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Author Topic: Is my game N/S or just S?  (Read 988 times)
Matt Wilson
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« on: March 04, 2003, 09:21:59 AM »

The game I'm working on has no overtly stated N Premise. Does that exclude it from being a N game entirely?

I had this idea from an interview with Joss Whedon about his show Buffy, where each character has a "story arc," and Joss would know at any point in the season what that character was going through. I took this and dropped it into Peregrine. You pick an Issue that your character is dealing with (guilt, greed, honor, something both motivating and hindering), and map out how its intensity rises and falls over the season. So you know, for example, that in episode 3 your Issue will be at a 2.

What that number means is many things: 1) how prominent the issue is in the episode, and therefore how important the character is to that episode, 2) how many dice the player gets to roll for the character, and 3) how likely the character is to suffer complications.

So is that a Nar element, or more of a Sim ex Character/Color? I imagine each Issue creating a character-level theme in play, but is that just me drifting in my head?
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2003, 01:07:39 PM »

A game does not have to have an explicit or specific Narrativist Premise to be Narrativist. This has been said a lot before, because peopole keep making that incorrrect assumption. To support Narrativism a game simply has to support players making Narrativist decisions. Not just decisions related to a single particular question. Just Narrativist decisions.

Now a game that does not provide any Narrativist Premise at all, not even one that is defined by the players would be what Ron calls Abashedly Narrativist. That is, it's probably Sim but easily driftable to Nar by players simply deciding to play that way. A non-uphil battle, if you will.

Certainly the Narrativist Premise, if there is one, does not need to be in any way explicit. The game simply needs to support Narrativist decision making.

What you describe is Narrativist assuming that the player is empowered to change the "number". If the game does this, we're looking at Sim.

Mike
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Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2003, 01:25:54 PM »

Quote
Now a game that does not provide any Narrativist Premise at all, not even one that is defined by the players would be what Ron calls Abashedly Narrativist. That is, it's probably Sim but easily driftable to Nar by players simply deciding to play that way. A non-uphill battle, if you will.


Ah. So, if I'm playing FUDGE, and the adventures have to do with moral choices and so on, it's Abashedly Narrativist? I can't think of much in FUDGE that would impede drift to N play.

Quote
What you describe is Narrativist assuming that the player is empowered to change the "number". If the game does this, we're looking at Sim.


Yeah, that's the part where it seems a little gray to me. The player gets to decide how the numbers play out, but that happens before play begins. It's not like Sorcerer where the number rises and falls as a result of what happens in the story.

I suppose that points more toward S, exploration of character, eh?
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2003, 02:31:07 PM »

Actually there are some things about FUDGE that are decidedly Simmy (like all the scaling concerns). All depends on the flavor of FUDGE, too. But at most it's Abashedly Narrativist, yes. Over the Edge is a classic example of an Abashedly Narrativist game. The system stays out of the way, and the setting cries for issues.

Your game is an intetesting case to try and categorize. I'd probably call it technically Narrativist. I mean, given that the player designs their advantages and disadvantages in play around a Narrativist idea, it would seem odd to then play and ignore it. In fact, I'd say that such a mechanic probably will focus things on Narrativist decision making.

But the proof is in the play, really. If you like the idea, then you ought not worry about taxonomy at this point. Just do it, and see what happens. If it turns out cool, who cares whether it's N or S or whatever.

I would be concerned with the rest of the system, however, that if too simmy that you might get incoherent play. What's the rest like in general? Or does this mechanic cover most of the rules?

Mike
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Matt Wilson
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2003, 03:02:33 PM »

Quote
I would be concerned with the rest of the system, however, that if too simmy that you might get incoherent play. What's the rest like in general? Or does this mechanic cover most of the rules?


The Sim stuff in the game that's obviously Sim is mostly tied to exploration of Color (it's a TV show). The dice-rolling stuff is pretty innocuous. You roll dice - number determined by your Issue - and dice that come up a certain number or higher are "Actions." Actions are kind of like mini opportunities to narrate. Spend an Action to have your character do something, or spend one to add an important detail to the scene. Dice can also come up as "Setbacks," which I think of as "complications that make the game more interesting." Something akin to how Ron describes failure in Sorcerer and Sword.

I'm starting a playtest "season" this Thursday, so we'll see what happens.
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