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Author Topic: Play creating notes Vs notes creating play  (Read 9312 times)
Callan S.
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« on: October 11, 2005, 08:52:35 PM »

I got this strange feeling from How story evolves over time and the example of the story evolving via spent resources.

Okay, say you have 20 X points. We wont give the points a name because it's just color and kind of distracting.

Now, two game play situations
1. A massive boulder is rolling down a passage toward Jake the adventurer.

You as a player have 20 X points and it will cost you 10 points to add the following line of what happens next.

Say you spend 10 points to add 'Jake dodges out of the way of the boulder'.

Vs

2. A massive boulder is rolling down a passage toward Jake the adventurer.

You as a player have 20 X points. It costs you 10 points to activate Jakes 'leap out of the way' move. As noted in the moves description, when used he escapes massive boulders rolling down passages.

In addition, immediately after your move, unless Jake has escaped the boulder, it turns him into a red smear and your out of the game.

Say you spend 10 points to activate the dodge.


Question for this thread: Do you think play can slip from one type to the other without anyone noticing? In fact, slipping so seamlessly that players think one type is the other?
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TonyLB
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2005, 10:07:45 PM »

Absolutely.  Plenty of systems allow you to have "Superstrength" as an ability right alongside "Massive Property Damage."  One of those is a cause, and one is an effect, and my experience is that nobody gives a good god-damn about the difference once they start playing with it.  They're both story elements, and the "ability" is not a character ability to do something, it is a player ability to achieve certain mechanical effects by adding that story element into the mix.

Does that answer address your actual question?  Or am I accidentally projecting my own agenda?
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gsoylent
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2005, 12:09:58 AM »

I am probably missing the point, but this is what strikes me.

In case 2 , 'leaping out of the way' is a property of Jack.  The fact that is costs 10 points to activate is a function of the character being Jack. In sense its (one of the things) that makes Jack Jack.

In case 1, you don't have to be Jack to perform the leap. Nor is there any reason to favour leaping out of the way. Any other strategy of avoiding the boulder is as valid. The context of the example (which I may be misreading)  the 10 points could be spend to say "Just as Jack thought it was all over for him, the boulder stops mysteriously in its tracks."

Basically case 2 is acting on the character traits, case 1 is editing the story directly. I've seen games that allow both, but generally speaking the cost acting on a character's traits is lower than the cost of editing the story directly. Othewise, why bother even having traits?
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2005, 06:32:44 AM »

Basically case 2 is acting on the character traits, case 1 is editing the story directly. I've seen games that allow both, but generally speaking the cost acting on a character's traits is lower than the cost of editing the story directly. Othewise, why bother even having traits?
Or you can do what we do in Universalis and give a reward for doing it as in case 2. Same cost to do it either way (generally), you just profit from the one that creates tension.

Callan, I think that players will feel a difference between the two methods. So, no, they won't slip between them without noticing.

Mike
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Josh Roby
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2005, 04:25:01 PM »

I'm having a hard time seeing the distinction.  In the first case, you're talking about the players having generalized credibility through generalized procedures of play, and in the second case, the players have limited credibility through character-specific procedures of play?

If that's the case, I offer you two answers:
Players will not easily slip from character-delimited credibility to story-spanning credibility.  You usually notice that you've become a god of creation.
Players will easily slide from story-spanning credibility to character-delimited credibility, simply because character actions are a subset of the larger story events.  In the most basic terms, there is no slippage here, it's just a player deciding to couch their story-altering abilities in terms of a specific character.

The character, as usually constructed, is just a credibility tool for affecting the story.  If it's one of many tools, it's no big thing when you use it.  If it's your only tool, it's a great big thing when you're suddenly given a new tool.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2005, 05:42:08 AM »

Actually I agree with Josh, if and only if the mechanics by which the player makes their additions are the same for characters and anything else. I had assumed that there would be mechanical differences from the example, in which case I think that the player will notice that his power has become constrained from how he's otherwise affecting everything, to how he's affecting things with a character.

Mike
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Callan S.
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2005, 07:11:56 PM »

Shock and awe!

Okay, say the second example was actually a game of lunch money. You have been dealt and have in your hand a dodge card. A hail Mary attack card is played against you, threatening your last seven hitpoints, which will see you out of the game if you lose them.

Say you play your dodge card to avoid it. Are you:
A. Playing it because that's how you want a story of the game to go
B. Playing it because you don't want to lose

I'll get a bit anticipatory here, in that some answers might be "B, because we aren't out to make a story". One more question for that; Are RPG's primarily about making story?
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gsoylent
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2005, 11:11:43 PM »

Are RPG's primarily about making story?

Maybe for some people. For other people story is just a means to show case characters.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2005, 06:17:37 AM »

Seems to me, Callan, that you're simply asking about creative agenda. For gamism, no, it's not about creating story. As we always point out, that might happen as a byproduct, but the game is about winning/losing, or addressing challenge, or whatever metrics the players are judging their success by. So, unless you're trying to make the old false dichotomy that Roll-playing is not Role-playing, I'm not seeing what you're getting at here.

Mike
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Callan S.
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« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2005, 02:28:24 AM »

Gamism isn't about creating story in the same way narrativism isn't.
Quote
Story Now
Commitment to Addressing (producing, heightening, and resolving) Premise through play itself. The epiphenomenal outcome for the Transcript from such play is almost always a story. One of the three currently-recognized Creative Agendas. As a top priority of role-playing, the defining feature of Narrativist play.

Story is just a side effect of the priority of play, for both gamism and nar. And given the parralels, I hypothesize sim isn't about making story either.

No big deal if your making up story to help you make an address. What shocks me is that I take the second examples as a direct call to play them, investing in the idea that you can win at it and by demonstrating such an investment, making an address of challenge. Using them as story making tools seems to be avoiding making such an investment/making that address. Or it could just be a habit of gamers used to using games that don't support their agenda, in a certain unintended way that does support it.

It's also a personal technique clash. I like parralel success - where I as a player winning a minigame (I'm talking board game like mini game) is used to determine if my PC suceeds. From the linked thread, it seemed that spending resources to just add story was enough for meaty play. I'm like Yoda at this point, when he see's Lukes rations for the first time and says "How you grow big, eating this?". This is satifying? To just say your character did this or that, and then feel tension about what was said? I can imagine tension when the players own minigame wins are on the line (in the way TROS does it). But jeez, to spend resources to just say you won a battle, rather than having engaged the system TROS style. There's no tension there, for me. Anyway, as said this is a personal preference issue. But damn, I am so repeating Yoda's line in my head over and over right now! :)
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2005, 10:24:43 AM »

You have me totally lost, Callan. Do you have some question under discussion here?

Mike
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Callan S.
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« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2005, 10:56:22 PM »

Why lost? I, for example, take the second example to be like chess, where you play it because your saying you've got the guts to say you think you can win or atleast do well. I don't use the chess rules to create some story and treat the other guys input as a creative focus.

I thought that would atleast raise some questions as to why a person would treat the second example as either A: game or B: story tool. What's going on with that choice?
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Josh Roby
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« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2005, 10:52:33 AM »

Callan, I think you're reading the "Story Now" definition a little too finely.  The term, after all, is Story Now.  If it wasn't really about story, then it would be called something different.  The point of the matter is, the intention of that approach is to create a thematically engaging story -- it chooses to do so by focusing on characters making tough human decisions (AKA "addressing premise").  Addressing premise is what you do in Story Now, story is what you make.  Much like cutting wood is what you do in carpentry, and tables and chairs are what you make.

Clearly, you enjoy tension, suspense, and the feeling of real accomplishment that comes from games as you've constructed them in this thread -- where player success equates to character success.  And you're right, you won't get that in those terms under Story Now / Narrativist play, because this CA isn't about those things.  If your question really is "What do you get out of that approach, because I don't see it?" the answers will be many and varied.  I'm a former English major, occasional writer, and professional editor -- stories are very near and dear to me, and I find endless enjoyment in taking them apart, putting them together, twisting them up, substituting pieces in and out, and the like.  Roleplaying is just one more way to do that for me.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2005, 01:00:42 PM »

Why the confusion? Check your previous posts. Tons of pronouns without apparent reference. They do that to it. Who does what to what?

But I think I might see what you're saying here after the last post. You're saying if the play is about resolution, then why play it other than gamism? That is, resolution being about "who wins" etc, what does that have to do with empowering a player to tell story? Why would a player tell a story with such rules?

Do I have this right?

Well, first, it's hard to tell without the context of the rest of the system. You're isloating things here and making reasoning about why players would do anything with the system difficult. But let's take a look at some solid examples. Heroquest, for instance.

In HQ, there's really nothing you can do to show off as a player. If the system you're describing is "activate/don't activate" and you're just spending from a pool of points that aren't won or anything, but given out at regular intervals, then activating a character's ability doesn't take any tactical ability at all to decide. It's purely one of whether or not it's interesting to activate the ability in this case. HQ is like this. You can't prove you're cool by augmenting with more and more abilities, in fact you'll make yourself look like a dweeb playing all gamism with it. At best you'd have to metagame your entries in by trying to convince people that it's something that "makes sense" or some such. More annoying than interesting.

Further, "losing" in HQ is actually as fun, or more fun, than winning. You get a new flaw to play with essentially, and to try to remove at some point. So there's no punishment for losing.

So why do players augment in HQ? Why bother? Because activating these abilities shows how the character is involved in a particular conflict. You're basically seeing, "Ooh, and look here, he's got ancestors who would care, so he does care himself even more than we thought previously." You're simply figuring out how your character fits into the conflict. Exploring the character. Interestingly, to the extent that you decide to include a particular ability or not include it can be somewhat simulationism based, but in actual play tends to be very narrativism based. "It's cooler if his hatred actually causes him to act rashly here and works as a penalty instead of as an augment" creates a theme of "hatred usually works against you" on the spot.

So it largely depends on the rest of the system? Would I use the conflict resolution rules of Lunch Money to incentivize creating themes? No. Would I use the conflict resolution rules of HQ to do so? I do all the time.

Mike
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Callan S.
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« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2005, 09:00:21 PM »

Hi Joshua,

Hmm, I get you. I just see alot of power in that a game - in real life - actually happened. This creates a story of real life events. Which also happens to parralel a cool imaginary story. Does that attract you? Or does the need to parralel the real life story remove an editing ability that you use to make a strong story for yourself.

PS:
Quote
Addressing premise is what you do in Story Now, story is what you make.  Much like cutting wood is what you do in carpentry, and tables and chairs are what you make.
Oh, so do not agree! When address is secondary, it's just exploration to me. But I think this is a bit of a side point.
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