going to have to resolve an issue, sooner or later. It's based on your post above and also to your reference to "simulationist literature."

Basically, a great deal of what you call Simulationist, I think is Narrativist.

The following are included in my definition of the term.
- If one gets a story through free-associating.
- If one gets a story by setting stuff up in such a way that a conflict MUST be resolved.
- If one gets a story by focusing on setting elements ("plausibility," "consistency") that lead to conflict resolution.
- If one gets a story by improvising, rather than pre-planning.

Therefore, for me, one branch of Narrativism is defined as "set it all up and see how it works out." As long as "it" contains substantial meat for Premise and Theme, then what "works out" is story. This is not Simulationism in my book, not in any possible way.

Traces of this disagreement flow back through all of our correspondence, from GO to e-mail.

If I'm reading your points correctly, you and I disagree on a level that reaches all the way down to what Creativity and Authorship really are. That leaves us with three choices:
1) to recognize exactly where the other stands, and therefore to reserve objections that simply resurrect the disagreement (perhaps pointing out its presence, though)
2) to resolve the disagreement, if possible - this is best done privately
3) to continue to run smack into one another, agreeing on just about everything and then getting blind-sided AGAIN on this very point, forever

I'm pretty sure we can do #1 or #2, although I think either one requires some one-on-one discussion.

Best,
Ron
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2001, 04:34:00 AM »

Quote

If I'm reading your points correctly, you and I disagree on a level that reaches all the way down to what Creativity and Authorship really are. That leaves us with three choices:
1) to recognize exactly where the other stands, and therefore to reserve objections that simply resurrect the disagreement (perhaps pointing out its presence, though)
2) to resolve the disagreement, if possible - this is best done privately
3) to continue to run smack into one another, agreeing on just about everything and then getting blind-sided AGAIN on this very point, forever


Oh I don't know, 3 sounds fun. :wink:

Anyway, I'm interested in 1 and 2(I suspect we end up with 1). Let's use the private message venue right here on the Forge, if that's okay, rather than e-mail.

Quote

Therefore, for me, one branch of Narrativism is defined as "set it all up and see how it works out." As long as "it" contains substantial meat for Premise and Theme, then what "works out" is story. This is not Simulationism in my book, not in any possible way.


Heh. You're accusing me of latent Narrativism! :wink: I'm intrigued, half of me wants to get all post-structural and use the "h-word;" half of me is prepared to grant that there may be something to it. And a third half is convinced that down in Alternate Phylogeny or thereabouts someone posting under your name said a ground condition of narrativism was that players and GM must be playing with the conscious plan of producing a story.

As I read the above, it implies that you would call Amberway II (http://www.highclearing.com/amberway2) a narrativist campaign. True?

Best,


Jim


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[ This Message was edited by: Supplanter on 2001-06-03 08:36 ]
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2001, 02:37:00 PM »

Hi Jim,

Based on what I've read at the website (and I go there every so often, incidentally), TENTATIVELY, yes. I can't actually comment on the real play.

See you in the privates (messages, that is; ha! that was adolescent),

Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2001, 09:59:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-06-02 12:19, Ron Edwards wrote:

Therefore, for me, one branch of Narrativism is defined as "set it all up and see how it works out." As long as "it" contains substantial meat for Premise and Theme, then what "works out" is story. This is not Simulationism in my book, not in any possible way.



What if "it" for me just requires an interesting world and characters. No particularly driving premise or theme. Would that be Simulationist? That's what I strive for.

Recently I've started down a line of investigation that considers whether the use of certain traditionally Narrativist tools wouldn't in fact make for good Simulationist tools as well. I think that there might be players out there (I think I'd be one) that would appreciate a RPG in which the idea was to create a world and interesting characters (without necessarily addressing story as a priority) using what is referred to as authorial or directorial power and FitM. The idea being to use these abilities to more collaboratively create the simulation sought for. As mentioned previously, this would definitely not appeal to the class of Simulationists who like to be "immersed" (I know you don't like that term, but what would worlk better here? Am I trying to say Possessor mode?).

What follows is complicated. This game would by your definition be essentially and functionally the same as a narrativist game except for the intent. This is not to say that the mechanics would be designed identically, as that would create an actual narrativist game. No, I think that you might have to further tighten the Simulationist definition beyond those two criteria. Mostly at this point I'm left with something like, "Mechanics which through successful design application fulfil the intent to simulate a game world and characters" which is, of course, begging the question. But just as you indicate four points of Narrativist intent above, I could indicate four Simulationist ones. What I'm saying is that I don't see the threefold styles being as tightly linked to such design elements as Stance and D/F/K methods as you seem to have indicated.

Here you can once again state that I might just be a Narrativist who has forsaken his storytelling responsibilities. But I don't feel that way. This mode seems as ligitimate as others to me.

To illuminate the point, when I read I can forsake plot for the "What if" aspect. I love Robert Heinlien, who admittedly has thin plots. I'm more interested in his characters and the wierd and interesting things that happen to them on the way as well as the philosophical ideas that these actions raise and address. In RPGs this is practically my sole intent. Not Story, which I'm neither really good at nor interested in.

I think the current mechanical definition of Simulationism is part of the problem in the debates recently, IMHO.

Have I gotten way off base here, or do I have a valid POV?

Mike Holmes

[ This Message was edited by: Mike Holmes on 2001-06-04 14:02 ]
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« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2001, 11:20:00 AM »

Mike -

So far as I can tell, you've moved far enough in a narrativist direction that, um, a rose by any other name is smelling as sweet.

Specifically, I think that the GM -NOT- producing a story and just having a detailed enough setting that the players can come up with their own story based on setting detail is a perfectly valid narrativist methodology (so long as they actually do come up with a story of some sort, rather than just wander randomly ...)

                                   - James
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Dav
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« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2001, 11:20:00 AM »

Mike:

If I may jump in to add a couple cents worth.

I think what you are describing is definitely striding the line between Sim and Nar styles, from certain points of view, however, I would still place you rather firmly in the Nar tradition.  I say this mainly due to a few reasons, based upon a couple assumptions:

1) All RPG campaigns, chronicles, whatever... adventures are based upon a principle of conflict.  This is similar to storytelling or writing, it all boils down to conflict.  Yes, Man v. Nature and so on.

2) You are focusing your storylines down to a more internal conflict (Man v. Himself) in your stories.  You grab a schlock of people, toss 'em over there, then say "run about".  (Admittedly, phrased much better than this)  This is still a narrativist structure.  I would suspect (though, since I'm not you, who knows) that many of the games depend upon how the characters deal with external influences on an internal level.  This is a narrativist thought, even though the surrounding structure of the story could be said to be simulationist in some ways.  

Due to this, I would classify your description as narrativist.  

I find that the core idea of conflict within the scope of a game is the determining factor for defining the facet of play it falls into.  And, while I agree that stance and DFK does not have to be instrinsically linked to GNS, it must be admitted that certain forms favor certain attitudes.  

If we stand about looking for loopholes, we will stand for eternity.  In every law, there is the exception.  To that end, we can only establish a general rule.  Half of the fun of game design is shattering the paradigms, certainly.  (Look at Robin Laws)  

I think that resting upon the 90% rule for acceptance (statisticians, set-up your null-hypotheses and confidence levels now) would be a fine level.  

(To quote from Visa:  "Okay, moment over")

Dav

After reading James' post I feel like the governor of Pennsylvania after hearing the Gettysburg Address...

[ This Message was edited by: Dav on 2001-06-04 15:21 ]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2001, 11:40:00 AM »

Mike,

I'll weigh in with the suggestion that perhaps you ARE interested in plots - but plots that mainly concern the demonstration of "what this guy is like." Here's the guy - here's a pickle he's in - how does he react?

Why is this not Simulationist/immersion/Actor stance stuff? Because given FitM, given Author/Director stance decisions, the character MUST gain a certain didactic, demonstrative power (theme) for the viewer. His decisions MEAN something, because he's not "a cop," "a space ranger," or "an apocalypse survivor," he's JOHN the cop, or whatever. And John is different from just anyone, and I do mean specifically the "everyman" version of John along with the space-ranger John.

That's a Heinlein hero - we see him or her deal with an issue based on character/personality that bluntly aren't very common; these elements of character are uniform across Heinlein's fiction and gain thematic, didactic weight both within and among his stories. Basically, unless one finds an element of correctness, inspiration, and moral oomph in those aspects of personality, Heinlein's fiction is unreadable.

Side note: in most cases, e.g. Lazarus Long, we get big monologues to cement this insight in case we didn't get it ourselves.

I think it is precisely those elements of game-mechanics that I'm associating with Narrativism that permit this protagonist status to exist for characters. They are not "just" characters in a situation - they are the characters that matter most to WATCH, as protagonists, in this situation. What they do IS story, in a way that cannot reliably be expected to happen in RPGs that lack these mechanics.

Best,
Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2001, 11:41:00 AM »

Jim wrote,

"Heh. You're accusing me of latent Narrativism!"

Damn it. He's onto me.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2001, 08:33:00 AM »

Hi Ron,

Quote

On 2001-06-04 15:40, Ron Edwards wrote:
Mike,

I'll weigh in with the suggestion that perhaps you ARE interested in plots - but plots that mainly concern the demonstration of "what this guy is like." Here's the guy - here's a pickle he's in - how does he react?


Actually, I'm usually just as interested in how the world will react back, or the interface between the two. Still, I suppose that could be considered plot by the same argument above, but...

Quote

Why is this not Simulationist/immersion/Actor stance stuff? Because given FitM, given Author/Director stance decisions, the character MUST gain a certain didactic, demonstrative power (theme) for the viewer. His decisions MEAN something, because he's not "a cop," "a space ranger," or "an apocalypse survivor," he's JOHN the cop, or whatever. And John is different from just anyone, and I do mean specifically the "everyman" version of John along with the space-ranger John.


So Simulationist games can't mean anything? Are you saying that if a Simulationist game has a meaning that it just became Narrativist? Even if it did so as a byproduct of an intent to create something else, namely a Simulation?

You're right that all the characters in my games are not carbon copies or cutouts, they more resemble real people, or figures from fiction. Isn't that what Simulationists are trying to achieve? Wouldn't undifferentiated characters lack verisimilitude? In that respect, of course Simulationism and Narrativism are identical. You've said so yourself before.

Quote

That's a Heinlein hero - we see him or her deal with an issue based on character/personality that bluntly aren't very common; these elements of character are uniform across Heinlein's fiction and gain thematic, didactic weight both within and among his stories. Basically, unless one finds an element of correctness, inspiration, and moral oomph in those aspects of personality, Heinlein's fiction is unreadable.

Side note: in most cases, e.g. Lazarus Long, we get big monologues to cement this insight in case we didn't get it ourselves.

I think it is precisely those elements of game-mechanics that I'm associating with Narrativism that permit this protagonist status to exist for characters. They are not "just" characters in a situation - they are the characters that matter most to WATCH, as protagonists, in this situation. What they do IS story, in a way that cannot reliably be expected to happen in RPGs that lack these mechanics.

Best,
Ron


I think you've just defined Simulationism out of existence, or nearly so.

Every character that I have ever seen created for a putatively Simulationist game was designed with a sort of theme and definitely as a protagonist or at least anti-hero, or something.

I think that your non-understanding of Simulationism might just come from a belief that there are people who actually make up characters that are somehow supernormal or something. I'd venture to say that any character that is played is by the act of being played made to be a protagonist, if even in a degenerate way. There may be some rare examples where this is not true, but they would be very much the exception, I'd think. And when you do catch a glimpse of this protagonism in Simulationism, this might lead to your misplaced belief that Simulationists want to avoid Narrativist responsibilities. You might think, "Hey, they do want stories, but they're going about it wrong."

Again, it's the intent that's important. Narrativists intend to make good stories about character interaction, and plot. Simulationists, if they can be said to be wanting stories, can be said to want ones about their character and what happens as they go about whatever they're about in a world that seems somewhat "real". It is that verisimilitude of the interaction (and thus these sorts of "stories") which is the goal, not the stories themselves.

Anectode: I read somewhere somebodies interesting definition of the difference between Story and Plot. I'll attempt to reproduce it. First was an example of a Story without a plot:

A fisherman went fishing one day and caught a talking fish, which begged the fisherman to release it. He ate it instead. While he was gone the fisherman's wife was captured by a demon from the sea and taken to his lair. When the fisherman returned home he figured out that a demon had taken his wife and he went out, found its lair, killed the demon and returned home with his wife.

Now an example of a plot:

A man comes home from to find that his home has been broken into, but nothing seems taken. What is worse, though, is that his pet doberman is unconcious and not breathing. There is blood on the floor, but the doberman doesn't seem to be cut or bleeding from anywhere. The man takes the dog to the vet who discovers that there is something lodged in the dogs throat. He removes the object to discover that is a finger.

I hope I got each more or less right; the first is a native American folktale, and the second is an American urban legend. The point is that for some people plot is not important. For those for whom it is, it is good to know it when you see it. Simulationists don't crave these sorts of things nearly so much as just the interaction that you descibe as "What's This Guy Like Story", or moreso how the guy interacts with the world.

So if you have "Author" or "Director" powers available to the players of a Simulationist game they would be designed with the intent of allowing players to help design a world that had good believability (thus reliving the GM of some of this burden; I've done this for years, and to an extent isn't writing a background just a minor version of this?). The reason I put those in quotes is that I'd probably rename them for a Simulationist game. Something like Creator and Designer, or something; just so that it didn't imply that the power was made available so much for creating stories as for creating a world.

FitM works "as is" to make for more believable combat, IMHO. Again, it will only appeal to a subcategory, but often (not always) more detail ends up producing less realism. What FitM does for a Simulation is to allow for the production of any sort of action (which given the chaotic nature of combat is a requirement for accuracy), and promotion of its accurate description, which often gets forgotten in FatE systems. Mithras' Zenobia has an excellent example of a FitM combat system that works great for Simulationism. One of my grognard buddies commented on how it really felt more like real combat than other more detailed systems. Again, greater verisimilitude.

Am I making any more sense, or just repeating myself?

Mike Holmes
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