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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 143 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Narrativism and Bobby G  (Read 14155 times)
joshua neff
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« Reply #30 on: October 31, 2001, 09:56:00 AM »

Contra-Gareth:

It's antithetical to narrativism (even "vanilla narrativism") because regardless of player information, regardless of stances, the story isn't generated by the players, they're just following the GMs lead. Now, if the GM is expert enough to make it look as if the players are making crucial decisions that drive the story but really they're just following the GM's lead (the "all roads lead to Rome" approach, for example), they may enjoy it--but it ain't narrativism. A story hasn't been created, it's been followed through from point A to point Z, as dictated (however benevolently) by the GM. Everything the players do just adds color, but doesn't really generate story.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #31 on: October 31, 2001, 10:02:00 AM »

Gareth,

Narrativism to any degree at all, even the mildest vanilla, requires Author OR Director stance to be applied during play, at those points in which the character is affecting the story. This does not mean the player must stand on his or her chair, specifically state that he or she is "not my character," or in any way make a big deal of it. But the decision being made is wholly a player one, and character knowledge and motives are subordinate to that.

I gathered from your latest post that you were not including this element of Narrativist play in your description. The Author Stance is crucial - no, it does not DEFINE Narrativism or vice versa, but it is one of its most important tools. In the absence of Director Stance, it would be a baseline indicator of Narrativist play.

Therefore, no, vanilla Narrativism is not Simulationist play, not even borderline-Simulationist play. It's mild, but it's definitely on one particular shelf.

Best,
Ron
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contracycle
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« Reply #32 on: October 31, 2001, 10:04:00 AM »

Right, OK, but as I said I am now increasingly confused by what you mean by narrativism.

I had thought that it was about wehat the players did, i.e. they consciously and deliberately co-authored the story.  But this appears not to be the case.

I ahd also thought it might be about what the players know, i.e. they exploit out-of-game info to leand a more satisfying behaviour.

But, if their physical play behaviour is Vanilla, neither of these appear to apply, and so in what way are they creating a story?  It appears to me that they are going through "story happens2 like a Sim player.  What preciesly is the difference?
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joshua neff
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« Reply #33 on: October 31, 2001, 10:48:00 AM »

Gareth--

Narrativism is all about the players co-authoring stories. So...

--Regardless of what stances are being taken
--Regardless of whether there are any metagame aspects that allow player contribution (like Plot Points)
--Regardless of whether or not players are using OOC knowledge to further the story

...the story has to come from what the players do, not what the GM decides has to happen. Any railroading, no matter how expertly hidden, is anti-narrativist, because it goes against the players creating a story. This includes "vanilla" narrativism.
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jburneko
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« Reply #34 on: October 31, 2001, 10:53:00 AM »

I thought you guys would like to know that I've created another thread for the Vanilla Narrativism vs. Simulationism in the GNS forum.  I thought that the line was sufficiently blurry and worthy of its own thread.  I was going to make an effort to answer it but words failed me and so I merely opened the question.

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #35 on: October 31, 2001, 11:27:00 AM »

Gareth,

One more thing. You did refer to Illusionism in framing your question that I decided I had to re-phrase. Illusionism IS, by definition, part of a type of Simulationist play. Thus re-phrasing your question in Simulationist terms, specifying the Illusionist sub-set, is valid on my part.

Best,
Ron
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #36 on: October 31, 2001, 05:36:00 PM »

I've been kinda overwhelmed by all the meaty, interesting and sometimes contentious threads of late . . . and I'm never sure if my comments are REALLY "on thread" or not . . . but let me dive in anyway.

Gareth's confusion/concerns inspired this - seems to me an issue here is, if what we're talking about is OBSERVABLE BEHAVIORS in GNS, and the OBSERVABLE action in a "Bobby G" scenario is consistent with Vanilla Narrativism, with the only difference being that the GM "internally" knows that he's been Railroading . . . by  our observable behavior standard, that Bobby G run is Narrativism.

It seems to me unlikely that  the GMs' internal railroading in NO observable way shows itself in play . . . but in theory,  it is posibile.  Is there something to be gained in analyzing this rare case?  Maybe - the "absolutist" in me says a complete theory should cover all the bases.  Or maybe not . . . except that I suspect this rare case is a goal that MANY gaming groups strive for.  So . . . thoughts?

Gordon
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #37 on: October 31, 2001, 07:31:00 PM »

Gordon,

I think that behaviors of both GM and players may be identified to distinguish Illusionist play from vanilla Narrativism.

Situation: Bartholemew is being sucked down by quicksand south of where Sebastian is searching for the wreck of the helicopter. Sam, playing Sebastian, says, "I go south!" [Note that Sebastian does not know where Bartholemew is.] Sam then justifies the decision in some way.

Such a behavior CANNOT be anything but Author Stance, regardless of whether Sam "thought about it" in that way.

Situation: Bob, playing Bartholemew, gets a wild hair up his ass when the characters confront Bobby G, and announces that Bartholemew will attack Bobby G. The GM performs the PRIMARY ACT OF ILLUSIONISM by interpreting all of Bob's announcements regarding actions as statements of Intent, but interpreting all of the other characters' actions (who are trying to stop him) as statements of Execution. In this fashion, the chance of serious harm to Bobby G is lessened, and the characters may still get the necessary information from him.

These and other "types of play" behaviors are easily identified, when you know what to look for.

In conclusion, I do NOT suggest that vanilla Narrativism is "wholly internal," or (as Gareth said) "cryptic." Far from it. The behaviors are there to characterize EITHER style of play I'm discussing, even if they are not being openly acknowledged among the group.

Best,
Ron
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #38 on: October 31, 2001, 11:58:00 PM »

All right, let me beat this even further into the ground, in case an interesting insight arises.  I'll risk the Wrath of Ron by starting with a quote & response:
Quote

In conclusion, I do NOT suggest that vanilla Narrativism is "wholly internal," or (as Gareth said) "cryptic."

I'm not sure exactly what (in detail - I get the general statement) Gareth meant by cryptic, but I'm certainly clear that vanilla Narrativism is not, commonly or of necessity, "wholly internal".  In fact, my opinion is that it's VERY likely - perhaps approaching certain - to be external, i.e., identifiable through observing behaviors.

However, to use your Bobby G example, let's suppose that to the players, the GMs behavior looks no different.  Remarkably good Illusionism occurs, and both the player attempting to go wild on ol' Bobby G and the other, more reasonable (and compatabile with the GMs plans) players take the same (game-mechanic) actions, have the same "feel" for their success chances and associated factors - in retrospect, they're proud of the "good cop/bad cop" scene of the story they (think they) created.  Only the GM knows Mr. Whoop-Bobbys-Ass had no chance to succede - and it is theoretically possible that he ONLY knows this internally, and lets no external evidence show.

How do we observe anything that distinguishes this from a trully "Narrative" approach?  I mean, I'm not sure I believe this strawman could ever stand - I've been in a lot of Illusionistic games in the last 20+ years, and its rare that an hour goes by without something observable that I could (now) use to "peg" the style, but . . . does it have to be that way?  Couldn't a group succede in going through Bobby G THINKING (and having no observable evidence to contradict) "We're creating the Bobby G Narrative", when the GM knows "I'm Railroading"?  Isn't this in fact a common, desired outcome of play?

Perhaps.  But here's an insight, if not a particullarly profound one - "observable behavior" does NOT mean simply what the players observe during play.  It is also what the GM observes, and what a spectator might observe, and perhaps even what an outside observer might see the GM do in preparation to play.  Include all that, and it seems the chance for a "only see Narrative external" but "really it's Railroading internal" becomes ENTIRELY theoretic, and in fact we've simply got Railroading that people COULD identitfy, but choose to be blind to (as assisted by the GMs clever Illusionism).

I've got another insight, from your "I go south" example - but it belongs elsewhere.  I'll get to it . . . maybe not tonight, but soon.  Actually, there are 3-4 posts I'd like to make "soon".  Sigh.

Gordon
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #39 on: November 01, 2001, 06:30:00 AM »

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contracycle
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« Reply #40 on: November 01, 2001, 08:36:00 AM »

Question:

Quote

Situation: Bartholemew is being sucked down by quicksand south of where Sebastian is searching for the wreck of the helicopter. Sam, playing Sebastian, says, "I go south!" [Note that Sebastian does not know where Bartholemew is.] Sam then justifies the decision in some way.


Situation: The characters are advised they need to go see Bobby G.  Sam, playing Sebastien, says "I go to see Bobby G".  Sam then justifies this decision in some other way.

So: why is the former narrativism, and the latter not?
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #41 on: November 01, 2001, 09:07:00 AM »

The difference is that needing to meet Bobby G is predetermined and nothing can happen unless the characters go see Bobby G.

Bartholemew may be able to save himself from the quicksand or another character can find him or Bart simply dies and a new character is then rolled up.

In a Bobby G scenerio, NOTHING can happen or will be successful unless the PC's go see Bobby G, do as he asks, and use whatever information he has to help them.

Sebastian need not save Bartholemew and the GM need not herd Sam toward making Sebastian save Bartholemew.

He may, and this would be a small form of on-the-fly railroading, having PCs always help each other out like this even when they aren't even aware.  This sort of thing is part of that group mentality thing that is prevailent in RPGs since D&D first came out of Gygax's basement (that is where TSR started, isn't it?)

Group mentality forces lots of behaviors on the player that some may not want. {keeping the party together, always helping each other out} These usually efface the character's motivations or intentions, effectively forcing Author or, probably more often, Pawn Stance on the player.

This is the sort of thing we're talking about with Bobby G.  Forcing behaviors and forcing actions, sometimes to the point that the players may as well be watching a movie.  It's not quite that bad, but it's fairly close if you look at it from the angle of how little control or effect on the story the PC's have.
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Don Lag
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« Reply #42 on: November 02, 2001, 09:21:00 AM »

Ron wrote:
Quote

I quote the terms about "real role-playing" that they often use. This does not indicate, on my part, any endorsement of those terms.


Ok, I get what you mean. I still think it's a little confusing, but I don't triple check my posts for or run them through a focus group either, so I apologize for being so emphatic on my previous interpretation.

Besides acknowledging that, I'd just like to ask if you can clear one last thing (I'm very sorry if you've already answered it in the thread, if so I didn't see it).

Would a game session in which the GM prepares a pre-plotted scenario and whose players voluntarily run through with it qualify as a "Bobby-G scenario"?

What if the players deviate from the pre-plot (drastically even) and the GM is willing to honestly "let" this happen (letting Bobby-G be killed for example), while trying to be consistent to as much of the pre-plot as possible, without railroading the characters (letting the scheduled events happen, although now in a very different circumstance)?

Would you consider this last case be a "well GM-ed Bobby-G scenario" or rather a "scenario that got de-Bobby-G-ized by a good GM"? Or none of these??
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #43 on: November 02, 2001, 09:24:00 AM »

Hi Don,

"Would you consider this last case be a "well GM-ed Bobby-G scenario" or rather a "scenario that got de-Bobby-G-ized by a good GM"? Or none of these??"

I'd call it a scenario that got de-Bobby-G-ized. I'd also say that the de-Bobby-G-izing was done by THE GROUP, not by the players or the GM as distinct units.

Best,
Ron
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Don Lag
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« Reply #44 on: November 02, 2001, 10:04:00 AM »

Ok, this helps me get your point much better, now I'm sure I agree with you on most of this discussion.

And I have to agree on the observation about it being the the GROUP's doing and not just the GM's. It's just been my personal experience that most effort usually comes from GM rather than the players, although I'm very much the advocate of considering the GM as a peer of the players, creativewise.
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