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Author Topic: Narrativism without Pervy Mechanics?  (Read 9414 times)
Green
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« on: June 14, 2004, 11:07:00 PM »

Here's something I was thinking about as I was retooling some aspects of Kathanaksaya.  I have read the Story Now article, and I looked over the glossary, but I can't seem to find what I'm looking for.  Basically, what I want to know is whether or not it is possible to design a game that promotes vanilla Narrativism without using pervy Narrativist mechanics.  Also, I'm wondering if there is more to be done to promote vanilla Narrativist play besides keeping the Simulationist and Gamist elements from taking center stage.
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Alan
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2004, 03:29:31 AM »

Hi Green,

I don't think you're using the word "pervy" in the same way I understand it.  Most narrativist designs are in fact low in "pervy"-ness - ie, they tend to have fewer points of contact per imaginary event processed than many other game designs.  The Pool is an example of low points of contact narrativist design.

You might want to read Ron's glossary for the term.

http://indie-rpgs.com/_articles/glossary.html

Also check out Points of Contact and Vanilla Narrativism.

Is Ron's useage of "pervy" what you had in mind?  If not, can you explain further?
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2004, 06:55:38 AM »

Hiya,

Um. Now I have to get complicated.

First, Alan, I actually think The Pool is pretty damn pervy, since it forces System to carry all the other aspects of Exploration and provides little or no means to do it. You have to "contact the System" almost all the time, and by that I include all of the resolution and narration that is not associated with dice rolls of any kind.

So let's kinda sidestep that particular example.

Green, I'm not entirely sure what common ground we're working from. Since Sorcerer and to a lesser extent Trollbabe are rock-solid committed to a Vanilla Narrativist approach, and since nearly all of my writings are about such play, I guess I'm having a hard time seeing your perspective at all, especially since you've read the essays and the glossary. I really dunno what to tell you beyond what they say.

Can someone help out?

Best,
Ron
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lumpley
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« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2004, 07:26:19 AM »

Green: I read your "pervy" to mean "unconventional."  My take is that any game that actively provokes Narrativist play will seem strange to conventional gamers.  It'll have at least one crucial rule they don't get or don't buy.

Back in the dark ages, we played Narrativist with conventional rules.  How you do that is, you work out a Narrativist social System above and around the rules.  You take the conventional rules and apply them unconventionally.

But then as soon as you start to formalize those social arrangements into rules written in a game text - bang!  Unconventional rules.  Conventional gamers reject them as unworkable, weird, insane.  So it is and so it shall be, unless Narrativism stops being radical and becomes just another convention.

If I'm misreading your "pervy," sorry!  At least I'm not the only one.

-Vincent
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Green
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« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2004, 07:55:24 AM »

I meant "pervy" in the sense that Ron defined it.  After reading through the glossary and articles again, I realized that what was confusing me is the difference between high points of contact and low points of contact.  Although I intuit that there is indeed a solid difference between the two, when it comes to Narrativist-facilitating games, it's hard for me to grasp how these are illustrated.  Perhaps some examples of mechanics that show the difference would help.
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Walt Freitag
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« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2004, 10:05:03 AM »

Ron, I have to admit that though you've tried to explain it many times and I've tried to understand it, I still cannot perceive relative density of "points of contact" between systems.

Doesn't the Lumpley Principle imply that every decision put into effect about the content of the shared imagined space must "contact system?" If so, then how can systems differ from one another in that regard?

- Walt
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C. Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2004, 10:57:26 AM »

Hey Walt,

Consider a high level game of DnD. Every time the dice are rolled there is a very good chance that a dozen or more PoC are being utilized, and those are just the ones gathered from the character sheet. You have a myriad of modifiers and adjustments from multiple sources that effect the imaginary content.

Then consider Trollbabe. It has few PoC to consider when compared to the DnD example. Much of the resulting effect on the imaginary content is left loose, depending more on the imaginations of the participants to fill in the details . As opposed to having those details filled in by depending upon an increased number of mechanically quantified PoC.

In practice, the reliance on imaginative narration seems to result in far fewer PoC than reliance on mechanical quantifiers when it comes to determining the effects of an action on the imaginary content.

Basically, just because every decision put into effect about the content of the SiS must contact system, does not mean that the complexity of that contact is the same for all systems.

Hope that helps.

-Chris
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timfire
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« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2004, 12:07:35 PM »

Would TROS be an example of a Vanilla Nar with high points of contact?

[edit: Wait a minute, re-reading this thread I got confused - Green, are asking about Vanilla Nar games with high or low points of contact?]
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--Timothy Walters Kleinert
Walt Freitag
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« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2004, 12:15:42 PM »

Sorry, Chris, it doesn't. If imaginative narration involves few PoC, then why is The Pool a high PoC game, as Ron describes it, because of its reliance on unaided imaginative narration? Why is narration-when-no-dice-are-being-rolled in The Pool higher in PoC than narration-when-no-dice-are-being-rolled in Trollbabe?

The rules in D&D are constraints, which direct or limit the outcome. Points of Contact. But The Pool is pervy, high in Points of Contact, specifically because it lacks such constraints. The systems in Trollbabe and Sorcerer provide more guidance/constraints (reducing the "have to make stuff up" Points of Contact) by implementing rules (adding more "have to pay attention to the rules" Points of Contact). It looks like a wash.

I could totally grok a measure based on "how many different rules typically influence a given situation." But that's basic rules-heavy vs. rules-light. That's not what PoC are, as far as I can tell.

- Walt

Edited to add: Timothy, "Vanilla" and "with high Points of Contact" are exact opposites. "Pervy" and "Vanilla" are earlier, totally synonymous, terms for "high/many Points of Contact" and "low/few Points of Contact" respectively.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2004, 12:55:15 PM »

Hiya,

Walt, you asked,

Quote
Why is narration-when-no-dice-are-being-rolled in The Pool higher in PoC than narration-when-no-dice-are-being-rolled in Trollbabe?


Because the two phenomena are profoundly different, and I think that's apparent to anyone who's played both games. In Trollbabe (when rolling's not involved), there are very clear rules for how Scenes occur and how Conflicts occur within them. Once you understand those rules, they are very easy to apply in multiple different ways without having to reference them and wonder (work out) how they apply.

In The Pool (when rolling's not involved), there are no such rules - so you have to invent them and validate them for every single situation. After all, there will be scenes and conflicts, but how does the group get to them and understand what they are? They, uh ... just talk. Somehow. In other words, they have to invent System on the fly and keep doing so.

And to take a slightly better example, in The Window (when rolling's not involved, and even when it is!), this invent-and-validate process is constant. At least The Pool is clear about what to do once you have a conflict, although it requires quite a bit of local customizing about the acceptable scope and impact of narrating the outcomes of conflict.

This all goes with my usual critique of unstructured Drama mechanics, which I tried to articulate as best I could in the Narrativism essay.

Best,
Ron
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Alan
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« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2004, 01:24:11 PM »

Ron,

Your above explaination of Points of Contact seems to focus on contact with the process[/i] of creating system, rather than reference to the accepted elements[/i] of system.  Do we want to make a distinction here? Perhaps games have two different kinds of PoC requirements.  

I've started a new thread for discussing this, as I think it's off this thread''s originator's intent.

Pervy & Points of Contact
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=11607
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
timfire
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« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2004, 01:25:25 PM »

Quote from: Walt Freitag
Timothy, "Vanilla" and "with high Points of Contact" are exact opposites. "Pervy" and "Vanilla" are earlier, totally synonymous, terms for "high/many Points of Contact" and "low/few Points of Contact" respectively.

See, that was my understanding. So when I first read this thread, I thought Green was trying to ask for examples of Vanilla Nar games with high points of contact, aka 'pervy' techniques. But re-reading I realized he asked for examples of games that "promotes vanilla Narrativism without using pervy Narrativist mechanics." So that's how I got confused. (...For that matter I'm still confused.)

Anyway, I don't want to drift this thread more than it already has, but I thought I address something Green said earlier:
Quote from: Green
I'm wondering if there is more to be done to promote vanilla Narrativist play besides keeping the Simulationist and Gamist elements from taking center stage.

By definition, isn't Vanilla Nar play that doesn't actively promote overt Nar play. In other words, isn't Vanilla Nar just play that discourages Sim and Gam elements?
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--Timothy Walters Kleinert
C. Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2004, 01:46:27 PM »

Sorry Walt,

I should have, as Ron has done, put in examples for when a game does not have clear cut rules in a particular area for the handling of play.

A large number of PoC can be present during play due to a lack of rules as well as from an abundance of rules. So, yes, a game with very little in the way of system, like The Window or The Pool, may have as many PoC as a game with pages and pages of system.

A Point of Contact refers to any instance where the system must be referenced (or invented in some cases) during play in order to determine effects on the imaginary content. It doesn't really matter how thick or thin the game manual may be, it's what must take place during play that counts.

That should mean that increasing familiarity with a particular game can result in a decrease of PoC during play. Or maybe it just means that those PoC can be referenced more quickly. Or both. Anyone care to help me with that? Ron?

-Chris

*edit: to note the cross-post with Alan and Tim.
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contracycle
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« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2004, 08:29:57 AM »

Quote from: C. Edwards

That should mean that increasing familiarity with a particular game can result in a decrease of PoC during play. Or maybe it just means that those PoC can be referenced more quickly. Or both. Anyone care to help me with that? Ron?


I'd be inclined to think that this would be an illusionary reduction, in that all that has happened is that one of the participants has internalised the system; they have created an equivalent table lookup in their jellyware which they can reference in insignificant time.  But, even if you drive a manual shift vehicle, and change gears without thinking about it, you still have to lay a hand on the stick.  The system is still there even if you can do it instantly and automatically.
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C. Edwards
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« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2004, 08:58:14 AM »

Hey Gareth,

That's pretty much how I think about it also. You would only be reducing the amount of reference time for any particular PoC, not eliminating it all together.

Thanks.

-Chris

p.s. I like the term "jellyware".
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