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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 88 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Another look at it  (Read 9801 times)
M. J. Young

Posts: 2198

« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2005, 05:42:24 PM »

I think there were two things in this post on which I wanted to comment. First, let me quote this.
Conversely if you try to say when making a check in d20 "I just do it" it also violates the rule.

I certainly agree that in most D&D games it would be improper for a player to make that statement. However, have you ever been in any D&D campaign in which the referee never said, "Don't bother to roll for that; you made it"? The fact is that the social contract in D&D games gives the referee the credibility to state when a roll is necessary and by default, when it is not necessary.

Thus you are correct when you say that the "rules" of D&D don't allow the character player to announce his own automatic success, but they do allow the referee player to make that determination. That's credibility distribution in action. This is not to say that it has nothing whatever to do with the rules in the book; however, the rules in the book only matter if they are brought into play by someone who has the credibility to make rules statements and/or interpretations. There are some games, particularly D&D games, in which the players do not have the credibility to cite certain rules (Hackmaster makes this explicit, in that if the character players cite a rule that is in the Hackmaster's Guide they are penalized for doing so, but it is a D&D concept put in stark relief in that game). What matters is not what the rule book actually says, but what the person with the credibility to interpret the rules claims it means and whether it applies in the current situation.

Ultimately it comes back to credibility.

Remember, this post started because I was suggesting an idea to print two basic systems in one book that are analogous to allow the main threads of gamers to be happy with the published work.  The gamists and the Narrativists.  I also suggested that gamists work better in a system heavy where as narrativists work best in system lite.  Therefore the two systems would be based around these concepts.  Of course the narrativists could use the rules heavy and vice a versa, or pieces of one, or what have you.
It's entirely feasible to write a system that can be either rules heavy or rules lite, and let players make those adjustments. I think several cases of games in which the players can change the "weight" of the rules during play have been cited in this thread.

My objection is that you are seriously confusing what "gamism" and "narrativism" are if you make either the assertion that there is a clear correlation between those play agenda and rules weight, or the assertion that one game can easily serve either agendum solely on the basis of whether it uses light or heavy rules.

Let's clarify this just a bit. To some degree what I'm about to say muddies the waters, because it's not terribly accurate. It's just simpler.

The gamist is looking for a game that lets him show off his strategic and/or tactical skills by beating the game. That could be by beating the odds through lucky rolls, or by outmaneuvering adversaries on the imaginary field of conflict, or by amassing the most wealth or power within the game world. The point is that he's going to have bragging rights about how well he did, and therefore the game system itself has to provide both something to overcome and the tools to overcome it.

The narrativist is looking for a game in which his strategic and/or tactical skills are unimportant, because he's not there to beat the odds or defeat the adversaries. He is there to tell a story. That might be best served by letting him decide who wins the fight, instead of making it mechanical, because he's not in the least bit interested in fighting the fight, he's interested in the outcome as a means of advancing story. That is, to the narrativist, "I lose the fight" might be the desired outcome, because it takes the story in the direction he wants to go.

I really seriously think you've identified a distinction between those who like crunchy rules and those who tend toward freeform, and then incorrectly labeled the former "gamists" and the latter "narrativists". Gamism is about proving yourself. Craps is a gamist game. Pitching pennies is gamist. Duck, Duck, Goose is gamist. There is nothing about gamism that requires or is enhanced by complexity itself. That's a separate question. Some gamists thrive on it, and some hate it. Narrativism, by contrast, is about examining moral/ethical/personal questions. Writing a story can be narrativist, if it's done to explore human issues. Conversations can be narrativist if they're about personal problems and solutions.

You are confusing "what you want from a game" (narrativism, gamism, or simulationism) with "how do you get that" (structure of the system used). Not only are they not the same thing, they are not in the least related. You could have a lite system and a heavy system in the same book, but if the goal of the game is to overcome obstacles and show how well you can play, both of those systems are gamist. If, on the other hand, the goal of the game is to create a story that addresses real issues that matter to the players, then both systems are narrativist.

I hope this helps.

--M. J. Young

Josh Roby

Posts: 1055

Category Three Forgite

« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2005, 09:07:56 PM »

You are confusing "what you want from a game" (narrativism, gamism, or simulationism) with "how do you get that" (structure of the system used). Not only are they not the same thing, they are not in the least related.

Just needed to be reiterated.

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