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Author Topic: Gamists and simulationists in action  (Read 1105 times)
Balbinus
Member

Posts: 290


« on: November 01, 2001, 02:33:00 AM »

Hello all,

As this is actual play it seemed to me the appropriate place for this little description.  Recently I ran a 2 week Conan-esque sword and sorcery game using the Elric rules.  Characters were on their way to the city of Illyria of the Seven Towers (for reasons decided by the players, ie I told them that the setting involved them going there but they could decide why they were).  They come to the city of Khem on the southern border of the Great Western Desert.  To get to Illyria they must cross the desert and go to the north-east (the desert wasn't named by the locals).

So, they have to spend some time in town and attach themselves to a caravan.  All this was background, however, to the actual scenario which took place wholly in Khem.

As part of the description of Khem, a squat city of black and grey stone who's inhabitants wore brightly coloured silks as counterpoint to the city's gloomy aspect, I mentioned a black tower (familiar to any reader of Robert E Howard) which was reputed to be older than the city and the home of a god.

Here is where it gets a little interesting.  In my group there are five players, two distinctly gamist, two simulationist and one between the two.  The two gamist players immediately assumed that the tower was in the city because it was a challenge to be surmounted, the fact of it being mentioned to them suggested that I expected them to break into it.  Why else would it be there? Why else would I refer to it?

The simulationist players shared no such assumption, they treated it as background.  Their characters had no real knowledge of the tower and no real reason for investigating it, so they basically ignored it until talked into assaulting it by the gamist players.  They seemed to assume the tower was there because the city happened to have an ancient tower, I mentioned it because it was setting, nothing more.

Somehow, the mention of the tower elicited wholly different reactions depending on the player's individual GNS biases.  I rather wish I'd had a narrativist player in the group last night to see if they had some instinctive response to the tower also, I suspect not (they would already have worked out it wasn't a narrativist game after all).  Perhaps though, as it was already described as a Conanesque game, the narrativist would have expected significance from the tower because they are significant in the stories (or perhaps that's just another form of simulationist thinking).

Thoughts?
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AKA max
Ferry Bazelmans
Member

Posts: 137


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« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2001, 06:26:00 AM »

DISCLAIMER:
Crayne is by no means fully educated in the details of the G/N/S model or the theories surrounding it. These are his unfounded and sometimes seriously trippy ideas about it.
:smile:

Quote

The two gamist players immediately assumed that the tower was in the city because it was a challenge to be surmounted, the fact of it being mentioned to them suggested that I expected them to break into it.  Why else would it be there? Why else would I refer to it?


Personally I would still assume you wanted me to do something with the tower because it was mentioned so obviously. And I don't really number myself among those favoring the hardcore gamist attitude.

Though I would of course see if my character would think anything of the tower, it would be a hard to miss plot indicator.

Quote

Perhaps though, as it was already described as a Conanesque game, the narrativist would have expected significance from the tower because they are significant in the stories (or perhaps that's just another form of simulationist thinking).


Perhaps a narrativist, if acquainted with the stories, would work towards the tower from the character's and player's viewpoint at the same time, while the gamist works at it from solely the player's viewpoint and the simulationist works from the character's viewpoint.

I.e.


  • Gamist: the player knows it is interesting, regardless of the risks and the use of assaulting the tower, he does.

  • Simulationist: the character does not have any special reason (yet) to find the tower so interesting, thus the character does nothing about it

  • Narrativist: the player and the character view the tower either as interesting or not, depending on the character's viewpoints (which are the most important) and decide the actions of the character together



Hmmm...probably a load of BS, but who cares? If anyone wishes to violently show me the error of my ways...they'll have to come over to the Netherlands first. :wink:

Crayne


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[ This Message was edited by: Crayne on 2001-11-01 09:28 ]
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2001, 08:27:00 AM »

Actually, Crayne, I think you have it fairly well. I don't think that you're going to be able to prdict player reactions with any certainty, but they'd definitely have certain motivations. Lots of pure Gamists that I've played with would attack the Tower because it would be fun to. Heck, Max, if you had worked all that way through all that background and setting info, the Gamist were probably just itching for a challenge. Really Gamist players are rarely satisfied unless they are up against an obvious challenge.

Crayne's analysis of the Narrativist motivation is spot on. Narrativists and Simulationists make the same decisions regarding character activity given that staying in-character is important to a good plot. The Simulationist will then break with this at the point at which he makes a decision that is character based, but not necessarily good for the story. OTOH, it can be seen as the Narrativist breaking from the character's "normal" reactions to do something that will enhance the plot. But under many circumstances these decisions will be the same, and just that; decisions based on a preference.

Mike
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Balbinus
Member

Posts: 290


« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2001, 08:36:00 AM »

Hi all,

I think Crayne's got something also.  Oddly enough, while the setting sounds detailed here it actually took only a few minutes to say.  I was an hour late for the game due to being held up at work so setting description was incredibly brief, the gamists assumed that whatever I mentioned must therefore matter, the simulationists that whatever I mentioned was important for picturing the world.

BTW, the idea of characters specifying why they were going to Illyria was thanks to Ron's Sorceror and Sword.  Illyria does not yet exist, there is no map.  The city and map shall both be created if and when people go there, the idea is to create the world around the characters rather than insert them into the world and have them discover it.  I'll let you know how it goes (although its the new year now before I get to run it again).
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Ferry Bazelmans
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Posts: 137


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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2001, 11:31:00 PM »

Quote

I think Crayne's got something also.


I do? Wow. And there I though I had no understanding of G/N/S whatsoever. I was unabashedly proud when Ron called SOAP a narrativist jet-engine, but that's as far as my knowledge goes... :smile:

Quote

Oddly enough, while the setting sounds detailed here it actually took only a few minutes to say.  I was an hour late for the game due to being held up at work so setting description was incredibly brief, the gamists assumed that whatever I mentioned must therefore matter, the simulationists that whatever I mentioned was important for picturing the world.


But should that have mattered? I would personally would have left the tower alone until both character and player gained an interest. Which has nothing to do with the detail of the setting.

Granted, the tower might not have stood out as much if more detailed information was given about the city, but sooner or later it would have popped up in the context of the adventure anyway.

I feel roleplaying is like being in a fastflowing river. The GM takes you for a ride to the end of the scenario, but you decide if you want to drift, swim, latch on to a rock or even build a boat, so to speak.

Crayne

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