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Mike - DO NOT READ Until After the Judging! - The Critique

Started by Le Joueur, May 16, 2003, 06:32:17 PM

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Le Joueur

The Critique of "In Your Element, Out of this World" (or IYEOW)

I'm attempting to show how to use the 'tools' from the "Deliberateness and Elegance" thread in the making of this game.  I also had an inspiration about how to link the four 'ingredient' terms to five aspects that I identify in everything.  I started with Ron's definition of Simulationism, even though I don't believe a game can be Simulationist (that being it overtly 'facilitating' those choices as evidenced in an instance of play); I worked on 'The Dream' and went High concept Simulationism: Exploration of Situation (ultimately with hidden or absent meta-game systems, other than social).  I also opted to dump fortune (at the beginning, middle, or end).

For the Baseline, I selected a very concrete and familiar reality, the one you occupy right this second.  For Vision, I selected fantastic Duels in weird dimensions both 'close to' and yet unlike ours.  To heighten the 'Tension' between these two aspects, I exercised a particular Elegance; I set them diametrically apart.  Diametric opposition will be the 'Elegance of choice' in the selection and personification of every Element I can affect with it.

Despite being told the contrary about Simulationism, I elected to base the game upon a powerful metaphor; the Difficulties you face on a daily basis are your Elementals in this game.  Dealing with them is the same as dealing with your problems; you can find strength from your own Difficulties if you can find ways to 'rule them' without 'them ruling you.'  As the game is built upon progression, I linked that metaphorically to self-actualization (getting rid of your problems or making use of their underlying strengths).  This is not presented overtly in the text of the game, but qualifies every design choice.

Apparently, I can't explain how Elegance is a tool for Deliberateness to the haphazard or talented in the audience, but maybe I can demonstrate.  This actually became one of the guiding principles for the Elegance of the game itself.  I had to do things to heighten the apparent use of "Elegance and Deliberateness" as a set of tools.

To heighten the 'diametric opposition' Elegance, I chose to root the 'real world' in as real a world as possible, yours.  To suit the metaphorical requirement, character creation is based upon taking an inventory of your own character.  To 'diametrically oppose' these features I drew upon the ingredients provided, Volcano, Sphere, Song, and Blood, to create an interesting Jankenpo.  Using them as the ultimate templates for four of my 'five classic Elements' was easy and my initial inspiration; adding "Self" both fit the metaphor and the 'fifth Element' (another example of Deliberate use of Elegance, rather than an accident of talent).  These founded the 'unreal estate' that focuses the 'diametric opposition' against reality.  Thus I have a really real world and a wild fantastic realm in opposition.  (This also extends the metaphor to making the Corona equivalent the realm of 'your inner voice.')

To heighten the 'Tension' between the Baseline and the Vision, I chose to make all the 'movers and shakers' into 'floating points' that contact both planes.  Since I want the game to be Exploration of Situation, I had to induce the players to develop the much of the Situation prior to play, using their journals.  Combining an 'other side' to the players' real life problems should afford them to 'work out their aggressions' with what bothers them normally.  But as a game alone, that'd be too easy (and potentially boring), so enter No Myth gamemastering.

Oh, and I wanted a fight game.  (Seems right that 'diametric opposites' would fight a lot, "Deliberate Elegance" strikes again.)

I'm quite certain there are members of the Forge who have quite convinced themselves that No Myth gamemastering is purely Narrativist.  I am also sure that a number are equally convinced that it is anything but Simulationist.  I present this game as contrary to both impressions.  No Myth gamemastering allows the player who becomes the ad hoc gamemaster to run the passage into the Corona without any preparation whatsoever.  This is backed up by having significant discoveries being put in the journal (and thus 'maintaining The Dream') of whoever they are most relevant to.  In this game, I see no reason that 'unknown to the character' information needs to be relevant until revealed; provided that, even 'Actor-Stance-only' players can work to maintain the consistency of the components of 'The Dream' that most concern them using a purely social mechanism.

So we have these 'players' who exist simultaneously in two 'diametrically opposite' worlds, fighting over spheres of influence in both.  They attempt to interact with Situations they find themselves in, and run afoul of complications born out of the very arena that grants them supernatural access to their Situation.  The game is geared to use complication-escalation only as a tool to maintain interest, rather than following some competitive, aesthetic, or moral ideal.

Using 'the real world' and the Corona (based directly upon 'the real world') simplifies the setting.  Using no Fortune but only Karma/Resource Management mechanics simplifies the rules.  Allowing total freedom in naming the parts and designing your antagonists, Difficulties, Elementals, and their abilities, also simplifies the rules.  Giving players nothing more than Power and Standing, beyond 'who they really are' greatly reduces the overall complexity, perfect for connecting that to a wildly fantastic realm filled with creatures of power and mystique.  (That's right, the very skew towards simplicity is made to serve the 'diametric opposites' "Deliberate Elegance.")

Well...I'm tired now; g'nite.

Fang Langford

Note: by implication of the metaphor, people who are 'Flawless,' have no need to Duel in the Corona and are indomitable in that way.
Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!