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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 88 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Further on Stances  (Read 10318 times)
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #30 on: October 29, 2001, 08:17:00 AM »

OK. I understand your definition, weird though I think that it may be. I agree with Ralph on the usefulness topic, given the abstruse place that the definition finds itself. But I doubt that you, Ron, will agree. So, unless you've had a sudden change of mind, we are at the impasse.

I appologize for to all and sundry for any distraction that I may have made from more practical topics.

Mike
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Valamir
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« Reply #31 on: October 29, 2001, 09:51:00 AM »

Quote

My problem with your point is that, although it is neat and unambiguous, we have just chucked out a huge amount of actual in-play activity. People do play one another's characters with "my character" status in terms of importance. People do twist time/space/events "around" characters, their own and others.


But what does that MEAN.  Of what conceivable value is this distinction.  

By my way of thinking:  "I have the power to manipulate something that is not my own character in a way that traditionally is the sole authority of the GM"  That is a definition that has meaning and application.  It make sense.  

To use one of your quotes as an exact illustration of what I'm getting at

Quote

either the floor is slippery and "trips" Sally (Director Stance) or she is a stumblebum and, for all intents and purposes, hurls herself out the window by tangling up her feet (Author Stance).


Explain to me the analytical value of this distinction.
What I see is a situation where I declared Sally (someone other than my own character) to fall.  I then inserted a causal reason to justify why she fell.  What possible difference does it make (as far as stance is concerned...it may make significant difference to the story) whether
a) Sally fell because its been established she's clumsy, and I declared this one of her clumsy moments,
b)the floor is slippery,
c) an earthquake pitched her out the window
d) she was leaning over a balcony, her earring fell and she went over the side reaching for it
e)a bizarre accident with an automatic jogging machine
f) any other reason you care to insert

All of the above are nothing more than my justifications for why Sally fell.  One may judge them on their simulative value as to whether the justification made sense, one may judge them on their story value as to whether there was any narrative weight to the event, one may judge them based on how hard they snap the disbelief suspenders...but in the end there is not any (that I have yet been shown) reason to call some of them Author Stance and others Director Stance

They are all for purposes of analysing how players interact with "the game" conceptually identical.  They are all examples of making something happen outside of the bounds of normal player PC relations.

To wrap this back up with Author and Actor...

If Sally had been MY PC and I declared that she fell, and I declared it based on no other reason than that is something that would happen to Sally, I've used Actor stance.  If I declare it because it would be funny to me as a player and I'd get a laugh from the other players (a metagame reason) than its Author Stance.


Now to change angles slightly, a distinction that I do think might be worth exploring is whether when I make a decision for something other than my PC, I do so by stepping into the scene (their head, etc)and thinking of them as if they were my own character, or whether I manipulate them as I would a mere prop.

But I would disagree with any definition that declared the former as being Author Stance and the latter as being Director.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #32 on: October 29, 2001, 11:43:00 AM »

Ralph,

Your last two paragraphs are what I've been talking about all along - moving over to some other character and playing him or her "as if" that character was yours.

If Author/Actor/Director only applies to MY character, then when I do the above, there's no name for it. Or you could call it Director Stance, according to you, REGARDLESS of what decision-making process is going into the event. This makes no sense - Stance is ABOUT decision-making.

For example, say that Sally is someone else's character - as she was, actually, in Soap, but let's take it further and have her be someone else's character in a more traditional game. The player is playing Sally in a firefight, and I, fellow player, horn in and suggest a tactic - even, perhaps, holler out a tactic as if it were an announcement.

This is Director Stance? I can't see it. It's Author or Actor Stance, big-time. So it's Sally, and not my character Steve? So what?

It may be that this whole business of Someone Else's Character is not within many people's sphere of play. Maybe they are used to very strict delineations about who gets to say what about whom, with reinforced social means of keeping that clear.

If that's so, then OK - stick with "my character" and be done, because anyone you CAN influence with your announcements will be an unimportant NPC and hence Director Stance anyway. The Stance triad works fine for this context, and it seems to be easy to swallow. But please realize that quite a bit of role-playing permits - usually tacitly - a lot of bleed between who announces, or suggests announcements, for player-characters and for NPCs with nearly-PC-level importance. Under those circumstances, my notion of cross-character Actor or Author Stance is both coherent and necessary.

Best,
Ron
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lumpley
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« Reply #33 on: October 29, 2001, 04:56:00 PM »

Hey All.

If I may, it seems to me that here's a point where people are breaking:

1. Director Stance.

2. Temporarily making an otherwise trivial feature of the environment an 'active agent' and giving it actions from Actor or Author Stance.

1. and 2. are probably the same thing.  (I'm guessing that Mike would say that they are.  I think that they are.)

Anyway, if they are, then we have a choice:

a. Actor to [X], Author to [X], and Director to [X], where [X] only includes non-trivial things whose decisions matter, not trivial features temporarily made active.

Or b. Actor to [X] and Author to [X], where [X] includes both non-trivial things whose decisions matter and trivial features of the environment temporarily made active.

Which we choose seems like a matter of taste to me.  People who like to distinguish Trivial Features of the Environment from Things Whose Decisions Matter will prefer the former.  People who don't will prefer the latter.  I'd just as soon acknowledge that they mean about the same thing and move on.

-lumpley Vincent

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Logan
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« Reply #34 on: November 03, 2001, 06:34:00 AM »

They don't mean the same thing. In practice, Author stance is a small power used to develop the character. Director stance is potentially an enormous power which can reshape an entire game. I would say that Author stance could be a subset of Director stance, but the reverse is not true. I would also say that few players have ever had the opportunity to push Director stance to its limits. Indeed, whenever I've suggested those limits, people tend to back away. Finally, I would say that people who don't quite "get it" should play around with Crayne's game, Soap, because it's an Author/Director workshop presented as a game.
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lumpley
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« Reply #35 on: November 03, 2001, 07:48:00 AM »

Hey Logan.

You're missing the scope of [X], or something.  I'm not saying that taking Director Stance toward my character Acanthus equals taking Author Stance toward him, I'm saying that taking Director Stance toward Acanthus might equal taking Author Stance toward his horsie, Rumex.  Or whatever else.

Limiting the stances strictly to the player-PC relationship means that we have to invent a whole new thing for GMs to be doing.  If instead we expand the stances, we can talk about GMs without (as much) grief.  I'm coming from a co-GM background, and my observation is that most of the time when I'm acting in a GM-like way, it's basically the same as when I'm acting in a player-like way, except toward different things.

I'm up to my elbows right now in a game design that will (gods willing) illustrate my point.

-lumpley Vincent


[ This Message was edited by: lumpley on 2001-11-03 10:53 ]
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Don Lag
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« Reply #36 on: November 04, 2001, 04:39:00 PM »

I'm not really sure there's any use of my posting right now... but just in case I get a reply...


I've been rather unsure about what the stances meant until now (or at least what they mean to Ron, who I assume introduced them into the Forge's terminology).

So here's another "what I understand the stances to be" post.

Ity seems to me that in order to stick a stance on anything you first have to state what/who the game is about. I'm not talking about what the author of a source book says, what the Premise might be, or the setting or anything. Rather, is the game about a certain hero and not his horse? or is about the hero AND the horse too? This is really just saying which elements are protagonists I think.

Thus, one one separate Protagonists from Circumstance (please someone think of better names for this), and define the Story as of what Circumstances do to Protagonists and what they do to modify their Circumstance.

Having said that, Director Stance would be from where a player defines the Circumstance of a Protagonist.

Author Stance would be from where a player defines a Protagonist.

Actor Stance would be from where a player defines what a Protagonist does to modify his Circumstance.

Does anyone share this point of view (perhaps phrased differently of course)?

Does it add to making the point clearer, or is just ANOTHER intent on explaining stance that just makes the thread longer? :smile:
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lumpley
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« Reply #37 on: November 04, 2001, 05:26:00 PM »

Hey Don Lag,

You're saying that Author Stance is making decisions about your character, Actor Stance is making decisions about your character's actions, and Director Stance is making decisions about your character's surroundings, right?

I'm sold.  Given all the [X] stuff above, of course, that it's not just the PCs it's also NPCs and horsies and whatever else I was on about.

The distinction you're making between Actor and Author seems more practical to me than worrying about whether I was thinking about what would my guy do? or what would be funny? or what would move the game out of this doldrum? or where is the GM going with this? or any of the other things that are in my head practically all the time I play.

For what it's worth.

-lumpley Vincent
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Don Lag
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« Reply #38 on: November 04, 2001, 06:24:00 PM »

Lumpley:
Quote

You're saying that Author Stance is making decisions about your character, Actor Stance is making decisions about your character's actions, and Director Stance is making decisions about your character's surroundings, right?


Yes! but no.

It doesn't matter whether it's MY character or not, and I don't think "decisions" is really the word that I would choose. I think "definitions" is more appropiate, and includes "decisions" in the sense that you decide to define certain things.

For example when I, as a player, state that "Sally is a clumsy person", I would consider that the effect this has on the game-world is that the protagonist known as character-Sally  is know defined to be clumsy, of course in some stage I had to decide that was what I wanted to do... but the important part is the effect it has on the game world, therefore the "definition". By the way, this would be Author Stance: it is not character-Sally who, inside the gameworld and from her point of view, takes it upon her to be a clumsy person, but rather I, the player, who defines a certain property of a Protagonist (we're assuming that the game is about Sally, among other things). If Sally weren't a Protagonist (the game weren't about her), the aforementioned statement ("Sally is a clumsy person") would be Director Stanced.

This is all from my personal view of what Stances are suppossed to mean.

Getting back to the whole issue about stance depending on character property... first of all I should stress that when I talk about Protagonist, I don't necessarily refer to a character. I agree that most of the time we DO refer to characters, but that's just because it's way more common. I'm sure Ron would argue that in order to actually qualify as a role-playing-game, Protagonists MUST be characters. I still think there's some exploration to be done before I can comfortably arrive to that conclusion, however I can come up with a counterexample just now so maybe Ron is very right about this.

I was thinking about a very important item in a game being able to qualify as Protagonist (the game would, in part, be about the item). In this case stating a property about the item could be considered Author Stanced (ex: "The magical sword has begun to rust"). However it still does seem arguable that Director Stance is actually in place, it seems blurry to me.

I AM digressing.

What I REALLY wanted to mention was the use of the term "MY character". Usually this refers to the character I have a sheet of paper for and for whom I take most of the Actoral and Authoral Stances for. I define his characteristics, and his actions.

Now, if I get hit by a rock and the GM says "Borowin the warrior is very hurt and can't walk very fast", where character-Borowin is "MY" character and is a Protagonist, then clearly the GM has made an Author Stanced statement regarding a character other than "HIS".

So, you either re-define (or totally disqualify)the concept of "MY character" or "Someone's character" and consider that usually all characters "belong" to everybody as far as Stances are concerned, or consider Stance as regarding to "MY" or "YOUR" character to be an ill-defined concept.

I think there is some value in identifying the "property" of certain characters to certain players, but this is very much a game-per-game, group-per-group characteristic, rather than something that can be universally defined.

So you can keep a rather abstract definition of what character property is, and regard Stance as not having anything to do with it. Thus Stance relates only to the relation of Player creation within a Game or Story. Each Stance defining what type of creative process is in play: creation of the Protagonists Circumstance (Director), creation of the Protagonists (or their characteristics) themselves (Authoral), and finally creation of the Protagonists Activity (Actoral).

I hope a lot of people agree with this, because it seems pretty nice :smile:

On a side note, I think that the term Author Stance is a little misleading since an author can be thought of having as much creative influence as a director, but I can't think of any better one and I think I can percieve the motivation for the term.... so don't pay too much attention to this last parragraph I guess.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #39 on: November 04, 2001, 08:08:00 PM »

Folks,

A lot of people are experiencing a terrible confusion about Stances, because they are confounding the EFFECTS of something on a character (the character is a target) and the ACTIONS of a character.

Stances are about characters' actions AND the way that the universe acts in relation to them, but NOT about the effects of these things.

"The guano crate falls on Ugly Pig Bob." This is Director Stance regarding the crate. No Stance discussion of Ugly Pig Bob is meaningful or relevant.

"The arrow has struck Borax the Very Clean Warrior!" This statement is irrelevant to Stance entirely.

NOT ALL ROLE-PLAYING STATEMENTS ARE MADE FROM A STANCE. Are people missing this point? Certainly, MOST role-playing statements are Stance-oriented, but statements of effect are NOT.

Best,
Ron
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Don Lag
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« Reply #40 on: November 04, 2001, 08:18:00 PM »

I'm a little confused with this last post of yours... especially with
Quote

"The arrow has struck Borax the Very Clean Warrior!" This statement is irrelevant to Stance entirely.

I would see this as Director Stance right away, or maybe Author Stance in some sense. But someone has clearly defined something in the game world, is this not enough to define a Stance being taken?
 
I would asume that the effect of playing an RPG would be that to tell a story. A story wouldn't be a story unless it's about something (what I'm calling Protagonists). What we call the "game world" is what I'm calling the Protagonist's Circumstance.

Therefore any relevant statement in a roleplaying situation (other than "pass me the chips"), either defines the Protagonists or the Circumstance. I can't imagine a statement in a game that doesn't add to the definition of the Protagonists or the Circumstance.

Does anyone agreee on this? or am I wrong from the very begining?
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contracycle
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« Reply #41 on: November 07, 2001, 04:30:00 AM »

Quote

Therefore any relevant statement in a roleplaying situation (other than "pass me the chips"), either defines the Protagonists or the Circumstance. I can't imagine a statement in a game that doesn't add to the definition of the Protagonists or the Circumstance.

Does anyone agreee on this? or am I wrong from the very begining?


Right.  Thats why I think Stance should go back to addressing player behaviour, not character actions.  I think trying to make the concept useful for character actions is overstretched and confusing.  IMO, stance is about players.
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