*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 23, 2017, 02:25:05 PM

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 4284 Members Latest Member: - Nicholas Mizer Most online today: 221 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2 3 4
Print
Author Topic: Wait, What Matters Again?  (Read 17665 times)
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« on: July 15, 2004, 01:54:05 AM »

Wait, what Matters again?
Or
The Extent of Sys
Or
"If you have a D&D game without orc-killing, is it Drift?"
Or
"No complete RPG will ever be made."

Jargon Alert: If you are not familiar with these terms as they are used in Forge discourse, go and look them up before reading this:
1) The lumpley Principle (I call it lP sometimes), which I wield like a fucking club all over this post.
2) Shared Imagined Space (which is my favoritest term ever)
3) Exploration
4) Exploration, components of (Situation, Setting, Color, blah, blah)
5) Credibility
6) Drift

Curse Alert: For some reason, I am particularly vulgar in this essay.

System does Matter.

What?

What matters?

Good question.

What the hell is this "System" anyway?

Well, for a lot of people, this is like art and porn -- they know it when they see it.  This is not a satisfactory definition to me and, I venture, should not be a satisfactory definition for anyone who gives a damn about discussing the theory of RPGs which is probably everyone reading this post since the god-damn forum is called "RPG Theory."  I mean fuck, people.  If you're not interested in RPG theory I can't exactly hold your fucking hand through this thing, can I?  Just go read your pansy "Actual Play" or suck it up, stay here with the theory wonks, and quitcherbitchin.

That intro was actually a little misleading -- I'm going to take my definition from the lumpley Principle (the only piece of role-playing theory so low-budget it can only afford one capital letter), so I already have a definition in hand.  But what I'm going to do is take a look at that and go "holy fuck, that's a hell of a lot bigger than I thought.  Like, fuck, man!  I gotta design all that shit?"  Or something.  Basically, what I am saying here is "the System" covers a huge range of stuff, only a small subset of which is ever talked about or even acknowledged by game texts.

So, okay.  Let's look at the l.P.
"The System is the means by which players negotiate the contents of their shared imagined space."

Right.

So what is it?  What's in there?  To find this, I'm going to "run the statement backwards" and say that "The means by which the players negotiate the contents of the shared imagined space is the System."  I realize that this is a different statement.  Call it the "lumpley Principle adjunct" or the "Little Timmy Principle" or, perhaps, the "'kiss my ass, you 'systemless rpg' players' principle."

Well, let's start with the obvious thing:  Mechanics.

What are mechanics?  Mechanics are things which say "If your roll of 17d7 is greater than or equal to the target number correlated from charts 2.5 to 6.4.1 inclusive, your character succeeds."  Or, "The character with the higher Warfare will, all things being equal, win any strategic or tactical situation."  Or, "when Virgo is ascendant, the leftmost player takes on the role of High Priestess, which means that she speaks for the Mother in all things, particularly to combat with axes, maces, and tangerines."  Essentially, mechanics are anything which resolves situations in the RPG through deliberate, particular means, often mathematical.  There's a hell of a lot of analysis of mechanics out there.  To some people, actually a lot of people, mechanics is all there is to system.  System and mechanics are the same thing.  This people are poorly informed assholes, fuckwits, and malcontents, not worthy to lick the dirt out of my toenails.  Or perhaps we just have different definitions of system.  Either/or.  

Are mechanics a part of system?  Well, duh.  Are they the whole shebang?  Not even fucking close.

How about setting?  A lot of gamers (including me) have this whole hang-up about setting/system differences.  A lot of people say that an RPG text is comprised of setting and system.  "So they're totally different, right?" asks Little Timmy.

Well, Little Timmy ("Don't call my little I am twenty-three") let's look at the lumpley Principle.  Hrm...  Can setting effect the contents of the shared imagined space?  Fuck yes!  Setting is the background of the shared imagined space.  In fact, I would say that, given the definition of system from the lP, setting is often a greater component of system than mechanics.  I mean, which has more weight on the actual play of the game "We are using the D&D mechanics" or "We are playing in the Forgotten Realms?"  Yeah.  Hard question, ain't it?

So Setting goes in the box.  Wait, does this mean that all setting-less game texts are fundamentally incomplete with regards to system.  Yes.  Fucking right.  Precisely so, Little Timmy.  Now take your medicine and get out of my face.

Okay, how about situation?  Marco talked about this a little bit with me recently, which is what set me off on this whole thing but, essentially, does the basic situation of the game effect the shared imagined space?  Or, as he (roughly), put it, "is it still D&D if you aren't killing orcs?"  I used to be a big opponent of the idea that sitch could be a part of system or, rather, I would talk about playing D&D *without drift* (by which I meant Mechanical Drift).

I was a fucking bonehead.  *I'm* not even fit to lick to dirt out of my own toenails.  Look, can situation be used, by a player, to make a statement about the shared imagined space?  Yes.  Of course.  If it can't, well, I don't know what it is.  It's like the situation has nothing to do with what's going on in the game?  Whatever.  It doesn't happen.

Okay, let's stop it with this piece-by-piece shit and just eat the whole pie like the fucking fat pigs we are:  What isn't System?  What, in the entire act of role-playing, is not a part of System, as it is defined by my god and saviour, Vincent "lumpley" Baker (whose principle I'm sure you are sick of hearing of, at this point)?

Out of game relationships (players sleeping with each other, or some such) -- System
Who ordered pizza?  -- most likely system.  I mean, you don't want to kill the guy who ordered the pizza in the first scene.  That's just low.
The emotional state of all the players?  -- System, definitely.  More important to System than mechanics, more'n likely.
That "Lucky twenty-sider" and the rituals that surround it? -- System, I think.  This is probably the furthest borderline case I can find.

I cannot imagine a single aspect of the act of role-playing that is not, in some regard, a part of System.  I can't even conceive of the possibility of their being such an element.  Please offer suggestions, if you can.

So, okay, what does that mean to designers?

Well, it is pretty fucking obvious that no game text can, will, or should present a totally complete system -- that is a game without players.  However, a lot of chunks of system (The GM-player relationship, say, or the little social rules that game groups carry with them) are carried from game to game totally unthinkingly, and that, I think, needs to change.  Essentially, for design, this means "look, by offering a 'role-playing system' you are, in fact, offering an incomplete item which will be interfaced with by the role-playing group to create a whole system, which will in turn be used to manipulate the particulars of their shared imagined space."

So, the question that I have is: What does it mean to include a certain system in a game text, in terms of effect on Actual Play?  What does it mean to leave it out?

yrs--
--Ben

P.S.  The first one who gets the "23 years old" reference gets a prize.  PM me or stick in a P.S.  And, yes, Google is cheating.

P.P.S.  Tip o' the hat to Mike Mearls for the "no complete RPG" bit.
Logged

contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2004, 02:51:03 AM »

Erm, yes and no.

Its true to say that I cannot create a complete system in the sense you appear to describe.  The actual physical game that actually happens is largely beyond my control.

But this is a restriction that applies to many things and is IMO implicit in the creation of any device for use by anyone other than the designer.  IMO this is Not An Issue; it was resolved by the identifiication that textual rules are only contributory elements to the social contract, which is the real mechanism governing the human interactions.

But being contributary elements, they do serve to inform the negotiation of that social contract and do bring the designer into the conversation at the table, as it were.  That is the purpose of system.  By analogy, I cannot perhaps construct a system that produces faultless justice; but I can propose a system of trial by jury if I think that this prior discussion of local social contract would be useful to the pursuit of justice.

System matters in that respect.  System is an overt implementation of social contract.

Now I have previously proposed that in essence, among players suitably familiar with the form and process of RPG, no real 'RPG product' purchase is necessary at all.  They could just pick up a book, and refer to that book as if it were the RPG world.  With any of a number of generic or favoured system, they could have some sort of game.

So in that sense one might indeed say system is not very necessary at all.  But we do think system is necessary - and I believe we think this becuase it frames our interactions with the SIS.  We resolve conflicts, and thus determine what enters the SIS, for example.  And that is why IMO particular system matters even when system in abstract falls away into the nebulous social contract.  Any actual implementation of a particular system gives instructions to players: you do this after that after the other for such a goal.  Actual human behaviour - sure pretty unimportant, but still actual - is being governed to an extent by the designer and the design, exactly as it might be in a beauracracy or engineering system.
Logged

Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Paganini
Member

Posts: 1049


WWW
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2004, 04:00:35 AM »

I just want to point out one of those aspects of the lP that seems obvious, but that will be news to a lot of traditional-style RPG designers. Yeah, "mechanics" and "system" are not synonyms here. Mechanics may be a big part of system, but they're not the *entirity* of system.

Turn that around, though, and think about this: not all rules / mechanics are part of the system. A lot of times, especially in home-brew games, you'll see mechanics tacked on that, maybe, the designer liked in some other game, but didn't really understand the point of - with the net effect that the mechanic actually does nothing at all in terms of System. It's just kind of *there,* fogging up the works, but when you really look at it, it doesn't go anywhere.

But, to answer your question, what you're doing when you write a system is informing the players about your vision of play. What you leave out, they will be forced to make up on their own. If their personalities are incompatible with making up that particular stuff, then they will want to play a game.

A lot of people don't want to play freeform... but they will play "The Window," which is functionally equivalent to Freeform, AFAIAC.
Logged

Marco
Member

Posts: 1741


WWW
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2004, 05:33:29 AM »

Ben,

If setting, situation, and mechanics are the same thing in terms of system (and I'm not arguing they aren't--it's a fine way to look at it) then making up a new town is the same thing as adding critical hits to the damage system. You can argue that one's more effort than the other but the harder one is probably the town if it's detailed.

That would make drift as related to the utility of a game in terms of coherence very shaky since in practice one must make characters and situationa and setting in order to play (traditionally) anyway.

-Marco
Logged

---------------------------------------------
JAGS (Just Another Gaming System)
a free, high-quality, universal system at:
http://www.jagsrpg.org
Just Released: JAGS Wonderland
Kesher
Member

Posts: 174


« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2004, 08:21:27 AM »

Quote
Out of game relationships (players sleeping with each other, or some such) -- System
Who ordered pizza?  -- most likely system.  I mean, you don't want to kill the guy who ordered the pizza in the first scene.  That's just low.
The emotional state of all the players?  -- System, definitely.  More important to System than mechanics, more'n likely.
That "Lucky twenty-sider" and the rituals that surround it? -- System, I think.  This is probably the furthest borderline case I can find.


It seems to me that Vincent approaches some of this in the Theory section of the lumpley games website (Burning Down the Firewall):

http://www.septemberquestion.org/lumpley/hardcore.html

I actually got really excited when I read this, because it seemed so (blindsidingly) commonsensical.  And Ben, I don't see the "lucky 20-sider" as borderline in this consideration at all.  

I think that explicitly addressing what goes on, realistically, dynamically when people are in-the-act-of-gaming, as part of the overall system is a powerful design question.  How does the game require players to behave while playing?  What happens to the game if they don't behave that way, & should it then be considered drift?

I never had any interest in playing Wraith (though a friend of mine was always bugging me to do so) because I didn't care to adopt the mindset or around-the-table-behaviors the "system" (in Ben's larger sense) seemed to demand.
Logged

John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2004, 09:27:56 AM »

Quote from: Marco
  If setting, situation, and mechanics are the same thing in terms of system (and I'm not arguing they aren't--it's a fine way to look at it) then making up a new town is the same thing as adding critical hits to the damage system. You can argue that one's more effort than the other but the harder one is probably the town if it's detailed.

That would make drift as related to the utility of a game in terms of coherence very shaky since in practice one must make characters and situationa and setting in order to play (traditionally) anyway.  

Yeah.  I remember having touched on this before, but I can't remember the threads.  There are tons of games which specify setting.  I would say using Lord of the Rings or Skyrealms of Jorune for a different setting is a far more major change to system than, say, ignoring alignment rules.  There are a few games which specify character, like Timelord (1991) or Run Out the Guns (1998).  There are also a few which specify situation -- i.e. scenario-based games like the Sandman series (1985) or Pokemon Jr (1999).  

So here's the big question.  So creating new characters in Timelord is a change to the system, just as much so as changing the resolution mechanics.  But we commonly think that, say, creating a setting for The Pool is not a change to system.  But that seems to make them unequal.  A problem with "incoherence" as a design criteria is that the less that you specify with a game, the less likely that parts will clash.
Logged

- John
lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3453


WWW
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2004, 09:47:16 AM »

Ben, can I introduce something?  I think it may be helpful.

There are three things your System has to coordinate.  ("System" in the full implications of the lumpy piddle sense: the on-the-fly fully-negotiated mercurial real-people's-moods-and-habits process that you're using to negotiate what happens.)

It has to coordinate:
A) the wholly imaginary things and events in the "game world";
B) real-world abstractions and representations of those things and events: maps, numbers, dice, "hit points," etc.
C) the interactions of the actual human beings.

For instance, a rule like "whoever rolls higher on the attack roll inflicts damage on the defender" operates only on B and C: it expects the human beings to interact to manipulate some "attack roll" and "hit points" at the representation level.  Add to the rule "... and describe the change in the fighters' circumstances" and you bring in A: now it expects the human beings to make changes to the imaginary stuff, not just the abstractions.  Or add to the rule "... but first give the fighters bonuses to their attack rolls depending on their circumstances" brings A in too, in a slightly different way.  The former: changes to A (the fictional circumstances) depend on what happens with B (the representations).  The latter: what happens with B changes depending on details of A.  Both together: A informs B, B informs A.  In all cases: ...according to the direct and active attention of C, the players.

You can imagine rules where A's informing of B is left to the subjective interpretation of C ("... but first the GM gives the fighters whatever bonuses seem called for").  You can imagine rules where A's informing of B is cut and dried ("... and any fighter whose lover is watching the fight gets +3 to the attack roll").  You can imagine rules where, instead, B informs B ("... and the fighter with the higher number written next to 'Fighting' gets +3 to the attack roll").

You can imagine rules that coordinate only A and C ("only Bob is allowed to introduce NPCs," "give Bob's character something to do so he doesn't go play video games") or act only at C ("go along with Bob, he's had a rough day") as well.  Lots of play happens like this.  Freeform play is easy to understand in this light.

So: now we ought to be able to talk about the real differences between 1) creating a town, 2) the town itself, 3) getting your group's assent to the town, 4) creating a critical hits table, 5) the critical hits table itself, and 6) getting your group's assent to the table, plus 7) proposing a change to the in-game Sitch (like "I hit him"), 8) the change itself, and 9) getting your group's assent to it.

We ought to be able to look critically at a particular set of rules' coordination of the three levels.  Are there holes?  Contradictions?  Unsupported assertions?  Wrong guesses?  Backfires? According to the rules, who gets to say what about what? and what are the group's interests when they do so?

And then we ought to be able to look critically at the rules in actual play.  Are they easy to follow?  (Did we even follow them?)  Are they fun, satisfying, challenging, surprising?  How do they flex under pressure from various social dynamics?  How do they divert or transform various social dynamics?  As it actually happened, who got to say what about what? and did it serve the group's interests when they did so? and was it what the game text promised?

(Marco, John, there's a difference between Drift and by-the-rules customization.  Establishing a definition of Humanity in Sorcerer, for instance, or creating characters for most games, or choosing a Setting for the Pool, is customization, not Drift.  The vast majority of making towns, establishing situations, not killing orcs, that kind of stuff, similarly.  What's Drift and what's customization will vary tremendously from ruleset to ruleset.  It seems so basic to me that I wonder why it's even a question.)

-Vincent
Logged
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2004, 11:55:33 AM »

Hi Ben,

I with you all the way except "System defines out of game situations"...  Try, Social Contract defines everything, including System.  System is everything specific to the game, and Social Contract is everything with everybody, including the game.

The lumpley Principle defines System by going above it.

thoughts?

Chris
Logged
efindel
Member

Posts: 145


WWW
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2004, 12:53:13 PM »

I have to disagree with Setting coming under System here.  The lP states that "System is the means by which players negotiate the contents of their shared imagined space."

Setting is part of the contents -- but Setting in and of itself is not a means.  It is among the objects being manipulated.  Statements about the shared imaginative space are also not System -- they are not negotiating anything, they are simply stating a point of view about what's there.

So, going by this... the situation is a part of the shared imaginative space -- but it is not System.  The methods by which situation is decided, and the methods by which it affects other things -- those are System, but the situation itself is not.

The fact that, say, a town exists in the setting is not System -- but the general social contract rule of "we do not contradict established fact about the setting" -- that is System.  (Note, though, that it is by no means required -- e.g., in a game which takes place in dreams, contradicting established fact may be explicitly allowed.  It's nothing unusual to have a dream which starts in one place, but that suddenly turns into a completely different place halfway through, or to start with one person there with you, then have that turn into someone else, or disappear.)

Finally, to bring in an analogy (bad idea, I know...), System is a set of functions.  The inputs to those functions are not necessarily System, and the outputs are not necessarily System (though they may form objects for other System functions to work on)... System is the things that are done with those inputs to produce those outputs.  Something like the players' current emtional state, to me, is an input -- it is not System in and of itself, but it is something which may affect what the System does.
Logged
John Harper
Member

Posts: 1054

flip you for real


WWW
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2004, 01:16:26 PM »

I gotta agree with efindel. Ben's first conclusion just doesn't work for me. I mean this bit:
Quote
I cannot imagine a single aspect of the act of role-playing that is not, in some regard, a part of System.

This makes "system" mean "everything" and reduces the value of the term to zero as far as I can tell.

Setting and Sitation are not part of System. There are two parts to the lumpley principle: The System is the means by which players negotiate the contents of their shared imagined space. Emphasis mine. The two parts are System and SIS. One is acting on the other. Setting and Situation are part of the SIS. The means by which the SIS is established... that's system.

Attempting to converge these two into one big uber-definition of "system" seems to reduce the LP to this: "The System is the means by which players negotiate the contents of their System." Wha? System-as-process makes sense to me. System-as-entire-act-of-roleplaying does not.

My lucky 20-sider is not process. The gaming table is not process. My emotional state is not process. All of those things can affect the process, to be sure, but they are not the process itself. Let's not confuse the hammer and the boards for the act of nailing the boards together.
Logged

Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!
John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2004, 04:27:23 PM »

Quote from: John Harper
  This makes "system" mean "everything" and reduces the value of the term to zero as far as I can tell.

Setting and Sitation are not part of System. There are two parts to the lumpley principle: The System is the means by which players negotiate the contents of their shared imagined space. Emphasis mine. The two parts are System and SIS. One is acting on the other. Setting and Situation are part of the SIS. The means by which the SIS is established... that's system.  

In practice, though, this is a very fuzzy line to draw.  Most written RPG rules generally include things in the Shared Imaginary Space.  i.e. A rule might be "Fire Giants are immune to fire".  This is a written game rule, and it can be used to arbitrate disputes, but it is also a part of the Shared Imaginary Space.  As another example, try to separate out the Amber DRPG magic rules from magic in the Amber setting.  

So let's take an action.  i.e. A player says "I cast a fire bolt at the giant."  OK, so now the GM refers to the description in the rulebook.  He sees the sentence which says they are immune.  The GM says "It has no effect."  Let's suppose the player is a little irritable that day and says "What the heck?  It should damage him."  The GM then cites the rulebook, the player agrees, and they move on.  

Now, on the one hand, you can say that the system is not in the rules at all.  It is the process.  i.e. The system is "The GM and player talk and agree on what happens" -- while "Fire Giants are immune to fire" is just part of the Setting.  But this means that all or nearly all of system just reduces down to the participants agreeing.  

Quote from: lumpley
  (Marco, John, there's a difference between Drift and by-the-rules customization.  Establishing a definition of Humanity in Sorcerer, for instance, or creating characters for most games, or choosing a Setting for the Pool, is customization, not Drift.  The vast majority of making towns, establishing situations, not killing orcs, that kind of stuff, similarly.  What's Drift and what's customization will vary tremendously from ruleset to ruleset.  It seems so basic to me that I wonder why it's even a question.)  

Right, that's what I was trying to say (although apparently not well).  The exact same thing (i.e. designing a setting, for example), which is "Drift" for one system, is "customization" for another system.
Logged

- John
John Harper
Member

Posts: 1054

flip you for real


WWW
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2004, 04:45:09 PM »

Hmmm. I see where you're coming from, John. Based on the way I understand the term "System", this is what I make of your example.

"Fire Giants are immune to fire" is a quality that Fire Giants have. Therefore, it's part of the Setting, which in turn is part of the SIS that the group is negotiating from moment to moment.

The player says "I cast a fire bolt at the giant." Now System steps in. How do we determine what happens in the SIS now? According to your example, the system in place seems to be "The GM should look at the qualities of the target and see if it is immune to the attack. If so, the attack has no effect." In the example, the GM exercises this bit of system, and adjusts the SIS accordingly: "The bolt has no effect."

System is the process by which the GM made the judgement about immunities and their effects in play. If the player complains, simply pointing at the entry in the rulebook isn't quite sufficient. The book says Fire Giants are immune to fire. So what? The book isn't playing the game. The GM has to engage System in order to get this element of Setting into the SIS.

Now, this example is less than ideal, becase the bit of System that gets used is something that is almost always unspoken in play and is almost never mentioned in the rules. D&D3E is the only game I can think of off-hand that bothers to actually have a written rule explaining what an immunity is and how it impacts play. For most groups this would just be "common sense."

Nevertheless, choosing to apply a bit of Setting to a particular moment of play and how to apply it and why and who gets to say what... that's System. The Fire Giant's quality is used by the System but it is not the System itself.
Logged

Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!
Marco
Member

Posts: 1741


WWW
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2004, 04:59:24 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
(Marco, John, there's a difference between Drift and by-the-rules customization.  Establishing a definition of Humanity in Sorcerer, for instance, or creating characters for most games, or choosing a Setting for the Pool, is customization, not Drift.  The vast majority of making towns, establishing situations, not killing orcs, that kind of stuff, similarly.  What's Drift and what's customization will vary tremendously from ruleset to ruleset.  It seems so basic to me that I wonder why it's even a question.)

-Vincent


I wouldn't consider choosing humanity Drift. That is pretty basic. But if I construct a town so there's none of element 'X' in the game and element 'X' is something that's mentioned in the rules is that Drift? Is it Drift if I play TRoS without a lot of attention given to Flaws?

Where does one draw the line?

Recently Ron says:
Quote

Easy #1. Maybe your group did Drift some. Is that so hard to imagine? If you and your group are very good at CA-Y, then you can get there by maximizing what the game can offer along those lines, no matter how meager, even if you still apply the other (bulk) of the text.

That seems like he's saying some types of "by-the-book play" are in fact drift if the book doesn't specifically say what to emphasize or lessen.

-Marco
Logged

---------------------------------------------
JAGS (Just Another Gaming System)
a free, high-quality, universal system at:
http://www.jagsrpg.org
Just Released: JAGS Wonderland
efindel
Member

Posts: 145


WWW
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2004, 06:06:43 PM »

Quote from: John Kim

So let's take an action. i.e. A player says "I cast a fire bolt at the giant." OK, so now the GM refers to the description in the rulebook. He sees the sentence which says they are immune. The GM says "It has no effect." Let's suppose the player is a little irritable that day and says "What the heck? It should damage him." The GM then cites the rulebook, the player agrees, and they move on.
 
 Now, on the one hand, you can say that the system is not in the rules at all. It is the process. i.e. The system is "The GM and player talk and agree on what happens" -- while "Fire Giants are immune to fire" is just part of the Setting. But this means that all or nearly all of system just reduces down to the participants agreeing.


A note here -- D&D 3 uses the phrase "immune to" many times... but doesn't really define what that means.  It's generally interpreted as meaning "is not affected by".

However... that's not the only possible interpretation, and other games have Systems which give other interpretations.  For example, the old Advanced Marvel Superheroes RPG stated that "immune to X" meant that the character/being/whatever had "class 1000" resistance to that thing... and thus, for example, something that was "immune to fire" could still be burnt -- it just took the heat of a sun's heart or something similar to do it.

Mutants & Masterminds also formally defines "immune to",with its "Immunity" feat -- there, it's defined to mean that the thing in question cannot be harmed by the condition in question and automatically makes saving throws or ability checks against it... but actual attacks based on the thing in question still can hurt the thing, but can only cause Stun damage, not Lethal.

Lastly, one complaint often leveled against the Hero System is that there is no simple, clean way to model "X is immune to fire" (or cold, or electricity...) in it.  Any "immunity to fire" would have to be defined in System terms as something like some large number of points of Energy Defense with a Limitation of "only versus fire" (or Damage Reduction only versus fire coupled with ED only versus fire, or there are other alternative builds).  The exact System effect of "immune to fire" would depend on how you built it.

Thus, in each of these four games, the Setting fact "fire giants are immune to fire" would mean different things -- because of the three different Systems.
Logged
M. J. Young
Member

Posts: 2198


WWW
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2004, 07:35:57 PM »

Dang, Ben. To quote an excellent movie, "Now you walk into a bar, and sailors come running out."

This idea seems to have popped up everywhere today. I'll call your attention to my reply to Sean's thread http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=12012">Setting as Part of System, and say see that for why I think that's correct, and perhaps more helpfully in what sense that is correct.
Quote from: John Kim
So here's the big question.  So creating new characters in Timelord is a change to the system, just as much so as changing the resolution mechanics.  But we commonly think that, say, creating a setting for The Pool is not a change to system.  But that seems to make them unequal.  A problem with "incoherence" as a design criteria is that the less that you specify with a game, the less likely that parts will clash.

Sort of. That is, that is correct as far as it goes, but it misses the other side. At some point you create the potential for incoherence by failing to provide sufficient information to inform play.

Incoherent design means design that fosters incoherent play. In complex design, this most commonly happens because rules prove to be contradictory in what they encourage, and players develop their groups' systems based on which rules fit their expectations for the game. If players in the same group have different expectations based on emphasizing and deemphasizing different rules in the text, incoherence results from the conflicts in those expectations.

It is less common but just as plausible for incoherence to result from a failure to provide sufficient information to inform play. If after reading the rules I don't actually know what it is you expect of a game, and the rules as writ are insufficient to cause that to occur if I follow them, then I'm going to start "filling in the gaps" with what "I think" the designer intended. This, too, can create incoherence, if in the absence of sufficient directive we have different ideas of what the designer intended, and in structuring what we think was intended we create conflicting systems from the same minimalist rules.

Rules heavy systems, detailed and expansive packages, don't necessarily lead to incoherence, as long as that which is provided works together correctly. Rules light systems and systems without setting don't necessarily lead to incoherence as long as there is sufficient guidance to point to the way the game is played. I hope Multiverser is an example of success in the former category; I think Universalis is a success in the latter.

--M. J. Young
Logged

Pages: [1] 2 3 4
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!