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Author Topic: I Have Seen El Dorado! [ultra-long]  (Read 11587 times)
Le Joueur
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« Reply #45 on: November 20, 2002, 08:07:19 AM »

Hey J.

Seems you've arrived right in time for the lynching.  (I was worried this wasn't coming)

Quote from: JMendes
My first point will be: if El Dorado is all about the GM being in control of the story, then how does chunk theory help any?

This is a good question.  Perhaps the answer lies in two points; what is a 'story' and what is control.  I can see that leadership of the party is beginning to breakdown over these two points and for good reason.

Let's back up a moment and take this one step at a time.  First of all, the whole "I've seen El Dorado" idea was to solve a long-standing problem.  Rather than prove the impossible (the simple reading of El Dorado), I chose to readdress the basic underpinning of the whole idea of its possibility.

El Dorado was originally identified as 'the great impossible thing' here, "...The GM may be defined as the author of the ongoing story, and, simultaneously, the players may determine the actions of the characters as the story’s protagonists." – GNS and Other Matters of Role-playing Design by Ron Edwards.  Over many months it has been simply discussed as "the gamemaster controlling (authoring) the story with the players' decisions determining the outcome of the story."  Clearly impossible, right?  Well, everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.

Paul Czege probably first coined the Spanish name and proposed 'retroactive story interpretation' technique.  This was determined to be a failure because reinterpreting is not authoring.  Joachim Buchert speculated along the lines of restricting the players to Actor Stance and that this would free up the gamemaster to author (not unlike what I am proposing here); it basically broke down when it was pointed out that, in the assumption of restricted Actor Stance, the players were abdicating 'control' to the gamemaster.  After this, the search died down somewhat.

Then came all this recent activity on Illusionism.  More specifically Jesse Burneko's "Case Number 2:"
      "Premise is being consciously addressed but only on one side of the table. I think if that addressing is on the Players' side, you get dysfunction. However, if the GM, is consistently insuring that the presentation of Situation and NPC-Character interactions all essentially raise permutations of the question stated in a Premise but the players are ONLY actually addressing the Situation and Characters (not consciously acknowledging the Premise they embody) then I think this quite functional. But what is it?"

      "Note: In this style of play the GM is only raising questions (the Premise) via presentation of Situation and choice Character interactions. He is NOT predetermining the PCs reactions to them. Therefore, because the Situation/Character interactions present Premise the players MUST address the Premise because they must make a decision regarding the given state of game affairs even if they are not consciously thinking of it in terms of Premise but only as a Situation to be resolved/dealt with."[/list:u][/list:u]In discussing this with my partner, the ever-elusive Caro Langford (she's scouting the area right now), I struggled to translate Forge terminology for her understanding (she understands Forge terms just fine, but requires me to translate because of how it clarifies my thinking out loud).  The result was basically the realization that at times gamemasters speak a completely different language in addition to that of players.

      In my work on a sharing component to the Scattershot model, I identified three levels of comfort, Self-Sovereign (you only control your own Persona), Referential (you control all that, plus anything that directly affects it), and Gamemasterful (you have access to everything).  This 'other language' I realized was abstracted and symbolic (like in the
    Raiders of the Lost Ark example above).

    What I realized was that even if the gamemaster shed all responsibility for details or specifics, completely, they could still gamemaster.  If every specific arose either from the player-character designs, the history of the game, the setting provided by whomever, or the decisions of the players (much like Intuitive Continuity described as "using the players' interests and actions during initial play to construct the crises and actual content"), then the 'symbolic language' employed by the gamemaster would formalize his "authoring of the ongoing story" without affecting the decisions of the players.

    The reason this isn't 'retroactive interpretation' is because it happens immediately; by monitoring the flow of abstract elements, the gamemaster can author 'on the fly.'  For the addressing of a Edwardian Premise, this becomes 'story now' Narrativism.  The major difference between this and Vanilla Narrativism is how the players are not abdicating any right of 'control.'  It works because both parties are speaking 'different languages' and their motives don't conflict.

    Important point: this is not easy!  One of the principle problems I've identified is what I have been calling the 'myth of reality.'  When you clearly escape the 'myth' you are empowered to use things like 'the moving clue' (if the players don't talk to the right person, the person they talk to becomes the right person) or 'the magician's choice' (If they pick A then you reveal that their choice is of what is to be discarded, if they pick B then you reveal that their choice is of what is to be saved); the complex point is being sensitive to where their interest lies per Intuitive Continuity and not supplying the specific personification of what is being addressed from your choice but from those things identified earlier (character design and et cetera).

    Quote from: JMendes
    To wit, narrative structure has been hammered to death in many a field of study. Sites with variations on the '36 basic plots' are out there by the thousands. If you read them out, they sound exactly like what (I think) you propose chunk theory to be. If that is the case, then 'GM control' is reduced to selecting a narrative structure from an already elaborately detailed menu of narrative structures.

    Let's talk about writing, for instance. I never tried writing any fiction longer than a three-page short story, so I don't know if novel writing is any different. However, what I do is pick out a structure and a theme and then get ready to write the details in. In other words, I control the story because I control the details. The chunks come from the structure I picked. They control nothing.

    So first my point, restated, is: why do you feel that planning out chunks is any degree of story control at all?

    I appreciate your mention of the Polti's 'thirty-six plots,' because it had a lot to do with my formalization of symbolic approach to gamemastering; however they are more specific cruxes of contention within a story and as such actually count more as a 'player controlled' detail.  The abstraction I'm referring to most often comes up in reviews of literature.  When the reviewer takes a 'finer grained' approach to tearing a work apart without delving into the details of the story; for example, "At one point the antagonist does an about-face and completely violates the point of their introduction."

    In bringing up Polti's plots, you approach symbolic gamemastering from too 'large of chunks.'  As Mike rightly points out, the other extreme is equally as bad.  (I identified 'atom-sized chunks' as abstractions like noun, verb, and adverb.)  The exact scale of 'chunks' is up to the gamemaster as is his 'depth of control' in authoring the story.  What I think is important is if he uses something akin to Intuitive Continuity to populate symbolic elements like 'antagonist' or 'thug' with names and details and doesn't allow himself to be swept away with the idea of using the 'same detail' for a later interaction (it isn't the same bad guy, necessarily, simply that the new confrontation is populated by an appropriate body who bears a connection to the previous).

    We can't really talk writing because that's a matter of assembling a linear story prior to presentation.  That's akin to 'front loading' a plot to the game and it should be clear that a 'front loaded' story is previously authored (something not covered by the description of El Dorado).  Since you believe that structure can only be 'front loaded,' I can see why you think authoring is only in the details (the point of view planned for the players in El Dorado).  If you look at it more as improvisation, where you are selecting structure as you go along, then the details are irrelevant.
      Let's try a thought experiment:

      Imagine a deck of cards with 'literary reviewer terms' written on them, "protagonist," "antagonist," "rivalry," "rise in tension," "conflicts with," "confrontation with," or "major prop."  Now you have two cardsharps, each dealt a hand of these cards.  They play a game where a "narrative structure" is created while they play; the rules cover things like avoiding nonsense sequences (using a kind of grammar, if you will).  The object of the game is to empty their hands after a climactic 'sentence' (there are rules that make them draw more cards).  After their game, look at the "narrative sequence;" it might not be high literature, but it has a structure.  During play they were authoring the sequence, yet it has no detail whatsoever.[/list:u]These cards are 'the chunks' I've been talking about.  Your 'opponent' is the players, except the suffer a severe handicap because they don't have any 'cards.'  You play the game in solitaire 'with them.'  At each point, when you play a card, you attach it to a detail in the same fashion that an
    Intuitive Continuity gamemaster constructs a crisis from elements revealed by player interest.  (I consider one of the biggest stumbling blocks to this approach being married to the idea that once the 'antagonist card' is played it refers to only that first detail assigned to it when played again in the future.  When the players render this unlikely, pursuing that 'marriage' causes unnecessary inconsistency.)

    I see 'playing cards' as the gamemaster 'authoring the ongoing story' without being as reactive as the typical Intuitive Continuity gamemaster.  I see the players' decisions exercising the same 'control' as they do in Intuitive Continuity play (their authoring is in the details, like you imagine).  Thus there are two sides actively controlling with the wedding of the controlled elements being the game.  Both are 'playing solitaire' in their own realm, players with details and decisions, the gamemaster with 'chunk cards' and structure.  The trick is to marry details to 'chunks' in such a way as to build player emotional engagement throughout the game.

    Like I said, not easy.

    Quote from: JMendes
    My second point is not as elaborate and is really only a question: how does your proposed El Dorado relate to the design and/or play of purchased scenarios?

    I'd like to think so, but it'll require "purchased scenarios' like none I have ever seen (unless you count 'bare settings' as scenarios).  Right now, I'm reorganizing my thoughts around what goes into a Scattershot supplement because when Scattershot is played with primarily Self-Sovereign sharing and little Self-Consciousness of narrative, it will be ripe for El Dorado play.  (Our Sequences are like larger 'chunks' that allow the smaller 'card-sized' ones to be played onto them.)

    Finally, I must caution that I do not see El Dorado as a place for everyone.  Think of it as an expensive tourist resort (provided we see it as exploitable) that requires much work on the part of the gamemaster, partly to master symbolic gamemastering and partly to unlearn a lot of 'myth of reality' habits.  This isn't really something I think will be worth much other than to complete our map and give us a better idea of 'where we are' in the world of gaming.

    Above all else, everyone should remember my only motivation has been to show that El Dorado exists, not beat a path to it.

    Fang Langford
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    Le Joueur
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    « Reply #46 on: November 20, 2002, 08:17:09 AM »

    Quote from: Pale Fire
    I am a little lost here.

    Join the club.  The reason for the second expedition is because I'm lost too.  Remember, I've only 'seen' it; I got lost trying to describe how to get there.  That's why I need everyone's help.  This isn't a solid theory, but an idea of how a theory could be created.

    Quote from: Pale Fire
    The GM plays with his abstract images, but who is painting the picture? If it is the GM, then what are the tools of the trade?

    If you are saying that the players provide the tools, isn't that saying "System doesn't matter"? If not then explain to me where the system enters. Because the way I see it, hasn't the system has put its influence on the painting by the time the GM shows the picture to the players?

    Take a look at the 'cardsharps' insert above.  That is a way of systemizing it; mostly a sketch, I'm looking for help fleshing such out.  And I can see how confusing it is about "painting the picture," I expect you're seeing the same "authoring is in the details" perspective as Mr. Mendes.  I hope my response to him clarifies things more.
      Mr. Lerno
    STOP

    You mustn't be afraid. STOP Natives are harmless. STOP It's a myth; Gamists do not munchkin other gamers. STOP

    You did say you were with Gamists, didn't you? STOP[/list:u]Sir Fang Langford STOP
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    Le Joueur
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    « Reply #47 on: November 20, 2002, 08:41:36 AM »

    View hullo! Chris!

    Quote from: C. Edwards
    I urge you wholeheartedly to rethink your proposed route to El Dorado....

    * In the rest of this post my reference to El Dorado should be read as
    "El Dorado without Illusionism."

    ...I think a large problem people have, indoctrinated gamers anyway, is that they have a preconception of just what an rpg is supposed to be, which is often completely intertwined with this "myth of reality".  They believe that certain types of rules, certain quantities of rules, mechanics that work this way or that way will work better to create a "reality" that doesn’t exist anywhere but in their minds.  That indoctrinated way of thought is poison to the pursuit of El Dorado.

    I'm finding that out.

    Quote from: C. Edwards
    ...It is only by letting go of our need to know what might happen before the players do that we can see the true path to El Dorado.

    ...It is the Connections by which the GM influences player decision.  The truth is, Connections aren’t any more reactionary than the players' decisions which prompt those Connections.  Envision a yin-yang or the endless cycle of rainfall. Player decision carries no more weight than GM connection; they feed and reinforce one another.  It’s the band metaphor all over again. Jazz baby.

    I don't see it that way.  In order to make the 'impossible contrast' possible, both parties must be doing as they see fit without compromise.  The resulting game is a symbiosis, not collaboration.  I see the yin and yang working hand in hand simultaneously like a marriage dealing with others.  (Within a marriage, there is a back and forth, but toward outside influences these are simultaneous.)

    Quote from: C. Edwards
    Use of the rules will not be transparent as long as the GMs use of those rules is in contradiction to the players understanding of how those rules function.  This is the hometown of Illusionism.  For example, in a game with hit points they have a solid context, specific rules for how they are lost, how many, etc., etc., The player always abides by these criteria, he doesn’t have much choice.  The GM on the other hand takes these very same criteria and bends them until they break, usually based on no other criteria except perhaps "the needs of the story", or "keeping NPC alive for next time".  Therefore, the core mechanism the game is supposed to provide, central rules for determining various aspects of play in an objective manner, has been utterly disregarded by the GM. This is often considered a serious breach of the unspoken social contract, akin to cheating.

    I wholeheartedly agree that letting go of the "myth of reality" is the greatest step on the winding trail, but when the system being used is still supporting that myth... you’re up the creek without a paddle.

    It shouldn't matter if the 'rules for all' support the myth, changing details should be a non-event for the gamemaster's 'chunks' (which would be 'rules for gamemasters').  Christoffer often poses the idea that each party should have separate rules, I think this fails for exactly the "until they break" situation you describe.  Because I see the connection between details and 'chunks' as completely mercurial, I find no problem; as you said "keeping the NPC alive" is the 'myth of reality' problem to be avoided.

    Quote from: C. Edwards
    My basic issue here is that you seem to find Illusionism necessary to El Dorado because you believe the game system itself to be not of much issue.  If that is the case then I wholeheartedly disagree.

    And I apologize if this has sounded like a rant for "how I play". It certainly isn’t meant that way.  I also know that I haven’t offered much in the way of crunchy fact and specifics but, like any similar quest, I believe the route to El Dorado requires a certain degree of Zen thought.

    I'm not surprised you picked up on the Illusionism irrelevance.  I picked that up mostly as a historic reference to how 'I saw El Dorado.'  Personally, I believe that El Dorado can function without Illusionism (unless you're convinced any gamemaster ulterior motives constitute Illusionism), I just used it as a shield for potential "that' cheating" comments.  I don't know why I'm being so defensive.

    Thank you very much for both the Zen suggestion and identifying the yin and yang of El Dorado.  (Here's a thought for you eastern philosophers, gamemaster control would be yin in nature, and player control would be yang in character.)  I hope my response to Mr. Mendes helps clarify things a bit more.

    Fang Langford
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    Sylus Thane
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    « Reply #48 on: November 20, 2002, 09:49:29 AM »

    After crossing the Great Gap, myself and my Player companions came across the esteemed Mr. Lerno and friend. Unfortunately they already had the company of Gamists from the Pit of the Isms. After a brief battle ensued we were able to free Lerno's companion before he had succumbed to being dinner. Lerno is correct in his thinking that all of the worlds abundant within the universe of game have their own unique rules. Which is as it should, as any Gee'Em will tell you, for it helps them in guiding parties of Players through their adventures, but I fear he may have gone to gung ho on the let's hurry up and get there that he mistakenly stopped to ask directions. As I did not send his guide I fear the forces of Ism have already begun to lead others astray, to what end I do not know.

    Across the valley we spotted C. edwards plodding along with his eyes closed steadily feeling his way. He his on the right track and I hope he will not make similar mistakes and ask for directions as all they will do is lead him down the wrong path. We will continue to keep track of him, he shouldn't be too hard to keep track of as long as he keeps whistling those wonderful tunes.

    Hopefully we will be able to find Mr. Mendes soon as he seems to be a good gentleman and looks to be on his way to becoming one of the great Gee'Ems with his willingness to question all theories.

    I have no idea where Sir Langford. I fear he may have unwittingly walked into the Maze. If he has it may take a great deal of time to get him and all of his companions back out again. I hope his friend Caro has not strayed too far, and that he did not bring enough food for his cat. We will head for the maze now and hope to find some sign of his passing.

    Sylus
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    Daredevil
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    « Reply #49 on: November 20, 2002, 11:10:57 AM »

    This is just a huge discussion, with a whole bunch of tangentially related issues complicating it further. Personally, I've yet to digest everything in this thread and before I can continue with my own search I'd have to go back to look at all the old threads as well as my own notes derived from these most ancient of manuscripts on our Golden City.

    This is probably the most high-flying thread I've ever seen on the Forge and I think we've all seen a few that were deep indeed.

    Amongst my notes I found the barest sketches of a game design -- started simply out of a wish to design a game that is distinctly El Doradan in flavor -- that I still find interesting. Indeed, perhaps this at times esoteric discussion could benefit from a firm root in reality, perhaps in the form of an actual game design. This way we could talk about matters in a more hands-on manner.

    This is what should distinguish the true explorers from the mere theorists, my esteemed collegues.

    Looking at my notes, with some deep humor and irony I chose the premise of the game to be the conquistadors and indeed restricted it further to be a game about a) the myth of El Dorado b) a more sim-type depiction of the conquistadors actual explorations. Each campaign would be about a group of explorers (the PCs) creating an expedition to look for that hidden city. In this way, the game has a generic shape, but also a narrative focus, without the initial decisions actually deciding which way the story will be going (you can still fail to find it, or you can actually find it, or the story can branch into some other tangential matter such as the player's establishing their own kingdom of Gold in the Amazon).

    Indeed, the whole idea has a curious resonance with the "chunk" approach, as the game would pretty much be about the general chunks of the relationships of the conquistadors, encounters with local Indian cultures, the dangers of the wilderness, the logistics of exploration and other themes encountered by these exploring groups. All these issues are at the same time "realistic" sim-based concerns as well narrativist concerns loaded with meaning as contrasted to the journey at large. There is a general pre-knowledge of the chunks, by virtue of understanding the setting and the premise, but their true content only appears in play, as per the chunk approach.

    A note on realism as pertaining to the game. The adventures in the game could just as well include magic, semi-magic or none at all, depending on any number of factors (player-GM decision, GM decision, etc). The "realism" is naturalism, in that it isn't carbon copy of OUR world, but a naturalist depiction of THEIR world.

    Anyway, interesting thread which is going to take a great while to digest.

    - Joachim Buchert -

    Edit to include response to the Zen issue: The mention of this is almost unbelievable to me, since I have truthfully held the same thought -- that the approach to El Dorado takes a great deal of Zen -- from the VERY beginnings of the talks on El Dorado. I've never taken it up in discussion for fear of muddling it further (as I'm uncertain how many here are truly initiated or even lightly cognizant of Zen philosophy). This is also why the Schrödinger's Cat analogy worked so well with me, as it appealed to the part of me that associates this entire style with a Zen-approach to role-playing.
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    JMendes
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    « Reply #50 on: November 20, 2002, 03:01:12 PM »

    Hullo, :)

    1. I understand where you're going.
    2. I do not think you're going where you think you're going.

    From the essay, "...The GM may be defined as the author of the ongoing story, and, simultaneously, the players may determine the actions of the characters as the story's protagonists."

    Some of you may or may not know that El Dorado, or a city built with actual gold, does not exist, but that an alternative explanation has been advanced regarding a city built with many a piece of obsidian stone that glints exactly like gold and that might exist, although it would also be very hard to find and indeed worth much.

    In other words, I think you have lots and lots of merit for advancing and proposing this discovery, but I don't think you have found El Dorado as described in the essay.

    Our differendum doesn't come from what is story nor from what is control, but rather, from what is authoring. You have artfully expanded on this point of difference in your response to my previous post when you stated that I think that authoring is in the details. You were right. I do. Or rather, I don't, but I do think that that is what the essay means.

    I think Mike came close when he claimed you had found and iron pyrite version of El Dorado, except that pyrite is virtually worthless, whereas obsidian is at least semi-precious. Also, the discovery has much merit for archeological and anthropological value.

    Also, I think Ron is still reading along with his sinister smile and all, but I would really like to know what he thinks at this point.

    Cheers,

    J.
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    Le Joueur
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    « Reply #51 on: November 20, 2002, 05:21:52 PM »

    Hello J.  (What should I use for the J?)

    Quote from: JMendes
    In other words, I think you have lots and lots of merit for advancing and proposing this discovery, but I don't think you have found El Dorado as described in the essay.

    Our differendum doesn't come from what is story nor from what is control, but rather, from what is authoring. You have artfully expanded on this point of difference in your response to my previous post when you stated that I think that authoring is in the details. You were right. I do. Or rather, I don't, but I do think that that is what the essay means.

    That is very true, but only so far as we disagree on what Ron originally meant by authoring.  That's a matter of pure speculation at this point, since we can't really tell.

    Ultimately then, what I am proposing is an alternate form of authoring to your understanding (of the essay).  To me, an exercise in abstract 'story structure' generation is authoring.  (In fact, it is rather crucial to how my partner and I write comic books.  We determine what makes a 'good detail' and not, we conceive of a decent thematic message, and then we begin to apply it to writing.  One of the major impediments in our comic style is that each page carries 3-7 images and must not be overwhelmed with text.  Each page - or at least every right hand page - must finish with some 'question' that the reader will be intrigued enough to turn the page for; that's a pretty tall order.  If we didn't use an abstract narrative-element authoring scheme, it'd be deucedly difficult.)

    Given this definition of authoring I believe we have the way to El Dorado.  Granted that there is no way to carry any this city back to civilization, much less an assay office, we'll have to content ourselves with the apparent value each of us ascribes to that which glitters like gold.

    Quote from: JMendes
    Also, I think Ron is still reading along with his sinister smile and all, but I would really like to know what he thinks at this point.

    Oh, he thinks it's Narrativism pure and simple.

    Fang Langford

    p. s. My opinion of what the original definition means, based on what would be impossible in that sentence, is the whole 'who is in control' issue.
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    JMendes
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    « Reply #52 on: November 20, 2002, 06:48:08 PM »

    Ahoy, :)

    Quote from: Le Joueur
    Hello J.  (What should I use for the J?)


    João. My name is Mendes. João Mendes. ;) (That's an a-tilde for those of you with different code pages.)

    Anyway, I think I see a clear path straight ahead towards... well, towards El Dorado, whatever it's made of. (Read: regardless of what definition of authorship is in use.) Of course, the path is crossed by bottomless pits and huge ridges that have to be crossed. (Read: it'll take some practice and deep thought to master symbolic chunk authorship.) But it's straight ahead. (Read: I know exactly what kind of practice and deep thought.)

    Now, the decision is, do I want to take the time to get there? :) But that's for another thread.

    And I do wish Ron would speak up on this thread.

    Cheers,

    J.
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    Mike Holmes
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    « Reply #53 on: November 20, 2002, 10:30:54 PM »

    Miss a day...

    First, I think that we ought to consider a few new threads. This one's getting heavy. And I think we should drop all the metaphor (you people need to play more!). It's only serving to obscure things.

    Like the ironic fact that I am not sure what Sylus is saying about speaking in a more straightforward manner.

    Just one specific point. The case against "Reality" has been waaaay overstated here, IMO. That is, while flexibility is key, here, there are often times when you don't have to be flexible, and things just come togehter serendipitously. As such it's noce to have some reality present for when this does occur so that the GM can take a break from making it all up on the fly.

    And nobody is saying that consistency has to be thown out. Rather the opposite. Consistency is what we hope to maintain by cheating as much as possible. "Oh, the cat wasn't there before? Hmmm. Yes, that is strange, isn't it...." (GM creates plot from presumed inconsistency).

    As for GNS, what do you al have against discussing it in terms of GNS? Just because GNS can't describe it simply or entirely by itself doesn't mean that it's not useful in analyzing the phenomenon as always.

    Mike
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    M. J. Young
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    « Reply #54 on: November 20, 2002, 11:40:29 PM »

    Hazard Warnings on the Road

    Quote from: contracycle
    OK. But this is essentially the "its not real till you see it" approach that we already know, as others have mentioned. There is a catch, though: the system lets players predict Truth. They might not know the bad guy's HP, but they can know that X is enough to kill an elephant. At which point you're back to credibility, which is a finite resource, or at least needs regular refreshing. I feel you incorrectly understate the significance of the emulation of reality - I don't feel that I am seduced into maintenance of consistency out of the delusion that it MUST be consistent, but rather do so because it is the simplest lie. There is value in real being real, IMO.

    There is indeed value in real being real; but perhaps the problem is not with whether the players know how many points it takes to kill an elephant but rather with whether they know how many points have actually been inflicted on the bad guy. In short, you are interpreting El Doradan culture from the perspective of modern books, and not in its own context. You are accustomed to "You hit him for, let's see, five points of damage" because that is how it is done in our societies; but it need not be done even there.

    Every game has ways by which characters can reduce the damage they take from a successful attack. Even OAD&D, notorious for its simplistic damage system, contains Ioun Stones, Rings of Regeneration, Armor of Healing, and the ability to enspell objects for similar function. In short, strictly speaking it is not possible for a player to know how many hit points an opponent has, how many he has taken, and whether he is getting them back faster than he's losing them.

    Now, certainly if every villain has the same incredible protections, the players are going to start suspecting something's odd (probably even will attempt to discover why they all have these); but the fact is that the protections exist, and could be used by important opponents if the referee desires to use them.

    Quote from: Concerning another game he had created, Christoffer Lerno a.k.a. Pale Fire
    Because rules are in the way "of making up reality as you see fit". Furthermore, there are no rules for the GM, there are only rules for the players.
    The GM doesn't need to roll if the monster manages to stalk the player.
    The GM doesn't need to roll to decide NPC vs NPC actions.
    So there is no problem with the rules interfering with the GM's reality building. The mechanics and its results are given all their meaning through the interpretation of the GM. This way there is no effect that the GM did not desire. The mechanics only work as a rough suggestion.

    Maybe this works well in that game; but I have some problems with it.

    Vizzini, Montoya, and Fezzig have just climbed the Cliffs of Despair, and Vizzini says that no one but the giant has the strength to climb it. Now, if they're the player characters, don't they have the right to believe that whatever they did to impede the ability of the non-player characters to follow them has some effect? That is, clearly they climbed this cliff in order to delay pursuit. If the NPC's aren't delayed merely because the referee wants them to be in hot pursuit, what's the point of trying to slow them down? Sometimes the referee doesn't need to roll to see if the monster can stalk the PC's; but sometimes he must give them the courtesy of determining whether their precautions have been effective.

    Also, generally I agree that the referee should just decide NPC versus NPC outcomes, when they're part of his story. But if the players have engineered this confrontation, using their enemies against each other, or even using their allies against their enemies, don't they have the right to know that the referee is going to adjudicate that outcome consistently with their expectations?

    I agree that many times the referee can just decide how he wants things to go, and they go that way; on the other hand, sometimes it is not merely that the players have a stake in the outcome, but that they have very reasonable expectations concerning how the outcome will be determined, and in those cases the referee should be restricted to at least the appearance that those expectations were met.

    Quote from: Christoffer Lerno a.k.a. Pale Fire further
    Aren't these 4 points true?

    1. Rules impede GM flexibility
    2. Rules guide player decisions
    3. Rules create consistent results
    4. Rules make outcome predictable

    No; or at least, not always.

    I have seen rules that enhance referee flexibility. I think that Multiverser's general effects rolls do this, as well as the botch results rules, and probably also the relative success and relative failure rules.

    There are rules that unfetter player decisions. Multiverser's skill learning system does this by allowing characters to try to teach themselves new skills "on the fly" as it were, much as you might do in real-life situations. Most of us have been in the spot of having to do something we've never done, and saying, "all right, let me try this," and having it work. A Multiverser character can pretty much do the same thing, whenever he wants, and with a lot less restriction than reality places on us. If by "guide player decisions" you mean "encourage certain kinds of solutions as more effective than others", that's certainly true; but if you mean "define the limits of what kinds of solutions should be considered", that's a lot less defensible.

    Some rules are designed to create inconsistent results. I don't recall right now whether it is HKAT or Feng Shui, but one of them has "mook" rules which prevent the unimportant characters from doing more to the PC's than delay them. That means that if a mook hits you with a three-piece rod, you are not hurt, because he is a mook, but if a major villain hits you with the same weapon, you are injured. That is an inconsistent result; it means that three-piece rods are or are not dangerous depending on whether the person wielding them has story value. Multiverser's botch rules create inconsistent results: if you botch at some skills, absolutely anything can happen.

    Rules do make outcomes predictable in a general sense, but not in a specific sense. For example, using the rules to OAD&D, I can (and did) construct a program which will determine how much damage an attacker will do to an opponent per round (based on number of attacks per round times probable chance to hit times average damage per successful hit). I could run this program, setting a knight against a dragon, and so determine who would win strictly on which one will outlast the other. However, this does not account for many of the factors which are, in a sense, outside the specifics of the rules. Will both combatants make the best choices in combat? Will one of them have a particularly good or bad streak of dice luck? Are there strategic opportunities which either can use which give them an edge not considered in this analysis? What seems very predictable by a direct application of the rules loses that aspect in play.

    It would seem to me that the function of rules is primarily to protect the expectations of the players. Where the referee can do this without rules, he doesn't need them. Where the players' expectations are truly unformed, rules can be ignored. But when the players have clear expectations regarding the handling of game situations and these expectations involve complicated uncertainties, rules become critical building blocks for making that happen.

    Beyond that, I think the chunk theory interesting, and I, too, am reading.

    --M. J. Young
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    Christoffer Lernö
    Member

    Posts: 822


    « Reply #55 on: November 24, 2002, 08:32:41 AM »

    Ok, I'm re-entering the confusing el Dorado thread to answer some concerns MJ has about things I wrote. I don't know if I dare to do any real exploring of el Dorado because at this point I am not sure if the el Dorado  we discuss is what I'd feel is el Dorado or if it's about something completely different.

    The fact that there is now a "chunk-theory" that is based on something I wrote, but which doesn't resemble anything I ever considered makes me feel very lost :)

    Quote from: M. J. Young
    Maybe this works well in that game; but I have some problems with it. Vizzini, Montoya, and Fezzig have just climbed the Cliffs of Despair, and Vizzini says that no one but the giant has the strength to climb it. Now, if they're the player characters, don't they have the right to believe that whatever they did to impede the ability of the non-player characters to follow them has some effect?

    Sure. Saying NPCs don't need to roll simply means what it says. The GM decides. Any GM deciding that such power means that NPCs can climb it with impunity could equally easy have said that the NPCs levitate themself up the cliff. Both would be blatantly ignoring any consistency in the world. The GM could also declare that the characters are all hit by a lightning from a freak thunderstorm. There is no way to correct such a GM by creating rules he/she has to follow.

    As for your concerns with "The Evil" and the perceived inability to make a difference challenging the NPCs... In the case that a player is throwing a challenge towards an NPC, then the PLAYER rolls how effective this challenge is and the GM makes up what that means to the NPCs actions.

    Obviously this rule-light stuff isn't well suited for all types of sim play. In fact I would only use it for horror. BUT I don't see the critical flaws you seem to say it contains M.J. I just see it as getting high-maintenance using it in other styles of adventures.

    Quote from: M.J. Young
    I have seen rules that enhance referee flexibility. I think that Multiverser's general effects rolls do this, as well as the botch results rules, and probably also the relative success and relative failure rules.

    I think you might be confusing rules that create "GM rights to create inconsistencies" with flexibility. The former is typically used in a sim system where some of the genre expectations clash with the (sim) mechanics emphasizing "realistic" outcomes. The rules you talk about are a way to avoid breaking the social contract (usually: "use the rules of the game we are playing") when trying to adhere to genre expectations.

    However, if there are no or very few rules, there are only genre expectations left really (no need to worry about breaking the social contract). Ergo, the problem goes away.

    The mook rule provides results that are consistent with the genre expectations. The only reason you need add-on rules like the "mook rule" is because the rest of the mechanics are using mechanics that does not quite fit with the genre expectations.

    (I do acknowledge that the "mook rule" is enforcing genre expectations which can help driving the game towards that type of play. Compare that to "The Evil" which doesn't have any helpful "driving mechanic" to ensure horror. The latter is much more at the mercy of the GM)
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    formerly Pale Fire
    [Yggdrasil (in progress) | The Evil (v1.2)]
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