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Author Topic: Diagnosis and the Road to Narrativism  (Read 832 times)
Buddha Nature
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Posts: 94


« on: April 18, 2002, 10:33:15 PM »

So through some PM's I have been discussing this but I wanted more opinions: what is the best way to test the waters of you gaming group as to whether they could play a Narrativist game (aka, I am a Narrativist at heart and want to run a Narrativist game, but am unsure who amongst my group would do well / be interested)?

I am looking for questions to ask, games to play, etc.  Through those PM's and some reading it looks like Soap and Puppetland are a couple of games that can be played as a "okay, lets just try this" session without much prep to move players in the Narrativist direction.  Any other ideas out there?

-Shane
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2002, 07:53:12 AM »

Hi Shane,

Opinions about this topic differ widely. I've had great success with Puppetland and Soap - and recall that we are talking about discovering fellow Narrativist leanings, not creating them or converting people to them - but I can also see that the games' extreme mechanics may be confounded with the goal.

In other words, they both have mechanics, Soap especially, which encourage Director Stance and, to the traditional player, "being weird." Well, lots of people like Narrativism but prefer highly customized mixes of Author/Actor Stances in which to do it. People like this will not enjoy the Soap thing much, or even if they do, will associate it with Soap per se and compartmentalize that experience away from "real role-playing." Extreme Vengeance is another game that fits this category.

Another approach entirely is Vanilla Narrativism - without emphasizing any one of the usual Narrativist-facilitating techniques, permit and encourage any and all of them throughout play, as well as abandoning (say) reward systems or resolution mechanics that inhibit them. This approach has the disadvantage of stumbling over system features in the game being used that trip up the goal unexpectedly. Games that encourage Vanilla Narrativism without being "abashed" are rare; I humbly present Sorcerer as one of them and acknowledge Prince Valiant as the first and one of the best. Hero Wars also qualifies, in my opinion, as do Zero, Everway (if you're careful about focusing prep), Castle Falkenstein (ditto), and some others.

Scattershot presents yet a third way to go: beginning play with what appears to be plain old Sim role-playing, and then providing mechanics to force Narrativist-type decisions into that process in a fun way, mainly through metagame and rewards. The Riddle of Steel does this too, I think. I have not played either of these enough to be sure about this Transitional technique, but I am tremendously impressed by the very idea (which never occurred to me and never would have in a million years).

All told, I think one of the best bets is InSpectres. I have had astounding success with many, many different people with this game. They get the point, they get the process, and they get the mastery of the process with almost no transitional pain at all.

Best,
Ron
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2002, 07:59:58 AM »

Hey Shane,

My recommendation is InSpectres. It's Ghostbusters plus reality TV. The dice mechanic allows for player narration of outcomes, and the between-scene confessionals encourage positive player involvement in the protagonism of the other characters. You can make characters and play a whole session in 2-4 hours. It don't get any better.

On http://indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=18413">this thread, Jesse Burneko wrote:

I'm very vocal about my interest in RPG Theory and when describing GNS Theory to someone, and I get around to describing Narrativism, I'm nine times out of ten confronted with, "But that isn't roleplaying. That's some kind of collaborative storytelling."...I've thought about this issue a lot, specifically to counter that statement which I brace for EVERYTIME I describe Narrativism.

I think it's not a good idea to discuss Narrativism with your group. But you might still get the "it's not roleplaying" reaction from your players when you propose InSpectres. The appropriate response is, "Yeah, maybe not, but you want to try it anyway for fun?" Don't defend it as roleplaying. Don't justify yourself, other than to say you think it would be fun, maybe on a night when one of your other players can't show up.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
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