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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4284 Members Latest Member: - Nicholas Mizer Most online today: 77 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Some help with a lecture  (Read 5236 times)
M. J. Young

Posts: 2198

« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2005, 12:20:03 PM »

Representational rules require input from imagined content, while formalistic rules take their input from other sources (like player preferences, story structure, genre convention, etc).  Can a rule take input from both imagined content and outside source, and in such a way that that 'rule' cannot be split into two separate rules working in conjunction?
I can't think of a situation in which one of the "other sources" you name would be brought into play except in response to input from the imagined content.

Of course, any rule could be split into one rule concerning the output from the shared imagined space and another rule concerning input to the shared imagined space, but unless you can show the existence of rules that have no external aspect at all (that is, do not in any way include reference to written rules, character papers, player preferences, story structure, or anything else outside the shared imagined space), I think what you have is a continuum.

I'm still not certain, though.

--M. J. Young

Josh Roby

Posts: 1055

Category Three Forgite

« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2005, 12:57:36 PM »

Crap, I knew I wasn't articulating that well and I'd end up needing charts and graphs. =Pá You misunderstood my final question, MJ, which was probably more my error than yours.

Any rule will have input and output.á Output will always be to the imagined content (except maybe in "candy bars for the best RPer" and the like).á Input can be from the imagined content (I fell down, the rule takes the input of how far I fell) or from outside sources (Is there a chandelier to swing from?á This is swashbuckling!á Of course there is!).á I don't know if a rule can take input from both imagined content and outside source, but even if it could, its output would go back into imagined content.

And this is, of course, an iterative process.á Rules invoke other rules, or rules articulate the imagined content in such a way that additional rules are then invoked (I knocked you down, you fell off the cliff, you take falling damage).á So while I may avail myself to the "There's always a chandelier" rule because I need to get from one balcony to the other to get to the princess (all input derived from imagined content), that can be split into two rules: the first being "you can't just walk there" and the second being "I use the chandelier!".

My question is more: can a rule require input from imagined content as well as input from an outside source without any intermediary decision being made in the middle of that process (and can therefore be considered two rules working together).

And one instance of a rule (more accurately, procedure) which uses an outside source for input without the influence of imagined content is the first procedure used: what will the game be about, and what content will we imagine?  When the GM is setting up the adventure, she starts with a blank slate -- she can't use imagined content as input.

Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 2591

« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2005, 04:45:35 PM »

Rob and Joshua both give definitions of formalistic that I'm happy with for working purposes, and consider equivalent to what I've fiddled with here.

M. J. - I'm not sure I'm willing to buy the idea of a continuum in this case; I think I'm talking about rules ephemera, which can pretty much be handled as atomistic things. You have this one rules action, what is it that you do when doing it? That's the question. And if the answer ends up to be "I use the credibility of the SIS to initiate a rule in the rule book." then that rule in the book is a realistic rule that is dependent on the SIS to be initiated. Likewise, if the answer proves to be "I have the right to use this rule, so I just narrate a justification and do it.", then it's a formalistic rule. I don't see how even a minority of rules would straddle this divide.

An example of the issue: in Under the Bed the players activate traits that are suitable for the situation to increase their chances in overcoming an obstacle. If this was all there is to it, this would be a classical realistic rule. But the thing is, the player who has the credibility to decide on the activation is the activating player himself. He decides which traits he activates, and he is then expected to narrate how the trait fits the situation. So actually the SIS situation has nothing to do with trait activation directly (SIS only affects the trait activation insofar as you have to be happy with your narration); instead the rule is a narrative pacing device that ensures that the player describes the ensuing conflict in sufficient detail. You're supposed to activate all your traits in the game after all, and are directly punished (in the form of less dice) if you can't be bothered to narrate them all in. The purpose of the rule is not realistic, but formalistic.

Now, the interesting thing is that this is just how I read and play the game. For all I know, there's lots of people who interpret the rule in question realistically, ending up with a completely different distribution of credibility, one that goes through the SIS a lot.

But anyway, that's that. I think I have the concept of realistic/formalistic pretty much nailed down, now. In concrete terms it's a question of the relationship of the SIS to the play activity, whether SIS matters as a point of order for the rules or is just an aesthetic output of the system. This is interesting, because it's very common among traditional roleplayers to deride formalistic rules elements for not being roleplaying at all.

I'll give my lecture on Saturday, and come back to this thread next week to outline the contents of the lecture. That should explain everybody why I think that these concepts are interesting and important.

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Posts: 462

« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2005, 02:23:22 AM »

Looking forward to reading about your lecture!

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