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TROS, Narrativism and Illusionism

Started by hyphz, November 24, 2002, 01:36:15 PM

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To be honest I had absolutely no idea where to post this, but since I'm mentioning '-isms' I suppose I'll try here first.

Here's my question.  I'm led to understand by a great deal of the discussion regarding it that TROS play is driven by the SAs, and that this is a narrativist technique.

But it seems that it's equally usable as an illusionist technique, because as GM I can offer a player choices which are no-brainers once their SAs are taken into account.  For example, if we have a character who has Passion (Loyalty to King) and Drive (Defeat Evil in All Its Forms), then if I have the king tell him to go kill the evil goblins in the mountains, the player will obviously choose that.  I can then make this choice have as much effect on the game world as I wish, thus creating the illusion that the PC's choices matter, when in fact nothing has changed from what I had planned because the player had no real choice; everything was prearranged to ensure the choice went the way it did and the player just went through the motions of decision making.

Is this illusionism?  If so, how can it be avoided in setting up TROS?

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

As a TROS veteran, I can only point to your phrase ...

"... the player will obviously choose that."

I'm afraid, in TROS, that he or she will not necessarily do so.

Here's an extreme example. The player may spend an SA to 0 at any time, and doing that for two of them allows one of them to be changed. Instantaneously, you the confident GM are suddenly faced with a player-character who has traded out Loyalty to the King for a Passion for the warty body of the goblin princess, or a Destiny to rule the goblins.

Less intensely, there is no "punishment" for acting against one's SA's. They may drop a point or two of the character does so, but that is development just as improving them is.

I think being this confident about TROS play is just fine for run #1; the chosen SA's at that point represent something of a profile for how players want to start out and interact. But SA's aren't alignment or personality models (as in D&D or Vampire) or psychological limitations (as in the Hero System or GURPS) - they aren't parameters within which players have contracted to have their characters act. After run #1, look out - things may change very fast, and in many cases, the changes of action precedes the changes of writing on the sheet.


Mike Holmes

What Ron states may be his bias speaking. But just as certainly, your take, hyphz, could be as well. That is, as written, I think the text is just a slight bit ambiguous as to how these things should apply in play.

So, either of these versions could be considered drift. In fact, I'm going to take a stab here, and say that TROS is one of those games that just hass to be interpereted to some extent to fit play styles. This probably pleases Jake, who seems to be very much of the opinion that people should play the game however they want.

One problem with this attitude is that if you play with some players that interperet it one way, and other players who think it's supposed to be another way, this may result in GNS incmpatibility. The best example I can think of is a player who feels that they are not constrained by the SAs (probably prefers Narrativism), is playing with a GM who thinks they do. In this case, the player may change his SAs for reasons that the GM thinks are too OOC, or something of that nature.

As such, this is something that players and GMS should nail down before play.

Just my opinion.

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Jake Norwood

TROS, like Sorcerer, has a lot of "bits and pieces" that should be decided on before play. SA use and compatibility is one of those things. I did honestly create SAs so that they would *sort of* function in Illusionist settings like you describe as well as so-called "narrativist" functions. I had no idea what either of these things were when I wrote it, mind you.

I guess that I agree with Mike and with Ron, and I see what you're saying, but it doesn't really bother me. The fun thing is like this, though:

The king, to whom PC#1 is loyal, says "go kill the goblins." What if he can be more loyal to his king by not killing the goblins, as the vengance of neighboring goblin tribes would destroy the kingdom and impoverish (or lead to the demise of) said king. Now the player has to choose what the loyalty really means...

Lastly I'd add that any GM approaching SA's as flatly as in your example is either lazy and cheating _or_ in for the surprise of a gaming career when the SAs function a little differently than he thought they would.

"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant


Mike Holmes

Quote from: Jake NorwoodTROS, like Sorcerer, has a lot of "bits and pieces" that should be decided on before play.

I agree.

One small problem, however. Unlike Sorcerer, TROS does not say that these things need to be worked out. That's where the danger comes in. What may happen is that these things will get determined in play. Probably by the Senschal, and possibly to the players' dislike (or at least against expectation).

There is less "danger" from this in TROS than in many games, however, because it seems that it would hang together pretty well, even when this did occur. Still, if we can eliminate the danger...

That all said, I hope that many or even most of the TROS players out there have seen your forum, Jake, as this is pretty well discussed there. As a support issue, you've done a good job of making clear what the text might not.

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