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Author Topic: Orkworld review  (Read 6638 times)
GreatWolf
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« on: June 02, 2001, 06:43:00 AM »

Okay, Ron, I'll take up the challenge.  :smile:  (Note:  all points stated vigorously for the sake of invigorating debate.)

I think that you overstated the case for Orkworld being a Narrativist game.  I purchased the game when it first became available and threw together a quickie campaign.  (No, it wasn't high art, but it was enjoyable.)

In my experience, the game did not actively encourage Author stance.  In many ways, it was fairly mainstream in this regard.  I can see that it could support Author stance but no more than any other RPG on the market.

I also question whether your statement of the Premise was accurate.  At best, I think that it can be argued that the game could allow the theme of hypocrisy to be used, but I would not argue that Orkworld is about hypocrisy.  Rather, I would say that Orkworld is primarily Exploration of Setting, rather than Narrative of Situation.  Note the rich detail lavished on ork culture (the true "setting" of Orkworld).  That is the source of gameplay.

I also was a little boggled by your criticism of the fiction content of Orkworld.  You do note that the stories are complete and support the feel of the book (with which I agree), but I actually felt that the story seeds and fiction were the hallmark of Orkworld, rather than a design flaw (as you seem to imply).  I will agree that the system could have used a little more explanation, but I would have rather seen some of the mundane details be removed (e.g. about ork first aid) to make room than lose those stories and story seeds.  I think that stories in any RPG (both complete and fragmented) can assist in communicating the feel of the concepts embodied in the game.

(Side thought: I seem to recall having a similar conversation on GO about the stories back when John was writing his GDJ.  Or maybe it's just deja vu.  Shrug.)

That being said, let me offer a couple points of agreement.  Character creation is bloody brilliant.  Not only are the characters created, but they are set in relation with each other.  In my opinion, this can be used to facilitate either Narrativist or Explorative goals.

Trouble is also a wonderful tool for any goal that you might be pursuing.  It is a great limiter for the gamist GM, who can balance his "screw-the-players" mentality with the Resource metagame.  It allows him to richen the Setting for the Explorative player.  It offers storytelling opportunities for the Narrativist player.  My only concern (to be honest) is that it is not well-defined, rules-wise.  Certainly a lot of nifty idea are given (including the Tree of Trouble, which I used), but nothing concrete.  Even if John had said something like this: "Mechanically, Trouble can potentially do any of the following--" and then rattled off some options that were rules and not merely suggestions, I probably would have found it more helpful.  That being said, I've also shifted my tastes in RPGs since playing Orkworld and the freeform nature of Trouble might not bother me now.

Of course the most important point on which we both agree is this: "...the game is bluntly excellent."  Nothing that I have said above should be construed to contradict this simple, fundamental point.

Your turn, Ron.  :smile:

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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2001, 02:22:00 PM »

Hello Seth,

I issued no challenge.

Your combative post doesn't encourage me to treat your points gently.

"In my experience, the game did not actively encourage Author stance. In many ways, it was fairly mainstream in this regard. I can see that it could support Author stance but no more than any other RPG on the market."

The degree to which Trouble impacts the character may be influenced by the player, as an ongoing, in-play "dial." That in-play power over upcoming game events, as well as one's degree of reward at the end of the session, facilitates Author stance. Whether your players made use of it that way is irrelevant; it is present as a mechanic. Corresponding mechanics that grant the player such an influence on upcoming events are tremendously rare across RPGs.

"I also question whether your statement of the Premise was accurate. At best, I think that it can be argued that the game could allow the theme of hypocrisy to be used, but I would not argue that Orkworld is about hypocrisy. Rather, I would say that Orkworld is primarily Exploration of Setting, rather than Narrative of Situation. Note the rich detail lavished on ork culture (the true "setting" of Orkworld). That is the source of gameplay."

It is nearly impossible to play an ork without dealing with Fana, Trouble, and one's obligation to one's household. It is nearly impossible to deal with the other races without running into the essential differences between their views on death, luck, fear, and obligation and those of orks. That's Premise. The rich setting reinforces the premise, or, if you like, the setting is the origin/foundation of the premise (these phrases are synonymous). A rich and detailed setting with a *point* is a means of expressing or offering premise-rich activity.

Again, if someone chooses to ignore this in play (which is why I used the word "nearly" above), it's possible. To do that in Orkworld would, I think, require ignoring (rather than exploring) the implications of the setting.

More discussion on this point awaits a clarification of Exploration in general - based on the available definition, nearly anything and everything a role-player can do constitutes "exploration."

"I also was a little boggled by your criticism of the fiction content of Orkworld. ... I actually felt that the story seeds and fiction were the hallmark of Orkworld, rather than a design flaw (as you seem to imply)."

Your inference of a "design flaw" is entirely mistaken. No such implication is present.

"(Side thought: I seem to recall having a similar conversation on GO about the stories back when John was writing his GDJ. Or maybe it's just deja vu. Shrug.)"

Not with me.

Best,
Ron
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GreatWolf
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designer of Dirty Secrets


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« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2001, 08:07:00 AM »

My apologies.  My intent was not to come across as combative.  I am sorry that it appeared that way.

Seth
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2001, 08:12:00 AM »

Hey Seth,

I am a real cranky bastard sometimes. Those smiley faces just don't work for me at all.

Still, the essence of DEBATE in your post is fine with me. Any of the points are still open.

Best,
Ron
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GreatWolf
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« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2001, 08:56:00 AM »

In that case, let me respond to a couple of your points briefly.

Quote

On 2001-06-03 18:22, Ron Edwards wrote:
"In my experience, the game did not actively encourage Author stance. In many ways, it was fairly mainstream in this regard. I can see that it could support Author stance but no more than any other RPG on the market."

The degree to which Trouble impacts the character may be influenced by the player, as an ongoing, in-play "dial." That in-play power over upcoming game events, as well as one's degree of reward at the end of the session, facilitates Author stance. Whether your players made use of it that way is irrelevant; it is present as a mechanic. Corresponding mechanics that grant the player such an influence on upcoming events are tremendously rare across RPGs.


No question that Trouble can be used that way.  However, could it not also be interpreted from a Gamist perspective?  IIRC, you can increase your Trouble during chargen to gain extra points for your character.  How is that functionally different from taking a Disadvantage in Champions or GURPS?  Some Disadvantages are the equivalent of painting the big red bull's-eye on your character and then insulting the GM's mother.  How would you distinguish this from Trouble given the text of the game?  Again, I'm not arguing that Trouble can't be used to support Author stance; I am arguing that Author stance is not its primary goal.

Quote

"I also question whether your statement of the Premise was accurate. At best, I think that it can be argued that the game could allow the theme of hypocrisy to be used, but I would not argue that Orkworld is about hypocrisy. Rather, I would say that Orkworld is primarily Exploration of Setting, rather than Narrative of Situation. Note the rich detail lavished on ork culture (the true "setting" of Orkworld). That is the source of gameplay."

It is nearly impossible to play an ork without dealing with Fana, Trouble, and one's obligation to one's household. It is nearly impossible to deal with the other races without running into the essential differences between their views on death, luck, fear, and obligation and those of orks. That's Premise. The rich setting reinforces the premise, or, if you like, the setting is the origin/foundation of the premise (these phrases are synonymous). A rich and detailed setting with a *point* is a means of expressing or offering premise-rich activity.

Again, if someone chooses to ignore this in play (which is why I used the word "nearly" above), it's possible. To do that in Orkworld would, I think, require ignoring (rather than exploring) the implications of the setting.


However, another way of interpreting your point is to say that it is impossible to play Orkworld without getting into character (immersion) and acting like an ork.  On my reading of the game, I saw a tome dedicated to aiding the reader in adopting the orkish worldview, not telling stories about the orkish worldview (and the transgressions thereof).  If we could drag John over here, perhaps he could enlighten us as to his original intent.  From my reading of both book and GDJ, though, I would still say that the design goal of Trouble, Fana, etc. is to experience them, not tell stories with them.

Quote

More discussion on this point awaits a clarification of Exploration in general - based on the available definition, nearly anything and everything a role-player can do constitutes "exploration."


Quickie response (since to do more would take us off-topic):  Exploration is a concern with experience, either of Character, Setting, or Situation.  (e.g.  It would appear that John's design goal was to allow the players to feel what it would be like to live as an ork, thus being Exploration of Setting).  Injection of story from an outside source is acceptable in Exploration, so long as it enhances the experience.  Anecdotal evidence:  after reading through Orkworld and sharing details with my gaming group, our first reaction was to LARP out an ork family gathering, complete with a meal and a tala recounting a story of Bashthraka ("And Bashthraka killed them!")

Quote

"I also was a little boggled by your criticism of the fiction content of Orkworld. ... I actually felt that the story seeds and fiction were the hallmark of Orkworld, rather than a design flaw (as you seem to imply)."

Your inference of a "design flaw" is entirely mistaken. No such implication is present.


My mistake.  I still think that we don't quite see eye-to-eye on this issue, but it is a minor one.

Quote

"(Side thought: I seem to recall having a similar conversation on GO about the stories back when John was writing his GDJ. Or maybe it's just deja vu. Shrug.)"

Not with me.


Quite right.  It was someone else.  Sorry about the confusion.

Seth
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2001, 12:15:00 PM »

Seth,

Our only disagreements center around the tiny, minor issue of how role-playing, Exploration, and G/N/S relate to one another.

I believe my take on this matter, to be released in a few days in the famous FAQ, will astound you.

Best,
Ron
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John Wick
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Posts: 210


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« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2001, 03:02:00 PM »

Um... wow. Look at all this about my li'l game.

Uh, guys? It's a game about orks.

Duh.

---
Take care,

John
(Who is always flattered when he sees people talking - let alone saying nice things - about his games. Thanks guys.)
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Carpe Deum,
John
GreatWolf
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designer of Dirty Secrets


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« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2001, 04:31:00 PM »

I was wondering if the great and mighty John Wick would grace us with his presence.  :smile:

In all seriousness, John, would you be willing to make any comments on the review or the discussion so far?  I'd be curious to get your reactions/response.

Seth
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
John Wick
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Posts: 210


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« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2001, 09:56:00 AM »

In all seriousness, John, would you be willing to make any comments on the review or the discussion so far?  I'd be curious to get your reactions/response.

Well, I'm not to up on the "-ist" lingo, so most of it goes over my head. To be fair, I try to stay away from just about every "-ist" I can. Part of that "Wick hates genre" thing. I just try to make games people enjoy playing. I guess that makes Orkworld "Wickist."

Or is that "Wicken?"

---

Take care,

John

[ This Message was edited by: John Wick on 2001-06-05 13:57 ]
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Carpe Deum,
John
Gordon C. Landis
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I am Custom-Built Games


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« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2001, 12:14:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-06-05 13:56, John Wick wrote:
Well, I'm not to up on the "-ist" lingo, so most of it goes over my head. To be fair, I try to stay away from just about every "-ist" I can. Part of that "Wick hates genre" thing. I just try to make games people enjoy playing. I guess that makes Orkworld "Wickist."

Or is that "Wicken?"



(someone has to . . .)

Wicked.  Unquestionably, wicked.

Published by Wicked Press, ain't it? :wink:
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Dav
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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2001, 02:27:00 PM »

Nah, John's just saying that because he's an individual ... ist. :wink:


Dav


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