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Author Topic: preparation: character vs setting  (Read 8113 times)
Jack Spencer Jr
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« on: December 08, 2002, 06:59:29 AM »

From another thread:
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Another possibility to consider is that some games are constructed such that the characters are very rich and intense pre-play. Sorcerer is a good example; a character isn't made up off the cuff. Other games are just the reverse - a character is made up off the cuff, and develops mainly through play, over several sessions. Castle Falkenstein is an excellent example of this approach. I've discovered that until people consider this issue critically, they may be taking sides without knowing it. In other words, a player or two might be assuming that pre-play character consideration simply isn't relevant.


Now, I've been hearing this a lot lately, or so it seem. Another one of these neat dichotomies that tend to crop up in discussions, the idea of character vs setting and that intensive preparation should be done for either one or the other, but not both because this what is undefined is what is meant to be explored, or some similar (possibly reversed) reasoning.

I don't quite have my head completely around this for some reason, but something about is screams to my instincts "not quite right." Part of it may be that this *suggests* (not to put words into anyone's mouth) something like one of those childrens toys where you put down on a peg *here* and the toher peg *there* goes up, like it's a fixed scale. As if the less the character is developed in preplay preparation, then the more the setting *must be* developed. This is just false, I think. I believe it more a movable scale and it depends on the game, and the group, how much preparation is necessary for either.

But more than this, I think the dichotomy is false as well. What are the characters if not simply part of the setting? Perhaps a special part of the setting, but a part nevertheless. And the whole thing is just a tool set for the story to help make things happen. Setting is Where and the characters are Who. That kind of thing. I don't see what is served by taking them separately, but this may relate to GNS and my grip on that is shaky, I admit.
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Andrew Martin
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2002, 11:34:56 AM »

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr

Now, I've been hearing this a lot lately, or so it seem. Another one of these neat dichotomies that tend to crop up in discussions, the idea of character vs setting and that intensive preparation should be done for either one or the other, but not both because this what is undefined is what is meant to be explored, or some similar (possibly reversed) reasoning.

I don't quite have my head completely around this for some reason, but something about is screams to my instincts "not quite right." Part of it may be that this *suggests* (not to put words into anyone's mouth) something like one of those childrens toys where you put down on a peg *here* and the toher peg *there* goes up, like it's a fixed scale. As if the less the character is developed in preplay preparation, then the more the setting *must be* developed. This is just false, I think. I believe it more a movable scale and it depends on the game, and the group, how much preparation is necessary for either.

But more than this, I think the dichotomy is false as well. What are the characters if not simply part of the setting? Perhaps a special part of the setting, but a part nevertheless. And the whole thing is just a tool set for the story to help make things happen. Setting is Where and the characters are Who. That kind of thing. I don't see what is served by taking them separately, but this may relate to GNS and my grip on that is shaky, I admit.


I think characters are part of the setting and setting is part of the characters. Both characters and setting can be undefined and then become more defined (or known) in successive sessions of game play.

Most conventional RPGs seem to insist on well defined characters and well defined setting at the start of play, only allowing character advancement like XP to change the character in subsequent sessions. I suppose this is because of the need to keep selling product to make a profit, so the pubilisher produces more supplements and more expansions to do so. GMs buy these because they're an assist to the work of defining the game world/setting, and because the rules of the game don't consider that the PCs or players have real, significant effect in the game world.
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Andrew Martin
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2002, 03:02:49 PM »

I won't argue that the two things aren't linked.  They most definitely are. The preparation for plot driven vs character driven stories definitely is different though, which is the point that I was trying to make in the thread on future directions.

When I prep for Call of Cthulhu or Traveller, I'm looking at an essentially plot driven game.  I need to have some events planned out to happen, and I need to put some real thought into those events and how they can be adapted to deal with player actions.

When I prep for Sorcerer or Dust Devils, I need to put a lot more focus on the personalities involved, and how they're gonna butt heads.  I still need to have events planned out, but my focus needs to be more on who's there than what happens.

That's how it seems to me at least. I don't have a lot of successful experience with character driven games.  We had a lot of fun with Sorcerer in an alternative group, but it was a flop with my main group.  Dust Devils forces character driven games even more, and my plot-based background really got in the way.

What's I'd really like to see is something like a checklist of things to cover in prep for each style.
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Clay Dowling
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2002, 08:09:06 PM »

This is something to which Ron often returns. It is his contention that highly detailed characters and highly detailed settings tend to clash with each other, making it more difficult to role play within them. I suppose for example that if you were going to play Frodo in Middle Earth, there really isn't that much room to do anything; we know the character, and we know the world. If you were going to play Frodo in some world that the referee just created about which almost nothing is known, you've got somewhere to go. If you're going to play some other hobbit or elf in Middle Earth, you can probably find something interesting to develop.

Of course, this example suffers from the problem that Frodo fits well in Middle Earth. What if you were to play The Grey Mouser, or Maud dib, or some other well-defined fantasy character, in Middle Earth? Now you not only have the fact that both the setting and the character are highly detailed, but also that they don't fit well together.

Thus (if I understand aright) if you've got a highly detailed setting and you let players create highly detailed characters, you wind up with two sets of detail that have a very low probability of "meshing" with each other. You quickly find yourself in an unplayable game, in which characters are about one thing and setting is about another.

If one or the other is low-detail, then as the game progresses the one that is not so intricately detailed will mold itself to fit the other, and the game will fall into place as it unfolds.

This does not at all mean that either must be high-detail initially; you can create a game in which everything is low-detail and let both develop.

It might not mean that you can never introduce a high-detail character to a high-detail world; but you need to have some way either of ensuring in advance that they will fit together or of dealing with the discordance as part of play (e.g., Multiverser characters landing in fantasy worlds find they have to adapt to the world around them; this is a natural part of the experience in that game--the clash between character and world is part of what is explored).

Now, perhaps Ron will appear and clarify his position (I hate trying to speak for him, as I'm often mistaken about it myself), but I think it's pretty close to this. I tend to agree in the main that this problem often exists, although I don't have the same breadth of experience (variety of games played) and haven't reached any solid conclusion on it.

--M. J. Young
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bluegargantua
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Posts: 167


« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2002, 08:46:09 PM »

Quote from: M. J. Young
This is something to which Ron often returns. It is his contention that highly detailed characters and highly detailed settings tend to clash with each other, making it more difficult to role play within them.


I don't think I agree with that.  I would say that one heavily influences the other but both can be quite detailed.

Quote
Thus (if I understand aright) if you've got a highly detailed setting and you let players create highly detailed characters, you wind up with two sets of detail that have a very low probability of "meshing" with each other. You quickly find yourself in an unplayable game, in which characters are about one thing and setting is about another.


True, but only if characters are created independently of the setting.  And even charcters just slap-dashed together can suffer from this -- perhaps more so.

Think about it this way:

  I say I'm running a Wild West Game.  We'll be playing in the boomtown of Ogallala, Nebraska at the end of a major cattle trail.  I tell my players that you're going to be playing regular townsfolk.  You don't necessarily have to be a combat monster, but you should have some useful wilderness skill.

  My players go home and next week they show up with four highly detailed characters.  One of them is a cyborg, one of them is a barbarian, one of them is a minor godling and the final one is Doc Savage.

  OK -- an obvious case where setting and character don't match up, but it's mainly because the players have gone completely round the twist and didn't listen to a thing I'd said.

  On the other hand, my players could've come up with very detailed characters for the town sheriff, the owner of a tavern, a dance hall girl and a local cowhand and they would've meshed wonderfully.  In this case, the setting has informed and influenced the choice of character they create and play.  Note that details about the setting are influenced by the character choices as well -- one of the players owns a tavern in town.  There's a dance hall for another.  As the GM I could strictly state that these places don't exist in my setting, but considering how much plot potential it adds, there's really no reason not to.  The players have ceeded a lot of creative control when they agreed to play in my setting.  I probably owe them some amount of flexibility in return as long as they mainly play within the setting's framework.

  Considering the Middle Earth example used in the previous post.  Having someone play Frodo in Middle Earth is a bit of a red herring.  Say someone chose to play Doc Holiday in my Wild West Game.  There's a very detailed character.  I think the argument is that he's too detailed.  He's historical and thus most of his movements and actions are already sketched out on the canvas of history.  The same thing is true about trying to play Frodo in Middle Earth -- his adventures are already chronicled and, if someone is playing true to character, he'd probably make many of the same choices Frodo made in the books.

  So yeah, this character might be too detailed for the setting -- but only if that particular character is a detail of the setting itself.  In other words -- characters like Frodo or Doc Holiday may be just as much a part of the setting as the Shire or the Union Pacific.  They're historical personages and they form part of the backdrop the characters play in.  In this case, they are too detailed.  Players can't choose them as characters because they're simply not available for that use.

  In this case, I might be willing to allow a player to have a character heavily based off of Doc Holiday.  Allowing someone to play a Frodo-like character in a Middle Earth game probably wouldn't be too awful.  The only real problem comes in if someone wants to play a character just like a "setting character" who is clearly unique (or possesses unique powers/artifacts).  There may be two albino elves in the world, but only one of them has Stormbringer and that's Elric.  These kinds of limits to "detailed characters" are usually imposed to prevent rampant munchkinism or because there's a "start at the bottom" process involved in most RPGs.

  Finally, I might allow a player to play the honest-to-goodness Doc Holiday or Frodo.  In these cases, I'll simply ignore history or the novels and just say "yup, you're X".  Either the game is flexible enough to allow for high-rollers to rub shoulders with more humble folks -- or I've got a world of hurt in store for people who dream big.  

Quote

This does not at all mean that either must be high-detail initially; you can create a game in which everything is low-detail and let both develop.


  I think that this actually happens quite a bit.  Especially in most fantasy games where building the world a bit at a time goes hand-in-hand with the characters developing their skills and abilities.

  I note that Hero Wars is a good exmple of a detailed setting producing detailed characters.  Simply stating where you come from, what your job is and who you worship hands you a boatload of skills and abilities which you tweak from there.  You have free choice in where you begin play but once you choose, the setting provides the framework that you build off of.  

later
Tom
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Fabrice G.
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2002, 01:11:26 AM »

Hi all,

M.J., for me you nailed it pretty well. Not much to had, except a thank you for articulating it so clearly.

Tom, I think I don't define detailed as you do in your post. So if you agree, I would like to come back to your exemple.

Quote from: Tom
I say I'm running a Wild West Game. We'll be playing in the boomtown of Ogallala, Nebraska at the end of a major cattle trail. I tell my players that you're going to be playing regular townsfolk. You don't necessarily have to be a combat monster, but you should have some useful wilderness skill.

My players go home and next week they show up with four highly detailed characters. One of them is a cyborg, one of them is a barbarian, one of them is a minor godling and the final one is Doc Savage.

OK -- an obvious case where setting and character don't match up, but it's mainly because the players have gone completely round the twist and didn't listen to a thing I'd said.

On the other hand, my players could've come up with very detailed characters for the town sheriff, the owner of a tavern, a dance hall girl and a local cowhand and they would've meshed wonderfully. In this case, the setting has informed and influenced the choice of character they create and play. Note that details about the setting are influenced by the character choices as well -- one of the players owns a tavern in town. There's a dance hall for another. As the GM I could strictly state that these places don't exist in my setting, but considering how much plot potential it adds, there's really no reason not to. The players have ceeded a lot of creative control when they agreed to play in my setting. I probably owe them some amount of flexibility in return as long as they mainly play within the setting's framework.


Well, for me your setting is very not detailed. The exemple you're giving would be a case of detailed characters with a non-detailed setting, IMHO.
A detailed setting would have all the major NPC listed and ready, the backstory of all the townfolk clearly established, and maybe with a map of "who-know-what-about-who" if the game is to be about secrets. All this before the character creation phase.
Now, with everything established, it's much harder to integrate the PCs.
Let's say you (the GM) cretated the sherrif, with a delicious secret murder history ; what do you do when the player come and says he's created the sheriff ? Either you say no, or you have to eliminate the NPC sheriff and all the setting elements that go with him. That's why IME detailed setting and detailed PC don't mesh well. My reasoning is that if I have to change major portions of the setting so that the PCs can exist, hell, why creating a so much detailed setting beforehand, why not just let it undefined, and really tune it to the PC ?


Take care,

Fabrice.
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bluegargantua
Member

Posts: 167


« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2002, 09:25:22 AM »

Quote from: Fabrice G.


[Wild West Example Game deleted]

Well, for me your setting is very not detailed. The exemple you're giving would be a case of detailed characters with a non-detailed setting, IMHO.
A detailed setting would have all the major NPC listed and ready, the backstory of all the townfolk clearly established, and maybe with a map of "who-know-what-about-who" if the game is to be about secrets. All this before the character creation phase.


For the sake of argument, let's say I did that.  Personally, I can't imagine spending that much time to create a history for every single townsperson so perhaps I haven't reached a high enough threshold of detail.  But cool.  I even know who owns which horse.

Quote

Now, with everything established, it's much harder to integrate the PCs.
Let's say you (the GM) cretated the sherrif, with a delicious secret murder history ; what do you do when the player come and says he's created the sheriff ? Either you say no, or you have to eliminate the NPC sheriff and all the setting elements that go with him. That's why IME detailed setting and detailed PC don't mesh well. My reasoning is that if I have to change major portions of the setting so that the PCs can exist, hell, why creating a so much detailed setting beforehand, why not just let it undefined, and really tune it to the PC ?


  Further, let's establish that this whole mystery surrounding the Sheriff is the main story or plot to be investigated in the game.  OK, the way I'm explaining it, the Sheriff isn't a potential character for play because he's a vital plot element.  In as much as a player can't be President Grant or Buffalo Bill or the King of England, they can't be the Sheriff because he's a part of the setting -- his actions are pretty hard-wired into the setting and can't be changed.  Unlike the historical people mentioned above, his actions in the future will react and respond to those of the PCs but his past actions are as much a part of the setting as the tumbleweed.

  I guess I agree that you couldn't have very detailed characters if I go to great extremes in detailing the setting.  But, to take the idea of detailed settings to their ridiculous extremes, I would detail every person and event on the entire planet.  Then I could just hand players a history book and tell them, "you're...uh...that guy.  You die from Influenza but you do gun down 12 men in various gunfights all over the West".

  There has to be some degree of wiggle room.  If the GM gets too caught up in the story that they want to tell, the players may as well sit back and read the novel.  If the Players go hog-wild in making characters, you either wind up with characters that are completely unsuited for the genre or the story you were hoping to tell.

  What I'm saying is that there is a happy medium where you can have a highly detailed setting (I'm thinking of Gloranthia or Tekumel) which is still open and flexible enough to allow for charactes with a lot of personal detail, backstory, and plot hooks.  A large factor in this depends on how well the GM and the Players work together.  When there's a good deal of co-creation going on for both setting and characters, you can get lots of juicy detail.

  Let's go back to the Wild West example.  The entire game begins long before the first session:

    First, I announce my intention to play.  Usually I have a rough idea of what kind of story or setting I want to play in.  So I'd say something like, "I wanna do some kind of Wild West game".[/list:u]
    Other players respond to my idea and offer suggestions of their own.  Something like, "Cool, a Wild West game.  But y'know, I've wanted to play Call of Cthulhu for awhile now.  Maybe we could have something like that?"[/list:u]
    Negotiations proceed from there, "I didn't really want to have supernatural horrors in my game."  "That's OK, I was more interested in the psychological horror and the mystery-solving aspects."  "Cool, I can work with that.  Is it OK if I set it in Nebraska?"  "Sure, nothing more horrific than that."  "Cool."[/list:u]
    Now I go through and work up the setting with as much detail as I feel is important.  For this game, assume I map out and detail the town to the nth degree, but I leave most of the rest of the world alone.  For this particular story, I don't care who-knows-who in San Diego -- it's really beyond the setting for this story.[/list:u]
    Then I come back and say "I'm all set, you can make your characters.  But there's two restrictions -- all of you must have some tie to the town of Ogallala but all of you must have been out of town for at least a year.  It'd help if you all knew each other and could at least tolerate each other, but I can be flexible on that."[/list:u]
    Now, I can use the detailed setting to my advantage.  I can lay in plot hooks and clues and pass out setting notes to the players (how often does hard work on a setting ever get noticed or appreciated).  I've built my setting with the characters in mind so I've got plenty of spaces for people to slot in.  Maybe you can't be the Sheriff, but you could be the Sheriff's daughter.  Further, a good chunk of the detail in the character background can come right out of the setting.  Plus, a ton of player-generated character detail will go right back into the setting detail.  If I mention an abandoned house on the edge of town, one of the characters might say he thought it was haunted when he was a kid and I can then turn around and make all the kids in town afraid of it.
    [/list:u]

    I admit, I don't normally submit this much work on most of my games.  The reason being that as a player, I gravitate towards games with pretty high body counts, so there's no point in creating 5 pages of backstory for a guy who's an infantryman facing off against Heavy Gears.  As a GM, the more time I spend on detail, the less time I have for the actual story and the more invested I am in a game which will be lucky to run longer than a year's worth of sessions.

    I would, in fact, argue that detail is generally overrated and is usually ignored most of the time.  I've had players who've come up with long family histories and clan runes and personal sigils and secret codes and whatnot but none of it ever got used.  Part of it was, I was a beginning GM back then and didn't think to take advantage of players that way.  Part of it was that it was mostly a mental exercise in imagination for the player to help build up his character.  But he met the rest of the party in a tavern like everyone else and his characterbook stayed closed for most of the campaign.  

    But I also think that if you're into detailed settings and characters, you can get both of them.  The GM and Players just need to be working together.

    later
    Tom
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2002, 11:14:33 AM »

Hello,

You folks have all grossly missed the point, I fear, largely because Jack has presented a bit of a caricature rather than my actual point.

Also, I think people have very different notions of what they mean by "detail," and some of those notions have nothing to do with what I'm talking about.

Let's take Hero Wars. A rich, dense, conflict-filled setting - no question. How about the characters? Think in terms of sources of conflict, and how they are expressed prior to play - and you don't find too, too much there: a stated goal, and five abilities that are customized rather than keyword-derived. That's it.

Now, during play, since the setting provides so many fascinating avenues for conflicts and decisions, a Hero Wars character becomes very rich and dense through a series of play-sessions.

Now let's take old-style Champions. Here, absolutely no setting is provided by the game itself, not even as an example. It's just "the world in which this comic takes place." The characters arrive with enormous amounts of implicit and explicit back-story, including behavioral parameters, relationships, specifications and customizations of their abilities, and more.

And, as play proceeds session after session, the setting for that particular game is built. Villains, previous superhero history, surprising family connections, maps, and so on are all brought into fictional existence via prep + play, prep + play.

What y'all are failing to see is that I am saying that detailed characters support detailed setting, and vice versa - they are both integral to a good play-situation. What I'm talking about is not whether one or the other needs to exist, but rather, how this integration is achieved through play.

My argument is that a game design/procedure which tries to do both prior to play is often very difficult actually to play. I submit that many, many games of Vampire, for instance, either chuck a fair amount of the prescribed setting in order to favor play concerning internal personal issues of conflict, or chuck a fair amount of the character-creation involving vampire-origin and personal angst in order to concentrate on the setting-based conflicts and pre-canned plots.

One last point: this point was originally made in the context of fairly focused Narrativist play, not in the context of any and all role-playing.

Let's see if that clears things up a bit.

Best,
Ron
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Fabrice G.
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2002, 11:31:14 AM »

Hi Tom,

Hum... i sounded condescending on you, didn't I ?

Sorry if it appeared that way, witch wasn't my intention. At all.

Back to business then.

Well, I think we don't speak about the same thing when we talk about detailed setting. That's all.
Is playing in actual Chicago a detailed setting, IMO no. If it is for you, then I see where we are disagreeing. And I'm ready to "agree to disagree".

Jack,  maybe you can shade some light on what you called a detailed setting ?


Take care,

Fabrice.

Edit: cross-posted with Ron, who has started to clarify the situation.
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bluegargantua
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« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2002, 01:52:01 PM »

Quote from: Fabrice G.

Well, I think we don't speak about the same thing when we talk about detailed setting. That's all.  Is playing in actual Chicago a detailed setting, IMO no. If it is for you, then I see where we are disagreeing. And I'm ready to "agree to disagree"


Uh...hm...I guess I'm just trying to fix a definition for "detailed".

Would it be more accurate to say that you consider a setting or character to be "detailed" if it provides a plot or purpose for play?

So Chicago is a detailed setting if you're Eliott Ness who's come to town to clean up the mob.  The setting is detailed because the mob and their criminal organizations are the whole reason behind the game.  Elitott Ness, as a character, isn't very detailed because he has no ties or personal stake in the various setting-activities.  As he disrupts criminal organizations, he quickly develops these ties and stakes and becomes a more detailed character.

Conversely, Chicago is not a detailed setting if you're playing Al Capone and his gang.  Now the city is just a city.  Could be Chicago, could be New Jersey, could be Vagas.  What matters here is that the story is all about a crime family.  The characters are all very detailed because they know one another and because the conflict and tension will arise out of their shared connections.  Over time, as their character-driven actions play out, the city of Chicago will become more detailed as the police and rival gangs react to their actions (or perhaps the city will remain indefinately vague).

Does that sound better?

Tom
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2002, 01:54:48 PM »

Hi Tom,

I agree with your distinction regarding detail. Did you read my above post regarding the point at issue?

Best,
Ron
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Fabrice G.
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Posts: 206


« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2002, 03:12:56 PM »

Hey Tom,

Quote from: Tom
Does that sound better?


Yep. I wasn't seeing thing like that, but I think you're giving a good definition of detailed.

For clarity' sake, my take on detailed was more about rich-ness of informations that would/could prove cumbersome in some instances of play. Hum...the V:tM argument Ron present says it all.

Take care,

Fabrice.
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bluegargantua
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« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2002, 10:29:12 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

I agree with your distinction regarding detail. Did you read my above post regarding the point at issue?


The point at issue being...

Quote

One last point: this point was originally made in the context of fairly focused Narrativist play, not in the context of any and all role-playing.


If so, then yes, "detailed" as we've defined it would have difficulty exisiting in both character and setting at start of play because Narrativist play concerns itself with a larger theme.  This theme will tend to be embedded in either the characters or the setting, but not both.  My guess is that if the theme was embedded in both (and I'm having difficulty thinking of a theme which directly encompasses both internal and external forces), then there wouldn't be anything to work with.  The character and the setting, by integrating the theme, would come up with an "answer" to the big thematic question and there wouldn't be anything else to worry about (at least not as far as the theme was concerned).

Oooh, brainwave!  What if you could mirror the theme at the character and the setting level?  It might not be the exact same question out of the theme, but they'd be related.  Let me see if I can think of a good example...

Hey, Amber is a good example -- So as a character in Amber, one of your Themes is Inherent Value.  You, a scion of Amber truly exist.  Everything else in the infinate universes are just shadow beings, pale reflections of the one true glory of Amber.  And yet it's quite true that these shadows live, love, cry and are every bit as sentient as you are.  Do these shadows have value?  Are they important?  Do they have any sort of meaning?  Or are they all just shadows.

Cool.  So that's the personal, character-driven theme and you ensure that during character creation you have characters who are detailed in this respect.  They have various shadow people they love, hate, or are indiferent to.

Now, the other thing you do, something that's embedded into the setting, is you have the Unicorn and the Serpent (cosmic forces of Order and Chaos) who are duking it out on a macro-metaphysical level and who have produced all of creation as part of their battlefield.  Once your character digs down and uncovers this, they realize that they too, are also just shadows to a greater being.  Do they have any Inherent Value?  

Amber is pretty character driven in all respects so this may not have been the best example.  The one given in the GNS essay concerns Vampires who are Character detailed when the theme is "Is it OK for me to kill people to go on living?"  You could mirror that in a Setting detail if you put them in a society that's exploiting a sub-group.  Imagine playing Vampire in the Deep South before the Civil War.  Does slavery justify your character's actions or do you see yourself all too clearly and change your ways, or do you hold to some weird double-standards?

I'm hoping that this is splashing in or around the target.  The main point is that you generally start by detailing where you want to put the detail, but you can also reflect those details in the other component.  Maybe not always, but it's possible.

later
Tom
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The Three Stooges ran better black ops.

Don't laugh, Larry would strike unseen from the shadows and Curly...well, Curly once toppled a dictatorship with the key from a Sardine tin.
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2002, 10:03:12 AM »

Hi Tom,

Usually I try to discourage people from stream-of-consciousness replies, but since yours is so ... well, uplifting, or something, I won't. All I'll say is, You Got It.

Best,
Ron
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