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Author Topic: Vincent's Standard Rant: Power, Credibility and Assent  (Read 39996 times)
Le Joueur
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« Reply #30 on: October 08, 2002, 08:56:56 AM »

Hi Walt, Ralph,

Just to quibble again.

I stand by my statement:
Quote from: Le Joueur
As far as I'm aware, systems make no 'statements.'

Quote from: Valamir
I wouldn't agree with the logic you use to support that, however.  I believe that systems DO make statements...quite frequently.

Player:  I shoot the bad guy
GM:  Roll to see if you hit
<roll> "nope you missed"

The question becomes: who said, "nope, you missed."?

Except that's not a statement.  That's the invalidation of the player's statement; the system acting with it's Authority to deprive the player of Credibility in his statement.  The system here doesn't state anything.  By depriving the player of Credibility in his statement, it actually makes the player 'not say anything.'

Quote from: Valamir
In other words, the system most definitely made a statement.  That statement was "you missed".  The GM merely translated that statement from numbers/charts/etc. into speech and vocalized the effects to the other player...but it was the system making the decision.

I argue that the actual 'statement,' "The player's statement has no Credibility," is not actually a statement but a determination.  Heck the player himself, could make that roll and determination; "I shoot the bad guy," <rolls>, "Or not."

Quote from: About systems making statements wfreitag
Ah, but they do.

[Pulls out 1e AD&D Players Handbook, opens a page at random...]

"A score in excess of the adjusted base chance indicates the thief has slipped and fallen. (Your referee will inform you of what amount of damage has been done from the fall.)"

When this event transpires, the player, presumably, made the credible statement that the character was attempting to climb the wall. The GM is explicitly ceded credibility by the system to make a statement concerning what amount of damage has been done. But who made the statement that the character slips and falls?

I'd honestly have to say the player implies that he 'climbs without falling,' and the system denies that claim.  That the book gives explicit details only means that it 'puts words in the mouth of the player.'  This is very much an epistemological quibble!  The player says, "I climb the wall..." <rolls dice>, "...and slip and fall."  It doesn't rise to the point of the 'system saying something' until you define that the system is recounting the events, only ceding credibility to speakers according to its system.  I have not seen a game that explicitly says this.

I wrote Scattershot explicitly the other way around with the Proprietorship Mechanix; your Persona does whatever you want, you employ the system to create detail in your Speakership by common agreement (also explicitly described).  You say that your character climbs the wall, you decide whether dice should be thrown (Solo/General going to Specific/Mechanical play), those dice suggest failure, you create the specifics (slipped and fell).

I always saw this as the implicit fashion that people played.  (Obviously, this is a somewhat unique perspective)

Quote from: wfreitag
One could answer, "the participants collectively, by virtue of having ceded a portion of credibility to the system via their social contract at the outset of play." My alternative answer, earlier in this thread, was "the individual player, by means of projection of his statement (of intention to climb the wall) through the outcome-selection filter of the system."

Which I read to mean that the player makes the statement as modified by the system.  It's still only the player making the statement.

Quote from: wfreitag
And the gamemaster? It's certainly traditional for the GM to be ceded credibility to override the statement "the thief slips and falls" or replace it with a different statement. But if the GM does not do so, does it make any sense to regard "the thief slips and falls" as originating from the GM or resting on the GMs credibility, just because he could have done so? I'm not convinced.

In the end it might just be easier and more meaningful to say, "the system did it."

And that rings of player deprotagonisation or dis-empowerment to me.  I prefer "the system modifies your statements (at your complicity)."  I don't think it is necessary to imagine that 'counter-statements' are issued by the gamemaster when you accept that there are no 'counter-statements,' simply modifications.

You see, my perspective (and my quibble) is that statements are spontaneous initiatives.  Mitigating things is not originating any information, but altering what is already there.  If you can lose the idea of 'counter indications' being actual statements in and of themselves, this becomes easier to understand.  And it doesn't mar the 'power of the rules' at all; if anything it strengthens them.

However, there is no reason to agree with me, these are merely my high-falutin' ideas.  If you choose to see 'counter indications' as statements, then you'll have to account for their author and 'the system' is as good as answer as any; I don't see it that way.

Fang Langford
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #31 on: October 08, 2002, 09:52:28 AM »

Computer systems do speak. Actual words sometimes, but usually just non-verbal statements about success and failure, and location and such. But they are never violable statements. If you miss in a game of Everquest, you miss, and the players have no say at all. They cannot coutermand the system in any way. If one were to do that one would be playing in just as dysfunctional a manner as I described above.

Mike
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Emily Care
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« Reply #32 on: October 08, 2002, 01:01:11 PM »

Quote from: Le Jouer
"the system modifies your statements (at your complicity)."

Nails it.

Quote from: wfreitag

"A score in excess of the adjusted base chance indicates the thief has slipped and fallen. (Your referee will inform you of what amount of damage has been done from the fall.)"

Is there a description like this for every instance of play?
:) If so, Lady bless those D&D writers, they earned their cakes and ale...  
Is this a statement contained in the rules set or just an example to illustrate adjudication with the system? If an example, then it is the writer of the description who made that statement.  Which is easy and meaningful :)

When the system returns a numerical result, a human has to translate it into a narrative of events. That's where/when the statement happens.  It is leant credibility by virtue of the fact that the interpretation is based on shared understanding among the participants of what the numbers mean.

Few systems give results in descriptive form rather than numeric.  The gaming possible within a system would have to be very limited for a paper system to provide narrative results for every combination of circumstances.

In computer games, the computer makes all the statements and the human playing chooses among them. All possible actions and outcomes are predetermined, and you can only take part in a CRPG within a scripted set of circumstances.  This is quite unlike rpg.

--Emily Care

(Tangential aside about limitations: There's a game a friend thought of, or showed me once: it consists of a game board with one square and two counters.  Whoever goes first wins.)
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #33 on: October 08, 2002, 01:31:23 PM »

I was going to stay out of this, but...

Ultimately, the game itself amounts for jack.  All the guidelines that govern the way the game is played (whether they are written down or not) help form the social contract that provides guidelines for play.  Just because D&D lists how to resolve specific actions doesn't make those rules any more real than the basic politeness that keeps players (okay, most players) from throwing cheese doodles at the GM.  It's all a bunch of social norms.

Therefor, the social contract only has the power that the players give it.  Someone has to be the executor of the contract and make sure everyone abides by the rules (this person is usually the GM).  If the gamebook says the thief falls and takes x damage, the player might go:

"That's BS.  I think the thief should fly away and become a hippogriff."

Now, this wouldn't normally be allowed by the social contract (since all the players have agreed to abide by certain norms while playing the game), but if the player can build a consensus or majority on this issue, he can push this idea through and CHANGE THE SOCIAL CONTRACT.  The thief suddenly flies off and becomes a hippogriff, and there's nothing wrong with that.

News flash: THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME!  Social contracts are constantly changing.  Maybe not as dramatically as having theives suddenly able to fly, but, fairly often, the GM and players negotiate their way through sticky situations that aren't completely covered by the rules.

<Example>

GM: "Okay, Sampson rolls down the mountainside and takes N damage."

PLAYER: "No way!  Sampson's wearing padded armor, which would reduce the damage by X!"

GM: "Armor doesn't protect against falling damage.  You know that."

PLAYER: "Yeah, but he's not really falling.  He's rolling.  It would definitely protect him some, right?"

GM: "Well, okay... some.  Subtract half of X."

</Example>

Ultimately, what this means is that the rules are, at most, suggestions of social norms that players should abide by during the game.  They're certainly not written into the fabric of the universe, and don't mean jack without people supporting them.  They certainly can't resolve actions on their own, like some automated scoring device.  This is make-believe, after all, so all that matters is what you believe happened, not what the rules spit out.

YOU have to make it real.

Later.
Jonathan

P.S.  YMMV, of course.  This is just my personal rant :)  The game-as-social-contract POV has been heavily on my mind lately.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #34 on: October 08, 2002, 02:03:47 PM »

Quote from: Emily Care
[When the system returns a numerical result, a human has to translate it into a narrative of events. That's where/when the statement happens.
Or it doesn't. Lot's of games I've played in go like this:

Bob: I'm going to attempt to pick up the can of Peaches.

-Bob rolls, examines the dice, sees that he's succeeded.

Bob: Now I go to the table and open the peaches.

Note, that Bob did not say he "was" picking up the peaches, and nobody ever said that he had done so, the dice said that he had, and everybody understood. And accepted the systems credibility, tacitly.

Quote
In computer games, the computer makes all the statements and the human playing chooses among them. All possible actions and outcomes are predetermined, and you can only take part in a CRPG within a scripted set of circumstances.  This is quite unlike rpg.
And thus it is not RPG? That has yet to be established.

I think that people are again applying their norms to play in coming up with these definitions. Just because you wouldn't call it role-playing doesn't mean that's a definition we have to work with. The subjects of Authority and Credibility, etc have to consider all forms of play in order to be useful, or at least state which forms of play do not count in the discussion. But nobody has done so to date (not to mention that in doing so you have to define CRPG).

And in addition, there are other examples, as in Ralph's examples where rules are treated as an operating system. In these cases the system may truely be said to be communicating on it's own. This has yet to be addressed either. Again, it's norms like Jonathans where allowing rules to be thrown out that are being presented. Our own personal preferences are too small a subset of play to count as the set of experiences from which a theory like this must be derived.

I truely feel that there is a bit of Frankenstien complex going on here. That people are responding negatively to the idea of being controlled by a machine or mechanic (I keep expecting someone to quote the beginning of The Prisoner, "I'm not a slave to a game mechanic, I'm a free man!"). I think that thinking of the system as a participant after a fashion is useful, and can't see the downside of thinking of it as such. Sure, it's inanimate text and concepts. But that doesn't mean I can't decide to follow it's dictates. It's the same as deciding to follow the dictates of another player. The question of animation seems moot to me.

Mike
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Valamir
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« Reply #35 on: October 08, 2002, 02:05:40 PM »

Hey Jonathan.  For the record, I agree with you.  But there is a sizeable portion of the gaming world for whom your dismissal of the importance of the rules is complete heresy.  They may decide to change a rule they don't like with a house rule, but that's merely replaceing one rule with another.  The idea of actually ignoring a rule in game is detestable.

In other words, while its perfectly natural for us "players drive the game" types to view rules with the simple knowledge that we have the power and the rules are just so many words unless we choose to enforce them, that that is a bias that far from universal.

I think Vincent has hit on a great way to describe the interaction of players and GMs and the game system in a way that can be applied to all roleplaying games (based on how much Credibility/Authority is ceded to who and when, etc.

Therefor I recommend against building too much personal bias towards the role of rules into the concept.  There are many for whom the rules are more important than the opinion of any of the players.

And Fang...not to belabour our quibbling to much, but I would say that game systems (i.e. the sum of the contents of a book between two covers) make proactive as opposed to reactive statements as well.

"Elves are good with bows and swords" is a proactive statement that comes directly from the D&D PHB.  "Druids are always Neutral" is another.  

So I still believe that what is going on with regards to system is players endowing the system with a portion of their "ability-to-make-game-related decision-power-whatever-you-want-to-call-it".  Until player revoke all or some of that power via one of the 3 methods I outlined above, the rules DO have real power and legitimacy as a sovereign entity in the game.

Jonathan, I absolutely concur with your comments on changing social contracts and believe it occurs 1) within the 3 methods I outlined above, and 2) to an extent and frequency and timing completely dependent on how the rules were endowed to begin with.

By number 2, I mean some groups will negotiate through the instance with interaction between GM and players.  Some will handle it through GM fiat with no player consultation.  Some will handle it by spending an hour pouring through the rule book looking for an obscure rule.

All of these possiblities (and more) are 100% describable in terms of the amount of their own Credibility/Authority that the player have ceded to the GM and to the rules when they first sat down to play.
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Walt Freitag
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« Reply #36 on: October 08, 2002, 02:10:04 PM »

Quote from: Fang

Quote from: wfreitag

<snip> My alternative answer [to the question: whose credibility underlies the statement "the thief slips and falls"?], earlier in this thread, was "the individual player, by means of projection of his statement (of intention to climb the wall) through the outcome-selection filter of the system."


Which I read to mean that the player makes the statement as modified by the system. It's still only the player making the statement.


Yes, that's roughly the sense I meant it. And I could end up agreeing with the idea (it was where I started in this thread, after all). But I have a quibble. "Modification" has a broader range than "selection" or "filtering." In order to accept the system as an entirely passive agent in the process of play, I have to believe that the outcome generated was implicit in the player's initial statement.

Which is no problem for "I climb the wall." Any player, even one who doesn't know the rules, is probably aware that climbing walls is dangerous because one might fall.

How about this:

PLAYER: I search the entire north wall for secret doors.
GM (consults rule book): "That takes thirty minutes total." (Rolls some dice) "Midway through your search, a wandering..." (rolls more dice) "...rust monster enters the room."

Pretty much the same, right? The GM is following the rules and tables as a passive referee, so the statement that "a wandering rust monster enters the room" didn't come from the GM except in the trivial sense of the GM being the one to articulate it out loud after the system determined it. By the theory under consideration, it must have been implicit in the player's statement that he would search for secret doors.

But... what if the player was a newbie who had no idea that searching for secret doors takes ten minutes per square, didn't know that wandering monsters have a certain chance of appearing during every ten-minute interval, and has never heard of a rust monster? If the player didn't know, he couldn't have made an implicit statement to that effect. A filter can only take things out; if it's putting stuff in, it's no longer a filter. Those are the conditions in which I lean toward seeing 'counter indications' as statements in themselves.

Not very common conditions in tabletop RPG, to be sure. (In games with small enough domains to have a lot of outcomes expressed as specific described events, players usually learn the outcome sets quickly.) But it's more common in computer RPGs (and also in tabletop RPGs during strict "module" play).

Emily, the quoted D&D rule was not an example. It is a rule of the system, stated in the section governing the climbing ability of the thief class.

I don't agree that the act of interpreting a numerical result into a narrated event, within the framework of a set of rules governing exactly that process, makes the GM the originator of the resulting statement. Even if the GM adds a little color to it. (Wouldn't that be just another case of 'modifying' an already established statement? If going from "I search for secret doors" to "a rust monster shows up" is a mere "modification" rather than "the system saying something," then surely going from "the die rolled a two" to "you take two points of damage" doesn't measure up as "saying something" either.)

- Quibblin' Walt
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #37 on: October 08, 2002, 03:32:51 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: Emily Care
When the system returns a numerical result, a human has to translate it into a narrative of events. That's where/when the statement happens.

Or it doesn't. Lot's of games I've played in go like this:

Bob: I'm going to attempt to pick up the can of Peaches.

-Bob rolls, examines the dice, sees that he's succeeded.

Bob: Now I go to the table and open the peaches.

Note, that Bob did not say he "was" picking up the peaches, and nobody ever said that he had done so, the dice said that he had, and everybody understood. And accepted the systems credibility, tacitly.

To carry on the last quibble, no one said Bob picked up the peaches; the dice merely affirmed his attempt.  The result of his attempt is implied by the attempt, not by the dice.  Had he not stated his attempt the dice would not have 'out of the blue' delivered the peaches into his hands; the statement is his.  This is really only a semantic variation on previous examples.

I'd be happy to see an example where 'the dice' gave a spontaneous initiative, not merely affirmation or denial of overt or implied actions.  Can you come up with one?

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I think that people are again applying their norms to play in coming up with these definitions....

I truely feel that there is a bit of Frankenstien complex going on here.

That was something I was trying to imply earlier.  We are at the 'tree falls in the forest' point in the argument.  You say that affirmations and denials are statements in their own right.  I don't.  All that's left is to simply agree to disagree.

Fang Langford
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #38 on: October 08, 2002, 03:47:42 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
And Fang...not to belabor our quibbling to much, but I would say that game systems (i.e. the sum of the contents of a book between two covers) make proactive as opposed to reactive statements as well.

"Elves are good with bows and swords" is a proactive statement that comes directly from the D&D PHB.  "Druids are always Neutral" is another.

Notice I didn't say "proactive," I said "spontaneous initiative."  Furthermore, I've never seen an Elf 'gooding with a bow' or a Druid 'neutralling.'  These are standards or limits, neither spontaneous, proactive, nor showing initiative.

However, I like to think that 'speechless' rules are quite proactive; I mean they're there before anything else is, that's pretty proactive.  They proactively assign Credibility using the Authority vested in them by the group playing.  That still doesn't show any spontaneity or initiative during play.

Quote from: Valamir
So I still believe that what is going on with regards to system is players endowing the system with a portion of their "ability-to-make-game-related decision-power-whatever-you-want-to-call-it".  ...the rules DO have real power and legitimacy as a sovereign entity in the game.

I complete agree with this (I don't have time to double check the 'three ways' so I clipped them).  Rules are completely vested with power, legitimacy, and proactivity.  I couldn't agree more.  Rules, dice, and game mechanics are not spontaneous nor take the initiative and that's how I define 'statements.'

Like I said to Mike, we've reached the 'tree in the forest' point.  You believe that the affect that rules have on player statement amount to statements in and of themselves.  I disagree.  Can we leave it that way?

Quote from: Valamir
Therefore I recommend against building too much personal bias towards the role of rules into the concept.  There are many for whom the rules are more important than the opinion of any of the players.

Agreed.  Likewise about 'tree in the forest' arguments.  Let's just say that we don't have to agree.

Fang Langford
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #39 on: October 08, 2002, 04:44:25 PM »

Quote from: wfreitag
Quote from: Fang
Quote from: wfreitag
<snip> My alternative answer [to the question: whose credibility underlies the statement "the thief slips and falls"?], earlier in this thread, was "the individual player, by means of projection of his statement (of intention to climb the wall) through the outcome-selection filter of the system."

Which I read to mean that the player makes the statement as modified by the system. It's still only the player making the statement.

Yes, that's roughly the sense I meant it. And I could end up agreeing with the idea (it was where I started in this thread, after all). But I have a quibble. "Modification" has a broader range than "selection" or "filtering." In order to accept the system as an entirely passive agent in the process of play, I have to believe that the outcome generated was implicit in the player's initial statement.

Which is no problem for "I climb the wall." Any player, even one who doesn't know the rules, is probably aware that climbing walls is dangerous because one might fall.

How about this:

PLAYER: "I search the entire north wall for secret doors."
GM (consults rule book): "That takes thirty minutes total." (Rolls some dice) "Midway through your search, a wandering..." (rolls more dice) "...rust monster enters the room."

Pretty much the same, right? The GM is following the rules and tables as a passive referee, so the statement that "a wandering rust monster enters the room" didn't come from the GM except in the trivial sense of the GM being the one to articulate it out loud after the system determined it. By the theory under consideration, it must have been implicit in the player's statement that he would search for secret doors.

...I don't agree that the act of interpreting a numerical result into a narrated event, within the framework of a set of rules governing exactly that process, makes the GM the originator of the resulting statement. Even if the GM adds a little color to it. (Wouldn't that be just another case of 'modifying' an already established statement? If going from "I search for secret doors" to "a rust monster shows up" is a mere "modification" rather than "the system saying something," then surely going from "the die rolled a two" to "you take two points of damage" doesn't measure up as "saying something" either.)

Very intriguing.  Actually, I never said that rules weren't proactive.  But this example is "pretty much not the same."  Still, you have provided a very thought-provoking example.

Contrary to what you've suggested, I don't think the rust monster is in any way related to the statement of the player.  And that's where it gets interesting.  It may be the gamemaster's statement.

In Scattershot (which isn't Advanced Dungeons & Dragons), a wandering monster, as a feature of the dungeon, would be the Proprietorship of the gamemaster.  In Scattershot, it's appearance would therefore be detail on the 'atmosphere' of the dungeon, which is made up of statements by the gamemaster.  Except this isn't Scattershot; it's Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.  Scattershot doesn't employ 'wandering monster tables.'

Forgive me if I take a moment to parse the interchange:
    "I search the entire north wall for secret doors."
      Clearly a player statement; it implies time and attention and potential success.[/list:u]
    "That takes thirty minutes total."
      This is the gamemaster, or the rules, acknowledging one of the implications.  No statement here.[/list:u]
    "...a wandering...rust monster enters the room."
      This is definitely not implied by the player's statement, but it is a consequence of the implication.  I'm still inclined to rate it as a separate statement of its own.

      But who makes it?[/list:u][/list:u]Under the idea of Proprietorship, it's the gamemaster's dungeon, therefore it's the statement of the gamemaster, but I don't think it's that simple.

    Advanced Dungeons & Dragons has many clear-cut compulsory rules (with the caveat that the gamemaster is supposed to ignore them as needed).  So is the gamemaster 'channeling' the rules, being their mouthpiece?  If that were the case, then yes, the rules are making a statement.  Even 'the golden rule' merely affords this 'channeling' gamemaster only the ability, himself, to modify the statement of the rules.

    What about situations when a player is compelled to do something?  You take enough damage, the rules say you fall down, dead.  The 'kill' is not implied by your opponent's blow, only the damage is.  Now I know how Scattershot handles this; to steal the vernacular being proposed here, in Scattershot, the rules can't kill you, no amount of damage kills unless the Proprietor says it does.  (Oh, the player has to account for the damage somehow, it's just that the rules don't compel how.)  But that is misleading in this case.

    I'm really not sure.  Both the death and the rust monster are compelled by the rules as a result of other statements, but not as a part of them.  I know this is going to sound like a cop out (but we've gotten into a definite grey area), I think these statements count as those of the person who's responsible for the 'source material,' compelled by the rules.  I say this only because I 'know' the 'tree makes a sound even when no one hears it.'

    We've basically gotten back to that 'chicken and egg' paradox.  If you believe that the rules are lord over all, imbued with an intrinsic (as opposed to vested) Authority all their own, then you'll likely see compelled statements as those 'spoken' by the rules.  (I don't.)  If you believe that all Authority springs from the participants and is vested in the rules by them, then the statement is likely a result of acquiescing to the rules and therefore springing directly from the participant (like I do).

    Two different points of view, equally valid.  Personally, since it's the dungeonmaster's dungeon, and therefore his rust monster, I feel it was a statement of his and not the rules (much like 'I block' happens because 'you hit,' but not otherwise).

    Not much of an answer, but I offer the agreement to disagree.

    Fang Langford
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    Walt Freitag
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    « Reply #40 on: October 08, 2002, 06:44:18 PM »

    Quote
    I offer the agreement to disagree.


    No! I'm bound and determined to convince you that my point of view is the only correct and reasonable one. But first I have to decide what it is...

    How's this? There are two kinds of system content.

    Reactive and prescriptive.

    (Let's see, at five bucks a syllable, that comes to...)

    Reactive "system statements" are player statements ceded credibility during play (with modification or filtering) by the system.

    Prescriptive "system statements" are author/designer statements encoded in the system, ceded credibility in play by the GM.

    Let's make the above definitional for "reactive" and "prescriptive." (At least, those are the only definitions I'm going to try to give them).

    Both types of statement are conventionally subject to override by the GM. But prescriptive elements are traditionally where the GM has the most authority to override (and the players the least) -- to the point where the GM often is (or appears to be) required to restate them to give them credibility. Setting sourcebooks, modules, lists of weapons and vehicles and items, random event charts -- all primarily prescriptive.

    Reactive system elements are, in the old-school "Knights of the Dinner Table" GM-player turf war scenario, 'the players' turf.' Char gen, resolution systems, spell lists, skill lists -- all primarily reactive. GMs who override these elements often do so by means of illusionism.

    Some things may be on the cusp, and perhaps become points of contention for that reason. Critical hit tables. Encumbrance rules.

    A reasonably clear distinction between prescriptive and reactive mechanisms remains in many modern focused indie-style designs, even while these designs shift the dynamic in interesting ways. Donjon makes setting reactive. Shadows makes the reactive filtering process explicit. InSpectres pares down the prescriptive content -- but what remains has even higher authority than traditional reactive rules (perhaps a necessity when ceding them credibility during play is no longer the GM's job). Universalis (and to a less clear extent, Scattershot) make everything reactive to player actions in the metagame. A clearly conveyed Premise can substitute for any amount of explicit prescriptive content, allowing some very rich systems with very lean rulebooks. But even a limited amount of prescriptive content can make a very strong authorial statement (Nicotine Girls).

    Oh, and reactive vs. prescriptive system elements appear to align neatly with the two sides of the Impossible Thing and of the Interactive Storytelling Problem.

    When concepts align this neatly, it often means that all you've really got is some kind of big tautology that you haven't recognized as such yet. So I'm going to stop here.

    - Walt
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    Le Joueur
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    « Reply #41 on: October 08, 2002, 07:39:27 PM »

    Quote from: wfreitag
    Reactive and Prescriptive.

    Sound right and tight to me.

    Of course it doesn't touch on who is making the statements or where the 'true Authority' comes from; ultimately not answering the question of whether the rules can make statements or not (for the aforementioned 'chicken and egg' problem).

    Otherwise, I'm really pleased with what we have.

    Fang Langford
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    lumpley
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    « Reply #42 on: October 08, 2002, 07:43:31 PM »

    Mike,

    I don't really have any basis for an opinion on crpgs.  But it seems to me that the program in a crpg isn't a player; rather it replaces the imaginations of the players.

    The rule for imaginations is that the players have to agree.  The rule for computer programs is that the programmer has to have provided for it (or its component parts).

    -Vincent
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    M. J. Young
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    « Reply #43 on: October 09, 2002, 12:48:36 AM »

    Oh, boy, this thread has gotten too long; I shall endeavor not to overdo this addition.

    I should like to clarify my use of the word Authority. It would be clearer to say that, in my view, the rules are an authority than that they have authority; or said slightly differently, the rules are authoritative. At the beginning of play, the players agree, "We are going to play Little Fears." In doing so, they recognize the Little Fears rule book as the authority that defines how to play the game. They also recognize one individual as being the primary interpreter of that book; I would thus say that this individual is granted credibility, in that whatever he says the rules mean, that is what they mean. Other members of the group are also granted credibility, to a lesser degree, to determine events by applying the rules as they understand them--that is, playing the game.

    Quote from: Valamir
    I wouldn't agree with the logic you use to support that, however. I believe that systems DO make statements...quite frequently.

    Player: I shoot the bad guy
    GM: Roll to see if you hit
    <roll> "nope you missed"

    The question becomes: who said "nope you missed".

    Well obviously, the physical act of speech not being possible for a bound pile of wood pulp, the GM actually vocalized the words...but I would contend that in this the GM was merely translateing a statement being made by the rules.

    I would contend that the issue here is one step further back. Let us suppose, for argument, that the player's character is a high level sniper and assassin, and the bad guy is an unconscious victim in a chair within arm's reach. Now when the player says, "I shoot him", do we even roll? Sure, sometimes we do--but often we decide that a roll is not necessary at this point. That is an interpretation of the rules made by someone with the credibility to decide how they apply in the game. But this means that any time a roll is made to determine a hit, the person with the credibility to make that decision has (if only by default) determined that the rules require a roll. But let us assume that in my example the player says, "I shoot him; do I have to roll for that?" and the referee says, "Yes", it is clear in this case again that the referee is interpreting the rules, and the roll is made because he is the most credible interpreter of the rules under the social contract. The most likely outcome is that the referee will decide that a roll is necessary, but that it is heavily bonused such that there is very little chance of failure; again, this is his interpretation of the rules. The rules remain the authority for "how do we play this game"; the referee is the most credible interpreter, and the players similarly are credible interpreters of a lower credibility.

    In the end, when the roll is made, the outcome is based on the authority of the rules, but through the credibility of whoever determined it to be success or failure.
    Quote from: Valamir later
    I know of and have played with groups who would not only disagree with your assertion that the rules don't get to vote, but vehemently declare that ONLY the rules get to vote. That once you decide to play, you agree to abide by the rules and at that point players have ceded almost ALL of their Credibility to the Rules and GM, with players no longer making statements but rather asking permission.

    Because the rules are authoritative, anyone can appeal to them to settle an outcome; in some groups, only the referee is allowed to appeal to the rules, and only his interpretation of the rules is credible. In other groups, players are free to state that the referee is mistaken because the rules say thus-and-such; in appealing to the authority, the player is challenging the credibility of the referee on that point, and asserting his own credibility. However, what happens then is very much a matter of group dynamics. In most groups, it is still up to the referee to determine whether the player's interpretation of the rules is more credible; in a few groups, the players collectively will override the referee in the name of the authority of the rules.
    Quote from: Vincent a.k.a. Lumpley
    Player: I shoot the bad guy.
    GM: Roll to see if you hit. [Roll indicates a hit.] Nope, you miss.
    Player: Dude! I saw the roll. Are we playing by the rules or not?

    The GM makes the statement. The game mechanics are an Authority that any player can use to support or refute statements.

    This is consistent with my use of authority. At this point the question is whether the referee's credibility to interpret and apply the rules overrides that of the players; that is, if the referee declares it a miss and the players have reason to believe it was a hit, they appeal to the rules as authoritative to determine the outcome.
    Quote from: Jonathan Walton
    <Example>

    GM: "Okay, Sampson rolls down the mountainside and takes N damage."

    PLAYER: "No way! Sampson's wearing padded armor, which would reduce the damage by X!"

    GM: "Armor doesn't protect against falling damage. You know that."

    PLAYER: "Yeah, but he's not really falling. He's rolling. It would definitely protect him some, right?"

    GM: "Well, okay... some. Subtract half of X."

    </Example>

    Ultimately, what this means is that the rules are, at most, suggestions of social norms that players should abide by during the game.

    What this illustrates is that the credibility of the referee may be challenged successfully, and that his interpretation of the application of the rules may be modified in response to a credible statement by one of the players. The referee initially understood falling down the mountain as a fall; the player responded that it was not a fall, and that his armor should under the rules protect him from the kind of damage which would be taken by this event. The referee reconsidered the application of the rules, and reinterpreted them to take into account the application of armor to a situation which was not entirely like falling.
    Quote from: Mike Holmes
    Lot's of games I've played in go like this:

    Bob: I'm going to attempt to pick up the can of Peaches.

    -Bob rolls, examines the dice, sees that he's succeeded.

    Bob: Now I go to the table and open the peaches.

    Note, that Bob did not say he "was" picking up the peaches, and nobody ever said that he had done so, the dice said that he had, and everybody understood. And accepted the systems credibility, tacitly.

    In this case, the player who rolled the dice made the interpretation of the rules and implicitly in his actions stated that he was successful. How do I justify this perception? It happens as often, that it goes like this:
    Quote from: When I modified what Mike Holmes
    Lot's of games I've played in go like this:

    Bob: I'm going to attempt to pick up the can of Peaches.

    -Bob rolls, examines the dice, decides that he's succeeded.

    Bob: Now I go to the table and open the peaches.

    Joe: Dude, what are you doing? You botched, man--you didn't pick up the peaches!

    Thus we see that Bob has implicitly used his credibility to state implicitly that he picked up the peaches when he made his next statement. In Mike's example, everyone accepted that interpretation based on Bob's credibility (and perhaps their recognition that the dice did appear to them to indicate success under the authority of the rules, which is in essence their own credibility); in my counter example, Joe challenges Bob's credibility.
    Quote from: Walt a.k.a. WFrietag
    PLAYER: I search the entire north wall for secret doors.
    GM (consults rule book): "That takes thirty minutes total." (Rolls some dice) "Midway through your search, a wandering..." (rolls more dice) "...rust monster enters the room."

    Pretty much the same, right? The GM is following the rules and tables as a passive referee, so the statement that "a wandering rust monster enters the room" didn't come from the GM except in the trivial sense of the GM being the one to articulate it out loud after the system determined it. By the theory under consideration, it must have been implicit in the player's statement that he would search for secret doors.

    No, once again the referee is interpreting the rules and applying them. The fact that he is interpreting them very strictly does not negate the fact that he is interpreting and applying them. He might (very strictly) have recognized that every point in space is also a point in both the ethereal and astral planes, and so rolled for random encounters on both of those tables as well; he might (very strictly) have decided that since the players closed and locked the doors behind them, no monster can enter the room. The fact that we can imagine him doing it differently than he did demonstrates that he is interpreting and applying the rules. It is based on his credibility that this is what the rules mean that play proceeds; he rests on the authority of the rules, but is still running the game according to the rules as he understands them, and his understanding and application are regarded as credible by the other players, and hence governing because they are the most credible interpretation (by agreement, if not in fact) of the authoritative rules on which the game is based.

    I have been at this so long, there's probably more posted; but I hope I've clarified my understanding of authority versus credibility.

    --M. J. Young
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    Mike Holmes
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    « Reply #44 on: October 09, 2002, 06:08:04 AM »

    Fang we are at an apparent semantic impasse, and I do not see it as a "chicken/egg" thing.

    You say that the system can "affirm" or "deny". How is that not authority? Who cares about who makes the statement? The power in this case derives from the groups decision to abide by the rules. Just as the group can decide to abide by a GM or player's decisions, so too can they decide to abide in the results produced by the system (no matter who pronounces them).

    So you can continue to argue about statements if you like. And you'll be right as it is a semantic thing. The question is not, "Can we look at it that way?" We certainly can look at it that way. The question is, "Does it make for a more useful theory to look at it that way?" To which I would answer, no, not at all. It makes complete sense and is very useful to look at the rules as another entity which the players can place credibility in.

    People keep saying that the rules are something that people derive their credibility from. But isn't that the case with all credibility. It is all derived from the participants supporting each other. How is this different substantively from any other participant in the game?

    Mike
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