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Author Topic: Further on Stances  (Read 10295 times)
Jack Spencer Jr
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« on: October 23, 2001, 07:28:00 AM »

This has grown out of the Is Director Stance Real? thread.

To recap, Ron Edwards posted:

Quote

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


I arge that they are both separate stances as well as nuanced each in their own right, but I suggest that neither is as nuanced with the variety of distinctness that director stance has.  This is mostly because the character is in one way or another the focus of Author and Actor Stances while Director has a focus, at least in one sense, on the environment.  The role-playing environment has many more facets than a character or characters can hope to have and can have effects on the role-playing group dynamics in ways not as far reaching as the other two stances.

Consider:  someone playing in actor stance is using only in-character knowledge and perception to base decisions for game actions.  

[note: I almost included "motivation" with knowledge and perception.  This may be one of the myths of Actor stance that probably should be addressed directly.]

There is only so much that can be done with this, even when stretch amoung various characters rather than one or co-actorship and so on.  In the end, it focuses on an in-game agent, usually a sentient being of some kind.

Direct stance allows for effecting the environment outside of the character.  "Realative to the character" is the phrase used, but the term "realative to the character" can be stretched as well.  A brief scene can be describe on another planet in a separate dimension 100 years in the past, but it could somehow be determined to have a direct effect, and is therefore "realative" to the character.

The effects of Directoral power, what you can do with it, who gets to use it in a given instance, and on what is what gives Director Stance the greater chance for variety.

That said, I'm not saying that we should separate Director Stance into the separate substances, but simply identify and recognize the substances when they appear.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2001, 08:10:00 AM »

Hi Jack,

Thanks for starting this one up.

I agree with you that Director Stance is "broader" than the other two Stances. What I don't see is any reason for concern.

Basically, it breaks down as follows:
Actor = player is "in character's head" and can affect only the character's body
Author = player is not "in character's head" and can affect only the character's body
Director = player is not "in character's head" and can affect the character's environment/circumstances

So there it is. The relative "power" of each Stance is certainly increasing from Actor to Director. However, and I'm sure of this, the emotional payoff of each Stance varies with the priorities of the player.

I'm not perturbed by the different "ranges" of the Stances. I recall when one person was perturbed by the disproportionate representation of G, N, and S focuses of game design, historically, and I found that odd - why would we expect 33.33% for each? I have the same reaction to the observation that the Stances cover different ranges of influence.

Best,
Ron

P.S. I hope everyone can see that by "player," above, I am referring to any role-playing participant (GM/player distinction is irrelevant). Also, no mention is made of YOUR character; add "co" to any Stance if you see fit.
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2001, 08:42:00 AM »

It's a cause for concern because the facets of director stance are an underexplored facet of a game in play as well as game design.

It may be too soon to tell if this really is an area worth exploring since designers are only just starting to play with it.

Let's start with some examples.

Traditionally, the GM hold most or all of the directoral power.

The Wheel is nothing but director stance, with author thrown in.  The power mostly goes to the player running the scene with the other players buying that power with tokens.  Without using a toke, the other players are stuck in the "camera stance" I've called audience stance before and have since thought better of it.  This is sort of how it works in SOAP.

The Pool uses director stance as a reward for a successful roll.  IIUC.

Or so I understand it for these games.  Anyone else?
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Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2001, 09:44:00 AM »

I'm curious.  If Director Stance grants a player the ability to affect the environment/circumstances relative to the player, how do we characterize a Stance where a player can in the same manner, exercise Directorial Power over another character's environment/circumstances, even though our player-director's character is entirely offstage?

Is this a different stance (viz. Audience Stance), or should we broaden the definition of Director Stance?

Best,

Blake
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2001, 09:52:00 AM »

Blake,

I've taken a lot of pains in the last couple of threads to specify that Stances are about any character, not about one's own character. Proprietorship is clearly shared in role-playing far more than any rulebooks admit, up to and including Director applications.

So maybe I should state it here in no uncertain terms: Stance is easily applied to ANY character in play, WITHOUT any "my character" limitations at all. Such limitations may secondarily occur due to game rules or group standards, but they are modifications, not definitional.

Once that was established in the other threads, a lot of what people were thinking would be Audience stuff turned out to be Director or Author stuff about characters besides their own.

Best,
Ron

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Valamir
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« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2001, 10:20:00 AM »

If thats the case, Ron, than Lumpley's "Does Director Stance really exist" question is even more valid.

Consider:

I originally believed Author stance is using "out of head" stuff to make decisions about MY character.

If instead I can make decisions about YOUR character too, then that would pretty much be identical with makeing decisions about the GM's character (aka NPC's).  

If I'm now able to use metagame concerns to influence decisions about my PC, other PCs, or NPCs then it really isn't that big of a stretch to also include pretty much anything else also.

There really ISN'T a need for Director Stance to cover using metagame concerns to influence decisions about "environment"...as far as level of power over the game is concerned, its all pretty much equivelent whether we're talking about inventing an important physical clue at the scene of a crime, or causeing an NPC or other PC to give up the clue in an interrogation.  The distinction is one of nuance at best.

If this is a vote, I for one would limit Author Power to using metagame to affect only my character, and use Directoral Power to describe using metagame to affect anything else (including other characters).

If instead we're locked into the idea that Author Power includes other characters than we should just through Director out the window entirely and use Lumpley's Stance vs a Target idea to differentiate Authoring my PC from Authoring the environment.
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Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2001, 10:50:00 AM »

Thanks for the input, Ron.  I understand where you're coming from now.

Valamir, I see Author power as being purely related to decision-making, but not exercising environmental control.  Director power, on the other hand, deals explicitly with affecting the setting.  Consequently, I see an easy separation here.  My bug has been whether Directorial power is character-centered or not, and Ron answered that for me in his last post.  Audience Stance doesn't readily convey a use of story-altering power, in my opinion, so I'm happy to stick with Director Stance to describe this modality.

Best,

Blake
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lumpley
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« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2001, 11:11:00 AM »

Hey All.

I like Ron's solution more and more.  If I understand it.  May I?

Actor Stance - making decisions about [X] based only on in-game considerations.

Author Stance - making decisions about [X] based on metagame considerations, but in such a way that they are justified by in-game considerations.

Director Stance - making decisions about the inactive things, window dressing, and environment around [X], based on metagame (or possibly in-game) considerations, with or without in-game justification.

Where [X] is whatever active element of the game world you're making decisions about. [X] is usually your character, but it might also be somebody else's character, the thieves' guild, your character's horsie, God, or any other active agent in the game.

Heck, I'd be a fool to turn that down.

-lumpley Vincent

I've cut Pawn Stance from my list for no especially good reason.

[ This Message was edited by: lumpley on 2001-10-23 15:19 ]
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2001, 11:32:00 AM »

Well, I'd guess that [X] is a character in Ron's model.

Your model also makes the definition of Stance weird. Something like "the changes the player makes to the game world relative to some active object". Is that really a useful definition? I'm again agreeing with Ralph. Why not talk about "Changes players make to any object"? This satisfies the Active and In-Game components of Ron's definitions.

The problem with the whole "relative" thing is how do you know when it's about a character at all? If I create a bar using director type power, just for the heck of it, is that automatically in relation to my character just because I have one? Even if my character is not in the scene but someone elses is? Even if no character is in the scene but some exist in the same world? We all have characters after a fashion, even GMs. When the GM makes up a town, doesn't that have some relation to the NPCs that presumably inhabit the town?

My point is that I see no point in talking about making changes to non-character objects "in relation to a character". Certainly you can restrict Directorial power (or GM power if you prefer, whatever) to a player in that he can only use it with regard to things that happen in scenes in which the character is in, or to effects of the character's effort. But to say that this is a Stance, and making changes that somehow aren't in some sort of direct relation to a charcter are not, seems very odd. Where do you draw this line?

Mike
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lumpley
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« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2001, 01:22:00 PM »

Mike,

In the other thread, Ron was talking about an active agent being usually but not always a character.  I assumed he still was.

Here's where I draw the lines, off the top of my head.

My character is Acanthus.  My character's horsie is Rumex.

I could say, "As Acanthus is riding into battle, Rumex stumbles and Acanthus hauls on the reigns, swearing."  The italicized bit is Director Stance Re: Acanthus, with Rumex being the inactive thing I'm controlling.

I could say, "Rumex follows the smell of the other horses, but as he's going a branch tangles his trailing reigns and he has to smash it with his hoof."  The italicized bit is Director Stance Re: Rumex, with the branch being the inactive thing.

In neither case is Rumex really a character, but in the latter he's the active agent and focus of my director stance.

I could also say, "there've been certain changes in the town government, and as a result the thieves' guild is clamming up."  Here the thieves' guild is an active agent as well -- yes, you can extrapolate its behavior to its individual members, but I think it makes very good sense to talk about it as an agent itself too.

-lumpley Vincent
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2001, 12:11:00 PM »

Suspicious.

If I just say, "Rumux stumbles" is that Director stance because my character happens to be there, or is it Author stance for Rumex the active agent? And if you differentiate these somehow, what's the point?

Mike
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2001, 04:45:00 PM »

Mike,

I would hazzard to guess that "Rumux stumbles" is author stance while "an anvil falls of Rumux" is director stance.

The point of the difference is it does shows what areas the player is able to effect.  If the players can only effect the in-game agents (i.e. the characters) this is author stance if they can effect things other than the in-game agents it is director stance.

You seem to be stuck on the PC thing I was earlier in this thread.  According to Ron, who's character it is (PC, NPC, whatever) is irrelavant when we look at stances.  IIUC
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Valamir
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« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2001, 05:22:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-10-24 16:11, Mike Holmes wrote:
Suspicious.

If I just say, "Rumux stumbles" is that Director stance because my character happens to be there, or is it Author stance for Rumex the active agent? And if you differentiate these somehow, what's the point?

Mike


I think the same thing.  At this point if one is going to use the Stance as regards to [X] approach, I agree with Lumpley's original idea that the difference between Author and Director is a rather fine one at best, entirely superfluous at worst.

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2001, 06:05:00 AM »

Mike,

If you just say, "Rumux stumbles," then that's not giving enough information for anyone to judge Stance.

Is it a retroactive explanation for why Rumux didn't get somewhere in time?

Or is it a condition of the terrain that is merely context for whatever else is happening?

Is Acanthus riding on Rumux' back (or strapped there, or otherwise affected by Rumux performance?)

Or is Rumux the hero of the moment, with everyone far more interested in his fate than in that of Acanthus?

I think that with the necessary information in hand, the three Stances fall out very distinctly. I think that CERTAIN GAME DESIGNS will blur the lines between Stance (Little Fears blurs Actor/Author) - and perhaps? Is it OK if I say this? because Universalis blurs the line between Director and Author Stance, perhaps Ralph and Mike are thinking more on its terms?

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2001, 07:10:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-10-24 20:45, pblock wrote:
Mike,

I would hazzard to guess that "Rumux stumbles" is author stance while "an anvil falls of Rumux" is director stance.

The point of the difference is it does shows what areas the player is able to effect.  If the players can only effect the in-game agents (i.e. the characters) this is author stance if they can effect things other than the in-game agents it is director stance.

You seem to be stuck on the PC thing I was earlier in this thread.  According to Ron, who's character it is (PC, NPC, whatever) is irrelavant when we look at stances.  IIUC


I understand that. It just seems to have weird implications.

We seem to be on a slippery slope (one which, unusually, we might just want to get to the bottom of). When things were defined as being in relation to your own character it was clearer. Now Ron's example of the Bat-guano crate seems to be two things whereas previously it was one. Previously it was director power to do what he did, as the Target of the falling crate was not his character; all the elements in the equation were external to the player's character. Now it is Director stance to have the crate fall and author stance to have the target be hit by the falling crate it seems to me. Certainly if I were to say that the target cuts his own throat you'd say it was Author? (Note that in this example, there is no resolution other than the player power. If you had set a crate falling with director power, and then rolled to see if it hit or used another resolution, then there would be no authoring of the target's fate).

This seems an unintended side-effect of changing the definition.

A model that just talked about areas of control in general and then discussed IC/OOC and the like when pertinent would seem to be more useful than what we're getting.

But that's just me. I'm tired. I give up. It's not worth arguing anymore (and probably hasn't been for a while). I'll try to use the latest definition, as best as I can understand it, when required.

Mike
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