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Author Topic: Unified Truth and Diverse Religions in Game Worlds  (Read 23410 times)
simon_hibbs
Member

Posts: 678


« Reply #75 on: January 17, 2003, 06:29:49 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
Quote from: simon_hibbs

I can't see how enabling multiple
valid religious philosophies in a game reduces freedom,


...because their "validities" are mutually exclusive;

You still haven't demonstrated this, only asserted it.;


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I didn't need to demonstrate it, greyorm demonstrated it for me.  We would present a scenario in which myth was to be taken as Literally True, but in actual resolution, the GM-behaviour was to declare it symbolic.


So your argument is to ignore what the GM and game designer have said about the nature of the world, and assert yourselves how it has to work according to your own rules, then use that in your proof?

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Thus, a character identity premised on the mythology being true had been violated; that character cannot carry out what they were selected by the player to carry out.


Are we talking baout the beliefs of a character in the game world, or your assertions about what can't be true in my game world? You seem very vague and ambiguous on this point, but it's crucial. I have not said, and have never said that in this game world it's impossible to hold false beliefs. Several times I have made it clear that I do not accept the pure subjectivist possition. The issue is if is possible to have multiple religions in a game world that are contradictory yet equaly true.

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The myth has been falsified in actual play at the table.  That has appeared in every sample to date.


Not in mine. You have refused to debate the example of a game world in which I have determined (as game designer) the way the world works, instead asserting that it _has_ to work the way you say. Why?

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How on earth you can accept that a fantasy world might have 'The Law of Similarity' as a cosmic law, and yet deny that similarities inmythical alegory with the real world can give power? This seems to me to be elementary.


I don't; I merely require that the game ASSERT that the Law of Similarity IS a cosmic law and is empowered in manner X.  A game which does not make such an assertion gives me no reason to think that Law of Similarity either exists in the game world or is empowered in the game world.


I have made that assertion by the way of example many times, and you apparently refuse to debate based on it - see below.

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The Law of Similarity per se does not explain effect.  It merely explains, more or less, why human beings FALSELY attribute cause and effect to things that are only superficially similar.  It is an argument to anthropology, not an argument to game design.


Falsely perhaps in our world (that's a seperate issue), but not necesserily falsely in a fantasy world where the game designer states that it is the case, or more generaly that the laws of magic accepted by magicians and religious philosophers in the real world operate. Again, you refuse to allow me as game designer to choose the operating principles of my game world, and refuse to consider situations in that game world based on those principles. Why?


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #76 on: January 17, 2003, 07:01:08 AM »

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So your argument is to ignore what the GM and game designer have said about the nature of the world, and assert yourselves how it has to work according to your own rules, then use that in your proof?


Eh?  The game designer said, "in this game, mythology is true".  That is the topic for discussion, I understand, true mythologies.

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Are we talking baout the beliefs of a character in the game world, or your assertions about what can't be true in my game world?


The character is a vehicle for the player; character beliefs are a large part of the data that the player will be processing to solve problems, take actions etc.  Therefore, character beliefs feed back to player action.  It is the player I have to persuade, not the character - but if the characters beliefs are prima facie insane, then players have a tough job identifying with characters.

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Not in mine. You have refused to debate the example of a game world in which I have determined (as game designer) the way the world works, instead asserting that it _has_ to work the way you say. Why?
 


I'm not sure what you are getting at; in every example to date, the actual play resolution of contradictory myths invalidated the truth of one or more of the other myths.  And furthermore, your determination as game designer is only relevant if you communicate this fact, by word or deed, to the GM so the GM knows to do what you expect them to do.

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Falsely perhaps in our world (that's a seperate issue), but not necesserily falsely in a fantasy world where the game designer states that it is the case, or more generaly that the laws of magic accepted by magicians and religious philosophers in the real world operate. Again, you refuse to allow me as game designer to choose the operating principles of my game world, and refuse to consider situations in that game world based on those principles. Why?


I am not doing so at all; I am asking, begging you to do exactly this.  IF it is your intent that the law of similarity should operate as True in your game, then tell me THAT; don;t tell me that the literal truth is that the sun is ball of dung and expect me the reader to obtain psychic insight that what you really meant was "its all symbolic, but symbolism has real power in this world".

Remember the objection is that a game which contains mechanically generated contradictions has, IMO, an obligation to explain for resolution purposes how those contradictions are to be solved.  If your answer is "by changing the myth on the fly 'cos its all symbolic rather than literally true", then that is an acceptable answer - but there does have to be an answer, IMO.

And furthermore, I also think that if I tell a player "in this game, mythology is True", then they will NOT be expecting me to trim and edit the myths on the fly in actual play; this would surely be a major challenge to the social contract.
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Walt Freitag
Member

Posts: 1039


« Reply #77 on: January 17, 2003, 11:19:00 AM »

Quote from: Simon
The issue is if is possible to have multiple religions in a game world that are contradictory yet equaly true.


Allow me to resolve this, in a way, by re-introducing the notion of unfalsifiability. (It's been mentioned before on at least one of these threads by others, but apparently not picked up on.)

It's not possible for any two propositions to be true and contradictory. If they're both true they're not contradictory. If they're contradictory they cannot both be true. That's what "contradictory" means.

It's possible for two sets of propositions (such as religions) to each be partially true, that is, contain propositions some of which are true and others false. Where they contradict, at least one must be false. But this kind of mixed truth-and-falsehood doesn't appear to be what Simon means by "both equally true," because that's not what his examples show.

What the examples show is two religions both being unfalsifiable. That is, so stated that no conceivable observation (not just no practical observation, but no conceivable one) could ever disprove their assertions.

GM: Standing at the gates of dawn and quinting into the brilliant light, you can barely make out the outlines of fiery horses drawing a great glowing chariot.

Player 1: You see? I was right all along.

Player 2: Can you really be so vain as to think mortal eyes can see the divine truth? Do you doubt that a dung beetle powerful enough to push the sun would have the ability to appear to our limited senses as horses and a chariot if it wanted to?

It's quite possible and not at all unusual for many contradictory assertions to all be equally unfalsifiable. But "equally unfalsifiable" doesn't equate to "equally true" (or partially true, or false, or any other truth value).

In the real world it's the nature of the assertion itself that determines whether or not it's falsifiable. But in a game world represented by a GM, any assertion can be rendered unfalsifiable by the GM resolving to never allow falsifying evidence to be perceived. This can be done by narrating different perceptions to different characters ("You see a chariot, and you see a dung beetle"), by providing only vague information consistent with all possibilities ("You see a blinding light, and you hear a low drumming sound that could be hooves or could be the footfalls of a giant dung beetle"), or by preventing any decisive testing or using of the information in the first place. Of course, even if the GM does nothing of the kind, it's still possible and likely for the beliefs themselves to be unfalsifiable, as in the dialog above.

I should also point out that in a sufficiently magic-rich world, just about everything becomes unfalsifiable. Yes, magic allows more tests to be made (such as flying into the sky to examine the vault of the sky for hoofprints or dung beetle tracks) but it also provides alternative unfalsifiable explanations for anything that is perceived. If I go to an underground land of the dead and win my dead lover back from Hades, will that convince the believers in a celestial heaven that they're wrong? Of course not, why would they change their minds just because I encountered what could easily be explained as a high-level cleric-necromancer-illusionist living in a cave, lording over a population of noncorporial undead, and on very rare occasions, when forced to, casting a resurrection spell?

So in short, contradictory and equally true? Impossible. Contradictory and mutually unfalsifiable? Not only possible, but commonplace.

- Walt
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John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #78 on: January 17, 2003, 08:27:28 PM »

Quote from: wfreitag
I should also point out that in a sufficiently magic-rich world, just about everything becomes unfalsifiable. Yes, magic allows more tests to be made (such as flying into the sky to examine the vault of the sky for hoofprints or dung beetle tracks) but it also provides alternative unfalsifiable explanations for anything that is perceived.


This depends wildly upon your system of magic.  Some systems of magic may allow for infinite levels of illusion upon illusion -- but others have absolute beliefs.  For example, there are systems that have infallible prophecies.  

For example, my current campaign is like this.  I am using a form of spirit magic which mixes medieval Icelandic and Algonquin indian beliefs.  In it, magicians (Icelandic volva or Algonquin buowin) can directly see the process of what happens when someone dies, and what happens afterwards.  Indeed, they are often integrally involved in the process.  This is not unfalsifiable unless you stretch the meaning of the term to the point that everything is unfalsifiable (i.e. all of your life might just be a dream, etc.).  I also feel that the absoluteness of magic is an important part of the flavor of my game, and the role of the PC magician Silksif.  

In any case -- yes, you can have multiple religions in your game which are contradictory by making sure they are unfalsifiable on the right points.  Heck, this is trivially possible by just setting the game in the real world.  I don't think there is anything wrong with this.  However, I also think that this misses something compared to  games with absolutes like my present campaign (although there are certainly going to be comparable strengths, I'm sure).
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- John
simon_hibbs
Member

Posts: 678


« Reply #79 on: January 27, 2003, 01:28:06 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
Quote

So your argument is to ignore what the GM and game designer have said about the nature of the world, and assert yourselves how it has to work according to your own rules, then use that in your proof?


Eh?  The game designer said, "in this game, mythology is true".  That is the topic for discussion, I understand, true mythologies.


But you will only accept your own definition of true, i.e. physicaly true however you have already accepted yourself that this is not necessery when you accepted the validity of the Law of Similarity. If it is true that a myth is similar to the subject of the myth, then the law demands that the myth have magical power. The application of that power in the game world to do real magic proves itīs truth. QED.

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Are we talking about the beliefs of a character in the game world, or your assertions about what can't be true in my game world?


The character is a vehicle for the player; character beliefs are a large part of the data that the player will be processing to solve problems, take actions etc.  Therefore, character beliefs feed back to player action.  It is the player I have to persuade, not the character - but if the characters beliefs are prima facie insane, then players have a tough job identifying with characters.


Who said anything about insane characters? In the real world people of different religions are capable of accepting the validity of each otherīs beliefs. Therefore I donīt see whatīs so crazy about positing a fantasy world in which that is also true. However asserting that more than one belief can be true, according to the cosmic laws of that universe, doesnīt mean that all beliefs must be true. If they donīt comply with our chosen cosmic laws for that universe (in this case ther Law of Similarity), then of course theyīre not true.


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #80 on: January 27, 2003, 02:13:44 AM »

Quote from: simon_hibbs

But you will only accept your own definition of true, i.e. physicaly true however you have already accepted yourself that this is not necessery when you accepted the validity of the Law of Similarity.


Eh again - I set out RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING that when mythology is addressed, "true" usuallu means something other than True, and "proof" is used in a sense in which it would not be used by science.  That was my starting claim, which you have been attacking!!  I am happy to see you concede this point at last; perhaps you could now give as an explanation of what this "validity" is to be used for.

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Who said anything about insane characters? In the real world people of different religions are capable of accepting the validity of each otherīs beliefs.


What do you mean by "validity"?  No, they don't accept the LITERAL truths of other faiths, and nor are they usually comofortable with the conflict, hence all the violence.

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Therefore I donīt see whatīs so crazy about positing a fantasy world in which that is also true. However asserting that more than one belief can be true, according to the cosmic laws of that universe, doesnīt mean that all beliefs must be true. If they donīt comply with our chosen cosmic laws for that universe (in this case ther Law of Similarity), then of course theyīre not true.


If there are cosmic laws, yes.  If you explain how your metaphysics works, yes.  If you have a structure of nested truth, yes.  But you cannot simply claim that NO EXPLANATION IS NECESSARY just becuase of the existance of conflicting mythology - which all too often carries allusions to unsubstantiated claims as to RW religion.
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
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