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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 160 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Force  (Read 2858 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: August 27, 2004, 04:06:24 PM »

I'm gonna say it once more.

1. Force is when one person exercises controlling influence over another person's character's decisions, when those decisions are central to whatever CA is going on at the time.

2. Explicit Force is often permissible. When this happens, the owner of the character is willingly letting the co-opter do his or her thing with the owner's character. A fine example, if subtle, is found in scene framing, if (say) the GM says, "All right, I figure you're giving up on the warehouse surveillance, so next morning ..."

Note that the common behavior of butting in and saying, "No, do this!" is not Force, because control of the character's actual decision is not being taken over. Nor would the above example be Force if the player were being asked whether the character were giving up on the warehouse surveillance.

Permitted Force is common in many role-playing situations. However, it is not merely "make a suggestion" or "hey, what if we do it this way," it is literally reaching out and taking over a character. It's an extreme and noticeable act, and for it to be permitted is a major expression of trust in the Social Contract going on.

3. Non-permitted Force may often be a form of bullying. As this is usually met with resistance, many covert Force techniques have been developed during the history of role-playing.

Most covert Force techniques are often couched in terms of IIEE, which is to say, letting the controller of the character announce things, but also to adjust the character's perceptions and opportunities for action (on one end) or the effects of those actions (on the other).

Such techniques may be used either to diminish or to enhance the effectiveness of a character's action during play. Many GMs are so skilled at doing this that they cannot conceive of playing in any other way.

5. How Force relates to Creative Agenda is a matter for discussion. My outlook, which is not definitional, is that Gamist and Narrativist play are ill-suited to including Force, but do very nicely with replacing it with inter-player influence over one another's characters through explicit permission.

My take on some forms of Simulationist play is that the fun is not endangered by exerting Force over certain (and sometimes even significant) actions of characters, and as such doesn't raise resentment.

This take on Sim play could be very wrong, in which case these forms of play require permission as well. Maybe that permission is being given in a blanket fashion prior to play, which is an interesting idea (Participationism would be the useful term to examine in this case).

6. One may apply "railroading" and "illusionism" as terms to various instances of overt and covert Force as you see fit, when the speaker can justify the specific meanings of these two terms in addition to the Force. They not and were never synonyms with Force. The whole point of introducing the term "Force" was for us to be able to parse out dysfunctional uses of it from functional ones.

In conclusion
Not only have I seen this useful term I've introduced be badly misinterpreted, I have seen corrections of those misinterpretations be inaccurate as well. Interactions among these have led to astounding mis-readings of my notions, and attendant crazy wanderings instead of discourse.

Don't even fuck with me about it. That's what Force is. Deal.

Best,
Ron
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2004, 04:22:31 PM »

Good summation.

I'm going to suggest that consensual Force has its role in certain types of Gamist play.  Specifically, I'm thinking of the role of the "Party Leader" or "Party Caller" in old-school dungeon delves who can, at times, exert heavy and overt Force on the other players, and whose use of such Force is totally in keeping with the SA of, say, winning the tournament or surviving the module with minimum risk and maximum gain.

I think that there are interesting edge-conditions where, say, different people control different aspects of one character, and what Force might mean in that context, but that is totally fiddly-bits and Higgs Bosons stuff, and doesn't really belong in this thread.  I'm more making a note of it to spin off into its own thread sometime this weekend.

yrs--
--Ben

P.S.  (I meant CA, for Creative Agenda, not SA.  Original post left intact, but that's what I meant.)
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2004, 04:29:10 PM »

That's a good call, Ben - and a very effective counter-argument to my interpretation regarding Gamist play.

The key is that each particular instance of cross-player control, in this case, is not negotiated/permitted, but is already in place to be exercised via the designation of "caller."

Best,
Ron
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greyorm
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2004, 05:50:18 PM »

Excellent. Thank you, Ron.

My main trouble even discussing Force in certain recent threads is that I had absolutely nothing like the above by which to understand or grasp the term, just a very small blurb from (I believe) the glossary and nothing else I could find on the meaning and use of the term. This eliminates that problem nicely.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
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