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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: Bastoche on September 27, 2005, 05:55:10 AM



Title: Narrativist question
Post by: Bastoche on September 27, 2005, 05:55:10 AM
I'm still trying to sort all that GNS buisness.

Taking the N in particular. I think I understand what a premise is. It's an issue, a rhetorical question central to the game. Like for example "Does the end justify the means" or "What is worth fighting for" etc.

I think I also understand that Theme should emanate from adressing the premise.

What is theme? I'd like some actual example please. Thank you!


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Valamir on September 27, 2005, 06:28:59 AM
Well, lets say you have a premise of "does the end justify the means".

As a simple example you could address such a premise by putting the players in a situation where they have to choose between achieving their character's goals by having their characters perform some horrifying act or to refuse to perform that act and walk away from their goals.

If they chose to do the act and they achieve their goals and they walk away satisfied that their characters are happy by the results then the theme they've derived is "yes the ends do justify the means".  If they do the act, achieve their goals but the players decide their characters are suffering horrendous consequences for doing so, or are ashamed at what they've become, etc. then the theme they've derives is "no the ends didn't justify the means"

The theme is simply the answer the players came to during play from addressing the premise.

Keep in mind that while it is possible to articulate "today the premise we will be addressing is whether the ends justify the means" before play begins, that this is actually pretty rare in Nar play (especially more vanilla versions).  Often only at the end of play can you look back and recognize what premise your game was addressing.


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Bastoche on September 27, 2005, 07:15:03 AM

Keep in mind that while it is possible to articulate "today the premise we will be addressing is whether the ends justify the means" before play begins, that this is actually pretty rare in Nar play (especially more vanilla versions).  Often only at the end of play can you look back and recognize what premise your game was addressing.

If I understand that part correctly, does this mean and in Nar play, you implicitly address an "unnamed" premise beforehand that can be recognized only afterwards?

I think the best way to answer my question would be to give a short example of vanilla Nar play.


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Bankuei on September 27, 2005, 08:19:07 AM
Hi,

A perfect example of Vanilla Nar play is an Unknown Armies game I've been playing in for about 3 months now.  The various premises' in play, had to be developed, in part by the development of the characters by the players.  For example, one character's "big issue" is, "Can I achieve justice AND be a good cop?"  (which, is a variation of ends justifying the means).  That is one of the more obvious ones, while another couple of characters have the issue of "How can I connect to others?", which, for the most part, it appears the players haven't fully explicitly recognized, though I'd have to sit and talk with them to confirm.

Fact is, no one came into play with any exact idea of what premises would appear, and only through play have they developed.

On the other hand, depending on the group, it might take a very long time for a premise to gel, and that's assuming that everyone in the group has that in mind.  The other alternative is to narrow down or even pre-select theh premise before play begins, in order to focus and speed up play.  Dust Devils & Primetime Adventures are two examples of this kind of game.

Chris


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Bastoche on September 27, 2005, 08:35:32 AM
Assuming a band of characters has player-determined goals (as general or not or abstract or not they may be). Assuming that the GM doesn't rely to force to trace paths for these characters to achieve their goals and assuming that during play all players act in order to acheive their goals, would that be a type a vanilla Nar play? Is that example too vague to characterize?


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Bankuei on September 27, 2005, 08:57:31 AM
Hi,

The individual goals of the characters, aren't specifically important except as they assist or drive the creation of conflict and choices that allows people to address premise.  That is, whether the characters' goals are predetermined or not, the main question is if premise is open to being addressed.

For example, Polaris, My Life with Master, Dogs in the Vineyard, all of these games pre-set a lot of the characters' goals and roles, but still leave open room for the addressing of premise.  On the other hand, you can look to games such as HeroQuest, Riddle of Steel, or Sorcerer that typically leave the characters' goals also open to definition by the players.  Again, the goals of the characters are just tools to getting premise underway. 

The only decisions that absolutely must be open for input, are those dealing with addressing premise, the rest can be preloaded or not.  For example- in Dogs in the Vineyard, you are one of God's Watchdogs, supposed to bring justice to the towns you travel to- that's a given.  The decisions you make all base around "What is justice? And at what price?"  How you answer that question- that's the meat of play.

Chris


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: jburneko on September 27, 2005, 08:58:15 AM
Hey There,

I think that's a bit vague.  Such a game might, I think, easily be Gamist with the player set goals being the win condition and the GM committed to providing challenge and the players having the freedom to tackle those challenges as they see fit.  I think this neatly describes the Black Fire game Ron created for the Gamist essay.

What's required is recognizable human conflict and for play to be about addressing that conflict.

The problem, I think, is that people get all turned around about what a conflict is.  Surviving a snow storm is not a conflict.  Slaying the evil dragon is not a conflict.  Conflict is unreconcilliable wants between two people.  For which a snow storm or an evil dragon can be a stressor.

Vanilla play is rife with compelling human conflict but doesn't necessarily intellectualize it into any articulated Premise.  It's there.  It's obvious.

Bob and Joe are best friends since childhood.  Bob and Joe both love Susan.  Susan favors Joe.  The elders of their village have chosen Joe to go slay the dragon that has held the village in fear.

I'm not sure it's really necessary to nail this down into one pithy Premise.  There are all kinds of problems in this situation.  Just play.

Does that help?

Jesse


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Mike Holmes on September 27, 2005, 09:07:08 AM
Heh, this is crossposted with two people that obviously agree with me...

Not just too vague, but missing a critical bit of information. So you've got players with characters pursuing goals, and a GM using no force to create particular themes from play. Fine. What are the players doing when presented with opportunities to create theme? That is, let's say that a character has a goal to help poor people. He comes across a situation in which there is a poor person of his religion, and a poor person of another religion.

Does the player?

A. Ignore the potential dillema presented and just feed them both in whatever order? or

B. Make a decision that says something about the character?

Having characters with goals is probably pre-requisite for narrativism to occur, but just "staying alive" is enough of a goal in some cases. Narrativism for the GM is giving the player opportinities to reveal the character and create theme, and for the player, it's doing so. If the player has decided that the character is X, and never adds to that, or changes it, and does this not because it's interesting to stay static, but "because that's the way the character is, and it would be wrong to play him otherwise" that's simulationism.

Does that help?

Vanilla, BTW, merely means that there aren't strong techniques being used to cause narrativism to occur. Meaning that the only real technique being used is the player's own judgment of what the character does in certain situations (and perhaps a bit of author stance to the extent allowed). IOW, it looks just like roleplaying in other modes using the typical techniques, except for the priority on the decision making.

Mike


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Bastoche on September 27, 2005, 09:24:15 AM
Assuming a band of characters has player-determined goals (as general or not or abstract or not they may be). Assuming that the GM doesn't rely to force to trace paths for these characters to achieve their goals and assuming that during play all players act in order to acheive their goals, would that be a type a vanilla Nar play? Is that example too vague to characterize?


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Bastoche on September 27, 2005, 09:31:34 AM
(meta: can we edit posts on this forum?)

I think in my example above, I mistook "goals" for "individual premise". Is it a mistake or can it be the same in some instances?

I think I understand Mike's point about "it could be gamist and it could be simulationist".

I just don't understand how/where/when/by whom premise is introduced in vanilla play. It is addressed by all players but how can it be addressed if it's not defined upfront? Or is it defined as it is addressed?


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Darren Hill on September 27, 2005, 10:30:14 AM
I just don't understand how/where/when/by whom premise is introduced in vanilla play. It is addressed by all players but how can it be addressed if it's not defined upfront? Or is it defined as it is addressed?

(I hope the following paragraph is correct! I hope Forgite veterans will correct me if I have it wrong.)
Once you have players invested in getting their characters into situations where they will have to make important choices, and a GM willing to present difficult choices, you can't help but get narrativist results - premise will be generated. You don't need to know what form it will take beforehand, and - this is the really important bit IMO - you don't need to identify what form it took afterwards. You can discuss and analyse play to discover what the group was collectively saying, or it might be instantly obvious in some cases, but that understanding isn't necessary.
People can enjoy a book or movie which addresses big questions - when their enjoyment comes from the way those big questions are addressed, it doesn't matter if they can articulate exactly why they enjoyed it.

As I understand it, games that support and encourage narrativist often do it by using a clever trick: the character generation process produces characters (and a player relationship to those characters) that will act in a narrativist manner. That might sound like a tautology, so here's an example.
In The Riddle Of Steel, characters have Spiritual Attributes - the players choose these, and in play, to get the benefits, players will have to manoeuvre their characters into certain sorts of situations. By giving their characters these SAs, they want to do this.
The GM knows ahead of time what sort of situation they'll be looking for, and can use that knowledge to preconfigure situations in which players and characters will need to make interesting choices and face dilemmas of some sort, or create them on the fly. (Bangs.)
Get this sort of thing right, and the rest will come naturally.


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Mike Holmes on September 27, 2005, 10:38:51 AM
Quote
(meta: can we edit posts on this forum?)
I think the function is off indefinitely.

Quote
I think in my example above, I mistook "goals" for "individual premise". Is it a mistake or can it be the same in some instances?
Premise is not something you decide up front in a mindful manner in 99% of cases. But, yes, sometimes you can be embedding a premise in a character by giving him a goal. The thing is that most goals won't look like a premise. A goal could be "Find the Gold." But that's not a premise itself. It doesn't ask any sort of question that can produce a theme. Now, if the situation is right, maybe there's an implicit premise in this goal. For instance, maybe to find the gold I have to either sneak into a library, or assault a librarian. So this goal introduces a "Does he think that breaking and entering, assault, or not getting the gold is the least evil thing to do?"

See what I'm saying?

Quote
I just don't understand how/where/when/by whom premise is introduced in vanilla play. It is addressed by all players but how can it be addressed if it's not defined upfront? Or is it defined as it is addressed?
Premises are created by anyone, including by accident. That is, in the GM introducing situation, or the player maneuvering his character, premise can emerge. Intentionally or unintentionally. Part of premise is simply recognizing it when you see it. For instance, in a game I might introduce some NPC of a certain type, and not remember that one of the PCs has a hatred for that sort of character. Given a situation in which the PC is supposed to keep the peace, suddenly the player goes, "Huh, what do I do, break the peace, or simmer?" Not explicitly in play, likely (though it happens), but just internally. Then the character makes a thematic statement like "I attack him!" or "I keep my mouth shut for the sake of the peace."

A player not playing narrativism just misses it entirely.

Any clearer?

Mike

P.S. Cross posted again. But Darren is correct. And, yes, a lot of support for narrativism in games is embedded in character design and enumeration. TROS narrativism is just on the other side of Vanilla because of the SAs. In Vanilla, the player comes up with that on his own, likely, he isn't motivated by mechanics of that sort.


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Bastoche on September 27, 2005, 11:15:19 AM
I think I get it. Thanks everyone!


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: ewilen on September 27, 2005, 12:49:11 PM
For instance, in a game I might introduce some NPC of a certain type, and not remember that one of the PCs has a hatred for that sort of character. Given a situation in which the PC is supposed to keep the peace, suddenly the player goes, "Huh, what do I do, break the peace, or simmer?" Not explicitly in play, likely (though it happens), but just internally. Then the character makes a thematic statement like "I attack him!" or "I keep my mouth shut for the sake of the peace."

A player not playing narrativism just misses it entirely.
Hi, Mike. If you will, I'd like to request a point of clarification: a player might have his character attack or not attack, and still "miss it entirely", yes? If either action is carried out "automatically" without sensing the conflict on some level, and the possibility of choosing between the two options, that would not be Narrativism. Is that correct?


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Mike Holmes on September 27, 2005, 01:48:42 PM
Yes, quite correct. It's precisely in sensing that there's some conflict that narrativism is found. So, quite accidentally as well, opportunities for narrativism to shine are often mowed over in trying to move play on.

Again, it's not something you do consciously, any more than you think, "Gee, this is a tough challenge that'll make me look good in the eyes of the other player" when playing gamism.

Mike


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Valamir on September 27, 2005, 03:24:43 PM
This is a great discussion.

To emphasize Mike's last point you don't have to be conciously aware of addressing Premise when you do it.  The idea that you have to be has led to some misconceptions that playing in a Nar fashion makes it difficult to stay in character ('cuz you're always worrying about the premise stuff instead of just playing my guy), so its important to remember that it doesn't require concious effort to do.

That said it does require a certain mindfulness or what I've called "playing on purpose" because Elliot is absolutely right, simply making the choice by accident with no awareness of "whoa I just made an impactful statement" at all is not playing Nar...its just a happy accident.

This state of being mindful without needing to be actively concious is difficult to describe.  Its kind of like "spidey sense"...even when you're not really trying you just get this little nudge that whispers...hey, important decision coming up.  It really isn't that hard to develop.  Once you're aware of what premise is and what thematically charged decisions look like it becomes second nature to pick them out.  Kind of like when you buy a new car and immediately you start seeing cars like yours everywhere...not because there are suddenly that many more cars like yours on the road, but simply because now you're attuned to notice them...


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Neil the Wimp on October 07, 2005, 02:10:22 AM
To emphasize Mike's last point you don't have to be conciously aware of addressing Premise when you do it.  <snip>

This state of being mindful without needing to be actively concious is difficult to describe.  Its kind of like "spidey sense"...even when you're not really trying you just get this little nudge that whispers...hey, important decision coming up.  It really isn't that hard to develop.  Once you're aware of what premise is and what thematically charged decisions look like it becomes second nature to pick them out. 

This is the point of incomprehension for me.  If a Narr game is about addressing (a particular) Premise, how can that happen without anyone thinking about the Premise?  Is it enough for the players/GM to state to each other, explicitly or implicitly, what the 'interesting' decision points should be? 

Neil.


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 07, 2005, 06:04:30 AM
Actually I'd used mindful to avoid using the term conscious. But that's probably confusing, too. Lets do an example, instead:

Here's the situation - the party has just killed off a warren of kobolds that have been plaguing a village that hired them to take care of the problem. They bust into the last part of the lair only to find that it's the kobold nursery with itty bitty kobolds running around frightened. The larges of these come running up and try to bite the PCs on the ankles and such, but don't have much success as it's like a schnauser trying to get through their chainmail.

Player A looks at the situation, and decides to kill the kobolds.

Player B looks at the situation, and decides to kill the kobolds.

They're playing the same way, right? Well not neccessarily. See, this is what most people don't get about mode of play. It can be completely hidden from view. In fact, ask the participants why they did what they did, and they may not even be able to answer the question. But that doesn't mean that the players are making the decisions in the same way. It just means we can't tell. The processes involved are going on so quickly or on some level that we're not really all that aware of what we're doing.

But we're doing it. And over time, over lots of decisions, this will tend to come out. Now, if you never, ever get more information about why the players are making their decisions, you simply can't tell mode, and, most importantly, if you can't tell it, it's not important. In fact, by some definitions this is simulationism. An apparent inability to discern player motive in the decision-making process. Though if the motive to hide motive shows, then we can discern simulationism. If you get what I'm saying.

Narrativism or Gamism will only show over time if/when players do or say things that are "tells," player actions that give away their motive. Again, that doesn't mean that they don't have the motives if tells do not occur. Simply that we can't discern what mode is going on.

So back to the example, let's say that player A follows killing the kobolds with: "Well, they weren't worth any experience points alive!" And a big satisfied grin as he records the EXP and obviously is comtemplating leveling up.

Player B follows the killing with: "Well, they had no parents anymore and would, at best, have lived a life of slavery had they been brought back." And he actually asks the DM if he can refuse to take the EXP.

Well, now we're seeing evidence, strong evidence, of mode here. Note that it's not absolutely conclusive in two ways. First, sometimes players front a mode to hide another. Player B might, knowing that he's not going to be allowed to give the EXP back, really just be playing up an in-game rationalization for the action, when, in fact, he really killed the baby kobolds for the EXP. Note that he could have taken the kobolds in, and raised them as his own or something, had he really wanted to "prove" that he was not about the EXP in this case. Not that one couldn't honestly kill the kobolds as a way to create theme. Just that you never know.

More importantly, however, this is just one bit of evidence in the whole chain of tells that you have to observe about all of RPG play in order to determine mode. Does he jump for joy later when he levels up? Does he guiltlessly buy new feats that make him even better at baby-kobold slaying? Or does he decide to take the character in a new direction?

It's this overall analysis that determines mode. The discussion of premise and theme, merely is about naming the phenomena that are observable when narrativism is happening. That is, at the point of asking the question "Do you kill the baby kobolds or not?" we still don't really have a premise. It's only a premise when a player decides to accept it as such. If he answers the question as Player A does, then there is no premise, just a player challenge to over come (and one with a very obvious answer if the challenge is about leveling up - though there are other sorts of gamism I should add). If, however, we see that the player is giving the question some sort of value-based judgment, player-based judgment, then it's a premise. When he makes his decision, that decision is the theme created.

It doesn't matter precisely how aware we are of it. We might talk about it to death in very clinical technical terms afterwards. Or it might be just barely on the periphery of our awareness. But we have to be noting it. Because, again, sans noting it, it's not mode its just indeterminate underlying motives. Mode is only what's discernable behavior (because conflict between the modes can't arise if nobody is seeing them). And only behavior over time. One act does not make a mode discernable - though it can make you suspicious if it's, say, as over the top as the Player A example. 

Note also that I say that it's "player-based" judgment. This is complex. If, in fact, the player is trying only to portray character motives, then, in fact, it's not a premise, and the theme being created is the simulationist sort. What we have to discern is player concern. The decision has to be difficult or interesting to the player to portray, not to the character. Now, that interestingly doesn't mean that the player has to project his feelings onto the character. No, the player can feel that it's bad to kill the kobolds, and have the character do it anyhow, because it's reasonable for the character to do that. As long as he does this, and we know that it's distasteful to the player, then theme is created.

"I really hate to have Ragnar do this, but given his practical nature, he's going to have to kill the kobolds. Ew." That's a narrativism tell (again evidence in the chain, not proof). "Ragnar is really practical, so he kills them." That's a simulationism tell, or, at least, a much less strong narrativism tell. We can't be as sure which is happening, the player deciding to do "what the character would do" or the player deciding to select the option from amongs the various plausible "what the character would do" options that is the most emotionally engaging to him.

(My Beeg Horseshoe version argues that he's always emotionally engaged, it's just a matter of how hidden it is, highly hidden being simulationism).

Mode is not a matter of players doing clean cut easy to discern things. The examples I give are typically stilted so that we can see easy to discern versions, and extrapolate what are harder to discern versions. People learning that tells can be individually confusing often despair at this point that mode will never be discernable. And, in some rare cases it is really hard to discern. But generally, if you watch play overall, and take in all of the evidence from all of the play, it's actually far easier than most people imagine. Gamism and narrativism are so far apart aesthetically, that they just can't help but show over time what they are. Simulationism is a bit more muddy, but if you find that you're not able to see the other two, you probably have sim.

Does that help at all? Narrativism is not a technique. It's not something that people say, "Hey, let's play narrativism-wise, and throw some premises out there. It's just like all other RPG play, and what's more, you've seen players do it. Heck, you may be doing it yourself. It's simply making decisions based on values instead of on tactics. All the rest of the terminology is just so we can better understand the underlying mechanics of it's elements so that we can design games to better support one or another mode. Yes, knowing about mode can help players make play more coherent, too. And there are techniques that you can use to help support it. But you can have a narrativism agenda without any of that. Most people who have a narrativism agenda don't do anything special. Narrativism is not some special "Forge" sort of play, it's found everywhere all the time.

Mike


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Neil the Wimp on October 11, 2005, 01:38:36 AM
Thanks for the full reply.  I think I understand what you're saying.

First, you're saying that GNS split is entirely based on the player's motivation for making decisions and, therefore, need not be revealed to anyone else (though that's unlikely in practice).

Second, you're saying that the hallmark of narrativist play is that the player gets to make value-based choices on behalf of their character.  But who's values are being used?  I'm beginning to loose the distinction I had between narrativism and immersion (and this is probably a good thing if it leads to me rebuilding this distinction in another place).

Note also that I say that it's "player-based" judgment. This is complex. If, in fact, the player is trying only to portray character motives, then, in fact, it's not a premise, and the theme being created is the simulationist sort. What we have to discern is player concern. The decision has to be difficult or interesting to the player to portray, not to the character. Now, that interestingly doesn't mean that the player has to project his feelings onto the character. No, the player can feel that it's bad to kill the kobolds, and have the character do it anyhow, because it's reasonable for the character to do that. As long as he does this, and we know that it's distasteful to the player, then theme is created.

"I really hate to have Ragnar do this, but given his practical nature, he's going to have to kill the kobolds. Ew." That's a narrativism tell (again evidence in the chain, not proof). "Ragnar is really practical, so he kills them." That's a simulationism tell, or, at least, a much less strong narrativism tell. We can't be as sure which is happening, the player deciding to do "what the character would do" or the player deciding to select the option from amongs the various plausible "what the character would do" options that is the most emotionally engaging to him.

To check what you're saying: if the player is emotionally involved in the decisions, it's narrativism; if the player is not emotionally involved, it's simulationism.

Does that help at all? Narrativism is not a technique. ... It's simply making decisions based on values instead of on tactics.

But where does that leave immersion?  What if I, as a player, decide to adopt the values of my character while I'm playing him?  In that way, the emotions I feel are the same as the character, and the value judgements made are as close in flavour and result to what that character, if he were real, would make.   Does this become simulationism or narrativism?





Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 11, 2005, 08:02:31 AM
Emotion is problematic here. People can get very excited about how "real" the world seems or other such simulationism stuff. They can get excited about making decisions that are "correct" for the character. Narrativism isn't just emotion about the decision, but having emotion because the decision has a value quality to it. Instead of a versimilitude quality, or a tactical quality. Note that when I say something like the last sentence, you're having a tendency to jump on that as definitive. You simply can't be definitive about mode with punchy phrasing, it's just more complicated than that.

As far as "who's values are being used" narrativism is about the player's values. I tried to make this clear, but it's complicated. All modes are, in fact, about how players are making decisions, characters don't exist to make decisions. They can only seem to be making decisions. The question of immersion is irrellevant. You can assign your character values that you have, or you can assign him values that you don't have. Or you can empathize with your characters values, even if they're not ones you normally have. None of that matters. All that matters is that you're basing the decision of what to have your character do on what would be interesting to you.

Note that doesn't mean having the character do what you would do. That is, when watching a movie, have you ever admired a villain? You find his dastardly plot entertaining, you love to hate him. You can do the same thing with a PC, potentially. You can have the character do something you would never do, just to explore how you feel about him doing that.

Immersion is a problematic term, but to the extent that it means "getting into the character such that I'm making decisions like he would, if he existed" then that may well be simulationism. Because you're trying to bury any appearance of your player motives and pretend like there is some character who exists who's motives you're accurately emulating. Sim is a lot about developing that sort of versimilitude.

Because narrativism does mean that player motive has to be shared between players to some extent to be an agenda. That may seem contradictory to what I've said above, but it's not. Sharing these value assessments can be very subtle. You make a decision not to kill the baby kobolds, and another player sees you smiling about it, and smiles back understanding what you're doing. Right there you've created both the premise and the theme in just a smile. It can be even more subtle than that, with the other players just knowing that you're making decisions this way, and simply allowing it to happen.

But, if truely the other players don't see at all that the decisions you're making are based in any way on your own value judgments about what's cool to have happen in play, then there is no narrativism agenda. This is either Zilchplay, if no mode can be discerned at all, or simulationism.

Now, I personally posit that nobody plays sans personal values being involved in decision making, even the mostly deeply "immersed" player is just using a complex "channeling" method to bring his own desires out (the channeling process being part of the fun of it). I think that it's just a question of the level to which these things become unseen because of the specific techniques being used to create simulationism. But that's a whole 'nother issue.

Mike


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Neil the Wimp on October 12, 2005, 05:40:52 AM
Thanks again for the explanation.  I think I understand what you're saying.  If decisions are made because they're interesting to the player, that's narrativism.  The reason why they're interesting is labelled premise.   The sharing of the player's motivation is required because it allows the other players to help create situations that allow further examination of the premise. 

Is that right?

Neil.


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 12, 2005, 05:52:57 AM
Hi Neil,

Unfortunately, you've provided a perfect general summary of the term "Creative Agenda," not of the sub-set term Narrativism.

It may be a good example of "say it yourself," if by interesting, you mean "what interests me," and if what interests you happens to involve stuff like Premise and generating themes during play itself.

My take, at this point, is that you would do well to examine the first set of terms presented in the Glossary, which do not include Gamism, Simulationism, or Narrativism, and learn how those terms are related and what they mean for role-playing.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Frank T on October 12, 2005, 08:35:23 AM
Please pardon this semi-rant-y statement:

If I'm to explain Narrativism to people nowadays, first thing I tell them is "forget about premise". The concept of this "question answered through play" is just confusing people. It's like over-analyzing literature, which doesn't have much in common with reading. And it's something people focus on so much that they don't listen to anything else you say.

I really like Mike's wording of "revealing a character through play". That is, imho, much closer to what people are actually doing in Narrativist play.

- Frank


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 12, 2005, 08:39:47 AM
Hi Frank,

That works if you play with the people you're talking to and recognize that, for them, "revealing" a character is creating themes.

But that is not the case if the person simply likes to "act like" the character and spends the whole evening doing so, while cooperating with whatever story another person is dictating to them (subtly or unsubtly). This person will also say they are "revealing" the character.

The problem you're facing is discussing what it is as opposed to what it feels like. "Address Premise" is the very best language for and description of what it is. But what it feels like is a completely different issue, highly specific to that person and their various experiences and idioms of play.

I carry out dialogues based on "what it feels like" in the Actual Play forum and by private email and through face-to-face conversation. I don't write essays about it, and I don't suggest using anything in my essays to support such conversations. My essays are strictly about what it is.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Frank T on October 12, 2005, 09:03:59 AM
Fair enough.

- Frank


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 12, 2005, 11:04:51 AM
I use "revealing a character," because that's typically how bangs produce theme when thrown at characters, and people can relate to what I mean in the phrase. But Ron is right, I don't mean revealing the character in terms of his effectiveness as a tool, or revealing how accurate he is to the setting or something like this, but showing something about the character that says something about the player's value interest (non-tactical, non-simulative interest). Fortunately people reading the phrase usually get the right idea, so I don't have to clarify. But I admit that it might be misconstrued in certain circumstances.

Further, there are other ways to create theme that are unrelated. A GM can narrate a scene in which a bus hits a businessman who just made an unethical deal to create a theme of "That's what you get..." This doesn't reveal anything about the business man, or the world even really. But it is the participant creating a theme.

So it's not that bangs that reveal somthing about a character is the only way to create theme. It's just one effective one.

Mike


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 12, 2005, 02:15:06 PM
Hello,

You know, the thread originator hasn't weighed in for a long time. I think this thread's purpose is achieved, or I hope so, anyway.

All the posting has been useful and constructive, so thanks, everyone. Let's close it now.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Bastoche on October 13, 2005, 05:06:16 AM
Fun you say that. I though I was through but I just want to comment on the distinction between "playing the character right" as in sim play vs "revealing the character" as put by Mike.

IMO, it seems more natural to anyone who never experienced (i.e. played) a RPG before to "reveal the character" than to "play it right". And I think that's why most if not all players generally have fond memories of their first gaming session. They felt it rather than faked. At least I think that's how my wife "feels" the difference between playing with the 3E D&D GM we have now and her then 2E AD&D GM she had before. In 3E, she unconsciously "feel" the difference between the "accepted/conscious" gamists play vs the undefined CA they had using 2E rules.

I get the feeling that gaming groups that start playing without any "guru" showing them how to play naturally tend to a "narrativistier" kind of play. Once they understand the rules (at least in my case), the gamists in us kicks in, as long as the rules support it.

BTW I've been playing for about 15 years (I was about 13 at the time). I played a homebrew as my first game. I heard of it but didn't have rules so I made them up. There was no rules. 2 players would "narrate a story" in turn but with one player being the protagonist and the other being the referee. No preparation, it was improvised as it went. Then I play "L'oeil noir". It was from the guys who wrote the books with choices, don't know the name in english "Livres dont VOUS êtes le héro". And then I was introduced to AD&D 2E. Then in college, I played with old folks who were still playing 1E. In the meaning time I played some white wolf games, shadowrun and 1E Middle earth RPG. I played 3E since it came out until I vomited it all over myself ;)


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 13, 2005, 05:40:29 AM
Hello,

Excellent. All of those points should be considered very carefully by all readers, especially considering your role-playing history. All discussion of those points should be taken to new threads, especially in the Actual Play forum.

You will find games like Sorcerer, Dust Devils, and Dogs in the Vineyard very, very interesting, and I recommend them to you.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Narrativist question
Post by: Bastoche on October 13, 2005, 05:55:42 AM
You will find games like Sorcerer, Dust Devils, and Dogs in the Vineyard very, very interesting, and I recommend them to you.

I know ;)