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Author Topic: The impossible challenge before breakfast  (Read 16368 times)
Callan S.
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« on: October 12, 2005, 07:48:42 PM »

Address of challenge involves expressing a plan, in anticipation of certain results despite the unknown factors/risks involved. Other players appreciate the address in terms of "Well, despite the unknown factors/risks, he's going to go with THAT plan. Intriguing!" often followed by the player thinking what they would do themselves, comparing that with the address so as to compare strategies, etc. It's a process of understanding.

However in roleplay, risks and results are largely left to the end users to determine. This creates a subtle yet crucial shift in the role of the other players (particularly the one who is supposed to determine these risks - typically a GM). This role makes it impossible for them to think "Well, despite the unknown factors…" because they themselves are determining these unknown factors! Their performing this duty, rather than actively trying to understand the address. Understanding which, if performed, is more than just listening and can be considered as much an action as actually making an address.

Even worse in terms of gamist agenda, this determination role is actually pleasurable. Tentatively I'll name it as a simulationist "address of causality". It being pleasurable is a huge problem, because that means the player/GM will pursue it with a vengeance. The first clash comes from the person who is supposed to be giving understanding, expecting it themselves for their address of causality.

The second head on collision is that gamism and sim have very different goals, of course. If the gamist address in any way reduces simulationist exploration possibility, the sim address will go into great detail to emphasize the exploratory angle. And EVERY gamist address reduces sim exploration, because reducing uncertainty is a core tactic. The very same uncertainty that supports sim exploration and opportunity for address of causality. While emphasizing the exploration frustrates the gamist as it unravels his plan over what seem to be mere technicalities. "Hey, why don't we just skip discussing how the technicalities work out and just see if my plan works?", says the gamist. "ARE YOU MAD!?", thinks the simulationist, seeing the gamist throw the baby out with the bathwater, since surely the plan is just there to trigger an exploration/address of causality?

Not to mention there is no "Let's see if my plan works out" option. As already noted, RPG's have largely left the determination of result to the players/a GM.

Even if, as GM, you stubbornly try to resist making a simulationist address, how the hell are you going to work out if the plan works or not? Such a plan MUST be made in the face of real risk, because if you as GM know there is no risk/uncertainty, you can't understand the players address of challenge by thinking "Well, despite the unknown factors/risks, he's going to go with THAT plan!". However, if you do figure out the risks, you can't understand him because your making your own address of causality and are working from an entirely different agenda.

That's the paradox of 'you can do anything!' systems in relation to gamism and gives us our title "The impossible challenge before breakfast". Is it any wonder that dice have remained so popular, as the GM can grind gears to a sim agenda address to figure out bonuses, but then grind gears and switch over to gamism frame of thought and let the dice determine the final result?

I say it's gear grinding, because it's hugely problematic. Address of causality is addictive, that's a huge incentive to 'not to let the dice get in the way'. Assuming the will is there to play gamist, the flesh is still weak - it's exhausting to keep switching between two agendas for every little action. And in the end, the players have a lot more fun than the GM, because they can stay focused on gamism the whole way through. Don't give me any "That's a GM's job" BS answer to that. It's just unfair and a "system doesn't matter" like cop out. Besides, rather than become martyrs so everyone else can have fun, GM's often switch fully to the more easily achieved sim agenda and state "The players are doing it all wrong!".

But I'm at a loss at to what to do to resolve this "Verbalised actions are processed intelligently rather than playing solely through a purely mechanical processing system/board game system" problem.

Outlining the problem has helped though. Thoughts?


Note: This thread is heavy on GNS stuff, but in the pursuit of a practical solution rather than discussing GNS itself. And this thread wasn't tested on animals!
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Josh Roby
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2005, 08:14:38 PM »

Obvious first point that should be addressed: you're talking Task Resolution, not Conflict Resolution.  Conflict Resolution is a way around the problem you're prodding at, but I take it from your original post that it's not an option you're interested in exercising.  I may be wrong, but that's how it sounds.

If a game that purports to allow its players to do anything and the players elect to take it in a gamist direction, in order to fulfill that gamist agenda they're going to have to agree on some rough 'win conditions'.  Not end-game win conditions, but certainly agree on what's a success worth lauding and a failure worth snickering about.  In doing so, the players pretty much have to strip off a lot of the 'do anything' aspect and focus on the corner of 'anything' that they are imbuing with significance.  Hopefully, they're going to select something that the published system has good, solid, and relatively objective rules for.  If they choose to try and change the world of politics using the HoL system, however, I don't think it's much of anything besides an instance of using the wrong tool for a given job.
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MatrixGamer
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2005, 12:45:07 PM »

Even if, as GM, you stubbornly try to resist making a simulationist address, how the hell are you going to work out if the plan works or not? Such a plan MUST be made in the face of real risk, because if you as GM know there is no risk/uncertainty, you can't understand the players address of challenge by thinking "Well, despite the unknown factors/risks, he's going to go with THAT plan!". However, if you do figure out the risks, you can't understand him because your making your own address of causality and are working from an entirely different agenda.


In simple terms: The Gamist wants to get to the end quickly (to win) while the Simulationist wants to get there more slowly (to enjoy the journey). It might be helpful to take these goals to absurd extremes. In this case the gamist would want a single die roll to tell them if they won, while the Simulationist would never make it to the end of the story. Clearly neither extreme would be satisfying to the average G or S player.

The question seems to be - How many points of contact = fun?

The gamist player wants a little detail (however abstract) and some chance to manipulate things in the game before they win. Otherwise they'd just play craps.

The simulationist player wants more detail but still wants to reach a goal or they'd dump role playing and play the Sims computer game.

You mention the unknown, and place a lot of value on it. There is unknown in a gamist, boardgame/prescriptive, task resolution approach because we don't know which rolls will fail and what that will lead to. I suspect that there is a meeting ground between G and S players on how many steps they are willing to accept and still have fun.

From a mechanical point of view I'm wondering if task resolution methods are best or if a new approach would be better?

If the game master controls the world (as in D+D) and theoretically knows everything that is going on in the world then the players are massively outnumbered and will lose. At best the game master allows the players to win. GMs present events to players and they react. They control their actions but only control setting up scenes if the GM allows them to.

In a way Engle Matrix Games follow along in this line. Players may make arguments about what happens next but the referee still has final say because she can say "Roll six, sixes in a row." Players do set up the scenes and describe all the actions - so they have most of the authority in the game but it is balanced by a theoretically impartial referee.

Conflict resolution is a departure from task resolution, but I don't feel competent to say how it works. All I know for now is that it doesn't seem to run games the way I want to play.

What might be a third approach?

I've found it helpful to ask a basic question and allow the answers to lead me in different directions. I started my work with the question "How can a game be run using words to store and manipulate information rather than numbers?" Maybe a question here could be "How many points of contact are the happy space between G and S players? How can that then be used to move action from point A to point B?"

Say the answer that pops in your head is seven. G players will tolerate seven steps and S players will be satisfied that they have explored enough of their character. What mechanical steps might be used to fill the seven slots?

Maybe...

1. GM describes a scene.
2. Players confer and make a plan.
3. Players use skills and abilities to accomplish small slices of the action.
4. Players and GM say what outcome they want to happen before the action even starts.
5. Players physically act out their character's moves in slow motion.
6. Players do a stare down contest.
7. The GM tortures the players for a while until he lets them win.
etc.

What game actions do you find fun to do? I don't like being hit by sticks so I don't do SCA fighting. I like rolling dice so I generally include that in my rules in some way. Make the game do what is fun.

Hum, I got interrupted about five times while writing this post. Hope it makes sense.

Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games
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John Kim
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2005, 03:42:18 PM »


But I'm at a loss at to what to do to resolve this "Verbalised actions are processed intelligently rather than playing solely through a purely mechanical processing system/board game system" problem.

Outlining the problem has helped though. Thoughts?

OK, first let me try to summarize the problem to see if I understand you.  Resolution of actions can vary between a primarily mechanical processing system -- i.e. a crunchy system like D&D3 combat; and an intelligent processing of verbalized actions -- i.e. like a less crunchy system like The Pool or non-minigame actions like negotiations in D&D.  In the latter, the GM is setting up the difficulty of an action on the fly, and possibly interpreting the results of success/failure on the fly as well. 

I think you're right here in a sense -- that having a subjective system makes Gamism more difficult when using a single GM. 

I'd split these into three potential subjective mindsets:  (1) creating challenging opposition; (2) controlling opposition; and (3) adjudicating resolution. 

Doing more than one of these simultaneously is difficult for a GM.  There are different solutions.  For example, in D&D, #1 is supposed to be done ahead of time (i.e. you have a prewritten dungeon) and #3 is largely automatic (i.e. the rules system is crunchy enough to give results without a lot of subjective judgement by the GM).  This means that most of the time the GM's subjective mindset will be in #2. 

If the opposition is mainly mindless or automatic -- like traps or riddles -- then #2 is unnecessary.  Thus, you as GM can do #1 beforehand, and use your subjective judgement for #3. 

Another possibility is to hand off the opposition to another player -- i.e. have the action be PC-vs-PC, or have a co-GM who controls the hostile NPCs.  Then you can again create challenge before hand, hand off #2 to the player or co-GM, and concentrate subjective judgement on #3. 


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M. J. Young
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2005, 07:52:36 PM »

I think that John's right about the nature of the problem, and I also think that your creative agenda analysis is incorrectly complicating things. I keep thinking that it's established and common knowledge that each of the agenda has "active" and "passive" forms, that is, approaches that aggressively pursue the agendum and approaches that support that pursuit by others. Gamist play only works if at least one player is "active" and the referee is supportive. Supportive gamism means setting up the active player for challenges which will enable him to "strut his stuff", to test himself against something challenging. The gamist referee always does this; sometimes there are also supportive players in gamist games who also work to facilitate those opportunities for the active players.

That means there's really nothing "simulationist" about what a referee does in a gamist game, and there does not have to be. His job is to create situations which allow the players to show off. That's passive gamism.

Certainly some games give better tools for doing that than others, and I'm not saying that you never have simulationist referees running games for gamist players, but it's not a necessary dysfunction.

--M. J. Young
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Callan S.
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2005, 08:01:59 PM »

Hi John,

I like your layout to try and tackle this problem. But the distribution of subjective judgement/sim address can still easily occur at the same time a gamist address is being made (sim being asked for by the gamist address). Even if the opposition tactics are handed to another player, the GM enters sim mode to adjudicate the event. It's like he's left the room, in terms of playing the same game.

If you had something like the card game 'lunch money', with rules to encourage address of challenge being expressed, it's half way there. But in such a case, the address is primarily about working the numbers of the game, rather than engaging the game world to lever advantage.

One clumsy idea I had was a sort of passive gamism plan on the part of the player. The GM takes the situation at hand, goes into a simulationist trance ;) and figure out what will happen say in the next few hours of game time. What happens next is accompanied by concrete rules notations (to avoid latter ajudication needs). He doesn't say it, he writes it down. At the same time the player writes down their plan...which involves anticipating what events will happen and how they will exploit those events to best advantage (the player notes his anticipatory plan in concrete rules terms as well, which intermesh with those the GM is noting should they match each other)

Once they are both done writing, the gamist player shows and reads out his address. Everyone takes a moment to savour it, particularly the GM. Then the GM brings out his notes and reads them. This too will require savouring, as it is an address of causality by the GM and should have due respect. HOWEVER, we then need to switch back to gamist mode to see how the players plan/address intermeshes with the GM's notes and to evaluate him.

It's gear grinding, but it does stop the two agendas from trying to exist at the same time, while still allowing engagement of the game world.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2005, 08:26:03 PM »

Hi MJ,

You've only listed the referee's job as to set up the challenging situation. However, it requires more - the understanding of the address as well. It's picky of me, but the wording 'enable him to "strut his stuff"' and 'allow the player to show off' don't indicate any understanding to me at all in a play style. It'd be like narrativist play, but the GM says "Oh, I create situations that let the player get all dramatic and do his angsty stuff that he likes to do". That GM did not understand the players address. A GM who does understand, instead says "WOW! What a statement that player made!" (that's what I'm gunning for, but with a gamist agenda).

One of the best ways of not understanding a gamist address is if your in the middle of making a sim address yourself, in figuring out the results of the gamist address.

Could you give me some more information about the structure of play you were outlining, since I'm working from a small example and could easily have gotten the wrong end of the stick. :)
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John Kim
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2005, 09:19:26 PM »


I like your layout to try and tackle this problem. But the distribution of subjective judgement/sim address can still easily occur at the same time a gamist address is being made (sim being asked for by the gamist address). Even if the opposition tactics are handed to another player, the GM enters sim mode to adjudicate the event. It's like he's left the room, in terms of playing the same game.

You're right that he's not playing the same game -- in the sense that he is not trying to win social respect by the same means as the other players are.  But he is a participant in the same activity.  A good parallel is puzzle games.  I go to a yearly event in Berkeley called the Equinox party, where the hosts (many of whom are in the National Puzzlers League) present lots of puzzle games for people to try.  A puzzle-maker is in much the same position -- i.e. obviously if you make a puzzle, you are not playing the same game as the players.  However, you are given social respect.  It isn't for how well you solve it -- or even how hard it is, since it is trivial to make an impossible puzzle.  Rather, the players give  respect based on how challenging and fair the puzzle she presents is. 

I think the same applies to the GM here.  The GM is angling for social esteem for the quality of his scenario and his judging.  i.e. He is still being Gamist, just being judged on different standards than the other players are. 

One clumsy idea I had was a sort of passive gamism plan on the part of the player. The GM takes the situation at hand, goes into a simulationist trance ;) and figure out what will happen say in the next few hours of game time. What happens next is accompanied by concrete rules notations (to avoid latter ajudication needs). He doesn't say it, he writes it down. At the same time the player writes down their plan...

Hmm.  I've GMed a few games using modules which had timetabling, which is similar to this.  i.e. The module provides a timeline of what the opposition will be doing.  So the PCs decide on their actions, and I as GM follow the written timetable.  I don't have any great insights except that it didn't feel like a great enhancement to challenge.  Perhaps a problem here is feedback.  The game is more interesting, I feel, if the PCs interact more regularly with the opposition. 

Still, there are important differences between timetabling and your suggested approach in how the results are presented. 

I've also had "guest villains" where a non-regular player takes over the opposition.  I think it's worked reasonably well for Gamism, though at the time I was more ambivalent about it (since I'm not big on Gamism). 

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M. J. Young
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2005, 09:58:32 PM »

I think John gave a pretty good insight into passive gamism, as it applies to the referee--getting your social esteem from setting up and running the game challenges well. You seem to think that all the assessment of what should happen must be simulationist, when it's just as gamist for the referee as it is for the player.

That is, the player thinks, if I can engage him at close range but keep out of melee, I've got the advantage, because my short bow is fast and accurate. The referee in turn thinks, that's an excellent strategy he's using, and this guy isn't going to last long throwing his darts; the best strategy he could employ is to close the gap to melee and use his sword. For those few minutes, the two are attempting to outmaneuver each other. If the referee has designed his scenario right, and the player has assessed the situation correctly, the player should be able to win by optimizing his abilities. The referee knows that if the adversary is drawn as smart and skilled, and played to optimal abilities, but the player beats him anyway, that will make the player look good.

There was a Star Trek Next Generation episode once when Data was on trial to determine whether he had the right to resign from Star Fleet.  Commander Riker was given the unenviable task of prosecuting the case, attempting to prove that Data was ultimately just a machine that belonged to Star Fleet, a piece of equipment. He did quite a good job of it, too. In the end Data was given the right to self-determination.  Riker attempted to apologize for the prosecution, but Data brushed it off.  Had there been no prosecution, Star Fleet would simply have refused to hold the trial and Data would have been ruled a piece of equipment. Because Riker not only agreed to prosecute the case but also did so with all stops pulled out, Data's victory was the more solid.  He needed someone to make the best possible case against him, so that when it was defeated there could be no question about whether he had really won anything.

In the same way, the gamist player needs the referee to run antagonists as smartly as he runs his own character, because he only shines brightest when up against the worst.

As to the number crunching, you're suggesting that these determinations of how much effect various tactical decisions ought to have on outcomes is inherently simulationist. Yet the gamist player is already making exactly those same estimations, choosing his weapons, his field, his maneuvers, whatever he is allowed to choose, with a view to getting the best advantage and an expectation of what that advantage would be, in in-game mechanical terms. For the referee to do the same can't be simulationist by necessity, because it's the same process.

What you say about the referee fairly adjudicating the outcome might apply to drama based resolution, where the referee would have to decide which character he thought did best.  Fortune and karma resolution systems already provide him with fairly solid authorities (in the form of die rolls and scores) on which to base his decision. However, even with drama resolution the referee can still maintain the integrity of making a fair decision even while playing the advocate against the player. Federal justices do it all the time, grilling an attorney during oral argument to force him to face the difficult questions of the case yet maintaining neutrality in the question in their own minds.  Just because I've invested thought into the best way to oppose your objectives does not mean I am of necessity opposed to you achieving those objectives.  I can be doing everything I can to stop you and rooting for you the entire time. I know--I've done this in play many times myself, throwing everything I have against a player while inwardly cheering him on. When he sees me smile, he knows that I'm impressed with his performance, and that he's beaten an adversary who I thought just might have beaten him.

It's late; I hope I'm making sense here. I probably should have stuck with "what John said", but hopefully there's something in this that will help.

--M. J. Young
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Marco
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« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2005, 03:32:25 AM »

I think John is correct--and I think a telling point is that:

(a) in a traditional RPG it's trivial for the GM to simply squash the PCs (as with making an impossible puzzle)
(b) your take on tradtional RPGs that don't limit what the GM can do (judging from an earlier post) means that you'd prefer the GM to really be playing the same (adverserial) game as the players.

While one could design a game that way, for traditional RPG's, the "good GM" (in cases like the ones I think you're talking about, anyway) is the one who makes a fair, interesting, and properly difficult challenge (as opposed to the killer GM who simply smashes players or the GM who simply hands out whatever the PCs want).

-Marco
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Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2005, 04:04:53 AM »

Heya,

Correct me if I'm wrong, Callan, but you seem to be equating logical NPCs with a Sim Agenda.  IMO, that's a mistake.  All three agendas want NPCs, especially opposing NPCs, to act a logical well thought out manner.  Spontinaity is not a requirement for Gamists or Narrativists.  Just because a GM who is running a Gamist game does a little research to make his NPC samurai look, act, and live like real-life samurai doesn't make him a Sim GM all of a sudden.  IMO, that makes him a very compitent GM.  Now, if all of the sudden the focus of the game shifted from overcoming challenges to "what's it like to be a samurai?" then I'd definitely say we have a problem.

But to me, if a GM (or any player) takes a moment to think "who would X kind of person react in this sort of situation?" that doesn't mean we're suddenly Agenda-shifting.

Peace,

-Troy
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2005, 06:48:47 AM »

First, great discussion folks.

I do sense one possible problem which is that you may be making the classic mistake, Callan, of mistaking exploration for gamism. That is, if, in fact, the exploration that the GM is doing is to determine a winner, that's gamism. Just as when a player strives hard to get bonus dice to emphasize a cool decision in Sorcerer that's not gamism, but narrativism. The question is one of agenda over an instance of play. So moments of cogitation on in-game causality do not a sim agenda make.

Now, there are certainly some GMs somewhere playing with a sim agenda with players who have gamism agendas. But that's not what I'm seeing you describe. Exploration that supports gamism is gamism. Only exploration for its own sake is simulationism.

I sorta make this mistake, too, when discussing gamism. That is, only discussing mechanically supported gamism as actual gamism. But consider a freeform game with little to no mechanics. That can be gamism too. Functional gamism even, if people can avoid the pitfalls of constant negotiation of the parameters. This strongly feels different than a game in which you have a system measuring "fairly and accurately" the player progress, but it's no less gamism for it. For example, when playing National Security Decision Making, the only rules about what you can do is that you can only do what your character and his "Cone of influence" could do in real life. As adjudicated by the judges who as former War College instructors have a good idea as to the answers. And it works excellent well.

Nobody in NSDM is trying to create plot, nobody is looking to explore the situation, everyone is trying to get the goals written down on their hand out. Stuff like "As the Head of the Chinese Air Force, obtain technology and materiel that will allow China to project more air power locally." Then you just explore finding ways to accomplish your win conditions (I got third with this position in a field of 60 one year, by buying planes from the Russians).

This sort of "situational gamism" is often overlooked. But no less important than mechanical gamism. Does it tend to be more problematic? Sure, I'll buy that. It's just not automatically dysfunctional.

Mike
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Callan S.
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« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2005, 01:26:07 AM »

These referee examples are racing ahead to his choices like choosing to close the gap and fight in melee combat, while slipping past the choice of how wide a gap between opponents there was to begin with, the choice that the NPC would have darts and the choice he would have a broadsword. It's understood that an umpire can take off his umpire hat and go field or bat. But what's been given so far is "If the umpire changes role and becomes a player, he's playing and that's gamism". Yes, it is gamism at that point (and I use that in my previous idea, having the GM explicitly shift roles). But that the threads topic is where he continues to wear his umpire hat (for whatever reason), when it's time for him to play now.

I'll give an example, but using a gamist address of challenge to set off a narrativist address of premise, because it's a lot clearer to see the distinction:

The players have decided on the plan that if they do the worst things, things no one else would dream off, that's how they get to the top of the drug empire. And indeed it works well. One day, a rival comes along. The players make the address that they will rape the rivals wife and hold a knife to her throat when he gets home. Then they will make their demands.

They do. The rival gets home, sees his wife at knife point and after a long, frozen moment, pulls out a gun and shoots his wife dead! Then he shoots the horrified PC's one by one, dead!

"WTF!!!" all the players cry in union at the same time.
"It's what he'd do!", the GM says in surprise at their reaction, and then again in indignant stubborn donkey mode.

Or say the rival doesn't shoot them, but gives into every single demand. It's a complete washout in terms of challenge…he just rolls over to every demand.

"Huh, he'd just give up all the money and power for his wife, without a lick of resistance?", the players say incredulously.
"YES!", says the GM proudly.
"Man, that's boring.", the players announce and the GM proceeds to get bitter about how the players play the wrong way.

Note: You probably realise I'm shamelessly ripping off Kieser Sosays (sp?) background story from the film "The usual suspects".


Clearly, either of these is more than just adjudicating. It's playing. A different game, but still, it's playing.

Why's it harder to see an address of causality occuring? Well, exploration in a gamist agenda is gamism. Exploration in nar agenda is narrativism. That's clear. I think the problem is that address of causality is being lumped in with exploration. In that, exploration in gamism is gamism, yes. And it's thought in the same way that exploration in gamism, that the GM was really excited to say, is just the same. But it aint.

It's that player investment which is the key difference. Take the nar example above (sans OOC chat). This could just as easily be an act of exploration (and thus matching the agenda it's embedded in - gamism). It doesn't have to be an address at all…if the GM isn't invested in it and thus isn't pushing it as an address, it's just plain exploration. What is important is whether the GM/that player is excited about it…it thrills him to say it and it's important to him to say it.

Really the big question is, when the GM is determining how the game world works (as the game/gameplay keeps asking him to do), what stops him from getting excited about any particular exploration he invents/discovers?

I'd say nothing can. Address of causality often sneaks up unbidden, a sudden moment of clarity, regardless of whether you wanted it to happen or not. And once it's happened it doesn't just go away. It's just like the nar example…if you decide Kaiser Sosay WOULD kill his wife, because that's explains him so well, can you just forget about that? Should you? And given the timing, this is going to happen a moment after address of challenge is made by another player. Hooo boy!
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2005, 08:53:46 AM »

All I'm seeing above is a case of the GM playing sim, and the players playing nar, and the incoherence causing the typical problem. If the GM were exploring with an agenda that matched the players, then the problem would not occur.

You seem to be saying that sometimes GMs fall into sim without recourse - they can't control themeslves? Actually I know that's not what you're saying, but I still can't make heads or tails of it. Is it that, not understanding mode, they have "sim moments?" Heck, I understand mode and still have all sorts of "Sim moments." So? Does that make my play simulationism? No.

Mike
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Tony Irwin
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« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2005, 12:52:17 PM »

Really the big question is, when the GM is determining how the game world works (as the game/gameplay keeps asking him to do), what stops him from getting excited about any particular exploration he invents/discovers?

I guess these:
1) He must understand why he's there at the table. A good GM's section could explain to him his role in presenting series of challenging situations to the players.
2) He must have the tools to do that at the table. John Kim has a great post further up the thread where he lists the tools that D&D offers GMs to help them present series of challenging situations to players.
3) He needs to be rewarded for doing that at the table. The grateful enthusiasm of the other players works here, but I'd love to see something like PTA's fanmail in operation.
4) He needs to be sure he wants to be at that table. If your hypothetical GM wants to think and talk up the intricacies of his wonderful imaginary dream world* every time a player offers a plan of action, so creating the unhappiness you describe, then that GM is sitting at the wrong table. Irregardless of GNS concerns, the people at that table want different things. The GM's own sense of fun make him an inadequate GM for those players.

Do you see the first three points as being useful, in terms of getting GMs on board for focused gamist play? Or for at least alerting GMs to the fact that they're in a game which is unsuitable for them?

Tony

* Not that there's anything wrong with that. I love it, when with the right people.
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