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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 76 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Fengshui: Simulationist?  (Read 20213 times)
Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2001, 12:48:00 PM »

Ron...

Dying Earth is hardcore Narrativist but there really isn't much to the setting.  A few locations, some creatures (that aren't too defined) and some notable personages.

What is very defined is the structure of the game (games should contain a bunch of different variables that are laid out in the "How to GM" section -- weird customs, strange magick, "casual cruelty," etc.).  The style is very definite as well...from the characters (the characters are pretty generic in terms of their personalities) to the magic system (very specific spells).

In this respect it bears resemblance to Whispering Vault, Schism, InSpectres, etc...where each game episode is explicitly made up of the same components and "everything in between" tells the real story.

Mythie...that's what I mean by plug-ins.  I think that the theoretical Perfect Simulationist System (the PSS) would in fact be able to handle Ars Magic and Blue Planet.  However, the magic plug-in would be removed (or not used) when playing on Poseidon and the future-tech, biomods and cetacean plug-ins would not be used when in Mythic Europe.  The core rules would be ultra-generic, which is counter to how a Gamist or Narrativist game should be designed.

- J
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2001, 12:55:00 PM »

A word about Stance and Simulationist games...

I think that a huge part of a Simulationist game is the idea the the future is more or less "closed off" to the players.  The GM runs the world, the players run the PC's and never the twain shall meet.  This carries with it a feeling that the GM is God and the events are known only to Him.  Then you have the players' characters trying to figure out what will happen...or just playing along with whatever does happen.

So really, it's not a "realism" factor insomuch as it's a Stance issue.  Maybe that is really the sole determining factor?  In which case, Feng Shui has a strong narrativist element, but may be a bit broken and unfocused because it seems to want to take on all three sides of the model?  Can Feng Shui be thought of as a failed experiement?  I know that when I read and played it, something felt a bit "off."

A strong video-game mentality (the "shot" action mechanic, the Kung Fu schticks that seem like power-ups)...

A very specific setting where the PC's get to play...

A cinematic, free-wheeling combat system where players are encouraged to make stuff up and try for the craziest stunts possible...

- J
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2001, 02:37:00 PM »

But note that announcing a stunt makes the planned action HARDER to accomplish, whereas in Extreme Vengeance, the kookier the stunt, the MORE likely it will be pulled off successfully.

I consider that a very significant feature of Feng Shui's Simulationist roots/goals (whichever, who knows?) in its design philosophy.

Best,
Ron
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2001, 02:45:00 PM »

I realize that, Ron...that's why I think it's broken.
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
George Pletz
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« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2001, 04:40:00 PM »

An important point about stunts in Feng Shui is the following taken from the rules themselves

"Since we want to encourage flashy attack descriptions, the GM should not assess an Action Value penalty to attacks that seek no extra benefit, even if they sound more difficult than a basic attack." (Feng Shui core rules pg 128)

To my understanding, this allows the GM to disregard combat modifiers if they see fit.
No small thing that.

George

[ This Message was edited by: George Pletz on 2001-05-10 20:44 ]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2001, 09:08:00 AM »

George,

It is, I think, a very small point. The benchmark stunt with any benefit at all is -2. The cool-but-no-benefit stunt gets you ZERO PENALTIES.

The best (least-disadvantaged) roll I get for stunts is ZERO PENALTIES? This is considered encouragement?

And that's only for stunts that are (effectively) useless. Let's consider stunts that DO confer a benefit (e.g. striking two foes at once) - and I ask, of Feng Shui, "Why should they be harder?"

And again: "Why should they be harder?" I suggest that in a game whose goal is to promote flashy, fun action, that stunts should make announced actions EASIER and MORE EFFECTIVE. Positive reinforcement.

This is not a critique of Feng Shui as a "bad game," mind you, but it is ample evidence of its Simulationist priorities, in terms of how an action is announced, how its difficulties are assessed, and how they are resolved.

Best,
Ron
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George Pletz
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« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2001, 04:48:00 PM »

Hey Ron,

Point taken. I mention this only to bring us back to the text itself. It seems we are getting away from the text. To discuss the intentions of a game we need to keep it in sight. From where I am sitting this bit of text can be used to support a variety of opinions. IF the GM would implement a tweak in your direction would it change anything? I don't necesaarily trust my intial impression.


George
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2001, 07:41:00 PM »

Hey,

You mean, if the GM went and gave, say, bonuses for stunts instead of penalties? It would certainly match MY preferences for play, for whatever that's worth.

But that's exactly your concept of "drift" at work, right? And if I understand the conclusion we came to about that, drift can go any which way.

Anyway, I do agree with your point about the text. If we're talking about G/N/S and game design, we really have to focus on that, as well as our own experiences during play based on that text.

Best,
Ron
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George Pletz
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« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2001, 04:56:00 AM »


Thing is that these proposed stunt bonuses may have side effects that are not immediately noticable. For example. you might have to ratchet up the mooks.

So, yes, we are talking about drift here.

My experience with house rules has always come from shortcomings in play, not from the game text itself.

To FS' credit , it seems like a very house rules friendly type of game. Porting things in and out of it seems like it would be a cinch.

In fact the next time I run it, I already have some ideas about some slight adjustments I gathered from my first play experiences.

George

[ This Message was edited by: George Pletz on 2001-05-14 09:27 ]
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2001, 06:36:00 AM »

FS is simulationist under the letter of the definition. But using this definition restricts Narrative games to only a few relatively new systems. I think the original Dramatist definition allowed for games that had even just an attempt at promoting story; intent was enough. The thought was that if you told people that the game was about stories (like Storyteller) that this would cause at least some players to get the idea and play that way. It is Ron's "System" essay that says that intent matters little and the judgement should be made soley from the actual mechanics. Hence the dissonance in the perception of what is Narrativist to a certain degree. Many games that claim a narrativist intent have actual simulationist mechanics. Which, of course, suits me fine. I don't mind good stories; I just don't want them to get in the way of my simulation.

Jared, you are right about Simulationism and the One True System. This is why we simulationists like GURPS and Hero System (Ron always refers to as Chammpions) so much. They have all the plug-ins that you could require. Actually, GURPS works via plug-ins, Hero can simulate just about anything with one set of rules (genius to a simulationist). To that extent Fuzion and BESM are attempts at creating faster moving versions of these systems. None of these systems are perfect, but they all do well enough to satisfy most simulationists.

This is where certain simulationist design priorities come in to question. There are those for whom the Simulation is more about how well the mechanics emulate a consistent "game reality" (as opposed to real world reality). And there are those concerned more with the role-playing aspects of that same simulation. This is of course an ancient division, but it still exists. The point being, that there is a (to me at least) valid group of role-players out there who seek to experience the world through possibly complex game mechanics (as well as another who seek to simulate via role-play).

Now, I know that this is anathema to most narrativists. And some might even say that it is not role-playing in the strictest sense (the same people often rail against Gamists, however). But there are people who like to assemble the most complex set of rules together, make statistically complicated characters, and set those characters loose into a mechanically complicated world and see what happens. I am by turns one of these peeople. Interestingly, I have problems with Rolemaster, but not one of them has to do with the complexity. In fact I've been known to add rules to Rolemaster that made it a whole lot more complicated in attempt to fix those problems that I have percieved with it. And we have fun playing this system; believe it or not.

I bring this up because there seems to be some sentiment that this is a broken form of Simulationism. And while no game will probably provide a perfect simulation of any game world, for us those that try hardest are the most satisfacory. What makes up for any lack of perfection in the system is the fact that it's still a role-playing game. That portion of the simulation (actual role-playing) is as good as the players make it. It is only the narrativist who sees a rules light or character focused Simulationist game as superior to a mechanics or world focused game. Please leave the Simulationist priorities to the Simulationists.

These portions of simulation correspond to a certain extent with Paul's proposed simulationist phylogeny. However, I'll agree with Ron on this one, as the way I see it both goals are persued by turns by most simulationists. I suppose giving up on the mechanical side entirely could be considered a movement, but the overall proirity is the same; simulate the game world.

Mike Holmes
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #25 on: May 23, 2001, 07:03:00 AM »

Mike,

We're in agreement here on numerous levels. Let me try to pinpoint the primary agreement, as well as to take some issues with a detail or two.

Simulationism comes in many sub-categories (like any of the three priorities). The two that seem most prevalent today are (a) genre-depiction, including the genre known as "reality"; and (b) experiencing one's role in Actor stance, best articulated by the E-thing (god damn it, I really mean to write this on a sticky-note so I can refer to it with respect; I'm NOT making fun by calling it the E-thing, I'm just stupid). Here's where we agree - these sub-categories are a reality, and they are expressed by different sorts of mechanics within a shared conceptual framework.

Regarding (a) above, you state,
"there seems to be some sentiment that this is a broken form of Simulationism"

Not by me. Not by anyone on this forum. Not by anyone who's interested in Narrativist priorities. This sentiment resides wholly in the other sub-category. The E-thing movement is wholly Simulationist and is stated, on that website at least, with a very strong value judgment on the matter. Thus you have people who prize Simulationism making the very judgment you object to - this is a conflict between sub-categories, within the same general priority.

For the record, I think it's silly to launch claims of superiority in that context. Here, I think, we also agree - I'd add my objection to yours.

"It is only the narrativist who sees a rules light or character focused Simulationist game as superior to a mechanics or world focused game."

Again, I think you're pegging the wrong folks. For one thing, you've unfairly lumped rules-light with Narrativist priorities - which is entirely unwarranted. If there's one solid insight that's come out of my System essay and stood up to every challenge, it's that Narrativism is only rules-light with respect to using Simulationist systems of a specific period. If I were to use, say, Purgatory or Agent X (which are more recent Simulationist games with very light systems), you'd see me injecting tons of rules, not stripping them out.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #26 on: May 24, 2001, 07:38:00 AM »

Ron,

While it is true that the majority here have no problem with any specific sort of play, my response about the bias against system-heavy Simulationism was prompted by no less then three post that used derogatory terminology when refering to it. One I think was "Abomination". Do I really have to find and quote them all? Can you take my word for it that I wouldn't have responded if I hadn't seen it being attacked? Not to mention that it serves to defend the position against anybody else who might come by and not know. I felt the need, so I wrote.

I do not mean to imply that Narrativism implies "rules-lite", and I'd think that you'd know that I understand that by now. However, what I am saying if you read carefully is that the people who are most likely to misunderstand, or thouroughly unappreciate rules-heavy Simulationism are Narrativists as this particular priority (lots of rules that do nothing for the story) is anathema to them. I understand that they can appreciate that I like it, but those that really hate it will tend to be narrativists. You, yourself claim that of all styles you understand the motivation to Simulationism least.

Probably not an interesting point, and probably unprovable, so if it gets us past it I'll concede it. Not really my thrust anyhow. Lets just say that I have at times felt that there was some serious rejection of Rules-heavy Simulation as a valid form and I wanted to voice my objection.

Thanks for providing a forum in which to do so,
Mike Holmes
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #27 on: May 24, 2001, 07:51:00 AM »

BTW, I may give the impression that I have a prediliction for Rules-Heavy gaming. This is somewhat inaccurate. I don't mind rules-heavy games, and play them often. But in the vein of the discussion of "The One True Game" what would of course be superior, is a system that is in fact rules-lite (and therefore quick and easy) and yet delivers all the verisimillitude of a game with many more rules. This may be a pipe dream, and the playability vs. believeability debate has raged for ages amongst we Simulationists.

Feng-Shui does an excellent job in my opinion of achieving a certain balance in this regard, but this is made easier by the simplicity of the genre being emulated. CoC by focusing on simulation of that specific adventure type is also excellent (although you can throw out all but the sanity rules and replace them with any other Simulationist system and it works as well). And the generic games are all good in my opinion, although I have been coming to the conclusion lately that point based chargen is gamist. I have been using these systems without the points, therefore, lately.

Mike Holmes
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Valamir
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« Reply #28 on: May 24, 2001, 11:46:00 AM »

I guess its now my turn to ask "why the resistance".

Why the resistance to acknowledgeing that Simulation probably isn't the best choice of terms to be using.

Why this insistance on trying to defend why Simulation SHOULD be used.  Ron, your take on what Simulation means as it pertains to your model has been given dozens of times (so many times that on occassion I've witnessed you get a little sharp with people for having to explain it once again).

Simulation is a POOR term to mean what you are trying to describe.  The reason you have to keep rexplaining it is because the word already has a definition, that definition is contrary to yours and that definition has been around ALOT longer than yours has.

Wargames use the term "simulation" to mean a type of game which very accurately and realistically depicts the games events.  Those events are almost universally historical (aka "real world") battles, or based on plausible real world what ifs (like science fiction simulations).

PC Games use the term "simulation" in contrast to "arcade-style".  Most often a racing game, flying game, or sports game.  If the game is a realistic portrayal of the physics and performance of a car it is a racing "SIM".  If it is a wild whip the wheel around joy ride it is an "arcade racer".

That is why you keep running into a wall regarding this term.  In my oppinion...they were there first, they got first dibs on what the word means.  We need to find something that better reflects our use of it.

And as Ian pointed out in the opening post of this thread...the current definition of "Simulation" is a very slippery slope.  Virtually ANY game could be categorized as a simulation once you remove the realism restriction.  

This model, as useful as it is, is just the tip of the iceberg.  We're just beginning to even identify the tools we can use to examine games.  The Tool Box includes: the three fold model, karma-fortune-drama mechanics, stance, etc.  These things are not finished products, they're just a starting point.

I'm having trouble understanding why you're so insistant on using this particularly word.  A word which is imminently inappropriate, and which you yourself started a thread questioning if it even fits in the model.  I say, no it doesn't fit in the model because its the wrong word emphasising the wrong things.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #29 on: May 24, 2001, 03:45:00 PM »

Wow, your really on a crusade...

I shouldn't try and stop you, really; you're fighting for my cause in a lot of ways. But I do see both sides of this one.

Mike Holmes
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