*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
July 06, 2022, 10:59:20 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 77 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Where Did Dramatism Go?  (Read 6333 times)
Supplanter
Member

Posts: 258


WWW
« on: June 10, 2001, 02:04:00 PM »

Awhile ago Ron made clear to me that "Narrativism is not Dramatism" - that is to say, it is distinct from the type of game Kim and Berkman called Dramatism in the days of the Two-Fold Model when dinosaurs walked the earth and "gamism" was yet to be considered as a category. Ron has convinced me that Narrativism really isn't extactly Kim's Dramatism because Ron's Narrativism, as I understand it, places the emphasis on spreading authorial and directorial power around; one might say that "Dramatism" covered games where the GM presents a "run" to players where the flow of the action is structured according to well-known principles of plotting from screenplay how-to's, while "Narrativism" is about a joint commitment to explore a premise in a way that will produce a shapely story, but that shape has not been pre-fired by the GM - it will be subject to considerable joint molding by player and GM alike.

Like I said, I get it. But a couple of months later it finally occurs to me to ask: okay, but all those games and scenarios and sessions that Kim called "dramatist" really exist - more or less linear adventures emphasizing "storytelling," heavy on Drama decisions with the GM working to keep players "on track" and pointing toward the Big Finish.

If they exist, and they do, then any comprehensive model has to account for them. So where do they fit in the GNS model?

Best,


Jim

Logged

Unqualified Offerings - Looking Sideways at Your World
20' x 20' Room - Because Roleplaying Games Are Interesting
Mytholder
Member

Posts: 205


WWW
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2001, 03:39:00 PM »

I think Dramatism can be considered a "weaker" form of Narrativism. Basically, weak Narrativism is the most common form of narrativist play...it's similar if not identical to White Wolf's "storytelling". It's a style of play which uses pretty bog-standard mechanics and player/GM interaction, while aiming for a dramatic and coherent story.

Narrativism cranks the storytelling elements up to 11, gives the players more power, strips the mechanics down to just those which encourage "story", and de-emphasises the GM to some extent...the story is supposed to be "made" rather than "told".

That's where I'd include it anyway....

(Vague digression...I wonder if there aren't two parallel tracks going on here. The Ultimate Goal/ONE TRUE WAY of Narrativism is these collabourative holistic group storytelling thing. However, as I've said elsewhere, you can often get better "stories" when you've got a strong GM dictating story elements to the players.
So, on the one hand, you've got the Narrativist "authorial power to the players" schtick. On the other, you've got the Dramatist "good stories" idea...and at the extreme pure end of narrativism, they meet...
A part of me wants to extent this slightly further, and suggest that the Dramatist style is slightly closer to Simulationism (where the GM is the supreme arbiter and ruler of the cosmos) and the narrativist empowered-players style is slightly closer to Gamism (where players tend to be fairly empowered through the rules anyway, and the GM must bow to fairness and good play)....that might be me just trying to see symmetry where none exists though.)
Logged
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2001, 05:45:00 PM »

I've been thinking about this recently myself and I'm glad that a word has been put to it. "Dramatist" as it has been put here is EXACTLY the way that I play.  I as the GM construct a story.  The players then 'live out' that story.  Sure, the unpredictable nature of the players occassionally throws a wrench into the works but a skilled GM either plans for this with a prepared contingency plan in advance or is a good enough improvizationalist to circumvent the problem and get the story back on track on the fly.

I think this Dramatist approach produces the best mystery and action/adventure type stories.  The key here is that the Dramatist GM skillfully keeps tempo bringing events to climaxes, easing the tension, carefully dolling out clues to maximize surprise, tension and drama.  

If the villain has a multi-part grand mastermind plan it is probably best for the story if the GM keeps things in line and doesn't let the players thwart the villain too soon lest the mystery and surprise from the revelation of the master plan be ruined.

However, if you want subtle; if you want mental inner struggle and deep moral dillemas, humanistic sacrifices and deep character development then the co-author narativist approach probably works better because no GM knows the character better than the players.  The GM also can't effectively micromanage all of the NPCs related to the character.  If the character is married, has two kids, a best friend, an overbearing boss, a rich uncle and an over-protective mother who calls him all the time there is NO WAY the GM will be able to effectively use all these character specific elements to achieve the desired effect.  Sure the GM may bring one or two in and out of play just as the Dramatist may have the villain kill off a love interest but to truly explore the complexities of the characters daily struggles requires someone who knows all those elements best -- the player.

So, in conclusion, I think the Dramatist style is best suited for when most of the conflict comes from OUTSIDE the player.  Villainous master plans.  A single love interest.  The Backgrounds from 7th Sea.  Call of Cthulhu adventures.  Broad story strokes.  Adventure, intregue, romance and horror at it's grainiest level.

However, if you want subtle and deep character developement and personal conflict on a HIGHLY character specific level then narativism is the way to go.

Jesse
Logged
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2001, 06:11:00 PM »

Quote

"Dramatist" as it has been put here is EXACTLY the way that I play. I as the GM construct a story. The players then 'live out' that story.


Isn't this Simulationism?
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Supplanter
Member

Posts: 258


WWW
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2001, 06:46:00 PM »

Quote
Isn't this Simulationism?


Not remotely. Simulationist GMs don't construct stories, they construct worlds.

Best,


Jim
Logged

Unqualified Offerings - Looking Sideways at Your World
20' x 20' Room - Because Roleplaying Games Are Interesting
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2001, 07:23:00 PM »

I promised I wouldn't delve into this again until the FAQ is out, but this is exactly the kind of thing I was commenting on earlier.  Simulationism as commonly used in GNS is often nothing more than the category a game gets dumped into when it doesn't fit into G or N.

I hope the FAQ will go along way to clearing this sort of thing up.
Logged

Logan
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2001, 05:30:00 AM »

In my opinion, Narrativism contains much of Dramatism within its boundaries. I wouldn't call Dramatism "weak Narrativism." The real issue, I think, comes down to their bias in presentation of the rgfa faq and in their discussions. It seems to me that they are very much in tune with the idea that "Good Roleplay is In Character Roleplay." Furthermore, though they recognize tools for giving author/director power to the players, they largely prefer games where the GM has power over the environment and the players have power and control over their characters (ie a conventional roleplaying contract).

They don't have a formal definition for Director stance. It's just an extension of Author stance. Yet, I know from my contact with John Kim that he certainly recognizes games and mechanics that give players the power to directly create story, or at least add changes to story.

More, the rgfa faq and documentation is somewhere around 2 years old. To really see where rgfa thinking is, you need to spend some time sifting through their posts. Anyone can do that using the Google usenet search engine. They took over dejanews.com .  I've done some of this. I've found their conversations interesting.

Finally, I suppose you have to look at Dramatism from their perspective, which is the goal of telling dramatic, character-centric stories. This is very much in keeping with the spirit (if not necessarily the exact technique) espoused by Ron in Sorcerer's Soul and in his many Sorcerer discussions. I think Dramatist GMs would be well-pleased with his techniques for relationship-mapping and methods for making the character the protagonist. Then, the rgfa has mentioned the idea of "Storyist" gaming as a weak version of Dramatism. This is just a sequence of events that become a story. Certainly, if the players have input on the events and/or have/use the power to create the events, this is also within the bounds of Narrativism.

Imho, Dramatism isn't weak Narrativism. It's really strong Narrativism; but as a definition, it only covers a portion of the Narrativist range.

Best,

Logan

[ This Message was edited by: Logan on 2001-06-11 09:41 ]
Logged
Logan
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2001, 05:40:00 AM »

> okay, but all those games and scenarios and sessions that Kim called "dramatist" really exist - more or less linear adventures emphasizing "storytelling," heavy on Drama decisions with the GM working to keep players "on track" and pointing toward the Big Finish.

If they exist, and they do, then any comprehensive model has to account for them. So where do they fit in the GNS model?
---------------------

To answer Supplanter's original question, imho, as presented, those are prime examples of Simulationist play with the emphasis placed on light mechanics and maximum use of Actor stance/IC mode play. What has become clear to me is that those examples are not necessarily "Dramatist" but simply "Diceless," as they're marked. The Theatrix examples in particular do the game considerable injustice because there is no trace in those examples of the many tools provided to give the players Author/Director power.

Best,

Logan
Logged
Mytholder
Member

Posts: 205


WWW
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2001, 06:10:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-06-11 09:40, Logan wrote:
> okay, but all those games and scenarios and sessions >that Kim called "dramatist" really exist - more or less >linear adventures emphasizing "storytelling," heavy on >Drama decisions with the GM working to keep players "on >track" and pointing toward the Big Finish.

To answer Supplanter's original question, imho, as presented, those are prime examples of Simulationist play with the emphasis placed on light mechanics and maximum use of Actor stance/IC mode play.

Logan

How can they be considered examples ofSimulationism? There's nothing suggesting that emulating/modeling/ exploring a setting or situation is the goal of play. Indeed, the example makes reference towards keeping the players on track and aimed at a story-based goal, which certainly goes against the grain of simulationism.  
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2001, 06:23:00 AM »

Hello all,

I should like to remind everyone that there are many brands of Simulationism, just as there are many brands of the other two priorities.

Jim,
I do think that "GM writes story, players live story" is a form of Simulationism. It was relatively uncommon in game design until the mid-90s, represented probably only by Call of Cthulhu. It was very common in PLAY (lots of Champions and Cyberpunk was played this way). It tends to rely very heavily on genre conventions.

All,
Let's not forget that Narrativism has many brands too, and the degree of "constrained material" may vary a lot. Much of the work we're doing now in design emphasizes freewheeling material, even improvisational - but one can play solid Narrativism while operating under extreme "pre-set" constraint, too. As long as the STORY EVENTS of play are (a) the top priority and (b) not pre-set, it's Narrativist.

So there's some chance to SEE some overlap here. I don't think that overlap truly exists, but it's possible to mistake [Narrativist with very firmly-set setting and back-story] with [Simulationist with very firmly-set plot structure]. In play, of course, the two are phenomenally different, but it's hard to see that from the outside.

In conclusion,
My call is that Dramatism as perceived by Kim et al. was exactly at this border between Simulationist with a light system and Narrativist with a tendency to replace Fortune with Drama mechanics. The Window would seem to be the right model. I see The Window as early-Narrativist design, with its mechanics being stripped-down Simulationist and its text exhorting Narrativist priorities.

I also see the more recent Narrativist games as not NEEDING such exhortations, as their mechanics do the job in a way that "ultra-light" mechanics and verbalized priorities do not.

And in final conclusion,
Theatrix is slowly edging Vampire out as the game-to-mention that will automatically piss everyone off. Can we deal with this on its own forum, if at all?

Best,
Ron
Logged
Logan
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2001, 06:34:00 AM »

[/quote]
How can they be considered examples ofSimulationism? There's nothing suggesting that emulating/modeling/ exploring a setting or situation is the goal of play. Indeed, the example makes reference towards keeping the players on track and aimed at a story-based goal, which certainly goes against the grain of simulationism.  
[/quote]

The key is Author/Director power. If the players have no Author/Director power, they're not playing a Narrativist game. If the players are not creating the story, it's not a Narrativist game. If the GM has all the power, it's not a Narrativist game. If it's not a Narrativist game, it's some other kind of game.

Imo, Simulationism is a bigger beast than most people realize. It spans a range of possibilities. At one end of the range, you have the rules-heavy world simulations where the players often use OOC considerations and may look at their characters as pawns. "Hmm, what will happen to my character if I do this." At the other end of the range, you have the rules-light, maybe diceless simulations focusing on character simulation and experiencing the game as the character would experience it. The GM is well within his envelope to have a predetermined story with a single ending. It's not ideal for exploring the whole world, but it's within the range for Simulationist play. The players will respond to the stimuli presented and participate in the predetermined adventure.

Now, this assumes the players make decisions the character would make in order to experience the adventure. The goal here is not to win or to create a dramatic story. It's to experience the adventure as the character would experience it and to get an outcome which upholds the verisimilitude of the game world. If you read those diceless examples on John Kim's site, that's exactly what the GM and player are doing. If, on the other hand, the player goal is to beat the scenario, to win by surviving or reaching the final encounter, then that could change the flavor of the game quite a bit.

Best,

Logan
Logged
Mytholder
Member

Posts: 205


WWW
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2001, 07:19:00 AM »

Quote

The key is Author/Director power. If the players have no Author/Director power, they're not playing a Narrativist game. If the players are not creating the story, it's not a Narrativist game. If the GM has all the power, it's not a Narrativist game. If it's not a Narrativist game, it's some other kind of game.

Ok...I have big issues with this. It seems to define narrativism are *requiring* authorial or director power. Author/Director stance don't necessarily do anything to promote "story". I can use Author stance to find a sword in a dungeon and kill an orc with it.

Narrativism has to have a "good story" element in it too...but if you define narrativism as being ONLY "the style of play with 'empowered' author/director stance players working to create a coherent and dramatically satisfying story"....that seems to be an awfully limited style of play, in comparison to the vast regions labelled "simulationist" and "gamist".

It's out of sync with the other axes.

Quote

Imo, Simulationism is a bigger beast than most people realize. It spans a range of possibilities. At one end of the range, you have the rules-heavy world simulations where the players often use OOC considerations and may look at their characters as pawns. "Hmm, what will happen to my character if I do this." At the other end of the range, you have the rules-light, maybe diceless simulations focusing on character simulation and experiencing the game as the character would experience it.

No arguments there...but...
Quote

The GM is well within his envelope to have a predetermined story with a single ending. It's not ideal for exploring the whole world, but it's within the range for Simulationist play. The players will respond to the stimuli presented and participate in the predetermined adventure.


I don't think so. This seems to be clearly narrative (small 'n')-based. While it's not Narrativist as described earlier, it's also moving away from the game-as-thought-experiment idea of simulationism.

It could be argued...and I would probably agree...that the example given is on the border between Simulationism and Narrativism....but it's certainly not a "prime example of Simulationist play."

Quote

Now, this assumes the players make decisions the character would make in order to experience the adventure. The goal here is not to win or to create a dramatic story.

It's the GM's goal in this case to tell a dramatic story.

Quote

It's to experience the adventure as the character would experience it and to get an outcome which upholds the verisimilitude of the game world. If you read those diceless examples on John Kim's site, that's exactly what the GM and player are doing. If, on the other hand, the player goal is to beat the scenario, to win by surviving or reaching the final encounter, then that could change the flavor of the game quite a bit.

Not necessarily. A lot of players want the GM to put their characters into interesting stories which they can react to (which could be considered a narrative-oriented style of play or simulation/exploration of character). Anyway, assigning G/N/S priorities to players is tricky...GM decisions are far clearer and cleancut.
Logged
Supplanter
Member

Posts: 258


WWW
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2001, 09:41:00 AM »

Quote
If the GM has all the power, it's not a Narrativist game. If it's not a Narrativist game, it's some other kind of game.


If the goal here is to prove Valamir right, that "Simulationism" in Ron's model is whatever is left over after Gamism and Narrativism are dealt with, the goal is being achieved.

Quote
The GM is well within his envelope to have a predetermined story with a single ending. It's not ideal for exploring the whole world, but it's within the range for Simulationist play.


No it is not. Talk to actual simulationists before making such claims. There seems to be all too little of that going on in the formulation of this particular model.

This theory is really entering "Up is Down" territory if the theorists want to claim dramatism is simulationism. If you want to lump them together on some basis, you really do need a new term for what you're calling "simulationism" because you are now so far from either the commonplace meaning of the term or the well-established usage of RPG players and theorists who got there first that only opacity and confusion can result.

Best,


Jim

Logged

Unqualified Offerings - Looking Sideways at Your World
20' x 20' Room - Because Roleplaying Games Are Interesting
Mytholder
Member

Posts: 205


WWW
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2001, 10:55:00 AM »

Quote

Jim wrote
Quote

Logan wrote:
The GM is well within his envelope to have a predetermined story with a single ending. It's not ideal for exploring the whole world, but it's within the range for Simulationist play.


No it is not. Talk to actual simulationists before making such claims. There seems to be all too little of that going on in the formulation of this particular model.



Well...in a few rare cases, where you're attempting to simulate a particular fictional genre or style (i.e. highly stylised Cthulhu or Feng Shui), the "simulation" can include story elements.

But that's very much the exception, not the rule....normally, story concerns are secondary to world concerns in simulationism. Dramatism is certainly not part of simulationism no matter how you fold things.

[ This Message was edited by: Mytholder on 2001-06-11 14:58 ]
Logged
Logan
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2001, 11:26:00 AM »

A few words about the whole topic:

GNS is different from GSD. Different audience, different needs, different goals. They developed in relative isolation from each other. They both lack definitive, current reference documents. John Kim admits his faq is 2 yrs old, needs an update, and doesn't necessarily represent current rgfa thinking. I don't know when he'll provide the update. We're working diligently on a faq so that we can state our current position for the benefit of all. Everyone will have opportunity for input, but if the model is doing what it needs to do for its core audience, it's going to stand. No matter what we do, someone will be unhappy with the results. Such is life.

About Simulationism,

Think of it this way:

In the real world, roleplaying as a social activity descended from 2 different directions. First is military roleplaying, wargaming simulations among high-level staff officers and commanders to see what would happen in a variety of battle scenarios expanding into ground-level training operations. Those have been used since WWII, probably even before that. Second is corporate roleplaying where people train for their jobs and learn to deal with work-related situations by being their character in a given situation. AFAIK, that idea has been around since the 70's. These are both primarily Simulationist activities.

Historically, roleplaying games are descended from tabletop wargames, simulations of world. Your earliest RPGs were Simulationist. If you believe the legend, Dave Arneson ran a wargame where the players were allowed to play individual soldiers and chase each other through a town. He and Gygax et al wasted little time adding some strong Gamist overtones. Chainmail became D&D and the rest is history. The games that followed were mostly Gamist or Gamist/Simulationist with primary emphasis on Simulation of world. Throught the early 80s, there was a serious onslaught of heavy Simulationist RPGs with intentionally suppressed Gamist influence. By the early 90's, the market accepted LARPs and light-system character simulations descended more or less from the corporate model, "Be your character in this situation." Narrativist efforts beginning with Prince Valiant began to emerge on the fringe of the rpg market. At this point, some people may love Narrativism, but the market still loves Simulationism. D&D may still be biggest, but in a lot of ways, games like CoC, GURPS, BESM, and WoD shine brightest - especially with the online community.

Looking at it this way, it's apparent to me that Simulationism isn't a left-over. It's the fucking foundation. Ron will expand upon this shortly, so I'm not going to say anything more about it.


About Narrativism,

I quote myself:

>Narrativism places emphasis on group creation of stories in which the PCs are the protagonists and have a definite impact in their part of the gameworld. The term "Narrativism" originates in the term "narrative." They're related, but they have differences in meaning. As Ron points out, in a narrative, "a protagonist faces a conflict, the conflict is resolved, audience members experience a commitment and reaction to these things. Narrativism, then, becomes the mode of role-playing in which these things are generated and carried out." The goal in Narrativism is to get the entire group to participate in creating the story.
___________________

To achieve these goals, the players need some amount of Author and Director power. If the GM is presenting the story and the players are restricted in action to reacting to the GM's presentation, it's not Narrativism. I should also point out that Author/Director power does not require explicit mechanics (spend points to get this effect). It only requires that the GM allow the player to have input into the setup of scenes and the outcome of events such that the player participates in creating story. This may be achieved through IC or OOC negotiation.

For anything more, I can only say, wait for the faq. I spoke to Ron this morning. He is addressing it as we speak. It is worth the wait.

Best,

Logan
Logged
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!