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Introduction to Theory article posted

Started by M. J. Young, April 01, 2005, 04:21:54 AM

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M. J. Young

In response to inquiries from Places to Go, People to Be, I have submitted a three-part miniseries attempting to summarize the basics of role playing game theory as discussed here at The Forge. The first of those articles, System and the Shared Imagined Space posted this week.

I'm hoping to get a bit of feedback on it on several levels.

The most basic of these is whether readers think that the article has managed to convey the ideas and to some degree the jargon in a way that is easily understood. In this case, system, the Lumpley Principle, shared imagined space, credibility, authority, and stance are covered (in about three thousand words). Does the article convey these concepts clearly and concisely?

One suggestion that the article makes which I'm not certain I have actually seen mentioned before is that stance is a categorization of general approaches to the distribution of credibility. Does this make sense? On a recent thread someone complained that they had a problem with stance because it seemed to be about several different concepts that weren't always connected. Does this idea that stance is always about the amount and kind of credibility an individual has answer that objection?

Thanks for the feedback. The second installment will be The Impossible Thing Before Breakfast, and will cover (among other things) referee styles and illusionist techniques, and the final entry is Creative Agenda which focuses primarily on that.

--M. J. Young

Mike Holmes

Very good. Excellent, even.

The one thing that I think you might have wanted to do was to indicate (forgive me if I missed this) that this was one of a series of articles. Perhaps an editor's note can be added at this point. Because it does end sort of anti-climactically, as you point out, and people might wonder if that's all there is to theory.

Mike
Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.

Ben Lehman

This is an excellent article.

Correction:
Vincent's kid's game is 'The Nighttime Animals Save the World' not 'Animals at Night'

yrs--
--Ben

M. J. Young

Thanks for comments so far.

I think the magazine says on the entry page that this is the first in a series; I'll take another look when I get a chance.

And yeah, Vincent had told me, and I'd forwarded that information to the editor there, but apparently there was some last minute confusion and they didn't get that in (it was the only correction anyone had on the submitted article, so I guess we can be glad that it wasn't a more serious problem--although it seems my bio didn't get through intact, which is probably my fault). I meant to apologize to Vincent for that; but the readers should be able to find the game anyway.

Any thoughts on the identification of stance with credibility distribution?

--M. J. Young

Doug Ruff

This article certainly helped me; although I've gathered a halting awareness of thory issues in the last few months reading and posting here, an article like this really helps put these terms into context.

One thing that could use further exploration (although I don't think there would have been room for it in your article). You have stated that nearly all players use Director stance, and give a very good example.

So, where is the line between 'acceptable' and 'shocking' use? I would have liked to have seen something to explain why some uses of Director stance are allowed and some aren't.

This one minor quibble aside, I think it's an excellent article. If it's possible, I'd like to see a copy as an Forge Article as well.

[Note: I suspect that each group has it's own unconscious assumptions as to how their SIS "works". So, in the example, the whole group is thinking "of course there's a dresser, how could there not be one?" and they don't even notice the slide into Director stance. In another group, the GM or another player could assert that there is no such thing, "you've just made it up" and this would be a faux pas by the player responsible.

In other words, there isn't a conscious acknowledgement of that player's credibility; their assertion just happens to coincide with the preconceptions of the group, so it slips in under the GM "radar".]
'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'

timfire

Quote from: Doug RuffSo, where is the line between 'acceptable' and 'shocking' use? I would have liked to have seen something to explain why some uses of Director stance are allowed and some aren't.
While I can't speak for MJ, I think this is one of those things that gets defined by individual preference, and varies greatly from group to group. In other words, there is no generalized 'line'.

[edit] But maybe that's what should have been said in the article? [/edit]
--Timothy Walters Kleinert

Doug Ruff

Quote from: timfire
Quote from: Doug RuffSo, where is the line between 'acceptable' and 'shocking' use? I would have liked to have seen something to explain why some uses of Director stance are allowed and some aren't.
While I can't speak for MJ, I think this is one of those things that gets defined by individual preference, and varies greatly from group to group. In other words, there is no generalized 'line'.

That's pretty much where I'm coming from (except, possibly, that the preference is not conscious). This ties up neatly with the Lumpley principle explanation earlier.
'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'

Kit

Nice article. Clarifies some things I've only had a vague awareness of so far. Thanks.

One observation: I was a little confused by how the referee relates to Stance. In one paragraph you say the referee is just another type of player, yet your discussion of Stance in the next paragraph seems to use the term `player' to implicitly exclude the referee. Is the referee intended to be a special case of director Stance, or does the concept of Stance not apply?

Mike Holmes

Stance applies to GMs just as for any other player. They use a lot of director stance, and author stance typically when they're playing NPCs. But they sometimes also use Actor stance, and in some unusual games might use Pawn stance.

Mike
Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.

Kit

Fair enough, but I don't really feel that's made clear in the article. I might be misinterpreting the intent, but it seems to read like it's suggesting otherwise.

Mike Holmes

Quote from: KitIn one paragraph you say the referee is just another type of player, yet your discussion of Stance in the next paragraph seems to use the term `player' to implicitly exclude the referee.
What is it that's causing this implicit exclusion?

I read it as "The GM is a player" and then later stance refers to players. Is it, perhaps, tradition that makes you feel that this must not be refering to the GM? Or is there some statement that makes it seem like this is the case?

MJ, did you intend for the GM to be handled differently than any other player in the stance section (he and I might simply disagree on this, and I'm missing it).

Mike
Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.

Kit

The main thing that seemed to imply it was the use of the singular form in various things. e.g. right at the start "Stance refers to the relationship between a player, his character, and the rest of the shared imagined space". The implication of only one character seems to exclude the GM.

I may of course be reading something entirely unintended by the use of language. I freely admit to still being biased by a traditionalist viewpoint on RPGs (not to say that I think the less traditional forms are wrong, merely that my thinking is still coloured by it).

Mike Holmes

Quote from: KitThe main thing that seemed to imply it was the use of the singular form in various things. e.g. right at the start "Stance refers to the relationship between a player, his character, and the rest of the shared imagined space". The implication of only one character seems to exclude the GM.
Ah! Good point.

It would seem that MJ cannot change the article as posted at this point, but perhaps a "(s)" or even "(or characters, in the case of the GM, or a game where players play more than one character)" would be good to insert there.

Mike
Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.

Kit

Phew. Glad I'm not going insane. :-)

It's probably a fairly minor detail. I just thought it was worth bringing up as something that I, as someone who is unfamiliar with the general theory, found a bit confusing.

Dobamine

I don't think the relationship between Credibility and Director Stance is quite as simple as you suggest in the article.

For example, in a D&D game I played in not so long ago, I had a great deal of credibility in regards to matters of system, and another player had a lot of credibility in regards to setting (because he helped design the gameworld). That said, we used very minimal Director Stance. In the example you give I probably would have said, "I search the room without disturbing anything - dressers, boudoirs, under the bed, whatever's there."

On the other hand, in a matter concerning system, if one of the characters was staggered, and the GM said that he wasn't eligible to move, I could easily point out that he was allowed a half-move retreat without suffering attacks of opportunity, and that statement would likely override the GM's previous statement. Or to take the published rules out of the equation, at one point there was a discussion about changing the armour rules where one player said that breastplates should be more effective, mail shirts less so, and the like. I was well aware that this was more or less the GM's point of view as well. I suggested that this would make certain items unreasonably attractive for various reasons, that it would be detrimental to lighly armoured mobile fighters, etc. In the end my point of view prevailed.

So, credibility can be and usually is spread out among various fields of play. Each player will have a differing amount of credibilty in different aspects of the game. I don't think it's as simple as more credibility -> more director stance.