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Author Topic: Bangs, bangs and more bangs!  (Read 10263 times)
Andrew Cooper
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« on: March 24, 2004, 07:12:27 AM »

In reading several threads about Bangs, I've noticed that people throw out ideas for them that are pretty independent of any specific group or game.  I, personally, would find a long list of Bang ideas very useful.  I could have a couple of sheets with this list printed out with me during a session and if I'm having brain cramps and just can't seem to come up with an interesting thing off the top of my head, I just look down and "BANG!" there's a Bang.  Perhaps someone has already done this?  If not, I'd love for this thread to be a list of Bang ideas that someone could just print off and use during an actual gaming session...

I'll make some contributions myself when I get home from work tonight (newborn permitting).
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Alan
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2004, 08:59:00 AM »

Hi Andrew,

A general list isn't possible because of what a bang is.

Here's the definition of a bang, from the glossary of Ron's essay on:Narrativism:

-----------------
Bangs

    Introducing events into the game which make a thematically-significant or at least evocative choice necessary for a player. The term is taken from the rules of Sorcerer.
------------------

First, just a note: the term is specific to narrativist play.  It doesn't have importance in S or G play.  So it's not useful in all forms of role-playing.

Second, the "themetically-significant" part must come from whatever theme has developed in a particular series of game sessions.  Bangs are specific to the PCs, setting, and sittuation that you want to produce them for.  Because they are specific to the content of the shared fantasy, a general list won't have a lot of usefulness.

On the other hand, a list of rules or tips on how to create bangs would interest me greatly.  Could we go for that?
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2004, 09:13:10 AM »

Alan,

I'm not sure I agree with you that a general list couldn't be compiled; although, I would like to see some tips on how the create them too.  For example, here's a Bang (at least as I understand the term).

Bob the PC's best buddy finds him and tells him, "Man, I just confronted the guy who is cheating with my wife and we got into with each other.  I killed him!  I didn't mean for him to hit his head when he fell.  You gotta help me cover it up!"

This is a Bang and it's almost completely generic.  I can't really think of a game I've ever played in that this couldn't have been dropped in without much alteration.  It works in Fantasy, Sci Fi, Modern, etc.  It works as long as the PC has a good friend in his backstory or has established one through playing.

Andrew
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Blankshield
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2004, 09:25:12 AM »

Yup, that's a good bang... if it ties into one of the themes of the game.  If the game is about 'what will you do for your friends?', or 'what is worth breaking the law' or even 'do you know who your friends are?' then this is a good bang.

If the game is about 'what will you sacrifice for power?' or 'what is worth dying for?' or 'at what cost, the Earth?' it will feel out of step.  Still important to the PC, still a hard choice, and it still tells us about the character, but it feels out of step, like a jazz solo in a blues jam.

Does that help?  That's where I think the "thematically-significant" part of Ron's definition comes in.

James
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Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2004, 09:47:19 AM »

I think I'm considering more of the "evocative choice" part of the definition.  I've rarely played in a game where the Theme or Premise was the major consideration.  Sure, theme and premise sometimes came up but it wasn't the driving factor.  Given that, any situation that the GM plopped down that was an "evocative choice" added to the game.  Perhaps I'm misusing the term "Bang" but from looking around the forums, I don't feel like I've departed from the way I see others using it.  I will say that I didn't know that it was a strictly Narrativist tool.
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Alan
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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2004, 09:57:50 AM »

I don't want to be argumentative, but I do want to defend terminology against being diluted.  That's why I posted the definition.  "Bang" does have a specific  meaning within Creative Agenda theory.  And the "thematically-significant" element is the key part.  If that is not present, it is not a bang.

Now if you want to invite a list of provocative events that don't require thematic significance, please do, but I would ask that you not call them bangs.  I'd like to see that term retain its significance.
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
kwill
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2004, 09:58:52 AM »

Techniques do not map 1:1 with Creative Agendas; I'd wait on the author of the term for confirmation, but I'd suggest that Bangs aren't only a Narrativist tool (a Simulationist Bang would have an obvious answer, that which confirms the theme?)

also, a Narrativist game doesn't have to have a single Premise, but *some* sort of focus is needed for a list o' Bangs, frex, "it's a cop game"

the only rule I've come up with for making Bangs is "in-your-face choice", as a newbie to the technique if others have guidelines to share, I'd also be interested
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d@vid
Andrew Norris
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2004, 10:00:37 AM »

Right. A Bang (in the Sorcerer sense) might be thematically appropriate, but a little-b bang is basically just something that throws the character into action. The latter is generally applicable. (To be honest, I'm not sure how important the distinction is. In a Narrativist game, almost anything you do is intended to address the premise in some fashion.)

here's some little-b bangs off the top of my head -- some doubtlessly reused from elsewhere.

- Phone call in the middle of the night. "I'm pregnant."
- You found a briefcase full of money in a taxi last night.
- That guy you killed on a stormy night twelve years ago was just on the local news.
- "We have the photos. You'd better empty out your piggybank."
- People start asking you what you were doing in Chicago last month. You've never been to Chicago.
- On the way home from a business trip, the gas main in your apartment blows and your IKEA furniture is a flaming wreck on the sidewalk.

Some of these might be a little loose, since the idea of a bang is that you have to do something, anything, right away. I'm just trying to demonstrate that they're everywhere, and the hard part is choosing which one out of your bandolier fits at the right time.
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Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2004, 10:22:57 AM »

Quote from: Alan
Bangs

    Introducing events into the game which make a thematically-significant or at least evocative choice necessary for a player. The term is taken from the rules of Sorcerer.


Alan,

I'm not trying to be argumentative either but I don't see anything in this definition that says a Bang *has* to address Theme or Premise.  In fact, the definition specifically states that the minimum required for the event to be a Bang is that it be an "evocative choice necessary for a player".  That's why it says "or at least".  If this isn't what the author meant, then the definition needs to be altered to make it clearer.

Also, I've seen nothing in any of the essays that says Sim or Gamist play can never address Theme or Premise.  Sure, they might not be the center of attention but they can be present, even if unstated and essentially unintended.  Given that, even if a Bang absolutely MUST address Theme, it could still be used in Sim or Gamist play.

I'm really not trying to dilute the definition as given.  Promise.  I just don't see how my usage is contrary to the definition.  I'm open to being corrected.
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Alan
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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2004, 10:29:55 AM »

Quote from: kwill
I'd wait on the author of the term for confirmation


You already have confirmation.  I quoted Ron's own definition, and he is the author of the term.  It is defined it as a technique which presents a thematically-significant choice to a character.  

Sure a thematically-significant choice can appear in any game and when it does it would be a bang.  However, an inciting event without thematically-significant choice is NOT A bang (capitalized or not).

How about we coin a different term for inciting events that don't require thematic-significance?  How about "crisis", "crux", or "dilemma"?

I like "crux".
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Alan
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« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2004, 10:47:00 AM »

Hi Andrew,

I cross posted with you.

Bangs: "Introducing events into the game which make a thematically-significant or at least evocative choice necessary for a player."

I think there's little doubt this means evocative of Premise.  I think the case for this is obvious and very strong.  

Once again, I ask that you find a different term for an inciting event that does not require thematically-significant choice.  How about my suggestions?

If you say no, I'll leave your thread alone and take my objections to a new one if I have more to say.
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Blankshield
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« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2004, 11:31:22 AM »

Quote from: Gaerik
I think I'm considering more of the "evocative choice" part of the definition.  I've rarely played in a game where the Theme or Premise was the major consideration.  Sure, theme and premise sometimes came up but it wasn't the driving factor.  Given that, any situation that the GM plopped down that was an "evocative choice" added to the game.  Perhaps I'm misusing the term "Bang" but from looking around the forums, I don't feel like I've departed from the way I see others using it.  I will say that I didn't know that it was a strictly Narrativist tool.


It's not a strictly Narrativist tool, but it's a Darn Good One for that kind of play.  I'm sort-of in agreement with Alan ('evocative'=evocative of theme), but I don't think a new term is needed for what you're describing.  You still want bangs, it looks like, what I'm suggesting is that while a generic list of bangs is a good thing to have in your GM toolkit, you'll need to trim and customize that list for each game and set of characters anyway.

A bang presents a choice that the player (probably via the character) is going to have to think about.    A Narrativist game uses bangs to drive the theme.  A simulationist game could use bangs as a way to introduce a new element to the SIS.  A gamist game could use bangs to introduce conflict or invite Step On Up.  They aren't "bad" uses of bangs, but bangs are more ideally suited to Nar play.

As to a list, well, practially anything can be a bang; I would again suggest that you will get more mileage out of building bang lists by the game/situation rather than having a generic list to hand.  

James
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I write games. My games don't have much in common with each other, except that I wrote them.

http://www.blankshieldpress.com/
Lisa Padol
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« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2004, 12:59:41 PM »

Gentlefolk:

I think, given the amount of honest disagreement among intelligent people even when the definition is posted here, and given that the author of Sorcerer posts, we do need the author to put another two cents in. One of the first questions I had been planning to ask was precisely what constituted a bang. I was 100% sure I knew what an r-map was, and 100% incorrect.

Ron:

Is it part of the definition that a bang must address a theme?
Is a bang specific to narrativist gaming?
Are we making any assumptions that don't fit what a bang is?

-Lisa
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Valamir
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« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2004, 01:02:40 PM »

Lisa, et.al.  
FYI Andrew started a new thread to which Ron has responded.
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Alan
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« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2004, 01:07:05 PM »

I've posted my theory of bangs in GNS Theory:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10380" >Bangs, Crises, and Inciting Events
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
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