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Author Topic: [She's ...] Ronnies feedback  (Read 2420 times)
Ron Edwards
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Posts: 16490

« on: October 06, 2005, 10:17:35 AM »


Nathan Paoletta's She's ... is the most complex and specifically structured entry.

My big issue collectively for many of the entries, including Black Widows, I Think My Girlfriend Hates Me, and Slut/Dick, is that they just don't fire up the hard-core drive to take the issues they raise all the way - they collapse into apology in various ways for bringing up their own subject matter. The text in She's ... only wavers in that direction in the introduction, in which the subtitle "a role-playing game for men" is boldly proclaimed, and then cravenly taken back with a "but if any women want to play, I'd sure like to know what they have to say" disclaimer. I can hear Robert Bly's grunt of contempt from here.

But this isn't a great place for talking about that, as She's ... is, as I say, the standout among them. All right, looking at the game, it's quickly identified as one of what Julie (jrs) calls "parlor games," with specific seating arrangements, materials that get oriented this way and that, and strong turn-order for speaking and specific roles based on seating. Parlor RPGs are currently seeing a lot of development, and I like many of them. I like a lot of things about this one, including the single sheet.

It sure is complicated, though. Creation of the Girl alone involves considerable card-play and strategizing. Play is so structured as to be a little mind-boggling, more so than most board games. There seems little room for plain old dialogue, although, perhaps the "narrator" of the moment could be best understood merely as where the buck stops.

I think one serious point needs to be made: that conflict resolution in games like Primetime Adventures, Dogs in the Vineyard, and even Universalis are not about "competing visions about what happens." In other words, this is not "bang! I shot you!" "no you didn't!" with dice or cards or point-bidding. This is, instead, based on mutual excitement about a given fictional conflict no matter what happens, and willingness to abdicate human authority over it, partially.

This is crucial. It's what separates Narrativist role-playing from so-called consensual storytelling, which as I see it, is anything but consensual in application. So here, in She's ..., I have to get it straight in my mind just what is meant by this phrasing:

When it becomes evident during the scene that someone wants something that someone else doesn't want them to have, or that multiple people want things that they can't all have, then you draw. These somethings are Stakes. It helps to clearly elucidate the Stakes for everyone involved. All scenes must have Stakes resolved before the scene can end.

Put simply, are we talking about characters or players? If characters, then all is well and good, and we are in the territory of fictional conflict resolution - an authoring device. If players, then we have hopped into what is best described as "bully-storytelling" and what might be called a "who must be forced to listen" device.

Assuming that the answer is "the characters," then I'd like to see more specifics or examples about social interactions among the fictional guys, relative to the Girl. It's very difficult to imagine playing different aspects of the same Girl, relative to three other guys, as they trade off playing her various aspects against my character. In some ways, the whole thing seems too dense.

Overall, despite the nifty talk-trading and points-trading and sheet-shifting, I'm not seeing fiction emerge very easily. It seems like Color for the strategy, much as if I gave a fictional wizard a name and talked in a funny voice while playing Magic: the Gathering. I'd like to understand the conflict among characters, a Shared Imagined Space, or a cycling Reward during play. I can see where and how you're supposed to talk while you're playing, but not why. This may be a failure of vision on my part.

So, playtesting seems called for.

Nathan P.

Posts: 536

« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2005, 10:47:32 AM »

Hey Ron,

Thanks again for the competition, and for your feedback!

To reply to your quoted point, yes - it is indeed referring to what the characters want. Like, if one of the Guys wants to take the Girl to a movie, and his player is facing the Frigid Role, so the guy playing the Girl tries to fob him off with "Oh, I have to go walk my fish tonight." The only goal for players that really matters is that, theoretically, all of them want to win.

And, it needs examples like nothing other. I think dense is the right word for it, and I don't know if its any clearer in my head than it is in yours. I expected to garner a pretty negative response to the entry, because I don't think it's particularly, well, good.

That said, I don't know if this one's going to see development. The concept excited me, but by the end I had cooled on it. Maybe it'll end up as a board game, or something.


Nathan P.
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