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Author Topic: Relationship map issues  (Read 16850 times)
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2002, 10:18:02 AM »

Quote from: Clay

In summary, just because relationship maps are great tools, don't automatically assume that they're the only tool we should use.  My circular saw is a great tool, but I don't use it when I'm re-wiring the basement. Likewise, when I'm telling a story where the important conflict is internal, I probably don't need a tool designed for supporting external conflicts.


Ah, but Clay, that is the point of this entire thread. Ron's claim is that his version of the Relationship Map is superior to others in all circumstances.

In my "Bridge" scenario, I would have a map, one that would show just how all the characters feel about each other. How do the Brittish officers feel about each other and the guards and the Commandant, and how do those characters feel. That would be useful in my opinion (hell, it's what the whole scenario is about, the characters opinions of each other; I love when Guiness says, "I think that Saito is the worst commanding officer I've ever seen").

So my claim is simply that, in this limited instance, the tool that I propose would be superior to Ron's "blood and sex only" map. And by extension that there are other circumstances where other maps would be superior. I'd even be willing to buy a "most circumstances", or "almost all circumstances" or even "all likely circumstances" (I have to admit that I had to search for the Kwai example). I just stop short of "all circumstances".

Mike
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2002, 10:21:52 AM »

Hey,

Is there a place in the model, and in the Bridge Over the River Kwai scenario, for the notion that men pursue fame, and power because these things increase their desirability as a mate, their ability to mate more often, and to choose from a wider selection of more attractive partners? Is this notion a linkage from category 2 into category 1, or a non-factor?

Paul
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2002, 10:29:08 AM »

Quote from: Paul Czege

Is there a place in the model, and in the Bridge Over the River Kwai scenario, for the notion that men pursue fame, and power because these things increase their desirability as a mate, their ability to mate more often, and to choose from a wider selection of more attractive partners? Is this notion a linkage from category 2 into category 1, or a non-factor?

Yet another Freudian heard from.

Sure, Paul, maybe you're right. But if the players never see it or operate on that assumption, why do I have to draw a map that includes a link from an old British commanding officer to every female human in the world?

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2002, 10:43:13 AM »

Mike,

Your entire point, question, and claim is based on a misapplication of terms.

You are not talking about a relationship map, you are talking about a "feelings matrix." That is fine. You can make up a feelings-matrix, and use that as a basic reference during play. This is a standard RPG technique and I have no beef with it. It is not, however, a relationship map of any kind.

Imagine a scenario with plenty of relationship-map material, and look! You can have a feelings matrix too, right there alongside it. That's called "notes."

Now, imagine a scenario in which the individuals are isolated from family and sexual/romantic contact. Oh look! All you have now is the feelings-matrix.

What is so difficult about that? I am claiming that the former method has more "grab," and glory be, it does have more grab (see Christopher's examples). That means that successful stories of the second type have to be exceptional in their content in order to be good at all. Or, to put it another way, a relationship-map story is very effective even if it's kinda stupid, but a non-relationship-map story is only effective when it's very, very good.

"Kinda stupid" vs. "very good" in the above paragraph is a function of how well the conflicts are articulated, how little time is lost on irrelevant stuff, and how much "pressure" is being put on characters during key scenes - in other words, pacing, performance, and reinforcement, as well as including the non-kin issues I described above.

Again, you are not challenging any claim I've made. You're discussing the potential effectiveness of another technique entirely.

To falsify my claim, one would have to find an example of a compelling story in which the non-relationship-map concerns were prevalent over relationship-map concerns, when the latter are present and available.

For instance, in Aliens, Newt is not Ripley's actual daughter. However, their daughter-mother bond is full and valid in audience terms because no other "actual" daughter or "actual" parent is present, and indeed, Ripley learned, earlier, that her own actual daughter was dead.

If you could find a reverse of that situation, specifically one in which the "actual" bond has not been invalidated in some way (e.g. the actual daughter cannot be a psychopath or otherwise "unavailable"), then I'd be interested. I expect that you'll be looking for a long time.

Best,
Ron
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Clay
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« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2002, 11:21:46 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

[Ah, but Clay, that is the point of this entire thread. Ron's claim is that his version of the Relationship Map is superior to others in all circumstances.


I don't recall Ron saying anywhere that Sorcerer relationship maps were superior to all other story creation tools.  The only claim I saw was that Sorcerer relationship maps were better for creating stories where the main conflict is defined in terms of a relationship with others.

Your example is not applicable here, because you're trying to tell a different kind of story.  A different kind of story requires a different kind of tool.

Truth be told, I don't really care if Ron's tool is the best.  I mostly care that it's a tool that I can use effectively. So far I've had good luck using it.  Even if I don't need a full-blown relationship map for my story, I can make use of the fact that blood/sex relationships make good story drivers.
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Clay Dowling
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #20 on: February 26, 2002, 11:39:56 AM »

Mike,

Knock off the Freudian references already. Paul's point is modified-Darwinist and the two bases of theory are profoundly different. You're harming your position.

If you're being generic with "Freudian" to mean only "underlying basis for behavior," then say so. If you are using it literally, then you are making no sense.

Best,
Ron
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greyorm
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« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2002, 11:56:51 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

Perhaps it was from Raven that I got the idea that it was based on Freudianism.

I hope not.  I've never discussed relationship maps until now because I never understood them until now.

And as to Freud, I think the man's a quack, and I utterly dismiss anything and everything he had to say.  In fact, due this I think you misread completely what I am saying about human interactions and our primal core.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes

absolute pre-eminence has similarities to Freud's basic ideas that all motivations come back to these three

This is perhaps the source of the problem...I attempted, and apparently failed, to indicate that they are not pre-eminent -- that is, existing above and beyond all else -- but basic, existing at the root.  They may never be seen by the chronicler, or ever thought of by the chronicled, but they are nonetheless the primary influence/motivator of the rest of the personality.  Every human individual has at their motivating root their social relationships, the strongest of which are sex/blood/death or love/power/fear if you prefer.

In fact, what I attempted to say in my post is reinforced and completely compatible with Ron's circles-in-circles metaphor; there is NO disparity between them.

Quote

Now, going into the game with that idea, to take Ralph's idea I suppose that the game would be better if I somehow managed to bring the Camp Commandant's wife into the game or one of his offspring. Or his mistress. Or somehow to have the Brittish POWs have their loved ones involved.

Nope.  The relationships still exist, still influence the individuals in the story, even if they are never overtly utilized in the story.  The Camp Commandant's wife need never appear in the story for his relationship with her to have an effect upon the story.  But the Commander's wife is a red herring...

Quote

This is going to be of more importance than the ideological relationships between the characters?

They (sex/blood), in fact form the basis' for the ideological relationships.  Does the Commander love his Lieutenant?  Or is his fear of death or torture greater?  What sort of bond do the two have?
(Speaking here as one who has never seen and knows nothing about the movie...take it as a general example)
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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jburneko
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« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2002, 11:57:32 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

Or, to put it another way, a relationship-map story is very effective even if it's kinda stupid, but a non-relationship-map story is only effective when it's very, very good.


I'd like to pop in here and add just a little anecdotal evidence to back this up.  In my own opinion my Deadlands game falls firmly in the 'Kind of Stupid' category in terms of the actual PLOT.  However, I've noticed that ever since I started using a relationship map my players are like 1000 times more forgiving of plot holes, continuity errors, and other 'kind of stupid' things that go on in the game than they ever have before.
It's like the players are too busy paying attention to the relationships to be critical of the other details.  It's a wonderful, wonderful tool.

Jesse
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Christopher Kubasik
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« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2002, 12:47:00 PM »

"Humans are very attentive, very confused, and very negotiatory creatures. "

Well.  Ron's got my number at least.

Christopher
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Lemonhead, The Shield
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« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2002, 02:02:51 PM »

Ron,

a. I'm clueless and b. if I weren't, I'd almost certainly agree with you.

But if you happen to find yourself in a video store with a good non-mainstream selection and you don't have anything else in mind, pick up Beat Takeshi's flick Brother, as Emily Care mentioned.  I'd love to hear what you think of it.  As I recall it, we find the relationship between the lead and his brother's friend much more compelling than the relationship between the lead and his brother, and we judge the morality of the lead's actions in terms of the relationship with the friend, not the brother.  All three are present in the scene, it's not like his brother's out of the picture, and he and his brother are close, allies, not enemies.  So if there's substitution going on (like Ripley and Newt) it's subtle and very effective.

His other movies, the blood and sex relationships are definitely prime.

-Vincent
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #25 on: February 26, 2002, 02:10:44 PM »

Christopher,

Ah, the perils and pitfalls of forum-based communications.  I let myself get a little emotional with "If we're playing a spy game, goddammit, they're going to want the game be about SPYING, not who's sleeping with who or who's related to who," and look at the trouble it gets me :-)  The key word there for me is "about" - the game is ABOUT spying (or more accurately, about a Premise that somehows ties in very well with spying), but can include as elements/issues/etc. . . well, whatever seems good.

Ron,

"Thanks" seems like a good place to start.  I'm continually impressed with the generousity (of their time, effort, and knowledge) that everyone here at the Forge offers, and (even just by looking at the posting stats), no one sane is going to accuse you of being ungenerous.  I am 100% certain that there is great value and usefulness in your model/post, and I'm sure I'll be mulling it over for some time.

I *think* I can focus in a bit better on some of my core questions/issues about the sex and family focus.  I'm out of time now, but . . .  I'll be back.  I see just a bit more juice here, before it's (*finally*, some folks are no doubt saying) time to move on . . .

Gordon
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #26 on: February 26, 2002, 02:53:47 PM »

I feel that there is quite a bit of eqivocation going on here, but, hey, that's communication. I probably am just suffering from a lack of oxygen or something. We've all made our points. Isn't this the point at which you usually call the thread to a close, Ron?

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #27 on: February 26, 2002, 03:03:12 PM »

"There is no such thing as peace, just periods of mutual exhaustion." I'm not sure where that quote is from, perhaps John Gardner's Grendel.

Somewhat more optimistically, I'm pretty sure we're all at least closer to understanding one another's views. Thanks to all, and Mike's right, this is probably the "call it" moment.

Best,
Ron
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Fabrice G.
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Posts: 206


« Reply #28 on: February 26, 2002, 03:21:32 PM »

Hell, a lot has already been said, but this morning I decided to post about it, so here are my two cents...

First, R-map is a tool, that you should use IF it promote the kind of story you want to tell.

Second, IMO R-maps are designed to give another depth to a situation.
e.g. in Twin Peaks, Laura Palmer gets killed, whoa, big deal. This way it's just another murder case. But if her father killed her that's a lot more creepy.
e.g. #2, in Violent Cop (by Takeshi Kitano), during the last scene, the lead character kills a youg lady who's been raped a drugged to the point that she's addicted. With this situation you think "whoa, big deal !"(again :) ). But what if this woman is his young sister that he kill out of mercy ?

I think that R-map is a great tool because it allows you to look at any situation and apply effective, emotionaly strong twist to power the drama of your story.
It's not The Ultimate Tool, but an efficient one. More so if you're comited in a deep relationship kind of game, but even in a straight game, it can give it depth and an emotional dimension.

Why ?

Because, IMO relation maps are touching the player, not the characters.
It's all about Transgression.
The strenght of the R-map is about the distance/opposition between what is usually expected from a relation and what really is happening in the story.
In the Twin Peak exemple, the shock of the revelation is efficient because it opposes the father's traditional features.
-traditional: protection, love, guidance, security.
-trangressed: violence, lust, destruction, insecurity.

R-maps can act as a filter trough witch you can view any situation in a new (often more dramatical) way.
 
So yes, it's a tool to deepen the emotional commitment of your story.
Is it the best one ? Yes if what you want is damatical depth in relationship.

Well, just my two euros ;)

Fabrice.
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #29 on: February 26, 2002, 06:16:15 PM »

It is really, really easy to "wander" when discussing this issue, and I'll probably do so in this post.  But the core issue for me is "I want a compelling story in my game.  Is a blood/sex-based R-Map the best way to go, especially in terms of hooking the player's interest?"

(Note that the phrase "compelling story" encapsulates quite a lot - interesting Premise, engages the players, has opportunity for Drama, etc.)

Perceived answer from Ron et al:  "Yes - unless you've got a situation where the R-Map elements aren't available, and in that case, you've increased the difficulty of creating a compelling story.  Remember, even when you have a R-Map other elements are still important - look at them as "stressors" on those R-Map lines."

My claim:  "Best way?  It depends.  If blood/sex are available, it's going to be useful to have a Map of them.  For some stories, that may be almost enough in itself.  For others, you may need to "map" other elements, or use another tool - feelings matrix? - to bring out elements useful in the exploration of your Premise.  What hooks your players may be those other elements, or the R-Map - if the former occurs or seems likely to occur, you MIGHT still use the blood/sex elements to "stress" that other element."

Actually, there's not a *huge* disparity between these approaches, and so for me, these threads are in some ways a tempest in a . . . not a teacup, but hardly an ocean either (there is a disparity, and it may well be important, but I'm not sure NOW important).  And there was a lot of strength and zeal in the "blood and sex first" statements that just didn't ring true for me - so that's why I'm in these threads.

Now, a bit of wandering - first, a quote from greyorm -
Quote
Every human individual has at their motivating root their social relationships, the strongest of which are sex/blood/death or love/power/fear if you prefer

As I understand Ron's model, love/power/fear are NOT in the inner circle, and are NOT synonomous with sex/blood (or death, which is another matter entirely).  You seem to be talking about "primal emotions" in some way . . . and I agree that stories (good ones) almost can't help but invoke these.  But put love/power/fear in the inner circle . . . and I think you've changed Ron's claim fundamentally.  In a way I personally might be less likely to see problems with, but since that's NOT what we're discussing . . . I confess, I fail to see what your post demonstrates.  Uh . . . nothing personal, I'm just lost as to where you were going with your points.

And a quote from Ron -
Quote
To falsify my claim, one would have to find an example of a compelling story in which the non-relationship-map concerns were prevalent over relationship-map concerns, when the latter are present and available.

I think this does bear on the core of my issue - not that I'm really interested in "falsifying claims".

I offer Tim Powers' "Declare".  I found the relationship map concerns of familial relationship (especially the "surprise" revelation) very un-compelling, and the politico-religious conflicts FAR more interesting.  Now, I have to allow that the sex part of the map was compelling, but I'm a sucker for a love story . . .  and the "betrayal" (my god!  SHE slept with HIM!) was NOT particularly compelling.

None of which makes the slightest bit of sense if you haven't read the book - and I've already spent too much time here on a thread that's just about "closed".  Suffice it to say I have NO problem coming up with multiple examples of stories that contain both blood & sex issues and other issues, where the other issues are more compelling/interesting than the blood/sex.  Again (I'm as wearly of repeating this as the blood/sex folks are weary of repeating that other elements aren't UN important), not that the blood/sex can't heighten the other issues, but they are NOT the core, compelling element that hooks me - nor, I submit, are they what hooks a fair number of other folks.

I find Ron's circles-within-circles model FANTASTIC - but it is a model that includes many elements.  It in no way convinces me that focusing on the inner circles will do a better job of providing me material to explore my Premise and hooking my players than doing a good job with outer circle material (and including inner circle material as "stressors") would.

My fear in using blood & sex all the time as the primary focus of lines on an R-Map - and using those R-Maps in an RPG - is that I see it almost-inevitably leading to an endless chain of "not only is she a betrayer - she betrayed her OWN DAUGHTER!", "not only is he greedy, but he SLEPT HIS WAY to the top!", "how can you love her - she was MARRIED TO HITLER!" (whoops, Nazi reference - the thread really is over.  Wait let me change it - "she was married to KENNETH LAY!")

In short, eventually EVERYTHING becomes bad soap opera.  Yeah, in some ways life's like that, but in other ways it's not - most importantly, in good stories it's not.

(Falling back on the old 'net standard), Hope that's helpful,

Gordon
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