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Is Director Stance Real?

Started by lumpley, October 17, 2001, 01:55:00 PM

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Hey, is there a reason to have Director Stance instead of talking about Actor / Author / Pawn Stance with regard to?  When I do Director Stance, I do it as an Actor or an Author or a (um) Pawner, adopting the stance relative to whatever I'm doing, instead of to my character.  Right?

Most of us are GMs.  Is it not true that when we GM, we just wander from stance to stance and from object-of-stance to object-of-stance?  "It starts raining," I say, and doesn't that mean I'm Actoring, Authoring or Pawning the weather?



I'm not sure, but I think some of your confusion arises from the use of the word "author".  Taken out of a gaming context, the concept of author implies total control over whatever story is being authored, which is much more significant than the control a director has over a play or film.  In the context of GNS, however, the words mean something very different.  

My understanding of Author Stance (and I'm sure I'm screwing this up), is that it is always in regard to your character, only in a non-actor or immersive way (for instance, doing things that make good story-sense but do not necessarily jive with your character's goals and/or motivations).  It requires a sort of reverse thinking, in which you ask yourself "what would be cool here?" and then retrofitting it - contriving coincidences or circumstances to make it plausible if needed - to your character.  Director's Stance is more powerful, allowing players to engineer the game world to their own satisfaction, in ways that are often totally disconnected from their character.

- Scott  

[ This Message was edited by: hardcoremoose on 2001-10-17 14:23 ]


No, I know.  I think that saying that Author Stance is only in regard to your character might probably be bogus.  What if you have two characters?

When a game gives its players Directorial Power, doesn't it do so by allowing them to Act, Author, or treat as Pawns elements of the game-world other than their characters?



I think what your doing is breaking the definition of what a Stance is.

If Stance where simply a decision making process relative to the object of that decision, you'd be completely correct.

However, Stance is DEFINED as being relative to the character in question.

It's like saying 1 + 1 = 2 but couldn't we say that it equal zeros if + meant subtraction?



So wait.

Jesse, I think that what you're saying implies that we have these stances:




Director where you base your decisions about (say) the weather only on in-game factors;

Director where you base your decisions about (say) the weather on what would be cool, and then retrofit an explanation in terms of (or otherwise mitigate your decision by) in-game factors; and

Director where you base your decisions about (say) the weather on what would be cool, and who cares whether it's in character for the weather.

Is there a reason to define the stances this way?  I think it makes more sense to apply Actor, Author, and Pawn stances to things other than characters than to have redundant Actor-type Director, Author-type Director, and Pawn-type Director stances.

Seriously, what if you have two characters?  Which is "the character in question"?  You first Author one, and then Actor the other, and then Author the second, and then treat the first as a Pawn, and then on and on as suits you and the game, right?  You don't choose one of them to Author, Actor, and Pawn, and the other to only Director, right?  (How would you even go about making a character the object of your Director Stance?)  Why should the weather be different?

(The advantage of what I'm suggesting is that it makes it clear that GMs and non-GMs do the exact same things.  They just do them to different elements of the game, in different proportions, at different times.)


[ This Message was edited by: lumpley on 2001-10-17 15:52 ]

[ This Message was edited by: lumpley on 2001-10-17 15:54 ]

Mike Holmes

In the case of two characters, you are in actor stance when you make a decision for one of the characters based on what that charcter would do. You are in Author stance if you are making either character do something based on what you as the player want to happen (which may, and probably does, coincide with what the character wants). You are in director stance if you are making up something that is not directly related to either character.

Does that work? I don't know how you got from what Jesse said to what you have above. He's just saying that he thinks that you aren't using the definition of Stance that we are.

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Ron Edwards

Hey Vincent,

It also helps to consider the basic example of Director Stance in plain old me-and-my-character role-playing. Here's an example from the game that brought it front-and-center during play.

I'm playing Extreme Vengeance, and my character, Bert Tootie, is facing off against Ugly Pig Bob, the scarred and evil lieutenant of the villain. It's late in the movie and Bertie is pretty pissed off. (His dog! His wife! His trailer! His country! All [sob] dead!)

Well, they're on a loading dock. Bert just got clocked badly by Bob and has, like, awful penalties and stuff for his next move. But wait! On my sheet, there's a Coincidence score. I scratch off a point and roll Coincidence, to see if the huge crate of bat guano, suspended above Bob, snaps off its hook and squashes him!

That's Director Stance. It's pretty "close the vest," as it's all about Bertie and his fight. It's about the environment, though; Bertie actually does nothing but stare as the crate comes crashing down.

Hope that helps,

Jared A. Sorensen

I recently played a D&D game. Not so good. The beginning of the second game took place in a castle bedroom. Fight scene.

I told the GM my character was going to grab the wash basin full of water and throw it at the bad guy. The GM told me there wasn't a wash basin -- but there was a chamber pot. I told him I would throw that -- he said it was too heavy.

I tried to assert some power by adding a perfectly reasonable item to the barely-described environment. It was nixed. That's lame, that's why I stopped playing...that's Director stance and Narrativist play being cut down by the GM...
jared a. sorensen /


I know what Director Stance is.  I know how you're using it.  I know how I've used it, as I've used it, here on the Forge.

My position is that what you're calling Director Stance is, in fact, no more nor less than taking one of the other stances toward something other than your character.

As y'all define it, Director Stance = Making [effective] decisions about something other than your character, right?

Well it seems to me that there are three ways you might make decisions about things other than your character:

1. Relying only on in-game factors.  It's raining because raining is what would happen, no matter what the metagame calls for.

2. Relying only on metagame factors.  It's raining because raining would be cool.

3. Making your decision based on metagame factors, but taking care to find in-game explanations too.  It's raining because raining would be cool, plus it's been cloudy all morning.

These correspond to Actor, Pawn, and Author Stances, as I understand them.  Yes?  Why not call them Actor, Pawn and Author Stance, With Regard To the weather?

As it is, we have three consistent stances, and one inconsistent one:

Actor Stance is a way of making decisions;
Author Stance is a way of making decisions;
Pawn Stance is a way of making decisions;
Director Stance is what you make decisions about.

I'm not confused.  I'm asking why it is this way, since I can't see a reason and maybe there is one, and I'm suggesting a (possibly) better way to do it.

I'm not questioning the validity of sharing Directorial Power.  Far from it.  That's the good stuff, as far as I'm concerned.  I'm suggesting a more complete way of looking at it.  And my agenda, just to be upfront, is to eventually be able to talk about the apparent differences between GMs and non-GMs.



Okay, so Ron, it's Director Stance because it's really about Bertie, not about the environment?

Isn't that Pawn Stance Re: the crate of bat guano, and the metagame (which is to say, out-of-character for the crate) concern is Bertie?


Ron Edwards

H'mmmmm. You are giving me much food for thought. My li'l brain often takes a while to mull, though.

Anyone else want to weigh in on this one? I am finding myself shockingly open-minded regarding Vincent's suggestion. Save me from my folly or push me the rest of the way, I guess.



Hey All.

On reflection, if Director Stance is there to contrast not so much with Actor, Author and Pawn, but with GM-power more broadly, I can see the value.  As a shorthand term.  "Oh no, it's not a co-GMed game," one might say, "it just allows Director Stance."

It's not really a Stance stance then, though.

I'd go so far as to say that when some of you talk about Director Stance, you're talking specifically about Pawn Stance wrt the environment, which -- get this -- is why you have the impression that Director Stance and Simulationism don't mesh well.  When Simulationists do Director Stance, in my experience, we tend to do Actor Stance wrt the environment.  Deprioritizing metagame concerns, right?

-lumpley / Vincent

(There, Ron, you got me.  :smile:)

Paul Czege

Somebody stop me.
What Vincent says makes an awful lot of sense.
You could end up with Audience Role, Player Role, and Director Role, each with stances in them.

I'll go back to Actual Play now.

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans


Let me take a stab at summarizing what you're saying here Lumpley.

Instead of specifically defining each element of a given stance, you're peeling one of the elements (that regarding the "target" of the stance) out of the definition and setting up what amounts to a matrix.

So instead of having Actor defined as player manipulating his character without the influence of metagame, you have Actor defined as player manipulating [X] without the influence of metagame.

[X] then could be Manipulating character, or Manipulating environment, or Manipulating something else.  Which if these choices were tabulated would form the afore mentioned Matrix.

I happen to be a big fan of this sort of flexible definition and recombining of factors (Jester used combinations like this alot in his GEN work, and I enjoyed them there).

The catch is this:  Speaking in terms of the Matrix, there would be a cell for each Stance-Target intersection.  Question:  can each Stance be matched with each Target in a way that makes sense...if so this might work.  However, if not (if there would be too many cells labeled N/A) then this would really just be an organizational change without much added utility.

For example one such cell would be Actor Stance targeting an NPC.  This would indicate that a player could manipulate the NPC without resorting to Metagame influence.  This would obviously be possible as the player would simply be controling the NPC as he would his own character for a time taking care to do only what that NPC would really do.  Thus manipulating an NPC isn't "Director Stance" its merely "Actor Stance" (or Pawn or Author) with regards to the NPC.

This could make an awful lot of sense, though it would take some time to shake down all of the implications.

If such a model is found to have more utility than the current line of thinking then, it would also render the Audience as a stance question rather moot.

In the current fashion where Stance is basically a list of definitions I've been debating the utility of having two seperate lists of definitions for what amounts to a set of behaviors. However, using the above model, there would be no debate, because it would be clear that Audience doesn't fit the Matrix, precisely because it has no target.

[ This Message was edited by: Valamir on 2001-10-18 11:35 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Valamir on 2001-10-18 11:42 ]

Mike Holmes

So, in this model Role refers to what you are affecting (nothing in the case of audience), and Stance is how come to the decision in question? Yep, that would pretty much include my thoughts on the subject.

This sets well with my need for object orientation, too.

It does seem odd, however to say Director Role with Actor stance which would be what I would be doing if I created some weather because it seemed "realistic" that such weather would occur. We'd have to rename the stances something like: Object, Story, Mixed. Wouldn't there also have to be some other stances then, though? Like Challenge stance. Where you make something happen because it increases the challenge of the game while not increasing the value of the story or being realistic particularly. So, if I use director power to create a buncha orcs just because I think that the game is stale and needs a fight, then I'd be in Director Role, and Challenge Stance.


There are all sorts of motivations for making a particular decision that may have nothing to do with any of the above. Hate Stance would be where a player makes a decision about something because he does not like it. I shouldn't be arguing against it, because this is exactly where I've been going with all my behavior and motivation stuff. But I think that even Fang might be willing to go with this model (nah, he'd find something about it to pull apart :smile: ).

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