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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 82 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: a perspective on roleplaying  (Read 5896 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2003, 05:43:05 AM »

That's fair. I have faith in you, Jack. Let's see where this goes.

Best,
Ron
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simon_hibbs
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« Reply #31 on: August 12, 2003, 06:07:16 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
So what are rules? Anything formalized - written down, agreed upon, whatever - that permits any of the above to stay on track for that particular group. By "on track," I simply mean, "Fun."


I think there are several kinds of rules.

There are rules that determine what properties game objects have and which govern their behaviour in the imagined space.

There are also rules which apply to players and how they can interact with objects either outside or within the imagined space.

Actualy the siton is much more complex than this.

There are internal objects within the imagined space (characters, NPCs, magic items, etc).

There are representational objects - objects outside the imagined space which represent objects within it (character sheets, maps, miniatures).

There are also external objects such as game rule books, players, dice, etc that affect play, but don't represent anything in the imagined space.

There can be rules regulating the properties and interactions of all these objects.


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #32 on: August 12, 2003, 11:55:01 AM »

Quote from: John Kim
I think I understand this distinction, but it seems to me that it is muddied by your treatment of LARPs.  It seems that for some games, you allow that open-ended talking makes it broad even if specific resolution is narrow.  But open-ended talk and diplomacy is a feature of a huge range of multi-player games.  
You are overly focusing on this one aspect. Talk is not all an in-game element can do. Yes, in a RPG, the player should be able to have his character talk. But he should be able to have it do anything else as well. As long as the action somehow makes some sense with the thing in question.

This is the other part that you're ignoring in my statement, that it requires "agents" (I like that term, and should have used it before):
Quote

Quote from: Mike Holmes
  In ASL, no matter what I say as a player in characterizing my piece, it has no effect on the final outcome. You could argue that bluffing that comes from characterization would count, but then you can do that just as effectively OOC. It's not an important feature of the game that you can speak for the characters if you like.  

I'm not following this.  As far as I can see, IC vs OOC bluffing are identical under your definition.  Your definition says nothing about being in-character.  Indeed, players don't need to have characters at all and it can still be an RPG by your definition (and indeed this was important for the case of Universalis).  

It's not being "in character" per se, but relating the actions of some agent in the game. In that way our definitions are not different, in each the player's decisions must be about some in-game agent. You insist that it must be a character. The problem that I have with this narrow interperetation is that the term character is hard to define. As an example, I read a Steven King story a while back that included the idea of some evil force stalking a child lost in the wilderness (I don't rememeber it well, something that always seems to happen with his work for me). The force was represented as a character in every way. Yet, througout, you realized that it was, in fact, merely the delusions of the injured and fatigued child. I can play a robot, is that not a character? I can play a spirit imbued mountain range.

See where this is going? All agents in a game can be percieved to have motive force behind them to the extent that they need to have decisions made about them. No, it probably wouldn't be fun to play a rock, but one could do so if one wanted. The point is that the definition of character, as it pertains to RPGs is slippery enough not to be pertinent in this discussion, IMO.

Basically, it's this epanded definition of RPGs as playing "agents" in a world, that makes the dividing line functional. Else we get into what games count due to what the definition of a character is.

And one ought not be allowed by the system to do absolutely anything (hence why I keep putting quotes around "anything"). The actions taken have to be relevant to the thing in question. But the idea is simply that a wargame will attempt to say that the agent can only do X, Y, Z, and nothing else is permitted. The RPG says, that the thing can do anything that it might do, subject to rules X, Y, Z on specific sorts of actions, and general rule A for things that don't fall under those specific rules.

And therin lies the pertinent difference, IMO.

[/quote]If the rules of resolution are narrow, but it allows for open-ended diplomacy, is the game as a whole broad or narrow?[/quote]Depends. You haven't asked the pertinent question. Which is, if I come up with some reasonable action that's not covered by the resolution rules, or the dipomacy, or any other specific rule, is there still some systematic principle that allows it to be resolved?

Mike
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #33 on: August 12, 2003, 10:34:39 PM »

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
There's more in the world than what's on stage, yet there is nothing but what's on stage.

A comment and run. Noticed that I touched on the concept of "No Myth" with this. "No Myth": nothing in the world exists until play happens. Albeit somewhat slightly different angle.
 Tying it all together, if possible.
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #34 on: August 13, 2003, 07:02:11 AM »

Considering the thread goals, here's a question for you. Do you think that roleplaying is on of those basic activities that several other activities grow from?

Let me see if I can explain. Like in GNS how all three come from Exploration, it's just S that prioritizes the Exploration. G & N use the Exploration for another purpose. The other purpose, and how it effect the Exploration, defines G & S

It's sort of like that. With the definitions attempted before and now of roleplaying, I'm starting to thing that other activities are not distinguishable from roleplaying at a basic level but are roleplaying + something else. This something else effect how the roleplaying goes and defines it as an activity removed from roleplaying, yet remains similar in principle.

Thoughts?
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ejh
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #35 on: August 13, 2003, 07:08:24 AM »

Quote from: simon_hibbs
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
The basic principle of roleplaying is the Lumpley Principle. The phrasing I prefer is "The system is the means by which the players reach consensus or agreement as-to what items are present or events occur within the shared imagined space." I simply love this. It touches on so many things in one neat, little package.


I'd just like to point out that this principle, as stated here, applies to all games. It applies to wargames, board games, card games, everything. I suppose you could argue it doesn't apply to abstract games as they do not have an 'imagined space', but that's debatable.

As a result, I don't think it can realy tel us much about roleplaying games in particular.


I've been thinking about this a lot lately.  Not to jump on the Lumpley Principle bandwagon as Jack Spencer stated it, but let me suggest that what distinguishes RPGs from non-RPG games like wargames, is that in a non-RPG game, like Monopoly, you can consider it in and of itself, without reference to an imagined world, and it still works.  The rules close on themselves, so to speak.  They cover all possibilities explicitly.  They may simulate an imagined world in great detail, but they could be understood and used without necessarily referring to that imagined world.

In an RPG, the rules are "open" to events in the imagined world.  Everything your character can legitimately do in a game of D&D is not spelled out in the D&D rules, except inasmuch as the rules spell out that you can do things they don't cover, with the GM's consent.

And there is feedback between "what the rules don't explicitly cover, which is only imagined and spoken about" and "what the rules do explicitly cover," at least to some degree.

That doesn't happen in non-RPGs.

That's probably not a necessary and sufficient definition of RPGs, but it establishes an important borderline I think.
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #36 on: August 13, 2003, 07:56:23 AM »

Heya. Looks like we cross-posted. Fortunately, you addressed the question somewhat anyway.

The idea of white board Monopoly, Monopoly without any reference to real estate trading or anything else, was suggested before in this thread.

You're point is what I have been getting at . Sure the Lumpley Principle is foundational for roleplaying. Sure it is foundational for other stuff, too. It's how roleplaying differs from the other stuff that is the purpose of this thread.

You had basically rephrased what Mike Holmes had said about being able to "do anything" in terms of what the imagined elements are.

Aside: What is this principle? Common sense, perhaps? This needs a name and I am loathe to call it "realism", although that's the only term that comes to mind.

Mario can't go to those pointy green mountains in the background.
Your Diabalo character can't use the Butcher's clever to chop down a tree and then build a fire.
You can't jump on top of, or hide under the table in Heroquest (board game).

The player agree on the imagined events & items. This agreement is based on the application of common sense to what can and can't be done in terms of what the elements are. The rules are meant to facilitate this.

Personal note: I don't care for the concept of 'the gm decides' kind of rules. In school, I read a short story called "A Game of Catch" in which a boy pretended he had control over the other two who were playing catch.

"I just made you catch that, mark"
"I was going to catch it anyway."

It strikes me like this. Writing down stuff that would have to be done anyway. Perhaps I am splitting hairs.
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Emily Care
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« Reply #37 on: August 13, 2003, 12:23:43 PM »

Hey all,

To put in my take on the LP and distinctions between rpg and other types of games...

Two things: what makes rpg's stand out is the "shared imaginary space", and the breadth of means by which it is populated.  As was pointed out with the point about the self-contained nature of Monopoly, non-rpg games require minimal input of elements of the game, but do require manipulation of the given elements.  

I've always put the emphasis on group concensus in the Lumpley Principle, rather than on what brings that about. So, to my way of thinking it goes: "All content of shared imaginary space in an rpg depend on group concensus to exist.  The means by which content is suggested and approved vary."  
 
In non-rpg, most of the content is pre-approved. The group agrees to almost all of the elements at the start of play. In rpg, much of it needs to be created in the process of start-up and then during play.  And as has already been pointed out, formal rules are expected to be complete in most non-rpg games.  Exceptions are generally flaws to the game (unless they can be documented as in the computer game hyper-space examples early on in this thread).  In rpg, the incomplete nature of it is what makes it.  

Or, perhaps, this "incompleteness" is really levels of interactivity.  Vincent's Mech game asks you to make your mech out of legos.  Another game could just as easily have sold you little miniatures.  If Vincent wants to give the profits to Lego, that's his decision. ; )  Having pre-set characters is done, but part of what helps people feel more deeply invested in rpg, is that we get to make our character (which is generally our primary element of interaction with the shared imaginary space) up ourselves.

Hope that adds something. :)

Regards,
Em Care
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John Kim
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« Reply #38 on: August 13, 2003, 12:35:56 PM »

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
  Mario can't go to those pointy green mountains in the background.
Your Diabalo character can't use the Butcher's clever to chop down a tree and then build a fire.
You can't jump on top of, or hide under the table in Heroquest (board game).  

The player agree on the imagined events & items. This agreement is based on the application of common sense to what can and can't be done in terms of what the elements are. The rules are meant to facilitate this.  

OK, I'd like to try to characterize the intersection of the different definitions here.  There are two different criteria for an RPG here: yours I'll dub common-sense-principle, while mine I'll dub personality-based-choice.  

1) Common-sense-principle and Personality-based-choice
This includes the common case of tabletop roleplay like D&D, GURPS, and Sorcerer.  

2) Common-sense-principle but no personality-based-choice
This includes games like Once Upon A Time, free kriegspiel, and perhaps some Universalis games (?).  (I haven't played Universalis, so I'm not sure.)  

3) No common-sense principle but personality-based-choice
This includes some MUDs and LARPs, along with some strict-rules games like The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen.  

4) No common-sense principle and no personality-based-choice
Standard boardgames, wargames, and so forth.

I think that varying intersection like this is inherent in any two non-identical definitions.
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #39 on: August 15, 2003, 11:02:00 PM »

Quote from: Emily Care
In non-rpg, most of the content is pre-approved. The group agrees to almost all of the elements at the start of play. In rpg, much of it needs to be created in the process of start-up and then during play...  

Or, perhaps, this "incompleteness" is really levels of interactivity...

Hello, Emily. Always a pleasure.

Let me play devil's advocate for a minute. I suppose that many RPGs have a hole somewhere in the rules where it is "incomplete" yet to resolve these holes, play turns back to the LP and thus is complete after all. So where is the difference?
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #40 on: August 19, 2003, 09:50:17 AM »

Quote from: RARodger
An example/Socratic question: Ars Magica has a seasonal activity system that actually requires very little GM input. (Well, actually it requires a lot, but itís not supposed to.) If I took the AM rules, made 80 wizards and then took them each through their seasons, deciding how they interacted with one another, and using the rules to resolve actions but not to play any adventures, would that strike you as a role-playing game?  

Per my perspective, I would say no since you had mentioned one one player. I had stated that I believe roleplaying to be a social activity. What you have described sounds like a nifty solo roleplaying game, an activity similar in many ways yet lacks the social dynamic with real people which is sufficient reason for me to draw a line.
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #41 on: August 30, 2003, 10:34:29 AM »

This thread appears to have played itself out, although it bears noting that my perspective on the nature of roleplaying is changing and growning. The recent threads on freeform and mechanics have given me a reason to add some to my perspective.

Roleplaying takes place in a shared imagined space. Play consists of argeement being reached about what occurs in this space. Primarily, this agreement is reached by the players using the imagined elements in terms of what they are and the events flowing towards logical conclusions. Agreement is also reached by various method which are often abstractions of the above.

The portion about the flow of events comes from the What is Freeform discussion. The bit about abstraction methods comes from the thread noted above as well as past discussions I vague recall, but had recently come to mind.

This, as always, remains a work in progress, but I think this particular thread is done at this point.
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