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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: jburneko on April 18, 2002, 01:30:42 PM



Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: jburneko on April 18, 2002, 01:30:42 PM
Well, in one of Ron's Beef Injection he mentions acknowledging a line between group storytelling and actual roleplaying but doesn't know where that line is.  I'm not so sure I know where that line is either but I'm very interested in this topic since I'm very vocal about my interest in RPG Theory and when describing GNS Theory to someone, and I get around to describing Narrativism, I'm nine times out of ten confronted with, "But that isn't roleplaying.  That's some kind of collaborative storytelling."  Naturally, I've thought about this issue a lot, specifically to counter that statement which I brace for EVERYTIME I describe Narrativism.  So here goes my stab in the dark at drawing the line.

In a roleplaying game the main characters are anchored to specific players and most decisions are made 'relative' to the players desire to demonstrate (i.e. roleplay) their vision of that/those character(s).  Even in games where you are allowed to alter the circumstances being experienced by ANOTHER player's character, the character being achored to a player is the primary focus of play.  Essencially you're introduce elements into another player's character experience either to set up something you wish to demonstrate about your OWN character or because of a desire to see how the player will have their character deal with the situation.

A group storytelling game, on the other hand, will either have no anchors, weak anchors, or achors to things other than a primary character.  For example in a group storytelling game one player may well be in charge of the setting and nothing can be introduced into the 'world' without that player's concent.  This person is not roleplaying the world, they are simply anchored to the setting.

Obviously this line only becomes an issue in games with high Director Stance since Author and Actor stance manefest themselves in the actual imagined gaming world through character action alone.  So let's examine some games with high Director Stance.

The Questing Beast.  Is The Questing Beast a Role-Playing Game?  In my opinion it is.  Each character is anchored to a player, all player decisions are made relative to their desires to demonstrate something about that character, and when influencing the situations of other player's characters they are limited to things that are centric to their personal characters (motifs).

The Pitch.  Is The Pitch a Role-Playing Game?  I don't think so.  I think it's a gamist group storytelling game.  Sure, you create 'characters' but the events in the real imagined space aren't about those characters.  The rated elements, Props, Actors, Locations and Special Effects, are really measures of how strongly anchored you as a player are to each of those elements in the story.  The shared imagined space isn't oriented to your personal character but rather to the elements that are most strongly anchored to you.

This starts to get blurry with things like SOAP.  But again SOAP still contains that feeling of having characters anchored to individual players and each player experiences, decides and inputs things into the shared imaginative space from an axis that revolves around that character or the characters of others.

Does this make sense?  Can anyone codify this further?

Jesse


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on April 18, 2002, 02:04:23 PM
Actually (and this is probably anti-climatic), but I think you've got it. The definition's in the name - a role-playing game is about playing a role, pure and simple. You may play that role in a variety of ways - using it as a pawn, immersing in it, making actual changes in the world around the character in order to affect his story - but in the end, you as a player are tied to that character.


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: angelfromanotherpin on April 18, 2002, 03:33:30 PM
The best description of role-playing games I've ever heard was 'The continuum of activities between wargaming and improvisational theater.'  Hardcore D&D dungeon crawl is very close to a wargame, and a rules-light LARP is very close to improvisational theater, even if the only audience is also the cast.


Title: Got it in One Try
Post by: Le Joueur on April 18, 2002, 04:03:13 PM
I'm going to agree with Clinton.  Like I said in the Scattershot Gaming Model (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1662), I see gaming as an act of 'if I were this character..." done in a systematic fashion using a shared fictional 'place.'

Sever that 'buy in' point and it becomes something else.  The funny thing is, this begs the question, 'what is the gamemaster?'  He isn't 'anchored' to a single character.  Personally, I believe that gamemasters who provide credible characters practice a sophisticated 'play a new character' technique every few minutes or so.  So they are 'anchored;' they simply 'weigh anchor' more frequently.

Why is that necessary?  It isn't, it's just easier.  Otherwise everyone spends a noticable amount of time away from their 'anchor.'  Better to have one player specialize in facilitating the game, letting the others emotionally engage more consistently with their 'anchors.'

Sorry for only refering to group-storytelling non-inclusively, but it basically looks like gaming is 'within' group-storytelling in some ways.  If you add 'anchoring' and system, you get role-playing gaming.

I think.

But I wonder about the systemic side of things.  All the discussion with Pale Fire prompted me to point out that the systemic aspect is all about translating detailed imaginings into an abstraction and that once that is completed the system must flow to assert that translation or there is dysfunction.

The question is, I suppose, can there be a 'non-systemic' system for gaming, can you make a game that is gaming without some kind of communal abstraction?

I'm not sure.

I haven't any suggestions or examples, but as a good philosopher, I know you cannot disprove anything.

Fang Langford


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 19, 2002, 06:06:29 AM
Hmmm. I'm going to disagree here, but I must first point out my bias. Given the description that Jesse has put forward, Universalis is not a Role-Playing Game. And, actually, I believe that the line at which he draws the distinction is exactly that which other people have previously used as their demarcation to declare just that, that Universalis is not an RPG. Which I am fine with conceptually, actually. But I just don't think it's true.

I would make two changes. First, I would say that RPGs are concerned with playing any character, not just a specific one assigned. This would for example bring SOAP back into the realm of RPGs. In SOAP, though you each create a single character, every player plays the role of whatever characters they want in a scene when it is their turn. Universalis is similar in that you play whatever characters in which you are interested.

The other problem makes my distinctions more controversial. In Collaborative storytelling, one often does play the role of a character with the intent of displaying something about them. For example, in an online game, a player may write the character's dialog, and describe their actions. This is playing the role. While not the focus of the game, necessarily, it is hard to imagine it not being done frequently. Furthermore, a single participant may decide to represent a particular character to the exclusion of others, at which point play would fall under the definition that Jesse gives.

I propose that the difference in the activities should be delineated by looking at the heritages of the two communities that currently espouse the different methodologies. That is that Role-players, like it or not are descended from wargamers, while the Collaborative Storytelling thing has been around probably since language began. What does that imply? Well, for the wargamers, there had to be a mechanical system for determining the outcome of in world events. This was translated into RPGs as things like resolution systems, etc. They have come a long way since, but I think that what separaates the two communities most is the debate over whether a mechanical system of any sort is necessary to accomplish play.

To summarize the debate, the Collaborative Storytelling community will tell you that any such strictures on play interfere with enjoyment of it and are unneccessary in general. The only "rules" you see from them are Social Contracts and ones that delineate who may add things, when they may add, and how much occasionally. RPGers, OTOH, state that creativity is increased, or immersion gained or challenge increased by the addition of rules. These are representative examples of the goals behind G and N and S decisions in play. Which are supported by rules made specific to that mode of play.

So, this is where I see the line drawn. The point at which a system is devised that has mechanisms meant to support the goals of play makes that system a RPG. The point at which the system only exists as a framework of "soft" mechanics to delineate things like turn order makes that system a means for Collaborative Storytelling.

As a practical example, I discovered recently that Andrew Martin had made two systems, one just on either side of the line. His Zero System, aptly named, has no mechanics that would put it into the RPG category as I have it above. In game decisions on what happens are soley based on the descriptions of the characters, and the players' interperetations of them. OTOH, his Swift system has a very simple resolution system to determine outcomes. This one difference makes that a RPG, and not a framework for Collaborative Storytelling. Note that one should not fall into the trap of thinking that resolution systems are neccessary for RPGs, as there are other mechanics that can be used to deterine the outcome of events (See The World, The Flesh, and The Devil for an example), and other mechanics not specifically related to events per se would also count.

I make this distinction here for a practical reason. Since the two communities exist, a person who knows which side of the line they are on will better know where to get support. Yes, this is segregation. If someone wants to push an ecumenicism between the two forms, I can understand the urge. But I personally find that the two urges to participae in these two activities are far enough separated, that the same caveats that we put out about plaing with people who share your GNS goals should go double for ensuring that you are playing with people who are either RPGers or Collaborative Storytellers.

[Note that I've used the phrase Collaborative Storytelling throughout. Their community may have something a bit more PC these days, and I'm sure that other terms are used. For example, I believe that Interactive Fiction often falls under what I'd call Collaborative Storytelling (though some cersions do have systems that would make them CRPGS and whatnot]

Mike


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 19, 2002, 06:30:04 AM
Hi there,

I agree with Mike in full. The character/play distinction has never worked for me, and in my case that's in the absence of any commitment to call (say) Universalis a role-playing game.

On the other hand, what about Slasher, Once Upon a Time, and Pantheon? I consider all of them to be a weird step "out" of actual role-playing, but they are rules-based in the Holmesian sense.

Sput! Oh man, I knew we had to talk about this stuff some day. Chalk me up as still squinting.

Best,
Ron


Title: Kinda 'What He Said.'
Post by: Le Joueur on April 19, 2002, 07:31:46 AM
Originally, I wanted to quote Mike up and down, six ways from Sunday, but I can't get it to look right.

Simply put, I was, in a round about way, saying the same thing.  The way I put it is that interpreted strictly, Jesse is saying that gamemasters aren't playing role-playing games, either.  In Universalis (if I read this right) and in SOAP, you play much in keeping (potentially) with how a gamemaster plays, not focusing on just one character.

The point both of us make (I think) is that there is an explicit systemic approach in role-playing games (and I argue that it occurs as a holdover from wargaming to emphasize impartiality).  I call it systemic instead saying anything about game systems to avoid the 'resolution mechanics necessary' trap Mike brings up.

Ultimately, the point I wanted to make (loosely, and forgive my impreciseness) is that in role-playing games you emotionally connect (systemically) with the narrative by direct character identification (you play a character or characters), but in collaborative storytelling you emotionally engage in the narrative by its 'statement.'  (I guess the practical difference might be that storytellers can treat any character as expendable, but role-playing gamers are more 'involved.')

Or it's a difference of how participants 'connect' to the 'flow.'

Fang Langford


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Valamir on April 19, 2002, 07:32:52 AM
Based on my understanding of what Mike wrote, Once upon a Time would NOT be a roleplaying game.  Its rules are entirely about who can say what and when which he ascribes to rules often found in "Collective Storytelling".

The other two I can't speak to.  I've never heard of Slasher, and Pantheon didn't hold my interest long enough to read it through a second time.


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 19, 2002, 08:15:36 AM
Quote from: Valamir
Based on my understanding of what Mike wrote, Once upon a Time would NOT be a roleplaying game.  Its rules are entirely about who can say what and when which he ascribes to rules often found in "Collective Storytelling".


I'm only passingly familiar with Once Upon a Time, but does it not also tell you what youare restricted to talking about (via cards, right?). That's exactlythe sort of system that I was talking about as not being a resolution system but still counting. The telling feature is that a Collaborative Storyteller would probably see this as the system impinging on his complete freedom of lattitude to make up anything he likes.

OTOH, I'm not sure that there is any play of characters in that game other than third person description. As a clarification of my point, I think that role-playing must still be involved, just not specific to only one character. Otherwise monopoly would be a RPG by my definition. RPGs are not just an activity that partially uses a system to create the in-game world, but one in which that world is then Role-Played in.

Mike


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Valamir on April 19, 2002, 08:45:09 AM
Well, you'd probably have to cut the line pretty fine.  But no you aren't restricted by whats on the cards.  You can talk about anything you want.  When you talk about something thats on a card you can discard the card.  If you spend an hour talking about something thats not on the card you can (until someone steals the turn from you) you just don't make any progress towards winning.

The element of winning might be contrary to true Collaborative Storytelling, but I wouldn't call OUaT roleplaying either.


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: J B Bell on April 19, 2002, 08:54:26 AM
Until there's a summit between RPGers and Collaborative Storytellers, could someone maybe post a few CS links for us ignoramuses to look at?

--JB, who actually thinks such a summit would either be great fun or a horrible disaster, or both.

[edit:  I know I could type that into Google and get lots of stuff, but hopefully folks here are aware of the best or at least most exemplary online docs.]


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 19, 2002, 09:06:56 AM
Yes, as a Gamist mechanic that makes the action go forward, I'd say the cards work to making it a RPG. Interestingly, the idea of Gamism as in "game" is sort of anti-thetical to CS; they refuse to call it a game in any way, it's a passtime, or even art to them. Again, though I'm not sure on the RPing issue. If it has the system requirement, and if it has no RPing, it would just fall into that third broad category, game (non RP implied) being not entirely dissimilar from Monopoly.

In any case there are likely to be some examples of games that straddle the line and confound the issue some. The point is not to find an exact place for the line, but to understand the dichotomy of purpose that the two activities represent.

Mike


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Tim C Koppang on April 19, 2002, 09:19:01 AM
Pantheon not a role-playing game?  Hmm... I disagree.  I'm one of those people who will call Baron Munhausen an rpg too though - so maybe I just have a loose definition.  Here's my thoughts on the subject:

In Baron M-- you are effectively telling a story, and that story is collabrotive (ie the other players can interject with challenges, etc).  However, when it comes down to it you are telling a story not just about a character, but as if you are that character.  In other words, your story is told in the first person.  That seems to me like you are taking on the role of another person.  And that seems like role-playing.  Pantheon (which I think is a great game) works in much the same way.  They just happen to break the action into smaller chunks and everyone participates in the same story.  I've never played OUaT, so I won't comment on it.

What I propose is that a role-playing game is one in which you (the player) make decisions about the on-going story/situation through the proxy of a character.  In other words, when a game awards you GMing power to alter the world/setting/anything not related to character, you are not role-playing.  Those decision may effect your character and allow you to have more rewarding role-playing in the future, but they are not actually role-playing.  It's setup for role-playing.  Now, if a game (1) concentrates only on GMing type power or (2) allows you to switch between characters so often that you are not making decisions through any one character, I would be more inclined to call it a collaborative story-telling game.  Otherwise, it's role-playing.


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Lance D. Allen on April 19, 2002, 10:34:16 AM
Y'know, I think I actually have something to contribute here.. I roleplay and write in an online forum on AOL called Lyran Tal. It is an odd mixture of collaborative storytelling and roleplaying, mixed all together, and is quite a bit of fun.

The "system" of Free-form roleplaying is simple; You and the others playing are in complete control of your own characters, there is no GM, and nothing to make you play fair except yourself. In some forums, this is badly abused, and no one plays fair: Everyone is a god, or somehow invincible. In LT and other forums like it, we emphasize Cooperative Roleplaying. You and the other players, even if, IC, they are an enemy, cooperate to make a fun and interesting scene. This means that your badass knightly hero might get his ass whooped by the pencil-necked strangler. If it's a good scene, and both combatants can agree on the outcome, then it's all good.
The part where this crosses even further into Storytelling is that people sometimes get together for the sole purpose of playing out scenes to write. It is still roleplaying, even when the basic goals of the scene are predetermined, because each person is acting as their character would, but is also attempting to get the scene to go toward that agreed upon end. It's the best mixture of author and actor stance possible.
Others on the other hand just play. They don't go for specific scenes, and just play out what happens. This can be a night spent drinking in the tavern, a barroom brawl, or whatever else may happen. It is storytelling, but it is also very much playing a role.. So perhaps the line is fuzzier than you'd think.


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 19, 2002, 10:53:17 AM
I'd say that falls right into my definition, Lance. Again, to be clear, RPGs are activities in which you play a role, but the system plays a part in determining in-game events in some way. In what you describe, Lance, there seems to be Role-Playing, all right, but no system that determines events in any mechanical way.  All events are left to the players to determine, if I read you correctly, using only the players responsibility to ensure good results. Which would put it in CS given my definition.

Note well that a lot of CS sites will refer to the activity as Role-Playing. But not as a Role-Playing Game very often. And some may even call it that, not having thought about the line either. Despite the differences in opinions, these activities are close enough together to have a large cross-over (not that I've ever participated, but I know many who have). But the activities themselvees seem very distinct to me.

And I think moreso to the CSers. Some who have not crossed over (and even some that had) would be appaled at the idea of rolling dice, or having numerical statistics for game world elements, or any of that other nonsense that our sort would call RPGs. Ironically, there has been a lot of separation in the groups simply because one side sees the other side as freakinsh somehow. "They don't have rules!?!", "They roll dice to see what happens!?!"

It's akin to different brands of Baptists thinking that the others have it all wrong. Both sides do 90% of th same things that the other side does, but somehow, that 10% is a deal breaker.

Mike

Mike


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on April 19, 2002, 01:56:03 PM
OK, my two main thoughts on the matter are already on the board - that there IS something important/identifying about the primacy of "from the character(s) perspective" to RPGs, but that even taken very generously(allowing for GMs to switch between characters, players to possibly have more than one, either simultaneously or sequentially, and etc.), it is unlikely to be a sole, defining attribute.

And if we want to use "being rules-based" as that definitional attribute, we're going to have to say what we mean by "rules": even the most "freeform" activity has social conventions/contracts.  Can we use explicit vs. implicit as the descriminator?  That is, all RPG-like activities have implicit rules, but only a "true" RPG makes them explicit?  That does NOT strike me as true . . . how about abstraction?  I mean, CS/IF are characterized (mostly) by direct use of language (a form of abstraction itself, admittedly), but RPGs create additional abstractions that BECOME the basic tools of the interactions . . . ugh.  Brain hurts.

If we really want to expore this issue, I confess I see no direct route to resolution.  I'd say let's get all the candidate-attributes identified (number of characters, degree of character identification, rules, play structure, abstraction type/degree, play medium, and probably a ton more) and see where it leads, without any presuppositions.  Socially/operationally, CS/IF and RPGs are practiced by basically distinct groups, and maybe the only valuable way to look at this is in terms of why (psychologically) people like one and not the other.  Or maybe there is a foundational, analytical difference.  I'm not sure.

Certainly, some of my earliest participation here at the Forge involved connecting roleplaying-like behavior with wargames . . . when you start from "imaginative social interaction practiced in order to be enjoyed" (or something like that), *everything* starts to blur together.  As has been said before, it's like defining "Art" - some consider it a pointless activity, some find great value in the discussion even if there is no resolution, and other actually decide they've found an answer that is "correct" (to some degree).  At the moment, I see no reason to expect anything better (or worse) from an attempt to define RPGs.

Gordon


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Lance D. Allen on April 19, 2002, 05:10:06 PM
On the topics of Freeform RP -vs- RPGs: No, for the most part, we don't consider it a game, though we do "play" it. It is a fairly appalling concept to consider rolling dice as a method of determining what happens in our FFRP... But at the same time, we've done it, and enjoyed the hell out of it, on various specific occasions. One such occasion was the Tivili Games, in which very basic die rolls were made (no skill mods, nothin') to determine outcomes of the various events. It was such that we had some truly strange but very entertaining results. My scrawny, one-handed troubadour won the pie eating contest, a 50+ retired knight won the joust, a stableboy won the horse race, and a dwarven ranger (yes, a dwarven ranger) won the archery contest.

I think, however, the main determinant if something is an RPG as opposed to CSRP is the game aspect. I also think that there are at least 3 categories, rather than the two being discussed here. Some are explicitly roleplaying games, without doubt. Others are explicitly Cooperative Storytelling, without even the vaguest nod toward roleplaying. Then there is the hybrid, composed of people who usually enjoy going either way, and that is Cooperative Storytelling/Roleplaying, or more commonly called Free-form Roleplaying.

On this same note, Lyran Tal is, I believe, going to have a booth set up at GenCon specifically for the purposes of running a game set in Lyran Tal, using D20 rules. It will use currently existing player's characters, and will be rather free-form in character creation, but what happens in this RP session will happen in the setting we freeform RP in. The forum creator will be running the game, has stated this, and oddly no one has complained that die rolls will be used to effect a major series of events in Lyran Tal.

Anyone heading out to GenCon, keep an eye out for a Lyran Tal or Crosswinds Tavern booth. If you feel like visiting it, tell 'em that Lance sent you. I won't be able to attend, but it would be nice if my presence was felt somehow, even if in such a small way as this.


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: joe_llama on April 20, 2002, 07:54:48 AM
Since I have little material written and even less time, for now I can only suggest reading the GNS Showdown  (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1553) thread I started a while ago. I believe it touches exactly the points being discussed here and provides a way for a more coherent model for understanding the role playing element specifically and game design in general.

Warning: The GNS thread is very condensed and somewhat incoherent itself, so it might be difficult to see the relevance to this discussion, although I assure you there's a lot of connection between the two, just look a little harder.

That's all I can give at the moment. I hope to post more when I can spare the time.

With respect,

Joe Llama


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Bob McNamee on April 20, 2002, 03:21:03 PM
On the plus side for me...
It sounds like my Tarot Game would classify as a Role Playing Game, regardless of whether the players are playing exclusive with the protagonists or GM style with equal access for all.

Bob McNamee


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 20, 2002, 07:07:57 PM
Quote from: Bob McNamee
On the plus side for me...
It sounds like my Tarot Game would classify as a Role Playing Game, regardless of whether the players are playing exclusive with the protagonists or GM style with equal access for all.
I'm fairly certain Bob, that almost everything that's done here is RPG stuff. That's my point. If someone wants CS support, it can be found elsewhere.

OTOH, while I'm a partisan of the RPG side, I have nothing against CS, and have even dabbled in it occasionally.

As to the points that Gordon made about abstractions, etc. Yes, this is a hard line to define. Intuitively, though I know where it is. Certainly CS activities have "rules" and systems. But the point is that they only regard social contract issues (politeness, subject matter, etc) or organization of player ability to contribute. Essentially, when and for how long (how much) a player can contribute. What these systems do not include is any rules or mechanics that involve creation of in-game information. In CS the player is responsible for all of that. There are no Hit Points, becasue to have such would limit the participants creativity. Which is the prime rule. Essentially, once the social contract is set in CS, the participant is free to describe anything within those boundaries. In RPGs the players are restricted by what the mechanics produce. Even if the production is minor or minimal.

Again, people who engage in these activities know when they are being asked to cross this line. In the case of Lance's experience, these were obvioulsy the crossover people I mentioned (they'll be at GenCon, so...) which is why they didn't mind injecting a small taint of RPGs. And why its a very borderline example, they are hopping back and forth over the line. Again these people are probably representative of the sorts of people that started with RPGs and figured to hell with rules for resolution and such. Some of these people become militant in their views and would object to a reintroduction of such RPG rules. Other people start in CS and never get to RPGs, and find the notion of such rules confusing.

Does that help?

Mike


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Lance D. Allen on April 21, 2002, 04:21:09 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Again these people are probably representative of the sorts of people that started with RPGs and figured to hell with rules for resolution and such. Some of these people become militant in their views and would object to a reintroduction of such RPG rules. Other people start in CS and never get to RPGs, and find the notion of such rules confusing.

Does that help?


Mike hits the types on the head, here. In my group, most who came from RPGs to FFRP are generally willing to cross back, and those who have never played an RPG are generally interested.. But my group is exceptional. Most others are either militantly against any sort of dice or rules other than Free-form courtesy guidelines, or those who know nothing of RPGs are leery of them, because they seem so much more intimidating. It also doesn't help that the "bad" roleplayers draw so heavily from existing RPGs, which makes V:tM and D&D akin to swear words in the FFRP community, despite the heavy numbers of people who still enjoy such games.
I seriously think, however, that groups like the CWT forum and various other "Advanced Roleplaying Settings" on AOL are beginning to narrow the margin between roleplaying games and cooperative storytelling. Many of the games discussed here on the Forge, while still solidly on the RPG side of the line, are working to narrow the gap as well. I'm curious and faintly excited to see what might happen when and if that gap disappears entirely.


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 21, 2002, 12:25:17 PM
Quote from: Wolfen
I'm curious and faintly excited to see what might happen when and if that gap disappears entirely.
There is no gap. We are there now, with systems on both sides that are so close to the line that the line blurs. I think that a spectrum of freedom versus rules will continue to exist indefinitely. There is no optimum point because different people have different opinions on these things. Just as G and N and S games will continue to exist as different people prefer each.

Mike


Title: Where Are We?
Post by: Le Joueur on April 22, 2002, 07:06:29 AM
I've been giving this topic a lot of thought since my first addition to the discussion.  The themes of character and system have risen time and again, but we've really been struggling to see how they relate to the difference between collaborative storytelling and role-playing gaming.  I would like to take a moment and think it out, out loud, if you don't mind.

I think what has been confusing the argument is how I've begun to see 'system' and 'character' inextricably linked in this consideration.  My thoughts on character identification and emotional response are a matter of record (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=457).  I think this underscores how some kind of system (any kind really) becomes necessary when one begins to focus one's attachment to a specific character or characters.

From a collaborative storytelling point of view, I do not believe (relatively speaking) intense character identification is of any note (not that it does not happen, simply that it is irrelevant to their practice).  If one were to transition from collaborative storytelling to role-playing gaming, I believe it goes from being irrelevant to being a requirement.  The offshoot of this is that, especially because we're dealing with intense emotions, a system becomes necessary to prevent all manner of 'taken advantage of' feelings from becoming hard ones.  (The 'Hey! That's my character' effect is prevented through impartial systems in role-playing games.)

From a role-playing game point of view, one begins to 'give up' such claims on the propriety (and emotional attachment) to their character(s) when they transition to collaborative storytelling.  At first systemic appliances will be added to the mix that de-emphasize single character focus and empower more equal collaboration.  The crucial point, I believe, comes when one shifts away from the emotional attachment to the singular.  While many collaborative storytelling schemes have systems either explicit and implicit (and both), they are not nearly as necessary as when one needs to have their emotional investment in a single character protected.

This is why system becomes such a stumbling point.  Systems do exist in collaborative storytelling, but primarily (and sometimes unnecessarily) to enforce the 'collaboration.'  Role-playing games, on the other hand, almost require systems to promote and protect the (often) single character focus of emotional investment.  (This can be taken to a high regard in things like usual pawn stance, where the player is only able to affect events via a single driver in the narrative and such is rigidly protected by a system.)

Ultimately, I do not think we will arrive at a single guiding principle for differentiating between collaborative storytelling and role-playing games because each of us has different standards to apply across the continuum between purely storytelling and purely gaming.  I might say that anytime 'players' are each accorded on character, as protected by system, it is a role-playing game.  Someone else may consider it a matter of the systemic 'rights' to affect the narrative with their limited 'personal cast' of characters.  Either way the judgment seems to come down to personally fixing a point on the line described by the companionship between character (emotional) identification and systems reinforcing that; each person sets their own criteria.

Rather than arguing over what point of demarcation is indicated on that continuum (because it differs from individual to individual), can we at least agree that these are the only relevant factors in the differentiation?

Fang Langford


Title: Re: Where Are We?
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 22, 2002, 08:47:21 AM
Quote from: Le Joueur
Rather than arguing over what point of demarcation is indicated on that continuum (because it differs from individual to individual), can we at least agree that these are the only relevant factors in the differentiation?
Character association and system protection? Hmm. You make a decent argument, and these are the only topics that have come up, but I'm not sure that character association is important.

Certainly it makes for an easy way to discuss the matter, but I'm not sure that it associates with the actual activities well. You yourself point out that some players playing collaboratively do associate very much with their characters. So, if everyone associates with their character and a "system" is called for that says that nobody can mess with another players character (this is often the case in CS, or at least agreed to tacitly as a social contract issue), does that make it a RPG? I think not. Again, the behavior does not associate with the activity.

And I think that it's also possible for a player in a RPG, even a classic one such as D&D to disociate from his character relatively completely. In fact Narrativist play is a disociation of interest in the character's well being to the well being of the story as it relates to the character. I don't think that the next step, complete dissociation with particular characters would be all that far off.

This is what Universalis does. My continuing point is that where I see the demarcation is not so much with character as with system. Again, I think that looking at actual behavior, most CS players looking at Universalis would call it a RPG. Emphasis on the Game. Because despite a complete discociation from specific characters, it still has all sorts of rules on how players are limited in play, and what sorts of outcomes of actions are, etc.

The point being that I'm trying to create a practical definition. Yours will leave the player not knowing where to go for help on the sort of system they are looing at, and since both sorts of cahracter associations seem to be going on at each site, that doesn't discriminate for them at all.

I think we can instead come up with a separate jargon that speaks to character association. Perhaps Single Character Association, Multiple Character Association, and Non-Specific Character Association (you can if you want), or Character Disassociation (character association discouraged).

Or perhaps this is all just my bias showing through. Universalis could indeed be a CS game by some definitions, but it would be one that appealed more to RPGers than CSers, I'd think. Or am I missing my target audience?

Mike


Title: Are We There Yet?
Post by: Le Joueur on April 22, 2002, 09:38:02 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
The point being that I'm trying to create a practical definition.

You left out:
Quote from: Le Joueur
Ultimately, I do not think we will arrive at a single guiding principle for differentiating between collaborative storytelling and role-playing games because each of us has different standards to apply across the continuum between purely storytelling and purely gaming.

I'm not trying to create a practical definition; what I am trying to deal with is how the discussion seems to be grinding to a stop over a confusing array of personal tastes.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: Le Joueur
Rather than arguing over what point of demarcation is indicated on that continuum (because it differs from individual to individual), can we at least agree that these are the only relevant factors in the differentiation?

Character association and system protection? Hmm. You make a decent argument, and these are the only topics that have come up, but I'm not sure that character association is important.

And I think that it's also possible for a player in a RPG, even a classic one such as D&D to disociate from his character relatively completely. In fact Narrativist play is a disociation of interest in the character's well being to the well being of the story as it relates to the character. I don't think that the next step, complete dissociation with particular characters would be all that far off.

This is what Universalis does. My continuing point is that where I see the demarcation is not so much with character as with system. Again, I think that looking at actual behavior, most CS players looking at Universalis would call it a RPG. Emphasis on the Game. Because despite a complete discociation from specific characters, it still has all sorts of rules on how players are limited in play, and what sorts of outcomes of actions are, etc.

The "what's possible" argument doesn't really carry in finding a practical definition.  "What's possible" is either can perfectly emulate the other.  What's neccesary for a practical definition is a guiding principle for people to make their own decision over what is or isn't either of these.  I seriously doubt a 'fixed point' can be created that will even satisfy a majority.  What I am trying to say is that the only relevant continuum seems to be a connected character/system concept.

Take Universalis as an example.  Does it have a separate character creation section?  How does it put things in terms of character?  I know my copy is a few iterations behind, but it's full of language like, "A player is not limited to generating Story Power solely through his own character’s Traits."  That pretty clearly says the central design of the game is for the player to work through their character, just not that that is a hard limit.  This pretty much says to me that Universalis is about a character/system combination.

Universalis aside, my point here is that you obviously have opinions that system is heavily important (I can only imply the centrality of the player to character connection from Universalis) meaning that your standard for system requirement is higher than mine.  (Perhaps even higher than your requirement for character 'protection.')  The deal is we agree what is important, just not how much.  (And collaborative storytellers probably shy away from the intense character-centric rules language - 'it looks like a game' - of Universalis rather than noting it's non-character-specific intent - 'it is written for story.')

I think we have the continuum right, but that this discussion is breaking down over personal tastes.  (Unless you completely discount player to character relationship in role-playing games, we essentially agree.)

Fang Langford


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 22, 2002, 10:50:23 AM
You have a point, Fang, but my "what's possible" was value added. I was mostly focusing on the the examples of CS players who play character associated. Who I believe are a substantial portion of the demographic, possibly even the majority (especially given the number of people who come from RPGs where its almost all of play).

In any case, later versions of Universalis have dropped PCs alltogether, and characters are now no longer any more important mechanically than stones. The text does imply the importance of characters in terms of story, but not to any specific player at all. This is not to say that players won't latch on to particular characters (probably the ones they created most often), but this is no different than what happens in any CS game.

My apologies for discussing Universalis with so little public disclosure. I don't mean to sandbag anyone. From now on if we want to discuss the "what's possible" I suggest "System X", a theoretical system that is heavy into producing results through mechanics, but in which no character association exists. I, of course, think that such systems are eminently viable, and just haven't been looked at much.

There is a possibility that such an activity is so new as to merit its own category I suppose. Um, Mechanical Storytelling? I just thought that such a game would fall into the RPG category as that would be the more likely market.

And as to this only being my opinion, well, yes. It's very unscientifically based on my own admittedly limited observations of CS play. I must look to someone like Lance who has more experience, therefore for evidence to back me up. Which his observations seem to me to do.

Can anyone with more experience or better evidence speak to this? If you are out there, pipe up, please.

Are your observations based on any scientific evidence, Fang? Or just your preference to make character association the primary qualifier?

Mike


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Paul Czege on April 22, 2002, 11:12:17 AM
Hey,

Ultimately, I do not think we will arrive at a single guiding principle for differentiating between collaborative storytelling and role-playing games...

It would be unprecedented if you did. The hobby is full of attempts to define roleplaying...in the content of online discussions, and in the "what is roleplaying" sections of hundreds of games.

The problem facing you, in my mind, is that there's a high degree of creep at the edges of the hobby. When you walk into GenCon this summer, you'll see a few dealers who're displaying only anime and manga toys and posters, or just military history books. There's enough of a general correlation between the interests of gamers and the products these retailers sell that it's worthwhile to the retailers to be at the convention. Roleplayers often like board games too, and some like chess, and some like card games, etc. And in a hobby where a high percentage of the consumers are also the producers of product (even if it's only house rules and variants) the membrane around the hobby is pretty permeable to external influences. So suddenly you have roleplaying games with playing cards integrated into the mechanics, and card games with roleplaying elements.

So to me, trying to define what is and isn't roleplaying is like trying to map the moving sands of the desert. And I'm personally not sure there's value in sinking time and energy into it. What benefit is to be had from having such a definition, even if can be done? I don't see the hobby is suffering from the general lack of consensus among attempts to define roleplaying. A little GNS theory teaches you to know your preferences. Isn't that all you need?

Paul


Title: Now We're Going in Circles Too.
Post by: Le Joueur on April 22, 2002, 12:30:59 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
You have a point, Fang, but my "what's possible" was value added. I was mostly focusing on the the examples of CS players who play character associated. Who I believe are a substantial portion of the demographic, possibly even the majority (especially given the number of people who come from RPGs where its almost all of play).

I may have a point, but you're missing it.  I wasn't saying that a collaborative storytelling game with high character identification was role-playing gaming (unless you put in about as much system).  I am saying that just "character association" is no more signate of role-playing gaming that just "system" is.  It's when both 'rise' together that you find the continuum of which I speak.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
From now on if we want to discuss the "what's possible" I suggest "System X", a theoretical system that is heavy into producing results through mechanics, but in which no character association exists. I, of course, think that such systems are eminently viable, and just haven't been looked at much.

Ah, but then the question goes right back to, "Who does this appeal to."  That's the problem here.  First we're trying to decide what's collaborative storytelling or not, using examples; now we're were trying to use vaporware product to decide people's preferences.  It's just going around and around.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
There is a possibility that such an activity is so new as to merit its own category I suppose. Um, Mechanical Storytelling? I just thought that such a game would fall into the RPG category as that would be the more likely market.

We're really talking 'gray areas' now.  I think who it would appeal to would depend heavily on who it was written for and how it was marketed (and little else, it is vaporware after all).

Honestly, if System X produces character-scale results (as in single-action simulation; I hit!) then it would probably appeal to role-playing gamers; if it produces story-scale results (as in climactic-ending; they riddled until sunrise.) then it would probably appeal to collaborative storytellers.  The problem is defining what you mean by "results."  The scale and accessibility of those "results" probably defines whether System X is a role-playing game or a collaborative storytelling game.

But what is the point of discussing this theoretical System X?  Aren't we already mired in a complex of who thinks what rises to the level of role-playing game?  My main point, and I'll say it again, is you will not be able to find an answer that satisfies everyone.  Why try?  Wouldn't it be easier to determine what 'measuring sticks' are commonly used as opposed to the 'measurements?'

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Are your observations based on any scientific evidence, Fang? Or just your preference to make character association the primary qualifier?

Are yours?  How does science matter in this discussion?  My preference isn't "character association."  It isn't system-only either.  I have yet to even settle on what preference I have for the threshold between the listed categories (I must disqualify myself from even having a valid choice in the matter as I don't practice collaborative storytelling, nor have I).

I believe, by looking at this thread alone, that people are reacting to it being some kind of fusion between "character association" and system, in a way where one supports the other.  No one seems willing to throw either out (saying effectively that collaborative storytelling cannot use system or that role-playing gaming cannot lack "character association"), so I have to say, looking just at this conversation alone, the determiner has some bearing on the wedding between character-focus and systemic reinforcement.

Personally, not that I know much about collaborative storytelling, but I don't imagine placing focus on character and having a system that reinforces that, would be conducive to the practice, but I am only guessing.

Fang Langford


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 22, 2002, 01:55:09 PM
Your disbelief that I am not seeing your arguments is only exceeded aparently by my belief that you are ignoring mine.

First, What I am saying is that I disagree that character association has anything to do with the defining criteria of RPGs/CS. Second, I am perfectly comfortable not looking at System X (or Universalis for that matter). I only put it out there for anyone who wanted to go that direction, or may have been interested.

Further, it seems to me that we have is four possible combinations that form these activities given your two criteria.

1. High character association, high system interference - everybody agrees that this is RPG territory.
2. Low character association, high system interference - Fang says we can't talk about this one as nobody does it. OK.
3. Low character association, low system interference - everybody agrees that this is CS territory.
4. High character association, low system interference - so what is this?

I posited that number 4 is just as common as number 3 amongst people who claim to be CSers. In which case, character association is not a factor in determining what makes the activity one or the other, only system is important.

I then pointed out that my evidence was not  scientific, which makes me wonder why you asked. My point was that your idea that character association is important in this search for criteria is merely a preference, too. I am asking if anyone can confirm or deny my suspicions, other than Lance, who I contend supports my position with his experiences. Yes, people have pointed to character association in this thread as important, but I think that merely reflects the RPG bias. If you look at the activities both as a whole I think it loses any importance as part of the criteria.

And, yes, the exact point at which the system becomes resolution of in-game events such as it causes the game to go from an RPG to CS is probably preference. I have not implied otherwise. I have repeatedly said the line is blurry and whatnot. My demarcation is a spectrum as well, one simply devoid of ant reference to character association.

You do bring up an intresting new possibility for a criteria with the scale of result thing. But I think that the case of the smaller scale results are limited to RPGs, but do not define them. That is, if you have round-to-round resolution, you have an RPG. But if you have any other scale you could have either activity. Or rather scene-resolution or any scale larger than round-to round does not automatically mean that the system is CS. I can say for certain that lots of people play RPGs with very large chunks of resolution. Look at Aria, which has systems that can resolve eons at a roll. Most RPGs caveat against "rolling for everything" which means in general terms that resolution rolls can occur at long intervals, potentially. No, I'd say that round-to-round resolution is only indicative of RPGs for exactly the same reason I said before. Because it indicates that there is a system which produces some sort of results in terms of in-game events (cahracters only hit each other once every ten seconds, this would never fly as CS).

In any case, I will agree with Paul that this discussion may not be very important. And barring any information coming in from a very reliable source on the actual nature of CS, I don't think that there is much to say, personally. I am starting to regret getting into it.

Mike


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Lance D. Allen on April 22, 2002, 03:55:43 PM
Quote
1. High character association, high system interference - everybody agrees that this is RPG territory.
2. Low character association, high system interference - Fang says we can't talk about this one as nobody does it. OK.
3. Low character association, low system interference - everybody agrees that this is CS territory.
4. High character association, low system interference - so what is this?


1. Agreed, please drive through.

2. Wargaming? Boardgames? Friggin' Monopoly? Given that the idea is to create a story, perhaps they don't apply... But then again, perhaps they do. I've told the epic tale of an intense game of Risk before, so why the hell not?

3. Again, agreed, please pay your server before you leave.

4. Free-form roleplaying. Plain and simple. No real system other than simple agreement of all parties, and it's all about playing the role. The most intense roleplaying sessions I've ever experienced were freeform, because there were absolutely no rules to get in the way of playing the role.

I think this actually works as a basic "yardstick" like Fang wants. It doesn't necessarily say that every single one of them is hard-and-fast, set and immutable, but it does give good guidelines to what it commonly perceived. However, I also think that there are more than simply RPG and CS. These two might only be considered the extremes of the scale. In the grey areas you'd have FFRP and something else, perhaps unexplored.. A systemic way of telling stories without direct character association.

To close, I'll offer some of my own hard and fast definitions, which I don't think can be disputed (though I've been wrong before..)
1. If you are not directly playing a role, then you are not roleplaying, period.
2. If what you are doing doesn't have a defined set of rules, you are not playing a game, period.
3. If the results of your activity do not include a story, then you are not storytelling, period.

Out.


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Andrew Martin on April 22, 2002, 04:55:39 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes

1. High character association, high system interference - everybody agrees that this is RPG territory.
2. Low character association, high system interference - Fang says we can't talk about this one as nobody does it. OK.
3. Low character association, low system interference - everybody agrees that this is CS territory.
4. High character association, low system interference - so what is this?


It's easy. #4 is just an RPG with a simple, but not simplistic or complex or overly complex, system. :)

There's a neat column by Sergio on RPG.net which described stages a RPG can go through. Those stages are Simplistic, Complex, Overly-Complex and Simple. A lot of people think that Simple is the same as Simplistic, because both look very similar, and in no way look as much work or effort as Complex or Overly-Complex. Of course the ideal is Simple. I point to Chess and Go for example, which have rules that fit on a single page, yet give immense and subtle interaction, which is why people play these games. Similar principles apply to RPGs as well. Simple is best.


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on April 22, 2002, 10:20:59 PM
OK, I'm going to take a stab at a *really* broad description (I intentionally avoid definition) of the activities in question (RPGs and IF/CS), and possibly also the manga-to-history-books spectrum Paul points to.

Creative engagement in an imagined situation.

One person reading a military history book and thinking about what he would have done differently than Patton fits.  So does an old-style wargame "simulating" Patton's campaigns.  So would a new-fangled "Narrativist" RPG Premised on the hard choices a Leader faces during War.  Or a group of people inventing characters and telling WW II stories.

Accepting that (no reason you should, but I'm going to for now), the way to differentiate between these approaches (it seems to me) is through asking "what specific attributes do you desire the engagement to have?" and "what tools are you going to use to fascilitate that imaginitive engagement?"

Issues in the first category include things like how many people, what form of expression, desired "balance of power", and etc.  

The second category covers many of the things discussed so far in this thread - character identificication and rule structures.  

OK . . . I think my point in this construction is that the question "where's the line between RPGs and IF/CS" is actually not as interesting as it first appears - what's far more interesting is to look at what goals they share (a "bigger than GNS" but more focused than just "have fun" goal, proposed here as creative engagement with an imagined situation), which they don't (?), and what tools (shared and otherwise) are used in that pursuit.

Appologies if that's a bit fuzzy - I'm at a conference for work this week, the days are long, and I probably should just wait until I can focus better . . . but I needed a Forge infusion.  Thanks everyone for some inspirational posts, and I hope I've contributed something,

Gordon


Title: It's Not This or That, I'm Saying It's Those
Post by: Le Joueur on April 23, 2002, 05:25:18 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Your disbelief that I am not seeing your arguments is only exceeded apparently by my belief that you are ignoring mine.

We have that going both ways.

Well, in the spirit of understanding, let's try and sum each other's points.

What you're saying is that the continuum between collaborative storytelling and role-playing gaming is described exclusively by factors relating to system.  Loosely put (and badly), more system equals role-playing game.

Is that right, or am I missing the obvious?

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Further, it seems to me that we have is four possible combinations that form these activities given your two criteria.[list=1]
  • High character association, high system interference - everybody agrees that this is RPG territory.
  • Low character association, high system interference - Fang says we can't talk about this one as nobody does it. OK.
  • Low character association, low system interference - everybody agrees that this is CS territory.
  • High character association, low system interference - so what is this?[/list:o]I posited that number 4 is just as common as number 3 amongst people who claim to be CSers. In which case, character association is not a factor in determining what makes the activity one or the other, only system is important.
I agree with your determinations about 1 and 3, but I never meant to give the impression you list with 2.  According to how I read your opinion, you strongly believe 2 represents a role-playing game clear and away.  I disagree with that idea.

Let me create an example.  Let's create a game, a collaborative storytelling game (in my understanding of the discipline).  First, take the character cards from The Enchanted Tower (http://shop.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=6AS2V83MJ6&mscssid=CDEGWQ8PEAQX8JB6RHQNJ5V3PNXM4GA9&isbn=2764112300) (a cute little castle of a book we got for the kids with a 'medieval knights' picture-card game of concentration).  Next add in a deck of Whimsy Cards (http://www.blackgate.net/whimsy.htm) (or Storypath Cards, which I've never seen).  Come up with some rules regarding the introduction and removal of characters from the story.  (And if you're feeling competitive, rules regarding victory conditions.)  Blammo, instant storytelling game with "low character association, high system interference."  Certainly not a role-playing game by my stretch of the imagination, but it subscribes to 2 as well as any role-playing games you care to name.

The only example I can think of for 4 is some of the live-action role-playing games that I have heard are practiced in Australia.  'Free-forms' they're called, and all I know is that implies a workable "low system interference" to me (which could be just as well, I'm not sure live-action role-playing games take well to "high system interference").  But just as easily as creating The Enchanted Whimsy Tower Storytelling Card Game, I think we can come up with a collaborative storytelling scheme that does 4 too.

What does that mean in this discussion?  I think it refutes the idea that one can use system alone to determine whether something is a role-playing game or not.  (Both The Enchanted Whimsy Tower Storytelling Card Game and 1 - role-playing games - have "high system interference," and Australian live-action role-playing games appear to have "low system interference.")  It also refutes the idea I believe you are ascribing to me, that "high character association" is the deciding factor.  (There are plenty of examples of both collaborative storytelling and roleplaying games with "high character association.")

When you look at 2 and 4 together, you begin to see what I am alluding to.  Only when "system interference" and "character association" rise together (and only together) can we call something a role-playing game, and then only according to a 'personal taste' threshold.

What does that say about role-playing games that fit in 1 and 3?  The only point I can make is that no matter how far they get into the extremes of not having at least some of the lesser element listed (the "low..."), they still have some.  Role-playing games with a 'vestigial' lesser element score deeply enough into the gray areas of personal taste, that I would not even attempt to make up someone else's mind except to say that if it completely lacks either "system interference" or "character association" then I don't think it is a role-playing game anymore.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I have repeatedly said the line is blurry and whatnot. My demarcation is a spectrum as well, one simply devoid of any reference to character association.

And I disagree.  It's that simple.  (Well, except you kept implying I thought "character association" was the only criteria, which I do not believe.)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
You do bring up an intresting new possibility for a criteria with the scale of result thing. But I think that the case of the smaller scale results are limited to RPGs, but do not define them. That is, if you have round-to-round resolution, you have an RPG. But if you have any other scale you could have either activity. Or rather scene-resolution or any scale larger than round-to-round does not automatically mean that the system is CS.

I can say for certain that lots of people play RPGs with very large chunks of resolution. Look at Aria, which has systems that can resolve eons at a roll. Most RPGs caveat against "rolling for everything" which means in general terms that resolution rolls can occur at long intervals, potentially.

No, I'd say that round-to-round resolution is only indicative of RPGs for exactly the same reason I said before. Because it indicates that there is a system which produces some sort of results in terms of in-game events (characters only hit each other once every ten seconds, this would never fly as CS).

That's true, but the point I am trying to make is that a "round-to-round resolution system" almost begs "character association."  I think that a "round-to-round resolution system" without any "character association" would be only the most experimental (read that 'totally grey area') of collaborative storytelling, not because it indicates system, but because it implies "character association," and we both agree that a measure of both makes it a role-playing game (that would be a 2).  I might even go so far as say that the idea of resolution, all by itself, may be partly role-playing game indicative (but I really haven't given it any thought).

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I am starting to regret getting into it.

Not me, I'm already at one epiphany and counting.  (I hope it's helping others too.)

Fang Langford


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 23, 2002, 06:51:55 AM
You tell me that there is no use in creating a fictional high interference, low-association game, and then you go and create one yourself. I find your mind amazing, Fang.

(This is really getting pointless, as I doubt that either of us has the requisite experience to talk about the other side, but here I go anyhow.)

I really doubt that your example game would be accepted by the CS community. While I know that RPGers play Once Upon a Time, and Baron Munchausen, etc. Which your theoretical game is exactly like. Why do I believe that it is acceptable to RPGers and not CSers? Because it has a rule structure that defines in game events. Agian, I am guessing to an extent, but if I were to put this in front of most CSers, they'd say either, "why bother with such strictures", or, "Oh, you want to play an RPG".

And as long as you've opened the door again, counselor, Universalis is exactly such a game, which I have played successfully with many RPGers already, who have had no problem with the low-character association. Not in spite of the low character association, to my view, but because they were comfortable with the system as it affected events. I think that such a game would be poo-pooed in most CS circles due to that feature of the game.

Round by round resolution (or something like it) is in Universalis, and it does require that one player back a single "character" (could be a mob, or a business, or a robot, essentially, just something active) and another player to do the same. But they can switch characters the next conflict, and often may. There is no particular association with any particular characters. And it works, with RPGers.

As well, I have stated that I think that CSers associate with single characters all the time, but I would accept that this is a third case which might be labeled something else like the suggested FFRP. Perhaps Universalis and games like it fall into a fourth category as I suggested before. But I still maintain my belief about which activities are supported in general by which communities. That said, perhaps an ecumenicism should be looked for, and so that point may be moot. Or I may be dead wrong.

Like I said, much of this is just my opinion. At this late point in the discussion, my biases are probably making me look bad. So I'll desist. This is the last I'll post on this. I think my case is fairly clear, or at least as clear as I care to make it. I understand your points, Fang, but obviously I disagree.

Mike


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Lance D. Allen on April 23, 2002, 07:45:21 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
And as long as you've opened the door again, counselor, Universalis is exactly such a game, which I have played successfully with many RPGers already, who have had no problem with the low-character association. Not in spite of the low character association, to my view, but because they were comfortable with the system as it affected events. I think that such a game would be poo-pooed in most CS circles due to that feature of the game.

Round by round resolution (or something like it) is in Universalis, and it does require that one player back a single "character" (could be a mob, or a business, or a robot, essentially, just something active) and another player to do the same. But they can switch characters the next conflict, and often may. There is no particular association with any particular characters. And it works, with RPGers.


So the question this begs in my mind is: Are you, or are you not playing a role? If you are not playing a role, this might be a fun game, but it is decidedly NOT a roleplaying game.

My shades of grey tend to be as sharply defined as others' black and white.


Title: I Think I Know What This Isn't
Post by: Le Joueur on April 23, 2002, 08:08:11 AM
Quote from: Wolfen
Quote from: Mike Holmes
And as long as you've opened the door again, counselor, Universalis is exactly such a game, which I have played successfully with many RPGers already, who have had no problem with the low-character association. Not in spite of the low character association, to my view, but because they were comfortable with the system as it affected events. I think that such a game would be poo-pooed in most CS circles due to that feature of the game.

Round by round resolution (or something like it) is in Universalis, and it does require that one player back a single "character" (could be a mob, or a business, or a robot, essentially, just something active) and another player to do the same. But they can switch characters the next conflict, and often may. There is no particular association with any particular characters. And it works, with RPGers.

So the question this begs in my mind is: Are you, or are you not playing a role? If you are not playing a role, this might be a fun game, but it is decidedly NOT a roleplaying game.

My shades of grey tend to be as sharply defined as others' black and white.

Yeah, I was beginning to see the "character association" = role-playing and "system interference" = game thing coming too.

I think the problem with Mike's argument is he makes assumptions about what a collaborative storyteller will or won't play.  Me, I'm strictly talking about whether something fails to be a 'story present' role-playing game (with no regard to whatever else it might be).  It doesn't matter if The Enchanted Whimsy Tower Card Game is collaborative storytelling or not, I really doubt it is a role-playing game for similar reasons to the above.  And it was provided as an example of Mike's 2 that failed to be a role-playing game.  (It really doesn't matter what a collaborative storyteller thinks about it, if it fails to be a role-playing game, then "system interference" cannot be a sole determiner of what is or is not a role-playing game (that tells some kind of story, of course).

Fang Langford


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 23, 2002, 08:16:12 AM
Quote from: Wolfen

So the question this begs in my mind is: Are you, or are you not playing a role? If you are not playing a role, this might be a fun game, but it is decidedly NOT a roleplaying game.


To clarify: in Universalis you play roles. Not just one role, but whatever role you want. Next scene another player plays that role if they like, or you can again. There is no association with a particular character, you just role-play whatever character you want, whenever you want, for that scene. As an example, there is a specific rule for purchasing the right to speak for a particular character in a scene. In the next scene somebody else may pay for that right.

Mike


Title: Group Storytelling vs. Role-playing
Post by: joe_llama on April 23, 2002, 01:00:14 PM
Quote from: Wolfen
So the question this begs in my mind is: Are you, or are you not playing a role? If you are not playing a role, this might be a fun game, but it is decidedly NOT a roleplaying game.

I think this is the most important statement in this thread so far. If role playing is an element (something that I insist on constantly), then it means specifically the "act of playing a role" (ie pure Actor Stance). A game which has no mechanic for such a thing could not seriously be called a RPG. And even if it did have one, it would only be called so because it's one of the obvious parts of the game.

Looking at Universalis, the two most obvious things about it are storytelling and game structure. What's next? Coins, bidding, maybe role playing - 4th or 5th place. In addition, there are no rules to enforce, reward, or punish acts of role playing. Technically, role playing is only a suggestion. I could play the game without doing it even once. It would be easier to categorize it as 'storytelling' game rather than 'role playing' game.

On the other hand, we have a game like Bedlam. The first and most obvious thing about it is role playing (you are a megalomaniac psycho locked up in a mental institute). It is also enforced (you can't play the game without RPing a psycho). The storytelling, while very close behind, is secondary in obviousness. If you walk into a room with a group playing Bedlam, you will notice the acting first and maybe think "oh, and they're telling a good story too". Such a game would be categorized under both 'storytelling ' and 'role playing' although I believe the latter would be more useful when you look up this game in a store or on the net.

So where does CS fit in? Is the world of gaming discrete or continuous? Why do terms like 'hybrid' 'crossover' and 'gap' are necessery?

The above examples hopefully show the need for new definitions and a new theory. Games (including RPG's) should be treated more like compounds or molecules made from various elements. So far, I see 3 (maybe 4) types of molecules using the role playing element. Don't you think it's time we expand our horizons?

With respect,

Joe Llama