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Independent Game Forums => lumpley games => Topic started by: lumpley on October 21, 2004, 12:16:19 PM



Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: lumpley on October 21, 2004, 12:16:19 PM
Quote from: I
Understanding Roleplaying
Lets open role-playing up and muck around in its guts. I'll lay out a state-of-the-art description of what really happens when you role-play, and we'll go from there. We can dig into the nitty gritty of RPG design, playing and GMing, dealing with dysfunction, choosing and adapting rules, or even take on the biggie: creative agenda and social dynamics. Whatever way we go, we'll always fall back on the gold standard of RPG theory: actual play.

Guaranteed to kick conventional wisdom down and take its lunch money.


It starts with a drawing: "Roleplaying from the Ground Up." I'm'a reproduce the act of drawing it here.

At the bottom:
Code:
==People Talking==>
{  Social Rules  }

Time goes from left to right. Hence arrows.

Up from that:
Code:
|-About In-game Stuff-->
|
|
==People Talking==>
{  Social Rules  }

Then:
Code:
|-About In-game Stuff-->
| |-Characters Situated in Setting, Doing things, all Colorfully-->
|
==People Talking==>
{  Social Rules  }

Then:
Code:
|-Overwhelmingly Agreeing-->
| |-Negotiating-->
| | |-Overt-->
| | |-Covert-->
| | |-Rules-->
| | |-Mechanics-->
| |
|-About In-game Stuff-->
| |-Characters Situated in Setting, Doing things, all Colorfully-->
|
==People Talking==>
{  Social Rules  }

And finally:
Code:
|-Pursuing a Creative Agenda-->
| |-Fulfilled or unfulfilled over time-->
|
|-Overwhelmingly Agreeing-->
| |-Negotiating-->
| | |-Overt-->
| | |-Covert-->
| | |-Rules-->
| | |-Mechanics-->
| |
|-About In-game Stuff-->
| |-Characters Situated in Setting, Doing things, all Colorfully-->
|
==People Talking==>
{  Social Rules  }


Now all while I'm drawing this I'm explaining it. People talking, right? They talk about pizza, movies, whatever, but some of what they say is about the things and stuff in the game. That is, Characters Situated in Setting, Doing things, all Colorfully, and I'll go ahead and give an example or two. Anyhow they're overwhelmingly agreeing with one another. At every moment, they're either in agreement or coming to agreement. More examples, the good ol' can of peaches. To make this happen, they've got some sort of System, which is a system for negotiation. It'll include both overt and covert negotiation of a normal, social sort, rules, and game mechanics. Lots to say about that in just a sec. Meanwhile, they all want to get something out of the game, and over the course of a session or a couple sessions or many sessions, they'll get it or else they won't. All of this happens within the bounds of our normal, well-known rules for hanging out with each other.

You can all see that this is the big model!

Next up, an arrow pointing to "About in-game stuff-->"
Code:
People talking ... about in-game stuff:
Characters
-> People?
-> Capable of action
Situated
-> Relative to one another and setting elements
-> Emotionally, physically, thematically, intellectually, etc...
in Setting
-> Frames, responds to, resists, supports, sets off, provokes Character action
Doing things
-> Situation->Situation
All Colorfully
-> Concrete details
-> Provide and reflect meaning

Which I hope is pretty clear to everybody here, ask if you want.

Then an arrow pointing to "Overwhelmingly Agreeing-->"
Code:
People talking ... overwhelmingly agreeing
How? That's System
Who Says What to Whom about What.
-> GM?
-> Dice?
-> Stats?
-> In-game Causality?
-> "Combat System"?
-> Rule Book?
-> Flavor Text?
-> Drowning Rules?
Technical Approach

Then
-> Dysfunctional Negotiation
-> Failed Negotiation

And
-> What's a game designer to do?


What indeed.

Next up, an arrow pointing to "Mechanics-->"
Code:
Negotiating ... using mechanics
Mechanics coordinate:
-> In-game, imaginary stuff
-> Real-world tokens: dice, numbers, descriptors
-> Real-world interactions: who says what

DFK
IIEE
Conflict vs. Task
FitM / FatE
Narration
Reward
Currency


And I'm like, let's leave those for now. I'll define and describe them all in a minute.

Meanwhile, an arrow pointing to "Pursuing a Creative Agenda-->"
Code:
People talking ... pursuing a Creative Agenda
-> Saying something interesting about people
-> Celebrating the source material (whatever the source)
-> Rising to the challenge

... Fulfilled or Unfulfilled
How long does it take?
-> A session or sessions
How can you tell?
-> Consistent and reliable
Barriers to fulfillment
-> Incompatible agendas
-> Breakdown of negotiation
-> Hit or miss skills
-> Probs at the Social Rules level


Then I'm like, now what? And I'm like: oh, but I gotta describe:
Code:
DFK
IIEE
Conflict vs. Task
FitM / FatE
Narration
Reward
Currency


So I describe those.

And then:
Code:
What Now?
-> What's a game designer to do?
-> Fuctional & dysfunctional negotiation
-> Technique nitty-gritty
-> GMs, players & distributing credibility
-> Creative Agenda
-> Choosing and adapting rules
-> Cutting-edge games
-> Prove it!


And the convo goes down one or more of those lines.

Please comment if you want!

-Vincent


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: matthijs on October 21, 2004, 12:37:54 PM
Well, I'll just say it looks great, so far. Informal, easy, doesn't look like heavy theory, and covers loads of stuff.


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: Jonathan Walton on October 21, 2004, 05:02:49 PM
Hey Vincent,

Looks sweet.

Question: when you say "character" in this outline, do you mean it in Ron's sense of "agent" or the more traditional "imaginary person"?  Is that what your "People?" thing is addressing?

Also, any case you can throw a subsection in to deal with scene framing, since it as basic a feature of roleplaying as character agents?

I look forward to seeing where you go with this.


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: lumpley on October 21, 2004, 05:41:36 PM
Scene framing, good. That'll go in with IIEE, Narration, DFK etc.

And yep, that's exactly what "people?" is about.

-Vincent


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: ScottM on October 22, 2004, 08:46:11 AM
This looks good. It also looks immense.  How long is your time slot and how much crowd interaction do you want in this "laying out the points" part [say, everything prior to "What Now"]?  If it's a lecture style talk, you can probably whip through all the points in an hour or two (touching on them at least)-- but just laying out the simple definitions of everything you've written here... any idea how long will that take?

I like the evolving outline format-- I think it will serve you much better than pre-printed overlays-- the act of writing/creating at the moment is more interesting than just reading an overhead xerox.  You might want to write on 8 1/2x11 clear overlays, so you can switch in & out without destroying what you've already done.  I suspect you're already aware that writing on overheads takes much more space than writing pen & paper...  [Oops-- assumption check: what surface are you writing on? Chalk boards?]

"Drowning rules" sounds like a good topic-- instead of guessing your point, care to share it here?

Looks like a great workshop! If you want to take it on the road, say west of the Sierra Nevadas...
Scott


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: lumpley on October 22, 2004, 09:16:27 AM
I have 4 hours, same as for a game, so I'm figuring a not too interactive first hour or hour and a half, laying all this stuff out, and then a couple-three hours of more interactive conversation. I don't expect to get too deep about anything, and the more "prove it!" I have to do, the shallower the whole thing'll be. I have no idea who my audience will be though, maybe they'll surprise me.

Oh and I'm 9:00-12:00, so if anybody's really digging it we can keep going over lunch.

I expect I'm writing on a blackboard. As far as I know, I have no AV!

By "drowning rules" I mean rules in the rule book that never make it into live negotiation. What's their deal? Do they count? If the group seems interested in RPG design in particular, "drowning rules" can also lead into discussion of fiddly case-by-case rules, why would a designer include them and why not.

-Vincent


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 22, 2004, 10:03:28 AM
Mildly asked: authorship will be attributed for some key points?

Best,
Ron


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: lumpley on October 22, 2004, 10:12:09 AM
Oh yes indeed. With a bibliographical handout.

In fact building the handout is my next step, next week, and I'm'a ask for help doing it.

-Vincent


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: lumpley on October 22, 2004, 10:30:57 AM
Oh Ron, thanks for reminding me. "Lines and Veils" has to go in there too.

-Vincent


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: lumpley on October 22, 2004, 12:43:24 PM
Let's see. Here's my initial brainstormy stab.

Theory (the Big Model / the Ground Up, Characters Situated etc., Creative Agendas):
- Ron's essays: System Matters, Heartbreakers I and II, G:SOU, S:tRtD, N:SN.
- The Forge Forums.
- My own Roleplaying Theory, Hardcore.

Topical Games:
- DFK: Everway, Shadows, Freeform
- IIEE: Trollbabe, DitV
- Conflict vs. Task: Trollbabe, MLwM
- FitM / FatE: Otherkind
- Narration: the Pool, InSpectres
- Reward: Sorcerer, Universalis, PTA, DitV
- Currency: Sorcerer
- Relationships: MLwM, Trollbabe, Extreme Vengeance

- GM? Universalis, InSpectres
- Dice? Shadows, Otherkind, Sorcerer
- Stats? MLwM
- In-game Causality?
- "Combat System"?
- Rule Book?
- Flavor Text? Ars Magica, kpfs
- Drowning Rules? the Dying Earth
- Lines & Veils? Sex & Sorcery, kpfs

Please free-associate, make suggestions and kick my butt!

Especially the many theoretically interesting and/or exemplary games I left out, do please suggest them.

-Vincent


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: Ben Lehman on October 22, 2004, 12:46:37 PM
I'd be interested to hear your take on drowning rules.  If it has been discussed previously on the Forge, I missed it.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: Piers on October 22, 2004, 03:36:56 PM
Heroquest and Trollbabe for scale, speed of resolution--Simple vs. Extended Contests.


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: lumpley on October 25, 2004, 12:47:35 PM
Yes! Excellent.

-Vincent


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: Per Fischer on October 26, 2004, 12:17:20 AM
Vincent, is there any way that all us not able to attend the the seminar can benefit from it? I mean in the form of a written report or transcript or such?

I know it's a bit much to ask, perhaps, but at least I can offer some help in writing some of it down or editing copy, or whatever.

Maybe you should consider an online, chat-based, version of the seminar - not all of it within the same session, more like a series of seminars - heck, I would even pay a fee to participate.

Per


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: lumpley on October 26, 2004, 05:20:38 AM
Per, I'm under a certain amount of friendly pressure to write it up and submit it to this one particular e-rag I know about, so maybe it'll be published there. I have something a bit more ambitious in mind too, but I don't want to spill yet because who knows.

It hadn't occured to me to do a chat-based seminar. Hm.

-Vincent


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: Roger on October 26, 2004, 06:43:03 AM
My first and fundamental question is: is this model descriptive or prescriptive?  Based on "the gold standard of RPG theory: actual play" I'm inclined to think it is intended to be descriptive.

If it is descriptive, I'm not entirely sure I buy the "all Colourfully" section.  Yes, sometimes characters are doing things Colourfully.  But I'm not sure it's a consistent or required part of this model.

Maybe I'm just unclear on what you mean by "all Colourfully" here.




Cheers,
Roger


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: lumpley on October 26, 2004, 07:07:14 AM
Ah! "Colorfully" means "concretely, with details." My character attacks your character: that's our Characters Situated relative to one another. My character attacks your character with a gun, the gun's color. With a sword, the sword's color. With her fists, that's color too. My character's weapon doesn't define their Situation - her attack does - so her weapon's color.

Make sense?

-Vincent


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: Paganini on October 26, 2004, 08:28:06 AM
Vince, good luck. I think you're gonna need more than 4 hours.

But, a couple of things.

As far as the GM stuff goes, I assume that you'll cover traditional GM duties, and how they can be spread around. I suggest mentioning SOAP. As much as I like Universalis, it's an Actual Game - and therefore somewhat expensive - and it's bit hard to get your head around if you've never encountered anything like it before. SOAP, on the other hand, has a free HTML version that you could even print out and use as a handout example.

As far as combat system games go, you gotta mention TROS. (It's got the PDF quickstart and combat sim, so people can check it out without having to buy.) Actually, TROS is good for a lot of things - Stats, and so on. In fact, it's a good transition from "mainstream" to "radical."

I also think it might be a good idea to work a couple of main-stream games into your lecture to sort of situate your audience before you go diving into radical things like Shadows, the Pool, Trollbabe, Otherkind, etc.

If you can kind of point out how these concepts exist in games that your audience is already familiar with, they might have an easier time understanding the more radical implimentations. I'd suggest using d20, d6, and Storyteller as reference points, since those games are traditionally *viewed* as typifying Gam, Sim, and Nar.


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: Roger on October 26, 2004, 10:27:19 AM
That makes sense, Vincent, but I think I'm getting hung up on scale and resolution.

For a statement such as:

"My character attacks with his sword"

Depending on the game, this could either be:

1)  Far too abstract and not concrete or detailed enough.  How does he attack?  What part of his opponent is he aiming for?  Is he chopping or thrusting?  Etc etc.

2)  Far too concrete and detailed.  In a game where most actions occur on the "My character kills them all" scale, specifying individual targets and weapons might be irrelevant or cumbersome.

3)  Just the right amount of detail.


I think this balance between abstraction and detail can potentially lead to problems.  For example, some players would be perfectly happy with

"I solve the riddle.  Look, I've got nigh-superhuman intelligence, so I solve it."

while some other players would be very unhappy with that approach.


I can appreciate that the model at this point isn't trying to address every potential issue, but I guess I'd like to see it dealt with at some point.  I think a lot of the value of this sort of modelling process is seeing where our underlying assumptions are and just how valid they are.



Cheers,
Roger


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: Per Fischer on October 26, 2004, 11:32:01 AM
Quote from: Paganini

As far as combat system games go, you gotta mention TROS. (It's got the PDF quickstart and combat sim, so people can check it out without having to buy.) Actually, TROS is good for a lot of things - Stats, and so on. In fact, it's a good transition from "mainstream" to "radical."  


That is so true. TRoS is a game I wouldn't have touched with a stick 2 years ago due to spasmic misconceptions of my own CA and role-playing preferences ("It's got a detailed combat system and flames on the website? Bah, that's definitely not for me, I'm a Storyteller" -kind-of-reaction). The game is a direct lever to get more than one thing about GNS.

After encountering the avalanche that is the Forge and GNS and all the games it spawned, TRoS is the next game of my must buy-list, and I am already playing it from the quickstart-version. Why didn't we have this stuff when we played WFRP in the 1990s? Sorry if I rant ;)

Per


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: lumpley on October 26, 2004, 11:41:55 AM
Roger: Well, sure. The scale of the Situation is going to dictate the scale of the Color, easy as pie. If the Situation is "my character is trying to destroy your character's army and occupy your character's homeland," that calls for Color at that scale. If it's "my character is trying to murder your character without getting caught," that calls for Color at that scale instead.

Procedurally speaking, in resolution, the balance between abstraction and detail fits pretty nicely into IIEE. Believe it or not.

My illustration of Color is, alas, not well-built. "My character attacks yours" is an action, not a Situation. One or more actions make up a conflict, like "does my character stabs yours to death?" The resolution of the conflict depends on the resolution of its actions. One or more conflicts make up a scene, like "that night, my character tries to kill yours." The resolution of the scene depends on the resolution of its conflicts. And finally, one or more scenes make up a Situation, like "my character hates yours and wants her dead." Like the old lady who swallowed the fly:

The resolution of a Situation depends on the resolution of one or more scenes, each of which depends on the resolution of one or more conflicts, each of which depends on the resolution of one or more actions.

The gun or sword or fists remain color, of course. It's just that "my character attacks yours" is one of the teensy component parts of the dynamic Situation between them.

Nathan: Soap, TRoS, check, good call.

d20, d6, Storyteller ... no way. I'd just start fights, I know this about me.

-Vincent


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: lumpley on November 08, 2004, 07:54:52 AM
In case anyone's wondering how it went...

It didn't. I spent the weekend home sick, alas, alas.

-Vincent


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on November 08, 2004, 11:26:29 AM
Quote from: lumpley
In case anyone's wondering how it went...

It didn't. I spent the weekend home sick, alas, alas.


Then I think you're morally obligated or something to hold an online conference where we talk about this stuff.

And by "morally obligated", of course, I mean "making me happy".


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: ScottM on November 08, 2004, 04:16:59 PM
Sorry you were sick-- I suspect there'll be other cons for another shot at this.  I am interested to see how it goes, especially whether there's a big desire for this stuff, or if it'd just be fellow forgites who'd pack the room.


Title: inspired
Post by: kwill on November 11, 2004, 08:41:54 AM
hi lumpley, and commentators,

I completely missed this development, but it's certainly inspiring as our society committee have decided to finally give this idea of "roleplaying and LARPing workshops" a go (the memes have been floating around for *at least* the last five years)

lumpley, I haven't seen a thread that suggested how this was organised - are there any specifics of interest? who was the intended audience? (anyone who pitched up?) was there a suggestion of numbers? what was your timeslot in competition with?


Title: Understanding Roleplaying - Outline
Post by: lumpley on November 11, 2004, 09:09:12 AM
Well, it didn't happen, so I don't know how much there is to learn from it. Here's the entire history of it, start to finish:

Dan Brace said, "hey Vincent, wanna do something cool at UNY-Con?"

I said, "sure!" I whacked out the short description ("let's open roleplaying up and muck around in its guts...") and emailed it to him. "How about this?" I said.

"Sure!" he said. "Submit it as an event at our website!"

So I submitted it as an event at the UNY-Con website, just exactly as one would sign up to GM a game. I said "3-20 players." I said "may include adult material," on account of how much it matters to a game who's sleeping with whom and who wants to. I wrote up notes - practically all of which you can see in this thread - over the next couple of weeks.

Then I ditched out like a ditchin'-out loser.

Dan tells me that "a tidy number" of people signed up for it. I have no idea who or how many. I was in competition with just the usual mix of Saturday AM games and maybe a miniature painting workshop.

The end!

So: no organization to speak of, no process to speak of, no assessment of audience, just me winging it and seeing who's interested.

edit: 17 people signed up for it, Dan tells me.

-Vincent