*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
November 14, 2019, 02:50:02 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 94 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2 3 4
Print
Author Topic: Brief Critique of Relationship Mechanics  (Read 14162 times)
Daredevil
Guest
« on: September 02, 2003, 07:35:25 AM »

Hey'all.

There's one thing that causes me trouble when considering various relationship mechanics. Though I'm not 100% familiar with the game HeroQuest (or HeroWars) I'll bring it up as an example for the discussion. There certain key relationships of the character can be quantified in a trait that allows relationships to be used mechanistically.

What disturbs me is that to me this sets a precedent that all relationships should be dealt with in this manner. What is to distinguish my relation to the local high priest for whom I have a quantified trait from the relation I have cultivated during game, via RP, to the high priest from out of town? The first is not dealt with the "usual means" -- not through the same type of RP and the use of skills -- while the latter is.

This discrepancy just sticks out like a sore thumb to me.

The implication seems to me that all relationships should be -- or at least could be -- reduced to a similar role, all handled under a system of relationship mechanics. While I'm not saying this would abolish RP, it would utterly change it's manner. The actual playing out of various relationships would be very different and I can't feel but that it would detract from the experience, perhaps placing (and enriching at its expense) the area of interest in some other area of play.

I know many here consider these kinds of mechanics state of the art and that's why I'm bringing this up. I'm hoping you can introduce me to a new way of looking at things or to correct what may a mistaken view at the subject.

- Joachim Buchert -
Logged
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2003, 07:48:30 AM »

I'm completely puzzled by your question.  What leads you to think that ones interaction with the local priest is handled purely through game mechanics simply because it has a quantified number while ones interaction with the other priest is handles purely through RP simply because there are no quantified numbers.  I think you're bringing an unwarranted assumption into the question.

Lets say your character in any RPG has, through his previous interaction with Father Johan has develeped an irrational fear of the man.  Now Johan is attempting to convice the town leadership to take a course of action that you think is a bad idea, and you want to convince the town otherwise.

The GM decides this will require an opposed roll between your persuasion and Father Johan's to see who convinces the town (or whatever other game mechanics the particular game uses).  At this point the GM would be completely within his reason to say "You know Joachim, you've been playing your character as if he's completely frightened of Johan, and now you're directly confronting him.  I think your fear of the Father translates into a -3 penalty (or whatever) to your persuasion attempt.


Hero Wars works EXACTLY the same way, only now there is a number attached to the relationship such as "Profound Fear of Father Johan: 17".  This simply serves to mechanically determine exactly how big a penelty is ascribed to such a situation.  In another situation it might provide a bonus.

Does that help clarify?
Logged

Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2003, 10:56:24 AM »

Hi Joachim, good to hear from you again,

Keep in mind, to use Hero Quest as a continuing example, that all Abilities default to a 6. Therefore, you have a 6 relationship with everyone who's not on your sheet. So there is a uniformity in that way amongst how such things can be handled. (And before anyone protests, there would be an improvisational penalty applied to using it to get a Dragon to give you his gold or somesuch, which would make it a veru difficult roll; though it might be a lot easier still than trying to actually fight it).

But Ralph has a point in that somehow people assume that such mechanics obviate the need to role-play. What they may do is make it so that the player doesn't have to role-play particularly well. That is, if the character has an Ability of "Quick Witted", and the player doesn't deliver his argument in a quick-witted manner, then the player can still rely on the mechanics to save the character from the player's inadequacies, yes.

This goes back to a long standing debate about whether or not it's better to allow the character to be able to do things that the player cannot. To really extend the argument, one ought not be allowed to have one's character hit an opponent with his sword, unless the player can do so himself. That is, in boffer LARP, there are no skill levels with a sword, because it's player skill that counts (perhaps sugmented with some HP mechanics in some cases). In most RPGs, however, the character is allowed to have his skill with a sword substitute for player ability.

The point is that allowing mechanics to substitute for player skill is alllowable on some level. Now, in a Narrativist game, there really is no competition. It's not about the player winning or losing. And contrary to popular belief it doesn't have to do with playing the character well or anything like that (although that can contribute). So I could see, in fact, an entire game of Hero Quest being played entirely in the third person, "And then I convince the bartender to give me the location of the thieves' guild." I mean it's a bias to say that descriptive play is by default better in the first place. But let's assume it is for the remainder of the discussion.

Similarly I can see doing combat without description at all. But that's not encouraged. These games, in fact, do encourage the descriptive mode. So you do have to describe what you're saying in order to even get the roll. Or rather, and this is the interesting part, given that the game encourages FitM descriptions, in some cases, you ought to roll first, and then describe what happens in terms of the success or failure.

But, as with all resolution, the choice to use the system depends on whether or not the GM or players think a roll is needed. If the character is just asking for directions, then there's no conlfict, really, and the system doesn't need to be used. Well, this is very much true of most of these style of game, where the systems are defined as Conflict resolution. So, until there's some conflict, not just a task, but a Conflict, you don't use the resolution system, and have to "play out" what happens by standard forms of narration. So, in fact, you do end up playing out conversations and whatnot right up until the point at which a Conflict is identified.

Player : "So, Baor, where do the ne'erdowells in this town congregate after nightfall?"

GM as Baor the Barkeep: "How would I know?"

Player : "Come now, this is just the sort of establishment where such people come to drink. Surely you can tell me."

Barkeep: "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Player (now OOC): OK, I can see that he's not going to budge. I want to try to use my Relationship with him to get him to open up. I say, "C'mon, it's me, your old friend, you can trust me with the information."

GM looking at successful roll: "Alright, fine. They meet downstairs, actually, after dark. But you didn't hear it from me."

So, where in the example did the "role-playing" (by which we assume you mean first person representation of the character) get replaced by the mechanic? It's just not a problem in play. You can use these mechanics and not have to abandon any sort of description at all.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Daredevil
Guest
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2003, 02:06:02 PM »

Quote from: Valamir


What leads you to think that ones interaction with the local priest is handled purely through game mechanics simply because it has a quantified number while ones interaction with the other priest is handles purely through RP simply because there are no quantified numbers.  I think you're bringing an unwarranted assumption into the question.



If you look at my post again, you'll see that nowhere did I say the mechanics would replace role-playing. I understand my original message could be misinterpreted this way, though. But. Role-playing works around good mechanics, enveloping them, instead of being staked to the ground by them. However, it is inevitable that the mechanics bring a certain flavor to the whole affair.

All this said, your example was useful.

Quote from: Mike Holmes


Keep in mind, to use Hero Quest as a continuing example, that all Abilities default to a 6.



This is of interest. I wasn't aware of that. I should've probably thrown out another example.

Quote from: Mike Holmes


But Ralph has a point in that somehow people assume that such mechanics obviate the need to role-play. What they may do is make it so that the player doesn't have to role-play particularly well. That is, if the character has an Ability of "Quick Witted", and the player doesn't deliver his argument in a quick-witted manner, then the player can still rely on the mechanics to save the character from the player's inadequacies, yes.



While I realize the question of player-skill vs. character-skill is somewhat at stake here, it wasn't what I wanted to discuss. I feel that's another discussion, though a very interesting one. Personally, I run into the problems caused by this divide in the games I run, because of the variance in my playing group. Some folks are pretty damn good strategists (to avoid the term 'powergamer') while others are not. They know how to "play the game" better than others, even where the character statistics might imply differently. Paradoxically, it wouldn't be such a problem if the players were "bad players" in other ways, but they're outstanding model players in my view. Their natural traits just shine through. Anyway, I digress.

The crux of my post was more in the realm of why are certain relationships quantified in mechanics while others are not?

To be very generic, let's assume at the on-set of play I had one relationship that was defined as a trait. Later, during play through actions I acquire a relationship exactly similar to the one I had at the beginning. However, (depending on the system) usually without spending some type of currency, this relationship will not represented in the same way. Within the IC world, there is no difference. On my character sheet, there is a difference.

This kind of internal consistency just makes the game feel broken to me.

Sure, the GM could grant this relationship trait in this instance without any mechanical "costs" involved as a freebie ... but this kind of attitude seems to lead quickly towards System Does Not Matter for me. That's just not acceptable.

This is the discrepancy that I was referring to. Is this any clearer this time? Hopefuly so for the sake of the discussion.

Thanks for the comments so far!

- Joachim Buchert -
Logged
Walt Freitag
Member

Posts: 1039


« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2003, 10:04:27 PM »

Hi Joachim,

If the newly developed relationship is important to you, then you spend the currency on it.

That's what the relationship trait is for. It represents how important the relationship is to you; that is to say, how much you want it to influence play in the future. The currency you spend to create the trait is your assertion of its importance to you (perhaps to your character as well, but definitely to you).

This is no different from relationships the character starts out with. In most of the types of system in question here, you spend currency for those too. Currency is (by definition) limited because not everything can be important at the same time. ("Important" here doesn't mean merely not utterly trivial or forgettable; it means it's something you want to spend future play time focusing your own and others' attention on. Currency is limited, ultimately, because play time is limited.)

So, your objection appears to come down to wanting the relationship trait "for free" if the relationship it refers to comes about through play. But since spending the currency represents your assertion that it's important, not being willing to spend the currency implies that it's not important to you. And if it's not important to you, why do you care whether the trait or the relationship exists or not?

Spending the currency is exercising your right to choose what's important. How would you feel if a GM took your character concept in a direction you didn't intend or approve of, by saddling the character with "free" relationship traits to NPCs and causes that you're not interested in, just because they came about through play? Fortunately, a GM cannot do this, because you control the currency. Inside the game world, you can regard this as representing that whatever happens to your character, your character still has his own viewpoint, his own emotional filters for how he interprets the meaning of the evolving situation. In other words, the character may or may not care about any particular thing. The relationship trait doesn't just mean the relationship exists, it means that the character cares about it. On the metagame level, it means that you care about it. (That the character cares is not absolutely necessary; that you care is. That's why you're the one holding the purse strings.)

Do the relationship trait mechanics make any more sense to you in that light?

- Walt
Logged

Wandering in the diasporosphere
Daredevil
Guest
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2003, 03:48:47 AM »

Quote from: Walt Freitag
Currency is (by definition) limited because not everything can be important at the same time. ("Important" here doesn't mean merely not utterly trivial or forgettable; it means it's something you want to spend future play time focusing your own and others' attention on. Currency is limited, ultimately, because play time is limited.)

If currency weren't limited, it would be very hard for anything to be more important than the next thing. Currency wouldn't have any real value. Indeed.

Now moving back onto track ..

Your reply presents a very good explanation and is very illuminating, but while it does broaden my understanding of relationship mechanics in usage it does not remove the aspect(s) of them which I do not like.

Quote from: Walt Freitag
On the metagame level, it means that you care about it. (That the character cares is not absolutely necessary; that you care is. That's why you're the one holding the purse strings.)

It seems the spending of currency is a matter of importance. Importance to whom, is my next and most important question?

Quote from: Walt Freitag
And if it's not important to you, why do you care whether the trait or the relationship exists or not?

This maybe my Turku School bent showing (hell, I'm only 200km from Turku!), but what I care is secondary to what the character cares (or to what the IC reality of the matter is). When I play, I sort of become subordinate to the character. This type of semi-irrational emphasis on the character seems a trait of the type of play I enjoy.

However, you didn't entirely exclude the character out of the equation. Below I quote you talking of the in-game reality:

Quote from: Walt Freitag
Inside the game world, you can regard this as representing that whatever happens to your character, your character still has his own viewpoint, his own emotional filters for how he interprets the meaning of the evolving situation. In other words, the character may or may not care about any particular thing. The relationship trait doesn't just mean the relationship exists, it means that the character cares about it.

For me, this results in the mechanics being imposing just a bit too far, being almost restrictive rather than empowering. They constrict my view of the character (or should I say, my channeling of the character). For example, if in my view a new relationship should be utterly important to the character, but at that moment I just happen to be out of currency (practically or theoretically), there is no way I can truly depict my character.

Quote from: Walt Freitag
Spending the currency is exercising your right to choose what's important. How would you feel if a GM took your character concept in a direction you didn't intend or approve of, by saddling the character with "free" relationship traits to NPCs and causes that you're not interested in, just because they came about through play?

Almost paradoxically, the equilevant is what seems to be happening in my example earlier.

Perhaps we're coming perilously close to the time to "agree to disagree" or to a shift of topic, but we'll see so keep it coming, guys.

- Joachim Buchert -
Logged
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2003, 06:09:33 AM »

Quote
To be very generic, let's assume at the on-set of play I had one relationship that was defined as a trait. Later, during play through actions I acquire a relationship exactly similar to the one I had at the beginning. However, (depending on the system) usually without spending some type of currency, this relationship will not represented in the same way. Within the IC world, there is no difference. On my character sheet, there is a difference.


But that's another assumption.  Your assumption is that the two relationships in the IC world are the same because they were created the same way.  That is clearly not necessarily the case.  Literature and movies are full of discardable relationships.  TV, whose episodic nature often provides an even better parallel to RPGs is even more so.  Where is the "best bud" from episode 3, 10 episodes later?  How come the guy whose life was saved in episode 5 is never heard from again even though the episode ended with a "we'll have to get together soon".  Those relationships were meaningful and important ONLY in that specific situation at that specific time and place.  They were best friends that the hero was willing to risk his life and career over one minute...next minute gone never to be heard from again.  

This is CLEARLY different from the partner who the hero is willing to risk his life and career over and who is in every episode in a meaningful manner.  These types of mechanics emulate this perfectly.  In Hero Wars terms the partner relationship has been "cemented", the "best friend" wasn't.  Currency was spent on the partner, the partner stays around.  Currency was not spent on the "best friend"...best friend disappears.

In the movies, the Lethal Weapon series is probably the best example of this sort of thing.  Some newly introduced characters (like Joe Pesci) get cemented and return in the sequels.  Others...never seen again.

And its not just relationships that this applies to.  Signature weapons, vs guns that are simply thrown away when the ammo is gone.  Signature cars vs replaceable cars.  Many things can be seen as treatable this way.  It is not only NOT inconsistant, but rather one could easily argue it is a MORE accurate way to account for such things.

Quote
but what I care is secondary to what the character cares (or to what the IC reality of the matter is). When I play, I sort of become subordinate to the character. This type of semi-irrational emphasis on the character seems a trait of the type of play I enjoy.


Sorry.  Characters are pencil scribblings on a piece of paper.  No RPG character has ever cared about anything...ever.  They don't exist.  They are figments of the imagination and so can not, ever, exist independently of the person portraying them.  

"what the character cares about" is utter vapor as it is always you the player deciding what the imaginary character does or doesn't care about.  They don't care about anything except what you tell tem to.  The reality of the situation is that ALL character actions in a game ALWAYS come down to what you the PLAYER cares about.  You may dress it up and call it "channelling" or some such but ultimately its still you.

Your character will care about exactly who and what you tell it to care about.  Nothing more, nothing less, and it can't complain about it.  Therefor, if a relationship isn't worth it to the PLAYER to spend currency on cementing the relationship, than it by definition CAN'T be worth it to the character.  [/rant]

But this is in no way restricting.  Its simply a toggle.  In games of this type, there is almost never a time when you will be without the currency required.  No properly run Hero Wars game should ever enter the situation where in character play indicates a potential relationship, the player wants to cement it and doesn't have any points.  At the very least the GM extends the credit on it.
Logged

joshua neff
Member

Posts: 949


WWW
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2003, 06:12:49 AM »

Joachim--

Quote
The crux of my post was more in the realm of why are certain relationships quantified in mechanics while others are not?


What Walt said. The same reason some skills & abilities are quantified & others aren't (on the character sheet): because those are the crucial ones for the character in the game. Let's take two games with relationship mechanics I'm familiar with, the aforementioned HeroQuest & Trollbabe. Both allow you to purchase a relationship at any time in the game, in-game or out-of-game. So, at any time, the Player can decide, "That priest there, he's important to my character." In Trollbabe, there only has to be some kind of relationship established in play to put the relationship down on the sheet. But now, this is another trait the Player can use in the game for the character.

Quote
It seems the spending of currency is a matter of importance. Importance to whom, is my next and most important question?


Important to the Player of the character, & by extension the other players (including the GM).

Personally, I look at all character traits the same way, regardless of game. If a PC has, say, Chess as a quantified skill on her sheet, that's 1) the Player saying she wants chess to come into play at some point & for her character to be involved & 2) the Player establishing that her PC has some skill at chess. Let's say the Chess trait is bought after a few sessions of play. Does this mean the PC never knew how to play chess before & now does? Not necessarily to me. It could be that it's just never come up before. (I tend to think of it in terms of a TV series or comic series. "Wolverine, I didn't know you spoke Japanese." "You never asked.") I tend to look at any trait on a character sheet as #1 (what the Player wants) first & #2 (what the PC can do) second.

Quote
but what I care is secondary to what the character cares (or to what the IC reality of the matter is).


If that's the case...I don't know what to tell you. I find that kind of play...alien. (I'm not saying it's "bad," just not something I easily understand.)

EDIT: Ralph's "the character is scribblings on a piece of paper" sums up exactly how I feel about the whole, "I want to do what the character wants." Which is why I find the whole Turku thing a bit alien.
Logged

--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2003, 07:45:44 AM »

Quote
This maybe my Turku School bent showing (hell, I'm only 200km from Turku!), but what I care is secondary to what the character cares (or to what the IC reality of the matter is). When I play, I sort of become subordinate to the character. This type of semi-irrational emphasis on the character seems a trait of the type of play I enjoy.


Yes, what you're talking about here is your personal preference. Frankly, given that all mechanics exist primarily on the metagame level, I'm surprised that the Turku school uses them at all. Though, to the extent that they do, it's all based on the idea that the mechanics are a mechanical and arbitrary description of the universe.

In which case, to the extent that the metagame shows through in relationship mechanics it will be problematic.

I find myself in a fairly unique position in that I like to have strong metagame, and at the same time I like to have it have strong in-game representation. Walt's term congruence is important here. That is, if a mechanic is both metagamey, and yet still very believable as part of the in-game then it's Congruent.

Now, that all said, I think that people are missing the essential point. Because for all it's metagamey power, the relationship mechanics are, as I've pointed out, not too damaging to in-game suspension of disbelief for most Sim gamers. This high level of Congruence is very satisfying for a player like myself.

But I see a different problem. I thought that I'd remembered that you were from the Turku school of thought in the previous post, and that's the reason I addressed the things I did. That is, it's a first person issue for the Turku. A relationship mechanic tends to require some drop from first person to an extent to do things that in most Turku play don't require the drop.

Again, however, I find this a tad ironic as, for example, all combat requires a drop out of first person. That said, I understand that the divide tends to be between physical and social resolutions for practical reasons. That is, the Turku manifesto says, IIRC, that all should be in first person that can be in first person.

Ralph, and Josh, the fact that you can't understand the perspective doesn't make Joachim wrong. That is, to put it in terms that you might be better able to understand, putting your mind in a set where you feel that you are prioritizing the "feelings" of some fictional character, though not actually possible, does provide some players with a particular feeling that can't be obtained otherwise. I know because I've felt it as well. The feeling is often termed "Immersion", but that's problematic as the term has been co-opted by people who want to say that the feeling doesn't exist. But let me assure you that it does, whatever it's called.

Negatively defined, it' that feeling which is destroyed by the intrusion of metagame or out of character play. That is, someone with the feeling notes it evaporating when these conditions occur. So to deny that the feeling exists is either to say that we're deluded (in which case, I suggest that you either get us some medical attention, or leave us to our delusions in peace), or it's simply to say that you've never felt that feeling before yourself.

Which makes it all preference again.

(If we want to get into what the particular feeling is like we can probably take that to a new thread. But it's basically a real form of mysticism, IMO.)

So, we don't really disagree, Joachim, we just have different priorities. So you may find that you can't use Relationship mechanics to your satisfaction. That's too bad, really. Because it's my experience that all players can have enjoyment playing in any style of play. It only takes an open mind. That is, I'd suggest that you come to playing a game of Hero Quest with more of the idea that you're an author of sorts than a channeler of characters. It will be different, and maybe less enjoyable than your prefered style, but not unenjoyable.

And, similarly,  I'd suggest to the others here that you actually try the chanelling method some time.

And for both sides, I'd consider that there's every chance that you can use a game like Hero Quest to do both, if not simultaneously, in rapid rotation. Such that you get both sorts of kicks from one session of play. This is my personal goal when I play, and it seems to work for me.

Mike
Logged

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

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2003, 08:20:14 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

Ralph, and Josh, the fact that you can't understand the perspective doesn't make Joachim wrong.


Don't leap to conclusions.  I did not say I didn't understand the perspective.  I quite understand it.  Sure its a preference.  I happen to think that by and large its a pretty destructive preference.  But that would be a different thread entirely.
Logged

Gordon C. Landis
Member

Posts: 1024

I am Custom-Built Games


WWW
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2003, 01:42:44 PM »

Quote from: Daredevil
For me, this results in the mechanics being imposing just a bit too far, being almost restrictive rather than empowering. They constrict my view of the character (or should I say, my channeling of the character). For example, if in my view a new relationship should be utterly important to the character, but at that moment I just happen to be out of currency (practically or theoretically), there is no way I can truly depict my character.


I think this is the core issue - you must be willing to let the system influence you here.  Now, that influence could (as someone mentioned in an earlier post) just be that you are going to "borrow" some Currency to create the realtionship.  Or that while the relationship IS utterly important to the character, there's some reason it can't be "used" right now: they don't love you back, or there's a third party that has a hold on your prospective relationship and prevents you from gaining the advantage, or whatever.  A relationship method like the one in HeroWars/Quest isn't modeling what's "true" about your characters' relationships, it's telling you what you can "use" - which (for me) leaves plenty of room for roleplaying to fill in the gaps.

But in some ways the whole point of such systems is that you do allow them to influence how you 'truly' depict your character.  You kinda have to find a reason that works for both the system and the character.  Yes, in some ways this is restrictive.  But it is also an inspiration - structured improvisation and all that.

But it is a departure from having the system reflect/model/simulate "reality" in the game world, and instead using it to control/influence/shape what the players can make happen in that imagined world.  At least, so it seems to me,

Gordon
Logged

www.snap-game.com (under construction)
Daredevil
Guest
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2003, 02:39:19 PM »

I think this turned out to be more interesting than I thought.

I'd like to point a few things out for clarity.

First, while I share certain traits with the Turku school, I'd hesitate to say that I am 'of the Turku school'. We're neighbours (physically as well philosophically), nothing more. It is entirely likely that it has something to do with the general Finnish mindset or approach towards affairs of the imagination. Indeed, to make it sound fancy, this may be a result of us being closer to our mythic origins and past, in some ways perhaps a form of modern shamanism. It has more to do with our "myths being alive" than playing a syndicated tv series.

Secondly, it is important to note that I'm not saying one thing is worse than the other on a universal scale. This might be obvious but bears writing out. I can understand and even value the "other way" of role-playing on this thread, I could even play in a game like that (and certainly our -- and your? -- style of play fluctutates between this and that), but given the choice it is not my preference.

Quote from: Valamir
Literature and movies are full of discardable relationships. TV, whose episodic nature often provides an even better parallel to RPGs is even more so. Where is the "best bud" from episode 3, 10 episodes later? How come the guy whose life was saved in episode 5 is never heard from again even though the episode ended with a "we'll have to get together soon". Those relationships were meaningful and important ONLY in that specific situation at that specific time and place.

True, but the fact that popular media is full of something does not make it inherently good or really even acceptable. Very often it is exactly these types of relationships which bring forth criticism with the audience, because they're hurting their suspension of disbelief and enjoyment since they're not handled "realistically" (or with a more readily acceptable form of consistency). However, usually the strengths of the drama elsewhere override these nuisances and the experience remains enjoyable (and I'm going so far to say that this probably works in role-playing as well).

Quote from: Valamir
Sorry. Characters are pencil scribblings on a piece of paper. No RPG character has ever cared about anything...ever. They don't exist. They are figments of the imagination and so can not, ever, exist independently of the person portraying them.

Maybe this requires a certain form of schitzophrenia to accept, but if so, I'm glad for it. First of all, you're absolutely right. I don't go around saying that the characters are real. However, you're wrong as well. Strictly for the purposes of the game, I choose to believe they're real. I make a leap of faith. The leap of faith that the entire gaming group makes as part of the social contract that enables play.

In this instance, there is no way you can tell me the character's don't exist. Or let me rephrase. No way you can make me believe they don't (within the context of the game). You'd get blank stares from my gaming group as well. In fact, as part of our regular talks of role-playing theory, when I first introduced to them the typical Forge mindset which claims that characters don't exist, that they're just writing on the paper, I was the one who received those those blank stares of disbelief.

Quote from: Valamir
In games of this type, there is almost never a time when you will be without the currency required. No properly run Hero Wars game should ever enter the situation where in character play indicates a potential relationship, the player wants to cement it and doesn't have any points. At the very least the GM extends the credit on it.

This explanation seems to rob the mechanics and related currency of much of their worth. Why is there a currency or a mechanic in the first place, if they're essentially powerless? In my view, the mechanic could be made more elegant before allowed into play.

Quote from: joshua neff
Personally, I look at all character traits the same way, regardless of game. If a PC has, say, Chess as a quantified skill on her sheet, that's 1) the Player saying she wants chess to come into play at some point & for her character to be involved & 2) the Player establishing that her PC has some skill at chess. Let's say the Chess trait is bought after a few sessions of play. Does this mean the PC never knew how to play chess before & now does? Not necessarily to me. It could be that it's just never come up before. (I tend to think of it in terms of a TV series or comic series. "Wolverine, I didn't know you spoke Japanese." "You never asked.") I tend to look at any trait on a character sheet as #1 (what the Player wants) first & #2 (what the PC can do) second.

This displays another trait of tv series which I am not fond of. Character traits appearing from nowhere, stretching the established truths and straining the acquired consistency of the world. If Wolverine speaks Japanese, why didn't he understand what the Ninja said in episode "Brawl at the Noodle Bar"? Sure, an explanation can be created as a crutch, but the damage is already done. My faith (in the world and the abilities of the shows writer's and producers) is teetering.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
But I see a different problem. I thought that I'd remembered that you were from the Turku school of thought in the previous post, and that's the reason I addressed the things I did. That is, it's a first person issue for the Turku. A relationship mechanic tends to require some drop from first person to an extent to do things that in most Turku play don't require the drop.

Again, as I'm not hard-core Turku school, I'm not as adamant on remaining first person. Yes, this aspect of play is important in a sense to establishing a strong base of observable in-character behaviour, but beyond that it is acceptable to tune out for a while.

Indeed, contrary to what may seem intuitive, I think some meta-game mechanics can even enhance this state of immersion. They damage it initially (it seems inherent to their nature), but the end result can be a positive gain. That's what a lot of the original El Dorado stuff was about. Those kinds of mechanics just seem rare. If I didn't believe in them, I'd just stay out of the Forge. :)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
That is, to put it in terms that you might be better able to understand, putting your mind in a set where you feel that you are prioritizing the "feelings" of some fictional character, though not actually possible, does provide some players with a particular feeling that can't be obtained otherwise. I know because I've felt it as well. The feeling is often termed "Immersion", but that's problematic as the term has been co-opted by people who want to say that the feeling doesn't exist. But let me assure you that it does, whatever it's called.

Exactly. Since the term "immersion" is troublesome and has multiple meanings, I propose "channeling" as a more fitting alternative.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
(If we want to get into what the particular feeling is like we can probably take that to a new thread. But it's basically a real form of mysticism, IMO.)

I would agree on this take and refer to what I wrote in the beginning of this message.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Because it's my experience that all players can have enjoyment playing in any style of play. It only takes an open mind. That is, I'd suggest that you come to playing a game of Hero Quest with more of the idea that you're an author of sorts than a channeler of characters. It will be different, and maybe less enjoyable than your prefered style, but not unenjoyable.

Again, we return to the beginning. I am in full agreement. The fact that everybody can be correct doing the "right thing for themselves" doesn't make this discussion void however.

Anyway, I think we're at the heart of the matter here.

- Joachim Buchert -
Logged
John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2003, 04:16:55 PM »

I am similar to Joachim in that I don't care for relationship mechanics.  I have now played Hero Quest and used the relationship mechanics in it, though I don't have extensive experience.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
 Now, that all said, I think that people are missing the essential point. Because for all it's metagamey power, the relationship mechanics are, as I've pointed out, not too damaging to in-game suspension of disbelief for most Sim gamers. This high level of Congruence is very satisfying for a player like myself.  

As I view it, things like Strength or Speed or Weight seem reasonable to assign numbers to.  A relationship doesn't seem reasonable to do that with, for me at least.  That is, a strength number has a definite meaning for me that I can visualize.  A relationship number, though, tells me relatively little.  I suppose this puts me down as preferring strong in-game representation, as Mike Holmes put it.  

If handled liberally, the mechanics might not be too damaging to suspension of disbelief.  However, I don't see that they are likely to improve things over handling them.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
But I see a different problem. I thought that I'd remembered that you were from the Turku school of thought in the previous post, and that's the reason I addressed the things I did. That is, it's a first person issue for the Turku. A relationship mechanic tends to require some drop from first person to an extent to do things that in most Turku play don't require the drop.  

Again, however, I find this a tad ironic as, for example, all combat requires a drop out of first person.  

You seem to view this as purely a matter of physical expression, but there is more to being "first-person" or channeling than that.  Even in combat, I can be "first-person" thinking in that I focus on what my character would try to do, and then announce that action.  However, meta-game mechanics require out-of-character thinking.  For example, it has been common in my experience that in the thick of an engaging combat, players will get into character and forget about their drama points or whimsy cards.  Because they are focussed on their character, they think about what

Take your example of talking to Baor the Barkeep.  Suppose I go in and talk to him, but I don't think to announce in an OOC voice that I am using my relationship mechanic.  Say I am concentrating on what my character is thinking and I don't remember to do that.  He brushes me off, and I walk away puzzled.  In-character, I think "Why did my old friend Baor brush me off, when we have been buddies for such a long time?"  

Now, of course, the GM could notice that I am forgetting to make the OOC announcement and insert it for me -- but what is the relationship mechanic really buying me, then?  I guess this might be a more general question:  what do you think changes and what is intended to change by adding a HQ-like relationship mechanic to a game?
Logged

- John
Gordon C. Landis
Member

Posts: 1024

I am Custom-Built Games


WWW
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2003, 06:02:42 PM »

First of all -
Quote
. . . it is important to note that I'm not saying one thing is worse than the other on a universal scale. This might be obvious but bears writing out.
It also bears (I thought) repeating.  Thanks, Joachim.

What else?  Hmm  . . .  I have a lot of thoughts about the issues here, but I'm not sure if they all apply to what Joachim is asking.  Joachim, is your question semi-acurately phrased as "how can a number-driven method for managing a soft, abstract concept like relationships really serve our goals as roleplayers?  Particularly when the method is only used for SOME relationships?"

Assuming I'm on target with that - a couple additional questions:

1) What are these goals against which we're checking this method/mechanic?  This is the GNS question, and I can do no more at the moment than gesture vaguely over at that forum to indicate it's an important question.  But I think we can look at a few things without getting into the depths of GNS, for e.g.

2)  What is a method/mechanic in an RPG used for?  

Disagreements on either of these two questions might explain differences of opinion about relationship mechanics, but I'm not yet clear if there is a disagreement over 'em just yet.

For example, in John's post the example he uses with Baor is a bit of a mystery to me - if you're using a system that has a method involving a relationship number for Baor, you're not going to forget about it.  What you ("you" in this case being the group as a whole, with GM and whatever as appropriate) do when an interaction with Baor occurs in-game will (or it least should, IMO) provide plenty of opportunities to "invoke" the method.

So I think we could spend some time sorting through whether or not there is a basic disagreement over goals and/or what systems and methods are for, but I'm not sure that's really needed to answer Joachim's question.  If I could assume the answer to question 1 was something like "the shared creation of meaningful stories" and the answer to question 2 was "to facilitate delivering on the answer to question 1", then I could answer ""how can a number-driven method for managing and using an abstract concept like "relationships" really serve our goals as roleplayers?" by saying this: it provides concrete opportunities (and possibly also incentives, rewards, interesting situations, and etc.) during play for relationships and the associated issues to be seen and explored by the group.

And while only SOME relationships may be specifically represented by the system, we aren't trying to create an accurate model of all the character(s) and situation(s) here, we're just trying to create that story as described above.  If we decide it'd be good to have a number for an additional relationship(s), a good system will provide ways in which that can happen.

I'm not sure how much this adds over my last post, but - hope it clarifies something,

Gordon
Logged

www.snap-game.com (under construction)
joshua neff
Member

Posts: 949


WWW
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2003, 06:11:17 PM »

Hey, I'm not trying to say the Turku school is bad or "wrong." Whatever people are happy doing, as long as it doesn't hurt others or infringe on my own enjoyment is cool with me. (That goes from the "neighbors to Turku" character immersion, too.) And I pretty much agree with everything you said, Mike--if immersion (or "channelling") is of primary importance to you & metagame mechanics (or to be more precise, mechanics that jar you out of immersion, since as you noted, Mike, many mechanics move you out of Actor stance), then yeah, relationship mechanics may ring false. I also agree that this could be missing out on a lot of fun, but hey, whatever.

As for the "continuity" aspect. Joachim, you may see these as undesireable aspects of TV culture. It's true that one reason why I'm not bothered by leaps & contradictions in continuity is that I grew up reading DC comics & watching Doctor Who, neither of which at the time were all that concerned with consistent continuity. I find consistent continuity to be...well, jarring. It seems unrealistic to me. Plus, I'm completely unconcerned with fiction being "realistic." Myth, legend, folk tale--these are rarely consistent in continuity. Greek myths contradict the hell out of each other. Try doing research into the history of Ireland & coming away with a consistent tale. So for me, consistent continuity seems a-mythic, & I rather like myth. Again, it's personal preference.

As for Strength being "quantifiable" but a relationship not--I'm tempted to say this is more a matter of RPG history than it is a given. For me, saying "I have a Strength of 18" means absolutely nothing, except in the context of the game. "A Strength of 18 means I can lift this much." Oh, okay, got it. So if Relationships are quantified by the same scale--as they are in HeroQuest--it makes as much sense to me. "I have Sword & Shield Fighting at 17--& I have Loves My Family at 17." In HQ, those mean the same thing--you have the same chance of succeeding or failing on either roll.
Logged

--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Pages: [1] 2 3 4
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!