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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 173 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Men are from Universalis (split Adventure in Impro'd System)  (Read 21310 times)
M. J. Young
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« Reply #45 on: October 23, 2003, 10:21:55 PM »

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
See, this is what I don't agree with.  Aren't you the same Mike Holmes who typically argues that the characters (or Components) don't exist or have desires of their own, outside of the players' manipulations of them?  Components don't have conflicts.  Players have conflicts (via the Lumpley Principle, trying to decide what occurs in the game) which are then projected onto the Components.  All conflict is player-player conflict, ultimately.

Gandalf stands on the bridge in Kazad-dum. You cannot pass, he says to the creature of flame and darkness. I am the guardian of white fire, and you cannot pass. He strikes the bridge with his staff; the beast advances, but tentatively. Gandalf repeats his assertion and strikes the bridge again.

I'm sorry, that's conflict between components, or characters, without any player conflict at all. Tolkien, I am quite certain, knew that the Balrog was not going to achieve its objective of destroying the Fellowship. He probably also knew that Gandalf was going to be carried into the depths of Moria and continue this battle out of sight of the reader. A single author imputes desires, goals, and objectives to all his characters or components, and that brings them into conflict with each other. He is not in conflict with himself, necessarily, because of this.

If a single author can do this, there is no reason why a group of players cannot set up conflicts between components in a game without being in competition with each other.

I do not know whether Universalis works that way (I will, one day, I hope--Ralph gave Multiverser a shot very early in its life, and I at least owe him turnabout on that), but I think that there's a big difference between saying that components are only characterized as having objectives and desires and saying that they don't come into conflict with each other without their creators or controllers coming into conflict with each other.

That is, just because I've created a vampire who wants to kill my heroine doesn't mean that I have any desire to see him do so.

--M. J. Young
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #46 on: October 24, 2003, 10:23:44 AM »

Right, MJ. Jonathan, Ralph is the guy who says that there's nothing to the character's existence. I'm the one who argues against him on the pilosphical points. In any case, it's the characters that are fighting, imaginarily. The players co-operate to get that to occur.

Let's say that two players were playing a theoretical game in which the Complication rule is that if you and I create a Complication, we each get 10 Coins, and work out the result together. Would that be Competitive between players? It would require that we create a conflict of some sort in-game, but it would be completely co-operative.

What people stumble over is how the rules work in detail. All sides in a Complication are rewarded. Even if I lose, I'll profit by a number of Coins equal to the free dice I got by activating extant Traits. Now, usually the player who wins the complication gets more than that, but not neccessarily. So, if anything the only thing that they're fighting over there is the right to have the randomly determined result instead of the fixed one. Which is a truely trivial incentive to actually compete.

The one other thing that's being competed over is the right to first narration of events. This is arguably a bigger reward, because the player gets to direct the outcome of a Complication, which should theoretically be an important moment in the story. But given that I can just narrate these things with my Coins at any time, it's not that big a deal.

To whit, in play I never worry about losing. Ever. Now, if I were a woman, or not very competitive, I could argue bias. But I'm very male (IMO, enought testosterone to have male pattern baldness to the extent that I'm very bald at the age of 35) and I am highly competitive. You should see me play wargames. So the fact that I don't feel any incentive to compete I think is telling.

OTOH, I know the game well. That is, understanding these things, and having the experience with it that I do, I may be too close to it. It may very well be that the text delivers a different message than the one that Ralph and I intended on these fronts. But we do try repeatedly to say that it's a Collaborative Storytelling Game. As opposed to competitive (like Once Upon a Time, which I'd like to see more and better of).

Very much we see Universalis as Freeform + Framework, where said framework serves simply to ensure that there is conflict for the character's stories. In most freeform, the conflict comes from players creating it on their own initiative, or from a GM, who's job it is specifically to deliver this. Having no GM, we just wanted to incentivize player creation of character conflict. That's the theory, anyhow. I can see that it might not work out perfectly that way.

Vincent, if the rigidity of the framework is male, then I guess I agree. But, again, as Ralph points out, it's mostly optional, so, again, it's gently male if anything.

Mike
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