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Author Topic: [Vampire 2E Sabbat] Of Evil and of Simulationism  (Read 13613 times)
Frank T
Guest
« on: August 31, 2006, 10:15:57 AM »

The recent “kill puppies” thread reminded me of my Sabbat character, one of my favorite ever, and a truly evil one as well. We once had one of this show-off forum games on GroFaFo where everybody walks his favorite character into a tavern and they chat. So all the Vampires and Drow were hanging out there and posing with their “cool evilness”. When I started to detail on my character’s philosophy, however, there was an uproar. Because he wasn’t just cool and badass and sooo dark. He was cruel and sadistic and brilliant and, in his own warped way, he made sense. People were scared by him. But I am too far ahead.

So, this was a game I played long before I started discussing RPGs with other folks on the internet. It is also, to date, one of my favorites, ever. And it is a very good illustration, in my opinion, of how Simulationism works and of how elements of both Narrativism and Gamism can be supportive of the Sim agenda. You see, this is something I only recently understood: When the Big Model says “supportive”, it means “supportive” as in “necessary”, not as in “not getting in the way too much”.

We were GM + 3, the three players of us long-time Vampire gaming buddies, the GM a friend with whom we went party, but hadn’t gamed much before. He wanted to run a very ambitious Sabbat campaign, although we never got past the first part, which was actually only meant as an introduction. That is probably why he didn’t bother to railroad, which was key to the whole fun of it.

We knew we were going to be Sabbat Vampires in 1900 New Orleans. So we made up characters accordingly. Michael played Roberto, a brawny, aggressive Hispanic criminal and City Gangrel Antitribu. Marco played Seamus, an Irish terrorist type with a huge Celtic cross tattooed on his back, Brujah Antitribu. I played Alexandre, a sadist/hedonist warped poet/philosopher and Toreador Antitribu.

We played through our initiation full length, more or less. It was very intense, exploration at its best, gripping even though I had read the Sabbat books and knew what was to come. Watching my fellow players react to being buried alive and clawing their way to the surface was even more fun than acting it out myself.

Maik, the GM, had made up our sires as a Sabbat pack that was starting a Crusade on New Orleans, who created us as their “first line”. He put in some astonishing personal conflict: Seamus’ sire was the leader of the pack, but challenged by Sir Edward, a Tzimisce and, in his past life, English nobleman! (Remember: Seamus = Irish terrorist). The animosity was tremendous. My character, on the other hand, was fascinated by Sir Edward’s flesh-forming abilities, his arrogance and his sophisticated cruelty.

I also developed, quite on my own, a very interesting conflict for my character: He was all about freedom. “Freedom”, quoth he, “is the ability to defy others’ needs in favor of your own.” The Sabbat as a very tight-knit organisation demanding total loyalty was, on the one hand, challenging to take away his freedom. On the other hand, it was possibly a means to eventually attain the ultimate freedom, no longer having to fear punishment by anyone, for anything.

Addressing Premise in support of The Right To Dream, check.

In the course of play, we got assigned several missions by our sires, which we accomplished with various success. I think that never before or after in my role-playing history I was so determined, so focussed, so quick and deadly in my lines of thought. That was not because the mission mattered so much to me. It was because my character demanded that I be brilliant, because he was brilliant.

So, despite me being the weakest of the player characters, physically and powerz-wise, I was the most successful and earned the respect of my sires. It was my plan to unleash the Werewolf in the middle of a Vampire party. My quick thinking that secured that at the same time the Masquerade was breached heavily, and the Camarilla Vampires felt grateful to me for helping them, and they came to regard me as more powerful than I actually was.

Step On Up in support of The Right To Dream, check.

Throughout the five or so sessions that we played, fictional content was amazing. We really dug the atmosphere of 1900 New Orleans, the sense of danger and stress, and furthermost the alluring and disturbing sensation of taking on the role of a really brutal, or, in my case, cruel and remorseless creature. The integrity and power of our shared imagination was clearly the focus of play, with strong emphasis on our characters. The GM was challenging us in all kinds of ways, leading to the abovementioned manifestations of supportive elements of other CAs, but there can be no doubt that our actual CA was crystal clear Simulationism.

How did the system tie into that, you ask? Why, we gamed the system for combat effectiveness as well we should (supportive Step On Up, check), however never sacrificing the inner logic of our characters and the game world. The reward system was not really relevant at the mechanical level, but the social reinforcement was so powerful and intact, with so much feedback from player to player going on, that no mechanically enforced reward was really needed.

Speaking of which, there was no ban on “OOC” in this game. No urge to “stay in character” or anything like that. Still it was extremely intense, like what people have described as “immersive”.

Points:

1) There are evil characters, and then there are evil characters.
2) Simulationist play, to me, really shines when there is a lot of challenge and/or thematic stuff charging it up.
3) OOC and immersion (whatever that is) work well together, at least to a certain degree.

- Frank
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Frank T
Guest
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2006, 10:17:06 AM »

Oh, and there were also some very erotic moments in the game.

- Frank
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Sovem
Member

Posts: 94

J.F.Halsey


« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2006, 11:02:20 AM »

Sounds pretty sweet! One of my all time favorite characters was a Sabbat, too ^_^

Can you give some examples of some of the more brilliantly evil schemes your character enacted? It seemed like you were about to talk about that in the beginning, but then got sidetracked.
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Adam Dray
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Posts: 676


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« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2006, 12:09:13 PM »

Frank,

I'm curious why you point to specific techniques and say they are Narrativism or Gamism. You need to show a longer sequence of play that includes the reward mechanics and what the players got out of the game in the long term to really understand what Creative Agenda, if any, was at play in this game.  Almost all the things you point out as "tells" are techniques.

Also your "Gamist" example is more about your character kicking ass to impress other characters in the fiction, not you kicking ass to impress other players. That isn't Step On Up anyway.

If you're trying to say that you had multiple Creative Agendas at play here, then I would argue that you can really only have one CA. If you're saying that the "elements" -- meaning what? Techniques? Exploration? -- of Gamism and Narrativism can be used to support Simulationism, then I would argue that CAs don't have elements. Look at the Big Model diagram and tell me which things are the elements of Narrativism and Gamism.

I wanted to talk a bit about these two paragraphs:

Throughout the five or so sessions that we played, fictional content was amazing. We really dug the atmosphere of 1900 New Orleans, the sense of danger and stress, and furthermost the alluring and disturbing sensation of taking on the role of a really brutal, or, in my case, cruel and remorseless creature. The integrity and power of our shared imagination was clearly the focus of play, with strong emphasis on our characters. The GM was challenging us in all kinds of ways, leading to the abovementioned manifestations of supportive elements of other CAs, but there can be no doubt that our actual CA was crystal clear Simulationism.

How did the system tie into that, you ask? Why, we gamed the system for combat effectiveness as well we should (supportive Step On Up, check), however never sacrificing the inner logic of our characters and the game world. The reward system was not really relevant at the mechanical level, but the social reinforcement was so powerful and intact, with so much feedback from player to player going on, that no mechanically enforced reward was really needed.

There can be doubt!

Amazing fictional content? Not unique to Sim.
Really digging cool atmosphere? Sense of danger? Sensation of taking on a brutal world? Not unique to Sim.
Strong emphasis on characters? Not unique to Sim.

You did say one thing that made me bounce in my seat a little:
Quote
The integrity and power of our shared imagination was clearly the focus of play . . .

Yes! Show me what you and the other players did during the game to enforce the integrity and power of your shared imagination. An example of play here will help.

Have you read Ron's discussion of Simulationism as constructive denial (in the "ignoring the subjective" thread in the GNS forum)? These articles greatly helped me to understand Sim play. Essentially, there and a couple posts down, Ron talks about the essence of Sim and another way to express the ideas in the Right To Dream article:

Quote
Also, I really carefully chose that phrase, "the Right to Dream." People always seem to get hung-up on the Dream part, when it's the Right which distinguishes this CA. That was a big disappointment to me in the responses to the essay. Perhaps this clarification of "the Dream" will help people to focus, now, on the Right.

As in, "it's my right to have my imagination validated for its own sake" [reflexive]
And, "play it right" [transitive]
And, "the right [way to look at it] shall prevail" [interpersonal, social]

Do those statements ring true to you about your game? Are those issues more important than impressing your friends with your game performance and more important than making a thematic statement about something? 

Ron said in the first message I linked, "A great deal of the aesthetic power of Simulationist play, as I see it (and I mean that literally), lies in (a) adding to or developing that package, and (b) enjoying its resiliency against potential violation." The "package" to which he refers includes the five components of Exploration (System, Setting, Character, Situation, and Color), plus thematic and other emergent content.

Can you show me an example of play that shows how (not just what) you and your friends added to the "package"?
Can you show me an example of play that shows a "potential violation" of this package in your game and how you and your friends proved that the package was resilient against violations?
Can you explain how you celebrated in this resiliency?
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Frank T
Guest
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2006, 11:50:22 PM »

Hi Sovem,

Derailed is not really what happened, rather, I moved on to what I really wanted to talk about. If I find the time later, I can elaborate on the Werewolf thing, it’s the only piece of nifty decision-making that I still get together in full detail.

Hi Adam,

Ah well, that always happens when you bring up fucking GNS, I guess. Some clarifications for my initial post and this discussion:

1) I did not say there was a Gamist or Narrativist CA at any time. I said that elements of these CAs were present supportive of the actual CA, which was Sim. That applies to techniques you would normally associate with Gam and Nar, though this technical approach to CA analysis doesn’t really work. But especially, it applies to the social dynamics at the table.

2) Your comment about reward mechanics is off-base. The mechanical reward system of Vampire 2E did not support our CA at all, as I stated in my post. There can be functional and coherent play without a mechanically enforced reward system, you know.

3) You don’t honestly expect me to give you a ride like the one Ron and Levi had recently, in order to prove to you that our CA was really Sim, do you? Firstly, I don’t have the stomach for it, and secondly, the game was long ago and I probably don’t recall enough detail.

Sorry to be rude that way, it’s just that you happened to be the one to say the things people sometimes say on the Forge that, well, make me get rude that way. I know you meant to be helpful, which I appreciate. Thanks for taking the time to dig up those quotes. All of them confirm my gut feeling that the shared CA in the above game, across everyone and throughout several instances of play, was indeed Sim.

I’ll think about some examples and maybe post them later today.

- Frank
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Adam Dray
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Posts: 676


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« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2006, 05:20:07 AM »

Hey, man, calm down. I'm not looking for a ride, and if you're not interested in making your point with me then nothing is forcing you to continue. I'll bow out of the thread if you want.

But, not only did you bring up GNS,  you seem to have confounded some terms and I had hoped to clear things up. I'm not entirely convinced that you were playing Sim but you are and if you don't want to put that on the table for discussion,  that's your right. But it's critical to your point: "Simulationist play, to me, really shines when there is a lot of challenge and/or thematic stuff charging it up." It's also in the subject line, so I figured it was important.

Some responses to your comments:

1) I still don't believe that CAs have "elements." I think you mean Techniques and I think that none of those Techniques belong to any specific CA. If that is the case then it's pretty meaningless to talk about the "elements of Narrativism," for example. I'm not sure whose "technical approach to CA analysis" you mean doesn't work. Mine? Yours?

2) I never used the phrase "reward mechanics" and I'm having a hard time seeing which comment you thought was off-base. Where did I say that you needed mechanically enforced rewards to have functional and coherent play? Where did I even say that you didn't have functional and coherent play? It sounds like your play rocked. I'm just not convinced it was Sim; that's all.

3) No, no, I don't expect a ride. Did you expect a conversation? Or did you just have some points to make and they're not up for discussion? I think you want to discuss this topic:

Quote
When the Big Model says “supportive”, it means “supportive” as in “necessary”, not as in “not getting in the way too much”.

The word "supportive" appears only once in the Big Model Provisional Glossary so I'm not entirely sure to what you're referring. Under Hybrid, the Glossary says: "Play which combines two or more Creative Agendas. Observed functional hybrids to date include only two rather than all three, and one of the agendas is apparently primary or dominant, with the other playing a supportive role. See my review of The Riddle of Steel." Are you referring to this?

Your post did not adequately demonstrate "how Simulationism works and of how elements of both Narrativism and Gamism can be supportive of the Sim agenda." For me to buy your premise, I need to believe that 1) you were actually playing with a Simulationist CA, 2) that there are "elements" of Narrativism and Gamism that are not just Techniques that work with any CA, and that 3) those things actually support Sim. It's a fascinating premise and I want to talk about it more but I don't buy it right now.

I asked the questions at the end because I was genuinely interested in the answers. If you want me to bow out now, I will. If you want to engage in a discussion with me about this, I'd enjoy that.
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Frank T
Guest
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2006, 06:40:04 AM »

Hi Adam,

re-reading this, I have to apologize. I wasn’t expressing myself as clearly as I could have, and you were making valid points to check if I was on the right page. Please let's discuss further.

Here is some answers to your questions:

Quote
Can you show me an example of play that shows how (not just what) you and your friends added to the "package"?

Most of it was done through acting and description, but also by OOC comments like prompting a detail on your character’s background or the historical context. IC-dialogue was embraced, but players also drove for “spotlight scenes” where their character was doing something unique to them. The obligatory “feeding” scenes were often used for this. I had a part in which I seduced a woman and then played a sadistic, erotic and disgusting game with her that ended in her death. We were walking a thin line there, but it worked because we were close friends and knew each other very well. It was creepy and extremely thrilling to act out these scenes, and I was identifying with the victim almost as much as with my character.

Quote
Can you show me an example of play that shows a "potential violation" of this package in your game and how you and your friends proved that the package was resilient against violations?

Not really. As far as potential violations through the resolution system go, the Vampire 2E resolution system works sufficiently for establishing and maintaining an integrity and inner sense to the fictional content. It’s not elegant and far from perfect, but it works sufficiently. If there were minor collisions that I fail to recall, we certainly overruled the rules, possibly fixing them with a house rule.

As for potential violations arising out of a participant’s behavior, that did not happen because all of us were too much in the same vibe. Or wait, maybe here’s something: Marco and I are history freaks, whereas Michael and Maik have solid historical knowledge, but not to the same detail. So, when Michael or Maik would come up with something that violated the historical context, Marco and I would interfere, briefly explaining why that wasn’t possible, and they would restate. Is that the kind of thing you mean?

Quote
Can you explain how you celebrated in this resiliency?

No. That was not a primary focus of our experience.


Regarding the term “supportive”, maybe I recall something wrong, but I think I’ve heard a certain line of discussion several times now:

User A: “We were optimizing our characters, isn’t that Gamism?”
User B: “No, that’s just a technique.”
User A: “But we were also doing a lot of IC acting, isn’t that Sim?”
User B: “No, that’s just a technique.”
User A: “But how do I know what it is?”
User B: “Look at what’s going on between the real people. Look at the Instance of Play.”
User A (looking it up in the Glossary): “But I see elements of all three in my game!”
Ron: “Well, one is the primary and the others are just supportive.”

Sadly, I can’t point to a discussion like that, so maybe I got it mixed up with the hybrid thing, but I don’t think so.

Anyway, what do I mean by “elements of a CA”? Looking at the articles, I find that CAs are described by social dynamics going on between the players, and relating stuff that happens in the fiction. However, these characteristics must be stable over an Instance of Play, and must prevail in situations where they conflict with other CAs.

I’ll have to discuss this without crosschecking the articles and previous discussions, which is kind of unfair since you are doing all the work, but I just can’t afford the time, please excuse. As far as I recall, just because something that looks like Step On Up is happening in one scene, that does not constitute a Gamist CA, because one scene is not an Instance of Play. But it happens. That’s what I mean by “elements of a CA”.

This relates to techniques only as far as certain techniques are commonly seen as supportive of certain CAs. Like what I’ve heard often: Actor Stance supports Sim play, Author Stance supports Nar and Gam play. I think that is nonsense, and so do you, so let’s move beyond that.

I’m talking about the social reinforcement level. Yes, we did game the system for combat effectiveness. Yes, we were saying stuff like: “Why don’t you boost Stamina first, so you can soak up the damage, and then go for Dex?” And we credited each other for these ideas. Losing a fight meant losing, as a player. It mattered. So. Does this look like Step On Up? I would call that a “Gamist element”.

Are we already in hybrid play now? I don’t think so, because the above does not conflict with the goals of Sim play. So we did it within the boundaries of our shared CA, which was Sim, and it was very important to our enjoyment of the game.

Same goes for the thematic content in the fiction, where the statements I was making about freedom and cruelty and violation were appreciated not only as a contribution to the SIS, but also as some personal statement, which was especially sensitive because of its power and absurdity and strange appeal. We also talked about this stuff OOC, communicating our views as a real person on what was going on. I would call that a “Narrativist element”.

Again, there is no conflict with the goals of Sim play, and I think there was no interference with the CA overall. These exploits were just that: Exploits. But crucial exploits. The shared fiction was still the main focus of the social dynamics at the table, and yeah, the Right to contribute, and the Right not to have your imagination violated, totally governed our interaction.

This whole thing occurred to me when someone in a discussion about PtA said that the game, to him, was all about the interaction of the real persons and what he learned about them through play, and that the fiction itself was more of a by-product. Our play was the opposite: It was all about the fiction, and the rest was a by-product. But just like that PtA player could not have done without the fiction, we could not have done without the rest.

Why am I making these points? Why do I bother whether that was Sim or Gam or a Hybrid or even Vanilla Nar when it’s just a stupid model and I can already explain in my own words how play worked for us? Ah well, dunno. Probably to test whether I’ve really understood GNS by now. Also, because I don’t like how people are often associating Sim with boring pointless IC acting and actor-stance no-OOC “immersive” play.
   
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Adam Dray
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Posts: 676


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« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2006, 10:32:46 AM »

Thanks for giving me a second chance, Frank.

I believe that you were playing with a Sim CA, but I need to understand what "package" you were developing and protecting. Is it your group's version of the World of Darkness (including setting material and game rules and such)? That would make the most sense.

If so, then I'd expect to see the players adding to that package during play. Prompting other players to explain a character background detail or a historical context detail is exactly the kind of thing I'd expect from Sim. It's basically the other players being watchdogs over the package while you are talking. By prompting for these additional details, they not only protect the package from potentially dangerous and "incorrect" input, they also validate the input you've given before and the input that just tested out. Validating your input makes you feel good about your own contribution and it further strengthens the package.

That example does demonstrate a "potential violation." Why did they prompt you to explain a detail? Because they thought there might be a potential violation of the package. Your answers to them clarified your meaning and ensured them that you weren't violating the package. In explaining more details, the package grows larger and stronger. The group now has additional stuff shared among them that isn't in any source book. The group grows tighter as a result. This is a positive social consequence of a good Sim CA in action.

Your "history freak" example is exactly what I meant.

I suspect, when you were doing the thing you're calling Gamist-supportive, that you were really doing classic Sim stuff with regards to System. Recall that the "package" includes all elements of Exploration, including System. I suspect that you were "doing it [System] Right," and not really trying to Step On Up.  In any case, min-maxing is just a Technique and in no way a "tell" pointing to Gamism. I min-max in Dogs in the Vineyard all the time and it doesn't distract me from my very Narrativist CA.

I'm glad you're continuing this discussion. It's helping my solidify my own understanding of Sim play. I hope it helps you, as well.
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Frank T
Guest
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2006, 01:18:40 PM »

Yes, the package was "our" World of Darkness very much. Marco, Micheal and I had long been players in another WoD game (Vampire Dark Ages), from whence we knew the rules and some general stuff about vampires in the WoD and, interestingly, the sort of official pre-history to the Sabbat metaplot. That way, many expectations had already been established. Luckily, Maik and the GM of our other campaign, Sven, were friends and exchanged a lot about "their" Worlds of Darkness.

The whole part about New Orleans and 1900 came from our own historical background, interpreted through our knowledge of the WoD, with every player contributing to speculations as to how they might intertwine, but the GM having the final say.

Micheal and Marco had no idea of the Sabbat, so that part of the "package" was all in development for them, not yet established and to be protected. I for my part had read the Player's Guide to the Sabbat and was pretty much expecting Maik to adhere to it, which he did. I also think that the Paths (replacing Humanity) worked quite ok as flags and as inspiration. We knew from our play-experience and knowledge of the rules what vampires could do, in general, and we knew what to expect of the Camarilla pretty much. That was the part we preserved. We did not have to protect it because it was not challenged.

Quote
I suspect, when you were doing the thing you're calling Gamist-supportive, that you were really doing classic Sim stuff with regards to System. Recall that the "package" includes all elements of Exploration, including System. I suspect that you were "doing it [System] Right," and not really trying to Step On Up.

Well, you can put it that way. "Exploration of System", as an idea, never quite convinced me, but I see that it's in the Model. I guess my point, especially with regard to this "gaming the system", is this: If you had taken five minutes out of one of our combat scenes, and compared that to five minutes of a combat scene from another Vampire group with a functional Gamist CA, you probably would not have spotted any difference. Not in the applied techniques, not in the fictional content, and not in the social dynamics at the table.

That is more than techniques talk. It goes right across Social Contract and Exploration, down to Ephemera. Just like CA. See?

This kind of interaction not only didn't disrupt our Sim CA. It was key to us having fun in play. It was part of the CA.

So, that's my Sim. It's meaningful and overflowing with conflict. It demands a lot of performance of the players. It says something about the players. It's far off of cinematic coolness posing without risk. It's far off of Illusionism and Participationism. It has no need for so-called "immersive" techniques, does well with meta-talk, scene-cutting and the like. It's far off of extensively detailed "realistic" rules (though Vampire rules have such tendencies, but we ignored them). It's intense. It rocks.
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Frank T
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« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2006, 11:57:34 PM »

Oh, one more thing. Talking about the "package", it's important to note that the details about setting and system mentioned above provided context for play, but during play itself, the main focus was exploration of situation, character, and color, in that order.

- Frank
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Adam Dray
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Posts: 676


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« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2006, 07:48:16 AM »

To me, "Exploration of System" means celebration and testing and development of the rules and procedures of play, during play. When you level up and try out different combinations of feats and classes and spells in D&D, you're exploring the system. When you test out dice pools in different situations in Storyteller and discuss the "right" way to bring in dice for the dice pools, that's exploring the system. You might solidify your group's understanding of the game text, or even interpret in a way that makes you comfortable but would make other people cringe, or you might tack on a house rule. You might discuss a situation as a group and decide, no, that rule doesn't apply here because it doesn't make sense. That, to me, is all very Sim "constructive denial" with regards to System. It sounds very much like that's what you did in this game.
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2006, 11:19:57 AM »

Hi guys,

Maybe this quote from the big essay will be useful:

Quote
For a given instance of play, the three modes are exclusive in application. When someone tells me that their role-playing is "all three," what I see from them is this: features of (say) two of the goals appear in concert with, or in service to, the main one, but two or more fully-prioritized goals are not present at the same time. So in the course of Narrativist or Simulationist play, moments or aspects of competition that contribute to the main goal are not Gamism. In the course of Gamist or Simulationist play, moments of thematic commentary that contribute to the main goal are not Narrativism. In the course of Narrativist or Gamist play, moments of attention to plausibility that contribute to the main goal are not Simulationism. The primary and not to be compromised goal is what it is for a given instance of play.

Although "instance" was not defined when I wrote that, I've defined it since: at least one full reward cycle of play, which for most games is at least a single session and often more, and for some games, considerably more.

So Frank, your five-minute comparison is valid but not at all relevant for talk about Creative Agenda. What I'm seeing is solid Simulationist play, with moments of strategizing and moments of thematic content that support what's going on - however, no actual Gamist or Narrativist trends or over-arching goals.

Best, Ron
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Frank T
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« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2006, 05:06:16 PM »

Hi Ron,

Yeah, we are on the same page about that. I was probably not expressing myself well. What I wanted to say from the start is exactly this:

Quote
solid Simulationist play, with moments of strategizing and moments of thematic content that support what's going on

At least over here in Germany, I think the meaning of the word "support" in this context is not acknowledged properly, even though the word is really abundantly clear. It's not like: "It's Sim, you can ignore the strategizing and thematic content." It's like: "It's Sim, and it relies on the strategizing and thematic content to be fun."

I think what I'd really like to see is some solid Sim play powered by forgy rules for strategizing and/or thematic content.

- Frank
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Ricky Donato
Member

Posts: 156

Just chillin'


« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2006, 11:11:44 AM »

Ron mentioned in an earlier thread that strategizing and effectiveness management, a priority of Gamist play, can still be used in other CAs as "turbochargers". For example, in Capes, you can manage your Story Tokens so that they are spent wisely. (I'm not too familiar with Capes so let me know if I mangle a rule.) That strategizing is not Gamism, because it occurs at a small scale. By contrast, Capes rewards story-telling at a much bigger scale, which is why Capes supports Narrativism.

Similarly, we know that Exploration, a priority of Sim play, must occur in Gam or Narr play; it has to occur by the definition of the Big Model, or else you're not playing an RPG.

I submit that the same principle applies with thematic content, a priority of Narrativist play. If Joe is playing a paladin, facing down a horde of demons, the demons could, for example, offer the paladin power and wealth if he will only let them pass and destroy the innocent villagers. If Joe is playing Gamist to show how awesome his paladin is, the paladin says, "No, you shall not pass." This isn't Narrativist play, because there was never any chance of Joe accepting that offer. Instead, it has the following effects:

1) It allows Joe to state, "Yes, I want this conflict right now." Note that important distinction. If Joe is playing Narrativist, the conflict is actually whether or not the paladin says yes or no. In Gamist play, that decision was never in question; the conflict lies in the consequences of that decision.
2) It reminds Joe of the consequences of failure; not just his character but also the innocent villagers die.
3) It cranks up the consequences of success; if the paladin beats them, Joe can go around saying, "Oh yeah! Not only did I kill all those demons, but not one of the villagers died! Not even when one of the imps tried to fly past me; I took him down with a spear throw! How cool am I!"

This is solid Gamism at work.

This means we have three major activities when gaming: strategizing, thematic questions, and Exploration. All 3 can occur in the same instance of enjoyable, coherent play, and yet still have only one CA in operation. The difference is which one is the priority? Which one do you do for its own sake? The other 2 will then be used to support that priority.

I'm certain that this is what confuses many newbies trying to understand the Big Model. (I know it happened to me.) They say, "But I do all of those things in my game!" Maybe that's true, but which one is the point of play?
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Ricky Donato

My first game in development, now writing first draft: Machiavelli
Frank T
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« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2006, 02:27:43 PM »

Hey Ricky, I think it's not helpful to refer to single player decisions, or game systems, in order to explain Creative Agenda, because neither describes play in a given group in a given Instance of Play. Your basic point, however, is just what I had been hoping to illustrate neatly through my actual play example. And thanks to Adam, I think it worked out, didn't it?

I guess the points on GNS have been made. If anybody still has any questions on the Vampire game, please feel free to ask.

- Frank
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