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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: John Kim on February 07, 2003, 04:18:03 PM



Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: John Kim on February 07, 2003, 04:18:03 PM
A few days ago, Ron commented about one of my examples "Look, Narrativism!"  I didn't know how to reply, and I decided to read more articles and threads.  I have come to the tentative conclusion that my basic confusion with Ron's GNS distinctions is that I was stuck in my old threefold definitions from rgfa.  

   On rgfa, Simulation was considered to be a rarely-occupied corner of the triangle.  Indeed, there were arguments over whether it even existed as a "pure" style.  Arguments from Warren Dew, Mary Kuhner, myself, and a few others were a fair bit of what shaped it.  In contrast, Ron's view of GNS Simulationism is that it is the style of most mainstream games.  Of course, Ron clearly says that GNS is different from rgfa's threefold, but it took me a while to fully realize that.  

   For that matter, Ron uses "meta-game" in a very different sense than I am used to.  For example, in the "Players as Bass" thread he referred to a PCs status as "nobleman" as metagame (assuming that it didn't directly modify mechanical rolls); and in the Simulationist essay he refers to time between played-out scenes as metagame.  On rgfa, we used "meta-game" to mean things conceptually outside of the game-world -- so a character's hair color is in-game, but his point total (say) is meta-game.  

   My remaining confusion is: what do the games that I thought of as Simulation-oriented in the threefold sense correspond to in GNS?  


   For clarity, I'll pick a specific game: namely my "Water-Uphill" campaign.  It was patterned after children's fantasy -- specifically books like Narnia or Oz where children from our world suddenly find themselves in a bizarre fantasy world.  In my game, the weirdness of the world was apparent from the outset in that water flowed uphill.  The world was a domed disk where water would "fall" in geysers out of the ground into the sky.  

   My basic procedure for this game was that I designed the world to be quirky and interesting to explore.  I then shoved the PCs into it -- specifically in the royal palace -- and then let them do whatever they wanted.  The PCs were all middle-school kids ages 12 to 14, by the way.  I had no predefined plot or adventure which they had to fit into.  Instead, I just had a bunch of notes on the characters and locations.  They wandered about and talked to people, interacted, and so forth.  They also got to experiment with magic.  When they went to a place, I described to them what was there.  When they talked with someone, I role-played that person.  

   I was using a homebrew system where the PCs had various skill ratings, but there was only vague guidelines as to how the skills applied.  If a task called for PC skill, there was a roll (the lower of 2d6, sort of) which was added to skill to gauge what happened.  However, in practice rolls were rarely used.  There was no combat to speak of except one time when Steve pushed another kid down.  Nearly all of the game was exploring the areas and interacting with NPCs (and experimenting with magic, which was pretty much exploring the areas).  

   How would this be analyzed in the GNS?  I'm not sure at this point.  I suspect it is Narrativist, but I'm not quite sure why.  Was the start of having children thrown into a quirky fantasy world itself the Premise?  In that case, naturally all of the play addressed that Premise.  On the other hand, for the most part I stuck to in-game logic -- i.e. when a player did something, I answered by thinking "What would logically be the result in this game-world?"  

Obviously, if you have any more questions about it I'd be happy to answer.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Bob McNamee on February 07, 2003, 06:46:49 PM
My general read on it would be...

Simulationist

probably Sim Exploration of Setting


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: clehrich on February 07, 2003, 07:58:39 PM
As you know, John, I'm as much of a newcomer around here as you, but on the other hand I don't have prior expectations about the model.

I think Bob's right, from your description, but it really all depends (I think) on the relationship between PCs and setting.  If the setting is extremely flexible, and bends to center the PCs, then you're probably talking about Narrativism; if the PCs explore a reactive but non-flexible setting, you're probably talking about Sim.

The problem here is what we mean by "flexible."  My sense is that it comes down to questions along the lines of (but not limited to):

You come to a choice between the setting altering in a far-reaching (i.e. not entirely localized and incidental) fashion, or the characters "facing up to reality" as your mother used to say (however reality may be defined).  Will you keep reality firm and require the PCs to deal with it (Sim)?  Will you permit the characters to focus on their Premise and bend the setting to fit (Nar)?

You experts (including Ron), please feel free to problematize and add precision, but I would ask you to state clearly at the outset: do you basically agree or disagree with this formulation?  I realize that it's very crude, but is the general conception correct?


Title: Re: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 07, 2003, 08:29:54 PM
Hey, John.

Before I give my impressions, I'd like to first say that the answers give are based on the information you give and only the information you give. What I mean is, your game may be hard core Narrativist or whatever, but what you describe may not be. See? OK.

Quote from: John Kim
   My basic procedure for this game was that I designed the world to be quirky and interesting to explore.

This bit right here screams Simulationist: Exploration of Setting. The rest of this paragraph confirms this in my mind.
Quote
I suspect it is Narrativist, but I'm not quite sure why.  Was the start of having children thrown into a quirky fantasy world itself the Premise?  In that case, naturally all of the play addressed that Premise.

I'm not sure why you would think this is Narrativist, either.

I'm not certain of the state of the term Premise, which at one point was going to be used for all three modes, then Narrativist only, now I'm not sure.

Assuming that the term Premise can apply to all three modes, then your Simulationist Premise is still Exploration of Setting, which is exactly what you've said with "having children thrown into a quirky fantasy world" At no point was an ethical of moral question addressed in your description. If there was, then you would have had a Narrativist game on your hands, maybe (I'm still a little shaky myself on GNS) If, just as an example, your game centered around the PCs deciding if the royal family had the right to rule or not based on their lineage vs their ability, and this was the center of play, then you might have a Narrativist game going on (weak example). But you had the players more-or-less do "whatever they want" which is usually, not always but usually, a good indication of a SImulationist priority.


Title: A Little Bit of Confusion Goes a Long Way
Post by: Le Joueur on February 07, 2003, 10:37:39 PM
Hey John,

I think yer missin' a really big point here.

Ron ain't dissin' your game.

Go back and read you opening post (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=50140#50140) on the thread where Ron said "Look, Narrativism!" (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=50143#50143).

Right at the beginning you say, "I want to try defining an alternate, non-Narrativist style, which is still concerned about narrative and story. I would think of it as a complement to Narrativism," which you then describe.  To this Ron says, "Your description really sounds very much like a functional form of Narrativism to me."  I think the confusion lay where you think the description offered in this thread is the same as, "I'm using the example of the players being the bassmen."

It isn't.

All you basically said over there (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=50140#50140) was 'I have this idea, but it isn't Narrativism.'  You even almost say that it must be 'anti-Narrativism.'  Ron rightly points out that as if it's "still concerned about narrative and story" the way Narrativism is, it doesn't matter if the gamemaster or the players are "the bassmen."

Or in other words, he said 'how isn't this Narrativism?' (Slipping in a complaint about how narrowly everyone attributes his definition of Narrativism.); "Look, Narrativism."

I tried to point out (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=50130#50130) how Narrativism isn't simply or literally "concerned about narrative and story," but a bit more.  I wanted to convey the idea that you imagined Narrativism too much like Dramatism and perhaps the ways that it isn't.

I hate to put it this way, but Ron basically blew off your last post on that thread returning to his unanswered question.  Over here you seem a little bent out of shape because you perceived that he was saying that your last example was clearly Narrativism.  There wasn't enough to the description to say either way.  (All that was clear was that it wasn't Illusionism.  Not only that, but it seemed like you lost track of the fact that Ron's bassman is a Narrativist gamemaster.)

See, from all I've heard the most central point of Narrativism is how it addresses an Edwardian Premise (that is a real moral or ethical question that most stories answer by developing a message based on their theme and metaphor).  Since you started that thread saying, "I want to try defining an alternate, non-Narrativist style," you were talking about 'some kind of Narrativism,' even if it were 'anti-Narrativism.'

Your second example contained no reference to Edwardian Premise, either with or without.  That, coupled with Ron's avoidance of dealing with it, must have made it sound like he simply proclaimed it as Narrativist.  If the example you explain more clearly here is the same one:

Quote from: John Kim

  • The players start off the basis of play by defining their characters and continue to define this basis throughout the campaign.  
  • Anything the GM does has to conform to basis set by the players.  If there is a mismatch of what the players want to do and the GM's ideas, it is always the GM's ideas which have to bend.  
  • The actual plots originate from the GM, however.  i.e. He initiates the action by creating a situation which the PCs respond to.  (Simplest example: a supervillian begins a deadly scheme to rule the world.)[/list:u]
Then I think a serious misunderstanding is getting going.  I don't think anyone could categorically describe this quote as necessarily being a Narrativist game (or Gamist or Simulationist for that matter) and you misunderstood Ron's curious request about how "the example of the players being the bassmen" is not Narrativism.

'Who's the bassman' is really a question of Stance usage not Narrativism per se.  In the realm where Narrativist gamemasters are 'bassmen,' then a game with player 'bassmen' would be just as Narrativist as long as it addresses an Edwardian Premise.

All I've read here is about a charming Simulationist (Exploration of Setting) game that seems unrelated to what appeared to (but didn't) give rise to the "Look, Narrativism" comment.

Does that clear things up?

Fang Langford


Title: Re: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: John Kim on February 07, 2003, 11:23:10 PM
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
 At no point was an ethical of moral question addressed in your description. If there was, then you would have had a Narrativist game on your hands, maybe (I'm still a little shaky myself on GNS) If, just as an example, your game centered around the PCs deciding if the royal family had the right to rule or not based on their lineage vs their ability, and this was the center of play, then you might have a Narrativist game going on (weak example). But you had the players more-or-less do "whatever they want" which is usually, not always but usually, a good indication of a SImulationist priority.


I think there is a question here is about whether there are ethical or moral questions addressed in the Water-Uphill game.  I'll try to give some examples.  The most powerful of these, I think, was Noriko's choice.  As part of their exploration of magic, the kids found that a magical rod (sort of) which granted the power to magically influence people simply by talking to them.  The drawback was that the power was permanent: everything you say will always have that effect.  At one point, Noriko went and picked up that rod.  She helped out her friends, but after that point she refused to speak with her friends on any point of decision -- because she knew that it would influence them and they were her friends.  I found that to be a very profound choice.  

Further, there was a question of culture.  They had to decide at some point about staying in the palace or accepting the Goblin King's invitation to his city.  A big part of this rested on how they identified with the cultures, I think -- although it might also have to do with the contrast of the arrogant young princess and the suave Goblin King.  

I can't really say as to whether these addressed the Premise, because I didn't have a conscious Premise.  However, I certainly felt them to be dramatic choices.


Title: Re: A Little Bit of Confusion Goes a Long Way
Post by: John Kim on February 07, 2003, 11:41:37 PM
Quote from: Le Joueur
... All I've read here is about a charming Simulationist (Exploration of Setting) game that seems unrelated to what appeared to (but didn't) give rise to the "Look, Narrativism" comment.

Does that clear things up?


It helps a little, but I'm still pretty confused.  I really don't want to argue over who said what in the other thread -- that's why I started a new thread with a different and more complete example.  

Now, it appears that there is pretty widespread feeling that my Water-Uphill campaign is Simulationist in GNS terms.  As I said, I can offer some more information on how it worked, but you seem reasonably sure.  (I may try to post some more information on how magic works and the dynamic between the kids, but I'm not sure if it applies.)  

Given that case, I have to ponder over more questions to ask.  My impression has been that how people talk about Simulationist here seems radically different from the Water-Uphill game.  But I can't quite pin down the specifics of that impression.


Title: Re: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Paganini on February 08, 2003, 06:48:18 AM
Quote from: John Kim
A few days ago, Ron commented about one of my examples "Look, Narrativism!"  I didn't know how to reply, and I decided to read more articles and threads.  I have come to the tentative conclusion that my basic confusion with Ron's GNS distinctions is that I was stuck in my old threefold definitions from rgfa.


Yay John! Now can you go start pushing this in the RPG-Create group? Raven and I have been trying to explain it for years... (well, maybe not *years,* but a while, anyway.)

Just a quick clarification. Ron's use of the word "premise" is confusion generating. Everyone (including me) who tries to grok GNS gets hung up on it at some point. In the GNS essay, "Premise" pretty much means "what the game is about." A "Narrativist Premise" is a special kind of premise found in Narrativist games. A "Narrativist Premise" is "what a Narrativist Game is about." Specifically, it's a "thematic question" that deals with some morally or ethically interesting dillema.

(That about cover it, Ron?)

So, your first post doesn't really give enough information to say one way or the other. Some of your comments suggest simulationism, but there could be a premise lurking in there that you haven't told us about.


Title: What Else?
Post by: Le Joueur on February 08, 2003, 07:07:26 AM
Quote from: John Kim
...That's why I started a new thread with a different and more complete example.  

Now, it appears that there is pretty widespread feeling that my Water-Uphill campaign is Simulationist in GNS terms.  As I said, I can offer some more information on how it worked, but you seem reasonably sure.  (I may try to post some more information on how magic works and the dynamic between the kids, but I'm not sure if it applies.)  

Given that case, I have to ponder over more questions to ask.  My impression has been that how people talk about Simulationist here seems radically different from the Water-Uphill game.  But I can't quite pin down the specifics of that impression.

How so?

Ron uses the term Exploration differently from Scarlet Jester; he means it to describe the 'imaginative action' of a game, 'what the play is up to.'  You've got this really cool Setting.  Simulationism is the Exploration of one of Ron's Five Elements, Character, Color, Situation, System, and...(wait for it) Setting.

There doesn't seem like much else to do in this example.  There's no listed Edwardian Premise (can't be Narrativism).  There doesn't seem to be much of a challenge or way to put player ability to the test (can't be Gamism).  Doesn't seem to be any obvious meta-game action (stuff done 'outside of play' for play) described at all (the primary evidence of either Gamism or Narrativism).

So there's no Gamism and no Narrativism and all this Setting to Explore; That'd be Simulationism.  This isn't rpga Simulationism, it's GNS Simulationism; simple, non?

Fang Langford


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Garbanzo on February 08, 2003, 07:27:36 AM
John-

My understanding of GNS may or may not be according to Hoyle, but at least it's simple to articulate.

First of, there's the standard disclaimer that GNS is never never about describing games, and not even players, but just player's choices moment to moment.
Everyone is always mentioning this, and just as quickly everyone ignores it, because player's choices are such a significant part of playing, and of games.

But, disclaimer over, the big division (as I see it) is this:
Sim - Explore an internally consistent, but unknown place/ situation.
Nar - Manufacture a story, with the necessities of story-logic more important than that of place-logic.
Restatement:
With Nar, the world as experienced is greatly dependent on the PC's choices.  Sim is about the almost-opposite - a world that moves independent of the PCs, that they can interact with or not according to their own choices.


Benchmarks:
Are there consistently challenges of exactly the right degree of difficulty?
Are travel times important, or do folks tend to arive in the nick-of-time?
Can the GM-known backstory change to make player's current actions more interesting?
etc.
This is all the easy stuff; yesses to these sorts of questions indicate Nar.  


(In my own analysis, I ignore the whole Premise thing.  Best case scenario, the Premise is some morally-gripping question.  But in my own understanding, that's not a necessity, and instead Premises can be almost anything.)



Tougher calls are when people are trying to simulate not a world, but a story.  When folks start discussing "Simulating a Fairy Tale Story," it all gets a little deep for me.  (And, just between the two of us, I'm not sure the distinction in those cases is all that useful, anyway.)

-Matt


Title: Re: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 08, 2003, 08:21:10 AM
Quote from: John Kim
I can't really say as to whether these addressed the Premise, because I didn't have a conscious Premise.  However, I certainly felt them to be dramatic choices.

OK, John. It sounds like you're still pretty confused by everything GNS. I'll try my darnedest to impart what understanding I've got.

First of all, GNS does not describe moment-to-moment game decisions. That is it does or it can, but making any assessment about any game or any person from a single play decision is like judging someone's musical ability by playing a single note. To find out a person's GNS preference or to see what mode a game system supports or encourages, you have to watch them over a long period of time to see where the preference or the priorities lie.

The words "preference" and "priorities" are very important because there will be instances of the other modes going on during play, but this does not necessarily mean Drift or even Incoherency. These instances just happen, but they do not mean the GNS focus of the game, or the GNS priorities of the group have changed. (This whole thing is probably a discussion in it's own right) This is what I tried to say in the Incoherence is Fun! (http://indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=5054) thread. Instances of other modes in a game session does not mean Drift or Incoherency (They could, but not necessarily)

Now, about Premise, it does not need to be explicit to the players (and the GM is but a player) to be addressed in the Narrativist fashion, so your not having a specific Premise in mind does not necessarily mean it wasn't Narrativist play. (I'm not saying it was. I'm just saying that this does not mean is was or wasn't) But was the issue of the magical power and the accompanying Premise "Is it right to use supernatural influence on people?" the central point of your game? That is, was it a priority? The main priority? All else cast aside in support of this? I don't think so. It sounds to me like you've got a bit of the Magical Mystery Tour going on.

Explanation: I've been trying like mad to get this concept into the Forge vocabulary, so I keep saying it. It's also how I understand this, so bear with me.

By "Magical Mystery Tour" I am refering to the Beatles movie, specifically the description of the movie in the documentary The Complete Beatles:

"The Beatles, some close friends and circus performs travel the English countryside and filmed whatever happened."
"Nothing did."

The difference is, something *did* happen in the form of this magical rob and the power the player had to decide to use or not. "I found that to be a very profound choice," you had said. But you basically just put your player characters into a magical world--yadda, yadda-- and see what would happen. You were lucky to have something fairly profound happen like that, but making something profound happen was not a priority of play, merely a side effect. Don't confuse it for Narrativism.

I hope that was helpful.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: clehrich on February 08, 2003, 08:25:51 AM
John,
Quote
My impression has been that how people talk about Simulationist here seems radically different from the Water-Uphill game. But I can't quite pin down the specifics of that impression.

I think it would be helpful if you could try to pinpoint some of the differences.  Ron's got a pretty specific model going, but there don't seem to be all that many people who are entirely certain about it.  Possibly working by counter-definition might be helpful.

One note on Garbanzo's post:
Quote
First of, there's the standard disclaimer that GNS is never never about describing games, and not even players, but just player's choices moment to moment.  Everyone is always mentioning this, and just as quickly everyone ignores it, because player's choices are such a significant part of playing, and of games.  [Emphasis mine]

The problem I have with this part of the model is that as soon as one leans on it too hard, one runs up against the "instants vs. instances" question.  There have been various threads in which people have proposed "player's choices moment to moment" as examples, and Ron has made clear that such choices cannot be GNS-classified.

[X-posted with Jack]

I think there's a desire to make this classificatory model more absolute than it can reasonably be.  The tendency is to look for a sine qua non, that without which a given game/session/choice/instance cannot be Sim, Gam, or Nar.  This often comes down to Premise issues, but I suspect that the model is not going to support monothetic division.


Title: Re: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: greyorm on February 08, 2003, 10:11:40 AM
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
But was the issue of the magical power and the accompanying Premise "Is it right to use supernatural influence on people?" the central point of your game? That is, was it a priority? The main priority? All else cast aside in support of this?

But it doesn't even have to be the central point of the game, only the central point/issue of the character. That is, the character was developed in the game specifically to explore this issue.

At least, if I'm remembering my Narrativism right (since you can address multiple Egri-style Premises (what Fang keeps calling an Edwardian Premise) at the same time in Narrativist play). And if I'm wrong on that, as the Mask says, "Somebody stop me!"


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 08, 2003, 10:26:28 AM
You may have that right, Raven. We may have to wait for the Narrativist essay to be sure. But my point was that the fact that this wound up addressing an Egrian Premise was a side effect of play rather than a priority of play. The priority, from what I've read, seems to me to be very strongly Simulationist.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: John Kim on February 08, 2003, 10:49:35 AM
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
But my point was that the fact that this wound up addressing an Egrian Premise was a side effect of play rather than a priority of play. The priority, from what I've read, seems to me to be very strongly Simulationist.


I'm not sure I agree with this.  I think the main priority of my game was promoting immersion in character.  For example, a key idea for the concept was that it kept the players very close to the PCs in terms of viewpoint -- i.e. the world was just as strange to the modern-day Earth players as it was to the modern-day Earth PCs.  What happens to the kids  -- not just physically but emotionally -- and what choices they make were very much a priority of the game.  

However, you are right that I did not pre-decide on a narrow issue like "the use of supernatural influence" to be the priority.  Instead, the issues flowed out of what the characters did and chose.  You can call that accidental, but I knew for certain that some sort of accident would happen, and that was a priority of the game.  I just didn't know exactly what it would be.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: John Kim on February 08, 2003, 11:29:45 AM
It seems that nearly everyone agrees that this is a Simulationist game under GNS terms.  That certainly makes things easier for me in one sense, since I had considered it Simulation in rgfa's threefold.  

Quote from: clehrich

Quote from: John Kim
My impression has been that how people talk about Simulationist here seems radically different from the Water-Uphill game. But I can't quite pin down the specifics of that impression.

I think it would be helpful if you could try to pinpoint some of the differences.  Ron's got a pretty specific model going, but there don't seem to be all that many people who are entirely certain about it.  Possibly working by counter-definition might be helpful.


Fair enough.  I'm going to put down my impressions -- but again please remember that they are just impressions, and I can easily admit that accept that they don't really represent the model.
  • I often see talk about GM control as being an effect of Simulationism, especially for Illusionism which Ron classifies as a subset of Simulationism.   I see extremely little in common with the Water-Uphill game, which was strongly directed by the players.  
  • I also see talk which suggests that Simulationism lacks or inhibits moral and social choice.  Ron's samurai (Sorcerer vs GURPS) and knight (Pendragon vs TROS) examples, for one.  I don't dispute those examples, but I don't see how this has to do with Simulation.  Water-Uphill seems to be agreed as simulation and it left PC behavior entirely up to the players.  
  • Perhaps a related point to the others, Simulationist exploration is often expressed as non-dynamic.  i.e. The PCs are "along for the ride" but don't control the flow of events.  I don't see any reason for that.  For me, the whole point of Simulation is to see the dynamic -- i.e. to let loose the PCs and not know what is going to happen.  
  • [/list:u]


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Andrew Martin on February 08, 2003, 12:02:52 PM
Hi, John.
Caution, I'm no expert, barely a novice in GNS. I could be writing complete rubbish!

Quote from: John Kim
I often see talk about GM control as being an effect of Simulationism, especially for Illusionism which Ron classifies as a subset of Simulationism. I see extremely little in common with the Water-Uphill game, which was strongly directed by the players.


Quote from: John Kim
Perhaps a related point to the others, Simulationist exploration is often expressed as non-dynamic. i.e. The PCs are "along for the ride" but don't control the flow of events. I don't see any reason for that. For me, the whole point of Simulation is to see the dynamic -- i.e. to let loose the PCs and not know what is going to happen.


Did the players have the ability to add or subtract to the setting? For example, did a player add to the setting something like: "we find a village over the next hill, filled with green gnomes." or perhaps, "Noriko's magic rod runs out magical power and crumbles to dust." ?

If the players can't modify the setting, except through the character's powers, like killing a guard with a sword or fireballing a bush, I think this is Illusionism.

Quote from: John Kim
I also see talk which suggests that Simulationism lacks or inhibits moral and social choice. Ron's samurai (Sorcerer vs GURPS) and knight (Pendragon vs TROS) examples, for one. I don't dispute those examples, but I don't see how this has to do with Simulation.  Water-Uphill seems to be agreed as simulation and it left PC behavior entirely up to the players.


An earlier poster wrote that the game seemed to be simulationist, with a priority towards setting. I'd agree. This leaves PC personality undefined. The players could be gamist, simulationist or narrativist with respect to their character's personality descriptors. As regards to the setting, personality descriptors seem to be unimportant.


Title: Not the 'Accidental Narrativist'
Post by: Le Joueur on February 08, 2003, 01:30:58 PM
Hey John,

Quote from: John Kim
  • I also see talk which suggests that Simulationism lacks or inhibits moral and social choice.  Ron's samurai (Sorcerer vs GURPS) and knight (Pendragon vs TROS) examples, for one.  I don't dispute those examples, but I don't see how this has to do with Simulation.  Water-Uphill seems to be agreed as simulation and it left PC behavior entirely up to the players.[/list:u]
'Who's in control' is unrelated in any way to GNS.  It just isn't important.  You can have a game where the gamemaster calls most of the shots that's Narrativist, you could even have a Simulationist game that has no gamemaster whatsoever (which is about as not 'along for the ride' as you could get).

Another confusion seems to be arising here.  Simulationism (despite the term) is not about simulation.  All modes of GNS allow for the complete panoply of player control of character.

Anyway, to my main point; you're getting really confused between players and characters here.  In order to understand Narrativism apart from Simulationism, you have to note a couple of important facts.  There is one more important than any other in gaming; never lose sight of it.

The character don't exist.

They have no drives, no lives, no motives, nothing; when you walk away from the table they are nothing.  The level you identify with them, the amount of emotional investment you have with them, the amount you let your 'internal model' of them do as you expect it to (or not expect it to) is a matter of your choice not theirs (they have no choice being non-existent).

Now, there is nothing whatsoever that limits character moral or social choice in either Simulationist or Narrativist games.  In fact, Narrativist games don't even care what the characters think centrally (they don't, being non-existent); what characters choose doesn't reflect how the Edwardian Premise directly.  The characters do not make 'statements' on the Edwardian Premise anymore than an artist's brush does any painting.

An Edwardian Premise is something the players are doing.  What they have the characters do (regardless of how consistent it is with the internal model of character) reveals some kind of reaction to the question raised by the Edwardian Premise (whether intentionally or not).  The fact that play is more satisfying because it is relative to the thia Premise is how you detect Narrativism.  This is why it cannot be detected at the 'single action' level, this is why it cannot be assumed of a game or design, this is why it can't even be ascribed to the entirety of a player's play.  Only when enough play has happened to realize that it really is the 'subtext,' the 'player stuff' outside of the purview of the character, the way play is 'better for' addressing this Premise, can you say if play is Narrativist.

As I said, regardless if something resembling this Premise came about, it has to do with the players wanting it.  Nothing says that Simulationism can't result in a defining and satisfying 'answer' to a Premise, it is whether that was the reason play is valued.  A lot of people get hung up on play that results in X being the same as play that intends on X from the start.  The latter, when relative to an Edwardian Premise (whether selected by the participant(s) or by the game in design), is what makes it Narrativism; the former could be anything.

Since you didn't describe the game as having a specific moral quandary for the participants, it doesn't sound like Narrativism.  Having an "accidental" thematic question and answer (even if you know 'something' will happen), doesn't sound like Narrativism because this result sounds like it wouldn't have hurt to be absent of it; I don't think you can have 'Narrativism as gravy' and call the play Narrativist.  This remains unclear because of the presentation so far.

If, as you say, "the main priority of my game was promoting immersion in character," then I don't see how any kind of 'expected accidental issue' was of priority.  This sounds contrary of Narrativism; like I said, unless Narrativism is the point in some way, it isn't the priority and the 'real priority' is the mode of play.

Am I getting any clearer?

Fang Langford


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 08, 2003, 02:16:55 PM
Hi John,

It seems to me that you have a couple issues:
  • You are taking Simulationism as a big lump. Simulationism is the Exploration of one of the five elements of roleplaying, so there are five major types of Simulationims, and nigh-infinite ways to do each of the five, I'd imagine.

So comparing Water-Uphill to the examples of the knight and samurai in the Simulationist essay isn't useful because they are two very, very different types of Simulationism: Exploration of Setting and Character respectively.

  • You are also confounding Illusionism with Simulationism. They are not the same.
  • [/list:u]
Quote from: John Kim
I think the main priority of my game was promoting immersion in character.

Hmmm. Well, this issue is being discussed in Be somebody. (http://indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=5107)
Quote
However, you are right that I did not pre-decide on a narrow issue like "the use of supernatural influence" to be the priority.

Right. Which means that Water Uphill was not Narrativism. I feel I should point out that this is nothing to be ashamed of. None of the three modes is better than the other. Only better suited towards a person's preferences.

Now, I don't want to pick apart Water-Uphill for this purpose. It actually sounded like a beautiful game and I encourage you to write it up, if you haven't already, and make it available for others to play.


Title: Re: Not the 'Accidental Narrativist'
Post by: John Kim on February 08, 2003, 02:34:35 PM
Quote from: Le Joueur
 Since you didn't describe the game as having a specific moral quandary for the participants, it doesn't sound like Narrativism.  Having an "accidental" thematic question and answer (even if you know 'something' will happen), doesn't sound like Narrativism because this result sounds like it wouldn't have hurt to be absent of it; I don't think you can have 'Narrativism as gravy' and call the play Narrativist.


Well, I don't have any problem labelling the game Simulationist, since that is the term I have used for it for a while.  However, your logic seems to be that unless something is specifically pre-planned, then it is not centrally valued.  I don't feel that is true.  For me at least, Noriko's rash action was probably the high point of the campaign.  I certainly would have been less satisfied with the game if it hadn't happened and nothing equivalent happened instead.  

I think Ron's term of "Exploration" is very apt here.  The Water-Uphill campaign was certainly exploratory and experimental.  The purpose of exploring is to find something.  The fact that I didn't know what I would find doesn't mean that I didn't care whether or not I found anything.

[Editted for grammatical error]


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 08, 2003, 03:01:08 PM
Hi John,

Wow, you are so close!
Quote
However, your logic seems to be that unless something is specifically pre-planned, then it is not centrally valued. I don't feel that is true.

Well, we are talking about GNS here and the definitions thereof, so it is true.
Quote
For me at least, Noriko's rash action was probably the high point of the campaign. I certainly would have been less satisfied with the game if it hadn't happened and nothing equivalent happened instead.

There is a difference between the high point, what part of play you or anyone had found to be most enjoyable, and what the play priorities were.

Consider this: Suppose instead of doing what you did in that game, the players all decided to, whenther conciously or not to address the Premise "Is it right to use supernatural means to your advantage?" You would still have Noriko's bit, but then the other players would have pursued this premise (hopefully) to the same degree. Perhaps one player would be mucking about with a love potion, another would be toying with some kind of truth helmet, or whatever. Then, instead of the one instance of profoundity, you would have most of play be profound in some way.

You see, it's not the end result it's how you get there. It's also not what you're hoping to get out of a session, but what you do to make sure you get it out of a session.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: John Kim on February 08, 2003, 03:45:21 PM
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
 Consider this: Suppose instead of doing what you did in that game, the players all decided to, whenther conciously or not to address the Premise "Is it right to use supernatural means to your advantage?" You would still have Noriko's bit, but then the other players would have pursued this premise (hopefully) to the same degree. Perhaps one player would be mucking about with a love potion, another would be toying with some kind of truth helmet, or whatever. Then, instead of the one instance of profoundity, you would have most of play be profound in some way.  


I am certainly aware of the option, and have been for many years.  However, I don't find that it has the results that you say (or at least not most of the time).  I find that this approach frequently lessens profoundity rather than heightening it, because the events feel contrived -- because, in fact, they are.  I don't reject it as an approach, but I don't think it is a sure thing, either.  My current campaign is something of a mix, for example.  

Incidentally, you seem to be assuming that my one example meant that there was nothing else profound in the campaign, which isn't true.  I'll try to work on some more writeups, but unfortunately this isn't one of my better documented campaigns.  

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
 You see, it's not the end result it's how you get there. It's also not what you're hoping to get out of a session, but what you do to make sure you get it out of a session.  


Well, several other posters have talked about "priorities" as being the important thing.  You might want to take it up with them.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: lumpley on February 08, 2003, 04:21:47 PM
Hey, John.

When you look back over a game, what you'll see is a bunch of instances of play.  Some'll be Narrativist, some Gamist, some Sim.  Identify a) which are which, b) which you enjoyed best, and c) how each came about, and you'll have useful information to take into future gaming.

So your game might have been predominantly Sim, but all the high points were Nar.  That's fine.  Might've been predominantly Nar, with key Sim instances providing structure.  Might've started out mostly Sim and, as the setting and situation clicked thematically with the characters, become increasingly Nar.  Your game doesn't sound like "pure" Sim or Nar, but who knows?  Personally, I don't think we'll be able to narrow it down much.

Premises are less mystifying than all that, though.  If you can look at a character's actions and they're about something, that's Premise.  What were the cool, interesting, effective conflicts in the game?  That's where the Premise is.  You've got kids going around in a magical world: so what?  If there is a "so what," there's a Premise.  The Nar instances were the instances where the "so what" came to the front.

-Vincent


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 08, 2003, 04:22:22 PM
Well, I tried to illustrate how Water Uphill would work if it were run Narrativist. I may have done a poor job. Then again, maybe not:
Quote from: John Kim
I find that this approach frequently lessens profoundity rather than heightening it, because the events feel contrived -- because, in fact, they are.

This bit here reinforce my belief that you have Simulationist priorities. Of course they're contrived. Everything in an RPG is contrived in one sense or another. But that's Narrativism, you see. Narrativism require, in some way, to contrive events into a story by addressing a Premise. Players who enjoy this don't mind that it's contrived, if fact they probably prefer, but further discussion on Narrativism should probably wait for that essay.
Quote
I'll try to work on some more writeups, but unfortunately this isn't one of my better documented campaigns.

That won't be necessary. I don't think that more examples would help, really.  

Quote
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
 You see, it's not the end result it's how you get there. It's also not what you're hoping to get out of a session, but what you do to make sure you get it out of a session.  


Well, several other posters have talked about "priorities" as being the important thing.  You might want to take it up with them.

Actually, I think I may have mistepped big time here. Let me backpeddle a little.

Quote
I think the main priority of my game was promoting immersion in character. For example, a key idea for the concept was that it kept the players very close to the PCs in terms of viewpoint -- i.e. the world was just as strange to the modern-day Earth players as it was to the modern-day Earth PCs. What happens to the kids -- not just physically but emotionally -- and what choices they make were very much a priority of the game.

However, you are right that I did not pre-decide on a narrow issue like "the use of supernatural influence" to be the priority. Instead, the issues flowed out of what the characters did and chose. You can call that accidental, but I knew for certain that some sort of accident would happen, and that was a priority of the game. I just didn't know exactly what it would be.

OK, back a couple post, let's try again.

First of all, let's try to put this in the context of your initial question, of what you were trying to get out of this thread: basically what is Simulationism and specifically how does it differ from Narrativism using Water-Uphill as an example.

As Fang had noted, you list two priorities here Immersion into character and an "accident" or a Premise being addressed. Now, like I had mentioned before, GNS is more like an overview. Identifying what a person or group's GNS priority is takes time, looking at the big picture, as it were. Can you see that of these two priorities one has been given higher priority over the other? The premise is addressed "out of what the characters did and chose." or, out of the character immersion (this is another issue altogether and I'd rather not get into it here as it would just clutter up the thread). So the priority of play is the character immersion. all the other priorities were secondary.  Does this make sense?


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: lumpley on February 08, 2003, 04:55:42 PM
Hey, Jack.

I think I disagree with you.  Immersion just means exploration of character, and you can't address a Premise without exploration of character in some form.  Did John and his group prioritize immersive exploration of character for its own sake, or in order to effectively address the game's Premise?  We don't know.  I don't think we can know.

(My experience of Narrativist play is that it seems less contrived than Sim play, but that's for another time.  Certainly, how contrived a game seems doesn't correlate to GNS.)

-Vincent


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: John Kim on February 08, 2003, 10:11:03 PM
Quote from: lumpley
 Immersion just means exploration of character, and you can't address a Premise without exploration of character in some form.  Did John and his group prioritize immersive exploration of character for its own sake, or in order to effectively address the game's Premise?  We don't know.  I don't think we can know.  


Yeah, that seems tricky -- especially given the suggestion that there can be a subconscious Premise and subconscious attempts to address it.  For me, exploration of character and Premise-addressing are pretty thoroughly intertwined.  

I think this touches on an old problem of rgfa's threefold.  It was pointed out that the threefold's Drama and Game were defined positively in terms of a goal, while Simulation was defined negatively as rejection of meta-game influence on in-game resolution.  i.e. In the threefold, Simulation is a methodology, but not a goal.  

In his GNS model, Ron has addressed this by making Exploration the goal of Simulationism -- but I suspect this has the same shortcoming.  "Exploration" is so general a goal that it is a central part of Narrativism and Gamism as well.  This seems to make it difficult to distinguish based on goals or priorities.  

Certainly I will be looking carefully at distinguishing based on method vs distinguishing based on goal.  Different methods can work towards addressing the same goal.  

Quote from: lumpley
(My experience of Narrativist play is that it seems less contrived than Sim play, but that's for another time.  Certainly, how contrived a game seems doesn't correlate to GNS.)  


I'll buy that.  I did say that seeming contrived was only a possibility.  Contrivedness and profoundness are a product of personal view as well as implementation, I think -- and I think you are right that they don't neccessarilly correlate to GNS.  (Not that I was replying to Jack's suggestion that my game would have had much more profoundness if the players all decided to address "Is it right to use supernatural means to your advantage?".)


Title: Re: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Le Joueur on February 08, 2003, 10:30:37 PM
Quote from: greyorm
At least, if I'm remembering my Narrativism right (since you can address multiple Egri-style Premises (what Fang keeps calling an Edwardian Premise) at the same time in Narrativist play). And if I'm wrong on that, as the Mask says, "Somebody stop me!"

Okay, stop.

One point about how I keep saying <tone voice="whiny">"Edwardian Premise"</tone> may grate upon your ears, but quite frankly I literally cringe when Ron refers to his animal as an "Egri-style Premise."  Why?

Because it ain't.

Oh, I fully recognize that that's where it came from and how Egri's Premise taken literally is almost unusable in role-playing games.  There's no problem there.  My problem is that Ron keeps eschewing credit for inventing his own Premise.

It's a really good idea!

Why must he continually push credit for it on Egri's shoulders?  Saying that a Narrativist is using an Egrian Premise is, in my opinion, doing grevious damage to that author's work.  The difference is as incredibly simple as it is terrifyingly far apart.  Even Ron has revealed the difference, here, in this forum.

Egri's Premises are statements.

Ron's Premises are questions. (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=22069#22069)


I gnash my teeth everytime he acts as though that's the same thing, cuz it ain't, not in any way shape or form.  Furthermore, because of that change, Ron has pretty much had to redefine 'theme' too (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=49140#49140).

Okay, I can understand skipping the definitions of 'theme' as mood or motif; that only makes the local usage clearer.  But once Ron defines them as "value judgements" he leave Webster in the dust.  Egri's Premises are exactly that, "value judgements" or "statements."  Y'see, when I learned The Art of Creative Writing (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?userid=2UH6L05PXE&pwb=1&ean=9780806502007), what Egri's Premises were are "statements" on the story's theme.  Theme as in "issues like 'slavery' or justice.'"  The acts of Egri's characters collect into a "statement," his Premise, about the theme.

Ron juggles these terms around so that Premise is a question and theme is the answer.  For Egri, the Premise is the 'answer' and the theme is the subject (the question arises from).  The problem I have is not Ron's use of either word; he's perfectly free to use them as such.  The concepts he introduces with them are powerful and very, very useful for gaming; No, I only have one problem.

The use of Egri's name.

See, Ron keeps ducking the credit for conceiving of a telling and important quality of role-playing games (only Narrativist ones maybe, but the whole by the awareness of the difference).  He keeps saying he 'tweaked' Egri's Premise a little.  LIKE HELL!  Egrian Premise = Edwardian Theme; Edwardian Premise = a moral ponderable of emotional value to the participants explicitly or directly dealt with or not (IIRC).  That's just not a simple 'tweak,' it's a major overhaul.  How do we effectively solve this problem I have?

Give Ron the credit.

Sure Egri deserves mention for inspiring Ron, but Ron, it's your baby now.  Deal with it.  I have the utmost respect for the quality of the idea and I think it long past time for you to take credit where it is due.  Leave Egri to the writers and give us, once and for all, the Edwardian Premise.

Fang Langford

p. s. Whew, that one's been bugging me for a HELL of a long time.

p. p. s. This has been a major topic-drifter.  If anyone cares to respond, then this should very much be spun off into it's own thread; otherwise let it drop.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: M. J. Young on February 09, 2003, 12:08:00 AM
Although I have not read all the posts to this thread, I'm going to venture to say that everyone is wrong. John Kim's game, as presented, is not simulationist. It's hybrid.

He's created a background setting that is interesting in itself, and has the potential for creating stories. He's created a system which does not reward either exploring that setting or creating those stories in any way other than the inherent reward involved in the activity itself.

When the players are wandering around the setting, they're doing exploration of setting, and he's running the game as a simulation. But as things happen, he transitions with the players to deal with the issues raised.

The story of the girl who picks up the rod raises issues, and everyone in the game recognized it. It created a mini-story with moral and ethical implications that were explored, and continued to be explored to some degree, in that she recognized that her power to control them could not be terminated once it had been established. She made the moral choice not to speak to them again when they had decisions to make--resolution of the narrative premise--and that then transitioned back to the simulationist exploration of the setting, with this new element that this character did not speak in these situations.

I'm going to post this and get back to reading the thread; maybe I'll be embarrassed by something I've not yet read, but there's a lot here and I don't want to lose this before I get to the end.

--M. J. Young


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 09, 2003, 05:37:51 AM
Quote from: John Kim
In his GNS model, Ron has addressed this by making Exploration the goal of Simulationism -- but I suspect this has the same shortcoming.  "Exploration" is so general a goal that it is a central part of Narrativism and Gamism as well.  This seems to make it difficult to distinguish based on goals or priorities.

Ron does state that all three modes "float on a sea of Exploration." Exploration is indeed found in all three mode. Simulationism has just prioritized it above any metagame concern.

Identifying GNS can be a slippery little piggy. It has been suggested to me that GNS can only really be seen when different priorities come into conflict.

Like my group that I complained about in Actual Play overmuch. They seem to have a very Sim priority, I seem to wish to explore (small "e") my Narrativist bend. It's like if we were playing the Samurai example from the essay. I wanted to play it Sorcerer style, but the group was playing it using GURPS (to keep using the example) This brings the GNS priorities into sharp relief. I either play within the given system (which require a roll to see if I can break any of my samurai's tenant, and can thus keep me from doing what I wish to do) or I ignore this and break the social contract, pissing everybody off. Interestingly, I chose the first option, mostly, and developed "turtle-like play tactics" as described at the end of the GNS essay. If I couldn't do the things I wanted to do, I did nothing at all, or as little as possible.

I'm actually starting to think that maybe you did have some Drift going on. Like Vincent said, it's hard to say. We weren't there to make observations of the player's behavior.


Title: I almost Forgot!
Post by: Le Joueur on February 09, 2003, 06:31:17 AM
Whataminute.

Right at the top, the essay states that if you liked how your game went, then the GNS isn't for you.

Basically, that means if John and company had fun, it doesn't matter in the least what mode their game was.  It's pretty clear there that the GNS is really only of use when the game goes badly.  (It helps figure out what the problem was.)

So, John, did you have any problems?

Fang Langford


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: John Kim on February 09, 2003, 09:22:17 AM
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
 Like my group that I complained about in Actual Play overmuch. They seem to have a very Sim priority, I seem to wish to explore (small "e") my Narrativist bend. It's like if we were playing the Samurai example from the essay. I wanted to play it Sorcerer style, but the group was playing it using GURPS (to keep using the example) This brings the GNS priorities into sharp relief. I either play within the given system (which require a roll to see if I can break any of my samurai's tenant, and can thus keep me from doing what I wish to do) or I ignore this and break the social contract, pissing everybody off.  


This doesn't seem to be Sim-vs-Nar to me, though.  For example, my Water-Uphill game was apparently Simulationist and had no such restrictions.  As GM, I dislike personality mechanics in general and the GURPS implementation in particular.  As I read it, there doesn't seem to be anything about Simulationism which requires such rules.  For example, no one pointed out how the lack of such meant that Water-Uphill wasn't pure Simulationism.  

My primary dislike of random-roll Personality Mechanics is that they fail to represent human behavior.  A samurai will not break his code of honor at random times -- that is nonsensical.  If he breaks his code, it will be for a reason.  This means there will be a visible pattern to his doing so.  He won't randomly fluctuate between keeping it and breaking it.  

Incidentally, couldn't this same thing come up in Sorcerer? (Note: I haven't played it yet, so I'm really not sure.)  If a player insists on ignoring the Humanity rules and instead just doing what she wishes to do even if her Humanity drops to 0, won't she break the social contract and piss people off?


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 09, 2003, 10:39:23 AM
Quote from: John Kim
As I read it, there doesn't seem to be anything about Simulationism which requires such rules.  For example, no one pointed out how the lack of such meant that Water-Uphill wasn't pure Simulationism.

This is true. My GM is heavily influenced by GURPS, but let's not focus on that. This is your thread.  
Quote
Incidentally, couldn't this same thing come up in Sorcerer? (Note: I haven't played it yet, so I'm really not sure.)  If a player insists on ignoring the Humanity rules and instead just doing what she wishes to do even if her Humanity drops to 0, won't she break the social contract and piss people off?

Yep.

I think Fang poses an interesting question that may help. Did this game run into any problems?


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: John Kim on February 09, 2003, 05:37:19 PM
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
 I think Fang poses an interesting question that may help. Did this game run into any problems?  


No huge ones, but yes there were.  The campaign ended because I moved.  None of the players dropped out or had any significant problems with it, they had enough interest to come quite a distance to play (40+ minutes travel).  Scheduling was a problem, though.  

Personally, my reflections are:
  • The magic system was a great idea, I think, but didn't really live up to its potential.  One problem, as I think Russell pointed out, was that magical exploration really should have been a solitary activity.  In order to keep PCs involved, though, I had it them appear in magic as a group (magic was a place, sort of).  This had the side effect that they used magic as a secret meeting place and communications center, which felt strange.  
  • I never really nailed the character of the Bogart King, which was a pity because he was pretty central.  In part, I think this was a symptom that I simply hadn't worked out the background as well as I would have liked.  It is very hard to sufficiently detail a fantasy world, I find.  
  • Integrating Lisa's character was tricky.  She joined the campaign halfway in, which was a problem considering that the group was defined by their all knowing each other from school and being stuck in a fantasy world.  We decided that her PC was also from Earth but from a different time.  I'm a little unsure how well that worked.  
  • [/list:u]

    Of the players, I think Josh (who played Noriko) loved it.  Liz liked it, but had some complaints.  There was a point when they went out to eat in the Bogart city when she felt that the story wasn't going anywhere.  On the other hand, Josh enjoyed this quality and said so at the time.  I think in GNS terms Liz was more Narrativist, while Josh was more Simulationist.  Russell, Mike, and Lisa all enjoyed it, but I did not have as much detailed feedback from them.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Ron Edwards on February 09, 2003, 05:47:31 PM
Three pages!

On a topic I need to respond about in full and with care. And in the last few days I've had time to drop maybe three or four shortie-answers at the Forge as a whole.

I always do this to John. I'll be back.

Best,
Ron


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: JMendes on February 09, 2003, 11:26:56 PM
Hey, all :)

Whilst we wait for Ron to come back ;) I thought I'd drop my couple-o-cents(TM).

In my view GNS is not so much about goals as it is about priorities. These are not completely equivalent terms. For example, I may have a goal to drive from Lisbon to Madrid and get there before 7pm, but my priorities may be to have a safe journey, to enjoy the scenery, to get there as soon as possible, or to spend as little gas as possible. Some of these priorities are compatible, some are not, but definitely, all are within the frame of the goal. Now, those priorities can only be analysed from a series of driving decisions I make along the journey. An instance of driving, so to speak.

As such: if your priorities revolve around:

the challenge, getting better, tactical decisions, the riddle - you tend towards gamism
the meaning, or premise, theme, morals and ethics - you tend towards narrativism
the cause-and-effect, verisimilitude, what-it-would-be-like, 'realism' - you tend towards simulationism

Note that priorites do not require any pre-planning whatsoever, and note also that neither a single decision nor a moment in the game can be isolated in terms of priorities.

I hope that made sense. It makes perfect sense to me, t least. :)

Cheers,

J.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: John Kim on February 10, 2003, 09:17:20 AM
Quote from: JMendes
 As such: if your priorities revolve around:

the challenge, getting better, tactical decisions, the riddle - you tend towards gamism
the meaning, or premise, theme, morals and ethics - you tend towards narrativism
the cause-and-effect, verisimilitude, what-it-would-be-like, 'realism' - you tend towards simulationism

Note that priorites do not require any pre-planning whatsoever, and note also that neither a single decision nor a moment in the game can be isolated in terms of priorities.  


The problem is that this requires saying that verisimilitude is a hindrance or at least a distraction to studying meaning, morals, and ethics.  I think this simply isn't true.  Verisimilitude -- especially of character -- is a benefit to meaning, morals, and ethics.  In general, a drama with flat, unbelievable characters does not have interesting meaning.  In GNS terms, it makes no sense to me to separate out Exploration of Character from addressing of moral and ethical questions.  These are each integral to the other.  

This is why on rgf.advocacy we ended up defining the Simulation part of the threefold as a methodology rather than a goal.  The Drama-oriented people (such as David Berkman) were vehement that verisimilitude and drama were compatible and often linked priorities, and only by phrasing it as a methodology were we able to agree.  The methodology is avoiding meta-game influence on in-game events, but this can be used towards a wide variety of goals.  

By the same token, I think that gamers who are interested in modern-day  tactical battles might insist that realistic bullet damage is not a distraction from having a good game.  They might say that the realism is an important part of the challenge.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Matt Machell on February 10, 2003, 09:57:06 AM
Quote
In GNS terms, it makes no sense to me to separate out Exploration of Character from addressing of moral and ethical questions.


I can't recall which thread it was in, but it was mentioned a while back that a good way of explaining Narativist play decisions is that they require an external point of view to that of the character. The player is concerned with addressing the thematic question. "Exploration of character" implies internal logic of a character takes precedence, rather than any external concern of "thematic storytelling".

It's not about either style not having strong characters, it's about how they are used, and to what end.

HTH

-Matt


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Valamir on February 10, 2003, 10:04:49 AM
Quote from: John Kim

The problem is that this requires saying that verisimilitude is a hindrance or at least a distraction to studying meaning, morals, and ethics.  I think this simply isn't true.  Verisimilitude -- especially of character -- is a benefit to meaning, morals, and ethics.  In general, a drama with flat, unbelievable characters does not have interesting meaning.  In GNS terms, it makes no sense to me to separate out Exploration of Character from addressing of moral and ethical questions.  These are each integral to the other.  


John, I think your kind of chasing your tale on this one.  What you're saying above about believable characters being important is 100% correct.  This is why Ron took Exploration of Character out of the Sim box (where it had been in earlier versions of GNS) and placed it quite prominately OVER the GNS distinctions.

Thus for ALL THREE modes of play Exploration of Character (and setting, and color, and situation, and system) are important.  They are the foundational building blocks for all roleplaying.  Different games may assign different priorities to them, but all are present.

With Exploration as a starting point than you have the following:

G:  Exploration PLUS metagame concerns of the player involving having player skill at playing the game be an important detemination of character effectiveness in game.

N:  Exploration PLUS metagame concerns about addressing the premise issues explained in depth elsewhere.

S:  Exploration PLUS...nothing.  Simulationism in GNS is placing the act of Exploration itself as the primary motivation for playing.  That doesn't mean there's never a moment of enjoying how knowing the proper time to use the characters "special ability" saved the day.  That doesn't mean theres never an occassion where the game offers commentary on a moral issue.


So to summarize:

Merely citing occassions in an otherwise Simulationist game where a moral issue was spotlighted at some point and players had to make a hard choice for their characters...does not make the game Narrativist (or to state it another way, does not suddenly make the game stop being Simulationism).

Similarly if these moral issues are not simply occassional encounters based on where the Exploration led but rather addressing them is the primary reason you're even bothering to play at all...you're playing Narrativist.  And because Exploration is part of all games including Narrativism it doesn't matter how much Exploration of Character and Setting et.al. you're doing in the meantime.  You could have the crunchiest most detail oriented example of verisimatic roleplaying in history (heh, I just invented that word) and still be playing Narrativist.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Ron Edwards on February 10, 2003, 10:21:49 AM
Hi there,

Well spoo. Ralph's latest post said anything and everything I was planning to.

Best,
Ron


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: John Kim on February 10, 2003, 11:42:43 AM
Quote from: Valamir
 Merely citing occassions in an otherwise Simulationist game where a moral issue was spotlighted at some point and players had to make a hard choice for their characters...does not make the game Narrativist (or to state it another way, does not suddenly make the game stop being Simulationism).

Similarly if these moral issues are not simply occassional encounters based on where the Exploration led but rather addressing them is the primary reason you're even bothering to play at all...you're playing Narrativist.  And because Exploration is part of all games including Narrativism it doesn't matter how much Exploration of Character and Setting et.al. you're doing in the meantime.  You could have the crunchiest most detail oriented example of verisimatic roleplaying in history (heh, I just invented that word) and still be playing Narrativist.


What you are saying is "If you are interested in exploring, then you are X."  while "If you are interested in finding something, then you are Y."  Like I said, that makes no sense to me.  The purpose of exploration is to find things.  

If my game is about Exploration of Character, then addressing moral and ethical issues are the reason for play -- because moral and ethical issues are at the heart of Character.  You cannot have Exploration of Character without addressing moral and ethical issues, and conversely you cannot address moral and ethical issues without Exploration of Character (in fiction, at least).  They are not just occaisionally found together, they are the same thing.  

In the Water-Uphill game, developments like Noriko's realization of responsibility were the reason for playing Water-Uphill world.  The primary reason that I structured play the way I did was to facilitate such developments.  So in that sense, it seems that it was Narrativist by your definition.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: ThreeGee on February 10, 2003, 12:25:03 PM
Hey John,

Not to confuse you even further, but there is a minority opinion here that Premise with a capitol P is a white elephant. I find it easier to view GNS in terms of balance-of-power and its emergent properties. I have a friend with definite sim tendencies who loves games that pose moral questions. I would call the resulting play sim/exploration of morality (character?). The rules have all been predetermined and we, the players, are taking those rules to their logical conclusions to see what happens.

Later,
Grant


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Valamir on February 10, 2003, 12:38:31 PM
John, the first thing you have to realize is that like any attempt at categorizing behavior there are going to be blurry areas.  That's why one can't simply take a bullet point example and point definitively to what it is.

Certainly there is a fuzzy area between Sim and Nar when both are heavy into Exploration of Character.  As we established there is Exploration of Character in all gaming (to greater or lesser degree)...so is it really any surprise that what you do when you explore character in a Sim game is going to look really damn similiar to what you do when explore character in a Nar game?

An important piece that you're missing, however, is the importance of the PLAYER in the mix.

In a Sim Exploration of Character it is the character who is exploring the moral issue.  In a Nar Exploration of character it is the PLAYER who is exploring the moral issue through the proxy of the character.  Subtle difference and I struggle with a way to put words to it, but having done both I can attest that they feel very different when done.

Similiarly there are differences in how one gets from point A to point B (with standard caveats about making generalizations) in Sim play a character encounters a moral issue the same way as he encounters any conflict in the game.  The causal nature of the series of events that preceeded it have deposited the character at the feet of this dillema and it is your job as a player to figure out how the character will resolve it.

In Nar exploration of character often times the character was created for the sole purpose of addressing that issue.  The only reason for the characters existance is to act as a window on to that issue.  Once the issue has been addressed in a manner satisfactory to the group, the character has fulfilled its purpose.  This is one reason why a lot of Narrativist play focuses on decidedly short campaigns.  Once the character fulfills its utility, the campaign is over and a new one with a new character can begin.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 10, 2003, 12:52:14 PM
Then you are concerned with Narrativist priorities, John. Which is what Ron said originally.

That is, despite your contention, some people do play just to explore the character, and not in any particularly moral or ethical context. That is, they are more concerned with what it's like for the character to purchase a sword, or what it's like for the character to escape being mugged. But that's a problematic description. You'll just have to believe us that such players exist. Thus you can "have Exploration of Character without addressing moral and ethical issues". It's just not your bag o tea.

There have been a lot of statements here about how to categorize your game. I think we have to realize that doing this, in the absence of actually having been there is going to be extremely difficult. Lord knows that I like speculating about such things as much as the next person (and maybe more). And that I've made more poor analyses than anyone, likely. But I've learned a few things.

For one, we have to get you to understand where our thinking is at, and let you then make your judgment. We can use examples from your play, but that's not likely to be completely successful. We have to be on the same page.

To that extent, I'll try to clear some misconceptions first. Jack is wrong about the need for a central premise. This is a commonly bandied myth. All that is required for narrativism is that the player be answering some moral or ethical question posed by the game elements, and answering in "directly". That is, as has been pointed out, one can indirectly answer a moral question by answering, "what would my character do". But that's just happy coincidence. The question is what was the player prioritizing?
Let's look at an example. I will state before hand that my examples are always, always prone to overstatement, and potential misunderstanding, and as such try to read my intent if not my execution:

Bob's character Raynard has a choice to either fight against a giant that's about to stop on a small child, or to flee. Raynard stands little chance of defeating the giant. If Bob decides to flee, because that's "what Raynard would do", then this is a Sim choice. If he chooses to fight allowing the child to flee, because "that's what's cool for the story", then it's Nar.

Now, before I get jumped, here's the tricky thing. You can't often tell by looking. That is, the situation has nothing to do with figuring this out, only the reason why. Thus, if Raynard flees because "that's what's interesting for the story" then the choice is Nar, while if he stays "because that's what Raynard would do", then it's Sim.

Tricky, eh? Both actions have to be plausible, BTW. For Sim it's the point to be plausible. For Nar not being plausible means draining the emotional power of the decision (people scratch heads and go, huh?).

People at this point often then ask what's the use if you can't tell? But you can tell. You just have to ask in most cases. Which is why I said in my fist sentence that you prefer Narrativism. Because you came out and said it. If the actions of characters are devoid of moral and ethical meaning you are not content.

But again, I overstate. I'm taking you to mean that if you were playing that you would play that way. But given that you are the GM in this case, you could mean something else. If you mean that you want the players to be driving these decisions such that they are answering moral and ethical questions, then you are looking for narrativist play from them. If you are, instead intent on providing a context as GM in which all decisions have a moral impact, and having the players make decisions based on "what they would do", thus creating theme as a result, then you want Sim.

And, lest we loose sight, GNS is not only for diagnosing certain sorts of negative play. Yes, I am contradicting Ron slightly. I see GNS as prophylactic as well as a treatment. Which is to say that in addition to fixing current problems, knowing GNS can help you prevent problems from occurring in future games. In both design and play.

Now for my WAG at what I think your game is about. You mentioned the one dissatisfied player. I think you hit the nail on the head. That player prefers Nar play. But I'd hazard that the problem is not that you don't support that sort of play, but rather that the other players were playing in a rather Sim mode. It's also just as likely that the dissatisfied player meant that you had not placed them in enough of those aforementioned moral and ethical contexts, and as a Sim player wanted to see more of those. How's that for wishy-washy.

Here is how the Nar player sees the Sim players actions on occasion: "They act in an interesting manner as far as concerns their own characters, playing them well, but they don't consider the bigger picture of what's going on, and most importantly what's going on to my character, when making decisions. As such they don't make the story go except insofar as they create action for their characters."

Is that illuminating at all? A lot of Nar players understand that, although not completely required, one of the most potent ways to prioritize story is to consider things from angles other than one's own character. Really, the player asks himself, "What would be cool" and ignores "what the character would do" perhaps only bothering to make the action chosen plausible afterwards by rationalizing it. "Sure, Raynard would attack the giant, um... his uncle was eaten by one."

Are the players bending things so that the story works, or are they bending so that they setting remains objective reality? These are good indicators of Sim and Nar respectively.

Hmmm. I'm kinda meandering here. Is this helping at all?

GNS is not about goals (it's about behaviors), but there are some desires commonly associated with each particular preference. The Sim player wants the game world to be "real" seeming so as to get his particular requirements for "Immersion, and as such does not want to be in control of things that do not promote this, or, worse, interfere with it. He wants to control the character, not make story. The story is supposed to result from the play. The Nar player wants to be a part of creating the story, OTOH, as opposed to just being a participant in the process.

Hope I've shed some light.

Mike


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: John Kim on February 10, 2003, 02:53:55 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
 That is, despite your contention, some people do play just to explore the character, and not in any particularly moral or ethical context. That is, they are more concerned with what it's like for the character to purchase a sword, or what it's like for the character to escape being mugged. But that's a problematic description. You'll just have to believe us that such players exist. Thus you can "have Exploration of Character without addressing moral and ethical issues".


Well, this might just be a matter of semantics.  If it is not address any moral or ethical issues, then I would not call it Exploration of Character.    It sounds to me like Exploration of Situation or perhaps Exploration of Setting, because the experience is more-or-less the same regardless of who the character is.  

For example, I might have a game which tries to capture the experience of what it is like to live in a medieval French town.  Here the GM and players try to convey the character's viewpoint as she buys a sword.  However, for this it doesn't particularly matter who the character's are on the inside.  Thus I would call it Exploration of Setting.  

Similarly, I might have a game which tries to convey the experience of real combat.  Here we again convey the character's point of view, but again who the character is isn't central.  I would call it Exploration of Situation.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
 Bob's character Raynard has a choice to either fight against a giant that's about to stop on a small child, or to flee. Raynard stands little chance of defeating the giant. If Bob decides to flee, because that's "what Raynard would do", then this is a Sim choice. If he chooses to fight allowing the child to flee, because "that's what's cool for the story", then it's Nar.  
...
Which is why I said in my fist sentence that you prefer Narrativism. Because you came out and said it. If the actions of characters are devoid of moral and ethical meaning you are not content.  


Well, I keep flipping back and forth.  The way you put it here, I am Simulationist.  Personally, I would prefer that Bob answer based on "what Raynard would do".  However, the reason seems the opposite of what you say.  I prefer this way of answering because I find that it has if anything greater moral and ethical meaning.  

Ultimately, meaning comes from the viewer -- not from the author.  Thus, the act itself has the same amount of meaning regardless of what the player was thinking.  The reason I prefer the the Simulationist answer is because I find that it tends tends to be more personal and reveal more.  For example, in my current campaign I had for a time a player who was fairly Gamist in his preference.   His actions were not devoid of meaning.  The other PCs reflected on his behavior and considered it rather frightening.  

(cf.  John Tynes' "Power Kill" is a meta-RPG about exploring the meaning of primarily Gamist games).  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
 Now for my WAG at what I think your game is about. You mentioned the one dissatisfied player. I think you hit the nail on the head. That player prefers Nar play. But I'd hazard that the problem is not that you don't support that sort of play, but rather that the other players were playing in a rather Sim mode. It's also just as likely that the dissatisfied player meant that you had not placed them in enough of those aforementioned moral and ethical contexts, and as a Sim player wanted to see more of those.  


Well, I can try to paraphrase, but I'll see if she could answer.  I don't think it is the lack of moral and ethical contexts, but rather wanting more of an overall sense of direction to the story.  Being experimental, the story meandered a lot and didn't have a predefined center.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Ron Edwards on February 10, 2003, 03:19:41 PM
Hi guys,

Mike and Ralph have essentially summarized the points I'd make, but a couple of turns of phrase bear investigating.

First on the list is that whole "what my character would do" thing. Frankly, this is an example of a non-illuminating criterion. As has been mentioned - but I'm afraid isn't getting internalized - is that practically all role-playing can be phrased in these terms. If one is playing a character such that an engaging ethical or moral dilemma is a high priority, then "what my character would do" will ipso facto meet that priority. Substitute "such that my strategizing earns me the most victory points" into that sentence and you'll get the same thing.

So let's bag the "what my character would do" issue; I think it's a red herring.

Second is the Exploration issue. I think that sometimes people are using it way too generally, basically just as "play." I'm using it in about as rarefied, jargony, and Forge-specific way possible: to imagine, communicatively. So, John, to Explore Character does not mean to address an emotional or ethical issue - that would be a Narrativist employment of Exploration/Character.

For the record, I used to agree with you wholeheartedly that there wasn't any other way to do this; you can see my argument of the time in the Sorcerer mailing-list archives on that website. It resembles yours greatly. However, I have learned that many people do indeed enjoy "just being" the character - they want to make him up, and to play him, to appreciate the character, and to have others appreciate him, and whatever happens, happens. The character "says" what he said already during the act of character creation, and that's the theme, all done. This mode of play would be Simulationist, with emphasis on Exploration of Character.

The third issue is the medium of GNS needs to be explained much more carefully than I do in the essay. Recently, I hit upon the right way to say it: GNS exists only across and among the lines of communication during play. That's where it is. It's not in people's heads in some vague-ass way, and it's not in the rules, and it's not in the "morning after" regarding the game. We find it in procedural aspects of resolution, in in-character and out-of-character dialogue, in stuff like Stance (as I see the term), and in plain old social appreciation or other supportive elements of interaction.

Fourth, and related to #3, I think that the concept of the "instance" of play needs to be addressed in detail. What time-unit or social-unit is necessary to assess GNS preferences and play-in-action? In my view, at least a session is necessary. This is not a matter simply of a measurable scale, for operational purposes; I'm talking about fundamental elements of the three modes' definitions.

In a game that moves as fast and hard as a typical session of Trollbabe or Call of Cthulhu (to pick very different games, good at N and S respectively), the single session is almost certainly enough. So many important decisions have been made in that session, and it's so clear who's making them, that more sessions aren't going to do anything but ramp up the R-coefficient value (to use a not-especially-good metaphor).

In a game that moves much slower and in which the crucial personal decisions may be conceived, gestated, born, matured, and finally brought to fruition through a variety of encounters and locales, say my years-long Hero Wars game, I'd hate to have anyone take a GNS-whack at it without seeing at least three sessions.

I suspect - and again, I can only go with what you've presented on these two threads - that we are talking about Narrativist play in which Premise arises through group interest and development, during play itself, and in which Theme is produced at fairly widely-spaced intervals when it seems right to everyone. I think that's why you didn't see much in common with my bass/blues metaphor - it had too much driving force, too ba-dum-ba backbeat going on, too much shared direction from the git-go, to match well with what you experience.

But Mike and Ralph are right - if, as you say, the "payoff" comes with the illumination and catharsis of a palpable ethical/moral issue ... then regardless of atmosphere, rate, techniques, and "style" - then we are talking about Narrativist play.

No, it's not like mine (or the kind I described). Narrativist play is not all alike except in terms of the above paragraph. Vive la difference.

Best,
Ron


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: John Kim on February 10, 2003, 04:12:18 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
 So, John, to Explore Character does not mean to address an emotional or ethical issue - that would be a Narrativist employment of Exploration/Character.

For the record, I used to agree with you wholeheartedly that there wasn't any other way to do this; you can see my argument of the time in the Sorcerer mailing-list archives on that website. It resembles yours greatly. However, I have learned that many people do indeed enjoy "just being" the character - they want to make him up, and to play him, to appreciate the character, and to have others appreciate him, and whatever happens, happens. The character "says" what he said already during the act of character creation, and that's the theme, all done. This mode of play would be Simulationist, with emphasis on Exploration of Character.  


OK.  I understand that "Exploration of Character" (as a GNS-specific phrase) doesn't have to really mean exploration of the character in a literal sense.  One should be careful that it is a deceptive term, though, since there isn't really any exploring going on if nothing new is found about the character.  If the character is really static, then I would highly suspect that the player is interested in something else.  For example, he might be interested in the Setting, the Situation, etc.  

I would prefer to call it something else, but the main issue is just that it should be clearly explained.  

Quote from: Ron Edwards
 I suspect - and again, I can only go with what you've presented on these two threads - that we are talking about Narrativist play in which Premise arises through group interest and development, during play itself, and in which Theme is produced at fairly widely-spaced intervals when it seems right to everyone.  
...
But Mike and Ralph are right - if, as you say, the "payoff" comes with the illumination and catharsis of a palpable ethical/moral issue ... then regardless of atmosphere, rate, techniques, and "style" - then we are talking about Narrativist play.

No, it's not like mine (or the kind I described). Narrativist play is not all alike except in terms of the above paragraph. Vive la difference.  


OK, fair enough.  Narrativist is what I suspected at the start of this thread based on vague impression.  I think this is a confusing point, though -- and not just for me.  Certainly after my initial post nearly everyone responded that it was Simulationist, for example, without asking this crucial question.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Valamir on February 10, 2003, 04:36:05 PM
Quote from: John Kim

OK.  I understand that "Exploration of Character" (as a GNS-specific phrase) doesn't have to really mean exploration of the character in a literal sense.  One should be careful that it is a deceptive term, though, since there isn't really any exploring going on if nothing new is found about the character.  If the character is really static, then I would highly suspect that the player is interested in something else.  For example, he might be interested in the Setting, the Situation, etc.  


I would disagree.  You are setting up a dichotomy that I don't believe exists.  You are saying "if my character is not addressing moral issues through play...then he's static...and if he's static then nothing is being explored and the term is misleading.  I don't think its an either or situation.  I would agree with your above reply to Mike that if the character is static its probably something else being explored.  

But there are other ways to explore a character than through how he reacts to moral dilemma.

Quote

OK, fair enough.  Narrativist is what I suspected at the start of this thread based on vague impression.  I think this is a confusing point, though -- and not just for me.  Certainly after my initial post nearly everyone responded that it was Simulationist, for example, without asking this crucial question.


And that is precisely why attempting to play "guess my GNS" 20 questions style is not an effective way to discuss GNS.  I think if you go back to the beginning of the thread you'll find a decided paucity in the description of your Water-Uphill game and the whole first page of responses is full of caveats about trying to judge it.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: John Kim on February 10, 2003, 05:33:22 PM
Quote from: Valamir
Quote from: John Kim
 One should be careful that it is a deceptive term, though, since there isn't really any exploring going on if nothing new is found about the character.  If the character is really static, then I would highly suspect that the player is interested in something else.  


I would disagree.  You are setting up a dichotomy that I don't believe exists.  You are saying "if my character is not addressing moral issues through play...then he's static...and if he's static then nothing is being explored and the term is misleading.  I don't think its an either or situation.  I would agree with your above reply to Mike that if the character is static its probably something else being explored.  But there are other ways to explore a character than through how he reacts to moral dilemma.


Well, I'd be interested about what you thought of as other ways of exploring character in play (lower case -- indicating literal meaning rather than the GNS term).  In this case, though, I was responding to Ron, who said about such players: The character "says" what he said already during the act of character creation, and that's the theme, all done.   That was where I got the idea of staticness.  

Quote from: Valamir
And that is precisely why attempting to play "guess my GNS" 20 questions style is not an effective way to discuss GNS.  I think if you go back to the beginning of the thread you'll find a decided paucity in the description of your Water-Uphill game and the whole first page of responses is full of caveats about trying to judge it.


Well, I'm sorry if the 20-questions style is frustrating to you, but I at least feel like this has been helpful.  Personally, I feel that for any theory it is vital to discuss how it applies to real cases. I have trouble really grasping a theory until I've seen it applied at least a few times, so I would like to offer up a few more games as examples in the near future.  I'll try to have more information available at the start for these, though.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: clehrich on February 10, 2003, 07:46:51 PM
John wrote:
Quote
In this case, though, I was responding to Ron, who said about such players:
Quote
The character "says" what he said already during the act of character creation, and that's the theme, all done.
That was where I got the idea of staticness.

I was also puzzled by this remark.  In one of these GNS threads going, I had posted a detailed example about a samurai, suggesting that a Sim model could certainly involve major fluctuations on moral and ethical grounds, and still be Sim.  If we take this comment literally, however, the character cannot find a new thing to "say" over the course of play.

Ron, can you clarify?


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Ron Edwards on February 10, 2003, 09:01:24 PM
Hello,

Am I correct in assuming this thread has met its purpose?

Couple last points (not the last word; anyone's free to respond) ...

1. John, I am the first person to say, "Give me concrete examples." The more concrete, the more actual-play, the better, though. That means Social Contract, Exploration emphases, priorities of play, social reinforcement, rules-sets, techniques, Stances, and everything else. The kitchen sink about the play itself. GNS exists as a middle-range layer within a multiply-layered model; the three modes themselves do not purport to explain anything and everything about role-playing. I need the context, the actions, the interactions, what happened with/to the characters during play, who got laid afterwards (really), that sort of thing.

2. Chris, to clarify, I used the static-character as the extreme case that falsifies John's claim that "explore character" must mean the production of a theme. I believe my Simulationism essay makes it very clear that Sim play can include changing characters; such play is not limited to my extreme case.

As a general point, I really wish people would not try to take every example as a definitive, whole-GNS-mode archetype. My examples serve points - in this case, to demonstrate a mode of play which is personally foreign to John's aesthetic priorities (and to mine, I might add), but has to be acknowledged as part of the real landscape of possible play. They are not intended to be "Character role-playing for Simulationism as such" examples.

Quite a lot of this thread is based on such readings. My bass-player analogy, for instance, does not define Narrativist play; it's a technique that serves Narrativist ends very nicely, among many possible others. My static-Sim character-Explorer player - not made up, by the way; taken from the example posed by Ran on the Sorcerer mailing list discussion that I mentioned - does not define or exemplify Simulationist Character Exploration; but it serve to show that some play-preferences cannot possibly be mistaken for Narrativist play.

Best,
Ron


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Valamir on February 10, 2003, 09:37:26 PM
Quote from: John Kim

Quote from: Valamir
And that is precisely why attempting to play "guess my GNS" 20 questions style is not an effective way to discuss GNS.  I think if you go back to the beginning of the thread you'll find a decided paucity in the description of your Water-Uphill game and the whole first page of responses is full of caveats about trying to judge it.


Well, I'm sorry if the 20-questions style is frustrating to you, but I at least feel like this has been helpful.  Personally, I feel that for any theory it is vital to discuss how it applies to real cases. I have trouble really grasping a theory until I've seen it applied at least a few times, so I would like to offer up a few more games as examples in the near future.  I'll try to have more information available at the start for these, though.


Sorry John.  Wasn't trying to sound frustrated.  Just confirming what you'd already discovered...that in order for an example to be an effective case study it needs alot more information up front.  Otherwise you wind up with a whole series of comments that just confuse things further because (being based only on what little information is available) they don't jive with the rest of what you know about the situation but haven't shared yet.  The danger of trying to perform analysis on incomplete information.

GNS has changed dramatically in the last year or so largely because of people offering well argued criticisms so that sort of thing has always been welcome here.


Title: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 11, 2003, 10:58:04 AM
Jusst for the record, I was a big advocate of the idea that one can explore dynamic characters in Sim. But the whole static/dynamic thing is a smokescreen. The question is, how is the character explored.

In Pendragon, the system changes the character all the time. This is Sim, because the changes are not authored by the character but the system. In Sorcerer, characters change all the time, but through the decisions of the player as to what would be interesting in terms of the character's story.

Thus, just like the hill that forms the horizon in a setting, characters in play are undiscovered country to be explored. The question is how the discoveries will be made.

BTW, I think when you say "literal" in terms of character, that you mean "literary". Is that right? Using literary terms with RPGs is fraught with peril. Thus Ron has to continually point out that the term premise refers to something other than it does in literature.

But this is necessary. We aren't discussing books. And though a term like "character" from literature meaning the internal being, or even the common use of character meaning "what the person is made of morally" does not apply. We're talking RPGs here, and it's commonly acknowledged that "Character" means a fictitious entity in the game world for whom the player makes decisions. So when we say Exploring Character, it does not necessarily mean moral fibre (though it can), it means exploring any aspect of the fictitous being in play. As such, if the being's hsir color is not established at the time of creation, enumerating it in play is exploration of character of a sort. Think of the character as the subset of the setting that the player controls, and it becomes more clear. If I can explore a town in a Simulationist way, I can do so with charracters.

Note that one can Explore Character in a Narrativist way; that may have been obscured. Indeed that's almost always how it's done. The idea of Exploring Setting in a Narrativist way seems odd at first, but Hero Wars stands as a likely practical example of a game that supports exploration of Setting in a Narrativist way. Remember you can't get away from exploring and even from prioritizing what's being explored. It's just in Narrativism you put addressing moral and ethical themes above exploring anything else. Or rather the exploration is the means by which you explore these things.

Simulationists just don't take that extra step (for potentially very good reasons).

Mike