*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 28, 2014, 05:32:52 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 64 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: On Author and Director Stance  (Read 2080 times)
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« on: August 17, 2001, 09:26:00 AM »

This post is probably more 'thinking out loud' than asking an actual question.  But in my gaming circles I find it difficult to explain why having Author/Director power given to the players is so important if creating a story is your priority.

I noticed that after watching a film or while discussing a novel, I'm the only one who says things like, "I think character X was a really interesting addition to the story because he/she really demonstrated i, j, and k about character Y."

I get really bizare looks when I say things like this.  It seems most of my gamer friends don't understand how the actions/reactions of one character can reflect/enhance/alter the defining qualities of another character.

An example I recently brought up with one of my players is a British show shown here in the States called, 'British Men Behaving Badly.'  I pointed out that if you left the two male characters' actions EXACTLY the same but either eliminated or rewrote the two female characters then the two male characters could easilly come off as very sexist and offensive.  It's BECAUSE the two female characters are written the way they are that make the two men come off as just being silly and misguided.

To bring this back into an RPG context the example I like to use is the case of Seduction.  Let's assume that character X is trying to seduce character Y.  Character X's player rolls dice and it comes up a failure.  If I turn to character X's player and say, "Tell me how you think character Y reacts," they tell me that's my job.  They don't understand that character Y's reaction will cast a light on their character.  They don't understand that character Y's reaction can change the definition of what their character is about.  As far as they're concerned character X was definined by his attempt at seduction and that the outcome and reaction are largely irrelivant in terms of character definition.

Of course being on the flip side is equally as frustrating.  In the 7th Sea campaign that I play in, my lecherous character Alonzo keeps trying to have relationions with this really minor NPC who is an artist looking for a patron.  I keep wanting to take that character and use her to really illustrate some points about my character.  I don't care if Alonzo actually succeeds in his lecherous endevors, in fact I think it would be better if he doesn't.  But the GM won't let me.  The GM just keeps telling me to tell her what I do and she'll tell me how the artist reacts.  She doesn't seem to understand that the artist's reactions are just as important as my actions in defining what my character is about.

So to prevent this from just being a rant let me ask you if what I have said is clear?  Can you think of other ways to communicate this point to other people who you think are capable of understanding it but just don't see it yet?

Thanks.

Jesse
Logged
joshua neff
Member

Posts: 949


WWW
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2001, 01:24:00 PM »

Jesse--

I know exactly what you mean. If I don't have authorial & directorial power as a player, especially as it relates to my character, I get extremely frustrated. Some people in my group understand this & others don't. One of my players recently complained that while trying to "author" his character, he felt he wasn't "getting into his character", & he wants the latter & doesn't care about the former. While another player feels frustrated because he wants that authorial power & feels he hasn't been exercising it enough.

I'm not really sure how to explain it. I mean, it seems obvious to me that if you were, for example, writing a novel, & you wrote it from one characters point of view & only though about things from that character's perspective, & used only information that character would know, it would be extremely difficult & the novel would, in the end, suck. Your explanation of how one character's actions open up loads of meaning towards another character is really good & makes perfect sense to me.
Logged

--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2001, 01:54:00 PM »

I just thought of another much more extreme example where two characters' interactions has a HUGE impact on another character who doesn't even interact with them.

I recently saw a new version of Hamlet staring Ethan Hawke.  This version of Hamlet was set in modern day New York.  Denmark is a corporation.  In my opinion it was a very mixed bag and overall disappointing.  The director did a really good job of directing the film and interpreting the play but completely failed to direct his actors.  But that's beside the point.

An element that was added was that they gave Horatio a girlfriend.  Since they were sticking with the original text she doesn't say a word of dialog.  On top of that she's mostly in the background.  The only thing we ever see is her cuddling with Horatio or Horatio smiling at her or the two of them holding hands and so on.

But the addition of this one, silent and largely 'irrelivant' character had an incredible impact on the feel of the film.  Suddenly the relationship between Ophelia and Hamlet looked ten times worse.  The relationship between Hamlet and his mother looked ten times worse.  The addition of a single character who never interacts with anyone other than Horatio suddenly makes all the other women look more tragic than ever and Hamletlook like more of an insensitive moody bastard than he normally is portrayed.

This probably is WAY to subtle of an element to exploit in an RPG but the point was just that it's possible to have the interactions of two characters reflect on the actions of third not involved in the initial interaction.

And yet, I'm sure there were people who were walking away from that movie going, 'Dude, what was up with giving Horatio a girlfriend?'

This is WAY too useful of a technique not to have it's own technical term?  Does anyone know of a litterary term that describes this author technique of using the actions of one or more characters to shine a specific colored light on the actions of another character?  There must be a term and it should be added to the list of Narrativistic 'Tools and Considerations.'

Jesse
Logged
Emily Care
Member

Posts: 1126


WWW
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2001, 09:52:00 AM »

Jesse:

It sounds like you are having a clash of expectations with your GM if they don't understand why and won't allow you to play an NPC that you feel will help you to illustrate your PC better.  Have you taken them aside and described the effect you are going for?  If your GM comes to appreciate the value of authorial stance for player (which in my opinion is much the same thing as extending GM narrative powers to the players, and actually, the GM may see it that way as well, but interpret it negatively, unlike me) then they would probably let you do it. Communication...

>Joshua wrote:
> it seems obvious to me that if you were,for example, >writing a novel, & you wrote it from one characters point >of view & only though about things from that character's >perspective, & used only information that character would >know, it would be extremely difficult & the novel would, in >the end,suck.

I'm surprised that Lumpley hasn't responded to this yet. :smile: You've stumbled across one of his pet issues.  

Personally, I agree strongly that players should play NPC's, multiple PC's, create and play the world, have authorial powers, co-GM, etc. But I do not agree that your example need be true, nor that it proves the point we are both trying to make.  

Literary digression:

A novel that limits all information to what a single character has access to is an example of a fairly sophisticated and strong narrative technique.  This technique can introduce an element of realism: echoing the narrative constructed of each of our lives through the single protaganist/narrator each of our lives has, i.e. ourself.

It can also be used to question the whole idea of truth in narrative, and to help us realize that in every story we are having events interpreted for us by the author. Henry James' novel _Turn of the Screw_,is an excellent example of this.


Back on topic:

However, I don't believe that every book needs to be written with a single narrator in order to be worth reading. And in role-playing, play is enhanced by having many hands play NPCs, etc.  

Vive la difference!

Emily Care
Logged

Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games
joshua neff
Member

Posts: 949


WWW
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2001, 10:03:00 AM »

Emily--

I think the difference between Turn of the Screw & RPGs (or rather, the difference that applies to this topic) is that while the point-of-view & information in TotS is limited for the reader, it wasn't limited for the author (I assume, anyway--as I don't hang out with James, I can only assume that James himself knew what was going on beyond any one character's viewpoint--in fact, I would posit that writing such a novel, it would be near impossible to limit author knowledge in order for the story to work). In RPGs, the audience & the author are the same people--the players. So, if your goal is story-creation, limiting player knowledge to only what the character knows & limiting player action to be based on in-character knowledge makes it, from an author's point of view, pretty much impossible.
Logged

--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Laura Bishop
Member

Posts: 32


« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2001, 03:26:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-08-17 17:54, jburneko wrote:

This is WAY too useful of a technique not to have it's own technical term?  Does anyone know of a litterary term that describes this author technique of using the actions of one or more characters to shine a specific colored light on the actions of another character?

Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2001, 07:19:00 PM »

Bingo - "foil" it is. Entry number ... geez, I don't even wanna guess ... into the Forge RPG lexicon.

Thanks Laura!

And also to Jesse, for pinpointing yet another major stylistic difference in play around 'n about the GNS concepts.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!