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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 94 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Illusionism etc  (Read 10234 times)
jmac
Member

Posts: 36


« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2005, 08:02:42 AM »

I should thank you, Mike, your post is irrefragable.

I have no intent to discuss Immersion, not least of all reasons being the uncertainty in my own understanding of it :)

I was writing down stuff I understood :) ,  trying to make something consistent of my own experience, and a question came up: the point in social contract that GM should not use those tricks is well-founded necessity or a simulationist tradition?

I don't think there is too strict dependence of (impression) of causality on the absence of illusionist techniques. It's really dependent on player expectations - what do they think causality (or what do they want to get) is like.

I can't make myself believe in possibility of objective cause-and-effect and character (player) decisions impact in imagined world.
Isn't it just another case of illusion?
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Ivan.
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2005, 10:07:01 AM »

I should thank you, Mike, your post is irrefragable.
Had to look that one up. Thought it might have meant "long and confusing." :-)

Quote
the point in social contract that GM should not use those tricks is well-founded necessity or a simulationist tradition?
Maybe I'm just having problems parsing of late, but I'll take a stab at this one despite being pretty sure I don't get it: I think that only with a simulationism tradition do you ever want to use these tricks with any regularity. I find that when I fall into the habit of using them in my games, that somehow they become reinforcement for sim play. The way to avoid this is simply to discuss things in the metagame.

I do this to "shock" players out of the notion that there's some "plot" I have going. Like in my SW HQ game recently where I asked the players, "So, I dunno, do you players all want the skyship to crash, or to make it back to home port? Let's vote."  (We couldn't agree, as it happens, so I ended up rolling and they got away with a critical success). This sort of thing simply proves to the players that I'm not playing with a pre-set plot.

Quote
Isn't it just another case of illusion?
Quote
Well, all RPG play is an illusion of sorts, isn't it? All fiction? Illusionism can't defy that, at best it can give us a feeling of the events of play being as "real" as when you're really engrossed in a movie, and forget where you are or something. It's not the real thing, no, but it's an interesting feeling despite that.

Mike
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jmac
Member

Posts: 36


« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2005, 04:17:30 AM »

One sentense of my responce fell in another thread. I don't want to litter that one anymore, so I apologize here :)

Really, some feeling is there, Mike.
maybe we even mean something similiar :)

I don't even know how to step up on describing or considering it...

Anyway, discussion seem to show what do we mean about Illusionism, lie and ignoring subjective etc. So, I will consider those things I mentioned in the first post again and create topics to discuss them, if..

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Ivan.
M. J. Young
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Posts: 2198


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« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2005, 01:45:02 PM »

I'm just popping in here to say that I do not think all illusionism is simulationist, nor do I think the judicious use of illusionist techniques is inimical to gamism or narrativism.

On the first point, in that crazy long-running illusionist game in which I played, there were many highly gamist sessions. The illusion was always maintained that our victories were due to our own strategic decisions and use of skills, but ultimately the truth of the matter was that we won because the referee had decided we were not going to lose.

A few of the hints I spotted along the way clued me to this.
  • On more than one occasion when we were in combat, the referee was carefully tracking our hit points. He was making no effort to track the amount of damage we had inflicted against the opponents. Then, I was reaching the point at which I seriously doubted whether we would survive this fight, a large number of our opponents suddenly had taken enough damage to die and the rest fled. The players cheered the victory, as if it were something they had accomplished, but the cracks were beginning to show to me.
  • On one specific occasion one of the persons aligned against us in the fight was described as a half-orc. When the member of our party fighting him dealt him a particularly devastating blow after a series of solid hits, the referee explained that the creature was still alive because we had misidentified him; he was a much tougher half-ogre.
  • Later, my character went on a venture that I knew was way over his head, because the referee had created a situation he could not honorably refuse. I comforted my own fears with the knowledge that he had a single-use magic device which could at need bring powerful aid to our side, so if we got into serious trouble I would use that. Just as soon as we were too far along to turn back, we got into a battle that pretty much exhausted our resources, and then just as we'd won their reinforcements--a force several times what we had just defeated--appeared. I played my hole card, calling my own reinforcements, and the enemy immediately retreated. As I stood there watching the retreat, I realized that the entire battle had been staged to deprive me of my security blanket, so I would be afraid.
It was all illusionism, but it was entirely gamist. We were given the feeling that we were winning, but it was entirely playing out the way the referee intended.

Illusionism is independent of agenda, and it is equally "dysfunctional" regardless of the agendum.  I will agree that it is quite functional as long as you can get away with it, but once the cracks start to show you're on a very slippery slope and may wind up with some very bitter players, if they don't shift to participationism.

I've got a question rising out of some of Mike's other comments, but I'm going to raise it in a new thread, Clarifying Participationism.

--M. J. Young
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M. J. Young
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Posts: 2198


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« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2005, 02:03:12 PM »

I neglected the second point I wanted to make; mea culpa, I had diverted my attention to writing the other thread so I could post the link to it, and so forgot that I had another point here.

Although illusionist techniques are not used in every game, they can be used to support gamist and I daresay narrativist play. I happen to be running a very gamist scenario right now in which a very strong illusionist technique is in play. I've described the scenario here before, so I'll keep it brief.

It's based on the typical terrorists-have-a-bomb-in-the-building scenario; inspirations for it come from True Lies, Die Hard, Under Seige, and probably several others that slip my mind. It also springs from an old Gaming Outpost thread in which someone complained that their player characters had gone right to the bomb, attempted to defuse it, failed the roll, and blew up the building right at the beginning. This scenario is designed so that that can't happen.

Illusionist techniques take from the players the impact of their choices. Illusionism, in any agendum, involves taking away so much of that that the players cannot truly contribute in accordance with their agendum but feel that they are doing so. Used properly, though, illusionist techniques should take from players the ability to get outcomes that would derail their enjoyment without interfering with what they really want to do.

In this case, my technique involves scene ordering.  I have a fifty-story building and a group of characters who can go anywhere in it that they want. It would take a mammoth effort to detail the entire building, and the result would be either that the number of terrorists was so overwhelming that the players would have little hope of success, or that most of the building was empty and they would spend forever just hunting through it. Thus the building consists of a few generic reusable floorplans, and notes about the entrances. The scenario then describes the specific encounter scenes the players will find, in the order in which they are to occur. They will meet the lone terrorist walking through the halls, the civilian hiding in one of the offices, the group of terrorists relaxing somewhere, the situation where the terrorists have position and cover, and ultimately find the boss and then the bomb. I have some flexibility to move these events around, but mainly my job is to find a place for the next encounter to occur as the player character group walks toward it, or sometimes to bring the next encounter to them if they're holding position.

The illusion, of course, is that they're searching the building for the bomb, and that their choices of direction will make a difference in this. It doesn't matter that those choices are immaterial, because the fun of the game is to face and defeat the terrorists; the bomb is primarily the motivation for having the player do so. In fact, although the bomb is said to be on a timer, the time remaining on the timer is not known until the characters find the bomb--at which point it's always enough time for them to defuse it, if they manage to do so, but not enough to bring in someone from the outside.

It thus creates the tensions of the challenges and leaves the challenges intact, while using a heavy illusionist hand in terms of bringing those challenges into a cohesive framework. Every gamist player who has ever done this scenario loves it. It works, because they feel like they're exploring the building and taking out terrorists, and ultimately the decisions they make in the midst of the challenges are the ones that do count, while the mundane decisions that carry them from one challenge to another don't.

I've somewhere described it as a single-path dungeon crawl in which the order of the encounters is fixed but the spatial relationships are wide open.

So that's the other side of the coin: illusionist techniques can be used to support non-simulationist play quite effectively.

--M. J. Young
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komradebob
Member

Posts: 462


« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2005, 03:07:30 PM »

Quote
This is participationism play if the players abdicate their right to create plot then, or narrativism if they take up the obvious reins of power that this shows them. 


Atomic participationism or narrativism.

I know that is a picky difference, but I think it is an important one.

Or to put it another way, smiling at the cute barista at the coffee shop does not = having an affair...
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Robert Earley-Clark

currently developing:The Village Game:Family storytelling with toys
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2005, 10:19:08 AM »

Yeah, I agree with the general point about illusionist technique being useful in all sorts of play at times. Sometimes I just don't want to explain how something got to be using long metagame discussion, so I dissemble in order to get past it.

I do think that Illusionism as it's been defined is itself a subset of simulationism, however. And not automatically dysfunctional. But I'll probably deal with that in the refered to thread.

Mike
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