Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

Is Director Stance Real?

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

Previous topic - Next topic


Hey Barry!  Good to see you too!

I'm just using Ron's definitions">here.  I'm not particularly invested in them, they just seem to be the going rate.

As to Pawn Stance, I think that it more accurately describes Ron's relationship with the crate of bat guano back on the first page of this thread than Author Stance does.  Some people see Pawn Stance as Author Stance gone terribly awry; I think it's kind of funny to think of Author Stance as Pawn Stance in its sunday best.  Either way you have a good point.

In any case, Director Stance is a different kind than the others in Ron's essay, and there really is no need for it if you can use the other stances on things other than your character.  How a gaming group or game designer decides who gets to make decisions, about what, is really the question that interests me.

-lumpley Vincent

Ron Edwards


I have a couple of clarifications about the way that I've approached stances and some points that have been made on this thread. Just little things, though.

I consider Pawn to BE a brand of Author stance (or vice versa). The only difference is that Author requires the player or someone to "in-world-justify" the stated action, AFTER reaching the decision as to what it will be.

Sam announces that Sebastian will take the left turn in the sewers. Sam (the player) is perfectly aware that Bartholemew's unconscious body is slowly being pulled deeper into the sewers by the intelligent rats. Sebastian (the character) knows no such thing. So Sam announces the action, in full acknowledgment that he is merely getting Sebastian into a position where he can save Bartholemew. He ALSO provides some reason, perhaps a very plausible but perhaps a very amusing one, whichever, that Sebastian "uses" to make his in-world decision to turn left. (Note: in my favored style of play, all of this is above-board. Other groups may prefer that it be covert.)

In Pawn stance, Sam would not have provided that retroactive justification; in some games, this is perfectly appropriate and avoids the time and effort spent on "coloring in" what the characters are doing. Therefore the two stances are functionally identical, differing only in "coloring in" as a second step.

In reference to the Extreme Vengeance situation I described earlier, and in reference to one of Vincent's posts that referred to IT ... (all caught up? Good, I confused my own self there)

Bertie (the character) has just benefited from having a crate of bat guano crash down on Ugly Pig Bob. In game mechanics terms, this was the famous Coincidence roll of the Extreme Vengeance system.

I believe there is some confusion around as the origin of the crate of bat guano. Here's how it goes.

a) Say the GM had already established the crate's presence. Thus Bertie's player exercised Director stance in making the cable snap.
b) Alternately, say it was Bertie's player who brought the crate into existence by announcing it as the subject of the Coincidence roll.

Both of these are Director stance, the second one being more extreme than the first. Someone seemed to have the idea that (b) was not possible or involved, and I want to clarify that, in my example, either (a) or (b) could be going on, and that it does not matter very much which (for purposes of defining this stance).



Thanks, Ron.  I'm right there.

In another thread I was reading yesterday, you said something that made me think: is it part of Director Stance that the things you're doing directly impact the character?  In other words, could you have used Director Stance to announce that at that moment, in an airplane somewhere over New Jersey, the president of the Teamsters Union pinches the bridge of his nose and orders a martini, even though what he really wants is a bloody mary?  (Set aside that it'd be a waste of the Coincidence Point, would it be Director Stance?)

-lumpley Vincent

Le Joueur

Quotepblock wrote:

We can have a definition for the term and then use that term regardless of the symmetry of the terms.  The alternative is to have clunky terms

So what you are saying is we can either have "clunky terms" or confusion?  I think my choice is clear.

Fang Langford
Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!

Mike Holmes

Quotepblock wrote:
We can have a definition for the term and then use that term regardless of the symmetry of the terms.  The alternative is to have clunky terms

Note that my method really has no symetry either. That was not my intent. Some combinations would be non-functional. Like In-Character Audience. That would be absurd as defined.

I have no attachment to the terms that I proposed. If you can come up with better, then by all means, suggest them.

The point is that there were, what, six or seven different combinations? You could simplify this by giving them each a unique name. But that's still lot to remember. If you just cross a few terms, yes, its more bulky. But it's hopefully more intuitive. The problem with much of the terminology of other models is that people come to the table with preconcieved notions of what those shorthands mean, and then confusion ensues. That is what I was trying to avoid.

The other advantage of crossed terms is that you can speak of just one portion without referencing the other.

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.

Ron Edwards


It seems to me that all Stances involve active agents in play, who for the most part are characters (I can see a case for various other agents, so I guess I'm inventing a new jargon term, aren't I?). The announcement of the president's martini is, as far as I can tell, Exploring Color and would not even impact the story. But who knows? It's an interesting point.

For example, in the Mystery Meat game we played last week, my zombie-dude character forwent his chance to escape the situation and went to help a babe-zombie who'd showed some niceness to him previously. She gets riddled by bullets and expires (for good) in his arms as they stand there. Fine so far. Now, I made a big deal during play - insisting on what was essentially an MoV - to have the out-of-control helicopter (previously itself riddled by bullets by yet another zombie) do a 360 around and above the two standing, tragic, in-love, doomed zombies.

Director Stance? Yes. It was ABOUT the character, even if it didn't affect or harm or help him. The same might go if a player announces that clouds stream past in the sky behind a character in a scary fashion during a climactic battle scene.

But the president's martini doesn't do much - it might be seen as Director Stance, I suppose, but only in the sense that an ill-placed shot in a movie happens to get past the editing. Shall we call it, "Director Stance, sub-set stupid?"

I suggest a better solution - Stances be considered, as I state in the essay, to be ABOUT the agents in the story. When a "president's martini" announcement is made - and with the proviso that the act is NOT significant in ANY way - it is arguably not even an act of role-playing.



Hey All.

Well, I think I'm content with this.  Distinguishing between active agents in the game on one hand and mere setting on the other is cool with me, especially if we can say that active agents aren't always characters.  Director Stance is for controlling the mere setting around your active agent, which may or may not be the same thing as making the mere setting around your active agent temporarily and in a limited way into an active agent, but who cares if it is.  Either way it's just mere setting.

Can you take Director Stance toward another player's character (taking into account, of course, Paul's thing about respecting that character's protagonism)?  Ron, if you had introduced the helicopter into someone else's tragic climactic scene, for example, would that have been Director Stance toward the other character?

If yes, I suggest that GMs do an awful lot of just that.  If no, I suggest that GMs do an awful lot of something that looks pretty much exactly like just that, and maybe we should name it.

Anyway, I think that if I start talking about GMs taking Stances, people mostly won't ask me what the hell.  I hope.  Anybody?

-lumpley Vincent

Ron Edwards

Vincent asked,

"Can you take Director Stance toward another player's character (taking into account, of course, Paul's thing about respecting that character's protagonism)? Ron, if you had introduced the helicopter into someone else's tragic climactic scene, for example, would that have been Director Stance toward the other character?"

My answer is yes, of course, for ANY stance. If you squint at the definitions, you'll see that I never say "your character" or "one's character" or introduce any element of proprietorship at all. Co-Authoring, Co-Directing, and Co-Acting are certainly all possible. I imagine that the latter is likely to be most rare or problematic, but I can also think of some instances in which it has occurred.

This is a very important point, because it permits taking a Stance EVEN WHEN ONE'S CHARACTER IS NOT PRESENT - you may take a Stance toward a character who IS present, hopping into co-pilot seat with the other player.

In my Hero Wars game, this happens a lot, although we have essentially a "final cut" privilege established for the owner of the PC (owner = player) or the NPC (owner = GM).





In fact now that you mention it I've co-actored characters.  Usually minor ones, but still.

-lumpley Vincent

Jack Spencer Jr

I think what we're finding as we shake this out is that director stance has a plethora of subvarients that can be distinct and readily identified, unlike actor and author, which are somehow less varied.

I don't think we are served by simply lumping this things together into the broad category of director stance and simply calling it that.  As games come out that acknowledge directoral power and place unique strictures on it for whatever effect, it behooves us to be able to recognise the various strictures that can be applied to directoral power and coining a term to identify a particular set that is truely unique.  Otherwise, saying a game that uses director stance becomes as meaningless as saying a game uses dice.  What sort of dice?  and how many?

Using this same sort of logic used to lump these subsets together simply as "director stance" can be used to make actor stance a part of author stance.

Actor stance is defined as "a person determines a character's decisions and actions using only knowledge and perceptions that the character would have. "

Author stance is "a person determines a character's decisions and actions based on the real person's priorities, then retroactively "motivates" the character to perform them."

If the real person's priorities are to use only knowledge and perceptions that the character would have, then it can be seen that actor stance is merely a part of director stance.

This is thin, damned thin.  You can see right through it.  But so it is with the subsets of director stance lumped together.  

This is an awful lot like biology.  The illustrations in a textbook made the organs of the frog or fetal pig look deceptively distinct.  When it can time to disect the buggers, it looked like a big ol' mess.  Everything is connected.  From one angle it looks distinct, but from the other end it just kind of blends into the rest of it. (Didn't help that I got the last pig in the bucket, either.  I think it was a tad underdeveloped)  All of this stuff is part of the larger creature called a role-playing game and we're just naming the parts.  This is an important thing to always keep in mind.  

Ron Edwards

Hi Jack

I disagree, mainly because I see both Author and Actor Stances as being highly nuanced as well, independently.

I also suggest we start a new thread to discuss it, because this one has served its purpose of dealing with Vincent's question.