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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 240 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Questions on the Big Model/GNS  (Read 2708 times)
The Duke

Posts: 4

« on: August 17, 2006, 12:16:25 AM »


These are not questions on actual, play, I am asking for clarifications on some points of GNS I didn't quite understand. I asked in the First Thoughts forum where should I go to address my questions, since the forums on theory and GNS are closed, and Mr. Ron Edwards kindly replied that I should asked them here. I'm still a bit concerned, because none of my doubts really concerns actual play and are all rather theoretical, namely the clarification of some points in GNS. If I'm making a mistake, please bear with me, I'm new to the Forge and GNS/Big Model.

Specifically, I'm not sure I got Premise, the fundamental block of Narrativist roleplaying. If I got it right, it's something that each character, as protagonist, carries, unresolved, to the gaming table, and it's this premise that both drives the character and gives him spotlight. It's an unresolved problem or issue, or an overriding personality trait, or even a situation that the player wants their character to address in that game. Am I getting it correctly? What am I missing here? What am I getting wrong? Is Premise applicable only to characters, or can it be applied to something else, like situations or even settings?

In that vein, I was rather puzzled to see, in the article Story Now, the game Castle Falkenstein be classified as Narrativist. If the amount of rules are not a factor to place a game in any of the Creative Agendas, where's the Premise in CF? I see it as a High Concept Simulationist game, light in rules. Am I wrong? If in fact CF is a Narrativist game, where's the premise? The players make characters, the GM makes adventures for them. They have pointers in their journals that the GM uses as story hooks for adventures. They explore a highly strange and detailed universe of 19th Century Science Fiction meets High Fantasy. All that points to Simulationist play or Right to Dream. Or am I missing something?

I thank any help and clarification that comes in my way.

Adam Dray

Posts: 676

« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2006, 04:40:40 AM »

I think you'll find that theoretical discussions are best had in the context of something real. I assume, from your post, that you have played Castle Falkenstein. Can you tell us a little bit about a time you played Castle Falkenstein so we have an example to discuss? Talk a little about a couple instances of play that really "hit" for you in a good or bad way.

From there, we can begin to talk about how YOU addressed the game, regardless of how the text is written.

Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Andrew Cooper

Posts: 724

« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2006, 05:13:51 AM »

Howdy Duke,

(Do you have a real name... or is it really Duke?)

I'm going to try to do a couple of things.  First, I'm going to point you towards some other threads that I think will be interesting reading for you.  Second, I'm going to try to tie your post to some actual play of my own so that this thread will actually contain some relevant actual play and be more productive... and won't make Ron pull out the moderator stick and thwack us with it.

There's a thread where Ron helps Levi analyze his groups play in reference to the Big Model and CA.  I think it will be very relevant to you and enlightening.  It certainly was to me.  Frostfolk Thread

Since you are asking about a specific system that you think supports one CA but Ron has classified as another, I think Ron's recent threads on his D&D game, which is generally classified as a Gamist supporting system, which he used to support a Narrativist agenda might hold some interest.
D&D #1
D&D #2
D&D #3
D&D #4
D&D #5

Now... on to some observations of my own.  First, I want to make sure that you understand that game systems are not actually Gamist, Simulationist or Narrativist.  The system may support those different styles of play but GNS is actually a classification of player agenda as expressed in actual play.  Thus when we say that D&D is a gamist system we are actually saying "D&D as a system tends to support the Gamist agenda well."  Once we get that fact down it is easy to see that it is possible to sit down with a group and play a game and pursue an agenda that the game itself might or might not support very well.  I'll give some actual examples from my own experience.

I played in a D&D group with a friend of mine running the game.  Through the course of the game it became obvious to me that he was wanting to pursue a Simulationist agenda.  He was looking to explore his homebrew setting and celebrate it while immersing himself in creating a real since of "being there" as a priority.  Unfortunately he had several (me included) who were approaching the game from a Gamist agenda.  We were all about beating the bad guys and maximizing our effectiveness in combat.  The setting material and stuff were nice and made good background color but didn't recieve any real priority from us, except in instances where it gained us some sort of advantage.  He expressed his frustration to me towards the end of that game when things didn't seem to be going the way he wanted it too.  His problems were that the reward system in D&D and the other players's preferred agenda were working together against what he wanted from the game.  Here's where I want to note that the game system didn't have an agenda.  It simply supported the Gamist group's agenda more than the GM's Sim priorities and frustrated him.

On the topic of Premise, I'm going to point to the links I gave above.  Ron discusses Premise in them, especially the link to Levi's game.  To my understanding (Ron can correct me if I'm wrong.) Premise in Nar play is all about themes that the players are interested in addressing.  The characters might not be concerned with the questions and theme at all but the players are and that comes out in play.  Also, the Premise may never actually be stated or even consciously pursued.  In Levi's thread above, he was a little surprised to see his group playing pretty straight Nar play because the themes and Premises they were addressing were transparent to them as a group.  His assumption was (interpreted by me when reading the thread) that those things were just what role-playing was about and how could you play any other way?

Hope this helps a little.


Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2006, 05:21:45 AM »

Hi there,

Thanks to everyone for replying so far. Those are great responses.

Duke, I think you may have misunderstood me a little. I didn't say "repeat your post in the Actual Play forum." I said, "Describe some actual play of your own which help us understand your questions." If you go back to your original thread and review my post, you'll see some specific instructions about that.

Please do that, and post the stuff I requested there in this thread, and I'd be happy to address those conceptual questions you're asking.

Best, Ron
The Duke

Posts: 4

« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2006, 11:29:00 AM »

Hello all

Sorry about that, I misunderstood completely. Although, thank you, Andrew, I guess I'm a bit more enlightened on the subject of Premise. Also, it shows how green I am in the whole GNS theory, my reading of the articles was that GNS was both a classification of tastes and yes, Agendas in players and the styles supported by games. And I'd like to clear my doubts about GNS in a purely theoretical fashion, since I don't thing I "get" it enough to apply to games, as the mistakes I'm making indicate. So I guess, clearly this isn't the place. Sorry again.
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